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The Pronk Pops Show 970, September 22, 2017: Breaking Story 1: Rocket Man Kim Jong-Un Promises To Explode Hydrogen Bomb Over Pacific Ocean — Story 2: The Democratic and Republican Party Failure To Completely Repeal Obamacare Including Repealing The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and All Related Mandates, Regulations, Taxes, Spending and Subsidies — Obamacare Collapsing — Replace Obamacare With Free Enterprise Market Capitalism Health Insurance — Keep The Federal Government Out Of The Health Insurance and Health Care Business — Videos — Story 3: Obama’s Secret Surveillance Spy State Scandal — Misuse of Intelligence Community For Political Purposes — Gross Abuse of Power and Political Conspiracy — Violation of Fourth Amendment — Videos —

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Breaking Story 1: Rocket Man Kim Jong-Un Promises To Explode Hydrogen Bomb Over Pacific Ocean —

North Korea Threatens Nuclear Test in the Pacific Ocean

What could happen if NKorea tests hydrogen bomb over ocean?

Kim Jong-un makes unprecedented statement at Trump as N. Korea suggests future …

Panel on Kim Jong Un Calls President Trump ‘Dotard’ and ‘Frightened Dog’ #DonaldTrump #NorthKorea

“Rocket Man” : North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Calls President Trump ‘a Frightened Dog’ and ‘Dotard’

Putin warns US, North Korea on verge of conflict

Hydrogen Bomb vs. Atomic Bomb: What’s The Difference?

North Korea nuclear test: Hydrogen bomb ‘missile-ready’ – BBC News

Fareed Zakaria on North Korea hints at detonating H-Bomb in Pacific. #Breaking #FareedZakaria

LGM-30 Minuteman Launch – ICBM

Why Is It So Hard to Build an ICBM?

Why North Korea Can’t Build An ICBM (yet)

 

People in Pyongyang, North Korea, watched a television broadcast on Friday of Kim Jong-un’s response to President Trump’s speech at the United Nations. CreditEd Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has long cultivated an image of defiant belligerence, punctuating its propaganda and diplomacy with colorful threats, insults and bluster. But by addressing President Trump in a personal statement on Friday, the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has pushed his government’s brinkmanship to a new, potentially more perilous level.

In a statement written in the first person, published on the front pages of state newspapers and read on national television, Mr. Kim called Mr. Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” who had “denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world.”

Mr. Kim vowed to take the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.”

In a country where the leader is essentially portrayed as a god, Mr. Kim’s decision to respond personally to Mr. Trump’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly and pledge reprisals escalated the standoff over the North’s nuclear program in a way that neither he nor his predecessors had done before.

Though the statement made no mention of nuclear weapons, in the context of a political system built on a cult of personality, Mr. Kim’s intervention appeared to sharply reduce the possibility that his government might retreat or compromise, even in the face of war.

Mr. Kim condemned Mr. Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” North Korea if the United States is forced to defend itself, and he declared that it had “convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last.”

Mr. Ri could not have made such an alarming comment without approval from Mr. Kim, although some analysts question whether North Korea has the technology or political daring to conduct an atmospheric nuclear test, something the world has not seen for decades.

Mr. Trump responded on Friday by further personalizing the dispute. On Twitter, the president pronounced Mr. Kim to be “obviously a madman.”

North Korea has often issued statements in the names of its government and its People’s Army, and since taking power in late 2011, Mr. Kim has delivered an annual New Year’s Day speech. But Friday’s statement was the first by Mr. Kim directed openly at a foreign head of state. Mr. Kim’s father and grandfather, who ruled North Korea before him, never made such a statement, South Korean officials said.

In effect, Mr. Kim, whose cultlike leadership rests upon his perceived daring toward North Korea’s external enemies, has turned the nation’s standoff with the United States into a personal duel with Mr. Trump, analysts said.

The North Korean news media carried photographs of Mr. Kim sitting in his office and reading his statement, but his voice was not broadcast. On the country’s state-run Central TV, a female announcer read his statement.

“This is totally unprecedented,” said Paik Hak-soon, a longtime North Korea analyst at the Sejong Institute, a think tank outside Seoul, referring to Mr. Kim’s statement. “The way North Korea’s supreme leadership works, Kim Jong-un has to respond more assertively as its enemy gets more confrontational, like Trump has.

“There is no backing down in the North Korean rule book,” Mr. Paik said. “It’s the very core of their leadership identity and motive.”

Until now, Mr. Kim himself has appeared to refrain from personal attacks on the American president, even as Mr. Trump has called him a “maniac,” a “total nut job,” and, most recently, “Rocket Man.”

On Friday, Mr. Kim said he took Mr. Trump’s latest assault personally and accused him of making “the most ferocious declaration of a war in history.”

Mr. Kim also suggested Mr. Trump’s belligerent rhetoric signaled American weakness rather than resolve. “A frightened dog barks louder,” he said.

Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, said that Mr. Kim, faced with Mr. Trump’s threat of annihilation, could respond only with equal force.

“When Trump stood before the United Nations General Assembly and threatened to totally destroy his country, Kim Jong-un had to take that as the United States telling the world of its intention for possible military action,” Mr. Koh said. “He had to respond in kind, launching the same kind of verbal bombs.”

Analysts said that by putting his reputation on the line with his statement, Mr. Kim was now far more unlikely to stand down. Instead, his government was likely to conduct more nuclear and missile tests, they said.

“Trump shot himself in the foot with his unabashedly undiplomatic United Nations General Assembly speech,” said Lee Sung-yoon, a Korea expert at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. “By threatening to totally destroy North Korea, he created the impression around the world that it is actually the United States — instead of North Korea — that’s motivated by aggression. In effect, Trump gave Kim Jong-un a freebie for another major provocation. Kim will oblige, and claim that it was in ‘self-defense’ against Trump’s unnerving threats.”

Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, compared the Korean standoff to the October 1962 crisis over Soviet missiles in Cuba, urging the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, to convene the six parties that were previously involved in talks on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula — China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States — to discuss reducing fever-pitch tensions.

“We are in a cycle of escalation that leads to a very bad end,” Mr. Kimball said.

North Korea has conducted all of its six nuclear tests within deep underground tunnels to diminish the spread of radioactive materials, and has stepped up the pace of its missile tests. Some analysts fear that the next step might be for North Korea to try to prove that it can deliver a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile, no matter how dangerous and provocative that might be.

It has been 37 years since any nation tested a nuclear weapon in the planet’s atmosphere, reflecting the nearly universal opposition to such tests over fears of the effects of radioactive fallout on human health and the environment. The last atmospheric test took place in 1980, when China fired what experts believed to be a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile into a desert salt flat more than 1,300 miles west of Beijing.

Mr. Trump addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. CreditChang W. Lee/The New York Times

Shin Beom-chul, a security expert at the government-run Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul, said that even if North Korea wanted to conduct an atmospheric nuclear test in the Pacific, it did not have the ability to dispatch test-monitoring ships to the open ocean while the United States military was on the prowl.

Mr. Shin said North Korea probably would not risk the radioactive fallout and other grave dangers involved in a nuclear missile test. The country has yet to master the technologies needed to prevent the warhead at the tip of its long-range ballistic missile from burning up while re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, South Korean officials said.

“What if the nuclear missile goes wrong midflight and detonates over Japan? It would mean a nuclear war,” Mr. Shin said. “More likely, North Korea will graduate its provocations, as if moving on steppingstones.”

Analysts said North Korea had been escalating tensions in stages in what they called a “salami tactic,” as in slice by slice.

Kim Dong-yub, a defense analyst at the Seoul-based Institute for Far Eastern Studies of Kyungnam University, said that North Korea would probably try to disprove skeptics in the West over its ability to strike long-range targets by firing its Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile over Japan and farther into the Pacific — but without a nuclear payload.

Some analysts said the North Korean leader was acting more defensively than offensively, with his threats aimed at forcing the Trump administration to ease sanctions. On Thursday, Mr. Trump issued an executive order empowering his government to punish international banks and other entities that trade with North Korea.

But other analysts warned that North Korea’s determination to improve its nuclear capabilities — and act offensively — had long been underestimated.

“If we follow what North Korea has been doing, it will be almost certain that it will fire its missile sooner or later to demonstrate an ICBM range,” Mr. Kim, the Kyungnam University analyst, said. “I don’t think the missile will carry a nuclear warhead, but I can’t shake off the fear that it might, because North Korea has time and again carried things beyond my expectation.”

Story 2: Obamacare Collapsing– American People Be Damned — Democratic and Republican Parties Fail To Completely Repeal Obamacare Including Repealing Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and All Related Mandates, Regulations, Taxes, Spending and Subsidies — Replace Obamacare With Free Enterprise Market Capitalism Health Insurance — Keep The Federal Government Out Of The Health Insurance and Health Care Business — Videos

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Graham-Cassidy Will Probably Fail. McCain and Paul Announce No Votes

BREAKING NEWS: McCain kills Obamacare repeal for a second time and announces he’ll oppose his p…

Rand Paul a No Vote on Graham-Cassidy HC Bill. He Explains

RAND PAUL FULL ONE-ON-ONE EXPLOSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MARTHA MACCALLUM (9/18/2017)

Rand Paul Goes Off On Obamacare “Repeal”

Senator: Graham-Cassidy not an Obamacare repeal

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) On Latest Obamacare Effort: This Is Not Repeal – The Five

RAND PAUL FULL ONE-ON-ONE EXPLOSIVE INTERVIEW WITH NEIL CAVUTO (9/14/2017)

 

Paul: ‘I won’t be bribed or bullied’ on repeal vote

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) pushed back on Friday against pressure from President Trump to vote for a last-ditch GOP effort in the Senate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, saying that he “won’t be bribed or bullied.”

In an early-morning tweet, Trump warned Paul that if he failed to vote for Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy‘s (R-La.) health-care proposal, he would forever be known as “‘the Republican who saved ObamaCare.'”

But in a series of tweets following the president’s post, Paul contended that the Graham-Cassidy measure does not fulfill the GOP’s longtime promise to repeal the ACA, and ultimately keeps ObamaCare’s taxes and spending.

The Graham-Cassidy measure revives the GOP’s efforts to repeal and replace parts of the ACA after a slimmed-down repeal bill failed in July. It seeks to end ObamaCare’s insurance subsidies and the Medicaid expansion, and instead convert those pots of money to block grants for the states.

The new proposal needs at least 50 votes to pass the Senate with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Pence, and backers are scrambling to round up the votes before a Sept. 30 procedural deadline, after which the measure would need a filibuster-proof 60 votes.

The White House has thrown its weight behind the measure and Trump has tweeted his support for it in recent days, casting the bill as a new opportunity for the GOP to fulfill its seven-year promise to do away with ObamaCare.

So far, Paul is the only GOP senator who has indicated he will vote against the Graham-Cassidy proposal. But three others — Sens. Susan Collins(Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and John McCain (Ariz.) — are being closely watched.

The trio voted “no” on the “skinny” ObamaCare repeal bill in July leaving that bill one vote short of passing. All three remain undecided about the Graham-Cassidy proposal.

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/351865-paul-i-wont-be-bribed-or-bullied

3 red-flag provisions in the Graham-Cassidy health care bill

Posted September 21, 2017 08:36 AM

by Daniel Horowitz

Red flag storm warning

John-Kelly | Getty Images

Previously, I noted that while Graham-Cassidy does nothing to change the fundamentals of the current system of health care and medical insurance, it at least repeals the individual mandate, which will allow us to escape from the dumpster fire and potentially start a new system. But any “holding of the nose” to pass this bill should only be under the condition that the other provisions are not worse than the status quo. That’s the only way we can take “half a loaf rather than none” — or in this case, more like ten percent. That rationale breaks down if there are provisions that will make the system worse or further entrench Obamacare in current law.

Thus far, I have found three concerning provisions:

Protected class for insurance coverage

Page 13 of the bill stipulates that “a health insurance issuer may not vary premium rates based on an individual’s sex or membership in a protected class under the Constitution of the United States.”

Readers of Conservative Review are well aware that the radical king courts have already made foreign nationals and transgenders protected classes under the U.S. Constitution in many respects. Most certainly, once we codify such language into statute, there is no limit to what lower court judges and Anthony Kennedy will do to expand “constitutional” rights to all sorts of insurance coverage. They could use this provision to mandate coverage for illegal aliens. They could use this provision to carve out all sorts of coverage for homosexuals and for sex-change operations. Most certainly, it will give states trouble in cutting off subsidy funding for abortions.

This might possibly be worse than current law.

Forcing Texas and conservative states to expand government-run health care

Proponents of the bill are touting this system as an exercise in federalism because it devolves the subsidies and Medicaid expansion to the states in one giant pot. Some D.C. conservatives think it’s a good thing that red state that didn’t originally expand Medicaid will “get their fair share.” However, those who truly oppose Obamacare and understand free markets know that expanded Medicaid not only is costly and creates dependency but also distorts the market and inflates the cost of health care for everyone else. Furthermore, it hurts private practices because the programs pay hospital physicians more than private practice physicians. Medicaid expansion has been a boon for the hospital cartel and has destroyed any semblance of market-based health care.

Until now, we all celebrated the one silver lining of some red states not expanding Medicaid. Now, this bill brings this aspect of Obamacare, and its ensuing price inflation on the market, to the states that don’t currently have it. Worse, the bill (page 15) puts a gun to the heads of these states and says that if they want a waiver for even the few regulatory relief provisions offered in this bill, they must take and administer the federal Obamacare/Medicaid expansion grants.

Thus, to the extent a state can waive a regulation for an individual insurance contract, they must give subsidies to that individual — regardless of his status. He could be a millionaire!

As Chris Jacobs, noted health policy expert at the Texas Public Policy Institute, wrote, “Moreover, some conservatives may view provisions requiring anyone to whom a waiver applies to receive federal grant funding as the epitome of moral hazard—ensuring that individuals who go through health underwriting will receive federal subsidies, no matter their level of wealth or personal circumstances.” He further observed, “By requiring states to subsidize bad actors—for instance, an individual making $250,000 who knowingly went without health coverage for years—with federal taxpayer dollars, the bill could actually raise health insurance premiums, not lower them.”

Thus, this is not a “half a loaf,” this is a poisonous loaf. While blue states are free to move the funding further to the Left and create single-payer, in no way can red states move towards free markets, because for every step they make towards regulatory relief, they must add more market-distorting funding than even under the status quo. This will hook the politicians from the reddest of red states on the dope they didn’t fully embrace before now.

The bailout fund

It would be one thing to leave most of Obamacare in place, as opposed to leaving it all in place. But this bill adds a state bailout fund that entrenches Obamacare even further. Not only does it codify the illegal cost-sharing subsidies for three years (and we all know the three years will be expanded indefinitely), it creates an unaccountable $35 billion slush fund for HHS to dole out at their full discretion to “fund arrangements with health insurance issuers to address coverage and access disruption and respond to urgent health care needs within States.” And of course, rather than disappearing in 2020, this will create a funding cliff that will only expand the program thereafter.

As I mentioned before, the only saving grace of this bill is that repeal of the individual mandate will prompt consumers to leave the insurance cartel and create direct care and health-sharing associations as an alternative to this entire scheme. However, by creating an unaccountable bailout program, HHS bureaucrats will work with state bureaucrats and insurance cartel lobbyists (no elected officials involved!) to mask the price inflation to keep the insurance monopoly intact.

It will codify, enshrine, and expand Obamacare.

Overall, it’s understandable why conservatives would want to support something over nothing at this late hour. And with the right focus on supply-side market reforms, we could possibly make a partial repeal work, with the elimination of the mandates. But politicians must first focus on not making things worse. Moreover, they should at least negotiate to get rid of the bailout fund and these onerous provisions while working for some true health care reforms, such as price transparency and parity of tax treatment. If this requires using the reconciliation bill for next year to fix health care, then so be it.

The mother’s milk of the D.C. swamp is the false dichotomy of “take or leave it.” Don’t fall for the trick without first fighting for more.

https://www.conservativereview.com/articles/3-red-flag-provisions-in-the-graham-cassidy-health-care-bill

Story 3: Obama’s Secret Surveillance Spy State Scandal — Misuse of Intelligence Community For Political Purposes — Gross Abuse of Power and Political Conspiracy — Violation of Fourth Amendment — Videos —

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The Pronk Pops Show 969, September 21, 2017, Story 1: President Trump Signs Executive Order Targeting Institutions and People Doing Business With North Korea — Communist China Trades With and Enabled North Korea Nuclear Weapon and Missile Programs — Waiting For Embargo Banning All Trade and Investment in Communist China — Videos — Story 2: Fed To Start Quantitative Tightening In October 2017 by Selling Some ($10 Billion Per Month or $120 Billion Per Year) of $4,500 Billion Bond Portfolio As U.S. Economy Slows in 2017? — Videos

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 Story 1: President Trump Signs Executive Order Targeting Institutions and People Doing Business With North Korea — Communist China Trades With and Enabled North Korea Nuclear Weapon and Missile Programs — Waiting For Embargo Banning All Trade and Investment in Communist China — Videos —

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BREAKING NEWS: President Donald Trump Announces New Sanctions on North Korea through Executive Order

Trump: China has told its banks to stop doing business with North Korea

North Korea: Trump signs new order to widen sanctions

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John Bolton calls for ‘sweeping’ set of sanctions on China

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John Bolton: We are at a ‘crisis point’ with North Korea

Trump administration undercuts his message on North Korea

Former CIA Director James Woolsey: North Korea Has Been Able To Hit Power Grid For Years | CNBC

Ralph Peters on North Korea: China will never help us

Peters: People don’t understand how desperate North Korea is

China getting away with ‘trade murder’: Ralph Peters

What Are Economic Sanctions?

Chinese sanctions will help US trade deficit, but could backfire: Andrew Peek

Gordon Chang: China understands the effects of US sanctions

Lou Dobbs : Is China helping North Korea create nuclear missiles? : 5/30/2017

Gordon Chang: NKorea is forcing the United States to act

Trump unplugging Chinese banks will end China’s economy: Gordon Chang

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What Is Life Really Like In North Korea?

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Trump signs order aiming to cut off funding for North Korean missile program

  • President Donald Trump signs an executive order to expand his authority to target people and institutions doing business with North Korea.
  • With the action, he aims to reduce funding going to the dictatorship’s nuclear and missile programs.

President Donald Trump speaking as he meets with South Korean president Moon Jae-in during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, September 21, 2017.

Trump unveils order aiming to cut off funding for North Korean missile program  

President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order expanding his authority to target people and institutions that do business with North Korea.

Through the measure, the president aims to cut off the communist dictatorship’s funding and deter its nuclear and missile ambitions amid a string of recent tests and provocations.

“North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development is a grave threat to peace and security in our world and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime,” Trump said before a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. “Our new executive order will cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea’s efforts to develop the deadliest weapons known to humankind. The order enhances the Treasury Department’s authorities to target any individual or entity that conducts significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea.”

The isolated nation has tested ballistic missiles and an apparent hydrogen bomb in recent weeks in the face of international economic sanctions and warnings. On Tuesday, Trump told the U.N. General Assembly that the U.S. “will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” if it is forced to defend itself or its allies.

President Donald Trump speaking as he meets with South Korean president Moon Jae-in during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, September 21, 2017.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
President Donald Trump speaking as he meets with South Korean president Moon Jae-in during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, September 21, 2017.

Last week, the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed fresh measures to punish the communist dictatorship economically, with the support of China and Russia. Trump has repeatedly pressed China, North Korea’s only major ally, to do more to force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

Trump on Thursday highlighted that China’s central bank has told its banks to strictly implement U.N. sanctions. He thanked President Xi Jinping for what he called a “bold” and “somewhat unexpected” move.

On Tuesday, he also commended Beijing for signing on to two recent sanctions packages enacted by the Security Council. The U.S. sees China’s commitment to sanctions as crucial to forcing Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs.

Trump appeared to try to quash speculation that he is targeting China or other North Korean trading partners with the action.

“I want to be clear — the order targets only one country, and that country is North Korea,” he said.

Trump said the order identifies industries including textiles, fishing, information technology and manufacturing, which the Treasury Department can target with “strong sanctions.” The president added that the order includes “measures designed to disrupt” shipping and trade networks to reduce North Korea’s ability to avoid the sanctions.

Earlier, national security advisor H.R. McMaster said Trump would take more action to stop North Korea “short of war.” Trump’s advisors have repeatedly said they prefer to use diplomatic methods to curb North Korea’s aggression.

The president again said that he seeks the “complete denuclearization” of North Korea.

Trump had separate bilateral meetings scheduled with both Moon and Abe on Thursday.

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/21/trump-to-make-north-korea-announcement-mcmaster-says.html

 

Trump announces new economic sanctions targeting North Korea over nuclear program

 September 21 at 12:45 PM

President Trump announced an executive order on Sept. 21 to enforce economic sanctions on North Korea and countries that do business with the “rogue regime” of North Korea. (The Washington Post)

NEW YORK — President Trump announced an executive order Thursday granting the Treasury Department additional authority to enforce economic sanctions on North Korea and target foreign companies and individuals that do business with the rogue nation in Northeast Asia.

Trump said the new powers aim to cut off international trade and financing that dictator Kim Jong Un’s regime uses support its nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs. The president also said that Chinese President Xi Jinping had ordered Chinese banks to cease conducting business with North Korean entities. Trump called the move “very bold” and “somewhat unexpected,” and he praised Xi.

“North Korea’s nuclear program is a grave threat to peace and security in our world, and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime,” Trump said in brief public remarks during a meeting with the leaders of South Korea and Japan to discuss strategy to confront Pyongyang.

He added that the United States continues to seek a “complete denuclearization of North Korea.”

He added that the order will give Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin the “discretion to target any foreign bank knowingly facilitating specific transactions tied to trade with North Korea.”


President Trump meets with South Korean president Moon Jae-in during the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Thursday. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

A White House fact sheet said the executive order imposes a ban on airplanes or ships that have visited North Korea will be banned for 180 days from visiting the United States, a move to crack down on illicit trade.

“This significantly expands Treasury’s authority to target those who enable this regime…wherever they are located,” Mnuchin said.

Trump’s announcement came as he has sought to rally international support for confronting Pyongyang during four days of meetings here at the United Nations General Assembly. In a speech to the world body on Tuesday, Trump threatened to “totally destroy” the North if necessary and referred derisively to Kim as “rocket man.” But the president and his aides have emphasized that they are continuing to do what they can to put economic and diplomatic pressure on the North in order to avoid a military conflict.

“We are witnessing a very dangerous confrontation spiral,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a speech to the United Nations, filling in for President Vladimir Putin, who skipped the forum. “We resolutely condemn the nuclear missile adventures of Pyongyang in violation of Security Council resolutions. But military hysteria is not just an impasse, it’s disaster…There is no alternative to political and diplomatic ways of settling the nuclear situation on the Korean Peninsula.”

China is North Korea’s largest trading partner, but Mnuchin emphasized that “this action is in no way specifically directed at China,” and he said he called Chinese officials ahead of the announcement to give them a heads up.

In recent weeks, the U.N. Security Council has approved two rounds of economic sanctions but also left room for further penalties. For example, the sanctions put limits on the nation’s oil imports but did not impose a full embargo, as the United States has suggested it supports. The Trump administration has signaled it also wants a full ban on the practice of sending North Korean workers abroad for payments that largely go to the government in Pyongyang.

Sitting down with South Korean President Moon Jae-in before the trilateral discussion with Japan, Trump said the nations are “making a lot of progress.”

Moon praised Trump’s speech to the U.N., saying through a translator that “North Korea has continued to make provocations and this is extremely deplorable and this has angered both me and our people, but the U.S. has responded firmly and in a very good way.”

The Security Council had also applied tough new export penalties in August, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that there are signs those restrictions are having an economic effect.

“We have some indications that there are beginning to appear evidence of fuel shortages,” Tillerson said in a briefing for reporters. “And look, we knew that these sanctions were going to take some time to be felt because we knew the North Koreans…had basically stockpiled a lot of inventory early in the year when they saw the new administration coming in, in anticipation of things perhaps changing. So I think what we’re seeing is a combined effect of these inventories are now being exhausted, and the supply coming in has been reduced.”

There is no sign, however, that economic penalties are having any effect on the behavior of the Kim regime and its calculation that nuclear tests and other provocations will ensure its protection or raise the price of any eventual settlement with the United States and other nations.

All U.N. sanctions have to be acceptable to China, North Korea’s protector and chief economic partner. China’s recent willingness to punish its fellow communist state signals strong disapproval of North Korea’s international provocations, but China and fellow U.N. Security Council member Russia have also opposed some of the toughest economic measures that could be applied, such as banking restrictions that would affect Chinese and other financial institutions.

“We continue to call on all responsible nations to enforce and implement sanctions,” Trump said.

Trump said the United States had been working on the North Korea problem for 25 years, but he asserted that previous administrations had “done nothing, which is why we are in the problem we are in today.”

Through executive orders and other measures extending back to the Clinton administration, the United States has been trying to undermine the economic underpinnings of the North Korean nuclear weapons program.

Each new sanction from Washington has been followed by evasive measures by Pyongyang, and then another attempt from Washington to ramp up pressure. Earlier sanctions restricted trade between U.S. companies and businesses involved with the North Korean regime and its weapons efforts. Until recently, however, such sanctions had limited effects because North Korea continued an expansive trade with other countries, mainly China.

In recent years, the United States has sought to expand the economic pressure by working through the international banking system, where the country has particular leverage because so much of international trade is conducted in dollars. The “vast majority of international transactions are denominated in dollars, the world’s reserve currency,” a Congressional report found last year.

Even when the companies are outside the United States, trade conducted in dollars typically must run through U.S. banks, and last year, that provided the Obama administration an opportunity to interrupt such business.

In November 2016, a special measure implemented by the Treasury barred U.S. banks from providing the accounts that handle such transactions for any North Korean bank or any party acting on its behalf. The measure essentially cut off North Korean banks from any trade denominated in U.S. dollars.

North Korea, however, has continued to conduct such trades by using front companies located in third countries, at least some of which are in China.

The new executive order expands the U.S. pressure on the North by allowing the Treasury to single out those front companies, and any banks helping to finance any trade with North Korea, for sanctions. Those sanctions would cut off trade with those companies or forbid them from conducting transactions in dollars.

Anne Gearan in New York,  Abby Phillip in Washington and Peter Whorisky contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/09/21/trump-says-the-u-s-will-impose-new-sanctions-on-north-korea/?utm_term=.f13cecf3e9e7

US-North Korea standoff could spark economic war with China

  • The escalating saber rattling between the U.S. and North Korea has raised the prospects of an economic confrontation between America and China.
  • So far, economic sanctions against Pyongyang have done little to convince North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to curb his ambitions to develop a nuclear missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland.
  • Now, critics of those measures are calling for stepped-up pressure on China, North Korea’s largest trading partner.

President Donald Trump (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) walk together at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) walk together at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017.

The escalating saber rattling between the U.S. and North Korea has raised the prospects of an economic confrontation between America and China.

At issue are a series of sanctions against Pyongyang designed to convince North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to curb his ambitions to develop a nuclear missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland.

But those measures have had little impact on the increasingly bellicose stand-off, and on Thursday President Donald Trump repeated his complaint that Beijing needs to lean harder on Pyongyang to defuse rising tensions.

“I think they can do a lot more and I think they will do a lot more,” the president told reporters. “We lost hundreds of billions of dollars a year on trade with China. They know how I feel. It’s not going to continue like that.”

On Tuesday, Trump threatened to inflict “fire and fury” on North Korea if it continues to pursue its nuclear weapons program. A recent series of successful North Korean test launches were matched Wednesday by Kim’s threats to launch a missile at the U.S. territory of Guam.

The latest round of sanctions includes fresh restrictions, unanimously approved Saturday by the United Nation Security Council, that target North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. The measures also ban countries from hiring more North Korean laborers, bar new joint ventures with North Korea and ban fresh investment in existing joint ventures.

“We say to China, ‘You have a choice whether you do business with North Korea or you do business with the U.S. but you can’t do both.'”-Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

Economic sanctions so far have proved ineffective largely because North Korea has found ways to get around them with “evasion techniques that are increasing in scale, scope and sophistication,” according to a February U.N. report.

“Designated entities and banks have continued to operate in the sanctioned environment by using agents who are highly experienced and well trained in moving money, people and goods, including arms and related material, across borders,” the U.N. report found.

The widest flow of goods and cash, by far, crosses North Korea’s border with China. As North Korea’s largest trading partner, China accounted for roughly 85 percent of overall volume in 2015, according to data from the United Nations Comtrade database.

Coal and other minerals accounted for more than 40 percent of North Korean exports in 2015, followed by textiles (29 percent), metals (7 percent) and machinery (6 percent). North Korea’s biggest imports included textiles, machinery and raw materials including minerals, metals and plastics.

Though China has taken some steps to curb imports from North Korea, exports rose by nearly 30 percent in the first half of this year, according to Chinese customs data. During the six-month period, overall trade flows across the North Korean-China border rose 10 percent to $2.65 billion.

That’s why critics of the existing North Korean sanctions say the measures don’t go nearly far enough in cutting off the flow of cash and goods to the Pyongyang regime.

Some of those critics are calling for “secondary sanctions,” which would cut off trade and financial flows to any country doing business with North Korea.

“We say to China, ‘You have a choice whether you do business with North Korea or you do business with the U.S., but you can’t do both,'” Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D.-Md., told MSNBC on Thursday. “That is what got people’s attention with the Iran sanctions, and that’s what we need to do now.”

Last month, Van Hollen co-sponsored a bill with Sen. Pat Toomey, R.-Pa., that would impose secondary sanctions targeting third parties and countries that do business with North Korean companies and individuals.

Secondary sanctions offer a powerful financial weapon by allowing the U.S. government to bar foreign banks access to the U.S. financial system.

In late June, the White House imposed limited secondary sanctions on two Chinese citizens and a shipping company for helping North Korea develop nuclear weapons and also accused a regional Chinese bank, the Bank of Dandong, of laundering money for Pyongyang, Reuters reported.

Beyond cutting off cash and supplies to the North Korean regime, secondary sanctions squeeze the flow of cash to individuals, putting pressure on Kim’s political allies, according to David Cohen, a senior CIA official in the Obama administration.

“Imposing secondary sanctions would send a strong message to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that the financial noose is tightening in a way that could drive a wedge between Kim and the Pyongyang elite critical to his continued hold on power,” Cohen wrote in a recent op-ed piece.

Imposing secondary sanctions that single out major Chinese banks and state enterprises comes with the risk of economic retaliation from Beijing.

To minimize that risk, the White House will need to build a much wider coalition of Asian countries, says Nicholas Burns, former U.S. ambassador to NATO during the George W. Bush administration.

But developing that coalition will be a tough task for an administration that has yet to fill dozens of key diplomatic positions. So far, the White House has filled fewer than half of the State Department positions that require Senate confirmation.

“It really is a time for diplomacy,” Burns told CNBC on Thursday. “But there’s no American ambassador to South Korea, there’s no secretary of State for East Asia. So, you’ve also got to fill out the ranks.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/10/us-north-korea-standoff-could-spark-economic-war-with-china.html

 

How did North Korea get nuclear weapons?

