Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ)

he Pronk Pops Show 1292, July 18, 2019, Part 2 of 2 — Story 1: Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Big Tech Censorship of Conservative Content — Dennis Praeger Testifies Before U.S. Senate Committee — Videos — Story 2: House of Representatives Bipartisan Vote of 332 to 94 Not To Impeach President Trump — Videos –Story 3: President Trump Rally in North Carolina — New Politically Correct Chant — Send Them All Home — Open Border or Citizenship for Illegal Alien Democrats, Republicans and All Illegal Aliens — All 30 to 60 Million Illegal Aliens In The United States — Videos

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Story 1: Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Big Tech Censorship of Conservative Content — Dennis Praeger Testifies Before U.S. Senate Committee — Videos —

See the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

Ted Cruz Grills Top Google Exec on Censorship of PragerU

Dennis Prager Testifies Before the U.S. Senate on Big Tech Censorship

Big Tech Is Big Brother

The Ten Commandments: What You Should Know

What Happens When Google Disagrees With You?

Who Are the Racists?

Illegal Immigration: It’s About Power

Sen. Cruz Slams Google’s Monopoly, Calls It ‘Unprecedented’

Sen. Cruz Questions Victims of Censorship on Google’s Bias

Sen. Cruz Grills Google Executive on Alleged Censorship Bias

Behind PragerU’s fight against alleged Google censorship

Carolla and Prager ask: What if we all stopped apologizing?

GOOGLE CLASSIFIES CONSERVATIVE CONTENT AS PORNOGRAPHY, CLAIMS FOX NEWS GUEST DENNIS PRAGER

The founder of Prager University, an unaccredited conservative media organization, appeared on Fox & Friends Tuesday claiming Google equates conservative video content to pornography.

Right-wing radio host Dennis Prager appeared on Fox News Tuesday morning just hours before he is set to accuse Google of political bias in testimony before members of Congress in Washington. Prager claims the Silicon Valley tech giants, but specifically Google, are gaming their algorithms against conservative content. He said dozens of PragerU’s 5-minute videos on topics ranging from Abraham Lincoln to the founding of Israel have been banned by the search giant and YouTube parent company as “pornography.” Prager claimed the group’s 300-plus videos get more than one billion views annually, but that about 60 of the wide variety of right-wing, historical videos are on Google’s “restricted” list.

“That means, if you block pornography you cannot see a discussion of Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg,” Prager told the Fox & Friends hosts Tuesday morning as an example of a topic in which he will testify. “It’s beyond belief.”

“Google classifies that as porno?” co-host Steve Doocy asked.

“Yes, yes, that is correct,” Prager said. “Why?” replied a stunned Ainsley Earhardt.

“Because we’re conservative,” Prager replied.

Prager University is not an accredited academic institution and offers no diplomas or certifications. It is, despite its name, a non-profit organization that creates frequently provocative political videos and advertisements from a conservative viewpoint.

Prager said a video describing how “human beings are even more precious than animals” was also placed on Google’s restricted list. “If you block pornography in your home you can’t see my video on why human life is precious. I’m not even talking about abortion, although that obviously should be allowed as well,” he said.

Another video featuring Fox News contributor Alan Dershowitz on the founding of Israel is also on the restricted list, Prager added.

The 70-year-old Prager discussed freedom of speech more broadly, saying he is old enough to remember when “liberals were defending real Nazis,” citing the Supreme Court ruling between the heavily Jewish Illinois village of Skokie and the National Socialist Party of America in the 1970s. Prager said the U.S. is currently engaged in a “non-violent civil war … between the left and the rest of the country.”

“Liberals and the left have almost nothing in common but liberals are cowed by the left and that’s the tragedy,” he noted.

Fox & Friends co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade both predicted how they think this week’s Big Tech “conservative bias” hearings will go, with Kilmeade warning Prager they’re bringing out the “big guns” in terms of legal teams. Doocy predicted, “You know what they’re going to say: the algorithm.”

“That’s fine, then you have a terrible algorithm, I mean that is hilarious,” Prager replied. He then compared that defense to the driver of an automatic transmission vehicle running over children and blaming the car. “It’s an absurdity if they say it’s the algorithm, they created the algorithm let them reveal the algorithm to the public.”

dennis prager university google pornography
The founder of the conservative, unaccredited Prager University organization appeared on Fox & Friends Tuesday claiming Google equates conservative video content to pornography.SCREENSHOT: FOX NEWS

Ted Cruz Presses Executive on Why Google Disbanded Panel Rather Than Include Conservative Leader

vative Leader

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, wants Google to explain why it disbanded an advisory council after Google employees objected to including the president of The Heritage Foundation. Pictured: Cruz speaks Tuesday during his subcommittee hearing on Google and censorship. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called out a Google vice president Tuesday afternoon for the tech giant’s decision to dissolve an advisory council on artificial intelligence after inviting Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James to join the panel.

Cruz asked Karan Bhatia, Google’s vice president of government affairs and public policy, about the worldwide internet company’s disbanding of the advisory council after Google employees objected to including the head of the leading conservative think tank.

“You worked at The Heritage Foundation, I believe you said,” Cruz told Bhatia during a hearing held by the Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution. “Do you consider The Heritage Foundation to be some fringe organization?”

Bhatia replied that he considered Heritage to be a conservative organization.

The liberal Left continue to push their radical agenda against American values. The good news is there is a solution. Find out more >>

“So 2,500 Google employees signed a petition to have Ms. James removed from the council and they said, quote, ‘By appointing James to the ATEAC, Google elevates and endorses her views implying that hers is a valid perspective worthy of its inclusion in this decision making, this is unacceptable,’” Cruz said.

The formal name of Google’s short-lived panel was the Advanced Technology External Advisory Council.

The petition accused James of being “vocally anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-immigrant,” and said, “In selecting James, Google is making clear that its version of ‘ethics’ values proximity to power over the wellbeing of trans people, other LGBTQ people, and immigrants.”

“Google, in response to this, dissolved the entire committee,” Cruz said to Bhatia. “Do you understand when you see that kind of bias, saying, ‘A conservative African-American woman’s views are not valid and not worthy of inclusion,’ that the American people would say, ‘These guys are silencing voices they disagree with’?”

James, who is black, overcame racial discrimination in Virginia as a girl and eventually became an educator and top state and federal government official before being named president of The Heritage Foundation, where she had been a trustee for more than a decade.

Bhatia told Cruz, chairman of the subcommittee, that the 2,500 employees who objected to James did not make up a large percentage of the Google workforce.

“Senator, the 2,500 amounts to something around 2% of the Google employees,” Bhatia said.

“But Google acted on their recommendation. You dissolved the committee,” Cruz replied.

>>> Commentary: Google Caves to the Intolerant Left, Betraying Its Own Ideals

Bhatia disagreed.

“No, Senator, we did not,” he said. “What happened in that situation is that it’s a committee that consisted of a number of members; as time progressed, a number of members of the committee other than Ms. James decided to fall off the committee, to withdraw from the committee.”

Cruz continued to press the issue.

“Is this your testimony, Mr. Bhatia? Because I’m finding this difficult to credit. Is it your testimony that Google did not dissolve the committee because your employees were mad that anyone right of center was included?”

The Google vice president answered Cruz by saying the company pulled the plug on the advisory council because executives didn’t see it going anywhere.

“We dissolved the committee, Senator. I think we were clear at the end of the day that it was not going to be viable to continue the council given what we were seeing happen with other members of the committee,” Bhatia said.

Heritage’s James discussed the experience in an April op-ed for The Washington Post, writing that “the Google employees didn’t just attempt to remove me; they greeted the news of my appointment to the council with name-calling and character assassination.”

“They called me anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ and a bigot. That was an odd one, because I’m a 69-year-old black woman who grew up fighting segregation,” James added.

Referring to Google’s decision to end the panel, James wrote, “The company has given in to the mentality of a rage mob.”

Ted Cruz Presses Executive on Why Google Disbanded Panel Rather Than Include Conservative Leader

2 Senators Call for Investigation Into Big Tech’s Censorship

Two of the country’s staunchest big tech critics are asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate social media companies’ perceived censorship practices.

Facebook, Google, and Twitter exercise lots of influence on Americans and they also use their tools to censor some content while amplifying others, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri wrote in a letter Monday to the Federal Trade Commission. They are asking the agency to open a public probe into the impact such policies have on people.

dailycallerlogo“Companies that are this big and that have the potential to threaten democracy this much should not be allowed to curate content entirely without any transparency,” they wrote. “These companies can greatly influence democratic outcomes, yet they have not accountability to voters.”

They added: “They are not even accountable to their own customers because nobody knows how these companies curate content.” Cruz and Hawley are two of the biggest Republican critics of Google and Facebook, both of which are consistently accused of discriminating against conservative content.

The liberal Left continue to push their radical agenda against American values. The good news is there is a solution. Find out more >>

Hawley, for his part, introduced the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act in June that aims to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives online companies immunity only if they can show they are politically neutral. Section 230 was passed in 1996, when the internet was in its infancy.

Other Republicans are taking a more critical stance against big tech companies as well. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, for one, is dinging Google for not doing enough to protect children.

“Things would change tomorrow if you could get sued,” Graham said during a congressional hearing on July 9 dealing with online dangers to kids. YouTube is under pressure to turn off its recommendation systems for videos featuring kids after reports showed potential predators were abusing the feature.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

 

Story 3: President Trump Rally in Greenville, North Carolina — New Improved Politically Correct Chant — “Send Them All Home” — Open Border or Citizenship for Illegal Alien Democrats, Republicans and All Illegal Aliens — All 30 to 60 Million Illegal Aliens In The United States — Videos

Speech: Donald Trump Holds a Political Rally in Greenville, North Carolina – July 17, 2019

FULL RALLY: President Trump Rally in Greenville, North Carolina

President Trump delivers remarks on immigration, “The Squad,” during campaign rally

President Trump Talks About Antifa & Andy Ngo at NC Rally

WATCH LIVE: Trump holds campaign rally in North Carolina amid racist tweets controversy

Trump disavows ‘send her back’ chant at North Carolina rally

Trump rally in Greenville comes amid controversy

[youtube3=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIDK7pwzTgE]

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1275, June 17, 2019, Story 1: Trump Hypothetical vs. Democrat Actual — Digging Up Dirt on Your Political Opponents — Opposition Research, Dirty Tricks, Blow Back — Legal vs Criminal Opposition Research –Criminal Conspiracy Smear Campaigns — Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers —  Videos — Story 2: Radical Extremist Democrat Polls — Trump Loses — Reality Deniers — Videos — Story 3: Iran Promises To Break Nuclear Agreement If Sanctions Not Removed — Pathway To Nuclear Bomb and Long Range Missile and War — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1275 June 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1274 June 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1273 June 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1272 June 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1271 June 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1270 June 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1269 June 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1268 June 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1267 May 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1266 May 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1265 May 28, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1264 May 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1263 May 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1262 May 22, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1261 May 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1260 May 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1259 May 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1258 May 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1257 May 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1256 May 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1255 May 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1254 May 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1253 May 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1252 May 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1251 May 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1250 May 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1249 May 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1248 May 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1247 April 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1246 April 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1245 April 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1244 April 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1243 April 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1242 April 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1241 April 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1240 April 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1239 April 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1238 April 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1237 April 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1236 April 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1235 April 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1234 April 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1233 April 4, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1232 April 1, 2019 Part 2

Pronk Pops Show 1232 March 29, 2019 Part 1

Pronk Pops Show 1231 March 28, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1230 March 27, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1229 March 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1228 March 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1227 March 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1226 March 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1225 March 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1224 March 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1223 March 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1222 March 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1221 March 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1220 March 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1219 March 4, 2019

See the source image

See the source image

Story 1: Trump Hypothetical vs. Clinton Actual — Digging Up Dirt on Your Political Opponents — Opposition Research, Dirty Tricks, Blow Back — Legal vs Criminal Opposition Research — Criminal Conspiracy Smear Campaigns — Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers —  Videos

See the source image

President Trump: 30 Hours l Interview with George Stephanopoulos l Part 1

President Trump: 30 Hours l Interview with George Stephanopoulos l Part 2

President Trump: 30 Hours l Interview with George Stephanopoulos l Part 3

A preview of ABC News’ exclusive one-on-one interview with Trump

Trump says he may not alert FBI if info is offered by foreigners on 2020 candidates

Levin slams Democrats for declaring Trump a criminal

Shields and Brooks on Trump and foreign campaign help, Democratic debates

Partisan sparks fly over Trump’s opposition research remarks

Trump defends saying he’d take foreign intel on rivals

Ingraham: Democrats’ foreign phony outrage

Hannity: The left’s selective outrage on opposition research

Hannity: Steele dossier was full of lies, misinformation, propaganda

The ethical dos and don’ts of opposition research

[youtube-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE9X1hMhvwQ]

Inside the Democrats’ opposition research shop

FBI must identify origin of Trump-Russia collusion idea: Rep. DeSantis

Nunes: Not possible FBI didn’t know who paid for dossier

Strassel: FBI, DOJ obstructing on Trump dossier

Strassel: Fusion GPS dossier a dirty trick for the ages

Podesta, Wasserman Schultz deny knowledge of dossier funding

Did Hillary Clinton know about the Russian dossier?

Did Hillary Clinton Finance The Infamous Dossier?

Fusion GPS victim: They are out to destroy people

Does the dossier bombshell spell trouble for the Democrats?

Potential legal implications from Trump dossier scandal

Trump, Russia and Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm run by ex-journalists

Kurtz: Journalists don’t hire opposition research firms

York: Washington Free Beacon was original Fusion GPS funder

Conservative website funded Fusion GPS opposition research

Where does ‘opposition research’ cross a line?

Why Is The EPA Hiring GOP Oppo Research Firms??

Clinton campaign, DNC helped fund dossier research

The Curious Art and Science of Opposition Research

How Republican Opposition Research Dig Up Dirt on Dems

Political Opposition Research Reveals All – Alan Huffman

2015 Personality Lecture 12: Existentialism: Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard

Jordan Peterson on The Necessity of Virtue

Trump in testy exchange with Stephanopoulos: ‘You’re being a little wise guy’

President Trump pushed back at ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos during a testy interview, calling him “a little wise guy.”

Stephanopoulos was pressing the president on not answering questions in person from special counsel Robert Mueller‘s team.

“Wait a minute. I did answer questions. I answered them in writing,” Trump said

“Not on obstruction,” Stephanopoulos replied.

“George, you’re being a little wise guy, OK, which is, you know, typical for you,” Trump hit back.

“Just so you understand. Very simple. It’s very simple. There was no crime. There was no collusion. The big thing’s collusion. Now, there’s no collusion. That means … it was a setup, in my opinion, and I think it’s going to come out,” he continued.

Stephanopoulos, 58, was a White House communications director and senior advisor for policy and strategy for President Clinton.

