All political scandals run through Miami. The Magic City is a lawless Casablanca of sorts, a town where the world's worst rich people all congregate, party together, and hatch crackpot schemes to defraud taxpayers and/or tip presidential races. In 2000, a bunch of GOP operatives caused a ruckus outside County Hall, forced Dade officials to stop counting presidential ballots, and let George W. Bush take that year's election. Political huckster Roger Stone later took credit for starting the fake "Brooks Brothers riot."
And now, as the nation slowly learns that the Trumps, a family as dumb as the Bluths and with a Habsburg-level penchant for nepotism, orchestrated an astronomically obvious and dumb meeting with Russian officials to try and get "dirt" on Hillary Clinton, you can sure bet the trail from D.C. to Moscow leads through South Florida. Here's how:
1. The Russian billionaires who orchestrated Donald Trump Jr.'s now-infamous meeting for "dirt" on Hillary Clinton
Miami readers likely know what's coming: Of course, of course, of course Aras Agalarov owns multiple multimillion-dollar condos on Fisher Island, the ritziest area of the Magic City and one of the most expensive zip codes in America.
The Agalarovs, a family of real-estate developers, also knew of "compromising" information about Trump, according to the famed Christopher Steele "dossier" published by BuzzFeed.
As first reported by the Real Deal South Florida last year, the elder Agalarov plunked down $10.7 million for a condo on Fisher Island in April 2016. According to county property records, Agalarov purchased a 4,738-square-foot unit at Palazzo del Sol on Fisher Island Drive.
Curbed Miami last year posted some renderings of the building: It's fancy enough to make a person consider committing some "light" treason.
County property records also show Agalarov owns a 2,861-square-foot unit steps away, in the equally exclusive Oceanside. His company Saffron Management bought the property for $3.6 million in 2012 and transferred it to Agalarov personally for $100 the next year
2. The Intercept's leak alleges Russian hackers breached a company that handles Florida voter databases:
A few weeks before the November 2016 election, all 67 county elections supervisors in Florida got a call from the FBI with a warning: Hackers were trying to break into their voting systems. The FBI insisted no one had been hacked yet, but told supervisors they needed to be wary.
They might not have been careful enough. The Intercept posted leaked NSA documents online last night that suggest Russian hackers did, in fact, break into the Tallahassee company that provides voting technology to most Florida counties, including Miami and Broward. And those same hackers used that connection to send phishing emails to more than 100 local officials just days before the vote, the docs show.
There's no suggestion in the NSA docs that the hackers wormed their way into Miami-Dade's or Broward's voting equipment. But in light of the fact that the hack targeted the same company that was investigated after accidentally posting results early in Broward during the August primaries, the NSA's intel raises new questions about Florida's security in the face of Russian attacks.
By now you've woken up to the Black Mirror-worthy headlines: President-elect Donald Trump has spent all night angrily denying he paid Russian prostitutes to perform an R. Kelly-approved routine at a Moscow hotel while FSB spies secretly filmed blackmail material.
But the source of those salacious claims — a secret dossier published in full by Buzzfeed — also includes dozens of other sinister allegations about outright collaboration between the GOP nominee's staff and Russian President Vladimir Putin's cronies to help get Trump elected.
One of those reports alleges that Russian officials living in Miami paid off the hackers who broke into the Democratic National Committee's servers to provide embarrassing emails to WikiLeaks and other sources.
Stone during last year’s presidential campaign was one of the most public of Trump’s current and former advisers to talk about communications with Russia-linked affiliates. In March 2016, he said he was in touch with “Guccifer 2.0” — the hacker persona that U.S. intelligence officials say is a Russian front for channeling stolen documents but who Stone insists is not a Moscow asset — and boasted during the campaign about his contact with WikiLeaks.
He also predicted on Twitter last summer that an October surprise was coming to disrupt Clinton’s campaign, suggesting as well that Podesta would face scandal shortly before his emails started appearing on WikiLeaks.
Stone has nonetheless insisted he’s innocent of any collusion with Russia.
(Fun fact: Stone's lawyer, Robert Buschel, also represents the City of Miami police union.)
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Via the Wall Street Journal:
The hacking spree that upended the presidential election wasn’t limited to Democratic National Committee memos and Clinton-aide emails posted on websites. The hacker also privately sent Democratic voter-turnout analyses to a Republican political operative in Florida named Aaron Nevins.
(Another fun fact: Nevins is the son of former South Florida Sun-Sentinel reporter and current independent blogger Buddy Nevins.)