North Korea showed off its arsenal of missiles during this parade to celebrate the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang, North Korea, April 15, 2017.

North Korea showed off its arsenal of missiles during this parade to celebrate the 105th birth anniversary of Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang, North Korea, April 15, 2017.

AP Photo/Wong Maye-E

North Korea is known for its bluster and outrageous propaganda, but the nuclear threat posed by the country is taken seriously by those in the know.

The “hermit kingdom” is estimated to have between 13 and 30 nuclear weapons, according to the Institute for Science and International Security. It could have up to 50 by the year 2020.

U.S. President Donald Trump has made it clear that he considers North Korea a legitimate threat. In early April, Trump dispatched the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its battle group to waters off the Korean Peninsula, and said “major, major conflict” was quite possible.

WATCH: Trump discusses military option for North Korea

Tensions have since soared over fears that North Korea may be about to conduct its sixth nuclear weapons test. On Friday, the country sent a letter to American lawmakers, saying any sanctions would only cause its nuclear testing program to “gather greater pace, beyond anyone’s imagination.”

But how did a country as isolated and impoverished as North Korea get its hands on nuclear weapons in the first place?

The Korean War

In 1950, a few months into the Korean War, U.S. President Harry Truman said in a press conference that the use of an atomic bomb was under “active consideration.”

Truman’s nuclear threat remained just that, with the Korean War formally ending in an armistice in 1953. But U.S. forces still laid waste to North Korean targets, dropping over 650,000 tons of bombs and napalm, according to The Korean War: A History.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay estimated that the U.S. “killed off 20 per cent of the Korean population.”

WATCH: North Korea propaganda video puts White House in crosshairs, simulates strike on US Capitol

After the war, North Korea tried to convince its wartime ally China to share its nuclear weapons technologies. Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung, grandfather of present-day leader Kim Jong-Un, twice asked Chinese ruler Mao Zedong for help but was refused both times, according to The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History.

Denied an easy path to a nuclear bomb, North Korea set about cobbling together an indigenous nuclear weapons program.

Soviet support

It helped that the country already had basic nuclear infrastructure in place.

As a founding member of the Soviet-led Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, North Korea had for years sent its scientists to the Soviet Union for nuclear energy training, according to a timeline compiled by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).

The Soviets even helped North Korea set up its first nuclear reactor in 1964. The reactor was used to produce radioactive isotopes for medicinal, industrial and research purposes.

READ MORE: Mike Pence urges China, Russia to pressure North Korea to abandon weapons program

But in the years that followed, the country began to explore weapons capabilities, summoning its best scientists home — including from Canada, according to NTI — to work on its fledgling nuclear weapons program.

But while North Korea’s scientists had the technical training, they lacked designs for the highly sophisticated facilities needed to produce nuclear weapons.

Path to a plutonium weapon

 In the ‘70s and ‘80s, North Korea set about acquiring sensitive nuclear technologies from Europe, taking advantage of the lack of adequate nuclear information safeguards at the time.

At one point, North Korean agents went to a conference in Vienna and chatted up some Belgian scientists who had a design for a plutonium separation plant, The Atlantic reported.

“Lo and behold, it wasn’t long before the North Koreans obtained the design information for that installation… and then eventually over a period of 10 to 15 years, they set that technology up, they deployed the plant, they started to experiment with it and use it,” Mark Hibbs, a senior fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told The Atlantic.

READ MORE: North Korea says it’s ready for war if Donald Trump wants

In 2003, CIA director George Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korea “probably” has one or two plutonium-based nuclear warheads, according to The Statesman’s Yearbook 2012.

The following year, second-generation Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Il invited a delegation of Western nuclear scientists to North Korea to see its plutonium extraction facility. One of them, American scientist Dr. Siegfried Hecker, revealed in a Google Tech Talk lecture that North Korean officials at one point brought out two marmalade jars of plutonium.

“Inside one was a plutonium powder and the other one had plutonium metal,” Hecker said.

He even held one of the jars in his hand, and concluded from its appearance, weight and warmth that it contained radioactive plutonium.

In 2006, two years after Hecker’s visit, North Korean state media announced the country’s first nuclear weapon test.

By then, the country’s scientists had increasingly begun redirecting their efforts away from plutonium-based nuclear weapons to uranium-based ones, according to NTI. This is because the facilities needed to produce weapons-grade uranium can more easily be hidden underground, away from prying satellites and weapons inspectors.

North Korea wanted to cover all its bases.

Pakistani proliferation

The groundwork for North Korea’s uranium nuclear weapons program was laid in the ‘90s, with substantial help from Dr. A.Q. Khan, the pioneer of Pakistan’s atomic bomb program.

Khan orchestrated the clandestine transfer of uranium centrifuges, enrichment machines and technical data to North Korea over a period of several years, according to the book Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan and the Rise of Proliferation Networks.

According to the book’s author, Mark Fitzpatrick, some of Khan’s deals were likely tied to existing official agreements between the two countries, wherein North Korea provided ballistic missile technologies to Pakistan.

WATCH: Pakistan test fires submarine-based cruise missile

In 2003, the U.S. learned of North Korea’s plans to build a uranium-enrichment facility with Pakistan’s help. The following year, Khan admitted to running a global nuclear proliferation ring, with Iran and Libya among his other clients.

Khan later told German magazine Der Spiegel that he was merely acting on behalf of the Pakistani leadership.

He even released what he claimed was a 1998 letter from Jon Pyong-ho, one of the architects of North Korea’s nuclear program, in which Pyong-ho assures that $3 million has been transferred to Pakistan’s army chief, and asks that Khan dispatch “the agreed documents, components, etc.” via a North Korean emissary.

READ MORE: Pakistan refuses to release doctor who helped US find Osama bin Laden

Khan was later pardoned by Pakistani leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

“By freely selling enrichment equipment and putting the designs on computer disks, Khan significantly lowered the technical barriers to nuclear weapons development,” Fitzpatrick wrote.

And no country benefited more from Khan’s largesse than North Korea.

READ MORE: Pakistan issues nuclear warning to Israel on Twitter after fake news story

In 2010, Dr. Siegfried Hecker was again invited to North Korea, and was this time taken on a tour of a uranium enrichment facility. He described what he saw as “truly mind-boggling” — around 2,000 centrifuges that appeared to contain highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium.

“[The North Koreans] take whatever they can get, and then they build things themselves, and they do it quite well,” Hecker concluded in his Google Tech Talks lecture.

The Nuclear Silk Road

In early 2015, debris from a North Korean satellite launch were analyzed by experts and found to contain components manufactured in the U.K. and routed through Chinese companies, according to a United Nations Panel of Experts report.

The following year, foreign journalists on a tour of a Pyongyang factory spotted a shipment of boxes from Calgary-based chemical producer Dow Canada, the Washington Post reported.

These are but two of several known instances of North Korea evading international sanctions and export controls to procure weapons components.

WATCH: China says it will impose more sanctions on North Korea if missile test conducted: Tillerson


“North Korea is very creative in the way that it goes about sanctions evasion, and the patterns in which it goes about it vary,” Andrea Berger, a senior researcher with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, told Global News.

Berger says North Korea often sends trusted nationals to China to set up front companies, often in collaboration with Chinese citizens. These companies then import equipment from Western manufacturers, who often have no way of knowing that the companies are really fronts controlled by the North Korean regime.

“Let’s say you’re Siemens in Germany and you get a purchase request from ‘Golden Star General Trading Corporation’ in China. You look into that company and it doesn’t have a big web presence  —  because most Chinese small and medium-sized enterprises don’t  — and you assume, after some limited due diligence, that it’s probably fine,” Berger says.

READ MORE: China defends trade practices with North Korea after Chinese-made vehicles seen towing ballistic missiles

Even Chinese banks themselves often get deceived, she adds.

“The bank account might be under, say, ‘Golden Star General Trading Corporation’ or a Chinese director,” Berger says. “The Bank of China might not immediately be the wiser that there’s a North Korean beneficiary behind that account.”

By covering their tracks in this manner, front companies procure sensitive goods before re-exporting them to North Korea, evading Chinese export controls via misleading shipping labels or creative smuggling techniques.

READ MORE: U.S. mulls North Korea sanctions, targeting cash that flows through Chinese banks

The racket doesn’t exclusively involve surreptitious front operations, however.

In 2015, a large Chinese company called Shenyang Machine Tools bought equipment from a European manufacturer under the explicit condition that the items wouldn’t be re-sold to North Korea, according to the Institute for Science and International Security.

Shenyang Machine Tools promptly broke the agreement by embedding the products into its own line of industrial machines, which were then exported to North Korea.

The equipment in question is commonly used to manufacture missile parts and uranium centrifuges.

Financial skullduggery

So how does North Korea pay for the expensive parts that it acquires illegally?

Turns out it doesn’t just use front companies to buy  —  it also uses them to sell its own military products.

Earlier this year, the UN Panel of Experts reported the interception of a shipment of 45 military radios bound for Eritrea. The shipment was sent by a Malaysian-based company called Glocom — which investigators found to be controlled by the North Korean intelligence agency.

Glocom was selling the radios to developing countries at North Korea’s behest — for $8,000 per unit.

READ MORE: U.S. urges UN Security Council to increase economic pressure on North Korea over weapons program

Berger, who is familiar with the Glocom investigation, said the company was “being used to facilitate sales of that technology specifically.”

The combination of such clandestine military deals, the sale of missile technologies and the export of coal and minerals have enabled North Korea to fund its nuclear procurement, the UN report suggested.

The “disco ball” warhead

In March 2016, North Korean state media released photographs of Kim Jong-Un standing in front of what it claimed was a miniaturized nuclear warhead “standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles,” Reuters reported.

The object was silver, shiny and shaped like a giant orb. It was roundly mocked on Twitter for resembling a disco ball.

So you’re saying this new disco ball with old CDs stuck on the side will be more glittery? 

But experts aren’t laughing.

Melissa Hanham, a researcher who analyzes open source data and photos to assess North Korea’s weapons programs, says it’s “plausible” that the object is a working nuclear warhead.

“We can’t see inside it to say, ‘Yes, it is’ or ‘No, it isn’t’ a nuclear warhead,” Hanham told Global News. “But they’ve had five nuclear tests, so it wouldn’t be surprising for them to have that kind of compact warhead by that many tests.

READ MORE: North Korea’s latest missile launch could be 2nd test of new technology, experts say

“I can tell you that we’ve measured it a lot, and it does fit into the payload of many of their missiles.”

Hanham admits it’s bizarre that North Korea would let its Supreme Leader stand so close to the real thing, but points out that “there are other photographs of Kim Jong-Un engaging in really dangerous activities that confuse us as well” — referring to photos of him smoking next to a solid-fuel rocket engine and standing underneath a heavy object dangling from a crane.

A legitimate threat

The purported warhead may have been goofy-looking, but it represented one of many milestones in a ramped-up schedule of North Korean nuclear weapons development over the past year and a half.

“North Korea in 2016 spent a lot of time doing a point-for-point refutation of every major narrative of the things it ‘couldn’t do’ in its nuclear missile program,” Berger says.

“All the developments we’re seeing in the nuclear missile program are deeply serious, and the more we continue to laugh about it, the more North Korea will attempt to demonstrate that it has a credible military program that is making rapid advancement.”

WATCH: Should we be worried about North Korea?

That advancement is the result of over half a century of steadily accumulated scientific know-how and single-minded subterfuge, with North Korea taking advantage of lax regulations and shady foreign partners to hoodwink the international non-proliferation regime.

Berger says China’s “conscious negligence” — in relation to both clamping down on front companies and tightening export controls — has resulted in such a huge flow of illicit goods to North Korea that it would take “an enormous effort” to rein it in at this point.

“The problem we have is enormous policy inertia, and very few good ideas of how to address the situation,” Berger says.

READ MORE: Could North Korea’s nuclear missiles reach Canada?

Hanham agrees. “I think there are probably still opportunities to slow or disrupt their program, but they’ve already crossed a lot of important thresholds that make it unlikely that they will give up their [nuclear] program entirely,” she says.

“North Korea has shown that it’s dedicated to acquiring nuclear weapons, and it’s very hard to stop any country that’s completely dedicated.”

How did North Korea get nuclear weapons?

Story 2: Fed To Start Quantitative Tightening In October 2017 by Selling Some ($10 Billion Per Month or $120 Billion Per Year) of $4,500 Billion Bond Portfolio As U.S. Economy Slows in 2017? — Videos

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The Federal Reserve is leaving interest rates alone to give the economy room to keep growing.

But the central bank did take historic action on Wednesday: It will begin undoing the extraordinary steps it took to prop up the economy for almost a decade after the financial crisis. The Fed said it would begin shedding some of the $4.5 trillion in investments starting next month.

The announcement marks a milestone in the long recovery from 2008, and reflects confidence by Fed officials that the economy will continue to grow.

Starting in October, the Fed will begin unloading $10 billion of debt from its so-called balance sheet, including $6 billion in Treasury securities and $4 billion in agency debt each month through December.

For years, the central bank piled up purchases of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities, a strategy intended to stimulate the economy by reducing borrowing costs for everyone. At the time, it also reduced its benchmark interest rate to zero, and only began raising it in December 2015, seven year after the crisis.

On Wednesday, the Fed left rates unchanged, hovering between 1% and 1.25%.

Related: The CNNMoney Trump Jobs Tracker

The central bank has raised that rate three times since December as the economy has gradually improved. Raising rates too quickly could risk hobbling the recovery.

Still, the majority of Fed policymakers signaled on Wednesday that they expect to lift rates one more time this year.

Central bankers pointed to signs of strength in the U.S. economy, including a pickup in household spending and growth in business investments, in a statement following the Federal Open Market Committee’s two-day meeting.

“Job gains have remained solid in recent months, and the unemployment rate has stayed low,” the Fed said in a statement.

While Fed officials cautioned that the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria would hold back the U.S. economy in the “near term,” they said the storms would not “materially alter” the country’s economy overall.

“Within a few months, rebuilding activity has typically kicked in, returning economic growth to normal—or maybe even a little higher than normal,” wrote Eric Winograd, AB senior economist in a note. “So, despite the storms, we’re still confident the U.S. economy will keep its momentum, because the foundations are sound.”

Related: Fed Chair Janet Yellen warns – Monitor your credit report!

Some Fed officials have warned against raising interest rates until inflation — which reflects the prices of everything from meat and cheese to houses and cars — meets the goal of 2% that they consider healthy for the economy.

But inflation is still running below that target, even though the job market has picked up and other explanations have fallen away. In a press conference, Fed chair Janet Yellen described it as something of a “mystery.”

In past years, she said the Fed has been able to point to root causes of low inflation: the gap between those employed versus those that aren’t, energy prices and a rising dollar.

“This year’s inflation shortfall is more of a mystery,” Yellen told reporters at the press conference. “I will not say that the committee clearly understands what the causes are.”

Central bankers have been in a bind over when to lift rates again. Inflation has been stubbornly low for years, suggesting the Fed should hold off. But economic growth and low unemployment suggest they should act.

Fed officials cautioned that they do expect inflation to be higher than normal — at least for a little while — following the hurricanes that have devastated Texas, Florida and now Puerto Rico.

“Inflation remains the wild card of Fed policy and the temporary boost to gasoline prices following the hurricanes only clouds the picture further,” said Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst Greg McBride. “Whether the Fed hikes in December will remain an open question until December.”

Along with one more rate hike this year, the Fed also predicted three more possible moves next year.

“It is too soon for the committee to conclude that the recent slowing in inflation was sufficiently permanent to alter the Fed’s plans,” Michael Gapen, a Barclay’s analyst wrote in a research note.

The Fed said it continues to expect inflation to remain at 1.6%, below its target, and the unemployment rate to be 4.3%, based on its updated economic projections.

The central bank did, however, offer a rosier picture of the overall economy, upping its economic growth forecast to 2.4% from 2.2%.

Yellen again declined to address speculation about whether President Trump will nominate her for a second four-year term leading the Fed. Her first term ends in February.

http://money.cnn.com/2017/09/20/investing/federal-reserve-janet-yellen/index.html

Fed prepares to cut $4.5 trillion portfolio: What it means
By Matthew Rocco Published July 12, 2017 The Fed FOXBusiness Opens a New Window.

USA-FED/ The Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)
Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen will be on Capitol Hill for two days of congressional testimony starting Wednesday, and investors will be closely watching the proceedings for any clues about the central bank’s plans to shrink its securities portfolio.

The Fed has begun to pave the way toward cutting its balance sheet, which grew from about $1 trillion to $4.5 trillion in five years. The large increase is the result of an aggressive bond-buying stimulus program known as quantitative easing. The program was implemented to keep interest rates low and support a collapsed housing market. Since December 2015, the Fed has gradually raised the benchmark fed funds rate from near zero amid an improved labor market and U.S. economy. But its large portfolio of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities has remained in place.

With officials phasing out its crisis-era monetary policies, the Fed is now discussing a timeline to start winding down its portfolio to about half its current size.

“[The Fed] is in uncharted territory. They’ll be very cautious because they are committed to reducing interest rates and reducing the balance sheet. The first foray will be fairly limited,” said Nariman Behravesh, IHS Markit’s chief economist.

Investors have mostly prepared themselves for the Fed’s next move by anticipating an increase in interest rates. If anything, the Fed tends to “do less than the market expected,” Behravesh added.

“I think the good thing is the Fed is raising rates in an environment that’s not gangbusters, but it’s decent. Rates will go up, no question, but if they go gradually, it won’t do a great amount of damage to the economy,” he said, noting that the fed funds rate remains historically low. “Monetary policy is becoming tighter, but at the end of next year, it still won’t be tight.”

Fed members have already decided on a plan of action. Currently, the Fed purchases new bonds to replace the ones that come due. Once it starts the clock, the central bank will allow bonds to mature and roll off its balance sheet.

At their June policy-setting meeting, members of the Federal Open Market Committee set up a plan to shed as much as $6 billion worth of government bonds and $4 billion in mortgage-backed securities each month as a starting point. The Fed would raise the amount every quarter, eventually hitting a cap of $30 billion in Treasury and $20 billion in mortgage bonds per month.

Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen holds a news conference after the Fed released its monetary policy decisions in Washington, U.S., June 14, 2017. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTS1750PExpand / Contract
Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen holds a news conference after the Fed released its monetary policy decisions in Washington, U.S., June 14. (Joshua Roberts / Reuters)
Demand for bonds will weaken once the Fed stays on the sidelines, thus lowering prices and forcing interest rates to climb. (Bond yields move in the opposite direction as prices.) The magnitude of that rate increase will depend on how gradually the Fed sells off its holdings, Behravesh explained.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield has declined about 0.081 percentage points since the start of the year, hitting 2.36% in recent trading.

As for when the Fed will kick off the process, several officials prefer to “announce a start to the process within a couple of months,” according to minutes of their June meeting Opens a New Window. . Others believed that a decision later in 2017 would give the Fed more time to study inflation, which has fallen short of the central bank’s target, and U.S. economic activity.

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The general consensus is that the Fed will make an announcement in September. In her prepared remarks to Congress Opens a New Window. , Yellen affirmed that the Fed will “likely” implement the program this year, as long as the economy “evolves broadly as anticipated.”
“We do not intend to use the balance sheet as an active tool for monetary policy in normal times,” Yellen said, adding that the Fed is prepared to “resume reinvestments” if it sees a deterioration in the economic outlook.

No matter when the Fed begins to shrink its portfolio, economists expect it to move in the same way it raises interest rates: slowly.

“It’s hard to tell how slowly they are going to go,” Behravesh said, but the Fed is determined to move one step at a time. The impact on the financial and housing markets isn’t fully clear, and the Fed plans to raise the fed funds rate at the same time it dumps assets.

In June, the Fed raised the fed funds rate another quarter of a percentage point to a range of 1% to 1.25%. The next rate hike is expected in December.

http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2017/07/12/fed-prepares-to-cut-4-5-trillion-portfolio-what-it-means.html

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Pronk Pops Show 927,  July 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 926,  July 11, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 893,  May 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 892,  May 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891,  May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 890,  May 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 889,  May 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 888,  May 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 887,  May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886,  May 4, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 884,  May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 881: April 26, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

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Newly declassified memos detail extent of improper Obama-era NSA spying

The National Security Agency and FBI violated specific civil liberty protections during the Obama administration by improperly searching and disseminating raw intelligence on Americans or failing to promptly delete unauthorized intercepts, according to newly declassified memos that provide some of the richest detail to date on the spy agencies’ ability to obey their own rules.

The memos reviewed by The Hill were publicly released on July 11 through Freedom of Information Act litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union.

They detail specific violations that the NSA or FBI disclosed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or the Justice Department’s national security division during President Obama’s tenure between 2009 and 2016. The intelligence community isn’t due to report on compliance issues for 2017, the first year under the Trump administration, until next spring.

The NSA says that the missteps amount to a small number — less than 1 percent — when compared to the hundreds of thousands of specific phone numbers and email addresses the agencies intercepted through the so-called Section 702 warrantless spying program created by Congress in late 2008.

“Quite simply, a compliance program that never finds an incident is not a robust compliance program,” said Michael Halbig, the NSA’s chief spokesman. “The National Security Agency has in place a strong compliance program that identifies incidents, reports them to external overseers, and then develops appropriate solutions to remedy any incidents.”

But critics say the memos undercut the intelligence community’s claim that it has robust protections for Americans incidentally intercepted under the program.

“Americans should be alarmed that the NSA is vacuuming up their emails and phone calls without a warrant,” said Patrick Toomey, an ACLU staff attorney in New York who helped pursue the FOIA litigation. “The NSA claims it has rules to protect our privacy, but it turns out those rules are weak, full of loopholes, and violated again and again.”

Section 702 empowers the NSA to spy on foreign powers and to retain and use certain intercepted data that was incidentally collected on Americans under strict privacy protections. Wrongly collected information is supposed to be immediately destroyed.

The Hill reviewed the new ACLU documents as well as compliance memos released by the NSA inspector general and identified more than 90 incidents where violations specifically cited an impact on Americans. Many incidents involved multiple persons, multiple violations or extended periods of time.

For instance, the government admitted improperly searching the NSA’s foreign intercept data on multiple occasions, including one instance in which an analyst ran the same search query about an American “every work day” for a period between 2013 and 2014.

There also were several instances in which Americans’ unmasked names were improperly shared inside the intelligence community without being redacted, a violation of the so-called minimization procedures that Obama loosened in 2011 that are supposed to protect Americans’ identity from disclosure when they are intercepted without a warrant. Numerous times improperly unmasked information about Americans had to be recalled and purged after the fact, the memos stated.

“CIA and FBI received unminimized data from many Section 702-tasked facilities and at times are thus required to conduct similar purges,” one report noted.

“NSA issued a report which included the name of a United States person whose identity was not foreign intelligence,” said one typical incident report from 2015, which said the NSA eventually discovered the error and “recalled” the information.

Likewise, the FBI disclosed three instances between December 2013 and February 2014 of “improper disseminations of U.S. persons identities.”

The NSA also admitted it was slow in some cases to notify fellow intelligence agencies when it wrongly disseminated information about Americans. The law requires a notification within five days, but some took as long as 131 business days and the average was 19 days, the memos show.

U.S. intelligence officials directly familiar with the violations told The Hill that the memos confirm that the intelligence agencies have routinely policed, fixed and self-disclosed to the nation’s intelligence court thousands of minor procedural and more serious privacy infractions that have impacted both Americans and foreigners alike since the warrantless spying program was created by Congress in late 2008.

Alexander Joel, who leads the Office of Civil Liberties, Privacy and Transparency under the director of national intelligence, said the documents chronicle episodes that have been reported to Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for years in real time and are a tribute to the multiple layers of oversight inside the intelligence community.

“We take every compliance incident very seriously and continually strive to improve compliance through our oversight regime and as evidence by our reporting requirements to the FISC and Congress,” he told The Hill. “That said, we believe that, particularly when compared with the overall level of activity, the compliance incident rate is very low.”
The FBI said it believes it has adequate oversight to protect Americans’ privacy, while signaling it will be pushing Congress hard this fall to renew the Section 702 law before it expires.

“The FBI’s mission is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States,” the bureau said in a statement to The Hill. “When Congress enacted Section 702, it built in comprehensive oversight and compliance procedures that involve all three branches of government. These procedures are robust and effective in identifying compliance incidents. The documents released on July 11, 2017 clearly show the FBI’s extensive efforts to follow the law, and to identify, report, and remedy compliance matters.

“Section 702 is vital to the safety and security of the American people. It is one of the most valuable tools the Intelligence Community has, and therefore, is used with the utmost care by the men and women of the FBI so as to not jeopardize future utility. As such, we continually evaluate our internal policies and procedures to further reduce the number of these compliance matters.”

The new documents show that the NSA has, on occasion, exempted itself from its legal obligation to destroy all domestic communications that were improperly intercepted.

Under the law, the NSA is supposed to destroy any intercept if it determines the data was domestically gathered, meaning someone was intercepted on U.S. soil without a warrant when the agency thought they were still overseas. The NSA, however, has said previously it created “destruction waivers” to keep such intercepts in certain cases.

The new documents confirm the NSA has in fact issued such waivers and that it uncovered in 2012 a significant violation in which the waivers were improperly used and the infraction was slow to be reported to the court.

“In light of related filings being presented to the Court at the same time this incident was discovered and the significance of the incident, DOJ should have reported this incident under the our immediate notification process,” then-Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco wrote the FISA court in Aug. 28, 2012, about the episode, according to one memo released through FOIA.

The NSA declined to say how often destruction waivers are given. But Joel, of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has supervised such waivers and affirmed they are “consistent with the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution and the statutory requirements of Section 702.”

Other violations cited in the memos:

  • Numerous “overcollection incidents” in which the NSA gathered information about foreigners or Americans it wasn’t entitled to intercept
  • “Isolated instances in which NSA may not have complied with the documentation requests” justifying intercepts or searches of intercepted data.
  • The misuse of “overly broad” queries or specific U.S. person terms to search through NSA data.
  • Failures to timely purge NSA databases of improperly collected intelligence, such as a 2014 incident in which “NSA reported a gap in its purge discovery processes.”

In annual and quarterly compliance reports that have been released in recent years, U.S. intelligence agencies have estimated the number of Section 702 violations has averaged between 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent of the total number of “taskings.” A tasking is an intelligence term that reflects a request to intercept a specific phone number or email address.

The NSA now targets more than 100,000 individuals a year under Section 702 for foreign spying, and some individual targets get multiple taskings, officials said.

“The actual number of compliance incidents remains classified but from the publicly available data it is irrefutable that the number is in the thousands since Section 702 was fully implemented by 2009,” said a senior U.S. official with direct knowledge, who spoke only on condition of anonymity.

The increasing transparency on Section 702 violations is having an impact on both critics and supporters of a law that is up for renewal in Congress at the end of this year. Of concern are the instances in which Americans’ data is incidentally collected and then misused.

Retired House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra, a Republican who strongly supported the NSA warrantless spying program when it started under President George W. Bush, said he now fears it has now become too big and intrusive.

“If I were still in Congress today, I might vote with the people today to shut the program down or curtail it,” Hoekstra, who has been tapped by Trump to be ambassador to the Netherlands, said in an interview.

“One percent or less sounds great, but the truth is 1 percent of my credit card charges don’t come back wrong every month. And in my mind one percent is pretty sloppy when it can impact Americans’ privacy.”

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/343785-newly-declassified-memos-detail-extent-of-improper-obama-era-nsa

 

Newly declassified memos detail extent of improper Obama-era NSA spying

The Obama administration’s illegal spying may have been worse than Watergate.

In 1972, some employees of President Nixon’s re-election committee were caught when they broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters to plant a bug. This led to Nixon’s resignation and probably would have led to his felony prosecution had he not been pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford.

But if a single bugging of the political opposition is enough to bring down a presidency — and maybe lead to an unprecedented criminal prosecution of a former president — then what are we to make of the recently unveiled Obama administration program of massively spying on political opponents in violation of clearly established law?

Because that’s what was unveiled last week.

When the FBI wants to wiretap a domestic suspect, it goes to court for a warrant. But when listening in on foreigners, the National Security Agency hoovers up a vast amount of stuff in bulk: Conversations between foreigners, conversations between Americans and foreigners, conversations between Americans who mention foreigners, and sometimes just plain old conversations between Americans.

There are supposed to be strict safeguards on who can access the information, on how it can be used and on protecting American citizens’ privacy — because the NSA is forbidden by law from engaging in domestic spying. These safeguards were ignored wholesale under the Obama administration, and to many Republicans, it is no coincidence that intelligence leaks damaged Democrats’ political opponents in the 2016 election.

A report from journalists John Solomon and Sara Carter last week, based on recently declassified documents, exposed what went on. As Solomon and Carter write:

More than 5%, or one out of every 20, searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards President Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal report reviewed by Circa. …

The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying that the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor,” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26.

The admitted violations undercut one of the primary defenses that the intelligence community and Obama officials have used in recent weeks to justify their snooping into incidental NSA intercepts about Americans. …  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 Americans’ privacy as guaranteed by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.

As former anti-terrorism prosecutor and national security expert Andrew McCarthy writes in National Review, this is a very serious abuse. And potentially a crime. If such material were leaked to the press for political advantage, that’s another crime.

McCarthy observes: “Enabling of domestic spying, contemptuous disregard of court-ordered minimization procedures (procedures the Obama administration itself proposed, then violated), and unlawful disclosure of classified intelligence to feed a media campaign against political adversaries. Quite the Obama legacy.”

 Will the Justice Department investigate and prosecute former Obama officials? It seems hard to imagine. But then, so did Nixon’s resignation, when the Watergate burglary was first discovered.

This debacle also raises serious questions about the viability of our existing “intelligence community.” In the post-World War II era, we gave massive power to the national security apparatus. In part, that power was granted in the belief that professionalism and patriotism would lead people in those agencies to refuse to let their work be used for partisan political purposes.

It now seems apparent that we overestimated the patriotism and professionalism of the people in these agencies, who allowed them to be politically weaponized by the Obama administration. That being true, if we value democracy, can we permit them to exist in their current form?

That’s a decision that President Trump and Congress will have to face. Ironically, they may be afraid to — for fear that intelligence agencies will engage in further targeted political leaks.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor and the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself, is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/05/30/obama-admin-illegal-spying-worse-than-watergate-glenn-reynolds-column/102284058/

 

 

Declassified Memos Show Obama’s NSA Spied On Americans Way More Than You Thought

Back in May the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) found that the National Security Agency (NSA), 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.   

“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 went 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

For instance, the government admitted improperly searching NSA’s foreign intercept data on multiple occasions, including one instance in which an analyst ran the same search query about an American “every work day” for a period between 2013 and 2014.

There also were several instances in which Americans’ unmasked names were improperly shared inside the intelligence community without being redacted, a violation of the so-called minimization procedures that President Obama loosened in 2011 that are supposed to protect an Americans’ identity from disclosure when they are intercepted without a warrant. Numerous times improperly unmasked information about Americans had to be recalled and purged after the fact, the memos stated.

