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

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Image result for rocket man kim h bomb in pacific

Image result for branco cartoons on repeal of obamacare

Image result for susan rice smantha power james brennanImage result for branco cartoons on repeal of obamacare

 

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

North Korea Threatens Nuclear Test in the Pacific Ocean

What could happen if NKorea tests hydrogen bomb over ocean?

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

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

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

Putin warns US, North Korea on verge of conflict

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

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

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

LGM-30 Minuteman Launch – ICBM

Why Is It So Hard to Build an ICBM?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rand Paul Goes Off On Obamacare “Repeal”

Senator: Graham-Cassidy not an Obamacare repeal

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted September 21, 2017 08:36 AM

by Daniel Horowitz

Red flag storm warning

John-Kelly | Getty Images

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

Thus far, I have found three concerning provisions:

Protected class for insurance coverage

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

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

This might possibly be worse than current law.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The bailout fund

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

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

It will codify, enshrine, and expand Obamacare.

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

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

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

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

Sharyl Attkisson speaks out about Obama-era surveillance

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Special Report : Krauthammer on FBI, CIA and NSA served subpoenas in unmasking probe : 5/31/2017

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Hannity : Circa News reports Obama’s FBI illegally shared spy data about Americans : 5/25/2017

James Clapper Admits To Unmasking Trump

President Obama went to British intelligence to spy on Trump for him! – Judge Napolitano

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It looks like Obama did spy on Trump, just as he apparently did to me

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The Pronk Pops Show 934, July 24, 2017, Breaking — Breaking — Story 1: Pence Breaks Tie — Senate Will Debate How To Proceed With Obamacare Repeal and Replace — Videos — Story 2: Congress Overwhelming Passes New Sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea — Long Overdue — Videos — Story 3: Trump Again Critical Of Attorney General Sessions Apparently For Not Prosecuting Leakers and Going After Clinton Foundation Crimes — What about Obama Administration’s Spying On Trump — An Abuse of Power Using Intelligence Community for Political Purposes — Will Trump Dump Sessions? If He Does Trump Will Start To Lose His Supporters in Talk Radio and Voter Base — Direct Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein To Fire Mueller — If He Won’t Fire Him — Fire Both Mueller and Rosenstein —  Punish Your Enemies and Reward Your Friends President Trump! — “In Your Guts You Know He is Nuts” — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 934,  July 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 933,  July 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 932,  July 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 931,  July 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 930,  July 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 929,  July 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 928,  July 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 927,  July 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 926,  July 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 925,  July 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 924,  July 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 923,  July 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 922,  July 3, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 921,  June 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 920,  June 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 919,  June 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 918,  June 26, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 917,  June 22, 2017

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

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Breaking — Story 1: Pence Breaks Tie — Senate Will Debate How To Proceed With Obamacare Repeal and Replace — Videos —

Senate votes to start debate on health care bill

Senate Dems Stage Strange Protest During ObamaCare Vote

Protesters Chant “Kill The Bill! Don’t Kill Us!” At Senate Debate Vote To Repeal Obamacare | TIME

Senate to vote on Obamacare repeal today

Senate Vote On Health Care Debate In Yet Another Effort To Repeal And Replace Obamacare | TIME

 

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, at the Capitol on Tuesday.CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted narrowly on Tuesday to begin debate on a bill to repeal major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, but hours later, Republican leaders suffered a setback when their most comprehensive plan to replace President Barack Obama’s health law fell far short of the votes it needed.

The Tuesday night tally needed to reach 60 votes to overcome a parliamentary objection. Instead, it fell 43-57. The fact that the comprehensive replacement plan came up well short of even 50 votes was an ominous sign for Republican leaders still seeking a formula to pass final health care legislation this week.

For Republicans, the failure ended the day on a sour note, hours after a more triumphant scene on the Senate floor. Lawmakers from both parties had risen to their feet in the afternoon and applauded when Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, showed up in the chamber despite his diagnosis of brain cancer. He cast a crucial vote in favor of opening what promises to be a freewheeling, hard-fought debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act.

The 51-50 vote to start debate, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a tie, came only a week after the Republican effort to dismantle a pillar of former President Barack Obama’s legacy appeared all but doomed. It provided an initial win for President Trump, who pushed, cajoled and threatened senators in recent days to at least begin debating the repeal of the health care law.

But the victory could be fleeting: Senate Republicans still have no agreement on a repeal bill that they can ultimately pass to uproot the law that has provided health insurance to millions of Americans.

How Each Senator
Voted on Full Obamacare
Repeal-and-Replace

Republican leaders brought the first of several expected amendments to a vote Tuesday night.

The Senate is now moving ahead with debate, amendments and ultimately a final vote in the coming days on legislation that would have a profound effect on the American health care system — roughly one-sixth of the United States’ economy. But it is entirely possible that by week’s end, they will have passed nothing.

“Now we move forward towards truly great health care for the American people,” Mr. Trump said from the White House Rose Garden, where he was holding a news conference with the visiting prime minister of Lebanon. “This was a big step.”

Only two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted against the procedural motion, though at least several other Republicans had been seen as possible holdouts. No Democrats voted in favor of the motion.

The Tuesday night vote was on a comprehensive amendment that included disparate proposals calculated to appeal to conservatives and moderates in the Republican caucus.

One proposal, offered by Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, would have allowed insurers to sell stripped-down health plans, without maternity care or other benefits required by the Affordable Care Act, if they also sold plans that included such benefits.

“You shouldn’t have to buy what the federal government mandates you must buy,” Mr. Cruz said. “You should choose what meets the needs for you and your family.”

Three major proposals are being discussed.

The amendment also included money to help pay out-of-pocket medical costs for low-income people, including those who buy private insurance after losing Medicaid coverage as a result of the Senate bill. This proposal was devised by Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, and other senators from states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

But nine Republicans, spanning the party’s ideological spectrum, voted against the package.

The debate to come will have broad implications for health care and households in every state, and emotions are high.

Before senators voted to start the debate in midafternoon, protesters in the Senate gallery chanted, “Kill the bill, don’t kill us!” and “Shame, shame, shame!”

Despite his vote to move ahead, Mr. McCain offered harsh words for the secretive process by which Senate Republican leaders came up with their bill to repeal and replace the health law, and he delivered a pessimistic take on its chances.

“Asking us to swallow our doubts and force it past a unified opposition — I don’t think that’s going to work in the end, and probably shouldn’t,” Mr. McCain said, adding that it “seems likely” that the current repeal effort would end in failure. Still, Mr. McCain voted with Republican leaders in favor of the comprehensive replacement plan on Tuesday night.

Arizona is one of the 31 states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and Mr. McCain’s remarks could reflect concerns of other senators from states that expanded Medicaid, including the junior Republican senator from his state, Jeff Flake.

 

Senator John McCain, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, spoke to the Senate after casting his vote to begin debating legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. Photo by Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times. Watch in Times Video »“We are ground zero for the failure of the exchanges, but we are also an expansion state,” Mr. Flake said. “I think all of us are concerned that we don’t pull the rug out from people.”

Just before the Senate vote, the Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, made an impassioned plea to Republicans.

“We know that A.C.A. is not perfect,” Mr. Schumer said. “But we also know what you’ve proposed is much worse. We can work together to improve health care in this country. Turn back now before it’s too late and millions and millions and millions of Americans are hurt so badly in ways from which they will never, ever recover.”

Given the divisions within their caucus, Senate Republican leaders were considering a new approach to keeping their repeal quest alive: They could try to reach agreement on a slimmed-down bill that would repeal a few major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, like the penalties imposed on people who go without insurance and businesses that do not offer insurance to their employees. Republican leaders would not intend for such a bill to become law, but they believe that it could win approval in the Senate.

That “skinny” bill could then be a basis for negotiations with the House.

Republican leaders in Congress have struggled all year to fulfill their promise of repealing the 2010 health care law. By a vote of 217 to 213, the House approved a repeal bill in early May, but only after Republicans overcame their own difficulties in that chamber.

Mr. Trump kept up pressure on the Senate on Tuesday with Twitter posts. After the procedural vote, he applauded the Senate, but was cutting toward Ms. Collins and Ms. Murkowski: “We had two Republicans that went against us, which is very sad, I think. It’s very, very sad for them.”

Majority needed to pass YES NO
Republicans 51 2
Democrats 0 48
Total 51 50

The successful procedural vote was also a moment of redemption, at least temporarily, for Mr. McConnell, who just last week appeared to have failed in his effort to put together a health bill that could squeak through the narrowly divided Senate.

That said, it remained far from certain whether Republicans would be able to agree on a bill in the days to come — and what exactly the contents of that bill would be. Mr. McConnell promised an “open amendment process” in which members of both parties could propose changes.

“This is just the beginning,” Mr. McConnell said. “We’re not out here to spike the football.”

For weeks, Mr. McConnell has been promoting and revising a comprehensive bill that would repeal the health law while also replacing it, but he has struggled to nail down the support needed to pass that measure. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has yet to assess the most complete version of that legislation, which includes the proposals by Mr. Cruz and Mr. Portman.

Without that assessment, the measure needed 60 Senate votes, and it failed that test on Tuesday night.

The Senate is also expected to vote on a measure that would repeal the health law without putting in place any replacement, but that approach does not appear to have enough support to pass, either.

That proposal resembles a bill passed by the Senate in 2015 and vetoed by Mr. Obama in early 2016. But it would increase the number of people who are uninsured by 32 million in 2026, the budget office said.

Mr. Portman had anguished for weeks over provisions of Mr. McConnell’s repeal bill that would make deep cuts in projected Medicaid spending and roll back the expansion of the program under the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Portman voted to move ahead with the debate on Tuesday after being assured that the Senate would vote on his plan to provide financial assistance to people moving from an expanded state Medicaid program to private health insurance.

States could have used the money, totaling $100 billion, to help low-income people pay deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs when they receive medical care.

Mr. Portman worked on the plan with the Trump administration and with several other Republican senators from states that have expanded Medicaid, including Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Dean Heller of Nevada.

Mr. Heller voted Tuesday to open the debate, but he made no commitment to vote for the repeal bill itself.

“If the final product isn’t improved for the state of Nevada, then I will not vote for it,” Mr. Heller said. “If it is improved, I will support it.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/us/politics/senate-health-care.html

 

Senate Passes Vote to Begin Debate on Obamacare Repeal

Image: Senate Passes Vote to Begin Debate on Obamacare Repeal

By Todd Beamon   |   Tuesday, 25 Jul 2017 03:06 PM

The Senate voted Tuesday to begin debate on the plan to repeal Obamacare outright and replace it within two years — after Vice President Mike Pence voted to break a 50-50 tie and an ailing Arizona Sen. John McCain returned to slam the chamber’s secretive process.

“On this vote, the yeas are 50 and the nays are 50,” Pence said. “The Senate being equally divided, the vice president votes in the affirmative and the motion is agreed to.”

Moderate Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted against the motion, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky proposed after two previous versions of a healthcare bill failed to attract enough votes.

Several senators switched their positions after saying as recently as last week that they would not support a complete Obamacare repeal without replacement.

They were Sens. Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rob Portman of Ohio and Dean Heller of Nevada – considered the party’s most vulnerable incumbent going into next year’s congressional elections.

McCain, 80, who was diagnosed with brain cancer after undergoing surgery 11 days ago, returned to the Senate to vote for the procedural motion.

He was the first to speak on the floor during debate.

“I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments be offered,” McCain said. “I will not vote for this bill as it is today.

“It’s a shell of a bill right now. We all know that.”

He called for both parties to work together to bring forth legislation that would improve healthcare for all Americans.

“We keep trying to win without help from the other side of the aisle,” McCain said. “We are getting nothing done, my friends, we’re getting nothing done.

“All we’ve managed to do was make more popular a policy that wasn’t very popular,” he said, referring to Obamacare.

“The administration and congressional Democrats shouldn’t have forced through Congress without any opposition a program that brought forth social and economic change as massive as Obamacare.

“And we shouldn’t do the same with ours.

“If this process ends in failure, which seems likely, then let’s return to regular order,” McCain said.

“What a great honor, an extraordinary opportunity it is to serve in this body,” he concluded. “It’s a privilege to serve with all of you. I mean it.

“I hope to impress on you again that it is an honor to serve the American people in your company.”

McCain’s comments were greeted with a standing ovation.

President Donald Trump afterward thanked McCain for coming from Arizona to cast his vote to move the healthcare motion forward, calling him a “very brave man.”

“He made a tough trip to get here and vote,” Trump said at the start of a joint news conference with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in the White House Rose Garden. “We want to thank Sen. McCain and all of the Republicans.

“We passed it without one Democrat vote,” the president added. “And that’s a shame, but that’s the way it is. And it’s very unfortunate.

“But I want to congratulate the American people, because we’re going give you great healthcare.”

The Senate last voted to repeal Obamacare in 2015, but it was vetoed by then-President Barack Obama. The House has voted more than 50 times to end the healthcare program.

President Trump has vowed to sign any bill that repeals the Affordable Care Act.

Before the procedural vote, McConnell encouraged Republicans to take action to end Obamacare after promising to do so for seven years.

“We have a duty to act,” he said. “The president’s ready with his pen.

“The House has passed legislation. Today, it’s the Senate’s turn.

“That starts with a vote we’ll take momentarily. The critical first step in that process, the motion to proceed.

“It’s the vote that determines whether this debate can proceed at all,” McConnell said. “Whether we’ll even take it up.”

But Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pleaded with Republicans to reject the procedural vote and work with his party – saying that beginning debate on the repeal motion would eventually lead to the end of Obamacare.

“The best the majority leader’s been able to cook up is a vague plan to do whatever it takes to pass something — anything — to get the bill to a House and Senate conference on healthcare,” the New York Democrat said before McConnell spoke.

“My colleagues, plain and simple, it’s a ruse,” Schumer continued. “The likeliest result of a conference between the House and Senate is full repeal of the Affordable Care Act or something very close to it.”

He slammed Republicans for crafting the healthcare plan under “much cloak-and-dagger legislating” and for locking Democrats out of the process.

“Their plan all along was to keep their bill hidden for as long as possible, evade scrutiny, hide the truth from the American people, and then jam the bill through in the dead of night on a party line,” Schumer said.

McConnell emphasized that the motion opens the debate on repealing Obamacare – and that any legislation could be amended during the debate process.

“President Obama vetoed what we passed before,” he said. “President Trump will sign what Congress passes this time.

“All we have to do today is to have the courage to begin the debate with an open amendment process and let the voting take us where it will.”

http://www.newsmax.com/Headline/senate-passes-healthcare-vote/2017/07/25/id/803717/

Story 2: Bipartisan Congress Overwhelming Passes New Sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea — Long Overdue — Trump Will Sign Bill in Near Future or Face Congressional Override of Veto — Videos

 

House overwhelmingly passes Russia sanctions bill

The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer 07/25: NEW RUSSIA SANCTIONS PASS HOUSE WITH VETO-PROOF MARGIN

Bipartisan Russia sanctions clear tough hurdle MSNBC

Congress to vote on sanctions against Russia, 

Senators confident they could override a Trump veto on bill upping Russian sanctions for el

Story 3: Trump Again Critical Of Attorney General Sessions Apparently For Not Prosecuting Leakers and Going After Clinton Foundation Crimes — What about Obama Administration’s Spying On Trump — An Abuse of Power Using Intelligence Community for Political Purposes — Will Trump Dump Sessions? If He Does Trump Will Start To Lose His Supporters in Talk Radio and Voter Base — Direct Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein To Fire Mueller — If He Won’t Fire Him — Fire Both Mueller and Rosenstein —  Punish Your Enemies and Reward Your Friends President Trump! — “In Your Guts You Know He is Nuts” —  Videos

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Shapiro Nails It

Ben Shapiro Show 347 | Begun The Sessions War Has

Tucker Carlson criticized Trump for ‘Nuts’ Attacks on ‘Humiliated’ Ally Jeff Sessions

Hume: Trump has peculiar concept of attorney general’s job

Trump continues attack on AG Jeff Sessions in new tweets

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI REACTS TO TRUMP CALLING OUT AG SESSIONS | ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI FULL INTERVIEW

‘AG’s job isn’t to ‘have your back’:CNN’s Jake Tapper Dismantles Trump’s frustration with Sessions

CNN’s Don Lemon laughs out loud at Trump’s claim he’s more presidential than anyone except Lincoln

Under attack from the president, Attorney General Sessions still advancing conservative agenda

Mark Levin: If Trump pushes AG Jeff Sessions out, it will be a terrible mistake (July 24 2017)

Mark Levin: Jeff Sessions recuses himself from investigation of Donald Trump’s alleged Russian ties

Trump Says He Will Appoint Special Prosecutor To Investigate Clinton

Trump: “[The Clintons] are good people. I don’t want to hurt them” vs. Marx

Trump vs Sessions: How POTUS turned on his AG

Sessions to stay on the job despite Trump’s criticism

News Wrap: Trump tweets new criticism of Sessions

President Trump: “I Am Disappointed In The Attorney General” 7/25/17

Trump Calls Sessions ‘Weak’ as Criticism Continues

Shep Smith Rips President Trump Over Jeff Sessions “I can’t find a time Situation like this upon us”

Rush Limbaugh: How Donald Trump can shut down the Mueller probe (audio from 07-21-2017)

Roger Stone: Trump Should Fire Mueller And Rosenstein

Exclusive: Roger Stone Reveals Sessions On Way Out – Here’s The Short List For Next AG

 

Trump trashes his attorney general yet again: Sessions just wanted to be a part of my big crowds

BOB BRIGHAM

President Donald Trump has once again openly bashed his Attorney General.

Jeff Sessions was the only Senator to endorse Trump in the primary, but President Trump is no longer giving him credit for his political support, claiming Sessions only endorsed him because of Trump’s crowd sizes.

“When they say he endorsed me, I went to Alabama,” Trump said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “I had 40,000 people.”

“But he was a senator, he looks at 40,000 people and he probably says, ’What do I have to lose?’ And he endorsed me,” Trump explained. “So it’s not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement.”

“I’m very disappointed in Jeff Sessions,” Trump added.

President Trump is also now openly talking of firing Attorney General Sessions, but won’t reveal if he plans to oust him.

“I’m just looking at it,” Trump said when asked why he has criticized Sessions without firing him. “I’ll just see. It’s a very important thing.”

