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The Pronk Pops Show 916, June 21, 2017, Story 1: Four Time Lying Lunatic Left Losers — Another Democratic Candidate, Jon Ossoff, Lost To Trump Backed Republican, Karen Handel, In Georgia — Videos — Story 2: Progressive Propaganda From Big Lie Media Not Working — Videos

Posted on June 22, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Books, Breaking News, Business, College, Communications, Computers, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Culture, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Hate Speech, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Housing, Human, Independence, Language, Law, Life, Lying, Media, National Interest, Networking, News, Obama, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Progressives, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Rule of Law, Scandals, Second Amendment, Security, Spying on American People, Success, Surveillance/Spying, Unemployment, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 916,  June 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 915,  June 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 914,  June 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 913,  June 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 910,  June 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 907,  June 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 906,  June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 904,  June 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 903,  June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 901,  May 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 899,  May 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 898,  May 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 897,  May 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 896,  May 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 895,  May 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 894,  May 16, 2017

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

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

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

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 865: March 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 864: March 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 863: March 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 862: March 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 861: March 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 860: March 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 859: March 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 858: March 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 857: March 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 855: March 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 854: March 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 853: March 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 852: March 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 851: March 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

 Story 1: Four Time Lying Lunatic Left Losers — Another Democratic Candidate, Jon Ossoff, Lost To Trump Backed Republican, Karen Handel, In Georgia — Videos —

Image result for eric hoffer quotes propagandaImage result for cartoons democrat lost in georgia ossoff

Image result for cartoons democrat lost in georgia ossoff

Image result for cartoons democrat lost in georgia ossoff

Image result for cartoons democrat lost in georgia ossoff

The Trump ‘referendum’ that wasn’t

The true meaning behind special election victories

Special Report : Political fallout from Karen Handel’s special election win : 6/20/2017

President Trump reacts to Georgia special election result

Political fallout from Karen Handel’s special election win

Karen Handel defeats Jon Ossoff in Georgia special election

Liberals Panic Karen Handel won the special election ( Democrats Lose Again )

Rush Limbaugh, Democrats Devastated Over Karen Handel Win over Jon Ossoff

Breathtakingly Incoherent Dems Blow the Georgia House Special Election and Can’t Figure Out Why

What Do You Need To Finally Understand the Poison of Alt-Left Mainstream Media?

Mark Steyn Coins a New Phrase “Deep State Dinner Theater” Excellent!

BREAKING NEWS TRUMP 6/21/17: Do you think America is at a turning point?

Jon Ossoff concedes Georgia race

RAW: Karen Handel addresses supporters after win

 

Story 2: Progressive Propaganda From Big Lie Media Not Working — Videos

10 Signs That Someone Is Lying

Former CIA Officer Will Teach You How to Spot a Lie l Digiday

Documentary on how the media lies to manipulate us

Propaganda-Behind Big Media-WE are BEING LIED to in a BIG WAY by the TV! TURN IT OFF!

Television = Mass Mind Control Propaganda

Propaganda & Engineering Consent for Empire with Mark Crispin Miller

War, US Government Corporate Propaganda, The CIA & The Russian “Putin Threat”

Propaganda Terms in the Media and What They Mean – Noam Chomsky

CRITICAL THINKING – Cognitive Biases: Anchoring [HD]

Scott Adams talks about the Comey fog of confirmation bias

Cognition: How Your Mind Can Amaze and Betray You – Crash Course Psychology #15

Image result for eric hoffer and the true believerImage result for eric hoffer and the true believerImage result for eric hoffer and the true believer

Image result for eric hoffer and the true believer

Eric Hoffer – Tyranny of the Intellectuals

Eric Hoffer pt. 1 of 5

Eric Hoffer pt. 2 of 5

Eric Hoffer pt. 3 of 5

Eric Hoffer pt. 4 of 5

Eric Hoffer pt. 5 of 5

Top Ten Quotes Of Eric Hoffer

Eric Hoffer: The True Believer and The Nature of Mass Movements

Why are Activists often Altruists? Why Low Image of Self?

Eric Hoffer “The Longshoreman Philosopher” predicted Donald Trump & 1940’s Port of Los Angeles

Image result for eric hoffer and the true believer

Propaganda and Manipulation: How mass media engineers and distorts our perceptions

7 Propaganda Techniques Used on You Every Day

Introduction to Propaganda

What is Brainwashing?

PROPAGANDA SOCIAL ENGINEERING AND THE MANUFACTURING OF HUMAN THOUGHT

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts Portfolio

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The Pronk Pops Show 915, June 20, 2017, Story 1: Will Congress Celebrate Independence Day July 4 By Passing Tax Reform And Repealing Obamacare? — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Flip Flopping On Immigration Law Enforcement By Not Terminating DACA Now! — Failing To Rollback The 30-60 Million Illegal Alien Invasion of The United States By Deporting Them All — Must Go After Employers Hiring Illegal Aliens — Videos — Story 3: More Mueller Milking The American Taxpayers Hires More Lawyers — Trump Should Fire Them All Now — Enough Is Enough — Videos

Posted on June 21, 2017. Filed under: American History, Banking System, Blogroll, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, China, College, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Employment, Energy, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Health Care, Health Care Insurance, History, House of Representatives, Human, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Investments, Japan, Language, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Media, Medicare, News, Nuclear Weapons, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Pro Life, Progressives, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Russia, Security, Senate, Social Security, Spying, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, United States of America, Videos, Violence, Wall Street Journal, War, Wealth, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Project_1

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 915,  June 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 914,  June 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 913,  June 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 910,  June 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 907,  June 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 906,  June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 904,  June 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 903,  June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 901,  May 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 899,  May 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 898,  May 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 897,  May 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 896,  May 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 895,  May 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 894,  May 16, 2017

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

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

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

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 865: March 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 864: March 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 863: March 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 862: March 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 861: March 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 860: March 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 859: March 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 858: March 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 857: March 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 855: March 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 854: March 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 853: March 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 852: March 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 851: March 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

Story 1: Will Congress Celebrate Independence Day July 4 By Passing Tax Reform And Repealing Obamacare? — Videos —

Image result for trump tax reform

Image result for trump tax reformImage result for branco cartoons trump on DAPA and DACAImage result for branco cartoons trump tax reform

Image result for the fairtaxImage result for the fairtax

Story 2: President Trump Flip Flopping On Immigration Law Enforcement DACA (Dreamers) Still Exists — Failing To Rollback The 30-60 Million Illegal Alien Invasion of The United States — Must Go After Employers Hiring Illegal Aliens — Videos

Where’s That Senate Healthcare Bill? Senator John Thune Tells Us!

Will Republicans unite to pass health care and tax reform?

Ryan: ‘We’re going to cut taxes’

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin On Tax Reform, Debt | CNBC

Ron Paul on Paul Ryan’s tax reform plan

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Tax reform coming this year – Paul Ryan

Trump ‘much closer’ on tax reform: Tony Sayegh

Can GOP-led Congress pass health care and tax reform?

Trump’s tax reform plan unveiled by Treasury Sec’y Steve Mnuchin, National Economic Dir. Gary Cohn

George Stephanopoulos GRILLS Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Trump’s Tax Plan

Senate tight on time to pass health care bill

Gingrich talks Trump’s plan to focus on tax reform

What is the FairTax legislation?

FAIRtax-What is It? Replaces income tax and payroll tax with sales tax

Pence on the Fair Tax

Freedom from the IRS! – FairTax Explained in Detail

FairTax: Fire Up Our Economic Engine (Official HD)

Sen. Moran Discusses FairTax Legislation on U.S. Senate Floor

Sen. Moran Speaks on Senate Floor about Finding Healthcare Solutions

Health care vote possible by July 4, McConnell tells Trump

Story highlights

  • Republicans met Tuesday to discuss health care legislation
  • Disagreements in the party have led a host of senators to declare the legislation is in trouble

Washington (CNN)The Senate may vote on health care legislation by July 4, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told President Donald Trump Tuesday afternoon at a White House meeting with congressional leaders.

McConnell said he expects the Congressional Budget Office will soon score the Senate’s version of the bill, which continues to be negotiated behind closed doors among Republicans, a source with direct knowledge of what was discussed at the meeting told CNN.
He did not set a firm deadline for the vote, but Republicans are impatient with the lack of progress and political quicksand the bill is creating and want the Senate to either act quickly on health care or move on to other business.
“We had a good, productive meeting with President Trump, Vice President Pence, and congressional leadership,” McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a joint statement after the meeting. “The discussion focused on the continued progress of our shared legislative agenda and how we can accomplish our goals.”
After weeks of discussions about how to move forward in a small working group, Republican senators were briefed at a lunch Tuesday on what their options are to repeal and replace Obamacare and warned that the time is quickly approaching for decisions to finally be made.
“The time is now,” a Senate aide involved in discussions said. “We either go or we don’t.”
The aide said this is the natural point the chamber was bound to get to. The working group has spent several weeks tossing around ideas, but with conservatives and moderates still starkly divided on the best way to proceed, it’s time for leadership to make the call.
According to Senate aides, during the meeting leadership tried to make it clear that lawmakers need to show their cards and decide if they are going to get behind repealing Obamacare — a campaign promise that ultimately launched them to win back the majority in the House and the Senate in recent years.
“Leadership is stepping in now and making clear that this is what they all campaigned on, so they need to go now or move on,” the aide said.
Senators are clearly impatient.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, asked if there would be a vote on the health care bill by July 4 said “there better be.”
“‘Cause this is not like fine wine, it doesn’t get better with age,” he added with a laugh.
“We’re at decision time,” a congressional aide close to the health care conversation said. “Decisions have to start being made in order to get the package ready.”
During their lunch Tuesday, Republicans were presented with a PowerPoint and a menu of options to overhaul Obamacare. But lawmakers emerging from the room were tight-lipped about what exactly is on the table. Key questions remain about how the GOP will phase out Medicaid expansion as well as how they will structure tax credits to help Americans purchase their health insurance under a Republican health care plan.
Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican from Nevada who is up for re-election in 2018, said he was still looking at the proposals and what he could support.
“The big print giveth. The small print taketh away. I’m waiting for the small print at this point,” Heller said.
“I’m not going to go into details. There’s been a lot of work done and we see where we go from here,” said moderate Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins.
Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who has been a fierce advocate of more slowly phasing out Medicaid expansion than the House’s repeal bill did, said the health care bill “needs some work still for me.”

Sticking points: Medicaid, tax credits

Most members wouldn’t get into details about what actually is on the table, but they were honest that there are still sticking points here that have to be resolved.
“They laid out the goals and then different ideas on how we achieve them and we are working on how to build consensus to get to the right mix on 50-plus votes,” said North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven.
Lawmakers remain split over what to do about Medicaid. The House bill would eliminate enhanced federal funding for Medicaid expansion in 2020 and curtail support for the program overall. Moderates like Portman have advocated to phase out funding to cover low-income adults under Medicaid expansion more gradually. Conservatives like Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey want to shrink federal responsibility for the overall program even more that the House bill does by restructuring the growth rate for Medicaid funding.
The House plan would give states a set amount of money each year to cover their Medicaid enrollees. The funding level would increase annually based on the medical inflation rate in the Consumer Price Index, which grows more quickly than the standard inflation rate. Toomey argues that using the growth rate of medical care spending would lead to an unsustainable Medicaid program, so he advocates for tying Medicaid funding increases to the standard inflation rate instead.
Other options that are on the table include how to structure tax credits. Unlike the House’s health care repeal bill, which based the tax credits mainly on age, Senate Republicans have suggested tying them to income and even geographic location in order to make health care more affordable for low-income individuals living in areas that have expensive health care costs such as Alaska and rural America.
“There should be,” Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski told reporters. “Alaska is an extreme outlier and part of it is just our geography, it’s our low-density population so if there is not some kind of geographic cost adjustor it makes it tough for me.”
However, adjusting the tax credits for income and geographic location would make them even more similar to Obamacare’s premium subsidies, which are tax credits based on income and cost of coverage in one’s area. Conservatives are sure to oppose this idea. Several, including Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, have said the House GOP tax credits already are too much like Obamacare’s subsidies.

Freedom Caucus crafting tax reform plan

05/04/2017 05:21 PM EDT

Updated 05/04/2017 08:08 PM EDT

The caucus, which roiled the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, would be parachuting in to what promises to be another pitched battle over the Republicans’ next marquee issue. Though it doesn’t have an official line yet on tax reform, members appear to be more aligned with the Trump administration than House Republican leaders on how deep tax cuts should be, if they need to be offset and whether to include a controversial import tax.

Mark Sanford, a caucus member from South Carolina, told POLITICO he is already identifying areas of disagreement with the House leaders’ tax plan. The health care bill that passed Thursday proved better for conservatives, Sanford said, so they’re aiming to have greater influence on the tax reform process from the beginning.

“Rather than react, then stop something, and then go in fits and starts forward, we can constructively engage at the front end and say this is more of what we believe,” he said. “Let’s … avoid the kind of dislocation that we saw in this particular [health care] bill about a month ago.”

The principles outlined recently by President Donald Trump pulled the Freedom Caucus off the sidelines, Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), its leader, said.

“We’re looking at President Trump’s tax reform plan to see how we can maybe put some legislative text to that to come alongside the administration,” Meadows said, “and hopefully agree more than we disagree and move what he proposed in those bullet points the other day. We’ve got guys working on that.”

“I think we’re going to try to have a lot of different ideas and hopefully we can have our input with Ways and Means,” he said, referring to the House tax-writing committee.

The group isn’t ready to roll out paper just yet.

Freedom Caucus members are awaiting a budget plan and reconciliation instructions, a budget tactic that will allow Republicans to circumvent a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, said Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and then they’ll settle more details on a tax bill.

Already, though, there are signs that the caucus will nudge tax reform in Trump’s direction.

Trump has proposed a much lower business tax rate – 15 percent across-the-board – than House Republican leaders, and Meadows has said lower taxes are paramount. (Trump and the GOP leaders are closer on proposed rate cuts for individuals.)

Jordan would prefer that the Freedom Caucus plan not include the “border adjustment” import tax pushed by Speaker Paul Ryan and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas). Border adjustment, which has sharply divided the business community, is a sticking point among Republicans, and Trump has been wary of the idea.

Other Freedom Caucus members have also been outspoken against border adjustment.