“CIA and FBI received unminimized data from many Section 702-tasked facilities and at times are thus required to conduct similar purges,” one report noted.

“NSA issued a report which included the name of a United States person whose identity was not foreign intelligence,”said one typical incident report from 2015, which said the NSA eventually discovered the error and “recalled” the information.

Likewise, the FBI disclosed three instances between December 2013 and February 2014 of “improper disseminations of U.S. persons identities.”

Samples of other violations included:

  • Numerous “overcollection incidents” where the NSA gathered information about foreigners or Americans it wasn’t entitled to intercept
  • “Isolated instances in which NSA may not have complied with the documentation requests” justifying intercepts or searches of intercepted data.
  • The misuse of “overly broad” queries or specific U.S. person terms to search through NSA data.
  • Failures to timely purge NSA databases of improperly collected intelligence, such as a 2014 incident in which “NSA reported a gap in its purge discovery processes.”

Americans should be alarmed that the NSA is vacuuming up their emails and phone calls without a warrant,” said Patrick Toomey, an ACLU staff attorney in New York who helped pursue the FOIA litigation. “The NSA claims it has rules to protect our privacy, but it turns out those rules are weak, full of loopholes, and violated again and again.”

“If I were still in Congress today, I might vote with the people today to shut the program down or curtail it,” Hoekstrak, who has been tapped by Trump to be ambassador to the Netherlands, said in an interview.

Of course, the NSA would like for you to take solace in the fact that they spy on you so much that the 1,000’s of reported violations only amount to ~1% of the estimated “taskings.”

In annual and quarterly compliance reports that have been released in recent years, U.S. intelligence agencies have estimated the number of Section 702 violations has averaged between 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent of the total number of “taskings.” A tasking is an intelligence term that reflects a request to intercept a specific phone number or email address.

“Quite simply, a compliance program that never finds an incident is not a robust compliance program,” said Michael T. Halbig, the NSA’s chief spokesman. “…The National Security Agency has in place a strong compliance program that identifies incidents, reports them to external overseers, and then develops appropriate solutions to remedy any incidents.”

Though we do wonder whether our government would be as dismissive if American citizens just decided to keep 1% of the taxes they owe each year…somehow we suspect the IRS wouldn’t be so forgiving of such a ‘small’ error-rate.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-26/declassified-memos-show-obamas-nsa-spied-americans-way-more-you-thought

 

CIA Sought FBI Probe Into Russian Targeting of Trump Campaign

Brennan says Trump campaign contacts with Russians coincided with Moscow’s election hacking

Former Director of the CIA John Brennan

Former director of the CIA John Brennan / Getty Images

BY: 
May 23, 2017 3:59 pm

Former CIA Director John Brennan told a House hearing on Tuesday the CIA first asked the FBI last summer to investigate contacts between Russian intelligence officials and Americans in the Trump campaign.

Skirting concerns involving classified information, John Brennan, President Obama’s CIA chief, provided few details on the intelligence related to Russian recruitment attempts against Trump aides, who he described as “U.S. persons.”

Asked if there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Brennan said he did not know. But he said Russian intelligence was actively seeking to suborn Americans and that a number of contacts had taken place with campaign officials.

“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals, and it raised questions in my mind whether or not the Russians were able gain the cooperation of those individuals, ” Brennan told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

“I don’t know whether or not such ‘collusion’ existed. I don’t know,” he added. “But there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation to determine whether U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.”

Brennan testified that he knew the names of the Americans but declined to provide the names in the public hearing. He also did not describe the nature of the intelligence on the Americans.

Brennan, a career CIA analyst, was considered among the CIA’s more liberal directors. As a student he voted for a Communist Party USA candidate for president, Gus Hall, during the height of the Cold War. He voiced worries the vote for a communist president would disqualify him from a job in the CIA when he joined in 1980.

As CIA director, Brennan initiated a number of reforms that critics say have weakened the agency, including weakening the CIA operations directorate, its spying branch, by mixing in analysts with espionage and covert action specialists.

Brennan said in July he set up a task force that included FBI agents and National Security Agency officials to look into Russian election meddling. Sometime last summer, he then formally referred intelligence reports on the Russia-Trump campaign contacts to the FBI for further investigation.

The testimony is part of the House committee’s investigation into whether Russian intelligence was able to penetrate the Trump presidential election campaign. It is also investigating how electronic intelligence related to the U.S. investigations of the matter was leaked to the press.

Brennan, in declining to specify the CIA intelligence on the Russian contacts, said documents related to the matter have been provided to the committee by the agency.

FBI Director James Comey announced to Congress in March that the FBI was conducting a counterintelligence probe into “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.”

President Trump has dismissed the Russian collusion allegations as a hoax. He fired Comey earlier this month in part over concerns that the FBI was pursuing an unwarranted probe into the Russia ties.

A Justice Department special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, was appointed earlier this month to investigate the Russian effort to penetrate the Trump campaign.

Brennan was asked several times during the hearing whether he could confirm collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians and said he could not. However, the context of the contacts—Russian intelligence had hacked and disseminated Democratic Party-related documents—raised concerns that he said needed to be investigated.

Brennan said, “I felt as though the FBI investigation was certainly well-founded and needed to look into those issues.”

Brennan said on August 4 that he spoke to Alexander Bortnikov, director of Russia’s Federal Security Service, the main intelligence agency, as part of an intelligence-sharing arrangement related to Syria.

The former CIA chief then complained about Russian mistreatment of U.S. diplomats in Moscow before shifting to the topic of Russian election meddling.

“I next raised the published media reports of Russian attempts to interfere in our upcoming presidential election,” he said. “I told Mr. Bortnikov that if Russia had such a campaign underway, it would be certain to backfire. I said that all Americans regardless of political affiliation or whom they might support in the election cherish their ability to elect their own leaders without outside interference or disruption. I said American voters would be outraged by any Russian attempt to interfere in election.”

The FBI counterspy probe had begun about two months earlier. Brennan was not asked during the hearing whether he raised Russian attempts to try and recruit Trump campaign officials during the conversation with Bortnikov.

Bortnikov, in the conversation, denied Moscow was engaged in an influence operation against the election, Brennan said.

Brennan also disclosed under questioning that the FBI sought to pursue information contained in a private intelligence dossier done by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.

The CIA did not rely on the dossier for its intelligence reporting on Russian activities related to the campaign. “It wasn’t part of the corpus of intelligence” on Russian influence activities and was not made part of the final report, Brennan said.

The FBI, however, tried to confirm elements of the report, Brennan noted.

The dossier, produced by a private company linked to the Democratic Party, asserted that Russia has been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Trump for five years. The document has been widely discredited as containing false information, however.

Rep. Chris Stewart (R., Utah) said he has reviewed raw CIA intelligence related to the intelligence community assessment of Russian election meddling and said he does not agree with its conclusion that Moscow sought to boost Trump’s chances of winning.

“I don’t agree with the conclusion [of the intelligence community assessment] particularly that it’s such a high level of confidence,” Stewart said.

“I just think there should have been allowances made for some of the ambiguity in that, and especially for those who didn’t share in the conclusion that there is a high degree of confidence.”

Allegations of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign remain unconfirmed but have set off a bitter political battle.

Democrats in Congress have charged the Russians secretly worked with Trump campaign associates to skew the election against the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Since the election that brought Trump to power, many Democrats have alleged the win was the result of a conspiracy between Russian intelligence and the Trump campaign to defeat Clinton.

Republicans have questioned whether there is any solid evidence linking Moscow to the Trump campaign.

Congressional Republicans also are investigating whether highly classified intelligence gathered against foreign officials in the United States was misused to gather political intelligence against Trump and his transition team.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), the House intelligence committee chairman, has charged that documents he has reviewed indicate that Americans were improperly spied on during an Obama administration foreign intelligence monitoring operation between November and January—the period when the Trump transition team was functioning.

Nunes, who was sidelined from the Russian investigation by an ethics probe related to the intelligence disclosures, also has said there are indications intelligence agencies may have improperly “unmasked” the identities of Americans that are normally blacked out in foreign intelligence reports to protect privacy rights.

The New York Times reported in March that during this period, the Obama administration was frantically seeking to uncover and preserve intelligence on Russia-Trump campaign ties, fearing the new president would destroy it once in power.

Three Trump aides have been the focus of the Democrats’ allegations. They include former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and unofficial campaign adviser Carter Page.

“Every day the American public is bombarded with news about the Russian interference in our elections,” said the committee’s acting chairman, Rep. Mike Conaway (R., Texas).

“Many of [these] reports are false and/or misleading,” he said. “Today is an opportunity to focus on the truth and the truth can be only found through a full and fair investigation of all the facts.”

Committee Vice Chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) called the Russian influence operation during the 2016 campaign “an unprecedented attack on our democratic institutions.”

Schiff during earlier hearings had asked several questions of intelligence and law enforcement witnesses based on the discredited dossier.

http://freebeacon.com/politics/cia-sought-fbi-probe-russian-targeting-trump-campaign/

Trump’s Tweets Don’t Excuse Media Ignoring Obama Surveillance Story

The media need to separate anger over Trump’s unfounded wiretap tweets from legitimate questions about Obama administration surveillance.

By Mollie Hemingway

In an interview released earlier this week, John Dickerson of CBS News asked President Donald Trump 10 times about his claims of surveillance by the Obama administration. Dickerson began by asking if Obama had given Trump any helpful advice. Trump said Obama had been nice but that words were less important to him than deeds, and referenced “surveillance.”

Trump said the surveillance was inappropriate and Dickerson asked him what that meant. They went back and forth a bit, with Dickerson asking if Trump stood by his claims regarding Obama being “sick and bad” — a reference to his March tweets claiming Trump Tower had been wiretapped.

Let’s revisit those tweets from March 4. They said:

  • Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
  • Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!
  • I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!
  • How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!

Now, by the time Trump tweeted this in early March, it had been reported for months that Trump Tower had been wiretapped in October, but the reporting was mostly done by conspiracy theorist Louise Mensch, so it was not taken very seriously. She had also reported that an initial request for a FISA warrant against Trump and associates had been turned down.

The media responded to these tweets from the president by, reasonably, asking him for proof of President Obama literally wiretapping Trump Tower. No evidence of wiretaps being laid down in Trump Tower has been provided by the president or anyone else. Congressional committees investigating both Russian meddling and illegal leaks by U.S. officials have said they have no evidence of literal wiretaps, much less ones placed personally by President Obama. And intelligence agency chiefs have said they have no evidence of literal wiretaps of Trump Tower.

Because President Trump made incendiary and unsubstantiated claims about wiretapping that he’s been unable to prove, the media have interpreted this, for some reason, as an excuse to pretend that there is nothing at all whatsoever to claims that the Obama administration spied on members of the Trump campaign and the incoming administration. That question — of surveillance of Trump and associates by intelligence agencies — is a separate question from whether President Obama snuck into Trump Tower one night on hands and knees to personally lay down some taps on Trump’s phone lines.

When I’ve raised this point with journalists, most if not all of them have been unable to separate these issues. Some have accused me of wanting to talk about Obama administration surveillance against Trump in order to defend Trump’s erroneous tweets. One claimed I was “twisting theories to try to make a Trump falsehood true.” Wrong. I’ve repeatedly acknowledged that Trump has provided no evidence for his surveillance tweets. With full credit to the literal-serious divide on the president’s rhetoric, he should be more precise with his language if he wanted to talk about general surveillance instead of the comparatively specific claims he made in his tweets.

In any case, I’m beginning to wonder if journalists’ refusal to discuss, much less really dig into, the information collection and dissemination on Trump associates is itself a desire to not give any credence to Trump’s more outlandish claims in his tweets. It reminds me a bit of an ex-boyfriend who accused me of cheating on him. I wasn’t, but he was not faithful.

Journalists need to know that they can and should separate Trump’s irresponsible tweets from the general questions about Obama officials and others in intelligence agencies surveilling a political campaign and presidential transition.

A ‘Shockingly High Percentage’

Last week, ABC News and the Washington Post put out a poll that “alarmed” CNN’s Jake Tapper. He focused on it for an end-of-show lecture on fake news. “A shockingly high percentage of Americans believe President Obama intentionally spied on Donald Trump and members of his campaign,” Tapper reported.

He mentioned Trump’s tweets and showed clips of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and FBI Director James Comey saying there was no evidence of wiretaps. He could have mentioned the many other knowledgeable people denying the presence of a Trump Tower wiretap. He went on:

So that would have seemingly been that, except that the president and his team kept pushing ways to try to make this evidence-free claim somewhere sort of possibly in the neighborhood of almost not entirely false. Now they failed, but they muddied the waters quite a bit. And now here are the shocking numbers from today.

32 percent of the public thinks President Obama intentionally spied on Donald Trump and members of his campaign and 52 percent of Republicans believe this charge. A charge that there is literally no evidence to support. It is the definition of fake news.

There are several problems with this complaint. The poll question was fairly broad, if awkwardly worded. The wording is slightly different than characterized above. It was: “Do you think the Obama administration intentionally spied on Trump and members of his campaign during the 2016 election campaign, or not?” What is “intentional” spying referring to, exactly? And would respondents have an agreement about what that means? Who is considered a part of the Obama administration, exactly? Is the timing of the question meant to exclude the leaks that occurred after Trump won the election? After the Electoral College voted? Until inauguration?

Still, the only shocking thing about the number is that it isn’t higher. What Tapper doesn’t mention is that CNN itself reported the previous week that the FBI began spying on a Trump campaign advisor last summer. Here’s how their story began:

The FBI last year used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump’s campaign as part of the justification to win approval to secretly monitor a Trump associate, according to US officials briefed on the investigation.

That story, which probably arose out of a desire to cushion the blow from questions Sen. Chuck Grassley began asking about the FBI’s use of a shady and discredited dossier, explained that the FBI was spying on a member of the Trump campaign named Carter Page. I repeat, the FBI had secured a FISA warrant to spy on a member of the Trump campaign, according to CNN. I know that the media have serious credibility problems, but you can’t get mad at people for believing what you report.

The FBI is in the executive branch’s Justice Department, although its intelligence activities are overseen by the director of national intelligence. Obama’s DNI was James Clapper, who has repeatedly denied the frequent speculation of his involvement with leaks against Trump.

Another complicating factor is what we know about unmasking of Trump associates. In an era where nearly all the stories regarding intelligence officials leaking information on Trump come from anonymous sources, we have Rep. Devin Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, saying on the record that he’d seen documents that show:

1) Information was collected on the Trump team by Obama administration agencies.
2) This information, which was politically valuable, had little to no reason to be shared in intelligence reports to Obama officials, but was disseminated widely.
3) Obama officials may have flouted legally required attempts to minimize and mask personal identifying information.
4) The unmasking had nothing to do with Russia.

It was later reported that Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security advisor, was one of the Obama officials who had requested the unmasking. While some anonymous sources, some of whom have been included in news reports despite not having seen the documents in question, claim there are non-nefarious reasons for such unmasking and dissemination of politically sensitive information on political opponents, it doesn’t change the claim that unmasking and dissemination of politically valuable information with no intelligence value was committed by the Obama administration.

Would it be reasonable to answer a question on the Obama administration spying on Trump and associates in the affirmative with the knowledge of this claim of unmasking and dissemination of politically sensitive information with little to no intelligence value?

Our media have been little other than anonymous leak receptacles for months. Whether it was leaks about Trump campaign associates supposedly having nefarious ties to Russia, the criminal leak of Mike Flynn’s name, the criminal leak of information about a FISA warrant being secured against Carter Page, the orchestrated release of information about the presentation of a shoddy dossier to President-elect Trump and President Obama, or any of the dozens of leaks used to orchestrate a Russia scare narrative, it doesn’t take a tremendous amount of smarts to figure out that when transcripts or snippets of information are shipped to reporters, the information must first be collected via surveillance and other means. Many of these leaks were sourced to senior intelligence officials during the last days of the Obama administration, after which many of these leaks were sourced to former senior intelligence officials.

There’s also the issue that the same ABC News/Washington Post poll mentioned above showed that 72 percent of Clinton voters think not only that Russia tried to influence the election, but that the Trump campaign intentionally tried to assist such an effort. A few months ago, the last time I saw the question asked, a majority of voters believed that Russians had actually hacked the vote tallies in the election. Needless to say, there is as much evidence to support these claims as there is to support Trump’s wiretap tweets, which is to say none at all.

Is it more alarming that 52 percent of Republicans believe the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign or that 72 percent of Clinton voters think that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia in their hacking and release of Democratic emails? Is it embarrassing to mention the Clinton voter figure on account of how much media outlets have perpetuated this unfounded story?

In his segment, Tapper intoned:

We learned in the campaign that Donald Trump can be cavalier about facts and truth. We learned in his first 100 days that that’s not going to change. Indeed, that some in the government and some of his friends and conservative media will even work to tried and make his falsehoods seem true.

Again, while all of that may be true, it’s also true that we have a media establishment that works to downplay, denigrate, and dismiss legitimate stories if they fear that those stories in any way help a president they oppose.

That reflexive refusal to fairly cover — or just cover, period — stories that might help the president is not how readers or viewers are served. Journalists should go where the stories lead, even if they threaten to harm their best Obama intelligence sources and leakers from the last few months or help a president they worked very hard to defeat. If they need to mention their frustration with his tweets 18 times before they cover FISA warrants, unmasking, or other intelligence actions, that’s fine. But they can’t let that frustration keep them from covering a big story in the public interest.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/05/30/obama-admin-illegal-spying-worse-than-watergate-glenn-reynolds-column/102284058/

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The Pronk Pops Show 933, July 24, 2017, Story 1: The American People Do Not Care About Phony Russian/Trump Collusion Conspiracy of The Lying Lunatic Left, Delusional Democrats and Big Lie Media — They’re Coming To Take You Away To The Funny Farm To Play with Your Ding-a-Ling — Videos — Story 2: Trump Should Read Saul Alinski Rules For Radicals To Understand What Is Going On — Then Have Department of Justice Investigate The Clinton Charitable Foundation For Public Corruption and  Obama Administration For Abuse of Power Using Intelligence Community for Political Purposes And Then  Fire Mueller For Conflicts of Interests — The Sooner The Better — Go On Offense Stop Playing Defense — Just Do It! — Videos

Posted on July 24, 2017. Filed under: American History, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Bribery, Business, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Deep State, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Federal Government, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Health, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, James Comey, Law, Media, National Interest, National Security Agency, News, Obama, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, President Trump, Progressives, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Scandals, Senate, United States of America, War, Wealth, Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: The American People Do Not Care About Phony Russian/Trump Collusion Conspiracy of The Lying Lunatic Left, Delusional Democrats and Big Lie Media — They’re Coming To Take You Away To The Funny Farm To Play with Your Ding-a-Ling — Videos —

Image result for democrats play with their ding-ling

Russia collusion probe may last entire Trump presidency

“BOTTOM LINE IS WE HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE” – SEBASTIAN GORKA (FULL) INTERVIEW ON FOX AND FRIENDS

Jared Kushner statement following Russia Senate hearing

Kushner says he ‘did not collude with Russia’ during campaign

No One Cares About Jared Kushner Except the MSM and Soft Coup Fascist Deep Staters

Napoleon XIV: ‘They’re coming to take me away’

Chuck Berry – My Ding-A-Ling (1972)

 

STATEMENT OF JARED C. KUSHNER TO CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES

July 24, 2017

I am voluntarily providing this statement, submitting documents, and sitting for interviews in order to shed light on issues that have been raised about my role in the Trump for President Campaign and during the transition period.
I am not a person who has sought the spotlight. First in my business and now in public service, I have worked on achieving goals, and have left it to others to work on media and public perception. Because there has been a great deal of conjecture, speculation, and inaccurate information about me, I am grateful for the opportunity to set the record straight.
My Role in the Trump for President Campaign
Before joining the administration, I worked in the private sector, building and managing companies. My experience was in business, not politics, and it was not my initial intent to play a large role in my father-in-law’s campaign when he decided to run for President. However, as the campaign progressed, I was called on to assist with various tasks and aspects of the campaign, and took on more and more responsibility.
Over the course of the primaries and general election campaign, my role continued to evolve. I ultimately worked with the finance, scheduling, communications, speechwriting, polling, data and digital teams, as well as becoming a point of contact for foreign government officials.
All of these were tasks that I had never performed on a campaign previously. When I was faced with a new challenge, I would reach out to contacts, ask advice, find the right person to manage the specific challenge, and work with that person to develop and execute a plan of action. I was lucky to work with some incredibly talented people along the way, all of whom made significant contributions toward the campaign’s ultimate success. Our nimble culture allowed us to adjust to the ever-changing circumstances and make changes on the fly as the situation warranted. I share this information because these actions should be viewed through the lens of a fast-paced campaign with thousands of meetings and interactions, some of which were impactful and memorable and many of which were not.
It is also important to note that a campaign’s success starts with its message and its messenger. Donald Trump had the right vision for America and delivered his message perfectly. The results speak for themselves. Not only did President Trump defeat sixteen skilled and experienced primary opponents and win the presidency; he did so spending a fraction of what his opponent spent in the general election. He outworked his opponent and ran one of the best campaigns in history using both modern technology and traditional methods to bring his message to the American people.
Campaign Contacts with Foreign Persons
When it became apparent that my father-in-law was going to be the Republican nominee for President, as normally happens, a number of officials from foreign countries attempted to reach out to the campaign. My father-in-law asked me to be a point of contact with these foreign countries. These were not contacts that I initiated, but, over the course of the campaign, I had incoming contacts with people from approximately 15 countries. To put these requests in context, I must have received thousands of calls, letters and emails from people looking to talk or meet on a variety of issues and topics, including hundreds from outside the United States. While I could not be responsive to everyone, I tried to be respectful of any foreign government contacts with whom it would be important to maintain an ongoing, productive working relationship were the candidate to prevail. To that end, I called on a variety of people with deep experience, such as Dr. Henry Kissinger, for advice on policy for the candidate, which countries/representatives with which the campaign should engage, and what messaging would resonate. In addition, it was typical for me to receive 200 or more emails a day during the campaign. I did not have the time to read every one, especially long emails from unknown senders or email chains to which I was added at some later point in the exchange.
With respect to my contacts with Russia or Russian representatives during the campaign, there were hardly any. The first that I can recall was at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. in April 2016. This was when then candidate Trump was delivering a major foreign policy speech. Doing the event and speech had been my idea, and I oversaw its execution. I arrived at the hotel early to make sure all logistics were in order. After that, I stopped into the reception to thank the host of the event, Dimitri Simes, the publisher of the bi-monthly foreign policy magazine, The National Interest, who had done a great job putting everything together. Mr. Simes and his group had created the guest list and extended the invitations for the event. He introduced me to several guests, among them four ambassadors, including Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. With all the ambassadors, including Mr. Kislyak, we shook hands, exchanged brief pleasantries and I thanked them for attending the event and said I hoped they would like candidate Trump’s speech and his ideas for a fresh approach to America’s foreign policy. The ambassadors also expressed interest in creating a positive relationship should we win the election. Each exchange lasted less than a minute; some gave me their business cards and invited me to lunch at their embassies. I never took them up on any of these invitations and that was the extent of the interactions.
Reuters news service has reported that I had two calls with Ambassador Kislyak at some time between April and November of 2016. While I participated in thousands of calls during this period, I do not recall any such calls with the Russian Ambassador. We have reviewed the phone records available to us and have not been able to identify any calls to any number we know to be associated with Ambassador Kislyak and I am highly skeptical these calls took place. A comprehensive review of my land line and cell phone records from the time does not reveal those calls. I had no ongoing relationship with the Ambassador before the election, and had limited knowledge about him then. In fact, on November 9, the day after the election, I could not even remember the name of the Russian Ambassador. When the campaign received an email purporting to be an official note of congratulations from President Putin, I was asked how we could verify it was real. To do so I thought the best way would be to ask the only contact I recalled meeting from the Russian government, which was the Ambassador I had met months earlier, so I sent an email asking Mr. Simes, “What is the name of the Russian ambassador?” Through my lawyer, I have asked Reuters to provide the dates on which the calls supposedly occurred or the phone number at which I supposedly reached, or was reached by, Ambassador Kislyak. The journalist refused to provide any corroborating evidence that they occurred.
The only other Russian contact during the campaign is one I did not recall at all until I was reviewing documents and emails in response to congressional requests for information. In June 2016, my brother-in-law, Donald Trump Jr. asked if I was free to stop by a meeting on June 9 at 3:00 p.m. The campaign was headquartered in the same building as his office in Trump Tower, and it was common for each of us to swing by the other’s meetings when requested. He eventually sent me his own email changing the time of the meeting to 4:00 p.m. That email was on top of a long back and forth that I did not read at the time. As I did with most emails when I was working remotely, I quickly reviewed on my iPhone the relevant message that the meeting would occur at 4:00 PM at his office. Documents confirm my memory that this was calendared as “Meeting: Don Jr.| Jared Kushner.” No one else was mentioned.
I arrived at the meeting a little late. When I got there, the person who has since been identified as a Russian attorney was talking about the issue of a ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian children. I had no idea why that topic was being raised and quickly determined that my time was not well-spent at this meeting. Reviewing emails recently confirmed my memory that the meeting was a waste of our time and that, in looking for a polite way to leave and get back to my work, I actually emailed an assistant from the meeting after I had been there for ten or so minutes and wrote “Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting.” I had not met the attorney before the meeting nor spoken with her since. I thought nothing more of this short meeting until it came to my attention recently. I did not read or recall this email exchange before it was shown to me by my lawyers when reviewing documents for submission to the committees. No part of the meeting I attended included anything about the campaign, there was no follow up to the meeting that I am aware of, I do not recall how many people were there (or their names), and I have no knowledge of any documents being offered or accepted. Finally, after seeing the email, I disclosed this meeting prior to it being reported in the press on a supplement to my security clearance form, even if that was not required as meeting the definitions of the form.
There was one more possible contact that I will note. On October 30, 2016, I received a random email from the screenname “Guccifer400.” This email, which I interpreted as a hoax, was an extortion attempt and threatened to reveal candidate Trump’s tax returns and demanded that we send him 52 bitcoins in exchange for not publishing that information. I brought the email to the attention of a U.S. Secret Service agent on the plane we were all travelling on and asked what he thought. He advised me to ignore it and not to reply — which is what I did. The sender never contacted me again.
To the best of my recollection, these were the full extent of contacts I had during the campaign with persons who were or appeared to potentially be representatives of the Russian government.
Transition Contacts with Foreign Persons
The transition period after the election was even more active than the campaign. Starting on election night, we began to receive an incredible volume of messages and invitations from well-wishers in the United States and abroad. Dozens of messages came from foreign officials seeking to set up foreign leader calls and create lines of communication and relationships with what would be the new administration. During this period, I recall having over fifty contacts with people from over fifteen countries. Two of those meetings were with Russians, neither of which I solicited.
On November 16, 2016, my assistant received a request for a meeting from the Russian Ambassador. As I mentioned before, previous to receiving this request, I could not even recall the Russian Ambassador’s name, and had to ask for the name of the individual I had seen at the Mayflower Hotel almost seven months earlier. In addition, far from being urgent, that meeting was not set up for two weeks — on December 1. The meeting occurred in Trump Tower, where we had our transition office, and lasted twenty- thirty minutes. Lt. General Michael Flynn (Ret.), who became the President’s National Security Advisor, also attended. During the meeting, after pleasantries were exchanged, as I had done in many of the meetings I had and would have with foreign officials, I stated our desire for a fresh start in relations. Also, as I had done in other meetings with foreign officials, I asked Ambassador Kislyak if he would identify the best person (whether the Ambassador or someone else) with whom to have direct discussions and who had contact with his President. The fact that I was asking about ways to start a dialogue after Election Day should of course be viewed as strong evidence that I was not aware of one that existed before Election Day.
The Ambassador expressed similar sentiments about relations, and then said he especially wanted to address U.S. policy in Syria, and that he wanted to convey information from what he called his “generals.” He said he wanted to provide information that would help inform the new administration. He said the generals could not easily come to the U.S. to convey this information and he asked if there was a secure line in the transition office to conduct a conversation. General Flynn or I explained that there were no such lines. I believed developing a thoughtful approach on Syria was a very high priority given the ongoing humanitarian crisis, and I asked if they had an existing communications channel at his embassy we could use where they would be comfortable transmitting the information they wanted to relay to General Flynn. The Ambassador said that would not be possible and so we all agreed that we would receive this information after the Inauguration. Nothing else occurred. I did not suggest a “secret back channel.” I did not suggest an on-going secret form of communication for then or for when the administration took office. I did not raise the possibility of using the embassy or any other Russian facility for any purpose other than this one possible conversation in the transition period. We did not discuss sanctions.
Approximately a week later, on December 6, the Embassy asked if I could meet with the Ambassador on December 7. I declined. They then asked if I could meet on December 6; I declined again. They then asked when the earliest was that I could meet. I declined these requests because I was working on many other responsibilities for the transition. He asked if he could meet my assistant instead and, to avoid offending the Ambassador, I agreed. He did so on December 12. My assistant reported that the Ambassador had requested that I meet with a person named Sergey Gorkov who he said was a banker and someone with a direct line to the Russian President who could give insight into how Putin was viewing the new administration and best ways to work together. I agreed to meet Mr. Gorkov because the Ambassador has been so insistent, said he had a direct relationship with the President, and because Mr. Gorkov was only in New York for a couple days. I made room on my schedule for the meeting that occurred the next day, on December 13.
The meeting with Mr. Gorkov lasted twenty to twenty-five minutes. He introduced himself and gave me two gifts — one was a piece of art from Nvgorod, the village where my grandparents were from in Belarus, and the other was a bag of dirt from that same village. (Any notion that I tried to conceal this meeting or that I took it thinking it was in my capacity as a businessman is false. In fact, I gave my assistant these gifts to formally register them with the transition office). After that, he told me a little about his bank and made some statements about the Russian economy. He said that he was friendly with President Putin, expressed disappointment with U.S.-Russia relations under President Obama and hopes for a better relationship in the future. As I did at the meeting with Ambassador Kislyak, I expressed the same sentiments I had with other foreign officials I met. There were no specific policies discussed. We had no discussion about the sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration. At no time was there any discussion about my companies, business transactions, real estate projects, loans, banking arrangements or any private business of any kind. At the end of the short meeting, we thanked each other and I went on to other meetings. I did not know or have any contact with Mr. Gorkov before that meeting, and I have had no reason to connect with him since.
To the best of my recollection, these were the only two contacts I had during the transition with persons who were or appeared to potentially be representatives of the Russian government.
Disclosure of Contacts on My Security Clearance Form
There has been a good deal of misinformation reported about my SF-86 form. As my attorneys and I have previously explained, my SF-86 application was prematurely submitted due to a miscommunication and initially did not list any contacts (not just with Russians) with foreign government officials. Here are some facts about that form and the efforts I have made to supplement it.
In the week before the Inauguration, amid the scramble of finalizing the unwinding of my involvement from my company, moving my family to Washington, completing the paper work to divest assets and resign from my outside positions and complete my security and financial disclosure forms, people at my New York office were helping me find the information, organize it, review it and put it into the electronic form. They sent an email to my assistant in Washington, communicating that the changes to one particular section were complete; my assistant interpreted that message as meaning that the entire form was completed. At that point, the form was a rough draft and still had many omissions including not listing any foreign government contacts and even omitted the address of my father-in-law (which was obviously well known). Because of this miscommunication, my assistant submitted the draft on January 18, 2017.
That evening, when we realized the form had been submitted prematurely, we informed the transition team that we needed to make changes and additions to the form. The very next day, January 19, 2017, we submitted supplemental information to the transition, which confirmed receipt and said they would immediately transmit it to the FBI. The supplement disclosed that I had “numerous contacts with foreign officials” and that we were going through my records to provide an accurate and complete list. I provided a list of those contacts in the normal course, before my background investigation interview and prior to any inquiries or media reports about my form.
It has been reported that my submission omitted only contacts with Russians. That is not the case. In the accidental early submission of the form, all foreign contacts were omitted. The supplemental information later disclosed over one hundred contacts from more than twenty countries that might be responsive to the questions on the form. These included meetings with individuals such as Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Israel’s Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Luis Videgaray Caso and many more. All of these had been left off before.
Over the last six months, I have made every effort to provide the FBI with whatever information is needed to investigate my background. In addition, my attorneys have explained that the security clearance process is one in which supplements are expected and invited. The form itself instructs that, during the interview, the information in the document can be “update[d], clarif[ied], and explain[ed]” as part of the security clearance process. A good example is the June 9 meeting. For reasons that should be clear from the explanation of that meeting I have provided, I did not remember the meeting and certainly did not remember it as one with anyone who had to be included on an SF-86. When documents reviewed for production in connection with committee requests reminded me that meeting had occurred, and because of the language in the email chain that I then read for the first time, I included that meeting on a supplement. I did so even though my attorneys were unable to conclude that the Russian lawyer was a representative of any foreign country and thus fell outside the scope of the form. This supplemental information was also provided voluntarily, well prior to any media inquiries, reporting or request for this information, and it was done soon after I was reminded of the meeting.
****
As I have said from the very first media inquiry, I am happy to share information with the
investigating bodies. I have shown today that I am willing to do so and will continue to cooperate as I have nothing to hide. As I indicated, I know there has been a great deal of speculation and conjecture about my contacts with any officials or people from Russia. I have disclosed these contacts and described them as fully as I can recall. The record and documents I am providing will show that I had perhaps four contacts with Russian representatives out of thousands during the campaign and transition, none of which were impactful in any way to the election or particularly memorable. I am very grateful for the opportunity to set the record straight. I also have tried to provide context for my role in the campaign, and I am proud of the candidate that we supported, of the campaign that we ran, and the victory that we achieved.
It has been my practice not to appear in the media or leak information in my own defense. I have tried to focus on the important work at hand and serve this President and this country to the best of my abilities. I hope that through my answers to questions, written statements and documents I have now been able to demonstrate the entirety of my limited contacts with Russian representatives during the campaign and transition. I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government. I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector. I have tried to be fully transparent with regard to the filing of my SF-86 form, above and beyond what is required. Hopefully, this puts these matters to rest.

