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The Pronk Pops Show 989, October 25, 2017, Part 1 of 2: Story 1: Clinton’s Campaign and Democratic National Committee Paid For A  Fabricated  “Dossier” on Trump Used as Campaign  Propaganda  and Their Accomplices In The Obama Administration and Big Lie Media Aided and Abetted Them — Fearing Clinton Might Lose They Planned For An October Surprise That Would Finish Trump Off —  Surprise — Surprise –Videos — Story 2: Time To Fire Mueller & Rosenstein and Stop Wasting Taxpayer Money on Clinton Conspiracy Theory of Trump  Russian Collusion Based on A Fictional Dossier and No Evidence At All of Trump Collusion — Investigate The Obama Administration’s Use of The Intelligence Community (CIA, FBI, and NSA)  For Political Purposes By Their Secret Surveillance of American Citizens Including Trump and Campaign and Cover-up of Clinton Foundation Crimes of Racketeering and Public Corruption — The Cover-up and Scandal of The Century –Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 989, October 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 988, October 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 987, October 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 986, October 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 985, October 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 984, October 16, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 983, October 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 982, October 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 981, October 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 980, October 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 979, October 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 978, October 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 977, October 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 976, October 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 975, September 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 974, September 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 973, September 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 972, September 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 971, September 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 970, September 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 969, September 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 968, September 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 967, September 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 966, September 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 965, September 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 964, September 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 963, September 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 962, September 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 961, September 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 960, September 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 959, September 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 958, September 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 957, September 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 956, August 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 955, August 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 954, August 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 953, August 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 952, August 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 951, August 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 950, August 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 949, August 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 948, August 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 947, August 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 946, August 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 945, August 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 944, August 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 943, August 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 942, August 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 941, August 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 940, August 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 939, August 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 938, August 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 937, July 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 936, July 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 935, July 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 934, July 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 934, July 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 933, July 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 932, July 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 931, July 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 930, July 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 929, July 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 928, July 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 927, July 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 926, July 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 925, July 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 924, July 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 923, July 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 922, July 3, 2017

 

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Story 1: Clinton’s Campaign and Democratic National Committee Paid For A  Fabricated  “Dossier” on Trump Used as Campaign  Propaganda  and Their Accomplices In The Obama Administration and Big Lie Media Aided and Abetted Them — Fearing Clinton Might Lose They Planned For An October Surprise That Would Finish Trump Off —  Surprise — Surprise –Videos —

Tucker Carlson Tonight 10/27/17 – Tucker Carlson Tonight October 27, 2017 Fox News

Lou Dobbs Tonight 10/27/17 | Breaking News | October 27, 2017

Does the dossier bombshell spell trouble for the Democrats?

Inside the investigation on the ‘real’ Russia scandal

BREAKING: CLINTONS, DNC FUND TRUMP, RUSSIA REPORT!

Trump rips Clinton link to Fusion GPS dossier as a ‘disgrace,’ says Russia ‘hoax is turned around’

New Developments In The Uranium One Scandal – Hannity

Russia Scandal Flips On Democrats and Media – Defeat Trump Media – Hannity

Trump Vindicated – Clinton campaign & DNC financed bogus Russian dossier – Fox News Panel 10/25/17

Ben Shapiro: Clinton campaign and the DNC funded the research that led to phony Trump-Russia dossier

Ben Shapiro: The Trump-Russia dossier story turns around to Hillary Clinton (audio from 10-26-2017)

Clinton has lied repeatedly about funding the dossier: Kennedy

Clapper on dossier: ‘Doesn’t matter who paid for it’

Trump: Russian dossier is a ‘disgrace’

FOX News Tonight | Oct 25, 2017 | Clinton Camp. and Dems Party Helped Pay for Russian Trump Dossier

Tucker Carlson Special: Full Story Behind FBI Coverup of Clintons Server and CrowdStrike

WOW! Trump PERSONALLY Ordered DOJ To Lift Gag Order On Clinton-Uranium One Informant

Tucker: Why won’t the FBI answer basic questions on Russia?

Clinton & DNC Paid for Fake Trump Dossier, 1860

Steyn: Everybody was colluding with Russia except Trump

Dossier dismissed: DNC & Hillary Clinton’s campaign funded Trump-Russia case

Trump Dossier Battle – Fusion GPS Asks Court To Stop Subpoena For Bank Records – Special Report

Putin dismisses Trump’s dossier as fake

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed as a hoax a privately-prepared intelligence dossier that claimed Russian intelligence agencies had compromising material on President-elect Trump. Elizabether Palmer has the details.

Clinton campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia dossier

 
The Washington Post’s Adam Entous looks at the role that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee played in funding the research that led to a dossier containing allegations about President Trump’s links to Russia. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde, Patrick Martin/Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

 October 24 at 7:21 PM

The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about President Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said. Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research.After that, Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community, according to those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the company in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Before that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by an unknown Republican client during the GOP primary.

The Clinton campaign and the DNC, through the law firm, continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.

Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele compiled the dossier on President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia. (Victoria Jones/AP)

Fusion GPS gave Steele’s reports and other research documents to Elias, the people familiar with the matter said. It is unclear how or how much of that information was shared with the campaign and the DNC and who in those organizations was aware of the roles of Fusion GPS and Steele. One person close to the matter said the campaign and the DNC were not informed by the law firm of Fusion GPS’s role.

The dossier has become a lightning rod amid the intensifying investigations into the Trump campaign’s possible connections to Russia. Some congressional Republican leaders have spent months trying to discredit Fusion GPS and Steele and tried to determine the identity of the Democrat or organization that paid for the dossier.

Trump tweeted as recently as Saturday that the Justice Department and FBI should “immediately release who paid for it.”

Elias and Fusion GPS declined to comment on the arrangement.

A DNC spokeswoman said “[Chairman] Tom Perez and the new leadership of the DNC were not involved in any decision-making regarding Fusion GPS, nor were they aware that Perkins Coie was working with the organization. But let’s be clear, there is a serious federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, and the American public deserves to know what happened.”

Brian Fallon, a former spokesman for the Clinton campaign, said he wasn’t aware of the hiring during the campaign.

“The first I learned of Christopher Steele or saw any dossier was after the election,” Fallon said. “But if I had gotten handed it last fall, I would have had no problem passing it along and urging reporters to look into it. Opposition research happens on every campaign, and here you had probably the most shadowy guy ever running for president, and the FBI certainly has seen fit to look into it. I probably would have volunteered to go to Europe myself to try and verify if it would have helped get more of this out there before the election.”

Marc E. Elias of Perkins Coie represented the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Some of the details are included in a Tuesday letter sent by Perkins Coie to a lawyer representing Fusion GPS, telling the research firm that it was released from a ­client-confidentiality obligation. The letter was prompted by a legal fight over a subpoena for Fusion GPS’s bank records.

People involved in the matter said that they would not disclose the dollar amounts paid to Fusion GPS but that the campaign and the DNC shared the cost.

Steele previously worked in Russia for British intelligence. The dossier is a compilation of reports he prepared for Fusion GPS. The dossier alleged that the Russian government collected compromising information about Trump and that the Kremlin was engaged in an effort to assist his campaign for president.

U.S. intelligence agencies later released a public assessment asserting that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to aid Trump. The FBI has been investigating whether Trump associates helped the Russians in that effort.

Trump has adamantly denied the allegations in the dossier and has dismissed the FBI probe as a witch hunt.

Officials have said that the FBI has confirmed some of the information in the dossier. Other details, including the most sensational accusations, have not been verified and may never be.

Fusion GPS’s work researching Trump began during the Republican presidential primaries, when the GOP donor paid for the firm to investigate the real estate magnate’s background.

Fusion GPS did not start off looking at Trump’s Russia ties but quickly realized that those relationships were extensive, according to the people familiar with the matter.

When the Republican donor stopped paying for the research, Elias, acting on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC, agreed to pay for the work to continue. The Democrats paid for research, including by Fusion GPS, because of concerns that little was known about Trump and his business interests, according to the people familiar with the matter.

 

Those people said that it is standard practice for political campaigns to use law firms to hire outside researchers to ensure their work is protected by attorney-client and work-product privileges.

The Clinton campaign paid Perkins Coie $5.6 million in legal fees from June 2015 to December 2016, according to campaign finance records, and the DNC paid the firm $3.6 million in “legal and compliance consulting’’ since November 2015 — though it’s impossible to tell from the filings how much of that work was for other legal matters and how much of it related to Fusion GPS.

At no point, the people said, did the Clinton campaign or the DNC direct Steele’s activities. They described him as a Fusion GPS subcontractor.

Some of Steele’s allegations began circulating in Washington in the summer of 2016 as the FBI launched its counterintelligence investigation into possible connections between Trump associates and the Kremlin. Around that time, Steele shared some of his findings with the FBI.

After the election, the FBI agreed to pay Steele to continue gathering intelligence about Trump and Russia, but the bureau pulled out of the arrangement after Steele was publicly identified in news reports.

The dossier was published by BuzzFeed News in January. Fusion GPS has said in court filings that it did not give BuzzFeed the documents.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that Steele was respected by the FBI and the State Department for earlier work he performed on a global corruption probe.

In early January, then-FBI Director James B. Comey presented a two-page summary of Steele’s dossier to President Barack Obama and President-elect Trump. In May, Trump fired Comey, which led to the appointment of Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel investigating the Trump-Russia matter.

Congressional Republicans have tried to force Fusion GPS to identify the Democrat or group behind Steele’s work, but the firm has said that it will not do so, citing confidentiality agreements with its clients.

Over objections from Democrats, the Republican leader of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), subpoenaed Fusion GPS’s bank records to try to identify the mystery client.

Fusion GPS has been fighting the release of its bank records. A judge on Tuesday extended a deadline for Fusion GPS’s bank to respond to the subpoena until Friday while the company attempts to negotiate a resolution with Nunes.

Julie Tate contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/clinton-campaign-dnc-paid-for-research-that-led-to-russia-dossier/2017/10/24/226fabf0-b8e4-11e7-a908-a3470754bbb9_story.html?utm_term=.29781c192bae

Robert Mueller’s widening Russia probe is sweeping up Democrats, including lobbyist Tony Podesta

The scope of Russian involvement in U.S. business and politics is extensive

MATTHEW SHEFFIELD 10.23.20171:51 PM

Much like the mid-90s saw story after story showing how extensive Chinese government operations within U.S. politics were, the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election is demonstrating the size of Russia’s.

That’s the overall takeaway from a series of news reports, including one from NBC that indicated that special prosecutor Robert Mueller has been investigating the business dealings of Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta. His firm, the Podesta Group, is one of several that did work on behalf of Paul Manafort, the former campaign chair of President Donald Trump’s campaign.

 Manafort, who has told friends that he expects to be indicted by Mueller, has been under investigation for his work on behalf of a number of Russian billionaires with interests in Ukraine and elsewhere — all of whom are closely connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Podesta’s firm was hired to do lobbying by Manafort on behalf of an outfit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU), which itself was hired to burnish the image of Ukraine’s then-president, who was closely tied to Moscow.

According to NBC’s sources, Mueller’s inquiry into the Podesta Group has expanded into whether it violated U.S. legal requirements that American individuals and corporations formally disclose their work on behalf of foreign governments. The failure to file under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) is a felony and can result in up to five years’ imprisonment. Prosecutions of FARA violations are rare and are often used as leverage in larger cases.

Neither the Podesta Group nor Manafort made their FARA disclosures until their work was exposed by media reports.

Podesta is the brother of Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager, John Podesta. A report from McClatchy revealed that John was a board member of a Russian alternative energy company called Joule, which seems to have built a business plan on gaining access to a Clinton White House. Dmitry Akhanov, a close associate of Putin and the CEO of a government-owned investment firm, oversaw the company’s investment in Joule.

Russia’s government has also been revealed to have had ties to former president Bill Clinton’s philanthropic work as well as to several left-wing political parties in various countries. Moscow has also openly funded efforts to get California and Texas to secede from the United States, with the former campaign targeting progressives and the latter targeting conservatives.

https://www.salon.com/2017/10/23/robert-muellers-widening-russia-probe-is-sweeping-up-democrats-including-lobbyist-tony-podesta/

 

A YEAR of Clinton lies about the ‘golden showers’ dossier exposed as Hillary’s lawyer is under fire for falsely denying paying for it

  • It’s claimed that Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias and other Democrats falsely denied to reporters their involvement in the ‘dirty dossier’
  • Two New York Times journalists say they were lied to at every turn
  • It’s now established that Clinton lawyer Marc Elias arranged for the campaign and the Democratic Party to pay a dirt-digging firm to produce the dossier
  • ‘Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year,’ Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted

Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer who launched what would become known as the anti-Trump ‘dirty dossier’ denied involvement in the project for a year as reporters pressed him for information.

Marc Elias brokered a deal between the Clinton camp, the Democratic National Committee and opposition research firm Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on the president while he was running for office.

But a pair of New York Times reporters said Tuesday night on Twitter that Elias and others involved had lied about their ties to the arrangement.

‘Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year,’ Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted after The Washington Post linked the dossier to Elias and his law firm Perkins Coie.

Kennth Vogel, another Times journalist, tweeted: ‘When I tried to report this story, Clinton campaign lawyer @marceelias pushed back vigorously, saying “You (or your sources) are wrong”.’

Scroll down for videos

Hillary Clinton's campaign lawyer Marc E. Elias hired opposition research firm Fusion GPS in April 2016 to dig up dirt about Donald Trump, but falsely denied involvement to reporters

Two New York Times journalists blew up on Twitter when The Washington Post broke the story

Two New York Times journalists blew up on Twitter when The Washington Post broke the story

The Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee funneled money to Fusion GPS through Elias's law firm

The Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee funneled money to Fusion GPS through Elias’s law firm

The deal began in the spring of 2016, when Elias was approached by Fusion GPS, and lasted until right before Election Day. When Fusion approached Elias, it had already been doing research work on Trump for an unnamed client during the Republican primary.

But the dossier itself was funded entirely by Democrats, using Elias as a middle-man.

After the DNC and the Clinton campaign started paying, Fusion GPS hired former British spy Christopher Steele to do the dirt-digging. His work later resulted in the dossier.

Trump has called the material ‘phony stuff,’ and on Wednesday he portrayed himself as the aggrieved party.

Peter FritschThomas Catan

Fusion GPS co-founder Peter Fritsch (left) and partner Thomas Catan (right) took the Fifth last week rather than talking to Congress

The dossier, compiled by British spy Christopher Steele, contends that the Russian government amassed compromising information about Trump

The dossier, compiled by British spy Christopher Steele, contends that the Russian government amassed compromising information about Trump

The president posted a quote on Twitter that he attributed to Fox News: “Clinton campaign & DNC paid for research that led to the anti-Trump Fake News Dossier. The victim here is the President”.’

The FBI has worked to corroborate the document, and special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, which is investigating potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, questioned Steele weeks ago.

The dossier circulated in Washington last year and was turned over to the FBI for its review. It contends that Russia was engaged in a long-standing effort to aid Trump and had amassed compromising information about the Republican.

Among its wild claims was that Russian officials have videos of the president cavorting with prostitutes, filmed during Trump’s 2013 visit to a luxury Moscow hotel for the Miss Universe contest

It also contains a highly unusual and unsubstantiated report that the call girls performed a ‘golden shower’ routine that involved them urinating on a hotel bed as a sign of disgust for then-president Barack Obama.

Trump has repeatedly dismissed the document as false and in recent days has questioned whether Democrats or the FBI itself had helped fund it.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly denied the dossier's claims, including the salacious allegation that he hired prostitutes in Russia

President Donald Trump has repeatedly denied the dossier’s claims, including the salacious allegation that he hired prostitutes in Russia

Trump called himself a 'victim' of the infamous dossier that Democrats helped pay to produce

Trump called himself a ‘victim’ of the infamous dossier that Democrats helped pay to produce

Trump also has challenged the findings of the FBI, NSA and CIA that Russia waged a large-scale influence campaign to interfere in the election.

The FBI and the CIA have said with high confidence that the effort was aimed at hurting Clinton’s candidacy and helping Trump. The NSA found the same with “moderate” confidence.

It’s unclear what Fusion GPS had dug up by the time Perkins Coie hired it in April 2016. According to a copy of the dossier published by BuzzFeed last year, the earliest report from Steele dates to June 2016.

It was not immediately known how much money Fusion was paid or how many others in the Clinton campaign or DNC were aware that the firm had been retained.

 Clinton campaign officials did not immediately comment, but in a statement, a DNC spokeswoman said the party chairman, Tom Perez, was not part of the decision-making and was unaware that Perkins Coie was working with Fusion GPS.

Former Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said on Twitter that he regretted not knowing about Steele’s hiring before the election, and that had he known, ‘I would have volunteered to go to Europe and try to help him.’

‘I have no idea what Fusion or Steele were paid but if even a shred of that dossier ends up helping Mueller, it will prove money well spent,’ Fallon in another tweet.

2016

June 20: The dossier is first dated June 20 and had contained several unverifiable periodic reports made over the summer, according to Mother Jones. It was sent in dated sections from a former Western intelligence officer to the FBI and alleged Russia had enough to blackmail Trump.

It alleged that Trump had been cultivated by Russian officials ‘for at least five years.’ It also claimed that the Kremlin had compromising material related to ‘sexually perverted acts’ Trump performed at a Moscow Ritz Carlton where former President Barack Obama once stayed.

Dossier also alleged that Trump’s inner circle was accepting a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin on Hillary Clinton.

July 27: Trump asks Russian hackers to find Clinton’s 30,000 emails during a press conference.

July 31: Kremlin weighing whether to release more information about Clinton.

Late July: The FBI opens its investigation into Russia’s interference in the election, and the Trump campaign’s possible role in it.

August 27: Then-U.S. Sen. Harry Reid sent a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey and called for a full investigation and public disclosure. He wrote: ‘The evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign continues to mount and has led Michael Morrell, the former Acting Central Intelligence Director, to call Trump an ‘unwitting agent’ of Russia and the Kremlin.’

September 23: U.S. intelligence officials began investigating links between Trump adviser Carter Page and the Russian government, Yahoo News reported. Page had extensive business links in Russia and is a former Merrill Lynch investment banker in Moscow.

October 7: The Obama administration publicly accuses Russia of ‘directing the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations’ to affect the US election.

October 30: Reid sent Comey another letter demanding that Trump’s possible ties to Russia be fully investigated and he cited the existence of ‘explosive information’ that the FBI has in its possession.

November 3, 2016: Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev flies into Charlotte, North Carolina on a private plane. Trump’s plane lands on the tarmac not long after and parks next to Rybolovlev, whose plane stays in Charlotte for 22 hours afterward. Trump rallies in nearby city Concord.

November 8: Trump wins the election to become the 45th president of the United States.

November 10: President Barack Obama warns Trump during a meeting at the White House that national security advisor Michael Flynn, a former U.S. Army lieutenant general and Defense Intelligence Agency chief, is a problem.

November 18: During a security meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Sen. John McCain hears about the documents and dispatches a former US official to meet the source of the documents and gather more information.

December 9: McCain meets Comey gives the FBI director the documents, The Guardian reported.

December 13: This is the last date of the memos from the dossier written by the British source.

December 29: The Obama administration issues new sanctions on Russia in retaliation for Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee in the summer and other efforts to interfere with the U.S. election.

2017 

January 10: Obama and Trump were both given a two-page summary of the dossier, CNN reported. BuzzFeed News then reported on the dossier and published it in full about how it alleges Trump’s deep ties with Russia.

January 19: The New York Times reported that ‘intercepted communications’ between Trump associates and Russians are being investigated as part of the FBI’s inquiry into Russia’s election meddling.

January 27: Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, holds a meeting with Russian-American businessman Felix Sater and Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Artemenko to discuss a backchannel ‘peace plan’ for Russia and Ukraine.

February 13: Flynn resigns as national security adviser after reports emerge that he misled Vice President Mike Pence.

March 2: Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuses himself from the investigation into whether the Trump campaign communicated with Russia.

March 4: Without presenting evidence, Trump tweets that Obama had Trump Tower’s ‘wires tapped’ during the presidential campaign.

March 15: Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announced that the committee had not found any evidence to support Trump’s wiretapping claim.

 March 20: Comey said he has ‘no evidence’ to support Trump’s wiretapping claim. He confirmed that an investigation into Russia’s election-related meddling includes an examination of contacts between Trump associates and Russia during the campaign.

Late March: Flynn asks for immunity in exchange for testifying to the House and intelligence committees investigating Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election.

April 1: Trump tweets: ‘It is the same Fake News Media that said there is “no path to victory for Trump” that is now pushing the phony Russia story. A total scam!’

April 3: Trump calls Putin to condemn a Saint Petersburg, Russia terrorist attack.

April 6: Nunes steps aside from the Russia investigation, because he himself is under investigation.

April 11: Page is now under investigation by the FBI who obtained court permission to monitor his communications. The U.S. believed he was acting as a Russian agent.

April 27: The Pentagon inspector general is investigating whether Flynn violated military rules by accepting foreign payments from Russia and Turkey, which is disclosed by a House committee.

May 8: Trump tweets ‘Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax’.

May 9: The president fires Comey from his position at the FBI.

May 10: Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the White House.

May 15: The Washington Post reported that Trump shared highly classified information about Islamic State with the Russian diplomats during a meeting the previous week.

May 17: Former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III is appointed the special counsel to take over the Justice Department’s Russia investigation.

Late May: Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is revealed to be under investigation by the FBI. According to the Post, he proposed a private back channel between the Kremlin and Trump’s transition team during a meeting in December.

June 8: Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee and answers questions related to Russia meddling into the U.S. election.

 June 13: Sessions denies colluding with Russia during Senate testimony.

June 14: The Washington Post reported that Trump is being investigated for possible obstruction of justice by Mueller.

September: Several news outlets, including POLITICO and Buzzfeed, are suing under the Freedom of Information Act to get records about how the federal government tried to vet the claims in the dossier.

October 24: It’s revealed that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped bankroll research that led to the ‘golden showers’ dossier on Donald Trump. Clinton’s campaign lawyer Marc Elias hired research firm Fusion GPS back in April 2016 to look into allegations of Trump’s ties to Russia, according to the Washington Post.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5016865/A-YEAR-Clinton-lies-dirty-dossier-exposed.html#ixzz4wa2Aew00

 

The Clinton camp and DNC funded what became the Trump-Russia dossier: Here’s what it means

 

The Washington Post broke the story Tuesday night that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped pay for that now-famous dossier of research on President Trump.

The Post’s Adam Entous, Devlin Barrett and Rosalind S. Helderman report that powerful Democratic attorney Marc E. Elias retained the firm Fusion GPS for information, and Fusion GPS later hired Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent who was versed in Russia-related issues.

The dossier, which was published by BuzzFeed News in January, has been partially confirmed, though its most salacious allegations have not been.

There is a lot to sort through here. Below are four key points.

1) Clinton supporters — though not the campaign itself — were previously reported to fund the dossier

The fact Democrats were behind the funding for the dossier is not totally new. When CNN first reported on the dossier’s existence back in January, it said the research effort was originally funded by President Trump’s GOP opponents and then, when he won the nomination, by those supporting Clinton.

CNN reported back then that their sources “said that once Mr. Trump became the nominee, further investigation was funded by groups and donors supporting Hillary Clinton.”

Until now, though, the dossier had not been tied specifically to the Clinton campaign or the DNC.

2) Yes, the dossier was funded by Democrats

Some of the pushback on the left has focused on the fact that a still-unidentified Republican client retained Fusion GPS to do research on Trump before the Clinton campaign and the DNC did. Thus, they argue, it’s wrong to say the dossier was just funded by Democrats.

But The Post is reporting that the dossier’s author, Steele, wasn’t brought into the mix until afterDemocrats retained Fusion GPS. So while both sides paid Fusion GPS, Steele was only funded by Democrats.

3) Trump’s allegation of FBI payments is still dubious

After the story posted, some on the right seized upon The Post noting the FBI had agreed to pay Steele for information after the campaign. The argument seemed to be that the FBI was engaged in a witch hunt against Trump using Democrats’ sources.

But The Post originally reported on the FBI’s agreement back in February. At the time, it also reported it never actually paid for the work after the agent was identified in news reports:

The former British spy who authored a controversial dossier on behalf of Donald Trump’s political opponents alleging ties between Trump and Russia reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the bureau to pay him to continue his work, according to several people familiar with the arrangement.

. . .

Ultimately, the FBI did not pay Steele. Communications between the bureau and the former spy were interrupted as Steele’s now-famous dossier became the subject of news stories, congressional inquiries and presidential denials, according to the people familiar with the arrangement, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

Despite there being no proof the FBI actually paid Steele, Trump suggested it might have in a tweet last week — along with “Russia . . . or the Dems (or all).” Of those three groups, only Democrats have been reported to have actually paid Steele. And again, that was already kind-of known.

Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th. Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?

4) The appearance problems for Democrats

There is, presumably, a reason Democrats haven’t copped to funding the dossier — something they still haven’t publicly confirmed. Fusion GPS threatening to plead the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination raised eyebrows last week, for instance.

First among those reasons is paying a foreigner for opposition research for an American political campaign. Given Democrats’ argument that Russia’s interference on Trump’s behalf was beyond the pale, the Clinton camp and the DNC paying a Brit for information would seem somewhat problematic.

(The Clinton campaign has also, notably, denied working with the Ukrainian government to dig up dirt on Trump. Republicans have pushed dubious comparisons between the Ukraine allegation and Russia’s alleged Trump advocacy.)

Some on the right even alleged that Democrats paying Steele amounts to “collusion” with foreigners. But Russia-Steele comparisons aren’t apples-to-apples. The British after all are, unlike the Russians, America’s allies. Also, Steele was not acting as an agent of a foreign government, which is what would likely be required to prove collusion in the case of the Trump campaign and Russia.

Steele’s dossier does include information it says was obtained from “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure and a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin.” In other words, the Clinton camp and the DNC were essentially paying for information allegedly obtained from inside the Russian government, even as there is no proof they deliberately sought Russia’s help.

Separately, the firm that the Clinton camp and the DNC paid also has alleged ties to the Kremlin. In Senate testimony in July, Hermitage Capital Management chief executive William Browder accused Fusion GPS and its head, Glenn Simpson, of running a smear campaign against Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian whistleblower who in 2009 was tortured and killed in a Russian prison after uncovering a $230 million tax theft. Magnitsky worked for Browder, and his name was used for a U.S. law containing sanctions that was passed by Congress and is a sore spot between the U.S. government and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Browder said the smear campaign was run by Fusion GPS with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin. You might remember them from the meeting with Donald Trump Jr. that took place in June 2016. Veselnitskaya was the Russian lawyer with alleged Kremlin ties who arranged the meeting.

As The Post reported in July of Browder’s accusations:

They were all allegedly working with the law firm Baker Hostetler to defend the Russian company Prevezon from charges it laundered funds stolen in the fraud Magnitsky uncovered.

“Veselnitskaya, through Baker Hostetler, hired Glenn Simpson of the firm Fusion GPS to conduct a smear campaign against me and Sergei Magnitsky in advance of congressional hearings on the Global Magnitsky Act,” Browder will testify. “He contacted a number of major newspapers and other publications to spread false information that Sergei Magnitsky was not murdered, was not a whistleblower and was instead a criminal. They also spread false information that my presentations to lawmakers around the world were untrue.”

Fusion GPS has confirmed it worked on a lawsuit involving Veselnitskaya for two years, The Post’s Josh Rogin reported. It denied any involvement in the Trump Jr. meeting.

The firm has worked with both Democrats and Republicans over the years.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/10/25/the-clinton-camp-and-the-dnc-helped-pay-for-that-trump-russia-dossier-heres-what-it-means/?utm_term=.b318da0b1cc3

 

Story 2: Time To Fire Mueller & Rosenstein and Stop Wasting Taxpayer Money on Clinton Conspiracy Theory 0f Trump  Russian Collusion Based on A Fictional Dossier and No Evidence At All of Trump Collusion — Investigate The Obama Administration’s Use of The Intelligence Community (CIA, FBI, and NSA)  For Political Purposes By Their Secret Surveillance of American Citizens Including Trump and Campaign and Cover-up of Clinton Foundation Crimes of Racketeering and Public Corruption — The Cover-up and Scandal of The Century –Videos

WOW! Trump PERSONALLY Ordered DOJ To Lift Gag Order On Clinton-

Uranium One Informant

he House Oversight committee has started looking into an Obama-era deal in which a Russian-backed company bought a uranium firm with mines in the U.S., Rep. Ron DeSantis told Fox News on Sunday, adding that he’s spoken with the federal government’s “confidential informant” on the matter. The uranium agreement was reached while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, and some investors in the Russian-backed company, Uranium One, had relationships with former President Bill Clinton and donated to the Clinton Foundation. “I’ve spoken with the confidential informant that helped the FBI uncover this bribery scheme,” DeSantis, R-Fla., a member of the oversight committee, told “America’s News Headquarters.” “Clearly, it’s in the public’s interest that this individual be able to tell his story to Congress.”

Did former Obama officials help create anti-Trump dossier?

Dan Bongino: Russian dossier is the scandal of the century

Rush Limbaugh: The scandal of scandals: Clinton campaign and DNC paid for the phony Trump dossier

Gorka: Uranium One scandal is absolutely massive

Gingrich: On the edge of the greatest corruption scandal

Tucker: Fake Russia collusion has unintended consequences

Tucker Carlson: How Trump-Russia Hysteria Spectacularly Backfired In DNC Face

UraniumOne crimes. Lou Dobbs breaks it down

“PROSECUTE HILLARY” – JUDGE JEANINE EXPLODES IN POWERFUL OPENING STATEMENT

There is a ‘mountain’ of evidence against Hillary Clinton: Judge Napolitano

Rep. Nunes On ‘Trump Dossier’: Did The Democrats Use The Intelligence Services for Their Political Gain?

Tucker Carlson interviews House Intelligence Committee Rep. Devin Nunes on how the contents in what is dubbed the ‘Trump dossier’ led the Obama administration to use government justice resources to investigate the Trump campaign using unverified information gathered from a questionable source.

Fusion GPS, the firm behind the infamous ‘dossier,’ is currently pleading the Fifth while using courts to block information and evidence showing the Clinton campaign and DNC jointly paid for it via a law firm, a fact leaked to The Washington Post.

“Federal Election Commission records show that the Clinton campaign paid the Perkins Coie law firm $5.6 million in legal fees from June 2015 to December 2016, according to campaign finance records, and the DNC paid the firm $3.6 million in “legal and compliance consulting’’ since November 2015. Some of those total fees were apparently paid to Fusion GPS,” The Post reported.

