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Story 1: President Trump’s Infrastructure Framework/Plan — More Federal Government Spending of $200 Billion Over Ten Years With $1.5 to $1.8 Billion From Local Public Private Partnership Poo Pourri — Unconditional Guarantee Stink Free — Videos —

Girls Don’t Poop – PooPourri.com

How to Poop at a Party – PooPourri.com

Paying for Trump’s infrastructure plan

What President Donald Trump just REVEALED about his Infrastructure Plan will Shock Everyone!!

Trump is on right track with infrastructure bill: Rep. Biggs

Trump wants $1.5 tril. for infrastructure blueprint

Trump’s infrastructure plan is way too expensive: Kennedy

A $3.6 billion reconstruction project at Salt Lake City International Airport. The $200 billion infrastructure program that the White House unveiled on Monday is intended to attract a huge amount of additional money from states, localities and private investors.CreditKim Raff for The New York Times

President Trump’s $200 billion plan to rebuild America upends the criteria that have long been used to pick ambitious federal projects, putting little emphasis on how much an infrastructure proposal benefits the public and more on finding private investors and other outside sources of money.

Unveiled on Monday, the infrastructure program that Mr. Trump has championed since the campaign is intended to attract a huge amount of additional money from states, localities and private investors. The goal is to generate a total pot of $1.5 trillion to upgrade the country’s highways, airports and railroads.

Those financial priorities are crystallized in the new guidelines established by the White House. The ability to find sources of funding outside the federal government will be the most important yardstick, accounting for 70 percent of the formula for choosing infrastructure projects. How “the project will spur economic and social returns on investment” ranks at the bottom, at just 5 percent.

In this new competition for federal funds, a plan to, say, build a better access road for a luxury development — a project with the potential to bring in more dollars from private investors — could have a strong chance of getting the green light. By comparison, a critical tunnel overhaul that has trouble getting new money might not be approved.

“Instead of the public sector deciding on public needs and public priorities, the projects that are most attractive to private investors are the ones that will go to the head of the line,” said Elliott Sclar, professor of urban planning and international affairs at Columbia University. “Private investors will become the tail that will wag the dog, because they’ll want projects that will give returns.”

How Trump Plans to Turn $200 Billion Into $1.5 Trillion in Infrastructure Spending

President Trump’s long-awaited infrastructure plan proposes that the federal government put up $200 billion in incentives and investments, leaving local governments and private industry to come up with the rest.

Proposals intended to serve more impoverished communities that require more state and local money, including improving drinking water in a place like Flint, Mich., could be given short shrift. Financial investors may not see a big profit in such a project.

“A private corporation has a fiduciary obligation to make a profit. The government is supposed to be providing a public service,” Mr. Sclar said.

The president’s plan recasts the federal government as a minority stakeholder in the nation’s new infrastructure projects. Half of the $200 billion promised over 10 years will be used for incentives to spur even greater contributions from states, localities and the private sector. Mr. Trump also wants to speed up the approval process.

The White House budget, separately released on Monday, also gives federal agencies the authority to sell assets that would be better managed by state, local or private entities in cases where a sale would “optimize taxpayer value.” The budget suggests that Ronald Reagan Washington National and Dulles International Airports could be among the assets ripe for new owners.

Coming up with the $200 billion in federal funding will not be easy. Republicans have already ballooned the deficit in last week’s spending agreement and with their tax cuts. Democrats are unlikely to go along with cuts that would offset the cost of Mr. Trump’s plan.

With his infrastructure framework, the president is rethinking Washington’s role.

Economic development has been the justification for federal involvement going back to the country’s efforts in the early 1800s to improve harbors and rivers for navigation. It animated the 1902 Reclamation Act that funded irrigation projects that developed the western United States.

“National economic development benefits were the cornerstone of federal support,” said Debra Knopman, a principal researcher at the RAND Corporation. “That was the point.”

Public health, safety and national defense were added in the 20th century as core values, when the government developed the national highway system and passed the Clean Water Act.

“Now, they’re putting out incentive programs that don’t have to generate national or regional economic developments,” said Ms. Knopman, the lead author of a new 110-page RAND report on transportation and water infrastructure in the United States. “It may happen, but that’s not what they’re interested in and that’s not the way they’re screening these projects.”

The math for the infrastructure plan also relies on a lot of unknowns.

Along with private investors, cities and states are being counted on to put up significant funds. They have a need. States have been struggling for years to rejuvenate creaky roads, bridges and ports. And even if the plan appears to put much of the onus on them to finance projects, any additional federal funding is welcome.

“States won’t look down their nose at adding more money for infrastructure,” said John Hicks, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers. “It’s seen primarily as a positive, because it continues to shine light on a shared need of infrastructure improvement.”

But cities and states are not necessarily flush with cash for new infrastructure projects.

Congress has thrown their finances into upheaval, with local lawmakers still trying to come to grips with the effects of the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul that was passed last year. Many states have already expressed concern that it will be hard for them to increase state and local taxes, because deductions on them have been limited.

Some are considering other ways, such as gasoline taxes, to raise funds, but it may not be enough to fund new infrastructure projects. A report released last month by Fitch, the ratings agency, found that many states could see their tax revenue fall from the changes to the individual and corporate taxation laws.

David Damschen, Utah’s treasurer, said his state faces many infrastructure challenges as it works to accommodate a growing population, expand its stock of affordable housing and improve the transportation system. He said Utah was already looking for new sources of tax revenue to fund projects because sales tax and gas tax revenue had been declining.

But Mr. Damschen also noted that public-private partnerships do not tend to work well in his state. “When things roll out, you’ll find what the market will do with these ideas,” he said. “Sometimes creative ideas don’t always have the level of acceptance in the marketplace as you hoped.”

The amount of federal funds — $20 billion a year — will be spread very thin when stretched across the entire country. It is also unclear how much new money, as opposed to repurposed funds, the federal government is actually supplying.

One analysis by the Penn-Wharton Budget Model at the University of Pennsylvania said that other pieces of the White House budget could end up reducing federal infrastructure spending by $55 billion over 10 years — despite the president’s new plan.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and the president of the conservative American Action Forum, complimented aspects of the president’s initiative that dealt with streamlining regulations and using federal credit guarantees. But he doubted the promised total could be reached.

“It’s hard to get the $200 billion to $1.5 trillion, if you do the arithmetic,” he said.

Beyond the math, the revamped selection standards, too, are untested. The new criteria likely stemmed from the administration’s attempt to distinguish its program and try something new.

Indeed, criteria announced just last year by the Trump administration for other transportation and infrastructure grants relied on more traditional standards. One lists safety, overall condition, economic competitiveness, environmental sustainability and quality of life as “primary selection criteria.” Another cites “support for national or regional economic vitality” as the No. 1 one objective, while coming up with new money was second.

The new plan “doesn’t allocate money in terms of congestion, economic need or the public good,” said Martin Klepper, the former executive director of the Transportation Department’s Build America Bureau. “It does it mostly on the basis of the leverage issue.”

Mr. Klepper, who spent decades in the private sector developing, financing and selling large infrastructure projects, was recruited to lead the bureau in the final weeks of the Obama administration. He said he decided to take the job even after the Democrats lost, because of the new administration’s commitment to public-private partnership and Mr. Trump’s promise of a major infrastructure plan.

He resigned in November 2017.

“I left because I was pretty frustrated and disappointed with where the program was going,” Mr. Klepper said. “No one has any idea to the extent with which states and localities will be able to come up with the money to match the federal government.”

 

Trump’s infrastructure plan isn’t a plan. It’s a fantasy

Trump's infrastructure plan isn't a plan. It's a fantasy
A man works on the Southern Nevada portion of U.S. Interstate 11 near Boulder City, Nev. on May 19, 2017. (John Locher / Associated Press)

 

President Trump’s infrastructure plan isn’t a plan. It’s fantasy. The outline the administration put forth Monday is essentially this: The federal government will offer a diminished amount of money — $200 billion over 10 years — for building or repairing roads, bridges, airports, seaports, energy projects and water systems and somehow, magically, $1.5 trillion to $1.8 trillion in infrastructure spending will materialize.

Where would all that money come from? The president’s framework doesn’t say, but the intent is for the federal government to spend a lot less money on infrastructure and for local and state governments to spend a lot more. Oh, and private investors are expected to rain down money on infrastructure projects too.

Trump’s long-awaited plan was supposed to be an ambitious effort to build, as he put it, “the best, fastest and most reliable infrastructure in the world.” It was also a rare opportunity for bipartisan cooperation; Democrats and Republicans generally agree that crumbling roads and bridges are bad, and together they have been drawing up multibillion-dollar infrastructure spending plans for decades.

But the Trump framework is short on funding and pragmatism. The plan calls for $200 billion in federal spending over a decade, but much of that money is set aside for rural communities and loan programs. One hundred billion dollars would go to competitive grants, providing a mere $10 billion a year for roads, railroads, airports, water treatment plants, flood control systems and contaminated land cleanups.

That’s barely enough money to make a dent in the estimated $2 trillion of needed transportation, water and energy system upgrades. By way of comparison, the federal government spent $96 billion on transportation and water projects alone in 2014.

The $200 billion wouldn’t be new money. It would be paid for by cutting other infrastructure-funding programs. Trump’s budget, which was also released Monday, would slash funding for the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, among other agencies.

The Trump plan envisions it can do more with less by requiring localities to put up at least 80% of the required funding. Traditionally, the federal government covered 80% of major transportation projects, with locals contributing 20%.

There’s nothing wrong with requiring localities to kick in a significant portion of the bill for regional projects. A Trump aide singled out Los Angeles County’s Measure M sales tax increase as a “good case study” for how locals could help pay for public transit and road improvements.

In fact, cities, counties and states across the country are raising their gas and sales taxes and passing bonds to help tackle the massive backlog of unmet needs. But Measure M and similar efforts are supposed to complement, not replace, federal funding. Without federal money, projects will take longer to build, fewer jobs will be created and backlogs will lengthen. The federal pullback sought by Trump ignores why the federal government has been contributing so much to state and local infrastructure projects: We have a shared national interest in a country that’s safe and well-connected, and where people and goods move efficiently.

The Measure M-funded public transit building boom in L.A. County relies on federal funding that would be slashed under the president’s infrastructure and budget proposals. The Purple Line subway to Westwood was slated to receive more than $1 billion, or roughly 45% of the total cost, from the federal government. Without that money, it will be extremely difficult to complete that project, as well as others, in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Trump’s plan isn’t all terrible. It would reserve funding specifically for rural communities and transformative but challenging projects, two areas where it can be harder to raise local and private dollars. And to usher vital infrastructure projects faster through the bureaucratic gantlet, it calls for streamlining approvals so projects can get started in two years or less. That would be a welcome change, assuming that it means reducing unnecessary delays rather than gutting safety and environmental protections.

So by all means, streamline permitting and cut bureaucracy. But it’s still going take money to build the “gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways” that Trump says he wants. So far, his plan is all gleam, no grit.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-trump-infrastructure-20180213-story.html

Read the full text of Trump’s infrastructure plan

  • The Trump administration released the full text of its infrastructure proposal to Congress on Monday.
  • The plan includes $200 billion in federal funds that are intended to stimulate more than $1.5 trillion in spending from local and state governments and private entities over a decade.

President Donald Trump delivers a speech on tax reform after touring Sheffer Corporation in Blue Ash outside Cincinnati, Ohio February 5, 2018.

Trump talks up infrastructure plan with local and state officials  

The Trump administration released the full text of its infrastructure proposal to Congress on Monday.

The plan includes $200 billion in federal funds that are intended to stimulate more than $1.5 trillion in spending mostly from local and state governments and private entities over a decade.

In a letter addressed to Congress at the beginning of the proposal, President Donald Trump asks lawmakers to “act soon” on a bill that would:

  • Stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in new investment over the next decade;
  • Shorten the approval process for projects to two years or less;
  • Focus on infrastructure needs for rural areas;
  • Encourage training for American workers;
  • Create opportunities for state and local governments to invest in “large-scale infrastructure projects.”

Trump, who often touts his history as a real estate developer, made infrastructure one of the pillars of his presidential campaign. However, the president has indicated that he is skeptical of public-private partnerships, a key part of the White House’s plan.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/12/read-the-full-text-of-trumps-infrastructure-plan.html

Story 2: President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget An American Budget — Huge Government Spending With Massive National Debt and Unfunded Liabilities and Obligations Until Debt Bomb Blows Up — Hundreds of Trillions — The Great Default and Inflation — Videos

 

Trump Proposes $4.4 Trillion Budget

Trump’s budget: Where are the spending cuts?

Deficit from Trump’s budget plan a concern for the economy?

White House’s $4.4 trillion budget plan could hurt Americans in the future

5 takeaways from Trump’s 2019 budget plan

Trump Proposes $4.4 Trillion Budget

 

Heritage Experts Analyze President Trump’s FY 2019 Budget Proposal

Feb 12, 2018

This morning, the Trump administration released its fiscal year 2019 budget proposal. This is President Trump’s second budget proposal since becoming president. Below is reaction from multiple Heritage Foundation experts on the President’s proposal.

 

Justin Bogie, Senior Policy Analyst in fiscal affairs, on the overall spending levels and fiscal sustainability of the budget proposal:

 

“The budget proposal released by President Trump this morning is a mixed bag. While it demonstrates commitments to a strong national defense, eliminating waste, and pursuing much-needed entitlement and welfare reforms, it fails as sound fiscal policy. The Trump administration, just last year, proposed balancing the federal budget within 10 years. However, this proposal would add an additional $7 trillion to the national debt – something not even a big spender like President Obama ever proposed.

 

“While the administration’s accomplishment on tax reform and pursuit of welfare and further regulatory reform are all critical for increased economic growth – this budget proposal threatens economic growth by doubling down on fiscal policies that have failed us in the past and will pass the burden on to our children, grandchildren, and beyond. The time for talking about a smaller government is over – it is time for the President and his administration to demonstrate leadership and put us on a path to fiscal sanity rather than following Congress on the path to fiscal ruin.”

 

Lindsey Burke, Director of the Center for Education Policy, on proposed changes to K-12 education funding:

 

“Overall, the President’s budget makes needed reductions in K-12 spending, taking the size and scope of the federal Department of Education in the right direction – smaller. Yet much more significant reductions are needed to begin the long-overdue process of restoring state and local control of education. Proposals for new spending on school choice programs, however, should be directed to those populations where there is a rationale for federal spending. Providing education savings accounts for children from active duty military families is a promising proposal to do just that.”

 

Marie Fishpaw, Director of Domestic Policy Studies, on health spending in the new budget proposal:

 

“Today, the White House released a budget that rightfully assumes Republican lawmakers will roll back the harmful effects of Obamacare, which drove up health costs while reducing Americans’ health choices. Repealing Obamacare and replacing the law with patient-centered reforms is an effort that lawmakers cannot abandon. However, the budget also allows for $11.5 billion in bailouts to Obamacare’s insurance companies. Advocates claim these bailouts are needed to lower health insurance premiums.This is absurd. Rather than use corporate welfare to paper over the flaws of a fundamentally broken program, Congress should return to ideas that solve the real root problems.Conservative policy leaders continue to call on Congress and the Trump administration to focus their efforts on a real plan to reduce health premiums, improve health choices and protect American taxpayers from corporate bailouts.”

 

Fred Bartels, Policy Analyst for defense budgeting, on military spending:

 

“The Trump administration’s 2019 defense budget request is a great step forward in rebuilding our military. The Heritage Foundation has recommended a defense base budget of $664 billion, a 5.5 percent increase over the 2018 budget, while the administration requested $647 billion, a 2.8 percent increase over the 2018 budget, matching the recent budget deal. The budget calls for an additional 25,900 troops in FY19, similar to Heritage’s recommendation of 25,600 personnel. This will be a substantial step in the military buildup, and will allow the military to start to change the trajectory of asking the services to do more with less. The budget misses the opportunity to call for a new round of base realignments and closure (BRAC), which the Pentagon called for the past six years. It is unfortunate that they passed on an opportunity to save $2 billion per year, but hopefully they will take this time to re-think and reform the BRAC process. Finally, our national defense rests on a solid economic foundation. This is why our government needs to get the nation’s debt and deficits under control. Financing the military through debt sets the nation up for failure and makes the buildup less sustainable.”

https://www.heritage.org/press/heritage-experts-analyze-president-trumps-fy-2019-budget-proposal

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1030, Story 1: Obama Destroyed The Democratic Party and Trump Destroying Republican Party with Out of Control Federal Government Spending By Signing $400 Billion Bipartisan Budget Busting Bill — Night of Financial Infamy and Flooding The Swamp — The Tea Party Movement Will Rise Again and Form A New Political Party — Independence Party — To Challenge Big Spending Democrats and Republicans In Primaries and General Elections — Videos — Breaking Story 2: Russian Conman Bilked U.S. Spy Agency of $100,000 for National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Hacking Tools and Trump Information/Video  — Videos — Story 3: Dueling Memo Madness On Abuse of Power By Obama’s FBI and Department of Justice In Misleading Foreign Intelligent Surveillance Act (FISA) Court — President Trump Blocks Democratic Ten Page Memo For Including Numerous Classified Intelligence Sources and Methods — Resubmit Without Compromising National Security — Appoint Special Counsel To Investigate DOJ and FBI Contempt of FISA Court and Abuse of Power By Obama Administration In Spying on Trump Campaign and American People By Intelligent Community Including FBI, NSA, and CIA — Clinton Obama Conspiracy Exposed — Videos

Posted on February 9, 2018. Filed under: American History, Banking System, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribery, Bribes, Budgetary Policy, Business, Cartoons, Central Intelligence Agency, Communications, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Currencies, Deep State, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, European History, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, High Crimes, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Insurance, Investments, Killing, Labor Economics, Language, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Media, Medicare, Monetary Policy, National Interest, National Security Agency, News, Obama, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Privacy, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Rule of Law, Scandals, Senate, Social Security, Spying, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Trade Policy, U.S. Dollar, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weather, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1030, February 9, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1029, February 8, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1028, February 7, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1027, February 2, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1026, February 1, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1025, January 31, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1024, January 30, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1023, January 29, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1022, January 26, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1021, January 25, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1020, January 24, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1019, January 18, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1018, January 17, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1017, January 16, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1016, January 10, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1015, January 9, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1014, January 8, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1013, December 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1012, December 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1011, December 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1010, December 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1009, December 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1008, December 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1007, November 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1006, November 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1005, November 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1004, November 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1003, November 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1002, November 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1001, November 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1000, November 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 999, November 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 998, November 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 997, November 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 996, November 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 995, November 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 994, November 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 993, November 1, 2017

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 Story 1: Obama Destroyed The Democratic Party and Trump Destroying Republican Party with Out of Control of Federal Government Spending By Signing $400 Billion Bipartisan Budget Busting Bill — Night of Financial Infamy and Flooding The Swamp — The Tea Party Movement Will Rise Again and Form A New Political Party — Independence Party — To Challenge Big Spending Democrats and Republicans In Primaries and General Elections — Videos —

Mind blowing speech by Robert Welch in 1958 predicting Insiders plans to destroy America

President Trump Signs Spending Bill, Ending Second Shutdown

President Trump Signs Bill Ending Gov’t Shutdown

Stockman Trashes Budget Deal: ‘The Fulcrum Point,’ ‘A Night of Fiscal Infamy

Ep. 329: Republican Hypocrites Embrace Debt to Avert Shutdown

Congress approves spending bill to end brief government shutdown

BREAKING: Congress Votes to REOPEN Government After a Brief Shutdown – Trump Signs Budget

New spending bill raising concerns the tax cuts are unsustainable

Getting implausible that America can pay back debt: Gov. Bevin

 

Party Affiliation

 http://news.gallup.com/poll/15370/party-affiliation.aspx

After temporary shutdown, Congress passes two-year spending deal

WASHINGTON — After a temporary lapse in government funding that lasted through the night, Congress passed a pricey two-year spending deal early Friday that will also fund the government for an additional six weeks.

The government temporarily closed after Congress failed to pass a government funding bill before a midnight deadline due to the objections of one senator, shutting down non-essential government services.

In the end, a bipartisan cohort of lawmakers supported the $400 billion agreement. Shortly after 1:30 a.m. ET, the Senate voted, 71-28, to approve a two-year spending bill that would reopen the government, and the House passed it at 5:30 a.m. with the support of 240 members.

Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that he had signed the bill, officially ending the brief shutdown.

“Just signed Bill. Our Military will now be stronger than ever before. We love and need our Military and gave them everything — and more. First time this has happened in a long time. Also means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!” he wrote. He followed the post with a call for Republicans to increase their majority in the midterm election.

“Without more Republicans in Congress, we were forced to increase spending on things we do not like or want in order to finally, after many years of depletion, take care of our Military. Sadly, we needed some Dem votes for passage. Must elect more Republicans in 2018 Election!” he tweeted.

Congress now has until March 23, the next funding deadline, to write the legislation to accompany the spending deal that will fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year.

 

Trump signs budget bill, ending overnight shutdown 4:04

The overnight shutdown occurred because Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., used a procedural tactic to block the Senate from meeting its deadline.

To the ire of his colleagues, Paul protested the vote because of the large price tag of the two-year spending deal. The agreement is an attempt to end the repeated drama of short-term funding bills that have occupied Congress for much of the past five months. But it, too, was filled with drama until the end: Paul’s stunt forced government agencies to begin shutting down for the second time this year.

“I can’t, in all good honesty, in all good faith, just look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits. But really who’s to blame? Both parties,” Paul said on the Senate floor.

In the House, the measure easily passed despite several days of outcry from Democrats over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program, or DACA. But 73 Democrats supported the measure, including many from districts ravaged by hurricanes that would benefit from $90 billion in disaster aid.

“There’s a considerable irony here that there’s so many good things in the bill and yet there’s an outstanding issue that’s very stubborn,” said Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., ranking member of the Appropriations Committee.

The spending deal was hammered out between the Republican and Democratic Senate leaders. It increases domestic spending by $131 billion and defense spending by $165 billion over the next two years and suspend the debt limit for one year — until well after the midterm elections.

Government shuts down overnight, but is back open again2:39

What it doesn’t address is DACA. Per an agreement to end the three-day government shutdown last month, the Senate will take up DACA next week. House Democrats sought a similar agreement from House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., who insisted that he will bring up DACA legislation.

“To anyone who doubts my intention to solve this problem and bring up a DACA and immigration reform bill: Do not,” Ryan said at a news conference Thursday. “We will bring a solution to the floor, one that the president will sign. We must pass this budget agreement first, though, so that we can get onto that. So please know that we are committed to getting this done.”

But Ryan has not promised an open and neutral process that gives Democrats the opportunity to help craft the bill. And most notably, President Donald Trump’s support for a bill is a litmus test Democrats can’t accept.

“Sometimes I think the speaker thinks he is the speaker of the White House not the Speaker of the House of Representatives,” Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said just before the vote.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said it’s time for Democrats to have “courage.”

“Anyone who votes for the Senate budget deal is colluding with this president and this administration to deport Dreamers. It is as simple as that,” Gutierrez said in a statement.

How Rand Paul’s shutdown stunt fits in history 6:27

Fiscal conservative Republicans decried the price tag.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas., who is chair of the House Financial Services Committee and is retiring at the end of his term, called the bill “a monumental mistake and a sad day.”

“With the passage of this spending package, I fear Republicans have ceded our moral authority to lead our nation away from eventual national insolvency. I cannot in good conscience support it,” he said in a statement.

Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, was one of 67 House Republicans, and 16 in the Senate, to vote against it.

“The more we read the text, the more surprises for green energy and some of those things that we’re adamantly against,” Walker said.

Some Republicans are praising the proposed increase in military spending, while Democrats are hailing an increase in domestic spending, a tonic that was enough, along with the desire to avoid a another government shutdown, to garner enough votes. But it’s wasn’t an easy vote for many.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., struggled with his vote but supported it.

“I think the military spending is incredibly important — probably a once-in-a-lifetime increase from my perspective — but the pay-fors are challenging,” Scott said, referring to about $100 billion of revenue-raising mechanisms.

One of those offsets would be to sell off 100 million barrels of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve from 2022 to 2027, which some House conservatives say should be saved for an emergency.

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., voted against the measure, pointing to the major increases to the deficit. “Anybody in the Milky Way concerned about the deficit has to be worried about this bill,” he told reporters.

There were enough sweeteners in the bill to entice enough members to support the measure’s passage. The addition of disaster relief brought Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who often votes against spending bills, on board.

“This latest disaster relief bill is the next step in our state’s road to recovery,” Cruz said in a statement. “And I am gratified that (Sen.) John Cornyn (R-Texas) and I have been able to build upon and improve the bill that was sent to us by the House of Representatives to give the state of Texas the resources it desperately needs.”

Breaking Story 2: Russian Conman Bilked U.S. Spy Agency of $100,000 for National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency Hacking Tools and Trump Information/Video  — Videos

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FBI informant speaks to Congress about the Uranium One deal

BREAKING NEWS!!! WOW! U.S. SPIES PAID $100,000 TO ‘SHADOWY’ RUSSIAN PROMISING DAMNING ‘KOMPROMAT’ ON

Uranium One Informant: ‘Moscow’ Paid Millions to Influence the Oven Mitt Fashionista HRC

Clinton has lied repeatedly about funding the dossier: Kennedy

Media’s handling of Clinton’s dirty dossier ‘absolutely shameful:’ Chaffetz

FBI takes its time with Clinton-Russia scandal?

Gorka: Uranium One scandal is absolutely massive

Comey hid the uranium deal from Congress: Gregg Jarrett

Hillary Clinton LYING THREE TIMES UNDER OATH Before Congress

The headquarters of the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Md. CreditJim Lo Scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency

BERLIN — After months of secret negotiations, a shadowy Russian bilked American spies out of $100,000 last year, promising to deliver stolen National Security Agency cyberweapons in a deal that he insisted would also include compromising material on President Trump, according to American and European intelligence officials.

The cash, delivered in a suitcase to a Berlin hotel room in September, was intended as the first installment of a $1 million payout, according to American officials, the Russian and communications reviewed by The New York Times. The theft of the secret hacking tools had been devastating to the N.S.A., and the agency was struggling to get a full inventory of what was missing.