Jared Kushner Details Russia Meetings, Denies Collusion

President’s son-in-law and adviser speaks with Senate panel about investigation into Russia

Kushner: ‘I Did Not Collude With Russia’
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner denied allegations that he colluded with Russian officials, following a meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

WASHINGTON— Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, said Monday he didn’t collude with any Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and rejected the suggestion that Moscow was responsible for the president’s victory.

Speaking outside the White House on Monday, Mr. Kushner said his actions over the last two years “were proper and occurred in the normal course of events in a very unique campaign.”

“I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else on the campaign who did so,” he said.

Mr. Kushner said Mr. Trump defeated Democratic rival Hillary Clinton because he had “a better message and ran a smarter campaign, and that is why he won. Suggesting otherwise ridicules those who voted for him.”

Mr. Kushner addressed the press Monday after concluding an interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee, his first time speaking to congressional investigators who are probing Russian meddling in the election. Mr. Kushner said he would speak to a House panel on Tuesday.

Ahead of the interview on Monday, Mr. Kushner released an 11-page statement detailing his contacts with Russian officials and businesspeople in the two years since Mr. Trump launched his presidential campaign. In that statement, he said he had no improper interactions and that he hadn’t “relied” on Russian funds to “finance [his] business activities.”

A spokesman for Mr. Kushner didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether the statement meant no Russian funds were involved in his businesses.

The written statement included details of a previously undisclosed, brief meeting with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in April 2016. During the encounter—shortly before Mr. Trump would become the Republican party’s effective nominee—Mr. Kushner met ambassador Sergei Kislyak at an event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. Mr. Kushner said he was introduced to Mr. Kislyak and three other ambassadors by Dimitri Simes, the publisher of a foreign-policy magazine who was hosting the event, at a reception held directly before it.

Mr. Trump, who gave a speech addressing foreign policy at the event, also greeted Mr. Kislyak and three other foreign ambassadors who came to a VIP reception, The Wall Street Journal reported in May 2016. Mr. Kushner’s account makes no mention of Mr. Trump being present at the reception. Attorney General Jeff Sessions—then a U.S. senator advising the Trump campaign—also attended the event, and said in sworn testimony before a Senate panel this past June that he couldn’t recall whether he had a passing encounter with Mr. Kislyak there.

“The ambassadors…expressed interest in creating a positive relationship should we win the election,” Mr. Kushner wrote in his statement. “Each exchange lasted less than a minute; some gave me their business cards and invited me to lunch at their embassies. I never took them up on any of these invitations and that was the extent of the interactions.”

A spokesman for Mr. Kushner had previously denied that Messrs. Kushner and Kislyak met privately at the event. A separate Kushner spokesman said Monday that the statement doesn’t contradict the previous denial because the two met at a reception, not one-on-one.

To underscore the brief nature of the interaction, Mr. Kushner referenced an email he wrote on Nov. 9 after the campaign received a note of congratulations from Russian President Vladimir Putin. “What is the name of the Russian ambassador?” Mr. Kushner asked in an email to Mr. Simes, an American born in Moscow, saying he wanted to verify that the Putin note was real.

In the statement, Mr. Kushner also denied trying to establish any “backchannel” with Russia, though he acknowledged that in a December meeting with Mr. Kislyak, Mr. Kushner proposed receiving information about military operations in Syria via a secure communications line at the Russian embassy, because the Trump transition team had no secure system of its own.

After Mr. Trump’s victory on Election Day, the White House repeatedly denied that there had been any contacts between his campaign and Russian officials. “It never happened,” spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the Associated Press in November. “There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”

Since then, it has emerged that several members of Mr. Trump’s campaign—some of whom now serve in his administration—did have contact with Russians. They include Mr. Sessions, former national security adviser Mike Flynn and the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr.

Congressional investigators and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing a criminal probe for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are investigating possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as well as whether Trump associates colluded in any meddling.

Mr. Trump and his campaign aides have denied any collusion, and the president has said he questions the U.S. intelligence agencies’ consensus that Moscow sought to intervene during the campaign—a charge that Russian officials have denied.

The Russian Embassy announced on Twitter Saturday that Mr. Kislyak has concluded his assignment in Washington.

Sergei Kislyak, former Russian ambassador to the U.S.
Sergei Kislyak, former Russian ambassador to the U.S. PHOTO: CAROLYN KASTER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The revelations of the Russia meetings come as Congress considers legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia as retribution for any interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The bill, which already passed the Senate on a rare and overwhelming bipartisan 98-2 vote, will pose a test for the president, who has expressed skepticism about the intelligence community’s assessment of Moscow’s role in the campaign, from hacking Democratic emails to promoting fake news. The White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Sunday said Mr. Trump was likely to support the legislation.

Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee has summoned Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman for three months in 2016, and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, to a hearing on Wednesday, along with Russia sanctions activist Bill Browder and Glenn Simpson, the founder of a political intelligence firm in Washington called Fusion GPS. Mr. Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, was subpoenaed to appear before the committee on Friday.

Mr. Simpson’s attorneys have said they are prepared to fight the subpoena. The Judiciary Committee said Donald Trump Jr. and Mr. Manafort are providing documents to the committee and are still negotiating the terms of their testimonies.

The new meeting disclosed on Monday comes on top of three previously confirmed meetings Mr. Kushner has held with Russians. He also disclosed that in October—days before the election—he reported to a Secret Service agent an email he received from someone under the name “Guccifer400” that threatened to “reveal candidate Trump’s tax returns and demanded that we send him 52 bitcoins in exchange for not publishing that information.” The agent advised Mr. Kushner to ignore the email, and Mr. Kushner said he wasn’t contacted by the sender again.

In June 2016, Mr. Kushner met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Mr. Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. in a meeting arranged by the younger Mr. Trump. Emails the president’s son released earlier this month showed the meeting was held to discuss allegedly damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton that the Trump campaign was told was being offered by the Russian government in support of the elder Mr. Trump’s candidacy.

In an email to the younger Mr. Trump dated June 3, 2016, a British publicist said that a top Russian prosecutor had “offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”

The younger Mr. Trump responded: “[If] it’s what you say I love it.”

Mr. Kushner said Monday that he arrived late to the meeting and left early, sending his assistant an email that said: “Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting.” He said that while he was there, the meeting didn’t discuss “anything about the campaign” and said there was no follow-up.

Mr. Kushner disclosed the meeting with Ms. Veselnitskaya earlier this year in a required form to obtain a security clearance. Mr. Kushner initially filed a disclosure that didn’t list any contacts with foreign government officials, but the next day submitted a supplemental disclosure saying that he had engaged in “numerous contacts with foreign officials.”

He said Monday that the omission of foreign contacts was an administrative error.

Mr. Kushner has since submitted information about “over 100 contacts from more than 20 countries,” he said. That information hasn’t been publicly disclosed, but Mr. Kushner said Monday the contacts included meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Luis Videgaray Caso, the secretary of foreign affairs for Mexico.

White House officials also said earlier this year that Mr. Kushner met in December with Messrs. Kislyak and Flynn. Mr. Flynn resigned in February as national security adviser after it was disclosed he misled officials about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.

During that meeting, Mr. Kushner said Monday, he asked Mr. Kislyak to “identify the best person…with whom to have direct discussions and who had contact with his president.” He also expressed a desire for a “fresh start in relations.”

Mr. Kushner subsequently had aide Avraham Berkowitz handle another meeting requested by Mr. Kislyak, during which the ambassador sought to arrange a meeting between Mr. Kushner and Sergei Gorkov, the head of Vneshekonombank, or VEB, the officials said. Mr. Kushner’s meeting with Mr. Gorkov took place in December at a location other than Trump Tower, a senior administration official said.

In 2014 the U.S. imposed sanctions on the Russian development bank, naming entities and individuals operating in Russia’s economy after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. The Treasury Department sanctions prohibit specified financial contacts with the bank and others on the list.

The White House’s account of that December meeting has differed from that of VEB, which said its leadership met with Mr. Kushner in his capacity as the head of the real-estate firm Kushner Cos. A senior administration official said earlier this year that Mr. Kushner didn’t know the bank was under sanction and “wasn’t there to discuss business.”

On Monday, Mr. Kushner said they discussed “no specific policies” and said Mr. Gorkov “told me a little about his bank and made some statements about the Russian economy.” Mr. Gorkov also said he was “friendly with” Mr. Putin.

In his statement Monday, Mr. Kushner acknowledged that he proposed receiving information about military operations in Syria via a secure communications line at the Russian embassy, but he denied trying to establish any “backchannel” and said his interest in talking to Russia via secure means was solely to obtain information about the conflict in Syria.

The idea to have direct contacts with Russia about Syria during the transition came from Mr. Kislyak, who said at the December meeting in Trump Tower that he wanted to relay information from Russian “generals” who couldn’t come to the U.S., Mr. Kushner said.

The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Mr. Kushner had discussed with the Russian ambassador the possibility of setting up a secure communications line with Russia during the transition and using equipment at the Russian embassy, according to a person familiar with the matters.

A mode of communication like that could have made it more difficult for U.S. intelligence agencies to intercept and listen to conversations. And two other people with knowledge of Mr. Kushner’s activities during the transition said his interest in creating what they described as a “backchannel” with Russia raised concerns among law enforcement and national-security officials about his and the team’s activities.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/jared-kushner-releases-details-on-previously-undisclosed-meeting-with-russian-ambassador-1500890433

Story 2: Trump Should Read Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals To Understand What Is Going On — Then Have Department of Justice Investigate The Clinton Charitable Foundation For Public Corruption and  Obama Administration For Abuse of Power In Office For Using Intelligence Community for Political Purposes And Then  Fire Mueller For Conflicts on Interests — The Sooner The Better — Go On Offense Stop Playing Defense — Just Do It! — Videos

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Trump’s media allies are making the case for firing Robert Mueller

Saturday Night Massacre, redux?

The appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel investigating matters related to Russia and the 2016 presidential campaign served to effectively quell the firestorm of criticism launched by Donald Trump’s decision to fire Mueller’s successor at the FBI. But what if Trump fires Mueller, too, as is his right under the law?

That’s exactly what a growing chorus of voices in pro-Trump media are arguing that he should do, with former House Speaker and leading Trump sycophant Newt Gingrich leading the charge.

Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look who he is hiring.check fec reports. Time to rethink.

It seems that the consensus that there’s a problem with Mueller is somewhat in advance of the consensus on what the problem exactly is. But Trump-friendly pundits are throwing a few different ideas out there.

Any such move would, of course, be politically explosive and draw direct parallels to Richard Nixon’s conduct. But if Republicans on Capitol Hill are willing to go along with it, there’s nobody else out there who can actually stop Trump.

There’s nothing to investigate

Ann Coulter offered the argument that since Comey testified that Trump was not personally under investigation, there is nothing to investigate, and thus no need for a special counsel.

Now that we FINALLY got Comey to admit Trump not under investigation, Sessions should fire Mueller. Why do we need a special counsel now?

The problem here is that even if the president is personally innocent of any wrongdoing, there can still be significant legal jeopardy for people in his orbit.

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn appears to be in hot water regarding his secret sources of foreign income, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made false statements under oath regarding his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, senior adviser Jared Kushner seems to have made false sworn statements on his security clearance paperwork regarding meeting an executive at a Russian bank that’s widely seen as a front for Russian intelligence, and Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort is facing questions about possible money laundering.

That’s all the kind of thing you might want investigated by someone outside the normal Department of Justice chain of command.

There’s a conflict of interest

Byron York of the Washington Examiner floats a different account: Mueller can’t investigate Comey because they used to work together.

“Comey,” York writes, “is a good friend of special counsel Robert Mueller — such a good friend, for about 15 years now, that the two men have been described as ‘brothers in arms.’”

The idea that Mueller is unfit to investigate a Republican administration because he served alongside Comey as a high-level appointee in the previous Republican administration is too ridiculous for York to outright endorse, so instead he frames his article as a reporting mission in which he consults with experts on the question of whether or not there’s a conflict of interest. York is unable to find a single person willing to go on the record as supporting his conflict of interest theory.

But he does find four anonymous lawyers, three of whom worked at one point for the Justice Department, to say it’s inappropriate for Mueller to head an investigation that involves Comey as a witness.

Mueller’s team is biased

Gingrich’s argument is more straightforward: Mueller is biased and unfair.

This is a bit of a hard sell. Mueller won a bronze star as a Marine in the Vietnam War. Ronald Reagan appointed him as US attorney for Massachusetts, George H.W. Bush appointed him an assistant attorney general, and George W. Bush as deputy attorney general and then later FBI director. He’s not a particularly partisan figure (he also served a couple of years as a Clinton-appointed US attorney, and Barack Obama extended his term as FBI director by two years,) but he’s generally regarded as a Republican, and has received Senate-confirmed appointments by each of the past five presidents.

But Gingrich’s suggestion that we “look at who he is hiring” and “check FEC reports” hints at the broad outline of a case.

  • Andrew Weissmann, the head of the DOJ Criminal Division’s fraud section, for example, has gone to work for Mueller. That seems natural enough since Weissmann served as general counsel of the FBI when Mueller was director. But FEC reports show that Weissmann donated about $2,300 to the Obama/Biden campaign in 2008.
  • Jeannie Rhee, a former Justice Department lawyer who’s now a colleague of Mueller’s at Wilmer Hale donated to Obama, to Hillary Clinton, and to a few of Democratic senate candidates over the years.
  • James Quarles, a Watergate prosecutor and longtime Wilmer Hale attorney, was also a donor to Obama in 2008 and Clinton in 2016.

An explosive move, but a tempting one

Obviously, to fire a well-regarded special prosecutor who is investigating your own administration would be an explosive political move.

When Richard Nixon did this in the Saturday Night Massacre it was a major scandal that, in many respects, kicked the Watergate investigation into overdrive. And, indeed, it was the political backlash to firing Comey that saddled Trump with the Mueller investigation in the first place. Prudent counselors might advise him that firing Mueller will only serve to further exacerbate his problems.

On the other hand, while firing Comey was not exactly well-received on Capitol Hill, the vast majority of congressional Republicans were eager to rally around the idea that Trump was within his legal rights to fire the FBI director. One clear takeaway from Comey’s public testimony last week is that congressional Republicans do not believe that asking an FBI director to stymie an investigation, then firing him when he doesn’t do it, then lying to the public about why you fired him constitutes obstruction of justice or abuse of power in the relevant sense.

Given that standard, they might well conclude that firing Mueller is okay too. Trump’s legal authority to do this, after all, is perfectly clear. The only check is political backlash on Capitol Hill, where Republicans hold majorities in both houses and have thus far shown little inclination to check Trump.

Last but by no means least, one advantage Trump has in Russia-related decision-making is that he knows more than either his allies or his antagonists in Congress about what the underlying facts of the case are. Trump is in a unique position to evaluate whether the political costs of a cover-up exceed the political costs of a thorough investigation. In the case of, for example, his still-secret tax returns and personal finances, Trump has decided that the cover-up is the wiser path — and it’s certainly possible he’ll reach the same conclusion with regard to Mueller.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/6/12/15782092/fire-robert-mueller

When Will President Trump Fire Robert Mueller?

The White House is threatening the special counsel and trying to dig up dirt on him, and the prospect that the president will try to fire him now seems very real.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller
J. Scott Applewhite / AP
The idea that Donald Trump might fire—or try to fire—Special Counsel Robert Mueller has bubbled up enough times to seem possible, but still improbable. For one thing (as Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer, among others, can attest) press reports that this president might fire someone are frequently wrong. For another, it seemed that even Trump was prudent enough to avoid making the mistake that ended Richard Nixon’s presidency.Yet Trump has a knack for making the wildly implausible suddenly imminent.  In the last 36 hours, the idea of Mueller being fired—and the political crisis it would likely set off—has become distinctly real. In an interview with The New York Times, Trump all but said he would fire Mueller if his investigation went into places Trump didn’t like. Since then, several reports have suggested that Trump’s defense strategy, as investigations probe deeper into his life and administration, is to attack Mueller and attempt to discredit him. Increasingly, the operative question seems not to be whether Trump will try to fire Mueller, but when he will do so and what will push him over the edge.

Firing Mueller would likely create a reprise of the October 1973 “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which Richard Nixon tried to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. When the attorney general and his deputy both refused and resigned, Nixon eventually got Solicitor General Robert Bork to do the deed. But a judge ruled the firing illegal, Cox was replaced by Leon Jaworski, and Nixon had to resign within a year.

If Trump did fire Mueller, it would be the third time in his tenure that Trump tried to get a law-enforcement official who was investigating him or his associates to close a case and, having failed, fired the official.

Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, was, according to a Bloomberg report on Thursday, investigating financial dealings involving Trump, his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and others. After winning the presidency, Trump told Bharara he intended to keep him in his job. Trump then worked to cultivate Bharara, placing repeated phone calls to him. Bharara refused to take the calls, saying they violated protocol. Trump then fired him, along with most other U.S. attorneys, in March. (Bloomberg reports Mueller has taken over the investigation Bharara started.)Something similar happened with FBI Director James Comey. Trump invited Comey to dinner in January, where, according to Comey, Trump asked him for loyalty; Comey offered only “honest loyalty.” The following month, after National-Security Adviser Michael Flynn was forced to step down for lying to Vice President Pence about conversations with the Russian ambassador, Trump asked Comey to find a way to let Flynn ago, according to memos Comey wrote at the time. Comey did not, and in May, Trump fired him—citing the Russia probe as the reason in an interview with NBC News’s Lester Holt.Mueller’s situation now looks eerily similar. The special counsel is known to be looking into Trump and his associates, both in their relations with Russia in the campaign and in their business dealings. Trump sent two of his lawyers to meet with Mueller, to ask him to wrap the investigation swiftly. Now, he has issued a warning to Mueller through the press. (His lawyers say they are cooperating with the investigation.) It’s difficult to believe that the special counsel will be intimidated. Mueller, himself a former FBI director, has a strong reputation for independence and doggedness. He might be even less susceptible to political pressure than Bharara and Comey, both of whom, while well-regarded for honesty, are sometimes accused of political ambition. (Mueller’s aversion to attention means it’s harder to know what’s going on inside his team, which doesn’t leak much.)
This places Trump and Mueller on a collision path. Either the president will have to fire the special counsel for doing exactly the same things that got Bharara and Comey axed, or he’ll have to sit and seethe as Mueller pokes into his taxes, his business, and who knows what else.In mid-June, Chris Ruddy, a friend of Trump’s and the CEO of Newsmax, told PBS’s NewsHour that Trump was considering firing Mueller, on the basis that he had spoken to Mueller about the job of FBI director days before Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed him special counsel. The president felt that created a conflict of interest, but cooler heads in the White House seem to have convinced him firing Mueller was unwise.Legal experts think Trump could fire Mueller in several ways. He could direct Rosenstein to do so, but Rosenstein would probably refuse unless there was a strong legal justification. Trump could also try to change the rules for firing, but that would also have to go through Rosenstein. Either path is fraught with likely firings or resignations at the Justice Department.Yet in the eye-popping Times interview Wednesday, reporter Michael Schmidt asked, “If Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia—is that a red line?” Trump said, “I would say yeah. I would say yes … I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia. So I think if he wants to go, my finances are extremely good, my company is an unbelievably successful company.” Trump wouldn’t actually commit to firing Mueller if he did, though: “I can’t, I can’t answer that question because I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Since then, the flood. The Washington Post reports that Trump is seeking ways to box in Mueller’s probe and limit its scope, as well as exploring the limits of his power to pardon aides, or, potentially, himself. “They are actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work, according to several of Trump’s legal advisers,” the paper adds. The New York Times had a similar report.The Trump team seems to be targeting Mueller from two angles. The first is conflicts of interest. Trump seems to have little understanding of what constitutes a conflict; he has remained deeply entangled in his private business while serving as president, and accused multiple figures of conflicts of interest in his Times interview, even as he evinced no understanding of the conflict that forced Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from Russia matters. But the Justice Department has explicit rules for what constitutes an improper conflict. It doesn’t appear that what the Trump team has come up with so far—Mueller’s conversation with Trump, or political donations by members of his team—would meet the standards in that policy.The second tack is to try to prevent Mueller from moving into areas Trump doesn’t want him to explore. “The president’s making clear that the special counsel should not move outside the scope of the investigation,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Thursday. Yet any argument that the investigation must stay within its own scope begs the question: Who is to determine what the scope of the investigation is, after all? Rosenstein’s letter appointing Mueller seems to offer the prosecutor a great deal of leeway, including authorizing “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
Take the Trump team’s warnings to Mueller to stick to Russia. The problem is that, as Trump surely knows, business doesn’t stop neatly at international borders. For example: Trump banks with Deutsche Bank, a German bank. Deutsche Bank works with Vnesheconombank, a state-owned Russian bank with whose chief executive Kushner had a questionable conversation in December. Or: Paul Manafort is reportedly being investigated for transactions through Cyprus, where Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev is chairman of the Bank of the Cyprus; Rybolovlev in 2015 bought a house in Florida from Trump for a huge profit. How does one draw a line between what is “Russian” and what is not?While Mueller is not speaking to the press, various reports have emerged about the scope of his investigation, and they suggest that Mueller intends to follow each thread as far as he can. The historical precedent, as I have written before, is the Whitewater investigation into the Clintons. That inquiry didn’t end up finding wrongdoing in the 1970s real-estate deal that gave the scandal its name, but once a special prosecutor begins combing over someone’s affairs, he tends to find something. In Clinton’s case, the end game was impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky case, an affair that hadn’t even begun when the investigation opened.Trump, who has made a career in business out of frequently bending or even simply breaking the rules, may have good reason to be concerned. The question is about what. The Post reports:

Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face. His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.

Trump has famously refused to release his taxes, breaking a precedent that has endured since Watergate. During the campaign, he claimed he couldn’t release the taxes because he was under audit (he never proved that, and the IRS said there was no reason he couldn’t release the returns anyway), but since winning election, he has made clear he actually has no intention of releasing them.

The complaint about tax returns suggests two possible worries. One is that he thinks his returns will reveal improprieties or illegal behavior. The other is that Trump’s taxes will show that he is not worth as much as he claims he is, or that they will show that his debt dwarfs his assets. Being revealed to be in debt, or less rich than claimed, might be a strange reason to risk blowing up one’s presidency and by extension reputation and legacy. But Trump has both consistently exaggerated his wealth, attributing huge value to intangible things, and has fought bitterly when anyone has questioned his figures.When journalist Tim O’Brien wrote that Trump was worth only $150 to $250 million, Trump sued him for libel in 2006, demanding $5 billion in damages. (That’s one way to build up net worth.) The suit didn’t go well. In a deposition for the case, Trump had to admit lying 30 times, and a judge dismissed the suit.It is impossible to predict what might happen if Trump did fire Mueller. Republicans in Congress have shown relatively little interest in aggressively holding the president accountable. As McKay Coppins reported this week, many of them are dubious that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia. But the collapse of the health-care bill combined with Trump’s threats against Mueller has aroused new ire among members. Senator Susan Collins of Maine told CNN, “It would be catastrophic if the president were to fire the special counsel.” Others expressed grave concerns, though not attaching their name.
Yet talk now and action later are two different things. On the one hand, plenty of Republicans have been critical of Trump but continue to mostly go with the flow. On the other, congressional Republicans were slow to turn on Nixon, too. In the event of a firing, James Fallows writes, holding Trump accountable would hinge on finding three Republican senators willing to buck the White House.In some ways, Trump is already following in the steps of the 37th president. A friend of Donald Trump Jr. recently compared him to Nixon giving his famous 1952 Checkers speech, in which the then-vice presidential candidate defended himself against accusations of financial impropriety. That speech was a political triumph: It convinced Dwight Eisenhower to leave him on the ticket, Eisenhower won the presidency, and Nixon came back from the political dead, not for the last time. Biographer Jack Farrell notes that Nixon’s impetus for firing Cox was his fury that the special prosecutor had expanded the scope of his investigation past Watergate and into Nixon’s personal affairs. What is less remembered about the Checkers speech is that, as the Watergate investigation found, Nixon’s financial affairs really were dubious; he was wildly underpaying taxes. A politician can stave off the inevitable with public rhetoric and even firings for a time, but investigators often have the last word.https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/when-will-president-trump-fire-robert-mueller/534459/

Trump leaves Sessions twisting in the wind while berating him publicly


Attorney General Jeff Sessions walks down the stairs of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Monday. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

July 24 at 7:15 PM

President Trump and his advisers are privately discussing the possibility of replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and some confidants are floating prospects who could take his place were he to resign or be fired, according to people familiar with the talks.Members of Trump’s circle, including White House officials, have increasingly raised the question among themselves in recent days as the president has continued to vent his frustration with the attorney general, the people said.Replacing Sessions is seen by some Trump associates as potentially being part of a strategy to fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and end his investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.The president took another swipe at Sessions on Monday, calling his attorney general “our beleaguered A.G.” and asking why Sessions was not “looking into Crooked Hillary’s crimes & Russia relations?”Both points are notable. Sessions was once considered one of Trump’s closest advisers and enjoyed access few others had. Now he is left to endure regular public criticism by his boss.

Trump’s attack on Sessions raises more questions about the Russia investigation

Trump’s suggestion, too, that his top law enforcement official investigate a former political rival is astounding, and even his allies have said in the past that such a move would be unheard of in the United States. Trump, after the election, had backed away from the idea of possibly prosecuting Hillary Clinton.

Sessions has seen his tight relationship with Trump and the White House unravel since he recused himself in March from the Russia probe. The president had privately complained about that decision for weeks, and in an interview with the New York Times last week he said he would not have appointed Sessions as attorney general had he known in advance of the recusal.

After Sessions recused himself, he passed on the responsibility to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who then appointed Mueller as special counsel overseeing the Russia probe.

Trump could order Rosenstein — and then Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand — to fire Mueller. If they quit instead of doing so, he could appoint an acting attorney general who would. Trump could also appoint an acting attorney general with them in place — effectively passing over Rosenstein and Brand — and order that person to remove the special counsel.

Trump’s authority to jump Rosenstein and Brand, though, is murky. The Justice Department has issued opinions in the past saying both that such a move is and isn’t permissible. And his pick for an acting attorney general would have to have Senate confirmation and be serving elsewhere in the government or have worked in the Justice Department for 90 days within the past 365 and be at a certain senior pay level.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he is “totally confident that we can continue to run this office in an effective way” on July 20 after President Trump criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe. (The Washington Post)

Another scenario is that Trump could make a recess appointment, said University of Texas School of Law professor Steve Vladeck. Under that plan, Trump could choose an attorney general during the August recess who would serve until the end of the next Senate session, which could be early January. That person would have the same authority as someone who is confirmed by the Senate, Vladeck said.

Among the names being floated as possible Sessions replacements are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, according to people familiar with the conversations.

Giuliani dismissed a report floating his name as a possible attorney general and told CNN that Sessions “made the right decision under the rules of the Justice Department” to recuse himself. He did not return a message seeking comment.

Cruz had said previously that he “did not think it was necessary to appoint a special counsel,” but when Mueller was appointed, he praised him as “an excellent choice.” A spokesman for Cruz could not be reached for comment.

Some Trump advisers said that this process could be agonizing for the attorney general, with the president’s anger flaring but no decision being reached for weeks or maybe months, leaving Sessions isolated from the White House. Sessions was at the White House complex on Monday for a routine meeting but did not meet with the president.

But not all in Trump’s orbit share the view that Sessions’s days are numbered.

Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, told CNN on Monday afternoon that Trump and Sessions “need to sit down face-to-face and have a reconciliation and a discussion of the future.”

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, a vigorous Trump ally, said in an interview that he and Trump had talked about Sessions and that Trump had indicated “he was very unhappy both with the recusal and the fact that Jeff didn’t talk to him beforehand.” But Gingrich said he would “strongly oppose” the firing of Sessions, because “I think his base likes Sessions.”

“His base thinks that on things like [violent street gangs] and sanctuary cities that Sessions is doing a fine job, and I think his base would be confused,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich also said he believed Sessions could survive the president’s criticisms.

“He said he’s beleaguered, not failed, and he is a little beleaguered,” Gingrich said. “This whole thing has been a mess.”