Trump “was joined by his daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci and Hope Hicks, the White House director of strategic communications,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/07/trump-trashes-his-attorney-general-yet-again-sessions-just-wanted-to-be-a-part-of-my-big-crowds/

 

GOP backlash to Trump attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions signals political danger

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s firing of former FBI director James Comey set in motion a chain of events that’s proven politically devastating to his White House. The same could happen if he fires or forces out U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“It’s stunning to me that he looks at what happened over the firing of Comey and his idea is to fire Sessions,” said Rob Jesmer, a longtime Republican strategist who is also a former executive director of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“That firing’s been a disaster” that led to the appointment of special prosecutor Robert Mueller, said Jesmer. It also raised questions about potential obstruction of justice, since Trump later acknowledged he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation. “It’s made his life worse,” said Jesmer.

Signaling the potential political danger ahead, the diversity of conservatives rallying behind Sessions is significant. It ranges from the alt-right Breitbart News and conservative talk host Rush Limbaugh to family values and anti-immigration groups.

On the Hill, the “reverberations would be that this is a White House that thinks it’s above the law,” said Heye.

“What I don’t understand is what he thinks the end game is,” said Jesmer. “Russia is not going away.”

Latest Trumpian tweet storm

In a series of tweets, Trump has taken aim at Sessions for failing to pursue more investigations of Hillary Clinton’s email server and called Sessions “beleaguered.” In an interview with the New York Times, he also berated Sessions for recusing himself from the FBI investigation in to Trump’s ties to Russia.

Outside conservative groups and media figures who are emissaries to critical voting blocs, including religious and constitutional conservatives, are speaking out on behalf of Sessions. That raises the specter that Trump’s actions could hurt his support among some of his most loyal supporters and voters.

Jim DeMint, chairman of the Conservative Partnership Institute and a former senator, said he hopes Trump “sees Jeff Sessions is a great leader that will defend Constitution and rule of law.”

Trump right about media’s Russia obsession. Hope he sees Jeff Sessions is a great leader that will defend Constitution & rule of law.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins issued a statement saying Sessions “understands the importance of all of our God-given rights, respects the law, and is making tremendous progress to restore our nation to greatness.”

Rush Limbaugh, the firebrand conservative talk host, called Trump’s continued attackson Sessions “unseemly.”

The Federation for American Immigration Reform said Sessions “deserves your support, not criticism.”

.@RealDonaldTrump AG Sessions has restored confidence & integrity to U.S. immigration policy. He deserves your support, not criticism.

Even Breitbart, the news organization formerly headed by Trump’s senior adviser Steve Bannon, fired a shot across the bow on Tuesday. It said Trump’s attacks on Sessions are showing his own “weak” stance.

The attacks are “likely to fuel concerns from his base who see Sessions as the best hope to fulfill Trump’s immigration policies,” the article said.

“The question is what does a republican senator or member of the House do” if Trump follows through by firing or forcing Sessions to resign, said Heye.

Whether there will be any official reaction from congressional Republicans if Trump fires Sessions remains to be seen. It might take Trump going further, including pardoning himself or others or angling to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, for Congress to step in as many lawmakers worry the president is abusing his powers as president by targeting institutions and officials investigating him and his family.

Yet the consequences in Congress could nevertheless be manifold.

In addition to angering many lawmakers, making it harder to work with them, Sessions is a favorite of the House Freedom Caucus, the conservative group that has proven Trump’s most formidable negotiating challenge on repealing and replacing Obamacare. The faction of House conservatives will also pose a big challenge in reaching a deal to keep the government funded this fall.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/07/25/gop-backlash-trump-attacks-attorney-general-jeff-sessions-signals-political-danger/509182001/

 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will recuse himself from any probe related to 2016 presidential campaign

Amid demands, Sessions recuses himself from all campaign probes
Attorney general Jeff Sessions recused himself from all investigations involving the presidential campaign after officials from both parties called for it. The outcry came after news broke that then-Sen. Sessions failed to disclose that he met with a Russian envoy during his confirmation hearings to become attorney general. (Gillian Brockell, Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)
 March 2
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday that he will recuse himself from investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign, which would include any Russian interference in the electoral process.Speaking at a hastily called news conference at the Justice Department, Sessions said he was following the recommendation of department ethics officials after an evaluation of the rules and cases in which he might have a conflict.“They said that since I had involvement with the campaign, I should not be involved in any campaign investigation,” Sessions said. He added that he concurred with their assessment and would thus recuse himself from any existing or future investigation involving President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The announcement comes a day after The Washington Post revealed that Sessions twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign and did not disclose that to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing in January.

The Washington Post’s Karoun Demirjian brings us up to speed on Jeff Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from all investigations into the 2016 presidential campaign. (Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post)

It also represents a departure from Sessions’s previous statements, including one on Monday, when he declined to say whether he would recuse himself. “I would recuse myself on anything I should recuse myself on,” Sessions said then. “That’s all I can tell you.”

Democrats have been calling for him to do so for weeks; on Thursday, after publication of The Post’s article, some high-level Republicans joined them. At his news conference, Sessions offered a new explanation: that discussions about his recusal had begun before the revelation of his meetings with Kislyak, that he and ethics officials had agreed on Monday to meet for a final time Thursday, and that at that final meeting he had accepted their recommendation.

The responsibility to oversee the FBI’s Russia investigation will now be handled by Sessions’s deputy attorney general, the department’s second-highest-ranking official. The acting deputy attorney general is Dana Boente, a longtime federal prosecutor and former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, who stepped in when Trump fired Sally Yates in January.

Trump’s nominee for deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing on March 7. Rosenstein, the former U.S. attorney in Baltimore and the longest-serving U.S. attorney, was the sole holdover from the George W. Bush administration.

The revelations about Sessions’s meetings with Kislyak brought new scrutiny to the attorney general’s confirmation hearing in January, when he was asked by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign had communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign. He replied: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

On Thursday, Sessions defended those remarks as “honest and correct as I understood it at the time,” though he also said he would “write the Judiciary Committee soon — today or tomorrow — to explain this testimony for the record.” His explanation, he said, was that he was “taken aback” by Franken’s question, which referred to a breaking news story at the time about contacts between Trump surrogates and Russians.

“It struck me very hard, and that’s what I focused my answer on,” he said. “In retrospect, I should have slowed down and said I did meet one Russian official a couple times, and that would be the ambassador.”

Here’s what you need to know about Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
Sergey Kislyak’s contacts with Trump advisers roiled the new administration and led to one resignation and calls for another. Among D.C. insiders, Russia’s long-serving ambassador to the United States is known for trying to develop relationships with top U.S. officials. (The Washington Post)

Later, in an interview on Fox News, Sessions notably declined to say that he thought Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government favored Trump over Hillary Clinton in the presidential campaign. A declassified report from U.S. intelligence agencies released in January concluded just that, saying, “Putin and the Russian government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”

“Did the campaign believe that the Russian government, the Putin government, favored Trump over Clinton in this race?” Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked.

“I have never been told that,” Sessions responded.

“Do you think they did?” Carlson said.

“I don’t have any idea, Tucker, you’d have to ask them,” Sessions said.

In a statement issued Wednesday night, Sessions said he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.” A spokeswoman confirmed his meetings with Kislyak but said there was nothing misleading about what Sessions said to Congress.

The spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, said Sessions did not meet with Kislyak as a Trump supporter but, rather, in his capacity as a member of the Armed Services Committee. One meeting was in September; the other in July, when Sessions was approached after an event on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention.

A Justice Department official said Wednesday of the September meeting: “There’s just not strong recollection of what was said.”

On Thursday, though, Sessions outlined fairly extensive details of the encounter, which included two senior Sessions staffers. He said he talked with the ambassador about a trip he made to Russia in 1991, terrorism and Ukraine — a major policy issue, given Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the imposition of U.S. and European Union sanctions on Russia for its actions.

At one point, Sessions said, “it got to be a little bit of a testy conversation.” He said the ambassador invited him to lunch, but he did not accept.

“Most of these ambassadors are pretty gossipy, and they like to — this was in the campaign season, but I don’t recall any specific political discussions,” Sessions said.

Earlier Thursday, Trump said that he had “total” confidence in Sessions. Speaking aboard the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford in Newport News, Va., Trump told reporters that he was not aware of Sessions’s contact with the Russian ambassador. Trump also said that Sessions “probably” testified truthfully during his confirmation hearing in January before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Asked whether Sessions should recuse himself, Trump added: “I don’t think so.”

Trump issued a statement later Thursday as well: “Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong. He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional.” Trump added that Democrats are “overplaying their hand” by criticizing Sessions, and he called their attacks a “total witch hunt!”

Several Republican lawmakers had already called on Sessions to recuse himself — and some of them applauded him after he did so. Sen. Ben. Sasse (R-Neb.) called it the “right decision.”

Democrats, however, were less complimentary. Several of them had begun the day demanding Sessions’s resignation and accusing him of lying under oath during the confirmation hearing. After his announcement that he would recuse himself, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declared the decision “totally inadequate.” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said: “Attorney General Sessions is right to recuse himself, but the fact is that he should have done so the moment he was sworn in.”

The episode marks the second time in Trump’s nascent administration when the truthfulness of one of its top officials has come under scrutiny. In February, Trump fired his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, after The Post reported he had not fully disclosed his contacts with Russian officials.

Sessions’s meetings with Kislyak occurred during the height of concerns about Russian interference in the U.S. election and at a time when Sessions was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as well as a top Trump surrogate and adviser.

The swift response among some Republicans, although more muted than Democrats, signaled increasing concern about the potential political fallout.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) tweeted early Thursday that “AG Sessions should clarify his testimony and recuse himself.”

Chaffetz later told reporters: “Let’s let him clarify his statement, and I do think he should recuse himself.” Asked whether his committee would investigate the matter, he said, “There are things we are looking at.”

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) defended Sessions, noting that ongoing investigations have found no evidence that “an American or a person in the Trump campaign was involved or working with the Russians.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) shared conflicting views on Sessions during back-to-back television interviews Thursday. Asked whether Sessions should recuse himself, he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” “I think the trust of the American people — you recuse yourself in these situations, yes.”

But McCarthy later told Fox News: “I’m not calling on him to recuse himself. I was asked on ‘Morning Joe’ if he needs to recuse himself as going forward. As you just heard, Attorney General Sessions said he would recuse himself going forward — appropriate, and that’s all my answer was.”

Sessions has focused his response to the allegations on the substance of his conversations with Kislyak, which he said did not include talk about the campaign.

Many Democrats considered that a direct contradiction of Sessions’s testimony in January, when he told Franken that he had not spoken to Russian officials.

But Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who considers Sessions a close friend, said, “I don’t think Jeff Sessions is a liar” and argued that Sessions had not misled the Judiciary Committee “because all of the questions were about campaign contacts.”

But Sessions “does owe it, quite frankly, to all of us to tell us what he talked about” with Kislyak, Graham said.

Fallout from Sessions’s statements came as FBI Director James B. Comey made a previously scheduled visit to Capitol Hill to meet with the House Intelligence Committee. But Comey was once again unwilling to confirm whether the FBI is exploring ties between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government, according to Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the committee’s top Democrat.

“We can’t do a complete job unless the director is willing to discuss anything that they are investigating,” Schiff said. “At this point we know less than a fraction of what the FBI knows.”

But Rep. Devin Nunes ­(R-Calif.), the committee’s chairman, said Comey was “very upfront” with lawmakers.

“There’s a lot more information . . . the FBI and intelligence agencies need to provide to our committees” to aid ongoing congressional investigations, Nunes said. He added that he had “no reason to believe that any information” would be withheld from his committee.

Senators who deal regularly with defense, foreign affairs or intelligence matters often meet with foreign officials. But as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sessions was less likely to meet with foreign ambassadors than foreign military leaders. The Post has spoken to all senators who served on the armed services panel in 2016. None of them other than Sessions met with Kislyak one-on-one last year, they said.

Schumer said that the Justice Department’s inspector general should investigate whether Sessions made any attempts to thwart any ongoing Russia-
related investigations.

Some Democratic senators called on Sessions to appear again before the Judiciary Committee to explain his relationship and conversations with Russian officials under oath. Others are encouraging congressional tax-writing committees to use their authority to review Trump’s tax returns for any sign of Russian connections.

Abby Phillip, Mike DeBonis, Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/top-gop-lawmaker-calls-on-sessions-to-recuse-himself-from-russia-investigation/2017/03/02/148c07ac-ff46-11e6-8ebe-6e0dbe4f2bca_story.html?utm_term=.ad5603343d98

 

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

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

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

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STATEMENT OF JARED C. KUSHNER TO CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES

July 24, 2017

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

Jared Kushner Details Russia Meetings, Denies Collusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday Night Massacre, redux?

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

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

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

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

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

There’s nothing to investigate

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

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

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

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

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

There’s a conflict of interest

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

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

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

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

Mueller’s team is biased

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

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

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

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

An explosive move, but a tempting one

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Will President Trump Fire Robert Mueller?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump leaves Sessions twisting in the wind while berating him publicly


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

July 24 at 7:15 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet President Trump’s Outside Legal Team

June 24, 20177:00 AM ET

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

Win McNamee/Getty Images

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

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

Here’s an introduction to the men representing Trump:

Marc Kasowitz

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

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

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

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

He hasn’t made any public remarks since.

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

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

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

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

Barrett added Kasowitz is “tough, really tough.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Kasowitz has brought on other lawyers.

Jay Sekulow

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

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

Steve Helber/AP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Dowd

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

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

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

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

Kathy Willens/AP

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

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

Michael Bowe

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

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

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

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

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

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some of the attorneys Mueller has hired:

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

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

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts Portfolio

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The Pronk Pops Show 927, July 12, 2017: Story 1: Putin’s Sting — How Russian Intelligence Service (FSB) Played The Washington Political Elitist Establishment (Democrats and Republicans) And Big Lie Media And How They Fell Hook, Line and Sinker for Russian Intelligence Disinformation Campaign — Russian Trump Dossier — The Dangers of Opposition Research, Confirmation Bias, True Believers, Useful Idiots, Blind Ambition and Two Party Tyranny — The Sting Redux — Videos –Story 2: Republican Sellout The Republican Voter Base By Not Repealing Obamacare Completely — Leaves Many Obamacare Regulations, Subsidies, and Taxes In Place –Republican Replacement of Obamacare  Is A Big Bailout Bill of Insurance Industry — The Stupid Republican Party About To Commit Political Suicide — Rest In Peace — Videos

Posted on July 13, 2017. Filed under: American History, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Communications, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Deep State, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, James Comey, Labor Economics, Language, Law, Life, Media, Monetary Policy, National Interest, News, Obama, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Progressives, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Russia, Scandals, Security, Senate, Spying, Success, Tax Policy, Trade Policy, United Kingdom, United States of America, Videos, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 927,  July 12, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

Image result for cartoons russian trump dossierImage result for cartoons russian trump dossier

Image result for cartoons branco russian trump dossier

Image result for cartoons russian trump dossier

Image result for cartoons branco russian trump dossier

Image result for cartoons russian trump dossier

 

 

Story 1: Putin’s Sting — How Russian Intelligence Service (FSB) Played The Washington Political Elitist Establishment (Democrats and Republicans) And Big Lie Media And How They Fell Hook, Line and Sinker for Russian Intelligence Disinformation Campaign — Russian Trump Dossier — The Dangers of Opposition Research, Confirmation Bias, True Believers, Useful Idiots, Blind Ambition and Two Party Tyranny — The Sting Redux — Videos —

“You can fool all the people some of the time,

and some of the people all the time,

but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

~ Abraham Lincoln

“Perception is reality.”

~Lee Atwater

“People readily believe what they want to believe.”

~Julius Caesar

“Never give a sucker an even break.”

~W. C. Fields

Spoiler Alerts

Image result for The Sting poster

[Figuring out which con to pull on Lonnegan]

J.J. Singleton: I dunno know what to do with this guy, Henry. He’s an Irishman who doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and doesn’t chase dames. He’s a grand knight in the Knights of Columbus, and he only goes out to play faro. Sometimes plays 15 or 20 hours at a time, just him against the house.

Henry Gondorff: Roulette? Craps?

J.J. Singleton: He won’t touch ’em. The croupier at Gilman’s says he never plays anything he can’t win.

Henry Gondorff: Sports?

J.J. Singleton: Likes to be seen with fighters sometimes, but he doesn’t go to the fights or bet on ’em.

Henry Gondorff: Jesus. Does he do anything where he’s not alone?

J.J. Singleton: Just poker. And he cheats. Pretty good at it, too.

 

First con of The Sting

The Sting – Poker Game

The Sting (8/10) Movie CLIP – A Real Professional (1973) HD

The Sting (10/10) Movie CLIP – It’s Close (1973) HD

President Donald Trump: Meeting With Russian Lawyer Was ‘Opposition Research’ | CNBC

Donald Trump JR is being SETUP by Fusion GPS (FAKE DOSSIER)

Report: Senate to Investigate Democratic Ties to Trump Russian Dossier

Democrats intentionally used disinformation from Russia to attack Trump and his campaign aides.

 

How credible are reports that Russia has compromising information about Trump?

Circa News: Ex-intelligence contractor sues Comey

Circa News: FBI illegally shared data about Americans

Why Russia Helps Trump, Not Clinton?? CIA Director John Brennan GRILLED by Tom Rooney

Former CIA Director: Obama Administration “Did Nothing” to Stop Russian Interference

Trump vows to get special prosecutor to investigate Clinton

Trump Loses It After Clinton Calls Him Putin’s Puppet

The Low Down Dirt On Trump

Paul Joseph Watson: DNC Worked With Ukraine To Dig Up Opposition Research On Trump And Manafort

CNN is Falling Apart | Dick Morris

TRUMP RUSSIA SCANDAL BACKFIRES AGAINST DEMS | Dick Morris

The Conspiracy Files: Putin, The FBI and Donald Trump – the fifth estate

Vladimir Putin’s Rise To Power – Full Documentary [HD]

Putin Documentary – The Real Story of the President Putin

EXCLUSIVE: Fantastic Russian Primetime 2 HR Putin Documentary ‘President’

Putin Tells Everyone Exactly Who Created ISIS

Putin crushes CNN smartass Fareed Zakaria on Donald Trump and US elections

Putin Speaks English for CNN

Disinformation: The Secret Strategy to Destroy the West – Part 1

Disinformation: The Secret Strategy to Destroy the West – Part 2

Secrets of the Cold War: Disinformation | Soviet Active Measures | 1984 | Documentary

KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov’s warning to America

Yuri Bezmenov: Sleepers Emerge and Messiah Appears

How To Brainwash A Nation

Yuri Bezmenov Full Interview & Lecture – HQ

Sen Grassley:’Democratic Opposition Research firm Fusion GPS Behind Trump Dossier Was Funded Russia?