He joined ABC News as a political analyst after Clinton’s first term in 1997 and is now ABC News’s chief anchor and host of “Good Morning America” and “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

https://thehill.com/homenews/media/448571-trump-in-testy-exchange-with-stephanopoulos-youre-being-a-little-wise-guy

 

Trump successfully baits his foes with comments to Stephanopoulos on foreign information on opponents

In classic Trumpian maneuver, President Trump yesterday chummed the waters of the House Democratic Caucus with raw meat the impeachment-crazed radicals driving Nancy Pelosi — who really doesn’t want to talk about impeachment — to distraction.  He also laid the groundwork for the coming prosecutions on the Russia Hoax.

In a clip that already has been endlessly run on every news channel, he told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that he would not necessarily turn down information on his opponent from a foreign source or call in the FBI.


YouTube screen grab.

Responding to a question from Stephanopoulos about his son Donald Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, the POTUS let fly:

As summarized by Politico:

[T]he president pushed back when asked whether a candidate should report information on an opponent if it came from a foreign agent, and denied that accepting the information counted as election interference.

“It’s not an interference, they have information — I think I’d take it,” Trump said. “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong.”

“It’s called oppo research,” he added.

Stephanopoulos pointed out that FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress that a candidate should offer that kind of information to the agency, but Trump flatly rebuffed the notion: “The FBI director is wrong.”

“Give me a break,” Trump said, scoffing. “Life doesn’t work that way.”

He got exactly what he wanted from the haters:

But the gasps of horror were not limited to haters.  Laura Ingraham and Victor Davis Hanson were aghast:

“Setting aside the question of why you would have George Stephanopoulos standing over the president in the Oval Office — I don’t know who approved that — what about this notion of accepting foreign Intel about an opponent? Is that a risk for President Trump, getting pulled back into Mueller? Again, why he was put in that situation is beyond me.”

Victor Davis Hanson agreed that “you shouldn’t ever talk to George Stephanopoulos,” and said Trump probably “intended to” bring up something like Adam Schiff getting called by Russian pranksters.

He added, “I think the cardinal rule is in Trump’s case you don’t even discuss that. You just say I don’t want to talk about it.”

Ingraham said it seemed like he was “playing with” Stephanopoulos a bit but added, “Putting him in that situation, I don’t get it.”

Here is some help for the perplexed: as the DOJ inspector general’s report looms and U.S. attorney John Durham’s mandate has been described in the broadest terms by A.G. Barr, Trump has the Democrats nattering on about how treasonous it is to accept any information from any foreign country.  How about paying Russian agents with campaign money for fake dirt on an opponent, even if laundered through a law firm and Fusion GPS?

When and if indictments related to Fusion GPS are revealed, the defense lines of the progressives will have some Trump-sized holes in them.

Even NeverTrump Erick Erickson, of the anti-Trump Resurgent, sees the trap:

[W]e should point out that the Steele dossier involved a lot of dirt about Donald Trump from Russia and we now know that a good bit of it was made up. The Mueller report itself notes the supposed ‘pee tape’ the Democrats have been all hot and bothered over was fabricated by the Russians.

Perhaps the President should not have said it, but let’s not pretend the Democrats would actually go racing to the FBI if presented with sensational information about Trump. They’d run to opposition research firms instead.

By the way, before you claim the Democrats handed the Steele dossier over to the FBI, please note that they used it to spread anti-Trump stories in the media for months before doing so not very long before Election Day 2016.

The Steele Dossier was an important foundation of the entire Russia Hoax.  Trump has now got many of his worst enemies on the record about how heinous it was to accept any intelligence from a foreign source.  Trump mentioned Norway.  Hillary and the DNC paid for dirt from Russia.

Trump, it must always be remembered, is the most successful reality TV producer in the history of the medium of television.  He knows how to set up a storyline for a payoff later in the season — in this case, the election season.

https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2019/06/trump_successfully_baits_his_foes_with_comments_to_stephanopoulos_on_foreign_information_on_opponents.html

 

 

Candidate Hillary Clinton endorsed idea of political dirt from overseas

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her phone after attending a U.S.-Russia meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam on July 23, 2010. The revelation that Mrs. Clinton used an off-the-books email account during her time as secretary of state has raised fresh questions about her credibility heading into 2016. (Associated Press)
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her phone after attending a U.S.-Russia meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam on July 23, 2010. The revelation that Mrs. Clinton used an off-the-books email account during her time as secretary of state has raised … more >– The Washington Times – Thursday, June 13, 2019

Hillary Clinton has endorsed the idea of obtaining political dirt from overseas, saying her campaign’s Kremlin-sourced dossier was “part of what happens in a campaign.”

President Trump is taking heat from Democrats for telling ABC News on Wednesday that he would listen to negative information from a foreign country about a political opponent in 2020.

That is basically the same position Mrs. Clinton took when she was interviewed on Nov. 1, 2017, on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”

A week earlier, the nation learned that the Christopher Steele dossier, with its dozen conspiracy charges against Trump associates, was financed by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

The Robert Mueller report effectively destroyed the dossier. His 22-month investigation failed to establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to interfere in the election that Mrs. Clinton lost.



Mrs. Clinton was asked on the show about the dossier, whose sources are listed in the document as Kremlin intelligence and government leaders.

“It’s part of what happens in a campaign where you get information that may or may not be useful and you try to make sure anything you put out in the public arena is accurate,” she said. “So this thing didn’t come out until after the election, and it’s still being evaluated.”

She provided this chronology: “When Trump got the nomination of the Republican Party, the people doing it came to my campaign lawyer and said, ‘Would you like us to continue it?’” she said. “He said ‘yes.’ He is an experienced lawyer. He knows what the law is. He knows what opposition research is.”

Work on the dossier didn’t begin until June 2016 when Fusion GPS, Mrs. Clinton’s opposition research firm, sought funds from her campaign, via her law firm, to pay Mr. Steele.

Mr. Steele’s claims about Mr. Trump did surface before Election Day, though the dossier didn’t.

Fusion arranged for Mr. Steele to brief a number of Washington reporters. Yahoo News published a story in September outlining Mr. Steele’s assertions that a Trump volunteer, Carter Page, had discussed bribes with top associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin in exchange for removing U.S. sanctions.

The Clinton campaign quickly cited the story.

Jennifer Palmieri, the Clinton campaign’s communications director, said on one broadcast, “Michael Isikoff had a piece yesterday about Carter Page, who is a foreign policy adviser of Trump’s and that he had met with someone from the Kremlin that … according to Michael’s reporting, U.S. intelligence officials believe is behind the hack.”

The Mueller report cleared Mr. Page of collusion with Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.

Also before the election, then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, wrote a letter to the FBI summarizing Mr. Steele’s charges. The letter was leaked to The New York Times, which published a story.

Clinton operatives busily circulated the dossier before and after the election.

A Fusion GPS middleman took the dossier to the FBI on several occasions. Perkins Coie, Mrs. Clinton’s law firm, also tried to present Mr. Steele’s charges to the Justice Department.

The FBI put the dossier to extensive use. It cited Mr. Steele to judges to obtain a wiretap on Mr. Page for a year and briefed President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump.

FBI agents were briefed by Mr. Steele in July 2016 and again in October in Europe.

The FBI offered Mr. Steele $50,000 to continue investigating Mr. Trump, though it never confirmed the former British spy’s allegations.

The Justice Department inspector general is investigating how the FBI used the dossier. In addition, Attorney General William Barr has tapped John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, to investigate how the Obama Justice Department and FBI decided to target the Trump campaign.

Perkins Coie briefed the Clinton campaign on the dossier, according to testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The communications director for Mr. Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign took to Twitter to slam the media’s “selective” memory.

“The selective outrage and short memory of the media are staggering. The DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign actually PAID FOR the discredited, fake Steele Dossier, which was compiled by a foreign national and contained information from alleged Russian sources,” Tim Murtaugh wrote.

• Dave Boyer contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/jun/13/hillary-clinton-donald-trump-endorsed-idea-politic/

The FBI Tragedy: Elites above the Law

 

The Justice Department’s investigation of the investigators involved in the Trump-Russia probe will look at actions both by the U.S. government and by foreigners.

That’s what the agency said Monday, telling Congress its review is “broad in scope and multifaceted” in a letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.

The DOJ said the wide-ranging inquiry led by Attorney General William Barr, along with his right-hand man U.S. Attorney John Durham, would seek to “illuminate open questions regarding the activities of U.S. and foreign intelligence services as well as non-governmental organizations and individuals.”

The letter made it clear that DOJ’s review is not limited just to their specific agency, but would also scrutinize the intelligence community as a whole. The letter stated that the DOJ review team had already asked certain intelligence community agencies to preserve records, make witnesses available, and start putting together documents that the DOJ would need to carry out its inquiry.

And the DOJ made it clear that they weren’t just looking to see if policies were violated — they’ll be looking at whether any laws were broken, too.

In 2016, the DOJ and FBI launched an investigation into any links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. Special counsel Robert Mueller took over the ongoing effort in May 2017 after FBI Director James Comey was fired, and Mueller’s probe culminated in a 448-page report in April 2019. Mueller found that the Russians had interfered in the 2016 election through cyberattacks and social media disinformation campaigns, but did not establish that anyone associated with Trump criminally colluded with Russia. Mueller left the door open on obstruction of justice by Trump, but Barr and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined that he had not.

Barr believes “there remain open questions relating to the origins of this counter-intelligence investigation and the U.S. and foreign intelligence activities that took place prior to and during that investigation,” the letter states, and the DOJ review will look at “the efficacy and propriety“ of the steps that the DOJ, the FBI, the broader U.S. intelligence community, and foreign governments and actors took before and during the course of the probe — and to answer those questions “to the satisfaction of the Attorney General.”

The letter said Barr is coordinating with members of the U.S. intelligence community and “certain foreign actors” on the “collaborative” and “ongoing effort.”

Trump recently gave Barr “full and complete authority to declassify information” during his review, a move that has been harshly criticized by many Democrats. Nadler called the move part of a “plot to dirty up the intelligence community, to pretend that there’s something wrong with the beginning of the Mueller investigation and to persecute and bring into line the intelligence agencies.” And former FBI General Counsel Jim Baker called the move a “slap in the face” to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

Apparently to push back against such concerns, DOJ said Monday it would work hard to make sure that U.S. intelligence agents as well as foreign partners were protected during the probe, along with sensitive methods, techniques, and materials that could compromise national security.

This broad probe by DOJ is separate from the investigation by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz into alleged Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuse by the Justice Department and the FBI. That inquiry includes a focus on the FBI’s handling of the unverified dossier compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele and its extensive use in the FBI’s FISA applications and renewals to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Barr has previously said, however, that Horowitz’s “ability to get information from former officials or from other agencies outside the Department [of Justice] is very limited.” Thus, Barr picked Durham to carry out a beefed-up inquiry.

Durham will continue serving as Connecticut’s U.S. attorney, the DOJ said, but his review is already “being conducted primarily in the Washington D.C. area” and his DOJ team will operate out of “existing office space.”

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/doj-outlines-to-congress-its-investigation-of-the-investigators

Opposition research

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In the politics of the United Statesopposition research (also called oppo research) is the practice of collecting information on a political opponent or other adversary that can be used to discredit or otherwise weaken them. The information can include biographical, legal, criminal, medical, educational, or financial history or activities, as well as prior media coverage, or the voting record of a politician. Opposition research can also entail using “trackers” to follow an individual and record their activities or political speeches.[1]

The research is usually conducted in the time period between announcement of intent to run and the actual election; however political parties maintain long-term databases that can cover several decades. The practice is both a tactical maneuver and a cost-saving measure.[2] The term is frequently used to refer not just to the collection of information but also how it is utilized, as a component of negative campaigning.

Contents

Origins and history

In the 1st century BC, Cicero is said to have gathered information that was damaging to opponents and used it in attacks against them. He accused one political opponent, Catiline, of murdering one wife to make room for another. He attacked Mark Antony in speeches known as the Philippicae, eventually prompting Antony to chop off his head and right hand and display them at the Roman Forum.[3]

Opposition research also has its origins in military planning, as evident in such ancient texts as The Art of War, published in the 5th century BC by Sun Tzu. This manual for warriors describes the necessity for understanding an opponent’s weaknesses, for using spies, and for striking in moments of weakness.

In 18th-century England, opposition research took the form of scandal-mongering pamphlet wars between the Whig and Tory parties. Writers such as Daniel DefoeJonathan Swift, and Henry Fielding participated, often writing under assumed names.[4] This tradition of robust attack was replicated later in the American colonies, when writers such as Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin conducted opposition research and published their results.

The first appearance of the phrase “opposition research” in the New York Times occurred on December 17, 1971, in an article that describes the infiltration of the Edmund Muskie presidential campaign by a female Republican volunteer: “…an article appeared in a Washington newspaper describing the ‘opposition research’ program at Republican headquarters…”[5]

Opposition research became systematized in the 1970s when Ken Khachigian, in the Nixon Administration, suggested that the GOP keep files on individuals as insurance against future races, rather than “scramble” in an ad hoc fashion race by race.[2]

Methods

Opposition research differs immensely depending on the size and funding of a campaign, the ethics of the candidate, and the era in which it is conducted. Information gathering can be classified into three main categories: open-source research enabled by the Freedom of Information Actcovert operations or “tradecraft, ” and maintenance of human systems of informants. Increasingly, data-mining of electronic records is used. Information is then stored for future use, and disseminated in a variety of ways.[6] A local election sometimes has a staff member dedicated to reading through all of the opponents’ public statements and their voting records; others initiate whisper campaigns that employ techniques of disinformation or “black ops” to deliberately mislead the public by advancing a pre-determined “narrative” that will present the opponent in a negative light.

Another technique is to infiltrate the opposition’s operations and position a paid informant there. “Gray propaganda” techniques are often used to release damaging information to news media outlets without its source being identified properly, a technique inherited from disinformation tactics employed by intelligence agencies such as the Office of Strategic Services during World War II.[7]

File-sharing between operatives of political parties is quite common. In the 2008 presidential election, a dossier of opposition research against Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin was posted in its entirety on a political blog site, Politico.com. The file was compiled by the staff of her opponent in the 2006 Alaska gubernatorial race, Tony Knowles.[8]

“Oppo dumps” are used by political campaigns to systematically supply files of damaging information to press outlets, including matters of the public record, video footage from party archives and private collections, as well as private intelligence gathered by operatives. Many prime time television and radio news commentaries rely on this supply of party-generated material because it is free, and therefore more cost-effective than paying investigative reporters.[9][10]

Candidates and incumbents who benefit from opposition research often choose to remain uninformed about their campaign’s operations and tactics, to ensure plausible deniability should criminal charges be brought against researchers.