Nunes told Carlson he wants to find out if the FBI was able to obtain warrants using the dossier and if they opened a “counter-intelligence investigation” based on the unverified info.

“So is there anything more terrifying than the prospect of an armed rogue agency,” Carlson said of the FBI.

“I think that the challenge here is that if you had an unverified dossier paid for by political opponents, in this case, the Democratic party that the FBI is taking and using to open investigations into a campaign or into other Americans, we are on a slippery slope. I imagine this is what you see in third world countries where the party in power uses the intelligence services for their political gain. You don’t see that in the United States of America,” Nunes told Carlson on his FOX News show Wednesday night.

Transcript:

TUCKER CARLSON: So one of the most terrifying facts that we’ve learned in the past two days is that the FBI apparently was one of the funders of this dossier. Even after Trump was elected president. How can that be?

REP. DEVIN NUNES: Well, let’s take a step at a time here, Tucker. We don’t know that yet. Part of the reason why we don’t know that yet is we have subpoenaed FBI and the Justice Department to give us this information. What we know so far that we believe to be factual from The Washington Post piece is that the Democrats paid for the dossier — Fusion GPS for the dossier. We believe that to be true. But have Fusion GPS that pled the Fifth. So they refused to testify. They’re now trying to block us from getting information to get to financial records of who they paid, who could they have paid, who could they have hired, all those sorts of things. They’re trying to block us on that.

CARLSON: On what grounds could you say we don’t have the right to know that?

NUNES: Well, look, we’ve subpoenaed the documents and we’re waiting — we have the House general counsel representing us in court. But when you plead the Fifth and then you go to court to try and block us from getting the information and then it gets leaked to The Washington Post that the DNC and the Hillary [Clinton] campaign paid for this, I think we have a problem.

Now I think the next focus is going to be on whether or not did the FBI use this dossier to get any warrants, did they use it to open a counter-intelligence investigation and if they did, if they’re using unverified information to open up inquiries into American citizens, I think we have a big problem.

CARLSON: From a political campaign.

NUNES: From a political campaign.

CARLSON: I mean the purpose of this information which is unverified and in some cases demonstrably false was to affect the outcome an election. So it’s a simple question. You’re the chairman of one of the most powerful committees in the House of Representatives. Why can’t you get an answer?

NUNES: You would think that we would be able to. And that is the problem.

CARLSON: Is that constitutional?

NUNES: This is why the Speaker of the House came out this morning and called on DOJ to provide this information immediately to the House of Representatives. And this is why we’re in court now, just trying to get this information. And, look, this has been since March, it’s not like this is new. We didn’t just stumble into this. And at least subpoenas were issued almost 60 days ago.

CARLSON: But the FBI is not its own country, it can’t make it’s own unilateral decisions, right?

NUNES: Last time I checked, it was the U.S. Congress that created the FBI.

CARLSON: So is there anything more terrifying than the prospect of an armed rogue agency?

NUNES. No. No. And I think that the challenge here is that if you had an unverified dossier paid for by political opponents, in this case, the Democratic party that the FBI is taking and using to open investigations into a campaign or into other Americans, we are on a slippery slope. I imagine this is what you see in third world countries where the party in power uses the intelligence services for their political gain. You don’t see that in the United States of America.

CALRSON: There’s a new FBI director. There are lots of FBI officials that go on television. Has anybody from the FBI publicly explained why they’re not letting the House Intelligence Committee know this information?

NUNES: No, they have not. Not yet.

CALRSON: That’s really upsetting. So the Uranium One scandal, we know that a Democratic lobbying firm in Washington, The Podesta Group, was engaged in lobbying on behalf of these interests. And we know that the Clinton family foundation took just took over $100 million from board members of Uranium One.

Is anybody going to get to whether the obvious happened? That was a quid pro quo. They paid, they got the deal ratified by federal agencies. Will we get to the bottom of that.

NUNES: Here’s what I think is disturbing and what we’re looking for first. So, the new information here, a lot of people are asking, what happened? This was seven years ago. What happened? First of all, you had Republicans back in 2010 wrote in opposition to the sale on this Uranium One.

Then we now have information — this is the new information. We have informants who have said that there was an open FBI-DOJ investigation. We have people that have told us this. We don’t know if it’s true yet. but if it’s true, shortly after that — so if you have an open investigation, how do nine cabinet-level secretaries approve a sale?

And then you have all the questions that you raised. Was the Clinton Foundation involved in this? What was — there was millions of dollars —

CARLSON: And where was American national security, the American interest in this? Nonpresent.

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/10/25/rep_nunes_on_trump_dossier_did_the_democrats_use_the_intelligence_services_for_their_political_gain.html

Obama-era Russian Uranium One deal: What to know

Multiple congressional committees are investigating an Obama-era deal that resulted in a Russian company purchasing American uranium mines.

And after the request from many Republican lawmakers, the Department of Justice has lifted a gag order on a former FBI informant who is expected to have more information about the agreement that allowed Russia to control about one-fifth of the uranium mining in the U.S. – and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s involvement in it.

President Trump specifically requested the Justice Department lift the gag order on the informant, a source told Fox News.

The informant will be allowed to speak with the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Oversight Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Justice Department said Wednesday night. The informant will be able to provide “any information or documents he has concerning alleged corruption or bribery involving transactions in the uranium market,” the department said.

The controversial sale of what is now Uranium One to a Russian company is what Trump has called the “real Russia story” as federal investigators continue to probe Russia’s alleged involvement in the 2016 election. The Hill recently reported that Russian officials engaged in a “racketeering scheme” to further its energy goals in the U.S.

What was the Uranium One deal?

In 2013, Rosatom, backed by the Russian state, acquired a Canadian uranium mining company, now called Uranium One, which has assets in the U.S. Uranium is key to making nuclear weapons.

Through the deal, Russia is able to own about 20 percent of U.S. uranium production capacity. However, Colin Chilcoat, an energy affairs specialist who has written extensively about Russia’s energy deals, said that the company only extracts about 11 percent of uranium in the U.S.

The deal also “doesn’t allow for that uranium to be exported at all,” Chilcoat told Fox News. “It’s not like it’s leaving the U.S. or somehow finding its way to more insidious players.”

HILLARY CLINTON’S TOP AIDES STILL BEING PAID BY CAMPAIGN

The agreement was approved by nine government agencies with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an inter-agency group that reviews how certain foreign investments can impact national security. Clinton’s State Department was one of those agencies, though the former secretary of state told WMUR-TV in 2015 that she was not “personally involved” in the agreement.

Why is it controversial?

Republicans have largely decried the deal, especially as some investors reportedly donated millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation. Former President Bill Clinton also received a $500,000 speaking fee in Russia and reportedly met with Vladimir Putin around the time of the deal.

The FBI had looked into the agreement and uncovered that some Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in nefarious dealings, which included extortion, bribery and kickbacks, The Hill reported. Evidence of wrongdoing by Vadim Mikerin, the Russian official overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion in the U.S. who was eventually sentenced to prison, was discovered by the FBI before the deal was approved, according to The Hill.

Author Peter Schweizer – who wrote about the deal in his 2015 book “Clinton Cash” – told Fox News that there is no evidence that the people involved with approving the agreement knew that the FBI had an ongoing investigation into it.

“If anyone colluded for a foreign government in last year’s election, it was the Clinton campaign.”

– White House press secretary Sarah Sanders

But Republicans say the whole affair raises serious questions.

“Now it’s the Democrats who have some explaining to do,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “I hope they will cooperate with the investigation, be forthcoming with the American people and I expect the media to cover these new developments with the same breathless intensity that they have given to this investigation since day one.”

And White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News Tuesday that “if anyone colluded for a foreign government in last year’s election, it was the Clinton campaign [and] the Democrats.”

Trump has often accused the media of not reporting enough on the Uranium One deal.

“Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn’t want to follow!” the president tweeted on Oct. 19.

And in March, Trump asked on social media why the House Intelligence Committee has not launched an investigation into the “Bill and Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia.”

How does this tie in with the other Russia investigation?

Multiple congressional committees as well as the Justice Department are looking into possible Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election – and ties between Russians and Trump’s campaign.

“That’s your real Russia story. Not a story where they talk about collusion and there was none. It was a hoax. Your real Russia story is uranium,” Trump told reporters during a press conference last week.

REPUBLICANS SEE TABLES TURNED AS DEMS FACE FRESH RUSSIA CONTROVERSIES

Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading the probe into alleged Russian interference in the election, was the head of the FBI when it investigated Rosatom officials’ extortion and corruption.

“Your real Russia story is uranium.”

– President Donald Trump

And the investigation was led by then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, now the deputy FBI director, and then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, now the deputy attorney general, The Hill reported.

Mueller’s investigators in the Russia probe report to Rosenstein.

Congressional committees are looking into whether Mueller informed the Obama administration, particularly those tasked with approving the Uranium One deal, prior to CFIUS approval.

MUELLER PROBE EXPANDS TO DEMOCRATIC LOBBYIST TONY PODESTA’S DEALINGS

In her attempt to discredit reports of the controversy surrounding the Uranium One deal, Clinton said Trump and “his allies, including Fox News,” are diverting from the investigation.

“The closer the investigation about real Russian ties between Trump associates and real Russians … the more they want to just throw mud on the wall,” she said Monday. “I’m their favorite target, me and President Obama.”

What happens next?

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, had asked the Department of Justice to lift the non-disclosure agreement preventing a federal informant from speaking about the deal.

The informant’s lawyer, Victoria Toensing, has told Fox Business that her client can “tell what all the Russians were talking about during the time that all these bribery payments were made.” The informant was prevented from testifying by former attorneys general Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, according to Toensing.

“Witnesses who want to talk to Congress should not be gagged and threatened with prosecution for talking,” Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement. The Justice Department said Wednesday night that it has lifted the gag order, allowing the informant to discuss the deal with congressional investigators.

Jamil Jaffer, a former counsel in the Justice Department, said the alleged informant could allow Congress to “follow the money” because “if the informant was inside many or all of these transactions, meetings or conversations, he may be able to provide useful information about the intent behind the transaction and whether it was quid pro quo.”

“The key issues at stake in this investigation are all about intent and knowledge: was there an intent to influence official business, and, if so, did the recipient take the money in exchange for taking official action,” Jaffer, the director of the National Security Law and Policy Program at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, told Fox News.

But Jaffer said the credibility of the so-called informant will also come into play.

“Was this a foreign agent or criminal who turned? Was this a private individual the FBI placed inside [the deal]? Was this a government employee? All these factors, plus the level of the informant’s access to relevant information, will make a big difference here,” Jaffer.

During a hearing with Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions last week, Grassley pressed the former senator on actions the Justice Department might take regarding the deal. Grassley said he’s written several letters to government agencies inquiring if they knew about the FBI probe before they approved of the deal.

Sessions said the Justice Department will take “appropriate” actions but declined to comment specifically on the influence Russian officials might have had on the Obama administration to “smooth the way” for the deal.

“I hear your concerns and they will be reviewed,” Sessions said.

Grassley has called for a special counsel to be appointed to investigate the deal.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., told Fox News that the House Oversight committee’s investigation “could be criminal,” depending on the statute of limitations.

Fox News’ John Roberts and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/10/26/obama-era-russian-uranium-one-deal-what-to-know.html

Why doesn’t Hillary’s ‘dossier’ trick count as treason?

What’s the difference between the infamous Russian dossier on Donald Trump and that random fake-news story you saw on Facebook last year? The latter was never used by America’s intelligence community to bolster its case for spying on American citizens nor was it the foundation for a year’s worth of media coverage.

Then again, you get what you pay for. We now know Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee paid as much as $9 million for the discredited dossier on Trump.

According to the Washington Post, a lawyer named Marc Elias, who represented both the 2016 Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, had hired Fusion GPS, a DC firm working on behalf of the Russian government to soften sanctions at the time, to provide opposition research for them. The firm then hired a former British spy named Christopher Steele who reportedly purchased salacious rumors about Trump from the Russians.

Now, you might expect that the scandalous revelation of a political campaign using opposition research that was partially obtained from a hostile foreign power during a national election would ignite shrieks of “collusion” from all patriotic citizens. After all, only last summer, when it was reported that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer who claimed to be in possession of damaging information about Clinton, there was widespread condemnation.

Finally, we were told, a smoking gun tied the Trump campaign to Vladimir Putin. Former Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine went as far as to suggest that the independent counsel begin investigating treason.

Treason! Trump Jr. didn’t even pay for or accept research.

The Clinton crew, on the other hand, did. They didn’t openly push the contents of the dossier — probably because they knew it was mostly fiction. Instead, Fusion GPS leaked it to their friends in the media.

The dossier ended up in the possession of most major news outlets. Many journalists relied on Fusion GPS to propel coverage. BuzzFeed even posted the entire thing for Americans to read, even though it was more than likely that its most scandalous parts were hatched by a foreign government.

The memo dominated newsrooms that were convinced Trump was a Manchurian candidate. No fake-news story came close to having this kind of impact.

Democrats in Washington are now pushing the “Honest Ads Act,” which creates a raft of new regulations and fines for websites that don’t do enough to combat fake news. Attempting to control the flow of information onto our screens is the hobbyhorse of would-be censors. But since they’re at it, when do we get a bill that fines institutional media organizations that readily embrace bogus foreign dossiers?

Because the dossier didn’t just awaken the Russia-stole-our-democracy narratives in the media. It’s just as likely that the dossier was used by Clinton’s allies in the government.

The Obama administration reportedly relied on the dossier to bolster its spying on US citizens. We know of at least one case where the information was used to justify a FISA warrant on a Trump adviser. And let’s not forget that Steele had reached an agreement to be compensated for his efforts by the FBI.

None of this excuses the actions of Paul Manafort and others who may have benefited from their relationship with the Russians. Yet, using the very standards Democrats have constructed over the past year, the Fusion GPS story is now the most tangible evidence we possess of Russian interference in the American election.

And at some point, Democrats will have to decide whether it’s wrong for a political campaign to work with foreigners when obtaining opposition research or whether it’s acceptable. We can’t have different standards for Democrats and Republicans.

Otherwise people might start to get the idea that all the histrionics over the past year weren’t really about Russian interference at all, but rather about Hillary losing an election that they assumed she’d win.

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist and author of the forthcoming book “First Freedom: A Ride Through America’s Enduring History with the Gun, From the Revolution to Today.”

http://nypost.com/2017/10/25/why-doesnt-hillarys-dossier-trick-count-as-treason/

Republicans spoil for a fight over Russia probe budget

Robert Mueller’s first spending report must be reviewed by the Justice Department, but lawmakers are already questioning the open-ended use of taxpayer funds.

Updated 

Robert Mueller is pictured. | Getty Images
Complaints about spending over the Russia probes date to before Robert Mueller’s appointment in mid-May. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republicans trying to hobble Robert Mueller’s sprawling probe into President Donald Trump and Russia matters are about to get a new weapon: the special counsel’s budget.

Lawmakers haven’t yet seen the Russia investigator’s first spending report, which must go through a Justice Department review before being made public. But they’re already setting up a fight over how much the probe is costing taxpayers — and the fact that there’s no end in sight.

“For them to say to us, ‘Vote for an open-ended appropriation into a Mueller witch hunt,’ I think you’ll see significant objection there,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told POLITICO.

Mueller’s public budget is expected to contain only top-line figures covering broad categories like staff salaries, travel, outside contracts, supplies and equipment. But money will become a recurring fight as the investigation drags on, because Mueller is required to produce public expense reports every six months — giving opponents repeated opportunities to paint him in a negative light.

Partisan complaining about the expenses that pile up during lengthy Washington investigations is a familiar ritual. As President Bill Clinton faced impeachment in the House in 1998, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) called Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr a “federally paid sex policeman spending millions of dollars to trap an unfaithful spouse.”

Outcry over spending of taxpayers’ money also cropped up during the Iran-Contra investigation, whose outlays ultimately exceeded $47 million. “Taxpayers of this country should be absolutely up in arms about it,” then-Sen. Steve Symms (R-Idaho) said during a CNN appearance in 1992, six years into that probe.

Complaints about spending over the Russia probes date to before Mueller’s appointment in mid-May. Trump himself took to Twitter just one day before he fired FBI Director James Comey — kick-starting the whole special counsel process — to say: “The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end?”

Critics have only gained momentum as Mueller’s probe has advanced. King in a July interview called for legislation imposing both a deadline and budget constraints on Mueller; otherwise, the Republican congressman warned, Trump could face “a never-ending investigation that could go on for two presidential terms.”

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) tried in August to offer an amendment to the House budget resolution that would have halted Mueller’s funding just six months into the job. “No fishing expeditions,” he told Fox News as he tried to sell the measure.

While DeSantis couldn’t overcome a procedural technicality and never got a floor vote, conservatives say they’re just getting started. The right-leaning watchdog group Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit earlier this month seeking Mueller’s budget documents. Several Republicans said in interviews they’d be keeping tabs on the special counsel’s spending through their oversight capacity, and they will hold out the threat of attaching language to DOJ’s annual spending bill or other must-pass legislation that places clear restrictions or prohibitions on Mueller’s authority.

“We still have power over the Department of Justice,” warned Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), another Judiciary Committee member.

As a practical matter, Congress can’t go after Mueller’s day-to-day spending directly. His budget is being drawn out of a permanent Treasury Department account that is not subject to the annual appropriations process, and the DOJ regulations used to appoint Mueller state he “shall be provided all appropriate resources” to do his work.

Mueller is subject to some oversight. He had to produce a budget proposal to DOJ earlier this summer for the next fiscal year. And an internal DOJ audit office must review the first 4½ months of his spending receipts. Mueller isn’t under day-to-day DOJ supervision, but Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing the investigation after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, does have final say on some of the major decisions related to the Mueller probe, including his budget.

Peter Carr, a Mueller spokesman, said the internal DOJ review must be completed before the special counsel’s spending report is made public. He declined to comment when asked about a timeline for its release.

While firm details on how much Mueller has spent to date remain under wraps, sources familiar with the special counsel’s budget process say they expect the report to count up the salaries of 11 government attorneys who have been detailed from across other parts of DOJ, as well as five more people hired from outside government who are being paid using the scale for senior staff serving in a U.S. attorney’s office. Mueller himself is earning the same $161,900 salary as a U.S. attorney.

The special counsel’s spending report also will likely count any rent for office space in a Southwest Washington, D.C., office building — whose exact location remains a closely held secret — that his team has been using since the summer, according to sources familiar with Mueller’s budget process.

Politically, Mueller, a former FBI director appointed by President George W. Bush, can count on some degree of bipartisan support from lawmakers who say they expect he’ll lead a budget-savvy investigation.

“I’d be inclined to approve it,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a key member on both the Senate Appropriations and Judiciary committees. “He seems to be a pretty frugal guy.”

Conyers, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee since before the Clinton impeachment hearings, said in an interview earlier this week that he had no concerns about Mueller’s spending “unless it’s something totally outrageous.”

The special counsel’s Republican budget critics, Conyers added, represent the “few people who are sensitive about it.”

“Whatever figure he comes up with, they won’t like it too much,” he said.

Given Mueller’s mandate — lawmakers note he’s examining the authenticity of the presidential election — several Democrats said he should have some running room to spend what he needs to.

“In view of the amount of money that we spend as a nation in any given year, clarifying what happened under these very serious circumstances I think is important today and it’s important for history’s sake,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. “We’re talking about the believability of any election in this county and we’re talking about undue influence by a nation that has never been known to support the principles of liberty or justice and there’s a lot at stake here.”

“He’s going to do what he can to acquit himself well. He’s got no ulterior motives. No fish to fry. He doesn’t have any aircraft carriers he’s got to buy from some contractor friend,” added Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), a senior House Judiciary Committee member.

Nadler also said he’s not expecting Mueller to be held too tightly to subsequent budget requests because of unexpected circumstances that might arise given his wide-ranging investigation into the Trump campaign and the election.

Any Republican bid to meddle with Mueller via his budget will come with political risks, according to lawmakers, several longtime congressional observers and attorneys who have worked on special counsel investigations.

Charlie Houy, the former Democratic staff director on the Senate Appropriations Committee, acknowledged “ample precedent” for Congress to try to gain some control over the spending on a special counsel probe. “However,” he added, “it would be real tricky to not be charged with trying to impede the investigation. That in itself should cause cooler heads to urge caution.”

Lawmakers who try to micromanage the probe could also be accused of messing with the justice system itself, said Randall Samborn, a Chicago-based lawyer who served as spokesman for then-U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald during the George W. Bush-era special counsel probe into who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson.

“Could you only imagine what would happen, whether it’s this investigation or any criminal investigation conducted by DOJ or the FBI, if the Hill started getting involved in setting the budget on a per-investigation basis?” Samborn said. “You could not conduct a confidential secretive grand jury investigation and have the accountability while it’s under way being scrutinized by partisan politics. It’d be the death knell of such an investigation.”

Considering his reputation running the FBI, several sources who have worked for previous special counsels said they expect Mueller will get the leeway he needs to do his work. But Julie Myers Wood, a former lead prosecutor during Starr’s investigation, predicted the good will won’t last forever.

“If the inquiry starts to drag on, I would expect significant attacks on the cost, both in terms of direct cost to the taxpayer and also in terms of the cost of the time it is taking the executive branch to respond to his queries,” she said.

The Starr investigation — as well as the work of three other independent counsels who ran the case — remains the most expensive in U.S. history — costing more than $73 million, according to audits done by the Government Accountability Office. That single Clinton probe, which started in 1994 with an examination of the Clintons’ real estate deals in Arkansas took several unexpected turns over seven-plus years and ended up covering the suicide of White House attorney Vincent Foster, irregularities in the White House travel office, allegations of misuse of confidential FBI files, false statements by a top White House attorney and finally the president’s sexual affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

The investigation drew harsh political criticism for many reasons, including its spending: Over the full course of the probe it had more than 225 employees from the Justice Department and other federal agencies, including at least 65 consultants and outside advisers, according to a final report released in 2002.

While the bulk of Starr’s spending was detailed in summary format, on at least one occasion some of the embarrassing budget specifics did go public. House Democrats in 1998 released to the Los Angeles Times internal documents showing spending of $370 a month for a parking space for the independent counsel, a $32,380 bill to survey an Arkansas community where potential jurors would be seated in a trial of the state’s governor, and $30,517 for a psychological analysis of the evidence connected to Foster’s suicide.

Despite the criticism, Starr senior counsel Paul Rosenzweig said “there was never a serious effort” to strip the independent counsel’s spending. “The politics of trying to do so would be terrible optics,” he said.

Six separate investigations during the Clinton administration ran up costs of more than $140 million. President Ronald Reagan faced eight different probes, including Iran-Contra, for a total of more than $84 million, according to a POLITICO review of government audits and reports on their spending.

In all, there have been 21 completed independent counsel and special counsel investigations dating back to the Carter administration. Their total price tag: $231 million — $339 million when adjusted for inflation. Twelve of those cases concluded with no indictments.

Just two of the 21 cases ended with the successful prosecution of a federal official who was named as the primary initial target: Reagan White House aide Michael Deaver, who was sentenced to three years of probation and fined $100,000 in 1988 after being convicted on three counts of perjury stemming from a conflict-of-interest investigation; and Clinton’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Henry Cisneros, who pleaded guilty in 1999 to a misdemeanor charge for lying to the FBI about payments made to his former mistress. Clinton pardoned Cisneros in January 2001, on his final day in office.

The dearth of successful convictions, King said, is one of the main reasons he said he’s raising alarm about the Mueller probe’s spending.

“Not many people on either side of the political aisle would point to one [special counsel investigation] and say it’s a satisfactory result,” King said. “They’re messy. They’re ugly. They’re not conclusive. And there’s division over them that runs in perpetuity, as long as we remember them in our history.”

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/26/robert-mueller-probe-budget-fight-244218

 

Have no doubt, President Trump will wind up firing Robert Mueller

I am perfectly aware of the fact that the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III of President Donald J. Trump has not been completed.

No final report has been filed, and no indictments have yet been issued.

But after stating this, I have no doubt that Donald J. Trump will “do a Nixon.” By that, I mean, he will repeat what the former president did when it appeared that he would be either criminally charged or forced to leave office.

The Saturday night massacre took place when that era’s special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, was ready to take action against the incumbent president.

Nixon told then-Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson refused and resigned.

Next in line was William Ruckelshaus, Richardson’s deputy attorney general. He refused and resigned, too.

Finally, Robert Bork, who was solicitor general and next in line, assumed the position of acting attorney general and did the dirty deed.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that prosecutors have told former Trump campaign manager Paul J. Manafort that they plan to indict him. This planned indictment is based on phone taps placed on Manafort. These “intercepts” began even before Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager.

In addition, in July, federal agents with a search warrant picked the lock on the front door of Manafort’s home and seized important documents.

Obviously, Mueller means business and is acting quickly and aggressively to put pressure on those he believes can provide essential information in his investigation.

Some observers have called Mueller’s tactics “shock and awe.”

Manafort will soon be confronted with a critical personal decision. Does he continue to proclaim his innocence and say he did nothing wrong, or does he tell all and incriminate Trump and others?

Manafort, I’m quite sure, does not want to go to prison. If the evidence is overwhelming and credible, and if he believes Mueller has “the goods on him,” he undoubtedly will take the only avenue which keeps him out of prison and keeps his life from being ruined.

Subpoenas are being issued, a grand jury has been impanelled, and witnesses are being called to appear. This “wide-ranging” investigation is definitely heating up and advancing.

One major, crucial point, however:

Trump has publicly said the Mueller investigation should just focus on his campaign.

Trump said in a New York Times interview that Mueller would be “overstepping his boundaries” if he investigated anything to do with his or his family’s financial dealings that were unrelated to the campaign investigation.

That is exactly the rub.

I believe Trump knows that if Mueller goes into that area, he is in for real trouble. Not only might he have to leave office, but the embarrassing or possible criminal evidence could lead to the eventual demise of his financial well-being and empire.

Here is my central point.

Does anyone believe that, faced with such an impending doom, Trump would accept his fate? Would act differently than Nixon?

He believed Attorney General Jeff Sessions would end any investigation. When Sessions recused himself, Trump knew he didn’t have a protector. He was banking on Sessions to put an end to all his troubles.

This is the same individual who fired FBI Director James Comey. Comey had just begun his investigation. In fact, in a meeting in the Oval Office, Trump stated that he did this to relieve “great pressure.” He was referring to the Russia investigation.

Trump will not hesitate to instruct Mueller’s supervisor, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, to fire Mueller. If Rosenstein refuses, as Elliot Richardson did, then Trump will go down the chain of command at the Justice Department until he finds someone who will. He will find another Robert Bork.

Donald Trump will defend this action by saying that Mueller was on a “fishing expedition” or a “witch hunt” and “overstepped his authority.”

His base will wildly support him.

The country will face a constitutional crisis.

Do you think Trump cares or would be concerned?

Trump will not go quietly — will not give in or give up.

Let us all prepare for this scenario. It is not fantasy, and it will become a brutal reality.

Mark Plotkin is a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner. He previously worked as a political analyst for WAMU-FM, Washington’s NPR affiliate, and for WTOP-FM, Washington’s all-news radio station. He is a winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in writing.

http://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/351869-have-no-doubt-president-trump-will-wind-up-firing-robert-mueller

 

Robert Mueller has draft letter Trump, Stephen Miller wrote on why Comey should be fired: Report

Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election, has a copy of a draft letter written by President Trump and a top White House aide detailing why he would terminate former FBI Director James Comey, according to a report.

Trump and Stephen Miller, a White House senior policy adviser, wrote the letter from Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J., in May, the New York Times reported. It’s unknown what the draft letter said, but sources told the Washington Post it did not focus explicitly on the Russia probe.

The president showed top White House aides a copy of the letter during a meeting in the Oval Office on May 8, the day before Comey was fired, the Washington Post reported.

The letter was several pages and included a long list of complaints Trump had about Comey, including that he refused to say publicly he wasn’t under investigation by the FBI, the Washington Post reported Friday.

Comey ultimately said in congressional testimony he privately told Trump the FBI wasn’t investigating him as part of its probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Sources told the New York Times that White House counsel Donald McGahn took issue with parts of the letter and successfully stopped the president from sending it to Comey.

Instead, Comey was sent a different letter from Trump on May 9 that included a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. That memo primarily focused on Comey’s handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also sent a letter to Trump, which included Rosenstein’s memo and recommended the former FBI director be terminated.

In his short letter to Comey, Trump said new leadership was needed at the FBI to restore “public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission,” and said he decided to fire the former director based on Sessions and Rosenstein’s recommendations.

Mueller received a copy of Trump and Miller’s drafted letter from the Justice Department in recent weeks.

Ty Cobb, a lawyer with the White House, declined to discuss the letter with the New York Times, but said, “To the extent the special prosecutor is interested in these matters, we will be fully transparent with him.”

The New York Times said the letter originally drafted by Miller and Trump may provide the best explanation for why Trump decided to fire Comey. However, it’s unknown how much of that explanation addresses the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, part of which looks into the ties between Trump campaign officials and Russia.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/robert-mueller-has-draft-letter-trump-stephen-miller-wrote-on-why-comey-should-be-fired-report/article/2633205

 

Media Ignoring Democrats’ Scandals

Image: Media Ignoring Democrats' Scandals
Sen. Chuck Grassley R-Iowa talks to reporters as he walks to the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill, on October 18, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

By David Limbaugh
Friday, 20 Oct 2017 12:01 AM 

Why the collective liberal media yawn on the multi-headed Democratic scandals surfacing everywhere except on their pages and airwaves?

It’s not that the stories are too far-fetched and thin to interest self-respecting journalists, because they are real, damning and supported by sufficiently credible evidence to warrant serious attention and scrutiny.

There are the notorious Trump dossier, the Clinton-infected uranium bribery scandal and the prematurely drafted FBI memo to exonerate the most recently defeated United States presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, who, by the way, is still acting like a heat-seeking missile in search of just one plausible excuse for her loss. Let’s look at these scandals in turn.

The Obama administration was clearly spying on the Trump campaign during the presidential campaign, but was it based on good-faith evidence something untoward was occurring? Separate investigations are underway in both the Senate and the House to determine whether the administration relied on the so-called “Trump dossier” to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant authorizing its “wiretapping” of Trump officials.