BREAKING Dems Intentionally Used FAKE Russian Disinformation to Attack Trump

WOW Government Official Admits to FBI Coup Attempt on Trump

Propaganda, Disinformation, and Dirty Tricks: The Resurgence of Russian Political Warfare

Peter Pomerantsev: From Information to Disinformation Age – Russia and the Future of Propaganda Wars

Inside Russia’s propaganda machine

Russian propaganda war against West heats up | Moscow’s Version

The Propaganda of Propaganda

Inside the Democrats’ opposition research shop

12 Cognitive Biases Explained – How to Think Better and More Logically Removing Bias

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation Bias (explained in a minute) – Behavioural Finance

Scott Adams talks about the Comey fog of confirmation bias

Scott Adams talks about Putin and President Trump

Trump’s “Tools of Persuasion” according to Dilbert creator Scott Adams

Scott Adams says stop obstructing my witch hunt \ 2017.06.23

Scott Adams predicts what happens after the public realizes President Trump is effective

Democrats intentionally used disinformation from Russia to attack Trump, campaign aides

 – The Washington Times – Tuesday, July 11, 2017

While the mainstream news media hunts for evidence of TrumpRussia collusion, the public record shows that Democrats have willfully used Moscow disinformation to influence the presidential election against Donald Trumpand attack his administration.

The disinformation came in the form of a Russian-fed dossier written by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. It contains a series of unverified criminal charges against Mr. Trump’s campaign aides, such as coordinating Moscow’s hacking of Democratic Party computers.

Some Democrats have widely circulated the discredited information. Mr. Steele was paid by the Democrat-funded opposition research firm Fusion GPS with money from a Hillary Clinton backer. Fusion GPS distributed the dossier among Democrats and journalists. The information fell into the hands of the FBI, which used it in part to investigate Mr. Trump’s campaign aides.

Mr. Steele makes clear that his unproven charges came almost exclusively from sources linked to the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He identified his sources as “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure,” a former “top level Russian intelligence officer active inside the Kremlin,” a “senior Kremlin official” and a “senior Russian government official.”

The same Democrats who have condemned Russia’s election interference via plying fake news and hacking email servers have quoted freely from the Steele anti-Trump memos derived from creatures of the Kremlin.

In other words, there is public evidence of significant, indirect collusion between Democrats and Russian disinformation, a Trump supporter said.

“If anyone colluded with the Russians, it was the Democrats,” said a former Trump campaign adviser who asked not to be identified because of the pending investigations. “After all, they’ve routinely shopped around false claims from the debunked Steele dossier, which listed sources including senior Kremlin officials. If anyone should be investigated in Washington, it ought to be Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, Mark Warner and their staffers.”

That is a reference to Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; Sen. Mark R. Warner, Virginia Democrat and vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; and Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California, Democrat on the House intelligence panel.

By his own admission, Mr. Steele’s work has proved unreliable.

As first reported by The Washington Times on April 25, Mr. Steele filed a document in a sealed court case in Londonacknowledging that a major dossier charge about hacking Democrats’ computers was unverified. The entire dossier never should have been made public and Fusion GPS should not have passed it around, Mr. Steele said in a filing defending himself against a libel charge.

About Carter Page

Other dossier targets vehemently deny the dirt thrown by the Kremlin sources.

Mr. Steele’s Russian sources accused Mr. Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, of attending a meeting with Russian agents in Prague to cover up their role in Moscow’s hacking. Mr. Cohen has said he has never been to Prague and was in California at the time.

One of the main targets of Mr. Steele’s Russian sources is Carter Page, who lived and worked in Moscow as a Merrill Lynch investor. He had loose ties to the Trump campaign as a foreign policy adviser and surrogate.

Mr. Steele’s Russian sources accused Mr. Page of a series of crimes: teaming up with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to help Russia hack Democratic computers, meeting in Moscow with two Putin cronies to plot against Mrs. Clinton and working out a shady brokerage deal with a Russian oligarch.

Mr. Page told The Washington Times that he has never met Mr. Manafort, knew nothing about Russian hacking when it was happening, never met the two Russians named by Mr. Steele and never completed the supposed investment deal.

The dossier accusations against Mr. Page surfaced during the campaign in a Yahoo News story, citing not Mr. Steelebut intelligence sources. It then went out on the U.S. government’s Voice of America.

In the meantime, the Clinton campaign used the Yahoo story to attack Mr. Trump: “Hillary for America Statement on Bombshell Report About Trump Aide’s Chilling Ties to Kremlin,” blared the Clinton campaign’s Sept. 23 press release.

Since the dossier was circulated widely among Democrats, Mr. Page said, he believes the Clinton team possessed it and relied on it based on what some of Mrs. Clinton’s surrogates said publicly.

“After the report by Yahoo News, the Clinton campaign put out an equally false press release just minutes after the article was released that afternoon,” said Mr. Page, who has tracked what he believes is a series of inaccurate stories and accusations against him.

“Of course, the [Clinton campaign representatives] were lying about it with the media nonstop for many months, and they’ve continued until this day,” Mr. Page said. “Both indirectly as they planted articles in the press and directly with many TV appearances.”

Democrats cite Russia’s dirt

Even before the Yahoo story, then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, was using the Russian-sourced dossier.

On Aug. 27, with the campaign in high gear and knowledge that Russian hackers had penetrated Clinton campaign computers in the public domain, Mr. Reid released a letter to then-FBI Director James B. Comey.

Mr. Reid called for an investigation into Mr. Page’s trip to Moscow, where he supposedly “met with high-ranking sanctioned individuals. Any such meetings should be investigated and made part of the public record.”

Mr. Reid’s evidence surely came from the dossier and its Russian sources.

In the dossier, Mr. Steele clearly states that his anti-Trump accusations are from the Kremlin, which means some Democrats have been willingly repeating Moscow propaganda for public consumption in Washington.

No Democrats have embraced the Russian-sourced dossier more than members of the House intelligence committee, which is investigating Moscow’s interference in the election.

Mr. Schiff read from the dossier extensively at a March hearing featuring Mr. Comey and Navy Adm. Michael Rogers, who leads the National Security Agency.

As Mr. Schiff and other Democrats were bemoaning Kremlin activities against Mrs. Clinton, they were more than willing to quote Kremlin sources attacking Mr. Trump during the election campaign.

Mr. Schiff lauded Mr. Steele for disclosing that Rosneft, a Russian-owned gas and oil company, planned to sell a 19.5 percent share to an investor and that Mr. Page was offered a brokerage fee.

Trouble is, the 19.5 percent share was announced publicly by Moscow before Mr. Steele wrote that memo. Mr. Page said he was never involved in any talk about a commission.

Mr. Schiff was more than willing to quote Kremlin sources.

“According to Steele’s Russian sources, the campaign has offered documents damaging to Hillary Clinton, which the Russians would publish through an outlet that gives them deniability like WikiLeaks,” he said.

Mr. Schiff also said: “According to Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, who is reportedly held in high regard by U.S. intelligence, Russian sources tell him that Page has also had a secret meeting with Igor Sechin, CEO of the Russian gas giant, Rosneft. Sechin is reported to be a former KGB agent and close friend of Putin’s.”

Mr. Page has said repeatedly that he does not know Mr. Sechin and did not meet with him in Moscow.

Meanwhile, Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, another Democrat on the House committee, lauded Mr. Steele’s Kremlin sourcing.

“I want to take a moment to turn to the Christopher Steele dossier, which was first mentioned in the media just before the election and published in full by media outlets in January,” Mr. Castro said. “My focus today is to explore how many claims within Steele’s dossier are looking more and more likely, as though they are accurate.

“This is not someone who doesn’t know how to run a source and not someone without contacts. The allegations it raises about President Trump’s campaign aides’ connections to Russians, when overlaid with known established facts and timelines from the 2016 campaign, are very revealing,” he said.

Rep. Andre Carson, Indiana Democrat, said: “There’s a lot in the dossier that is yet to be proven, but increasingly as we’ll hear throughout the day, allegations are checking out.”

On MSNBC in March, Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, said she believed the dossier section on Mr. Trumpand supposed sex acts with prostitutes in Moscow were true.

“Oh, I think it should be taken a look at,” she said. “I think they should really read it, understand it, analyze it and determine what’s fact, what may not be fact. We already know that the part about the coverage that they have on him with sex actions is supposed to be true. They have said that that’s absolutely true. Some other things they kind of allude to. Yes, I think he should go into that dossier and see what’s there.”

Fusion GPS widely circulated the dossier during the presidential race. The public got its first glance when the news site BuzzFeed posted it online in January, with its editor saying he doubted it was true.

One person who says he knows it is a fabrication is Russian entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev.

The dossier quotes Russian sources as saying Mr. Gubarev’s technology company, XBT, used botnets to flood Democratic computers with porn and spying devices.

Mr. Gubarev is suing Mr. Steele for libel in London and is suing BuzzFeed in Florida.

It is in the London case that Mr. Steele acknowledged that his memo on Mr. Gubarev was unverified.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jul/11/democrats-spread-false-russian-information-on-trum/

The Trump Dossier Is Fake — And Here Are The Reasons Why

Researchers say they’ve uncovered a disinformation campaign with apparent Russian link

 May 25

 Researchers have discovered an extensive international hacking campaign that steals documents from its targets, carefully modifies them and repackages them as disinformation aimed at undermining civil society and democratic institutions, according to a study released Thursday.The investigators say the campaign shows clear signs of a Russian link.Although the study by the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto does not demonstrate a direct tie to the Kremlin, it suggests that the attackers are aiming to discredit the Kremlin’s opponents. The report also demonstrates overlap with cyberattacks used in the U.S. and French presidential elections, which American and European intelligence agencies and cybersecurity companies have attributed to hacking groups affiliated with the Russian government.
The campaign has targeted more than 200 government officials, military leaders and diplomats from 39 countries, as well as journalists, activists, a former Russian prime minister and a prominent critic of President Vladi­mir Putin, according to the report. The attackers seek to hack into email accounts using phishing techniques, steal documents and slightly alter them while retaining the appearance of authenticity. These forgeries, which the researchers have dubbed “tainted leaks,” are then released along with unaltered documents and publicized as legitimate leaks.

“Tainted leaks plant fakes in a forest of facts in an attempt to make them credible by association with genuine, stolen documents,” said John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab. “Tainted leaks are a clever and concerning tool for spreading falsehoods. We expect to see many more of them in the future.”

The study details the hack in October of the email log-in details of David Satter, a renowned Kremlin critic who in 2016 published a book that links Putin’s rise to power with a series of deadly apartment bombings in Russia in 1999.

Hackers were able to access Satter’s emails when he clicked on what appeared to be a legitimate link, an attack that the study found to be technically similar to the 2016 breach of the email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russian intelligence agencies carried out hacks against the Democratic Party on Putin’s orders, which the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.

In studying Satter’s case, the Citizen Lab investigators developed a technique to identify the other phishing links that were being sent as part of the same operation.

The study describes how the pro-Russian hacking group ­CyberBerkut posted Satter’s emails, some of them carefully altered to create a false narrative of a U.S. government plot to plant negative articles about Putin’s regime in the Russian media. These forgeries were then reported by Russia’s state news agency as evidence of a CIA plot to support a “color revolution” in Russia.

The narrative supports a consistent theme of pro-Putin media: that Russia suffers not because of its leadership’s refusal to loosen its grip on power, but because of constant meddling in Russian affairs by the United States and its European proxies.

“The motivations behind Russian cyberespionage are as much about securing Putin’s kleptocracy as they are geopolitical competition,” said Ronald Deibert, professor of political science and director of the Citizen Lab. “This means journalists, activists and opposition figures — both domestically and abroad — bear a disproportionate burden of their targeting.”

Mark Galeotti, who studies Russia’s power structures as a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague, called the use of tainted leaks “a step forward in Russia’s use of hacking as a weapon of political subversion.”

“In the case of the [Democratic National Committee] hacks, they leaked secret but real messages,” Galeotti said.

Galeotti said that “tainted leaks” are more likely to be used for domestic consumption, where the Kremlin is starting to feel the pressure from scattered, grass-roots protests, epitomized by the anti-corruption campaign of Alexei Navalny.

“While we’re not talking about the kind of critical mass likely to pose a challenge to Putin’s carefully orchestrated reelection in 2018, there is clearly a growing, generalized dissatisfaction across the country,” Galeotti said. “The attempts to paint Navalny and other critics as pawns of Western subversion suggest a degree of worry, even desperation.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/researchers-say-theyve-discovereda-global-disinformation-campaign-with-a-russian-link/2017/05/25/9a9637f6-414e-11e7-b29f-f40ffced2ddb_story.html?utm_term=.42c3d4956d15

 

Unidentified soldiers overran Crimea in March 2014. Russia reclaimed the territory from Ukraine, and President Vladimir V. Putin later admitted that the troops were Russian special forces.CreditSergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

STOCKHOLM — With a vigorous national debate underway on whether Sweden should enter a military partnership with NATO, officials in Stockholm suddenly encountered an unsettling problem: a flood of distorted and outright false information on social media, confusing public perceptions of the issue.

The claims were alarming: If Sweden, a non-NATO member, signed the deal, the alliance would stockpile secret nuclear weapons on Swedish soil; NATO could attack Russia from Sweden without government approval; NATO soldiers, immune from prosecution, could rape Swedish women without fear of criminal charges.

They were all false, but the disinformation had begun spilling into the traditional news media, and as the defense minister, Peter Hultqvist, traveled the country to promote the pact in speeches and town hall meetings, he was repeatedly grilled about the bogus stories.

“People were not used to it, and they got scared, asking what can be believed, what should be believed?” said Marinette Nyh Radebo, Mr. Hultqvist’s spokeswoman.

As often happens in such cases, Swedish officials were never able to pin down the source of the false reports. But they, numerous analysts and experts in American and European intelligence point to Russia as the prime suspect, noting that preventing NATO expansion is a centerpiece of the foreign policy of President Vladimir V. Putin, who invaded Georgia in 2008 largely to forestall that possibility.

In Crimea, eastern Ukraine and now Syria, Mr. Putin has flaunted a modernized and more muscular military. But he lacks the economic strength and overall might to openly confront NATO, the European Union or the United States. Instead, he has invested heavily in a program of “weaponized” information, using a variety of means to sow doubt and division. The goal is to weaken cohesion among member states, stir discord in their domestic politics and blunt opposition to Russia.

“Moscow views world affairs as a system of special operations, and very sincerely believes that it itself is an object of Western special operations,” said Gleb Pavlovsky, who helped establish the Kremlin’s information machine before 2008. “I am sure that there are a lot of centers, some linked to the state, that are involved in inventing these kinds of fake stories.”

The planting of false stories is nothing new; the Soviet Union devoted considerable resources to that during the ideological battles of the Cold War. Now, though, disinformation is regarded as an important aspect of Russian military doctrine, and it is being directed at political debates in target countries with far greater sophistication and volume than in the past.

The flow of misleading and inaccurate stories is so strong that both NATO and the European Union have established special offices to identify and refute disinformation, particularly claims emanating from Russia.

The Kremlin’s clandestine methods have surfaced in the United States, too, American officials say, identifying Russian intelligence as the likely source of leaked Democratic National Committee emails that embarrassed Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The Kremlin uses both conventional media — Sputnik, a news agency, and RT, a television outlet — and covert channels, as in Sweden, that are almost always untraceable.

Russia exploits both approaches in a comprehensive assault, Wilhelm Unge, a spokesman for the Swedish Security Service, said this year when presenting the agency’s annual report. “We mean everything from internet trolls to propaganda and misinformation spread by media companies like RT and Sputnik,” he said.

The fundamental purpose of dezinformatsiya, or Russian disinformation, experts said, is to undermine the official version of events — even the very idea that there is a true version of events — and foster a kind of policy paralysis.

Disinformation most famously succeeded in early 2014 with the initial obfuscation about deploying Russian forces to seize Crimea. That summer, Russia pumped out a dizzying array of theories about the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, blaming the C.I.A. and, most outlandishly, Ukrainian fighter pilots who had mistaken the airliner for the Russian presidential aircraft.

The cloud of stories helped veil the simple truth that poorly trained insurgents had accidentally downed the plane with a missile supplied by Russia.

Moscow adamantly denies using disinformation to influence Western public opinion and tends to label accusations of either overt or covert threats as “Russophobia.”

“There is an impression that, like in a good orchestra, many Western countries every day accuse Russia of threatening someone,” Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said at a recent ministry briefing.

Tracing individual strands of disinformation is difficult, but in Sweden and elsewhere, experts have detected a characteristic pattern that they tie to Kremlin-generated disinformation campaigns.

“The dynamic is always the same: It originates somewhere in Russia, on Russia state media sites, or different websites or somewhere in that kind of context,” said Anders Lindberg, a Swedish journalist and lawyer.

“Then the fake document becomes the source of a news story distributed on far-left or far-right-wing websites,” he said. “Those who rely on those sites for news link to the story, and it spreads. Nobody can say where they come from, but they end up as key issues in a security policy decision.”

Although the topics may vary, the goal is the same, Mr. Lindberg and others suggested. “What the Russians are doing is building narratives; they are not building facts,” he said. “The underlying narrative is, ‘Don’t trust anyone.’”

The weaponization of information is not some project devised by a Kremlin policy expert but is an integral part of Russian military doctrine — what some senior military figures call a “decisive” battlefront.

“The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness,” Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff of the Russian Armed Forces, wrote in 2013.

A prime Kremlin target is Europe, where the rise of the populist right and declining support for the European Union create an ever more receptive audience for Russia’s conservative, nationalistic and authoritarian approach under Mr. Putin. Last year, the European Parliament accused Russia of “financing radical and extremist parties” in its member states, and in 2014 the Kremlin extended an $11.7 million loan to the National Front, the extreme-right party in France.

“The Russians are very good at courting everyone who has a grudge with liberal democracy, and that goes from extreme right to extreme left,” said Patrik Oksanen, an editorial writer for the Swedish newspaper group MittMedia. The central idea, he said, is that “liberal democracy is corrupt, inefficient, chaotic and, ultimately, not democratic.”

