New details of how the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin forged a deal during the 2016 Campaign and the mysterious role of a pro-Russian mercenary who has close ties to Mike Pence.
With additional reporting by Tracie McElroy
By July 2016, former MI6 Russia Desk head, Christopher Steele, had become frustrated. Despite a growing dossier of compromising evidence against Donald J. Trump’s collusion with Russia, the media and law enforcement narrative was instead focused on what seemed like a much lesser investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.
Steele became convinced the Trump campaign had been intentionally amplifying the Clinton e-mail scandal because they knew Russia had been hacking the DNC emails and may have had possession of Clinton’s 30,000 missing e-mails. Publicly, a number of Trump campaign operatives had been championing this narrative – notably former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone and Erik Prince, America’s most famous mercenary.
Prince, the 48-year-old former CEO of Blackwater, was too radioactive to be officially named as a member of Trump’s campaign but all indications are that he played a crucial role. Prince personally donated $250,000 to the Trump coffers and to a pro-Trump super PAC led by Rebekah Mercer (a major christian conservative donor). Mercer owns Breitbart, then run by Stephen Bannon, and Prince made several appearances on Bannon’s Breitbart Radio to spin up conspiracy theories about the Clinton e-mails, according to the Washington Post.
By all accounts, Prince’s role was far larger than just your typical donor relationship with a politician. “A former senior U.S. official who has advised the Trump transition told The Intercept that Prince has been advising the team on matters related to intelligence and defense, including weighing in on candidates for the defense and state departments,” according to PJ Wilcox. He was seen in the Trump transition offices in New York in December.
Then, in January this year, Prince held a meeting with a representative of Putin’s government and the UAE in the Seychelles in order to open up a back-channel between Trump and Russia.
Prince’s sister, Betsy DeVos, serves as education secretary in the Trump administration and his brother-in-law, Dick DeVos, owns Spectrum Health.
Unusual spike in Spectrum Server activity as Trump Adviser visits Russia for secret meeting.
Spectrum Health is particularly important to investigators of the Trump-Russia conspiracy. A server registered to the company is very deeply intertwined in the caper that is the becoming the greatest political crime in history. It’s Spectrum’s server which is believed to have been consolidating and washing private email addresses with voters information hacked by Russian-paid hackers via a server at Trump Tower and one run by Russia’s Alfa Bank. The illegally obtained information was used to create a database which Breitbart, Infowars, RT and Sputnik News used to bombard voters with fake and hyped news to help turn the electorate towards Trump.
Independent analysis of the server activity by David Schiminovich points to a significant spike in traffic between Spectrum’s servers and the one in Trump Tower on July 9 and 31. The first, on July 9, came on the same day Carter Page, another Trump adviser, held a secret meeting in Moscow with Putin’s handpicked CEO of Russia’s main oil company, Rosneft. It’s at that meeting that a quid-pro-quo was believed to have been negotiated, Trump would drop sanctions against Russia in exchange for help with the election. According to the Steele Dossier, a sizable portion of Rosneft would also trade hands for the effort.
While Christopher Steele is well-regarded in intelligence circles, his account of Page’s meeting with the Rosneft CEO is yet to be publicly confirmed. What is clear, is that on Page’s return from Moscow, the Trump campaign began an earnest campaign to put in place the lessening of sanctions against Russia.
After secret Russian meeting, Trump team makes public moves in support of dropping sanctions.
Back in the U.S., Page attended the GOP’s platform planning week in Cleveland which began on July 11, a week before the Republican National Convention. One of the first orders of business was a surprising plank proposal to water down support for Ukrainian troops fighting Russian-backed rebels. Instead of sending the Ukrainians “lethal weapons”, the GOP pledged “appropriate support”.
Page attended a follow-up meeting with Jeff Sessions, Trump advisor JD Gordon and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the Global Partners in Diplomacy event staged by the Heritage Foundation on July 19. “Much of the discussion focused on Russia’s incursions into Ukraine and Georgia,” according to delegate Victor Ashe.
Trump was officially nominated to lead the Republican ticket at the Republican Convention in Cleveland. The day after the convention ended, July 22, Wikileaks published the first hacked DNC emails which they obtained from Russian hackers. It’s notable that the Trump/Alfa/Spectrum servers showed increased activity at the same time.
The next day, July 23, Christopher Steele penned a memo to the FBI stating that Trump’s campaign team had agreed to a Russian request to dilute attention on Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine.
Trump got a boost in the polls from the Wikileaks DNC e-mail dump. On July 27, he publicly asked Moscow for even more help. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Clinton] emails that are missing,” Trump said at a press conference. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That’ll be nice.”
At the same news conference, Trump made a less noticed but equally significant comment about Russian sanctions which lent credence to the details of what Steele alleged happened at the Page meeting on July 9 in Moscow. German reporter, Mareike Aden, asked Trump whether he would recognize Crimea, if elected. Trump replied: “Yes. We would be looking at that.”
On July 31, the Spectrum server had another unusual spike.
Behind the scenes, mercenary Erik Prince proposed dropping Russian sanctions and worked to build a back-channel with Russia.
Wherever you look behind the Trump campaign, the same names keep coming up: Robert and Rebekah Mercer, Stephen Bannon, Peter Thiel, Betsy and Dick DeVos and Erik Prince. These seven continue to pull the strings of the administration, Russia collusion and the mass disinformation campaign which supported it.
It’s Prince who is known to have worked behind the scenes to open a back-channel between the Trump Administration and Moscow. Prince’s world-view also closely aligns with Trump’s foreign policy of detente.
“Think about it: If FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, can deal with Stalin to defeat German fascism in World War II, certainly the United States of America could work with Putin to defeat Islamic fascism. We don’t have to agree with the Russians on everything, or even on a lot, but we can at least agree that crushing ISIS in the Middle East is a very good idea.,” Prince is quoted in The Intercept. It may be coincidental, but it’s unusual that Prince’s brother-in-law owns the company whose server had repeated unusual links with the Trump campaign and Alfa Bank. It should be noted Prince’s company “Frontiers Services Group” also worked for the Chinese Government.
Mike Pence has close ties to pro-russian mercenary Erik Prince.
Which brings us to Vice President Mike Pence, who seems to be operating as a President-in-waiting, pending a Trump impeachment. This should trouble Americans because behind the scenes Pence is powered by the very same people who put Trump in office and is closely aligned to Erik Prince.
The Prince and DeVos clans have a long history of supporting right-wing causes from bankrolling Newt Gingrich’s “Republican Revolution” to supporting anti-gay, anti-abortion organizations and ballot initiatives. Erik, was very close to Charles “Chuck” Colson, Richard Nixon’s “Watergate hatchet man” who Pence calls “a dear friend and mentor.” Erik Prince donated to Pence’s PAC “Principles Exalt a Nation”. After Prince’s Blackwater gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square in 2007, Pence organized a welcoming reception for Prince in Washington D.C. The Prince and Devos clans also support and believe in establishing a Christian government in the US, just like Pence.
While Pence claims he is not aware of any collusion between Trump and Russia during the 2016 campaign, it’s clear Prince not only acted in an advisory capacity for Pence when he headed the Trump transition team, he was actively involved in setting up a back-channel with Russia. Prince and Pence have been close friends and allies for at least a decade.
If President Trump is impeached and Mike Pence becomes President, the group of evangelical supporters who helped elect Trump may be closer to achieving their and Vladimir Putin’s goal. Jeremy Scahill puts it all in a far more Machiavellian way, “Trump is a Trojan horse for a cabal of vicious zealots who have long craved an extremist Christian theocracy, and Pence is one of its most prized warriors,” says Jeremy Scahill.
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