What’s the problem with that, you ask? Well, you can’t just throw things against the FISA wall to justify suspending Americans’ privacy. The dossier is full of unsubstantiated information alleging elaborate connections between Trump and Russia — mouthwatering to Trump hunters but without calories.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued a subpoena to Fusion GPS, the opposition research company behind the dossier, which was authored by former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele. Fusion GPS’ attorneys asserted “constitutional privileges” on behalf of the company’s executives in refusing to deliver the subpoenaed documents. Swell.

The Daily Caller reports that Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley raised several “alarming” questions in an Oct. 4 letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray. Did the FBI present dubious information from the dossier to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain the warrant? If so, this would be a “staggering” revelation, according to former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova — “a type of manipulation of intelligence data and false intelligence data to mislead a court” that could require “the empanelment of a federal grand jury.”

Grassley also asked whether Steele used the same information from the dossier in his report to British intelligence. Grassley is rightly concerned that the British report, though allegedly based on the same bogus information as the dossier, might have been fraudulently presented as independent corroboration of the dossier. So far, the FBI hasn’t responded to three letters from Grassley seeking explanations for these anomalies.

Next, while the liberal media and the Democratic establishment shamelessly collude to find some scintilla of collusion between Trump and Russia to tamper with the presidential election, they’ve studiously avoided reporting on potentially real evidence of collusion between American officials and Russia. We’ve long heard allegations that the Clintons colluded with the Russians to enrich themselves at the expense of America’s national security. But new evidence has emerged that may give this story some real teeth. The Hill’s John Solomon and Alison Spann and Circa News reporter Sara Carter revealed that the FBI has acquired numerous documents, secret recordings, emails, financial records and eyewitness accounts allegedly proving that Russian nuclear officials caused millions of dollars to be paid to the Clinton Foundation and hundreds of thousands to be paid to Bill Clinton directly when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. The State Department then approved the sale of 20 percent of America’s uranium supply to Russia.

The Hill reports that the Obama administration was aware of these sordid transactions before it approved the deal to sell the uranium to the Russians in 2010: “The FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.” All kinds of other evidence was obtained showing Russian officials had “routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation” while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. But instead of bringing charges, the Obama Justice Department continued investigating — while the administration gave away our nuclear farm.

Even in the unlikely event that there is some less-than-incriminating explanation for all this, who can deny this is real collusion that resulted in dire consequences for our national security? Yet nary a peep elsewhere out of the liberal media. It seems they’re only interested in false allegations of Russian collusion that involves Republicans — not in real collusion that involves the Democratic royal family, the Clintons.

Finally, for now, based on FBI documents, we know that former FBI Director James Comey began penning draft statements exonerating then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton of criminal wrongdoing in the use of her personal email servers to host and transmit classified information before Comey had interviewed almost a dozen major witnesses, including Clinton herself. This is hardly a case of no harm, no foul, because in his announcement declining to bring charges, Comey declared that Clinton was guilty of egregious misconduct. He only declined to prosecute because he said the relevant criminal statute requires proof of criminal intent, which it manifestly does not and which exists anyway. Adding insult to injury, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is publicly defending Comey’s disgraceful act of prejudgment in favor of Hillary Clinton.

Liberals are frustrated that Donald Trump is in charge of their coveted executive branch and that their efforts to discredit, incriminate and impeach him for alleged Russian collusion are in free fall. Now they’re pursuing plan B: Trump is too crazy to occupy the office. Democrats know a good offense is the best defense and the best diversion against evidence of Russian collusion — actual tangible proof of wrongdoing rather than partisan fabrication. Republicans need to pursue this reality as fervently as Democrats pursued their slanderous unreality.

David Limbaugh is a writer, author, and attorney. His latest book is, “The Emmaus Code: Finding Jesus in the Old Testament.” Read more reports from David Limbaugh — Click Here Now.

https://www.newsmax.com/Limbaugh/trump-clinton-fbi-russian/2017/10/19/id/820919/

One Big Obama Super-Scandal: Uranium One, GPS Fusion, Mueller Scandals, JFK, Plus Flake

These are great days. Finally there are substantial reasons to believe that the decades long lies and generations long treacheries will be exposed and democracy restored. The truth must be uncovered if America is ever to be great again. President Donald J. Trump is responsible for this stunning book of revelations about to be written.

Don’t think for a second, not even a nano-second, that the opponents of President Trump do not understand the fate that awaits them as President Trump successfully peels away at the onion of the hitherto protected lies. Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, Don Lemon, Big Media, Islamic terrorists and their supporters, the Obama Dimocrats, the whole long line of Trump haters understand their days are numbered in days short of years.

More glorious for supporters of President Trump is that we can now see the contours of the opposition. Those contours are clear as the chalk tracing police outline around the carcasses of dead gangsters. Today there was major breaking news about Fusion GPS. Tomorrow and in days to come there will be more revelations.

* * * * * *The JFK Document Release

Ignore the JFK assassination conspiracy theories. The October 26 release of documents related to the Kennedy assassination in 1963 are an important moment in our current history and the book of revelations to come.

Recall that for many months after the inauguration of President Trump the F.B.I. and intelligence agencies such as the C.I.A. trashed the new duly elected president in a slew of leaks intended to remove President Trump from office. The leaks and manipulations from NeverTrump neocons alongside Obama Dimocrats utilized a fake “Russia collusion” and “saint Comey” line of prosecution and eventually led to obaminations such as the appointment of deep state stooges and cronies to run the Department of Justice and Mueller – the especially corrupt prosecutor.

The attempts by the deep state and Big Media to remove President Trump from office in the first several months failed. Soon thereafter, after the opposition to the duly elected president realized that President Trump would remain in office, the gears shifted. Politico, led the stenography squad to herald the shift in tactics.

After the realization struck that President Trump would remain president for his full term, the deep state and its stenographers began a campaign to save themselves. The immediate problem was the release of thousands of documents related to the JFK assassination.

For decades Americans have been fascinated by the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and a document release on the assassination would reflect badly on the intelligence agencies and investigatory powers. For example, the security apparatus either knew about Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of the president, or they did not – both of which pose troublesome questions for the security forces and the intelligence community.

Consider, Oswald was a former Marine with knowledge of American radar systems, who at the height of the cold war traveled to the Soviet Union in an era in which travel was much more difficult, renounced his American citizenship to U.S. officials and declared to the U.S. officials in Moscow he had important military information to give to the Soviet Union. In some newspapers the Oswald defection to the Soviet Union was front page news on October 1959. Then, after living in the Soviet Union Lee Oswald decides to return to the United States! Either the intelligence/security services kept track of Oswald or they did not. If they did track Oswald, why didn’t they know what he was up to? If they did not keep track of Oswald, why didn’t they. It’s a no win series of explanations that the security services and intelligence apparatus would have to explain if all the documents related to the JFK assassination were published.

Enter Politico. In an article Politico declared that release of all the JFK documents would be a disaster because the American people would be confused, the poor darlin’s… it was all too confusing and people would raise questions, ‘so please, please, President Trump keep the documents and the truth away from the American people until the experts can digest the information and release it after it is properly prepared, if ever’. Think we exaggerate? Read the Politico mess:

As it stands now, the document release this month will be a logistical nightmare, with the public suddenly flooded with a huge online library of documents—tens of thousands in total—that will be, at first, mostly incomprehensible even to experienced students of the assassination. The National Archives, abandoning its plans to release the documents in batches over the course of several months, said this week that it will instead release everything at once—all on the same day—sometime between now and the deadline on October 26. [snip]

With everything made public at once, pandemonium is all but guaranteed, since major news organizations around the world will want to know, almost instantly, what is in the documents that is new and potentially important. And there will simply be no way for historians and other researchers, even those with a special knowledge of the Kennedy assassination, to make any authoritative judgment as they try to page through tens of thousands of pages of files all at once.

Four days later, the campaign to keep the JFK documents secret reached a level of comedy when Politicopublished yet another article so deranged and so debased, it can only be termed “retarded”:

Trump administration and other government officials say privately that President Donald Trump is almost certain to block the release of information from some of the thousands of classified files related to the November 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy that are scheduled to be made public in less than a week by the National Archives. [snip]

A congressional official who has been closely monitoring the issue, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Trump had been under pressure from the CIA to block the release of some of the assassination documents on national security grounds, possibly to protect CIA tradecraft and the identity of agency informants who might still be alive.

Any observer with a lick of sense would ask themselves in response to the stupid Politico article, “why would President Trump seek to deny Americans information and protect the very agencies that have sought his destruction by shielding them from being exposed as either corrupt or liars in documents decades old?” The answer to this obvious question came from President Trump in a Tweet that declared he would not stop the release of the JFK documents.

President Trump will not block Americans from reading source documents about the JFK assassination. The truth will be revealed to all. The deep state, the octopus, the Swamp, took on President Trump and now they will be defeated. This is all part of one big Obama SuperScandal.

Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, Resigned To Their Fates

It’s a great day today. On Tuesday, as President Trump prepared to go to the Capitol to organize the corrupt GOP in an effort to reform the American tax system, the miserable Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee attacked. In a series of vicious interviews Corker denounced the president and called him a liar and mentally unstable.

Soon thereafter, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona addressed the U.S. Senate. Flake lived up to his name with his own deranged attack against President Trump. Immediately, Senator John McCain praised Flake in the same manner as Senator Mitch McConnell.

The beauty of these attacks is that they come from the defeated. It’s a great day today. Senator Flake spoke to the Senate today to announce he will not run for reelection without reflecting on the fact he is loathed in Arizona. Bob Corker previously announced he will not run for reelection. Both announced they will not run for reelection because they could not win reelection, not with the growing determinative strength of President Trump in the party he took over.

All of these Trump haters, Flake-McCain-McConnell-Corker, are all dinosaurs who’s time has long passed. The moment Donald Trump became the nominee they were obsolete. The moment Donald Trump became President Trump, their days were numbered.

All of these defeated Senators have long been part of the deep state that has sought to control Americans, instead of protecting America. Corker was a co-conspirator with Barack Obama on the treacherous Iran deal supported by the deep state and other enemies of American democracy. Jeff Flake like McCain and McConnell support illegal immigration and any war at any time along with what they term “free trade” no matter now unfair and harmful that trade is.

They’re all gone. President Trump has removed them. Their allies are next. The Obama SuperScandal too will be exposed and the perpetrators removed.

Uranium One

The Uranium One scandal is one tentacle of the Obama SuperScandal. Many assume that this is a Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton scandal. If only that were so. Uranium One is part of the Obama SuperScandal which leads to many of the other related scandals.

In April 2015 we wrote, Uranium One: Hard Truths About The Radioactive Problem of #Hillary2016. In that article we derided the Uranium One issue as damaging to Hillary2016. Hillary Clinton had much bigger problems. We were right of course. Uranium One did not matter in the general election to come.

However, this October 2017, Uranium One matters, bigly. We warn everyone however, this is not a Hillary and Bill scandal. This Uranium One story is bigger than just Hillary and Bill. Like the JFK papers release, much much more will be revealed than just money grubbing.

Russia, Uranium One, Mueller, Hillary Clinton, Fusion GPS, The Deep State, The Octopus

Watch all these stories merge into one giant Obama SuperScandal.

Mueller

Especially corrupt Mueller has a lot to explain regarding his staff recruits. The especially corrupt prosecutor has lots more to explain:

Uranium One Means Mueller Must Recuse Himself from Russia Probe

At the end of their lengthy editorial regarding the new Uranium One revelations — “Team Obama’s stunning coverup of Russian crimes” — the New York Post editorial board writes:

Until September 2013, the FBI director was Robert Mueller — who’s now the special counsel probing Russian meddling in the 2016 election. It’s hard to see how he can be trusted in that job unless he explains what he knew about this Obama-era cover-up.

I’ll go the Post one better. Virtually whatever Mueller has to say about his involvement or non-involvement in this metastasizing scandal, he must recuse himself immediately for the most obvious reasons of propriety and appearance. Frankly, it’s outrageous that he, Rod Rosenstein, or anyone who even touched the Uranium One investigation now be involved with the current probe — unless the real name of the FBI is actually the NKVD. This is not how a democracy is supposed to work, even remotely. Forget transparency — this was deliberate occlusion.

Especially corrupt prosecutor Mueller must be prosecuted for his complicity and corruptions, especially now that we know Mueller hand delivered uranium to America’s enemies.

F.B.I., Hillary Clinton, Russia, Mueller, Fusion GPS, Uranium One

The Fusion GPS scandal we termed “Apocalypse Now”. A late breaking development is that now we begin to know some of what went on there regarding finances. President Trump has asked “who paid for it?” in relation to the Fusion GPS “pee dossier”. It has been declared that the F.B.I. at one point paid Fusion GPS for further information. Now we know who paid for the dossier the F.B.I. relied on to obtain FISA warrants and to attempt to smear President Trump:

Clinton campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia dossier

The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about Donald Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said.

Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research.

Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community. [snip]

Prior to that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by a still unknown Republican client during the GOP primary.

The Clinton campaign and the DNC through the law firm continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.

F.B.I. Director James Comey tried to blackmail and intimidate President Trump with the phony dossier. John McCain pushed the lies to the F.B.I. and other outlets. Buzzfeed unwittingly helped President Trump when they published the dossier and people laughed that anyone could believe such drivel. And it appears that it was the Bush family that first paid for the dossier. The chain of custody, so to speak, is the Jeb! Bush campaign, the Hillary Clinton campaign, the F.B.I. Those last three initials should clue everyone onto the Obama SuperScandal.

Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th. Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?

Not only did Hillary2016 push the Fusion GPS lies via the Russians. There were other connections we now know between the Russians and Hillary2016:

FBI watched, then acted as Russian spy moved closer to Hillary Clinton

As Hillary Clinton was beginning her job as President Obama’s chief diplomat, federal agents observed as multiple arms of Vladimir Putin’s machine unleashed an influence campaign designed to win access to the new secretary of State, her husband Bill Clinton and members of their inner circle, according to interviews and once-sealed FBI records.

Some of the activities FBI agents gathered evidence about in 2009 and 2010 were covert and illegal. [snip]

At the time it was hired, the firm was providing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in pro bono support to Bill Clinton’s global charitable initiative, and it legally helped the Russian company secure federal decisions that led to billions in new U.S. commercial nuclear business, records show.

Agents were surprised by the timing and size of a $500,000 check that a Kremlin-linked bank provided Bill Clinton with for a single speech in the summer of 2010. [snip]

A day after the arrests of the sleeper ring, another event captured the FBI’s attention.

Thousands of miles away in Russia, former President Bill Clinton collected a $500,000 check for giving a 90-minute speech to Renaissance Capital, a Kremlin-connected bank, and then he scored a meeting with Putin himself.

The check caught the attention of FBI agents, especially with Hillary Clinton having recently returned from meetings in Russia, and her department working on a variety of issues where Moscow had an interest, records show.

One issue was American approval of the Russian nuclear company Rosatom’s purchase of a Canadian company called Uranium One that controlled 20 percent of America’s strategic uranium reserves. State was one of more than a dozen federal agencies that needed to weigh in, and a Clinton deputy was handling the matter.

The second issue was the Russian company TENEX’s desire to score a new raft of commercial nuclear sales to U.S. companies. TENEX for years was selling uranium recycled from old Soviet warheads to the United States. But that deal was coming to an end and now it needed a new U.S. market for its traditional uranium

And the third was a promise Secretary Clinton herself made to Russian leaders to round up support in America’s Silicon Valley for then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s dream for a new high-tech hub outside Moscow known as Skolkovo. [snip]

The bank that paid Clinton was promoting the Uranium One deal’s stock.

We disagree with the otherwise excellent article by Daniel Greenfield From Russia to Hillary: Bribes, Extortion, Uranium and Lies – How an FBI Uranium investigation was corrupted to protect the Clinton’s Russian connection. Greenfield gets it entirely upside down. Hillary Clinton is not the central figure in this scandal. It is the F.B.I. and the intelligence and security apparatus which seeks to run our lives and ruin our democracy.

Investigations, Investigations

We have repeatedly requested lots and lots of special prosecutors be appointed to investigate. Thus far the corrupt Department of Justice, the corrupt F.B.I, the corrupt intelligence services, the corrupt security apparatus, have managed the massive scandal well enough to keep special prosecutors from being appointed. But even here there is some good news:

Congress Probes Whether Obama DOJ Used The ‘Trump Dossier’ Before Surveillance Court

Both the House and the Senate are investigating whether the former President Barack Obama’s administration used intelligence in a salacious “Trump Dossier” as “evidence” before a secret federal surveillance court to obtain permission to spy on Donald Trump campaign aides and later his transition team. [snip]

The FBI used the dossier to secure permission to monitor the communications of Trump associate Carter Page, based on U.S. officials briefed on the Russia investigation, CNN reported in April. [snip]

The presentation of evidence before the special surveillance court would have been FBI-generated documents delivered by Obama Justice Department attorneys, according to a congressional source familiar with evidence requirements before the court. At the time, FBI Director James Comey presided over the bureau and Attorney General Loretta Lynch oversaw the Justice Department. [snip]

That would mean the Obama administration pursued “a type of manipulation of intelligence data and false intelligence data to mislead a court,” diGenova said. “It’s staggering in terms of its implications.”

The possibility the Obama administration might use the unproven allegations before a FISA court “constitutes a crime of unbelievable dimensions,” he said, adding: “It requires the empanelment of a federal grand jury.”

Grassley added a new twist to the “Steele” dossier, noting in his letter to Wray it appeared the former British agent also gave his same set of allegations to his compatriots in British intelligence. United Kingdom court legal proceedings appended to Grassley’s letter show Steele on Dec. 13, 2016 gave the same dossier to a “senior UK government national security official.”

Senator Grassley correctly notes that if the dossier was given by the F.B.I. to the British intelligence services and then British intelligence gave it to the F.B.I. the FISA court could have been deceived if the F.B.I. sought warrants based on the British intelligence reports without disclosing to the court that the source was the F.B.I.

There is a reason why the “Russia” investigations now have a new “tone” about them. The anti-Trump persecutions are rapidly falling apart.

The anti-Trump investigations are falling apart because it is clear that Barack Obama and the intelligence/security agencies colluded to hide crimes.

The New Russia Investigations

Having failed to destroy President Trump, the F.B.I. deep state security intelligence octopus will now face investigations:

Now Democrats have a Russia problem

NBC reports that Tony Podesta (the brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta) and his firm are the subjects of a criminal investigation by the special prosecutor.

And this comes amid new reports that the FBI gathered evidence for two years as Russian agents — including a major sleeper cell — worked to gain access to then-Secretary of State Clinton, husband Bill and members of their inner circle. [snip]

All this, of course, follows reports the Obama administration knew Russia was engaged in a campaign of bribery and extortion — yet allowed a deal to go through giving Moscow control of one-fifth of America’s uranium.

Yes, there’s something to investigate here.

The Octopus

President Donald J. Trump is under attack by the deep state Swamp comprised of Obama Dimocrats, the intelligence apparatus, the Department of Justice, and all those who were supposed to be guardians of our democracy, not unelected dictators who rule over the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The scandals are not about Hillary Clinton, uranium, urine soaked dossiers, money, nor emails. The scandals are but the tips of the iceberg we can see. The danger is deeper, beneath the waters:

Here’s the kicker: The Uranium One scandal is not only, or even principally, a Clinton scandal. It is an Obama-administration scandal.

It’s bigger and deeper than what we see:

It’s finally dawning on people: The Russian nuclear racketeering was an Obama administration scandal, which Congress ignored and the Justice Department investigated but did nothing to stop. Justice looked into the Russian crimes in 2009 and 2010, but waited until 2014 to do anything about it. And even then, it didn’t answer any of the larger questions. It can’t be ignored any longer.

So why didn’t the Department of Justice and the security/intelligence overlords who monitor Americans and try to carve history as they want it to be do anything? That’s foolish to ask. The Octopus that swims in the deep state Swamp did exactly what it wanted to do. Their problem is that Trump beat them all.

The fight is not yet over. President Trump is bidding his time. There will be at least three earthquakes about to be unleashed by President Trump. Those who worry about why things are not being exposed as quickly as we want must wait for the earthquakes. The first thirteen days of October were important. The last few months of 2017 will be epic.

The fight is not yet over. But the Octopus of the deep state will soon find they are up against a man who fights.

http://www.hillaryis44.org/2017/10/24/one-big-obama-super-scandal-uranium-one-gps-fusion-mueller-scandals-jfk-plus-flake/

The Obama Administration’s Uranium One Scandal

by ANDREW C. MCCARTHY October 21, 2017 4:00 AM

@ANDREWCMCCARTHY Not only the Clintons are implicated in a uranium deal with the Russians that compromised national-security interests.

Let’s put the Uranium One scandal in perspective: The cool half-million bucks the Putin regime funneled to Bill Clinton was five times the amount it spent on those Facebook ads — the ones the media-Democrat complex ludicrously suggests swung the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump.

The Facebook-ad buy, which started in June 2015 — before Donald Trump entered the race — was more left-wing agitprop (ads pushing hysteria on racism, immigration, guns, etc.) than electioneering. The Clintons’ own long-time political strategist Mark Penn estimates that just $6,500 went to actual electioneering. (You read that right: 65 hundred dollars.) By contrast, the staggering $500,000 payday from a Kremlin-tied Russian bank for a single speech was part of a multi-million-dollar influence-peddling scheme to enrich the former president and his wife, then–secretary of state Hillary Clinton. At the time, Russia was plotting — successfully — to secure U.S. government approval for its acquisition of Uranium One, and with it, tens of billions of dollars in U.S. uranium reserves.

Here’s the kicker: The Uranium One scandal is not only, or even principally, a Clinton scandal. It is an Obama-administration scandal.

The Clintons were just doing what the Clintons do: cashing in on their “public service.” The Obama administration, with Secretary Clinton at the forefront but hardly alone, was knowingly compromising American national-security interests. The administration green-lighted the transfer of control over one-fifth of American uranium-mining capacity to Russia, a hostile regime — and specifically to Russia’s state-controlled nuclear-energy conglomerate, Rosatom. Worse, at the time the administration approved the transfer, it knew that Rosatom’s American subsidiary was engaged in a lucrative racketeering enterprise that had already committed felony extortion, fraud, and money-laundering offenses.

 

The Obama administration also knew that congressional Republicans were trying to stop the transfer. Consequently, the Justice Department concealed what it knew. DOJ allowed the racketeering enterprise to continue compromising the American uranium industry rather than commencing a prosecution that would have scotched the transfer. Prosecutors waited four years before quietly pleading the case out for a song, in violation of Justice Department charging guidelines. Meanwhile, the administration stonewalled Congress, reportedly threatening an informant who wanted to go public.

Obama’s ‘Reset’

To understand what happened here, we need to go back to the beginning.

The first-tier military arsenal of Putin’s Russia belies its status as a third-rate economic power. For well over a decade, the regime has thus sought to develop and exploit its capacity as a nuclear-energy producer. Naïvely viewing Russia as a “strategic partner” rather than a malevolent competitor, the Bush administration made a nuclear-cooperation agreement with the Kremlin in May 2008. That blunder, however, was tabled before Congress could consider it. That is because Russia, being Russia, invaded Georgia.

In 2009, notwithstanding this aggression (which continues to this day with Russia’s occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia), President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton signaled the new administration’s determination to “reset” relations with Moscow. In this reset, renewed cooperation and commerce in nuclear energy would be central.

There had been such cooperation and commerce since the Soviet Union imploded. In 1992, the administration of President George H. W. Bush agreed with the nascent Russian federation that U.S. nuclear providers would be permitted to purchase uranium from Russia’s disassembled nuclear warheads (after it had been down-blended from its highly enriched weapons-grade level). The Russian commercial agent responsible for the sale and transportation of this uranium to the U.S. is the Kremlin-controlled company “Tenex” (formally, JSC Techsnabexport). Tenex is a subsidiary of Rosatom.

Tenex (and by extension, Rosatom) have an American arm called “Tenam USA.” Tenam is based in Bethesda, Md. Around the time President Obama came to power, the Russian official in charge of Tenam was Vadim Mikerin.

The Obama administration reportedly issued a visa for Mikerin in 2010, but a racketeering investigation led by the FBI determined that he was already operating here in 2009.

The Racketeering Scheme

As Tenam’s general director, Mikerin was responsible for arranging and managing Rosatom/Tenex’s contracts with American uranium purchasers. This gave him tremendous leverage over the U.S. companies. With the assistance of several confederates, Mikerin used this leverage to extort and defraud the U.S. contractors into paying inflated prices for uranium. They then laundered the proceeds through shell companies and secret bank accounts in Latvia, Cyprus, Switzerland, and the Seychelle Islands — though sometimes transactions were handled in cash, with the skim divided into envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash.

The inflated payments served two purposes: They enriched Kremlin-connected energy officials in the U.S. and in Russia to the tune of millions of dollars; and they compromised the American companies that paid the bribes, rendering players in U.S. nuclear energy — a sector critical to national security — vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.

But Mikerin had a problem. To further the Kremlin’s push for nuclear-energy expansion, he had been seeking to retain a lobbyist — from whom he planned to extort kickbacks, just as he did with the U.S. energy companies. With the help of an associate connected to Russian organized-crime groups, Mikerin found his lobbyist. The man’s name has not been disclosed, but we know he is now represented by Victoria Toensing, a well-respected Washington lawyer, formerly a federal prosecutor and counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

When Mikerin solicited him in 2009, the lobbyist was uncomfortable, worried that the proposal would land him on the wrong side of the law. So he contacted the FBI and revealed what he knew. From then on, the Bureau and Justice Department permitted him to participate in the Russian racketeering scheme as a “confidential source” — and he is thus known as “CS-1” in affidavits the government, years later, presented to federal court in order to obtain search and arrest warrants.

At the time this unidentified man became an informant, the FBI was led by director Robert Mueller, who is now the special counsel investigating whether Trump colluded with Russia. The investigation was centered in Maryland (Tenam’s home base). There, the U.S. attorney was Obama appointee Rod Rosenstein — now President Trump’s deputy attorney general, and the man who appointed Mueller as special counsel to investigate Trump.

Because of CS-1, the FBI was able to understand and monitor the racketeering enterprise almost from the start. By mid-May 2010, it could already prove the scheme and three separate extortionate payments Mikerin had squeezed out of the informant. Equally important: According to reporting by John Solomon and Alison Spann in the Hill, the informant learned through conversations with Mikerin and others that Russian nuclear officials were trying to ingratiate themselves with the Clintons.

Uranium One, Russia, and the Clintons

There is no doubt that this extraordinarily gainful ingratiation took place. I outlined some of it a year ago in suggesting that the Justice Department should be investigating the Clinton Foundation, and its exploitation of Hillary Clinton’s influence as secretary of state, as a potential racketeering case.

In 2005, former President Clinton helped his Canadian billionaire friend and benefactor, Frank Giustra, obtain coveted uranium-mining rights from Kazakhstan’s dictator. The Kazakh deal enabled Giustra’s company (Ur-Asia Energy) to merge into Uranium One (a South African company), a $3.5 billion windfall. Giustra and his partners thereafter contributed tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation. Besides the valuable Kazakh reserves, Uranium One also controlled about a fifth of the uranium stock in the United States.

Alas, Putin, the neighborhood bully, also wanted the Kazakh uranium. He leaned on Kazakhstan’s dictator, who promptly arrested the official responsible for selling the uranium-mining rights to Giustra’s company. This put Uranium One’s stake in jeopardy of being seized by the Kazakh government.

As Uranium One’s stock plunged, its panicked executives turned to the State Department, where their friend Hillary Clinton was now in charge. State sprung into action, convening emergency meetings with the Kazakh regime. A few days later, it was announced that the crisis was resolved (translation: the shakedown was complete). Russia’s energy giant, Rosatom, would purchase 17 percent of Uranium One, and the Kazakh threat would disappear — and with it, the threat to the value of the Clinton donors’ holdings.

For Putin, though, that was just a start. He didn’t want a minority stake in Uranium One, he wanted control of the uranium. For that, Rosatom would need a controlling interest in Uranium One. That would be a tall order — not because of the Kazakh mining rights but because acquisition of Uranium One’s American reserves required U.S. government approval.

Uranium is foundational to nuclear power and thus to American national security. As the New York Times explained in a report on the disturbing interplay between the Clinton Foundation and the transfer of American uranium assets to Russia, the United States gets a fifth of its electrical power from nuclear energy, but only produces a fifth of the uranium it needs. Consequently, a foreign entity would not be able to acquire rights to American uranium without the approval of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

CFIUS is composed of the leaders of 14 U.S. government agencies involved in national security and commerce. In 2010, these included not only Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had cultivated a reputation as a hawk opposed to such foreign purchases, but Attorney General Eric Holder, whose Justice Department (and its lead agency, the FBI) were conducting the investigation of Rosatom’s ongoing U.S. racketeering, extortion, and money-laundering scheme.

In March 2010, to push the Obama “reset” agenda, Secretary Clinton traveled to Russia, where she met with Putin and Dimitri Medvedev, who was then keeping the president’s chair warm for Putin. Soon after, it emerged that Renaissance Capital, a regime-tied Russian bank, had offered Bill Clinton $500,000 to make a single speech — far more than the former president’s usual haul in what would become one of his biggest paydays ever. Renaissance was an aggressive promoter of Rosatom. The Clinton speech took place in Moscow in June. The exorbitant speech fee, it is worth noting, is a pittance compared with the $145 million Newsweek reports was donated to the Clinton Foundation by sources linked to the Uranium One deal.

The month before the speech, the Hill reports, Bill Clinton told his wife’s State Department that he wanted to meet while in Russia with Arkady Dvorkovich, who, in addition to being a top Medvedev aide, was also a key Rosatom board member. It is not known whether the State Department gave clearance for the meeting; the question appears to have become moot since the former U.S. president met directly with Putin and Medvedev. You’ll be comforted, I’m sure, to learn that aides to the Clintons, those pillars of integrity, assure us that the topics of Rosatom and Uranium One never came up.

Keeping Congress in the Dark

Meanwhile, congressional opposition to Russia’s potential acquisition of American uranium resources began to stir. As Peter Schweizer noted in his essential book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, four senior House members steeped in national-security issues — Peter King (R., N.Y.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), Spencer Bachus (R., Ala.), and Howard McKeon (R. Calif.) — voiced grave concerns, pointing out that Rosatom had helped Iran, America’s sworn enemy, build its Bushehr nuclear reactor. The members concluded that “the take-over of essential US nuclear resources by a government-owned Russian agency . . . would not advance the national security interests of the United States.” Republican senator John Barrasso objected to Kremlin control of uranium assets in his state of Wyoming, warning of Russia’s “disturbing record of supporting nuclear programs in countries that are openly hostile to the United States, specifically Iran and Venezuela.” The House began moving a bill “expressing disfavor of the Congress” regarding Obama’s revival of the nuclear-cooperation agreement Bush had abandoned.