Several American intelligence officials said they made clear that they did not want the Trump material from the Russian — who was suspected of having murky ties to Russian intelligence and to Eastern European cybercriminals. He claimed the information would link the president and his associates to Russia. But instead of providing the hacking tools, the Russian produced unverified and possibly fabricated information involving Mr. Trump and others, including bank records, emails and purported Russian intelligence data.

The United States intelligence officials said they cut off the deal because they were wary of being entangled in a Russian operation to create discord inside the American government. They were also fearful of political fallout in Washington if they were seen to be buying scurrilous information on the president.

The Central Intelligence Agency declined to comment on the negotiations with the Russian seller. The N.S.A., which produced the bulk of the hacking tools that the Americans sought to recover, said only that “all N.S.A. employees have a lifetime obligation to protect classified information.” 

The negotiations in Europe last year were described by American and European intelligence officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a clandestine operation, and the Russian. The United States officials worked through an intermediary — an American businessman based in Germany — to preserve deniability. There were meetings in provincial German towns where John le Carré set his early spy novels, and data handoffs in five-star Berlin hotels. American intelligence agencies spent months tracking the Russian’s flights to Berlin, his rendezvous with a mistress in Vienna and his trips home to St. Petersburg, the officials said.

The N.S.A. even used its official Twitter account nearly a dozen times to send coded messages to the Russian.

The episode ended earlier this year with American spies chasing the Russian out of Western Europe, warning him not to return if he valued his freedom, the American businessman said. The alleged Trump material was left with the American, who has secured it in Europe.

The Russian claimed to have access to a staggering collection of secrets that included everything from the computer code for the cyberweapons stolen from the N.S.A. and C.I.A. to what he said was a video of Mr. Trump consorting with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room in 2013, according to American and European officials and the Russian, who agreed to be interviewed in Germany on the condition of anonymity. There remains no evidence that such a video exists.

The Russian was known to American and European officials for his ties to Russian intelligence and cyber criminals — two groups suspected in the theft of the N.S.A. and C.I.A. hacking tools.

But his apparent eagerness to sell the Trump “kompromat” — a Russian term for information used to gain leverage over someone — to American spies raised suspicions among officials that he was part of an operation to feed the information into United States intelligence agencies and pit them against Mr. Trump. Early in the negotiations, for instance, he dropped his asking price from about $10 million to just over $1 million. Then, a few months later, he showed the American businessman a 15-second clip of a video showing a man in a room talking to two women.

No audio could be heard on the video, and there was no way to verify if the man was Mr. Trump, as the Russian claimed. But the choice of venue for showing the clip heightened American suspicions of a Russian operation: The viewing took place at the Russian embassy in Berlin, the businessman said.

At the same time, there were questions about the Russian’s reliability. He had a history of money laundering and a laughably thin legitimate cover business — a nearly bankrupt company that sold portable grills for streetside sausage salesmen, according to British incorporation papers.

“The distinction between an organized criminal and a Russian intelligence officer and a Russian who knows some Russian intel guys — it all blurs together,” said Steven L. Hall, the former chief of Russia operations at the C.I.A. “This is the difficulty of trying to understand how Russia and Russians operate from the Western viewpoint.”

American intelligence officials were also wary of the purported kompromat the Russian wanted to sell. They saw the information, especially the video, as the stuff of tabloid gossip pages, not intelligence collection, American officials said.

But the Americans desperately wanted the hacking tools. The cyberweapons had been built to break into computer networks of Russia, China and other rival powers. Instead, they ended up in the hands of a mysterious group calling itself the Shadow Brokers, which has since provided hackers with tools that infected millions of computers around the world, crippling hospitals, factories and businesses.

No officials wanted to pass on information they thought might help determine what had happened.

“That’s one of the bedeviling things about counterintelligence and the wilderness that it is — nobody wants to be caught in a position of saying we wrote that off and then five years later saying, ‘Holy cow, it was actually a real guy,’” Mr. Hall said.

American intelligence agencies believe that Russia’s spy services see the deep political divisions in the United States as a fresh opportunity to inflame partisan tensions. Russian hackers are probing American voting databases ahead of the midterm election this year, they said, and using bot armies to promote partisan causes on social media. The Russians are also particularly eager to cast doubt on the federal and congressional investigations into the Russian meddling, American intelligence officials said.

Part of that effort, the officials said, appears to be trying to spread information that hews closely to unsubstantiated reports about Mr. Trump’s dealings in Russia, including the purported video, whose existence Mr. Trump has repeatedly dismissed.

Rumors that Russian intelligence possesses the video surfaced more than a year ago in an explosive and unverified dossier compiled by a former British spy, and paid for by Democrats. Since then, at least four Russians with espionage and underworld connections have appeared in Central and Eastern Europe, offering to sell kompromat that would corroborate the dossier to American political operatives, private investigators and spies, American and European intelligence officials said.

American officials suspect that at least some of the sellers are working for Russia’s spy services.

The Times obtained four of the documents that the Russian in Germany tried to pass to American intelligence (The Times did not pay for the material). All are purported to be Russian intelligence reports, and each focuses on associates of Mr. Trump. Carter Page, the former campaign adviser who has been the focus of F.B.I. investigators, features in one; Robert and Rebekah Mercer, the billionaire Republican donors, in another.

Yet all four appear to be drawn almost entirely from news reports, not secret intelligence. They all also contain stylistic and grammatical usages not typically seen in Russian intelligence reports, said Yuri Shvets, a former K.G.B. officer who spent years as a spy in Washington before defecting to the United States just before the end of the Cold War.

American spies are not the only ones who have dealt with Russians claiming to have secrets to sell. Cody Shearer, an American political operative with ties to the Democratic Party, has been crisscrossing Eastern Europe for more than six months to secure the purported kompromat from a different Russian, said people familiar with the efforts, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid damaging their relationship with him.

Reached by phone late last year, Mr. Shearer would say only that his work was “a big deal — you know what it is, and you shouldn’t be asking about it.” He then hung up.

Mr. Shearer’s efforts grew out of work he first began during the 2016 campaign, when he compiled a pair of reports that, like the dossier, also included talk of a video and Russian payoffs to Trump associates. It is not clear what, if anything, Mr. Shearer has been able to purchase.

Before the Americans were negotiating with the Russian, they were dealing with a hacker in Vienna known only to American intelligence officials as Carlo. In early 2017, he offered to provide them with a full set of hacking tools that were in the hands of the Shadow Brokers and the names of other people in his network, American officials said. All he wanted in exchange was immunity from prosecution in the United States.

But the immunity deal fell apart, so intelligence officials decided to do what spies do best: They offered to buy the data. That is when the Russian in Germany emerged, telling the Americans he would handle the sale.

Like Carlo, he had previously dealt with American intelligence operatives, American and European officials said. He served as a fixer, of sorts, brokering deals for Russia’s Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., which is the successor to the old Soviet K.G.B. American intelligence officials said that he had a direct link to Nikolai Patrushev, a former F.S.B. director, and that they knew of previous work he had done helping move illicit shipments of semiprecious metals for a Russian oligarch.

By last April it appeared that a deal was imminent. Several C.I.A. officers even traveled from the agency’s headquarters to help the agency’s Berlin station handle the operation.

At a small bar in the old heart of West Berlin, the Russian handed the American intermediary a thumb drive with a small cache of data that was intended to provide a sample of what was to come, American officials said.

Within days, though, the deal turned sour. American intelligence agencies determined that the data was genuinely from the Shadow Brokers, but was material the group had already made public. As a result, the C.I.A. said it would not pay for it, American officials said

The Russian was furious. But negotiations limped on until September, when the two sides agreed to try again.

Late that month, the American businessman delivered the $100,000 payment. Some officials said it was United States government money but routed through an indirect channel.

A few weeks later, the Russian began handing over data. But in multiple deliveries in October and December, almost all of what he delivered was related to 2016 election and alleged ties between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia, not the N.S.A. or C.I.A. hacking tools.

In December, the Russian said he told the American intermediary that he was providing the Trump material and holding out on the hacking tools at the orders of senior Russian intelligence officials.

Early this year, the Americans gave him one last chance. The Russian once again showed up with nothing more than excuses.

So the Americans offered him a choice: Start working for them and provide the names of everyone in his network — or go back to Russia and do not return.

The Russian did not give it much thought. He took a sip of the cranberry juice he was nursing, picked up his bag and said, “Thank you.” Then he walked out the door.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-10/here-full-35-page-report-alleging-trump-was-cultivated-supported-and-assisted-russia

 

Special Counsel Q&A


 

On May 17, the Justice Department announced the appointment of former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel to investigate any possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Trump responded by calling the investigation a “witch hunt.”

At a May 18 press conference, Trump said: “Well, I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt. And there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign — but I can always speak for myself — and the Russians, zero.”

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made the decision to appoint a special counsel just days after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Comey told Congress on March 20 that the FBI had opened an investigation last July into “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”

Amid ongoing investigations by the FBI and House and Senate intelligence committees, what exactly does the appointment of a special counsel mean? Here we answer some questions that readers may have.

Who appoints a special counsel?

The appointment of a special counsel typically is the decision of the U.S. attorney general. But in this case, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia inquiry after it was revealed that he had met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential campaign and did not disclose the meetings during his Senate confirmation hearing. In such cases of recusal, the power to appoint a special counsel falls to the “acting attorney general,” in this case, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, a special counsel is appointed for an investigation into a matter that “would present a conflict of interest for the Department [of Justice] or other extraordinary circumstances” or in cases when it “would be in the public interest” to have an outside counsel.

Why was a special counsel appointed?

In a released statement, Rosenstein explained his decision: “In my capacity as acting attorney general I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter. My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination. What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”

What is the scope of the investigation?

In his order appointing Mueller special counsel, Rosenstein wrote that his responsibility is to ensure a “full and thorough investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.” As special counsel, Mueller is charged with investigating “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.” In addition, Mueller is to look into “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” That would include any obstruction of the investigation or perjury related to it.

Whom does the special counsel report to?

Mueller will report to Rosenstein. But the special counsel is supposed to act independently, with some limits. As the federal code explains, a special counsel must consult the acting attorney general (Rosenstein) if he wishes to expand the inquiry beyond what was spelled out in Rosenstein’s order “or to investigate new matters that come to light in the course of his or her investigation.” In addition, Rosenstein can ask the special counsel to “provide an explanation for any investigative or prosecutorial step,” and if such step is deemed “inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices” the acting attorney general reserves the right to intervene, provided Congress is notified.

Who is Robert Mueller?

Mueller was director of the FBI for 12 years, from September 2001 to September 2013. His was the second longest tenure for an FBI director, behind only J. Edgar Hoover. Serving under both Democratic and Republican presidents, Mueller enjoyed wide, bipartisan support from the Senate, which initially confirmed him 98-0 in 2001, and then extended his term past 10 years by a vote of 100-0 in 2011. The New York Timesnoted that during his career, Mueller oversaw cases ranging from crime boss John J. Gotti to those responsible for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mueller helped “transform the bureau from a crime-fighting organization into a central piece of the antiterrorism establishment,” the Times wrote. His independence and competence was praised by leaders on both sides of the political aisle.

Can Mueller be fired?

Yes, but not by the president, at least not directly. Only the acting attorney general — in this case, Rosenstein — can discipline or fire a special counsel, and then only for cause. According to the federal code, “The Attorney General may remove a Special Counsel for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies.” The president can, however, fire the deputy attorney general.

What authority does a special counsel have?

A special counsel has the same authority as any federal prosecutor, William Banks, a professor and the founding director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University, told us in a phone interview. That includes access to classified documents. It also includes the authority — if deemed appropriate — to subpoena, say, the president’s tax records.

How big of a staff will Mueller get, and who decides that? 

The federal code does not specify how large a staff the special counsel is afforded. It says only that a special counsel “shall be provided all appropriate resources by the Department of Justice.” The code notes that special counsels may request the assignment of Justice Department staff to assist them, and that such employees will be supervised by the special counsel. Special counsels also may request additional staff from outside the Justice Department, and “[a]ll personnel in the [Justice] Department shall cooperate to the fullest extent possible with the Special Counsel.” The special counsel’s proposed budget is subject to approval by the acting attorney general. The length of the investigation is not mandated, but federal code requires the special counsel to make a budget request each fiscal year, at which point the acting attorney general “shall determine whether the investigation should continue and, if so, establish the budget for the next year.”

What happens when the special counsel’s investigation is complete?

Rosenstein’s order notes that if Mueller deems it “necessary and appropriate,” he is “authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters.” The federal code states that at the conclusion of a special counsel’s investigation, he must provide the acting attorney general with a confidential report explaining decisions about whether or not prosecutions are warranted. The acting attorney general could decide to make that report public. According to the code, the “Attorney General may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest, to the extent that release would comply with applicable legal restrictions.”

How will this affect the ongoing FBI and congressional investigations?

According to NBC News, Mueller will oversee the prosecutors and FBI agents who are working on the Russia investigation. Sam Buell, a law professor at Duke University, told us via email that Mueller’s investigation and the FBI’s will essentially now be one in the same. “What we have now is a prosecutor paired with the agents who have been investigating this, which means, among other things, access to the grand jury and a greater degree of lawyerly advice and supervision over how the investigation is progressing,” said Buell, who was a former federal prosecutor for 10 years in New York, Boston, Washington and Houston.

The special counsel’s investigation does not preclude Congress’ investigations, and every indication is that those will continue. Buell told us Congress’ mandate is broader, “looking at questions of governance generally not just violations of criminal laws, which is the question to which Mueller is restricted.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham warned that Mueller’s investigation will “severely restrict” Congress’ ability to call witnesses and issue subpoenas, as some witnesses could argue they have a right not to incriminate themselves amid a criminal investigation. In order to compel witnesses to testify, Congress has to immunize their testimony, David Sklansky, a former assistant U.S. attorney who now teaches law at Stanford University, told us in an email. “Mueller — like any prosecutor conducting a criminal investigation — will be concerned about Congress granting immunity to any witnesses who might be implicated in criminal activity, because prosecuting someone whose congressional testimony has been immunized is very difficult,” Sklansky said. Of less concern to Mueller, he said, are those who testify voluntarily before Congress.

Buell told us fears about Mueller’s investigation in any way blocking Congress’ are an “overstatement” and that “legally, nothing prevents Congress from proceeding apace.” Congress could still set up an independent commission to investigate Russian influence in the election, but it has so far resisted calls for one.

How common is the appointment of a special counsel?

According to the Lawfare blog, this is only the second time a “special counsel” has been appointed under this specific regulation. The first was in 1999 when Attorney General Janet Reno appointed former Sen. John Danforth to lead an investigation into the federal law enforcement raid of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. But as Lawfare explained, past attorneys general have used “different authorities to appoint other special counsels — like Nora Dannehy, appointed in 2008 to investigate the firing of U.S. Attorneys, Patrick Fitzgerald, tasked with leading the investigation into the Valerie Plame affair, and John Durham, who investigated the alleged abuse of suspected terrorists by CIA interrogators.” Those are wholly different from “independent counsels” such as Kenneth Starr, who investigated the Whitewater scandal during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Starr’s investigations were carried out under the Ethics in Government Act, which was enacted in 1978 after the Watergate scandal. But that law expired in 1999.

Lawfare and a Congressional Research Service report go into some detail about the differences between the variations of special counsels, independent counsels and special prosecutors over the years. But Banks said they all have the same core function: to investigate and prosecute possible violations of criminal law by officials of the federal government. And they have been all too common in American history.

https://www.factcheck.org/2017/05/special-counsel-qa/

Read the controversial Nunes memo and its key points

FISA Court Finds “Serious Fourth Amendment Issue” In Obama’s “Widespread” Illegal Searches Of American Citizens

A newly released court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) found that the National Security Agency, under former President Obama, routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall.  In describing the violations, the FISA court said the illegal searches conducted by the NSA under Obama were “widespread” and created a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue.”

These new discoveries come from a recently unsealed FISA court document dated April 26, 2017 and center around a hearing dated October 26, 2017, just days before the 2016 election, in which the FISA court apparently learned for the first time of “widespread” and illegal spying on American citizens by the NSA under the Obama administration.

“The October 26, 2016 Notice disclosed that an NSA Inspector General (IG) review…indicated that, with greater frequency than previously disclosed to the Court, NSA analysts had used U.S.-person identifiers to query the result of Internet “upstream” collection, even though NSA’s section 702 minimization procedures prohibited such queriesthis disclosure gave the Court substantial concern.”

FISA

 

The court order goes on to reveal that NSA analysts had been conducting illegal queries targeting American citizens “with much greater frequency than had previously been disclosed to the Court”…an issue which the court described as a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue.”

“Since 2011, NSA’s minimization procedures have prohibited use of U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of upstream Internet collection under Section 702.  The October 26, 2016 Notice informed the Court that NSA analysts had been conducting such queries in violation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had previously been disclosed to the Court.”

 

“At the October 26, 2016 hearing, the Court ascribed the government’s failure to disclose those IG and OCO reviews at the October 4, 2016 hearing to an institutional ‘lack of candor’ on NSA’s part and emphasized that ‘this is a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.'”

FISA

Of course, these discoveries and their timing, coming just before the 2016 election, are even more suspicious in light of the Obama administration’s efforts to ‘unmask’ intelligence on various Trump campaign officials shortly after the election.

As Circa noted, the American Civil Liberties Union said the newly disclosed violations are some of the most serious to ever be documented and strongly call into question the U.S. intelligence community’s ability to police itself and safeguard American’s privacy as guaranteed by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.

“I think what this emphasizes is the shocking lack of oversight of these programs,” said Neema Singh Guliani, the ACLU’s legislative counsel in Washington.

 

“You have these problems going on for years that only come to the attention of the court late in the game and then it takes additional years to change its practices.

 

“I think it does call into question all those defenses that we kept hearing, that we always have a robust oversight structure and we have culture of adherence to privacy standards,” she added. “And the headline now is they actually haven’t been in compliacne for years and the FISA court itself says in its opinion is that the NSA suffers from a culture of a lack of candor.”

Of course, we suspect that none of this will be reported by any of the mainstream media outlets who will undoubtedly overlook these very distburbing facts in their ongoing efforts to track down the latest anonymously-sourced ‘bombshell’ report about how Trump once sat across from a Russian boy at lunch in the 2nd grade.

 

The full FISA Court opinion can be read here:

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/349261099/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-OVHZTNMNxBIJRoX6Xh9t&show_recommendations=true

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-05-24/fisa-court-finds-very-serious-fourth-amendment-issue-obamas-widespread-illegal-searc

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1028, February 7, 2018, Story 1: Two Party Tyranny of Big Government Parties Passes Senate Bipartisan Budget Busters Bill — Would Add Over $1,000,000,000,000 In Deficits and National Debt In Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 And Even More in Unfunded Liabilities/Obligations Burdening Future Generations — Federal Government Spending is Out of Control — Spending Addiction Disorder (SAD) Congress is Beyond Obese — Vote Out Of Office All The Democrat and Republican Big Spenders  —  Tea Party Time — Videos — Story 2: Clinton Obama Conspiracy To Fix FBI Clinton Email Investigation and Exonerate Clinton and Spying on Republican Presidential Candidate and President-Elect Trump Using Democratic National Committee and Clinton Campaign Paid For Opposition Research Based on Russian Government Salacious and Unverifiable Disinformation Summarize in Christopher Steele Dossier   — American People Demand Appointment of Special Counsel Now! — Videos

Posted on February 7, 2018. Filed under: American History, Banking System, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Business, Communications, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Former President Barack Obama, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Health, Health Care Insurance, High Crimes, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Insurance, Investments, James Comey, Labor Economics, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Media, Medicare, Monetary Policy, News, Obama, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, Progressives, Public Corruption, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Resources, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Scandals, Security, Senate, Social Science, Social Security, Spying, Spying on American People, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Surveillance/Spying, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, Trump Surveillance/Spying, Unemployment, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , |

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Story 1: Two Party Tyranny of Big Government Parties Passes Senate Bipartisan Budget Busters Bill — Would Add Over $1,000,000,000,000 In Deficits and National Debt In Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 And Even More in Unfunded Liabilities/Obligations Burdening Future Generations — Federal Government Spending is Out of Control — Spending Addiction Disorder (SAD) Congress is Beyond Obese — Vote Out Of Office All The Democrat and Republican Big Spenders  —  Tea Party Time — Videos

Big Spender

Big Spender
The minute you walked in the joint
I could see you were a man of distinction
A real big spender
Good lookin’ so refined
Say, wouldn’t you like to know what’s goin’ on in my mind?
So let me get right to the point
I don’t pop my cork for every man I see
Hey big spender,
Spend a little time with me
Wouldn’t you like to have fun, fun, fun
How’s about a few laughs, laughs
I could show you a good time
Let me show you a good time!
The minute you walked in the joint
I could see you were a man of distinction
A real big spender
Good lookin’ so refined
Say, wouldn’t you like to know what’s goin’ on in my mind?
So let me get right to the point,
I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see
Hey big spender
Hey big spender
Hey big spender
Spend, a little time with me
Yes
Songwriters: Cy Coleman / Dorothy Fields
Big Spender lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

U.S. Debt Clock Real Time

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Senate reaches bipartisan budget deal

Senate Leaders McConnell & Schumer Reach Budget Deal As Shutdown Looms | Andrea Mitchell | MSNBC

Breaking News – US senators agree to raise spending

Dr. Laurence Kotlikoff on the Implications of Rising National Debt

Laurence Kotlikoff-US in Worse Shape Financially Than Russia

US Debt & Unfunded Liabilities-Where we are going-Dr. Yaron Brook

Consequences of Printing Money/ Inflation- Dr. Yaron Brook

How Big is the U.S. Debt? – Learn Liberty

Published on Feb 12, 2016

“Economics: How Big is the U.S. Debt?” presented by Learn Liberty. How do you feel the government should be spending or saving money? Let us know in the comments below. Learn More: http://www.learnliberty.org/

 

Senate leaders see two-year budget deal within their grasp

 February 6 at 10:29 PM 
Top Senate leaders were working Tuesday to finalize a sweeping long-term budget deal that would include a defense spending boost President Trump has long demanded alongside an increase in domestic programs championed by Democrats.As negotiations for the long-term deal continued, the House passed a short-term measure that would fund the government past a midnight Thursday deadline and avert a second partial shutdown in less than a month.The House bill, which passed 245 to 182, would fund most agencies through March 23 but is a nonstarter in the Senate because of Democratic opposition.But the top Senate leaders of both parties told reporters earlier in the day that a breakthrough was at hand on a longer-term budget deal. Spending has vexed the Republican-controlled Congress for months, forcing lawmakers to rely on multiple short-term patches.“We’re on the way to getting an agreement and on the way to getting an agreement very soon,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

From left, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at an event honoring Bob Dole last month. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) echoed him, “I am very hopeful that we can come to an agreement, an agreement very soon.”

Despite the optimism, no agreement was finalized with less than three days until Thursday’s deadline. And even as congressional leaders were sounding an upbeat note, Trump was raising tensions by openly pondering a shutdown if Democrats did not agree to his immigration policies.

“I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of,” Trump said at a White House event focused on crime threats posed by some immigrants. “If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don’t want safety . . . let’s shut it down.”

Trump’s remarks appeared unlikely to snuff out the negotiations, which mainly involved top congressional leaders and their aides — not the president or his White House deputies — and have largely steered clear of the explosive immigration issue.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday afternoon that Trump was not pushing for the inclusion of immigration policies in the budget accord, something that would upend the sensitive talks.

“I don’t think that we expect the budget deal to include specifics on the immigration reform,” she said. “But we want to get a deal on that.”

The agreement McConnell and Schumer are contemplating, with input from House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), would clear the way for a bipartisan accord that would break through the sharp divides that helped prompt a three-day government shutdown last month.

If Congress doesn’t reach agreement on crucial immigration issues and pass a spending bill, the costly consequence would be another government shutdown.

Under tentative numbers discussed by congressional aides who were not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations, defense spending would get an $80 billion boost above the existing $549 billion in spending for 2018. Nondefense spending would rise by $63 billion from its current $516 billion. The 2019 budget would include similar increases.

“Democrats have made our position in these negotiations very clear,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “We support an increase in funding for our military and our middle class. The two are not mutually exclusive. We don’t want to do just one and leave the other behind.”

Among the other issues that could be addressed in the deal is an increase in the federal debt limit, which could be reached as soon as early March, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The aides said that an increase was being discussed in the negotiations but that no final decisions have been made.

“It’s a question of what the traffic will bear,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 3 Senate GOP leader, describing the likelihood of a debt-ceiling increase.

A disaster aid package aimed at the victims of recent hurricanes and wildfires is also part of the talks, potentially adding $80 billion or more to the deal’s overall price tag. That provision could help win support from lawmakers representing affected areas in California, Florida and Texas but further repel conservatives concerned about mounting federal spending.

Even the rumors of a coming deal were enough to send some hard-liners reeling.

“This is a bad, bad, bad, bad — you could say ‘bad’ a hundred times — deal,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus. “When you put it all together, a quarter-of-a-trillion-dollar increase in discretionary spending — not what we’re supposed to be doing.”

If the parties cannot reach an agreement in the next two days, it is unclear how a shutdown might be averted.

Multiple House Republicans said Tuesday that if the Senate takes their spending bill and substitutes its version with a significant boost for domestic programs, they could not vote for it. House Democrats, meanwhile, have showed only limited willingness to help pass temporary spending measures absent a broader agreement.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the Freedom Caucus chairman, said a broad deal encompassing a debt-limit increase and a huge disaster package would be “considered a lead balloon” among hard-line conservatives. “It’d get zero support” from the caucus, he said, aside from a member or two representing states affected by the disasters.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told members of the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that Congress should “not let disagreements on domestic policy continue to hold our nation’s defense hostage.” He warned that a failure to pass long-term funding would imperil troop paychecks, inhibit the maintenance of planes and ships, stunt recruiting and otherwise harm military readiness.

“To carry out the strategy you rightly directed we develop, we need you to pass a budget now,” he said.

The House bill would increase Pentagon funding to $584 billion and guarantee it through Sept. 30, while the rest of the government would continue to be funded at 2017 levels through March 23.