“A number of folks have registered grave concerns with the border adjustment tax in the way that it opens up a new revenue source for the federal government,” Sanford said.

Like Jordan, Sanford said the government needs to slash spending. Lowering overall outlays would help cover some of the cost of tax cuts, which Meadows said shouldn’t require a pay-for.

The resulting economic growth should also make up for not bringing in revenue equal to current levels, Meadows said.

“Revenue neutral is a fancy way of saying the tax burden stays the same, but you just shift around who pays what,” Jordan said. “Typically in that scenario, the connected class gets a good deal and the middle class gets a bad deal, so I’m not wedded to this revenue-neutral thing at all.”

That also aligns those caucus members with the White House. While Brady and Ryan have offered pay-fors, including the border adjustment provision, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has repeatedly said tax reform will “pay for itself” by unleashing economic growth.gns him with the White House, while Brady and Ryan have offered pay-fors.

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/04/freedom-caucus-tax-reform-plan-238003

Story 2: President Trump Flip Flopping On Immigration Law Enforcement By Not Terminating DACA Now! — Failing To Rollback The 30-60 Million Illegal Alien Invasion of The United States By Deporting Them All — Must Go After Employers Hiring Illegal Aliens — Videos —

Donald Trump’s Immigration Plan – Deport and then Mass Expedited Amnesty

How to solve the illegal immigration problem

Donald Trump on Immigration – Does He Favor An Amnesty?

Trump’s Touchback amnesty explained by Marc Thiessen

Rep Steve King discusses Trump’s touchback amnesty

Donald Trump is for Touchback Amnesty and not to be trusted on Illegal Immigration!

Trump Breaks MAJOR Campaign Promise By Backing DACA Amnesty Program

The Future of DACA and Dreamers still uncertain under President Trump

Marco Rubio: DACA has to End, It’s Unconstitutional

Trump just revoked an Obama amnesty program for illegal aliens

Trump Admin Rescinds DAPA Amnesty Program

125,000 ‘DACA’ Illegals Immigrants Got Work Permits Since President Trumps Inauguration!!!

Trump goes back on promise to ‘terminate’ DACA

This is what’s going on with DAPA and DACA

Trump Keeps DACA: Who Gets to Stay in the US, Who’s Left Out in the Cold

Trump’s Stance on DACA Has Immigration Hardliners Concerned

Ann Coulter: Trump better keep his promises

Trump will allow ‘DREAMers’ to remain in the US, for now

Ann Coulter Argues Eloquently Against Destroying America With Immigrants

Ann Coulter vs. media myths on immigration

Laura Ingraham – Analysis of illegal immigrants crossing the border

Published on Jun 2, 2015

How Many Illegal Aliens Are in the US? – Walsh – 1

How Many Illegal Aliens Are in the US? – Walsh – 2

Immigration by the Numbers — Off the Charts

6 Things To Know About Trump’s Reversal On ‘Dreamers’ June 16, 2017 4:38 PM ET

President Trump has reversed himself on one key campaign promise on immigration — and kept another.

The Department of Homeland Security says it will preserve, for now, an Obama administration program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. It’s the most explicit statement yet that the Trump administration will not seek to deport the so-called “Dreamers” who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

At the same time, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly officially revoked another program that might have protected some of their parents from deportation.

Then-candidate Trump promised to get rid of both programs during last year’s campaign, saying “we will immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties” during a major immigration speech in August 2016.

But his position on so-called “Dreamers” has been shifting since the election. Here’s where it stands now and what that could mean for “Dreamers” and their parents.

1. What did the Trump administration just do?

In a FAQ posted on its web site Thursday night, the Department of Homeland Security says current DACA recipients “will continue to be eligible for renewal,” and that DHS will continue to abide by “the terms of the original DACA program” as outlined by the Obama administration on June 15, 2012.

The Obama-era memo, issued five years ago this week, lays out who is eligible for DACA. It’s also what protects people who signed up for the program from deportation, and allows them to apply for work permits.

2. Does this go beyond what President Trump had said before?

Shortly after his inauguration, President Trump told ABC that DACA recipients “shouldn’t be very worried.”

“I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody,” he told ABC. “But I will tell you, we’re looking at this, the whole immigration situation, we’re looking at it with great heart.” Trump suggested that a new DACA policy would be forthcoming, but did not clarify what it was.

3. Is this a victory for immigrant rights activists?

Not exactly. It’s clearly a relief for some of the roughly 800,000 people who’ve signed up for DACA. As the fifth anniversary of the program approached, there were fears that the Trump administration might abolish it altogether.

“It is an important win for those 800,000 individuals,” says Muzna Ansari, immigration policy manager at the New York Immigration Coalition. “But in the grand scheme of things, there are 11 million undocumented immigrants living in this country, who have really been living in fear” under the Trump administration.

4. How do President Trump’s supporters feel about it?

Some are deeply disappointed. Others are willing to give the president the benefit of the doubt because his administration has been aggressively cracking down on illegal immigration across the board.

“He broke the DACA promise,” says Dan Stein, president of Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for lower immigration levels. “Are we happy about it? No,” Stein said. “We think they should have allowed the work authorizations to expire. End of story, full stop.”

But Stein is taking the long view. He says the White House may want to use the DACA program as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Congressional Democrats on a broader immigration reform package.

5. What is DAPA, and how does it fit in?

DAPA is shorthand for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. It’s another Obama-era program that would have extended protection from deportation even further. It was designed for the parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents who were themselves living in the U.S. illegally.

But it was quickly blocked by the courts, and never implemented.

DHS officially revoked DAPA on Thursday. But that was not a big surprise, since no one expected the Trump administration to defend the program in court, as the Obama administration had.

6. Is this a final decision on the future DACA?

In a word, no.

The White House and the Department of Homeland Security have been emphasizing that this is not a permanent decision, and that president could still change his mind and revoke that program, too.

But for now, the administration continues to accept new DACA applications. And DHS says that “no work permits will be terminated prior to their current expiration dates.”

http://www.npr.org/2017/06/16/533255575/trump-allows-dreamers-to-stay-removes-protections-for-parents

Trump: Illegal “Dreamers” Will Not Be Targets For Deportation

He flips. He flops.

I’m actually fine, as my expectations for Trump were basement-level, anyway. His adoring nationalists and assorted MAGA trolls might be a bit chaffed by this, however.

Then again, when you have no principles, you’ll swallow anything.

The AP featured an extensive interview with President Trump today, and he revealed his “evolving” views on foreigners who break the laws of a sovereign nation.

 Young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children can “rest easy,” President Donald Trump said Friday, telling the “dreamers” they will not be targets for deportation under his immigration policies.

As a candidate, Trump strongly criticized President Barack Obama for “illegal executive amnesties,” including actions that allowed young people brought to the country illegally as children to be spared from deportation. But after the election, Trump started speaking more favorably about these immigrants, popularly dubbed “dreamers.”

On Friday, he said that when it comes to them, “This is a case of heart.”

Wait. What changed?

Jim Jamitis

He won, so no need to play the role. Got it.

This is actually a dramatic departure from Trump’s campaign rhetoric. He was going to deport, then build a great wall.

Of course, over time, it began to take on more nuance.

It would be a big, beautiful wall, with a big beautiful door.

Then, maybe deals could be made on a case-by-case basis.

As for the wall, the price tag is growing and we still don’t know who is paying for it. We know Mexico won’t.

The president, who took a hard line on immigration as a candidate, vowed anew to fulfill his promise to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. But he stopped short of demanding that funding for the project be included in a spending bill Congress must pass by the end of next week in order to keep the government running.

“I want the border wall. My base definitely wants the border wall,” Trump said in the Oval Office interview. Asked whether he would sign legislation that does not include money for the project, he said, “I just don’t know yet.”

He really needs to stop talking about a wall and focus more on the strategic fencing, boots on the ground, and drones flying along the border to monitor activity.

That, at least sounds like a workable plan, and would likely cost quite a bit less than the unworkable wall he’s promising.

http://www.redstate.com/sweetie15/2017/04/21/trump-illegal-dreamers-will-not-targets-deportation/

WASHINGTON — President Trump will not immediately eliminate protections for the so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as small children, according to new memorandums issued by the administration on Thursday night.

But White House officials said on Friday morning that Mr. Trump had not made a decision about the long-term fate of the program and might yet follow through on a campaign pledge to take away work permits from the immigrants or deport them.

The Department of Homeland Security announced that it would continue the Obama-era program intended to protect those immigrants from deportation and provide them with work permits so they can find legal employment.

A fact sheet posted on the department’s website says that immigrants enrolled in the 2012 program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, “will continue to be eligible” to renew every two years, and notes that “no work permits will be terminated prior to their current expiration dates.”

A news release from the department said flatly that “the June 15, 2012, memorandum that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will remain in effect.”

But officials at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security said on Friday morning that those statements were intended only to clarify that immigrants enrolled in the DACA program would not immediately be affected by a separate action officially ending a similar program for undocumented immigrants whose children are citizens or legal permanent residents.

“There has been no final determination made about the DACA program, which the president has stressed needs to be handled with compassion and with heart,” said Jonathan Hoffman, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the department. He added that John F. Kelly, the secretary of Homeland Security, “has noted that Congress is the only entity that can provide a long-term solution to this issue.”

Immigration rights activists, who have fiercely battled Mr. Trump’s travel ban and increased enforcement of other immigration laws, initially hailed the announcement, calling it a surprising turn of events from Mr. Trump.

“This is a big victory for Dreamers amid months of draconian and meanspirited immigration enforcement policy,” said David Leopold, an immigration lawyer. “The preservation of DACA is a tribute to the strength of the Dreamer movement.”

But after the White House clarified its intent, activists expressed regret. Mr. Leopold said in a second statement that “it’s no surprise that Trump would quickly walk back the preservation of DACA.” He added that the administration was trying to “cynically pit 800,000 Dreamers against the rest of the 11 million undocumented immigrants.”

Cecilia Muñoz, who led President Barack Obama’s domestic policy council and oversaw immigration policy for the White House, said, “It is unfortunate that their status is still temporary, and their peace of mind not complete.”

A decision to maintain the DACA program would be a reversal from Mr. Trump’s anti-immigrant language during the campaign and would disappoint some of the president’s most ardent supporters, who view the program started by Mr. Obama as an illegal grant of amnesty.

During the campaign, Mr. Trump repeatedly agreed with that sentiment. At one rally last summer, Mr. Trump vowed to “immediately terminate” the program, saying that Mr. Obama had “defied federal law and the Constitution.”

But once in office, Mr. Trump faced a new reality: the political risks of targeting for deportation a group of people who are viewed sympathetically by many Americans. In some cases, the immigrants did not know they were in the country illegally. Many attended American schools from the time they were in kindergarten.

Asked repeatedly about his intentions for the program since he took office, the president has hinted that he would not try to deport the Dreamers. But immigration activists had remained worried that the administration might still eliminate the program.

On Friday, young immigrants who have gained legal status through the program were eager for clarity.

“My initial reaction was, ‘Well, what’s the catch?’” said Carlos Robles-Shanahan, 27, a business consultant in Chicago who is waiting for his deferred action status to be renewed. “It felt like it sounds too good to be true. If they gave us that, what did they take away?”

Born in Mexico, Mr. Robles-Shanahan and his two siblings followed their parents to the Chicago area in 2004, when they were children. He and his brother were arrested and detained by immigration officials while traveling to Boston by train in 2010, but were given a temporary reprieve from deportation. Joining the deferred action program two years later, he said, allowed him to obtain financial aid from his college, teach for a year through a fellowship, earn a master’s degree in public policy, get a white-collar job and buy a house for his mother.

“DACA changed a ton of stuff for me and my brother, exponentially,” he said. “It was like a switch.”

Mr. Robles-Shanahan recently married a United States citizen and has begun the process of applying for a green card, but fears that his ability to work and live in the country will be jeopardized if his deferred action status is not renewed.

Confirmation that the Trump administration planned to preserve the program would have given young immigrants some certainty that they could apply for deferred action or renew their status, said Rigo Rivera, 27, who crossed the Mexican border when he was 9 to join his parents in Alpharetta, Ga. Many have been afraid to apply for fear of putting their information in the hands of federal authorities.

“With Trump, we can expect anything. Tomorrow he can say that he wants to deport us,” he said. “I don’t know what to make of this, or what to believe.”

Mr. Rivera, a prep worker in a restaurant kitchen who also leads a group of young undocumented activists, received protected status in 2013, allowing him to obtain a driver’s license, a Social Security number and permission to work legally.

But he said he worried that he and other young immigrants in the program would not be protected from deportation even if Mr. Trump does not formally end DACA, because of several recent episodes in which people like him have been detained despite their participation in the program.

The announcement that the DACA program will continue for the time being, a decision that affects about 800,000 people in the United States, came as the administration formally ended Mr. Obama’s attempt to expand it to also cover the parents of Dreamers.

In 2015, Mr. Obama proposed an expansion of the program, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, which could have shielded as many as five million people from deportation and provided work permits to them as well.

That program was never put in place because a Texas court blocked it at the request of a coalition of 26 state attorneys general. The Supreme Court deadlocked, 4 to 4, on a challenge to that ruling, but the decision by the Trump administration officially ends the litigation.

Correction: June 17, 2017
An earlier version of this article, using information from a Department of Homeland Security news release and a separate fact sheet, referred incorrectly to the status of the Obama-era immigration program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The program is continuing for now; President Trump has not decided to keep it permanently, according to a clarification released by the administration. The headline repeated the error.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/16/us/politics/trump-will-allow-dreamers-to-stay-in-us-reversing-campaign-promise.html

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an Americanimmigration policy founded by the Obama administration in June 2012. DACA allows certain illegal aliens who entered the country as minors, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.