Clearly, in this atmosphere, disclosure of the racketeering enterprise that Rosatom’s American subsidiary was, at that very moment, carrying out would have been the death knell of the asset transfer to Russia. It would also likely have ended the “reset” initiative in which Obama and Clinton were deeply invested — an agenda that contemplated Kremlin-friendly deals on nuclear-arms control and accommodation of the nuclear program of Russia’s ally, Iran. That was not going to be allowed to happen. It appears that no disclosure of Russia’s racketeering and strong-arming was made to CFIUS or to Congress — not by Secretary Clinton, not by Attorney General Holder, and certainly not by President Obama. In October 2010, CFIUS gave its blessing to Rosatom’s acquisition of Uranium One.

A Sweetheart Plea Helps the Case Disappear

Even though the FBI had an informant collecting damning information, and had a prosecutable case against Mikerin by early 2010, the extortion racket against American energy companies was permitted to continue into the summer of 2014. It was only then that, finally, Mikerin and his confederates were arrested.

Why then? This is not rocket science. In March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea. Putin also began massing forces on the Ukrainian border, coordinating and conducting attacks, ultimately taking control of territory. Clearly, the pie-in-the-sky Obama reset was dead. Furthermore, the prosecution of Mikerin’s racketeering scheme had been so delayed that the Justice Department risked losing the ability to charge the 2009 felonies because of the five-year statute of limitations on most federal crimes.

Still, a lid needed to be kept on the case. It would have made for an epic Obama administration scandal, and a body blow to Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes, if in the midst of Russia’s 2014 aggression, public attention had been drawn to the failure, four years earlier, to prosecute a national-security case in order to protect Russia’s takeover of U.S. nuclear assets.

The Obama administration needed to make this case go away — without a public trial if at all possible.

Think about this: The investigation of Russian racketeering in the American energy sector was the kind of spectacular success over which the FBI and Justice Department typically do a bells-n-whistles victory lap — the big self-congratulatory press conference followed by the media-intensive prosecutions . . . and, of course, more press conferences.

Here . . . crickets.

As the Hill reports, the Justice Department and FBI had little to say when Mikerin and his co-conspirators were arrested. They quietly negotiated guilty pleas that were announced with no fanfare just before Labor Day. It was arranged that Mikerin would be sentenced just before Christmas. All under the radar.

How desperate was the Obama Justice Department to plead the case out? Here, Rosenstein and Holder will have some explaining to do.

Mikerin was arrested on a complaint describing a racketeering scheme that stretched back to 2004 and included extortion, fraud, and money laundering. Yet he was permitted to plead guilty to a single count of money-laundering conspiracy.

Except it was not really money-laundering conspiracy.

Under federal law, that crime (at section 1956 of the penal code) carries a penalty of up to 20 years’ imprisonment — not only for conspiracy but for each act of money laundering. But Mikerin was not made to plead guilty to this charge. He was permitted to plead guilty to an offense charged under the catch-all federal conspiracy provision (section 371) that criminalizes agreements to commit any crime against the United States. Section 371 prescribes a sentence of zero to five years’ imprisonment.

The Justice Department instructs prosecutors that when Congress has given a federal offense its own conspiracy provision with a heightened punishment (as it has for money laundering, racketeering, narcotics trafficking, and other serious crimes), they may not charge a section 371 conspiracy. Section 371 is for less serious conspiracy cases. Using it for money laundering — which caps the sentence way below Congress’s intent for that behavior — subverts federal law and signals to the court that the prosecutor does not regard the offense as major.

Yet, that is exactly what Rosenstein’s office did, in a plea agreement his prosecutors co-signed with attorneys from the Justice Department’s Fraud Section. (See in the Hill’s report, the third document embedded at the bottom, titled “Mikerin Plea Deal.”) No RICO, no extortion, no fraud — and the plea agreement is careful not to mention any of the extortions in 2009 and 2010, before CFIUS approved Rosatom’s acquisition of U.S. uranium stock. Mikerin just had to plead guilty to a nominal “money laundering” conspiracy charge. This insulated him from a real money-laundering sentence. Thus, he got a term of just four years’ incarceration for a major national-security crime — which, of course, is why he took the plea deal and waived his right to appeal, sparing the Obama administration a full public airing of the facts.

Interestingly, as the plea agreement shows, the Obama DOJ’s Fraud Section was then run by Andrew Weissmann, who is now one of the top prosecutors in Robert Mueller’s ongoing special-counsel investigation of suspected Trump collusion with Russia.

There was still one other problem to tamp down. That was the informant — the lobbyist who alerted the FBI to the Russian racketeering enterprise back in 2009. He wanted to talk.

Specifically, as his attorney, Ms. Toensing, explains, the informant wanted to tell Congress what he knows — about what the FBI and the Justice Department could already have proved in 2010 when CFIUS signed off on Russia’s acquisition of American nuclear material, and about what he’d learned of Russian efforts to curry favor with Bill and Hillary Clinton. But he was not allowed to talk.

It turns out, the lawyer explains, that the FBI had induced him to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The Justice Department warned him that it was enforceable — even against disclosures to Congress. (Because, you know, the FBI is opposed to all leaks and disclosures of confidential investigative information . . . except those initiated by the FBI, of course.) In addition, when the informant was primed to file a federal civil lawsuit to recover his own losses from the scheme, he claims that the Justice Department threatened him with prosecution, warning that a lawsuit would violate the non-disclosure agreement. The Hill reports that it has obtained emails from a civil lawyer retained by the witness, which describe pressure exerted by the Justice Department to silence the informant.

What a coincidence: That was in 2016, the stretch run of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

This stinks.

READ MORE:     Hilary Clinton and Russian Uranium     New Russian Nuclear Scandal and the Clinton Foundation     Obama’s Many Scandals —

Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/452972/uranium-one-deal-obama-administration-doj-hillary-clinton-racketeering

Trump says Russian uranium deal Hillary Clinton had a hand in approving was ‘underhanded’ as he labels the scandal ‘Watergate modern age’

  • Two House committees announced a probe Tuesday of the uranium deal
  • Russian company at the center of the charges was reportedly under federal investigation at the time
  • Senate Judiciary Committee is also looking into the Russian uranium deal that Hillary Clinton signed off on as secretary of state
  • Companies associated with it donated to the Clinton Foundation and paid her husband Bill Clinton to speak
  • President Donald Trump subsequently pushed a claim that ‘Russia sent millions to Clinton Foundation’ to his massive social media following
  • Said Thursday that ‘the way it was done, so underhanded with tremendous amounts of money being passed, I actually think that’s Watergate modern age’
  • Trump spoke to reporters as he prepared to board Marine One at the White House ahead of a trip to Texas
  • The House wants to know whether there was an FBI probe, if so, why Congress was not notified and the name of the informant under gag order

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that an Obama-era uranium deal that Hillary Clinton had a hand in approving is the biggest political scandal in modern history.

‘Well I think the uranium sale to Russia, and the way it was done, so underhanded with tremendous amounts of money being passed, I actually think that’s Watergate modern age,’ Trump told reporters as he prepared to board Marine One.

Watergate brought down Richard Nixon’s presidency. The Republican leader resigned in disgrace before his second term in office was over.

Clinton was secretary of state to Democrat Barack Obama when the uranium deal went through that Trump was referring to. She sat on the federal committee that provided authorization.

Three committees with investigatory power have said in the last week that they are probing the sale along with claims that it came alongside a kickback to the Clinton Foundation. Hillary Clinton has called the charge ‘baloney.’

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that an Obama-era uranium deal that Hillary Clinton had a hand in approving is the biggest political scandal in modern history

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that an Obama-era uranium deal that Hillary Clinton had a hand in approving is the biggest political scandal in modern history

Two House committees announced a probe Tuesday of the uranium deal that the Obama administration green-lit while an entity at the center of the charges was reportedly under federal investigation. The Senate Judiciary Committee also has a probe going.

Devin Nunes, the Republican who heads the House Intelligence Committee, said his investigation will seek to determine whether there was an FBI probe in progress at the time of the deal, and, if so, why Congress was not notified.

‘We’re not going to jump to any conclusions at this time,’ he said in a Capitol Hill press conference.

That investigation will be jointly conducted by the House Intel and Oversight Committees.

A separate investigation in the House that was announced this week will look at the Department of Justice’s handling of Hillary Clinton‘s email probe. It will be operated by the Oversight Committee and the Judiciary Committee.

The White House said Tuesday afternoon that the probes were a ‘move in the right direction.’

Press secretary Sarah Sanders noted at her daily briefing that the White House has said many times ‘that if there’s any collusion whatsoever during the campaigns of any point, or any collusion at any point with another country, that they should look at the Clintons.’

‘And so I think that’s the right thing,’ she commented.

Two House committees announced a probe Tuesday of a uranium deal that the Obama administration approved while company at the center of the charges was reportedly under investigation by the Department of Justice, Devin Nunes, the Republican who heads the House Intelligence Committee, said on Tuesday 

Two House committees announced a probe Tuesday of a uranium deal that the Obama administration approved while company at the center of the charges was reportedly under investigation by the Department of Justice, Devin Nunes, the Republican who heads the House Intelligence Committee, said on Tuesday

Both chambers of Congress are sniffing around the uranium deal that President Donald Trump has tried to handcuff to Clinton.

A separate investigation in the House lead by Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy will look at the Department of Justice's handling of Hillary Clinton 's email probe. It will be operated by the Oversight Committee and the Judiciary Committee

A separate investigation in the House lead by Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy will look at the Department of Justice’s handling of Hillary Clinton ‘s email probe. It will be operated by the Oversight Committee and the Judiciary Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee raised the issue with the Justice Department last week.

That panel is also making inquiries into former FBI Director James Comey’s move to draft a statement on Clinton’s email case before she was interviewed by investigators.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said Tuesday that they, too, would formally investigate the case that ended without prosecution.

‘The law is the most equalizing force in this country. No entity or individual is exempt from oversight,’ the Republican lawmakers said in a statement.

Democrat Adam Schiff, the ranking member on House Intel, argued Tuesday that the probes were completely partisan and totally unhelpful.

‘Acting on the urging of the President who has repeatedly denied the intelligence agencies’ conclusions regarding Russian involvement in our election, they are designed to distract attention and pursue the President’s preferred goal – attacking Clinton and Obama,’ the California Democrat said.

‘This may be good politics, but it is a disservice to the far more important cause of investigating Russian interference in our democracy and protecting our elections in 2018 and beyond from outside influence,’ Schiff said.,

The House investigation into the Uranium One deal will spearheaded by New York Republican Peter King, chairman of a subcommittee on emerging threats, and Florida Republican Ron DeSantis, chairman of a subcommittee on national security.

King was the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee when the Obama administration green-lit the deal. He questioned it then, and he still does now.

He said at a press conference announcing House probe that he wrote to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at the time and was told that the deal was receiving ‘full scrutiny.’

‘It’s important that we find out why that deal went through and certainly in view of recent allegations that have been made or recent questions that have been raised, it’s essential that this investigation, this inquiry, move forward,’ King stated, referring to Clinton in the abstract.

Ron DeSantis said, ‘We do have a witness who is a confidential informant who wants to talk about his role in this, and we’re in contact with the Justice Department to release him from a nondisclosure agreement.

‘If that doesn’t work out in a timely fashion, then we obviously would be able to subpoena him.’

Hillary Clinton was secretary of state the time of the deal. She has been accused by President Trump and others of turning it into a quid pro quo opportunity for her family foundation. She said Monday that the charge is 'baloney' during an interview

Hillary Clinton was secretary of state the time of the deal. She has been accused by President Trump and others of turning it into a quid pro quo opportunity for her family foundation. She said Monday that the charge is ‘baloney’ during an interview

Nunes said the House Intel Committee has been looking into the issue for some times now.

‘I think, as Mr. DeSantis stated, there is a concern over the nondisclosure agreement,’ Nunes said. ‘We don’t think that is a concern. We think that any American, if they have information, even if it’s top secret, at the top secret level, they can come to the House Intelligence Committee and provide that information as a whistleblower if they would like.’

DeSantis chimed in to say that ‘last Congress, this really was not investigated, but I’m happy to report that the House leadership is fully behind this current investigation.

‘And so I would have liked to have done this a little sooner,’ the Republican lawmaker assessed, ‘but we are where we are, and we’re going to get the facts now with their support.’

The Hill newspaper had previously reported that a key FBI informant, an American businessman with knowledge of the Russian nuclear industry’s efforts to woo the Clintons and the Obama administration, was blocked by Obama’s Justice Department last year from telling Congress what he knew.

Lawyer Victoria Toensing, who worked in the Reagan Justice Department and was the former chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the paper last Tuesday she is working with lawmakers to push the Trump Justice Department or the FBI in freeing up her client to speak with members of Congress.

Trump made the controversy national news when he used it to deflect from allegations of Russian collusion against his presidential campaign in comments to reporters last Thursday.

‘I think that’s your Russia story. That’s your real Russia story. Not a story where they talk about collusion, which there was none. It was hoax,’ Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was the first of the Capitol Hill probes of the Uranium One deal, which gave 20 percent of the country’s uranium to Russia.

Federal investigators are said to have been reviewing the Russian nuclear industry’s business practices at the time of the sale.

Trump told reporters last week that it was the story of ‘the decade’ and slammed the mainstream media for not reporting it.

‘Frankly it’s a disgrace,’ Trump said. ‘It’s a disgrace, and it’s a disgrace that the fake news won’t cover it. It’s so sad.’

Trump also smacked Clinton on Twitter as he called it the ‘biggest story that fake media doesn’t want to follow.’

President Trump spoke about the questionable Uranium One deal in the Oval Office last Thursday, calling it 'your real Russia story,' as it hit political rival Hillary Clinton  

President Trump spoke about the questionable Uranium One deal in the Oval Office last Thursday, calling it ‘your real Russia story,’ as it hit political rival Hillary Clinton

The deal that took place while Clinton was secretary of state has attracted the attention of the Senate

The deal that took place while Clinton was secretary of state has attracted the attention of the Senate

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said last Wednesday that he is looking into potential 'conflicts of interest' that Hillary Clinton may have had when she sat on the committee that approved the Uranium One transaction 

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said last Wednesday that he is looking into potential ‘conflicts of interest’ that Hillary Clinton may have had when she sat on the committee that approved the Uranium One transaction

‘I would say it’s the same baloney they’ve been peddling for years, and there’s been no credible evidence by anyone. In fact, it’s been debunked repeatedly and will continue to be debunked,’ she said.

Clinton said the allegations are a distraction and a diversion cooked up by President Trump and Fox News.

‘I’m their favorite target. Me and President Obama, we are the ones they like to put in the crosshairs,’ she said.

A number of outlets reported last week that Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley sent letters to federal agencies asking about potential ‘conflicts of interest’ that Clinton may have had when the State Department approved the Uranium One transaction.

State was just one of nine departments that approved the deal, a Politifact article explaining the dispute says.

As a party to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, CFIUS, the secretary of state – Clinton – would have had a role in the decision. But so did the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Politifact says, the nuclear regulator in Utah, where some of the uranium fields were located and everyone else on CFIUS.

Grassley said his investigation will center on Obama administration approval of he deal despite the ongoing FBI investigation of the company concerned. He also made reference Clinton’s family foundation.

‘It turns out during the transaction, the Justice Department had an ongoing criminal investigation for bribery, extortion and money laundering into officials for the Russian company making that purchase,’ Grassley said during a Capitol Hill hearing. ‘While all of this was going on, the Clinton Foundation reportedly received millions of dollars from interested parties in the transaction.’

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is trying to get to the bottom of the Russian uranium deal. He finds it suspicious that involved parties had donated to the Clinton Foundation

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is trying to get to the bottom of the Russian uranium deal. He finds it suspicious that involved parties had donated to the Clinton Foundation

Trump picked up on the story this morning, tagging Fox & Friends in one of the messages - an indication that he'd been watching author Peter Schweizer's appearance on the program

Trump picked up on the story this morning, tagging Fox & Friends in one of the messages – an indication that he’d been watching author Peter Schweizer’s appearance on the program

Peter Schweizer is the author of the book Clinton Cash. He hopped on Fox this morning to comment on Sen. Chuck Grassley's announcement 

Peter Schweizer is the author of the book Clinton Cash. He hopped on Fox this morning to comment on Sen. Chuck Grassley’s announcement

In 2010, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States approved a deal that allowed Russia’s Rosatom nuclear company to buy Canadian mining company Uranium One, which controlled about 20 percent of the U.S.’s uranium deposits, which was why the multi-agency committee was involved.

Sitting on that committee were former Attorney General Eric Holder and former Secretary of State Clinton, whose husband, ex-President Bill Clinton, had collected speaking fees and Clinton Foundation donations by parties associated with the deal.

Details about the donations were previously revealed in author Peter Schweizer’s book, Clinton Cash.

Schweizer appeared last Thursday morning on Fox & Friends, with President Trump tweeting ‘Russia sent millions to Clinton Foundation’ and tagging the morning show, indicating that he had tuned in.

Trump also tweeted, ‘Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn’t want to follow!’

Former President Bill Clinton was given Clinton Foundation dollars and speaking fees by parties associated with the Russian uranium deal - while his wife, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had to approve of it for it to go through 

However, the New York Times had investigated the deal as Schweizer’s book was coming out and agreed with many of the authors findings: that interested parties had indeed flowed money to the Clinton Foundation as Secretary of State Clinton made her determination.

‘Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown,’ the Times report said.

‘But the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation, headed by a former president who relied heavily on foreign cash to accumulate $250 million in assets even as his wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors,’ it continued.

Adding a new layer to the story, the Hill reported that the FBI had uncovered a Russian bribery plot in 2009 and 2010, before the committee approved the deal.

The Justice Department also waited until 2014 to bring any charges.

Grassley wants to find out why.

The Department of Justice has not responded to multiple inquiries from DailyMail.com on the matter, including the gag order and whether DOJ would remove it.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5017499/Trump-calls-Russian-uranium-deal-Watergate-modern-age.html#ixzz4wfVHT3MK 

What you need to know about Hillary Clinton, Russia, and uranium

A 2016 campaign attack involving former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her role in a uranium sale that involved Russia is back in the news.

With new revelations, increased media attention and reader requests, we decided to take another look. Because the details of the story are murky and based in part on anonymous sources, we won’t put any claims to the Truth-O-Meter.

Instead, we’ll explain what we knew previously, what new information has come to light, and what we still don’t know.

What we knew before

This complex tale involves a company with significant U.S. uranium assets, the Clinton Foundation, and a decision by several federal agencies to allow greater Russian influence in the United States’ uranium market.

It first emerged in the book Clinton Cash, a 2015 investigation by Breitbart News senior editor-at-large Peter Schweizer. The book looked into donations to the Clinton Foundation; an April 2015 New York Times article also documented the connections.

In 2007, Frank Giustra, a donor to the Clinton Foundation, sold his company, UrAsia, to another company, Uranium One, and unloaded his personal stake in it. The combined company kept Uranium One as its name but Toronto as its base. Under the terms of the deal, the shareholders of UrAsia retained a 60 percent stake in the new company.

Uranium One had mines, mills and tracts of land in WyomingUtah and other U.S. states equal to about 20 percent of U.S. uranium production capacity. Its actual production is a smaller portion of uranium produced in the United States, at 11 percent in 2014, according to Oilprice.com.

In 2009, Russia’s nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, bought a 17 percent share of Uranium One. In 2010, Rosatom sought to secure enough shares to give it a 51 percent stake.

On the one hand, Russia doesn’t have a license to export uranium outside the United States, so, as Oilprice.com noted, “it’s somewhat disingenuous to say this uranium is now Russia’s, to do with what it pleases.”

That said, the possibility that a foreign entity would take a majority stake in the uranium operation meant that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, had to approve the deal. So did the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Utah’s nuclear regulator.

The membership of CFIUS includes the State Department, meaning that the Secretary of State would have had a voice. The panel also includes the attorney general and the secretaries of the Treasury (who chairs the committee), Defense, Commerce, Energy and Homeland Security, as well as the heads of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

CFIUS did approve the proposal, and in 2013, Russia assumed 100 percent ownership of Uranium One and renamed the company Uranium One Holding.

Why would the United States allow the transfer of a uranium company?

As others, including a New York Times’ investigation, have suggested, the United States was still seeking to “reset” its relationship with Russia and trying to get the Kremlin on board with its Iran nuclear deal. But another factor may have been that, at the end of the day, the Russian deal wasn’t that big.

Russia’s purchase of the company “had as much of an impact on national security as it would have if they set the money on fire,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear nonproliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute and former director at the New America Foundation, in an interview with PolitiFact last year. “That’s probably why (CFIUS and the NRC) approved it.”

Why some of the critics’ charges during the campaign went too far

In June 2016, we fact-checked a statement by then-candidate Donald Trump — who was running against Clinton for president — that Clinton’s State Department “approved the transfer of 20 percent of America’s uranium holdings to Russia, while nine investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.”

We gave the statement a rating of Mostly False. While the connections between the Clinton Foundation and the Russian deal may appear fishy, there was simply no proof of any quid pro quo.

Trump’s allegation went too far in two ways.

One, Trump seemed to say that Clinton bears all of the responsibility for the deal’s approval. That is incorrect.

Clinton told a New Hampshire TV station in June 2015 that “I was not personally involved because that wasn’t something the secretary of state did.” And Jose Fernandez, who served as assistant secretary of state for economic, energy and business affairs under Clinton and represented the department on the panel, told the Times that Clinton “never intervened with me on any CFIUS matter.”

But even if you don’t take either Clinton or Fernandez at their word, the reality is that the State Department was just one of nine government agencies that signed off on the transaction.

Second, while we concluded that nine people related to the company did at some point donate to the Clinton Foundation, we found that the bulk of the $145 million came from Giustra. Guistra said he sold all of his stakes in Uranium One in the fall of 2007, “at least 18 months before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state” and three years before the Russian deal.

We couldn’t independently verify Giustra’s claim, but if he is telling the truth, the donation amount to the Clinton Foundation from confirmed Uranium One investors drops from more than $145 million to $4 million.

The main exception is Ian Telfer, an investor who the New York Times found donated between $1.3 million and $5.6 million to the Clinton Foundation during and after the review process for the Russian deal.

So while Trump was within his right to question links between foundation donors and their ties to Uranium one, his specific charge was exaggerated.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post Fact Checker subsequently looked at a similar Trump statement: “Remember that Hillary Clinton gave Russia 20 percent of American uranium and, you know, she was paid a fortune. You know, they got a tremendous amount of money.”

The Fact Checker came to the same conclusion about Trump’s misleading language, giving Trump’s assertion its worst rating of Four Pinocchios.

Why this story is coming up again

After Trump won the presidency, the Uranium One story received relatively little attention — perhaps because Clinton is now a private citizen rather than serving as president. But that changed in the wake of a report published in the Hill newspaper on Oct. 17, 2017.

The article’s key finding was that by the time CFIUS was weighing the deal, the FBI had been investigating whether Russia was trying to gain influence in the U.S. nuclear industry. The report said that the FBI has already “gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States.”

The implication of the Hill article is that Clinton either did know, or should have known, about problems with the Russian bid for Uranium One before deciding whether to let it go forward. (Clinton, the FBI and the Justice Department did not provide a comment on this story.)

The article cited FBI, Energy Department and court documents showing that the FBI had gathered “substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009.”

However, rather than bringing immediate charges in 2010, the article said, the Justice Department “continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.”

What remains unclear after the newest report?

The relevance of the Hill report  for Clinton’s role would be whether she knew anything about this investigation at a time when she could have used her role in CFIUS to block the Russian deal. (It could also be relevant for the actions by then-Attorney General Eric Holder, whose department has a seat on CFIUS.)

For now at least, we aren’t aware of any evidence that Clinton knew anything about the FBI investigation. If anything, the Hill’s reporting suggests the opposite.

The Hill article quoted Ronald Hosko, who served as the assistant FBI director in charge of criminal cases when the investigation was underway, saying that he did not recall ever being briefed about Mikerin’s case.

” ‘I had no idea this case was being conducted,’ a surprised Hosko said in an interview,” the Hill article reported.

At least one key lawmaker — then-Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who chaired the House Intelligence Committee at the time — also said he did not know about the investigation.

If the assistant FBI director at the time knew nothing of the investigation, then Clinton — someone in a different department and several rungs higher in the organizational chart — might not have known about it.

Stewart A. Baker, a partner at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson, was skeptical that such information would have reached the Secretary of State — “at least not until she was asked to weigh in on the transaction, and that would only happen if it were deeply controversial, which it was not. In my experience, the State Department was always one of the quickest agencies to urge approval of a deal, and they did that without checking with the Secretary.”

The vast majority of cases that CFIUS reviews are handled by lower-ranking staffers and appointees, added Stephen Heifetz, a partner at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson who specializes in CFIUS law.

“Even though the heads of the CFIUS agencies comprise CFIUS as a matter of law,” he said, “it is relatively rare to have a cabinet secretary directly involved in a CFIUS case.”

That said, several experts said they were surprised that word had not filtered up from the FBI.

The FBI “is well represented as part of the Justice Department’s CFIUS team,” Baker said. “It would be somewhat surprising to me if a company was under scrutiny as a buyer in CFIUS and simultaneously under investigation for criminal behavior by the FBI, but the criminal investigation was not known to the FBI’s representatives on CFIUS.”

In addition, it’s Justice Department policy to consolidate all Foreign Corrupt Practices Act inquiries within department headquarters in Washington, said Michael Koehler, a professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law and an expert on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. This makes word of those cases more likely to reach top officials than other types of investigations.

And the fact that the Mikerin case included a confidential informant makes it “more likely than not that top Justice Department or FBI officials either knew of the inquiry or should have known of the inquiry,” Koehler said.

Even if word had filtered up to CFIUS this way, it might not have been enough to scuttle the deal, Heifetz added.

“CFIUS often has cleared transactions when there is adverse information about foreign investors but no apparent risk to national security,” he said.

Ultimately, we don’t know enough to be able to say whether the apparent lack of information about the FBI investigation among higher ups was due to internal reporting failures or the more mundane reality that ground-level FBI investigations take time to mature and solidify.

But for now, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that Clinton’s actions — ill-advised as they might have been — were any more problematic than it seemed they were a year ago.

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“Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn’t want to follow!”

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Story 1: Rain In Houston Area Should End Tuesday With Record Rain Fall Exceeding 50 Inches From Hurrican Harvey — Flooding and Rescues Continue — Videos —

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As Harvey breaks rainfall record, Houston imposes a curfew and death toll climbs to 18

City officials in Houston imposed an overnight curfew to guard against opportunistic crimes as Tropical Storm Harvey continued to deluge southeast Texas on Tuesday, breaking the record for the most extreme rainfall on the U.S. mainland.

Authorities announced the curfew — midnight to 5 a.m. — after police arrested a crew of armed robbers who were hijacking vehicles, and officials warned residents of people impersonating Homeland Security investigators. There also were fears of looting as thousands of houses lay partially submerged and abandoned.

Since Harvey made landfall Friday night as a hurricane, some areas around Houston have seen in excess of 50 inches of rain — more than what they usually receive in a year. Authorities said the death toll had risen to 18, including a Houston police officer who drowned in his car on the way to work.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Mont Belvieu industrial suburb east of Houston recorded 51.12 inches of water since Harvey’s arrival, breaking the highest previous record of 48 inches for a single storm, from Tropical Storm Amelia in Medina, Texas, in 1978.

“It’s the heaviest storm on record anywhere in the U.S. outside Hawaii,” said John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas state climatologist and professor at Texas A&M University. “And it’s still raining.”

With muddy brown water engulfing huge areas of the nation’s fourth-largest city and much of the Gulf Coast, thousands were forced to seek refuge in shelters. Federal officials have estimated that as many as 30,000 displaced residents may seek temporary shelter and more than 450,000 people are likely to apply for federal aid.

“In four days, we’ve seen a trillion gallons of water in Harris County — enough water to run Niagara Falls for 15 days,” said Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District, who estimated that up to 100,000 homes in the 1,777-square-mile area may have flooded. “It’s beyond anything we’ve ever seen and will probably ever see.”

After moving slowly east Tuesday evening, Harvey was poised to turn northeast early Wednesday and make a second landfall, moving inland over southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.

After assuring Texas on Monday that Congress would deliver swift federal assistance, President Trump visited the storm-ravaged state Tuesday, saying he hoped the region’s long road to recovery would be viewed as a model.

He did not venture to Houston, where rescuers continued to rove from neighborhood to neighborhood in motorboats and kayaks, desperately trying to pluck residents from waterlogged homes. As a light rain drizzled, a reservoir west of downtown Houston spilled over Tuesday morning for the first time in its history, pouring yet more water onto already sodden communities.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo broke down in tears Tuesday as he announced that Sgt. Steve Perez, 60, a 34-year veteran of his department, drowned during the weekend while trying to get to work through an underpass in the darkness.

“He laid down his life,” Acevedo said during a briefing, noting that before Perez left for work he told his wife, who urged him to stay home: “I’ve got work to do.”

Later in the day, Acevedo said officers had rescued 4,100 people across the city and had more than 500 calls holding. The city’s fire chief, Samuel Peña, said his department had performed nearly 700 rescues.

“We’re still trying to get to folks,” Acevedo said. “Don’t give up on us. Seek the higher ground. We will get to you.”

By the end of the day, the number of people sheltering at the George R. Brown Convention Center swelled to 10,000. Its capacity is supposed to be 5,000. Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city had asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for cots and food for an additional 10,000 people, and officials are set to open another mega shelter at the Toyota Center, the downtown home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets.

“We are not turning anyone away,” Turner said.

Houston highways remained mostly empty and blocked by police early Tuesday. A few cars and trucks navigated wet streets downtown.

Families were still arriving at the massive convention center, some with sleeping pads and rain boots, others with their belongings in garbage bags. Some feared for relatives left behind, and others worried they might soon face shortages of food and other supplies.

And the death toll kept rising. On Tuesday, local authorities reported a man in Montgomery County, north of Houston, drowned Monday night while trying to swim across a flooded road. In Galveston County, Clear Creek Independent School District reported that a former track and football coach had died in the flooding.