“Trackers” and videography

Yet another technique is to position information or personnel within media outlets. Often the information is video footage gathered in campaign-funded “tracker programs” wherein videographers use candidates’ itineraries to track them and record as many remarks as possible, since anything they say can and will be used against them, as was the case in former Senator George Allen’s “macaca moment.”[2] In the 2006 election cycle, a Virginia senator, George Allen, was unseated because of videotape of the senator calling a videographer/opposition researcher as “macaca” or monkey. The name was considered to be an ethnic slur, and Allen’s campaign could not overcome the damage when the incident was broadcast widely in mainstream media and on the internet.[11]

Digital media and Wikipedia

A 2005 analysis of digital media strategies published by the American Academy of Political Science took the view that new technologies enable “political elites” to use database and Internet technologies to do opposition research more easily, but they use data-mining techniques that outrage privacy advocates and surreptitious technologies that few Internet users understand. Data becomes “richer” about political actors, policy options, and the diversity of actors and opinion in the public sphere, but citizenship is “thinner” by virtue of “the ease in which people can become politically expressive without being substantively engaged.”[12]

Facebook photos became a tool of opposition researchers in California’s 32nd congressional district special election, 2009 to replace Hilda Solis. Front-runner Democrat Gil Cedillo sent out mailers targeting 26-year-old Emanuel Pleitez, grouping Pleitez’s Facebook photos to suggest that he parties to excess with alcohol, and fraternizes with gangs. The text of the mailer suggested Pleitez, posing with a Latino stage actress and using a Latino voter registration drive hand sign, was “flashing gang signs”.[13]

In 2006, the campaign manager of Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cathy Cox, Morton Brilliant, resigned after Cox’s opponent, Lt. Gov, Mark Taylor, revealed Cox’s campaign had added information from an opposition research dossier to a Wikipedia page on Taylor. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales confirmed that the material had come from an IP address affiliated with the Cox campaign. Citing an Associated Press analysis, CNN reported that Wikipedia being used as a “popular tool” for opposition researchers became so widespread a problem that Wikipedia altered its submission guidelines and set up alerts so that its operators know when Capitol Hill staffers alter Wikipedia content.[14] However, anyone who wanted to could simply bypass this by using an IP address not associated with Capitol Hill.

Grassroots oppo-research

Opposition research is a necessary component of “grassroots” activist groups. Research on corporate or political opponents may enable activist groups to target neighborhoods from which to increase their numbers, to refine their focus or “target,” to pinpoint the target’s vulnerabilities, to reveal hidden sources of funding or little-known connections, to investigate scare tactics, and to augment a legislative initiative.[15]

In the presidential election of 2008, the blog Talking Points Memo pioneered “collaborative citizen-reporting projects” based on groups of volunteers examining public documents that shed light on the George W. Bush administration’s U.S. attorneys firings controversy. Other organizations such as the Sunlight Foundation encouraged citizen examination of such public domain records as Mitt Romney’s financial disclosure statements and Bill Clinton’s income statements.[16]

Preventive measures

Political strategies for campaigns often include coaching on preventive measures to avoid providing too much information in public disclosure procedures that can provide ammunition for opponents’ opposition researchers, particularly in itemized expenditure reports. “To eliminate some of these potential issues your campaign should take the time to review the wording of your campaign finance reports”, advises one strategist writing for The Hill:

Instead of reporting that you spent $3,000 on a ‘background check and public records search on Congressman X,’ list the expenditure as ‘issue research’ or simply ‘research’… One bonus financial filing tip: warn your candidate about spending campaign funds on fancy restaurants for ‘strategy meetings.’ Eating at Ruth’s Chris or Morton’s Steak House on your campaign’s dime just looks bad. The press may poke a little fun at your candidate’s expense; your donors may feel their donation in being misspent and may never give again.[17]

Funding and institutions

Congressional and presidential opposition research is often conducted by or funded by a political party, lobbying group, political action committee (PAC), or a 527 group that coalesces around a certain issue. In the U.S., both the Republican and Democratic parties employ full-time “Directors of Research” and maintain databases on opponents. In recent years the task of opposition research has been privatized in many areas. Full-time companies with permanent staff specializing in media productions or “grassroots” operations have replaced volunteers and campaign officials. Political media consultants may also opt for astroturfing techniques, which simulate wide popular appeal for a candidate’s platform.

In presidential elections

Opponents of Andrew Jackson in the 1824 and 1828 presidential elections unearthed his marriage records to imply that he was an adulterer for marrying Rachel Robards before she was legally divorced from her first husband. Jackson had married her in 1791 on the strength of a statement from her husband that he had divorced her; Jackson had two wedding ceremonies, the not-recognizable one of 1791 and the legally corrective one of 1794. His political opponents used this information decades later against him, and he fought many duels over his wife’s honor. Rachel Robards died before Jackson took office in his first term; he maintained that the stress of the opposition had killed her.[18]

In 1858, William Herndon, the law partner of Abraham Lincoln, did research in the Illinois State Library to collect “all the ammunition Mr. Lincoln saw fit to gather” to prepare for the run against Stephen A. Douglas in the 1860 presidential race.[19]

In preparation for Ronald Reagan’s debate with President Jimmy Carter in the presidential race 1980, Reagan’s campaign staff acquired under mysterious circumstances a 200-page briefing book, including information on Carter’s strategy, which staffers David Stockmanand David Gergen had used to prepare Reagan. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department investigated to see how the information had been obtained by the Reagan camp. Two law professors filed suit in federal district court in Washington to request a special investigation, based on the 1978 Ethics in Government Act.[20] Carter’s staff believed the book to have been stolen from the White House, but the inquiry did not uncover any credible evidence that any law had been violated. The House of Representatives conducted its own investigation, and concluded in a 2,314-page report that the Reagan staff had two copies of the book, one from Reagan’s campaign director William J. Casey, future head of the Central Intelligence Agency.[21] James Baker attributed the acquisition of the documents to Casey, who claimed to know nothing about them, and an analysis of Carter campaign documents found in the “Afghanistan” files of Reagan aide David Gergen indicated they came from three White House offices: the National Security Council, Vice President Walter Mondale and Domestic Adviser Stuart Eizenstat.[22] Many years afterward, Carter himself stated in a PBS interview that the book had been taken by columnist George Will, but Will denied it, calling Carter “a recidivist liar.”[23]

Lee Atwater is considered to be the “father” of modern aggressive “oppo” techniques. Atwater honed his style working in his native South Carolina for Senator Strom Thurmond and to elect Congressman (later Governor) Carroll Campbell. From his posts on the 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Atwater encouraged and helped direct what was then the advanced oppo work of the Republican National Committee against Democrats Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis. During the 1988 presidential campaign, dozens of RNC researchers worked three shifts around the clock to feed the then-burgeoning 24-hour news cycle. The now-infamous “Willie Horton” TV ads crafted by Floyd Brown helped turn voters away from Dukakis and towards the Republican, although Atwater and Bush were protected by plausible deniability because Brown’s ads were independently funded and produced. Academic research into the Bush archives decades later revealed that a Bush staffer, Candice Strother, had released a dossier of information on Willie Horton to Elizabeth Fediay, of the non-profit group that contracted for the ad.[24] (The Horton story had been completely public for an entire year, part of news coverage that won a Pulitzer Prize for the Lawrence (Mass.) Eagle-Tribune newspaper.) Willie Horton was an African-American convicted murderer released on a weekend furlough during Governor Dukakis’s tenure, who escaped and committed a brutal rape in Maryland, also stabbing his victim’s husband.[25] Atwater is also credited with originating “push polls” and “whisper campaigns” that use disinformation strategies to alienate voters from opponents. A biography of Atwater, quotes him as saying in an interview toward the end of his life that he regretted some of his less ethical techniques.[26]

In the 1992 presidential campaign, Republicans reported that they spent $6 million on a “state of the art (opposition research) war machine” to investigate Bill Clinton, who was running against George H. W. Bush. In the same election, the Clinton campaign paid more than $100,000 to a private investigator to look into allegations about Clinton’s womanizing, investigating more than two dozen women.[27]

In the 2000 presidential election, longtime opposition researcher and Nixon loyalist Roger Stone was recruited by former Secretary of State James Baker to oversee the recount of the disputed Presidential election in Miami-Dade County in 2000. Stone is credited with organizing the street demonstrations and eventual shut-down of the recount in that pivotal county.[28]

In the 2004 presidential race, Chris Lehane, a Democratic opposition researcher attracted notoriety and built a reputation not for deploying his skills against Republican opponents, but for using them against other Democrats in the primary races. Working for retired Army general Wesley Clark, Lehane sought to establish a media “narrative” that Howard Dean was hypocritical and dishonest, based on surveys of his administrative archive as governor of Vermont.[29]

A protege of Atwater’s, Karl Rove, is considered to be the “architect” of George W. Bush’s election to the governor’s office in Texas, and to the presidency in 2000 and 2004. In the 2000 race, Rove is credited with masterminding the push poll that initiated the “John McCainhas a black love child” whisper campaign in South Carolina.[30] Anonymous telephone pollsters, upon determining that a voter was pro-McCain, asked the question, “Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain if you knew he had fathered a black child out of wedlock?” The question was not overt slander, but it prompted the president of Bob Jones University to launch his own internet campaign against McCain, and succeeded in crippling the trust of voters McCain had attracted. The Bush camp knew, as the general public did not, that in reality, John McCain was the adoptive father of a dark-skinned Bangladeshi refugee who was rescued by his wife Cindi.[31]

In the 2008 presidential election, opposition researchers for Barack Obama unearthed the fact that John Edwards had paid $400 for haircuts at campaign expense, and supplied Politico’s Ben Smith with the tip, according to a memoir later published by campaign manager David Plouffe.[32] Though the Democratic National Committee continues to fund a research department, after the 2008 presidential election, the New York Times reported that “The legacy of the Democratic National Committee itself is hardly clear going forward. Mr. Obama effectively subsumed all the responsibilities in his campaign: fundraising, voter turn-out and opposition research.[33]

Executive branch

  • Franklin Roosevelt Administration: In 1940, the White House accidentally taped a conversation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt instructing a lower level aide to disseminate a rumor about his opponent Wendell Willkie having an extramarital affair: “We can’t have any of our principal speakers refer to it, but the people down the line can get it out.”[34]
  • Johnson Administration: In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent 30 FBI agents to the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, N.J., to avert assassination attempts, and to monitor his political rival Robert Kennedy and civil rights activists. Johnson later also placed his Republican challenger, Barry Goldwater, under FBI surveillance, with a federal wiretap.[35]
  • Nixon Administration: During the Richard Nixon administration, White House staffers compiled lists of names of political opponents, journalists who had criticized Nixon, and artists and actors (such as Jane Fonda and Paul Newman) who had dissented with Nixon policy, especially on the subject of Vietnam, with the intent of prompting Internal Revenue Service investigations. The full extent of Nixon’s surveillance of private citizens solely on the basis of their dissent was not known until years after Nixon was forced to resign, as former staff members such as Charles Colson and John Dean began to disclose details.[citation needed] Nixon’s Enemies List is the informal name of what started as a list of President Richard Nixon’s major political opponents compiled by Charles Colson, written by George T. Bell [1] (assistant to Colson, special counsel to the White House) and sent in memorandum form to John Dean on September 9, 1971. The list was part of a campaign officially known as “Opponents List” and “Political Enemies Project.” The official purpose, as described by the White House Counsel’s Office, was to “screw” Nixon’s political enemies, by means of tax audits from the IRS, and by manipulating “grant availability, federal contracts, litigation, prosecution, etc.”[36]
  • Ford Administration: During the Gerald Ford presidency, Deputy Assistant Dick Cheney suggested in a now-infamous memo to Donald Rumsfeld that the White House use the United States Justice Department to conduct opposition research and retaliate against political opponents and critical journalists such as Seymour Hersh and the New York Times, arguing that the executive branch had the power to prosecute journalists as they saw fit, under the provisions of the Espionage Act of 1917.[37]
  • Reagan Administration: In 1984, during the Ronald Reagan presidency, the Republican National Committee formed The Opposition Research Group, with its own budget of $1.1 million. These staff amassed information on eight Democratic presidential candidates based on data from voting records, Congressional Record speeches, media clippings and transcripts, campaign materials, all of which was stored on a computer for easy access. In this way the Reagan team was able to track inconsistencies and attack them. This original data base evolved into a network that linked information gleaned by Republicans in all 50 states, creating a master data base accessible to high-ranking Republican staff, even aboard Air Force One.[38] Though this RNC database was accessible to both the Reagan White House and campaign team, no evidence has surfaced that U.S. federal dollars funded The Opposition Research Group or its efforts.
  • Clinton Administration: During the Bill Clinton administration, the “Filegate” scandal erupted when White House staffers said to be acting on the directions of First Lady Hillary Clinton improperly accessed 500 FBI files compiled for security checks of Reagan and Bush staffers in previous administrations. Craig Livingstone, said to be hired by Mrs. Clinton with dubious credentials, resigned amid public outcry. In testimony under oath during the Kenneth Starr special prosecutor’s investigation, Mrs. Clinton stated that she had neither hired Livingstone nor improperly perused the files.[39]
  • George W. Bush Administration: Two former opposition researchers for the RNC appointed to Justice Department posts, Timothy Griffin and Monica Goodling, were implicated in efforts to use data collected on Democratic-appointed federal attorneys as ground for dismissal. See Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy. See also Karl Rove. Also during this administration, Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), an intelligence gathering arm of the Pentagon was disbanded in 2008, after investigations into the bribery activities directed at Duke Cunningham revealed that the U.S. government kept a sizeable database of information about 126 domestic peace activist groups, including Quakers, about 1,500 “suspicious incidents” including peace demonstrations outside armed forces recruiter offices, even though the groups posed no specified threat to national security. The program was known as Talon. About two years elapsed between the program’s disbanding and the Post report. The Washington Post quoted an unnamed “official” as saying,”On the surface, it looks like things in the database that were determined not to be viable threats were never deleted but should have been,” the official said. “You can also make the argument that these things should never have been put in the database in the first place until they were confirmed as threats.”[40]
  • Barack Obama Administration: In February 2009, Shauna Daly, a former opposition researcher for the Democratic National Committee was appointed as a researcher for the White House’s Office of Legal Counsel. Daly was Barack Obama‘s deputy research director during the presidential campaign, spent much of the cycle rebutting viral online attacks on Obama’s character and biography under the rubric of “Stop the Smears.” Shortly thereafter, amid speculations that she would be conducting research against political opponents, she was reassigned as Research Director to the DNC. Politico.com reported on February 27, 2009 that “the counsel’s office – which doesn’t face the sort of rapid-response demands that were common in the late Clinton years – doesn’t plan to fill the research post.”[41]The American Spectator reported on its “Washington Prowler” blog that Daly was posted in the White House Counsel’s Office for “about a month,” and thus had access to “reams of Bush administration documents related to such things as the firings of U.S. Attorney, the use and internal debate over the USA PATRIOT ActFISA and the Scooter Libby and Karl Rove investigations. The “Prowler” quoted “a DNC staffer” as saying, “She realized that she could do more with all the material she saw outside of the building than inside where she’d be bound by the rules and legalities of the White House Counsel’s Office. Now she isn’t. She’s good at what she does; her time at the White House means we’ve got a mother load (sic) of material that will have Republicans scrambling. At least that’s what we hope.”[42]

Supreme Court

In 1916, after President Woodrow Wilson nominated Louis Brandeis for the Supreme Court, “concerned” citizens seeking to block his confirmation offered information that Brandeis was a “radical Zionist,” even though he was not a practicing Jew. Brandeis aggressively outmaneuvered his detractors by mounting his own opposition research efforts, including a carefully constructed chart that exposed the social and financial connections of the group, mostly from Boston’s Back Bay, and including Harvard president Lawrence Lowell, as well as a group headed by former President William Howard Taft and a host of American Bar Association past presidents. Brandeis sent the chart to Walter Lippman at the New Republic who penned an editorial condemning “the most homogeneous, self-centered, and self-complacent community in the United States.” Brandeis was confirmed after four months of hearings, in a Senate vote of 47–22.[43]

Ronald Reagan nominated Judge Robert Bork for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987, prompting a Senate floor speech from Democratic Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy, which later became known as the “Robert Bork’s America” speech:

Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is – and is often the only – protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy.

