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Trump’s Inner Circle Funding Secret Influence Campaigns Through Teenage Memers

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Donald Trump’s inner circle is paying teenagers and young adults to push out right-wing memes to promote the former president’s re-election.

Those memers first caught the attention of MAGA merchants, who paid them last to display ads for their products, but some high-profile campaign funds and individuals associated with the twice-impeached one-term president have also paid these high schoolers to promote their content, reported HuffPost.

“Since the 2020 election, these meme moguls have quietly collected payments to run ads for the Trump campaign’s ‘Election Defense Fund’; former senior Trump aide Jason Miller’s new social media network, GETTR; Trump confidant Mike Lindell’s bedding company, MyPillow; and, as recently as a few weeks ago, the National Republican Senatorial Committee,” the website reported. “In a few cases, the memers have included high-schoolers as young as 14. Some of these discreet ad deals were brokered directly between teens and former members of the Trump White House.”

Most of those ads are links inserted in the memers’ Instagram bios, which captions urging social media users to click through to the advertiser’s website, and the teens are paid a small fee through a third-party marketing agency for each person who clicks the link.

“There’s a lot of money to be made,” said one memer with hundreds of thousands of followers. “You just gotta know the right people.”

Those people include Ory Rinat, the former chief digital officer of Trump’s White House who now operates the influencer marketing platform Urban Legend; Sondra Clark, the former marketing director for Trump’s executive office, and Donald Trump Jr., who shared some of their memes on his own Instagram account.

“Advertisers set up campaigns where they pay for ― and creators are paid for ― driving specific results like newsletter sign-ups, event registrations, or visits to a landing page,” said a spokesperson for Urban Legend. “In the past year, brands have launched 175 campaigns through the [Urban Legend] platform, mobilizing creators across the ideological spectrum and beyond politics, in verticals like healthcare, parenting, and sports.”

The memers spread false information about COVID-19 and public safety measures, including vaccines, and call for deporting elected officials who are women of color and QAnon-adjacent claims that President Joe Biden is a pedophile, with links to sponsored content from MyPillow, GETTR and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

These influence campaigns, which are largely shielded from advertising regulations, could open the door to dark-money campaigns and targeted disinformation operations conducted by the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency in 2016, and none of the ads reviewed by HuffPost were labeled as paid advertisements — a deceptive practice known as “stealth shilling” — and most were deleted within a day or two.

“A lot of this stuff is very down-low,” the memer said.

 

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29 Months Later Bill Barr’s Super Secret Russia Special Counsel Files His Second Indictment – for Alleged Lying

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In April of 2019 then-Attorney General Bill Barr ordered the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut to open and lead an investigation into Russia – not into how Russia has been attacking the United States via cyber warfare, undermining Americans’ trust in American institutions, and using social media to do it, but into whether or not the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been warranted in opening an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, including its investigation of Donald Trump.

On Thursday, 29 months after Barr first appointed John Durham (photo, right) to lead that super-secret investigation, 11 months after Barr secretly turned Durham into a special counsel to ensure the investigation would continue past his and Trump’s tenure, and after spending untold millions of taxpayer dollars, the Dept. of Justice has announced Durham has obtained a second indictment.

“A prominent cybersecurity lawyer was indicted on a charge of lying to the F.B.I. five years ago during a meeting about Donald J. Trump and Russia, the Justice Department announced on Thursday,” The New York Times reports.

The lawyer, Michael Sussmann, “of the law firm Perkins Coie, which has deep ties to the Democratic Party — is accused of making a false statement about his client at the meeting.”

Mr. Sussmann’s defense lawyers have denied the accusation, saying that he did not make a false statement, that the evidence he did is weak and that who he was representing was not a material fact in any case. They have vowed to fight any charge in court.

At issue is who was Sussman working for when he “relayed concerns by cybersecurity researchers who believed that unusual internet data might be evidence of a covert communications channel between computer servers associated with the Trump Organization and with Alfa Bank, a Kremlin-linked Russian financial institution.”