Trump, though, continues to let Sessions twist in the wind. One person close to Trump said the president asked him about how firing Sessions “would play in the conservative media.” Trump also asked him whether it would help to replace Sessions “with a major conservative,” the person said.

For his part, Sessions shows no signs of stepping down.

On Friday, Sessions traveled to Philadelphia to meet with law enforcement officials. In his speech, he vowed to crack down on illegal immigration and on “sanctuary cities” that are not communicating with federal authorities about undocumented immigrants. He spoke of how hard he is working, despite having none of his U.S. attorneys in place and most of his senior officials still not confirmed by the Senate.

“I do my best every day,” Sessions said, “to fulfill the goals the president and I share.”

Several of Session’s Republican former colleagues on Capitol Hill have defended him in the face of the president’s criticism.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), a close friend, said that Sessions was “doing just fine.” He also encouraged the president to try to patch up his relationship with his attorney general.

“They’re both adults, and they can work it out,” Cornyn said.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-leaves-sessions-twisting-in-the-wind-while-berating-him-publicly/2017/07/24/ce3bf142-708b-11e7-9eac-d56bd5568db8_story.html?utm_term=.05e68b29868f

Meet President Trump’s Outside Legal Team

June 24, 20177:00 AM ET

Marc Kasowitz, attorney for President Trump, departs after speaking at the National Press Club on June 8, responding to former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump has brought on an eclectic team of outside lawyers to help him navigate the various investigations into Russian meddling in the election. At least six congressional committees are investigating. And, in addition to activities around the election, special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly now also looking into possible obstruction of justice by the president.

If you asked a Washington insider to come up with a legal dream team for a situation like this, it’s highly unlikely this is who they would come up with. But President Trump came into office as an outsider and continues to operate that way, and in a way his legal team is a reflection of that as well.

Here’s an introduction to the men representing Trump:

Marc Kasowitz

Shortly after former FBI Director James Comey finished testifying before a Senate committee, a white-haired man in a suit walked up to a lectern at the National Press Club and faced reporters.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m Marc Kasowitz, president Trump’s personal lawyer,” he said, launching into prepared statement.

Kasowitz has represented Trump for 15 years in a wide range of cases related to Trump’s business and personal life — and now he’s leading the president’s outside legal team.

“The president feels completely vindicated and is eager to continue moving forward with his agenda, with the business of this country and with this public cloud removed,” Kasowitz read, then promptly left without taking questions.

He hasn’t made any public remarks since.

Over the years, Kasowitz has represented Trump on real estate transactions, libel cases (Trump filed a lot of them) and in the Trump University fraud law suit, settled late last year for $25 million.

In the New York Times, he was described as “more of a scrappy upstart than a member of the city’s white-shoe legal machine … the Donald Trump of lawyering.”

Kasowitz founded his own law firm in 1993, bringing with him a valuable client, Celanese Chemicals, involved in long-term product liability litigation over pipes installed in more than 6 million homes that had begun leaking. The firm started small and has grown to have some 300 lawyers, with offices in nine U.S. cities. On its website, Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP lists its primary focus as complex commercial litigation.

“He’s a general, and I mean that in a very complimentary way,” said Charles Barrett, an attorney at Neal & Harwell, who started his career at Kasowitz’s firm. “He’s very smart. He’s a really good leader and great tactician. He’s the one you want running point on an important operation.”

Barrett added Kasowitz is “tough, really tough.”

That description is one Kasowitz seems to savor, as the word “toughest” appears in the first line of his bio.

Perhaps his highest profile case came just a couple of years after establishing his firm. Kasowitz represented Liggett — the smallest of the big tobacco companies. At his suggestion, Liggett broke with the industry and began settling lawsuits filed by smokers and states seeking damages for smoking-related illnesses. Up until that point the tobacco companies had been united in denying that cigarettes were addictive or dangerous.

“Today for the first time one of the five major tobacco companies in the United States is prepared to break this conspiracy,” said Grant Woods, Arizona’s attorney general at the time, as he announced one of the settlements. “Liggett will now fully cooperate in every sense with these 22 attorneys general as we fight the other four tobacco companies in courts across this country.”

Liggett’s move ultimately forced the other tobacco companies to settle, too.

Another one of Kasowitz’s clients is Sberbank. As BuzzFeed has reported, Sberbank is fighting “claims that it helped a granite-mining company raid and kill off its main competitor in the Russian market.”

Kasowitz’s firm takes on cases other firms would shy away from — including whistleblower suits and going after big financial institutions.

But civil litigation and white-collar defense are two very different types of law.

“People who do real estate and commercial things really do not have the kind of experience that is useful when you’re dealing with any prosecutor and especially somebody with the experience of Bob Mueller,” said Stephen Saltzburg, a professor at the George Washington University Law School.

Saltzburg was part of the special prosecutor’s team during the Iran Contra investigation, so he’s seen one of these sorts of investigations from the inside. One thing Kasowitz does have going for him, Saltzburg said, is that the president knows him and respects him.

“He may be able to say something to the president that the president wouldn’t hear from another lawyer,” said Saltzburg.

And Kasowitz has brought on other lawyers.

Jay Sekulow

The face of Trump’s team has become Jay Sekulow. On Sunday, he appeared on four different network and cable shows. The next day he did at least three more TV appearances.

Jay Sekulow, a religious rights lawyer and a new member of the president’s legal team, introduces Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at Regent University in Florida in 2015.

Steve Helber/AP

“Let me be crystal clear so you — you completely understand. We have not received nor are we aware of any investigation of the president of the United States, period,” said Sekulow on Fox News Sunday.

That appearance turned south, with Sekulow getting tied up by questioning from Chris Wallace.

Sekulow later admitted he can’t be sure the president isn’t being looked at as part of the special counsel investigation. The Washington Post reported on June 14 that Mueller’s team was looking into whether Trump obstructed justice and that investigators had reached out to national security officials for interviews.

For regular cable news viewers (like, say, President Trump), Sekulow is a familiar face. His specialty isn’t white-collar defense, but rather religious liberty. He’s argued 12 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, starting in 1987 in a case that pitted the Los Angeles airport against Jews for Jesus. He argued members of the group should be able to pass out literature at the airport.

“There is no justification for a sweeping ban on First Amendment activities which would subordinate cherished First Amendment freedoms,” he argued before facing a volley of questions from the justices.

Sekulow wasn’t just the lawyer for Jews for Jesus. He grew up Jewish in Long Island and came to believe Jesus is the messiah while attending a Baptist college. Around that time he was introduced to Jews for Jesus.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the group’s favor, helping Sekulow make a name for himself.

In 1990 he founded the American Center for Law and Justice, or ACLJ, with evangelical minister Pat Robertson. ACLJ was meant to be a Christian conservative answer to the American Civil Liberties Union. Not only does ACLJ pursue religious liberty cases, it fought the building of a mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan and even has a call-in show that airs on hundreds of stations nationwide. It’s called Jay Sekulow Live! and is hosted by Sekulow and his sons. A spokesman says he plans to continue hosting the show even as he now represents Trump.

On top of all that, Sekulow plays drums in a Christian rock band, The Jay Sekulow Band. One of his bandmates was the frontman for the popular rock band Kansas in the early 1980s. On Facebook, more than 110,000 people follow the band, which has numerous slickly produced performance videos.

John Dowd

John Dowd is best known as the author of the Dowd Report, which led to Pete Rose’s lifetime ban from baseball for gambling on the game.

“I’m very, very happy and very proud of the commissioner of baseball for protecting the game,” Dowd told NPR two years ago, when Major League Baseball denied Rose’s request to be reinstated. “In this day and age, protecting the integrity of anything is a big deal.”

In 2011, Dowd represented Raj Rajaratnam in a major insider-trading case. Rajaratnam was convicted on all counts and walking out of the courtroom Dowd offered some choice words to a CNBC reporter, flipping off the camera.

Attorney John Dowd (left), who now is part of the legal team working for Trump, leaves U.S. District Court with his client Raj Rajaratnam after jury deliberations about an insider trading case in New York in 2011.

Kathy Willens/AP

But more to the point, Dowd is a seasoned Washington hand who represented Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the Keating Five scandal (McCain was cleared) and helped a retired Air Force colonel get immunity to testify in the Iran Contra scandal.

That’s experience that would be quite valuable if the president is in fact being investigated for obstruction of justice by the special counsel.

Michael Bowe

Michael Bowe is a partner at Kasowitz’s law firm and has worked on a number of high-profile cases. He went after a hedge fund that had been shorting his client Fairfax Financial. The deposition from that case played a prominent role in a Frontline documentary and also aided federal authorities in an investigation of that fund for insider trading.

His bio on the firm’s website says Bowe “has successfully litigated virtually every type of high-stakes business and personal case, on both the plaintiff and defense side, and at both the trial and appellate level. He has also navigated to safety many companies and high net worth individuals facing serious law enforcement and regulatory jeopardy. And he has provided sage crisis management advice during these periods of substantial duress.”

http://www.npr.org/2017/06/24/533785914/meet-president-trumps-outside-legal-team

Special Counsel Mueller Lets His Actions Do The Talking: 15 Hires, More to ComeJuly 8, 20177:00 AM ET

Special counsel Robert Mueller departs after a June 21 closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible connections to the Trump campaign.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Robert Mueller has made no public comment since he was named to lead the Department of Justice investigation into Russian interference in last year’s election.

Instead, he has let his actions do the talking. The former FBI director and decorated U.S. Marine has submitted a budget and quietly hired an all-star team that includes 15 Justice Department prosecutors. And, a spokesman for Mueller said, he’s not done bringing on new lawyers.

That has gotten the attention of supporters of President Trump, who recently made an attack ad calling the investigation a “rigged game” and blasting the special counsel for hiring at least four lawyers who have donated to Democrats.

Mueller has not described the scope of what his team will examine.

But members of Congress and other lawyers involved in the probe described the main lines of inquiry as: Russian meddling in the presidential election; whether anyone inside the United States conspired to help; and whether any wrongdoing has been committed in the surprise firing of FBI Director James Comey, who said he believed he was let go to relieve pressure on the Russia probe.

There’s no timetable or deadline for the job. Given that it’s the most sensitive Justice Department investigation in the last decade or more, it’s unlikely that prosecutors will rush.

And for someone like Mueller, the 2018 midterm elections are not going to be a factor.

Here are some of the attorneys Mueller has hired:

  • Zainab Ahmad, a top national security prosecutor on detail from U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York.
  • Rush Atkinson, an attorney on detail from the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section at the Department of Justice.
  • Michael Dreeben, an appellate attorney on detail from the Office of the Solicitor General, described by former colleagues as one of the brightest criminal law experts of the past two generations.
  • Andrew Goldstein, a public corruption prosecutor on detail from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.
  • Adam Jed, an appellate attorney on detail from DOJ’s Civil Division.
  • Lisa Page, an attorney on detail from the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel and a former trial attorney with the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.
  • Elizabeth Prelogar, an appellate attorney on detail from the Office of the Solicitor General.
  • James Quarles, a former partner at WilmerHale and a former assistant special prosecutor for the Watergate Special Prosecution Force.
  • Jeannie Rhee, a former partner at WilmerHale who has served in the Office of Legal Counsel at DOJ and as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
  • Brandon Van Grack, an attorney on detail from the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
  • Andrew Weissmann, who is on detail from the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and who has served as general counsel at the FBI and as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
  • Aaron Zebley, a former partner at WilmerHale who has previously served with Mueller at the FBI and has served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia.
  • Aaron Zelinsky, an attorney on detail from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Maryland.

http://www.npr.org/2017/07/08/535813901/special-counsel-mueller-lets-his-actions-do-the-talking-15-hires-more-to-come

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The Pronk Pops Show 913, June 16, 2017, Story 1: President Trump Reverses Obama’s Cuba Policies — Videos — Story 2: Political Elitist Establishment vs. The American People — Three Sticks Mueller Hires Clinton and Obama Donors and Lawyers For Elite Political Hit Squad Targeting President Trump For Fake Obstruction of Justice —  Trump Should Fire Mueller and Initiate A Justice Department and FBI Criminal Investigation of Barack Obama,Valery Jarrett, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Susan Rice, Loretta Lynch, James Comey and Their Staffs For Massive Criminal Activity Including Miss Handling Of Classified Documents and Destruction of Government Records, Public Corruption, Misconduct in Office, Obstruction of Justice, Perjury and Conspiracy to commit perjury and Using Intelligence Community To Spy on American People Including Republican Candidates and Trump For Political Purposes — Videos

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Image result for president trump speech 16 june 2017 florida on cuba

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Story 1: President Trump Reverses Obama’s Cuba Policies — Videos —

Image result for president trump speech 16 june 2017 florida on cuba Image result for trump speech on cuba in florida June 16, 2017

Trump’s new Cuba policy, explained

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President Trump cancels Obama-era policy on Cuba, restores embargo

FULL SPEECH: President Donald Trump: “I am cancelling” Obama’s deal with Cuba! MAGA MUST SHARE 6/16

Watch Marco Rubio Slam Obama And Praise President Donald Trump For Support Of Cuba 6/16/2017

President Donald Trump Cuba Policy Change Speech Full

Cuba

Trump ‘canceling’ Obama’s Cuba policy but leaves much in place

Ramon Espinosa/AP
WATCHTrump ‘canceling’ Obama Cuba policy but leaves much in place

After nearly three years of warming relations between the United States and Cuba, President Donald Trump has announced that his administration will unravel many of his predecessor’s policies on the communist state.

Speaking in Miami, Florida, Trump announced changes to President Barack Obama’s historic rapprochement with Cuba — fulfilling a promise to the anti-Castro voting bloc he believes helped his campaign clinch the state, but stirring fear among others he could set back business interests and Cuba’s potential for a more prosperous private sector.

The Cuban government said in a statement published in the state-run newspaper Granma, “Again, the United States Government resorted to coercive methods of the past, adopting measures to intensify the blockade, in force since February 1962, which not only causes damage and deprivation to the Cuban people and constitutes an undeniable obstacle to the development of our economy, but also affects the sovereignty and interests of other countries, inciting international rejection.”

The statement continues, “The Cuban Government denounces the new measures to tighten the blockade, which are destined to fail as has been shown repeatedly in the past, and which will not achieve its purpose to weaken the revolution or to defeat the Cuban people, whose resistance to the aggressions of any type and origin has been proven over almost six decades.”

Decades of contention before Obama

In one form or another, the embargo on Cuba has been in place since the Eisenhower administration. But beginning in late 2014, Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro began a process that gradually thawed diplomatic tensions and eased commercial and travel restrictions between the two countries.

This process culminated in significant economic opportunities for both the U.S. and Cuba. American businesses, including airlines, cruise lines, and telecommunications companies, earned 26 agreements with the Cuban government from 2015 to 2017.

Hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars flowed into privately owned businesses in Cuba, The Associated Press reported , spurring the growth of a nascent middle-class that could thrive independent from the government.

For Cuba, there have been tangible benefits in tourism and telecommunications. According to the Cuban Ministry, 74 percent more American citizens visited the island in 2016 than in 2015 and, following through on a pledge to Obama, Castro opened nearly 400 new public Wi-Fi access points around Cuba.

However, the U.S. International Trade Administration told ABC News it hasn’t yet released its 2016 statistics on outbound travel and therefore could not confirm those numbers from the Cuban Ministry on U.S. tourism.

While Obama did not end the embargo on Cuba, since only Congress has that power, the U.S. and Cuba reopened embassies in each other’s capitals for the first time since 1961. The U.S. and Cuba have also signed multiple bilateral agreements to work together on everything from human and drug trafficking to maritime security and migration.

Finally, Obama ended the “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy that applied only to Cubans. Previously, Cubans who reached U.S. shores earned automatic visas. Now, Cubans have to follow the same process as other refugees and immigrants.

What is Trump reversing?

Trump is not reversing all of Obama’s changes, but he is redefining what it means to be part of the Cuban military, which could prevent U.S. companies from doing business in Cuba. The White House explained in a fact sheet released earlier today that the policy aims to keep the Grupo de Administración Empresarial (GAESA), a conglomerate managed by the Cuban military, from benefiting from the opening in U.S.-Cuba relations.

“The profits from investment and tourism flow directly to the military. The regime takes the money and owns the industry,” Trump said. “The outcome of last administration’s executive action has been only more repression and a move to crush the peaceful democratic movement. Therefore, effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba.”

This comes amid concerns that the Cuban military could be the beneficiary of increased American private investment, at a time when Castro has failed to take action on human rights. In 2016, there were 9,940 short-term detentions of protesters, up from 8,899 in 2014, the AP reports.

According to senior White House officials, Trump is also revisiting trade and travel policies toward Cuba, clamping down on individual people-to-people travel. There will still be certain exceptions under which Americans can travel to Cuba and family travel will continue to be authorized. Importantly, no changes will go into effect until the Treasury and Commerce Departments issue new regulations that conform with the administration’s policy.

Trump continued, “We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until all political prisoners are free, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalized and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled.”

The changes will certainly harm relations between Cuba and the U.S. In a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained, “The general approach, if I can say that, is to allow as much of this continued commercial and engagement activity to go on as possible because we do see the sunny side, as I described it. We do see the benefits of that to the Cuban people.”

But then Tillerson qualified his statement. “On the other hand, we think we’ve achieved very little in terms of changing the behavior of the regime in Cuba and its treatment of people,” he said, “and it has little incentive to change that.”

What about diplomatic ties?

Senior White House officials say that Trump will not close the newly re-opened U.S. Embassy in Havana. He will also not reinstate the “wet foot, dry foot” policy.

To avoid alienating the Cuban-American community, which largely votes Republican, Trump will not re-implement limits on remittances — U.S. based money transfers — that Cuban-Americans can give their families back on the island. But if the administration follows through on redefining what it means to be part of the Cuban military, that could affect policies on remittances down the line.

PHOTO: Tourists ride in classic American convertible cars past the United States embassy in Havana, Cuba, Jan. 12, 2017. Ramon Espinosa/AP, file
Tourists ride in classic American convertible cars past the United States embassy in Havana, Cuba, Jan. 12, 2017.

Lobbying Trump on Cuba

Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, both Republican, Cuban-American hardliners, lobbied Trump hard toward reversal. Importantly, the Trump administration wants to build good rapport with both. Rubio sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is currently looking into the Trump campaign’s supposed contacts with Russian officials. He spoke in Miami briefly before Trump took the stage.

Rubio and Diaz-Balart won out, though there’s no shortage of actors lobbying the White House the other way. Last week, a group of House Republicans sent a letter to Trump opposing “reversing course” on Cuba. A similar group of Senate Republicans wrote to Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, citing the entrepreneurial and national security benefits of continued engagement. Airbnb, Google and other notable businesses have also spoken out recently in support of maintaining current policies.

Tillerson had privately expressed support for Obama’s Cuba policy during the transition, according to sources. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, when governor of Georgia in 2010, led a delegation to Cuba and said at the time to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “I think business cures a lot of ills.”

Leading human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have also urged the administration to keep Cuba open.

“More travel, more communications access, and more dialogue with Cuba are the way forward for human rights in Cuba,” Amnesty International wrote in a blog post, adding that Obama’s trip to Cuba last year opened the door to “scrutiny and transparency” of human rights on the island for the first time in nearly 10 years.

Reversing policy is bad for Cubans, Human Rights Watch said in a statement, “and insisting on human rights progress as a precondition to a new policy is unlikely to bring about change.”

What did Candidate Trump say?

During the campaign, Candidate Trump slammed Obama’s Cuba policy, telling a crowd in Miami: “All the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order, which means the next president can reverse them. And that I will do unless the Castro regime meets our demands.”

But at the same time, Trump often criticizes regulations on the business community as “burdensome” and “job-killing.”

Today’s speech

Delivering a speech at the historic Manuel Artime Theater in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, Trump made his policy known in the center of the Cuban-American community. The president fed off of a boisterous, rowdy crowd, seeming to even attempt a Cuban accent, shouting “Little Havana!” when he took the stage. By rescinding certain Obama-era Cuba policies, he went against the advice of Democrats, Republicans and business interests. He did, however, fulfill a campaign promise.

ABC News’ Katherine Faulders, Serena Marshall and Adam Kelsey contributed to this report. 

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trumps-cuba-policy/story?id=48058622

Trump’s Cuba Policy Will Fail

The architect of Obama’s Cuba opening argues that the president’s rollback is a pointless mistake.

Juan Carlos Ulate / Reuters
One of the most depressing things about President Donald Trump’s decision to roll back elements of the Cuba opening is how predictable it was. A Republican candidate for president makes last-minute campaign promises to a hard-line Cuban American audience in South Florida. Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart hold him to those promises. The U.S. government announces changes that will hurt ordinary Cubans, harm the image of the United States, and make it harder for Americans to do business and travel somewhere they want to go.

While President Obama raised the hopes of Americans and Cubans alike with a forward-looking opening in diplomatic, commercial and people-to-people ties, President Trump is turning back the clock to a tragically failed Cold War mindset by reimposing restrictions on those activities. While not a full reversal of the Obama opening, Trump’s actions have put relations between the United States and Cuba back into the prison of the past—setting back the prospects for reform inside of Cuba, and ignoring the voices of the Cuban people and a majority of Americans just so that he can reward a small and dwindling political constituency.

It didn’t have to be this way, and it won’t stay this way.

 

In the fall of 2014, after 16 months of secret negotiations, I travelled to the Vatican to tell representatives of Pope Francis that the United States and Cuba were prepared to begin normalizing relations. The Vatican diplomats met separately with the U.S. and Cuban delegations to verify that we were telling the truth. Then we all met together and read aloud the steps we were prepared to take. A Cardinal said the world would be moved by this example of former adversaries putting aside the past. One Vatican official who had lived in Cuba had tears in his eyes, a look of deep remembrance on his face.Cuba has long played an outsized role in the world’s imagination. To Americans, it has been the setting for the drama of mobsters, Castros, the Cold War, assassination attempts, boatlifts, and ideological conflict—mixed with the allure of a culture that finds full expression in Miami. To Latin America, Cuba has been a symbol for how United States tries to dictate the politics of the hemisphere—a legacy of democracy and economic progress, as well as coups and death squads. To the developing world, Cuba has been a symbol of sovereignty and resistance, and a supporter of revolution—for good or bad. From the Missile Crisis to the anti-apartheid movement; from the Kennedys to Obama era, this small island has put itself at the center of world events.

But Cuba is also a place where more than 11 million people live, and for decades they have suffered because of the U.S. embargo stacked on top of socialist economics and stifled political dissent. Basic goods are unavailable. Businesses cannot attract investment. Farmers are denied equipment to grow more food. Those classic cars? Cubans have had to keep them running because they’re imprisoned in an economy that is not allowed to grow along with the rest of the world. Meanwhile, Americans—who are supposed to value freedom above everything else—have been told that the only country in the world where we cannot travel is 90 miles from Florida.

Yes, the Cuban government shoulders its share of the blame. But there are dozens of authoritarian governments; we do not impose embargoes on China or Vietnam, Kazakhstan or Egypt. Last month, President Trump travelled to Saudi Arabia—a country ruled by a family, where people are beheaded and women can’t drive. He announced tens of billions of dollars in arms sales, and said: “We are not here to lecture. We are not here to tell other people how to live.” Can anyone credibly argue that Trump’s Cuba policy is motivated by a commitment to promote human rights around the world? No. Moreover, as a democracy-promotion vehicle, the embargo has been a failure. For more than 50 years, it has been in place; for more than 50 years, a Castro has governed Cuba. If anything, the embargo has provided a justification for the Cuban government to suppress political dissent in the name of protecting Cuban sovereignty.By breaking with this past, the Obama administration improved the lives of the Cuban people, and brought hope to people who had learned to live without it. The nascent Cuban private sector—shops, restaurants, taxis—grew dramatically, fueled by unlimited remittances from the United States. Over a quarter of Cubans today work in the private sector. This represents both an improvement in their quality of life, and in their human rights, as they are no longer reliant on the state for their livelihoods.
With the establishment of direct flights, cruise lines, and broadened authorization for travel to Cuba, the number of Americans visiting increased by 50 percent to over 500,000 in 2016. These travelers brought new ideas and more resources directly to the Cuban people—Airbnb estimates that $40 million in revenue have reached Cuban hosts since April 2015. Cuba also expanded access to the Internet and mobile phones. U.S. technology companies like Google took advantage of the opening to forge new agreements, including one that enhances access to the Internet for Cubans.Two governments that once plotted how to undermine one another began working together. Embassies were opened, and bilateral cooperation was initiated on the types of issues that usually guide diplomacy between neighbors: counter-narcotics, law enforcement, agriculture, testing vaccines for cancer, and responding to natural disasters like oil spills and hurricanes. In the final days of the Obama administration, the so-called Wet Foot Dry Foot policy was terminated, ending an arrangement in which any Cuban who reached the United States was paroled into the country—a hostile policy that endangered the lives of Cubans who made long overland crossings, and robbed Cuba of young people who simply came to the United States.The opening to Cuba also opened up new opportunities in Latin America and around the world. In 2015, instead of spending a Summit of the Americas defending why Cuba wasn’t allowed to attend, the United States found itself in the new position of being celebrated. U.S. diplomats participated in Cuban-hosted talks that helped end Colombia’s 40-year civil war. Cuban health care workers helped us stamp out the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
While Trump did not take dramatic steps to restrict travel, he made it more difficult. U.S. travelers now have to go through the absurd process of figuring out if a hotel they’re staying at is owned by the Cuban military, which applies to most of Old Havana. Ominous language about requiring Americans to document their activities, and warning that they could be audited, will have a chilling effect. Despite rhetoric about supporting Cuban entrepreneurs, any reduction in travel is going to hit them—common sense suggests that someone who stays at a military-owned hotel will also ride in taxis, eat in restaurants, and shop at stores owned by ordinary Cubans. Those are the Cubans that Trump is hurting—not hotel owners who will still welcome tourists other countries.
The consequences in Latin America, and around the world, are even worse. Critics of Obama’s opening accused us of making concessions to the Cuban government. But by restoring diplomatic relations, we brought about a symbolic end to the U.S.-Cuban conflict even though we did not lift the embargo or return Guantanamo Naval Base. It’s not a “concession” to allow Americans to travel and do business somewhere. But Trump just gave the Cuban government a huge concession: Even though he didn’t fully reverse Obama’s policy, Cuba will now claim the high ground in a renewed ideological conflict with the U.S., and will find support for that position around the world.The instinct for isolation that Trump embraced will fail. Ironically, the hard-liners who pressed Trump to make these changes are only condemning themselves to future irrelevance. Polls show that over 70 percent of Americans—including a majority of Republicans—support lifting the embargo. Younger Cuban Americans are far more likely to support lifting the embargo than their parents and grandparents. Fifty-five senators have co-sponsored a bill to lift the travel ban, and Republicans from states that depend on agriculture want to promote business in Cuba. Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that a poll showed 97 percent of the Cuban people supporting normalization with the United States.Donald Trump is delivering his remarks on Cuba at the Manuel Artime Theater, named for a leader of the Bay of Pigs Invasion. He couldn’t have found a better symbol for the past. But ultimately, the past must give way to the wishes of the people. Fidel Castro is dead. A new generation, in Cuba and the United States, doesn’t want to be defined by quarrels that pre-date their birth. The embargo should—and will—be discarded. Engagement should—and will—prevail. That is why Trump’s announcement should be seen for what it is: not as a step forward for democracy, but as the last illogical gasp of a strain of American politics with a 50-year track record of failure; one that wrongly presumes we can control what happens in Cuba. The future of Cuba will be determined by the Cuban people, and those Americans who want to help them, not hurt them.https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/06/cuba-trump-obama-opening/530568/

Story 2: Political Elitist Establishment vs. The American People — Three Sticks Mueller Hires Clinton and Obama Donors and Lawyers For Elite Political Hit Squad Targeting President Trump For Fake Obstruction of Justice —  Trump Should Fire Mueller and Initiate A Justice Department and FBI Investigation of Barack Obama,Valery Jarrett, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Susan Rice, Loretta Lynch, James Comey and Their Staffs For Massive Criminal Activity Including Miss Handling Of Classified Documents and Destruction of Government Records, Public Corruption, Obstruction of Justice and Using Intelligence Community To Spy on American People Including Republican Candidates and Trump For Political Purposes — Videos

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Image result for trump tweets june 16, 2017 They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice

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Image result for cartoons on obama spying on trump and american peopleImage result for cartoons on obama spying on trump and american peopleTrump lashes out over reported obstruction of justice probe

President Trump now under INVESTIGATION for obstruction of justice by Robert Mueller 6/14/2017

Gingrich calls for special counsel to probe special counsel

Anderson Cooper CNN Panel on reports that President Trump is now under investigation by Robert Mueller

Jay Sekulow on The Laura Ingraham Show (6/16/2017)

Jared Kushner’s business dealings now under investigation by Robert Mueller 6/15/2017

HANNITY – FIRE ROBERT MUELLER. Massive conflicts of interests

Trump confidant Christopher Ruddy says Mueller has ‘real conflicts’ as special counsel

What Would Happen If President Donald Trump Tried To Fire Robert Mueller? | For The Record | MSNBC

Rosenstein says only he can fire special counsel

Mark Levin: Robert Mueller is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice (June 15 2017)

Rush Limbaugh: It wouldn’t bother me if Trump fired special counsel Robert Mueller… (06-13-2017)

Should Mueller recuse himself from the Trump-Russia inquiry?

Roger Stone: Mueller Coached Comey For Last Week Testimony

Roger Stone The Fix Is In, Mueller Hired To Indict The President

Mueller is Out for Trump’s Head! Dick Morris TV: Lunch ALERT!

Ben Shapiro: Jeff Sesstios hearing, Trump’s Cabinet meeting, Can Bob Mueller be fired & other topics

Trump Has Discovered Why Deep State Is Desperate To Stop Him

Tom Fitton discusses Prosecution of Trump, Pursuit of Comey Memos, & Lawsuit over Obama Shakedown

Justice department names Robert Mueller as special counsel in Russia investigation

Mueller assembles elite team of prosecutors

Newt Gingrich – On Special Counsel “THESE ARE BAD PEOPLE” – GMA

Michele Malkin & Lou Dobbs Target The Deep Deep Dark State Cabal That Is Rosenstein,Mueller & Comey

You Gotta Watch Jay Sekulow The President’s Lawyer Prosecute The Case Against The Deep State

Lou Dobbs & Legal Expert Delineate The Number Of Crimes Comey & Mueller Have Already Committed

Jay Sekulow The President’s Lawyer Explains Why Trump Must Clean His Legal House Now! 6 / 14 / 2017

Lou Dobbs : Is the left trying to overthrow Trump’s presidency? : 6/15/2017

Should President Trump fire special counsel Mueller?