Kennedy’s speech prompted a rapid-response opposition research effort from Democrats, but the White House waited two and a half months to respond. The Senate Judiciary Committee, under the direction of Delaware senator and presidential hopeful Joseph Biden, commissioned a report in response to the materials Reagan’s staff had released in support of Bork’s nomination. Prepared by a panel of lawyers, including two Duke University law professors, the 78-page became known as “The Biden Report.” The report detailed Bork’s record, and analyzed the pattern of his rulings, and deeming him to be a conservative “activist” rather than an impartial jurist Ultimately, Bork’s embattled nomination failed, and Anthony Kennedy (no relation to Ted) was later confirmed to fill the position.[44][45] The fierce research-based opposition to Bork’s nomination attracted significant media attention, even though a Gallup Poll on the eve of the confirmation vote showed that very few Americans could name the nominee in question, much less recall his rulings.[46] A new verb was later coined; “to bork” a candidate or nominee by mounting such voluminous research and vocal opposition that the person in question would be forced to withdraw.[47]

After President George W. Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Boston Globe reported that Republican conservative advocacy groups were conducting opposition research against her: “Groups are circulating lists of questions they want members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to ask Miers at her confirmation hearings. The activists’ thinly veiled hope is that Miers will reveal ignorance of the law and give senators a reason to oppose her.”[48] Miers later withdrew her name from consideration for the court.

On July 7, 2005, soon after the resignation of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the Democratic National Committee gathered and circulated information on the “anti-civil rights” and “anti-immigrant” rulings of Samuel A. Alito, Jr., by then nominated by President George W. Bush to replace her. Upon inspection, the documents were revealed to have been amended by Devorah Adler, research director for the DNC. Alito’s “record” had been pointedly altered to present him in a negative light. While the incident was not unusual, it received publicity in prominent places because it drew attention to the “meta-data” that is often unwittingly stored in documents that are altered and forwarded electronically.[49]

On May 2, 2009, after Supreme Court Justice David Souter announced his intent to retire from the court, the New York Times reported that Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice, had noted that conservatives were “focusing opposition research efforts on 17 women, whom they have divided into two tiers based on their perceived chances.”[50]

U.S. states

Seven aides to members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives pleaded guilty on January 7, 2010, to illegal use of state resources for campaign activities, including opposition research against the political opponents of incumbent officeholders during 2007. These seven were Democrats; a total of 25 indictments have been handed down to a mix of Democrats and Republican politicians.[51]

During Lamar Alexander‘s 2002 campaign for the U.S. Senate, Alexander’s campaign staff received an anonymous mailing of a photograph of opponent Bob Clement obviously serving as a board member of a failed bank whose owners had been imprisoned for bank fraud. When the Alexander campaign raised the issue of Clement’s financial ties with the convicted felons, Clement denied any connection. When the Alexander campaign produced the photograph as evidence, Clement claimed his role was only an informal advisory one.[52]

In early July 2009 Alaska governor Sarah Palin announced that she would be resigning as governor, partly due to complications from opposition research and ethics inquiries after her inclusion on the 2008 GOP presidential race ballot as John McCain’s running mate. At a later news conference Palin told reporters, “Obviously conditions had changed so drastically on August 29, the day I was tapped to be VP,” she said. “The opposition research and the games that began there — which I think is the new normal in Alaska politics, until I hand the reins over to Sean Parnell — have been so distracting.”[53]

In the Pennsylvania state legislature in July 2009, former state House Democratic Campaign Committee Chair, Rep. Stephen Stetler found himself amidst an investigation when he rejected a plan that would have shifted the job of opposition research from employees on the state payroll to private firms. Attorney General Tom Corbett alleged that millions in public funds were paid to state employees who did such research on the 2006 and 2004 campaigns of Democrats in the state. Stetler left the House after 2006 to become the state’s revenue secretary. A former aide, Dan Wiedemer testified before grand jurors that the suggestion to remove politically motivated research from the hands of public employees “was more or less shot down.” Though Stetler has not been charged, 12 former House members and members of their staff were charged with diverting public funds for political campaign work.[54] Stetler was among those subpoenaed, said Chuck Ardo, a spokesman for Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell. The hearing will be held before President Judge Richard Lewis in September.[55]

In other countries

Australia

In October 2011, a media storm erupted in Australia over the leaking of ‘dirt files’ compiled by the Liberal National Party and further revelations that a former Australian Labor Party operative had been engaged to help compile the dossiers.[56]

Despite protestations that key party personnel had no knowledge of the dossiers it was later revealed a Liberal National Party opposition research strategist had been compiling the files as part of a SWOT analysis at previous elections which formed the basis of negative attack messaging for a ‘rapid response unit’.[57]

South Africa

In January 2017, the African National Congress (ANC) was exposed when Sihle Bolani filed an affidavit in the Johannesburg High Court, demanding payment for her part in project War Room. The War Room’s mandate was to “disempower DA and EFF campaigns” and set a pro-ANC agenda using a range of media, without revealing the ANC’s hand.[58]

Mass media ethics

The practice of using tips from opposition research sources was examined in 1994 by Howard Kurtz, media analyst for The Washington Post. Kurtz surveyed the major networks, NewsweekThe Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and other influential media outlets, and found varying levels of use of oppo research information on David Hale as a witness in the Whitewater controversy. At this time, Brown confirmed that he had been the source of four mainstream media stories that had received attention from the Columbia Journalism Review because they bore striking resemblance to the opposition research being disseminated by Citizens United.[59]

“Far from being detached observers, reporters constantly call oppo staffs looking for tidbits and sometimes trading information,” wrote three reporters, Matthew CooperGloria Borger, and Michael Barone, for U.S. News & World Report in 1992.[60]

Political infighting

In spring 2007, Roger Stone, a political consultant in the employ of New York state senator Joseph Bruno, resigned after leaving threatening phone messages on the answering machine of the 85-year-old father of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, alleging that Spitzer’s campaign finances were conducted improperly.[61] In November of that same year, Stone sent a letter to the FBI detailing Spitzer’s sexual preferences with prostitutes and sexual props, right down to his black calf-length socks.[62] Stone was considered to be an authoritative source because he frequented the same prostitutes himself as a client. A subsequent Justice Department investigation produced evidence that ultimately led to Spitzer’s resignation as governor. Bruno, Stone’s client, has been a longtime political enemy of Spitzer.

In popular culture

The television show House of Cards depicts many examples of opposition research, particularly the character of Doug Stamper, the loyal adviser to Francis “Frank” Underwood, who regularly engages in the practice with little morality and few ethics.

References …

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

 

Christopher Steele

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Christopher Steele
Born 24 June 1964 (age 54)

Education Girton College, Cambridge (BA)
Occupation Secret Intelligence Service(1987–2009)
Private intelligence consultant

Christopher David Steele (born 24 June 1964) is a British former intelligence officer with the Secret Intelligence Service MI6 from 1987 until his retirement in 2009. He ran the Russia desk at MI6 headquarters in London between 2006 and 2009. In 2009 he co-founded Orbis Business Intelligence, a London-based private intelligence firm.

Steele authored a dossier that claims Russia collected a file of compromising information on U.S. President Donald Trump.[1][2]

It has been claimed[3][4] by President Donald Trump and his supporters that U.S. intelligence community probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election were launched due to Steele’s dossier.[5] The House Intelligence Committee, then in Republican control, concluded in an April 2018 report that the probe was triggered based on information on Trump adviser George Papadopoulos; meanwhile the February 2018 Nunes memo written by staff members for that committee also reached the same conclusion.[6][7]

Contents

Early life

Christopher David Steele was born in the Yemeni city of Aden (then part of the Federation of South Arabia), on 24 June 1964.[8][9] His parents, Perris and Janet, had met while working at the Met Office, the United Kingdom’s national weather service. His paternal grandfather was a coal miner from Pontypridd in Wales.[10] Steele spent time growing up in Aden, the Shetland Islands, and Cyprus, as well as at Wellington College, Berkshire.[10]

Steele matriculated at Girton College, Cambridge in 1982. While at the University of Cambridge, he wrote for the student newspaperVarsity.[8][10][11] In the Easter term of 1986, Steele was President of The Cambridge Union debating society.[12][13] He graduated with a degree in Social and Political Sciences in 1986.[14]

Career

Steele was recruited by MI6 directly following his graduation from Cambridge, working in London at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) from 1987 to 1989.[9] From 1990 to 1993, Steele worked under diplomatic cover as an MI6 agent in Moscow, serving at the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Moscow.[8][13][15] Steele was an “internal traveller”, visiting newly-accessible cities such as Samara and Kazan.[10][16][17]

He returned to London in 1993, working again at the FCO until his posting with the British Embassy in Paris in 1998, where he served under diplomatic cover until 2002. But Steele’s identity as an MI6 officer and a hundred and sixteen other British spies had their cover blown by an anonymously published list that Her Majesty’s Government attempted to suppress through a DSMA-Notice in 1999.[18][8][15][19][20][21]

In 2003, Steele was sent to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan as part of an MI6 team, briefing Special Forces on “kill or capture” missions for Taliban targets, and also spent time teaching new MI6 recruits.[15] Steele returned to London and between 2006 and 2009 he headed the Russia Desk at MI6.[8][10][13][22]

Steele’s expertise on Russia remained valued, and he served as a senior officer under John Scarlett, Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), from 2004 to 2009.[22] Steele was selected as case officer for Alexander Litvinenko and participated in the investigation of the Litvinenko poisoning in 2006.[15] It was Steele who quickly realised that Litvinenko’s death “was a Russian state ‘hit'”.[22] Twelve years later he allegedly was included himself into a hit list of the Russian Federal Security Service, along with Sergei Skripal who was poisoned in 2018 by a binary chemical weapon Novichok in Britain.[23]

Since 2009 Steele has not been to Russia, or visited any former Soviet states and in 2012, an Orbis informant quoted an FSB-agent describing him as an “enemy of Mother Russia”.[8] Steele has refrained from travelling to the United States since his identity became public, citing the political and legal situation.[24]

Steele has worked with Oleg Deripaska.[25]

Private sector

In March 2009, Steele with his fellow MI6-retiree Chris Burrows co-founded the private intelligence agency Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd., based in Grosvenor Square Gardens.[26][13] Between 2014 and 2016, Steele created over 100 reports on Russian and Ukrainian issues, which were read within the United States Department of State, and he was viewed as credible by the United States intelligence community.[10] The business was commercially successful, grossing approximately $20,000,000 in the first nine years of operation.[8]

Steele ran an investigation dubbed “Project Charlemagne”, which noted Russian interference in the domestic politics of FranceItalyGermanyTurkey, and the United Kingdom.[8] Steele concluded in April 2016 that Russia was engaged in an information warfarecampaign with the goal of destroying the European Union.[8]

In 2017, Steele established a new company called Chawton Holdings, again with Christopher Burrows.[27] In November 2018, Steele sued the German industrial group Bilfinger, alleging that the company owed €150,000 for an investigation into Bilfinger’s activities in Nigeria and Sakhalin.[28]

FIFA research

In 2010, The Football Association (FA), England’s domestic football governing body, organized a committee in hopes of hosting the 2018 or 2022 World Cups.[29] The FA hired Steele’s company to investigate FIFA (International Federation of Association Football). In advance of the FBI launching its 2015 FIFA corruption case, members of the FBI’s Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force met with Steele in London to discuss allegations of possible corruption in FIFA.[26][30] Steele’s research indicated that Russian Deputy Prime MinisterIgor Sechin had rigged the bidding of the 2018 World Cups by employing bribery.[8]

Trump dossier

Background and information gathering

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

The firm was subsequently hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee through their shared attorney at Perkins Coie, Marc Elias. Fusion GPS then hired Steele[31] to investigate Trump’s Russia-related activities.[26] According to CNNHillary Clinton‘s campaign and the Democratic National Committee took over the financing of the inquiry into Donald Trump and produced what became known as the Trump dossier.[32]

In July 2016, Steele supplied a report he had written to an FBI agent in Rome.[33] His contact at the FBI was the same senior agent with whom he had worked when investigating the FIFA scandal.[15][8]

In September 2016, Steele held a series of off the record meetings with journalists from The New York TimesThe Washington PostYahoo! NewsThe New Yorker and CNN.[10] In October 2016, Steele spoke about his discoveries to David Corn of the progressive American political magazine Mother Jones. Steele said he decided to pass his dossier to both British and American intelligence officials after concluding that the material should not just be in the hands of political opponents of Trump, but was a matter of national security for both countries.[34] Corn’s resulting 31 October article in Mother Jones was the first to publicly mention the dossier, although the article did not disclose Steele’s identity.[34] The magazine did not publish the dossier itself, however, or detail its allegations, since they could not be verified.[35]

Post-election work on the dossier

Steele continued to work for Fusion GPS on the dossier without a client to pay him.[36] After the election, Steele’s dossier “became one of Washington’s worst-kept secrets, and journalists worked to verify the allegations.[36] On 18 November 2016, Sir Andrew Wood, British ambassador to Moscow from 1995 to 2000, met with U.S. Senator John McCain at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, and told McCain about the existence of the collected materials about Trump.[37] Wood vouched for Steele’s professionalism and integrity.[38] In early December, McCain obtained a copy of the dossier from David J. Kramer, a former U.S. State Department official working at Arizona State University.[36] On 9 December 2016, McCain met personally with FBI Director James Comey to pass on the information.[37]