The bill also would affect many other moving parts in the health-care system. It would postpone planned cuts in funding to hospitals that treat an especially large share of poor patients, eliminating reductions in “disproportionate share” payments for this year and 2019 and shifting the $6 billion in reductions to 2021 through 2023.

Amy Goldstein and Paul Sonne contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/spending-plan-remains-unsettled-as-clock-ticks-toward-shutdown-deadline/2018/02/06/1639ab26-0b53-11e8-8b0d-891602206fb7_story.html?utm_term=.1cad6154d736

 

Congressional leaders reach budget deal

The agreement would raise stiff spending caps and help stave off a shutdown.

Updated

Congressional leaders clinched a two-year deal to lift strict budget caps on defense and domestic spending, putting an end to a series of short-term spending bills and shutdown fights that have defined Washington the past few months.

The deal is expected to increase defense and domestic spending by roughly $300 billion over two years, according to administration and congressional sources, as well as lift the debt ceiling through the election and include tens of billions in disaster aid.

“This bill is the product of extensive negotiations among congressional leaders and the White House. No one thinks this bill is perfect. But we worked hard to find common ground and stay focused on serving the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in announcing the agreement.

“The budget deal doesn’t have everything Democrats want. It doesn’t have everything the Republicans want. But it has a great deal of what the American people want,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “After months of legislative logjams, this budget deal is a genuine breakthrough.”

The Senate is expected vote on the pact on Thursday, according to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas). It’s likely to pass easily, though House approval will be more difficult.

And though President Donald Trump suggested that the government could shut down without action on immigration, a top White House aide signaled that Trump supports the bill.

“I’m not going to say every piece of it. But obviously we’re excited about the defense numbers,” said Marc Short, the White House legislative director. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also told reporters the deal accomplished “our top priority,” with the defense boost.

The agreement increases defense spending this year by $80 billion and domestic spending by $63 billion beyond strict budget caps, according to a summary of the deal obtained by POLITICO. Next year defense spending will increase by $85 billion and domestic funding will be boosted by $68 billion beyond the caps. The deal also includes $140 billion for defense and $20 billion for domestic in emergency spending over two years.

A plan to lift the debt limit, which requires action in the coming weeks, and whether to extend expiring tax provisions were among the few outstanding issues that could be attached to the deal, according to aides in both parties familiar with the talks. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said the debt ceiling is likely to be suspended through next March in tandem with the budget deal. Cornyn said nearly $90 billion of disaster aid for wildfires and hurricane damage will also be included.

In order for such a large package to be passed before funding expires, all 100 senators will need to agree to speedy action on the spending bill and budget package. Any one senator can object to moving forward and derail the leaders’ plan, though McConnell said it was unlikely that the budget deal would fall apart at this late stage.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who opposes the deal, said he hadn’t decided whether he would deny a swift vote — and potentially cause a government shutdown.

McConnell briefed the Senate GOP on the contours of the deal at a party lunch Wednesday, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also read in his members across the Capitol. Both GOP leaders faced pushback, but allies exuded confidence the budget deal will be on Trump’s desk by Thursday evening.

“The House, and Republicans in the Senate and some Democrats in the Senate, are totally committed to increasing defense. And you weren’t going to increase defense successfully without a big increase in non-defense,” Blunt said.

“I’ve got mixed feelings,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.). “This has been a hard-fought negotiation. I think our leadership really worked hard. It’s obviously not our leadership’s first preference. But we had to work it out with the other side.”

Support from GOP defense hawks, especially in the House, will be critical to passing the bill. Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) — at home in Arizona while being treated for brain cancer — and House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) came out strongly in support of the package.

“This budget agreement is indispensable for our national security,” the two Republicans said in a joint statement. “Without it, our military would not be able to defend our nation, as Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and our military leaders have repeatedly warned.”

However, the negotiations hit a major snag on Wednesday: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she cannot support any budget agreement without a commitment from Ryan to vote on an immigration bill to protect immigrants covered under the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program.

Still, both McConnell and Schumer are bullish about success. The two leaders, along with Ryan and Pelosi, have been engaged in high-level spending talks for weeks.

If all goes to plan, the Senate will amend a short-term spending bill passed by the House to include the deal to lift strict budget caps and send the package back for the House’s approval before a Thursday night deadline to fund the government. House Democrats moved their annual retreat from Maryland’s Eastern Shore to the Capitol in anticipation of having to vote on the Senate’s plan.

Hard-line GOP conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus oppose the deal, meaning that Ryan will need some votes from Pelosi. But many Republicans are expected to back it.

“There’s substantial support within our caucus. So I don’t think we’ll need that many Democrat votes,” said Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.).

Pelosi is facing pressure from some of her rank-and-file members — as well as progressive groups — to reject a budget caps agreement unless Trump and the Republicans agree to a legislative fix for Dreamers. After surveying her caucus, she implored Ryan on the House floor to “Let Congress work its will. What are you afraid of?”

“Without a commitment from Speaker Ryan comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell, this package does not have my support,” Pelosi said. McConnell promised to hold a floor debate on various Dreamers proposals later this month as long as the government remains open.

Ryan has said he would bring up a Dreamers deal if Trump signs off on it.

“We’ve been very clear about this,” Ryan said at a press conference earlier this week. “We will take a bill that the president supports.”

Republicans said privately they were not going to overreact to Pelosi’s comments, even as she held the House floor for hours demanding action for Dreamers. Pelosi and her aides have been part of the budget caps negotiations from the start, and no deal will occur unless all four party leaders on the Hill support any agreement and work to pass it.

On Tuesday, Schumer said that he and Pelosi are aligned strategically on moving forward, potentially defusing another government shutdown.

And many Democrats and Republicans will find relief in a break from budget brinkmanship and in boosting domestic programs and defense spending. The House passed a bill Tuesday funding the government until March 23, which would allow Congress to write a new spending bill for the rest of the year at levels set by the emerging budget deal, potentially avoiding more shutdown fights in an election year.

Though Democrats were unable to secure complete parity in domestic spending alongside the big boost in military dollars, they were quick to note the agreement includes $20 billion for infrastructure, $5.8 billion for childcare and $6 billion to fight opioid addiction. The bill also includes a two-year extension of expired Community Health Centers funding and a 10-year extension of Children’s Health Insurance Plan funding.

Separately, Schumer and McConnell have been discussing how the Senate will handle a debate on immigration to protect immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program from deportation. While House Democrats had been pushing Senate Democrats to clinch a DACA deal in tandem with the budget, there is little hope of a deal on immigration this week.

All McConnell would promise is a wide-ranging floor debate to begin next week.

Jennifer Scholtes contributed to this report.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/07/government-shutdown-senate-budget-deal-395984

Senate leaders reach ‘genuine BREAKTHROUGH’ in bipartisan two-year budget deal to lift caps and provide billions in new government spending

  • Senate Majority Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles Schume announced a new two-year budget deal
  • Schumer hailed it as a ‘genuine breakthrough’ and McConnell called it a ‘significant agreement’
  • Boost for defense, veterans, and domestic spending
  • Appropriations bills would lay out agency-by agency funding 
  • Nearly $300 billion in new funding 
  • $131 billion in new domestic spending 
  • $90 billion in overdue disaster aid for hurricane-slammed Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico 
  • Trump leveled the threat during a roundtable at the White House as he revisited his immigration reform  demands
  • ‘We’ll do a shutdown and it’s worth it for our country. I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of,’ Trump said on Tuesday 
  • The president’s spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said Trump is ‘not advocating’ for a shutdown at a press conference immediately after
  • The House passed a six-week stopgap measure on Tuesday that fully funds the military for an entire year, fulfilling a budgetary request of the president’s  
  • Senators have other designs for bill that would keep the government running beyond the Thursday deadline until March 23
  • They’re considering a $100 billion rider for disaster relief and debt ceiling hike that will get legislators past that hump until after the November elections.

The deal, which is not finalized, came just as government funding was set to expire at the end of the week.

It pumps nearly $300 billion into defense and domestic programs above current budget limits.

‘After months of fiscal brinkmanship this budget deal is the first real sprout of bipartisanship and it should break the long cycle of spending crises that have snarled this congress and hampered the middle class,’ said Schumer on the Senate floor after his counterpart, majority leader Mitch McConnell, announced the deal.

The deal ‘will ensure that for the first time in years our armed forces will have more of the resources they need to keep America safe,’ said McConnell.

‘No one would suggest it is perfect,’ McConnell added.

Lawmakers are furtively working on another, short-term spending agreement as a shutdown circles once more over the U.S. Capitol

Lawmakers are furtively working on another, short-term spending agreement as a shutdown circles once more over the U.S. Capitol

He said it will ‘unwind the sequestration cuts that have hamstrung our armed forces and jeopardized our national security.’

The plan also contains almost $90 billion in overdue disaster aid for hurricane-slammed Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

The deal repeals spending caps put in place during a previous budget deal – the so-called sequester that became loathed by members of both parties.

Any deal would still have to make it through the House, where GOP conservatives were already slamming it as a bad deal. House Democrats have already grumbled that it does not include a deal to protect DACA recipients.

But McConnell provided new assurances for how an upcoming immigration debate will proceed.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., center, accompanied by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., at left, speaks on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., center, accompanied by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., at left, speaks on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

He promised it would have an ‘amendment process that will ensure a level playing field at the outset’ and be ‘fair to all sides,’ though he stopped short of guaranteeing any outcome.

While McConnell touted the boost to the military, Schumer lauded other spending increases in infrastructure and other areas.

He said the deal would allow for a $131 increase in domestic non-defense spending by lifting the cap. That includes $57 billion in additional funds including $6 billion to fight the opioid crisis, $5.8 billion for childcare block grants, $4 billion for veterans’ hospitals, and $20 billion for existing infrastructure programs.

The deal also includes disaster relief for states and territories that got socked by hurricanes.

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) walks towards the Senate chamber at the Capitol February 7, 2018 in Washington, DC

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) walks towards the Senate chamber at the Capitol February 7, 2018 in Washington, DC

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., confer as they arrive to meet with reporters following a closed-door GOP strategy session at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. The GOP-controlled House is slated Tuesday to pass a plan to keep the government open for six more weeks while Washington grapples with a potential follow-up budget pact and, perhaps, immigration legislation

The House’s top Democrat, however, swung out against the plan.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California announced she would oppose the budget measure unless her chamber’s GOP leaders promised a vote on legislation to protect “Dreamer” immigrants who face deportation after being brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

The House on Tuesday passed legislation to keep the government running through March 23, marrying the stopgap spending measure with a $659 billion Pentagon spending plan, but the Senate plan would rewrite that measure.

Schumer, in his floor remarks, called on House Speaker Paul Ryan would follow McConnell’s lead and ‘allow a fair and open process to debate a dreamers bill on the house floor.’

‘Without that commitment from Speaker Ryan comparable to the commitment from leader McConnell, this package does not have my support,’ Pelosi said on the House floor, referring to a DREAMers bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., smiles as he meets with reporters as work continues on a plan to keep the government as a funding deadline approaches, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018

The deal also raises the federal statutory debt ceiling.

Senate Democratic leaders dropped their strategy of using the funding fight to extract concessions on immigration, specifically on seeking extended protections for the “Dreamer” immigrants.

Instead, Schumer went with a deal that would reap tens of billions of dollars for other priorities – including combatting opioids – while hoping to solve the immigration impasse later.

Lawmakers were simultaneously furtively working on another, short-term spending agreement as a shutdown circles once more over the U.S. Capitol.

The House passed a six-week stopgap measure on Tuesday that fully funds the military for an entire year, fulfilling a budgetary request of the president’s.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. February 7, 2018

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. February 7, 2018

But senators have other designs for bill that would keep the government running beyond the Thursday deadline until March 23. They’re considering a $100 billion rider for disaster relief and debt ceiling hike that will get legislators past that hump until after the November elections.

President Donald Trump nearly derailed a deal on Tuesday as he fumed about Democrats‘ rejection of his immigration compromise. ‘Let’s have a shutdown,’ he said.

Trump said that Republicans should force a government shutdown unless Democrats agree to all of his immigration demands during a roundtable in which he railed against ‘loopholes’ in the law that have been taken advantage of by a violent, transnational gang of immigrants.

‘Let’s have a shutdown. We’ll do a shutdown and it’s worth it for our country. I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of,’ Trump said.

Democrats dropped an earlier bid to hold up government funding unless an immigration deal is brokered after a spending fight with Republicans led to a three-day shutdown in January.

As agreement between Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell necessitates an open debate in the upper chamber on immigration reforms next week.

Trump has slapped down every recent immigration proposal to arise in the Senate, however. Typically, because they have not included the desired funding for his border wall.

Now Trump says he’d be willing to ride out a shutdown to get what he wants out of immigration negotiations.

‘I would shut it down over this issue,’ Trump said Tuesday. ‘I can’t speak for everybody at the table but I will tell you, I would shut it down over this issue.’

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that Republicans should force a government shutdown unless Democrats agree to close 'loopholes' that allow immigrant gang members to enter the country

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that Republicans should force a government shutdown unless Democrats agree to close ‘loopholes’ that allow immigrant gang members to enter the country

Continuing, Trump said, ‘If we don’t straighten out our border, we don’t have a country. Without borders we don’t have a country. So would I would shut it down over this issue? Yes.

‘I can’t speak for our great representatives here but I have a feeling they may agree with me,’ he added.

Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, who was present at the meeting, made her position clear after Trump’s original assertion that he’d ‘love’ a shutdown.

‘We don’t need a government shutdown on this,’ she said.

The president fired back:  ‘We are not getting support from the Democrats.’

The president’s spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, claimed that Trump is ‘not advocating’ for a shutdown at a press conference immediately after.

‘The president isn’t looking for this, but if the Democratic Party is going to continue to threaten a shutdown because they won’t include responsible immigration reforms, including fixing MS-13 loopholes and other issues,’ Sanders said, ‘then the president welcomes that fight.’

‘But let me repeat, our goal is to get a two-year budget deal and to also get a deal on immigration, which we have laid out. The president has generously laid out a plan that addresses both Republicans and Democrats’ concerns, and we’re hopeful we’ll come to an agreement on both of those fronts.’

Sanders reminded that to this point, ‘The only people that have caused a shutdown are the Democrats who have repeatedly held the government hostage over their politics.

‘Democrats actually shut the government down. Let’s not forget that, just a couple weeks ago,’ she said, referring to the funding lapse in January.

His blast about a shutdown came on a day when Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer huddled with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in delicate talks over agreeing to raise spending caps on non-defense areas of government spending.

The House would later pass, mostly along party lines in a 245-182 vote, a six-week measure that the White House’s Office of Management and Budget said the president would support.

In his rant Tuesday, the president had specifically mentioned military spending as a sticking point in addition to immigration.

‘If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don’t want safety, and unrelated – but still related – they don’t want to take care of our military, then shut it down. We’ll go with another shutdown,’ he said.

An emerging agreement in the Senate would add disaster spending to the package and deal with the debt ceiling, which is also due for an increase in March.

The behemoth package will let lawmakers off the hook when it comes to raising the debt limit until after they face voters in the midterm elections.

Trump had not taken a stance on the Senate’s package as of this morning.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5362881/Federal-funding-wire-again.html#ixzz56T5QLkjw

In addressing the challenges facing Congress in 2015, Jim DeMint, President of The Heritage Foundation, noted that “Americans expect more from their leaders than just tapping the brakes as we drive off a fiscal cliff.” Indeed.

The 114th Congress has an opportunity and obligation to stop Washington’s taxpayer-financed spending spree. Over the past 20 years, spending has grown 63 percent faster than inflation. Unless leaders emerge with the courage to change the nation’s course for the better, the future looks like more of the same as total annual spending will grow from $3.5 trillion in 2014 to $5.8 trillion in 2024.1

Congress is financing the profligate spending by increasing taxes and incurring stunning amounts of debt. In 2014, Congress borrowed 14 cents of every dollar it spent, totaling a half a trillion dollars. Even more alarming, the country just surpassed $18 trillion in cumulative national debt. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the country is projected to borrow another $9.6 trillion over the next 10 years.2

The Danger of Inaction

Every generation confronts a defining challenge by which it will be judged, and so does every Congress. To understand why controlling spending and debt is the signature challenge of the 114th, one must understand the consequences of inaction. In its long-term projections, the CBO warns3 that failure to get spending and debt under control include:

  • A Slower Economy. According to the CBO, inaction on federal spending and taxes means that in 25 years—just when today’s kids and their children are trying to make their way in the world—“gross national product in 2039 would be roughly 3 percent lower.”
  • A National Security Risk. In addition, the CBO notes that growing debt “could also compromise national security by constraining defense spending in times of international crises.”
  • Limitations in Responding to Unexpected Challenges. Finally, if Congress does not tackle spending and debt sooner rather than later, the CBO warns that policymakers’ ability “to respond to unexpected challenges, such as economic downturns or financial crises” is far more limited.

Can any Member of Congress, in good conscience, leave a nation under their stewardship with decreased economic vitality and at greater risk for national security or financial crises?

Of course not.

Where to Begin

As the Chinese philosopher Laozi noted, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This compilation of recommendations is about single steps. In fact, it offers the 535 lawmakers holding the purse strings more than 100 ways to cut federal spending and reduce the size and scope of the federal government.

Much more needs to be done to address 2014’s federal spending of $3.5 trillion.4 But the recommendations in this report deal not just with dollars; they also address the size, scope, and character of the federal government.

When Congress actually eliminates wasteful programs or reins in runaway spending, it sends a powerful message. Like the relatively recent congressional ban on earmarks for pet projects like the “bridge to nowhere,” any move to cut federal spending tells Americans that Congress has the discipline to say “no” and act in the best interests of the nation—not just their own self-preservation. It says that individual Members of Congress have the courage to stare down the special interests, the cronyism of the powerful, and a Washington culture that thrives on handing out more federal dollars.

Eliminating or scaling back programs that constitute federal overreach also has far greater—but often unseen and unmeasured—economic benefits than the federal dollars saved. Whenever the federal role is downsized to return to its constitutional role, new economic opportunities are created for the private sector to innovate and fill needs based on market demand and competition. So many of the programs cited in this Budget Book do not just cost money, they actually distort and retard economic growth because they tilt the playing field toward vested interests and engage in tasks in which the federal government has no business. An example is the Export–Import Bank, which provides subsidized export financing primarily for the benefit of multinational corporations, while disadvantaging others.

Entitlements: The Ultimate Challenge

Almost half of all federal spending goes to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Clearly, any effort to rein in federal spending will absolutely require major reforms to these and other entitlement programs. Toward that end, The Heritage Foundation has written extensively on how to restructure Social Security5 and Medicare,6 and Medicaid,7 as well as the need to repeal Obamacare8 and replace it with market-based, patient-centered reforms.9

Entitlement reform involves complex and extensive policy changes that require far more explanation than this book’s format allows. Readers are encouraged to explore The Heritage Foundation’s many resources on these topics.10

Defense: A National Priority

The Heritage Foundation’s recommendations for spending reforms in the Department of Defense come with a unique caveat: Any savings should be reinvested back into strengthening the country’s defense capabilities. Despite the overall Washington spending spree of the last 20 years, defense has not been adequately funded.

First, President Barack Obama cut $400 billion from the nation’s defense budget in 2009 and 2010. Then, Congress passed the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, which is scheduled to cut an additional $1 trillion from defense through 2021.11 In fact, relative to other federal spending, the automatic cuts from the BCA have and will continue to hit defense hardest. Defense discretionary spending is scheduled to bear 49.5 percent of total cuts,12 despite representing just 16.8 percent of total spending. On the other hand, mandatory spending will bear just 14.4 percent of total cuts despite representing 63.8 percent of total spending.13

The underfunding of the Defense Department is further exacerbated by the fact that increases in defense spending after 9/11 were dedicated to the rising cost of maintaining an aging inventory, the growth in compensation and benefits for military personnel and retirees, and to fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The combination of too little defense spending and internal cost growth has resulted in declining military capabilities. The Defense Department continues to reduce the size of its forces, investments in weapon systems are continuously delayed, and declining readiness means that the men and women in uniform are ill-prepared for combat.

Defense of the country is a core constitutional function of the federal government. Unlike the ever widening array of social services being assumed by the federal government, defending the country is a true national priority.14 It should not continue to be weakened by spending cuts or a growing federal debt. As part of its effort to strengthen national security, the Defense Department must limit waste and control unnecessary cost growths, channeling savings into defense areas of need.15 The Heritage Foundation’s recommendations reflect that mission.

Moving Forward

As Members of Congress take up the public policy challenge of their lifetimes—putting government back on a constitutional path—the following recommendations should be part of their action plan. The proposals in this volume offer Members of Congress who pledged to get government spending under control specific recommendations that can make their promises concrete. In this way, they can become the “conscience of Congress.” Paired with strong reforms of the major entitlement programs of Medicare and Social Security, and repeal of Obamacare, the 114th Congress can get spending under control.

For greater detail on 2014 federal spending facts and trends, see The Heritage Foundation’s “Federal Spending By the Numbers, 2014: Government Spending Trends in Graphics, Tables, and Key Points.

Endnotes

  1. Romina Boccia, John W. Fleming, and Spencer Woody, “Federal Spending by the Numbers, 2014: Government Spending Trends in Graphics, Tables, and Key Points (Including 51 Examples of Government Waste),” Heritage Foundation Special Report No. 162, December 8, 2014. 
  2. Congressional Budget Office, “The 2014 Long-Term Budget Outlook,” July 15, 2014, 
(accessed December 15, 2014). 
  3. Congressional Budget Office, “Answers to Questions for the Record Following a Hearing on ‘The 2014 Long-Term Budget Outlook’ Conducted by the House Committee on the Budget,” September 30, 2014, 
 (accessed December 15, 2014). 
  4. Romina Boccia, John W. Fleming, and Spencer Woody, “Federal Spending by the Numbers, 2014: Government Spending Trends in Graphics, Tables, and Key Points (Including 51 Examples of Government Waste),” Heritage Foundation Special Report No. 162, December 8, 2014. 
  5. Rachel Greszler and Romina Boccia, “Social Security Trustees Report; Unfunded Liability Increased $1.1 Trillion and Projected Insolvency in 2033,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2936, August 4, 2014. 
  6. Robert E. Moffit and Alyene Senger, “Real Medicare Reform: Why Seniors Will Fare Better,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2800, May 20, 2013. 
  7. Nina Owcharenko, “Medicaid Reform: More than a Block Grant Is Needed,” Heritage Foundation Issue Brief No. 3590, May 4, 2012. 
  8. Robert E. Moffit, “Four Years of Obamacare: Early Warning Come True,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2907, April 28, 2014 
  9. Edmund F. Haislmaier et al., “A Fresh Start for Health Care Reform,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2970, October 30, 2014. 
  10. The Heritage Foundation
  11. Mackenzie Eaglen and Diem Nguyen Salmon, “Super Committee Failure and Sequestration Put at Risk Ever More Military Plans and Programs,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2625, December 5, 2011. 
  12. Patrick Louis Knudsen, “$150 Billion in Spending Cuts to Offset Defense Sequestration,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2744, November 15, 2012. 
  13. Congressional Budget Office, “An Update to the Economic and Budget Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022,” August 22, 2012, 
Tables 1-3 and 1-4. 
  14. Jim Talent, “America’s Strategic Drift,” Heritage Foundation Commentary, October 6, 2014. 
  15. Mackenzie Eaglen and Julia Pollak, “How to Save Money, Reform Processes, and Increase Efficiency in the Defense Department,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2507, January 10, 2011. 

http://budgetbook.heritage.org/introduction/

Amount Added to the Debt for Each Fiscal Year Since 1960:

Barack Obama:Added $7.917 trillion, a 68 percent increase from the $11.657 trillion debt at the end of George W. Bush’s last budget, FY 2009.

  • FY 2016 – $1.423 trillion.
  • FY 2015 – $327 billion.
  • FY 2014 – $1.086 trillion.
  • FY 2013 – $672 billion.
  • FY 2012 – $1.276 trillion.
  • FY 2011 – $1.229 trillion.
  • FY 2010 – $1.652 trillion.
  • FY 2009 – $253 billion. (Congress passed the Economic Stimulus Act, which spent $253 billion in FY 2009. This rare occurrence should be added to President Obama’s contribution to the debt.)

George W. Bush:Added $5.849 trillion, a 101 percent increase from the $5.8 trillion debt at the end of Clinton’s last budget, FY 2001.

  • FY 2009 – $1.632 trillion. (Bush’s deficit without the impact of the Economic Stimulus Act).
  • FY 2008 – $1.017 trillion.
  • FY 2007 – $501 billion.
  • FY 2006 – $574 billion.
  • FY 2005 – $554 billion.
  • FY 2004 – $596 billion.
  • FY 2003 – $555 billion.
  • FY 2002 – $421 billion.

Bill Clinton: Added $1.396 trillion, a 32 percent increase from the $4.4 trillion debt at the end of George H.W. Bush’s last budget, FY 1993.

  • FY 2001 – $133 billion.
  • FY 2000 – $18 billion.
  • FY 1999 – $130 billion.
  • FY 1998 – $113 billion.
  • FY 1997 – $188 billion.
  • FY 1996 – $251 billion.
  • FY 1995 – $281 billion.
  • FY 1994 – $281 billion.

George H.W. Bush: Added $1.554 trillion, a 54 percent increase from the $2.8 trillion debt at the end of Reagan’s last budget, FY 1989.

  • FY 1993 – $347 billion.
  • FY 1992 – $399 billion.
  • FY 1991 – $432 billion.
  • FY 1990 – $376 billion.

Ronald Reagan: Added $1.86 trillion, a 186 percent increase from the $998 billion debt at the end of Carter’s last budget, FY 1981. Reaganomics didn’t work to grow the economy enough to offset tax cuts.

  • FY 1989 – $255 billion.
  • FY 1988 – $252 billion.
  • FY 1987 – $225 billion.
  • FY 1986 – $297 billion.
  • FY 1985 – $256 billion.
  • FY 1984 – $195 billion.
  • FY 1983 – $235 billion.
  • FY 1982 – $144 billion.