The policy was created after acknowledgment that these illegal students had been largely raised in the United States, and was seen as a way to remove immigration enforcement attention from “low priority” individuals with good behavior.[1] The illegal alien student population was rapidly increasing; approximately 65,000 illegal alien students graduate from U.S. high schools on a yearly basis.[2]

From the start, the Pew Research Center estimated that up to 1.7 million people might be eligible.[3] As of June 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had received 844,931 initial applications for DACA status, of which 741,546 (88%) were approved, 60,269 (7%) were denied, and 43,121 (5%) were pending. Over half of those accepted reside in California and Texas.[4]

In November 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama attempted to expand DACA.[5] However, in December 2014, Texas and 25 other states, all with Republican governors, sued in the District Court for the Southern District of Texas asking the court to enjoin implementation of both the DACA expansion and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (a similar program).[6][7][8] In February 2015, Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued a preliminary injunction blocking the expansion from going into effect while the case, Texas v. United States, proceeds.[9][10] After progressing through the court system, an equally divided (4-4) Supreme Court left the injunction in place, without setting any precedent.[11]

On February 14, 2017 a CNN report on the detention of 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina in Northwest Detention Center,[12]Tacoma, Washington following his arrest in his father’s Des Moines, Washington home, observed that “The case raises questions about what it could mean” for the 750,000 Dreamers, who had “received permission to stay under DACA.”[12][13]

On March 7, 2017 the Los Angeles Times[14] reported that 22-year-old Daniela Vargas of Jackson, Mississippi became the second DACA recipient to be detained by the Trump Administration, further raising speculation about President Trump’s commitment to Dreamers and questioning whether immigrants who speak out against the administration’s policies should fear retaliation [1].

Vargas was released from LaSalle Detention Center on March 10, 2017 [2] and Ramirez Medina’s release followed on March 29, 2017 [3]. However, questions remain regarding the future of DACA recipients due to the Trump administration’s initial plans [4].

On June 16, 2017, the United States Department of Homeland Security announced that it would rescind the executive order by the Barack Obama administration that expanded the DACA program, though the DACA program’s overall existence would continue to be reviewed.[15][16]

History

President Barack Obama announced the policy with a speech in the Rose Garden of the White House on 15 June 2012,[17] a date chosen as the 30th anniversary of Plyler v. Doe, a Supreme Court decision barring public schools from charging illegal alien children tuition. Republican Party leaders denounced the program as an abuse of executive power.[18]

USCIS began accepting applications for the program on 15 August 2012.[3]

Republican response

Nearly all Republicans in the House of Representatives (along with three Democrats) voted 224-201 to defund DACA in June 2013.[19] Lead author of the amendment Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) stated, “The point here is…the President does not have the authority to waive immigration law, nor does he have the authority to create it out of thin air, and he’s done both with these Morton memos in this respect.”[20] However, in practice Congress does not have the ability to defund DACA since the program is almost entirely funded by its own application fees rather than congressional appropriations.[21]

Although politicians are divided on immigration issues related to DACA, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney stated that he would honor the grants of deferred action approved under DACA until a more permanent legislation was put into place.[22]

Under the presidency of Donald Trump, DACA has been under scrutiny, also in view of Trump’s earlier announcement during his candidacy that he intended to end that program.[23][24]

Implementation

DACA was formally initiated by a policy memorandum sent from Secretary of Homeland SecurityJanet Napolitano to the heads of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The memo formally directed them to exercise their enforcement discretion on behalf of individuals who met the requirements.[25]

To apply for DACA, illegal aliens must pay a $495 application fee, submit several, and produce documents showing they meet the requirements. They do not need legal representation.

Eligibility

To be eligible, illegal aliens must have entered the United States before their 16th birthday and prior to June 2007, be currently in school, a high school graduate or be honorably discharged from the military, be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or three other misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security. The program does not provide lawful status or a path to citizenship,[26] nor does it provide eligibility for federal welfare or student aid.[27]

In August 2012, the Migration Policy Institute estimated that as many as 1.76 million people could be eligible for DACA. Of those, 28% were under 15 and would have to wait until reaching that age to apply. In addition, roughly 20% did not meet any of the education criteria, but could become eligible by enrolling in a program before submitting their application. 74% of the eligible population was born in Mexico or Central America. Smaller proportions came from Caribbean and South America (11%), Asia (9%), and the rest of the world (6%).[28]

To qualify for DACA, applicants must meet the following major requirements, although meeting them does not guarantee approval:[26]

  • Came to the United States before their 16th birthday
  • Have lived continuously in the United States since 15 June 2007
  • Were under age 31 on 15 June 2012 (i.e., born on 16 June 1981 or after)
  • Were physically present in the United States on 15 June 2012, and at the time of making their request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS
  • Had no lawful status on 15 June 2012
  • Have completed high school or a GED, have been honorably discharged from the armed forces, or are enrolled in school
  • Have not been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanors, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety

To show proof of qualification (verify these requirements), applicants must submit three forms; I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; I-765, Application for Employment Authorization; and I-765WS, Worksheet, as well as supporting documentation.[26]

Travel eligibility

In addition to the $495 application fee, if a DACA qualifying illegal alien wants to travel abroad there is an additional fee and application requirement.

Form I-131 Application Type D, with a fee of $575 needs to be submitted to USCIS.[29]

To receive advance parole one must travel abroad for the sole purpose of an educational, employment, or humanitarian purposes. This must be indicating on the Form I-131 as described below:

  • Educational purposes, such as studying abroad;
  • Employment purposes, such as overseas positions, interviews, training, or meetings with clients; or
  • Humanitarian purposes, such as travel for medical reasons, attend funeral services for a family member, or visit a sick relative.

Travel for leisure is not a valid purpose.[29]

Renewals

USCIS released the process for DACA renewals in June 2014 and directed applicants to file their documents during a 30-day window starting 150 days before the expiration of their previous DACA status. Renewing requires an additional $495 fee.[30]

As of June 2016, there had been 606,264 renewal cases, with 526,288 approved, 4,703 denied and 75,205 renewals pending.[4]

Expansion

In November 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama announced changes to DACA which would expand it to include illegal aliens who entered the country prior to 2010, eliminate the requirement that applicants be younger than 31 years old, and lengthen the renewable deferral period to two years. The Pew Research Center estimated that this would increase the number of eligible people by about 330,000.[31]

However, in December 2014, Texas and 25 other states, all with Republican governors, sued in the District Court for the Southern District of Texas asking the court to enjoin implementation of both the DACA expansion and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (a similar program).[32][33][34] In February 2015, Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued a preliminary injunction blocking the expansion from going into effect while the case, Texas v. United States, proceeds.[35][36] After progressing through the court system, an equally divided (4-4) Supreme Court left the injunction in place, without setting any precedent.[11]

The court’s temporary injunction does not affect the existing DACA. Individuals may continue to come forward and request an initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA under the guidelines established in 2012.[26]

Impact

A 2016 study found that DACA increased labor force participation and decreased the unemployment rate for DACA-eligible immigrants. DACA also increased the income of illegal aliens in the bottom of the income distribution. However, DACA had no significant effects on the likelihood of attending school. Using these estimates, DACA moved 50,000 to 75,000 unauthorized immigrants into employment.[27]

State responses]

State-level government officials are also divided on the issue. Although state governments cannot affect DACA itself, they can control the state benefits available to individuals under deferred action.

California

To assist those eligible under the program,[37] the state of California has agreed to support those who receive a DACA grant by allowing access to a state driver’s license,[38] provided that such individuals participate in specific state guidelines (such as paying income taxes). The state of California also allows DACA holding individuals to qualify for Medi-Cal.[39]

Arizona

Arizona became the first state to oppose President Obama’s order for DACA when Governor Jan Brewer issued a counter-order that prevents those with deferred status from receiving any state benefits.[40] This caused controversy,[41] as eligible and approved applicants would still be unable to obtain a driver’s license.[42] In May 2013, a federal district court held that this policy was likely unconstitutional. In 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a preliminary injunction against Brewer’s ban, and in November 2014 held this ban was in violation of the law.[43]

Maryland

Former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake chose to open the city’s doors to undocumented immigrants to boost its dwindling population. The city boasts an executive order prohibiting officials from questioning an individual’s immigration status, especially about Maryland’s Dream Act, which grants in-state tuition rates to “any student who graduates from a Maryland high school and comes from a family who has paid taxes. If the individual is a male he must also complete his Selective Service form and prove his acceptance.”[44]

Illinois

In a New York Times interview, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated that he wants to make Chicago the “most immigrant-friendly city in the country”. In addition to offering in-state tuition for illegal aliens, he has also made plans for an ordinance that would prevent illegal aliens with no criminal background from being turned over to immigration enforcement agencies.[45]

Texas

Although in-state tuition is still offered, Governor Rick Perry announced his opposition to DACA by distributing a letter to all state agencies, meant “to ensure that all Texas agencies understand that Secretary Napolitano’s guidelines confer absolutely no legal status whatsoever to any illegal alien who qualifies for the federal ‘deferred action’ designation.”[46]

Nebraska

Governor Dave Heineman, also joined in the opposition against DACA, confirming that the state, will continue its practice of not issuing driver’s licenses, welfare benefits, or other public benefits to illegal immigrants” regardless of deferred status. Since then, however, Nebraska legislature has made it legal for these people to acquire driver’s licenses.[47]

Michigan

In October 2012, the Michigan Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson, announced that Michigan will not issue drivers licenses or state identification of any kind to beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.[48] In making this decision, it was clear that the Secretary of State erroneously conflated the notion of “lawful presence,” which is required under Michigan Law to issue a driver’s license, and “lawful status,” a different legal concept entirely.[49]USCIS has made it clear that DACA beneficiaries do not possess legal status, but does not state that DACA beneficiaries are unlawfully present; in fact, it states that DACA beneficiaries will not accrue unlawful presence time here while they are in this deferred action status.[50] The Secretary of State relied upon USCIS’ own explanation, which discusses legal status, not lawful presence.[50] In response to this policy, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Johnson, alleging that the policy violated both Michigan law and the U.S. Constitution.[51] On January 18, 2013, USCIS updated their “Frequently Asked Questions” page about DACA, clarifying, among other things, that DACA beneficiaries are, in fact, lawfully present in the United States.[52] On 1 February 2013, Johnson reversed her policy and began issuing drivers licenses to DACA beneficiaries on February 19, 2013.[53]

North Carolina

North Carolina briefly suspended giving out driver’s licenses to DACA grantees while waiting for the state attorney general’s opinion. The attorney general decided that even without formal immigration status the DACA grantees were to be granted legal presence. After that, the state once again continued to give out drivers licenses and allowed the DACA grantees to become legal members of North Carolina.[54]

Virginia

On April 29, 2014, Virginia Attorney GeneralMark Herring sent a letter to the director of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), the presidents of Virginia public colleges and universities, and the chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, in response to inquiries from public institutions of higher education on whether DACA students are eligible for in-state tuition. The attorney general advised these institutions that under Virginia law, DACA students who meet Virginia’s domicile requirements are eligible for in-state tuition.[55][56]

See also

References

Story 3: More Mueller Milking The American Taxpayers — Trump Should Fire Them All Now — Enough Is Enough — Videos

War of Words on Special Counsel Mueller Hires 13 Lawyers.

Out of Control Investigations. Alan Dershowitz!

Mueller, Witness Flipper, and More on Hidden Obama Documents! Judge Nap!

Jay Sekulow: It’s a Witch Hunt – The Deep State

Trey Gowdy Questions Fmr Sec of DHS Jeh Johnson!

The Latest from Trey Gowdy! Some About Loretta Lynch and James Comey!

JAY SEKULOW FULL EXPLOSIVE INTERVIEW ON STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER (6/18/2017)

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

Robert Mueller named special counsel for FBI Russia probe – USA News

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

Mueller’s Empire: Legions of Lawyers, Bottomless Budget, Limitless Jurisdiction

By Andrew C. McCarthy| June 21, 2017

So I’ve been wondering: Why on earth does a prosecutor, brought in to investigate a case in which there is no apparent crime, need a staff of 14 lawyers?

Or, I should say, “14 lawyers and counting.” According to the press spokesman for special counsel Robert Mueller—yeah, he’s got a press spokesman, too—there are “several more in the pipeline.”

Concededly, none of Mueller’s recruits requires Senate confirmation, as do Justice Department officials—notwithstanding that the former may end up playing a far more consequential role in the fate of the Trump administration. But does it seem strange to anyone else that, by comparison, the president of the United States has managed to get—count ’em—three appointees confirmed to Justice Department positions in five months?

A special counsel, the need for whom is far from obvious, has in just a few days staffed up with four times the number of lawyers. And all for a single investigation that the FBI has described as a counterintelligence probe—i.e., not a criminal investigation, the kind for which you actually need lawyers.

The way this is supposed to work is: the Justice Department first identifies a likely crime, and then assigns a prosecutor to investigate it. Here, by contrast, there are no parameters imposed on the special counsel’s jurisdiction. Mueller is loosed—with 14 lawyers and more coming—to conduct what I’ve called a “fishing expedition.”

Oh, and about those three Justice Department appointees: One of them, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has already recused himself from the investigation in question—the department’s most high profile undertaking. Another, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, is reportedly weighing whether he, too, should bow out. Perhaps he figures he has already done quite enough, having sicced a special-counsel investigation on the Trump Administration by flouting both the regulation that requires a basis for a criminal investigation before a special counsel is appointed, and the regulation that requires limiting the special counsel’s jurisdiction to the specific factual matter that triggers this criminal investigation.

For now, Mueller appears utterly without limits, in his writ and in his resources. As the ease with which he has staffed up shows, it is not hard to recruit lawyers. All you need is money. Mueller has a bottomless budget, thanks to a bit of Treasury Department chicanery known as “permanent, indefinite appropriations.”

Under the Constitution’s Appropriations Clause, no funding is supposed to be paid out of the treasury unless Congress has approved it in advance. Under the Framers’ design, with an eye toward limited, accountable government, every spending initiative must compete with every other one when Congress enacts a budget. Lawmakers must decide what we can and can’t afford when they draw on what is supposed to be the finite pot of money confiscated from taxpayers. We are supposed to know what we are underwriting and what it will cost.

These lawyers, overwhelmingly, are Democrats. Powerline’s Paul Mirengoff and the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross have been tracking it: Mueller’s staffers contribute to Trump’s political opponents, some heavily.

Mueller’s special counsel investigation is somehow under no such restrictions, according to the Justice Department. He unilaterally decides how much staffing he needs. And unlike a normal prosecutor’s office, the special counsel does not have to apportion his resources over hundreds of cases. He can direct all of them at one investigative target.

In this instance, the target is Trump, and the resources—apart from what will be scores of FBI agents—include 14 lawyers (going on 15 … going on 16…).