In a second memo Steele wrote in November 2016, after the termination of his contract with Fusion, he reported that Russian officials had claimed that Russia had blocked Donald Trump from nominating Mitt Romney to be his Secretary of State, due to Romney’s hawkishness on Russia.[8][39]

Revealed identity

On 11 January 2017, The Wall Street Journal revealed that Steele was the author of the dossier about Trump, citing “people familiar with the matter”.[2] Although the dossier’s existence had been “common knowledge” among journalists for months at that point and had become public knowledge during the previous week, Steele’s name had not been revealed. The Telegraph asserted that Steele’s anonymity had been “fatally compromised” after CNN published his nationality.[31]

The Independent reported that Steele left his home in England several hours before his name was published as the author of the dossier, as he was fearful of retaliation by Russian authorities.[31] In contrast, The Washington Post reported that he left after he had been identified earlier in the day by the initial Wall Street Journal report.[40]

Christopher Burrows, director of Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd., said he would not “confirm or deny” that Orbis had produced the dossier.[41]

Steele’s relationship with the FBI ended, variously associated with either the public revelation of Steele’s identity, or Steele’s release of information to the press, or Steele’s denial to the FBI of having spoken to the press.[42][43] One source dates this event to late October 2016.[44]

On 7 March 2017, as some members of the United States Congress were expressing interest in meeting with or hearing testimony from Steele, he reemerged after weeks in hiding, appearing publicly on camera and stating, “I’m really pleased to be back here working again at the Orbis’s offices in London today”.[45]

Disclosure and reactions

In early January 2017, a two-page summary of the Trump dossier was presented to President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump in meetings with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers.[46]

On 10 January 2017, BuzzFeed was the first media outlet to publish the full 35-page dossier. In publishing the Trump dossier, BuzzFeed stated that it had been unable to verify or corroborate the allegations.[47] The UK issued a DSMA notice on 10 January 2017, requesting that the media not release Steele’s identity,[48] although the BBC and other UK news media released the information in news stories the same day.[16] Trump vigorously denied the dossier’s allegations, calling it fake news during a press conference.[49] Vladimir Putin also dismissed the claims.[50]

Ynet, an Israeli online news site, reported that American intelligence advised Israeli intelligence officers to be cautious about sharing information with the incoming Trump administration, until the possibility of Russian influence over Trump, suggested by Steele’s report, has been fully investigated.[51]

Former British ambassador to Russia, Sir Tony Brenton, read Steele’s report. Speaking on Sky News he said, “I’ve seen quite a lot of intelligence on Russia, and there are some things in it which look pretty shaky”. Brenton expressed some doubts due to discrepancies in how the dossier described aspects of the hacking activities, as well as Steele’s ability to penetrate the Kremlin and Russian security agencies, given that he is an outsider.[52]

On 15 March 2017, former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell raised questions about the dossier. He was concerned about the accuracy of the information, due to the approach taken by Steele to gather it. Steele gave money to intermediaries and the intermediaries paid the sources. Morell said, “Unless you know the sources, and unless you know how a particular source acquired a particular piece of information, you can’t judge the information – you just can’t”. Morell continues to believe that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[53]

Role in the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation

Although the dossier later became one factor among many in the Russia investigation, it had no role in the start of the investigation. This fact has been the subject of intense discussion and controversy, largely fueled by false claims made by Trump and his supporters.[54][55][56]

In early February 2018, the Nunes memo, written by aides of Republican U.S. Representative Devin Nunes (who was at the time the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee), described that the information on George Papadopoulos “triggered the opening of” the original FBI investigation in late July 2016 into links between the Trump campaign and Russia.[57] In late February 2018, a rebuttal memo by Democrats in the House Intelligence Committee stated that “Christopher Steele’s reporting … played no role in launching the counterintelligence investigation … In fact, Steele’s reporting did not reach the counterintelligence team investigating Russia at FBI headquarters until mid-September 2016, more than seven weeks after the FBI opened its investigation, because the probe’s existence was so closely held within the FBI.”[58][59]

In April 2018, the House Intelligence Committee, then in Republican control, released a final report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential American election, which stated that the House Intelligence Committee found that “in late July 2016, the FBI opened an enterprise CI [counterintelligence] investigation into the Trump campaign following the receipt of derogatory information about foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos”.[6][7][60]

Role in subsequent investigations

In the summer of 2017, two Republican staffers for the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence travelled to London to investigate the dossier, visiting the office of Steele’s lawyer but not meeting with Steele.[61] In August 2018, RepresentativeDevin Nunes, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, travelled to London in an attempt to meet with the heads of MI5MI6, and GCHQ for information about Steele, but was rebuffed by the three agencies.[62][63]

Steele reportedly revealed the identities of the sources used in the dossier to the FBI.[64] Investigators from Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation team met with Steele in September 2017 to interview him about the dossier’s claims.[65][66] The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is in continued contact with lawyers representing Steele.[67]

On April 5, 2019 the Senate Intelligence Committee sent a letter to Walter Soriano the owner of USG Security Limited based in Britain and Israel for his communication with Paul ManafortMichael Flynn, Psy-Group,Wikistrat, and Black CubeOrbis Business Intelligence(a firm co-founded by Christopher Steele).[68][69]

Legal action

In February 2017, lawyers for Russian internet entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev filed a libel suit against Steele in London. Gubarev claimed he was defamed by allegations in the dossier.[70]

In August 2017, lawyers for Gubarev demanded Steele give a deposition regarding the dossier, as part of a libel lawsuit against BuzzFeed News[71][72][73] filed in February.[74] Steele objected to testifying but his objections were rejected by U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Mancusi Ungaro, who allowed the deposition to proceed.[75][76][74]

In April 2018, Mikhail FridmanPetr Aven, and German Khan – the owners of Alfa Bank – filed a libel suit against Steele, who mentioned the bank in the Trump–Russia dossier. The lawsuit is filed in Washington D.C.[77] The lawsuit was dismissed by Judge Anthony C. Epstein on August 20, 2018.[78][79]

Senate Republicans’ referral for a criminal investigation[edit]

On 5 January 2018, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, joined by senior Republican member Lindsey Graham, issued a criminal referral regarding Steele to the Justice Department for it to investigate whether Steele had lied to the FBI about his interactions with the media.[80][81][82][83] Because the referral is based on classified FBI documents, the context in which the Republican senators allege Steele to have lied is limited to references that he discussed the dossier with media outlets.[83] Both Grassley and Graham declared that they were not alleging that Steele “had committed any crime. Rather, they had passed on the information for ‘further investigation only'”.[84]

The referral was met with skepticism from legal experts, as well as members of both parties on the Judiciary Committee.[82] Fusion GPS lawyer Joshua A. Levy said that the referral was just another effort to discredit the investigation into Russian interference in the election and that: “After a year of investigations into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, the only person Republicans seek to accuse of wrongdoing is one who reported on these matters to law enforcement in the first place”.[82] Veteran prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg called the referral “nonsense” because “the FBI doesn’t need any prompting from politicians to prosecute people who have lied to them.”[82] Another former federal prosecutor, Justin Dillon said that “it was too early to assume the letter was simply a political attack”. The senior Democrat on the Committee, Dianne Feinstein, said that the referral was made without consultation of any Democrats on the committee and released a five-page rebuttal.[85] A Republican aide said that Grassley and Graham were “carrying water for the White House”; that their actions did not reflect the views of the committee as a whole; and that other members were upset with Grassley over the matter.[82]

In an opinion-editorial for Politico, former CIA official John Sipher said that the attacks on Steele, a private citizen who provided information to the FBI that alarmed him, will make future tipsters less likely to approach American law enforcement with information that bears on national security.[86]

Personal life

His first wife, Laura, with whom he had three children, died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2012; he and his second wife Katherine had one child and are raising all four children together.[8] He currently lives in Farnham, Surrey.[8]

References …

Further reading

External links

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

 

Fusion GPS

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Fusion GPS
Founded 2011
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Key people
Glenn R. Simpson
Website www.fusiongps.com

Fusion GPS is a commercial research and strategic intelligence firm based in Washington, D.C. The company conducts open-source investigations and provides research and strategic advice for businesses, law firms and investors, as well as for political inquiries, such as opposition research.[1] The “GPS” initialism is derived from “Global research, Political analysis, Strategic insight”.[2]

Contents

History

The company was co-founded in 2011 by Glenn R. Simpson, a former investigative reporter and journalist for Roll Call and The Wall Street Journal; Peter Fritsch, former Wall Street Journal senior editor; and former Wall Street Journal journalist Thomas Catan.[3]

Work

Opposition research on Mitt Romney

Fusion GPS was hired in 2012 to do opposition research on U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney.[3] In February 2012, the magazine Mother Jones published an article on Frank VanderSloot and his company Melaleuca, who combined had given $1 million to a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney. After the article was published, an intern at Fusion GPS did a search of Idaho court records on VanderSloot by phone and fax. In January 2013, VanderSloot sued Mother Jones for defamation in the February 2012 article. In the course of the litigation, VanderSloot deposed Fusion GPS founder Simpson on the “theory that Mother Jones conspired with Obama’s team to defame VanderSloot”.[4][5][6] The seventh Judicial District Court of the State of Idaho dismissed the lawsuit in 2015.[7]

Planned Parenthood

In August 2015, Planned Parenthood retained Fusion GPS to defensively investigate the veracity of a series of undercover videos released by anti-abortion activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt from The Center for Medical Progress that they claim showed Planned Parenthood officials agreeing to sell fetal tissues obtained through abortions to medical researchers. Fusion GPS hired video and transcription experts to analyze the videos and summarized the findings in a forensic report.[8] The report claimed that the “unedited” videos posted by activists had been “heavily edited”. The anti-abortion activists attributed the gaps to “bathroom breaks and waiting periods.”[9] The report was provided to U.S. congressional leadership as evidence as they were considering funding and other issues related to Planned Parenthood operations.[10]

After a grand jury declined to indict Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing, on March 28, 2017, Daleiden and Merritt were charged with 15 felonies in the State of California – one for each of the people whom they had filmed without consent, and one for criminal conspiracy to invade privacy.[10] On 21 June 2017, fourteen of these charges were dismissed, with leave to amend, on the grounds that they were legally insufficient.[11] On June 30, 2017, state prosecutors refiled the 14 dismissed charges with numerical identifications for each video.[12][13] On August 24, 2017, the San Francisco Superior Court rejected new defense motions to dismiss the charges and allowed the case to proceed. Daleiden then pleaded not guilty, while Merritt did not enter a plea at the time.[13]

Prevezon Holding

In 2013, the US Department of Justice, represented by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, sued Prevezon Holding, a Republic of Cyprus corporation registered in New York State as a foreign business corporation, under the Magnitsky Act for money-laundering part of $230 million stolen. The lawsuit sought forfeiture of various assets and real estate holdings in the US.[14][15] In May 2017, two months after President Trump had dismissed Bharara, the lawsuit was settled for $6 million, less than half what Bhahara sought[16], without Prevezon admitting to any wrongdoing and with both sides claiming victory.[14][17]

The sole shareholder of Prevezon was Russian citizen Denis Katsyv, whose father is Petr Katsyv, vice president of Russia’s state-run rail monopoly and “reportedly a business associate of Vladimir Yakunin, a confidant of Vladimir Putin“.[15][18] Katsyv’s Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was not licensed to practice in the US, and Katsyv hired the law firm of BakerHostetler to represent Prevezon; BakerHostetler hired Fusion GPS in early 2014 to provide research help for the litigation.[19][20][18][21]

On October 18, 2016, the appellate court disqualified BakerHostetler from the case because they had represented Bill Browder’s hedge fund Hermitage Capital Management for nine months in 2008/2009 when the U.S. Justice Department was investigating a tax fraud scheme in Russia involving “co-opted Hermitage portfolio companies”. The U.S. Justice Department had argued that Hermitage Capital was a victim of the tax fraud and that BakerHofstetler’s prior work on behalf of Hermitage Capital created a conflict of interest.[22][19] As part of their litigation support for BakerHostetler and their client Verezon, Fusion GPS investigated Browder, a witness central to the U.S. Justice Department’s case.[23]

On July 27, 2017, Fusion GPS accused the White House of trying to “smear” it for investigating the president’s alleged ties to Russia. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointed to Browder’s testimony as vindication of Trump’s claims that ongoing investigations into potential ties between his campaign and Moscow are political ploys to undermine his presidency. Fusion GPS countered that it worked only with a law firm in New York “to provide support for civil litigation” unrelated to Russian efforts to do away with the Magnitsky Act, saying it had no reason to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).[24]

Browder lodged a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department in 2016 that Fusion GPS may have lobbied “for Russian interests in a campaign to oppose the pending Global Magnitsky Act [and] failed to register under [U.S. law]”.[20][25] The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (not to be confused with the Magnitsky Act) is a human rights law passed on December 23, 2016.[26] It is also named after Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer and auditor working for Browder who died in a Russian prison after uncovering a corruption scheme that he was then charged with having helped concoct.[18]

On March 30, 2017, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa called for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into purported connections between Fusion GPS and Russia, and an inquiry as to whether Fusion GPS was acting as an unregistered foreign agent. The company denied the claims that they were engaged in lobbying or had violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.[25][20] According to the Washington Post′s “Fact Checker” column, there is “no evidence that the Russian government paid for Fusion’s work on the Prevezon defense at the same time Fusion investigated Trump’s business dealings in Russia.”[27]

Trump dossier and Christopher Steele

In September 2015, Fusion GPS was hired by The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative political website, to do opposition research on Trump and other Republican presidential candidates. In spring 2016 when Trump had emerged as the probable Republican candidate, the Free Beacon stopped funding investigation into Trump.[28] From April 2016 through October 2016, the law firm Perkins Coie, on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, retained Fusion GPS to continue opposition research on Trump.[29][30][31] In June 2016, Fusion GPS retained Christopher Steele, a private British corporate intelligence investigator and former MI-6 agent, to research any Russian connections to Trump. Steele produced a 35-page series of memos from June to December 2016, which became the document known as the Donald Trump–Russia dossier.[29][32] Fusion GPS provided Marc Elias, the lead election lawyer for Perkins Coie, with the resulting dossier and other research documents.[30][31]

The firm is being sued for defamation by three Alfa-Bank owners named in the dossier as connected to Putin. German Khan, one of the litigants and one of Russia’s wealthiest citizens, is the father-in-law of lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, who was charged in the Mueller probe for making false statements to the FBI.[33] He pleaded guilty to one count and in April 2018 was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a fine of $20,000.[34][35]

House Intelligence Committee investigation

On October 4, 2017, Chairman Devin Nunes of the House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas to the management of the company, demanding documents and testimony in late October and early November 2017. According to a Democratic committee source, the subpoenas were issued unilaterally by the Republican majority of the committee.[36]

