New: CAFE Brief April 9-15

Hi everyone! I am now writing a bi-weekly newsletter for CAFE (Preet Bharara’s company) called CAFE Brief, where I recap news and analysis of politically charged legal matters. This will be a daily newsletter eventually.

What does that mean for the recap I usually post here and to /r/keep_track? Every Tuesday, I will post links to the most recent editions of CAFE Brief, representing the previous week’s news. I know having to click through to an outside website is not as convenient as having the full text posted here.

I hope it’s understandable that this is a wonderful opportunity to get paid for my labor while still helping people keep track. I will write up any stories that are not covered in the newsletter and post them here just for you guys!

My hope is that I’ll now have more time to dedicate to my other projects (like the departures spreadsheet/website) and new endeavors, including making keep_track better than it already is. If you have any requests or suggestions, please use the contact form to shoot me a message!

SUBSCRIBE to get the recaps in your inbox Tuesday and Friday morning.

Here is the Friday edition of CAFE Brief, with the top stories from last Tuesday to last Thursday.

Here is today’s edition of CAFE Brief, with the top stories from last Friday to yesterday (Monday).

Some stuff that didn’t make the 20+ top stories list in CAFE Brief:

What’s in Mueller’s report

Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein said in a private speech that Mueller’s probe focused on ‘cyber crimes’ and Russia’s election interference. Judging from this and from Barr’s (untrustworthy) account, we can speculate that the reason Mueller did not find collusion/conspiracy may have been because the conspiracy “scope” was very limited. For instance: Did the Trump campaign make an agreement with the Russian government to hack the DNC? If no, then there was no conspiracy. The problem with such a limited scope is that Trump could have had an agreement with a non-government individual, or there might not have been an agreement beforehand. There are many options in which conspiracy/collusion still occurred, but not as narrowly defined as in the Mueller probe. Just a thought.

Counter report

Rudy Giuliani told the Wall Street Journal that their counter report to Mueller’s report is now 140-pages long, but they want to cut it down to about 50 pages. Trump’s lawyers plan to do that by leaving out most of the material on collusion and focusing mainly on obstruction of justice.

  • Axios reported Trump’s personal legal team will release a separate response to the report and it is likely to be more aggressive than the response from the White House lawyers.

Rusal benefits Kentucky

Just months ago, the U.S. Treasury lifted sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s aluminum company, Rusal. Now, Rusal plans to invest $200 million in an aluminum mill being built in Kentucky and supply it with unfinished aluminum from plants in Siberia.

  • Note: Kentucky is the home state of the most powerful person in the Senate, Mitch McConnell.

Putin’s GPS futzing

A study of Russian forces jamming or spoofing the global navigation satellite system revealed almost 10,000 incidents of ships being sent bad location data. While the activity was thought to only occur around Russian president Putin, to shield his location, the new report shows GPS spoofing incidents also align with the locations of Russian military and government resources. The Business Insider reported, “most of the incidents have been recorded in Crimea, the Black Sea, Syria, and Russia.”

Assange eviction

Ecuadorian president Lenín Moreno said that Julian Assange was evicted from their London embassy for using it as a “center for spying.” ABC News reported the Ecuadorians began the process of getting rid of Assange in March 2018, when they contacted the U.K. government for assurances that he would not be extradited to a country where he could face the death penalty. Six months later, Ecuador reached out to the US through their ambassador to Germany, who contacted the US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell. Grenell asked Rod Rosenstein if he could verbally pledge that Assange would not face the death penalty in the US; Rosenstein consented.

Why is Sam Patten an important player in Mueller’s probe?

This Washington Post piece from September 2018 recounts the details of Patten’s case. Patten’s foreign lobbying charge originates from a company he formed with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Manafort associate believed to have ties to Russian intelligence. Patten admitted in court that he used an American citizen as a “straw donor” to allow a Ukrainian businessman to give $50,000 to Trump’s inauguration in exchange for four tickets to the event.

More information on Yujing Zhang’s case:

The most intriguing aspect of this case may be the people Zhang is connected to. The more well-known link is Cindy Yang, the spa owner who sold access to Trump through Mar-a-Lago events. The Miami Herald made a network graph depicting who has gained access to Trump through Yang and mapped the flow of money through the network. The more shadowy persona linked to Zhang is known as ‘Charles.’ Mother Jones has identified this man as a Chinese businessman named Charles Lee, but found more questions than answers when investigating his past.