These lawyers, overwhelmingly, are Democrats. Powerline’s Paul Mirengoff and the Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross have been tracking it: Mueller’s staffers contribute to Trump’s political opponents, some heavily. The latest Democratic talking-point about this unseemly appearance is that hiring regulations forbid an inquiry into an applicant’s political affiliation. That’s laughable. These are lawyers Mueller has recruited. They are not “applicants.” We’re talking about top-shelf legal talent, accomplished professionals who have jumped at the chance of a gig they do not need but, clearly, want.

The Democrats’ other rationalization is that Mueller, whose integrity is well established, is ultimately responsible for all prosecutorial decisions. I agree that Mueller’s personal probity entitles him to a presumption of ethical propriety. But a presumption is not a blank check.

Unlike many conservative commentators, I’ve contended that too much has been made of Mueller’s close personal friendship and longstanding professional ties to former FBI director James Comey. In drawing that conclusion, I have relied on Rosenstein’s description of the investigation assigned to Mueller. He said it is the same investigation Comey described in March 20 congressional testimony. That investigation is a counterintelligence probe—which is why I’ve never understood the need for a prosecutor. Since such investigations are not intended to build criminal cases, there seemed little prospect that Comey could become a critical prosecution witness. I reasoned that, in the unlikely event criminal charges became a possibility, Mueller could be trusted to consider the ethics of his participation.

Now, however, if reports are to be believed, Mueller is weighing whether the president is guilty of an obstruction crime. Putting aside my assessment that there would be no legal merit to such an allegation, there could be no doubting Comey’s importance as a witness in such a case. Mueller would then have to consider an ethical dilemma that the National District Attorneys Association, in its National Prosecution Standards (third edition), has described in the section on conflicts of interest (Standard 1-3.3, at p. 7):

The prosecutor should excuse himself or herself from any investigation, prosecution, or other matter where personal interests of the prosecutor would cause a fair-minded, objective observer to conclude that the prosecutor’s neutrality, judgment, or ability to administer the law in an objective manner may be compromised.

Notice that, consistent with the familiar ethical canon that lawyers must avoid even the appearance of impropriety, the standard here is based not on the lawyer’s personal rectitude or his subjective belief that he can administer the law impartially. The issue is: What would this look like to fair-minded observers?

Consequently, if this boundless investigation careens into a criminal prosecution, Mueller could have some major soul-searching to do. I thus confess to being taken aback that he has exacerbated the problem, rather than trying to mitigate it, with his staffing decisions. Into an investigation that was already fraught with political tension, the special counsel has recruited partisans—donors to politicians who describe themselves not as a loyal opposition but as the Trump “Resistance.” What are fair-minded people to make of that?

Not just one or two recruits, but 14 lawyers, with more to come.

Some personal perspective, if you’ll allow me. I had the good fortune to be a prosecutor in two of the better known criminal cases in modern American history. The Pizza Connection case, which I believe remains our longest federal criminal trial, involved a vast narcotics and money-laundering enterprise, overseen for well over a decade by the mafia in Sicily and the United States. The years-long investigation required gathering evidence on three continents, coordinating with a parallel, massive Italian prosecution, and ultimately indicting 36 mafiosi. The subsequent 17-month trial of 22 defendants, starting in late 1985, featured hundreds of witnesses and more than 2,400 wiretap conversations (translated into English from Italian). I was the junior member of a five-prosecutor team, which many of our peers found to be excessive despite the prosecution’s success.

Consequently, if this boundless investigation careens into a criminal prosecution, Mueller could have some major soul-searching to do. I thus confess to being taken aback that he has exacerbated the problem, rather than trying to mitigate it, with his staffing decisions.

I was the lead government lawyer in the terrorism investigation of the so-called Blind Sheikh’s jihadist cell, following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and an unsuccessful plot to bomb New York City landmarks. The case involved extensive undercover investigations. We also probed the history of overseas jihadist movements, as well as that of covert American aid to the Afghan mujahideen’s war against the Red Army. There were classified-information challenges, including litigation over the admissibility in a criminal trial of evidence obtained under foreign-intelligence-gathering authorities. The eventual nine-month trial of 12 defendants, involved hundreds of witnesses and intercepted conversations (translated into English from Arabic).

We managed to get by with a team of three trial prosecutors and one appellate lawyer assigned to help us with the many novel legal issues. After all the defendants were convicted, I wrote the government’s appellate brief with the assistance of a single appellate editor. Not much staff, but the convictions and sentences were nevertheless upheld.

Why does special counsel Mueller need 14 lawyers (and more coming) for a counterintelligence investigation, as to which the intelligence professionals—agents, not lawyers—have found no “collusion with Russia” evidence after over a year of hard work? What will those lawyers be doing with no limits on their jurisdiction, with nothing but all the time and funding they need to examine one target, Donald Trump?

About the Author:

Andrew C. McCarthy
Andrew C. McCarthy is a former chief assistant U.S. attorney best known for successfully prosecuting the “Blind Sheikh” (Omar Abdel Rahman) and eleven other jihadists for waging a terrorist war against the United States – a war that included the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a subsequent plot to bomb New York City landmarks. He is a recipient of the Justice Department’s highest honors, helped supervise the command-post near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan following the 9/11 attacks, and later served as an adviser to the Deputy Secretary of Defense. His several popular books include the New York Times bestsellers Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad and The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America. He is a senior fellow at National Review Institute and a contributing editor at National Review. He is a frequent guest commentator on national security, law, politics, and culture in national media, and his columns and essays also appear regularly in The New Criterion, PJ Media, and other major publications.

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The Pronk Pops Show 914, June 19, 2017, Story 1: Otto Warmbier Died After Being Released From North Korea in A Coma — Videos — Story 2: Time For Strategic Patience Is Over — Take Out The Korean Dictator, Missiles, Nuclear Bomb Facilities, Artillery and Rocket Launchers In Range of South Korea — Regularly Planned and Scheduled War — Videos — Story 3: U.S. Navy F-18 Fighter Shoots Down Syrian SU -22 Fighter Over Raqqa, Syria After U.S. Allies On Ground Bombed– Russia Warns U.S. Planes Will Be Considered Targets — Videos — Story 4: Interventionist Foreign Policy of Progressive Democrats and Republicans (Neocons) Projecting Power of American Empire — No War Ever Declared Or American People Consulted — Videos

Posted on June 19, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Breaking News, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Countries, Crime, Culture, Defense Spending, Diet, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Education, Empires, Exercise, Food, Foreign Policy, Former President Barack Obama, Freedom of Speech, Government Spending, Health, Health Care, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Independence, Japan, Language, Law, Life, Lying, Media, Medicine, National Interest, News, North Korea, Obama, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Progressives, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Scandals, Security, Senate, Social Science, South Korea, Success, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Unemployment, United States of America, Videos, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: Otto Warmbier Died After Being Released From North Korea in A Coma — Videos

GLOBALNEWS: North Korea Invites More Western Tourists To Visit Days After Sending One Home In A Coma

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Otto Warmbier has died, hospital says

CINCINNATI — Otto Warmbier has died, University of Cincinnati Medical Center announced Monday.

Warmbier died at 2:20 p.m. Monday, days after he was released from captivity in North Korea.

In a statement, family members said Warmbier had been unable to speak, see or react to verbal commands since his return to Cincinnati June 13.

“He looked very uncomfortable – almost anguished,” family members said. “Although we would never hear his voice again, within a day the countenance of his face changed – he was at peace. He was home and we believe he could sense that.”

Family members thanked the hospital’s staff for the care they provided Warmbier but said ” the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today.”

“It would be easy at a moment like this to focus on all that we lost – future time that won’t be spent with a warm, engaging, brilliant young man whose curiosity and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds,” the family said. “But we choose to focus on the time we were given to be with this remarkable person. You can tell from the outpouring of emotion from the communities that he touched – Wyoming, Ohio and the University of Virginia to name just two – that the love for Otto went well beyond his immediate family.”

Check back for more on this breaking story.

Sodium thiopental

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sodium thiopental
Sodium thiopental.svg
Sodium-thiopental-3D-vdW-2.png
Clinical data
AHFS/Drugs.com Monograph
Routes of
administration
Intravenous (most common), oral or rectal
ATC code
Legal status
Legal status
Pharmacokinetic data
Biological half-life 5.5[1]-26 hours[2]
Identifiers
CAS Number
  • 71-73-8 Yes (sodium salt)
    76-75-5 (free acid)
PubChem CID
DrugBank
ChemSpider
UNII
KEGG
ChEBI
ChEMBL
ECHA InfoCard 100.000.896
Chemical and physical data
Formula C11H17N2NaO2S
Molar mass 264.32 g/mol
3D model (Jmol)
Chirality Racemic mixture
 Yes (what is this?)  (verify)

Sodium thiopental, also known as Sodium Pentothal (a trademark of Abbott Laboratories, not to be confused with pentobarbital), thiopental, thiopentone, or Trapanal (also a trademark), is a rapid-onset short-acting barbiturate general anesthetic that is an analogue of thiobarbital. Sodium thiopental was a core medicine in the World Health Organization‘s “Essential Drugs List“, which is a list of minimum medical needs for a basic healthcare system, but was supplanted by propofol.[3] It was previously the first of three drugs administered during most lethal injections in the United States, but the U.S. manufacturer Hospira stopped manufacturing the drug and the EU banned the export of the drug for this purpose.[4]

Uses

Anesthesia

Sodium thiopental is an ultra-short-acting barbiturate and has been used commonly in the induction phase of general anesthesia. Its use has been largely replaced with that of propofol, but retains popularity as an induction agent for rapid sequence intubation and in obstetrics.[citation needed] Following intravenous injection, the drug rapidly reaches the brain and causes unconsciousness within 30–45 seconds. At one minute, the drug attains a peak concentration of about 60% of the total dose in the brain. Thereafter, the drug distributes to the rest of the body, and in about 5–10 minutes the concentration is low enough in the brain that consciousness returns.[citation needed]

A normal dose of sodium thiopental (usually 4–6 mg/kg) given to a pregnant woman for operative delivery (caesarian section) rapidly makes her unconscious, but the baby in her uterus remains conscious. However, larger or repeated doses can depress the baby.[5]

Sodium thiopental is not used to maintain anesthesia in surgical procedures because, in infusion, it displays zero-order elimination kinetics, leading to a long period before consciousness is regained. Instead, anesthesia is usually maintained with an inhaled anesthetic (gas) agent. Inhaled anesthetics are eliminated relatively quickly, so that stopping the inhaled anesthetic will allow rapid return of consciousness. Sodium thiopental would have to be given in large amounts to maintain an anesthetic plane, and because of its 11.5- to 26-hour half-life, consciousness would take a long time to return.[6]

In veterinary medicine, sodium thiopental is used to induce anesthesia in animals. Since it is redistributed to fat, certain lean breeds of dogs such as sight hounds will have prolonged recoveries from sodium thiopental due to their lack of body fat and their lean body mass. Conversely, obese animals will have rapid recoveries, but it will be some time[vague] before it is entirely removed (metabolized) from their bodies. Sodium thiopental is always administered intravenously, as it can be fairly irritating; severe tissue necrosis and sloughing can occur if it is injected incorrectly into the tissue around a vein.[citation needed]

Sodium thiopental decreases the cardiac stroke volume, which results in a decrease in cardiac output. The decrease in cardiac output occurs in conjunction with a decrease in systemic vascular resistance, which results in hypotension. However, in comparison with propofol, the reflex tachycardia seen during states of hypotension is relatively spared (a bradycardia is common after administration of propofol) and therefore the observed fall in blood pressure is generally less severe.

Medically induced coma

In addition to anesthesia induction, sodium thiopental was historically used to induce medical comas.[7] It has now been superseded by drugs such as propofol because their effects wear off more quickly than thiopental. Patients with brain swelling, causing elevation of intracranial pressure, either secondary to trauma or following surgery, may benefit from this drug. Sodium thiopental, and the barbiturate class of drugs, decrease neuronal activity and therefore decrease the production of osmotically active metabolites, which in turn decreases swelling. Patients with significant swelling have improved outcomes following the induction of coma. Reportedly, thiopental has been shown to be superior to pentobarbital in reducing intracranial pressure.[8] This phenomenon is also called a reverse steal effect.[citation needed]

Status epilepticus

In refractory status epilepticus, thiopental may be used to terminate a seizure.

Euthanasia

Sodium thiopental is used intravenously for the purposes of euthanasia. In both Belgium and the Netherlands, where active euthanasia is allowed by law, the standard protocol recommends sodium thiopental as the ideal agent to induce coma, followed by pancuronium bromide.[9]

Intravenous administration is the most reliable and rapid way to accomplish euthanasia. A coma is first induced by intravenous administration of 20 mg/kg thiopental sodium (Nesdonal) in a small volume (10 ml physiological saline). Then, a triple dose of a non-depolarizing neuromuscular blocking drug is given, such as 20 mg pancuronium bromide (Pavulon) or 20 mg vecuronium bromide (Norcuron). The muscle relaxant should be given intravenously to ensure optimal availability but pancuronium bromide may be administered intramuscularly at an increased dosage level of 40 mg.[9]

Lethal injection

Along with pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride, thiopental is used in 34 states of the U.S. to execute prisoners by lethal injection. A very large dose is given to ensure rapid loss of consciousness. Although death usually occurs within ten minutes of the beginning of the injection process, some have been known to take longer.[10] The use of sodium thiopental in execution protocols was challenged in court after a study in the medical journal The Lancet reported autopsies of executed inmates showed the level of thiopental in their bloodstream was insufficient to cause unconsciousness.