On October 18, 2017, the House Intelligence Committee held a private meeting with two executives of Fusion GPS, Peter Fritsch, and Thomas Catan. The purpose was to seek information about their creation of “the opposition-research dossier that makes salacious claims about President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.”[37] The meeting was attended by committee staff and a single committee member, Representative Tom Rooney (R-FL). In response to the questions asked at the meeting, Fritsch and Catan invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Their attorney, Joshua Levy, said that prior to the meeting he had informed the committee in writing that his clients would invoke their rights, but they were compelled to appear nevertheless. He added they would cooperate with “serious” investigations but that a “Trump cabal has carried out a campaign to demonize our client for having been tied to the Trump dossier.”[37][38]

On October 23, 2017, Fusion GPS filed for a court injunction against Nunes’ subpoena seeking the firm’s bank records for a period of more than two years, arguing it would damage and possibly destroy the business as well as violate their First Amendment rights.[39] On January 4, 2018 U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon struck down Fusion’s application, ruling that Fusion’s bank must turn over the financial records subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee; Fusion asked the judge to stay his order because they plan to appeal.[40]

On October 28, 2017, The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative political website, told the House Intelligence Committee that it had retained Fusion GPS’s services from 2015 to May 2016, to research Donald Trump and other Republican presidential candidates. The objective was the discovery of damaging information. The Free Beacon and its primary source of funding, hedge fund manager Paul Singer, denied any involvement in the creation of the Steele dossier, pointing out that they had stopped funding research on Trump before Steele was engaged.[28]

On January 2, 2018, the founders of Fusion GPS, Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch, authored an op-ed in The New York Times, requesting that Republicans “release full transcripts of our firm’s testimony” and further explaining that, “the Steele dossier was not the trigger for the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russian meddling. As we told the Senate Judiciary Committee in August, our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the bureau had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp.”[41]

The committee interviewed Simpson for seven hours on November 14, 2017. The transcript of the interview was released on January 18, 2018.[42][43]

Senate Judiciary Committee investigations

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein made arrangements in July 2017 for Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson to testify before their committee. It was agreed that Simpson would not testify in public but would be interviewed privately.[44][45] The committee wanted to question Simpson about the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). A previous witness, banker and human rights activist Bill Browder, had accused Simpson and Fusion GPS of evading registration as foreign agents for campaigning to influence and overturn the Magnitsky Act.[24] Fusion GPS said through their attorney that they were not required to register under FARA.[24] Senators were expected to also use the hearing “to press Justice Department officials on what they know about Veselnitskaya, Prevezon, Fusion GPS and their connections to both the Trump campaign or the Russian government.”[46]

On August 22, 2017, Simpson was questioned for 10 hours by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a closed-door meeting. The Committee did not release a transcript of the hearing, but indicated that Fusion GPS had given more than 40,000 documents for the investigation.[47] Simpson kept the identities of the firm’s clients confidential;[48][49] the client names—conservative website The Washington Free Beacon,[28] and a law firm representing the DNC and the Clinton presidential campaign[30]—were revealed in October 2017 as a result of the House Intelligence Committee investigation.

On January 2, 2018, Simpson and Fritsch co-authored an op-ed in The New York Times, requesting the two congressional committees to “release full transcripts of our firm’s testimony”.[41] On January 8, 2018, a spokesman for Grassley said he did not plan to release the transcript of Simpson’s August 22, 2017, testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[50] The next day, January 9, 2018, Feinstein unilaterally released the transcript.[51][52]

See also

References …

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

 

 

The Washington Free Beacon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Washington Free Beacon
Washington Free Beacon.jpg
Type Online news site
Format Website
Editor-in-chief Matthew Continetti
Managing editors Sonny Bunch, Victorino Matus, Stephanie Wang
Founded 2012
Political alignment conservative
Language English
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Website freebeacon.com

The Washington Free Beacon is an American conservative political journalism website launched in 2012. It states that it is “dedicated to uncovering the stories that the powers that be hope will never see the light of day” and producing “in-depth investigative reporting on a wide range of issues, including public policy, government affairs, international security, and media.”[1]

The website is financially backed by Paul Singer, an American billionaire hedge fund manager and conservative activist.[2]

Contents

History

The Free Beacon was founded by Michael Goldfarb, Aaron Harrison, and Matthew Continetti, who remains its editor-in-chief. It launched on February 7, 2012, as a project of the 501(c)4 organization Center for American Freedom.[3] In August 2014, it announced it was becoming a for-profit news site.[4]

The site is noted for its conservative reporting, modeled after liberal counterparts in the media such as ThinkProgress and Talking Points Memo, intended to publicize stories and influence the coverage of the mainstream media.[3][5][6] Jack Hunter, a staff member of U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s office, resigned in 2013 after a Free Beacon report detailing his past as a radio shock jock known as the “Southern Avenger” who wore a luchador mask of the Confederate flag.[7] The publication also broke several stories about former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s successful 1975 legal defense of an accused child rapist that attracted national media attention.[5][8] In May 2017, it received an award from The Heritage Foundation for its journalism.[9]

From October 2015 to May 2016, the Washington Free Beacon hired Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research on “multiple candidates” during the 2016 presidential election, including Donald Trump. The Free Beaconstopped funding this research when Donald Trump had clinched the Republican nomination.[10] Fusion GPS would later hire former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and produce a dossier alleging links between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Paul Singer, a billionaire and hedge fund manager, who is a major donor to the Free Beacon, said he was unaware of this dossier until it was published by BuzzFeed in January 2017.[11]On October 27, 2017, the Free Beacon publicly disclosed that it had hired Fusion GPS, and stated that it “had no knowledge of or connection to the Steele dossier, did not pay for the dossier, and never had contact with, knowledge of, or provided payment for any work performed by Christopher Steele.”[12]

The Free Beacon came under criticism for its reporting on Fusion GPS. Three days before it was revealed that it was the Free Beacon that had funded the work by Fusion GPS, the Free Beacon wrote that the firm’s work “was funded by an unknown GOP client while the primary was still going on.”[13] The Free Beacon has also published pieces that have sought to portray the work by Fusion GPS as unreliable “without noting that it considered Fusion GPS reliable enough to pay for its services.”[13] In an editor’s note, Continetti said “the reason for this omission is that the authors of these articles, and the particular editors who reviewed them, were unaware of this relationship,” and that the outlet was reviewing its editorial process to avoid similar issues in the future.[14]

Reception

Jim Rutenburg of The New York Times described the reporting style of the Free Beacon as “gleeful evisceration.”[15]

Its tactics have also led to attacks from media critics and watchdog groups. The Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf called the Free Beacon‘s mission “decadent and unethical”.[16]

Ben Howe wrote in The Daily Beast that the Washington Free Beacon established “itself as a credible source of conservative journalism with deep investigative dives and exposes on money in politics,” but that after Trump’s election “shifted away from the template they were establishing and more towards the path of least resistance: spending their time criticizing the left and the media, along with healthy doses of opinion writing.”[17] McKay Coppins in the Columbia Journalism Review writes of the Free Beacon that while the website contains “a fair amount of trolling… it has also earned a reputation for real-deal journalism…If a partisan press really is the future, we could do worse than the Free Beacon.”[18]

Jeet Heer writes in The New Republic of the Free Beacon, “Unlike other comparable conservative websites, the Free Beacon makes an effort to do original reporting. Its commitment to journalism should be welcomed by liberals.”[19] In 2015, Mother Jones wrote positively of the Free Beacon, noting that it is far better than contemporary conservative outlets such as The Daily Caller.[20] Mother Jones however noted that “the Beacon hasn’t always steered clear of stories that please the base but don’t really stand up,” and that it pieces inflammatory pieces that “push conservatives’ buttons”.[20] That same year, the Washingtonian wrote that “The Beacon’s emphasis on newsgathering sets it apart among right-facing publications”.[21]

See also

References …

External links

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

Story 2: Radical Extremist Democrat Polls — Trump Loses — Reality Deniers —  Videos —

New poll shows Trump trailing Biden and four other Democrats

Brian KNOWLTON

AFP

A nationwide Fox News poll released Sunday shows President Donald Trump trailing former vice president Joe Biden and no fewer than four other Democratic contenders as early campaigning for the 2020 election begins to gain steam.

A separate survey of battleground states, by CBS, shows Democrats strongly favor Biden as the candidate most likely to beat Trump in next year’s elections.

The Fox poll showed Biden leading Trump by 49 percent to 39 percent among all registered voters nationwide, while Senator Bernie Sanders held nearly the same advantage over the president, at 49 percent to 40 percent.

Holding edges of 1 or 2 points over Trump — albeit within the poll’s 3-point margin of error — were Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, as well as Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana.

The polling comes more than 500 days before the November 3, 2020 election, an eternity in the political world. One widely viewed tweet this week shows five presidential candidates in recent decades who trailed at this point in their campaigns — including Trump — but who went on to win.

The president does not officially launch his re-election campaign until Tuesday, at a rally-style event in a huge arena in Orlando, Florida.

– Battleground states –

Still, the Fox poll, conducted June 9 to June 12, is seen as heartening by Democrats eager to chip away at Trump’s popularity, particularly in key battleground states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Trump’s campaign recently dismissed leaked data from its own pollsters showing Biden with double-digit leads in battleground states. The campaign at first denied the data, but then acknowledged it, branding it as “ancient” because it dated from March.

But the new CBS poll confirms a clear Biden lead in battleground states among Democratic voters, as the crowded race for that party’s nomination begins to take shape.

A belief among Democratic voters that Biden is best positioned to defeat Trump in 2020 was cited by three-quarters of Democrats as a decisive factor in their support.

https://news.yahoo.com/poll-shows-trump-trailing-biden-four-other-democrats-164318873.html

Story 3: Iran Promises To Break Nuclear Agreement If Sanctions Not Removed — Pathway To Nuclear Bomb and Long Range Missile and War — Videos

Iran says it will breach nuclear deal ‘in days’ as its uranium stockpile limit nears

Iran threatens to violate nuclear deal

Iran to increase uranium stockpile as US considering ‘all options’

Iran nuclear deal: Tehran to lift cap on uranium enrichment | Al Jazeera English

The Heat: US-Iran sanctions

 

Iran speeds up uranium enrichment as Mideast tensions mount

24 minutes ago

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows the oil tanker Front Altair off the coast of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, Monday, June 17, 2019. New satellite photos released Monday show two oil tankers apparently attacked in the Gulf of Oman last week. The U.S. alleges Iran used limpet mines to strike the two tankers. Iran has denied being involved. (Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran will surpass the uranium-stockpile limit set by its nuclear deal in the next 10 days, an official said Monday, raising pressure on Europeans trying to save the accord a year after the U.S. withdrawal lit the fuse for the heightened tensions now between Tehran and Washington.

The announcement by Iran’s nuclear agency marked yet another deadline set by Tehran. President Hassan Rouhani already has warned Europe that a new deal needs to be in place by July 7 or the Islamic Republic would increase its enrichment of uranium.

Atomic energy spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi suggested that Iran’s enrichment could reach up to 20%, just a step away from weapons-grade levels.

It appears as if Iran has begun its own maximum pressure campaign on the world after facing one from President Donald Trump’s administration that deeply cut into its sale of crude oil abroad and sent its economy into freefall. Europe has so far been unable to offer Iran a way around the U.S. sanctions.

The development follows apparent attacks last week in the Strait of Hormuz on oil tankers, assaults that Washington has blamed on Iran. While Iran has denied being involved, it laid mines in the 1980s targeting oil tankers around the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of the world’s crude oil passes.

“If this condition continues, there will be no deal” anymore, Kamalvandi said. He accused the Europeans of “killing time” as the clock runs down.

Rouhani, greeting France’s new ambassador to Tehran on Monday, similarly warned that time was running out on the deal.

“The current situation is very critical and France and the other parties to the (deal) still have a very limited opportunity to play their historic role for saving the deal,” Rouhani said, according to his website.

The announcement appeared timed to strike just as European foreign ministers met in Luxembourg. Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s top diplomat, declined to specifically address the Iranian announcement.

“At the moment, as of today, Iran is still technically compliant and we strongly hope, encourage and expect that Iran continues to comply,” Mogherini told journalists. She insisted she would await the next report on the issue from the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Under terms of the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, Iran can keep a stockpile of no more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of low-enriched uranium. Kamalvandi said that given Iran’s recent decision to quadruple its production of low-enriched uranium, it would pass the 300-kilogram limit on Thursday, June 27.

The Vienna-based IAEA said last month that Iran remained within its stockpile limits and declined to comment on Iran’s announcement. Kamalvandi said Iran would continue to allow the U.N. to inspect its nuclear facilities for the time being.

He also raised the specter of increasing its enrichment levels, saying Iran needs 5% enriched uranium for its nuclear power plant in southern Iranian port of Bushehr and 20% enriched fuel for its Tehran research reactor.

The nuclear deal limits Iran to enriching uranium only to 3.67%, enough for power plants and other peaceful purposes.

But after America pulled out of the nuclear accord and escalated sanctions, Rouhani set a July 7 deadline for Europe to come up with better terms for the deal or Tehran would boost enrichment further. So far, a European mechanism called INSTEX to protect trade with Iran has yet to take off.

The danger, nuclear nonproliferation experts warn, is that at 20% enrichment, only a fraction of atoms need to be removed to enrich up to weapons-grade levels of 90%. Iran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but the 2015 deal grew out of Western concerns about the program.

Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Since Trump took office, the U.S. has steadily stripped away at the accord, and he pulled America out of the deal in May 2018.

However, Iran’s announcement that it was on the verge of surpassing the uranium-stockpile limit set by the nuclear agreement put the U.S. is the awkward position of having to push Iran to abide by the deal Trump has disparaged.

“It’s unfortunate that they have made this announcement today,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said. “It doesn’t surprise anybody and this is why the president has often said that the JCPOA needs to be replaced with a better deal.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the international community should reinstate sanctions if Iran follows through on its threats, adding: “In any case, Israel will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.”

Tensions have risen in the region since last month. The U.S. rushed an aircraft carrier strike group and other military assets to the Middle East in response to what it said were threats from Iran.

Meanwhile, a series of mysterious attacks have targeted oil tankers, and the U.S. blames Iranian-laid limpet mines. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen also have launched a series of drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon on Monday released new photos intended to bolster its case that Iran was responsible for the attacks.

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which the U.S. suspects in the attacks, answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and operates outside of the traditional military’s control.

Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, the chief of the general staff of Iran’s armed forces, denied Tehran was involved in the tanker attacks, saying Monday the country only would respond in “an open, strong and severe way” if needed.

But he also reiterated Iran’s traditional stance on the Strait of Hormuz.

“If we decide to block the Strait of Hormuz, we will to do it in a way that even a drop of oil won’t pass the strait,” Bagheri added.

Kamalvandi spoke to Iranian journalists at the country’s Arak heavy water nuclear reactor. Such reactors produce plutonium that can be used in nuclear weapons. Iran, under the nuclear deal, had reconfigured the facility to address Western concerns on that issue.