Tuesday night, the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences updated its storm-related deaths to include an 89-year-old woman, Agnes Stanley, who was found floating in 4 feet of floodwater in a home. Another woman, 76, was discovered floating in water near a vehicle. Her name was not released. A 45-year-old man, Travis Lynn Callihan, left his vehicle and fell into floodwater. He was taken to a hospital, where he died Monday.

Officials in Harris County, which includes Houston, had already reported at least six “potentially storm-related” fatalities. A 60-year-old woman died in Porter, a small community north of Houston, when a large oak tree fell on her mobile home. Another person died in the small coastal town of Rockport, near where Harvey made landfall. A 52-year-old homeless man was found dead in La Marque, a small city near Galveston.

Local officials were also looking into reports that a family of six — four children and their great-grandparents — drowned Sunday near Greens Bayou in east Houston. Virginia Saldivar, 59, said her brother-in-law, Sam, was driving her grandchildren and her husband’s parents to higher ground when the current swept up the van.

Early Tuesday, a major dam outside Houston began to overflow, threatening some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods to the west of the city. Engineers had tried to prevent Addicks Reservoir from overspilling by releasing some of its water Monday, but flood control officials reported Tuesday morning that water was beginning to seep over the top of a spillway, the first time water had breached the dam.

In some areas in and around Houston, the water was so deep that rain sensors no longer were working. The Harris County Flood Control District, a government agency that works to reduce the effects of flooding in the area, announced that multiple water level and rain sensors were out of service because of flooding.

In Brazoria County, south of Houston, the Brazos River was beginning to overflow its banks. On Tuesday morning, a levee breached in the Columbia Lakes neighborhood.

“We are asking residents to please get out,” said Sharon Trower, public information officer for the county, which already has rescued hundreds of residents after severe flooding from heavy rainfall. “The additional river flooding is just going to be catastrophic.”

Major roads throughout the county already were closed because of flooding.

At the Pentagon, Maj. Gen. James C. Witham, director of domestic operations for the National Guard, told reporters Tuesday that up to 30,000 Guardsmen as well as a U.S. naval amphibious assault ship could be called upon to help out in rescue efforts in Texas.

Already, 30 National Guard helicopters are supporting Hurricane Harvey relief, and 24 more are requested. Witham said that could increase to 100 helicopters in the days ahead.

“Texas has been given everything that they’ve asked for,” Witham said, noting that the Pentagon expects “more forces will be requested.”

While catastrophic flooding continued across southeast Texas, there was at least some good news: Flash-flood watches were dropped for western portions of the Houston area as light to moderate rain fell Monday night. The National Weather Service said the threat of flooding is gradually shifting east.

“Expect improving conditions this afternoon and evening across the area as Harvey pushes northeast,” the National Weather Service’s Houston/Galveston office said in an update.

“They say this too shall pass,” Mayor Turner said during an early evening news briefing as the sun, finally, appeared in the sky. “After the clouds pass, the sun will shine. In this city — regardless of the storm clouds, regardless of the rain — in this city the sun will shine.”

And as the sun finally returned to Houston, so did the unmistakable sight of traffic. Cars and trucks piled up at stoplights on roads that had only recently been totally abandoned as Texans waited out the storm in their homes. In the suburb of Rosenberg, there was even a pedestrian: a pale teenager in dark clothing, with a bowl haircut and headphones, who was dancing — doing the Robot, actually — on a street corner as traffic passed.

As Harvey moved closer to neighboring Louisiana on the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s arrival there, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu urged residents to stay home and shelter in place.

A few inches of rain could cause serious problems in New Orleans, which is still recovering from flooding after thunderstorms this month overwhelmed the city’s drainage system.

More than 5 inches of rain fell in some parts of the city Monday, causing localized floods. Flash-flood watches were in effect as meteorologists forecast 4 more inches of rain Tuesday.

“Today, we are a resilient city with greater resolve, but we remain vigilant in the face of another threatening storm,” Landrieu said in a statement. “While this is a somber day for New Orleanians, the determination and spirit of our people gives us great hope for the future.”

In Texas, many stranded Houston and coastal residents drove to cities such as Dallas and San Antonio to avoid overcrowded shelters near the Gulf Coast.

After sleeping in the Houston convention center after his house in Dickinson, about 30 miles south, flooded on Saturday, Jose Banda, a 38-year-old landscaper, piled his four young children — all under the age of 12 – into his Chevy Silverado early Tuesday and made the four-hour drive to Dallas.

The family was among the first to check in at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, which can shelter nearly 5,000 evacuees of Tropical Storm Harvey.

“This is at least far from the coast and not too many people are here yet,” Banda said.

Back home, most of Banda’s landscaping equipment — lawn mowers and weed whackers — that he had stored in his backyard were ruined.

“I don’t know how I’ll afford to buy new ones. It’ll be tough,” said Banda as sweat beaded on his forehead.

“I’m just glad they’re all right,” he said, nodding at his children who stood at his side wearing backpacks.

Hurricane damage shuts down major US oil refineries

Harvey hits gas prices no matter where you live

As Catastrophic Flooding Hits Houston, Fears Grow of Pollution from Oil Refineries & Superfund Sites

Environmental Crisis Unfolding in Houston as Oil & Chemical Industry Spew Toxic Pollutants into Ai

The nation’s largest oil refinery shuts down as Hurricane Harvey floods Texas

Energy prices to spike in Harvey’s wake

Oil and gas prices are expected to spike over the next week or more as about 10 refineries representing more than 15 percent of the nation’s refining capacity are shut down in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. (Aug. 28) AP

Flood waters closed oil refineries Wednesday along the Texas Gulf Coast, including the nation’s largest, as Hurricane Harvey showed its power to ravage the energy infrastructure and drive up gasoline prices.

Some 15 refineries were going off line from Corpus Cristi, Texas, to Port Arthur, Texas, the Energy Department reported. The list included the largest refinery in the U.S., the Saudi-owned Motiva plant in Port Arthur, which began what it called “a controlled shutdown.”

Taken together, the closures represent about 25% of U.S. refining capacity, GasBuddy.com petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan said.

“It’s a chilling effect on the refining industry, which is in a dire state right now,” DeHaan said.

Just ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend, one of the top travel weekends of the year, DeHaan estimated Wednesday that gas prices would increase 15 cents to 25 cents per gallon nationwide as a result of Harvey. Earlier, he had predicted a boost of 5 to 15 cents.

More: Gas prices to rise even faster as Harvey drenches refiners

More: Tropical Storm Harvey makes 2nd landfall just west of Cameron, La.

Refinery outages include facilities run by Exxon Mobil, Citgo, Petrobras, Flint Hills, Magellan, Buckeye, Shell, Phillips 66 and Valero Energy, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute.

Consequently, Americans are using about 9.7 million barrels per day of gasoline, while refineries are pumping out fewer than 8 million, DeHaan said.

“Gasoline inventories are going to be chiseled away quickly if that continues,” DeHaan said.

U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., exhorted President Trump to release supplies from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to ease the impact on consumers.

But with nearly 230 million barrels of gasoline inventory on hand as of Friday, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “we’re not running out of gas anytime soon by any means,” AAA’s Jeanette Casselano said.

Still, the refinery outages and the closure of several key ports have disrupted the supply of fresh fuel to Texas Gulf Coast stations and other regions. The Motiva operation alone generates about 635,000 barrels per day in normal times, according to the Oil Price Information Service.

“Return to service is contingent upon recession of floodwaters in the area,” Motiva spokesperson Angela Goodwin said in a statement. “Our priority remains the safety of our employees and the community.”

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2017/08/30/largest-u-s-refinery-shuts-down-harvey-floods-texas/615524001/ 

Trump survey’s Texas storm damage

Donald Trump Visits Texas But Fails To Address The Victims Of Harvey | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

Trump Brings Up Crowd Size During Hurricane Speech

Christie on Harvey response: Criticism of Trump is ‘absurd’

Fox News Blasts Trump’s Hurricane Handling

Sen. Ted Cruz: Focus needs to be on saving lives in Texas

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 906, June 7, 2017, Story 1: Will Congress Reauthorize Section 702 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act? Yes with changes to protect the privacy of American People. — How About Executive Order 12333 That Allow The President To Target Americans Without A Warrant — Unconstitutional and Illegal — Happens Every Day! — Oversight My Ass –Videos — Story 2: National Security Agency Under Obama Spied On American People —  Obama’s Abuse of Power — Huge Scandal Ignored By Big Lie Media — Videos — Story 3: President Trump To Nominate Christopher A. Wray For FBI Director — Videos

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Story 1: Will Congress Reauthorize Section 702 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act? Yes with changes to protect the privacy of American People — How About Executive Order 12333 That Allows The President To Target American Citizens Without A Warrant — Unconstitutional and Illegal — Happens Every Day! — Oversight My Ass –Videos

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FISA: 702 Collection

In 2008, Congress passed a set of updates to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), including Section 702 which authorized warrantless surveillance of non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be outside the country. However, documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that 702 was being used far more heavily than many expected, serving as the legal basis for the collection of large quantities of telephone and Internet traffic  passing through the United States (and unlike 215, including content rather than just metadata). Still, as 702 only permits overseas collection, most criticism of the provision has come from abroad. But many domestic privacy advocates also worry that large amounts of American communication are being swept up “incidentally” and then used as well.

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Trump Russia Collusion Investigation, Part 3 – Senate Intelligence Committee – FISA 6/7/2017

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Rand Paul Shames Homeland Security on Spying on Americans

Top Intel Community Officials Deny That Trump Pressured Them On Russia Probe

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CHUCK ROSS
Reporter

The directors of the Office of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency testified on Wednesday that they have not been pressured by President Trump on the ongoing Russia investigation, undercutting recent reports that they were.

Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, and Adm. Mike Rogers, the director of NSA, largely declined to discuss details about their interactions with Trump when pressed on the matter during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

According to news reports published last month, Trump asked both Coats and Rogers to rebut stories that Trump was under investigation as part of the Russia probe.

Both Coats and Rogers reportedly felt uncomfortable with the requests from Trump.

But when asked about those interactions on Wednesday, both declined to discuss their specific conversations with Trump while stating that they have never felt pressure from the White House.

“In the three-plus years that I have been the director of the National Security Agency, to the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything that I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate. And to the best of my collection … I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so,” Rogers told Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate panel.

“Did the president … ask you in any way, shape or form to back off or downplay the Russia investigation?” Warner asked.

Rogers said that he would not discuss specifics of conversations he had with Trump, but added: “I stand by the comment I just made, sir.”

Coats, a former Indiana senator who was appointed by Trump, also denied ever being pressured to downplay the Russia investigation or any other.

On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that Coats told associates on March 22 that Trump asked him to intervene with former FBI Director James Comey to push back against the Russia investigation.

“In my time of service … I have never been pressured, I have never felt pressure, to intervene or interfere in any way, with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relationship to an ongoing investigation,” Coats testified Wednesday.

http://dailycaller.com/2017/06/07/top-intel-community-officials-deny-that-trump-pressured-them-on-russia-probe/

The Way the NSA Uses Section 702 is Deeply Troubling. Here’s Why.

MAY 7, 2014

This blog post was updated at 5:10 pm PST 5/8/14.

The most recent disclosure of classified NSA documents revealed that the British spy agency GCHQ sought unfettered access to NSA data collected under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. Not only does this reveal that the two agencies have a far closer relationship than GCHQ would like to publicly admit, it also serves as a reminder that surveillance under Section 702 is a real problem that has barely been discussed, much less addressed, by Congress or the President.

In fact, the “manager’s amendment” to the USA FREEDOM Act, which passed unanimously out of the House Judiciary Committee, has weakened the minimal changes to Section 702 that USA FREEDOM originally offered. Although Representative Zoe Lofgren—who clearly understands the import of Section 702—offered several very good amendments that would have addressed these gaps, her amendments were all voted down. There’s still a chance though—as this bill moves through Congress it can be strengthened by amendments from the floor.

Section 702 has been used by the NSA to justify mass collection of phone calls and emails by collecting huge quantities of data directly from the physical infrastructure of communications providers. Here’s what you should know about the provision and why it needs to be addressed by Congress and the President:

  • Most of the discussion around the NSA has focused on the phone records surveillance program. Unlike that program, collection done under Section 702 capturescontent of communications. This could include content in emails, instant messages, Facebook messages, web browsing history, and more.
  • Even though it’s ostensibly used for foreign targets, Section 702 surveillance sweeps up the communications of Americans. The NSA has a twisted, and incredibly permissive, interpretation of targeting that includes communications about a target, even if the communicating parties are completely innocent. As John Oliver put it in his interview with former NSA General Keith Alexander: “No, the target is not the American people, but it seems that too often you miss the target and hit the person next to them going, ‘Whoa, him!'”
  • The NSA has confirmed that it is searching Section 702 data to access American’s communications without a warrant, in what is being called the “back door search loophole.”  In response to questions from Senator Ron Wyden, former NSA director General Keith Alexander admitted that the NSA specifically searches Section 702 data using “U.S. person identifiers,” for example email addresses associated with someone in the U.S.
  • The NSA has used Section 702 to justify programs in which the NSA can siphon off large portions of Internet traffic directly from the Internet backbone. These programs exploit the structure of the Internet, in which a significant amount of traffic from around the world flows through servers in the United States. In fact, through Section 702, the NSA has access to information stored by major Internet companies like Facebook and Google.
  • Section 702 is likely used for computer security operations. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper noted Section 702’s use to obtain communications “regarding potential cyber threats” and to prevent “hostile cyber activities.” Richard Ledgett, Deputy Director of NSA, noted the use of intelligence authorities to mitigate cyber attacks.
  • The FISA Court has little opportunity to review Section 702 collection. The court approves procedures for 702 collection for up to a year. This is not approval of specific targets, however; “court review [is] limited to ‘procedures’ for targeting and minimization rather than the actual seizure and searches.” This lack of judicial oversight is far beyond the parameters of criminal justice.
  • Not only does the FISA Court provide little oversight, Congress is largely in the dark about Section 702 collection as well. NSA spying defenders say that Congress has been briefed on these programs. But other members of Congress have repeatedly noted that it is incredibly difficult to get answers from the intelligence community, and that attending classified hearings means being unable to share any information obtained at such hearings. What’s more, as Senator Barbara Mikulski stated: “‘Fully briefed’ doesn’t mean that we know what’s going on.”  Without a full picture of Section 702 surveillance, Congress simply cannot provide oversight.
  • Section 702 is not just about keeping us safe from terrorism. It’s a distressingly powerful surveillance tool. While the justification we’ve heard repeatedly is that NSA surveillance is keeping us safer, data collected under Section 702 can be shared in a variety of circumstances, such as ordinary criminal investigations. For example, the NSA has shared intelligence with the Drug Enforcement Agency that has led to prosecutions for drug crimes, all while concealing the source of the data.
  • The President has largely ignored Section 702. While the phone records surveillance program has received significant attention from President Obama, in his speeches and his most recent proposal, Section 702 remains nearly untouched.
  • The way the NSA uses Section 702 is illegal and unconstitutional—and it violates international human rights law. Unlike searches done under a search warrant authorized by a judge, Section 702 has been used by the NSA to get broad FISA court authorization for general search and seizure of huge swathes of communications. The NSA says this is OK because Section 702 targets foreign citizens. The problem is, once constitutionally protected communications of Americans are swept up, the NSA says these communications are “fair game” for its use.
  • Innocent non-Americans don’t even get the limited and much abused protections the NSA promises for Americans. Under international human rights law to which the United States is a signatory, the United States must respect the rights of all persons. With so many people outside the United States keeping their data with American companies, and so much information being swept up through mass surveillance, that makes Section 702 the loophole for the NSA to violate the privacy rights of billions of Internet users worldwide.

The omission of Section 702 reform from the discourse around NSA surveillance is incredibly concerning, because this provision has been used to justify some of the most invasive NSA surveillance. That’s why EFF continues to push for real reform of NSA surveillance that includes an end to Section 702 collection. You can help by educating yourself and engaging your elected representatives. Print out our handy one-page explanation of Section 702. Contact your members of Congress today and tell them you want to see an end to all dragnet surveillance, not just bulk collection of phone records.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/05/way-nsa-uses-section-702-deeply-troubling-heres-why

 

By ZACK WHITTAKER CBS NEWS June 30, 2014, 4:02 PM
Legal loopholes could allow wider NSA surveillance, researchers say
CBS NEWS

NEW YORK — Secret loopholes exist that could allow the National Security Agency to bypass Fourth Amendment protections to conduct massive domestic surveillance on U.S. citizens, according to leading academics.

The research paper released Monday by researchers at Harvard and Boston University details how the U.S. government could “conduct largely unrestrained surveillance on Americans by collecting their network traffic abroad,” despite constitutional protections against warrantless searches.

One of the paper’s authors, Axel Arnbak of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, told CBS News that U.S. surveillance laws presume Internet traffic is non-American when it is collected from overseas.

“The loopholes in current surveillance laws and today’s Internet technology may leave American communications as vulnerable to surveillance, and as unprotected as the internet traffic of foreigners,” Arnbak said.

Although Americans are afforded constitutional protections against unwarranted searches of their emails, documents, social networking data, and other cloud-stored data while it’s stored or in-transit on U.S. soil, the researchers note these same protections do not exist when American data leaves the country.

Furthermore, they suggest that Internet traffic can be “deliberately manipulated” to push American data outside of the country. Although the researchers say they “do not intend to speculate” about whether any U.S. intelligence agencies are actually doing this, they say it could provide a loophole for vacuuming up vast amounts of U.S. citizen data for intelligence purposes, thus “circumventing constitutional and statutory safeguards seeking to protect the privacy of Americans,” they warned.

Play VIDEO
Snowden: NSA programs “uncontrolled and dangerous”
The academic paper lands just over a year since the Edward Snowden revelations first came to light, outlining the massive scope of U.S. government surveillance, under the justification of preventing terrorism. Although the classified programs that make up the NSA’s data acquisition arsenal have only recently been disclosed over the past year, the laws that govern them have been under close scrutiny for years. The paper only adds fuel to the fire of the intelligence agency’s alleged spying capabilities, which have been heavily criticized by civil liberties and privacy groups alike.

“The fix has to come from the law — the same laws that apply to Internet traffic collected domestically should also apply to traffic that is collected abroad,” the paper’s co-author, Sharon Goldberg of Boston University’s Computer Science Department, said.

While the researchers do not say whether these loopholes are being actively exploited — saying their aim is solely to broaden the understanding of the current legal framework — the current legislation as it stands “opens the door for unrestrained surveillance,” they write.

Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, the subsequent introduction of the Patriot Act allowed certain kinds of data to be collected to help in the fight against terrorism — so-called “metadata,” such as the time and date of phone calls and emails sent, including phone numbers and email addresses themselves. But the contents of those phone calls or emails require a warrant. The classified documents leaked by Edward Snowden showed that while the public laws have been in effect for years or even decades, the U.S. government has used secret and classified interpretations of these laws for wider intelligence gathering outside the statutes’ text.

The Obama administration previously said there had been Congressional and Judicial oversight of these surveillance laws — notably Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which authorized the collection of Americans’ phone records; and Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which authorized the controversial PRISM program to access non-U.S. residents’ emails, social networking, and cloud-stored data.

But the researchers behind this new study say that the lesser-known Executive Order (EO) 12333, which remains solely the domain of the Executive Branch — along with United States Signals Intelligence Directive (USSID) 18, designed to regulate the collection of American’s data from surveillance conducted on foreign soil — can be used as a legal basis for vast and near-unrestricted domestic surveillance on Americans.

The legal provisions offered under EO 12333, which the researchers say “explicitly allows for intentional targeting of U.S. persons” for surveillance purposes when FISA protections do not apply, was the basis of the authority that reportedly allowed the NSA to tap into the fiber cables that connected Google and Yahoo’s overseas to U.S. data centers.

An estimated 180 million user records, regardless of citizenship, were collected from Google and Yahoo data centers each month, according to the leaked documents. The program, known as Operation MUSCULAR, was authorized because the collection was carried out overseas and not on U.S. soil, the researchers say.

The paper also said surveillance can also be carried out across the wider Internet by routing network traffic overseas so it no longer falls within the protection of the Fourth Amendment.

However, an NSA spokesperson denied that either EO 12333 or USSID 18 “authorizes targeting of U.S. persons for electronic surveillance by routing their communications outside of the U.S.,” in an emailed statement to CBS News.

“Absent limited exception (for example, in an emergency), the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requires that we get a court order to target any U.S. person anywhere in the world for electronic surveillance. In order to get such an order, we have to establish, to the satisfaction of a federal judge, probable cause to believe that the U.S. person is an agent of a foreign power,” the spokesperson said.

The report highlights a fundamental fact about Internet traffic: Data takes the quickest route possible rather than staying solely within a country’s borders. Data between two U.S. servers located within the U.S. can still sometimes be routed outside of the U.S.

Although this is normal, the researchers warn data can be deliberately routed abroad by manipulating the Internet’s core protocols — notably the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), which determines how Internet traffic is routed between individual networks; and the Domain Name Service (DNS), which converts website addresses to numerical network addresses.

If the NSA took advantage of the loophole by pushing Internet traffic outside of the U.S., it would have enough time to capture the data while it is outside the reach of constitutional protection.

The researchers rebuffed the NSA’s statement in an email: “We argue that these loopholes exist when surveillance is conducted abroad and when the authorities don’t ‘intentionally target a U.S. person’. There are several situations in which you don’t ‘target a U.S. person’, but Internet traffic of many Americans can in fact be affected.”

“We cannot tell whether these loopholes are exploited on a large scale, but operation MUSCULAR seems to find its legal and technical basis in them.”

Mark M. Jaycox, a legislative analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), said: “If you are intentionally spying on a U.S. person, the government must go to the FISA Court,” he said. “That’s the way the law is supposed to operate.”

Describing how the NSA says it never “intentionally collects” U.S. information, he warned the agency’s foreign data dragnet would inevitably include U.S. data.

“The NSA is an intelligence organization — it’s going to be targeting foreigners. But it’s the way that its targeting millions of foreigners, and millions of foreign communications that will eventually pick up U.S. persons’ data and information. And once that data has been collected, it must be destroyed.”

“It’s a question the NSA can’t reconcile, so they lean heavily on saying they never ‘intentionally collect’ the U.S. person information,” he said

A recent primer on EO 12333 written by the privacy group said the order “mandates rules for spying… on anyone within the United States.” The group also notes because the order remains inside the Executive Branch, the Obama administration could “repeal or modify” it at will.

The American Civil Liberties Union said in a post on its website that the U.S. government interprets USSID 18 to “permit it to sweep up Americans’ international communications without any court order and with little oversight.”

Patrick Toomey, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, said: “Today, Americans’ communications increasingly travel the globe — and privacy protections must reliably follow. This academic paper raises key questions about whether our current legal regime meets that standard, or whether it allows the NSA to vacuum up Americans’ private data simply by moving its operations offshore.”

He added that there should be a uniform set of laws that protect Americans’ privacy regardless of where they are in the world, and that Congressional oversight of all rules governing surveillance is needed for comprehensive reforms.

The ACLU has also filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit with a federal court in New York, questioning “whether it [EO 12333] appropriately accommodates the constitutional rights of American citizens and residents whose communications are intercepted in the course of that surveillance.”

Although there is no direct evidence yet to suggest the NSA has exploited this loophole, network monitoring firm Renesys observed two “route hijacking” events in June and November 2013 that led Internet traffic to be redirected through Belarus and Iceland on separate occasions. These events are virtually unnoticeable to the ordinary Internet user, but the side effect is that U.S. data may be readable by foreign governments traveling through their country’s infrastructure. It also could allow the NSA to capture that data by treating it as foreign data.

These legal and technical loopholes can allow “largely unrestrained surveillance on Americans communications,” the researchers wrote.

The NSA, whose job it is to produce intelligence from overseas targets, said for the first time in August 2013 that it derives much of its “foundational authority” for its operations from EO 12333. Recent Snowden disclosures shed new light on understanding the capabilities of the executive order.

It was also recently revealed that Snowden himself questioned the legal authority of EO 12333, according to one declassified email exchange released by the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

According to John Schindler, a former NSA chief analyst, speaking to The Washington Post in October, the sole aim of the NSA’s “platoon” of lawyers’ is to figure out “how to stay within the law and maximize collection by exploiting every loophole.”

“It’s fair to say the rules are less restrictive under [EO] 12333 than they are under FISA,” he added.

FISA expanded the NSA’s powers allowing it to obtain foreign intelligence — including economic and political surveillance of foreign governments, companies, news outlets and citizens. But the amended law in 2008 also restricted what can be collected on U.S. citizens.

The so-called “targeting” and “minimization” procedures, which remain classified but were reported as a result of the Snowden leaks, were introduced to ensure any data inadvertently collected on U.S. citizens from overseas would not be used in investigations. These were later criticized following subsequent leaks which suggested the rules on collecting U.S. persons’ data were more relaxed than the statute led the public to believe.

U.S. intelligence agencies can only do so much with U.S. data, therefore they have a “strong incentive to conduct surveillance abroad,” the researchers say, because legal protections under the Fourth Amendment and FISA do not apply outside U.S. territory.

“Programs under EO 12333 may collect startling amounts of sensitive data on both foreigners and Americans,” the paper summarizes, “without any meaningful congressional or judiciary involvement.”

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/legal-loopholes-could-let-nsa-surveillance-circumvent-fourth-amendment-researchers-say/

 

FISA Authority and Blanket Surveillance: A Gatekeeper Without Opposition

Vol. 40 No. 3

The author is with ZwillGen PLLC in Washington, D.C.

Surveillance and espionage were once practices ordinary Americans only read about in novels or saw in movie theaters. That is no longer true. America is at the center of a worldwide communications network. It is home to the world’s most popular telecommunications, email, instant message, and video chat providers. Because of America’s unique role, hundreds of millions of users send communications through American soil. At the same time, America’s enemies have grown from nation-states, like the Soviet Union, to small cells of terrorists that use ordinary communications networks. Taken together, it is not surprising that signals intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA), which intercept and analyze these signals, would seek and use surveillance powers to conduct more surveillance at home.

Part of this new regime means that more legal process to gather intelligence is being served on companies in the United States. Recent revelations have declassified documents describing the NSA’s broad “collect now, search later” approach to surveillance. This means that some electronic communications providers, and their in-house and outside counsel, are faced with new forms of legal process. But unlike criminal process, which is rooted in a large body of publicly available case law and which often comes to light in the course of criminal trials, this new process comes to these providers in secret. As documents recently declassified by the director of national intelligence demonstrate, the government has served a number of different kinds of orders on providers—each of whom must assess when and how they might comply with or challenge those orders.

My firm and I represented one such provider in In re Directives [Redacted] Pursuant to Section 105B of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [Redacted], 551 F.3d 1004 (FISA Ct. Rev. 2008). That case presented a challenge that more providers may face as the NSA explores its surveillance capabilities. The provider received process known as a 105B directive (which is now called a 702 directive) starting in 2007. In contrast with typical criminal process, there was no prior court review or approval of particular surveillance targets. Instead, a 702 directive, like the one served on that provider, approved of the government’s procedure for conducting surveillance—not its targets.

 

Faced with this process, the provider had to make decisions about how it could respond. The provider chose not to comply with the process, and the government filed a motion to compel in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), a secret court charged with reviewing and approving some types of surveillance.

The course of that litigation proved complex. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISCR), which handles appeals from the FISC, had published a single opinion before the In re Directives case, and while the lower court, the FISC, had rules for proceedings, there were no publicly available decisions on which to rely in litigating the procedural aspects of the case. The merits of the case too were litigated in the dark. No docket was made available, and there was no public mention of the case until after it was appealed and the FISCR entered its decision. Some documents related to the case are still being declassified, but in the words of the FISCR’s declassified decision, there was “multitudinous briefing” in the FISC and ample briefing on appeal.

The FISCR released its opinion in In re Directives in 2009, and a beam of light shone on its decisions for the first time in seven years. But then the FISC went dark again. In late 2013, however, the director of national intelligence, in response to increased public pressure seeking information on surveillance activities, began releasing more FISC opinions that are instructive on how the FISC operates and how it has been interpreting the Fourth Amendment and process under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, 50 U.S.C. § 1801 et seq. (FISA) in the intervening years, giving much needed guidance to providers and outside counsel.

 

The History of FISA

Understanding how to advise clients faced with FISA process, the challenges they face, and how to revise FISA to address public concerns about the NSA’s “collect now, search later” surveillance requires some history, legal analysis, and creative thinking. FISA’s history provides context for the reforms needed to adjust the balance between surveillance and privacy. Current events provide information about the extent of the problem. And creative thinking is required to create solutions.

FISA occupies an uneasy place. It resides where intelligence gathering meets the Fourth Amendment. FISA addresses the problem of how, and when, the government can conduct surveillance for intelligence-gathering purposes on United States soil. Over time, Congress has addressed this delicate balance by amending FISA to expand and contract surveillance capabilities. Today, FISA provides a comprehensive set of procedures for obtaining and using “foreign intelligence information” within the United States.

Before Congress passed FISA in 1978, there were no clear rules for when the executive branch could conduct clandestine surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes. Prior to FISA, every president since at least 1931 used surveillance to protect national security interests—even when no law specifically allowed that surveillance. See Sen. Rep. No. 94-755 (1976), Book III, Supplementary Detailed Staff Reports on Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans [hereinafter Church Report], available at www.intelligence.senate.gov/pdfs94th/94755_III.pdf. Presidents justified this surveillance by pointing to their role as commander-in-chief combined with their duty and authority to execute the laws of the United States. U.S. Const. art. II, § 1, § 2, cl. 1; see Church Report, supra, at 279.

This power remained relatively untested until the seminal case United States v. U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, 407 U.S. 297 (1972), also known as the Keith case. There, the government prosecuted three individuals for conspiring to bomb an office of the Central Intelligence Agency in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Keith defendants moved to compel the government to disclose electronic surveillance information the government collected without first getting a warrant. The attorney general argued the surveillance satisfied the Fourth Amendment because it was necessary “to gather intelligence information deemed necessary to protect the nation from attempts of domestic organizations to attack and subvert the existing structure of the Government.” Id. at 300. The Supreme Court found that the government must get a warrant before engaging in domestic surveillance, but limited its opinion to “domestic aspects of national security” and stated that it “express[ed] no opinion as to the issues which may be involved with respect to activities of foreign powers or their agents.” Id. at 321. Keith changed the landscape of domestic surveillance, but lower courts struggled to decide when surveillance required a warrant and when surveillance fell outside Keith’s holding; as a result, they increasingly invalidated surveillance. See Zweibon v. Mitchell, 516 F.2d 594, 651 (D.C. Cir. 1975).