Jimmy Carter: Added $299 billion, a 43 percent increase from the $699 billion debt at the end of  Ford’s last budget, FY 1977.

  • FY 1981 – $90 billion.
  • FY 1980 – $81 billion.
  • FY 1979 – $55 billion.
  • FY 1978 – $73 billion.

Gerald Ford: Added $224 billion, a 47 percent increase from the $475 billion debt at the end of Nixon’s last budget, FY 1974.

  • FY 1977 – $78 billion.
  • FY 1976 – $87 billion.
  • FY 1975 – $58 billion.

Richard Nixon: Added $121 billion, a 34 percent increase from the $354 billion debt at the end of LBJ’s last budget, FY 1969.

  • FY 1974 – $17 billion.
  • FY 1973 – $31 billion.
  • FY 1972 – $29 billion.
  • FY 1971 – $27 billion.
  • FY 1970 – $17 billion.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Added $42 billion, a 13 percent increase from the $312 billion debt at the end of JFK’s last budget, FY 1964.

  • FY 1969 – $6 billion.
  • FY 1968 – $21 billion.
  • FY 1967 – $6 billion.
  • FY 1966 – $3 billion.
  • FY 1965 – $6 billion.

John F. Kennedy: Added $23 billion, an 8 percent increase from the $289 billion debt at the end of Eisenhower’s last budget, FY 1961.

  • FY 1964 – $6 billion.
  • FY 1963 – $7 billion.
  • FY 1962 – $10 billion.

Dwight Eisenhower: Added $23 billion, a 9 percent increase from the $266 billion debt at the end of Truman’s last budget, FY 1953.

  • FY 1961 – $3 billion.
  • FY 1960 – $2 billion.
  • FY 1959 – $8 billion.
  • FY 1958 – $6 billion.
  • FY 1957 – $2 billion surplus.
  • FY 1956 – $2 billion surplus.
  • FY 1955 – $3 billion.
  • FY 1954 – $5 billion.

Harry Truman: Added $7 billion, a 3 percent increase from the $259 billion debt at the end of FDR’s last budget, FY 1945.

  • FY 1953 – $7 billion.
  • FY 1952 – $4 billion.
  • FY 1951 – $2 billion surplus.
  • FY 1950 – $5 billion.
  • FY 1949 – slight surplus.
  • FY 1948 – $6 billion surplus.
  • FY 1947 – $11 billion surplus.
  • FY 1946 – $11 billion.

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Added $236 billion, a 1,048 percent increase from the $23 billion debt at the end of Hoover’s last budget, FY 1933.

  • FY 1945 – $58 billion.
  • FY 1944 – $64 billion.
  • FY 1943 – $64 billion.
  • FY 1942 – $23 billion.
  • FY 1941 – $6 billion.
  • FY 1940 – $3 billion.
  • FY 1939 – $3 billion.
  • FY 1938 – $1 billion.
  • FY 1937 – $3 billion.
  • FY 1936 – $5 billion.
  • FY 1935 – $2 billion.
  • FY 1934 – $5 billion.

Herbert Hoover: Added $6 billion, a 33 percent increase from the $17 billion debt at the end of Coolidge’s last budget, FY 1929.

  • FY 1933 – $3 billion.
  • FY 1932 – $3 billion.
  • FY 1931 – $1 billion.
  • FY 1930 – $1 billion surplus.

Calvin Coolidge: Subtracted $5 billion from the debt, a 26 percent decrease from the $21 billion debt at the end of Harding’s last budget, FY 1923.

  • FY 1929 – $1 billion surplus.
  • FY 1928 – $1 billion surplus.
  • FY 1927 – $1 billion surplus.
  • FY 1926 – $1 billion surplus.
  • FY 1925 – $1 billion surplus.
  • FY 1924 – $1 billion surplus.

Warren G. Harding: Subtracted $2 billion from the debt, a 7 percent decrease from the $24 billion debt at the end of Wilson’s last budget, FY 1921.

  • FY 1923 – $1 billion surplus.
  • FY 1922 – $1 billion surplus.

Woodrow Wilson: Added $21 billion to the debt, a 727 percent increase from the $2.9 billion debt at the end of Taft’s last budget, FY 1913.

  • FY 1921 – $2 billion surplus.
  • FY 1920 – $1 billion surplus.
  • FY 1919 – $13 billion.
  • FY 1918 – $9 billion.
  • FY 1917 – $2 billion.
  • FY 1916 – $1 billion.
  • FY 1915 – $0 billion (slight surplus).
  • FY 1914 – $0 billion.

FY 1789 – FY 1913: $2.9 billion debt created. (Source: Historical Tables, U.S. Treasury Department.)

https://www.thebalance.com/us-debt-by-president-by-dollar-and-percent-3306296

Joint Statement of Steven T. Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, and Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, on Budget Results for Fiscal Year 2017


10/20/2017

Receipts by Source
Outlays by Agency

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney today released details of the fiscal year (FY) 2017 final budget results. The deficit in FY 2017 was $666 billion, $80 billion more than in the prior fiscal year, but $36 billion less than forecast in the FY 2018 Mid-Session Review (MSR). As a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the deficit was 3.5 percent, 0.3 percentage point higher than the previous year.[1]

Growth in spending outpaced growth in tax receipts for the second year in a row as a result of historically subpar economic growth. Rising deficits show that smart spending restraint and pursuing policies that promote economic growth, like tax reform and reductions in regulatory burden, are critically necessary to promote long-term fiscal sustainability.

“Today’s budget results underscore the importance of achieving robust and sustained economic growth. Through a combination of tax reform and regulatory relief, this country can return to higher levels of GDP growth, helping to erase our fiscal deficit,” said Secretary Mnuchin. “The Administration’s pro-growth policies will create better, higher-paying jobs, make American businesses competitive again, and bring back cash from offshore to invest here at home. This will help place the nation on a path to improved fiscal health and create prosperity for generations to come.”

“These numbers should serve as a smoke alarm for Washington, a reminder that we need to grow our economy again and get our fiscal house in order. We can do that through smart spending restraint, tax reform, and cutting red tape,” said Director Mulvaney.

Summary of Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Results

Year-end data from the September 2017 Monthly Treasury Statement of Receipts and Outlays of the United States Government show that the deficit for FY 2017 was $666 billion, $80 billion higher than the prior year’s deficit. As a percentage of GDP, the deficit was 3.5 percent, an increase from 3.2 percent in FY 2016 and above the average of 3.1 percent over the last 40 years.

The FY 2017 deficit of $666 billion was $63 billion greater than the estimate in the FY 2018 Budget (Budget), and $36 billion less than estimated in the MSR, a supplemental update to the Budget published in July.

Table 1. Total Receipts, Outlays, and Deficit (in billions of dollars)
Receipts Outlays Deficit
FY 2016 Actual 3,267 3,852 -586
    Percentage of GDP 17.7% 20.9% 3.2%
FY 2017 Estimates:
    2018 Budget 3,460 4,062 -603
    2018 Mid-Session Review 3,344 4,045 -702
FY 2017 Actual 3,315 3,981 -666
    Percentage of GDP 17.3% 20.7% 3.5%
Note: Detail may not add to totals due to rounding.

 

Government receipts totaled $3,315 billion in FY 2017. This was $48 billion higher than in FY 2016, an increase of 1.5 percent, below expectations from both the Budget and the MSR. As a percentage of GDP, receipts equaled 17.3 percent, 0.4 percentage point lower than in FY 2016 and 0.1 percentage point below the average over the last 40 years. The dollar increase in receipts for FY 2017 can be attributed to higher social insurance and retirement receipts and net individual income taxes, partially offset by lower deposits of earnings by the Federal Reserve.

Outlays grew in FY 2017, but by less than expected in the Budget and the MSR, and decreased slightly as a percentage of GDP. Outlays were $3,981 billion, $128 billion above those in FY 2016, a 3.3 percent increase. As a percentage of GDP, outlays were 20.7 percent, 0.1 percentage point lower than in the prior year, but above the 40-year average of 20.5 percent. Contributing to the dollar increase over FY 2016 were higher outlays for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and interest on the public debt. In addition, one-time upward revisions in estimates of credit subsidy for outstanding Federal loans and loan guarantees, primarily in the Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, increased outlays relative to FY 2016 by $55 billion. Lower spectrum auction receipts and higher spending by the Federal Emergency Management Administration for hurricane relief and recovery also contributed to the increase.

Total Federal borrowing from the public increased by $498 billion during FY 2017 to $14,667 billion. The increase in borrowing included $666 billion in borrowing to finance the deficit, partly offset by $167 billion related to other transactions that on net reduced the Government’s financing requirements, such as changes in cash balances and net disbursements for Federal credit programs. As a percentage of GDP, borrowing from the public declined from 76.7 percent of GDP at the end of FY 2016 to 76.3 percent of GDP at the end of FY 2017.

Below are explanations of the differences between estimates in the MSR and the year-end actual amounts for receipts and agency outlays.

Fiscal Year 2017 Receipts

Total receipts for FY 2017 were $3,314.9 billion, $28.7 billion lower than the MSR estimate of $3,343.6 billion. This net decrease in receipts was primarily attributable to lower-than-estimated collections of deposits of earnings by the Federal Reserve, other miscellaneous receipts, and corporation income tax receipts.  Table 2 displays actual receipts and estimates from the Budget and the MSR by source.

 

  • Individual income taxes were $1,587.1 billion, $3.2 billion higher than the MSR estimate. This increase is the net effect of higher withheld payments of individual income tax liability of $2.7 billion, lower nonwithheld payments of $1.7 billion, and lower-than-estimated refunds of $2.2 billion.
  • Corporation income taxes were $297.0 billion, $5.4 billion below the MSR estimate.  This difference reflects lower-than-expected payments of 2017 corporation income tax liability of $3.2 billion and higher-than-estimated refunds of $2.2 billion.
  • Social insurance and retirement receipts were $1,161.9 billion, $1.0 billion lower than the MSR estimate. This reduction is the result of lower-than-estimated deposits by States to the unemployment insurance trust fund of $1.0 billion.
  • Excise taxes were $83.8 billion, $3.7 billion below the MSR estimate.
  • Estate and gift taxes were $22.8 billion, $0.4 billion below the MSR estimate.
  • Customs duties were $34.6 billion, roughly equal to the MSR estimate.
  • Miscellaneous receipts were $127.7 billion, $21.5 billion below the MSR estimate. Lower-than-expected deposits of earnings by the Federal Reserve accounted for $10.3 billion of this decrease relative to the MSR. The remaining decrease was attributable to lower-than-expected collections of various fees, penalties, forfeitures, and fines.

Fiscal Year 2017 Outlays

Total outlays were $3,980.6 billion for FY 2017, $64.7 billion below the MSR estimate. Table 3 displays actual outlays by agency and major program as well as estimates from the Budget and the MSR. The largest changes in outlays from the MSR were in the following areas:

Department of Defense — Outlays for the Department of Defense were $568.9 billion, $9.9 billion lower than the MSR estimate. This difference is mostly due to lower-than-expected outlays for operation and maintenance, which were $7.8 billion less than the MSR estimate. Operation and maintenance disbursements were less than anticipated for Army contracts from FY 2016 and prior years, reimbursements from the Coalition Support Fund, and Defense Health Program and counter-ISIL “train and equip” contracts. Additionally, outlays were lower than expected by $1.5 billion for Army military personnel, $1.4 billion for revolving and management funds due to lower-than-expected fuel costs, and $1.0 billion for disbursements against aircraft procurement contracts. These differences were partially offset by $2.2 billion of higher-than-expected outlays for research, development, test and evaluation.

Department of Education — Outlays for the Department of Education were $111.7 billion, $1.8 billion higher than the MSR estimate. This difference was driven by outlays for higher education programs. In the Pell Grant program, outlays were $0.9 billion higher than projected in the MSR, due to faster-than-expected disbursement patterns. For the Federal Direct Student Loan program, because of changes in the mix of activity in direct student loans, $0.7 billion more in positive subsidy outlays for the FY 2017 loan cohort were recorded in FY 2017 than estimated in the MSR.

Department of Health and Human Services — Outlays for the Department of Health and Human Services were $1,116.8 billion, $11.8 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Outlays for Medicaid spending were $3.8 billion less than projected at MSR, driven primarily by lower benefit expenditures than was anticipated during the second half of the year. National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s outlays were $1.5 billion lower than projected, due in part to lower-than-expected disbursement for research grants in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year. The Service and Supply Fund (SSF) outlaid $0.9 billion less than expected at MSR. SSF expected higher outlays in FY 2017 mainly due to an anticipated increase in contracts serviced; however many of these contracts will be outlaid starting in FY 2018 instead. Outlays for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF) were lower than expected due to procurements that occurred much later in the fiscal year than originally planned.

Department of Homeland Security — Outlays for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) were $50.5 billion, $2.2 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Outlays in a number of DHS components were below the MSR estimates. Outlays for Customs and Border Protection were $1.4 billion below the MSR estimates, due to slower-than-expected spending for procurements and construction for customs enforcement and border protection infrastructure projects. Outlays for the National Protection and Programs Directorate were $1.2 billion lower than the MSR estimate, due to slower-than-expected outlays of the agency’s cyber budget. Outlays for the Transportation Security Administration were $0.9 billion lower than the MSR estimate, due to slower-than-expected outlays from obligations for airport security construction projects. Partially offsetting these decreases, outlays for the Federal Emergency Management Agency were $2.0 billion higher than the MSR estimates because of response activities related to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Department of Justice — Outlays for the Department of Justice were $31.0 billion, $3.4 billion lower than the MSR estimate. This difference is primarily due to payments from the Assets Forfeiture Program being $2.3 billion less than estimated in the MSR. Also contributing to the overall difference was higher-than-expected receipts from fines and penalties, which were $0.7 billion higher than the MSR estimate. Outlays were $0.5 billion lower than the MSR for programs within the Office of Justice Programs partially due to pending litigation. Outlays were also lower across many other programs due to delayed action on FY 2017 appropriations.

Department of Labor — Outlays for the Department of Labor were $40.1 billion, $3.6 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Nearly $2 billion of this difference is attributable to lower-than-projected unemployment insurance benefit outlays because the actual unemployment rate was lower than assumed in the MSR economic forecast. Another $1.5 billion of the difference is attributable to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), due to both gross outlays being less than expected and offsetting receipts being greater than expected. The majority of the change in outlays is related to lower-than-expected payouts in the single employer program. PBGC also anticipated a substantial investment loss in FY 2017, but experienced a profit, leading to much higher offsetting receipts than anticipated in the MSR.

Department of State — Outlays for the Department of State were $27.1 billion, $3.0 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Outlays were lower than expected for Department of State foreign assistance programs by $1.6 billion, mostly due to lower-than-anticipated spending for Global Health Programs, which was driven primarily by a delay in lump sum payments to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The delay was necessary due to a shortfall in confirmed statutorily required matching payments from other donors. In addition, lower-than-expected outlays for capital-intensive programs such as new overseas facility construction and delayed payments for contributions to international organizations and peacekeeping were primarily responsible for the remaining difference of $1.3 billion from the MSR estimate.

Department of Transportation — Outlays for the Department of Transportation were $79.4 billion, $2.2 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Nearly $0.9 billion of this difference is due to lower-than-expected outlays for highways and transit programs. Most of the remaining difference is an accumulation of lower-than-expected spending across a number of programs.  Late-year congressional action on FY 2017 appropriations delayed grant-making and hiring activity across the agency.

Department of the Treasury — Outlays for the Department of the Treasury were $546.4 billion, $17.3 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Virtually all of the difference is due to interest on the public debt, which was $16.4 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Interest on the public debt is paid to the public and to trust funds and other Government accounts. The difference is the result of lower-than-projected interest paid to the public on inflation-indexed securities and other marketable Treasury securities, as well as lower-than-projected interest paid to Government accounts.

International Assistance Programs — Outlays for International Assistance Programs were $18.9 billion, $4.1 billion lower than the MSR estimate. This difference is largely due to net outlays for Department of State Foreign Military Sales that were more than $3 billion lower than the MSR estimate due to higher-than-anticipated receipts received from foreign governments for weapons purchases.

Social Security Administration — Outlays for the Social Security Administration were $1,000.8 billion, $1.7 billion lower than the MSR estimate. The difference, which is relatively small in comparison to total program outlays, is primarily attributable to lower-than-expected outlays for the Disability Insurance Trust Fund and Supplemental Security Income programs.

United States Postal Service — Net outlays for the United States Postal Service were -$2.2 billion, $5.5 billion lower than the MSR estimate. Outlays were lower than the MSR estimate due largely to the failure of the Postal Service to make required payments for health and pension contributions.

Railroad Retirement Board — Outlays for the Railroad Retirement Board were $5.2 billion, $1.7 billion lower than the MSR estimate, due largely to the National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust’s unrealized gains and losses on investments. Actual returns to the Trust were much higher than projected in the MSR due to favorable market conditions in the last few months of FY 2017.

Undistributed Offsetting Receipts — Undistributed Offsetting Receipts were -$236.9 billion, $6.6 billion higher than the MSR estimate. Net outlays for interest received by trust funds were $3.0 billion higher than the MSR estimate (lower net collections). The difference is due largely to the interest earnings of the Military Retirement Fund, which were $4.2 billion lower than the MSR estimate, partly offset by higher-than-projected interest earnings in some other programs. This intragovernmental interest is paid out of the Department of the Treasury account for interest on the public debt and has no net impact on total Federal Government outlays. In addition, receipts for employer share, employee retirement were $2.5 billion higher than MSR estimates (lower net collections) primarily due to the failure of the Postal Service to make required accrual payments to the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund.

 

___________________________

 

[1] The estimates of GDP used in the calculations of the deficit and borrowing relative to GDP reflect the revisions to historical data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) in July 2017. GDP for FY 2017 is based on the economic forecast for the President’s 2018 Budget, adjusted for the BEA revisions.

https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/sm0184.aspx

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1027, February 2, 2018, Story 1: FISA Memo Released By House Intelligence Committee Summarize Abuse of Surveillance Powers By FBI and Justice Department — Release All Documents Including Warrant Applications For Both Carter Page and Papadopoulos To Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court  — Appoint Special Prosecutor to Investigate FBI and Department of Justice for Corruption and Malfeasance By Their Leadership — Partisan Plotters Vs. American People — Videos

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Ben Shapiro Breaks Down the FISA MEMO

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#MemoDay and Patriot Gavin Nunes’s Dedication to Liberty and Our Noble Republic

Roger Stone Gives His Analysis on FISA Memo Release

Shields and Brooks on the Nunes memo aftermath, Trump’s State of the Union bump

Rep. Pete King: FISA memo should lead to public hearings

House Memo States Hillary Clinton Paid For Illegal Trump Surveillance

Outnumbered 2/3/18 | Outnumbered Fox News Today February 3, 2018

FISA surveillance program requires significant changes: Rep. Rand Paul

The NSA’s secret court

Debate Over the Secret Court That Approves Surveillance

News Bytes: FISA Court

Carter Page’s full interview with Jake Tapper

Carter Page enters the ‘No Spin Zone’

Carter Page speaks out about FBI scrutiny

More Hits Coming. A 2nd Dossier? Sara Carter!

Rep DeSantis debunks new tale of George Papadopoulos setting off the Russia Trump collsuion case

 

George Papadopoulos, the Dossier, and Revisionist History at the NYT (part 1)

George Papadopoulos and Dossier Questions that FBI Can’t Answer (part 2)

Sara Carter: Fusion GPS testimony backfired on the Democrats

CORRUPTION: Sara Carter Wants Congress to Investigate Obama Administration

 

 

Read: the full text of the Nunes memo

The House Intelligence Committee just released the “Nunes memo” — and it contains some explosive allegations about the FBI.

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted on Monday night to release the four-page memo, authored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), which alleges that the FBI abused its power in surveilling Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. The vote gave the president five days to review the classified document and decide whether it should be released for the public.

Despite objections from the FBI and Democrats, Trump authorized the release of the memo on Friday. Minutes later, the House Intelligence Committee released it to the public.

The memo makes several claims that could potentially threaten special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation.

Here are the memo’s key claims:

  • The FBI used an unverified, allegedly biased document known as the “Steele dossier”to get a warrant in October 2016 to surveil Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser. The dossier, prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele, alleges the existence of a conspiracy between Donald Trump and the Russian government. The Steele dossier was partially financed by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) — which the memo argues is a major problem.
  • Senior FBI and Justice Department officials knew that the Steele dossier was indirectly funded by a lawyer for the Clinton campaign and the DNC, but didn’t disclose this in their application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court — a court that approves surveillance warrants pertaining to national security and foreign intelligence. They also didn’t disclose it when renewing their applications requesting additional time for surveillance.
  • In September 2016, Steele spoke with Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr. Steele told Ohr that he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” Ohr’s wife worked for the research firm, Fusion GPS, that hired Steele on behalf of the DNC/Clinton lawyer.
  • The head of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division Bill Priestap apparently said corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its “infancy” at the time of the FISA application.

You can read the full text of the Nunes memo here:

And here’s the text of the memo reprinted in full below:

THE WHITE HOUSE

WASHINGTON

February 2, 2018

The Honorable Devin Nunes

Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

United States Capitol

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

On January 29, 2018, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (herein after “the Committee”) voted to disclose publicly a memorandum containing classified information provided to the Committee in connection with its oversight activities (the “Memorandum,” which is attached to this letter). As provided by clause 11(g) of Rule of the House of Representatives, the Committee has forwarded this Memorandum to the President based on its determination that the release of the Memorandum would serve the public interest.

The Constitution vests the President with the authority to protect national security secrets from disclosure. As the Supreme Court has recognized, it is the President’s responsibility to classify, declassify, and control access to information bearing on our intelligence sources and methods and national defense. See, e.g., Dep of Navy v. Egan, 484 US. 518, 527 (1988). In order to facilitate appropriate congressional oversight, the Executive Branch may entrust classified information to the appropriate committees of Congress, as it has done in connection with the Committee’s oversight activities here. The Executive Branch does so on the assumption that the Committee will responsibly protect such classified information, consistent with the laws of the United States.

The Committee has now determined that the release of the Memorandum would be appropriate. The Executive Branch, across Administrations of both parties, has worked to accommodate congressional requests to declassify specific materials in the public interest.(1) However, public release of classified information by unilateral action of the Legislative Branch is extremely rare and raises significant separation of powers concerns. Accordingly, the Committee’s request to release the Memorandum is interpreted as a request for declassification pursuant to the President’s authority.

The President understands that the protection of our national security represents his highest obligation. Accordingly, he has directed lawyers and national security staff to assess the declassification request, consistent with established standards governing the handling of classified information, including those under Section 3.1(d) of Executive Order 13526. Those standards permit declassification when the public interest in disclosure outweighs any need to protect the information. The White House review process also included input from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice. Consistent with this review and these standards, the President has determined that declassification of the Memorandum is appropriate.

Based on this assessment and in light of the significant public interest in the memorandum, the President has authorized the declassification of the Memorandum. To be clear, the Memorandum rejects the judgments of its congressional authors. The President understands that oversight concerning matters related to the Memorandum may be continuing. Though the circumstances leading to the declassification through this process are extraordinary, the Executive Branch stands ready to work with Congress to accommodate oversight requests consistent with applicable standards and processes, including the need to protect intelligence sources and methods.

Sincerely,

[signature]

Donald F. McGahn II

Counsel to the President

cc: The Honorable Paul Ryan

Speaker of the House of Representatives

The Honorable Adam Schiff

Ranking Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

[Footnote]

(1) See, e.g., S. Rept. 114-8 at 12 (Administration of Barack Obama) (“On April 3, 2014 … the Committee agreed to send the revised Findings and Conclusions, and the updated Executive Summary of the Committee Study, to the President for declassification and public release.”); H. Rept. 107-792 (Administration of George W. Bush) (similar); E.O. 12812 (Administration of George H.W. Bush) (nothing Senate resolution requesting that President provide for declassification of certain information via Executive Order).


Declassified by order of the President

February 2, 2018

January 18, 2018

To: HPSCI Majority Members

From: HPSCI Majority Staff

Subject: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Purpose

This memorandum provides Members an update on significant facts relating to theCommittee’s ongoing investigation into the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Our findings, which are detailed below, 1) raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign IntelligenceSurveillance Court (FISC), and 2) represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.

Investigation Update

On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order (up; under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC. Page is aUS citizen who served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign. Consistent with requirements under FISA, the application had to be first certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI. It then required the approval of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division. The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. 1805 (d)(1)) a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the FISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications. in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.

1) The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.

b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of—and paid by—the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.

2) The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News. The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News. Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News—and several other outlets—in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie was aware of Steele’s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington DC in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.

a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations—an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David Corn Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September—before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October—but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.

b) Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling—maintaining confidentiality—and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.

a) During this same time period, Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC.

4) According to the head of the counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its “infancy” at the time of the initial Page FISA application. After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele’s reporting as only minimally corroborated. Yet, in early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a summary of the Steele dossier, even though it was—according to his June 2017 testimony—“salacious and unverified.” While the FISA application relied on Steele’s past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.

5) The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok. Strzok was reassigned by the Special Counsel’s Office to FBI Human Resources for improper text messages with his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page (no known relation to Carter Page), where they both demonstrated a clear bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton, whom Strzok had also investigated. The Strzok/Lisa Page texts also reflect extensive discussions about the investigation, orchestrating leaks to the media, and include a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an “insurance” policy against President Trump’s election.

https://www.vox.com/2018/2/2/16957588/nunes-memo-released-full-text-read-pdf-declassified

The allegations aim to call the FBI and Justice Department’s professionalism into question.

 

The Full Text of the Nunes Memo

On Friday, the House Intelligence Committee released the controversial document, which alleges surveillance abuses by the FBI.

 

 

On Friday, the House Intelligence Committee, which is chaired by Republican Representative Devin Nunes, released a four-page memo alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI. Earlier this week, Republicans on the committee voted to make the document public. The classified document has drawn criticism from Democratic lawmakers, who argue it is misleading, as well as from law enforcement officials. In a rare statement, the FBI warned against the document’s release, saying it had “grave concerns” about its accuracy. Despite pushback from officials, the White House approved the release of the memo Friday.Below, read the memo in full.