Another message, largely unstated, is that European governments lack the competence to deal with the crises they face, particularly immigration and terrorism, and that their officials are all American puppets.

In Germany, concerns over immigrant violence grew after a 13-year-old Russian-German girl said she had been raped by migrants. A report on Russian state television furthered the story. Even after the police debunked the claim, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, continued to chastise Germany.

In Britain, analysts said, the Kremlin’s English-language news outlets heavily favored the campaign for the country to leave the European Union, despite their claims of objectivity.

In the Czech Republic, alarming, sensational stories portraying the United States, the European Union and immigrants as villains appear daily across a cluster of about 40 pro-Russia websites.

During NATO military exercises in early June, articles on the websites suggested that Washington controlled Europe through the alliance, with Germany as its local sheriff. Echoing the disinformation that appeared in Sweden, the reports said NATO planned to store nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe and would attack Russia from there without seeking approval from local capitals.

poll this summer by European Values, a think tank in Prague, found that 51 percent of Czechs viewed the United States’ role in Europe negatively, that only 32 percent viewed the European Union positively and that at least a quarter believed some elements of the disinformation.

“The data show how public opinion is changing thanks to the disinformation on those outlets,” said Jakub Janda, the think tank’s deputy director for public and political affairs. “They try to look like a regular media outlet even if they have a hidden agenda.”

Not all Russian disinformation efforts succeed. Sputnik news websites in various Scandinavian languages failed to attract enough readers and were closed after less than a year.

Both RT and Sputnik portray themselves as independent, alternative voices. Sputnik claims that it “tells the untold,” even if its daily report relies heavily on articles abridged from other sources. RT trumpets the slogan “Question More.”

Both depict the West as grim, divided, brutal, decadent, overrun with violent immigrants and unstable. “They want to give a picture of Europe as some sort of continent that is collapsing,” Mr. Hultqvist, the Swedish defense minister, said in an interview.

RT often seems obsessed with the United States, portraying life there as hellish. On the day President Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention, for example, it emphasized scattered demonstrations rather than the speeches. It defends the Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump, as an underdog maligned by the established news media.

Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor in chief, said the channel was being singled out as a threat because it offered a different narrative from “the Anglo-American media-political establishment.” RT, she said, wants to provide “a perspective otherwise missing from the mainstream media echo chamber.”

Moscow’s targeting of the West with disinformation dates to a Cold War program the Soviets called “active measures.” The effort involved leaking or even writing stories for sympathetic newspapers in India and hoping that they would be picked up in the West, said Professor Mark N. Kramer, a Cold War expert at Harvard.

The story that AIDS was a C.I.A. project run amok spread that way, and it poisons the discussion of the disease decades later. At the time, before the Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse, the Kremlin was selling communism as an ideological alternative. Now, experts said, the ideological component has evaporated, but the goal of weakening adversaries remains.

In Sweden recently, that has meant a series of bizarre forged letters and news articles about NATO and linked to Russia.

One forgery, on Defense Ministry letterhead over Mr. Hultqvist’s signature, encouraged a major Swedish firm to sell artillery to Ukraine, a move that would be illegal in Sweden. Ms. Nyh Radebo, his spokeswoman, put an end to that story in Sweden, but at international conferences, Mr. Hultqvist still faced questions about the nonexistent sales.

Russia also made at least one overt attempt to influence the debate. During a seminar in the spring, Vladimir Kozin, a senior adviser to the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, a think tank linked to the Kremlin and Russian foreign intelligence, argued against any change in Sweden’s neutral status.

“Do they really need to lose their neutral status?” he said of the Swedes. “To permit fielding new U.S. military bases on their territory and to send their national troops to take part in dubious regional conflicts?”

Whatever the method or message, Russia clearly wants to win any information war, as Dmitry Kiselyev, Russia’s most famous television anchor and the director of the organization that runs Sputnik, made clear recently.

Speaking this summer on the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Information Bureau, Mr. Kiselyev said the age of neutral journalism was over. “If we do propaganda, then you do propaganda, too,” he said, directing his message to Western journalists.

“Today, it is much more costly to kill one enemy soldier than during World War II, World War I or in the Middle Ages,” he said in an interview on the state-run Rossiya 24 network. While the business of “persuasion” is more expensive now, too, he said, “if you can persuade a person, you don’t need to kill him.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/29/world/europe/russia-sweden-disinformation.html

UK was given details of alleged contacts between Trump campaign and Moscow

In December the UK government was given reports by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele on possible collusion between Trump camp and the Kremlin

Reports of possible collusion between the Trump administration and the Kremlin have led to a political storm in the US.
 Reports of possible collusion between the Trump administration and the Kremlin have led to a political storm in the US. Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP

The UK government was given details last December of allegedly extensive contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow, according to court papers.

Reports by Christopher Steele, a former MI6 officer, on possible collusion between the the Trump camp and the Kremlin are at the centre of a political storm in the US over Moscow’s role in getting Donald Trump elected.

UK was given details of alleged contacts between Trump campaign and Moscow

In December the UK government was given reports by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele on possible collusion between Trump camp and the Kremlin

Reports of possible collusion between the Trump administration and the Kremlin have led to a political storm in the US.
 Reports of possible collusion between the Trump administration and the Kremlin have led to a political storm in the US. Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP

The UK government was given details last December of allegedly extensive contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow, according to court papers.

Reports by Christopher Steele, a former MI6 officer, on possible collusion between the the Trump camp and the Kremlin are at the centre of a political storm in the US over Moscow’s role in getting Donald Trump elected.

It was not previously known that the UK intelligence services had also received the dossier but Steele confirmed in a court filing earlier this month that he handed a memorandum compiled in December to a “senior UK government national security official acting in his official capacity, on a confidential basis in hard copy form”.

The December memo alleged that four Trump representatives travelled to Prague in August or September in 2016 for “secret discussions with Kremlin representatives and associated operators/hackers”, about how to pay hackers secretly for penetrating Democratic party computer systems and “contingency plans for covering up operations”.

Between March and September, the December memo alleges, the hackers used botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs and steal data online from Democratic party leadership. Two of the hackers had been “recruited under duress by the FSB” the memo said. The hackers were paid by the Trump organisation, but were under the control of Vladimir Putin’s presidential administration.

Trump has rejected the allegations of collusion as a smear campaign. His lawyer, Michael Cohen, one of Trump representatives named in the memo, has described the claims in the memo as “totally fake, totally inaccurate”, and has said he had never been to Prague.

Since the memo became public in January, Steele had not spoken about his role in compiling it but he and his company, Orbis Business Intelligence Limited, have filed a defence in the high court of justice in London, in a defamation case brought by Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian venture capitalist and owner of a global computer technology company, XBT, and a Dallas-based subsidiary Webzilla.

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Gubarev, who was named along with his company in the December memo as being involved in hacking operation, has denied any such involvement and is also suing Buzzfeed in the US courts for publishing the December memo alongside Steele’s earlier reports on election hacking.

A statement by Steele’s defence lawyers, endorsed by the former MI6 agent, said Orbis was hired between June and November last year by Fusion GPS, a Washington-based research consultancy to look into Trump’s links with Russia.

In that period, Steele produced 16 memoranda citing mostly Russian sources as describing a web of alleged contacts and collusion between Trump aides and Russian intelligence or other Kremlin representatives.

The document said that he passed the memos to Fusion on the understanding that Fusion would not disclose the material to any third parties without the approval of Steele and Orbis. They did agree to Fusion providing a copy to Senator John McCain after the veteran Republican had been told about the existence of Steele’s research by Sir Andrew Wood, a former UK ambassador to Moscow and an Orbis associate, at a conference in Canada on 8 November.

Senator McCain handed a copy of the Steele memos to James Comey, the FBI director, on 9 December.

After delivering these reports, the court papers say Steele and Orbis continued to receive “unsolicited intelligence” on Trump-Russia links, and Steele decided that to draw up another memo with this new information which was dated 13 December.

He handed one copy over to the senior British national security official and sent an encrypted version to Fusion with instructions to deliver a hard copy to Senator McCain.

The defence argues that Steele and Orbis were under a duty to pass on the information “so that it was known to the United Kingdom and United States governments at a high level by persons with responsibility for national security”.

Steele and Orbis say they never gave any copies to news organisations although Steele said he gave off-the-record briefings about the dossier to a small number of journalists in late summer and early autumn 2016. The defence brief argues that neither Steele nor Orbis is liable for Buzzfeed’s decision to print the document.

The Steele dossier was referred to in an intelligence briefing provided by the FBI and US intelligence agencies to Obama and Trump in January. Comey has confirmed that counter-intelligence investigations are under way into possible links between Trump associates and Moscow, and CNN has reported that the FBI used the dossier to bolster its investigations.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/28/trump-russia-intelligence-uk-government-m16-kremlin

 

Donald Trump Jr.’s Emails Sound Like the Steele Dossier

The president’s son offers evidence Trump’s team colluded with Putin’s regime.

Donald Trump Jr.Saul Loeb/AP, Pool

Smoke, meet gun.

On Tuesday morning, there was a stunning development in the Trump-Russia scandal: Donald Trump Jr. confessed. In yet another bombshell story, the New York Times reported on emails showing that the president’s oldest son had eagerly accepted an offer of help during the 2016 campaign from what he understood to be the Russian government. Trump Jr., the Times disclosed, had set up a meeting with a Russian attorney in the hopes of receiving derogatory information on Hillary Clinton straight from Putin’s regime. As the Times was publishing this story, Trump Jr. tweeted out those same emails.

The emails reveal that top Trump campaign advisers Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner attended the meeting and suggest that all three Trump advisers colluded in what seemed to be a Russian government-backed attempt to hurt Clinton in order to help Trump win the presidency. This new development contradicts the long series of denials from Trump defenders who have claimed that there was no collusion, that there was no evidence Russian leader Vladimir Putin wanted Trump to win, and that the Trump-Russia affair is merely a hoax perpetuated by loser Democrats and fake news outlets.

The Trump Jr. emails also provide partial support for some information within the Steele dossier.

The Steele memos, which Mother Jones first reported on a week before Election Day, were compiled during the campaign by a former British intelligence officer named Christopher David Steele, who was hired by a Washington, DC, research firm retained to unearth information on Trump. The documents contained troubling allegations about Trump and his connections to Russia and relayed unverified salacious information about the candidate. The first memo, dated June 20 and based on the former intelligence officer’s conversations with Russian sources, stated, “Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance.” It asserted that Russian intelligence had “compromised” Trump during his visits to Moscow and could “blackmail him.”

Steele made the memos available to the FBI during the campaign, and the bureau investigated some of the information they contained.

The memos made headlines after the election, when CNN reported that Trump, as president-elect, and President Barack Obama had been told about their contents during briefings on the intelligence community’s assessment that Putin had mounted a covert operation during the campaign to hack Democratic targets and disseminate stolen emails in order to benefit Trump.

Trump and his supporters have denounced the Steele memos as unsubstantiated trash, with some Trump backers concocting various conspiracy theories about them. Indeed, key pieces of the information within the memos have been challenged. But the memos were meant to be working documents produced by Steele—full of investigative leads and tips to follow—not finished reports, vetted and confirmed.

One interesting element of the Donald Trump Jr. emails now in the news is that they track with parts of the Steele memos.

In that first memo, dated June 20, Steele wrote that Trump “and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals.” The Trump Jr. email chain began on June 3, 2016. This was shortly after Trump had secured the Republican presidential nomination. It was that day that Rob Goldstone, a talent manager for a middling pop-star named Emin Agaralov, contacted Trump Jr. and said Emin’s father, Aras Agalarov, a Putin-friendly billionaire developer, had met with the “crown prosecutor of Russia,” who offered to provide the Trump campaign with negative information on Clinton. The Agalarovs and Goldstone had a close relationship to the Trumps, because they all had worked together in 2013 to bring the Miss Universe pageant, which Trump owned at the time, to Moscow. (Part of the deal was that Emin would get to perform two songs.) Following that event, both Trumps worked with both Agalarovs to develop a major project in Moscow. (It never happened.)

This email from Goldstone to Trump Jr. led to a meeting six days later, where a Kremlin-connected Russian attorney spoke to Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort about negative information on Clinton. In a statement, Trump Jr. says that what she offered was vague and meaningless, suggesting there was nothing to it. (But Trump Jr. has dissembled repeatedly about this meeting.)

Let’s turn to Steele’s June 20 memo. It stated:

Source A confided that the Kremlin had been feeding TRUMP and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, for several years…This was confirmed by Source D, a close associate of TRUMP who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow, and who reported, also in June 2016, that this Russian intelligence had been “very helpful”.

The memo also reported that there was anti-Clinton information that Putin was sitting on:

A dossier of compromising material on Hillary CLINTON has been collated by the Russian intelligence services over many years and mainly comprises bugged conversations she had on various visits to Russia and intercepted phone calls rather than any embarrassing conduct. The dossier is controlled by Kremlin spokesman, PESKOV, directly on PUTIN’s orders. However it has not as yet been distributed abroad, including to TRUMP. Russian intentions for its deployment still unclear.

There has been no confirmation that Putin steadily fed information to Trump’s camp or that a Kremlin-controlled anti-Clinton dossier existed. But one of Steele’s overarching points in this memo was that Putin’s regime was funneling derogatory Clinton material to Trump. The Trump Jr. emails suggest that the Russian government was aiming to do that and that the Trump campaign was willing and eager to receive assistance from Putin. So Donald Trump Jr. has done what Steele could not: produce evidence that the Trump campaign was—or wanted to be—in cahoots with a foreign adversary to win the White House.

Donald Trump–Russia dossier

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The Donald Trump–Russia dossier is a private intelligence dossier that was written by Christopher Steele, a former British MI6 intelligence officer. It contains unverified allegations of misconduct and collusion between Donald Trump and his campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the period preceding the election. The contents of the dossier were publicly reported on January 10, 2017.[1]

The dossier primarily discusses possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The media and the intelligence community have stressed that accusations in the dossier have not been verified. Most experts have treated the dossier with caution, but in February, it was reported that some details related to conversations between foreign nationals had been independently corroborated, giving U.S. intelligence and law enforcement greater confidence in some aspects of the dossier as investigations continued. Trump himself has denounced the report, calling it “fake news” and “phony.”

The dossier was produced as part of opposition research during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The research was initially funded by Republicans who did not want Trump to be the Republican Party nominee for president. After Trump won the primaries, a Democratic client took over the funding; and, following Trump’s election, Steele continued working on the report pro bono and passed on the information to British and American intelligence services.

Contents

The 35-page dossier claims that Russia is in possession of damaging or embarrassing information about Trump which could be used for purposes of blackmail to get Trump to cooperate with the Russian government.[2] The material includes allegations about Trump’s sexual and financial dealings in Russia.[3] The dossier further alleges that Trump has been cultivated and supported by Russia for at least five years, with Putin’s endorsement, with the overall aim of creating divisions between Western alliances; that Trump has extensive ties to Russia; and that there had been multiple contacts between Russian officials and people working for Trump during the campaign.[2][4]

History

Creation of the dossier

According to reports, the dossier was created as part of opposition research on Trump. The investigation into Trump was initially funded by “Never Trump” Republicans and later by Democrats.[5][6][7] In September 2015, a wealthy Republican donor who opposed Trump’s candidacy in the Republican primary hired Fusion GPS, an American research firm, to do opposition research on Trump. For months, Fusion GPS gathered information about Trump, focusing on his business and entertainment activities. When Trump became the presumptive nominee in May 2016, the Republican donor withdrew and the investigation contract was taken over by an unidentified Democratic client.[7][8]

In June 2016 it was revealed that the Democratic National Committee website had been hacked by Russian sources, so Fusion GPS hired Orbis Business Intelligence, a private British intelligence firm, to look into any Russian connections.[7] The investigation was undertaken by Orbis co-founder Christopher Steele, a retired British MI6 officer with expertise in Russian matters. Steele delivered his report as a series of two- or three-page memos, starting in June 2016 and continuing through December. He continued his investigation even after the Democratic client stopped paying for it following Trump’s election.[7]

On his own initiative, Steele decided to also pass the information to British and American intelligence services because he believed the findings were a matter of national security for both countries.[9] However, he became frustrated with the FBI, which he believed was failing to investigate his reports, choosing instead to focus on the Hillary Clinton’s email investigation. According to The Independent, Steele came to believe that there was a “cabal” inside the FBI, particularly its New York field office linked to Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani, which blocked any attempts to investigate the links between Trump and Russia.[9] In October 2016, Steele passed on what he discovered so far to a reporter from Mother Jones magazine.