Faced with this uncertainty and the revelations about warrantless surveillance, the Senate created the Church Committee to investigate the executive branch’s use of warrantless surveillance. The committee’s report provided revelations much like those that are coming to light today as a result of Edward Snowden’s leaks. The committee’s report, which is actually 14 separate reports regarding intelligence abuses, provides one of the most extensive, in-depth examinations of the use and abuse of surveillance powers in the United States. The Church Report revealed that from the early 1960s to 1972, the NSA targeted certain Americans’ international communications by placing their names on a watch list. It contended that intercepting these Americans’ communications was part of monitoring programs it was conducting against international communications channels. As is the case in news reports today, “to those Americans who have had their communications—sent with the expectation that they were private—intentionally intercepted and disseminated by their Government, the knowledge that NSA did not monitor specific communications channels solely to acquire their message is of little comfort.” Church Report, supra, at 735.

History tends to repeat itself. Today, newspapers have reported that the NSA engages in bulk telephone records surveillance using the “Business Records” provision in section 215 of FISA (50 U.S.C. § 1861). This bulk surveillance, however, isn’t anything new. The Church Report provides shockingly similar revelations about the NSA’s Operation SHAMROCK. Much like recent revelations about today’s bulk records collection, Operation SHAMROCK, which lasted all the way from August 1945 until May 1975, collected millions of telegrams leaving or transiting the United States and monitored certain telephone links between the United States and South America. As part of this monitoring, the NSA intercepted Americans’ international communications and disseminated those communications to other intelligence agencies. In doing so, the NSA “never informed the companies that it was analyzing and disseminating telegrams of Americans.” Unlike today, however, “the companies, who had feared in 1945 that their conduct might be illegal, apparently never sought assurances that NSA was limiting its use to the messages of foreign targets once the intercept program had begun.” Church Report, supra, at 740–41.

The NSA discontinued SHAMROCK in 1975, but it still incidentally collected Americans’ communications—much like it does (to a lesser extent) today. The Church Committee described the NSA’s “initial interception of a stream of communications” as “analogous to a vacuum cleaner.” “NSA picks up all communications carried over a specific link that it is monitoring. The combination of this technology and the use of words to select communications of interest results in NSA analysts reviewing the international messages of American citizens, groups, and organizations for foreign intelligence.” Id. at 741. This is eerily similar to the FISC’s description of bulk records collection as recently as October 2011, in which it stated “that NSA has acquired, is acquiring, and . . . will continue to acquire tens of thousands of wholly domestic communications,” Redacted, slip op. at 33 (FISA Ct. Oct. 3, 2011), because it intercepts all communications over certain Internet links it is monitoring and is “unable to exclude certain Internet transactions.” Id. at 30.

 

Purposes of FISA

That history tells us where FISA comes from and the problems Congress was trying to solve. Congress had two main goals: provide some oversight where there was none, and draw clear lines so that law enforcement would know when it could use foreign intelligence process and when it had to follow ordinary criminal process. To address these goals, FISA contains two important parts. First, it established a framework for judicial review by creating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. It also created a new FISA process to replace criminal process such as warrants, subpoenas, surveillance orders, and pen register/trap and trace orders. The FISA versions of each of these has less stringent requirements for the government to satisfy than criminal process. See 50 U.S.C. § 1801–12 (electronic surveillance equivalent to Title III orders), 50 U.S.C. § 1821–29 (physical searches like search warrants), 50 U.S.C. § 1841–46 (pen registers and trap-and-trace devices), 50 U.S.C. § 1861–62 (business records like grand jury subpoenas).

Second, FISA addressed when law enforcement can and cannot use these FISA processes to conduct surveillance or gather evidence. As it was originally enacted, law enforcement could obtain FISA process, rather than criminal process, when the “primary purpose” of surveillance was to gather foreign intelligence information. At the same time, Congress explicitly excluded activities conducted abroad from FISA’s reach. It also did not provide protection for U.S. citizens when they left the United States. See H.R. Rep. No. 95–1283, at 51 (1978).

To fill in the gaps FISA left and to provide rules of executive branch intelligence agencies, President Reagan issued Executive Order 12,333, United States Intelligence Activities (46 Fed. Reg. 59,941 (Dec. 4, 1981)). That order (as amended) remains the basis for executive branch surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes. What is important is that the order sets forth procedures that apply where FISA did not, specifically for surveillance of United States persons located abroad. Id. § 2.5.

Foreign intelligence gathering continued under FISA and Executive Order 12,333 for nearly two decades without major revision or challenge, until the attacks of September 11, 2001. Following 9/11, Congress passed the USA Patriot Act, which amended FISA by expanding law enforcement authority and lowering the standards required to obtain surveillance authority. Pub. L. No. 107–56 (H.R. 3162), 115 Stat. 272 (2001). The act eliminated the “primary purpose” test and replaced it with a “significant purpose” test. Id. § 218. The “primary purpose” test led law enforcement to create a wall between agencies that engaged in criminal prosecutions (such as parts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice) and agencies that primarily engaged in foreign intelligence gathering (such as the NSA). One of the problems identified in the aftermath of 9/11 was a reluctance to share information because of this “primary purpose” rule—and the fear that doing so could put surveillance or criminal prosecutions at risk.

In a rare published decision (there have been only two), the FISCR upheld the “significant purpose” test in In re Sealed Case, 310 F.3d 717 (FISA Ct. Rev. 2002). The FISC court had found that the “significant purpose” standard was lower than the “primary purpose” standard but that the Fourth Amendment did not require more. The court concluded that the procedures and government showings required under FISA, even if they do not meet the warrant requirement, come close enough that FISA as amended by the Patriot Act meets the balancing test between Fourth Amendment rights and the need to protect against national security threats. In re Sealed Case would prove to be a launching point for reconciling FISA with the Fourth Amendment and for chipping away at the warrant requirement for foreign intelligence-gathering purposes.

In December 2005, a New York Times article revealed a warrantless domestic wiretapping program, the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP), in which the NSA was allowed to eavesdrop on communications where at least one party was not a United States person. According to reports, technical glitches resulted in some “purely domestic” communications being subject to surveillance. The surveillance was based on a 2002 executive order that allowed the NSA to monitor international email messages and international telephone calls transmitted by communications networks based in the United States—surveillance that was outside the scope of review in In re Sealed Case. That executive order claimed that FISA’s warrant requirements were implicitly superseded by the passage of the congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force against terrorists and that the president’s inherent authority under Article II of the Constitution to conduct foreign surveillance trumped FISA.

A group of plaintiffs sought to challenge the TSP in American Civil Liberties Union v. National Security Agency, 438 F. Supp. 2d 754 (E.D. Mich. 2006). The district court ruled that the surveillance violated the Fourth Amendment, finding that the TSP was implemented without regard to the Fourth Amendment or to FISA, and thus violated FISA, the standards of Title III, and the Fourth Amendment. On appeal, however, the Sixth Circuit dismissed the case, finding that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the TSP because they had not alleged that they were the actual victims of warrantless surveillance. ACLU v. NSA, 493 F.3d 644 (6th Cir. 2007); see also Clapper v. Amnesty Int’l, 133 S. Ct. 1138 (2013).

The Protect America Act of 2007

Following the public outcry in response to the New York Times article and the ACLU decision, the Bush administration proposed the Protect America Act of 2007 (PAA), Pub. L. No. 110-55, 121 Stat. 552, which was designed to address surveillance of communications facilities located in the United States that transmit communications between individuals both of whom are located abroad. PAA § 105A. Again, just as in 1978, the government needed more guidance on when FISA applied and when the executive branch was free of its requirements. The PAA addressed a new problem: capturing wholly foreign communications on U.S. soil. In the past, to capture foreign communications between non-U.S. persons, the government simply implemented surveillance on foreign communications networks, which are not subject to restrictions imposed by the Fourth Amendment or any statute. Now that foreign communications could be transferred within the United States and the TSP’s constitutionality had been called into doubt, the intelligence community required a new tool to continue that surveillance. The PAA, by providing a number of procedures to conduct surveillance of targets outside the United States, and in an attempt to avoid resort to traditional warrants and Title III orders, implemented a system of internal controls at the NSA as well as overarching review of policies and procedures by the FISC. The PAA was a stopgap measure, to preserve some aspects of warrantless surveillance of foreign communications transmitted within the United States while Congress worked to overhaul FISA.

Notably, the PAA, like the Patriot Act, again changed the test of when the FISA process does and does not apply. The PAA changed the focus from the identity of the party targeted to whether a party was present in the United States. This change made it much simpler for the attorney general and the director of national intelligence to approve surveillance—rather than certifying that both parties to the communication were foreign powers or agents of foreign powers, they now only had to certify that the target of the surveillance was located outside the United States. Under the PAA, the director of national intelligence and the attorney general could permit, for up to one year, “the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States” if they determined that the acquisition met five specified criteria and the minimization procedures for that surveillance were approved by the FISC. PAA § 105B. In practical terms, the government could serve providers with orders that the FISC approved, and then name the targets of surveillance later.

One provider, Yahoo, challenged this in In re Directives [Redacted] Pursuant to Section 105B of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [Redacted], 551 F.3d 1004 (FISA Ct. Rev. 2008). In that case, the government revealed that it not only complied with the PAA but also voluntarily complied with Executive Order 12,333, 46 Fed. Reg. 59,941, 59,951 (Dec. 4, 1981), which taken together mean that the certifications at issue “permit surveillances conducted to obtain foreign intelligence for national security purposes when those surveillances are directed against foreign powers or agents of foreign powers reasonably believed to be located outside the United States.” In re Directives, 551 F.3d at 1008. The court upheld these warrantless searches, finding that because the purpose of the surveillance was to gather foreign intelligence information, it fell under a “foreign intelligence exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement” so long as it was directed against foreign powers or agents of foreign powers reasonably believed to be located outside the United states. Id. at 1012.

The court also found that the searches were reasonable because they complied with Executive Order 12,333, which required probable cause to believe that an individual is outside the United States and a finding that such surveillance was necessary, and which limited the duration of the surveillance and thus contained sufficient protections to avoid risk of mistake or executive branch misconduct.

The PAA was a stopgap measure and was eventually replaced by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA), Pub. L. No. 110-261, § 403, 122 Stat. 2436, 2473. The FAA repealed the most troublesome provision of the PAA, which provided for warrantless surveillance of foreign intelligence targets “reasonably believed” to be outside the United States, even if they were U.S. persons, by adding a new section to FISA entitled “Additional Procedures Regarding Certain Persons Outside the United States.” Much of this section enshrines the protections present in Executive Order 12,333’s treatment of U.S. persons that the court relied on in In re Sealed Case and In re Directives to uphold the surveillance of United States persons located abroad.

The FAA again addressed the question of when FISA applies via a complicated web of procedures and processes for each category of target subject to surveillance: individuals outside the country that are not “U.S. Persons” (section 1881a), acquisitions inside the country targeting U.S. persons outside the country (section 1881b), and U.S. persons outside the country (section 1881c). Different processes are required for each type of target, but in a nutshell, U.S. persons receive slightly more protection. The most important change is that there is no prior judicial review of surveillance conducted in the United States that targets non-U.S. persons located outside the United States. FAA § 1881a. To conduct surveillance of U.S. persons outside the United States, however, the government must first obtain FISC approval of the particular targets. FAA § 1881b.

 

Time to Address Problems

FISA’s history and current events demonstrate that we are at a point in the cycle where it is again time to address the two basic questions: How do we provide oversight of intelligence-gathering activities? And when does this oversight apply? FISA, from a textual perspective, provides the government with far-reaching authority for surveillance and specific process for each type of surveillance it may want to conduct, but the public was relatively unaware of how the government used that authority until Edward Snowden leaked classified documents in late 2013 providing some detail on the NSA’s use of surveillance activities. In response, the government has begun declassifying a wealth of FISC decisions, letters to Congress, and other information regarding the NSA’s use of FISA authorities. A detailed analysis of these opinions could lead to a new report as voluminous as the Church Committee’s reports, but even a high-level analysis provides some context for moving forward.

The recently released opinions—such as Redacted, LEXIS 157706 (FISA Ct. Oct. 3, 2011), and Redacted II, LEXIS 157706 (FISA Ct. Nov. 30, 2011)—confirm what appeared to be the case in In re Directives, that the FISC has adopted an exception to the warrant requirement for foreign intelligence gathering—particularly where the government seeks communications that are not wholly domestic. In those cases, despite finding that the NSA knowingly collected wholly domestic communications that had nothing to do with foreign intelligence, the FISC generally approved most of the government’s targeting and minimization procedures. On a bad set of facts for the government, the FISC held that only a small part of the NSA’s surveillance program was unconstitutional and only because the NSA did not make enough of an effort to delete wrongly collected communications—a problem the NSA soon remedied. Redacted II, LEXIS 157705 (FISA Ct. Nov. 30, 2011).

The window left open in Keith seems to be closed. Similarly, the FISC has approved of the NSA’s “collect now, restrict searching later” approach to minimization. See In re Application of the F.B.I. for an Order Requiring the Production of Tangible Things from [Redacted], No. BR 13-109, LEXIS 134786 (FISA Ct. Sept. 13, 2013). In other words, the FISC has found no constitutional or statutory impediment to the government “over collecting” data—so long as it does not intentionally collect wholly domestic communications and it has minimization procedures to restrict access. There is no indication that the government has used its surveillance powers improperly (except in a limited number of circumstances attributable to NSA employee misconduct), but the FISC has not taken a robust view of the Fourth Amendment.

As was the case back in the late 1970s, the American public has reacted to executive surveillance activities—some of which are eerily similar to the NSA’s use of surveillance authority in the mid– to late 1970s. And as was the case in the late 1970s, it may again be time for Congress to take action. The problems remain quite similar to those Congress faced in 1978: provide oversight where there is none, or where it is inadequate, and make clear when the government can, and cannot, use different types of FISA process.

In late 2013, numerous members of Congress began proposing bills to reform FISA and provide new protections. See Mark M. Jaycox, “Cheat Sheet to Congress’ NSA Spying Bills,” Elec. Frontier Found. (Sept. 11, 2013), http://www.eff.org/deep links/2013/08/effs-cheat-sheet. Given the heated nature of the current debate, it is likely that the particular content of these bills will change daily, and summarizing their particularities is best left to blogs. Still, the bills generally fall into two categories: increasing transparency and restructuring the process. A few bills address bulk collection of records under section 215, but none takes a comprehensive approach to changing the question of when FISA applies and when it does not.

The current system of checks and balances under the FAA is simply not enough. It’s not because of a lack of desire by the providers to defend their users. Unlike the telephone and telegraph companies that did not act to end NSA spying in the Operation SHAMROCK era, providers today are taking a much more active role in the process. Yahoo challenged the FISA process in 2008, interest groups have filed actions seeking information about surveillance practices, and now providers have brought declaratory judgment actions seeking to reveal more information about surveillance process they receive.

One of the pending bills, Senator Blumenthal’s FISA Court Reform Act of 2013, Senate Bill 1460 and Senate Bill 1467, provides an answer that, having had the experience of litigating before the FISC myself, I believe could provide much needed improvements. That bill provides for a new Office of the Special Advocate, which introduces an adversary to the court. (This is similar to the public privacy advocate that President Obama recently proposed.) The act attempts to solve a basic problem with the current oversight procedures: There is no true adversarial process for most of the legal issues that arise. The newly declassified opinions the director of national intelligence has released make this abundantly clear. Setting aside the legal arguments, the procedural history of the opinions indicates delays on the government’s part, a lack of supervision after the court issues its orders, and a preference for secrecy over public disclosure at any cost. Appointing a special advocate ad litem for the public would ensure that novel legal arguments in the FISA court would face a consistent, steady challenge no matter who the provider is, thereby strengthening the FISA process by subjecting results to checks and balances.

Without such a process, the court and the Department of Justice must work through difficult legal issues with no balancing input. An advocate could participate in all cases involving a new statute or authority or a new interpretation or application of an existing authority. The special advocate could choose the cases in which to be involved, or the court or a provider that receives process could request its involvement where an opposition would be useful to test and evaluate the government’s legal arguments. The special advocate’s office could be established with proper security safeguards to draft, store, and access classified records more efficiently. It could also be required to report to the public and Congress the number of cases it has argued and how often it has limited or pared back the government’s requests. It would provide a vital counterpoint for legislators exercising their oversight duties.

The special advocate would be especially useful in cases in which the government demands access to communications in a way that may have a profound effect on people other than the target, such as when decryption may be involved or when a provider is asked to provide assistance in ways that are unlike traditional wiretaps.

Providing for an advocate in front of the court would also resolve several problems for companies and individuals faced with receiving FISA process or having evidence gathered using that process used against them. The statutory process as it stands now does not necessarily provide for complete transparency or a level playing field for the provider. As the published decision in In re Directives makes clear, a phalanx of 11 government lawyers, including the acting solicitor general of the United States, was involved in defending the statute. The decision also shows that some of the documents relied on by the court of review were classified procedures submitted as part of an ex parte appendix that remains sealed. 551 F.3d at 1013–14.

If an advocate were present in other matters before the FISC, the government and court would be more likely to provide more public information on what challenges have and have not been successful. Public access would also provide litigators with a much greater opportunity to use those challenges in advising and defending their clients. The FISC’s decisions may or may not have been correct, depending on your view, but the secrecy employed up to this point erodes the safeguards built into our adversarial court system. The presence of an advocate would help to ensure that the government cannot continue to keep new opinions classified, unless it is truly in the interest of national security to do so.

Revising FISA is no easy task, and analyzing and responding to the FISA process presents thorny questions. There is one constant throughout the history of surveillance, as was the case in the Church Report and as is the case today with news reports about NSA surveillance: The government will use the surveillance power it is given to its fullest. This article does not opine on when that is and is not appropriate. America’s long history of surveillance and current events demonstrate a need to revise the process and take a hard look at whether courts have the tools to oversee executive branch surveillance and when the executive branch should be allowed to use foreign intelligence procedures. Introducing an advocate to test the government’s theories and surveillance in every case—even the ones it brings ex parte—would go a long way toward ensuring that the American public is not shocked again.

https://www.americanbar.org/publications/litigation_journal/2013-14/spring/fisa_authority_and_blanket_surveillance_gatekeeper_without_opposition.html

Meet Executive Order 12333: The Reagan rule that lets the NSA spy on Americans

July 18, 2014

John Napier Tye served as section chief for Internet freedom in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor from January 2011 to April 2014. He is now a legal director of Avaaz, a global advocacy organization.

In March I received a call from the White House counsel’s office regarding a speech I had prepared for my boss at the State Department. The speech was about the impact that the disclosure of National Security Agency surveillance practices would have on U.S. Internet freedom policies. The draft stated that “if U.S. citizens disagree with congressional and executive branch determinations about the proper scope of signals intelligence activities, they have the opportunity to change the policy through our democratic process.”

But the White House counsel’s office told me that no, that wasn’t true. I was instructed to amend the line, making a general reference to “our laws and policies,” rather than our intelligence practices. I did.

Even after all the reforms President Obama has announced, some intelligence practices remain so secret, even from members of Congress, that there is no opportunity for our democracy to change them.

Public debate about the bulk collection of U.S. citizens’ data by the NSA has focused largely on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, through which the government obtains court orders to compel American telecommunications companies to turn over phone data. But Section 215 is a small part of the picture and does not include the universe of collection and storage of communications by U.S. persons authorized under Executive Order 12333.

From 2011 until April of this year, I worked on global Internet freedom policy as a civil servant at the State Department. In that capacity, I was cleared to receive top-secret and “sensitive compartmented” information. Based in part on classified facts that I am prohibited by law from publishing, I believe that Americans should be even more concerned about the collection and storage of their communications under Executive Order 12333 than under Section 215.

Bulk data collection that occurs inside the United States contains built-in protections for U.S. persons, defined as U.S. citizens, permanent residents and companies. Such collection must be authorized by statute and is subject to oversight from Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The statutes set a high bar for collecting the content of communications by U.S. persons. For example, Section 215 permits the bulk collection only of U.S. telephone metadata — lists of incoming and outgoing phone numbers — but not audio of the calls.

Executive Order 12333 contains no such protections for U.S. persons if the collection occurs outside U.S. borders. Issued by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to authorize foreign intelligence investigations, 12333 is not a statute and has never been subject to meaningful oversight from Congress or any court. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has said that the committee has not been able to “sufficiently” oversee activities conducted under 12333.

Unlike Section 215, the executive order authorizes collection of the content of communications, not just metadata, even for U.S. persons. Such persons cannot be individually targeted under 12333 without a court order. However, if the contents of a U.S. person’s communications are “incidentally” collected (an NSA term of art) in the course of a lawful overseas foreign intelligence investigation, then Section 2.3(c) of the executive order explicitly authorizes their retention. It does not require that the affected U.S. persons be suspected of wrongdoing and places no limits on the volume of communications by U.S. persons that may be collected and retained.

“Incidental” collection may sound insignificant, but it is a legal loophole that can be stretched very wide. Remember that the NSA is building a data center in Utah five times the size of the U.S. Capitol building, with its own power plant that will reportedly burn $40 million a year in electricity.

“Incidental collection” might need its own power plant.

A legal regime in which U.S. citizens’ data receives different levels of privacy and oversight, depending on whether it is collected inside or outside U.S. borders, may have made sense when most communications by U.S. persons stayed inside the United States. But today, U.S. communications increasingly travel across U.S. borders — or are stored beyond them. For example, the Google and Yahoo e-mail systems rely on networks of “mirror” servers located throughout the world. An e-mail from New York to New Jersey is likely to wind up on servers in Brazil, Japan and Britain. The same is true for most purely domestic communications.

Executive Order 12333 contains nothing to prevent the NSA from collecting and storing all such communications — content as well as metadata — provided that such collection occurs outside the United States in the course of a lawful foreign intelligence investigation. No warrant or court approval is required, and such collection never need be reported to Congress. None of the reforms that Obama announced earlier this year will affect such collection.

Without any legal barriers to such collection, U.S. persons must increasingly rely on the affected companies to implement security measures to keep their communications private. The executive order does not require the NSA to notify or obtain consent of a company before collecting its users’ data.

The attorney general, rather than a court, must approve “minimization procedures” for handling the data of U.S. persons that is collected under 12333, to protect their rights. I do not know the details of those procedures. But the director of national intelligence recently declassified a document (United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18) showing that U.S. agencies may retain such data for five years.

Before I left the State Department, I filed a complaint with the department’s inspector general, arguing that the current system of collection and storage of communications by U.S. persons under Executive Order 12333 violates the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. I have also brought my complaint to the House and Senate intelligence committees and to the inspector general of the NSA.

I am not the first person with knowledge of classified activities to publicly voice concerns about the collection and retention of communications by U.S. persons under 12333. The president’s own Review Group on Intelligence and Communication Technologies, in Recommendation 12 of its public report, addressed the matter. But the review group coded its references in a way that masked the true nature of the problem.

At first glance, Recommendation 12 appears to concern Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which authorizes collection inside the United States against foreign targets outside the United States. Although the recommendation does not explicitly mention Executive Order 12333, it does refer to “any other authority.” A member of the review group confirmed to me that this reference was written deliberately to include Executive Order 12333.

Recommendation 12 urges that all data of U.S. persons incidentally collected under such authorities be immediately purged unless it has foreign intelligence value or is necessary to prevent serious harm. The review group further recommended that a U.S. person’s incidentally collected data never be used in criminal proceedings against that person, and that the government refrain from searching communications by U.S. persons unless it obtains a warrant or unless such searching is necessary to prevent serious harm.

The White House understood that Recommendation 12 was intended to apply to 12333. That understanding was conveyed to me verbally by several White House staffers, and was confirmed in an unclassified White House document that I saw during my federal employment and that is now in the possession of several congressional committees.

In that document, the White House stated that adoption of Recommendation 12 would require “significant changes” to current practice under Executive Order 12333 and indicated that it had no plans to make such changes.

All of this calls into question some recent administration statements. Gen. Keith Alexander, a former NSA director, has said publicly that for years the NSA maintained a U.S. person e-mail metadata program similar to the Section 215 telephone metadata program. And he has maintained that the e-mail program was terminated in 2011 because “we thought we could better protect civil liberties and privacy by doing away with it.” Note, however, that Alexander never said that the NSA stopped collecting such data — merely that the agency was no longer using the Patriot Act to do so. I suggest that Americans dig deeper.

Consider the possibility that Section 215 collection does not represent the outer limits of collection on U.S. persons but rather is a mechanism to backfill that portion of U.S. person data that cannot be collected overseas under 12333.

Proposals for replacing Section 215 collection are currently being debated in Congress. We need a similar debate about Executive Order 12333. The order as used today threatens our democracy. There is no good reason that U.S. citizens should receive weaker privacy and oversight protections simply because their communications are collected outside, not inside, our borders.

I have never made any unauthorized disclosures of classified information, nor would I ever do so. I fully support keeping secret the targets, sources and methods of U.S. intelligence as crucial elements of national security. I was never a disgruntled federal employee; I loved my job at the State Department. I left voluntarily and on good terms to take a job outside of government. A draft of this article was reviewed and cleared by the State Department and the NSA to ensure that it contained no classified material.

When I started at the State Department, I took an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States. I don’t believe that there is any valid interpretation of the Fourth Amendment that could permit the government to collect and store a large portion of U.S. citizens’ online communications, without any court or congressional oversight, and without any suspicion of wrongdoing. Such a legal regime risks abuse in the long run, regardless of whether one trusts the individuals in office at a particular moment.

I am coming forward because I think Americans deserve an honest answer to the simple question: What kind of data is the NSA collecting on millions, or hundreds of millions, of Americans?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/meet-executive-order-12333-the-reagan-rule-that-lets-the-nsa-spy-on-americans/2014/07/18/93d2ac22-0b93-11e4-b8e5-d0de80767fc2_story.html?utm_term=.0be4d4e8beac

A Primer on Executive Order 12333: The Mass Surveillance Starlet

JUNE 2, 2014

Many news reports have focused on Section 215 of the Patriot Act (used to collect all Americans’ calling records) and Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act (FAA) (used to collect phone calls, emails and other Internet content) as the legal authorities supporting much of the NSA’s spying regime. Both laws were passed by Congress and are overseen by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court). However, it’s likely that the NSA conducts much more of its spying under the President’s claimed inherent powers and only governed by a document originally approved by President Reagan titled Executive Order 12333. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is currently conducting a secret investigation into the order, but Congress as a whole—including the Judiciary committee—must release more information about the order to the public.

EO 12333 was first written in 1981 in the wake of Watergate and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, an act passed by Congress that regulates spying conducted on people located within the United States. Since FISA only covers specific types of spying, the President maintains that the executive branch remains free to spy abroad on foreigners with little to no regulation by Congress.

Executive Order 12333

The Executive Order does three things: it outlines what it governs, when the agencies can spy, and how they can spy. In broad strokes, the Executive Order mandates rules for spying on United States persons (a term that includes citizens and lawful permanent residents wherever they may be) and on anyone within the United States. It also directs the Attorney General and others to create further policies and procedures for what information can be collected, retained, and shared.

The first section of the order covers the role of every agency conducting intelligence in the Intelligence Community, which includes seventeen different agencies, including well-known entities like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the NSA, and lesser-known entities like the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in the Department of Treasury. The roles vary by agency. For instance, the NSA is, among other things, responsible for “collection, processing and dissemination of signals intelligence,” while the CIA is responsible for “national foreign intelligence.

The Information Collected

The Executive Order purports to cover all types of spying conducted with the President’s constitutional powers—including mass spying. That’s important to note because some of the spying conducted under EO 12333 is reportedly similar to the mass spying conducted under Section 702 of the FAA. Under this type of spying, millions of innocent foreigners’ communications are collected abroad, inevitably containing Americans’ communications. In the Section 702 context, this includes techniques like Prism and Upstream. While we don’t know for sure, the Executive Order probably uses similar techniques or piggybacks off of programs used for Section 702 spying.

The second section of the EO partly covers mass spying by establishing what information intelligence agencies can collect, retain, and share about US persons. The current guidelines, the United States Signals Intelligence Directive SP0018, also known as “USSID 18,” are (just like the “minimization procedures” based off of them) littered with loopholes to over-collect, over-retain, and over-share Americans’ communications—all without a probable cause warrant or any judicial oversight.

Defenders (.pdf) of the mass spying conducted under the Executive Order point out the order “protects” such US person information with guidelines like USSID 18, but such protections are window-dressing, at best. Policies like USSID 18 and other accompanying Executive Order guidelines such as the “Special Procedures Governing Communications Metadata Analysis” allow for extensive use of US person information and data without a probable cause warrant. Indeed, news reports and Congressional testimony confirm the “Special Procedures” are used to map Americans’ social networks. The procedures are clear evidence the government believes that Fourth Amendment’s protections stop at the border.

Uses of Executive Order 12333

We do know a little about the spying conducted using EO 12333, but more must be revealed to the public. One early news report revealed it was the NSA’s claimed authority for the collection of Americans’ address books and buddy lists. It’s also involved in the NSA’s elite hacking unit, the Tailored Access Operations unit, which targets system administrators and installs malware while masquerading as Facebook servers. And in March, the Washington Postrevealed the order alone—without any court oversight—is used to justify the recording of “100 percent of a foreign country’s telephone calls.” The NSA’s reliance on the order for foreign spying includes few, if any, Congressional limits or oversight. Some of the only known limits on Executive spying are found in Executive procedures like USSID 18, the metadata procedures discussed above, and probably other still-classified National Security Policy Directives, none of which have been publicly debated much less approved by Congress or the courts.

The extent of the NSA’s reliance on Executive Order 12333 demands that the government release more information about how the order is used, or misused. And Congress—specifically the Judiciary and Intelligence committees—must reassert the same aggressive and diligent oversight they performed in the 1970s and 1980s.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/06/primer-executive-order-12333-mass-surveillance-starlet

Maintaining America’s Ability to Collect Foreign Intelligence: The Section 702 Program

May 13, 2016 21 min read Download Report

Authors:Paul Rosenzweig, Charles Stimson andDavid Shedd

Select a Section 1/0

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) will, in its current form, come up for reauthorization in 2017. Broadly speaking, the Section 702 program targets non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States, in order to acquire foreign intelligence. Over the past several years, this surveillance of the online activities of foreigners has been a critical and invaluable tool for American intelligence professionals and officials. Knowledgeable officials note that more than 25 percent of all current U.S. intelligence is based on information collected under Section 702.[1]

Still, there are those who have concerns about the program. These critics believe that the program, as currently implemented, infringes on Americans’ rights. Their concern hinges on the inevitable reality that in the course of collecting information about foreign actors, the Section 702 program will also collect information about American citizens. As a result, some opponents liken the Section 702 program to the government telephony metadata program disclosed by Edward Snowden, and characterize Section 702 as an instance of government overreach.[2] Such comparisons are misguided and unfair. The program is so vital to America’s national security that Congress should reauthorize Section 702 in its current form.