Apparently not at issue is if the Trump Organization or campaign had a secret communications channel to a Kremlin-linked organization.

Frequent viewers of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow are likely familiar with her reporting on Alfa Bank, including this segment from October 2018:

Durham has not obtained any indictment against anyone in Russia, any Russian operatives, any Trump Organization or campaign official, or anyone who may have been involved in Russia’s attack on the United States.

The only other indictment Durham has obtained from his two-plus year investigation? The Times in 2019 reported on a “low-level” FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, who “altered an email that officials used to prepare to seek court approval to renew the wiretap,” on Carter Page, a Trump campaign advisor.

One expert calls the indictment “weak.”

 

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Newly Unredacted Documents Reveal a Litany of Allegations Against Pompeo, His Wife, and State Dept. Staffers

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Newly unredacted records from a whistleblower complaint in the State Department have shed light on more allegations against former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and members of his former staff.

According to documents obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Pompeo and others were accused of misconduct.

The publication reports: “The alleged misconduct included false or misleading statements to the agency’s legal department, misuse of government resources on personal and political activities potentially prohibited by the Hatch Act, verbal abuse of employees by Mike and Susan Pompeo and directives to staff not to communicate in writing in order to evade transparency laws.”

The unredacted documents come two years after the redacted version of the whistleblower complaint was filed with the State Department Office of Inspector General (OIG). The OIG is said to have excluded many of the previous redactions in the version of the documents released to CREW.

“The complaint alleges “[s]everal senior career Foreign Service officials who held positions of responsibility within the Executive Secretariat” turned a blind eye to Pompeo’s “questionable activities” and, in some cases, “facilitat[ed]” them, according to CREW.

Employees in the State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser “expressed concern that some of these activities may have violated [the] Hatch Act or other regulations,” but the whistleblower was “unaware that any resolution was reached, potentially because senior officials in the Executive Secretariat repeatedly declined to seek clarification or guidance from [the Office of the Legal Adviser] despite requests from subordinates to do so.”

The new documents also detail the aftermath of former Inspector Steve Linick’s removal from his post, which was part of a larger Trump-led effort to oust inspectors. The report also indicated that staff members were “stunned” by the directive.

“[T]his is all so surreal three days later. I’m nervous about the future,” the OIG employee wrote in a May 18, 2020 email. In a later email, the official added, “I just heard Trump say we needed to get rid of the ‘Attorney Generals’ as a whole…Oh dear.”

CREW has also received other documentation as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit aimed at uncovering information about Pompeo’s attempts to hinder the investigation into the allegations of misconduct against him.

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‘This Is Crazy’: Dem Blasts GOP for Attacking Milley – a Trump-Ordered Nuclear Strike Would Have Been ‘Illegal’

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U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) is going on the offensive against Republicans, conservatives, and media attacks against the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, over reports he assembled top Pentagon officials and made them vow to not launch a nuclear strike without him being part of the “procedure.” Gen. Milley also spoke with his counterpart in China assuring them the U.S. would not launch an attack in the crazed, waning days of the Trump presidency.

Calling it “crazy,” Congressman Lieu, an Air Force Colonel who serves in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) reserves, says it would have been illegal for then-President Donald Trump to launch a “rogue nuclear first strike” without provocation. He’s calling on the press to “slam” Republicans for wrongly saying Trump should have been able to:

Congressman Lieu, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was asked why it would be illegal. Lieu had an easy answer:

Earlier in the week, responding to a tweet from Naval War College Professor of National Security Affairs, Tom Nichols, Congressman Lieu made the same point:

And urged passage of his legislation making it more difficult for a rogue president to launch nuclear weapons:

Related:

Psaki Nukes Former President and Republicans Attacking ‘Patriot’ Gen. Milley: Trump Was ‘Fomenting an Insurrection’

Top National Security Attorney Shuts Down Trump’s Claim Gen. Milley Committed ‘Treason’ in Just Four Words

‘National Emergency’: Experts Warn After Bombshell Report Reveals Top General Feared Trump Would Stage Military Coup

 

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