“It’s Utterly Outrageous!” Tucker and Ann Coulter React to Comey Testimony

Fox and Friends : Ingraham slams ‘fake news’ about Trump firing Mueller : 6/13/2017

Lou Dobbs : Lt. Col. Shaffer: White House needs to get on the offensive : 6/13/2017

Lou Dobbs : Rep. Biggs: We need to turn the tables on Trump’s enemies : 6/13/2017

Trump dropped biggest bombshell on Loretta Lynch: Judge Napolitano

Judge Jeanine Talks To Jay Sekulow On Why Comey My Face Serious Legal Matters

Russia Collusion is a total hoax – 6/9/2017 – with Victor Davis Hanson

BREAKING: Kellyanne Reveals Sick Thing Special Counsel Mueller Is Doing to Trump. Should He Be Fired

Report: Mueller Team Investigating Trump Has Major Obama-Hillary Ties

Calls for Special Counsel Mueller to Step Down or Recuse.

A New Interview with Kellyanne Conway! She is So Good!

Ann Coulter Finally Weighs in on the James Comey Thimgamabob!

Must See… The Always Amazing Ann Coulter Tear It Up On Tucker 6 / 2 / 2017

Should the special counsel’s probe be shut down?

Gohmert: “Get Rid of Mueller – He Created All Kinds of Problems …”

Gohmert: ‘We Have a Conspiracy Remaining Afoot in Department of Justice’

Gohmert: ‘There’s So Much Collusion – Real Collusion in the Justice Department’

Gohmert on Comey Hearing: “He was 100% Loyal to Loretta Lynch & Hillary Clinton”

Gohmert on Comey: ‘The More We Find Out, This Guy Needed To Go’

As Calls Get Louder To Investigate Loretta Lynch So Do The Calls For Mueller Firing

Hume: Mueller-Comey friendship raises an ethical question

Sen Rand Paul Speaks on Gingrich: GOP “DELUSIONAL” to think Mueller Will Be Fair. #RandPaul

While Most Sing Mueller’s Praises, Louie Gohmert Says He’s a Big Problem!

Trump dropped biggest bombshell on Loretta Lynch: Judge Napolitano

Kurtz: Mueller on the hot seat

Gregg Jarrett: Mueller should resign as special counsel

Lou Dobbs : Rep. Gohmert: James Comey is loyal to Lynch and Clinton : 6/8/2017

Cavuto : Can Democrats move beyond James Comey and the Russia probe? : 6/9/2017

Lou Dobbs : Chris Farrell: Comey’s testimony proved he is a dirty cop : 6/8/2017

Will media admit they were ‘dead wrong’ about Russia?

Leftist Host Chris Matthews Admits Russia Collusion Narrative Destroyed

Roger Stone: It Is Time For Us To Go On Attack

 

Rosenstein warns Americans to ‘exercise caution’ about anonymous reports

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Thursday evening that Americans should “exercise caution” before believing anonymously sourced reports, an apparent reference to ongoing leaks surrounding the investigation into alleged connections between Russian officials and President Trump’s campaign.

“Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,'” Rosenstein said in a statement, “particularly when they do not identify the country — let alone the branch or agency of government — with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated.”

Though Rosenstein’s statement did not reference the Russia investigation specifically, it was released hours after the Washington Post reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Jared Kushner — Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law — over his finances and business dealings.

ROBERT MUELLER APPOINTMENT TO LEAD RUSSIA PROBE WINS BIPARTISAN PRAISE

Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, did not comment on the Post report when reached by Fox News, but did say that the special counsel’s office “has undertaken stringent controls to prohibit unauthorized disclosures that deal severely with any member who engages in this conduct.”

Trump and his supporters have repeatedly complained about leaked reports about the progress of Mueller’s investigation, many of which have appeared in either the Post or The New York Times.

On Wednesday, the Post reported that Mueller was examining whether Trump has tried to obstruct justice and was seeking interviews with three administration officials: Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence; Michael Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency; and Richard Ledgett, the former NSA deputy director.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Trump’s personal lawyer, responded Wednesday evening to the Post report by saying: “The FBI leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal.”

The Post report cited anonymous sources who were briefed on requests made by investigators. It was not immediately clear whether the FBI was the source of the information.

The president himself took to Twitter Wednesday morning to complain about the “phony story” in the Post, then did so again in the afternoon to question why Hillary Clinton’s conduct during the probe of her private email server was not under more scrutiny.

Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller special counsel in the Russia investigation last month, testified to lawmakers Tuesday that he has seen no evidence of good cause to fire Mueller and that he is confident that Mueller will have “the full independence he needs” to investigate thoroughly.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/06/16/rosenstein-warns-americans-to-exercise-caution-about-anonymous-reports.html

 

CORRECTED: Three members of Mueller’s team have donated to Democrats

CORRECTED: Three members of Mueller's team have donated to Democrats
© Greg Nash

Three members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team on the Russia probe have donated to Democratic presidential campaigns and organizations, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Jeannie Rhee, a member of Mueller’s team, donated $5,400 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign PAC Hillary for America. 

Andrew Weissmann, who serves in a top post within the Justice Department’s fraud practice, is the most senior lawyer on the special counsel team, Bloomberg reported. He served as the FBI’s general counsel and the assistant director to Mueller when the special counsel was FBI director.

Before he worked at the FBI or Justice Department, Weissman worked at the law firm Jenner & Block LLP, during which he donated six times to political action committees for Obama in 2008 for a total of $4,700.

James Quarles, who served as an assistant special prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, has donated to over a dozen Democratic PACs since the late 1980s. He was also identified by the Washington Post as a member of Mueller’s team.

Starting in 1987, Quarles donated to Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis’s presidential PAC, Dukakis for President. Since then, he has also contributed in 1999 to Sen. Al Gore’s run for the presidency, then-Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) presidential bid in 2005, Obama’s presidential PAC in 2008 and 2012, and Clinton’s presidential pac Hillary for America in 2016.

He also donated to two Republicans, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) in 2015 and Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) in 2005.

The political affiliations of Mueller’s team have been spotlighted by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) an ally of Trump.

After initially hailing Mueller’s appointment as special counsel, Gingrich questioned for former FBI director’s ability to be impartial on Monday because of “who he is hiring.”

Michael R. Dreeben, who serves as the Justice Department’s deputy solicitor general, is working on a part-time basis for Mueller, The Washington Post reported Friday.

The FEC database shows a donation from a Michael W. Dreeben in 2006 of $1,000 dollars to Hillary Clinton’s Senate political action committee (PAC), Friends of Hillary. But a spokesman for the special counsel said this is not the Dreeben working for Mueller, who has a different middle initial. The FEC database identifies the Dreeben who made the contribution as deputy solicitor general in the Justice Department.

Several of the figures on Mueller’s team are well known and respected for their work at the Department of Justice.

Dreeben has reportedly received bipartisan praise for his handling of the department’s criminal appellate cases, the Post reported.

Weissmann is well-known for his work in the investigation on Volkswagen cheating on their diesel emissions tests, which they pleaded guilty to earlier this year.

Mueller, who formerly served as FBI director, was first appointed by Republican President George W. Bush in 2001.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel last month.

CORRECTION: This story was updated at 10:03 a.m. to reflect the special counsel spokesman’s statement that Dreeben did not give a donation to Clinton. 

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/337428-four-top-legal-experts-on-muellers-team-donated-to-democratic-causes

 

TWEET STORM

Trump Declares War on Rosenstein: ‘He Has No Qualms About Throwing Him Under a Bus’

With one tweet, the president confirmed he’s under investigation and put the man in charge of that investigation on blast.

President Donald Trump woke up on Friday and decided to publicly confirm that he is under criminal investigation—and to put his deputy attorney general in the line of fire.

After 48 hours of Trump’s allies lobbing allegations of illegal “deep state” leaks and fake-news hit jobs, Trump took to Twitter and corroborated a Wednesday report by The Washington Post that he is the target of a federal investigation into potential obstruction of justice after firing FBI Director James Comey.

“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!” Trump wrote, apparently referring to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Since Rosenstein is the senior Justice Department official overseeing the inquiry after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself.

Trump has stewed with anger at the Justice Department over the Russia probe, to the point where Sessions had reportedly offered his resignation. For his part, Sessions testified to the Senate on Tuesday that he was merely concurring with Rosenstein when he assented to firing Comey.

“He’s furious at Rosenstein, but the list of his people who enrage him is ever-growing,” a longtime Trump confidant, who recently spoke to the president, told The Daily Beast. “He has no qualms about throwing [Rosenstein] under a bus.”

That single tweet threatens to upend the administration’s legal and public-relations strategies surrounding an FBI probe into alleged Russian election-meddling that has expanded in recent months to include an obstruction investigation and a probe of the finances of Trump aides and associates.

 A frustrated senior Trump administration official quipped in response to the tweet, “Has anyone read him his Miranda rights?” The implication being that Trump would do well to remain silent on the issue of his own criminal investigation.

Officials spoke on the condition of anonymity so as to speak freely.

Trump digs hole, keeps going

The escalation of the probe is packed with irony. Trump’s insistence that he was not personally under investigation led him to fire the man leading the probe, which ensured a special prosecutor, which ensured Trump came personally under investigation. Now, in raging against circumstances his actions brought about, Trump has given Mueller another building block for the investigation.

“It’s clear that this tweet has not been vetted by his [Trump’s] attorney,” said former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti. “In addition to confirming that he is under investigation, the tweet makes a factual statement regarding the president’s decision to fire James Comey, which is a subject of the investigation. You can bet that when the president testifies regarding his role in Comey’s firing, he will be asked about this tweet.”

Mueller will inevitably investigate the exact circumstances leading to the Comey firing, which he is likely to interview both Trump and Rosenstein—now in conflict with each other—about.

Even Trump’s senior aides blame the president for bringing the obstruction inquiry upon himself and the White House.

“The president did this to himself,” one senior administration official told The Daily Beast on Wednesday.

In recent weeks, the president has become increasingly convinced that forces in the FBI and the “deep state” are “out for his scalp,” as one White House aide described it. This sentiment is shared by some of his closest advisers, including his chief strategist Steve Bannon.

One senior White House official told The Daily Beast that the Trump tweet was directed, of course, specifically at Rosenstein. The official noted that it reflects what the president has been venting privately for the past couple of days regarding the “irony” of Rosenstein having a role in the sacking of Comey and his current role in the investigations that have taken over as Trump’s main obsession.

The line, according to the White House official, is emerging as one of President Trump’s preferred talking points and complaints.

Another White House official said Friday morning that they are not shocked anymore whenever the president goes off script during early-morning tweetstorms, and for “all the heartburn and misery” they might cause internally, senior aides and advisers should all have a tough callus at this stage in the presidency.

“If you haven’t made this a settled factor in your morning routine, why are you still here?” the official asked, rhetorically.

But while the president is stewing, the White House is still trying to maintain its official separation from dealing with the fallout from the investigation. Instead they’re directing press inquiries to Trump’s personal lawyer.

Asked to clarify that Trump’s tweet was referring specifically to Rosenstein, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders told The Daily Beast: “Best to contact Marc Kasowitz and his team for all questions related to this matter.”

Dianne Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, took it as a direct threat to the deputy AG.

“I’m growing increasingly concerned that the president will attempt to fire not only Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible obstruction of justice, but also Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein who appointed Mueller,” she said in a statement.

Can or should Rosenstein stay?

Former Justice Department officials said that Trump’s tweet has put Rosenstein, who just months ago enjoyed a sterling reputation, in an untenable position. At the minimum, Rosenstein is likely to come under overwhelming pressure to recuse himself from his role overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump.

A former senior DOJ official said Trump’s tweet accuses Rosenstein of lying to Congress. Trump claims Rosenstein “told me to fire the FBI Director!” Shortly after Comey was fired, Rosenstein said in a statement to Congress that the memo said was “not a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination,” even though he “thought it was appropriate to seek a new leader” for the FBI.

“The question is, is this a bridge too far for Rod?” the former official said.

The last time the White House characterized Rosenstein as the hatchet man, he “drew a line in the sand,” as the official put it, and reportedly threatened to resign. Shortly after, Trump told NBC News that he would have fired Comey regardless of Rosenstein’s memo.

Still, it’s undeniable that Rosenstein’s memo aided Trump in firing Comey. That means the senior Justice Department official responsible for Mueller’s investigation is also a likely witness in that investigation.

“It’s long seemed to me that Rosenstein would inevitably have to recuse himself in this investigation, because he was a witness to the events surrounding the firing of James Comey and may have participated in the firing of Mr. Comey,” Mariotti continued.

“This latest statement by the president may hasten Rosenstein’s recusal or put pressure on Rosenstein to step aside or step down.”

Rosenstein has quietly acknowledged that he may need to step aside, according to ABC News. He has already testified to a House panel that he is in consultation with Justice Department ethics officials to determine if his recusal is necessary.

“You don’t recuse yourself from an investigation because a subject of the investigation is accusing you of misconduct,” said Ed Dowd, a former U.S. Attorney who helped run the special counsel investigation of the Waco raid. “This may be putting pressure on Rosenstein to say, ‘Do I really need this?’ It may be putting pressure on him to get out, but that is not a proper reason to recuse himself, there’s no question about that.”

“It should not have an effect on him in terms of recusing himself. He should not recuse himself based on tweets by someone who’s under investigation”

It has been a spectacular fall for Rosenstein. As recently as February, pillars of the legal establishment breathed a sigh of relief when the highly respected prosecutor became deputy attorney general. Instead, they have watched in horror as he wrote a legal memo in May at Trump’s request that was widely seen as a pretext for firing the FBI chief. Brookings Institution scholar Ben Wittes, editor of the influential legal blog Lawfare and a friend of Comey’s, has speculated that Rosenstein might have given Trump the “loyalty” assurance the president sought unsuccessfully from the ex-FBI director.

As respected as Rosenstein was, he also has a reputation for ambition. The view of him in legal circles, according to a former Justice Department official who wished to remain anonymous, is, “he’s wanted to be the DAG [deputy attorney general] for a long, long time.”

Should Rosenstein recuse himself—or lose his job—the next Justice Department official in line to oversee the Mueller probe is Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, who was legal-policy chief in the George W. Bush-era department and more recently served on the government’s privacy watchdog, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. The conservative Brand has a reputation, former colleagues say, for extreme intelligence and integrity. Of course, the same used to be said of Rosenstein.

During one of his rare public appearances as FBI director, he laid out his position on the tyranny of the law: “We live in dangerous times, but we are not the first generation of Americans to face threats to our security,” he explained. “Like those before us, we will be judged by future generations on how we react to this crisis. And by that I mean not just whether we win the war on terrorism, because I believe we will, but also whether, as we fight that war, we safeguard for our citizens the very liberties for which we are fighting.”

Unlike many in Washington, where such sentiments can often sound like platitudes, he really means it. As former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, who has known Mueller for more than 30 years, explained to me, “People are smart not to test him on those issues.” Larry Thompson, who, like Comey, also served as deputy attorney general under Ashcroft, told me, “When he has a point of view, you know it’s held honestly and openly. There’s no subterranean agenda.”

Mueller overall sees little gray in the world; he’s a black-or-white guy, right or wrong. His father, who was captain of a World War II Navy sub chaser, impressed on him early the importance of credibility and integrity. “You did not shade or even consider shading with him,” Mueller recalls, and ever since, matters of honor and principle had been simple. “Occasionally he’ll be a pain in the ass because he’s so strait-laced,” his late college friend and one-time FBI counselor Lee Rawls told me years ago. “There have been a couple of instances I’ve advocated cowardice and flight, and he wouldn’t have it.”

Cowardice and flight is indeed not Mueller’s style. After he and Rawls graduated from Princeton in the 1960s, before Vietnam had become the political and cultural flash point that it did later in the decade, Mueller volunteered to join the Marines and fight—earning a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with valor for his role in an intense firefight. In Officer Candidate School, his only demerit came in a trait that would be familiar to anyone who later dealt with him as FBI director and one that should, again, worry the Trump White House today: Robert Swan Mueller III received a D in “Delegation.”

Mueller’s longtime friend Tom Wilner explained to me, “Bob’s the best of the old prep school tradition. He stands for service, integrity and has the confidence to never bend. He doesn’t do anything for himself.”

“The things that most of us would struggle with the most come relatively easy to him because his moral compass is so straight,” one aide at the FBI told me, with reflection and envy. “It’s got to be quite comforting in its own way.”

Mueller was at home at the FBI in part because it removed any hint of partisanship. The FBI, Mueller believes, is the government’s honest broker—an agency free of political interference and pressure, priding itself on objectivity and independence. “You’re free to do what you think is right,” he told me. “It’s much easier than if you have to consider the political currents.”

He had a deep appreciation as director for the bureau’s traditions and its esprit de corps. He famously, almost religiously, wore white shirts and dark suits as director—the picture of a stereotypical Hoover-era G-man—and would even gently mock aides and agents who dared to show up in his office wearing, horror of horrors, pink or even blue shirts. I long attributed his habit to his personal style and strait-laced nature, but, after he finished as director, I once asked him: Why the cult of the white shirt? He answered more philosophically than I’d ever seen him speak before—explaining that he knew he was leading the FBI through a period of wrenching change, converting it to a global intelligence agency focused around counterterrorism, and that he felt it important to keep recognizable totems of the past in place—like the tradition of the white shirt—to help agents understand it was still the same FBI they’d signed up to join.

***

A year after the showdown over STELLAR WIND, Comey journeyed from the Justice Department up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to Fort Meade, Maryland, the headquarters of the NSA. His speech that day was purportedly in recognition of Law Day, but it carried a coded message for those few in the room who knew what had transpired in the showdown of the Terrorist Surveillance Program.

The nation of the United States, Comey explained, was a country of laws, not men. Public officials swore oaths to the Constitution, not to the president. It’s the job of the lawyers, he explained, to remove the looming crisis from a decision and examine how it will look down the road.

He then continued with words that echo more than a decade later and presage the weeks to come on Capitol Hill, where he will once again be in his element. “We know that our actions, and those of the agencies we support, will be held up in a quiet, dignified, well-lit room, where they can be viewed with the perfect, and brutally unfair, vision of hindsight,” he told the gathered NSA crowd. “We know they will be reviewed in hearing rooms or courtrooms where it is impossible to capture even a piece of the urgency and exigency felt during a crisis.”

That perfect hindsight, he argued was why the most important thing in a lawyer’s life was understanding the test of history. As he said, “‘No’ must be spoken into a storm of crisis, with loud voices all around.”

Sometime soon, in a quiet, dignified, well-lit room on Capitol Hill, Jim Comey’s going to get another chance to explain why he said no. And while he does, Bob Mueller will be toiling away, reaching deep into the government and the annals of the Trump campaign, to understand exactly what transpired last year and the events that led up to Comey’s firing.

Even at 72, Mueller has plenty of energy left—where his predecessor Louis Freeh had the same chief of staff for nearly his entire tenure, Mueller burned through chiefs of staff almost every year. “He drives at such speed that he can burn up people around him,” Comey told me of Mueller. “Some people burn people up because they’re assholes. Bob burns them up by sheer exertion.”

The night of the STELLAR WIND showdown, Mueller arrived at the hospital moments after the White House aides departed after they were unable to get Comey or Ashcroft to reauthorize the program. Mueller spoke briefly with Comey in the hallway and then entered Ashcroft’s hospital room.

“Bob, I don’t know what’s happening,” the confused attorney general told him.

“There comes a time in every man’s life when he’s tested, and you passed your test tonight,” Mueller replied, comfortingly.

While Comey and Mueller might have both thought that they had aced their biggest challenge in the early 2000s, keeping the nation safe after 9/11, as it turns out, they’re both now embarking on what history will likely remember as their ultimate test.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this piece misidentified the mafia boss Comey prosecuted. His name was John Gotti.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/05/18/james-comey-trump-special-prosecutor-robert-mueller-fbi-215154

Special counsel is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, officials say

Special counsel investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice
The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials to determine whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said. (Patrick Martin, McKenna Ewen/The Washington Post)
The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.

Trump had received private assurances from then-FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing.

Five people briefed on the interview requests, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said that Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Rogers’s recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett, agreed to be interviewed by Mueller’s investigators as early as this week. The investigation has been cloaked in secrecy, and it is unclear how many others have been questioned by the FBI.

The NSA said in a statement that it will “fully cooperate with the special counsel” and declined to comment further. The office of the director of national intelligence and Ledgett declined to comment.

The White House now refers all questions about the Russia investigation to Trump’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz.

“The FBI leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal,” said Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Kasowitz.

The officials said Coats, Rogers and Ledgett would appear voluntarily, though it remains unclear whether they will describe in full their conversations with Trump and other top officials or will be directed by the White House to invoke executive privilege. It is doubtful that the White House could ultimately use executive privilege to try to block them from speaking to Mueller’s investigators. Experts point out that the Supreme Court ruled during the Watergate scandal that officials cannot use privilege to withhold evidence in criminal prosecutions.

The obstruction-of-justice investigation of the president began days after Comey was fired on May 9, according to people familiar with the matter. Mueller’s office has taken up that work, and the preliminary interviews scheduled with intelligence officials indicate that his team is actively pursuing potential witnesses inside and outside the government.

The interviews suggest that Mueller sees the question of attempted obstruction of justice as more than just a “he said, he said” dispute between the president and the fired FBI director, an official said.

With the term whirling around Washington, a former federal prosecutor explains what to know about the criminal charge of obstruction of justice. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Investigating Trump for possible crimes is a complicated affair, even if convincing evidence of a crime were found. The Justice Department has long held that it would not be appropriate to indict a sitting president. Instead, experts say, the onus would be on Congress to review any findings of criminal misconduct and then decide whether to initiate impeachment proceedings.

Comey confirmed publicly in congressional testimony on March 20 that the bureau was investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

Comey’s statement before the House Intelligence Committee upset Trump, who has repeatedly denied that any coordination with the Russians took place. Trump had wanted Comey to disclose publicly that he was not personally under investigation, but the FBI director refused to do so.

Soon after, Trump spoke to Coats and Rogers about the Russia investigation.

Officials said one of the exchanges of potential interest to Mueller took place on March 22, less than a week after Coats was confirmed by the Senate to serve as the nation’s top intelligence official.

Coats was attending a briefing at the White House with officials from several other government agencies. When the briefing ended, as The Washington Post previously reported, Trump asked everyone to leave the room except for Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Coats told associates that Trump had asked him whether Coats could intervene with Comey to get the bureau to back off its focus on former national security adviser Michael Flynn in its Russia probe, according to officials. Coats later told lawmakers that he never felt pressured to intervene.

A day or two after the March 22 meeting, Trump telephoned Coats and Rogers to separately ask them to issue public statements denying the existence of any evidence of coordinationbetween his campaign and the Russian government.

Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the president’s requests, officials said.

It is unclear whether Ledgett had direct contact with Trump or other top officials about the Russia probe, but he wrote an internal NSA memo documenting the president’s phone call with Rogers, according to officials.

As part of the probe, the special counsel has also gathered Comey’s written accounts of his conversations with Trump. The president has accused Comey of lying about those encounters.

Mueller is overseeing a host of investigations involving people who are or were in Trump’s orbit, people familiar with the probe said. The investigation is examining possible contacts with Russian operatives as well as any suspicious financial activity related to those individuals.

Last week, Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he had informed Trump that there was no investigation of the president’s personal conduct, at least while he was leading the FBI.

Comey’s carefully worded comments, and those of Andrew McCabe, who took over as acting FBI director, suggested to some officials that an investigation of Trump for attempted obstruction may have been launched after Comey’s departure, particularly in light of Trump’s alleged statements regarding Flynn.

“I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards, to try and understand what the intention was there, and whether that’s an offense,” Comey testified last week.

Mueller has not publicly discussed his work, and a spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.

Accounts by Comey and other officials of their conversations with the president could become central pieces of evidence if Mueller decides to pursue an obstruction case.

Investigators will also look for any statements the president may have made publicly and privately to people outside the government about his reasons for firing Comey and his concerns about the Russia probe and other related investigations, people familiar with the matter said.

Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week that he was certain his firing was due to the president’s concerns about the Russia probe, rather than over his handling of a now-closed FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, as the White House had initially asserted. “It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said. “I was fired, in some way, to change — or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.”

The fired FBI director said ultimately it was up to Mueller to make a determination whether the president crossed a legal line.

In addition to describing his interactions with the president, Comey told the Intelligence Committee that while he was FBI director he told Trump on three occasions that he was not under investigation as part of a counterintelligence probe looking at Russian meddling in the election.

Republican lawmakers seized on Comey’s testimony to point out that Trump was not in the FBI’s crosshairs when Comey led the bureau.

After Comey’s testimony, in which he acknowledged telling Trump that he was not under investigation, Trump tweeted that he felt “total and complete vindication.” It is unclear whether McCabe, Comey’s successor, has informed Trump of the change in the scope of the probe.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/special-counsel-is-investigating-trump-for-possible-obstruction-of-justice/2017/06/14/9ce02506-5131-11e7-b064-828ba60fbb98_story.html?utm_term=.ddf5961ef89d

Eight Laws Hillary Clinton Could Be Indicted For Breaking

Photo of Kenneth P. Bergquist

KENNETH P. BERGQUIST
Brigadier General, U.S. Army (Ret)

As a former Justice Department official, I have, of late, been asked by both Democratic and Republican friends whether Hillary Clinton could be indicted for her email related actions. The simple answer is yes — she, and perhaps some of her senior staff, could be indicted for violating a number of federal criminal statutes. But for reasons that will be discussed later, it is unlikely that she will be.

Nevertheless, it is well worth discussing the various criminal provisions of federal law that she and others may have been violated based on mainstream news reports. Remember that news reporting can be incorrect or incomplete — and that Hillary Clinton, and anyone else involved, deserves every presumption of innocence. Also keep in mind that an indictment is not a conviction but rather the informed opinion of a grand jury that probable cause exists to believe one or more violations of federal criminal statutes have transpired.

This intellectual and legal research exercise should commence with a brief review of the basics of criminal jurisprudence: There are two elements of a criminal offense: the prohibited conduct as defined in statute; and the mens rea or mental intent of the individual or individuals engaging in the prohibited conduct. Thus, to gain a conviction on a criminal count in an indictment, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that: (1) the prohibited conduct occurred, (2) the prohibited conduct was undertaken by the defendant, and (3) the defendant had the requisite mens rea or intent at the time.

1.) 18 U.S. Code § 793 – Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information
18 U.S. Code § 798 – Disclosure of classified information

A federal prosecutor would naturally focus first on the most serious allegations: willfully transmitting or willfully retaining Top Secret and Compartmented (TS/SCI) material using a private server system. The individual who transmits and the individual who receives and retains TS/SCI information on a private server jointly share the culpability for risking the compromise and exploitation of the information by hostile intelligence services. The prosecutor’s charging document would likely include felony counts under 18 U.S. Code § 793 and under 18 U.S. Code § 798 against each transmitting individual as well as separate counts against each receiving and retaining individual. Violation of either provision of the U.S. Code cited above is a felony with a maximum prison term of ten years.

The prohibited conduct is the insecure transmission of highly classified information, as well as the receipt and retention of highly classified information in an unapproved manner. The requisite mens rea is the willful commission of the prohibited conduct and the knowledge that compromised information could result in prejudice or injury to the United States or advantage to any foreign nation. Proof of intent to disclose the classified information is not required.

2.) U.S. Code § 1924 – Unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material

If the federal prosecutors are of a charitable disposition and an accused person has been cooperative, the felony charges under 18 U.S. Code § 793 and 18 U.S. Code § 798 may be “pled-down” to a single or to multiple misdemeanor counts under 18 U.S. Code § 1924. A misdemeanor conviction would probably result in a period of probation and a less significant fine. The prohibited conduct is the unauthorized removal of classified information from government control or its retention in an unauthorized location. The mens rea required is the intent to remove from government control or the intent to store the classified information in an unauthorized location.

3.) 18 U.S. Code § 2071(b) — Concealment, removal, or mutilation generally

To sustain a charge under 18 U.S. Code § 2071(b), a federal prosecutor need only prove that the accused transferred and held the only copies of official government records (whether classified or not), the very existence of which was concealed from government records custodians. The mens rea required is that an accused knows that official government records were transferred or removed from the control of government records custodians. Violation of 18 U.S. Code § 2071(b) is a felony with a maximum prison term of three years.

4.) 18 U.S. Code § 641 – Public money, property or records

Again, if the federal prosecutors are of a charitable disposition and accused has been cooperative, the felony charges under 18 U.S. Code § 2071(b) can be “pled down” to a misdemeanor under 18 U.S. Code § 641. The prohibited conduct is the conversion of official records (whether classified or not) to the accused’s exclusive use and the mens rea is simply the intent to do so. Conviction on the lesser misdemeanor charge would likely result in a period of probation and the imposition of a fine.

5.) 18 U.S. Code § 1505 – Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees

If it can be proven that an accused destroyed, withheld, or concealed the existence of official records being sought under subpoena by a committee of Congress, the accused can be convicted of obstruction under 18 U.S. Code § 1505. The prohibited conduct includes destruction, concealment and withholding of documents, thereby impeding or obstructing the committee’s rightful pursuit of information. The mens rea is knowledge of the committee’s interest in obtaining the official records in the accused’s custody or control. Violation of 18 U.S. Code § 1505 is a felony with a maximum prison term of five years.

6.) 18 U.S. Code § 1519 — Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in federal investigations

If it can be proven that an accused knowingly concealed the existence of official records being sought by the Department of State Inspector General (DOS/IG) or by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), such accused can be convicted of obstruction. The prohibited conduct is the concealment and withholding of documents that impede or obstruct an investigation. The mens rea is the intent to conceal or withhold. Violation of 18 U.S. Code § 1519 is a felony with a maximum prison term of twenty years.

7.) 18 U.S. Code § 1031 — Fraud against the United States
18 U.S. Code § 1343 – Fraud by wire, radio or television
18 U.S. Code § 1346 — Definition of “scheme or artifice to defraud”
18 U.S. Code § 371 – Conspiracy to defraud the United States

If it can be proven that an accused arranged for the Department of State to hire an Information Technology (IT) specialist to primarily administer and maintain a private server system owned by the accused, then the accused can be convicted of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and probably wire fraud. The prohibited conduct is having the United States pay an employee salary and/or official travel funds for performing private services on behalf of accused. The mens rea is simply the knowledge of the employee’s status as a public servant and that the government was not fully reimbursed for the costs to the government of such services. The wire fraud conviction can be sought if it can be proven that accused used electronic means of communication in undertaking such scheme or artifice to defraud.

8.) 18 U.S. Code § 371 – Conspiracy to commit a federal offense

If any accused and any third party can be proven to have colluded in any violation of federal, criminal law, then all involved can be charged with criminal conspiracy as well as being charged with the underlying offense.

Indictment?

The old adage, that a good prosecutor can get a ham sandwich indicted, is bad news for any public servant who risks the compromise of classified information or otherwise violates any of the other federal criminal statutes listed above. Specifically, this Administration has a history of vigorously prosecuting and winning convictions in the mishandling of classified information and other criminal violations of the public trust.

However, Hillary Clinton is anything but a ham sandwich; and she knows it. She and her senior aides will not even be formally investigated by this Justice Department, much less indicted. The president will allow Hillary Clinton and her aides to “tough it out” for as long it is politically possible. However, if and when the political and public opinion costs of a “tough it out” tactic become too great, President Obama will simply use that famous pen of his to issue a succinct pardon and make formal mockery of the concept of equal justice.