Shortly after the presidential election, Senator John McCain, who had been informed about the alleged links between Kremlin and Trump, met with former British ambassador to Moscow Sir Andrew Wood. Wood confirmed the existence of the dossier and vouched for Steele.[9] McCain obtained the dossier from David J. Kramer and took it directly to FBI director James Comey on December 9, 2016.[7][6]

In a court filing in April 2017, Steele revealed previously unreported information that in December 2016 he gave one more report to “the senior British national security official and sent an encrypted version to Fusion with instructions to deliver a hard copy to Senator McCain.” This memo, dated December 13, detailed possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. It described secret discussions between four named Trump representatives, Kremlin representatives, and associated operators/hackers about how to secretly pay the hackers who penetrated the DNC computer system and also how to cover up the operation. Although paid by the Trump organisation, the hackers were controlled by Putin’s administration. “Comey has confirmed that counter-intelligence investigations are under way into possible links between Trump associates and Moscow, and CNN has reported that the FBI used the dossier to bolster its investigations.”[10]

Early indications of the dossier’s existence

By Fall 2016, many news organizations knew about the existence of the dossier, which had been described as an “open secret” among journalists. However, they chose not to publish information that could not be confirmed.[7] Finally on October 31, 2016, a week before the election, Mother Jones reported that a former intelligence officer, whom they did not name, had produced a report based on Russian sources and turned it over to the FBI.[11] The report alleged that the Russian government had cultivated Trump for years:

The “Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance.” It maintained that Trump “and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals.” It claimed that Russian intelligence had “compromised” Trump during his visits to Moscow and could “blackmail him.”[11]

The report further alleged that there were multiple in-person meetings between Russian government officials and individuals established as working for Trump.[12][13] The former intelligence officer continued to share information with the FBI, and said in October 2016 that “there was or is a pretty substantial inquiry going on.”[11]

In October 2016 the FBI reached an agreement with Steele to pay him to continue his work, according to involved sources reported by The Washington Post. “Steele was known for the quality of his past work and for the knowledge he had developed over nearly 20 years working on Russia-related issues for British intelligence.” The FBI found Steele credible and his unproved information worthy enough that it considered paying Steele to continue collecting information, but the release of the document to the public stopped discussions between Steele and the FBI.[14]

Trump and Barack Obama were briefed on the existence of the dossier by the chiefs of several U.S. intelligence agencies in early January 2017. Vice President Joe Biden has confirmed that he and the president had received briefings on the dossier, and the allegations within.[15][8][16][17]

Public release

On January 10, 2017, CNN reported that classified documents presented to Obama and Trump the previous week included allegations that Russian operatives possess “compromising personal and financial information” about Trump. CNN stated that it would not publish specific details on the memos because it had not “independently corroborated the specific allegations.”[18][19] Following the CNN report,[20] BuzzFeed published a 35-page dossier that it said was the basis of the briefing, including unverified claims that Russian operatives had collected “embarrassing material” involving Trump that could be used to blackmail him.[21][22][19][23] NBC reported that a senior U.S. intelligence official said that Trump had not been previously briefed on the contents of the memos,[24] although a CNN report said that a statement released by James Clapper in early January confirmed that the synopsis existed and had been compiled for Trump.[25]

Many news organizations knew about the document in the fall of 2016, before the presidential election, but refused to publish it because they could not independently verify the information.[26] BuzzFeed was harshly criticized for publishing what Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan called “scurrilous allegations dressed up as an intelligence report meant to damage Donald Trump”[27] while The New York Times noted that the publication sparked a debate centering on the use of unsubstantiated information from anonymous sources.[28] BuzzFeed’s executive staff said the materials were newsworthy because they were “in wide circulation at the highest levels of American government and media” and argued that this justified public release.[29]

Authorship

When CNN reported the existence of the dossier on January 10, 2017,[30] it did not name the author of the dossier, but revealed that he was British. Steele concluded that his anonymity had been “fatally compromised” and realized it was “only a matter of time until his name became public knowledge,” and, accompanied by his family, he fled into hiding in fear of “a prompt and potentially dangerous backlash against him from Moscow.”[31][32][5] The Wall Street Journal revealed Steele’s name the next day, on January 11.[33] Christopher Burrows, director of Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd, for whom Steele worked at the time the dossier was authored, and Orbis would not “confirm or deny” that Orbis had produced the dossier.[30][7]

Called by the media a “highly regarded Kremlin expert” and “one of MI6’s greatest ‘Russia specialists”, Steele formerly worked for the British intelligence agency MI6 and is currently working for Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd, a private intelligence company Steele had co-founded in London.[34][33][35] Steele entered the MI6 in 1987, directly after his graduation from college.[36]

Former British ambassador to Moscow Sir Andrew Wood has vouched for Steele’s reputation.[9] He views Steele as a “very competent professional operator… I take the report seriously. I don’t think it’s totally implausible.” He also stated that “the report’s key allegation – that Trump and Russia’s leadership were communicating via secret back channels during the presidential campaign – was eminently plausible.”[37]

On December 26, 2016, Oleg Erovinkin, a former KGB/FSB general, was found dead in his car in Moscow. Erovinkin was a key liaison between Igor Sechin, head of Rosneft, and President Putin. Steele claimed much of the information came from a source close to Sechin. According to Christo Grozev, a journalist at Risk Management Lab, a think-tank based in Bulgaria, the circumstances of Erovinkin’s death were “mysterious”. Grozev suspected Erovinkin helped Steele compile the dossier on Trump and suggests the hypothesis that the death may have been part of a cover-up by the Russian government.[38][39] Mark Galeotti, senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague, who specializes in Russian history and security, rejected Grozev’s hypothesis.[40][38]

On March 7, 2017, as some members of the U.S. Congress were expressing interest in meeting with or hearing testimony from Steele, he reemerged after weeks in hiding, appearing publicly on camera and stating, “I’m really pleased to be back here working again at the Orbis’s offices in London today.”[41]

Veracity of the dossier

Observers and experts have had varying reactions to the dossier. Generally, “former intelligence officers and other national-security experts” urged “skepticism and caution” but still took “the fact that the nation’s top intelligence officials chose to present a summary version of the dossier to both President Obama and President-elect Trump” as an indication “that they may have had a relatively high degree of confidence that at least some of the claims therein were credible, or at least worth investigating further.”[42]

Vice President Biden told reporters that while he and President Obama were receiving a briefing on the extent of Russian hackers trying to influence the US election, there was a two-page addendum which addressed the contents of the Steele Dossier.[43] Top intelligence officials told them they “felt obligated to inform them about uncorroborated allegations about President-elect Donald Trump out of concern the information would become public and catch them off-guard.”[44]

According to Paul Wood of BBC News, the information in Steele’s report is also reported by “multiple intelligence sources” and “at least one East European intelligence service.” They report that there is “more than one tape, not just video, but audio as well, on more than one date, in more than one place, in both Moscow and St. Petersburg.”[45][33] He added that “the CIA believes it is credible that the Kremlin has such kompromat—or compromising material— on the next US commander in chief” and “a joint taskforce, which includes the CIA and the FBI, has been investigating allegations that the Russians may have sent money to Mr Trump’s organisation or his election campaign.”[46][47][45]On March 30, 2017, Wood revealed that the FBI was using the dossier as a roadmap for its investigation.[48] On April 18, 2017, CNN reported that corroborated information from the dossier had been used as part of the basis for getting the FISA warrant to monitor former Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page during the summer of 2016.[49]

Former Los Angeles Times Moscow correspondent Robert Gillette wrote in an op-ed in the Concord Monitor that the dossier has had at least one of its main factual assertions verified. On January 6, 2017, the Director of National Intelligence released a report assessing “with high confidence” that Russia’s combined cyber and propaganda operation was directed personally by Vladimir Putin, with the aim of harming Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and helping Trump.[50] Gillette wrote: “Steele’s dossier, paraphrasing multiple sources, reported precisely the same conclusion, in greater detail, six months earlier, in a memo dated June 20.”[51]

Susan Hennessey, a former National Security Administration lawyer now with the Brookings Institution, stated: “My general take is that the intelligence community and law enforcement seem to be taking these claims seriously. That itself is highly significant. But it is not the same as these allegations being verified. Even if this was an intelligence community document—which it isn’t—this kind of raw intelligence is still treated with skepticism.”[42][52] Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes wrote that “the current state of the evidence makes a powerful argument for a serious public inquiry into this matter.”[52]

Former CIA analyst Patrick Skinner said that he is “neither dismissing the report nor taking its claims at face value,” telling Wired: “I imagine a lot more will come out, and much will be nothing and perhaps some of it will be meaningful, and perhaps even devastating.”[42] Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov writes that while “many of the report’s elements appear hastily compiled”, and there were many “shaky” claims, the document “rings frighteningly true” and “overall … reflects accurately the way decision-making in the Kremlin looks to close observers.”[53] Soldatov writes: “Unverifiable sensational details aside, the Trump dossier is a good reflection of how things are run in the Kremlin – the mess at the level of decision-making and increasingly the outsourcing of operations, combined with methods borrowed from the KGB and the secret services of the lawless 1990s.”[53]

Newsweek published a list of “13 things that don’t add up” in the dossier, writing that the document was a “strange mix of the amateur and the insightful” and stating that the document “contains lots of Kremlin-related gossip that could indeed be, as the author claims, from deep insiders—or equally gleaned” from Russian newspapers and blogs.[54] Former UK ambassador to Russia Sir Tony Brenton stated that certain aspects of the dossier were inconsistent with British intelligence’s understanding of how the Kremlin works, commenting: “I’ve seen quite a lot of intelligence on Russia, and there are some things in [the dossier] which look pretty shaky.”[55]

On February 10, 2017, CNN reported that some communications between “senior Russian officials and other Russian individuals” described in the dossier had been corroborated by multiple U.S. officials. Sources told CNN that some conversations had been “intercepted during routine intelligence gathering”, but refused to reveal the content of conversations, or specify which communications were detailed in the dossier. CNN was unable to confirm whether conversations were related to Trump. U.S. officials said the corroboration gave “US intelligence and law enforcement ‘greater confidence’ in the credibility of some aspects of the dossier as they continue to actively investigate its contents”.[56]

According to Business Insider, the dossier alleges that “the Trump campaign agreed to minimize US opposition to Russia’s incursions into Ukraine”.[57] In July 2016, the Republican National Convention made changes to the Republican Party’s platform on Ukraine: initially they proposed providing “lethal weapons” to Ukraine, but the line was changed to “appropriate assistance”. J. D. Gordon, who was one of Trump’s national security advisers during the campaign, said that he had advocated for changing language because that reflected what Trump had said.[57][58]

Responses

Donald Trump called the dossier “fake news” and criticized the intelligence and media sources that published it.[59] During a press conference on January 11, 2017, Trump denounced the unsubstantiated claims as false, saying that it was “disgraceful” for U.S. intelligence agencies to report them. Trump refused to answer a question from CNN’s senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta on the subject and called CNN “fake news.” In response, CNN said that it had published “carefully sourced reporting” on the matter which had been “matched by the other major news organizations,” as opposed to BuzzFeed‘s posting of “unsubstantiated materials.”[60][20] James Clapper described the leaks as damaging to US national security.[61] This also contradicted Trump’s previous claim that Clapper said the information was false; Clapper’s statement actually said the intelligence community has made no judgement on the truth or falsity of the information.[62]

Russian press secretary Dmitry Peskov insisted in an interview that the document is a fraud, saying “I can assure you that the allegations in this funny paper, in this so-called report, they are untrue. They are all fake.”[63] The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, called the people who leaked the document “worse than prostitutes”[64] and referred to the dossier itself as “rubbish.”[65] Putin went on to state he believed that the dossier was “clearly fake,”[66]fabricated as a plot against the legitimacy of President-elect Donald Trump.[67]

Some of Steele’s former colleagues expressed support for his character, saying “The idea his work is fake or a cowboy operation is false – completely untrue. Chris is an experienced and highly regarded professional. He’s not the sort of person who will simply pass on gossip.”[68]

Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, in a denial of some allegations, said “I’m telling you emphatically that I’ve not been to Prague, I’ve never been to Czech [Republic], I’ve not been to Russia. The story is completely inaccurate, it is fake news meant to malign Mr. Trump.”[69] Cohen said that between August 23–29 he was in Los Angeles. According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “A Czech intelligence source told the Respekt magazine that there is no record of Cohen arriving in Prague by plane, although the news weekly pointed out he could have traveled by car or train from a nearby EU country, avoiding passport control under Schengen zone travel rules.”[70]

Among journalists, Bob Woodward called the dossier a “garbage document,” while Carl Bernstein took the opposite view, noting that the senior-most U.S. intelligence officials had determined that the content was worth reporting to the president and the president-elect.[71]

Ynet, an Israeli online news site, reported on January 12 that U.S. intelligence advised Israeli intelligence officers to be cautious about sharing information with the incoming Trump administration, until the possibility of Russian influence over Trump, suggested by Steele’s report, has been fully investigated.[72]

Aleksej Gubarev, chief of technology company XBT and a figure mentioned in the dossier, sued BuzzFeed for defamation on February 3, 2017. The suit, filed in a Broward County, Florida court,[73] centers on allegations from the dossier that XBT had been “using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘altering operations’ against the Democratic Party leadership.”[74] In the High Court of Justice, Steele’s lawyers said that their client did not intend for the memos to be released, and that one of the memos “needed to be analyzed and further investigated/verified.”[75]

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded to CNN’s report of February 10, of a partial corroboration of the dossier, by saying, “We continue to be disgusted by CNN’s fake news reporting.”[56]

On March 2, 2017, media began reporting that the Senate may call Steele to testify about the Trump dossier.[76]

On March 27, 2017, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley asked the Department of Justice to initiate an inquiry into Fusion GPS, who initially retained Steele to write the dossier.[77] Fusion GPS was previously associated with pro-Russia lobbying activities due to sanctions imposed by the Magnitsky Act. Grassley’s committee made direct inquiries of Fusion GPS: “When political opposition research becomes the basis for law enforcement or intelligence efforts, it raises substantial questions about the independence of law enforcement and intelligence from politics.”[78] The other basis for Grassley’s concern is the fact that Fusion GPS was working as a pro-Russia lobbyist at the same time it had retained Steele to research and write the Trump dossier.[79] Grassley was concerned that the FBI was improperly using the dossier as the basis for an investigation into Russian influence of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[77]

See also

Useful idiot

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In political jargon, a useful idiot is a person perceived as a propagandist for a cause the goals of which they are not fully aware of, and who is used cynically by the leaders of the cause.

Usage in Russian

In the Russian language, the equivalent term “useful fools” (Russianполезные дуракиtr. polezniye duraki) was already in use in 1941. It was mockingly used against Russian “nihilists” of 1860s who, for Polish agents, were said to be no more than “useful fools and silly enthusiasts”.[1] The phrase is often attributed to Lenin in the West, and by some Russian writers including Vladimir Bukovsky in 1984.[2] However, in a 1987 article, American journalist William Safire noted that a Library of Congress librarian had not been able to find the phrase in Lenin’s works.[3] The book They Never Said It also suggests the attribution is false.[4]

Usage in English

In the memoir of actor Alexander Granach, the phrase was used in the description of a boyhood incident in a shtetl in Western Ukraine.[5]

In June 1948, The New York Times used the term in an article on contemporary Italian politics, citing the social-democratic Italian paper L’Umanità.[6] In January 1958, Time magazine started to use the phrase.[7][8][9][10][11][12]

In 2016, the term was used by the Editorial Board of The New York Times to describe President-elect Donald Trump.[13] Michael Hayden, former NSA director and former CIA director, described Trump as a polezni durak, translating the term as “the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited”.[14]

Useful innocents

A similar term, useful innocents, appears in Austrian-American economist Ludwig von Mises‘ “Planned Chaos” (1947). Von Mises claims the term was used by communists for liberals that von Mises describes as “confused and misguided sympathizers”.[15] The term useful innocents also appears in a Readers Digest article (1946) titled “Yugoslavia’s Tragic Lesson to the World”, authored by Bogdan Raditsa (Bogdan Radica), a “high ranking official of the Yugoslav Government”. Raditsa says: “In the Serbo-Croat language the communists have a phrase for true democrats who consent to collaborate with them for ‘democracy.’ It is Korisne Budale, or Useful Innocents.”[16] Although Raditsa translates the phrase as “Useful Innocents”, the word budala (plural: budale) actually translates as “fool” and synonyms thereof.

The French equivalent, “Innocents utiles” or Useful innocents, was used in a newspaper article title in 1946.[17][18]

See also

References

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

References

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

Federal Security Service

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation
Федеральная служба безопасности Российской Федерации
Common name Federal Security Service
Abbreviation FSB (ФСБ)
FSB Emblem.png

Emblem of the Federal Security Service
FSB Flag.png

Flag of the Federal Security Service
Agency overview
Formed April 12, 1995
Preceding agency KGB
Employees around 200,000–300,000[1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency Russia
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Lubyanka Square, Moscow, Russia
Website
www.fsb.ru

The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB; Russian: Федеральная служба безопасности Российской Федерации (ФСБ), tr. Federal’naya sluzhba bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsii; IPA: [fʲɪdʲɪˈralʲnəjə ˈsluʐbə bʲɪzɐˈpasnəstʲɪ rɐˈsʲijskəj fʲɪdʲɪˈratsɨjɪ]) is the principal security agency of Russia and the main successor agency to the USSR‘s Committee of State Security (KGB). Its main responsibilities are within the country and include counter-intelligence, internal and border security, counter-terrorism, and surveillance as well as investigating some other types of grave crimes and federal law violations. It is headquartered in Lubyanka Square, Moscow‘s centre, in the main building of the former KGB. The Director of the FSB since 2008 is general of the army Alexander Bortnikov.

The immediate predecessor of the FSB was the Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) of Russia, itself a successor to the KGB: on 12 April 1995, Russian president Boris Yeltsin signed a law mandating a reorganization of the FSK, which resulted in the creation of the FSB. In 2003, the FSB’s responsibilities were widened by incorporating the previously independent Border Guard Service and a major part of the abolished Federal Agency of Government Communication and Information (FAPSI). The two major structural components of the former KGB that remain administratively independent of the FSB are the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and the State Guards (FSO).

Under Russian federal law, the FSB is a military service just like the armed forces, the MVD, the FSO, the SVR, the FSKN, Main Directorate for Drugs Control and EMERCOM‘s civil defence, but its commissioned officers do not usually wear military uniforms.

Overview

The FSB is mainly responsible for internal security of the Russian state, counterespionage, and the fight against organized crime, terrorism, and drug smuggling. Since 2003, when the Federal Border Guards Service was incorporated to the FSB, it has also been responsible for overseeing border security.[1] The FSB is engaged mostly in domestic affairs, while espionage duties are responsibility of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. However, the FSB also includes the FAPSI agency, which conducts electronic surveillance abroad. All law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Russia work under the guidance of FSB, if needed.[1]

The FSB combines functions and powers similar to those exercised by the United States FBI National Security Branch, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Federal Protective Service, the National Security Agency (NSA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, United States Coast Guard, and partly the Drug Enforcement Administration. The FSB employs about 66,200 uniformed staff, including about 4,000 special forces troops. It also employs about 160,000–200,000 border guards.[1]

Under Article 32 of the Federal Constitutional Law On the Government of the Russian Federation,[2] the FSB head answers directly to the RF president and the FSB director is the RF president’s appointment, though he is a member of the RF government which is headed by the Chairman of Government; he also, ex officio, is a permanent member of the Security Council of Russia presided over by the president and chairman of the National Anti-terrorism Committee of Russia.

History

Initial recognition of the KGB

The FSB headquarters at Lubyanka Square

The Federal Security Service is one of the successor organisations of the Soviet Committee of State Security (KGB). Following the attempted coup of 1991—in which some KGB units as well as the KGB head Vladimir Kryuchkov played a major part—the KGB was dismantled and ceased to exist from November 1991.[3][4] In December 1991, two government agencies answerable to the Russian president were created by president Yeltsin’s decrees on the basis of the relevant main directorates of the defunct KGB: Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR, the former First Main Directorate) and the Federal Agency of Government Communications and Information (FAPSI, merging the functions of the former 8th Main Directorate and 16th Main Directorate of the KGB). In January 1992, another new institution, the Ministry of Security took over domestic and border security responsibilities.[5]Following the 1993 constitutional crisis, the Ministry of Security was reorganized on 21 December 1993 into the Federal Counter-Intelligence Service (FSK). The FSK was headed by Sergei Stepashin. Before the start of the main military activities of the First Chechen War the FSK was responsible for the covert operations against the separatists led by Dzhokhar Dudayev.[1]

Creation of the FSB

FSB medal for “distinguished military service”. The FSB had overall command of the federal forces in Chechnya in 2001–2003.