However, Kamalvandi said the country could rebuild the facility to make it produce plutonium. He made a point to give an interview to Iranian state television, standing next to the open pit where the reactor would be in the facility.

As the camera panned down to what would be the reactor’s core, Kamalvandi stressed that piping could be replaced and the reactor could be built to make plutonium. Hard-liners opposed to the nuclear deal had constantly accused the agency of filling the entire pit with concrete.

“They had previously photoshopped a picture of this place having been filled up with concrete,” Kamalvandi said.

He added: “The message that we tried to get across to Europeans today was that not much time is left for them.”

https://www.apnews.com/30353bd0f0494522b9f5753e23f3f9b9

ATOMIC THREAT 

Iran reveals it will break America’s uranium stockpile limits within 10 DAYS dramatically ramping up tensions with Trump

US releases photos to bolster claim Iran attacked tankers

53 minutes ago

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This image released by the U.S. Department of Defense on Monday, June 17, 2019, and taken from a U.S. Navy helicopter, shows what the Navy says are members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy removing an unexploded limpet mine from the M/T Kokuka Courageous. (U.S. Department of Defense via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — In an effort to bolster its public case against Iran, the Pentagon on Monday released new photos that officials said show that members of Tehran’s Revolutionary Guard were responsible for attacks last week on two oil tankers near the Persian Gulf.

The images, many taken from a Navy helicopter, show what the Pentagon said were Iranian forces removing an unexploded mine from the side of the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman.

Officials last week said the move appeared to be an attempt to remove forensic evidence from the scene of the attack. But it’s not clear if examination of the mine would have made it definitively clear that the device was planted by the IRGC.

Other photos show a large hole on the side of the Courageous, above the water line, that officials say appears to have been caused by another similar mine.

The release of the photos came as the U.S. works this week to convince members of Congress and allies that the accusations against Tehran are true. Iran has denied involvement in the tanker attacks and has accused America of promoting an “Iranophobic” campaign. Tehran, however, has repeatedly threatened to close the vital Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of the world’s oil flows.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he made a number of calls Sunday and Monday to international leaders, trying to convince them that keeping the Strait of Hormuz safe and open is a problem they all must deal with.

Relations between the U.S. and Iran have deteriorated in recent months, as the Trump administration restored crippling sanctions and designated the Revolutionary Guard as a foreign terrorist organization.

That increased pressure preceded a string of attacks that the U.S. has blamed on Iran. In late May, four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates were attacked with what appeared to be mines, and there was a rocket attack in Baghdad. Last week, similar attacks were launched against the Courageous and the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair in the Gulf of Oman.

The U.S. military has also accused Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops of trying but failing to shoot down a U.S. drone to disrupt surveillance of the tankers during the attacks.

https://apnews.com/e479acedfd38465ab17e15e579f243ad

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The Pronk Pops Show 1264, May 24, 2019, Story 1: President Trump on Failed Democrat Coup or Take Down of Presidency — No Redo of Mueller Report Will Be Allowed — No Collusion, No Obstruction, No Redo — Declassified All Documents Related To Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy or Failed Coup or Take Down of President Trump — Total Transparency — Videos — Story 2: British Prime Minister May Will Resign on June 7 For Failure to Negotiate An Acceptable Exit From European Union — Leave Means Leave — Lesson For American Political Elitist Establishment — Build Wall Means Build Wall — Videos — Story 3: Gun Barrel Diplomacy — Communist China’s Reneges on Trade Agreement Language With United States and Then Puppet North Korea Chairman Kim Says He Will not Resume Talks — Waste of Time Talking With Communist Dictatorships — Mao: “All power comes from the barrel of a gun.” — Videos —

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Story 1: President Trump on Failed Democrat Coup or Take Down of Presidency — No Redo of Mueller Report Will Be Allowed — No Collusion, No Obstruction, No Redo — Declassified All Documents Related To Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy or Failed Coup or Take Down of President Trump — Total Transparency — Videos —

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MUST WATCH: President Trump Takes On Pelosi, Iran, and “Witch Hunt”

 

Trump moves to escalate investigation of intel agencies

President Donald Trump on Thursday granted Attorney General William Barr new powers to review and potentially release classified information related to the origins of the Russia investigation, a move aimed at accelerating Barr’s inquiry into whether U.S. officials improperly surveilled Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Trump directed the intelligence community to “quickly and fully cooperate” with Barr’s probe. The directive marked an escalation in Trump’s efforts to “investigate the investigators,” as he continues to try to undermine the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe amid mounting Democratic calls for impeachment proceedings.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Trump is delegating to Barr the “full and complete authority” to declassify documents relating to the probe, which would ease his efforts to review the sensitive intelligence underpinnings of the investigation. Such an action could create fresh tensions within the FBI and other intelligence agencies, which have historically resisted such demands.

Barr has already asked John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to examine the origins of the Russia investigation to determine whether intelligence and surveillance methods used during the probe were lawful and appropriate. Still, Barr has been directly involved, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss it publicly, and is also working with CIA Director Gina Haspel, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Trump is giving Barr a new tool in his investigation, empowering his attorney general to unilaterally unseal documents that the Justice Department has historically regarded as among its most highly secret. Warrants obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, for instance, are not made public — not even to the person on whom the surveillance was authorized.

Trump explicitly delegated Barr with declassification power — noting it would not automatically extend to another attorney general — and only for use in the review of the Russia investigation. Before using the new authority, Barr should consult with intelligence officials “to the extent he deems it practicable,” Trump wrote in a memo formalizing the matter.

Trump has frequently claimed his campaign was the victim of “spying,” though the intelligence community has insisted it acted lawfully in following leads in the Russia investigation and conducted surveillance under court order.

Wray vocally opposed the release by Congress last year of details from a secret surveillance warrant obtained by the bureau on a former campaign adviser, Carter Page. The White House had eagerly encouraged Republicans on the House intelligence committee to disclose that classified information, believing it could help undermine the Russia investigation.

Wray, though cooperating with Barr in a review of the origins of the Russia probe, would presumably balk at declassifying classified information that could reveal sensitive sources or methods of investigators.

Despite Mueller finding no evidence to support criminal charges against Americans related to Russia’s actions, his report documented extensive Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 campaign and willingness on the part of some in Trump’s orbit to accept their aid.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff accused Trump and Barr of trying to “conspire to weaponize law enforcement and classified information against their political enemies.”

“The coverup has entered a new and dangerous phase,” Schiff said in a statement released late Thursday. “This is un-American.”

Typically, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence coordinates declassification work by contacting various agencies where classified material originated to get their input on what should be released or not disclosed based on legal exemptions. The president, however, has the authority to declassify anything he wants.

A former senior intelligence official who served in the Obama administration said their principle concern is that the attorney general, hand-picked by Trump, could declassify and release selective bits to make the previous administration and former senior officials look bad. The former official spoke on the condition that the official would not be named in order to describe the concerns of intelligence professionals.

Thursday’s move further solidifies Barr’s position in Trump’s eyes as a legal warrior on fighting on his behalf.

After Mueller submitted his report to Barr in March, the attorney general released a four-page summary to Congress. Barr’s letter framed the debate about the probe over the next few weeks and, White House officials believe, allowed Trump to declare victory before the release of the full report, the contents of which are far more ambiguous.

Trump also appreciated Barr’s combative stance with lawmakers and reporters as he defended the Justice Department’s handling of the report, and again when he declined to appear before Congress and defied a subpoena, drawing a possible contempt charge. Trump has told close confidants that he “finally” had “my attorney general,” according to two Republicans close to the White House who were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

“Today’s action will help ensure that all Americans learn the truth about the events that occurred, and the actions that were taken, during the last Presidential election and will restore confidence in our public institutions,” Sanders said.

Two of Trump’s congressional allies, Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, were seen by reporters earlier Thursday at the Justice Department.

__

Associated Press writers Mike Balsamo, Deb Riechmann and Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report.

https://apnews.com/9e926bfccb5947d5a5f8eb260cb0a7e6

Story 2: British Prime Minister May Will Resign on June 7 For Failure to Negotiate An Acceptable Exit From European Union — Leave Means Leave — Lesson For American Political Elitist Establishment — Build Wall Means Build Wall — Videos

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Prime minister Theresa May’s resignation speech in full

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The most emotional speech of Theresa May’s reign as Prime Minister: Read her tearful Downing Street address in full

Theresa May quit in tears today after a tumultuous two years and 315 days in office – making her the 36th longest serving Prime Minister in British history.

Watched by her husband Philip in Downing Street, Mrs May managed to keep her composure until the emotional moment she finished her 1,000-word speech, breaking down in tears.

The PM set out the things she had achieved in office but admitted she had to quit as Tory leader having failed to deliver her promise: delivering Brexit.

Ever since I first stepped through the door behind me as Prime Minister, I have striven to make the United Kingdom a country that works not just for a privileged few, but for everyone.

And to honour the result of the EU referendum.

Back in 2016, we gave the British people a choice.

Against all predictions, the British people voted to leave the European Union.

I feel as certain today as I did three years ago that in a democracy, if you give people a choice you have a duty to implement what they decide.

I have done my best to do that.

I negotiated the terms of our exit and a new relationship with our closest neighbours that protects jobs, our security and our Union.

I have done everything I can to convince MPs to back that deal.

Sadly, I have not been able to do so.

I tried three times.

I believe it was right to persevere, even when the odds against success seemed high.

But it is now clear to me that it is in the best interests of the country for a new Prime Minister to lead that effort.

So I am today announcing that I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party on Friday 7 June so that a successor can be chosen.

I have agreed with the Party Chairman and with the Chairman of the 1922 Committee that the process for electing a new leader should begin in the following week.

I have kept Her Majesty the Queen fully informed of my intentions, and I will continue to serve as her Prime Minister until the process has concluded.

It is, and will always remain, a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.

It will be for my successor to seek a way forward that honours the result of the referendum.

To succeed, he or she will have to find consensus in Parliament where I have not.

Such a consensus can only be reached if those on all sides of the debate are willing to compromise.

For many years the great humanitarian Sir Nicholas Winton – who saved the lives of hundreds of children by arranging their evacuation from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia through the Kindertransport – was my constituent in Maidenhead.

At another time of political controversy, a few years before his death, he took me to one side at a local event and gave me a piece of advice.

He said, ‘Never forget that compromise is not a dirty word. Life depends on compromise.’

He was right.

As we strive to find the compromises we need in our politics – whether to deliver Brexit, or to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland – we must remember what brought us here.

Because the referendum was not just a call to leave the EU but for profound change in our country.

A call to make the United Kingdom a country that truly works for everyone. I am proud of the progress we have made over the last three years.

We have completed the work that David Cameron and George Osborne started: the deficit is almost eliminated, our national debt is falling and we are bringing an end to austerity.

My focus has been on ensuring that the good jobs of the future will be created in communities across the whole country, not just in London and the South East, through our Modern Industrial Strategy.

We have helped more people than ever enjoy the security of a job.

We are building more homes and helping first-time buyers onto the housing ladder – so young people can enjoy the opportunities their parents did.

And we are protecting the environment, eliminating plastic waste, tackling climate change and improving air quality.

This is what a decent, moderate and patriotic Conservative Government, on the common ground of British politics, can achieve – even as we tackle the biggest peacetime challenge any government has faced.

I know that the Conservative Party can renew itself in the years ahead.

That we can deliver Brexit and serve the British people with policies inspired by our values.

Security; freedom; opportunity.

Those values have guided me throughout my career.

But the unique privilege of this office is to use this platform to give a voice to the voiceless, to fight the burning injustices that still scar our society.

That is why I put proper funding for mental health at the heart of our NHS long-term plan.

It is why I am ending the postcode lottery for survivors of domestic abuse.

It is why the Race Disparity Audit and gender pay reporting are shining a light on inequality, so it has nowhere to hide.

And that is why I set up the independent public inquiry into the tragedy at Grenfell Tower – to search for the truth, so nothing like it can ever happen again, and so the people who lost their lives that night are never forgotten.

Because this country is a Union.

Not just a family of four nations.

But a union of people – all of us.

Whatever our background, the colour of our skin, or who we love.

We stand together.

And together we have a great future.

Our politics may be under strain, but there is so much that is good about this country. So much to be proud of. So much to be optimistic about.

I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honour of my life to hold – the second female Prime Minister but certainly not the last.

I do so with no ill-will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7066453/The-emotional-speech-Theresa-Mays-reign-Prime-Minister-tearful-address-full.html

Story 3: Gun Barrel Diplomacy — Communist China’s Reneges on Trade Agreement Language With United States and Then Puppet North Korea Chairman Kim Says He Will not Resume Talks — Waste of Time Talking With Communist Dictatorships — Mao: “All power comes from the barrel of a gun.” — Videos

 

NKorea says talks won’t resume unless US changes position

today

North Korea said Friday that nuclear negotiations with the United States will never resume unless the Trump administration moves away from what Pyongyang described as unilateral demands for disarmament.

The statement by an unnamed North Korean foreign ministry spokesman published in state media was the country’s latest expression of displeasure over the stalled negotiations as it continues to press Washington to soften its stance on enforcing sanctions against the North’s crippled economy.

It came as President Donald Trump prepares to travel to Japan this weekend for a summit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in which the North Korean nuclear issue will likely be high on the agenda.

In the statement carried by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency, the North Korean spokesman accused the U.S. of deliberately causing February’s collapse of talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with unilateral and impossible demands.

“We hereby make it clear once again that the United States would not be able to move us even an inch with the device it is now weighing in its mind, and the further its mistrust and hostile acts toward the DPRK grow, the fiercer our reaction will be,” the statement said, referring to North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“Unless the United States puts aside the current method of calculation and comes forward with a new method of calculation, the DPRK-U.S. dialogue will never be resumed and by extension, the prospect for resolving the nuclear issue will be much gloomy,” the statement added.

The U.S. has said the Trump-Kim talks broke down because of North Korean demands for sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities. Kim has since declared that the Trump administration has until the end of the year to come up with mutually acceptable terms for a deal.

Friday’s statement follows two separate launches of short-range missiles earlier this month, which ended a pause in North Korea’s ballistic missile launches that began in late 2017 and was seen as measured brinkmanship aimed at increasing pressure on Washington without actually causing the negotiations to collapse. The North has also strongly protested the recent U.S. seizure of a North Korean cargo ship that had been involved in banned coal exports and demanded the vessel to be immediately returned.

Following the collapse of the Trump-Kim summit, North Korea also significantly slowed the pace of its engagement with South Korea, which has been eager to improve bilateral relations and help revive discussions between Washington and Pyongyang.