Section 702 Explained

Section 702 has its origins in President George W. Bush’s terrorist surveillance program and the Patriot Act. That program was initiated in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, on the President’s own authority. That reliance on exclusive presidential authority contributed to the controversy that initially attended the program—some vocal critics saw it as an example of executive overreach.

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That aspect of the criticism was significantly ameliorated, if not eliminated, several years later, when Congress fully discussed and authorized the activities in question. Indeed, the governing law was adopted and amended twice, after the program had been initiated on the President’s own authority. First, Congress adopted a temporary measure known as the Protect America Act in 2007.[3] Then, it passed the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) in 2008. This is the statute that includes the new Section 702.[4]

Under Section 702, the U.S. Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) may jointly authorize surveillance of people who are not “U.S. persons.” U.S. persons is a term of art in the intelligence community (IC) that means people who are not only American citizens but also covers permanent-resident aliens. As such, the targets of Section 702 surveillance can be neither citizens nor permanent residents of the U.S.

Section 702 authorizes the government to acquire foreign intelligence by targeting non-U.S. persons “reasonably believed” to be outside U.S. borders. Taken together, these two requirements identify the fundamental domain of Section 702 surveillance: it applies to foreigners on foreign soil. It is expressly against the law to attempt collection of information from targets inside the U.S.—whether Americans or foreigners—or to deliberately target the collection of online communications of American citizens.[5]

The law also requires the government to develop “targeting procedures”—the steps the government needs to take in order to ensure that the target is outside the United States at any time that electronic surveillance is undertaken. Obviously, that is sometimes difficult. A cell phone number, for instance, remains the same whether the phone is physically overseas or in the U.S., and the fact that someone has a U.S. cell phone number does not necessarily indicate whether the owner or user of that cell phone is a foreigner or an American. Hence, targeting must be tied to the geolocation of a phone and some knowledge about the owner/user, rather than solely to the phone’s number. Ultimately, it is the targeting procedures, not the targets themselves, that must be approved by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).[6]

To conduct this surveillance, the government can compel assistance from Internet service providers (ISPs) and telephone companies in acquiring foreign intelligence information—that is, information relating to a foreign espionage program or international terrorism. The government often compensates these providers for the necessary effort. According to The Washington Post, the payments range from $250 million to nearly $400 million annually.[7] Some critics of the program suspect that as a result, surveillance turns from a legal obligation to a source of income. Finally, it is important to note that not only regulated carriers, such as traditional cable and telephone companies (such as AT&T or Verizon), are required to participate, but also newer technology companies to include Google, Facebook, and Skype.

The Incidental Collection Issue

If that were all that the 702 program involved, it would likely not be particularly controversial. Few Americans have expressed grave concerns about America’s overseas intelligence collection. Significantly, the 702 program cannot be used to target any U.S. person or any person located in the U.S., whether that person is an American or a foreigner. The government is also prohibited from “reverse targeting” under 702—that is, the government cannot target a non-U.S. person outside the U.S. when the real interest is to collect the communications of a person in the U.S. or of any U.S. person, regardless of location.

But a residual issue arises because of the inevitability of inadvertent collection—the incidental collection of information about Americans as part of the authorized collection of foreign intelligence.

To see why this happens, one needs to understand two distinct aspects of the Section 702 program: one portion that goes by the name of PRISM, and another that is referred to colloquially as “upstream collection.”[8]

PRISM collection is relatively straightforward. A hypothetical can explain: The government has information about a particular e-mail address, or a particular individual, linking it or him to a foreign terrorist organization. That address (john.doe@xyz.com) or that individual’s name (John Doe) is known as a “selector”; it is a basis for sifting through vast quantities of data, and selecting what will be collected and analyzed.

The Attorney General and the DNI certify the selector as relating to a non-U.S. person who is outside the United States, and who is reasonably believed to be connected to a foreign intelligence activity. Then, the National Security Agency (NSA) sends a query about that selector to an ISP. The ISP, in turn, is required to hand over to the government any communications it might have that were sent to—or from—the identified selector. The NSA receives all data collected through PRISM, and makes portions of it available to the CIA and the FBI.

Upstream collection, by contrast, does not focus on the ISP. Instead, it focuses on the “backbone,” through which all telephone and Internet communications travel, which lies “upstream” within the telecommunications infrastructure. For example, an individual’s ISP might be a local company, while the backbone that carries its Internet traffic across the ocean to Europe is almost certainly operated by a larger provider, such as Verizon or AT&T.

There are several additional differences that distinguish upstream collection from PRISM. Most notably, upstream collection can involve “about” communications. “About” communications refer to selectors that occur within the content of the monitored communication, instead of, in the example of e-mail, in the “To” or “From” line.

So, if the government were using a name—John Doe—as a selector, under the upstream collection program, it would also collect foreign intelligence–related communications in which that name appeared in the body of the communication. Say, for example, that two al-Qaeda members are communicating via e-mail, and one says to the other: “We should recruit Doe.” That e-mail would be subject to upstream collection and would be a good example of an “about” communication. The e-mail is about Doe. Under the PRISM program, by contrast, the government would collect e-mails to and from the user name, and nothing more.

As should be evident, in some cases, these programs might result unintentionally in the collection of information about an American. If two Americans are communicating domestically in an exchange that names a foreign intelligence target (say, an e-mail that mentions an al-Qaeda operative by name), that e-mail might be incidentally collected by upstream collection. Likewise, an e-mail between two terrorist targets might be collected that incidentally includes information not only about legitimately identified U.S. persons (the recruit target John Doe), but also others. An e-mail might also mention Mary Doe—even though no evidence exists of any connection between Mary Doe and a foreign intelligence matter.

This prospect of collecting American data led Congress to include certain requirements that would reduce, though not entirely eliminate, the possibility that the data could be misused. Under the FAA, when information is collected about an American, whether incidentally as part of an authorized investigation, or inadvertently as the result of a mistake, the government is required to apply FISC-approved “minimization” procedures to determine whether such information may be retained or disseminated.

When lawyers and intelligence professionals use the word “minimization” in the context of intelligence collection, it means that any information inadvertently collected on a U.S. person is retained (if at all) only for a limited time, and that information about Americans is used and revealed and further disseminated only under narrowly defined circumstances. Minimization requirements may also mean deleting the information entirely. As with the targeting procedures, these minimization procedures are approved by the FISC—but again, the approval is for the entire system of minimization, not for each individual case.

So, for example, under these minimization rules, the NSA, CIA, and FBI are subject to certain limitations in how they are permitted to query and analyze the data they have lawfully collected. For example, they must demonstrate a reasonable likelihood that targeting a particular item in the information collected will result in the development of foreign intelligence. In other words, the rules limit when a U.S. person can be targeted for examination, and how long data about an American can be retained before it is deleted.

The Effectiveness of Section 702

With that background in mind, it is useful to turn to more practical questions about the program: Does it work? Is it being abused?

The public record suggests that the Section 702 program has indeed helped in the fight against terrorism. Classified records might provide additional support for this conclusion but they are unavailable to us.[9] The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB)—a bipartisan panel in the executive branch that reviews actions the executive branch takes to protect the country from terrorism, and also monitors civil liberty concerns—has reported that more than one-quarter of NSA reports on international terrorism include information that is based in whole, or in part, on data collected under the Section 702 program.

The PCLOB found that the 702 program “makes a substantial contribution to the government’s efforts to learn about the membership, goals, and activities of international terrorist organizations, and to prevent acts of terrorism from coming to fruition.”[10] Additionally, the program has “led the government to identify previously unknown individuals who are involved in international terrorism, and it has played a key role in discovering and disrupting specific terrorist plots aimed at the United States and other countries.”[11]

Although the details supporting these findings are classified, the board has also said that the program has played a role in discovering, and disrupting, specific terrorist plots aimed at the United States by enabling the government to identify previously unidentified individuals involved in international terrorism.[12] Additionally, the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) has posted three declassified examples from the NSA that involved the effective use of Section 702 collection in 2009: the New York City Subway Attack Plot; the Chicago Terror Investigation; and Operation Wi-Fi.

A few critics of the 702 program have disputed its actual impact in the New York City Subway Attack Plot and the Chicago Terror Investigation. TheGuardian interviewed several people who were involved in the two investigations and reviewed U.S. and British court documents.[13] Based on this incomplete record, The Guardian concluded that these investigations began with “conventional” surveillance methods—such as “old-fashioned tip-offs” of the British intelligence services—rather than from leads produced by NSA surveillance.

But the fact remains that current and former intelligence officials, members from both political parties across two Administrations, national security law experts in the private sector, and the PCLOB maintain that 702 has been and continues to be a very important intelligence tool for overseas intelligence collection.

Section 702 Criticisms v. Facts

Some of the criticisms of Section 702 are little more than philosophical objections to the concept of overseas surveillance.

Setting aside those concerns, there are other specific criticisms, each of which lacks merit. For example, there has been criticism that there is no significant publicly available data on how little, or how much, incidental collection there is about U.S. persons. Such data would be helpful to know in assessing the program. According to the PCLOB, in 2013 the NSA approved 198 U.S. person identifiers to be used as content query terms. The real issue is the frequency with which U.S. persons’ information was collected incidentally to the general foreign intelligence mission, and what is done with the information. After all, if the volume of incidental collection even remotely came close to what is collected as useful data on terrorism activities, including threats, skepticism about Section 702’s efficacy would be warranted.

Given that the targets of Section 702 collection are non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located overseas, it can reasonably be inferred that the predominant portion of the collected data does not contain U.S. person information. Although it would be useful to have an accurate estimate of how much incidental U.S. person information actually resides within the remaining portion of the data collected under the Section 702 program, it has proved very difficult to find any solution that would provide such an estimate. The first problem is that the collected data is often not readily identifiable as being associated with a U.S. person and would require the application of additional scarce technological and analytic resources in an effort to make those associations. The second problem is that the targets of the Section 702 collection efforts do not always communicate with persons of foreign intelligence interest. Ironically, an effort to ascertain an accurate estimate of non-pertinent U.S. person information lying dormant in the collected data is inconsistent with the purpose of Section 702, which is to identify foreign intelligence information. Such an effort to provide an estimate would result in more invasive review of U.S. person information.

FISA itself takes a more practical approach in attempting to understand the potential U.S. person privacy implications raised by Section 702 collection. It requires the head of each element of the Intelligence Community to conduct an annual review and to provide an accounting of the references to U.S. persons in intelligence reporting.[14] This outcome-based approach focuses on the U.S. person information that is actually being seen by the Intelligence Community, in order to assess whether there is any prejudicial impact on privacy rights. Also, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) recently released its “Statistical Transparency Report Regarding Use of National Security Authorities–Annual Statistics for Calendar Year 2015.”[15] The report estimates that 94,368 non-U.S. persons are targets of Section 702 collection. By comparison, the report estimates that the IC used 4,672 known U.S. person search terms in 23,800 queries of the lawfully collected Section 702 data. The report also notes that in 2015, the NSA disseminated 4,290 Section 702 intelligence reports that included U.S. person information. Of those reports, the U.S. person information was masked in 3,168 reports and unmasked in 1,122 reports. The remaining major criticisms of the 702 program are more systematic and definitional. One critique is that the government uses too broad a means in its first stage of collection, which is then followed by a more refined collection of data.[16] Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the FISC has described the program more accurately: “While in absolute terms, the scope of acquisition under Section 702 is substantial, the acquisitions are not conducted in a bulk or indiscriminate manner. Rather they are effected through…discrete targeting decisions for individual selectors.”[17]

Another complaint about the Section 702 program is that U.S. person data is retained—at least partially—at all. Under current rules, when the U.S. government targets someone abroad, it is not required to discard the incidentally collected communications of U.S. persons—if authorities conclude that those conversations constitute foreign intelligence.

In that event, even incidental conversations by or about U.S. persons may be retained. And the threshold for querying a U.S. person within the data collected is relatively low. To affirmatively query the data collected about a U.S. person, all that is needed is a determination that the search is reasonably likely to return foreign intelligence information. “Reasonably likely” is an especially easy standard to meet. It does not, for example, require any particularized suspicion that the U.S. person who is subject of the inquiry is engaged in any wrongdoing himself.

For that reason, a Presidential Review Board, as well a few Members of Congress, believe that Section 702 collection on Americans goes too far.[18] The program, they argue, is permissible and lawful without individual case supervision or a warrant requirement precisely because it targets non-Americans. So they contend that when the communications of U.S. persons are queried, probable cause and warrant requirements should apply. Any loophole that allows that particular querying should be closed because the government should not be able to obtain “back door” evidence against U.S. persons that it could otherwise only obtain with judicial approval.

But there is no “back door” here—a query does not collect any additional data. The FISC specifically holds that the 702 collection is constitutional and entirely consistent with the Fourth Amendment’s protections. The court found that “the querying provisions of the FBI Minimization Procedures strike a reasonable balance between the privacy interests of U.S. persons and persons in the United States, on the one hand, and the government’s national security interests, on the other.”[19] Even the fact that the “FBI’s use of those provisions to conduct queries designed to return evidence of crimes unrelated to foreign intelligence” did “not preclude the Court from concluding that taken together, the targeting and minimization procedures submitted with the 2015 Certifications are consistent with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment.”[20]

Obviously, Congress itself did not agree with these systematic and definitional complaints. While the focus of Section 702 collection is on non-U.S. persons located overseas, one of the specifically intended benefits of Section 702 was its ability to provide tip and lead information about persons in the United States who might be conspiring with overseas terrorists. This limited information might prove useful in helping to establish the probable cause necessary to obtain full surveillance coverage of these domestic suspects. It is also important to understand that the response to complaints about the theoretical possibility of abuse under FISA revolves around tight controls. The PCLOB found little evidence of abuse of the Section 215 metadata program, and in the case of Section 702 implementation found virtually no intentional misuse of the collection authorities where U.S. persons were concerned:

Over the years, a series of compliance issues were brought to the attention of the FISA court by the government. However, none of these compliance issues involved significant intentional misuse of the system. Nor has the Board seen any evidence of bad faith or misconduct on the part of any government officials or agents involved with the program. Rather, the compliance issues were recognized by the [FISA] court—and are recognized by the Board—as a product of the program’s technological complexity and vast scope, illustrating the risks inherent in such a program.[21]

Similarly, the PCLOB included a section in its 702 report called “Compliance Issues.” According to the PCLOB, the few instances of error in the administration of the 702 program were infrequent and mainly minor and administrative in nature. That is why the PCLOB found that “internal and external compliance programs have not to date identified any intentional attempts to circumvent or violate the procedures or the statutory requirements, but both unintentional incidents of noncompliance and instances where Intelligence Community personnel did not fully understand the requirements of the statute.”[22]

In other words, all of the errors in the program were accidental or due to mistakes. None was the product of intentional misconduct. Indeed, the non-compliance incident rate has been substantially below 1 percent, according to the PCLOB.[23] Over half of the reported incidents involved instances in which the “NSA otherwise complied with the targeting and minimization procedures in tasking and de-tasking a selector, but failed to make a report to the NSD and ODNI” in a timely fashion.[24]

Two other common reasons why compliance errors occurred are that: (1) the wrong selector was tasked due to a typographical error, or (2) a delay in de-tasking (removing the selector) resulted when an analyst de-tasked some, but not all, of the Section 702-tasked selectors placed on a non-U.S. person target known to be traveling to the United States.[25]

Taken together, these minor administrative errors accounted for “almost 75% of the compliance incidents,” according to the PCLOB.[26]

Section 702: Constitutional and Lawful

One last aspect of Section 702 needs to be addressed: the suggestion that the program might in some way be unconstitutional or unlawful. This Backgrounder concludes that relevant case law firmly supports the constitutionality and legality of the Section 702 program. To support this conclusion, we provide a brief history of relevant case law.

The predicate case is United States v. United States District Court,[27] sometimes known as the Keith case, after Judge Damon Keith, the federal district court judge who oversaw the case.

The case hearkens back to an era of protest and civil unrest in the United States. It involved several leaders of the so-called White Panther Party—a white supremacist group—who were charged with bombing a CIA office in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1968. Their phones were wiretapped by order of U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell, who served under President Richard Nixon. Mitchell said that no warrant was required to authorize the interception, because the defendants posed a “clear and present danger to the structure or existence of the government.”

Judge Keith responded that the Attorney General’s rationale was insufficient, and ruled that warrantless interception and surveillance of domestic conversations was unconstitutional. When the case reached the Supreme Court, the justices agreed with Judge Keith, establishing as precedent the idea that a warrant was needed before electronic surveillance commenced, even if the domestic surveillance was related to national security.

As Justice Lewis Powell said in writing for the Court, the “price of lawful public dissent must not be a dread of subjection to an unchecked surveillance power.” Justice Powell continued, “Nor must the fear of un-authorized official eavesdropping deter vigorous citizen dissent and discussion of government action in private conversation. For private dissent, no less than open public discourse, is essential to our free society.”

Notably, however, the Court limited its holding to domestic surveillance, and said that different rules might apply when the surveillance occurred outside the United States, or was directed at a foreign power—or at non-Americans. Regarding surveillance of non-Americans overseas, courts around the country have agreed with the implicit suggestion of the Supreme Court, holding that surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes need only be reasonable (and that a warrant is not required).[28] That distinction—between domestic and foreign surveillance—is preserved in FISA, which allows more relaxed FISA procedures (for which a criminal warrant was not required) only when the purpose of the investigation is to collect foreign intelligence.

In Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, the Supreme Court upheld the drug testing of high school athletes and explained that the exception to the warrant requirement applied “when special needs, beyond the normal need for law enforcement, make the warrant and probable cause requirements impracticable.”[29] Although Vernonia was not a foreign intelligence case—far from it—the principles from the Court’s “special needs” cases influenced later cases in the national security context.

In “In re: Sealed Case,” the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review held that FISA did not require the government to demonstrate to the FISA court that its primary purpose in conducting electronic surveillance was not criminal prosecution and, significantly, the PATRIOT Act’s amendment to FISA, permitting the government to conduct surveillance of agents of foreign powers if foreign intelligence was the “significant purpose” of the surveillance, did not violate the Fourth Amendment.[30] The court avoided an express holding that a foreign intelligence exception exists, but held that FISA could survive on reasonableness grounds.

In 2008, “In re: Directives Pursuant to Section 105B of FISA” applied the principles derived from the special needs cases to conclude that the foreign intelligence surveillance authorized by the Protect America Act possesses characteristics that qualify it for a foreign intelligence exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment.[31]

Notably, the “In re: Directives” decision cites a Fourth Circuit opinion for the proposition that there is a high degree of probability that requiring a warrant would hinder the government’s ability to collect time-sensitive information and thus impede vital national security interests.[32]

In April 2016, the first decision addressing the constitutionality of upstream collection under Section 702 was publicly released. The FISA court issued a declassified opinion[33] in which it concluded that use of information collected under Section 702 authority for domestic investigations satisfied both constitutional standards and was within the statutory bounds of the FISA Amendments Act. Notably, for purposes of this discussion, the court reached this conclusion after having had the benefit of a public advocate who articulated a position contrary to that of the government.[34] Judge Hogan cites “In re: Directives” in support of the proposition that the Fourth Amendment does not require the government to obtain a warrant to conduct surveillance in order “to obtain foreign intelligence for national security purposes [that] is directed against foreign powers or agents of foreign powers reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States.”

Section 702: Continuing Improvements

On February 5, 2016, the PCLOB issued its “Recommendations Assessment Report.” The purpose of the report was to assess whether the DNI had responded appropriately to recommendations it had made for the improvement of the program.

The DNI had taken action to the PCLOB recommendations. Indeed, with respect to the 10 recommendations relating to the Section 702 program, the PCLOB Recommendations Assessment Report determined that five recommendations have been fully implemented; one has been substantially implemented; three are in the process of being implemented; and one has been partially implemented.[35]

The historical record demonstrates the effectiveness of both the PCLOB’s oversight function and the responsiveness of the DNI to its recommendations—a win-win story in the new age of intelligence oversight.[36]

Conclusions

First, Section 702 is constitutional, statutorily authorized, and carefully constructed to address a vital U.S. national security requirement: the collection of vital information relating to foreign threats.

Second, it seems clear that, in light of careful scrutiny by the PCLOB, the specter of alleged abuse of the program is more theoretical than real.

Third, the Section 702 program has great current utility and provides invaluable intelligence of practical impact and not replaceable by other means of collection.

The benefits of the Section 702 program greatly outweigh its (theoretical) costs and the program should continue as currently authorized. Indeed, the record suggests that the 702 Program is invaluable as a foreign intelligence collection tool. The fruits of the program constitute more than 25 percent of the NSA’s reports concerning international terrorism. It has clearly defined implementation rules and robust oversight by all three branches of government, and is a necessary tool for defending the nation.

Congress should reauthorize 702 in its entirety. There is no need for a further sunset of the act’s provisions, as it has demonstrated its usefulness; and an arbitrarily forced reconsideration by Congress is unnecessary, a waste of time and money, and at the expense of national security.

The program can, and should, be implemented in a manner that is consistent with American values. To quote General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and former CIA director:

[A]n American strategy for cyberspace must reflect and serve our ideals. In our zeal to secure the internet, we must be careful not to destroy that which we are trying to preserve, an open, accessible, ubiquitous, egalitarian, and free World Wide Web. There are nations—like Iran, China, Russia and others—who view precisely those attributes as the very definition of cyber security threats. Their concern is not digital theft, but the free movement of ideas. We must take care that in our efforts to prevent the former, we do not legitimize their efforts to prevent the latter.[37]

A properly configured Section 702 program has met that challenge to the benefit of the American public. At a time when international terrorism is on the rise, the United States must have a lawful, robust foreign intelligence capability.

—David R. Shedd is a Visiting Distinguished Fellow in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, Paul Rosenzweig is a Visiting Fellow in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy, of the Davis Institute, and Charles D. Stimson is Manager of the National Security Law Program and Senior Legal Fellow in the Center for National Defense, of the Davis Institute, at The Heritage Foundation.

JUNE 06, 2017 5:27 PM

Republicans worried about leaks consider cutting back surveillance authority

 

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Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 854: March 9, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 848: February 28, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 846: February 24, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 844: February 22, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 842: February 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 841: February 17, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 838: February 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 837: February 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 836: February 10, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 834: February 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 833: February 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 832: February 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 831: February 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 830: February 2, 2017

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Story 1: Trump Visits Pope and Exchange Gifts and Words of Wisdom  —  Climate Change Difference — Videos — 

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Trump meets Pope Francis and the media creates faux controversy?

Published on May 24, 2017

Catholic League President Bill Donohue on President Trump’s meeting with Pope Francis.

President Trump Meets Pope Francis at the Vatican 5/24/17

US President Donald Trump meets Pope Francis at the Vatican

Meeting of Pope Francis with President Donald Trump 24 May 2017 HD

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Pope Francis: Climate change is a problem

The Pope’s encyclical on climate change

Published on Jun 22, 2015

Pope Francis released an encyclical, one of the highest Catholic teachings, on the environment.
Click here for the full story: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/pop…
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Pope Lends Weight to G-7 Push to Bind Trump to Climate Deal

May 24, 2017, 3:48 AM CDT May 24, 2017, 6:11 AM CDT
  • G-7 leaders await Trump decision on emission cuts this weekend
  • Francis has called for urgent action to protect environment

Pope Francis and President Trump met face to face at the Vatican for the first time, at Trump’s request. Bloomberg’s Kevin Cirilli and Alessandro Migliaccio report on ‘Bloomberg Markets.’ (Source: Bloomberg)

Pope Francis joined an international chorus urging Donald Trump to meet U.S. commitments on climate change in talks at the Vatican Wednesday.

Francis gave the U.S. president a copy of his 2015 encyclical calling for urgent, drastic cuts in fossil-fuel emissions after a half-hour meeting in his private study.

Francis’s choice of gift suggests he is adding his voice to those pressing Trump not to renege on the Paris accord, which is the cornerstone of global efforts to limit climate change. The Vatican said in a statement that the talks focused on international affairs and the promotion of peace, with particular emphasis on health care, education and immigration.

“Thank you, thank you,” Trump told Francis as they shook hands after the meeting. “I won’t forget what you said.” Trump has said climate change might be a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.

For his part, Trump gave Francis a special edition of the works of U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

Trump met with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni later on Wednesday before he travels to Brussels for a NATO meeting. He’ll be back in Italy again on Friday for talks with Group of Seven leaders in Taormina, Sicily. The world’s biggest developed economies are expecting Trump to say whether he’ll keep the U.S. in the Paris climate accord during the summit, Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks, said Monday.

French President Emmanuel Macron will push Trump over climate during the NATO meeting as part of a coordinated European effort to sway the president, a French government official said on Wednesday morning, adding that he had expected the pope and Gentiloni also to raise the issue. The official said that the questions over what the U.S. will decide have led to unprecedented uncertainty over what the G-7 will be able to say in its final communique.

Members of the Trump administration have been deadlocked over whether the U.S. should uphold the pact, brokered by nearly 200 nations in 2015. Leaders from Germany, China and other nations have pushed for America to stay.

Pressure has also come from business groups, including 280 investors representing more than $17 trillion in assets who released a statement Monday saying climate change must be an “urgent priority” for all G-20 nations. Executives have warned that Trump would put U.S. companies at a disadvantage if he pulled out of the pact.

As the richest nation and the second-largest polluter, U.S. efforts are central to keeping climate change from hitting an irreversible tipping point, unleashing catastrophic floods, droughts and storms, according to researchers. The U.S. has pledged to reduce its emissions by at least 26 percent from 2005 levels under the world’s broadest ever environmental agreement.

The meeting at the Vatican was the first between two leaders who have starkly differing views on a range of issues and was arranged at Trump’s request. Beyond their disagreements on the environment, Francis wants the world’s doors swung open to refugees, while Trump wants fewer of them in America. Income inequality is a serious concern for the pope — the billionaire president plans to rewrite the U.S. tax code to make the wealthy even richer.

Pope Francis Wrestles With Curia, Climate and Trump: QuickTake

For the president, it’s an encounter that may confer some legitimacy as he grapples with a political crisis back home. For Francis, it’s a chance to influence a leader who, for all his stumbles, remains the most powerful person in the world.

“There’s a whole range of issues on which the pope and Trump differ, but the point of their meeting isn’t to forge agreement on them or to change each other’s minds,” papal biographer Austen Ivereigh said in a telephone interview. “The point is to establish a bond of trust, which they can both call on in the future to further their agendas.”

Francis arrived at the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in a Ford Focus and entered the building through a side entrance. Ten minutes later, the president’s motorcade was greeted by Swiss Guards who stood to attention with their halberds and ostrich-plumed helmets. The pope welcomed Trump upstairs in the Sala del Tronetto before the two leaders retired to his private study for a half-hour conversation.

“It was an honor to be with the pope,” Trump told reporters later in the morning. “We had a fantastic meeting,” he added, without addressing a shouted question on whether they discussed climate change.

As well as the text on environmental protection, which Francis said he’s sent to all Roman Catholics, the pope also gave Trump books on family and the joy of the gospel.

“I’ll be reading them,” the president told him.

He also gave Trump a medal made by a Roman artist depicting an olive. The pope told Trump the olive is a symbol of peace.

“That’s so beautiful,” the president said. “We can use peace.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-05-24/pope-gives-trump-book-on-protecting-environment-at-vatican-talks

Why Melania and Ivanka Trump stuck to traditional Vatican dress codes when meeting Pope Francis today

The Trumps arrived in Rome last night, and their first engagement this morning was a headliner in the global tour which they are currently part way through; meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Both the First Lady, Melania Trump, and the First Daughter, Ivanka Trump, accompanied the President to the high-profile engagement, and both chose to honour the traditional Vatican dress codes by wearing black, long sleeved dresses and veils – the former even choosing to honour her host nation by wearing Italian label Dolce and Gabbana.

It was a somewhat unexpected move, especially given recent news that Pope Francis is keen to relax the strict dress codes to which women must conform to when attending private papal audiences.

Earlier in the week, Melania and Ivanka raised eyebrows when they met key figures in Saudi Arabia, without wearing headscarves, as Saudi women are required to do by law.  Although there is no such obligation for foreign women to do the same, Donald Trump criticised Michelle Obama when she didn’t cover her head visiting the country in 2015.

Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump with Pope Francis 
Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump with Pope Francis  CREDIT: AP POOL

Although the First Lady and First Daughter dressed modestly, they did it in their own way.  Largely, the duo has stuck with their signature takes on power-dressing throughout, wearing white sheath dresses and nipped skirt suits by American labels like Michael Kors and Oscar de la Renta, and, in Melania’s case giving a taste of her sense of glamour by stepping off the plane in a flashy gold belt and choosing a jewel-hued gown by Reem Acra for an evening dinner.

Only when Ivanka visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall did she cover her head as is custom for Jewish women when visiting the site- Trump converted to Judaism prior to her 2009 marriage to Jared Kushner.

So why the immaculate toeing of the line at the Vatican? As Pope Francis had been one of Donald Trump’s most vocal critics it was likely deemed to be in everyone’s best interests that today went smoothly – starting with the clothes.

Melania and Ivanka

Traditionally, under Pope Benedict XVI and all those before him, the rule was that women should wear black to meet his Holiness, covering up with full sleeves and a mantilla, the lace veil traditionally worn in the Roman Catholic Church.

Only a handful of Queens and Princesses from Catholic regions are permitted to wear white, according to the traditional “privilège du blanc” or “privilege of the white” rule. When Princess Charlene of Monaco met Pope Francis last January, for example, she exercised the privilege, wearing a chic crepe jacket and white driving gloves with her white mantilla and nude heels.

In the past, anyone who wore white was at risk of offending the privileged few – Cherie Blair did when she met Pope Benedict XVI in 2006, and subsequent headlines about the woman with a ‘grand idea of herself’ were beamed around the world the next day. It’s widely understood, however, that Pope Francis sees himself as a modern Pope, and has now eased the strict dress code once adhered to by The Queen and more.