In 1995, the FSK was renamed and reorganized into the Federal Security Service (FSB) by the Federal Law of 3 April 1995, “On the Organs of the Federal Security Service in the Russian Federation”.[6] The FSB reforms were rounded out by decree No. 633, signed by Boris Yeltsin on 23 June 1995. The decree made the tasks of the FSB more specific, giving the FSB substantial rights to conduct cryptographic work, and described the powers of the FSB director. The number of deputy directors was increased to 8: 2 first deputies, 5 deputies responsible for departments and directorates and 1 deputy director heading the Moscow City and Moscow regional directorate. Yeltsin appointed Colonel-General Mikhail Ivanovich Barsukov as the new director of the FSB. In 1998 Yeltsin appointed Vladimir Putin, a KGB veteran who would later succeed Yeltsin as federal president, as director of the FSB.[7] Putin was reluctant to take over the directorship, but once appointed conducted a thorough reorganization, which included the dismissal of most of the FSB’s top personnel.[1] Putin appointed Nikolai Patrushev as the head of FSB in 1999.[5]

Role in the Second Chechen War

After the main military offensive of the Second Chechen War ended and the separatists changed tactics to guerilla warfare, overall command of the federal forces in Chechnya was transferred from the military to the FSB in January 2001. While the army lacked technical means of tracking the guerrilla groups, the FSB suffered from insufficient human intelligence due to its inability to build networks of agents and informants. In the autumn of 2002, the separatists launched a massive campaign of terrorism against the Russian civilians, including the Dubrovka theatre attack. The inability of the federal forces to conduct efficient counter-terrorist operations led to the government to transfer the responsibility of “maintaining order” in Chechnya from the FSB to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) in July 2003.[8]

Putin reforms

President Putin meeting with Director of FSB Nikolai Patrushev on 9 August 2000

After becoming President, Vladimir Putin launched a major reorganization of the FSB. First, the FSB maybe was placed under direct control of the President by a decree issued on 17 May 2000.[5] Internal structure of the agency was reformed by a decree signed on 17 June 2000. In the resulting structure, the FSB was to have a director, a first deputy director and nine other deputy directors, including one possible state secretary and the chiefs of six departments: Economic Security Department, Counterintelligence Department, Organizational and Personnel Service, Department of activity provision, Department for Analysis, Forecasting and Strategic Planning, Department for Protection of the Constitutional System and the Fight against Terrorism. In 2003, the agency’s responsibilities were considered considerably widened. The Border Guard Service of Russia, with its staff of 210,000, was integrated to the FSB via a decree was signed on 11 March 2003. The merger was completed by 1 July 2003. In addition, The Federal Agency of Government Communication and Information (FAPSI) was abolished and the FSB was granted a major part of its functions, while other parts went to the Ministry of Defense.[5] Among the reasons for this strengthening of the FSB were enhanced need for security after increased terror attacks against Russian civilians starting from the Moscow theater hostage crisis; the need to end the permanent infighting between the FSB, FAPSI and the Border Guards due to their overlapping functions and the need for more efficient response to migration, drug trafficking and illegal arms trading. It has also been pointed out, that the FSB was the only power base of the new president, and the restructuring therefore strengthened Putin’s position (see Political groups under Vladimir Putin’s presidency).[5] On 28 June 2004 in a speech to high-ranking FSB officers, Putin emphasized three major tasks of the agency: neutralizing foreign espionage, safeguarding economic and financial security of the country and combating organized crime.[5] In September 2006, the FSB was shaken by a major reshuffle, which, combined with some earlier reassignments (most remarkably, those of FSB Deputy Directors Yury Zaostrovtsev and Vladimir Anisimov in 2004 and 2005, respectively), were widely believed to be linked to the Three Whales Corruption Scandal that had slowly unfolded since 2000. Some analysts considered it to be an attempt to undermine FSB Director Nikolay Patrushev‘s influence, as it was Patrushev’s team from the Karelian KGB Directorate of the late 1980s – early 1990s that had suffered most and he had been on vacations during the event.[9][10][11]

By 2008, the agency had one Director, two First Deputy Directors and 5 Deputy Directors. It had the following 9 divisions:[5]

  1. Counter-Espionage
  2. Service for Defense of Constitutional Order and Fight against Terrorism
  3. Border Service
  4. Economic Security Service
  5. Current Information and International Links
  6. Organizational and Personnel Service
  7. Monitoring Department
  8. Scientific and Technical Service
  9. Organizational Security Service

Fight against terrorism

FSB special forces members during a special operation in Makhachkala, as a result of which “one fighter was killed and two terrorist attacks prevented” in 2010.

Starting from the Moscow theater hostage crisis in 2002, Russia was faced with increased levels of Islamist terrorism. The FSB, being the main agency responsible for counter-terrorist operations, was in the front line in the fight against terror. During the Moscow theater siege and the Beslan school siege, FSB’s Spetsnaz units Alpha Group and Vympel played a key role in the hostage release operations. However, their performance was criticised due to the high number of hostage casualties. In 2006, the FSB scored a major success in its counter-terrorist efforts when it successfully killed Shamil Basayev, the mastermind behind the Beslan tragedy and several other high-profile terrorist acts. According to the FSB, the operation was planned over six months and made possible due to the FSB’s increased activities in foreign countries that were supplying arms to the terrorists. Basayev was tracked via the surveillance of this arms trafficking. Basayev and other militants were preparing to carry out a terrorist attack in Ingushetia when FSB agents destroyed their convoy; 12 militants were killed.[12][13] During the last years of the Vladimir Putin‘s second presidency (2006–2008), terrorist attacks in Russia dwindled, falling from 257 in 2005 to 48 in 2007. Military analyst Vitaly Shlykov praised the effectiveness of Russia’s security agencies, saying that the experience learned in Chechnya and Dagestan had been key to the success. In 2008, the American Carnegie Endowment‘s Foreign Policy magazine named Russia as “the worst place to be a terrorist” and highlighted especially Russia’s willingness to prioritize national security over civil rights.[14] By 2010, Russian forces, led by the FSB, had managed to eliminate out the top leadership of the Chechen insurgency, except for Dokka Umarov.[15]

Increased terrorism and expansion of the FSB’s powers

President Dmitry Medvedev meeting with FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov on the way from Moscow to Dagestan‘s capital Makhachkala in June 2009

Starting from 2009, the level of terrorism in Russia increased again. Particularly worrisome was the increase of suicide attacks. While between February 2005 and August 2008, no civilians were killed in such attacks, in 2008 at least 17 were killed and in 2009 the number rose to 45.[16] In March 2010, Islamist militants organised the 2010 Moscow Metro bombings, which killed 40 people. One of the two blasts took place at Lubyanka station, near the FSB headquarters. Militant leader Doku Umarov—dubbed “Russia’s Osama Bin Laden”—took responsibility for the attacks. In July 2010, President Dmitry Medvedev expanded the FSB’s powers in its fight against terrorism. FSB officers received the power to issue warnings to citizens on actions that could lead to committing crimes and arrest people for 15 days if they fail to comply with legitimate orders given by the officers. The bill was harshly criticized by human rights organizations.[17]

Role

Counterintelligence

In 2011, the FSB said it had exposed 199 foreign spies, including 41 professional spies and 158 agents employed by foreign intelligence services.[18] The number has risen in recent years: in 2006 the FSB reportedly caught about 27 foreign intelligence officers and 89 foreign agents.[19] Comparing the number of exposed spies historically, the then-FSB Director Nikolay Kovalyov said in 1996: “There has never been such a number of spies arrested by us since the time when German agents were sent in during the years of World War II.” The 2011 figure is similar to what was reported in 1995–1996, when around 400 foreign intelligence agents were uncovered during the two-year period.[20] In a high-profile case of foreign espionage, the FSB said in February 2012 that an engineer working at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia’s main space center for military launches, had been sentenced to 13 years in prison on charges of state treason. A court judged that the engineer had sold information about testing of new Russian strategic missile systems to the American CIA.[21] An increasing number of scientists have been accused of espionage and illegal technology exports by the FSB during the last decade: researcher Igor Sutyagin,[22] physicist Valentin Danilov,[23] physical chemist Oleg Korobeinichev,[24] academician Oskar Kaibyshev,[25] and physicist Yury Ryzhov.[26] Ecologist and journalist Alexander Nikitin, who worked with the Bellona Foundation, was accused of espionage. He published material exposing hazards posed by the Russian Navy’s nuclear fleet. He was acquitted in 1999 after spending several years in prison (his case was sent for re-investigation 13 times while he remained in prison). Other cases of prosecution are the cases of investigative journalist and ecologist Grigory Pasko,[27][28] Vladimir Petrenko who described danger posed by military chemical warfare stockpiles, and Nikolay Shchur, chairman of the Snezhinskiy Ecological Fund.[20] Other arrested people include Viktor Orekhov, a former KGB officer who assisted Soviet dissidents, Vladimir Kazantsev who disclosed illegal purchases of eavesdropping devices from foreign firms, and Vil Mirzayanov who had written that Russia was working on a nerve-gas weapon.[20]

Counter-terrorism

FSB officers on the scene of the Domodedovo International Airport bombing in 2011. Combating terrorism is one of the main tasks of the agency.

In 2011, the FSB prevented 94 “crimes of a terrorist nature”, including eight terrorist attacks. In particular, the agency foiled a planned suicide bombing in Moscow on New Year’s Eve. However, the agency failed to prevent terrorists perpetrating the Domodedovo International Airport bombing.[18] Over the years, FSB and affiliated state security organizations have killed all presidents of the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria including Dzhokhar Dudaev, Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, Aslan Maskhadov, and Abdul-Khalim Saidullaev. Just before his death, Saidullaev claimed that the Russian government “treacherously” killed Maskhadov, after inviting him to “talks” and promising his security “at the highest level”.[29] During the Moscow theater hostage crisis and Beslan school hostage crisis, all hostage takers were killed on the spot by FSB spetsnaz forces. Only one of the suspects, Nur-Pashi Kulayev, survived and was convicted later by the court. It is reported that more than 100 leaders of terrorist groups have been killed during 119 operations on North Caucasus during 2006.[19] On 28 July 2006 the FSB presented a list of 17 terrorist organizations recognized by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, to Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper, which published the list that day. The list had been available previously, but only through individual request.[30][31] Commenting on the list, Yuri Sapunov, head of anti-terrorism at the FSB, named three main criteria necessary for organizations to be listed.[32]

Foreign intelligence

According to some unofficial sources,[33][34][35] since 1999, the FSB has also been tasked with the intelligence-gathering on the territory of the CIS countries, wherein the SVR is legally forbidden from conducting espionage under the inter-government agreements. Such activity is in line with Article 8 of the Federal Law on the FSB.[36]

Targeted killing

In the summer of 2006, the FSB was allegedly given the legal power to engage in targeted killing of terrorism suspects overseas if so ordered by the president.[37]

Border protection

Border guards of the Federal Security Service pursuing trespassers of the maritime boundary during exercises in Kaliningrad Oblast

The Federal Border Guard Service (FPS) has been part of the FSB since 2003. Russia has 61,000 kilometers (38,000 mi) of sea and land borders, 7,500 kilometers (4,700 mi) of which is with Kazakhstan, and 4,000 kilometers (2,500 mi) with China. One kilometer (1,100 yd) of border protection costs around 1 million rubles per year.[38]

Export control

The FSB is engaged in the development of Russia’s export control strategy and examines drafts of international agreements related to the transfer of dual-use and military commodities and technologies. Its primary role in the nonproliferation sphere is to collect information to prevent the illegal export of controlled nuclear technology and materials.[39]

Claims of intimidation of foreign diplomats and journalists[edit]

The FSB has been accused by The Guardian of using psychological techniques to intimidate western diplomatic staff and journalists, with the intention of making them curtail their work in Russia early.[40] The techniques allegedly involve entering targets’ houses, moving household items around, replacing items with similar (but slightly different) items, and even sending sex toys to a male target’s wife, all with the intention of confusing and scaring the target.[40] Guardian journalist, Luke Harding, claims to have been the subject of such techniques.[40]

Doping scandal

Following allegations by a Russian former lab director about the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, WADA commissioned an independent investigation led by Richard McLaren. McLaren’s investigation concluded in a report published in July 2016 that the Ministry of Sport and the Federal Security Service (FSB) had operated a “state-directed failsafe system” using a “disappearing positive [test] methodology” (DPM) from “at least late 2011 to August 2015.” However, WADA later admitted that there was not sufficient evidence from the report.[41][42]

2016 US presidential elections

On 29 December 2016, the White House sanctioned the FSB and several other Russian companies for helping the Russian military intelligence service, the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), to allegedly disrupt and spread disinformation during the 2016 US presidential election. In addition, the State Department also declared 35 Russian diplomats and officials persona non grata and denied Russian government officials access to two Russian-owned installations in Maryland and New York.[43]

Organization

The reception room of the Federal Security Service building located on Kuznetsky Most in Moscow

Below the nationwide level, the FSB has regional offices in the federal subjects of Russia. It also has administrations in the armed forces and other military institutions. Sub-departments exist for areas such as aviation, special training centers, forensic expertise, military medicine, etc.[5]

Structure of the Federal Office (incomplete):

Besides the services (departments) and directorates of the federal office, the territorial directorates of FSB in the federal subjects are also subordinate to it. Of these, St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast Directorate of FSB and its predecessors (historically covering both Leningrad/Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast) have played especially important roles in the history of this organization, as many of the officers of the Directorate, including Vladimir Putin and Nikolay Patrushev, later assumed important positions within the federal FSB office or other government bodies. After the last Chief of the Soviet time, Anatoly Kurkov, the St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast Directorate were led by Sergei Stepashin (29 November 1991 – 1992), Viktor Cherkesov (1992 –1998), Alexander Grigoryev (1 October 1998 – 5 January 2001), Sergei Smirnov (5 January 2001 – June 2003), Alexander Bortnikov (June 2003 – March 2004) and Yury Ignashchenkov (since March 2004).

Directors of the FSB

On 20 June 1996, Boris Yeltsin fired Director of FSB Mikhail Barsukov and appointed Nikolay Kovalyov as acting Director and later Director of the FSB. Aleksandr Bortnikov took over on 12 May 2008.

Criticism of FSB political role in Russia

The FSB has been criticised for corruption and human rights violations. Some Kremlin critics such as Yulia Latynina and Alexander Litvinenko have claimed that the FSB is engaged in suppression of internal dissent; Litvinenko died in 2006 as a result of polonium poisoning.[45] A number of opposition lawmakers and investigative journalists were murdered in the 2000s while investigating corruption and other alleged crimes perpetrated by FSB officers: Sergei Yushenkov, Yuri Shchekochikhin, Galina Starovoitova, Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Litvinenko, Paul Klebnikov (US), Nadezhda Chaikova, Nina Yefimova, and others.[46][47]

The FSB has been further criticised by some for failure to bring Islamist terrorism in Russia under control.[48] In the mid-2000s, the pro-Kremlin Russian sociologist Olga Kryshtanovskaya claimed that FSB played a dominant role in the country’s political, economic and even cultural life.[49][50][51] FSB officers have been frequently accused of extortion, bribery and illegal takeovers of private companies, often working together with tax inspection officers. Active and former FSB officers are also present as “curators” in “almost every single large enterprise”, both in public and private sectors.[52][53]

Former FSB officer, a defector, Alexander Litvinenko, along with a series of other authors such as Yury Felshtinsky, David Satter, Boris Kagarlitsky, Vladimir Pribylovsky, Mikhail Trepashkin (also former FSB officer) claimed in the early 2000s that the 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow and other Russian cities were a false flag attack coordinated by the FSB in order to win public support for a new full-scale war in Chechnya and boost former FSB Director Vladimir Putin‘s, then the prime minister, popularity in the lead-up to parliamentary elections and presidential transfer of power in Russia later that year.[54][55][56][57][58][59][60][61][62][63][64][65]

In his book Mafia State, Luke Harding, the Moscow correspondent for The Guardian from to 2007 to 2011 and a fierce critic of Russian politics, alleges that the FSB subjected him to continual psychological harassment, with the aim of either coercing him into practicing self-censorship in his reporting, or to leave the country entirely. He says that FSB used techniques known as Zersetzung (literally “corrosion” or “undermining”) which were perfected by the East German Stasi.[66]

Konstantin Preobrazhenskiy criticised the continuing celebration of the professional holiday of the old and the modern Russian security services on the anniversary of the creation of the Cheka: “The successors of the KGB still haven’t renounced anything; they even celebrate their professional holiday the same day, as during repression, on the 20th of December. It is as if the present intelligence and counterespionage services of Germany celebrated Gestapo Day. I can imagine how indignant our press would be!”[67][68][69] In the same time, in 2007, during a memorial to the victims of the 1937 Great Purge at Butovo firing range Vladimir Putin honored the victims of the Stalin’s purge and told the audience that the Great Purge was prepared by the years of the previous hostilities of the Soviet regime including extermination of entire strata of the society: clergy, Russian peasantry and the Cossacks. In his speech Putin mainly criticized the Red Terror under the lead of Felix Dzerzhinsky as the then Cheka head, which resulted in the deaths of thousands, including opponents of the regime and the clergy.[70][71]

See also

References

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

The Sting

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Sting
Stingredfordnewman.jpg

Theatrical release poster by Richard Amsel
Directed by George Roy Hill
Produced by Tony Bill
Michael Phillips
Julia Phillips
Written by David S. Ward
Starring Paul Newman
Robert Redford
Robert Shaw
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Cinematography Robert Surtees
Edited by William Reynolds
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • December 25, 1973
Running time
129 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5.5 million[1]
Box office $159.6 million[1]

The Sting is a 1973 American caper film set in September 1936, involving a complicated plot by two professional grifters (Paul Newman and Robert Redford) to con a mob boss (Robert Shaw).[2] The film was directed by George Roy Hill,[3] who had directed Newman and Redford in the western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Created by screenwriter David S. Ward, the story was inspired by real-life cons perpetrated by brothers Fred and Charley Gondorff and documented by David Maurer in his book The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man.