On December 8, 2009, the State of Ohio became the first to use a single dose of sodium thiopental for its capital execution, following the failed use of the standard three-drug cocktail during a recent execution, due to inability to locate suitable veins. Kenneth Biros was executed using the single-drug method.[11]

The state of Washington is now the second state in the U.S. to use the single-dose sodium thiopental injections for death penalty executions. On September 10, 2010, Cal Coburn Brown was executed. This was the first execution in the state to use a single dose, single drug injection. His death was pronounced approximately one and a half minutes after the intravenous administration of five grams of the drug.[12]

After its use for execution of Jeffrey Landrigan in the U.S., the UK introduced a ban on the export of sodium thiopental in December 2010,[13] after it was established that no European supplies to the U.S. were being used for any other purpose.[14] The restrictions were based on “the European Union Torture Regulation (including licensing of drugs used in execution by lethal injection)”.[15] From 21 December 2011 the European Union extended trade restrictions to prevent the export of certain medicinal products for capital punishment, stating that “the Union disapproves of capital punishment in all circumstances and works towards its universal abolition”.[16]

Truth serum

Thiopental (Pentothal) is still used in some places as a truth serum to weaken the resolve of a subject and make them more compliant to pressure.[17] The barbiturates as a class decrease higher cortical brain functioning. Some psychiatrists hypothesize that because lying is more complex than telling the truth, suppression of the higher cortical functions may lead to the uncovering of the truth. The drug tends to make subjects loquacious and cooperative with interrogators; however, the reliability of confessions made under thiopental is questionable.[18] “Sodium pentathol” as a truth serum has become a trope in films, comics and literature, and even appears in popular music.[19]

Psychiatry

Psychiatrists have used thiopental to desensitize patients with phobias,[20] and to “facilitate the recall of painful repressed memories.”[21] One psychiatrist who worked with thiopental is the Dutch Professor Jan Bastiaans, who used this procedure to help relieve trauma in surviving victims of the Holocaust.[22]

Mechanism of action

Sodium thiopental is a member of the barbiturate class of drugs, which are relatively non-selective compounds that bind to an entire superfamily of ligand-gated ion channels, of which the GABAA receptor channel is one of several representatives. This superfamily of ion channels includes the neuronal nAChR channel, the 5HT3R channel, the GlyR channel and others. Surprisingly, while GABAA receptor currents are increased by barbiturates (and other general anesthetics), ligand-gated ion channels that are predominantly permeable for cationic ions are blocked by these compounds. For example, neuronal nAChR channels are blocked by clinically relevant anesthetic concentrations of both sodium thiopental and pentobarbital.[23] Such findings implicate (non-GABA-ergic) ligand-gated ion channels, e.g. the neuronal nAChR channel, in mediating some of the (side) effects of barbiturates.[24]The GABAA receptor is an inhibitory channel that decreases neuronal activity, and barbiturates enhance the inhibitory action of the GABAA receptor.[25]

Controversies

Following a shortage that led a court to delay an execution in California, a company spokesman for Hospira, the sole American manufacturer of the drug, objected to the use of thiopental in lethal injection. “Hospira manufactures this product because it improves or saves lives, and the company markets it solely for use as indicated on the product labeling. The drug is not indicated for capital punishment and Hospira does not support its use in this procedure.”[26] On January 21, 2011, the company announced that it would stop production of sodium thiopental from its plant in Italy because Italian authorities couldn’t guarantee that exported quantities of the drug would not be used in executions. Italy was the only viable place where the company could produce sodium thiopental, leaving the United States without a supplier.[27]

Metabolism

Thiopental rapidly and easily crosses the blood brain barrier as it is a lipophilic molecule. As with all lipid-soluble anaesthetic drugs, the short duration of action of sodium thiopental is due almost entirely to its redistribution away from central circulation towards muscle and fat tissue, due to its very high fat:water partition coefficient (aprx 10), leading to sequestration in fat tissue. Once redistributed, the free fraction in the blood is metabolized in the liver. Sodium thiopental is mainly metabolized to pentobarbital,[28] 5-ethyl-5-(1′-methyl-3′-hydroxybutyl)-2-thiobarbituric acid, and 5-ethyl-5-(1′-methyl-3′-carboxypropyl)-2-thiobarbituric acid.[29]

Dosage

The usual dose range for induction of anesthesia using thiopental is from 3 to 6 mg/kg; however, there are many factors that can alter this. Premedication with sedatives such as benzodiazepines or clonidine will reduce requirements, as do specific disease states and other patient factors. Among patient factors are: age, sex, and lean body mass. Specific disease conditions that can alter the dose requirements of thiopentone and for that matter any other intravenous anaesthetic are: hypovolemia, burns, azotemia, hepatic failure, hypoproteinemia, etc.[citation needed]

Side effects

As with nearly all anesthetic drugs, thiopental causes cardiovascular and respiratory depression resulting in hypotension, apnea and airway obstruction. For these reasons, only suitably trained medical personnel should give thiopental in an environment suitably equipped to deal with these effects. Side effects include headache, agitated emergence, prolonged somnolence, and nausea. Intravenous administration of sodium thiopental is followed instantly by an odor and/or taste sensation, sometimes described as being similar to rotting onions, or to garlic. The hangover from the side effects may last up to 36 hours.

Although individual molecules of thiopental contain one sulfur atom, it is not a sulfonamide, and does not show allergic reactions of sulfa/sulpha drugs.

Contraindications

Thiopental should be used with caution in cases of liver disease, Addison’s disease, myxedema, severe heart disease, severe hypotension, a severe breathing disorder, or a family history of porphyria.[30][31]

Co-administration of pentoxifylline and thiopental causes death by acute pulmonary edema in rats. This pulmonary edema was not mediated by cardiac failure or by pulmonary hypertension but was due to increased pulmonary vascular permeability.[32]

History

Sodium thiopental was discovered in the early 1930s by Ernest H. Volwiler and Donalee L. Tabern, working for Abbott Laboratories. It was first used in human beings on March 8, 1934, by Dr. Ralph M. Waters[33] in an investigation of its properties, which were short-term anesthesia and surprisingly little analgesia.[34] Three months later,[35] Dr. John S. Lundy started a clinical trial of thiopental at the Mayo Clinic at the request of Abbott.[36]Abbott continued to make the drug until 2004, when it spun off its hospital-products division as Hospira.

Thiopental is famously associated with a number of anesthetic deaths in victims of the attack on Pearl Harbor. These deaths, relatively soon after the drug’s introduction, were said to be due to excessive doses given to shocked trauma patients. However, recent evidence available through freedom of information legislation was reviewed in the British Journal of Anaesthesia,[37] which has suggested that this story was grossly exaggerated. Of the 344 wounded that were admitted to the Tripler Army Hospital only 13 did not survive and it is unlikely that thiopentone overdose was responsible for more than a few of these.

Thiopental is still rarely used as a recreational drug, usually stolen from veterinarians or other legitimate users of the drug; however, more common sedatives such as benzodiazepines are usually preferred as recreational drugs, and abuse of thiopental tends to be uncommon and opportunistic.[citation needed]

See also

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

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Communication channel between Washington and Moscow to be suspended immediately

Russia has said it will treat US warplanes operating in parts of Syria where its air forces are also present as “targets” amid a diplomatic row caused by the downing of a Syrian jet.

The country’s defence ministry said it would track US-led coalition aircraft with missile systems and military aircraft, but stopped short of saying it would shoot them down.

A hotline set up between Russia and the US to prevent mid-air collisions will also be suspended.

“All kinds of airborne vehicles, including aircraft and UAVs of the international coalition detected to the west of the Euphrates River will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets,” the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement.

The warning comes after a US F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian army SU-22 jet on Sunday in the countryside southwest of Raqqa – the first such downing of a Syrian jet by the US since the start of the country’s civil war in 2011.

Washington said the jet had dropped bombs near US-backed forces but Damascus said the plane was downed while flying a mission against Isis militants.

Russia’s defence ministry said the suspension of its communication line with the Americans would begin immediately.

The US did not use its hotline with Russia ahead of the downing of the Syrian government warplane, said the ministry, which accused the US of a “deliberate failure to make good on its commitments” under the deconfliction deal.

“The shooting down of a Syrian Air Force jet in Syria’s airspace is a cynical violation of Syria’s sovereignty,” the ministry said.

“The US’ repeated combat operations under the guise of ‘combating terrorism’ against the legitimate armed forces of a UN member-country are a flagrant violation of international law and an actual military aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic.”

Theresa May appealed to Russia to continue the use of “deconfliction” measures over the skies of Syria to reduce the risk of misunderstandings in what is a crowded airspace.

Russia, which has been providing air cover for Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad, since 2015, has an agreement with the US aimed at preventing incidents involving either country’s warplanes engaged in operations in Syria.

Downing the jet was akin to “helping the terrorists that the US is fighting against”, Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said.

A statement released by US Central Command on Sunday said the Syrian jet was “immediately shot down… in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defence of Coalition partnered forces”.

“The Coalition’s mission is to defeat Isis in Iraq and Syria. The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat,” it added.

“The Coalition presence in Syria addresses the imminent threat Isis in Syria poses globally. The demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward Coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-Isis operations will not be tolerated.”

Tensions rise in Syria as Russia, Iran send US warnings

By BASSEM MROUE and NATALIYA VASILYEVA, Associated PressTHE ASSOCIATED PRESS STATEMENT OF NEWS VALUES AND PRINCIPLES

(AP) — Russia on Monday threatened aircraft from the U.S.-led coalition in Syrian-controlled airspace and suspended a hotline intended to avoid collisions in retaliation for the U.S. military shooting down a Syrian warplane.

The U.S. said it had downed the Syrian jet a day earlier after it dropped bombs near the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces conducting operations against the Islamic State group, adding that was something it would not tolerate.

The downing of the warplane — the first time in the six-year conflict that the U.S. has shot down a Syrian jet — came amid another first: Iran fired several ballistic missiles Sunday night at IS positions in eastern Syria in what it said was a message to archrival Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The developments added to already-soaring regional tensions and reflect the intensifying rivalry among the major players in Syria’s civil war that could spiral out of control just as the fight against the Islamic State group in its stronghold of Raqqa is gaining ground.

Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, called on the U.S. military to provide a full accounting as to why it decided to shoot down the Syrian Su-22 bomber.

The U.S. military confirmed that one of its F-18 Super Hornets shot down a Syrian jet that had dropped bombs near the U.S. partner forces SDF. Those forces, which are aligned with the U.S. in the campaign against the Islamic State group, warned Syrian government troops to stop their attacks or face retaliation.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that as of Monday, all coalition jets and drones flying west of the Euphrates River will be tracked as potential targets.

Areas of northern Syria west of the Euphrates were controlled by IS before Syrian government forces captured most of them in recent months. The Russians, who have been providing air cover for Assad’s forces since 2015, appear to want to avoid further U.S. targeting of Syrian warplanes or ground troops that have come under U.S. attack in eastern Syria recently.

It was the second time Russia suspended a hotline intended to minimize incidents with the U.S. in Syrian airspace. In April, Russia briefly suspended cooperation after the U.S. military fired 59 missiles at a Syrian air base following a chemical weapons attack that Washington blamed on the Assad government.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Washington is working to re-establish communications aimed at avoiding mishaps involving U.S. and Russian air operations in Syria.

Speaking in Washington, the top U.S. military officer said the two sides were in delicate discussions to lower tensions.

“The worst thing any of us could do right now is address this with hyperbole,” Dunford said.

Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense and security committee at the upper chamber of Russian parliament, described his Defense Ministry’s statement as a warning.

“I’m sure that because of this, neither the U.S. nor anyone else will take any actions to threaten our aircraft,” he told the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. “That’s why there’s no threat of direct confrontation between Russia and American aircraft.”

Ozerov insisted that Russia will be tracking the coalition’s jets, not shooting them down, but he added that “a threat for those jets may appear only if they take action that pose a threat to Russian aircraft.”

Iran said the missile strike by its powerful Revolutionary Guard hit Syria’s eastern city of Deir el-Zour on Sunday night and was in retaliation for two attacks in Tehran earlier this month that killed 17 people and were claimed by the Islamic State group.

It appeared to be Iran’s first missile attack abroad in over 15 years and its first in the Syrian conflict, in which it has provided crucial support to Assad. The muscle-flexing comes amid the worsening of a long-running feud between Shiite powerhouse Iran and Saudi Arabia, with supports Syrian rebels and has led recent efforts to isolate the Gulf nation of Qatar.

“The Saudis and Americans are especially receivers of this message,” Gen. Ramazan Sharif of the Revolutionary Guard told Iranian state TV in an interview.

It also raised questions about how U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, which had previously put Iran “on notice” for its ballistic missile tests, will respond. Israel also is concerned about Iran’s missiles and has deployed a multilayered missile-defense system.

The missile attack came amid recent confrontations in Syria between U.S.-backed forces and Iranian-backed pro-government factions. The U.S. recently deployed a truck-mounted missile system in Syria as Iranian-backed forces cut off the advance of the U.S.-supported rebels along the Iraqi border.

Iranian officials threatened more strikes. Former Guard chief Gen. Mohsen Rezai wrote on Twitter: “The bigger slap is yet to come.”

U.S.-backed opposition fighters said Assad’s forces have been attacking them in the northern province of Raqqa and warned that if such attacks continue, the fighters will take action.

Clashes between Syrian troops and the SDF would escalate tensions and open a new front line in the many complex battlefields of the civil war, now in its seventh year. Clashes between the Kurdish-led SDF and Syrian forces have been rare and some rebel groups have even accused them of coordinating on the battlefield.

Both sides are battling the Islamic State group, with SDF fighters focusing on their march into the northern city of Raqqa, which the extremist group has declared to be its capital.

Syrian government forces have also been attacking IS in northern, central and southern parts of the country, seizing 25,000 square kilometers (9,600 square miles) and reaching the Iraqi border for the first time in years.

SDF spokesman Talal Sillo said the government wants to thwart the SDF offensive to capture Raqqa. He said government forces began attacking the SDF on Saturday, using warplanes, artillery and tanks in areas that SDF had liberated from IS.

Sillo also warned that if “the regime continues in its offensive against our positions in Raqqa province, this will force us to retaliate with force.”

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks Syria’s war, said government forces expanded their presence in Raqqa province by capturing from IS the town of Rasafa.

___

Vasilyeva reported from Moscow. Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi in Tehran and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed.

http://hosted2.ap.org/APDefault/*/Article_2017-06-19-Syria/id-371357b2c20e4aaa982d07da071a7f7a

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Pronk Pops Show 913,  June 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 910,  June 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 907,  June 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 906,  June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 904,  June 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 903,  June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 901,  May 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 899,  May 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 898,  May 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 897,  May 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 896,  May 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 895,  May 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 894,  May 16, 2017

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

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

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

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 865: March 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 864: March 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 863: March 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 862: March 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 861: March 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 860: March 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 859: March 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 858: March 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 857: March 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 855: March 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 854: March 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 853: March 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 852: March 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 851: March 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

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

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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 908, June 9, 2017, Story 1: Cover His Assets Comey Leaked Documents To Friend Who Leaked Them To Press — Crime of Mishandling Government Documents with Confession and Evidence — “I Could Be Wrong.” — Trump Winner and Big Lie Media and Lying Lunatic Left Losers — President Trump: No Investigation, No Collusion, No Obstruction, No Evidence — Videos — Story 2: Will Prime Minister May Remain Prime Minister? Yes, But Not For Very Long — Videos — Story 3: President Trump On New Infrastructure and Regulation — Videos

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Image result for cartoons jame comey is a leaker

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Image result for branco cartoons jame comeyImage result for cartoons jame comey is a leaker

 

Story 1: Cover His Assets Comey Leaked Documents To Friend Who Leaked Them To Press — Crime of Mishandling Government Documents with Confession and Evidence — Videos —

The lasting impact of Comey’s testimony

Comey’s leaked memos spark fierce legal debate

Eboni’s Docket: Was James Comey’s leak a crime?