Kenneth Bergquist served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the United States Department of Justice during the Reagan Administration and serves now aspro bono legal counsel to the Special Operations Education Fund (OPSEC).

http://dailycaller.com/2015/09/21/eight-laws-hillary-clinton-could-be-indicted-for-breaking/

Yes, There Could Be Serious Legal Problems if Obama Admin Involved in Illegal Surveillance

President Trump recently tweeted claiming that former President Obama wiretapped him during his campaign. One can only imagine how nuts the media would have gone if the roles had been reversed: President Trump wiretapping either Obama or the Clintons, though his DOJ could have authority to do just that given the expansive leaks of intelligence information by Obama and Clinton supporters the last few months. Heck, he could wiretap the media at this point, legally and legitimately, as the sources of these unlawful leaks, for which Obama himself set precedent. Do liberals understand what Pandora’s Box Obama opened up by Obama using the powers of the NSA, CIA and FBI to spy on his political opponents? Even Nixon never did that.

If the stories are correct, Obama or his officials might even face prosecution. But, we are still early in all of this and there are a lot of rumors flying around so the key is if the reports are accurate. We just don’t know at this time. The stories currently are three-fold: first, that Obama’s team tried to get a warrant from a regular, Article III federal court on Trump, and was told no by someone along the way (maybe the FBI), as the evidence was that weak or non-existent; second, Obama’s team then tried to circumvent the federal judiciary’s independent role by trying to mislabel the issue one of “foreign agents,” and tried to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act “courts”, and were again turned down, when the court saw Trump named (an extremely rare act of FISA court refusal of the government, suggesting the evidence was truly non-existent against Trump); and so, third, Obama circumvented both the regular command of the FBI and the regularly appointed federal courts, by placing the entire case as a FISA case (and apparently under Sally Yates at DOJ) as a “foreign” case, and then omitted Trump’s name from a surveillance warrant submitted to the FISA court, which the FISA court unwittingly granted, which Obama then misused to spy on Trump and many connected to Trump. Are these allegations true? We don’t know yet, but if any part of them are then Obama and/or his officials could face serious trouble.

Can a President be charged with a crime? Only once out of office. While in office, impeachment remains the exclusive remedy in order to avoid a single judicial branch trying to overturn an election, such as a grand jury in any part of the country could. Once out of office, a President remains immune from civil liability for his duties while President, under a 1982 decision of the United States Supreme Court. However, as the Nixon pardon attests, nothing forecloses a criminal prosecution of the President after his presidency is complete for crimes against the country. Obama, the Constitutional lawyer, should know that.

What crimes could have been committed? Ironically, for Democrats falsely accusing Attorney General Sessions, perjury and conspiracy to commit perjury, as well as intentional violations of FISA. Rather shockingly, no law currently forbids misusing the power of the presidency to spy on one’s adversaries. What the law does forbid is lying to any judicial officer to obtain any means of surveillance. What the law does forbid, under criminal penalty, is the misuse of FISA. Both derive from the protections of the Fourth Amendment itself. Under section 1809, FISA makes it a crime for anyone to either “engage in” electronic surveillance under “color of law” under FISA without following the law’s restrictions, or “disclose” or “use” information gathered from it in contravention of the statute’s sharp constrictions.

FISA, 50 USC 1801, et seq., is a very limited method of obtaining surveillance authority. The reason for its strict limits is that FISA evades the regular federal court process, by not allowing regularly, Constitutionally appointed federal judges and their magistrates to authorize surveillance the Fourth Amendment would otherwise forbid. Instead, the Chief Justice handpicks the FISA court members, who have shown an exceptional deference to the executive branch. This is because FISA court members trust the government is only bringing them surveillance about pending terror attacks or “grave hostile” war-like attacks, as the FISA statute limits itself to. Thus, a FISA application can only be used in very limited circumstances.

One important reminder about electronic surveillance. Occasionally, a law enforcement officer will hear or see or record information not allowed by the warrant, but incidental or accidental to otherwise lawful surveillance. Their job is to immediately stop listening, stop recording, and to delete such information. This is what you occasionally see in films where the agent in the van hears the conversation turn away from something criminal to a personal discussion, and the agent then turns off the listening device and stops the recording. Such films simply recognize long-standing legal practice.

FISA can only be used for “foreign intelligence information.” Now that sounds broad, but is in fact very limited under the law. The only “foreign intelligence information” allowed as a basis for surveillance is information necessary to protect the United States against actual or potential “grave” “hostile” attack, war-like sabotage or international terror. Second, it can only be used to eavesdrop on conversations where the parties to the conversation are a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power. An agent of a foreign power cannot be a United States person unless they are knowingly involved in criminal espionage. No warrant is allowed on that person unless a FISA court finds probable cause the United States person is knowingly engaged in criminal espionage. Even then, if it involves a United States person, special steps must be taken to “minimize the acquisition and retention, and prohibit the dissemination, of non publicly available information concerning un-consenting United States persons.”

This includes procedures that require they never identify the person, or the conversation, being surveilled, to the public where that information is not evidence of a particular crime. Third, the kind of information sought concerns solely information about a pending or actual attack on the country. That is why the law limits itself to sabotage incidents involving war, not any form or kind of “sabotage,” explicitly limiting itself to those acts identified in section 105 of Title 18 of the United States Code.

This bring us to Watergate-on-Steroids, or #ObamaGate. Here are the problematic aspects of the Obama surveillance on Trump’s team, and on Trump himself. First, it is not apparent FISA could ever be invoked. Second, it is possible Obama’s team may have perjured themselves before the FISA court by withholding material information essential to the FISA court’s willingness to permit the government surveillance. Third, it could be that Obama’s team illegally disseminated and disclosed FISA information in direct violation of the statute precisely prohibiting such dissemination and disclosure. FISA prohibits, under criminal penalty, Obama’s team from doing any of the three.

At the outset, the NSA should have never been involved in a domestic US election. Investigating the election, or any hacking of the DNC or the phishing of Podesta’s emails, would not be a FISA matter. It does not fit the definition of war sabotage or a “grave” “hostile” war-like attack on the United States, as constrictively covered by FISA. It is your run-of-the-mill hacking case covered by existing United States laws that require use of the regular departments of the FBI, Department of Justice, and Constitutionally Senate-appointed federal district court judges, and their appointed magistrates, not secretive, deferential FISA courts.

Out of 35,000+ requests for surveillance, the FISA court has only ever rejected a whopping 12. Apparently, according to published reports, you can add one more to that — even the FISA court first rejected Obama’s request to spy on Trump’s team under the guise of an investigation into foreign agents of a pending war attack, intelligence agents apparently returned to the court, where, it is my assumption, that they did not disclose or divulge all material facts to the court when seeking the surveillance the second time around, some of which they would later wrongfully disseminate and distribute to the public. By itself, misuse of FISA procedures to obtain surveillance is itself, a crime.

This raises the second problem: Obama’s team submission of an affidavit to to the FISA court. An application for a warrant of any kind requires an affidavit, and that affidavit may not omit material factors. A fact is “material” if it could have the possible impact of impacting the judicial officer deciding whether to authorize the warrant. Such affidavits are the most carefully drawn up, reviewed, and approved affidavits of law enforcement in our system precisely because they must be fully-disclosing, forthcoming, and include any information a judge must know to decide whether to allow our government to spy on its own. My assumption would be that intelligence officials were trying to investigate hacking of DNC which is not even a FISA covered crime, so therefore serious questions arise about what Obama administration attorneys said to the FISA court to even consider the application. If the claim was “financial ties” to Russia, then Obama knew he had no basis to use FISA at all.

Since Trump was the obvious target, the alleged failure to disclose his name in the second application could be a serious and severe violation of the obligation to disclose all material facts. Lastly, given the later behavior, it is evident any promise in the affidavit to protect the surveilled information from ever being sourced or disseminated was a false promise, intended to induce the illicit surveillance. This is criminalized both by federal perjury statutes, conspiracy statutes, and the FISA criminal laws themselves.

That raises the third problem: it seems the FISA-compelled protocols for precluding the dissemination of the information were violated, and that Obama’s team issued orders to achieve precisely what the law forbids, if published reports are true about the administration sharing the surveilled information far-and-wide to promote unlawful leaks to the press. This, too, would be its own crime, as it brings back the ghost of Hillary’s emails — by definition, FISA information is strictly confidential or it’s information that never should have been gathered. FISA strictly segregates its surveilled information into two categories: highly confidential information of the most serious of crimes involving foreign acts of war; or, if not that, then information that should never have been gathered, should be immediately deleted, and never sourced nor disseminated. It cannot be both.

Recognizing this information did not fit FISA meant having to delete it and destroy it. According to published reports, Obama’s team did the opposite: order it preserved, ordered the NSA to search it, keep it, and share it; and then Obama’s Attorney General issued an order to allow broader sharing of information and, according to the New York Times, Obama aides acted to label the Trump information at a lower level of classification for massive-level sharing of the information. The problem for Obama is simple — if it could fit a lower level of classification, then it had to be deleted and destroyed, not disseminated and distributed, under crystal clear FISA law. Obama’s team’s admission it could be classified lower, yet taking actions to insure its broadest distribution, could even put Obama smack-middle of the biggest unlawful surveillance and political-opponent-smear campaign since Nixon. Except even Nixon didn’t use the FBI and NSA for his dirty tricks.

Watergate would have never happened if Nixon felt like he could just ask the FBI or NSA to tape the calls. This is Hoover-esque abuses of the kind Bob Woodward pal, former FBI Assistant Director Mark Felt (otherwise known as Deep Throat), routinely engaged in at the FBI until convicted and removed from office. (You didn’t know that Deep Throat was really a corrupt part of Deep State, did you? Guess who ran the famous COINTELPRO? That’s right — Deep Throat. How would the public have reacted if they knew the media had been in bed with the deep state all the way back then? Maybe that was the reason Woodward, Bernstein and Bradley kept Deep Throat’s identity secret all those years?)

Democrats may regret Sessions’ recusal, as his replacement is a mini-Sessions: a long-respected, a-political, highly ethical prosecutor, Dana Boente, whose reputation is well-warranted from his service at the Tax Division, and who won’t be limited by any perceived ties to Trump, given his prior appointment by Obama. Obama himself appeared scared of Boente, as he removed Boente from the successor-to-Sessions position during the lame-duck part of Obama’s presidency, but Trump restored Boente to that role earlier this month. Democrats may get the investigation they wanted, but it may be their own that end up named in the indictment.

Robert Barnes is a California-based trial attorney whose practice focuses on tax defense, civil rights and First Amendment law. You can follow him at @Barnes_Law

http://lawnewz.com/high-profile/yes-obama-could-be-prosecuted-if-involved-with-illegal-surveillance/

The Endless Ironies of Donald J. Trump

by VICTOR DAVIS HANSON June 13, 2017 4:00 AM @VDHANSON

Pandemonium can be a revivifying purgative.

Here are the ironies of Donald Trump as president. 1) For the Left (both Political and Media)

The Left was mostly untroubled for eight years about the often unconstitutional abuses of Barack Obama — given that they saw their shared noble aims as justifying almost any means necessary to achieve them.

There was the not uncommon Rice-Gruber-Rhodes-Holder sort of deception (on Benghazi, on the conduct of Bowe Bergdahl, on the Affordable Care Act, the Iran deal, on Fast and Furious, etc.) — a required tactic because so much of the Obama agenda was antithetical to the wishes and preferences of the American electorate and thus had to be disguised and camouflaged to become enacted.

There was the pen-and-phone mockery of established federal law (the suspension of the ACA employer mandate, the Chrysler creditor reversal, the non-enforcement of federal immigration law, the institutionalization of sanctuary-city nullification).

There was the constant mythmaking (from faux red lines, deadlines, and step-over lines to the fatuity of the Cairo Speech and Iran-deal harangues). There were the abuses of presidential power (the surveillance of journalists, the selective release of the bin Laden trove to pet journalists, the likely surveilling, unmasking, and leaking through reversed targeting of political enemies).

No one worried much when Obama promised on a hot mic to Medvedev that he would be more flexible with the Russians after his reelection, as if they were to conform to a desired sort of behavior in service to Obama that would earn them dividends from him later on — the kind of unapologetic partisan “collusion” that would have earned Trump a Comey-induced indictment.

No one cared that Obama pulled all peacekeepers out of Iraq and thereby ruined what the surge had saved.

Nor did anyone fret much about the serial scandals at the GSA, the VA, the IRS, and the Secret Service, or his disastrous reset policy with Russia and the implosion of the Middle East or the strange spectacles of Obama’s interview with GloZell or polarizing Oval Office guests, such as the rapper whose album cover portrayed celebrations over a dead white judge.

True, none of these were impeachable or even major offenses. But all of them recalibrated the bar of presidential behavior.

So along came the next Republican president, empowered by Obama’s exemptions to do almost anything he wished, albeit without the thin exculpatory veneer of Ivy League pretension, multicultural indemnity, and studied smoothness.

In biblical “there is a season” fashion, for every sermon about not building your business, making too much money, or profiting at the wrong time, there was a Trump retort to profit as never before.

For every too-frequent gala golf outing of a metrosexual Obama decked out in spiffy attire, there is a plumper Trump swinging away, oblivious to the angry pack of reporters that Obama once so carefully courted. For every rapper with an ankle bracelet that went off in the White House, there is now a White House photo-op with Ted Nugent.

For every executive-order suspension of federal immigration enforcement, there is an executive-order corrective.

For every lecture on the crusades, sermons on Western genocidal history, apology tour, or Islamic mythmaking, there is an American Greatness pride in everything.

The progressive ironies continued.

If the media were to be believed when they insisted that Obama was a “god,” or that he was the smartest man ever to achieve the presidency, or that the first lady was Jackie Kennedy incarnate, or that Obama was capable of sending electrical shocks down a reporter’s leg or was sure to be a brilliant president on the basis of his pants crease or because he talked in the manner of Washington elites, then surely it could not be believed when Trump was smeared as a veritable dunce, crook, buffoon, and naïf worthy of impeachment or that his wife (fluent in several languages) was an airhead former escort girl.

By their former unhinged adoration and obsequiousness, progressives and the media undermined all future credibility in their unhinged venom and loathing of Donald Trump. Now they live with the reality that by elevating Obama into a deity, they unleashed their own worst nightmare and have reduced themselves to irrelevance.

In the end, no one believes the current venom of a CNN or a New York Times precisely because no one could have believed their prior slavish adulation.

Anderson Cooper has become Keith Olbermann, as Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer meld into Maxine Waters: now malevolent rather than previously sycophantic, but in their extremism still no more credible in 2017 than they were in 2009. 2) For the Orphaned Never Trump Right (as Overrepresented in the Punditocracy as Underrepresented in the Electorate)

Even the most die-hard Never Trump conservative has had to make some adjustments. Despite assurances that Trump would not get the nomination, he did. Despite assurances that he could never be elected, he was. Despite prognostications that Trump was a liberal wolf hiding in conservative fleece, Trump’s appointments, his executive orders, his legislation pending before the Congress, his abrupt withdrawal from the Paris global-warming accords, his fierce support for vouchers, his pro-life advocacy, and his immigration normality were so far orthodoxly conservative.

Most Never Trumpers now concede that something had gone terribly wrong with their top-down party, although they resent that it was raucous billionaire Donald Trump who administered the diagnosis.

Despite suspicions that Trump’s appeal to the working class was nursed on racism, fanatic nationalism, xenophobia, and nativism, the appeal instead grew from a shared disgust with blue-stocking Republicans who were perceived in word and deed as little different from coastal Democratic look-alikes. Most Never Trumpers now concede that something had gone terribly wrong with their top-down party, although they resent that it was raucous billionaire Donald Trump who administered the diagnosis.

Where Never Trump conservatives worried that Trump was too uninformed or too reckless (e.g., pulling out of an “obsolete” NATO, rejecting Article 5 of the NATO alliance, starting a trade war with China, or erecting tariffs in 1920s style), Trump was forced to separate his past rhetoric from present reality — confirming in a way his transparent art-of-the-deal negotiating style of asking for twice what he could acceptably settle for, or acting unhinged to unsettle negotiators, enemies, and rivals. Given these surprises, the Never Trump position has now receded to a simpler proposition: The uncouth character of Donald J. Trump is not worth the conservative agenda that he may well enact, as we all will eventually and inevitably learn. Or how can conservative moralists stomach such a supposedly immoral incarnation of their own views? Such a paradox hinges on four corollaries, many of them dubious.

One: The ideological trajectory of a probable 16 years of Obama–Hillary Clinton progressive transformation of the country was never as dangerous as turning over executive power to someone as purportedly uncouth and unpredictable as Trump.

Two: Trump’s character defects were like none other in a previous American president (which would include John Kennedy’s pathological and dangerous womanizing, Lyndon Johnson’s in-office profiteering and crudity, Richard Nixon’s disrespect for truth and the law, Bill Clinton’s demonstrable White House sex escapades and lying under oath) and thus would cancel out the entire gamut of renewed energy production, deregulation, tax reform, deterrent foreign policy, Obamacare reform, and the sort of Cabinet appointment that will prune back the deep state.

Three: Ideas matter more than politics and governance. Being 51 (or far more) percent preferable is still either not being preferable at all or at least not enough to warrant pragmatic assent.

Four: Even snarky and “see, how I was right” attacks on Trump from the right keep conservatism honest, rather than implode it in the manner that the Left most assiduously avoids. (Was there ever a “Never Hillary” movement after the Democratic convention to protest her pollution of the Democratic National Committee?)

For now, the fallback position of “I told you so” hinges on Trump’s proving, in a downward spiral, far more recklessly obstreperous in the future than he has been so far, and on his agenda’s either fossilizing or reverting to his own 1980s liberal outlook. 3) Always Trump There are few ironies for Always Trumpers who supported Trump from well before the primaries. They wished an iron wrecking ball to be thrown into the deep-state glass, and they certainly got what they wished for. The uncouthness of Trump is not vulgarity for them. It’s the necessary tough antidote to what they see as the polished crudity of the elite class, who are quite indecent in their sanctimonious lectures on amnesties or globalized free but unfair trade — while having the personal means of navigating around the deleterious consequences of their own advocacy. Trump’s nihilistic and self-destructive tweets are yet again, for the Always Trumpers, the Semtex that helps blow up the entire spectacle of the feeding frenzy Washington press conference, the embarrassment of the White House Correspondents Dinner, the soft-ball televised interview, and the moral preening of television’s talking heads. Dr. Sawbones Trump smelled a festering wound, ripped off the scab, and proclaimed that the exposure would aerate and cure the gangrenous mass below. For the Always Trumpers, without the Trump shock, we would never have fully appreciated just how politically crude a Stephen Colbert really was, or just how obscene was a Tom Perez or

3) Always Trump There are few ironies for Always Trumpers who supported Trump from well before the primaries. They wished an iron wrecking ball to be thrown into the deep-state glass, and they certainly got what they wished for. The uncouthness of Trump is not vulgarity for them. It’s the necessary tough antidote to what they see as the polished crudity of the elite class, who are quite indecent in their sanctimonious lectures on amnesties or globalized free but unfair trade — while having the personal means of navigating around the deleterious consequences of their own advocacy. Trump’s nihilistic and self-destructive tweets are yet again, for the Always Trumpers, the Semtex that helps blow up the entire spectacle of the feeding frenzy Washington press conference, the embarrassment of the White House Correspondents Dinner, the soft-ball televised interview, and the moral preening of television’s talking heads. Dr. Sawbones Trump smelled a festering wound, ripped off the scab, and proclaimed that the exposure would aerate and cure the gangrenous mass below. For the Always Trumpers, without the Trump shock, we would never have fully appreciated just how politically crude a Stephen Colbert really was, or just how obscene was a Tom Perez or a Senator Gillibrand, or how rankly partisan was a Chuck Schumer or how incapacitated a Nancy Pelosi. Dr. Sawbones Trump smelled a festering wound, ripped off the scab, and proclaimed that the exposure would aerate and cure the gangrenous mass below — however crudely administered the remedy without analgesics. In this view, Trump’s ostensibly counterproductive outbursts and Twitter rants are the unpleasant castor oil that was long ago needed to break up and pass on a constipated, corrupt, and incestuous elite.

4) Trump, Better Far Than the Alternative Lastly, there are the conservatives and Republicans (well over 90 percent) who voted for Trump on the grounds that, while he may not have been preferable to most of the alternatives in the primary, he most certainly was in the general election. For these pragmatists, there are both pleasant and occasionally worrisome ironies. On the upside, it seems clear that Trump is not just conservative to his word, but, in the first 100 days, conservative in terms of policy to a degree unlike any other Republican president or presidential nominee since Ronald Reagan. Mitt Romney would not have yanked the U.S. out of the jerry-rigged Paris climate accord. John McCain would not have appointed a Neal Gorsuch or proposed to radically recalibrate the tax code. Neither of the two Bushes would have felt politically secure enough to shut down the border to illegal immigration; neither would have pressed to finished the border wall. None since Reagan would have made the sort of conservative appointments at the cabinet and bureaucratic level as has Trump. If Trump were really a namby-pamby conservative, the sheer hatred of Trump the person by the progressive Left has had the predictable effect of making him against everything his loudest enemies are for. For the realist Trump supporters, Trump’s tweets or outbursts are often regrettable and occasionally bothersome, but not so much because they demonstrate an unprecedented level of presidential indecency. (Cynical realists with knowledge of history accept what FDR or JFK was capable of, and thus what they said in private conservations, and occasionally out loud.) Trump’s sin, then, is that he more often says out loud what prior presidents kept to their inner circle. Rather, their worry is more tactical and strategic: Trump, the bull-in-the-china-shop messenger, breaks up too much of the vital message of Trump. In public, they may cringe at Trump’s excesses (though enjoying in private how he forces sanctimonious progressives to melt down), but their worry over Trump’s overkill is mostly from the fear that no mortal 70-year-old male, without a traditionally loyal support staff, but with unhealthy sleep and diet habits, and under the stress of historic vituperation, could see through such an ambitious conservative agenda. They are worried, then, that the 24/7 and extraneous fights that Trump picks will eventually undo him, and with his demise will go his entire conservative resurgence for a generation. They admire enormously Mike Pence but concede that he would have been neither nominated nor elected. And should Trump fall, Pence would be unable amid the nuclear fallout to press the conservative agenda further. And yet there is some doubt even here as well. Trump’s tweets can be as prescient as they are reckless.

Take the infamous “Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory” and substitute “Obama administration” for Obama, and “surveil” for “wires tapped,” and Trump’s tweet about the former president’s intelligence agencies improperly monitoring him may yet prove in a broad sense correct.

In other words, cringe-worthy Trump behavior so often is the lubricant that oils his success against cringe-worthy opponents, turning upside down the Heraclitean axiom that character is destiny, or rather redefining it, because Trump’s targets so often were hubristic and deserved the nemesis sent their way.

For the realist Trump supporters, Trump’s tweets or outbursts are often regrettable and occasionally bothersome, but not so much because they demonstrate an unprecedented level of presidential indecency. (Cynical realists with knowledge of history accept what FDR or JFK was capable of, and thus what they said in private conservations, and occasionally out loud.)

Trump’s sin, then, is that he more often says out loud what prior presidents kept to their inner circle. Rather, their worry is more tactical and strategic: Trump, the bull-in-the-china-shop messenger, breaks up too much of the vital message of Trump. In public, they may cringe at Trump’s excesses (though enjoying in private how he forces sanctimonious progressives to melt down), but their worry over Trump’s overkill is mostly from the fear that no mortal 70-year-old male, without a traditionally loyal support staff, but with unhealthy sleep and diet habits, and under the stress of historic vituperation, could see through such an ambitious conservative agenda.

They are worried, then, that the 24/7 and extraneous fights that Trump picks will eventually undo him, and with his demise will go his entire conservative resurgence for a generation.

They admire enormously Mike Pence but concede that he would have been neither nominated nor elected. And should Trump fall, Pence would be unable amid the nuclear fallout to press the conservative agenda further. And yet there is some doubt even here as well. Trump’s tweets can be as prescient as they are reckless. Take the infamous “Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory” and substitute “Obama administration” for Obama, and “surveil” for “wires tapped,” and Trump’s tweet about the former president’s intelligence agencies improperly monitoring him may yet prove in a broad sense correct. In other words, cringe-worthy Trump behavior so often is the lubricant that oils his success against cringe-worthy opponents, turning upside down the Heraclitean axiom that character is destiny, or rather redefining it, because Trump’s targets so often were hubristic and deserved the nemesis sent their way.

It may not be that Trump earns hatred for unnecessary provocation and vitriol, but instead that he or any other Republican would have earned such venom anyway; thus his own searing tactics and narcissistic belief in his own destiny are predicated on the assumption that his unhinged enemies will vaporize first. And he may be right. James Comey has underestimated Donald Trump every bit as much as Marco Rubio or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama did. In the end, the pragmatists apparently believe conservatives will hang together or hang separately.

Never have so many bright people proved so dense.

Never have polls and politics proved so unreliable or partisan. Never have unintended consequences so replaced predictable results.

Yes, we are in chaos, but we sense also that the pandemonium is purgative of the worse that prompted it — and it is unpleasant mostly because it has so long been overdue.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, to appear in October from Basic Books.

 http://www.nationalreview.com/article/448562/donald-trump-ironies-wrecking-ball-long-overdue-may-benefit-country

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The Pronk Pops Show 911, Breaking News: Story 1: Democrat Socialist, James Hodgkinson, Opened Fire With Semi-automatic Rifle On Republican Lawmakers Practicing For Annual Charity Baseball Game Shooting House Majority Whip, Steve Scalise, 2 Capital Police Officers, 1 Congressional Staffer and 1 Lobbyist and Two Others Had Secondary Injuries  — The Assailant Was Killed By Police Officers — Game On — Videos — Story 2: 24-Floor Grenfell Tower  London Apartment Building Fire — Towering Inferno — Videos

Posted on June 15, 2017. Filed under: American History, Assault, Blogroll, Breaking News, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, Foreign Policy, Fourth Amendment, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Hate Speech, Health Care, Health Care Insurance, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, Homicide, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Media, Medicare, Middle East, National Security Agency, News, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Second Amendment, Senate, Social Security, Success, Terror, Terrorism, Unemployment, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Weapons, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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 Image result for republican baseball game shooterImage result for republican baseball game shooter

 

Breaking News: Story 1: Democrat Socialist, James Hodgkinson, Opened Fire With Semi-automatic Rifle On Republican Lawmakers Practicing For Annual Charity Baseball Game Shooting House Majority Whip, Steve Scalise, 2 Capital Police Officer, 1 Congressional Staffer and 1 Lobbyist and Two Others Had Secondary Injuries  — The Assailant Was Killed By Police Officers — Game On — Videos —

Image result for republican baseball game shooter june 14, 2017 Image result for republican practice baseball game shooter june 14, 2017 Image result for president trump on republican practice baseball game shooter june 14, 2017

Graphic content: Gunman opens fire on GOP baseball practice

Published on Jun 14, 2017

A shooting at a park in Alexandria, Va., wounded five people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.). Republican members of Congress were holding a morning baseball practice ahead of a scheduled charity game.

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Congressional baseball gunman was a Trump-hating Bernie supporter who hit women: Dead suspect’s violent history revealed after he opened fire on Republican lawmakers on the President’s birthday, leaving five injured

  • James Hodgkinson, 66, died in hospital after being shot by Capitol Police at the baseball field in Virginia 
  • He was a staunch Democrat who documented his hatred for President Trump on social media pages
  • Hodgkinson moved from his home in Illinois to Virginia two months ago and had been living out of his car
  • He has a long criminal history which includes an assault charge for punching his female neighbor as she tried to protect his daughter from him in 2006
  • Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip, is in a critical condition after being shot by the gunman at 7am
  • He was taking part in a GOP practice session with other politicians when Hodgkinson opened fire on them 
  • Two Capitol Police officers who were there to protect 51-year-old Scalise bravely returned fire on the gunman 
  • They were injured along with lobbyist Matt Mika and congressional staffer Zachary Barth but all are expected to recover
  • Thursday’s game, which the men were practicing for, will go ahead as planned despite the shooting  

The gunman who was killed by cops after opening fire on a Republican congressional baseball practice on Wednesday, the president’s 71st birthday, was a Trump-hating Democrat and Bernie Sanders supporter with a long history of violence.

James T. Hodgkinson, 66, from Belleville, Illinois, was killed by Capitol Police after firing up to 100 rounds from an assault rifle at a baseball park in Alexandria, Virginia, leaving five injured including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise at 7am on Wednesday.

Scalise’s condition worsened throughout the afternoon and was deemed critical by hospital staff after he he was released from emergency surgery on his hip.

Two Capitol Police officers were shot as they bravely returned fire on Hodgkinson while the lawmakers scrambled across the field to safety. Congressional staffer Zachary Barth and lobbyist Matt Mika were shot but both are expected to recover.

Hodgkinson was a staunch Sanders supporter and campaigned for the left-wing senator to get the Democratic nomination for president last year. His family said he was distraught over Trump’s November election win and revealed that he had been living in Alexandria out of a gym bag and sleeping in his car for the last two months.

A married union tradesman with a home inspection business, Hodgkinson had threatened to ‘destroy’ the president and his administration on social media but was not known to Secret Service.

His criminal record included a 2006 arrest for punching his female neighbor in the face as she tried to shield his underage daughter from him.

Scroll down for video 

James T. Hodgkinson, 66, opened fire on the GOP baseball team on Wednesday. He was killed by Capitol Police 

Hodgkinson is seen above in 2012 protesting outside the United States Post Office in his hometown of Belleville, Illinois 

James T. Hodgkinson (pictured right campaigning against Republicans in 2012) was a hateful Trump opponent who threatened to ‘destroy’ the president on social media before attacking a GOP baseball practice on Wednesday

He dragged her out by the hair but she ran into her neighbor’s car. The female neighbor sat in the vehicle in the front seat.

Hodgkinson got access to them, slashing the seatbelt his daughter was wearing as he and his wife pulled her out. He then hit the neighbor in the face, The Washington Post reported, but was never convicted.

After he was identified as the shooter in Wednesday’s attack, his estranged brother told The New York Times that he learned through their sister that he had traveled to Virginia two months ago.

He signed up for a membership at the YMCA opposite the baseball field he attacked but cancelled it this week.

The brother said he believed Hodgkinson phoned his wife Sue in the days before the attack and told her he was coming home because he missed her and their dogs.  Former Alexandria mayor Bill Euille admitted meeting the man several times in the town.

‘He was a very friendly person, but what I did notice about this gentleman is he’d open up his gym bag and in it, he had everything he owned. He was living out of the gym bag. That, and he sat in the Y’s lobby for hours and hours.

‘Outside of myself, I don’t think he knew anyone else in town,’ he told The Washington Post, admitting that he also helped him try to find a job in the area after taking pity on him.

Hodgkinson documented his hatred for the president in Facebook and Twitter posts where he threatened to ‘destroy Trump & co’ and labeled the Republican billionaire a ‘traitor’.  