The title phrase refers to the moment when a con artist finishes the “play” and takes the mark’s money. If a con is successful, the mark does not realize he has been “taken” (cheated), at least not until the con men are long gone. The film is played out in distinct sections with old-fashioned title cards, the lettering and illustrations rendered in a style reminiscent of the Saturday Evening Post. The film is noted for its anachronistic use of ragtime, particularly the melody “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin, which was adapted (along with others by Joplin) for the movie by Marvin Hamlisch (and a top-ten chart single for Hamlisch when released as a single from the film’s soundtrack). The film’s success created a resurgence of interest in Joplin’s work.[4]

The Sting was hugely successful at the 46th Academy Awards, being nominated for 10 Oscars and winning seven, including Best PictureBest Director and Best Original Screenplay.

Plot

The film takes place in 1936, at the height of the Great Depression. Johnny Hooker, a grifter in Joliet, Illinois, cons $11,000 in cash ($189,800 today) in a pigeon drop from an unsuspecting victim with the aid of his partners Luther Coleman and Joe Erie. Buoyed by the windfall, Luther announces his retirement and advises Hooker to seek out an old friend, Henry Gondorff, in Chicago to teach him “the big con”. Unfortunately, their victim was a numbers racket courier for vicious crime boss Doyle Lonnegan. Corrupt Joliet police Lieutenant William Snyder confronts Hooker, revealing Lonnegan’s involvement and demanding part of Hooker’s cut. Having already spent his share, Hooker pays Snyder in counterfeit bills. Lonnegan’s men murder both the courier and Luther, and Hooker flees for his life to Chicago.

Hooker finds Henry Gondorff, a once-great con-man now hiding from the FBI, and asks for his help in taking on the dangerous Lonnegan. Gondorff is initially reluctant, but he relents and recruits a core team of experienced con men to con Lonnegan. They decide to resurrect an elaborate obsolete scam known as “the wire”, using a larger crew of con artists to create a phony off-track betting parlor. Aboard the opulent 20th Century Limited, Gondorff, posing as boorish Chicago bookie Shaw, buys into Lonnegan’s private, high-stakes poker game. Shaw infuriates Lonnegan with his obnoxious behavior, then outcheats him to win $15,000. Hooker, posing as Shaw’s disgruntled employee, Kelly, is sent to collect the winnings and instead convinces Lonnegan that he wants to take over Shaw’s operation. Kelly reveals that he has a partner named Les Harmon (actually con man Kid Twist) in the Chicago Western Unionoffice, who will allow them to win bets on horse races by past-posting.

Meanwhile, Snyder has tracked Hooker to Chicago, but his pursuit is thwarted when he is summoned by undercover FBI agents led by Agent Polk, who orders him to assist in their plan to arrest Gondorff using Hooker. At the same time, Lonnegan has grown frustrated with the inability of his men to find and kill Hooker. Unaware that Kelly is Hooker, he demands that Salino, his best assassin, be given the job. A mysterious figure with black leather gloves is then seen following and observing Hooker.

Kelly’s connection appears effective, as Harmon provides Lonnegan with the winner of one horse race and the trifecta of another race. Lonnegan agrees to finance a $500,000 ($8,629,000 today) bet at Shaw’s parlor to break Shaw and gain revenge. Shortly thereafter, Snyder captures Hooker and brings him before FBI Agent Polk. Polk forces Hooker to betray Gondorff by threatening to incarcerate Luther Coleman’s widow.

The night before the sting, Hooker sleeps with Loretta, a waitress from a local restaurant. As Hooker leaves the building the next morning, he sees Loretta walking toward him. The black-gloved man appears behind Hooker and shoots her dead – she was Lonnegan’s hired killer, Loretta Salino, and the gunman was hired by Gondorff to protect Hooker.

Armed with Harmon’s tip to “place it on Lucky Dan”, Lonnegan makes the $500,000 bet at Shaw’s parlor on Lucky Dan to win. As the race begins, Harmon arrives and expresses shock at Lonnegan’s bet, explaining that when he said “place it” he meant, literally, that Lucky Dan would “place” (i.e., finish second). In a panic, Lonnegan rushes the teller window and demands his money back. A moment later, Agent Polk, Lt. Snyder, and a half dozen FBI officers storm the parlor. Polk confronts Gondorff, then tells Hooker he is free to go. Gondorff, reacting to the betrayal, shoots Hooker in the back. Polk then shoots Gondorff and orders Snyder to get the ostensibly-respectable Lonnegan away from the crime scene. With Lonnegan and Snyder safely away, Hooker and Gondorff rise amid cheers and laughter. Agent Polk is actually Hickey, a con man, running a con atop Gondorff’s con to divert Snyder and provide a solid “blow off”. As the con men strip the room of its contents, Hooker refuses his share of the money, saying “I’d only blow it”, and walks away with Gondorff.

Cast

Production

Filming on location in Pasadena, California. Stand-ins are used to set up the shot.

The movie was filmed on the Universal Studios backlot, with a few small scenes shot in Wheeling, West Virginia, some scenes filmed at the Santa Monica Pier, in Pasadena, and in Chicago at Union Station and the former LaSalle Street Station prior to its demolition.[5][6] Lonnegan’s limp was authentic; Shaw had slipped on a wet handball court at the Beverly Hills Hotel a week before filming began and had injured the ligaments in his knee. He wore a leg brace during production which was hidden under the wide 1930s style trousers. This incident was revealed by Julia Phillips in her 1991 autobiography You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again. She stated that Shaw saved The Sting, since no other actor would accept the part; Paul Newman hand-delivered the script to Shaw in London in order to ensure his participation. Philips’s book asserts that Shaw was not nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award because he demanded that his name follow those of Newman and Redford before the film’s opening title.

Rob Cohen (later director of action films such as The Fast and the Furious) years later told of how he found the script in the slush pile when working as a reader for Mike Medavoy, a future studio head, but then an agent. He wrote in his coverage that it was “the great American screenplay and … will make an award-winning, major-cast, major-director film.” Medavoy said that he would try to sell it on that recommendation, promising to fire Cohen if he could not. Universal bought it that afternoon, and Cohen keeps the coverage framed on the wall of his office.[7]

Roy Huggins, creator and chief writer of the TV western-comedy Maverick, noted during interview that the first half of “The Sting” bore resemblance to his script for the episode Shady Deal at Sunny Acres.[8]

Reception

The film received rave reviews and was a box office smash in 1973–74, taking in more than US$160 million ($800 million today). As of October 2016, it is the 22nd highest-grossing film in the United States adjusted for ticket price inflation.[9] In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. The Writers Guild of America ranked the screenplay #39 on its list of 101 Greatest Screenplays ever written.[10]

Awards

Wins

The film won seven Academy Awards and received three other nominations.[11] At the 46th Academy Awards, Julia Phillips became the first female producer to be nominated for and to win Best Picture.[12]

Nominations

Music

The soundtrack album, executive produced by Gil Rodin, included several Scott Joplinragtime compositions, adapted by Marvin Hamlisch. According to Joplin scholar Edward A. Berlin, ragtime had experienced a revival in the 1970s due to several separate, but coalescing events:

  1. Joshua Rifkin‘s recording of Joplin rags on Nonesuch Records, a classical label, became a “classical” best-seller.
  2. The New York Public Library issued a two-volume collection of Joplin’s music, thereby giving the stamp of approval of one of the nation’s great institutions of learning.
  3. Treemonisha received its first full staging, as part of a Afro-American Music Workshop at Morehouse College, in Georgia.
  4. Gunther Schuller, president of the New England Conservatory of Music, led a student ensemble in a performance of period orchestrations of Joplin’s music.
  5. Inspired by Schuller’s recording, the producer of the movie The Sting had Marvin Hamlisch score Joplin’s music for the film, thereby bringing Joplin to a mass, popular public.[4]

There are some variances from the film soundtrack, as noted. Joplin’s music was no longer popular by the 1930s, although its use in The Sting evokes the 1930s gangster movie, The Public Enemy, which featured Joplin’s music.[citation needed] The two Jazz Age-style tunes written by Hamlisch are chronologically closer[citation needed] to the film’s time period than are the Joplin rags:

  1. “Solace” (Joplin)—orchestral version
  2. The Entertainer” (Joplin)—orchestral version
  3. The Easy Winners” (Joplin)
  4. “Hooker’s Hooker” (Hamlisch)
  5. “Luther”—same basic tune as “Solace”, re-arranged by Hamlisch as a dirge
  6. “Pine Apple Rag” / “Gladiolus Rag” medley (Joplin)
  7. “The Entertainer” (Joplin)—piano version
  8. “The Glove” (Hamlisch)—a Jazz Age style number; only a short segment was used in the film
  9. “Little Girl” (Madeline Hyde, Francis Henry)—heard only as a short instrumental segment over a car radio
  10. “Pine Apple Rag” (Joplin)
  11. “Merry-Go-Round Music” medley; “Listen to the Mocking Bird”, “Darling Nellie Gray”, “Turkey in the Straw” (traditional)—”Listen to the Mocking Bird” was the only portion of this track that was actually used in the film, along with a segment of “King Cotton”, a Sousa march, a segment of “The Diplomat”, another Sousa march, a segment of Sousa’s Washington Post March, and a segment of “The Regimental Band”, a Charles C. Sweeleymarch, all of which were not on the album. All six tunes were recorded from the Santa Monica Pier carousel’s band organ.
  12. “Solace” (Joplin)—piano version
  13. “The Entertainer” / “The Ragtime Dance” medley (Joplin)

The album sequence differs from the film sequence, a standard practice with vinyl LPs, often for aesthetic reasons. Some additional content differences:

  • Selected snippets of Joplin’s works, some appearing on the album and some not, provided linking music over the title cards that introduced major scenes. (The final card, “The Sting”, introducing the film’s dramatic conclusion, had no music.)
  • Some tunes in the film are different takes than those on the album.[citation needed]
  • A Joplin tune used in the film but not appearing in the soundtrack album was “Cascades”. The middle (fast) portion of it was played when Hooker was running from Snyder along the ‘L’ train platform.
  • The credits end with “The Rag-time Dance” (Joplin) medley which features a ‘stop-time’ motif similar to a later work “Stop-Time Rag” (Joplin).

Chart positions

Year Chart Position
1974 US Billboard 200 1
Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart
Preceded by
Chicago VII by Chicago
Billboard 200 number-one album
May 4 – June 7, 1974
Succeeded by
Sundown by Gordon Lightfoot
Preceded by
Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield
Australian Kent Music Report number-one album
June 17 – July 28, 1974
August 5–11, 1974
Succeeded by
Caribou by Elton John

Sequel

A sequel with different players, The Sting II, appeared in 1983. In the same year a prequel was planned, exploring the earlier career of Henry Gondorff. Famous confidence man Soapy Smith was scripted to be Gondorff’s mentor. When the sequel failed, the prequel was scrapped.

Home media

A deluxe DVD, The Sting: Special Edition (part of the Universal Legacy Series) was released in September 2005, including a “making of” featurette called “The Art of the Sting” with interviews from the cast and crew. The film was released on Blu-ray Disc in 2012, as a part of Universal’s 100th anniversary string of releases.

Judiciary

The Supreme Court of India referenced the movie in a judgement involving a sting operation.[13]

See also

References

  1. Jump up to:a b “The Sting, Box Office Information”. The Numbers. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
  2. Jump up^ Variety film review; December 12, 1973, page 16.
  3. Jump up^ “The Sting”TCM databaseTurner Classic Movies. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  4. Jump up to:a b Edward A. Berlin (1996). “Basic Repertoire List – Joplin”. Classical Net. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  5. Jump up^ “LaSalle Street Station”Metra. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  6. Jump up^ “Movies Filmed in Chicago”. City of Chicago. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  7. Jump up^ Lussier, Germaine (November 21, 2008). “Screenings: ‘The Sting’ as part of Paul Newman Retrospective”Times-Herald RecordNews Corporation. Retrieved November 21, 2008.
  8. Jump up^ “Roy Huggins on the Maverick episode “Shady Deal at Sunny Acres” (video interview, part 6 of 10, 23:05)”EmmyTVLegends. Retrieved 6 June2017When I walked into Universal on the morning “Sting” came out, Max Baer Jr. was…outside my office, and he says, “Roy, are you going to sue?” I didn’t know what he was talking about. “What do you mean?” He says, “You didn’t see ‘Sting’?” I say no; he says, “Well see it, because the first half of it is ‘Shady Deal at Sunny Acres’!”
  9. Jump up^ http://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/adjusted.htm
  10. Jump up^ Savage, Sophia (February 27, 2013). “WGA Lists Greatest Screenplays, From ‘Casablanca’ and ‘Godfather’ to ‘Memento’ and ‘Notorious'”. Archived from the original on August 13, 2006. Retrieved February 28,2013.
  11. Jump up^ “The 46th Academy Awards (1974) Nominees and Winners”oscars.org. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  12. Jump up^ “NY Times: The Sting”NY Times. Retrieved December 29, 2008.
  13. Jump up^ “Rajat Prasad Vs. Respondent: C.B.I.” (PDF). National Judicial Academy. Point 10.

External links

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

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The Pronk Pops Show 912, June 15, 2017, Story 1: Part 2: Attorney General Sessions Questioned By Senators of Senate Intelligence Committee — Democratic Distractions and Delusions Concerning Collusion and Obstructions With No Evidence or Crime — Cover Story Conspiracy Theory Falling Apart – – Videos — Story 2: The Cover-up of The Real Crimes, Obstruction of Justice of Obama Administration. Hillary and Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch — Time For Three More Special Prosecutors — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

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Story 1: Part 2: Attorney General Sessions Questioned By Senators of Senate Intelligence Committee — Democratic Distractions and Delusions Concerning Trump/Russian Collusion and Trump Obstruction With No Evidence or Crime — Cover Story Conspiracy Theory Fairy Tale Falling Apart – – Videos —

Jeff Sessions Testifies To Senate Intelligence Committee- Full Hearing

WATCH Jeff Sessions Absolutely Destroys Democrats And Republicans Who Doubt The Trump Administration

Jeff Sessions’s heated testimony, in 3 minutes

Jeff Sessions Opening Statement Senate Intelligence Committee!

Sessions refutes allegations of additional Russian meetings in opening statement

Sen. Warner: ‘Not acceptable’ for Trump administration to come to Congress without answers

Jeff Sessions begins testimony on Comey firing, meeting with Russian ambassador

AG Jeff Sessions – Highlights – Senate Intelligence Committee

FULL. AG Jeff Sessions testifies on Russia at Senate. June 13, 2017. M. Flynn. Dir Comey

Sessions’ testimony frustrates Democrats

Jeff Sessions Testifies To Senate Intelligence Committee- Full Hearing

Feinstein grills Sessions on Comey firing

Leftist Kamala Harris Scolded for Not Allowing Jeff Sessions to Answer Questions

Sessions protects right to ‘executive privilege’

Tom Cotton Decimates Democrats for Providing No Evidence of Russia Collusion

‘Do You Like Spy Fiction James Bond Movies?’ Things Get Weird Between Sen. Cotton and Sessions

Sen Blunt and Sen King Question Jeff Sessions

Sen Collins and Sen Heinrich Question Jeff Sessions

Sen Lankford and Sen Manchin Question Jeff Sessions

Marco Rubio and Ron Weyden Question Jeff Sessions. Some Sparks!

Sen Cornyn Questions Jeff Sessions. Also Quite Good.

WATCH: Attorney General Jeff Sessions On Why FBI Director James Comey Was Fired

JEFF SESSIONS HEARING: President Trump calls Russia threat WITCHHUNT and FAKE NEWS! NEED THE TRUTH!

JEFF SESSIONS HEARING: “Senator Franken asked me A RAMBLING QUESTION!”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Grilled About Meetings With The Russian Ambassador

‘I Am Not Stonewalling!’ Sessions, Wyden Go Off on Each Other in Explosive Back-and-Forth

HEATED EXCHANGE: Sen. Kamala Harris vs. AG Jeff Sessions – Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing

INTENSE: Sen. Heinrich ACCUSES Jeff Sessions of OBSTRUCTION at Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing

Britt Hume Gives Analysis on AG Sessions Testimony

Judge Napolitano Does Not Think It’s a Good idea For Sessions to Testify Before the Senate

Krauthammer: Going After Sessions is the Democrats’ Third Attempt to Take Down the President

Krauthammer Says Sessions Did a Good Job Fending Off Charges

Sessions calls suggestion he colluded with Russia a ‘detestable lie’

The attorney general also denies that he had a third undisclosed meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

06/13/2017 03:07 PM EDT

Updated 06/13/2017 04:40 PM EDT

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday forcefully denied he engaged in any collusion with Russian officials during the campaign, calling such a suggestion a “detestable lie,” while saying he did not recall having a third undisclosed meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

“The suggestion that I participated in any collusion or that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government to hurt this country, which I have served with honor for over 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie,” Sessions said as he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Sessions also pushed back against the idea that he had more meetings with Kislyak, after having been forced to clarify remarks from his confirmation hearing in January that he did not have communications with Russian officials during the campaign. Two previous meetings with Kisylak surfaced earlier this year, but Sessions said on Tuesday he doesn’t remember any further encounters, including an allegation he met with Kislyak in April 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel, which hosted a foreign policy speech by Donald Trump.

“I did not have any private meetings nor do I recall any conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel,” Sessions said.

He later elaborated that a brief interaction with Kislyak may have occurred, noting that “I may have had an encounter during the reception” but that would’ve been the extent of any communication.

Sessions took his uncomfortable star turn in the same seat occupied by James Comey five days ago as the former FBI director pointedly accused Trump of lying about his dismissal.

Sessions has found himself at the center of the Russian controversy in recent days, particularly after Comey’s testimony that he’d asked Sessions to intervene after Trump initiated a series of contacts the FBI director viewed as improper.

The ex-FBI chief also suggested Sessions realized something inappropriate was afoot when Trump asked Comey to stay behind at an Oval Office meeting at February, while dismissing Sessions and others from the room.

“My sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn’t be leaving, which is why he was lingering,” Comey testified.

Comey also said that in the one-on-one meeting that followed, Trump asked that the FBI “let…go” of a probe into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. Trump has said he made no such request.

Sessions denied on Tuesday that he stayed silent when Comey urged him never to leave him alone again with Trump — testifying that he urged the FBI and Justice Department officials to follow proper protocol in their communications with the White House.