Trump hits back at James Comey’s claims

LAURA INGRAHAM FULL ONE-ON-ONE EXPLOSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SEAN HANNITY (6/8/2017)

Alan Dershowitz Weighs in on James Comey Testimony. Very Interesting!

Alan Dershowitz Says Trump Cannot Be Guilty of Obstruction While Exercizing His Constitutional Autho

Is Trump’s “Obstruction of Justice” Enough For Impeachment?

Do Donald Trump’s Action Amount To Obstruction Of Justice? #POTUS #Justice

Klayman Discusses Comey Testimony and His Obstruction of Justice

Leftist Host Chris Matthews Admits Russia Collusion Narrative Destroyed

Tucker: The truth about what we learned from Comey hearing

Tucker Carlson Interviews Krauthammer on Comey Testimony

Bob Schieffer on “extraordinary” Comey testimony

Bob Woodward says Comey reputation “enhanced” by testimony

Retired Adm. McRaven on Comey testimony, Navy SEAL lessons

Rush Limbaugh gives his opinion about James Comey hearing on Trump-Russia probe (06-08-2017)

Mark Levin Show 06-08-2017 James Comey testifies before Senate Intelligence Committee

Ben Shapiro gives his opinion about James Comey hearing on Trump-Russia probe (06-08-2017)

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

Sen. Graham on Comey statement: Pretty good day for Trump

Sen. Lankford speaks out about Comey’s opening remarks

COMEY ADMITS LEAKING MEMO Through Columbia Law Prof Friend 6/8/2017

Senator Cotton Questions James Comey

Rubio Corners Comey and LAYS REST to Trump-Russia Question

Senator Burr Questions James Comey

Senator Cornyn Questions James Comey

Sen. McCain’s questioning confuses Comey

The fallout from Comey releasing his prepared remarks

FULL: Trump’s Lawyer Marc Kasowitz Press Conference – Responds to James Comey Hearing (FNN)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: The Democrats Are Now Exposed, “James Comey Is A Leaker”

Full hearing: James Comey testifies to Senate intel committee regarding Russia-Trump

James Comey Hearing on Trump/Russia: Opening Remarks and Questioning

FBI Director James Comey EMOTIONAL Opening Statement in Testimony at Senate Hearing 6/8/2017

Sen. Risch to Comey: Trump’s exact words didn’t direct or order you to let go of Flynn probe

WATCH LIVE: James Comey Testifies on President Trump & Russia Investigation at Senate Hearing

Trump Attorney Responds To Testimony By James Comey

Comey: Trump Did Not Ask To Stop Russia Investigation

COMEY HEARING: COMEY FINALLY ANSWERS – “Do You Believe Donald Trump Colluded With Russia?”

Comey: “I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in”

COMEY HEARING: On CLINTON EMAILS – “Brutally Unfair” To Call For Special Counsel. “No Case There!”

Marco Rubio Crushes Democrat Media ‘Collusion’ Narrative at Comey Hearing

James Comey Admits Loretta Lynch Tried To Cover Up Hillary Clinton Investigation

James Comey Admits He Leaked Trump Memo To Reporters

FULL TESTIMONY: Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before Senate Intelligence Committee

Many news stories about Russia probe are dead wrong, Comey tells Sen. Lankford

Rubio questions former FBI Director James Comey

Comey ‘never initiated a communication with the president,’ he tells Sen. King

Comey to Sen. Cornyn: FBI agents have duty to report crime

Sen. Harris asks Comey if it was appropriate for Sessions to be involved in firing after recusal

Heinrich Questions Former FBI Director James Comey In Senate Intel Committee Hearing

Comey: ‘I’m A Little Confused Senator’

Former FBI director James Comey full testimony on Donald Trump at Senate hearing

Comey’s testimony makes things better for Trump: Fmr. DOJ official

Judge Napolitano: Comey statement a lot of parsing of words

 

The ‘Independent’ Mr. Comey

His prepared testimony shows why he deserved to be fired.

The desk in the Hart Senate Office Building from which former FBI director James Comey will testify, June 7.

The desk in the Hart Senate Office Building from which former FBI director James Comey will testify, June 7. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

The Senate Intelligence Committee released James Comey’s prepared testimony a day early on Wednesday, and it looks like a test of whether Washington can apprehend reality except as another Watergate. Perhaps the defrocked FBI director has a bombshell still to drop. But far from documenting an abuse of power by President Trump, his prepared statement reveals Mr. Comey’s misunderstanding of law enforcement in a democracy.

Mr. Comey’s seven-page narrative recounts his nine encounters with the President-elect and then President, including an appearance at Trump Tower, a one-on-one White House dinner and phone calls. He describes how he briefed Mr. Trump on the Russia counterintelligence investigation and what he calls multiple attempts to “create some sort of patronage relationship.”

But at worst Mr. Comey’s account of Mr. Trump reveals a willful and naive narcissist who believes he can charm or subtly intimidate the FBI director but has no idea how Washington works. This is not new information.

When you’re dining alone in the Green Room with an operator like Mr. Comey—calculating, self-protective, one of the more skilled political knife-fighters of modern times—there are better approaches than asserting “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” Of course the righteous director was going to “memorialize” (his word) these conversations as political insurance.

Mr. Trump’s ham-handed demand for loyalty doesn’t seem to extend beyond the events of 2016, however. In Mr. Comey’s telling, the President is preoccupied with getting credit for the election results and resentful that the political class is delegitimizing his victory with “the cloud” of Russian interference when he believes he did nothing wrong.

Mr. Comey also confirms that on at least three occasions he told Mr. Trump that he was not a personal target of the Russia probe. But Mr. Comey wouldn’t make a public statement to the same effect, “most importantly because it would create a duty to correct” if Mr. Trump were implicated. This is odd because the real obligation is to keep quiet until an investigation is complete.

More interesting is that Mr. Trump’s frustration at Mr. Comey’s refusal raises the possibility that the source of Mr. Trump’s self-destructive behavior isn’t a coverup or a bid to obstruct the investigation. The source could simply be Mr. Trump’s wounded pride.

The most troubling part of Mr. Comey’s statement is his belief in what he calls “the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch,” which he invokes more than once. Independent? This is a false and dangerous view of law enforcement in the American system.

Mr. Comey is describing an FBI director who essentially answers to no one. But the police powers of the government are awesome and often abused, and the only way to prevent or correct abuses is to report to elected officials who are accountable to voters. A director must resist intervention to obstruct an investigation, but he and the agency must be politically accountable or risk becoming the FBI of J. Edgar Hoover.

Mr. Comey says Mr. Trump strongly suggested in February that he close the Michael Flynn file, but after conferring with his “FBI senior leadership” he decided not to relay the conversation to Attorney General Jeff Sessions or any other Justice Department superior. If he thought he was being unduly pressured he had a legal obligation to report, and in our view to resign, but he says he didn’t because “we expected” that Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from Russia involvement.

Well, how did he know? Mr. Sessions didn’t recuse himself until two weeks later. Mr. Comey also didn’t tell the acting Deputy AG, who at the time was a U.S. attorney whom Mr. Comey dismisses as someone “who would also not be long in the role.”

This remarkable presumptuousness is the Comey mindset that was on display last year. He broke Justice Department protocol to absolve Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified material, without the involvement of Justice prosecutors or even telling then Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Mr. Comey’s disregard for the chain of legal command is why Mr. Trump was right to fire him, whatever his reasons.

Also on Wednesday two leaders of the intelligence community told the Senate Wednesday that they had not been pressured to cover up anything. “I have never been pressured—I have never felt pressured—to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relation to an ongoing investigation,” said Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers added that he never been asked “to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump announced that he is nominating respected Justice Department veteran Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. Let’s hope Mr. Wray has a better understanding of the FBI’s role under the Constitution than Mr. Comey does.

Appeared in the June 8, 2017, print edition.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-independent-mr-comey-1496878266

Comey: ‘Lordy, I Hope There are Tapes’
AP

COMEY SAYS HE WAS FIRED BECAUSE OF RUSSIA INVESTIGATION


AP Photo
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former FBI Director James Comey asserted Thursday that President Donald Trump fired him to interfere with his investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 election and its ties to the Trump campaign.

“It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey told the Senate intelligence committee in explosive testimony that threatened to undermine Trump’s presidency.

“I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted,” Comey testified under oath. “That is a very big deal, and not just because it involves me.”

Comey also accused the Trump administration of spreading “lies, plain and simple” about him and the FBI in the aftermath of his abrupt firing last month, declaring that the administration then “chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI” by claiming the bureau was in disorder under his leadership. And in testimony that exposed deep distrust between the president and the veteran lawman, Comey described intense discomfort about their one-on-one conversations, saying he decided he immediately needed to document the discussions in memos.

“I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, so I thought it really important to document,” Comey said. “I knew there might come a day when I might need a record of what happened not only to defend myself but to protect the FBI.”

The revelations came as Comey delivered his much anticipated first public telling of his relationship with Trump, speaking at a packed Senate intelligence committee hearing that brought Washington and parts of the country to a standstill as all eyes were glued to screens showing the testimony. The former director immediately dove into the heart of the fraught political controversy around his firing and whether Trump interfered in the bureau’s Russia investigation, as he elaborated on written testimony delivered Wednesday. In that testimony he had already disclosed that Trump demanded his “loyalty” and directly pushed him to “lift the cloud” of investigation by declaring publicly the president was not the target of the FBI probe into his campaign’s Russia ties.

Comey said that he declined to do so in large part because of the “duty to correct” that would be created if that situation changed. Comey also said in his written testimony that Trump, in a strange private encounter near the grandfather clock in the Oval Office, pushed him to end his investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia asked Comey the key question: “Do you believe this rises to obstruction of justice?”

“I don’t know. That’s Bob Mueller’s job to sort that out,” Comey responded, referring to the newly appointed special counsel who has taken over the Justice Department’s Russia investigation.

In a startling disclosure, Comey revealed that after his firing he actually tried to spur the special counsel’s appointment by giving one of his memos about Trump to a friend of his to release to the press.

“My judgment was I need to get that out into the public square,” Comey said.

Trump’s private attorney, Marc Kasowitz, seized on Comey’s affirmation that he told Trump he was not personally under investigation. Though Comey said he interpreted Trump’s comments as a directive to shut down the Flynn investigation, Kasowitz also maintained in his written statement that Comey’s testimony showed that the president “never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including suggesting that that Mr. Comey ‘let Flynn go.'”

The Republican National Committee and other White House allies worked feverishly to lessen any damage from the hearing, trying to undermine Comey’s credibility by issuing press releases and even ads pointing to a past instance where the FBI had had to clean up the director’s testimony to Congress. Republicans and Trump’s own lawyer seized on Comey’s confirmation, in his written testimony, of Trump’s claim that Comey had told him three times the president was not directly under investigation.

Trump himself was expected to dispute Comey’s claims that the president demanded loyalty and asked the FBI director to drop the investigation into Flynn, according to a person close to the president’s legal team who demanded anonymity because of not being authorized to discuss legal strategy. The president has not yet publicly denied the specifics of Comey’s accounts but has broadly challenged his credibility, tweeting last month Comey “better hope there are no ‘tapes'” of the conversations.

“Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” Comey remarked at one point Thursday, suggesting such evidence would back up his account over any claims from the president.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California asked the question that many Republicans have raised in the weeks since Comey’s firing as one media leak followed another revealing Comey’s claims about Trump’s inappropriate interactions with him.

Discussing the Oval Office meeting where Comey says Trump asked him to back off Flynn, Feinstein asked: “Why didn’t you stop and say, ‘Mr. President, this is wrong,’?”

“That’s a great question,” Comey said. “Maybe if I were stronger I would have. I was so stunned by the conversation I just took it in.”

The hearing unfolded amid intense political interest, and within a remarkable political context as Comey delivered detrimental testimony about the president who fired him, a president who won election only after Comey damaged his opponent, Hillary Clinton, in the final days of the campaign. Clinton has blamed her defeat on Comey’s Oct. 28 announcement that he was re-opening the investigation of her email practices. “If the election were on Oct. 27, I would be your president,” Clinton said last month.

Thursday’s hearing included discussion of that email investigation, as Comey disclosed that then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch instructed him to refer to the issue as a “matter,” not an “investigation.”

“That concerned me because that language tracked how the campaign was talking about the FBI’s work and that’s concerning,” Comey said. “We had an investigation open at the time so that gave me a queasy feeling.”

Many Democrats still blame Comey for Clinton’s loss, leading Trump to apparently believe they would applaud him for firing Comey last month. The opposite was the case as the firing created an enormous political firestorm that has stalled Trump’s legislative agenda on Capitol Hill and taken over Washington.

Under questioning Thursday, Comey strongly asserted the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia did indeed meddle in the 2016 election.

“There should be no fuzz on this. The Russians interfered,” Comey stated firmly. “That happened. It’s about as unfake as you can possibly get.”

Trump has begrudgingly accepted the U.S. intelligence assessment that Russia interfered with the election. But he has also suggested he doesn’t believe it, saying Russia is a “ruse” and calling the investigation into the matter a “witch hunt.”


http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_COMEY?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2017-06-08-12-37-50

Former FBI Director James Comey’s planned testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday will provide President Trump’s opponents with plenty of opportunities to attack his conduct, while also giving his supporters the context they need to defend his actions.The seven-page opening statement Comey provided to the committee this week sheds new light on a series of private conversations and meetings between the president and the former FBI director that had previously been described only through anonymous leaks to the press.However, the statement contained few new revelations, and GOP allies — including the Republican National Committee quickly seized on the document to argue Trump had done nothing wrong.Here are seven takeaways from Comey’s opening statement, which he is slated to deliver before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning.Comey really did tell Trump he was not under investigation three times.In his letter last month asking Comey to resign, Trump thanked the former FBI director for telling him, on three occasions, that he was not personally the subject of an FBI probe.On Jan. 6, according to Comey’s statement, the former FBI director sought permission from the bureau’s “leadership team” to inform the president-elect that he was not under investigation.