January 18, 2018

To: HPSCI Majority Members

From: HPSCI Majority Staff

Subject: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Purpose

This memorandum provides Members an update on significant facts relating to the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Our findings, which are detailed below, 1) raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and 2) represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.

Investigation UpdateOn October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order (not under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC. Page is a U.S. citizen who served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign. Consistent with requirements under FISA, the application had to be first certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI. It then required the approval of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division.The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. §,1805(d)(l)), a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the FISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Then-DAG Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.Due to the sensitive nature of foreign intelligence activity, FISA submissions (including renewals) before the FISC are classified. As such, the public’s confidence in the integrity of the FISA process depends on the court’s ability to hold the government to the highest standard—particularly as it relates to surveillance of American citizens. However, the FISC’s rigor in protecting the rights of Americans, which is reinforced by 90-day renewals of surveillance orders, is necessarily dependent on the government’s production to the court of all material and relevant facts. This should include information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application that is known by the government. In the case of Carter Page, the government had at least four independent opportunities before the FISC to accurately provide an accounting of the relevant facts. However, our findings indicate that, as described below, material and relevant information was omitted.
1) The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of—and paid by—the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.2) The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News. The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News. Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News—and several other outlets—in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie was aware of Steele’s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington D.C. in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.
a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations—an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David Corn. Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September—before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October—but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.b) Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling—maintaining confidentiality—and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.3) Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. Shortly after the election, the FBI began interviewing Ohr, documenting his communications with Steele. For example, in September 2016, Steele admitted to Ohr his feelings against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” This clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files—but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications.
a) During this same time period, Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC.4) According to the head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its “infancy” at the time of the initial Page FISA application. After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele’s reporting as only minimally corroborated. Yet, in early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a summary of the Steele dossier, even though it was—according to his June 2017 testimony—“salacious and unverified.” While the FISA application relied on Steele’s past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.5) The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok. Strzok was reassigned by the Special Counsel’s Office to FBI Human Resources for improper text messages with his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page (no known relation to Carter Page), where they both demonstrated a clear bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton, whom Strzok had also investigated. The Strzok/Lisa Page texts also reflect extensive discussions about the investigation, orchestrating leaks to the media, and include a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an “insurance” policy against President Trump’s election.https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/read-the-full-text-of-the-nunes-memo/552191/

Trump–Russia dossier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Trump–Russia dossier, also known as the Steele dossier,[1] is a private intelligencedossier of 17 memos that were consecutively written from June to December 2016[2] by former MI6 intelligence officer Christopher Steele. It contains allegations of misconduct and conspiracy between the Donald Trumpcampaign and the Russian government before and during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, much of it detailing alleged cooperation between the campaign and Russians to interfere in the election to benefit Trump.[3] The contents of the dossier were published in full by BuzzFeed on January 10, 2017.[4] Several mainstream media outlets have criticized BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the dossier.[5][6][7]

Some of the dossier’s allegations have been confirmed, while others have yet to be proved or disproved.[8][9] Some claims may require access to classified information for verification.[10] The media, intelligence community, as well as most experts have treated the dossier with caution, while Trump himself denounced the report as “fake news“. In February 2017, some details related to conversations between foreign nationals were independently verified.[11] As of December 2017, the dossier’s allegations of collusion have not been corroborated.[12][13]

The dossier was produced as part of opposition research during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. After Trump emerged as the probable Republican nominee, attorney Marc Elias of the Perkins Coie law firm retained American research firm Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research about Trump on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton presidential campaign. Fusion GPS later contracted Steele to compile the dossier.[14] Following Trump’s election as president, Steele continued working on the report, with funding from Democrats ceasing and financing finally coming directly from Glenn R. Simpson of Fusion GPS.[15] The completed dossier and its information was then passed on to British and American intelligence services.[16]

Allegations

The dossier contains multiple allegations, some of which are currently unverified and others for which possible verification is classified.[10] Natasha Bertrand has stated that it “alleges serious misconduct and conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia’s government”, and that, quoting the dossier, the “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between [the Trump campaign] and the Russian leadership was managed on the Trump side by the Republican candidate’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort.”[17]

The memos allege that Russia has been cultivating a relationship with Trump for decades, that the Kremlin favored Trump in the U.S. presidential election, and took various actions during the 2016 election to promote his candidacy and oppose Hillary Clinton‘s. The document claims that several of Trump’s associates, in particular campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump’s personal attorney Michael D. Cohen, and Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page, worked with Russian contacts to promote Trump’s candidacy. Alleged activities include planning the hack of Democratic National Committee emails and their subsequent leaking, arranging coverups and cash payments, and promising favorable policies toward Russia if Trump was elected. The document also claims that Russian operators possessed compromising information about Trump which could make him subject to blackmail.

Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations, labeling the dossier as “discredited”, “debunked”, “fictitious”, and “fake news”.[18]

History

The dossier and the investigations preceding it were part of opposition research on Trump. The investigation into Trump was initially funded by a conservative political website before Steele was involved, and later was funded by Democrats.[19][20][2][21]

In October 2015, during the Republican primary campaign, The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website primarily funded by Republican donor Paul Singer, hired the American research firm Fusion GPS to conduct general opposition research on Trump and other Republican presidential candidates.[1] For months, Fusion GPS gathered information about Trump, focusing on his business and entertainment activities. When Trump became the presumptive nominee on May 3, 2016, The Free Beacon stopped funding research on him.[2][22][23]

In April 2016, Marc Elias, a partner in the large Seattle-based law firm Perkins Coie and head of its Political Law practice, hired Fusion GPS to do opposition research on Trump. Elias was the attorney of record for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton presidential campaign.[14] As part of their investigation, Fusion GPS hired Orbis Business Intelligence, a private British intelligence firm, to look into connections between Trump and Russia. Orbis co-founder Christopher Steele, a retired British MI6 officer with expertise in Russian matters,[2] was hired in May or June to do the job.[24]

According to Fusion GPS’s co-owners, Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch, they did not tell Steele who their clients were and “gave him no specific marching orders beyond this basic question: ‘Why did Mr. Trump repeatedly seek to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state that most serious investors shun?'”[25] In total, Perkins Coie paid Fusion GPS $1.02 million in fees and expenses, $168,000 of which was paid to Orbis and used by them to produce the dossier.[26] Simpson has stated that Steele did not pay any of his sources.[27][25][unreliable source?]

According to Steele, he soon found “troubling information indicating connections between Trump and the Russian government. He said that, according to his sources, “there was an established exchange of information between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin of mutual benefit.” He described the finding as “an extraordinary situation” and concluded it was “sufficiently serious” for him to share it with the FBI, which he did in July 2016.[28]

Steele delivered his report as a series of two- or three-page memos, starting in June 2016 and continuing through December. He continued his investigation even after the Democratic client stopped paying for it following Trump’s election.[2] After the election, Fusion GPS co-owner Simpson “reportedly spent his own money to continue the investigation”.[15]

On his own initiative, Steele decided to also pass the information to British and American intelligence services because he believed the findings were a matter of national security for both countries.[29] According to the testimony of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, Steele approached the FBI because he was concerned that the then candidate, Donald Trump, was being blackmailed by Russia.[30] However, he became frustrated with the FBI, which he believed was failing to investigate his reports, choosing instead to focus on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. According to The Independent, Steele came to believe that there was a “cabal” inside the FBI, particularly its New York field office linked to Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani, which blocked any attempts to investigate the links between Trump and Russia.[29] In October 2016, Steele had compiled 33 pages (16 memos) and passed on what he discovered so far to a reporter from Mother Jones magazine.[28]

In a court filing in April 2017, Steele revealed previously unreported information that in December 2016, shortly after the presidential election, he gave a copy of the 16 memos to “the senior British national security official and sent an encrypted version to Fusion GPS with instructions to deliver a hard copy to Senator John McCain (R-AZ).[31] McCain, who had been informed about the alleged links between Kremlin and Trump, met with former British ambassador to Moscow Sir Andrew Wood. Wood confirmed the existence of the dossier and vouched for Steele’s “professionalism and integrity”.[29] McCain obtained the dossier from David J. Kramer and took it directly to FBI director James Comey on December 9, 2016.[2][20] Comey has confirmed that counter-intelligence investigations are under way into possible links between Trump associates and Moscow, and CNN has reported that the FBI used the dossier to bolster its investigations.”[31]

After delivering the 16 memos, more information was received, and two more pages, the “December memo”, dated “13 December 2016”, was prepared. It alleged efforts by Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to pay those who had hacked the DNC and to “cover up all traces of the hacking operation”.[32][31] Trump and Cohen have denied the allegations.[32][31][33] Cohen said that between August 23 and August 29 he was in Los Angeles and in New York for the entire month of September.[34] According to a Czech intelligence source, there is no record of him entering Prague by plane, but Respekt magazine pointed out that it’s theoretically possible he could have entered by car or train from a neighboring country in the Schengen Zone.[35]

Hints of existence

By the third quarter of 2016, many news organizations knew about the existence of the dossier, which had been described as an “open secret” among journalists. However, they chose not to publish information that could not be confirmed.[2] Finally on October 31, 2016, a week before the election, Mother Jones reported that a former intelligence officer, whom they did not name, had produced a report based on Russian sources and turned it over to the FBI.[28] It starts with the allegation that:

The “Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance”. It maintained that Trump “and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals”. It claimed that Russian intelligence had “compromised” Trump during his visits to Moscow and could “blackmail him”.

— Mother Jones, October 31, 2016[28]

In October 2016, the FBI reached an agreement with Steele to pay him to continue his work, according to involved sources reported by The Washington Post. “Steele was known for the quality of his past work and for the knowledge he had developed over nearly 20 years working on Russia-related issues for British intelligence.”[36] The FBI found Steele credible and his unproved information worthy enough that it considered paying Steele to continue collecting information, but the release of the document to the public stopped discussions between Steele and the FBI.[36]

President-Elect Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed on the existence of the dossier by the chiefs of several U.S. intelligence agencies in early January 2017. Vice President Joe Biden has confirmed that he and the president had received briefings on the dossier, and the allegations within.[37][22][38][39]

On January 10, 2017, CNN reported that classified documents presented to Obama and Trump the previous week included allegations that Russian operatives possess “compromising personal and financial information” about Trump. CNN stated that it would not publish specific details on the memos because it had not “independently corroborated the specific allegations”.[40][41] Following the CNN report,[42]BuzzFeed published a 35-page dossier that it said was the basis of the briefing, including unverified claims that Russian operatives had collected “embarrassing material” involving Trump that could be used to blackmail him.[43][44][41][45]

Many news organizations knew about the document in the fall of 2016, before the presidential election, but did not publish it because they could not independently verify the information.[46] BuzzFeed was harshly criticized for publishing what Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan called “scurrilous allegations dressed up as an intelligence report meant to damage Donald Trump”,[47] while The New York Times noted that the publication sparked a debate centering on the use of unsubstantiated information from anonymous sources.[48] BuzzFeed’s executive staff said the materials were newsworthy because they were “in wide circulation at the highest levels of American government and media” and argued that this justified public release.[5]

Authorship

When CNN reported the existence of the dossier on January 10, 2017,[49] it did not name the author of the dossier, but revealed that he was British. Steele concluded that his anonymity had been “fatally compromised” and realized it was “only a matter of time until his name became public knowledge”, and, accompanied by his family, he fled into hiding in fear of “a prompt and potentially dangerous backlash against him from Moscow”.[50][51][19]The Wall Street Journal revealed Steele’s name the next day, on January 11.[52] Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd, for whom Steele worked at the time the dossier was authored, and its director Christopher Burrows would not “confirm or deny” that Orbis had produced the dossier.[49][2]

Called by the media a “highly regarded Kremlin expert” and “one of MI6’s greatest Russia specialists”, Steele formerly worked for the British intelligence agency MI6 and is currently working for Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd, a private intelligence company Steele co-founded in London.[53][52][54] Steele entered MI6 in 1987, directly after his graduation from Cambridge University.[55]

Former British ambassador to Moscow Sir Andrew Wood has vouched for Steele’s reputation.[29] He views Steele as a “very competent professional operator … I take the report seriously. I don’t think it’s totally implausible.” He also stated that “the report’s key allegation—that Trump and Russia’s leadership were communicating via secret back channels during the presidential campaign—was eminently plausible”.[56]

On December 26, 2016, Oleg Erovinkin, a former KGB/FSB general, was found dead in his car in Moscow. Erovinkin was a key liaison between Igor Sechin, head of state-owned oil company Rosneft, and President Putin. Steele claimed much of the information came from a source close to Sechin. According to Christo Grozev, a journalist at Risk Management Lab, a think-tank based in Bulgaria, the circumstances of Erovinkin’s death were “mysterious”. Grozev suspected Erovinkin helped Steele compile the dossier on Trump and suggests the hypothesis that the death may have been part of a cover-up by the Russian government.[57][58]Mark Galeotti, senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague, who specializes in Russian history and security, rejected Grozev’s hypothesis.[59][57]In interviews with Luke Harding, “Steele was adamant that Erovinkin wasn’t his source and ‘not one of ours.’ As a person close to Steele put it to me: ‘Sometimes people just die.'”[60]

On March 7, 2017, as some members of the U.S. Congress were expressing interest in meeting with or hearing testimony from Steele, he reemerged after weeks in hiding, appearing publicly on camera and stating, “I’m really pleased to be back here working again at the Orbis’s offices in London today.”[61]

Veracity

Observers and experts have had varying reactions to the dossier. Generally, “former intelligence officers and other national-security experts” urged “skepticism and caution” but still took “the fact that the nation’s top intelligence officials chose to present a summary version of the dossier to both President Obama and President-elect Trump” as an indication “that they may have had a relatively high degree of confidence that at least some of the claims therein were credible, or at least worth investigating further”.[62] The author of the dossier said he believes that 70–90% of the document is accurate.[63] Steele said that his FBI contacts greeted his intelligence report with “shock and horror”.[63] In his June 2017 congressional testimony, former FBI director James Comey called “some personally sensitive aspects” of the dossier “salacious and unverified,” but he did not state that the entire dossier was unverified or that the salacious aspects were false. When Senator Richard Burr asked if any of the allegations in the dossier had been confirmed, Comey said he could not answer that question in a public setting.[64][10]

Vice President Biden told reporters that while he and President Obama were receiving a briefing on the extent of Russian hackers trying to influence the US election, there was a two-page addendum which addressed the contents of the Steele dossier.[65] Top intelligence officials told them they “felt obligated to inform them about uncorroborated allegations about President-elect Donald Trump out of concern the information would become public and catch them off-guard”.[66]

Former Los Angeles Times Moscow correspondent Robert Gillette wrote in an op-ed in the Concord Monitor that the dossier has had at least one of its main factual assertions verified. On January 6, 2017, the Director of National Intelligence released a report assessing “with high confidence” that Russia’s combined cyber and propaganda operation was directed personally by Vladimir Putin, with the aim of harming Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and helping Trump.[67] Gillette wrote: “Steele’s dossier, paraphrasing multiple sources, reported precisely the same conclusion, in greater detail, six months earlier, in a memo dated June 20.”[68]

Newsweek published a list of “13 things that don’t add up” in the dossier, writing that the document was a “strange mix of the amateur and the insightful” and stating that the document “contains lots of Kremlin-related gossip that could indeed be, as the author claims, from deep insiders—or equally gleaned” from Russian newspapers and blogs.[69] Former UK ambassador to Russia Sir Tony Brenton stated that certain aspects of the dossier were inconsistent with British intelligence’s understanding of how the Kremlin works, commenting: “I’ve seen quite a lot of intelligence on Russia, and there are some things in [the dossier] which look pretty shaky.”[70]

According to Business Insider, the dossier alleges that “the Trump campaign agreed to minimize US opposition to Russia’s incursions into Ukraine”.[17] In July 2016, the Republican National Convention made changes to the Republican Party’s platform on Ukraine: initially they proposed providing “lethal weapons” to Ukraine, but the line was changed to “appropriate assistance”. J. D. Gordon, who was one of Trump’s national security advisers during the campaign, said that he had advocated for changing language because that reflected what Trump had said.[17][71]

Reputation in the U.S. intelligence community

According to Paul Wood of BBC News, the information in Steele’s report is also reported by “multiple intelligence sources” and “at least one East European intelligence service”. They report that “compromising material on Mr. Trump” included “more than one tape, not just video, but audio as well, on more than one date, in more than one place, in both Moscow and St. Petersburg.” While also mentioning that “nobody should believe something just because an intelligence agent says it”,[72][52] he added that “the CIA believes it is credible that the Kremlin has such kompromat—or compromising material—on the next US commander in chief” and “a joint taskforce, which includes the CIA and the FBI, has been investigating allegations that the Russians may have sent money to Mr Trump’s organisation or his election campaign”.[73][74][72] On March 30, 2017, Wood reported that the FBI was using the dossier as a roadmap for its investigation.[75] On April 18, 2017, CNN reported that, according to U.S. officials, information from the dossier had been used as part of the basis for getting the FISA warrant to monitor former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page during the summer of 2016. Officials told CNN this information would have had to be independently corroborated by the FBI before being used to obtain the warrant.[16]

Susan Hennessey, a former National Security Agency lawyer now with the Brookings Institution, stated: “My general take is that the intelligence community and law enforcement seem to be taking these claims seriously. That itself is highly significant. But it is not the same as these allegations being verified. Even if this was an intelligence community document—which it isn’t—this kind of raw intelligence is still treated with skepticism.”[62][76] Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes wrote that “the current state of the evidence makes a powerful argument for a serious public inquiry into this matter”.[76]Robert S. Litt, a former lawyer for the Director of National Intelligence, wrote that the dossier “played absolutely no role” in the intelligence community’s determination that Russia had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[77]

On February 10, 2017, CNN reported that some communications between “senior Russian officials and other Russian individuals” described in the dossier had been corroborated by multiple U.S. officials. They “took place between the same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier”. Sources told CNN that some conversations had been “intercepted during routine intelligence gathering”, but refused to reveal the content of conversations, or specify which communications were detailed in the dossier. CNN was unable to confirm whether conversations were related to Trump. U.S. officials said the corroboration gave “US intelligence and law enforcement ‘greater confidence’ in the credibility of some aspects of the dossier as they continue to actively investigate its contents”.[11]

British journalist Julian Borger wrote in October 2017 that “Steele’s reports are being taken seriously after lengthy scrutiny by federal and congressional investigators”, at least Steele’s assessment that Russia had conducted a campaign to interfere in the 2016 election to Clinton’s detriment; that part of the Steele dossier “has generally gained in credibility, rather than lost it”.[78] Liberal commentator Jonathan Chait wrote in December 2017 about the dossier that mainstream media “treat it as gossip” whereas the intelligence community “take it seriously”.[79]

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (DRhode Island), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has stated: “As I understand it, a good deal of his information remains unproven, but none of it has been disproven, and considerable amounts of it have been proven.”[80]

Carter Page testimony

On November 2, 2017, Carter Page, Donald Trump’s foreign policy adviser during the campaign, testified before the House Intelligence Committee which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. Page testified he informed Jeff SessionsJ. D. GordonHope Hicks and Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, of a planned trip to Russia and that Lewandowski approved the trip, responding “If you’d like to go on your own, not affiliated with the campaign, you know, that’s fine.”[81][82] In his testimony, Page admitted he met with high ranking Kremlin officials. Previously, Page had denied meeting any Russian officials during the trip. His comments appeared to corroborate portions of the dossier.[83][84]

Use in 2017 Special Counsel investigation

According to Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman Mark Warner (D-VA), the dossier’s allegations are being investigated by a Special Counsel led by Robert Mueller, which is also investigating allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.[85] In the summer of 2017, Mueller’s team of investigators met with Christopher Steele.[86] As some leads stemming from the dossier have already been followed and confirmed by the FBI, legal experts have stated that Special Counsel investigators, headed by Robert Mueller, are obligated to follow any leads the dossier has presented them with, irrespective of what parties financed it in its various stages of development, or “[t]hey would be derelict in their duty if they didn’t.”[85][87]

While Trump and some Republicans have claimed that the dossier was behind the beginning of the investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential conspiracy with Russia, in December 2017, former and current intelligence officials revealed that the actual impetus was a series of comments made in May 2016 by Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos during a night of “heavy drinking at an upscale London bar” made to a top Australian diplomat in Britain. Papadopoulos revealed that he had inside information by bragging that the Kremlin had “thousands of emails” stolen from Hillary Clinton which could be used to damage her campaign. He had learned this about three weeks earlier. Two months later, when WikiLeaks started releasing DNC emails, Australian officials alerted the Americans about Papadopoulos’ remarks.[88][89]

Other soon-discovered factors then played into the FBI’s decision to investigate Russian interference and any role played by the Trump campaign: intelligence from friendly governments, especially the British and Dutch, and then the information about a trip to Moscow by Trump adviser Carter Page. Steele’s first report was sent to Fusion GPS, dated June 20, 2016, and FBI agents first interviewed Steele in October 2016.[89] A year later, in October 2017, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, and became a cooperating witness in Mueller’s investigation.[88]

Reactions

November 14, 2017 – House Intelligence Committee Transcript by Glenn Simpson

August 22, 2017 Fusion GPS Testimony Transcript of Glenn Simpson

Donald Trump called the dossier “fake news” and criticized the intelligence and media sources that published it.[90] During a press conference on January 11, 2017, Trump denounced the unsubstantiated claims as false, saying that it was “disgraceful” for U.S. intelligence agencies to report them. Trump refused to answer a question from CNN’s senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta on the subject. In response, CNN said that it had published “carefully sourced reporting” on the matter which had been “matched by the other major news organizations”, as opposed to BuzzFeed‘s posting of “unsubstantiated materials”.[91][42]James Clapper described the leaks as damaging to US national security.[92] This also contradicted Trump’s previous claim that Clapper said the information was false; Clapper’s statement actually said the intelligence community had made no judgement on the truth or falsity of the information.[93]

Russian press secretary Dmitry Peskov insisted in an interview that the document is a fraud, saying “I can assure you that the allegations in this funny paper, in this so-called report, they are untrue. They are all fake.”[94] The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, called the people who leaked the document “worse than prostitutes”[95] and referred to the dossier itself as “rubbish”.[96] Putin went on to state he believed that the dossier was “clearly fake”,[97]fabricated as a plot against the legitimacy of President-elect Donald Trump.[98]

Some of Steele’s former colleagues expressed support for his character, saying “The idea his work is fake or a cowboy operation is false—completely untrue. Chris is an experienced and highly regarded professional. He’s not the sort of person who will simply pass on gossip.”[99]

Among journalists, Bob Woodward called the dossier a “garbage document,” while Carl Bernstein took the opposite view, noting that the senior-most U.S. intelligence officials had determined that the content was worth reporting to the president and the president-elect.[100]

Ynet, an Israeli online news site, reported on January 12, 2017 that U.S. intelligence advised Israeli intelligence officers to be cautious about sharing information with the incoming Trump administration, until the possibility of Russian influence over Trump, suggested by Steele’s report, has been fully investigated.[101]

Aleksej Gubarev, chief of technology company XBT and a figure mentioned in the dossier, sued BuzzFeed for defamation on February 3, 2017. The suit, filed in a Broward County, Florida court, centers on allegations from the dossier that XBT had been “using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘altering operations’ against the Democratic Party leadership”.[102][103] In the High Court of Justice, Steele’s lawyers said their client did not intend for the memos to be released, and that one of the memos “needed to be analyzed and further investigated/verified”.[104]

On March 2, 2017, media began reporting that the Senate may call Steele to testify about the Trump dossier.[105] On March 27, 2017, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley asked the Department of Justice to initiate an inquiry into Fusion GPS, who initially retained Steele to write the dossier.[106] Fusion GPS was previously associated with pro-Russia lobbying activities due to sanctions imposed by the Magnitsky Act.[107] On August 22, 2017, Steele met with the FBI and had provided them with the names of his sources for the allegations in the dossier.[108]

Steven L. Hall, former CIA chief of Russia operations, has compared Steele’s methods with those of Donald Trump Jr., who sought information from a Russian attorney in June 2016: “The distinction: Steele spied against Russia to get info Russia did not want released; Don Jr took a mtg to get info Russians wanted to give.”[109]

On January 2, 2018, the founders of Fusion GPS, Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch authored an op-ed in the New York Times, requesting that Republicans, “release full transcripts of our firm’s testimony” and further wrote that, “the Steele dossier was not the trigger for the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russian meddling. As we told the Senate Judiciary Committee in August, our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the bureau had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp.”[25] Ken Dilanian of NBC News clarified that a “source close to Fusion GPS” told him that the FBI had not planted anyone in the Trump camp, but rather that Simpson was referring to George Papadopoulos.[110][111]

On January 5, 2018, in the first known Congressional criminal referral resulting from investigations related to the Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley made a referral to the Justice Department suggesting that they investigate possible criminal charges against Christopher Steele, author of the dossier.[112][113] Senator Lindsey Graham also signed the letter.[114][115] Both Grassley and Graham declared that they were not alleging that Steele “had committed any crime. Rather, they had passed on the information for ‘further investigation only’.”[116] The referral was met with skepticism from legal experts, as well as some of the other Republicans and Democrats on the Judiciary committee, who had reportedly not been consulted.[114]

On January 8, 2018, a spokesman for Grassley said he did not plan to release the transcript of Simpson’s August 22, 2017 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[117] The next day, Ranking Committee Member Senator Dianne Feinstein unilaterally released the transcript.[118][119]

Also on January 9, 2018, Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen sued Buzzfeed for defamation over allegations about him in the dossier, which Buzzfeed had published.[120]

On January 18, 2018, the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released the transcript of the Glenn Simpson Testimony given on November 14, 2017.[121][122] Democratic committee member Adam Schiff stated that the testimony contains “serious allegations that The Trump Organization may have engaged in money laundering with Russian nationals”. Trump Organization’s chief counsel Alan Garten called the allegations “unsubstantiated” and “reckless”, and said that Simpson was mainly referring to properties to which Trump licensed his name. Democratic member Jim Himes said that Simpson “did not provide evidence and I think that’s an important point. He made allegations.”[123]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump%E2%80%93Russia_dossier

How the Russia Inquiry Began: A Campaign Aide, Drinks and Talk of Political Dirt

WASHINGTON — During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.

Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role.

The hacking and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information about it were driving factors that led the F.B.I. to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump’s associates conspired.

If Mr. Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. and is now a cooperating witness, was the improbable match that set off a blaze that has consumed the first year of the Trump administration, his saga is also a tale of the Trump campaign in miniature. He was brash, boastful and underqualified, yet he exceeded expectations. And, like the campaign itself, he proved to be a tantalizing target for a Russian influence operation.

 

While some of Mr. Trump’s advisers have derided him as an insignificant campaign volunteer or a “coffee boy,” interviews and new documents show that he stayed influential throughout the campaign. Two months before the election, for instance, he helped arrange a New York meeting between Mr. Trump and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt.

The information that Mr. Papadopoulos gave to the Australians answers one of the lingering mysteries of the past year: What so alarmed American officials to provoke the F.B.I. to open a counterintelligence investigationinto the Trump campaign months before the presidential election?

It was not, as Mr. Trump and other politicians have alleged, a dossier compiled by a former British spy hired by a rival campaign. Instead, it was firsthand information from one of America’s closest intelligence allies.

Interviews and previously undisclosed documents show that Mr. Papadopoulos played a critical role in this drama and reveal a Russian operation that was more aggressive and widespread than previously known. They add to an emerging portrait, gradually filled in over the past year in revelations by federal investigators, journalists and lawmakers, of Russians with government contacts trying to establish secret channels at various levels of the Trump campaign.

The F.B.I. investigation, which was taken over seven months ago by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has cast a shadow over Mr. Trump’s first year in office — even as he and his aides repeatedly played down the Russian efforts and falsely denied campaign contacts with Russians.

They have also insisted that Mr. Papadopoulos was a low-level figure. But spies frequently target peripheral players as a way to gain insight and leverage.

F.B.I. officials disagreed in 2016 about how aggressively and publicly to pursue the Russia inquiry before the election. But there was little debate about what seemed to be afoot. John O. Brennan, who retired this year after four years as C.I.A. director, told Congress in May that he had been concerned about multiple contacts between Russian officials and Trump advisers.

Russia, he said, had tried to “suborn” members of the Trump campaign.

‘The Signal to Meet’

Mr. Papadopoulos, then an ambitious 28-year-old from Chicago, was working as an energy consultant in London when the Trump campaign, desperate to create a foreign policy team, named him as an adviser in early March 2016. His political experience was limited to two months on Ben Carson’s presidential campaign before it collapsed.

Mr. Papadopoulos had no experience on Russia issues. But during his job interview with Sam Clovis, a top early campaign aide, he saw an opening. He was told that improving relations with Russia was one of Mr. Trump’s top foreign policy goals, according to court papers, an account Mr. Clovis has denied.

Traveling in Italy that March, Mr. Papadopoulos met Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor at a now-defunct London academy who had valuable contacts with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Mifsud showed little interest in Mr. Papadopoulos at first.

But when he found out he was a Trump campaign adviser, he latched onto him, according to court records and emails obtained by The New York Times. Their joint goal was to arrange a meeting between Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Moscow, or between their respective aides.

Photo

Sam Clovis, a former co-chairman of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, denies that he told Mr. Papadopoulos that improving relations with Russia was one of Mr. Trump’s top foreign policy goals during Mr. Papadopoulos’s interview for a job with the campaign. CreditWin Mcnamee/Getty Images

In response to questions, Mr. Papadopoulos’s lawyers declined to provide a statement.

Before the end of the month, Mr. Mifsud had arranged a meeting at a London cafe between Mr. Papadopoulos and Olga Polonskaya, a young woman from St. Petersburg whom he falsely described as Mr. Putin’s niece. Although Ms. Polonskaya told The Times in a text message that her English skills are poor, her emails to Mr. Papadopoulos were largely fluent. “We are all very excited by the possibility of a good relationship with Mr. Trump,” Ms. Polonskaya wrote in one message.

More important, Mr. Mifsud connected Mr. Papadopoulos to Ivan Timofeev, a program director for the prestigious Valdai Discussion Club, a gathering of academics that meets annually with Mr. Putin. The two men corresponded for months about how to connect the Russian government and the campaign. Records suggest that Mr. Timofeev, who has been described by Mr. Mueller’s team as an intermediary for the Russian Foreign Ministry, discussed the matter with the ministry’s former leader, Igor S. Ivanov, who is widely viewed in the United States as one of Russia’s elder statesmen.

When Mr. Trump’s foreign policy team gathered for the first time at the end of March in Washington, Mr. Papadopoulos said he had the contacts to set up a meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin. Mr. Trump listened intently but apparently deferred to Jeff Sessions, then a senator from Alabama and head of the campaign’s foreign policy team, according to participants in the meeting.

Mr. Sessions, now the attorney general, initially did not reveal that discussion to Congress, because, he has said, he did not recall it. More recently, he said he pushed back against Mr. Papadopoulos’s proposal, at least partly because he did not want someone so unqualified to represent the campaign on such a sensitive matter.

If the campaign wanted Mr. Papadopoulos to stand down, previously undisclosed emails obtained by The Times show that he either did not get the message or failed to heed it. He continued for months to try to arrange some kind of meeting with Russian representatives, keeping senior campaign advisers abreast of his efforts. Mr. Clovis ultimately encouraged him and another foreign policy adviser to travel to Moscow, but neither went because the campaign would not cover the cost.

Mr. Papadopoulos was trusted enough to edit the outline of Mr. Trump’s first major foreign policy speech on April 27, an address in which the candidate said it was possible to improve relations with Russia. Mr. Papadopoulos flagged the speech to his newfound Russia contacts, telling Mr. Timofeev that it should be taken as “the signal to meet.”

“That is a statesman speech,” Mr. Mifsud agreed. Ms. Polonskaya wrote that she was pleased that Mr. Trump’s “position toward Russia is much softer” than that of other candidates.

Stephen Miller, then a senior policy adviser to the campaign and now a top White House aide, was eager for Mr. Papadopoulos to serve as a surrogate, someone who could publicize Mr. Trump’s foreign policy views without officially speaking for the campaign. But Mr. Papadopoulos’s first public attempt to do so was a disaster.

In a May 4, 2016, interview with The Times of London, Mr. Papadopoulos called on Prime Minister David Cameron to apologize to Mr. Trump for criticizing his remarks on Muslims as “stupid” and divisive. “Say sorry to Trump or risk special relationship, Cameron told,” the headline read. Mr. Clovis, the national campaign co-chairman, severely reprimanded Mr. Papadopoulos for failing to clear his explosive comments with the campaign in advance.

From then on, Mr. Papadopoulos was more careful with the press — though he never regained the full trust of Mr. Clovis or several other campaign officials.

Mr. Mifsud proposed to Mr. Papadopoulos that he, too, serve as a campaign surrogate. He could write op-eds under the guise of a “neutral” observer, he wrote in a previously undisclosed email, and follow Mr. Trump to his rallies as an accredited journalist while receiving briefings from the inside the campaign.

In late April, at a London hotel, Mr. Mifsud told Mr. Papadopoulos that he had just learned from high-level Russian officials in Moscow that the Russians had “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” according to court documents. Although Russian hackers had been mining data from the Democratic National Committee’s computers for months, that information was not yet public. Even the committee itself did not know.

Whether Mr. Papadopoulos shared that information with anyone else in the campaign is one of many unanswered questions. He was mostly in contact with the campaign over emails. The day after Mr. Mifsud’s revelation about the hacked emails, he told Mr. Miller in an email only that he had “interesting messages coming in from Moscow” about a possible trip. The emails obtained by The Times show no evidence that Mr. Papadopoulos discussed the stolen messages with the campaign.

Not long after, however, he opened up to Mr. Downer, the Australian diplomat, about his contacts with the Russians. It is unclear whether Mr. Downer was fishing for that information that night in May 2016. The meeting at the bar came about because of a series of connections, beginning with an Israeli Embassy official who introduced Mr. Papadopoulos to another Australian diplomat in London.

It is also not clear why, after getting the information in May, the Australian government waited two months to pass it to the F.B.I. In a statement, the Australian Embassy in Washington declined to provide details about the meeting or confirm that it occurred.

“As a matter of principle and practice, the Australian government does not comment on matters relevant to active investigations,” the statement said. The F.B.I. declined to comment.

Photo

A House Judiciary Committee session last month at which Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified. Mr. Sessions was head of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team. CreditAl Drago for The New York Times

A Secretive Investigation

Once the information Mr. Papadopoulos had disclosed to the Australian diplomat reached the F.B.I., the bureau opened an investigation that became one of its most closely guarded secrets. Senior agents did not discuss it at the daily morning briefing, a classified setting where officials normally speak freely about highly sensitive operations.

Besides the information from the Australians, the investigation was also propelled by intelligence from other friendly governments, including the British and Dutch. A trip to Moscow by another adviser, Carter Page, also raised concerns at the F.B.I.

With so many strands coming in — about Mr. Papadopoulos, Mr. Page, the hackers and more — F.B.I. agents debated how aggressively to investigate the campaign’s Russia ties, according to current and former officials familiar with the debate. Issuing subpoenas or questioning people, for example, could cause the investigation to burst into public view in the final months of a presidential campaign.

It could also tip off the Russian government, which might try to cover its tracks. Some officials argued against taking such disruptive steps, especially since the F.B.I. would not be able to unravel the case before the election.

Others believed that the possibility of a compromised presidential campaign was so serious that it warranted the most thorough, aggressive tactics. Even if the odds against a Trump presidency were long, these agents argued, it was prudent to take every precaution.

That included questioning Christopher Steele, the former British spy who was compiling the dossier alleging a far-ranging Russian conspiracy to elect Mr. Trump. A team of F.B.I. agents traveled to Europe to interview Mr. Steele in early October 2016. Mr. Steele had shown some of his findings to an F.B.I. agent in Rome three months earlier, but that information was not part of the justification to start an counterintelligence inquiry, American officials said.

Ultimately, the F.B.I. and Justice Department decided to keep the investigation quiet, a decision that Democrats in particular have criticized. And agents did not interview Mr. Papadopoulos until late January.

Opening Doors, to the Top

He was hardly central to the daily running of the Trump campaign, yet Mr. Papadopoulos continuously found ways to make himself useful to senior Trump advisers. In September 2016, with the United Nations General Assembly approaching and stories circulating that Mrs. Clinton was going to meet with Mr. Sisi, the Egyptian president, Mr. Papadopoulos sent a message to Stephen K. Bannon, the campaign’s chief executive, offering to broker a similar meeting for Mr. Trump.

After days of scheduling discussions, the meeting was set and Mr. Papadopoulos sent a list of talking points to Mr. Bannon, according to people familiar with those interactions. Asked about his contacts with Mr. Papadopoulos, Mr. Bannon declined to comment.

Mr. Trump’s improbable victory raised Mr. Papadopoulos’s hopes that he might ascend to a top White House job. The election win also prompted a business proposal from Sergei Millian, a naturalized American citizen born in Belarus. After he had contacted Mr. Papadopoulos out of the blue over LinkedIn during the summer of 2016, the two met repeatedly in Manhattan.

Mr. Millian has bragged of his ties to Mr. Trump — boasts that the president’s advisers have said are overstated. He headed an obscure organization called the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, some of whose board members and clients are difficult to confirm. Congress is investigating where he fits into the swirl of contacts with the Trump campaign, although he has said he is unfairly being scrutinized only because of his support for Mr. Trump.

Mr. Millian proposed that he and Mr. Papadopoulos form an energy-related business that would be financed by Russian billionaires “who are not under sanctions” and would “open all doors for us” at “any level all the way to the top.”

One billionaire, he said, wanted to explore the idea of opening a Trump-branded hotel in Moscow. “I know the president will distance himself from business, but his children might be interested,” he wrote.

Nothing came of his proposals, partly because Mr. Papadopoulos was hoping that Michael T. Flynn, then Mr. Trump’s pick to be national security adviser, might give him the energy portfolio at the National Security Council.

The pair exchanged New Year’s greetings in the final hours of 2016. “Happy New Year, sir,” Mr. Papadopoulos wrote.

“Thank you and same to you, George. Happy New Year!” Mr. Flynn responded, ahead of a year that seemed to hold great promise.

But 2017 did not unfold that way. Within months, Mr. Flynn was fired, and both men were charged with lying to the F.B.I. And both became important witnesses in the investigation Mr. Papadopoulos had played a critical role in starting.

 

After Donald J. Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination, Fusion GPS was hired on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee by their law firm, Perkins Coie, to try to unearth damaging information about him. CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — This article was updated on Dec. 21 with more details about Fusion GPS, the company that compiled the dossier, and who paid for it.

The dossier of research into President Trump’s connections to Russia is the product of a research firm founded by a former journalist, Glenn R. Simpson.

What is the dossier?

It is a 35-page collection of research memos written by Christopher Steele, a respected former British intelligence agent, primarily during the 2016 presidential campaign. The memos, compiled by a research firm called Fusion GPS, allege a multifaceted conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to help Mr. Trump defeat Mrs. Clinton. The memos also detail unsubstantiated accounts of encounters between Mr. Trump and Russian prostitutes, and real estate deals that were intended as bribes, among other claims about Mr. Trump’s businesses.

Mr. Simpson founded Fusion GPS in 2010. The firm is paid to do research by a variety of clients, including political donors, corporations, hedge funds and law firms. During election years, the firm is mostly focused on political opposition research — digging up dirt on a client’s opponent. The firm’s website lists very few details — there is a two-paragraph description of what the firm does and a single email address.

Who paid for it?

During the Republican primaries, a research firm called Fusion GPS was hired by The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website, to unearth potentially damaging information about Mr. Trump. The Free Beacon — which was funded by a major donor supporting Mr. Trump’s rival for the party’s nomination, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida — told Fusion GPS to stop doing research on Mr. Trump in May 2016, as Mr. Trump was clinching the Republican nomination.

After Mr. Trump secured the nomination, Fusion GPS was hired on behalf of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign and the D.N.C. by their law firm, Perkins Coie, to compile research about Mr. Trump, his businesses and associates — including possible connections with Russia. It was at that point that Fusion GPS hired Mr. Steele, who has deep sourcing in Russia, to gather information.

In October, Mr. Trump said in a Twitter post that his party was outraged at Mrs. Clinton’s involvement.

Does it matter who paid for it?

That depends on your politics.

Republicans have criticized the dossier since it was first publicly disseminated when BuzzFeed published it in January. Mr. Trump has blasted it as “fake news” and “phony stuff,” and alleged that it is part of a broader witch hunt intended to cast doubt on his victory. His allies now contend that the allegations in the dossier are discredited by the fact that it was funded at least partially by the Clinton campaign and the D.N.C. Mr. Trump asserted in October in an interview with Fox Business Network’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” that the Democrats’ payments for the research were “the real collusion.”

Democrats argue that who paid for the research is irrelevant to the veracity of its claims, which they say should be thoroughly investigated. Yet some of the Democrats who funded the dossier have been wary of being associated with it. The lead Perkins Coie lawyer representing both the campaign and the D.N.C., Marc Elias, pushed back earlier this year when asked whether his firm was the client for the dossier, whether he possessed it before the election and whether he was involved in efforts to encourage media outlets to write about its contents.

In October, the veteran Democratic consultant Anita Dunn, who is working with Perkins Coie, explained Mr. Elias’s earlier response. “Obviously, he was not at liberty to confirm Perkins Coie as the client at that point, and should perhaps have ‘no commented’ more artfully,” Ms. Dunn wrote in an email.

Is this sort of research common or legal?

Campaigns and party committees frequently pay companies to assemble what’s known in politics as opposition research — essentially damaging information about their opponents — and nothing is illegal about the practice.

However, Republicans and campaign watchdogs have accused the Clinton campaign and the D.N.C. of violating campaign finance laws by disguising the payments to Fusion GPS on mandatory disclosures to the Federal Election Commission. Their disclosure reports do not list any payments from the Clinton campaign or the D.N.C. to Fusion GPS. They do list a total of $12.4 million in payments to Perkins Coie, but that’s almost entirely for legal consulting, with only one payment — of $66,500 — for “research consulting” from the D.N.C.

In a complaint filed with the election commission in October, the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit group that urges stricter enforcement of election laws, alleged that “at least some of those payments were earmarked for Fusion GPS, with the purpose of conducting opposition research on Donald Trump.” The complaint asserts that the failure to list the ultimate purpose of that money “undermined the vital public information role that reporting is intended to serve.”

Graham M. Wilson, a partner at Perkins Coie, called the complaint “patently baseless,” in part because, he said, the research was done “to support the provision of legal services, and payments made by vendors to sub-vendors are not required to be disclosed in circumstances like this.”

Who else knew about the Fusion GPS research during the campaign?

Officials from the Clinton campaign and the D.N.C. have said they were unaware that Perkins Coie facilitated the research on their behalf, even though the law firm was using their money to pay for it. Even Mrs. Clinton found about Mr. Steele’s research only after BuzzFeed published the dossier, according to two associates who discussed the matter with her. They said that she was disappointed that the research — as well as the fact that the F.B.I. was looking into connections between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia — was not made public before Election Day.

But word of the memos and their contents had circulated in Washington political and media circles before the election. In British court filings, Mr. Steele’s lawyers said that he and Fusion GPS briefed journalists from a range of media outlets, including The New York Times, on his research starting in September 2016.

Yet the research and even the existence of the dossier were not reported by the media, with the exception of Mother Jones magazine, which published a story in the days before the election that described the dossier, its origin and significance, while omitting the salacious claims.

How much of the dossier has been substantiated?

There has been no public corroboration of the salacious allegations against Mr. Trump, nor of the specific claims about coordination between his associates and the Russians. In fact, some of those claims have been challenged with supporting evidence. For instance, Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, produced his passport to rebut the dossier’s claim that he had secret meetings in Prague with a Russian official last year.

Where does the dossier fit in with the government’s Russia investigations?

James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director whose firing by Mr. Trump prompted the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Justice Department’s Russia investigation, received a copy of the memos after Election Day from Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. Mr. McCain had dispatched David J. Kramer, a former top State Department official, to obtain the dossier directly from Mr. Steele. And before Election Day, the F.B.I. reached an agreement to pay Mr. Steele to continue his research, though that plan was scrapped after the dossier was published. During the presidential transition, senior American intelligence officials briefed Mr. Trump and President Barack Obama on the dossier.

Investigators from the House and Senate intelligence committees and Mr. Mueller’s team have been exploring claims made in the dossier. Mr. Mueller’s team reportedly interviewed Mr. Steele over the summer.

Mr. Simpson has provided at least 20 hours of testimony to three different congressional committees investigating the possible Russia ties. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, has described Mr. Simpson as “uncooperative.”

“The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Peter Strzok,” the memo spearheaded by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes reads.  

Some Republicans have argued that the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign began because of the now-infamous Steele dossier, which had salacious and unverified claims connecting Trump to Russia.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in October to charges brought against him by special counsel Robert Mueller in his Russia investigation.

The same memo did confirm that the Steele dossier was used to justify a decision to seek a FISA warrant against Trump aide Carter Page.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/nunes-memo-george-papadopoulos-investigation-triggered-formal-launch-of-fbi-probe-in-trump-campaign/article/2647947

Christopher Steele

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Christopher Steele
Service Secret Intelligence Service
Active 1987–2009
Other work Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd

Born 24 June 1964 (age 53)
AdenSouth Arabia(now Yemen)
Occupation Private intelligence consultant
Alma mater Girton College, Cambridge

Christopher David Steele (born 24 June 1964) is a founding director of Orbis Business Intelligence, a London-based private intelligence firm. He authored a dossier that claims Russia collected a file of compromising information on U.S. PresidentDonald Trump.[1][2] Steele served as a British intelligence officer with the Secret Intelligence Service MI6 from 1987 until his retirement in 2009.

Early life

Christopher David Steele was born in the Yemeni city of Aden (then part of the Federation of South Arabia), on 24 June 1964.[3] His parents, Perris and Janet, had met while working at the Met Office, which is the United Kingdom’s national weather service. His paternal grandfather was a coal miner from Pontypridd in Wales.[4] Steele spent time growing up in Aden, the Shetland Islands northeast of Great Britain, and Cyprus, as well as at Wellington College, Berkshire which is a school in Great Britain.[4]

He attended Girton College, Cambridge and wrote for the oldest of Cambridge University‘s main student newspapersVarsity.[4][5] In the Easter term of 1986, Steele was President of The Cambridge Union debating society,[6][7] and graduated with a degree in Social and Political Sciences in 1986.[8]

Career

Steele was recruited by MI6 directly following his graduation from Cambridge, working in London at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) from 1987 to 1989.[3] From 1990 to 1992, Steele worked under diplomatic cover as an MI6 agent in Moscow, serving at the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Moscow.[7][9] Steele was an “internal traveller”, visiting newly-accessible cities such as Samara and Kazan.[4]

Steele’s identity as an MI6 officer was one of 115 names Her Majesty’s Government attempted to suppress through a DSMA-Notice in 1999.[10][11] He returned to London in 1993, working again at the FCO until his posting to Paris in 1998, where he served under diplomatic cover until 2002.[9][12][13][14] In 2003, Steele was sent to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan as part of an MI6 team, briefing Special Forces on “kill or capture” missions for Taliban targets, and also spent time teaching new MI6 recruits.[9] By 2006, Steele was heading the Russia Desk at MI6.[4][7][15]

Steele’s expertise on Russia remained valued, and he served as a senior officer under John Scarlett, Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), from 2004 to 2009.[15] Steele was selected as case officer for Alexander Litvinenko and participated in the investigation of the Litvinenko poisoning in 2006.[9] It was Steele who quickly realised that Litvinenko’s death “was a Russian state ‘hit'”.[15]

Private sector

In March 2009, Steele with his fellow MI6-retiree Chris Burrows co-founded the private intelligence agency Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd., based in Grosvenor Square Gardens near Buckingham Palace.[16][7] Between 2014 and 2016 Steele created over 100 reports on Russian and Ukrainian issues, which were read within the United States Department of State, and he was viewed as credible by the United States intelligence community.[4]

In 2017 Steele established a new company called Chawton Holdings, again with Christopher Burrows.[17]

FIFA research

In 2010, The Football Association, England’s domestic football governing body, organized a committee in hopes of hosting the 2018 or 2022 World Cups. In advance of the FBI launching its 2015 FIFA corruption case, members of the FBI’s “Eurasian Organized Crime” squad met with Steele in London to discuss allegations of possible corruption in the FIFA.[16][18]

2017 Trump dossier

Background and information gathering

In September 2015, the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative publication, retained the services of Fusion GPS, a private Washington D.C. political research firm, to conduct research on several primary Republican Party candidates including candidate Trump. The research was unrelated to Russia and was ended once Trump was determined to be the presidential nominee.

The firm was subsequently hired by the Hillary Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee through their shared attorney at Perkins Coie, Marc Elias. Fusion GPS then hired Christopher Steele [19] to investigate Trump’s Russia-related activities.[16]According to CNNHillary Clinton‘s campaign and the Democratic National Committee took over the financing of the inquiry into Donald Trump and produced what became known as the Trump dossier.[20]

In July 2016, Steele, on his own initiative, supplied a report he had written to an FBI agent in Rome.[21] His contact at the FBI was the same senior agent with whom he had worked when investigating the FIFA scandal.[9] By early October 2016, he had grown frustrated at the slow rate of progress by the FBI investigation, and cut off further contact with the FBI.[19]

In September 2016, Steele held a series of off the record meetings with journalists from The New York TimesThe Washington PostYahoo! NewsThe New Yorker and CNN.[4] In October 2016, Steele spoke about his discoveries to David Corn of the progressive American political magazine Mother Jones. Steele said he decided to pass his dossier to both British and American intelligence officials after concluding that the material should not just be in the hands of political opponents of Trump, but was a matter of national security for both countries.[22] Corn’s resulting 31 October article was the first to publicly mention the dossier, although the article did not disclose Steele’s identity.[22] The magazine did not publish the dossier itself, however, or detail its allegations, since they could not be verified.[23]

The January 18, 2018 memo by the majority (Republican) staff of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) states that as a result of the Mother Jones article, Steele “was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines the most serious of violations–an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI”[24], though this claim has not been independently corroborated and the FBI and Department of Justice have criticized the memo for mischaracterizations and omissions of fact.

