On Monday, CNN reporter Clarissa Ward explained the shadowy operations of the Wagner Group, a paramilitary organization that experts believe is under the control of the Kremlin — and which is used to exert Russia’s might and disrupt politics around the world.
“I think everybody knows by now that hybrid warfare is one of the most valuable tools Russian President Vladimir Putin has in his arsenal, whether it’s misinformation campaigns, election meddling as the U.S. saw in the 2016 election or increasingly the use of mercenaries,” said Ward. “Russian mercenaries are popping up, as we learned, in countries across the globe, often unstable countries, they’re being used to boost Russian influence, but also to outmaneuver geopolitical rivals such as the U.S.”
“Officially, the Kremlin says they have nothing to do with mercenary groups whatsoever,” said Ward. “But we sat down in a television first with a former fighter with notorious Wagner Group, and he told us a very different story.”
“I’m a mercenary,” said “Oleg,” a former Syrian fighter in the pay of Wagner, in a CNN interview through a translator. “90 percent of participants of the company were like me, motivated by money.”
Ward noted that Wagner, despite Russia denying its existence, now has “hundreds of fighters operating on three different continents” — all allegedly in the pay of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Putin ally who also helped fund the troll farm used to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“CNN traveled to the remote Russian village of Molchino, to try to get to his training camp, and found that the group has a surprisingly close relationship with the Russian military,” said Ward. “The only way to get into the Wagner barracks is to get through that checkpoint, which is manned by the Russian military, because this actually belongs to a Russian special forces unit.”
“Not far from Molchino, there is a monument to fallen Wagner fighters. Visitors are not welcome, so we approach with a hidden camera,” continued Molchino. “A guard soon comes up to us … He begins to get suspicious of our questions, and we decide to leave. They didn’t let us inside, which is not surprising, because in that compound is the only tangible, visible proof that Wagner is real.”
“No surprise, perhaps, that the monument is funded by an Prigozhin-owned company,” said Ward. “It was five years ago in Crimea that mysterious unidentified fighters dubbed ‘little green men’ helped wrest the province from Ukraine, even as the Kremlin feigned ignorance. It was a success, and Moscow’s use of mercenary forces has since grown. Analysts say none of this could happen without Putin’s approval.”
“Russia is trying to suppress the U.S.,” said Oleg. “In every way possible using legal and illegal means. It’s trying to smash it, get the better of it somehow. What will come of it as a result? Nothing good, I think.”
“But for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Wagner is still a worthwhile gamble, an expendable fighting force with no accountability,” concluded Ward.
Don Lemon notes the GOP panic after their own witnesses gave testimony harming Trump: ‘Worried much?’
CNN anchor Don Lemon explained how witnesses called by Republicans in the impeachment inquiry destoryed the defenses employed by President Donald Trump and his allies.
"Now, let's just be honest, the shakedown -- that's exactly what it is -- the shakedown is exposed, people," Lemon said.
"And the evidence comes from the Republican's own witnesses," he noted. "The former envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker -- who resigned just one day after the release of the whistleblower's report -- telling the president's defenders exactly what they did not want to hear."
"They called him apparently expecting him to say what he said in his closed-door testimony, that he saw no evidence of a quid pro quo, or let's call it for what it is again -- a shakedown," he continued. "Well, now he says he was wrong."
NSC aide Morrison flounders as lawmaker asks why he reported Trump’s phone call if he didn’t think it was a big deal
At the impeachment hearings on Tuesday, National Security Council aide Tim Morrison stressed that he didn't believe there was anything inappropriate about the call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. But when Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) asked him why he reported the call to government lawyers, he had no answer.
"You responded to a series of questions about the call and saw nothing wrong with it, yet you skipped your chain of command to go to legal counsel to find out — I guess to find out what to do, because you were concerned about the political fallout, not about anything being appropriate or wrong with the call, is that correct?" asked Demings.
CNN legal analyst flattens Rick Santorum for ridiculous impeachment defense of Trump
Former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum was shut down on CNN for his latest defense of President Donald Trump.
Santorum was effectively arguing for people to ignore the words coming from Trump.
"Wait, this argument is insane," Carrie Cordero said. "You cannot argue that the president of the United States' words do not matter or that he's just sort of spouting off or he has his own views."
"The reality is we ignore 80 to 90% of what the president says," Santorum argued. "Look at the tweets, we ignore most of those things he tweets and say 'it's Trump being Trump.'"
Then CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin flattened Santorum.