“That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him,” Comey wrote. He noted the team concluded that he should indeed tell Trump he was not under investigation “if circumstances warranted” during a “sensitive” conversation at Trump Tower about an unverified dossier of salacious allegations against the president-elect.

“During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance,” Comey wrote.

Then, during a Jan. 27 dinner at the White House, Comey cautioned Trump against calling publicly for an investigation of the salacious dossier by warning him that doing so “might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren’t.”

Finally, during a March 30 phone call, Comey again told the president he was not the subject of an investigation.

“I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that,” Comey noted.

The former FBI director noted, however, that counter-intelligence investigations and criminal investigations differ in their scope and methods.

Comey had far more contact with Trump than with Obama.

The former FBI director noted that he decided to document his conversations with Trump shortly after their first meeting on Jan. 6 at Trump Tower.

“Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward,” Comey wrote in the statement. “This had not been my practice in the past.”

Comey said he had spoken with former President Obama alone just two times throughout his presidency, and said he did not feel compelled to take notes about either encounter.

“I can recall nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months – three in person and six on the phone,” Comey wrote.

Comey did not perceive any interference on the Russia front.

After a Feb. 14 conversation with Trump in the Oval Office, Comey said he felt uncomfortable with comments the president made about his former national security adviser, Gen. Mike Flynn.

Trump asked Comey to “let this go,” referring to an investigation into whether Flynn made misleading statements to FBI agents about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, Comey said.

But the former FBI director clarified that he did not believe the president was asking him to abandon the bureau’s probe of Russian meddling in the presidential race.

“I did not understand the president to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign,” Comey noted.

Comey never told Sessions about his concerns.

The former FBI director defended his decision not to alert the attorney general to his concerns in February about Trump by arguing that he did not expect Attorney General Jeff Sessions or the acting deputy attorney general beneath him to remain involved in the Russia investigation for much longer.

“We concluded it made little sense to report it to Attorney General Sessions, who we expected would likely recuse himself from involvement in Russia-related investigations. (He did so two weeks later.),” Comey noted.

However, Sessions did not recuse himself until his campaign-era contact with the Russian ambassador surfaced in news reports.

Trump told Comey “it would be good” to find out whether his associates “did something wrong.”

Rather than press Comey to close an investigation of his more distant associates, Trump told the former FBI director he would prefer to learn whether any had committed a crime.

“The president went on to say that if there were some ‘satellite’ associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn’t done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren’t investigating him,” Comey wrote in his opening statement.

Several of Trump’s former campaign advisers — such as Carter Page, Roger Stone and Paul Manafort — have come under scrutiny for their activities during the presidential race. All three were dismissed from the campaign long before Trump won the White House in November 2016.

Yet one former campaign hand, Flynn, joined Trump in the administration and has since emerged as a top target of investigative focus. And the president did suggest Comey end his efforts to probe Flynn, although the former FBI director suggested the request fell short of obstruction.

Comey does not describe nearly half of his interactions with Trump.

Although the former FBI director claims he interacted one-on-one with Trump on nine separate occasions, his opening statement describes only five of those conversations.

Comey described all three in-person encounters in the statement he provided to the Senate. However, he described just two of the six phone calls he says he had with Trump between Jan. 6 and April 11, the day Comey said he last spoke with the president.

Comey feared Trump wanted a “patronage relationship.”

Comey said Trump’s unexpected move to host him for a private dinner at the White House on Jan. 27 “was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship.”

The former FBI director based that assessment on “[m]y instincts.”

Comey went on to describe an “awkward” moment that occurred when the president described his desire for “loyalty.”

“[T]he president said, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.’ I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner,” Comey noted.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/7-takeaways-from-comeys-opening-statement/article/2625257

Obstruction of justice

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The crime of obstruction of justice, in United States jurisdictions, refers to the crime of obstructing prosecutors or other (usually government) officials. Common law jurisdictions other than the United States tend to use the wider offense of perverting the course of justice.

Legal overview

Generally, obstruction charges are laid when it is discovered that a person questioned in an investigation, other than a suspect, has lied to the investigating officers. However, in most common law jurisdictions, the right to remain silent can be used to allow any person questioned by police merely to deny answering questions posed by an investigator without giving any reason for doing so. (In such a case, the investigators may subpoena the witness to give testimony under oath in court, though the witness may then exercise their rights, for example in the Fifth Amendment, if they believe their answer may serve to incriminate themselves.) If the person willfully and knowingly tried to protect a suspect (such as by providing a false alibi) or to hide from investigation of their own activities (such as to hide their involvement in another crime), this may leave them liable to prosecution. Obstruction charges can also be laid if a person alters, destroys, or conceals physical evidence.[1]Obstruction charges may also be laid in unique situations such as refusal to aid a police officer, escape through voluntary action of an officer and refusing to assist prison officers in arresting escaped convicts.

Obstruction can include crimes committed by judges, prosecutors, attorneys general, and elected officials in general. It is misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance in the conduct of the office. Most commonly it is prosecuted as a crime for perjury by a non governmental official primarily because of prosecutorial discretion.

Notable examples

  • Richard Nixon was being investigated for obstruction of justice for his alleged role in the cover-up of the break-in at the Watergate hotel during his re-election campaign in 1972. Although it is unknown whether Nixon had foreknowledge of his re-election committee’s “dirty tricks” campaign against Democratic presidential candidates that led to the break-in, he was aware of it after the fact and paid money to keep the participants quiet.
  • Former Vice-Presidential adviser I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice in March 2007 for his role in the investigation of a leak to reporters that named a CIA agent, Valerie Plame. His prison sentence was commuted by President George W. Bush in July 2007, so that Libby was no longer required to serve a two and a half year prison sentence, but was still required to pay a $250,000 fine, be recorded as a convicted felon, obey probation terms, and be disbarred.
  • Conrad Black was convicted of obstruction of justice in July 2007[2] for removing 13 boxes containing financial records from his office in Toronto after they had been sealed by a court order, returning the boxes a few days later.
  • Barry Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice on April 13, 2011 for his testimony in front of the grand jury during the BALCO steroid scandal.[3] The conviction was later overturned by an appellate court.[4]
  • In United States v. Binion, malingering (feigning illness) during a competency evaluation was held to be obstruction of justice and led to an enhanced sentence.[5]

Obstruction trends

“Anticipatory obstruction of justice” has recently appeared on the horizon in cases such as US v. Wolff.[6] However, the operative section, 1519, passed in 2002, has thus far languished in quasi-obscurity. Titled “Destruction, Alteration or Falsification of Records in Federal Investigations and Bankruptcy,” the provision was passed under Section 802 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

The text of the statute is relatively straightforward:

Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsified, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under Title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

Aside from Section 1519’s 20-year maximum prison sentence (no small benefit to the government in big-dollar fraud loss cases such as Wolff), its primary appeal is that it uniquely removes certain key proof burdens from prosecutors’ collective shoulders.

Prosecutors charging violations of Section 1519 must still establish both of the following:

  • The accused knowingly directed the obstructive act to affect an issue or matter within the jurisdiction of any U.S. department or agency.
  • The accused acted at least “in relation to” or “in contemplation’” of such issue or matter.

Not on the list, however, is the requirement that prosecutors demonstrate to the finder of fact which specific “pending proceeding” the accused attempted to obstruct. That is a significant benefit to the government.[7]

See also

Footnotes

External links

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

Story 2: How Long Will Prime Minister May Remain Prime Minister? — Videos

 

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TABLE-British election results: PM May falls short of majority

LONDON, June 9 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa May faced calls to quit on Friday after her election gamble to win a stronger mandate backfired as she lost her parliamentary majority, throwing British politics into turmoil and potentially disrupting Brexit negotiations. Below is a running total for how many seats each party holds. May is unable to get the 326 seats her Conservative party needs for an outright majority. She would need nine more seats, with only two more seats left to declare Party Seats so far Conservative 317 Labour 261 Lib Dems 12 SNP 35 Greens 1 UKIP 0 DUP 10 Other 12 Unreported 2 (Reporting by Alistair Smout and Georgina Prodhan; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-4586860/TABLE-British-election-results-seats-far-party.html#ixzz4jY3jgxZV

 

Humbled Theresa May says losing Tory candidates ‘didn’t deserve it’ but vows to be PM for five more years with support of the DUP… but do her rivals have other ideas?

  • Prime Minister Theresa May has lost seats in the general election in a stunning reversal of her hopes
  • Ashen faced Mrs May vows to stay on despite hammering insisting she can provide ‘certainty’ for the country
  • Mrs May said her government will keep Britain safe by cracking down on terrorism in the recent attacks
  • Serious questions remain over how terrorists behind the atrocities slipped through the net on her watch 
  • She has struck a deal with the 10 MPs from the DUP and is going to see the Queen to ask to form government 
  • But Tories are already breaking ranks to make clear that Mrs May must consider her position after the result
  • Mrs May is expected to reshuffle her cabinet this evening in an attempt to keep a grip on power
  • Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has demanded that Mrs May ‘go’ and make way for government led by him
  • With just one seat left to count, Conservatives are down from 330 to 318, and Labour up from 232 to 262
  • Ministers including Jane Ellison and Ben Gummer have been ousted in a surge by Mr Corbyn’s party 
  • The US woke to the news of a Tory humiliation and President Donald Trump said the result was ‘surprising’ 
  • Fully 23 hours after polls closed across UK, Kensington was claimed by Labour to draw a line under the results 

Theresa May has finally apologised to the Tory MPs who lost their seats overnight but refused to say if her election disaster had weakened her hand in Brexit negotiations

Theresa May has finally apologised to the Tory MPs who lost their seats overnight but refused to say if her election disaster had weakened her hand in Brexit negotiations

A humbled Theresa May has finally apologised to defeated Tory MPs and pledged to stay for five more years – but is now too ‘weak’ to sack rivals including Philip Hammond and Boris Johnson, it was revealed today.

The Prime Minister’s political career is hanging by a thread after she promised to offer ‘certainty’ for Britain as PM – despite the Tories suffering humiliating losses when her election gamble backfired.

She will now rely on the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland to prop her up when she had hoped for a landslide victory.

Mrs May has said Chancellor Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Brexit Secretary David Davis and Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon – five favourites to replace her as leader – will keep their jobs.

The Chancellor and Foreign Minister could have been ‘goners’ but she is now ‘too weak to sack them’, a source said, while another expert suggested she has has been ‘taken prisoner’ by her Cabinet colleagues.

Earlier Mrs May stood in Downing Street and declared her determination to carry on for a full five-year term after getting permission from the Queen to form a government, even though she spectacularly lost her Commons majority overnight.

Incredibly she failed to mention that she had humiliatingly lost seats to Labour after calling the election three years early in a bid to capitalise on sky-high poll ratings.

Around two hours later she appeared on TV again and apologised to defeated Tory MPs after she was accused ‘lacking humility’.

Mrs May acknowledged that she had called an election three years early hoping for a ‘large’ majority, adding: ‘That was not the result that we secured’.

She said: ‘As I reflect on the result, I will reflect on what we need to do in the future to take the party forward.

‘I am sorry for those candidates and hard-working party workers who weren’t successful but also particularly sorry for those colleagues who were MPs or ministers who had contributed so much to our country and who lost their seats and didn’t deserve to lose their seats.’

Mrs May today refused to say if her election disaster has killed off Britain’s chances of a good deal to leave the EU – with former Chancellor George Osborne saying: ‘Hard Brexit went in the rubbish bin last night’.

Senior MPs such as Sarah Wollaston, Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan have openly called for Mrs May to step aside – with the latter suggesting she should go within ‘weeks or months’ because her credibility is shot.

One senior Tory MP told ITV News: ‘We all f***ing hate her. But there is nothing we can do. She has totally f***ed us’.

Mrs May declared her determination to carry on in Downing Street after going to see the Queen to request permission to form a government – even though she has lost her Commons majority

The PM was flanked by husband Philip on the steps of No10 as she delivered her statement after seeing the Queen today

The PM was flanked by husband Philip on the steps of No10 as she delivered her statement after seeing the Queen today

Mrs May was welcomed back into Downing Street by staff after the Queen gave her permission to form a new government

Mrs May was welcomed back into Downing Street by staff after the Queen gave her permission to form a new government

But the Tory leader looked slightly awkward being clapped by No10 staff after her poor showing in the general election

But the Tory leader looked slightly awkward being clapped by No10 staff after her poor showing in the general election

ELECTION 2017 RESULTS

UK results

Show
previous

SeatsVotes

650 of 650 seats declared 326 seats needed for majority
Con Theresa May (48.92%)
318
8short
Prev. held: 331
Lab Jeremy Corbyn (40.31%)
262
64short
Prev. held: 232
SNP Angus Robertson (5.38%)
35
291short
Prev. held: 56
Lib Dem Tim Farron (1.85%)
12
314short
Prev. held: 8
DUP Arlene Foster (1.54%)
10
316short
Prev. held: 8
Green Caroline Lucas (0.15%)
1
325short
Prev. held: 1
UKIP Paul Nuttall
0
Prev. held: 1
Lab vs. ConTurnout: 32,196,224 (68.73%)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4586042/Stunning-exit-poll-suggests-Theresa-LOST-seats.html#ixzz4jYp3DZSs

 

Story 3: President Trump On New Infrastructure and Regulation — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show 907, June 8, 2017, Story 1: Former FBI Director James Comey Answers Some Senator Questions And President Trump’s Lawyer Responds To Comey Testimony — Videos — Story 2: Prime Minister May Expected To Win Reelection But Could Lose Majority With A Hung Parliament — Videos

Posted on June 8, 2017. Filed under: American History, Banking System, Blogroll, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, College, Communications, Countries, Culture, Donald J. Trump, Economics, Education, Empires, Employment, Fiscal Policy, Freedom of Speech, Government Spending, History, James Comey, Language, Law, News, People, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Security, Tax Policy, Terror, Terrorism, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Weather, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: Former FBI Director James Comey Answers Some Senator Questions And President Trump’s Lawyer Responds To Comey Testimony — Videos —

 

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The ‘Independent’ Mr. Comey

His prepared testimony shows why he deserved to be fired.