Hodgkinson had a lengthy criminal record which includes charges, but no convictions, for DUI, domestic battery, pointing a gun at a relative. He is seen in mugshots in 1992 (left) and 2006 (right)

Hodgkinson had a lengthy criminal record which includes charges, but no convictions, for DUI, domestic battery, pointing a gun at a relative. He is seen in mugshots in 1992 (left) and 2006 (right)

Hodgkinson had a lengthy criminal record which includes charges, but no convictions, for DUI, domestic battery, pointing a gun at a relative. He is seen in mugshots in 1992 (left) and 2006 (right)

Hodgkinson was wounded by Capitol Police at the scene and later died of his injuries in hospital

Hodgkinson was wounded by Capitol Police at the scene and later died of his injuries in hospital

Hodgkinson documented his violent hatred for the president across his various social media pages
Hodgkinson documented his violent hatred for the president across his various social media pages

Hodgkinson documented his violent hatred for the president across his various social media pages

Hodgkinson shared numerous Facebook posts against the president, making no secret of his angry Republican hatred 

Hodgkinson shared numerous Facebook posts against the president, making no secret of his angry Republican hatred

His violent tendencies and involvement in Wednesday’s attack came as a surprise to people who worked with him on Sanders’ 2016 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

One told The Washington Post: ‘I met him on the Bernie trail in Iowa, worked with him in the Quad Cities area.

‘He was this union tradesman, pretty stocky, and we stayed up talking politics. He was more on the really progressive side of things,’ Charles Orear said, adding that Hodgkinson was ‘quite mellow’.

A friend of the man spoke outside his home in Belleville, Illinois – 800 miles from where the shooting occurred – to say he was a ‘nice guy’.

Despite his hateful social media posts and criminal history, sources told CNN the man was not on the Secret Service’s radar.

Hodgkinson's estranged brother revealed that in the days before the shooting, he called his wife Sue (above together) to say he was planning to come home from Virginia because he missed her and their dogs 

It is not clear how long Hodgkinson had been in Virginia or when he left his home town before Wednesday's shooting 

It is not clear how long Hodgkinson had been in Virginia or when he left his home town before Wednesday’s shooting

Hodgkinson's family said he was distraught over Trump's November election win. He traveled to Virginia two months ago and had been living out of a gym bag and sleeping in his car, the former mayor of Alexandria said

Hodgkinson's family said he was distraught over Trump's November election win. He traveled to Virginia two months ago and had been living out of a gym bag and sleeping in his car, the former mayor of Alexandria said

Hodgkinson’s family said he was distraught over Trump’s November election win. He traveled to Virginia two months ago and had been living out of a gym bag and sleeping in his car, the former mayor of Alexandria said

Police descended on his home in Belleville, Illinois, which is 800 miles from where the shooting took place

Police rifled through the home on Wednesday afternoon. Hodgkinson's family said he left it two months ago to travel to Virginia

Police rifled through the home on Wednesday afternoon. Hodgkinson's family said he left it two months ago to travel to Virginia

Dale Walsh, a friend of Hodgkinson, said he was 'a nice guy' and expressed his shock at Wednesday's shooting. He spoke outside Hodgkinson's home as local media and police descended on it 

Dale Walsh, a friend of Hodgkinson, said he was ‘a nice guy’ and expressed his shock at Wednesday’s shooting. He spoke outside Hodgkinson’s home as local media and police descended on it

Shortly after 7am on Wednesday, he opened fire from behind the third base dugout as the group of GOP figures practiced batting on the field in preparation for a charity baseball game against Democrats which is scheduled for Thursday night.

Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina spoke with him moments before the shooting.

They told how the shooter approached them and asked if they were Republican or Democrat. He walked away after being told they were members of the GOP, Duncan said.

The pair escaped his bloody rampage and only identified him as the shooter after seeing his photograph in the news.

Two Capitol Police officers who were accompanying Scalise were the only other armed people on the scene. They returned fire with their pistols but were shot themselves.

As bullets flew across the field, the congressmen fled to a dugout and huddled on top of one another, using their belts as makeshift tourniquets to treat the wounds of those who were shot.

Barth, a congressional staffer for Texas Rep. Roger Williams, was shot in the leg but is expected to recover. The two Capitol Police officers, Krystal Griner and David Bailey, are also expected to make a full recovery.

Mika was also injured and is in hospital while Scalise is in critical condition at MedStar Washington Center after undergoing emergency surgery on his hip.

Sen. Rand Paul, who was also there but as not hurt, described the scene as a ‘killing field’. Rep. Mark Walker said the gunman seemed intent on murdering ‘as many Republicans as possible.’

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was rushed to hospital after being shot in the hip. He was initially expected to recover but his condition worsened and became critical on Wednesday afternoon  

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was rushed to hospital after being shot in the hip. He was initially expected to recover but his condition worsened and became critical on Wednesday afternoon

The men were practicing at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia, ahead of a charity game on Thursday 

The men were practicing at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia, ahead of a charity game on Thursday

Sanders, who expressed his prayers for the victims before learning that the gunman was one of his fans, resisted criticism directed at him at the capitol on Wednesday.  His aides stayed between him and reporters milling near the Senate chamber.

In a statement on the Senate floor, the Vermont democratic socialist said in a statement on the Senate floor that he was aware the shooter ‘apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign.’

‘I am sickened by this despicable act,’ he said. ‘Let me be as clear as I can be. Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.’

Sanders said he was 'sickened' by the shooting

Sanders said he was ‘sickened’ by the shooting

‘Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs against our most deeply held American values.’

The president spoke at a White House press conference at around 11am.

He made a plea for unity and thanked the police and emergency responders involved, making no mention of the gunman other than to confirm his death.

President Trump revealed he had spoken to Scalise’s wife to offer her his support and described the injured Whip as a ‘true friend’ and ‘patriot’.

Later in the day, Joe Barton, whose young children were with him at the field, announced that the game would go ahead despite the shooting.

Both he and Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle used the occasion as an example of the angry hatred between Republicans and Democrats which is becoming more commonplace.

‘We need to take a step back. I think the internet, twitter and all the instantaneous of the news cycle has made it more impersonal and members flying back to their districts every weekend, very few people live up here. It is different climate today than it was In 1985. Part of it is technology and part of it is how politics has evolved,’ Rep. Barton said.

Scalise was shot in the hip and taken to hospital by air ambulance shortly after the attack. Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks tried to stop the bleeding from his wound as Sen. Paul, a trained doctor, cut his baseball uniform to examine the injury.

Scalise was on the field when he was shot but was able to drag himself to safety in the dugout, where the other men were hiding, as the two Capitol Police who had accompanied him for the practice exchanged gunfire.

Trump pleads for unity after GOP baseball shooting as Donald Jr. says attack proves why jokes about his father’s assassination AREN’T funny

At a press conference at The White House on Wednesday, President Trump thanked the police and first responders who attended the shooting 

At a press conference at The White House on Wednesday, President Trump thanked the police and first responders who attended the shooting

The president pleaded for unity at a White House press conference to address an attack on his GOP colleagues on Wednesday.

Speaking hours after leaders including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others were injured by gunman James Hodgkinson, Trump said: ‘We are stronger when we are unified and when we work together for the common good.’

Trump referred to the gunman once to confirm his death, describing him only as ‘the assailant’. He devoted the rest of his speech to praising the Capitol Police and emergency responders who attended the attack.

‘Melania and I are grateful for their heroism and praying for the swift recovery of all victims. Congressman Scalise is a friend and a very good friend, He is a patriot and a fighter and he will recover from this assault.

‘Steve, I want you to know, you have the prayers not only of the entire city but of an entire nation and, frankly, the entire world. America is praying for you and America is praying for all of the victims of this shooting. I have spoken with Steve’s wife Jennifer and I pledged to her our full and absolute support. Anything she needs, we are with her and the entire Scalise family.

‘I have also spoken with Chief Matthew Verderosa (of the Capitol Police), he’s doing a fantastic job, to express our sympathies for his wounded officers and to express my admiration for their officers. They perform a challenging job with incredible skill and their sacrifice makes democracy possible.

‘We also commend the brave first responders from Alexandria Fire and Rescue who rushed to the scene. Everyone on that field is a public servant – our courageous police, our aides, and our dedicated members of congress who represent our people.

‘We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans and that our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and peace,’ he said.

Donald Jr. had an angrier public response. He re-tweeted a post which read: ‘Events like today are EXACTLY why we took issue with NY elites glorifying the assassination of our President.’

He was referring to New York’s Public Theatre and its current production of Julius Caesar in which the doomed emperor is portrayed as his father. The play has sparked outrage and accusations that its directors are glorifying violence against the president.

It comes after the comedian Kathy Griffin’s shocking participation in a photo-shoot in which she appeared to be holding a fake representation of the president’s severed head. She apologized for the stunt after receiving angry backlash.

Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle (L) and Rep. Rep. Joe Barton (R) vowed to carry on with Thursday's scheduled game despite the shooting. Barton choked back tears as he told how he sheltered with his young sons as the shooter sprayed the field with bullets 

Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle (L) and Rep. Rep. Joe Barton (R) vowed to carry on with Thursday’s scheduled game despite the shooting. Barton choked back tears as he told how he sheltered with his young sons as the shooter sprayed the field with bullets

Texas Rep. Roger Williams (above) was not shot but was injured in the chaos as he tried to flee. One of his staffers suffered a gunshot wound to the leg 

Texas Rep. Roger Williams (above) was not shot but was injured in the chaos as he tried to flee. One of his staffers suffered a gunshot wound to the leg

Williams is seen being taken to hospital after the shooting which took place as the men practiced batting at 7am 

Williams is seen being taken to hospital after the shooting which took place as the men practiced batting at 7am

Michigan Rep. Mike Bishop earlier described how one man – thought to be part of Scalise’s Capitol Police protection detail – stood his ground to return fire as the congressmen and at least one of their children dove for cover in a dugout and Scalise dragged himself across the field after being hit, leaving a trail of blood behind him.

He told CBS Detroit: ‘As we were standing here this morning, a gunman walked up to the fence line and just began to shoot. I was standing at home plate and he was in the third base line.  He had a rifle that was clearly meant for the job of taking people out, multiple casualties, and he had several rounds and magazines that he kept unloading and reloading.’

He said: ‘The only reason why any of us walked out of this thing, by the grace of God, one of the folks here had a weapon to fire back and give us a moment to find cover.’

‘We were inside the backstop and if we didn’t have that cover by a brave person who stood up and took a shot themselves, we would not have gotten out of there and every one of us would have been hit — every single one of us.’

‘He was coming around the fence line and he was looking for all of us who had found cover in different spots. But if we didn’t have return fire right there, he would have come up to each one of us and shot us point-blank.’

The group was practicing for a charity game which is due to take place on Thursday at Nationals Park when they were attacked.  Three men escaped and took shelter in an apartment building nearby.

Another witness, Marty Lavor, dove on top of a congressman. He told CNN that after the gunman’s first shot, there was a break in the gunfire but it began shortly afterwards.

Republican Rep. Mo Brooks was also there but was not hurt. He described using his belt as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding on Scalise’s leg.

A man who was injured in the leg receives treatment at the scene. Some of those hurt were not shot but suffered injuries as they tried to escape the field 

A man who was injured in the leg receives treatment at the scene. Some of those hurt were not shot but suffered injuries as they tried to escape the field

Rep. Mo Brooks appeared emotional as he spoke on the phone moments after the shooting. He helped give first aid to those shot 

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot in the hip but is expected to make a full recovery 

Zachary Barth

Matt Mika

Scalise (left), congressional staffer Zachary Barth (center) and lobbyist Matt Mika (right) were all shot

Speaking to FM Talk 1065 moments after the shooting, he told how the group was practicing batting when he suddenly saw the shooter.

‘Suddenly there’s this face. I noticed the guy’s got a rifle and he’s shooting at us,’ he said.

US Capitol Police Officer David Bailey is being hailed as a hero for returning fire on the gunman with his pistol despite being injured himself 

US Capitol Police Officer David Bailey is being hailed as a hero for returning fire on the gunman with his pistol despite being injured himself

As he took shelter with others in the group, which also included Rep. Gary Palmer, Brooks said he watched Scalise crawl to them as the police exchanged gunfire with pistols.

‘He was dragging his body away from second base to get away from the shooter. He was shot in the hip. I think it was not a life-threatening wound. … There was no exit wound I could see.’

‘There was a blood trail about 10 to 15 yards long from where he was shot to wear he crawled to right field,’ he told CNN. 

Brooks caught a brief glimpse of the shooter and described him as a white, middle-aged male. He said he described him as being ‘a little on the chubby side’ but not obese.  No more information about him is being offered by police.

Scalise, as a member of the House leadership, was the only one in the group who had been accompanied by a Capitol Police security detail.

Sen. Paul, who was not hurt, said that without the armed officers, all of those targeted would have died.

‘Had they not been there, it would have been a massacre. As terrible as it is, it could have been a lot worse.

‘Had it not been for them, we would have been at the mercy of the shooter and he had a lot of ammo. All we would have had was baseball bats.’ The Capitol Hill police cannot get enough praise for really saving everyone’s life out there,’ he said, adding of the gunman: ‘He would have shot anybody who ran out.’

Ohio Republican Rep. Brad Robert Wenstrup, a doctor and an Army Reserve officer, was on the scene and helped treat the wounded before paramedics arrived.

‘I felt like I was back in Iraq, but without my weapon,’ he told Fox News. Arizona Rep. Senator Jeff Flake described watching as the gunman sprayed bullets on the field, where Scalise lay on the ground.

The men's kit lay abandoned on the field as the scene around the baseball field was taped off 

The men’s kit lay abandoned on the field as the scene around the baseball field was taped off

A Twitter user posted this picture of what appeared to be a gunshot hole in a window as he took cover in the YMCA in Alexandria 

A Twitter user posted this picture of what appeared to be a gunshot hole in a window as he took cover in the YMCA in Alexandria

The streets surrounding the scene in Alexandria, Virginia were blocked off early Wednesday as first responders secured the area

The streets surrounding the scene in Alexandria, Virginia were blocked off early Wednesday as first responders secured the area

Sen. Jeff Flake is pictured walking away from the chaotic scene outside the stadium park 

Sen. Jeff Flake is pictured walking away from the chaotic scene outside the stadium park

As his Capitol Hill protection officers exchanged fire, he said the group were helpless.  ‘I wanted to get to Steve Scalise, laying out there in the field, but while there were bullets flying overhead, I couldn’t. He was laying out thee motionless,’ he told ABC.

Scalise’s office initially said while he was undergoing emergency surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center that he was in ‘stable condition.’

‘Prior to entering surgery, the Whip was in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone,’ a spokesperson said.He is grateful for the brave actions of U.S. Capitol Police, first responders, and colleagues.’

Later, the hospital where he is being treated announced that his condition had worsened.

The two Capitol Police officers who were shot are both in a ‘good condition’ and are expected to recover.

All who have spoken since the attack said they were saved by having two trained doctors, including Wenstrup, on the team.

He administered immediate aid to Scalise before handing over to Brooks while he cut off his clothing.  ‘We were very fortunate to have a physician on the team.’

Sen. Paul is a trained opthalmologist. He said he was unable to get to Scalise because he was separated by part of the field and a fence while the active situation was ongoing.

One local resident was in his apartment with his wife when they were woken by the gunshots. They sheltered three members of the team after seeing them run for their lives from the field.

‘We were able to get them in a safe space for a couple of minutes. They were pretty shaken up,’ he said.

President Trump issued a statement shortly after the shooting to say he was ‘deeply saddened’ and was monitoring the situation closely.

‘Tomorrow, we play ball’: Republicans and Democrats vow to continue with charity game after shooting

Dem. Rep. Mike Doyle (L) and Rep. Rep. Joe Barton (R) vowed to carry on with Thursday's game 

Dem. Rep. Mike Doyle (L) and Rep. Rep. Joe Barton (R) vowed to carry on with Thursday’s game

The baseball game which congressmen were practicing for when they were shot on Wednesday morning will go ahead despite the attack.

Rep. Joe Barton sheltered in a dugout with his son as gunman James Hodgkinson opened fire on his team on Wednesday at 7am.

At a press conference later in the day, he revealed that the charity game would go ahead at Nationals Park tomorrow.

‘We’re playing the game tomorrow. We’re united not as Republicans and Democrats but as United States Representatives. We ask the American people to pray for those who were shot,’ he said, adding firmly: ‘It will be play ball tomorrow at 7.05pm.’

He was joined by Democrat Mike Doyle who echoed his sentiments and stressed the need for bi-partisanship.

‘We can change the mood in this country so that people don’t get filled up with this kind of hatred,’ Doyle said.

Both congressmen used the opportunity to lament the growing animosity in Washington and spoke nostalgically about times when Republicans and Democrats were kinder to one another.

‘Representatives aren’t treated like people anymore. I can assure you, everyone of our Representatives is a person… sometimes, though we don’t like to show it, we take it personally.’

Republican Barton choked up as he relived how his young son Jack was with him at the baseball field when the gunman opened fire.

‘Jack had 25 dads out there today looking out for him just as much as me,’ he said. One was Rep. Roger Williams who sprained his ankle trying to shield the child and rush him into the dugout as Hodgkinson opened fire.

Rep. Barton was at the field with his young son (left). They were able to take shelter in the dugout with the other congressmen. The pair are pictured after the shooting after flocking to the US Capitol 

Rep. Barton was at the field with his young son (left). They were able to take shelter in the dugout with the other congressmen. The pair are pictured after the shooting after flocking to the US Capitol

Sen. Flake (left) called Scalise's wife to inform her her husband had been shot. After the shooting, many of the men went straight to the Capitol still wearing their baseball gear including Rep. Rodney Davis (right)

Sen. Flake (left) called Scalise's wife to inform her her husband had been shot. After the shooting, many of the men went straight to the Capitol still wearing their baseball gear including Rep. Rodney Davis (right)

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann

‘We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of Congress, their staffs, Capitol Police, first responders and all others affected,’ the president said.

Vice President Mike Pence cancelled a scheduled speech in order to meet with the president at The White House.

By mid-morning, the president had canceled a planned 3:00 p.m. event at the Department of Labor that was to have focused on his apprenticeship initiative.

All members of the House of Representatives were summoned to a private 11:15 a.m. briefing about the shooting investigation, and all votes were canceled for the day.

Scalise is the Republican majority whip in the House of Representatives – the congressman responsible for counting votes and maintaining party discipline.

The Louisianan, a 51-year-old father of two, is counted among conservatives in Congress who tend to back President Donald Trump’s more controversial initiatives, including calling his famous travel ban a ‘prudent’ measure. he endorsed Trump unreservedly last year.

Scalise came under fire in 2014 for remarks he made in 2002 at a conference run by a group that he later learned was a white supremacist organization.

President Trump said Scalise would make a full recovery. He paid tribute to him as a 'true friend and patriot' 

President Trump said Scalise would make a full recovery. He paid tribute to him as a ‘true friend and patriot’

First Lady Melania Trump shared her prayers for the victims and thanked police and paramedics who attended the attack 

First Lady Melania Trump shared her prayers for the victims and thanked police and paramedics who attended the attack

The infamous former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who founded the group, blasted Scalise as a ‘sellout’ for apologizing.

The congressional baseball game is an annual tradition pitting members of the Democratic and Republican parties against each other. The game is set to take place on Thursday at Nationals Park.

Democratic members of Congress canceled their own baseball practice on Wednesday morning after news broke about the shooting. Many of those lawmakers gathered to pray for their political opponents in a concrete dugout before leaving under the guard of a Capitol Police escort.

As talk in Washington turned to the political ramifications of a high-profile shooting that affected lawmakers, fault lines began to emerge.

‘This kind of mindless violence must stop,’ California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said in a statement that hinted at her longstanding support for gun-control laws.

‘I’m dedicated to doing all I can to putting an end to these senseless tragedies.’

There was heightened security in the capitol after the shooting on Wednesday morning 

Officers outside the Capitol Building remained alert after the shooting on Wednesday 

Officers outside the Capitol Building remained alert after the shooting on Wednesday

On the other side of the aisle, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said he doesn’t know who the shooter is ‘or how he got a gun.’

‘We’ve got plenty of gun laws,’ Graham told a Bloomberg reporter. ‘I own a gun. I don’t go around shooting people with it.’

‘People get shot, run over by cars, stabbed, it’s just a crazy world,’ he said. ‘If we had that debate it’d end like it always ends. We’re not going to tell law-abiding people they can’t own a gun because of some nut-job.’

‘One thing I hope we’ll all do is just watch our words a little bit,’ Graham added. ‘Knock down the rhetoric. That’d be a good thing.’

In corners of the U.S. Capitol where business resumed as usual, the shooting seemed to hit home.

‘Several members of this committee were there,’ Republican Rep. Ed Royce of California declared as he convened a hearing featuring Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

‘This is a sad day for our country.’

‘We still don’t have all the details,’ said Royce, ‘but we do know that there are those who want to use acts of violence to create chaos, to disrupt our democracy.’

‘The American people will not let them win.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4604130/Steve-Scalise-baseball-gunman-James-T-Hodgkinson-pictured.html#ixzz4k0vcWiAK

THE ‘RESISTANCE’ GOES LIVE-FIRE

The explosion of violence against conservatives across the country is being intentionally ginned up by Democrats, reporters, TV hosts, late-night comedians and celebrities, who compete with one another to come up with the most vile epithets for Trump and his supporters.

They go right up to the line, trying not to cross it, by, for example, vamping with a realistic photo of a decapitated Trump or calling the president a “piece of s—” while hosting a show on CNN.

The media are orchestrating a bloodless coup, but they’re perfectly content to have their low-IQ shock troops pursue a bloody coup.

This week, one of the left’s foot soldiers gunned down Republican members of Congress and their staff while they were playing baseball in Virginia. Democratic Socialist James Hodgkinson was prevented from committing a mass murder only by the happenstance of a member of the Republican leadership being there, along with his 24-hour Capitol Police protection.

Remember when it was frightening for the losing party not to accept the results of an election? During the third debate, Trump refused to pre-emptively agree to the election results, saying he’d “look at it at the time.”

The media responded in their usual laid-back style:

A ‘HORRIFYING’ REPUDIATION OF DEMOCRACY — The Washington Post, Oct. 20, 2016

DENIAL OF DEMOCRACY — Daily News (New York), Oct. 20, 2016 DANGER TO DEMOCRACY — The Dallas Morning News, Oct. 20, 2016

ONE SCARY MOMENT; IT ALL BOILED DOWN TO … DEMOCRACY — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Oct. 21, 2016

“(Shock) spiked down the nation’s spinal column last night and today when the Republican nominee threatened that this little election thing you got there, this little democratic process you’ve got here, it’s nice, it’s fine, but he doesn’t necessarily plan on abiding by its decision when it comes to the presidency.” — Rachel Maddow, Oct. 20, 2016

 

“Trump’s answer on accepting the outcome of the vote is the most disgraceful statement by a presidential candidate in 160 years.” — Bret Stephens, then-deputy editorial page editor at The Wall Street Journal

“I guess we’re all going to have to wait until Nov. 9 to find out if we still have a country — if Donald Trump is in the mood for a peaceful transfer of power. Or if he’s going to wipe his fat a– with the Constitution.” — CBS’s Stephen Colbert, Oct. 19, 2016

“It’s unprecedented for a nominee of a major party to themselves signal that they would not accept — you know, respect the results of an election. We’ve never had that happen before. … This really presents a potentially difficult problem for governing …” — MSNBC’S Joy Reid, Oct. 22, 2016

“This is very dangerous stuff … would seriously impair our functioning as a democracy. … This is about as serious as it gets in the United States.” — CNN’s Peter Beinart, Oct. 20, 2016

“Obviously, it’s despicable for him to pretend that there’s any chance that he would not accept the results of this election; it would be — in 240 years you’ve never had anybody do it. …” — CNN’s Van Jones, Oct. 20, 2016

Then Trump won, and these very same hysterics refused to accept the results of the election.

Recently, Hillary announced her steadfast opposition to the winning candidate using a military term, saying she’d joined the “Resistance.”

Imagine if Trump lost and then announced that he’d joined the “RESISTANCE.” He’d be accused of trying to activate right-wing militias. Every dyspeptic glance at an immigrant would be reported as fascistic violence.

But the media seem blithely unaware that the anti-Trump “Resistance” has been accompanied by nonstop militaristic violence from liberals.

When Trump ripped up our Constitution and jumped all over it by failing to concede the election three weeks in advance, CNN ran a segment on a single tweet from a random Trump supporter that mentioned the Second Amendment.

Carol Costello: “Still to come in the ‘Newsroom,’ some Trump supporters say they will refuse to accept a loss on Election Day, with one offering a threat of violence. We’ll talk about that next.”

In CNN’s most fevered dreams about a violent uprising of Trump supporters, they never could have conceived of the level of actual violence being perpetrated by Americans who refuse to accept Trump’s win. (See Hate Map.)

It began with Trump’s inauguration, when a leftist group plotted to pump a debilitating gas into one Trump inaugural ball, military families were assaulted upon leaving the Veterans’ Inaugural Ball, and attendees of other balls had water thrown on them.

Since then, masked, armed liberals around the country have formed military-style organizations to beat up conservatives. In liberal towns, the police are regularly ordered to stand down to allow the assaults to proceed unimpeded.

The media only declared a crisis when conservatives fought back, smashing the black-clad beta males. (“Battle for Berkeley!”)

There is more media coverage for conservatives’ “microaggressions” toward powerful minorities -– such as using the wrong pronoun — than there is for liberals’ physical attacks on conservatives, including macings, concussions and hospitalizations.

And now some nut Bernie Sanders-supporter confirms that it’s Republicans standing on a baseball field, before opening fire.

In the media’s strategic reporting of the attempted slaughter, we were quickly told that the mass shooter was white, male and had used a gun. We were even told his name. (Because it was not “Mohammed.”)

But the fact that Hodgkinson’s Facebook page featured a banner of Sanders and the words “Democratic Socialism explained in 3 words: ‘We the People’ Since 1776” apparently called for hours of meticulous fact-checking by our media.

Did reporters think they could keep that information from us forever?

The fake news insists that Trump’s White House is in “chaos.” No, the country is in chaos. But just like Kathy Griffin and her Trump decapitation performance art — the perpetrators turn around in doe-eyed innocence and blame Trump.

Story 2: 24-Floor Grenfell Tower  London Apartment Building Fire — Towering Inferno — Videos

 

Image result for Grenfell Tower: Massive Building Fire

Grenfell Tower: Massive Building Fire In London! – (Compilation) PART 1

Trapped residents in flames & signaling for help at Grenfell Tower (DISTURBING)

BREAKING NEWS London apartment fire: Inferno engulfs 27-story tower, 200 firefighters on scene

London Apartment Building Smoldering After Fire

Published on Jun 14, 2017

A high-rise apartment building in London is still Wednesday morning smoldering after being engulfed in flames.

LONDON RESIDENTS DEMAND ANSWERS IN DEADLY HIGH-RISE BLAZE


 

LONDON (AP) — With smoke still swirling around the charred remains of Grenfell Tower in west London, residents and community leaders demanded to know Wednesday how a ferocious fire could have swept through the high-rise apartment block with such speed that it killed at least 12 people.

The anger was particularly strong since activists had warned just seven months ago that fire safety procedures were so lax that only a catastrophic blaze would bring the scrutiny needed to make the building safe.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Fire and police officials have not specified what went wrong, but extensive video footage shows the flames climbing the exterior of the building at a remarkable pace.

“I’ve never seen a fire like that in my life,” said Joe Ruane, the former deputy chief fire officer for U.S. Air Force bases in Britain. “I’ve never seen that in a residential block.”

The 24-story public housing complex is owned by the local government council in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea and was completed in the 1970s. It is managed by the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization, which spent 10 million pounds ($12.8 million) refurbishing the building over the last two years.

The renovation project included installation of insulated exterior cladding, double-glazed windows and a communal heating system. Investigators need to look at what materials were used in the project and who approved their use, Ruane said. But he said the speed with which the fire spread suggests that more than one fire protection safeguard failed.

“It’s not just one thing,” Ruane said. “It’s multiple issues.”

WHAT WAS THE FIRE PROCEDURE AT THE BUILDING?

Some residents suggested that Grenfell Tower’s policies were to blame for the disaster.

A newsletter put out by the building’s tenant organization told tenants to follow a “stay put” policy and remain in their apartments during a fire unless the blaze was inside their apartment or in their hallway or until they were told to evacuate by officials.

This policy is in place “because Grenfell was designed according to rigorous fire-safety standards,” according to the 2014 newsletter about the renovation project. New front doors in each apartment could withstand a fire for up to 30 minutes, “which gives plenty of time for the fire brigade to arrive,” the newsletter said.

That policy, often followed in high-rise hotels, may be effective in lesser fires. In this case, however, the fire seemed to climb the exterior of the tower so quickly that it overwhelmed protective systems like fire doors. People who initially remained in place may have been unable to escape later because the hallways and fire escapes were filled with heavy smoke and flames.

The London Fire Brigade said crews were on the scene within six minutes of the first reports of the fire, but they were unable to reach people on higher floors to prevent fatalities.

WHO IS TO BLAME?

While investigations are underway to determine what went wrong, tenants said repeated complaints were ignored. Survivor Edward Daffarn said the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization, or KCTMO, which manages the Grenfell Tower as well as other buildings in the area, is responsible because it ignored numerous warnings.

The management organization’s annual accounts for the year ending March 31, 2016, indicate that the company has been cited for fire-safety issues in the past.

Following an October 2015 arson fire at one of the buildings it manages, the 14-story Adair Tower, the London Fire Brigade issued an enforcement notice to install self-closing devices on the front doors of all 78 apartments and to improve fire safety in staircases used for escape, the organization said in the report.

The Fire Brigade issued a similar notice for another KCTMO-managed building, Hazelwood Tower. The upgrades were scheduled to be completed by 2016, the report said.

The Grenfell Tower disaster is uncomfortably similar to a fast-moving blaze at another London-area public housing project, Lakanal House, that killed six people, including three children, eight years ago. In that July 2009 fire, smoke and flames quickly engulfed the 14-story building. A coroner’s inquest found that a series of failures contributed to the loss of life and made a number of recommendations to help prevent future disasters.

Investigators probing the Grenfell Tower fire will have to look at which of those recommendations were implemented in the building and which were not, said Jim Fitzpatrick, a former firefighter who now serves in the House of Commons.

“These will be matters for the scientists and the engineers … to find out exactly how the fire started, why it spread so quickly and what could have been done to prevent it,” Fitzpatrick told Sky News.

A local community organization, the Grenfell Action Group, had warned about fire dangers at the building since 2013. In a series of blog posts, the group raised concerns about testing and maintenance of fire-fighting equipment and blocked emergency access to the site.

“All our warnings fell on deaf ears, and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time,” the group said in a blog post Wednesday.

KCTMO said it is cooperating with investigators and that it was aware of tenant complaints. “We always take all concerns seriously and these will form part of our forthcoming investigations,” it said in a statement.

The Kensington and Chelsea Council promised a full investigation into Wednesday’s tragedy and a public accounting. The UK government also ordered checks at tower blocks that have had or are going through similar renovations as those at Grenfell Tower.

 

 

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