Post-election work on the dossier

The project was no longer of interest to the Democrats, following Trump’s victory in November 2016.[citation needed] Steele continued to work for Fusion GPS on the dossier without a client to pay him.[25] After the election, Steele’s memos “became one of Washington’s worst-kept secrets, as reporters—including from The New York Times—scrambled to confirm or disprove them.”[25]

On 18 November 2016, Sir Andrew Wood, British ambassador to Moscow from 1995 to 2000, met with U.S. Senator John McCain at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, and told McCain about the existence of the collected materials about Trump.[26] Wood vouched for Steele’s professionalism and integrity.[27] In early December, McCain obtained a copy of the dossier from David J. Kramer, a former U.S. State Department official working at Arizona State University.[25] On 9 December 2016 McCain met personally with FBI Director James Comey to pass on the information.[26]

Compromised identity

On 11 January 2017, The Wall Street Journal revealed that Steele was the author of the controversial dossier about Trump, citing “people familiar with the matter.”[2] Although the dossier’s existence had been “common knowledge” among journalists for months at that point and had become public knowledge during the previous week, Steele’s name had not been revealed. The Telegraph asserted that Steele’s anonymity had been “fatally compromised” after CNN published his nationality.[19]

The Independent reported that Steele left his home in England several hours before his name was published as the author of the dossier, as he was fearful of retaliation by Russian authorities.[19] In contrast, The Washington Post reported that he left after he had been identified earlier in the day by the initial Wall Street Journal report.[28]

Christopher Burrows, director of Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd., said he would not “confirm or deny” that Orbis had produced the dossier.[29]

Steele’s relationship with the FBI is generally agreed to have ended at or by the public revelation of Steele’s identity.[30][24]

On 7 March 2017, as some members of the United States Congress were expressing interest in meeting with or hearing testimony from Steele, he reemerged after weeks in hiding, appearing publicly on camera and stating, “I’m really pleased to be back here working again at the Orbis’s offices in London today.”[31]

Disclosure and reactions

In early January 2017 a two-page summary of the Trump dossier was presented to President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump in meetings with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers.[32]

On 10 January 2017, BuzzFeed was the first media outlet to publish the full 35-page dossier. In publishing the Trump dossier, BuzzFeed stated that it had been unable to verify or corroborate the allegations.[33] The UK issued a DSMA notice on 10 January 2017, requesting that the media not release Steele’s identity,[34] although the BBC and other UK news media released the information in news stories the same day.[10] Trump vigorously denied the dossier’s allegations, calling it fake news during a press conference.[35]Vladimir Putin also dismissed the claims.[36]

Ynet, an Israeli online news site, reported that American intelligence advised Israeli intelligence officers to be cautious about sharing information with the incoming Trump administration, until the possibility of Russian influence over Trump, suggested by Steele’s report, has been fully investigated.[37]

Former British ambassador to Russia, Sir Tony Brenton, read Steele’s report. Speaking on Sky News he said, “I’ve seen quite a lot of intelligence on Russia, and there are some things in it which look pretty shaky.” Brenton expressed some doubts due to discrepancies in how the dossier described aspects of the hacking activities, as well as Steele’s ability to penetrate the Kremlin and Russian security agencies, given that he is an outsider.[38]

On 15 March 2017, former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell raised questions about the dossier. He was concerned about the accuracy of the information, due to the approach taken by Steele to gather it. Steele gave money to intermediaries and the intermediaries paid the sources. Morell said, “Unless you know the sources, and unless you know how a particular source acquired a particular piece of information, you can’t judge the information — you just can’t.” Morell continues to believe that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 U.S.presidential election.[39]

Role in subsequent investigations

In the summer of 2017, two Republican staffers for the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence traveled to London to investigate the dossier, visiting the office of Steele’s attorney but not meeting with Steele.[40]

Steele reportedly revealed the identities of the sources used in the dossier to the FBI.[41] Investigators from Robert Mueller’sSpecial Counselinvestigation team met with Steele to interview him about the dossier’s claims.[42][43]

Legal action

In August 2017 lawyers for Russian internet entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev, who was mentioned in Steele’s dossier, demanded Steele give a deposition regarding the dossier, as part of a libel lawsuit against BuzzFeed News.[44][45][46] Steele objected to testifying but his objections were rejected by U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Mancusi Ungaro, who allowed the deposition to proceed.[47][48]

Senate Republicans’ referral for a criminal investigation[edit]

On January 5, 2018, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, joined by senior Republican member Lindsey Graham, issued a criminal referral regarding Steele to the Justice Department for it to investigate whether Steele had lied to the FBI about his interactions with the media regarding the contents of the dossier.[49][50][51] Because the referral is based on classified FBI documents, the context in which the Republican senators allege Steele to have lied is not publicly known.[51] Both Grassley and Graham declared that they were not alleging that Steele “had committed any crime. Rather, they had passed on the information for ‘further investigation only’.”[52]

The referral was met with skepticism from legal experts, as well as members of both parties on the Judiciary Committee.[50] Fusion GPS lawyer Joshua A. Levy said that the referral was just another effort to discredit the investigation into Russian interference in the election and that: “After a year of investigations into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, the only person Republicans seek to accuse of wrongdoing is one who reported on these matters to law enforcement in the first place.”[50] Veteran prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg called the referral “nonsense” because “the FBI doesn’t need any prompting from politicians to prosecute people who have lied to them.”[50] Another former federal prosecutor, Justin Dillon said that “it was too early to assume the letter was simply a political attack”. The senior Democrat on the Committee, Diane Feinstein, said that the referral was made without consultation of any Democrats on the committee. A Republican aide said that Grassley and Graham were “carrying water for the White House”, but that their actions didn’t reflect the views of the committee as a whole, and that other members were upset with Grassley over the matter.[50] Grassley implied that Steele’s conduct was equivalent to that of George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn, two Trump aides that pled guilty to lying to the FBI, commenting: “If the same actions have different outcomes, and those differences correspond to partisan political interests, then the public will naturally suspect that law enforcement decisions are not on the up-and-up.”[51]

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Steele

Carter Page

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Carter Page
Carter Page MSNBC June 2017 YouTube.png
Born Carter William Page
June 3, 1971 (age 46)
MinneapolisMinnesota, U.S.
Education United States Naval Academy(BS)
Georgetown University (MA)
New York University (MBA)
University of London (PhD)
Occupation Investment banker
foreign policy analyst
Political party Republican

Carter William Page (born June 3, 1971) is an American oil industry consultant and a former foreign-policy adviser to Donald Trump during his 2016 Presidential election campaign.[1] Page is the founder and managing partner of Global Energy Capital, a one-man investment fund and consulting firm specializing in the Russian and Central Asian oil and gas business.[2][3][4] He has been a focus of the 2017 Special Counsel investigation into links between Trump associates and Russian officials and Russian interference on behalf of Trump during the 2016 Presidential election.[2]

Life and career

Carter Page was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on June 3, 1971,[5] the son of Allan Robert Page and Rachel (Greenstein) Page.[6][7] His father was from Galway, New York, and his mother was from Minneapolis.[8] His father was a manager and executive with the Central Hudson Gas & Electric Company.[9] Page was raised in Poughkeepsie, New York, and graduated from Poughkeepsie’s Our Lady of Lourdes High School in 1989.[6]

Page graduated in 1993 from the United States Naval Academy; he was a Distinguished Graduate (top 10% of his class) and was chosen for the Navy’s Trident Scholar program, which gives selected officers the opportunity for independent academic research and study.[10][11][12] During his senior year at the Naval Academy, he worked as a researcher for the House Armed Services Committee.[13] He served in the Navy for five years, including a tour in western Morocco as an intelligence officer for a United Nations peacekeeping mission.[13] In 1994, he completed a master of arts degree in National Security Studies at Georgetown University.[13]

Education and business

After leaving the Navy, Page completed a fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations and in 2001 he received an MBA from New York University.[10][14] In 2000, he began work as an investment banker with Merrill Lynch in the firm’s London office, was a vice president in the company’s Moscow office,[3] and later served as COO for Merrill Lynch’s energy and power department in New York.[11] Page has stated that he worked on transactions involving Gazprom and other leading Russian energy companies. According to business people interviewed by Politico in 2016, Page’s work in Moscow was at a subordinate level, and he himself remained largely unknown to decision-makers.[3]

After leaving Merrill Lynch in 2008, Page founded his own investment fund, Global Energy Capital with partner James Richard and a former mid-level Gazprom executive, Sergei Yatsenko.[15][3] The fund operates out of a Manhattan co-working space shared with a booking agency for wedding bands, and as of late 2017, Page was the firm’s sole employee.[2] Other businesspeople working in the Russian energy sector said in 2016 that the fund had yet to actually realize a project.[2][3]

Page received his Ph.D. in 2012 from SOAS, University of London, where he was supervised by Shirin Akiner.[2][10] His doctoral thesis on the transition of Asian countries from communism to capitalism was rejected twice before ultimately being accepted by new examiners. One of his original examiners later said Page “knew next to nothing” about the subject matter and was unfamiliar with “basic concepts” such as Marxism and state capitalism.[16] He sought unsuccessfully to publish his doctoral thesis as a book; a reviewer described it as “very analytically confused, just throwing a lot of stuff out there without any real kind of argument.”[2] Page blamed these failures on anti-Russian and anti-American bias.[16] He later ran an international-affairs program at Bard College and taught a course on energy and politics at New York University.[17][18]

In more recent years Page has written columns in Global Policy Journal, a publication of Durham University in the UK.[3]

Foreign policy and alleged links to Russia

In 1998, Page joined the Eurasia Group, a strategy consulting firm, but left three months later. In 2017, Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer recalled on his Twitter feed that Page’s strong pro-Russian stance was “not a good fit” for the firm and that Page was its “most wackadoodle” alumnus.[19] Stephen Sestanovich later described Page’s foreign-policy views as having “an edgy Putinist resentment” and a sympathy to Russian leader Vladimir Putin‘s criticisms of the US.[2] Over time, Page became increasingly critical of US foreign policy toward Russia, and more supportive of Putin, with a US official describing Page as “a brazen apologist for anything Moscow did”.[4] Page is frequently quoted by Russian state television, where he is presented as a “famous American economist”.[3] In 2013, Russian intelligence operatives attempted to recruit Page, and one described him as enthusiastic about business opportunities in Russia but an “idiot”.[2][20] News accounts in 2017 indicated that because of these ties to Russia, Page had been the subject of a FISA warrant in 2014, at least two years earlier than was indicated in the stories concerning his role in the 2016 Presidential campaign of Donald Trump.[21][22]

Trump 2016 presidential campaign

Page served as a foreign-policy advisor to Donald Trump‘s 2016 Presidential campaign.[23] In September 2016, U.S. intelligence officials investigated alleged contacts between Page and Russian officials subject to U.S. sanctions, including Igor Sechin.[4] After news reports began to appear describing Page’s links to Russia and Putin’s government, Page stepped down from his role in the Trump campaign.[1][24]

Shortly after Page resigned from the Trump campaign, the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained a warrant from the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to surveil Page’s communications.[25] To issue the warrant, a federal judge concluded there was probable cause to believe that Page was a foreign agent knowingly engaging in clandestine intelligence for the Russian government. Page was the only American who was directly targeted with a FISA warrant in 2016 as part of the Russia probe. The 90-day warrant was repeatedly renewed.[26]

In January 2017, Page’s name appeared repeatedly in a leaked contract intelligence dossier containing unsubstantiated allegations of close interactions between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.[27][28][29][30] By the end of January 2017, Page was under investigation by the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. He has denied wrongdoing.[31] The Trump Administration has attempted to distance itself from Page, denying that he was in fact an “advisor” to Trump.[2]

In October 2017, Page said he would not cooperate with requests to appear before the Intelligence Committee and would assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.[32] He said this was because they were requesting documents dating back to 2010, and he did not want to be caught in a “perjury trap.” He expressed the wish to testify before the committee in an open setting.[33]

Testimony before the House Intelligence Committee

On November 2, 2017, Page testified to the U.S. House Intelligence Committee that he had informed Jeff SessionsCorey LewandowskiHope Hicks and other Trump campaign officials that he was traveling to Russia to give a speech in July 2016.[34][35][36]

Page testified that he had met with Russian government officials during this trip and had sent a post-meeting report via email to members of the Trump campaign.[37] He also indicated that campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis had asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement about his trip.[38] Elements of Page’s testimony contradicted prior claims by Trump, Sessions, and others in the Trump administration.[34][37][39][40] Lewandowski, who had previously denied knowing Page or meeting him during the campaign, said after Page’s testimony that his memory was refreshed and acknowledged that he had been aware of Page’s trip to Russia.[41]

Page also testified that after delivering a commencement speech at the New Economic School in Moscow, he spoke briefly with one of the people in attendance, Arkady Dvorkovich, a Deputy Prime Minister in Dmitry Medvedev‘s cabinet, contradicting his previous statements not to have spoken to anyone connected with the Russian government.[42] In addition, while Page denied a meeting with Igor Sechin, the president of state-run Russian oil conglomerate Rosneft as alleged in the Donald Trump–Russia dossier, he did say he met with Andrey Baranov, Rosneft’s head of investor relations.[43] The dossier alleges that Sechin offered Page the brokerage fee from the sale of up to 19 percent of Rosneft if he worked to roll back Magnitsky Act economic sanctions that had been imposed on Russia in 2012.[43][44][45] Page testified that he did not “directly” express support for lifting the sanctions during the meeting with Baranov, but that he might have mentioned the proposed Rosneft transaction.[43]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carter_Page

George Papadopoulos

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
George Papadopoulos
Papadopolous Mugshot.jpg

George Papadopoulos after he was arrested by the FBI at Dulles Airport
Born August 1987 (age 30)[1]
ChicagoIllinois, U.S.
Residence Ravenswood, Chicago, Illinois
Citizenship United States of America
Education Niles West High School
Alma mater

George Demetrios Papadopoulos[2] (born August 1987) is a former member of the foreign policy advisory panel to Donald Trump‘s 2016 presidential campaign. On October 5, 2017, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents about contacts he had with the Russian government in 2016 relating to U.S.-Russia relations and Trump’s campaign.

Early life and education

Papadopoulos was born in August 1987 at Swedish Covenant Hospital[1] in Chicago, Illinois,[3] to Greek immigrants[1][4] originally from Thessaloniki.[5] His father, Antonis was heavily involved in the local politics of the Greek-American community[5] and the former president of the Pan-Macedonian Union of the United States.[5] His mother, Kate, was born in Greece and listed her hometown on her son’s birth certificate as Worcester, Massachusetts.[2] For years he lived at a large house on the corner of a tree-lined street[2] in Lincolnwood, Illinois[1] and graduated from Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois, in 2005. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from DePaul University in 2009.[2][6] He says he speaks ArabicEnglishFrench and Greek.[3] He later went on to earn a MSc degree in security studies at the University College London.[2]

Early career

Papadopoulos was an unpaid intern at the Hudson Institute from 2011 to 2015 specializing in the eastern Mediterranean and later worked as a contract research assistant to a senior fellow at the institute.[4][7]

He describes himself as an “oil, gas, and policy consultant” on his LinkedIn page.[8] In 2014, Papadopoulos authored op-ed pieces in Israeli publications. In one, published in the Arutz Sheva, Papadopoulos argued that the U.S. should focus on its “stalwart allies” IsraelGreece, and Cyprus to “contain the newly emergent Russian fleet”; in another, published in Ha’aretz, he contended that Israel should exploit its natural gas resources in partnership with Cyprus and Greece rather than Turkey.[9] He directs an international energy center at the London Centre of International Law Practice.[10]

Beginning in December 2015, Papadopoulos served on the National Security and Foreign Policy Advisory Committee for Ben Carson‘s campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.[11] He left the Carson campaign in February 2016.[4] Following his indictment, he was described by HuffPost as “a little-known, little-qualified 30-year-old.”[12][13]

Involvement in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign

According to court records, Papadopoulos was recruited to join Trump’s foreign policy advisor team in early March 2016 by Sam Clovis. In a meeting on March 6, the official told him that one of the campaign’s foreign policy priorities was improved U.S.-Russia relations, though Clovis later denied having said that.[14] Donald Trump identified Papadopoulos as one of his campaign’s foreign policy advisors on March 21, 2016, in an interview with the editorial board of The Washington Post.[10] Trump said: “He’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy”.[4] At the time he was living in London, where he was approached by Joseph Mifsud, a professor with connections to high-ranking Russian officials.[15] Mifsud was a regular at meetings of the Valdai Discussion Club, an annual conference held in Sochi, Russia, attended by Vladimir Putin.[16] Mifsud told him the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” The two met on March 14 and 21, 2016. At the March 21 meeting Mifsud brought along a Russian woman, Olga Polonskaya, who posed as Putin’s niece.[17][18]

Papadopoulos sent emails concerning Putin to at least seven campaign officials. Clovis, as Trump national campaign co-chairman, encouraged Papadopoulos to fly to Russia to meet with agents of the Russian Foreign Ministry, after being told that Russia had “dirt” on Clinton it wanted to share with Trump’s campaign.[19][20][21][22] This occurred before there was public knowledge of the hack of Democratic National Committee and of John Podesta‘s emails, both of which U.S. intelligence agencies believe were carried out by Russia.[23]In May 2016, Papadopoulos told the top Australian diplomat to the United KingdomAlexander Downer, that Russia had “political dirt” on Hillary Clinton, leading the Federal Bureau of Investigation to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Donald Trump presidential campaign.[18][24]

Between March and September 2016, Papadopoulos made at least six requests for Trump or representatives of his campaign to meet in Russia with Russian politicians. In May, campaign chairman Paul Manafort forwarded one such request to his deputy Rick Gates, saying “We need someone to communicate that [Trump] is not doing these trips. It should be someone low-level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.” Gates delegated the task to the campaign’s correspondence coordinator, referring to him as “the person responding to all mail of non-importance.”[20][25][26]

In an interview about Russia–United States relations with Interfax in September 2016, Papadopoulos said that Barack Obama had failed to follow through on his promises to cooperate with Russia, and asserted that the U.S. had made insufficient joint efforts with Russia against terrorism.[27] As foreign policy advisor during Trump’s campaign, Papadopoulos helped set up a New York meeting between Trump and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Egyptian head of state.[18] On January 20, 2017, just hours before Trump was going to be inaugurated, Papadopoulos and incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus met with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos.[28] Just after Trump became President, Papadopoulos visited Israel and told settlers in the West Bank that Trump supported their settlements.[9][29]

Senator Richard Burr, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, said in October 2017 that the panel was interested in Papadopoulos because he had sent e-mails attempting to set up meetings between Trump and Putin.[30] The recipients of emails about outreach to the Russian government reportedly were Clovis, Corey Lewandowski, Manafort, Gates, representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ivan Timofeev, and others.[19]

Arrest and guilty plea

The Statement of Facts of Guilt, filed October 5, 2017, and unsealed October 30, 2017, showing the facts admitted by Papadopoulos as part of his guilty plea

After being interviewed by FBI agents on January 27, 2017, Papadopoulos deactivated his Facebook account, which contained correspondences with Russians, and created a new one.[31] Papadopoulos was arrested at Washington-Dulles International Airport on July 27, 2017, and he has since been cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation.[21] On October 5, 2017, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to making false statements to FBI agents relating to contacts he had with agents of the Russian government while working for the Trump campaign.[32][33] The guilty plea was part of a plea bargainreflecting his cooperation with the Mueller investigation.[21] Papadopoulos’s arrest and guilty plea became public on October 30, 2017, when court documents showing the guilty plea were unsealed.[34] As of January 17, 2018, Papadopoulos had not been sentenced.[35][importance?]

Following his guilty plea, Trump belittled Papadopoulos as a “young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar” and said few people in his campaign had heard about Papadopoulos.[36][37]FactCheck.org and PolitiFact, among others, noted that during the campaign, Trump named Papadopoulos as one of his five foreign policy advisers—alongside Keith KelloggCarter PageWalid Phares and Joseph Schmitz—and described Papadopoulos as an “excellent guy”.[38][39][40][41] From March to August 2016, Papadopoulos “was identified as having contacts with senior members of the Trump campaign on at least a dozen occasions.”[40] On January 22, 2017, shortly following Trump’s inauguration as President, Papadopoulos met with the head of Israel’s Shomron Regional CouncilYossi Dagan, in Washington D.C. Papadopoulos was reported to have communicated to Dagan the Trump administration’s desire to work closely with Israel on the question of settlements.[42]

Papadopoulos’s fiancée said his job on the campaign was to set up meetings with foreign leaders and that he had been in regular contact with high-ranking campaign officials.[43] She later predicted Papadopoulos’s role in the Russia investigation would be similar to that of John Dean of the Watergate scandal.[44]

Personal life

As of October 2017, Papadopoulos had lived for the past few years with his mother and brother in the Ravenswood neighborhood of ChicagoIllinois.[1]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Papadopoulos

United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
(FISC)
Location Washington, D.C.
Appeals to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review
Established 1978
Authorized by 50 U.S.C. §§ 18031805
Composition method Chief Justice appointment
Judges assigned 11
Judge term length 7 years
Chief Judge Rosemary M. Collyer
Official court website

The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC, also called the FISA Court) is a U.S. federal court established and authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to oversee requests for surveillance warrants against foreign spies inside the United States by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Such requests are made most often by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Congress created FISA and its court as a result of the recommendations by the U.S. Senate‘s Church Committee.[1] In 2013, The New York Times said “it has quietly become almost a parallel Supreme Court.”[2]

From its opening in 1978 until 2009, the court was housed on the sixth floor of the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building.[3][4] Since 2009, the court has been relocated to the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in Washington, D.C.[3][4]

In 2013, a top-secret order issued by the court, which was later leaked to the media from documents culled by Edward Snowden, required a subsidiary of Verizon to provide a daily, on-going feed of all call detail records—including those for domestic calls—to the NSA.

FISA warrants

Each application for one of these surveillance warrants (called a FISA warrant) is made before an individual judge of the court. The court may allow third parties to submit briefs as amici curiae. When the U.S. Attorney General determines that an emergency exists, the Attorney General may authorize the emergency employment of electronic surveillance before obtaining the necessary authorization from the FISC, if the Attorney General or their designee notifies a judge of the court at the time of authorization and applies for a warrant as soon as practicable but not more than seven days after authorization of such surveillance, as required by 50 U.S.C. § 1805.

If an application is denied by one judge of the court, the federal government is not allowed to make the same application to a different judge of the court, but may appeal to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. Such appeals are rare: the first appeal from the FISC to the Court of Review was made in 2002 (In re Sealed Case No. 02-001), 24 years after the founding of the court.

Also rare is for FISA warrant requests to be turned down. During the 25 years from 1979 to 2004, 18,742 warrants were granted, while only four were rejected. Fewer than 200 requests had to be modified before being accepted, almost all of them in 2003 and 2004. The four rejected requests were all from 2003, and all four were partially granted after being submitted for reconsideration by the government. Of the requests that had to be modified, few were before the year 2000. During the next eight years, from 2004 to 2012, there were over 15,100 additional warrants granted, and another seven being rejected. Over the entire 33-year period, the FISA court granted 33,942 warrants, with only 12 denials – a rejection rate of 0.03 percent of the total requests.[5] This does not include the number of warrants that were modified by the FISA court.[6]

FISA warrant requests for electronic surveillance[a][7]
Year # Requests
submitted
# Requests
approved
# Requests
modified
# Requests
denied
1979[8] 199 207 0 0
1980 319 322 1 0
1981 431 433 0 0
1982 473 475 0 0
1983 549 549 0 0
1984 635 635 0 0
1985 587 587 0 0
1986 573 573 0 0
1987 512 512 0 0
1988 534 534 0 0
1989 546 546 0 0
1990 595 595 0 0
1991 593 593 0 0
1992 484 484 0 0
1993 509 509 0 0
1994 576 576 0 0
1995 697 697 0 0
1996 839 839 0 0
1997 749 748 0 0
1998 796 796 0 0
1999 886 880 0 0
2000 1,005 1,012 1 0
2001 932 934 4 0
2002 1,228 1,228  2  0 [b] 0
2003 1,727 1,724 79 [c]
2004 1,758 1,754 94 0
2005 2,074 2,072 61 0
2006 2,181 2,176 73 1
2007 2,371 2,370 86 4
2008 2,082 2,083 2 1
2009 1,329 1,320 14 2
2010 1,511 1,506 14 0
2011 1,676 1,674 30 0
2012 1,789 1,788 40 0
2013 1,588 1,588 34 0
TOTALS 35,529 35,434 533 12

Notes:

  1. Jump up^ Excludes physical searches
  2. Jump up^ Two modifications that were later reversed by the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, in a case entitled In re Sealed Case No. 02-001.
  3. Jump up^ All four were later partially granted, after being submitted for reconsideration by the government.

On May 17, 2002, the court rebuffed Attorney General John Ashcroft, releasing an opinion that alleged that the FBI and Justice Department officials had “supplied erroneous information to the court” in more than 75 applications for search warrants and wiretaps, including one signed by FBI Director Louis J. Freeh.[9] Whether this rejection was related to the court starting to require modification of significantly more requests in 2003 is unknown.

On December 16, 2005, The New York Times reported that the Bush administration had been conducting surveillance against U.S. citizens without the knowledge of the court since 2002.[10] On December 20, 2005, Judge James Robertson resigned his position with the court, apparently in protest of the secret surveillance,[11] and later, in the wake of the Snowden leaks of 2013, criticized the court-sanctioned expansion of the scope of government surveillance and its being allowed to craft a secret body of law.[12] The government’s apparent circumvention of the court started prior to the increase in court-ordered modifications to warrant requests.

In 2011, the Obama administration secretly won permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency’s use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases. The searches take place under a surveillance program Congress authorized in 2008 under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that law, the target must be a foreigner “reasonably believed” to be outside the United States, and the court must approve the targeting procedures in an order good for one year. But a warrant for each target would thus no longer be required. That means that communications with Americans could be picked up without a court first determining that there is probable cause that the people they were talking to were terrorists, spies or “foreign powers”. The FISC also extended the length of time that the NSA is allowed to retain intercepted U.S. communications from five years to six years with an extension possible for foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purposes. Both measures were done without public debate or any specific authority from Congress.[13]

Secrecy

Because of the sensitive nature of its business, the court is a “secret court” – its hearings are closed to the public. While records of the proceedings are kept, they also are unavailable to the public, although copies of some records with classified information redacted have been made public. Due to the classified nature of its proceedings, usually only attorneys licensed to practice in front of the US government are permitted to appear before the court. Because of the nature of the matters heard before it, court hearings may need to take place at any time of day or night, weekdays or weekends; thus, at least one judge must be “on call” at all times to hear evidence and decide whether or not to issue a warrant.