That directly counters Comey’s testimony from last week, when the ex-FBI chief said Sessions had no response when he told the attorney general that him being left alone with Trump was inappropriate and should not happen. A Justice Department spokesman rejected Comey’s account following the June 8 hearing.

“He didn’t recall this, but I responded to his comment by agreeing that the FBI and the Department of Justice needed to be careful to follow department policies regarding appropriate contacts with the White House,” Sessions testified.

Sessions did not say if he made any effort to stop Trump from contacting the FBI, such as intervening with the president directly or seeking to pass such a message through the White House counsel or other officials.

The attorney general’s closely-watched testimony came as Washington buzzed about suggestions from Trump allies that the president was considering firing the man tapped last month to take over the probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election: special counsel Robert Mueller.

Sessions would not specifically talk about Mueller’s job performance, but said, “I have confidence in Mr. Mueller.”

The attorney general cited his recusal from the Russia probe as one of the reasons he could not elaborate on Mueller. In March, Sessions declared that because of his role in the Trump campaign he was recusing himself from all inquiries related to Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 elections.

During his testimony on Tuesday, Sessions disclosed more details of the timeline of his recusal: One day after he was sworn in as attorney general on Feb. 9, Sessions had his first meeting to generally discuss the recusal matter. Several meetings followed, and “it became clear to me over time that I qualified as a significant principal adviser type person to the campaign and it would be appropriate and the right thing for me to recuse myself.”

His recusal from matters related to the presidential campaign, which Sessions said was essentially in place from his first day as attorney general, is apparently so broad that he has never been briefed on Russian hacking attempts last year.

“I never received any detailed briefing on how the hacking occurred,” Sessions testified, saying he had only gotten his information about Russian interference in the 2016 campaign through the news media.

Speaking to Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), Sessions added that “you might have been very critical if I, as an active part of the campaign, was seeking intelligence related to something that might be relevant to the campaign.”

Sessions also said Tuesday that he would not claim executive privilege as he testifies “because that is the president’s power.” But he added that he would abide by longstanding DOJ practice to shield his discussions with Trump.

“I cannot and will not violate my duty to protect confidential communications with the president,” he said.

Sessions refused to answer a pivotal question from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.): whether he discussed Comey’s handling of the investigations into the Trump campaign with the president prior to the FBI director’s dismissal.

“I’m not able to discuss with you or confirm or deny the nature of a private conversation that I may have had with the president on this subject or others. I know this will be discussed, but that’s the rules that have been adhered to by the Department of Justice,” Sessions said.

Asked to react to Trump’s public statement that he had the Russia probe on his mind at the time of the firing, the attorney general demurred.

“I will have to let his words speak for himself. I’m not sure what was in his mind specifically when we talked to him,” Sessions said.

As Sessions declined to answer a series of questions, Democrats bluntly accused him of undermining Congress’s effort to get to the truth. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said the lack of responses amounted to stonewalling.

“I am not stonewalling. I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice,” the attorney general declared.

“You’re impeding this investigation,” Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico said. “You are obstructing that congressional investigation by not answering the questions.”

Sessions insisted that he was not invoking executive privilege, but preserving Trump’s right to do so.

“I’m not able to invoke executive privilege that’s the president’s prerogative,” the attorney general said.

Resolving a longstanding question, Sessions acknowledged publicly for the first time Tuesday that he gave Comey no warning before his firing on May 9.

“Did you ever have a conversation about his failure to perform?” Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the committee, asked.

“I did not,” Sessions said.

“You never thought it was appropriate to raise those concerns before he was actually terminated by the president?” Warner asked.

“I did not do so,” Sessions said, noting that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein prepared a memo critiquing Comey’s performance. “It’s something that we both agreed to that a fresh start at the FBI was probably the best.”

“The timing seems a little peculiar,” Warner said.

Democratic senators and Comey have suggested that Sessions should not have been involved in the firing of the FBI director, particularly since investigations Sessions was recused from appear to have played roles in spurring that decision.

Sessions flatly rejected those arguments on Tuesday.

“It is absurd, frankly, to suggest that a recusal from a single specific investigation would render an Attorney General unable to manage the leadership of the various Department of Justice law enforcement components that conduct thousands of investigations,” Sessions said.

The usually genial Alabaman showed outbursts of anger, including under questioning from Wyden when the Oregon Democrat pressed Sessions on what Comey found so “problematic” about the attorney general that he felt his recusal was inevitable.

“Why don’t you tell me?” Sessions responded to Wyden, his tone escalating. “There are none … this is a secret innuendo.”

Sessions also offered his first-hand account of the Feb. 14 Oval Office encounter that resulted in Comey being alone with Trump.

“We were there. I was standing there and without revealing any conversation that took place, what I do recall is I did depart. I believe everyone else did depart and Director Comey was sitting in front of the president’s desk and they were talking….That in itself is not problematic,” Sessions said.

The attorney general confirmed that the next day Comey complained about the contact.

“He did not tell me at that time any detail about anything that was said that was improper,” Sessions said, claiming he “backed [Comey] up in his concern” about improper contacts.

“He was concerned about it….His recollection of what he said about his concern is consistent with my recollection,” the attorney general added.

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/13/sessions-calls-suggestion-he-colluded-with-russia-a-detestable-lie-239507

 

Executive privilege

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the United States government, executive privilege is the power claimed by the President of the United States and other members of the executive branch to resist certain subpoenas and other interventions by the legislative and judicial branches of government to access information and personnel relating to the executive branch. The concept of executive privilege is not mentioned explicitly in the United States Constitution, but the Supreme Court of the United States ruled it to be an element of the separation of powers doctrine and derived from the supremacy of the executive branch in its own area of Constitutional activity.[1]

The Supreme Court confirmed the legitimacy of this doctrine in United States v. Nixon, but only to the extent of confirming that there is a qualified privilege. Once invoked, a presumption of privilege is established, requiring the Prosecutor to make a “sufficient showing” that the “Presidential material” is “essential to the justice of the case” (418 U.S. at 713–14). Chief JusticeWarren Burger further stated that executive privilege would most effectively apply when the oversight of the executive would impair that branch’s national security concerns.

Historically, the uses of executive privilege underscore the untested nature of the doctrine, since Presidents have generally sidestepped open confrontations with the United States Congress and the courts over the issue by first asserting the privilege, then producing some of the documents requested on an assertedly voluntary basis.

Early precedents

Executive privilege is a specific instance of the more general common-law principle of deliberative process privilege and is believed to trace its roots to the English crown privilege (now known as public-interest immunity).[2]

In the context of privilege assertions by US presidents, “In 1796, President George Washington refused to comply with a request by the House of Representatives for documents related to the negotiation of the then-recently adopted Jay Treaty with the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Senate alone plays a role in the ratification of treaties, Washington reasoned, and therefore the House had no legitimate claim to the material. Therefore, Washington provided the documents to the Senate but not the House.”[3]

President Thomas Jefferson continued the precedent for this in the trial of Aaron Burr for treason in 1809. Burr asked the court to issue a subpoena duces tecum to compel Jefferson to testify or provide his private letters concerning Burr. Chief Justice John Marshall, a strong proponent of the powers of the federal government but also a political opponent of Jefferson, ruled that the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, which allows for these sorts of court orders for criminal defendants, did not provide any exception for the president. As for Jefferson’s claim that disclosure of the document would imperil public safety, Marshall held that the court, not the president, would be the judge of that. Jefferson refused to personally testify but provided selected letters.

In 1833, President Andrew Jackson cited executive privilege when Senator Henry Clay demanded he produce documents concerning statements the president made to his cabinet about the removal of federal deposits from the Second Bank of the United States during the Bank War.[4]

Cold War era

During the period of 1947–49, several major security cases became known to Congress. There followed a series of investigations, culminating in the famous HissChambers case of 1948. At that point, the Truman Administration issued a sweeping secrecy order blocking congressional efforts from FBI and other executive data on security problems.[citation needed] Security files were moved to the White House and Administration officials were banned from testifying before Congress on security related matters. Investigation of the State Department and other cases was stymied and the matter left unresolved.

During the Army–McCarthy hearings in 1954, Eisenhower used the claim of executive privilege to forbid the “provision of any data about internal conversations, meetings, or written communication among staffers, with no exception to topics or people.” Department of Defense employees were also instructed not to testify on any such conversations or produce any such documents or reproductions.[5] This was done to refuse the McCarthy Committee subpoenas of transcripts of monitored telephone calls from Army officials, as well as information on meetings between Eisenhower officials relating to the hearings. This was done in the form of a letter from Eisenhower to the Department of Defense and an accompanying memo from Eisenhower Justice. The reasoning behind the order was that there was a need for “candid” exchanges among executive employees in giving “advice” to one another. In the end, Eisenhower would invoke the claim 44 times between 1955 and 1960.

United States v. Nixon

The Supreme Court addressed “executive privilege” in United States v. Nixon, the 1974 case involving the demand by Watergatespecial prosecutorArchibald Cox that President Richard Nixonproduce the audiotapes of conversations he and his colleagues had in the Oval Office of the White House in connection with criminal charges being brought against members of the Nixon Administration. Nixon invoked the privilege and refused to produce any records.

The Supreme Court did not reject the claim of privilege out of hand; it noted, in fact, “the valid need for protection of communications between high Government officials and those who advise and assist them in the performance of their manifold duties” and that “[h]uman experience teaches that those who expect public dissemination of their remarks may well temper candor with a concern for appearances and for their own interests to the detriment of the decisionmaking process.” This is very similar to the logic that the Court had used in establishing an “executive immunity” defense for high office-holders charged with violating citizens’ constitutional rights in the course of performing their duties. The Supreme Court stated: “To read the Article II powers of the President as providing an absolute privilege as against a subpoena essential to enforcement of criminal statutes on no more than a generalized claim of the public interest in confidentiality of nonmilitary and nondiplomatic discussions would upset the constitutional balance of ‘a workable government’ and gravely impair the role of the courts under Article III.” Because Nixon had asserted only a generalized need for confidentiality, the Court held that the larger public interest in obtaining the truth in the context of a criminal prosecution took precedence.

“Once executive privilege is asserted, coequal branches of the Government are set on a collision course. The Judiciary is forced into the difficult task of balancing the need for information in a judicial proceeding and the Executive’s Article II prerogatives. This inquiry places courts in the awkward position of evaluating the Executive’s claims of confidentiality and autonomy, and pushes to the fore difficult questions of separation of powers and checks and balances. These ‘occasion[s] for constitutional confrontation between the two branches’ are likely to be avoided whenever possible. United States v. Nixon, supra, at 692.”[6]

Post-Watergate era

Clinton administration

The Clinton administration invoked executive privilege on fourteen occasions.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton became the first president since Nixon to assert executive privilege and lose in court, when a federal judge ruled that Clinton aides could be called to testify in the Lewinsky scandal.[7]

Later, Clinton exercised a form of negotiated executive privilege when he agreed to testify before the grand jury called by Independent CounselKenneth Starr only after negotiating the terms under which he would appear. Declaring that “absolutely no one is above the law”, Starr said such a privilege “must give way” and evidence “must be turned over” to prosecutors if it is relevant to an investigation.

George W. Bush administration

The Bush administration invoked executive privilege on six occasions.

President George W. Bush first asserted executive privilege to deny disclosure of sought details regarding former Attorney General Janet Reno,[8] the scandal involving Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) misuse of organized-crime informants James J. Bulger and Stephen Flemmi in Boston, and Justice Department deliberations about President Bill Clinton’s fundraising tactics, in December 2001.[9]

Bush invoked executive privilege “in substance” in refusing to disclose the details of Vice PresidentDick Cheney‘s meetings with energy executives, which was not appealed by the GAO. In a separate Supreme Court decision in 2004, however, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted “Executive privilege is an extraordinary assertion of power ‘not to be lightly invoked.’ United States v. Reynolds, 345 U.S. 1, 7 (1953).

Further, on June 28, 2007, Bush invoked executive privilege in response to congressional subpoenas requesting documents from former presidential counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor,[10] citing that:

The reason for these distinctions rests upon a bedrock presidential prerogative: for the President to perform his constitutional duties, it is imperative that he receive candid and unfettered advice and that free and open discussions and deliberations occur among his advisors and between those advisors and others within and outside the Executive Branch.

On July 9, 2007, Bush again invoked executive privilege to block a congressional subpoena requiring the testimonies of Taylor and Miers. Furthermore, White House CounselFred F. Fielding refused to comply with a deadline set by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain its privilege claim, prove that the president personally invoked it, and provide logs of which documents were being withheld. On July 25, 2007, the House Judiciary Committee voted to cite Miers and White House Chief of StaffJoshua Bolten for contempt of Congress.[11][12]

On July 13, less than a week after claiming executive privilege for Miers and Taylor, Counsel Fielding effectively claimed the privilege once again, this time in relation to documents related to the 2004 death of Army RangerPat Tillman. In a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Fielding claimed certain papers relating to discussion of the friendly-fire shooting “implicate Executive Branch confidentiality interests” and would therefore not be turned over to the committee.[13]

On August 1, 2007, Bush invoked the privilege for the fourth time in little over a month, this time rejecting a subpoena for Karl Rove. The subpoena would have required the President’s Senior Advisor to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a probe over fired federal prosecutors. In a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, Fielding claimed that “Mr. Rove, as an immediate presidential advisor, is immune from compelled congressional testimony about matters that arose during his tenure and that relate to his official duties in that capacity….”[14]

Leahy claimed that President Bush was not involved with the employment terminations of U.S. attorneys. Furthermore, he asserted that the president’s executive privilege claims protecting Josh Bolten, and Karl Rove are illegal. The Senator demanded that Bolten, Rove, Sara Taylor, and J. Scott Jennings comply “immediately” with their subpoenas, presumably to await a further review of these matters. This development paved the way for a Senate panel vote on whether to advance the citations to the full Senate. “It is obvious that the reasons given for these firings were contrived as part of a cover-up and that the stonewalling by the White House is part and parcel of that same effort”, Leahy concluded about these incidents.[15][16][17][18]

As of July 17, 2008, Rove still claimed executive privilege to avoid a congressional subpoena. Rove’s lawyer wrote that his client is “constitutionally immune from compelled congressional testimony.”[19]

House Investigation of the SEC

Leaders of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission testified on February 4, 2009 before the United States House Committee on Financial Services subcommittee including Linda Chatman Thomsen S.E.C. enforcement director, acting General CounselAndy Vollmer, Andrew Donohue, Erik Sirri, and Lori Richards and Stephen Luparello of FINRA. The subject of the hearings were on why the SEC had failed to act when Harry Markopolos, a private fraud investigator from Boston alerted the Securities and Exchange Commission; detailing his persistent and unsuccessful efforts to get the SEC to investigate Bernard Madoff, beginning in 1999.[20] Vollmer claimed executive privilege in declining to answer some questions.[21][22] Subcommittee chairmanPaul E. Kanjorski asked Mr. Vollmer if he had obtained executive privilege from the U.S. Attorney General.[21] “No … this is the position of the agency,” said Vollmer.[21] “Did the SEC instruct him not to respond to questions?” Mr. Kanjorski asked.[21] Vollmer replied that it was the position of the Commission and that “the answer is no.”[21] The SEC announced Vollmer would “leave the Commission and return to the private sector,” just 14 days after making the claim.[23]

Obama Administration

On June 20, 2012, President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege, his first, to withhold certain Department of Justice documents related to the ongoing Operation Fast and Furious controversy ahead of a United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in Contempt of Congress for refusing to produce the documents.[24][25]

Later the same day, the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform voted 23–17 along party lines to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress over not releasing documents regarding Fast and Furious.[26]

Executive privilege was also used in a lawsuit stemming from the 2012 implementation of the “Net Worth Sweep” against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Obama administration did not disclose roughly 11,000 documents from the plaintiffs in the discovery process as they related to the reasoning behind the 2012 actions.[citation needed]

Trump Administration

While investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed former FBI Director James Comey to testify. Comey was fired several weeks before being subpoenaed but had appeared before the committee once before in March while still serving as director. Less than a week before the scheduled hearing, it was reported that President Trump was considering invoking executive privilege to prevent Comey’s testimony. [27][28] According to attorney Page Pate, it seems unlikely that executive privilege will be applicable here, as Trump has publicly spoken about the encounters in question multiple times.[29]

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White house spokesman, released a statement on June 5th stating: “The president’s power to assert executive privilege is very well-established. However, in order to facilitate a swift and thorough examination of the facts sought by the Senate Intelligence Committee, President Trump will not assert executive privilege regarding James Comey’s scheduled testimony.”[30]

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

 

 

Story 2: The Real Crimes and Obstruction of Justice of Obama Administration. Hillary and Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch — Time For Three More Special Prosecutors — Videos

SARA CARTER FULL ONE-ON-ONE EXPLOSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SEAN HANNITY (6/13/2017)

SARA CARTER CIRCA NEWS FULL ONE-ON-ONE EXPLOSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SEAN HANNITY (6/12/2017)

Circa News: FBI illegally shared data about Americans

Hannity 6/13/2017 | Sean Hannity Fox News Today June 13, 2017

BREAKING: AG LYNCH OBSTRUCTED JUSTICE IN THE CLINTON INVESTIGATION | HANNITY SHOW HD | MONDAY

When loretta lynch heard what comey just said she immediately called her lawyer

Loretta Lynch Gets A NASTY SURPRISE After Damning Comey Testimony…

AG Lynch Unhinged Stuttering Mess! Gowdy, Jordan, Chaffetz/ Blitzkrieg!!!

Trey Gowdy Says Obama Was a Corrupt Liar! Gowdy Pissed!

Trey Gowdy Screams About Obama for 5 Minutes and Gets Standing Ovation!

John Ratcliffe Shuts Up Lying Loretta Lynch Over Hillary Clinton’s Emails

Breaking News: Circa News Sara Carter, reports FBI illegally sharing information on Americans

Tucker Carlson : Did Obama Admin Spy On President Trump’s Team “Compelling Evidence Revealed”

Sean Hannity Guest Sara Carter : House Reb Additional Illegal Unmasking & Surveillance

Did Obama Spy on Rand Paul? | NSA Spying

Napolitano’s Chambers | Was Candidate Donald Trump Spied On By Barack Obama?

Susan Rice Scandal: Was Obama Administration Spying On Trump After All?

Circa News Reporter Sara Carter Discusses The Danger Of The Leaks

 

 

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 coordination between 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=.411010e1599f

 

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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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