The Duchess of Cornwall at the Vatican last month
The Duchess of Cornwall at the Vatican last month

When Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall met the Pope in April, she wore a champagne-hued dress by British label Anna Valentine and, despite defying all Vatican dress codes, it wasn’t a faux pas, as his Holiness had welcomed the look.

“Things have become more relaxed over the last few years there are no hard and fast rules,” a spokesperson for the Vatican explained.

Michelle Obama meets Pope Benedict XVI in July 2009
Michelle Obama meets Pope Benedict XVI in July 2009 CREDIT:REUTERS

That said, First Ladies, celebrities, and members of the public still tend to stick to the traditional codes, even if they aren’t officially required to.  Michelle Obama wore a black dress with a mantilla when she met Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, and Amal Clooney wore a sharp black skirt suit with a matching hat when she met Pope Francis in May 2016.

It’s no wonder, in that case, that Melania opted for a traditional lace mantilla, and Ivanka a slightly more modern net veil. If you’re erring on the side of caution, it is surely always the safest bet to stick with tradition.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/people/melania-ivanka-trump-stuck-traditional-vatican-dress-codes-meeting/

Story 2: Trump To NATO Countries — Increase Your Military Spending — Videos

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President Trump & Melania Arrive in Brussels Ahead of NATO Summit 5/24/17

Raw: President Trump in Belgium for Meetings

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NATO rolls out the red carpet, buffs its image for Trump

 NATO is not only rolling out the red carpet for President Donald Trump in Brussels Thursday, the military alliance — which Trump once declared obsolete — has been busy repackaging its image and is ready to unveil a new headquarters worth more than 1 billion euros.

In recent months, member nations have strained to show they are ramping up defense spending as Trump has demanded, even though they have been doing so for a few years in response to an aggressive Russia. And while they agree with the chief of the alliance’s most powerful member that NATO can do more to fight terrorism, they say it can be achieved with more of the same; training and mentoring troops in Afghanistan, and equipping local forces in Iraq so they can better fight the Islamic State group themselves.

“They’ll only talk about what he cares about, so really he should come out of this meeting feeling as though NATO responds to him,” said Kristine Berzina, NATO analyst at the German Marshall Fund think tank. “At least that’s what they hope here.”

Indeed, the NATO leaders will agree to join the 68-nation international coalition fighting IS, after Germany and France were no longer raising any objections about announcing the decision on Thursday.

The move is symbolically important, especially since the group claimed responsibility Tuesday for a deadly explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.

An anti-terror coordinator may also be named, but most changes will be cosmetic, as NATO allies have no intention of going to war against IS.

“It’s totally out of the question for NATO to engage in any combat operations,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday, on the eve of the meeting.

The 28 member nations, plus soon-to-join Montenegro, will renew an old vow to move toward spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024. Still, many are skeptical about this arbitrary bottom line that takes no account of effective military spending where it’s needed most. Germany would have to virtually double its military budget and spend more than Russia.

Putting some meat on the pledge, the leaders will agree to prepare action plans by the end of the year, plotting how to reach 2 percent over the next seven years, and show how they will use the money and contribute troops to NATO operations.

Only five members currently meet the target: Britain, Estonia, debt-laden Greece, Poland and the United States, which spends more on defense than all the other allies combined.

“It’s not fair that we’re paying close to 4 percent and other countries that are more directly affected are paying 1 percent when they’re supposed to be paying 2 percent,” Trump told the Associated Press in an interview last month.

Tomas Valasek from the Carnegie Europe think tank says the president’s demands on overdue debts have shaken up the other allies.

“Trump has challenged the idea that active engagement in Europe is a core U.S. interest,” Valasek said. “He appears to regard all foreign relations as zero-sum transactions, in which each contribution to someone else’s security represents a net loss to the United States.”

The Europeans, Valasek said, should respond in two ways: “In the short term, focus on preventing the president from abandoning the alliance and, in the long term, prepare to assume a bigger role in defending the European continent.”

The short working-dinner meeting will be high on symbolism. At the entry to the new premises — a village-sized complex that should be in full use early next year — Trump and Stoltenberg will unveil a piece of the World Trade Center.

After the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, NATO activated its collective defense clause for the first and only time, with member nations pledging to help their beleaguered ally.

Stoltenberg and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will also unveil a part of the Berlin Wall that once divided East and West Germany.

But the ceremonies and symbolism will do little to hide the divisions running through NATO. Trump wants more from the alliance, while countries such as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia want iron-clad assurances that they won’t be left alone should Russia cross their borders.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, has purged around 11,000 military personnel from its armed forces since last July’s thwarted coup. Hundreds of western-educated senior officers were removed from posts at NATO, severely weakening the army.

Yet it’s a subject that is almost taboo at NATO headquarters; a national affair to be dealt with internally.

Tensions have also mounted between Erdogan and Merkel since Germany offered asylum to some of the officers. Belgium has publicly warned against any pro-Erdogan rallies during his visit.

Outside the heavily guarded security perimeter near the city’s airport and in downtown Brussels, peace groups have planned rallies of their own.

But, as the Manchester bombing remains fresh in mind, Belgium will remain on security Level 3 — meaning that the threat of an extremist attack “is possible and likely” — as it has since the suicide-bomb attacks on the Brussels airport and subway killed 32 people last year.

https://apnews.com/1e412fe9983747a6a8f94a2356d31f96/NATO-rolls-out-the-red-carpet,-buffs-its-image-for-Trump

Trump’s Anti-Terrorism Call Resonates at NATO After Manchester Attack

May 24, 2017, 11:51 AM CDT May 24, 2017, 12:25 PM CDT
  • Terrorism, defense spending top agenda of Brussels summit
  • France led concerns of wider NATO role fighting Islamic State

U.S. President Donald Trump’s demands to step up the fight against terrorism is set to get a sympathetic hearing from NATO partners when he visits the alliance headquarters for the first time on Thursday.

A deadly bombing in the U.K. this week has given fresh resonance to his call for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to become more engaged in fighting global terrorism. France and Germany, which had resisted an upgrade of NATO’s role in the international coalition against Islamic State, accepted the move on the eve of the summit, according to two officials familiar with the preparations.

Trump’s meeting with fellow NATO leaders including Prime Minister Theresa May in Brussels, a city he once called a “hellhole,” will go a long way to determining the future strength of the trans-Atlantic alliance. While facing resistance from countries including Italy and Germany to his calls to raise defense spending, he’s likely to find common ground on the shared threat posed by radical Islamist terrorism, and avert fresh tensions with partners already anxious about the Trump administration’s priorities.

The Manchester attack will play a “big role” in the meeting and “drives home the Trump administration’s message that more needs to be done to fight terrorism,” said Kristine Berzina, a Brussels-based fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Message of Unity

The forces tugging at NATO will be symbolized before the summit dinner when the leaders inaugurate a new headquarters. The steel-and-glass complex will feature pieces of the Berlin Wall, whose fall in 1989 marked the West’s victory in the Cold War against Russia, and of the World Trade Center, whose collapse in the 2001 terrorist attacks prompted the only occasion when the alliance has invoked its mutual-defense clause.

At issue for NATO in the Middle East is whether the alliance becomes a full member of the coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. NATO currently plays a supporting role through the use of Airborne Warning and Control System planes and the training of Iraqi soldiers.

Germany and France had expressed concerns that upgrading NATO’s involvement could skew the geographical balance among the existing 68 partners in the coalition and weaken it, according to European officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations are confidential.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said broad support exists for making the organisation a full member of the coalition and doing so will offer political and practical benefits.

“Many allies would like to see NATO as a full member of the coalition for two reasons,” Stoltenberg told reporters on Wednesday. “It sends a strong and clear message of unity in the fight against terrorism” and “will provide a better platform for coordinating the activities of NATO, NATO allies and other partners in the coalition.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters on the plane to Brussels from Rome that it would be an “important step.” NATO’s “been an observer. But they’ve become more and more engaged in the actual fight to defeat” Islamic State, he said.

Pope Meeting

The fight against Islamic State will also be at the forefront of the Group of Seven meeting later this week, with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni saying in a statement that leaders “will deliver the strongest possible message of extraordinary and common commitment against terrorism.” Trump even broached the topic with the Pope on his visit to the Vatican, discussing extremism and the radicalization of young people, Tillerson said.

Trump has leverage to gain concessions from Europe both over NATO’s anti-terrorism activities and over allies’ defense expenditure because European officials are genuinely worried about his commitment to the alliance, not least its mutual-defense provision, said Berzina. She said they are keen for Trump to show unequivocal support for collective defense at the summit.

“Because NATO is a consensus-based organization dominated by the U.S., the Europeans can’t just fire back the way they do when acting as European Union members,” Berzina said. “This could lead to concrete results in the near future on Trump’s demands regarding NATO.”

The timing of Thursday’s dinner, at what is for many Europeans the unthinkably early hour of 5:45 p.m., illustrates the American influence on the Alliance.

Brussels, which was targeted in a 2016 terror attack that left 32 dead, is the penultimate stop for Trump on a four-country tour that marks his first overseas trip as U.S. president and that has coincided with a growing political storm at home over possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. The controversy has sparked a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into whether anyone close to Trump colluded with Russia.

On defense expenditure, with the Trump administration pressing Europe to foot more of the common security bill, NATO members intend to draw up annual plans for increased spending. The U.S. accounts for about 70 percent of NATO’s overall defense outlays.

In 2014, NATO members set a goal of spending at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense within a decade and last year in Europe only Estonia, Greece, Poland and the U.K. met the target. The U.S. led in 2016 with defense expenditure of 3.61 percent of GDP.

In a concession to Germany, which has raised defense outlays while rejecting any rush to the 2 percent target and urging smarter spending in Europe, NATO allies aim to allow national plans to include non-military contributions such as development aid that help meet overall security goals.

Amid the pressure from Trump over defense budgets, the EU is drafting plans to spend more of its common budget on defense research, pool procurement and give the arms industry better access to finance.

“I think you can expect the president to be very tough on them,” said Tillerson, who reiterated U.S. support for NATO’s collective defense obligation. “The American people are doing a lot for your security, for our joint security. You need to make sure you’re doing your share for your own security as well.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-05-24/trump-s-anti-terror-call-to-resonate-with-nato-after-u-k-attack

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The Pronk Pops Show 862, March 28, 2017, Story 1: Energy Independence and An Industrial Renaissance — Jobs — Jobs — Jobs — Making America Great Again — Videos — Story 2: Repeal and Replacement of Obamacare Bill Will Back Shortly — Stay Tuned — Videos

Posted on March 28, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Breaking News, Chemistry, China, Coal, Coal, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Energy, Environment, Foreign Policy, Geology, Government, Government Spending, History, House of Representatives, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Law, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, News, Nuclear, Oil, Oil, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Private Sector Unions, Public Sector Unions, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Rule of Law, Science, Senate, Solar, Taxation, Taxes, Transportation, Unions, United States of America, Videos, Wealth, Weather, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 862: March 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 861: March 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 860: March 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 859: March 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 858: March 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 857: March 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 855: March 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 854: March 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 853: March 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 852: March 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 851: March 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 848: February 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 847: February 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 846: February 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 845: February 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 844: February 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 843: February 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 842: February 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 841: February 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 840: February 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 839: February 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 838: February 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 837: February 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 836: February 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 835: February 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 834: February 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 833: February 7, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 831: February 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 830: February 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 829: February 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 828: January 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 827: January 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 826: January 27, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 823: January 24, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 821: January 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 820: January 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 819: January 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 818: January 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 817: January 13, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 815: January 11, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 813: January 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 812: December 12, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 811: December 9, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 810: December 8, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 809: December 7, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 808: December 6, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 807: December 5, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 806: December 2, 2016

Pronk Pops Show 805: December 1, 2016

Story 1: Energy Independence and An Industrial Renaissance — Jobs — Jobs — Jobs — Making America Great Again — Videos —

Image result for cartoons climate change brancoImage result for president trump signs executive order energy
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Trump signs order undoing Obama climate regulations

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The Great Global Warming Swindle Full Movie

Climate Fraud! Global Warming Hoax! Professor John R. Christy

Climate Scientist: Global Warming for Dummies and Activists

Global Warming / Climate Change Hoax – Dr. Roy Spencer (1)

Dr David Evans: Global Warming is Manmade? (1 of 2)

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Climate Change in 12 Minutes – The Skeptic’s Case

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George Carlin on Global Warming

By Valerie Volcovici and Jeff Mason | WASHINGTON

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday to undo a slew of Obama-era climate change regulations that his administration says is hobbling oil drillers and coal miners, a move environmental groups have vowed to take to court.

The decree’s main target is former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan that required states to slash carbon emissions from power plants – a critical element in helping the United States meet its commitments to a global climate change accord reached by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015.

The so-called “Energy Independence” order also reverses a ban on coal leasing on federal lands, undoes rules to curb methane emissions from oil and gas production, and reduces the weight of climate change and carbon emissions in policy and infrastructure permitting decisions.

“I am taking historic steps to lift restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump said at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters, speaking on a stage lined with coal miners.

The wide-ranging order is the boldest yet in Trump’s broader push to cut environmental regulation to revive the drilling and mining industries, a promise he made repeatedly during the presidential campaign. But energy analysts and executives have questioned whether the moves will have a big effect on their industries, and environmentalists have called them reckless.

“I cannot tell you how many jobs the executive order is going to create but I can tell you that it provides confidence in this administration’s commitment to the coal industry,” Kentucky Coal Association president Tyler White told Reuters.

Trump signed the order with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Vice President Mike Pence by his side.

U.S. presidents have aimed to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil since the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, which triggered soaring prices. But the United States still imports about 7.9 million barrels of crude oil a day, almost enough meet total oil demand in Japan and India combined.

U.S. President Donald Trump holds up an executive order on ‘energy independence,’ eliminating Obama-era climate change regulations, during a signing ceremony at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington, U.S., March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

While Trump’s administration has said reducing environmental regulation will create jobs, some green groups have countered that rules supporting clean energy have done the same.

The number of jobs in the U.S. wind power industry rose 32 percent last year while solar power jobs rose by 25 percent, according to a Department of Energy study.

‘ASSAULT ON AMERICAN VALUES’

Environmental groups hurled scorn on Trump’s order, arguing it is dangerous and goes against the broader global trend toward cleaner energy technologies.

“These actions are an assault on American values and they endanger the health, safety and prosperity of every American,” said billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, the head of activist group NextGen Climate.

Green group Earthjustice was one of many organizations that said it will fight the order both in and out of court. “This order ignores the law and scientific reality,” said its president, Trip Van Noppen.

An overwhelming majority of scientists believe that human use of oil and coal for energy is a main driver of climate change, causing a damaging rise in sea levels, droughts, and more frequent violent storms.

But Trump and several members of his administration have doubts about climate change, and Trump promised during his campaign to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, arguing it would hurt U.S. business.

Since being elected Trump has been mum on the Paris deal and the executive order does not address it.

Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change who helped broker the Paris accord, lamented Trump’s order.

“Trying to make fossil fuels remain competitive in the face of a booming clean renewable power sector, with the clean air and plentiful jobs it continues to generate, is going against the flow of economics,” she said.

The order will direct the EPA to start a formal “review” process to undo the Clean Power Plan, which was introduced by Obama in 2014 but was never implemented in part because of legal challenges brought by Republican-controlled states.

The Clean Power Plan required states to collectively cut carbon emissions from power plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Some 85 percent of U.S. states are on track to meet the targets despite the fact the rule has not been implemented, according to Bill Becker, director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, a group of state and local air pollution control agencies.

Trump’s order also lifts the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management’s temporary ban on coal leasing on federal property put in place by Obama in 2016 as part of a review to study the program’s impact on climate change and ensure royalty revenues were fair to taxpayers.

It also asks federal agencies to discount the cost of carbon in policy decisions and the weight of climate change considerations in infrastructure permitting, and reverses rules limiting methane leakage from oil and gas facilities.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-energy-idUSKBN16Z1L6

 Story 2: Repeal and Replacement Bill Will Back Shortly — Videos

Shep Smith goes off on Trump’s incompetent health care strategy on Monday– March 27, 2017.

WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders and the White House, under extreme pressure from conservative activists, have restarted negotiations on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, with House leaders declaring that Democrats were celebrating the law’s survival prematurely.

Just days after President Trump said he was moving on to other issues, senior White House officials are now saying they have hope that they can still score the kind of big legislative victory that has so far eluded Mr. Trump. Vice President Mike Pence was dispatched to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for lunchtime talks.

“We’re not going to retrench into our corners or put up dividing lines,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said after a meeting of House Republicans that was dominated by a discussion of how to restart the health negotiations. “There’s too much at stake to get bogged down in all of that.”

The House Republican whip, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, said of Democrats, “Their celebration is premature. We are closer to repealing Obamacare than we ever have been before.”

It is not clear what political dynamics might have changed since Friday, when a coalition of hard-line conservatives and more moderate Republicans torpedoed legislation to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. The replacement bill would still leave 24 million more Americans without insurance after a decade, a major worry for moderate Republicans. It would also leave in place regulations on the health insurance industry that conservatives find anathema.

Mr. Ryan declined to say what might be in the next version of the Republicans’ repeal bill, nor would he sketch any schedule for action. But he said Congress needed to act because insurers were developing the premiums and benefit packages for health plans they would offer in 2018, with review by federal and state officials beginning soon.

The new talks, which have been going on quietly this week, involve Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, and members of the two Republican factions that helped sink the bill last week, the hard-right Freedom Caucus and the more centrist Tuesday Group.

Any deal would require overcoming significant differences about how to rework a law that covers about one-fifth of the American economy, differences that were so sharp they led Mr. Trump and Mr. Ryan to pull the bill from consideration just as the House was scheduled to vote on Friday.

Still, Republican members of Congress said they hoped that revisiting the issue would lead this time to a solution and a vote in the House.

“I think everyone wants to get to yes and support President Trump,” said Representative Dave Brat, Republican of Virginia and a Freedom Caucus member. “There is a package in there that is a win-win.”

Representative Raúl Labrador of Idaho, another Freedom Caucus member, said he hoped the discussions would yield a compromise that brings the party together after a divisive debate that revealed deep fissures. “I think we will have a better, stronger product that will unify the conference,” Mr. Labrador said.

Mr. Trump has sent mixed signals in recent days, at times blaming the Freedom Caucus, outside groups and even, it appeared, Mr. Ryan. On Monday, for instance, he said in a late-night Twitter post that the Freedom Caucus was able to “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory” over the health care repeal. “After so many bad years they were ready for a win!”

But then he suggested that he could also cut a deal with Democrats, a move that would almost certainly make more conservative members of the House balk. “Don’t worry,” he tweeted later Monday night, “we are in very good shape!”

Mr. Ryan said House Republicans were determined to use the next version of the repeal bill, like the first version, as a vehicle to cut off federal funds for Planned Parenthood clinics.

Asked if he saw any signs that members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus might be willing to compromise, he said: “I don’t want us to become a factionalized majority. I want us to become a unified majority, and that means we’re going to sit down and talk things out until we get there, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

“We saw good overtures from those members from different parts of our conference to get there because we all share these goals, and we’re just going to have to figure out how to get it done,” Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Scalise said that “we’re going to keep working” because “this issue isn’t going away,” and he added: “Obamacare continues to fail the American people. You’re going to continue to see double-digit increases in premiums because Obamacare doesn’t work.”

Democrats took formal steps to get involved in what they called improving the Affordable Care Act. Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, sent a letter to House Democrats calling for suggestions in ways to make the health law work better. “We can then discuss these suggestions in our caucus and be prepared at the earliest possible time to go forward,” she said.

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts Portfolio

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The Pronk Pops Show 850, March 2, 2017, Part 2 — Story 1: President Trump’s Awesome Address To Congress — Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Deficit — $500-$600 Billion! — More Debt — FairTax Now! Videos

Posted on March 2, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Breaking News, Coal, Communications, Computers, Countries, Cruise Missiles, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Drones, Education, Empires, Employment, Energy, Environment, Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Fourth Amendment, Gangs, Government, Health Care Insurance, House of Representatives, Investments, Islam, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Oil, Photos, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Religion, Resources, Rule of Law, Senate, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Ted Cruz, Ted Cruz, Terror, Terrorism, Unemployment, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 848: February 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 847: February 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 846: February 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 845: February 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 844: February 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 843: February 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 842: February 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 841: February 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 840: February 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 839: February 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 838: February 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 837: February 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 836: February 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 835: February 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 834: February 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 833: February 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 832: February 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 831: February 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 830: February 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 829: February 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 828: January 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 827: January 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 826: January 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 825: January 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 824: January 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 823: January 24, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 820: January 19, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 816: January 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 815: January 11, 2017

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Story 1: President Trump’s Awesome Address To Congress —  Videos

Image result for President Trump addresses congressImage result for The Widow Of William “Ryan” Owens During His Speech To Congress.Image result for The Widow Of William “Ryan” Owens During His Speech To Congress.Image result for The Widow Of William “Ryan” Owens During His Speech To Congress.Image result for The Widow Of William “Ryan” Owens During His Speech To Congress.Image result for The Widow Of William “Ryan” Owens During His Speech To Congress.Image result for The Widow Of William “Ryan” Owens During His Speech To Congress.Image result for trump's Speech To Congress.Image result for trump's Speech To Congress.
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President Donald Trump Speech to Joint Session Of Congress 2/28/2017

FULL SPEECH: President Donald Trump Speech to Joint Session Of Congress 2/28/2017 Trump Live Speech

This is an address before a joint session of the United States Congress similar to a State of the Union address that may be given on February 28, 2017 by Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States. It will be delivered before the 115th United States Congress in the Chamber of the United States House of Representatives. It will be President Trump’s first speech addressed to Congress

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Read the Full Text of Donald Trump’s Speech to Congress

PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP’S ADDRESS TO A JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS

Remarks as prepared for delivery TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES:

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and Citizens of America: Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our Nation’s path toward civil rights and the work that still remains. Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.

Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice –- in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present.

That torch is now in our hands. And we will use it to light up the world. I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart.

A new chapter of American Greatness is now beginning.

A new national pride is sweeping across our Nation.

And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.

What we are witnessing today is the Renewal of the American Spirit.

Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead.

All the nations of the world — friend or foe — will find that America is strong, America is proud, and America is free.

In 9 years, the United States will celebrate the 250th anniversary of our founding — 250 years since the day we declared our Independence.

It will be one of the great milestones in the history of the world.

But what will America look like as we reach our 250th year? What kind of country will we leave for our children?

I will not allow the mistakes of recent decades past to define the course of our future.

For too long, we’ve watched our middle class shrink as we’ve exported our jobs and wealth to foreign countries.

We’ve financed and built one global project after another, but ignored the fates of our children in the inner cities of Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit — and so many other places throughout our land.

We’ve defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open, for anyone to cross — and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate.

And we’ve spent trillions of dollars overseas, while our infrastructure at home has so badly crumbled.

Then, in 2016, the earth shifted beneath our feet. The rebellion started as a quiet protest, spoken by families of all colors and creeds -– families who just wanted a fair shot for their children, and a fair hearing for their concerns.

But then the quiet voices became a loud chorus — as thousands of citizens now spoke out together, from cities small and large, all across our country.

Finally, the chorus became an earthquake – and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand, that America must put its own citizens first … because only then, can we truly MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.

Dying industries will come roaring back to life. Heroic veterans will get the care they so desperately need.

Our military will be given the resources its brave warriors so richly deserve.

Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our beautiful land.

Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and ultimately, stop.

And our neglected inner cities will see a rebirth of hope, safety, and opportunity.

Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people.

It’s been a little over a month since my inauguration, and I want to take this moment to update the Nation on the progress I’ve made in keeping those promises.

Since my election, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart, and many others, have announced that they will invest billions of dollars in the United States and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs.

The stock market has gained almost three trillion dollars in value since the election on November 8th, a record. We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price of the fantastic new F-35 jet fighter, and will be saving billions more dollars on contracts all across our Government. We have placed a hiring freeze on non-military and non-essential Federal workers.

We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a 5 year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials –- and a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists for a foreign government.

We have undertaken a historic effort to massively reduce job‑crushing regulations, creating a deregulation task force inside of every Government agency; imposing a new rule which mandates that for every 1 new regulation, 2 old regulations must be eliminated; and stopping a regulation that threatens the future and livelihoods of our great coal miners.

We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines — thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs — and I’ve issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel.

We have withdrawn the United States from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership.

With the help of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we have formed a Council with our neighbors in Canada to help ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to the networks, markets and capital they need to start a business and live out their financial dreams.

To protect our citizens, I have directed the Department of Justice to form a Task Force on Reducing Violent Crime.

I have further ordered the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, along with the Department of State and the Director of National Intelligence, to coordinate an aggressive strategy to dismantle the criminal cartels that have spread across our Nation.

We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth — and we will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted.

At the same time, my Administration has answered the pleas of the American people for immigration enforcement and border security. By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone. We want all Americans to succeed –- but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos. We must restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders.

For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border. It will be started ahead of schedule and, when finished, it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime.

As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens. Bad ones are going out as I speak tonight and as I have promised.

To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this question: what would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or a loved one, because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?

Our obligation is to serve, protect, and defend the citizens of the United States. We are also taking strong measures to protect our Nation from Radical Islamic Terrorism.

According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country. We have seen the attacks at home -– from Boston to San Bernardino to the Pentagon and yes, even the World Trade Center.

We have seen the attacks in France, in Belgium, in Germany and all over the world.

It is not compassionate, but reckless, to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur. Those given the high honor of admission to the United States should support this country and love its people and its values.

We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America — we cannot allow our Nation to become a sanctuary for extremists.

That is why my Administration has been working on improved vetting procedures, and we will shortly take new steps to keep our Nation safe — and to keep out those who would do us harm.

As promised, I directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS — a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, women, and children of all faiths and beliefs. We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.

I have also imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran’s ballistic missile program, and reaffirmed our unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel.

Finally, I have kept my promise to appoint a Justice to the United States Supreme Court — from my list of 20 judges — who will defend our Constitution. I am honored to have Maureen Scalia with us in the gallery tonight. Her late, great husband, Antonin Scalia, will forever be a symbol of American justice. To fill his seat, we have chosen Judge Neil Gorsuch, a man of incredible skill, and deep devotion to the law. He was confirmed unanimously to the Court of Appeals, and I am asking the Senate to swiftly approve his nomination.

Tonight, as I outline the next steps we must take as a country, we must honestly acknowledge the circumstances we inherited.

Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.

Over 43 million people are now living in poverty, and over 43 million Americans are on food stamps.

More than 1 in 5 people in their prime working years are not working.

We have the worst financial recovery in 65 years.

In the last 8 years, the past Administration has put on more new debt than nearly all other Presidents combined.

We’ve lost more than one-fourth of our manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was approved, and we’ve lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Our trade deficit in goods with the world last year was nearly $800 billion dollars.

And overseas, we have inherited a series of tragic foreign policy disasters.

Solving these, and so many other pressing problems, will require us to work past the differences of party. It will require us to tap into the American spirit that has overcome every challenge throughout our long and storied history.

But to accomplish our goals at home and abroad, we must restart the engine of the American economy — making it easier for companies to do business in the United States, and much harder for companies to leave.

Right now, American companies are taxed at one of the highest rates anywhere in the world.

My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone. At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class.

We must create a level playing field for American companies and workers.

Currently, when we ship products out of America, many other countries make us pay very high tariffs and taxes — but when foreign companies ship their products into America, we charge them almost nothing.

I just met with officials and workers from a great American company, Harley-Davidson. In fact, they proudly displayed five of their magnificent motorcycles, made in the USA, on the front lawn of the White House.

At our meeting, I asked them, how are you doing, how is business? They said that it’s good. I asked them further how they are doing with other countries, mainly international sales. They told me — without even complaining because they have been mistreated for so long that they have become used to it — that it is very hard to do business with other countries because they tax our goods at such a high rate. They said that in one case another country taxed their motorcycles at 100 percent.

They weren’t even asking for change. But I am.

I believe strongly in free trade but it also has to be FAIR TRADE.

The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, warned that the “abandonment of the protective policy by the American Government [will] produce want and ruin among our people.”

Lincoln was right — and it is time we heeded his words. I am not going to let America and its great companies and workers, be taken advantage of anymore.

I am going to bring back millions of jobs. Protecting our workers also means reforming our system of legal immigration. The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers.

Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others –- have a merit-based immigration system. It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially. Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon. According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.

Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, will have many benefits: it will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families –- including immigrant families –- enter the middle class. I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws. If we are guided by the well-being of American citizens then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades.

Another Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, initiated the last truly great national infrastructure program –- the building of the interstate highway system. The time has come for a new program of national rebuilding.

America has spent approximately six trillion dollars in the Middle East, all this while our infrastructure at home is crumbling. With this six trillion dollars we could have rebuilt our country –- twice. And maybe even three times if we had people who had the ability to negotiate.

To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital –- creating millions of new jobs.

This effort will be guided by two core principles: Buy American, and Hire American.

Tonight, I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better Healthcare.

Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for America. The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we will do.

Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits. As an example, Arizona went up 116 percent last year alone. Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky just said Obamacare is failing in his State — it is unsustainable and collapsing.

One third of counties have only one insurer on the exchanges –- leaving many Americans with no choice at all.

Remember when you were told that you could keep your doctor, and keep your plan?

We now know that all of those promises have been broken.

Obamacare is collapsing –- and we must act decisively to protect all Americans. Action is not a choice –- it is a necessity.

So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in the Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster.

Here are the principles that should guide the Congress as we move to create a better healthcare system for all Americans:

First, we should ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage, and that we have a stable transition for Americans currently enrolled in the healthcare exchanges.

Secondly, we should help Americans purchase their own coverage, through the use of tax credits and expanded Health Savings Accounts –- but it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by the Government.

Thirdly, we should give our great State Governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out.

Fourthly, we should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance – and work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs and bring them down immediately.

Finally, the time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across State lines –- creating a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring cost way down and provide far better care.

Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved. And every hurting family can find healing, and hope.

Our citizens deserve this, and so much more –- so why not join forces to finally get it done? On this and so many other things, Democrats and Republicans should get together and unite for the good of our country, and for the good of the American people.

My administration wants to work with members in both parties to make childcare accessible and affordable, to help ensure new parents have paid family leave, to invest in women’s health, and to promote clean air and clear water, and to rebuild our military and our infrastructure.

True love for our people requires us to find common ground, to advance the common good, and to cooperate on behalf of every American child who deserves a brighter future.

An incredible young woman is with us this evening who should serve as an inspiration to us all.

Today is Rare Disease day, and joining us in the gal