The desk in the Hart Senate Office Building from which former FBI director James Comey will testify, June 7.

The desk in the Hart Senate Office Building from which former FBI director James Comey will testify, June 7. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

The Senate Intelligence Committee released James Comey’s prepared testimony a day early on Wednesday, and it looks like a test of whether Washington can apprehend reality except as another Watergate. Perhaps the defrocked FBI director has a bombshell still to drop. But far from documenting an abuse of power by President Trump, his prepared statement reveals Mr. Comey’s misunderstanding of law enforcement in a democracy.

Mr. Comey’s seven-page narrative recounts his nine encounters with the President-elect and then President, including an appearance at Trump Tower, a one-on-one White House dinner and phone calls. He describes how he briefed Mr. Trump on the Russia counterintelligence investigation and what he calls multiple attempts to “create some sort of patronage relationship.”

But at worst Mr. Comey’s account of Mr. Trump reveals a willful and naive narcissist who believes he can charm or subtly intimidate the FBI director but has no idea how Washington works. This is not new information.

When you’re dining alone in the Green Room with an operator like Mr. Comey—calculating, self-protective, one of the more skilled political knife-fighters of modern times—there are better approaches than asserting “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” Of course the righteous director was going to “memorialize” (his word) these conversations as political insurance.

Mr. Trump’s ham-handed demand for loyalty doesn’t seem to extend beyond the events of 2016, however. In Mr. Comey’s telling, the President is preoccupied with getting credit for the election results and resentful that the political class is delegitimizing his victory with “the cloud” of Russian interference when he believes he did nothing wrong.

Mr. Comey also confirms that on at least three occasions he told Mr. Trump that he was not a personal target of the Russia probe. But Mr. Comey wouldn’t make a public statement to the same effect, “most importantly because it would create a duty to correct” if Mr. Trump were implicated. This is odd because the real obligation is to keep quiet until an investigation is complete.

More interesting is that Mr. Trump’s frustration at Mr. Comey’s refusal raises the possibility that the source of Mr. Trump’s self-destructive behavior isn’t a coverup or a bid to obstruct the investigation. The source could simply be Mr. Trump’s wounded pride.

The most troubling part of Mr. Comey’s statement is his belief in what he calls “the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch,” which he invokes more than once. Independent? This is a false and dangerous view of law enforcement in the American system.

Mr. Comey is describing an FBI director who essentially answers to no one. But the police powers of the government are awesome and often abused, and the only way to prevent or correct abuses is to report to elected officials who are accountable to voters. A director must resist intervention to obstruct an investigation, but he and the agency must be politically accountable or risk becoming the FBI of J. Edgar Hoover.

Mr. Comey says Mr. Trump strongly suggested in February that he close the Michael Flynn file, but after conferring with his “FBI senior leadership” he decided not to relay the conversation to Attorney General Jeff Sessions or any other Justice Department superior. If he thought he was being unduly pressured he had a legal obligation to report, and in our view to resign, but he says he didn’t because “we expected” that Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from Russia involvement.

Well, how did he know? Mr. Sessions didn’t recuse himself until two weeks later. Mr. Comey also didn’t tell the acting Deputy AG, who at the time was a U.S. attorney whom Mr. Comey dismisses as someone “who would also not be long in the role.”

This remarkable presumptuousness is the Comey mindset that was on display last year. He broke Justice Department protocol to absolve Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified material, without the involvement of Justice prosecutors or even telling then Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Mr. Comey’s disregard for the chain of legal command is why Mr. Trump was right to fire him, whatever his reasons.

Also on Wednesday two leaders of the intelligence community told the Senate Wednesday that they had not been pressured to cover up anything. “I have never been pressured—I have never felt pressured—to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relation to an ongoing investigation,” said Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers added that he never been asked “to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump announced that he is nominating respected Justice Department veteran Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. Let’s hope Mr. Wray has a better understanding of the FBI’s role under the Constitution than Mr. Comey does.

Appeared in the June 8, 2017, print edition.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-independent-mr-comey-1496878266

Comey: ‘Lordy, I Hope There are Tapes’
AP

COMEY SAYS HE WAS FIRED BECAUSE OF RUSSIA INVESTIGATION


AP Photo
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former FBI Director James Comey asserted Thursday that President Donald Trump fired him to interfere with his investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 election and its ties to the Trump campaign.

“It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey told the Senate intelligence committee in explosive testimony that threatened to undermine Trump’s presidency.

“I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted,” Comey testified under oath. “That is a very big deal, and not just because it involves me.”

Comey also accused the Trump administration of spreading “lies, plain and simple” about him and the FBI in the aftermath of his abrupt firing last month, declaring that the administration then “chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI” by claiming the bureau was in disorder under his leadership. And in testimony that exposed deep distrust between the president and the veteran lawman, Comey described intense discomfort about their one-on-one conversations, saying he decided he immediately needed to document the discussions in memos.

“I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, so I thought it really important to document,” Comey said. “I knew there might come a day when I might need a record of what happened not only to defend myself but to protect the FBI.”

The revelations came as Comey delivered his much anticipated first public telling of his relationship with Trump, speaking at a packed Senate intelligence committee hearing that brought Washington and parts of the country to a standstill as all eyes were glued to screens showing the testimony. The former director immediately dove into the heart of the fraught political controversy around his firing and whether Trump interfered in the bureau’s Russia investigation, as he elaborated on written testimony delivered Wednesday. In that testimony he had already disclosed that Trump demanded his “loyalty” and directly pushed him to “lift the cloud” of investigation by declaring publicly the president was not the target of the FBI probe into his campaign’s Russia ties.

Comey said that he declined to do so in large part because of the “duty to correct” that would be created if that situation changed. Comey also said in his written testimony that Trump, in a strange private encounter near the grandfather clock in the Oval Office, pushed him to end his investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia asked Comey the key question: “Do you believe this rises to obstruction of justice?”

“I don’t know. That’s Bob Mueller’s job to sort that out,” Comey responded, referring to the newly appointed special counsel who has taken over the Justice Department’s Russia investigation.

In a startling disclosure, Comey revealed that after his firing he actually tried to spur the special counsel’s appointment by giving one of his memos about Trump to a friend of his to release to the press.

“My judgment was I need to get that out into the public square,” Comey said.

Trump’s private attorney, Marc Kasowitz, seized on Comey’s affirmation that he told Trump he was not personally under investigation. Though Comey said he interpreted Trump’s comments as a directive to shut down the Flynn investigation, Kasowitz also maintained in his written statement that Comey’s testimony showed that the president “never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including suggesting that that Mr. Comey ‘let Flynn go.'”

The Republican National Committee and other White House allies worked feverishly to lessen any damage from the hearing, trying to undermine Comey’s credibility by issuing press releases and even ads pointing to a past instance where the FBI had had to clean up the director’s testimony to Congress. Republicans and Trump’s own lawyer seized on Comey’s confirmation, in his written testimony, of Trump’s claim that Comey had told him three times the president was not directly under investigation.

Trump himself was expected to dispute Comey’s claims that the president demanded loyalty and asked the FBI director to drop the investigation into Flynn, according to a person close to the president’s legal team who demanded anonymity because of not being authorized to discuss legal strategy. The president has not yet publicly denied the specifics of Comey’s accounts but has broadly challenged his credibility, tweeting last month Comey “better hope there are no ‘tapes'” of the conversations.

“Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” Comey remarked at one point Thursday, suggesting such evidence would back up his account over any claims from the president.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California asked the question that many Republicans have raised in the weeks since Comey’s firing as one media leak followed another revealing Comey’s claims about Trump’s inappropriate interactions with him.

Discussing the Oval Office meeting where Comey says Trump asked him to back off Flynn, Feinstein asked: “Why didn’t you stop and say, ‘Mr. President, this is wrong,’?”

“That’s a great question,” Comey said. “Maybe if I were stronger I would have. I was so stunned by the conversation I just took it in.”

The hearing unfolded amid intense political interest, and within a remarkable political context as Comey delivered detrimental testimony about the president who fired him, a president who won election only after Comey damaged his opponent, Hillary Clinton, in the final days of the campaign. Clinton has blamed her defeat on Comey’s Oct. 28 announcement that he was re-opening the investigation of her email practices. “If the election were on Oct. 27, I would be your president,” Clinton said last month.

Thursday’s hearing included discussion of that email investigation, as Comey disclosed that then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch instructed him to refer to the issue as a “matter,” not an “investigation.”

“That concerned me because that language tracked how the campaign was talking about the FBI’s work and that’s concerning,” Comey said. “We had an investigation open at the time so that gave me a queasy feeling.”

Many Democrats still blame Comey for Clinton’s loss, leading Trump to apparently believe they would applaud him for firing Comey last month. The opposite was the case as the firing created an enormous political firestorm that has stalled Trump’s legislative agenda on Capitol Hill and taken over Washington.

Under questioning Thursday, Comey strongly asserted the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia did indeed meddle in the 2016 election.

“There should be no fuzz on this. The Russians interfered,” Comey stated firmly. “That happened. It’s about as unfake as you can possibly get.”

Trump has begrudgingly accepted the U.S. intelligence assessment that Russia interfered with the election. But he has also suggested he doesn’t believe it, saying Russia is a “ruse” and calling the investigation into the matter a “witch hunt.”


http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_COMEY?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2017-06-08-12-37-50

Former FBI Director James Comey’s planned testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday will provide President Trump’s opponents with plenty of opportunities to attack his conduct, while also giving his supporters the context they need to defend his actions.The seven-page opening statement Comey provided to the committee this week sheds new light on a series of private conversations and meetings between the president and the former FBI director that had previously been described only through anonymous leaks to the press.However, the statement contained few new revelations, and GOP allies — including the Republican National Committee quickly seized on the document to argue Trump had done nothing wrong.Here are seven takeaways from Comey’s opening statement, which he is slated to deliver before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning.

Comey really did tell Trump he was not under investigation three times.

In his letter last month asking Comey to resign, Trump thanked the former FBI director for telling him, on three occasions, that he was not personally the subject of an FBI probe.

On Jan. 6, according to Comey’s statement, the former FBI director sought permission from the bureau’s “leadership team” to inform the president-elect that he was not under investigation.

“That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him,” Comey wrote. He noted the team concluded that he should indeed tell Trump he was not under investigation “if circumstances warranted” during a “sensitive” conversation at Trump Tower about an unverified dossier of salacious allegations against the president-elect.

“During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance,” Comey wrote.

Then, during a Jan. 27 dinner at the White House, Comey cautioned Trump against calling publicly for an investigation of the salacious dossier by warning him that doing so “might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren’t.”

Finally, during a March 30 phone call, Comey again told the president he was not the subject of an investigation.

“I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that,” Comey noted.

The former FBI director noted, however, that counter-intelligence investigations and criminal investigations differ in their scope and methods.

Comey had far more contact with Trump than with Obama.

The former FBI director noted that he decided to document his conversations with Trump shortly after their first meeting on Jan. 6 at Trump Tower.

“Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward,” Comey wrote in the statement. “This had not been my practice in the past.”

Comey said he had spoken with former President Obama alone just two times throughout his presidency, and said he did not feel compelled to take notes about either encounter.

“I can recall nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months – three in person and six on the phone,” Comey wrote.

Comey did not perceive any interference on the Russia front.

After a Feb. 14 conversation with Trump in the Oval Office, Comey said he felt uncomfortable with comments the president made about his former national security adviser, Gen. Mike Flynn.

Trump asked Comey to “let this go,” referring to an investigation into whether Flynn made misleading statements to FBI agents about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, Comey said.

But the former FBI director clarified that he did not believe the president was asking him to abandon the bureau’s probe of Russian meddling in the presidential race.

“I did not understand the president to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign,” Comey noted.

Comey never told Sessions about his concerns.

The former FBI director defended his decision not to alert the attorney general to his concerns in February about Trump by arguing that he did not expect Attorney General Jeff Sessions or the acting deputy attorney general beneath him to remain involved in the Russia investigation for much longer.

“We concluded it made little sense to report it to Attorney General Sessions, who we expected would likely recuse himself from involvement in Russia-related investigations. (He did so two weeks later.),” Comey noted.

However, Sessions did not recuse himself until his campaign-era contact with the Russian ambassador surfaced in news reports.

Trump told Comey “it would be good” to find out whether his associates “did something wrong.”

Rather than press Comey to close an investigation of his more distant associates, Trump told the former FBI director he would prefer to learn whether any had committed a crime.

“The president went on to say that if there were some ‘satellite’ associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn’t done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren’t investigating him,” Comey wrote in his opening statement.

Several of Trump’s former campaign advisers — such as Carter Page, Roger Stone and Paul Manafort — have come under scrutiny for their activities during the presidential race. All three were dismissed from the campaign long before Trump won the White House in November 2016.

Yet one former campaign hand, Flynn, joined Trump in the administration and has since emerged as a top target of investigative focus. And the president did suggest Comey end his efforts to probe Flynn, although the former FBI director suggested the request fell short of obstruction.

Comey does not describe nearly half of his interactions with Trump.

Although the former FBI director claims he interacted one-on-one with Trump on nine separate occasions, his opening statement describes only five of those conversations.

Comey described all three in-person encounters in the statement he provided to the Senate. However, he described just two of the six phone calls he says he had with Trump between Jan. 6 and April 11, the day Comey said he last spoke with the president.

Comey feared Trump wanted a “patronage relationship.”

Comey said Trump’s unexpected move to host him for a private dinner at the White House on Jan. 27 “was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship.”

The former FBI director based that assessment on “[m]y instincts.”

Comey went on to describe an “awkward” moment that occurred when the president described his desire for “loyalty.”

“[T]he president said, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.’ I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner,” Comey noted.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/7-takeaways-from-comeys-opening-statement/article/2625257

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

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FISA: 702 Collection

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

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

Photo of Chuck Ross

CHUCK ROSS
Reporter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MAY 7, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

FISA Authority and Blanket Surveillance: A Gatekeeper Without Opposition

Vol. 40 No. 3

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

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

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

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