A heavily redacted version of a 2008 appeal by Yahoo![14] of an order issued with respect to NSA’s PRISM program had been published for the edification of other potential appellants. The identity of the appellant was declassified in June 2013.[15]

Criticism

There has been growing criticism of the court since the September 11, 2001 attacks. This is partly because the court sits ex parte – in other words, in the absence of anyone but the judge and the government present at the hearings.[4] This, combined with the minimal number of requests that are rejected by the court has led experts to characterize it as a rubber stamp (former National Security Agency analyst Russ Tice called it a “kangaroo court with a rubber stamp”).[16] The accusation of being a “rubber stamp” was rejected by FISA Court president Reggie B. Walton who wrote in a letter to Senator Patrick J. Leahy: “The annual statistics provided to Congress by the Attorney General … – frequently cited to in press reports as a suggestion that the Court’s approval rate of application is over 99% – reflect only the number of final applications submitted to and acted on by the Court. These statistics do not reflect the fact that many applications are altered to prior or final submission or even withheld from final submission entirely, often after an indication that a judge would not approve them.”[17] He added: “There is a rigorous review process of applications submitted by the executive branch, spearheaded initially by five judicial branch lawyers who are national security experts and then by the judges, to ensure that the court’s authorizations comport with what the applicable statutes authorize.”[18] In a following letter Walton stated that the government had revamped 24.4% of its requests in the face of court questions and demands in time from July 1, 2013 to September 30, 2013.[19][20][21] This figure became available after Walton decided in the summer of 2013 that the FISC would begin keeping its own tally of how Justice Department warrant applications for electronic surveillance fared – and would track for the first time when the government withdrew or resubmitted those applications with changes.[21] Some requests are modified by the court but ultimately granted, while the percentage of denied requests is statistically negligible (11 denied requests out of around 34,000 granted in 35 years – equivalent to 0.03%).[7][16][22][23] The accusation that the FISC is a “rubber stamp” court was also rejected by Robert S. Litt (General Counsel of Office of the Director of National Intelligence): “When [the Government] prepares an application for [a section 215 order, it] first submit[s] to the [FISC] what’s called a “read copy”, which the court staff will review and comment on. [A]nd they will almost invariably come back with questions, concerns, problems that they see. And there is an iterative process back and forth between the Government and the [FISC] to take care of those concerns so that at the end of the day, we’re confident that we’re presenting something that the [FISC] will approve. That is hardly a rubber stamp. It’s rather extensive and serious judicial oversight of this process.”[24]

A 2003 Senate Judiciary Committee Interim Report on FBI Oversight in the 107th Congress by the Senate Judiciary Committee: FISA Implementation Failures cited the “unnecessary secrecy” of the court among its “most important conclusions”:

The secrecy of individual FISA cases is certainly necessary, but this secrecy has been extended to the most basic legal and procedural aspects of the FISA, which should not be secret. This unnecessary secrecy contributed to the deficiencies that have hamstrung the implementation of the FISA. Much more information, including all unclassified opinions and operating rules of the FISA Court and Court of Review, should be made public and/or provided to the Congress.[25]

Allegations of bias

In a July 2013 interview, Senator and privacy advocate Ron Wyden described the FISC warrant process as “the most one-sided legal process in the United States”. “I don’t know of any other legal system or court that really doesn’t highlight anything except one point of view”, he said. Later in the interview he said Congress should seek to “diversify some of the thinking on the court”.[26]

Elizabeth Gotein, a co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, has criticized the court as being too compromised to be an impartial tribunal that oversees the work of the NSA and other U.S. intelligence activities. Since the court meets in secret, hears only the arguments of the government prior to deciding a case, and its rulings cannot be appealed or even reviewed by the public, she has argued that: “Like any other group that meets in secret behind closed doors with only one constituency appearing before them, they’re subject to capture and bias.” [27]

A related bias of the court results from what critics such as Julian Sanchez, a scholar at the Cato Institute, have described as the near certainty of the polarization or groupthink of the judges of the court. Since all of the judges are appointed by the same person (the Chief Justice of the United States), as of 2013 nearly all currently serving judges are of the same political party (the Republican Party), hear no opposing testimony and feel no pressure from colleagues or the public to moderate their rulings, group polarization is almost a certainty. “There’s the real possibility that these judges become more extreme over time, even when they had only a mild bias to begin with”, Sanchez said.[27]

Appointment process

The court’s judges[28] are appointed solely by the Chief Justice of the United States without confirmation or oversight by the U.S. Congress.[29] This gives the chief justice the ability to appoint like-minded judges and create a court without diversity.[30][31] “The judges are hand-picked by someone who, through his votes on the Supreme Court, we have come to learn has a particular view on civil liberties and law enforcement”, Theodore Ruger, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, said with respect to Chief Justice John Roberts. “The way the FISA is set up, it gives him unchecked authority to put judges on the court who feel the same way he does.”[29] And Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas School of Law, added, “Since FISA was enacted in 1978, we’ve had three chief justices, and they have all been conservative Republicans, so I think one can worry that there is insufficient diversity.”[32] Since May 2014, however, four of the five judges appointed by Chief Justice Roberts to the FISA Court were appointed to their prior federal court positions by Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

There are some reform proposals. Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut proposed that each of the chief judges of the 12 major appeals courts select a district judge for the surveillance court; the chief justice would still pick the review panel that hears rare appeals of the court’s decisions, but six other Supreme Court justices would have to sign off. Another proposal authored by Representative Adam Schiff of California would give the president the power to nominate judges for the court, subject to Senate approval, while Representative Steve Cohen proposed that Congressional leaders pick eight of the court’s members.[33]

Judicial and public oversight

Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, has argued that, without having to seek the approval of the court (which he has said merely reviews certifications to ensure that they – and not the surveillance itself – comply with the various statutory requirements), the U.S. Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence can engage in sweeping programmatic surveillance for one year at a time.[34] There are procedures used by the NSA to target non-U.S. persons[35] and procedures used by the NSA to minimize data collection from U.S. persons.[36] These court-approved policies allow the NSA to do the following:[37][38]

  • keep data that could potentially contain details of U.S. persons for up to five years;
  • retain and make use of “inadvertently acquired” domestic communications if they contain usable intelligence, information on criminal activity, threat of harm to people or property, are encrypted, or are believed to contain any information relevant to cybersecurity;
  • preserve “foreign intelligence information” contained within attorney–client communications; and
  • access the content of communications gathered from “U.S. based machine[s]” or phone numbers in order to establish if targets are located in the U.S., for the purposes of ceasing further surveillance.

Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU’s deputy legal director, said in light of revelations that the government secured telephone records from Verizon and Internet data from some of the largest providers that safeguards that are supposed to be protecting individual privacy are not working.[18] Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice in New York, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that when courts make mistakes, the losing party has the right to appeal and the erroneous decision is reversed. “That process cannot happen when a secret court considers a case with only one party before it.”[18]

According to The Guardian, “The broad scope of the court orders, and the nature of the procedures set out in the documents, appear to clash with assurances from President Obama and senior intelligence officials that the NSA could not access Americans’ call or email information without warrants”.[37] Glenn Greenwald, who published details of the PRISM surveillance program, explained:

that this entire process is a fig leaf, “oversight” in name only. It offers no real safeguards. That’s because no court monitors what the NSA is actually doing when it claims to comply with the court-approved procedures. Once the Fisa court puts its approval stamp on the NSA’s procedures, there is no external judicial check on which targets end up being selected by the NSA analysts for eavesdropping. The only time individualized warrants are required is when the NSA is specifically targeting a US citizen or the communications are purely domestic. When it is time for the NSA to obtain Fisa court approval, the agency does not tell the court whose calls and emails it intends to intercept. It instead merely provides the general guidelines which it claims are used by its analysts to determine which individuals they can target, and the Fisa court judge then issues a simple order approving those guidelines. The court endorses a one-paragraph form order stating that the NSA’s process “‘contains all the required elements’ and that the revised NSA, FBI and CIA minimization procedures submitted with the amendment ‘are consistent with the requirements of [50 U.S.C. § 1881a(e)] and with the fourth amendment to the Constitution of the United States'”. As but one typical example, The Guardian has obtained an August 19, 2010, Fisa court approval from Judge John D. Bates which does nothing more than recite the statutory language in approving the NSA’s guidelines.

Once the NSA has this court approval, it can then target anyone chosen by their analysts, and can even order telecoms and internet companies to turn over to them the emails, chats and calls of those they target. The Fisa court plays no role whatsoever in reviewing whether the procedures it approved are actually complied with when the NSA starts eavesdropping on calls and reading people’s emails. The guidelines submitted by the NSA to the Fisa court demonstrate how much discretion the agency has in choosing who will be targeted. … The only oversight for monitoring whether there is abuse comes from the executive branch itself: from the DOJ and Director of National Intelligence, which conduct “periodic reviews … to evaluate the implementation of the procedure”. At a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday afternoon, deputy attorney general James Cole testified that every 30 days, the Fisa court is merely given an “aggregate number” of database searches on US domestic phone records. … The decisions about who has their emails and telephone calls intercepted by the NSA is made by the NSA itself, not by the Fisa court, except where the NSA itself concludes the person is a US citizen and/or the communication is exclusively domestic. But even in such cases, the NSA often ends up intercepting those communications of Americans without individualized warrants, and all of this is left to the discretion of the NSA analysts with no real judicial oversight.[39]

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole and NSA Deputy Director John C. Inglis cited the court’s oversight in defending the constitutionality of the NSA’s surveillance activities before during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee in July 2013. Representative Jerrold Nadler, challenged Cole’s defense of the program’s constitutionality, and he said the secrecy in which the court functioned negated the validity of its review. “The fact that a secret court unaccountable to public knowledge of what it’s doing … may join you in misusing or abusing the statutes is of no comfort whatsoever”, Nadler said.[40] Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University, said the secrecy that comes along with national security makes it difficult to evaluate how the administration carries out the wide authority Congress has given it. “FISA court judges hear all of this and they think it’s legal,” Kerr said. “What we really don’t know, though, are what the FISA court’s opinions say.”[18]

Secret law

In July 2013, The New York Times published disclosures from anonymous government whistleblowers of secret law written by the court holding that vast collections of data on all Americans (even those not connected in any way to foreign enemies) amassed by the NSA do not violate the warrant requirements of Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It reported that anyone suspected of being involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage or cyber-attacks, according to the court, may be considered a legitimate target for warrantless surveillance. Acting like a parallel U.S. Supreme Court, the court greatly broadened the “special-needs” exception to do so.[2]

The newspaper reported that in “more than a dozen classified rulings, the nation’s surveillance court has created a secret body of law giving the National Security Agency the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans”.[2][a] It also wrote, with respect to the court:

In one of the court’s most important decisions, the judges have expanded the use in terrorism cases of a legal principle known as the ‘special needs’ doctrine and carved out an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant for searches and seizures … The special needs doctrine was originally established in 1989 by the Supreme Court in a ruling allowing the drug testing of railway workers, finding that a minimal intrusion on privacy was justified by the government’s need to combat an overriding public danger. Applying that concept more broadly, the FISA judges have ruled that the N.S.A.’s collection and examination of Americans’ communications data to track possible terrorists does not run afoul of the Fourth Amendment, the officials said. That legal interpretation is significant, several outside legal experts said, because it uses a relatively narrow area of the law – used to justify airport screenings, for instance, or drunken-driving checkpoints – and applies it much more broadly, in secret, to the wholesale collection of communications in pursuit of terrorism suspects.[2]

The “special-needs” doctrine is an exemption to the Fourth Amendment’s Warrants Clause which commands that “no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be and seized”. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized an exemption to the Warrants Clause “outside the foreign intelligence context, in so-called ‘special-needs’ cases. In those cases, the Court excused compliance with the Warrant Clause when the purpose behind the governmental action went beyond routine law enforcement and insisting upon a warrant would materially interfere with the accomplishment of that purpose. See, Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646, 653 (1995) (upholding drug testing of highschool athletes and explaining that the exception to the warrant requirement applied “when special needs, beyond the normal need for law enforcement, make the warrant and probable-cause requirement[s] impracticable (quoting Griffin v. Wisconsin, 483 U.S. 868, 873 (1987))); Skinner v. Ry. Labor Execs. Ass’n, 489 U.S. 602, 620 (1989) (upholding regulations instituting drug and alcohol testing of railroad workers for safety reasons); cf. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 23-24 (1968) (upholding pat-frisk for weapons to protect officer safety during investigatory stop)”.[41] The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review concluded on August 22, 2008, in the case In re Directives [redacted text] Pursuant to Section 105B of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, that the “special-needs” doctrine applied by analogy to justify a foreign intelligence exception to the warrant requirement for surveillance undertaken for national security purposes and directed at a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power reasonably believed to be located outside the U.S.[41][42][43][44]

James Robertson – a former judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who, in 2004, ruled against the Bush administration in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case, and also served on the FISC for three years between 2002 and 2005 – said he was “frankly stunned” by the newspaper’s report that court rulings had created a new body of law broadening the ability of the NSA to use its surveillance programs to target not only terrorists but suspects in cases involving espionage, cyberattacks and weapons of mass destruction.[45] Geoffrey R. Stone, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago, said he was troubled by the idea that the court is creating a significant body of law without hearing from anyone outside the government, forgoing the adversarial system that is a staple of the American justice system. He said, “That whole notion is missing in this process”.[2]

The court concluded that mass collection of telephone metadata (including the time of phone calls and numbers dialed) does not violate the Fourth Amendment as long as the government establishes a valid reason under national security regulations before taking the next step of actually examining the contents of an American’s communications. This concept is rooted partly in the special needs doctrine. “The basic idea is that it’s O.K. to create this huge pond of data”, an unnamed U.S. official said, “but you have to establish a reason to stick your pole in the water and start fishing”.[2] Under the new procedures passed by the U.S. Congress in the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, even the collection of metadata must be considered “relevant” to a terrorism investigation or other intelligence activities. The court has indicated that while individual pieces of data may not appear “relevant” to a terrorism investigation, the total picture that the bits of data create may in fact be relevant, according to U.S. officials with knowledge of the decisions.[2]

A secret ruling made by the court that redefined the single word “relevant” enabled the NSA to gather phone data on millions of Americans. In classified orders starting in the mid-2000s, the court accepted that “relevant” could be broadened to permit an entire database of records on millions of people, in contrast to a more conservative interpretation widely applied in criminal cases, in which only some of those records would likely be allowed.[46] Under the Patriot Act, the Federal Bureau of Investigation can require businesses to hand over “tangible things”, including “records”, as long as the FBI shows it is reasonable to believe the things are “relevant to an authorized investigation” into international terrorism or foreign intelligence activities. The history of the word “relevant” is key to understanding that passage. The Supreme Court in 1991 said things are “relevant” if there is a “reasonable possibility” that they will produce information related to the subject of the investigation. In criminal cases, courts previously have found that very large sets of information did not meet the relevance standard because significant portions – innocent people’s information – would not be pertinent. But the court has developed separate precedents, centered on the idea that investigations to prevent national-security threats are different from ordinary criminal cases. The court’s rulings on such matters are classified and almost impossible to challenge because of the secret nature of the proceedings. According to the court, the special nature of national-security and terrorism-prevention cases means “relevant” can have a broader meaning for those investigations, say people familiar with the rulings.[46]

People familiar with the system that uses phone records in investigations have said that the court’s novel legal theories allow the system to include bulk phone records, as long as there are privacy safeguards to limit searches. NSA analysts may query the database only “when there is a reasonable suspicion, based on specific facts, that the particular basis for the query is associated with a foreign terrorist organization”, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.[46] The NSA database includes data about people’s phone calls – numbers dialed, how long a call lasted – but not the actual conversations. According to Supreme Court rulings, a phone call’s content is covered by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which restricts unreasonable searches, but the other types of data are not.[46]

“Relevant” has long been a broad standard, but the way the court is interpreting it, to mean, in effect, “everything”, is new, said Mark Eckenwiler, a lawyer who until December 2012 was the Justice Department’s primary authority on federal criminal surveillance law. “I think it’s a stretch” of previous federal legal interpretations, said Eckenwiler. If a federal attorney “served a grand-jury subpoena for such a broad class of records in a criminal investigation, he or she would be laughed out of court”.[46] Given the traditional legal definition of relevant, Timothy Edgar, a former top privacy lawyer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Council in the Bush and Obama administrations, noted it is “a fair point” to say that someone reading the law might believe it refers to “individualized requests” or “requests in small batches, rather than in bulk database form”. From that standpoint, Edgar said, the reinterpretation of relevant amounts to “secret law”.[46]

Controversies

2013 NSA controversy

In June 2013, a copy of a top-secret warrant, issued by the court on April 25, 2013, was leaked to London’s The Guardian newspaper by NSA contractor Edward Snowden.[47][48][49][50][51] That warrant orders Verizon Business Network Services to provide a daily feed to the NSA containing “telephony metadata” – comprehensive call detail records, including location data[52] – about all calls in its system, including those that occur “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls”.[53] The Obama administration published on July 31, 2013[54][55] a FISA Court ruling supporting an earlier order requiring a Verizon subsidiary to turn over all of its customers’ phone logs for a three-month period, with rules that must be followed when accessing the data.[56]

The document leaked to The Guardian acted as a “smoking gun” and sparked a public outcry of criticism and complaints[47][57][58] that the court exceeded its authority and violated the Fourth Amendment by issuing general warrants.[59] The Washington Post then reported that it knew of other orders, and that the court had been issuing such orders, to all telecommunication companies, every three months since May 24, 2006.[60]

Since the telephone metadata program[61] was revealed, the intelligence community, some members of Congress, and the Obama administration have defended its legality and use. Most of these defenses involve the 1979 Supreme Court decision Smith v. Marylandwhich established that people do not have a “reasonable expectation” of privacy for electronic metadata held by third parties like a cellphone provider.[62] That data is not considered “content”, theoretically giving law enforcement more flexibility in collecting it.[63]

On July 19, 2013, the court renewed the permission for the NSA to collect Verizon customer records en masse.[64][65] The U.S. government was relying on a part of American case law known as the “third-party doctrine”. This notion said that when a person has voluntarily disclosed information to a third party — in this case, the telephony metadata — the customer no longer has a reasonable expectation of privacy over the numbers dialed nor their duration. Therefore, this doctrine argued, such metadata can be accessed by law enforcement with essentially no problem.[66] The content of communications are, however, subject to the Fourth Amendment. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held in October 2011, citing multiple Supreme Court precedents, that the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to the contents of all communications, whatever the means, because “a person’s private communications are akin to personal papers”.[67]

Former FISC judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who provided the legal foundation for the NSA amassing a database of all Americans’ phone records, told associates in the summer of 2013 that she wanted her legal argument out.[68] Rulings for the plaintiff in cases brought by the ACLU on September 10 and 12, 2013, prompted James Clapper to concede that the government had overreached in its covert surveillance under part 215 of FISA and that the Act would likely be amended to reflect Congressional concern.[69]

The American Civil Liberties Union, a customer of Verizon, asked on November 22, 2013 a federal district court in Lower Manhattan, New York to end the NSA phone call data collection program. The ACLU argued that the program violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of privacy and information as well as exceeding the scope of its authorizing legislation, Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The U.S. government countered that the program is constitutional and that Congress was fully informed when it authorized and reauthorized Section 215. Moreover, a government lawyer said, the ACLU has no standing to bring the case because it cannot prove that its members have been harmed by the NSA’s use of the data.[70]

2016 presidential election controversy

In November 2016, Louise Mensch reported on the news website Heat Street that, after an initial June 2016 FBI request was denied, the FISA court had granted a more narrowly-focused October request from the FBI “to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia”.[71] On 12 January 2017, BBC journalist Paul Wood reported that, in response to an April 2016 tip from a foreign intelligence agency to the CIA about “money from the Kremlin going into the US presidential campaign”, a joint taskforce had been established including representatives of the FBI, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Justice, the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency; and in June 2016 lawyers from the Department of Justice had applied to the FISA court for “permission to intercept the electronic records from two Russian banks”. According to Wood, this application was rejected, as was a more narrowly focussed request in July, and the order was finally granted by a different FISA judge on 15 October, three weeks before the presidential election.[72] On January 19 the New York Times reported that one of its sources had claimed “intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House”.[73]

On 13 March, the Senate Intelligence Committee demanded that the Trump administration provide evidence to support the US president’s claim,[74] and on 16 March the committee reported that they had seen no evidence to support Trump’s accusation that the Obama administration tapped his phones during the 2016 presidential campaign.[75]

On Fox News on March 14, commentator Andrew Napolitano said, “Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. … He used GCHQ. What is that? It’s the initials for the British intelligence spying agency. Simply by saying to them, ‘The president needs transcripts of conversations involving candidate Trump’s conversations’ he’s able to get it and there’s no American fingerprints on this.” Two days later, on March 16, White House press spokesperson, Sean Spicer, read this claim to the press. A GCHQ spokesman responded: “Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”[76] On March 17, the US made a formal apology to Britain for the accusation.[77]

On April 11, the Washington Post reported that the FBI had been granted a FISA warrant in the summer of 2016 to monitor then Trump adviser Carter Page.[78] According to the report, “The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.” The report also states that the warrant has been renewed multiple times since its first issue.

Composition

When the court was founded, it was composed of seven federal district judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States, each serving a seven-year term, with one judge being appointed each year. In 2001, the USA PATRIOT Act expanded the court from seven to eleven judges, and required that at least three of the Court’s judges live within twenty miles (32 km) of the District of Columbia. No judge may be appointed to this court more than once, and no judge may be appointed to both the Court of Review and the FISA court.

As of 2017, Chief Justice John Roberts has appointed all of the current judges, four of whom were nominated to their District Court judgeships by a Democratic President.[2]

Membership[edit]

(as of 19 May 2017)

Judge Judicial district Date appointed Term expiry Reference
Rosemary Collyer District of Columbia March 8, 2013 March 7, 2020 [79]
May 19, 2016
Presiding
Jeb Boasberg District of Columbia May 19, 2014 May 18, 2021 [79][80]
Rudolph Contreras District of Columbia May 19, 2016 May 18, 2023 [81]
Anne Conway Middle District of Florida May 19, 2016 May 18, 2023 [81]
Raymond Dearie Eastern District of New York July 2, 2012 July 1, 2023 [79]
Claire Eagan Northern District of Oklahoma February 13, 2013 May 18, 2019 [79]
James Jones Western District of Virginia May 19, 2015 May 18, 2022 [82]
Robert Kugler District of New Jersey May 19, 2017 May 18, 2024 [83]
Michael Mosman District of Oregon May 4, 2013 May 3, 2020 [79]
Thomas Russell Western District of Kentucky May 19, 2015 May 18, 2022 [82]
Dennis Saylor District of Massachusetts May 19, 2011 May 18, 2018 [79]

Former members[edit]

[hide]Judge Judicial district Date appointed Term expiry Ref
Sidney Aronovitz Southern District of Florida June 8, 1989 May 18, 1992 [84]
Harold Baker Central District of Illinois May 19, 1998 May 18, 2005 [84]
John Bates District of Columbia February 22, 2006 February 21, 2013 [84]
May 19, 2009
Presiding
Dee Benson District of Utah April 8, 2004 April 7, 2011 [84]
Dudley Bonsal Southern District of New York December 2, 1981 May 18, 1984 [84]
Robert Broomfield District of Arizona October 1, 2002 May 18, 2009 [84]
Stanley Brotman District of New Jersey July 17, 1997 May 18, 2004 [84]
Albert Bryan Eastern District of Virginia January 1, 1979 January 1, 1986 [84]
James Cacheris Eastern District of Virginia September 10, 1993 May 18, 2000 [84]
James Carr Northern District of Ohio May 19, 2002 May 18, 2008 [84]
Earl Carroll District of Arizona February 2, 1993 May 18, 1999 [84]
Jennifer Coffman Eastern District of Kentucky May 19, 2011 January 8, 2013 [84]
John Conway District of New Mexico May 19, 2002 October 30, 2003 [84]
Conrad Cyr District of Maine May 19, 1987 November 20, 1989 [84]
Frederick Daugherty Northern District of Oklahoma May 19, 1981 May 18, 1988 [84]
Michael Davis District of Minnesota May 19, 1999 May 18, 2006 [84]
Edward Devitt District of Minnesota January 11, 1985 November 10, 1992 [84]
Martin Feldman Eastern District of Louisiana May 19, 2010 May 18, 2017 [79]
Frank Freedman District of Massachusetts May 30, 1990 May 18, 1994 [84]
Nathaniel Gorton District of Massachusetts May 19, 2001 May 18, 2008 [84]
Joyce Green District of Columbia May 19, 1988 May 18, 1995 [84]
May 19, 1990
Presiding
George Hart District of Columbia May 19, 1979
Presiding
May 18, 1982 [84]
Claude Hilton Eastern District of Virginia May 19, 2000 May 18, 2007 [84]
Thomas Hogan District of Columbia May 19, 2009 May 18, 2016 [79][85]
May 19, 2014
Presiding
Malcolm Howard Eastern District of North Carolina May 19, 2005 January 8, 2012 [84]
George Kazen Southern District of Texas July 15, 2003 May 18, 2010 [84]
John Keenan Southern District of New York July 24, 1994 May 18, 2001 [84]
Colleen Kollar-Kotelly District of Columbia May 19, 2002
Presiding
May 18, 2009 [84]
Frederick Lacey District of New Jersey May 19, 1979 May 18, 1985 [84]
Royce Lamberth District of Columbia May 19, 1995
Presiding
May 18, 2002 [84]
Thomas MacBride Eastern District of California May 19, 1979 May 18, 1980 [84]
Lloyd MacMahon Southern District of New York July 5, 1985 April 8, 1989 [84]
Frank McGarr Northern District of Illinois May 19, 1979 May 18, 1983 [84]
Mary McLaughlin Eastern District of Pennsylvania May 19, 2008 May 18, 2015 [79]
James Meredith Eastern District of Missouri May 19, 1979 May 18, 1981 [84]
Wendell Miles Western District of Michigan September 21, 1989 May 18, 1996 [84]
Herbert Murray District of Maryland May 19, 1986 May 18, 1993 [84]
James Noland Southern District of Indiana May 19, 1983 May 18, 1990 [84]
May 19, 1988
Presiding
William O’Kelley Northern District of Georgia May 19, 1980 May 18, 1987 [84]
Lawrence Pierce District of Columbia May 19, 1979 January 1, 1981 [84]
James Robertson District of Columbia May 19, 2002 December 19, 2008 [84]
Charles Schwartz Eastern District of Louisiana August 5, 1992 May 18, 1999 [84]
Frederick Scullin Northern District of New York May 19, 2004 January 8, 2011 [84]
John Smith District of Columbia May 19, 1982
Presiding
May 18, 1988 [84]
William Stafford Northern District of Florida May 19, 1996 May 18, 2003 [84]
Ralph Thompson Western District of Oklahoma June 11, 1990 May 18, 1997 [84]
Roger Vinson Northern District of Florida May 4, 2006 May 3, 2013 [84]
Reggie Walton District of Columbia May 19, 2007 May 18, 2014 [86]
February 22, 2013
Presiding
Susan Webber Wright Eastern District of Arkansas May 19, 2009 May 18, 2016 [79]
James Zagel Northern District of Illinois May 19, 2008 May 18, 2015 [79]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Foreign_Intelligence_Surveillance_Court

 

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