South Korea earlier this week vowed to push ahead with plans to resume large-scale humanitarian aid to the North. But it’s unclear whether any aid package from South Korea would influence the behavior of North Korea, which has been demanding much bigger concessions from Seoul, such as the resumption of inter-Korean economic projects currently blocked by U.S.-led sanctions against Pyongyang.

https://apnews.com/c20ba627fe4c4c38a45246e4df5ffb8a

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1247, April 30, 2019, Story 1: Vive Venezuelan Revolution Regime Change — Send In Trump’s Private Army — Central Intelligence Agency — Takeover Oil Fields and Restore Democracy — Cubans and Russians Deported To Country of Origin — Videos — Story 2: Babbling Biden Bowel Movement — A Few Dozen Union Leaders Show Up — Not Very Impressive — Videos — Story 3: Biden Surges in Rigged Polls — Videos — Story 4: A Whole Lot of Unmasking Going On — Artifact of Attempted Deep State Coupe? — Videos

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Story 1: Vive Venezuelan Revolution Regime Change — Send In Trump’s Private Army — Central Intelligence Agency — Takeover Oil Fields and Restore Democracy — Cubans and Russians Deported To Country of Origin — Videos

 

Venezuela’s Guaidó calls for uprising against Maduro

Guaido initiates ‘final phase’ of uprising in Venezuela

Erik Prince Wants A Private Army Sent To Venezuela

Venezuela Collapse Explained

Venezuela Crisis Explained (Short Documentary 2017)

Pompeo warns Russia to get out of Venezuela

Venezuela’s President Maduro ‘had a plane on the tarmac’ yesterday and was ready to flee to Cuba before RUSSIA intervened to stop him leaving, US claims after tens of thousands of people hit the streets in support of his rival Juan Guaido sparking violent clashes with military

  • Juan Guaido called for uprising against Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday from the La Carlota airbase in Caracas
  • Mike Pompeo claims Maduro was ready to leave Venezuela as uprising began until the Kremlin intervened 
  • Guaido made the announcement surrounded by troops who then began setting up a defensive perimeter
  • Maduro’s forces fired tear gas before a heavy exchange of gunfire, with protesters caught in the middle
  • Video footage shows a Venezuelan National Guard armoured vehicle plough into a group of protesters
  • Trump administration backs Guaido and his uprising while Putin backs Maduro during talks with top officials

Clashes rock Venezuela as Guaido urges opposition uprising

24 minutes ago

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó took a bold step to revive his movement to seize power in Venezuela, taking to the streets Tuesday to call for a military uprising that drew quick support from the Trump administration but also fierce resistance from forces loyal to embattled socialist Nicolas Maduro.

Violent street battles erupted in parts of Caracas in what was the most serious challenge yet to Maduro’s rule — kicked off with a video shot at dawn of Guaidó, flanked by several heavily armed national guardsmen, urging a final push to topple Maduro.

In one dramatic incident during a chaotic day, several armored vehicles plowed into a group of anti-government demonstrators trying to storm the capital’s air base, hitting at least two protesters.

Still, the rebellion, dubbed “Operation Freedom,” seemed to have garnered only limited military support.

The dramatic events began early Tuesday when Guaidó, flanked by a few dozen national guardsmen and some armored crowd-control vehicles, released the three-minute video shot near the Carlota air base.

In a surprise, Leopoldo Lopez, Guaido’s political mentor and the nation’s most-prominent opposition activist, stood alongside him. Detained in 2014 for leading a previous round of anti-government unrest, Lopez said he had been released from house arrest by security forces adhering to an order from Guaidó.

“I want to tell the Venezuelan people: This is the moment to take to the streets and accompany these patriotic soldiers,” Lopez declared.

As the two opposition leaders coordinated actions from a highway overpass, troops loyal to Maduro fired tear gas from inside the adjacent air base.

A crowd that quickly swelled to a few thousand scurried for cover, reappearing later with Guaidó at a plaza a few blocks from the disturbances. A smaller group of masked youths stayed behind on the highway, lobbing rocks and Molotov cocktails toward the air base and setting a government bus on fire.

An anti-government protester walks near a bus that was set on fire by opponents of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro during clashes between rebel and loyalist soldiers in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Amid the mayhem, several armored utility vehicles careened over a berm and drove at full speed into the crowd. Two demonstrators, lying on the ground with their heads and legs bloodied, were rushed away on a motorcycle as the vehicles sped away dodging fireballs thrown by the demonstrators.

“It’s now or never,” said one of the young rebellious soldiers, his face covered in the blue bandanna worn by the few dozen insurgent soldiers.

Later Tuesday, Lopez and his family sought refuge in the Chilean ambassador’s residence in Caracas, where another political ally has been holed up for over a year. There were also reports that 25 troops who had been with Guaidó fled to Brazil’s diplomatic mission.

Amid the confusion, Maduro tried to project an image of strength, saying he had spoken to several regional military commanders who reaffirmed their loyalty.

“Nerves of steel!” he said in a message posted on Twitter.

Flanked by top military commanders, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López condemned Guaido’s move as a “terrorist” act and “coup attempt” that was bound to fail like past uprisings.

Fireworks launched by opponents of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro land near Bolivarian National Guard armored vehicles loyal to Maduro, during an attempted military uprising in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

“Those who try to take Miraflores with violence will be met with violence,” he said on national television, referring to the presidential palace where hundreds of government supporters, some of them brandishing firearms, had gathered in response to a call to defend Maduro.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said the “right-wing extremists” would not succeed in fracturing the armed forces, which have largely stood with the socialist leader throughout the months of turmoil.

“Since 2002, we’ve seen the same pattern,” Arreaza told The Associated Press. “They call for violence, a coup, and send people into the streets so that there are confrontations and deaths. And then from the blood they try to construct a narrative.”

Protesters erected barricades of debris at several downtown intersections about 10 blocks from the presidential palace, but police in riot gear moved in quickly to clear the roads. Most shops and businesses were closed and the streets of the capital unusually quiet, as people huddled at home to await the outcome of the day’s drama.

Guaidó said he called for the uprising to restore Venezuela’s constitutional order, broken when Maduro was sworn in earlier this year for a second term following elections boycotted by the opposition and considered illegitimate by dozens of countries.

Paramedics aid an anti-government protester who was injured during clashes with security forces loyal to President Nicolas Maduro, during an attempted military uprising in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, April 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Boris Vergara)

He said that in the coming hours he would release a list of top commanders supporting the uprising. There were unconfirmed reports that Gen. Manuel Christopher Figuera, who heads the feared intelligence agency responsible for keeping Lopez in state custody, was among members of the security forces who had decided to flip.

“The armed forces have taken the right decision,” said Guaidó. “With the support of the Venezuelan people and the backing of our constitution they are on the right side of history.”

Anti-government demonstrators gathered in several other cities, although there were no reports that Guaidó’s supporters had taken control of any military installations.

As events unfolded, governments from around the world expressed support for Guaidó while reiterating calls to avoid violent confrontation.

Bolton declined to discuss possible actions — military or otherwise — but reiterated that “all options” are on the table as President Donald J. Trump monitors developments “minute by minute.”

He said he was waiting for key power brokers including Padrino, Supreme Court chief justice Maikel Moreno and head of the presidential guard to make good on their commitments to achieve the peaceful transfer of power to Guiado.

“All agreed that Maduro had to go. They need to be able to act this afternoon, or this evening, to help bring other military forces to the side of the interim president,” Bolton said. “If this effort fails, (Venezuela) will sink into a dictatorship from which there are very few possible alternatives.”

Elsewhere, Spain’s socialist caretaker government urged restraint, while the governments of Cuba and Bolivia reiterated their support for Maduro.

___

Joshua Goodman in Cucuta, Colombia, contributed to this report.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6975871/Venezuelas-Juan-Guaido-calls-military-revolt-final-phase-overthrowing-President-Maduro.html

 

– Story 2: Babbling Biden Bowel Movement — A Few Hundred Union Leaders Show Up — Not Very Impressive — Videos

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Joe Biden holds first 2020 campaign rally

 

Story 3: Biden Surges in Rigged CNN Polls — 39% Biden, 15% Sanders and No Other Candidates in Double Digits —  Videos

 

Biden surges in primary polls

Former Vice President Joe Biden has surged in the polls since launching his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, opening up a double-digit lead over the rest of the field in two new national surveys.

A CNN poll released Tuesday found Biden jumping 11 points to 39 percent support, a 24-point lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is at 15 percent support. No other candidate in the race has double-digit backing from respondents.

And a Morning Consult survey released Tuesday found Biden with 36 percent support, followed by Sanders at 22 percent. That’s a 6-point bounce for Biden from the same survey released earlier this month, while Sanders has fallen by 2 points. No other candidate reaches double-digit support in the Morning Consult poll, either.

Biden’s polling strength also extends to the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire.

A Suffolk University survey released Tuesday found the former Delaware senator in the lead in New Hampshire with 20 percent support, followed by Sanders and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 12 percent. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is in fourth place at 8 percent.

If Biden were to win New Hampshire it would be a massive blow to Sanders and Warren, who come from nearby states and are seen as having a home-field advantage in the Northeast.

Biden’s strength in the polls is driven by his broad support from African Americans. Biden has 43 percent support from black voters, according to Morning Consult. Sanders is at 20 percent here, followed by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) at 10 percent.

The same holds true in the CNN poll, with Biden hitting 50 percent among nonwhite voters. Sanders is a distant second at 14 percent, and no other candidate is in double-digits.

With Biden emerging as the clear early front-runner, the Democrats lagging behind are increasingly taking shots at him and his decades-long voting record.

Sanders went after Biden with his most direct attacks yet on Monday night on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”

“I helped lead the fight against NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement], [Biden] voted for NAFTA. I helped lead the fight against China [on trade], he voted for it. I strongly opposed [the Trans-Pacific Partnership], he supported it. I voted against the war in Iraq, he voted for it,” Sanders said.

President Trump also unloaded on Biden with a series of Twitter attacks, suggesting the president and his political team view the former vice president as a formidable challenger.

The attacks from the White House further help Biden separate himself from the pack of Democrats behind him, setting up an early one-on-one with the president that sets Biden above the fray.

Biden has sought to draw early contrasts between himself and Trump, opening his launch speech by attacking the president’s response to the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

On Monday, Biden rallied union workers at a campaign event in Pennsylvania, a state Trump turned red in the last election for the first time since 1988.

“I’m sick of this President badmouthing unions,” Biden tweeted. “Labor built the middle class in this country … we need a president who honors them and their work.”

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/441313-poll-biden-surges-in-primary-polls

Biden holds 26-point lead among Dems in new national poll

Days after announcing his presidential candidacy, former Vice President Joe Biden holds a 26-point lead over other Democratic contenders, according to a new Quinnipiac University Poll released Tuesday.

Biden, who announced his White House bid early Thursday, leads among Democrats and voters leaning Democratic with 38 percent support of those surveyed, according to the poll.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) came in second in the poll with 12 percent support among those surveyed, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with 11 percent, the poll found.

“The Democratic primary race suddenly gets real with a fast start by former Vice President Joe Biden and a very clear indication from voters that he is the only candidate who can send President Trumppacking 18 months from now,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

The results of the Quinnipiac University Poll are similar to survey results released Tuesday that showed a surge of support for Biden following his campaign launch. The former vice president far outpaced every other candidate in several polls release Tuesday.

CNN-SSRS poll released Tuesday found that Biden leaped 11 points since last month, earning the support of 39 percent of the Democratic electorate. That poll found Biden holding a 24-point lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) and no other candidate earning double-digit support.

A Morning Consult survey released Tuesday found that Biden rose from 30 percent support earlier this month to 36 percent support. That poll found Sanders’s support at 22 percent.

The Quinnipiac University Poll surveyed 419 Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters from April 26 to 29 and has a margin of error of 5.6 percentage points.

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/441399-biden-holds-26-point-lead-among-dems-in-new-national-poll

Story 4: A Whole Lot of Unmasking Going On — Artifact of Attempted Deep State Coupe — Videos

 

NSA Reports 75% Increase in Unmasking U.S. Identities Under Foreign Surveillance Law in 2018

The National Security Agency, responsible for electronic eavesdropping, disclosed the identities of people or entities that are normally redacted in intelligence reports

 

A sign outside the National Security Agency campus in Fort Meade, Md. PHOTO: PATRICK SEMANSKY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The National Security Agency revealed to federal agencies the identities of almost 17,000 U.S. residents or corporations whose information was collected under a foreign surveillance law in 2018, registering about a 75% increase in unmaskings over the previous year, according to an annual transparency report released Tuesday.

The NSA, responsible for electronic eavesdropping, disclosed the identities of people or entities that are normally redacted in intelligence reports—in response to specific requests from other government agencies to reveal the identities, a process known as unmasking.

In 2018, NSA said it unmasked 16,721 U.S. identities caught up in intelligence intercepts produced by a foreign intelligence law, the report said. It unmasked 9,529 in 2017 and 9,217 in a 12-month period across 2015 and 2016.

The surge in the number of unmaskings last year was fueled in part by an effort to determine the identities of victims of cyberattacks from foreign intelligence agencies, according to Alex Joel, head of civil liberties and transparency at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence which released Tuesday’s report.

Mr. Joel, in a call with reporters, said there were a number of varied factors—including world events and evolving threats—that could result in statistical fluctuations in a given year for a certain type of surveillance.

Unmasking is a term used when the identity of a U.S. citizen, lawful resident, or corporate entity is revealed in classified intelligence reports. Unmasking is designed to be only used for national-security reasons, such as helping officials assess intelligence by providing the identity of someone two foreign spies may be discussing on a call. But the process is governed by strict rules across the U.S. intelligence apparatus that make it illegal to use unmaskings for political purposes or to leak classified information.

The practice has become a politically charged topic in recent years, as President Trump and some Republican allies in Congress have repeatedly accused the Obama administration of improperly using surveillance information—including unmasking the redacted names of Mr. Trump’s transition team members—for political gain. Former intelligence officials have repeatedly denied those accusations, and no evidence has been provided publicly to support them.

The unmasked information was collected under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows U.S. intelligence agencies to collect certain categories of foreign intelligence information from international phone calls and emails of terrorism suspects and other perceived security threats. Information from that surveillance is often shared with relevant federal government agencies with the names of any U.S. persons redacted to protect their privacy, unless an agency requests that identities be unmasked.

Privacy advocates have long criticized the law for allowing broad surveillance that can implicate Americans and doesn’t require individualized warrants, while U.S. intelligence officials have defended it as among the most valuable national-security tools at their disposal.

A single intelligence report could contain a lengthy list of identities that a government agency would ask to have unmasked, including the victims of large-scale foreign intelligence operations. In that case, each individual person or entity would be counted separately, Mr. Joel said. As a result, the NSA shared only 1,379 reports last year containing identities that were revealed.

The report showed the number of foreigners targeted under the law continued to rise in 2018 to 164,770, about 35,000 higher than the previous year.

But information about Americans that was incidentally collected dropped to 14,374—down from nearly 17,000 in 2017 and less than half the total collected two years ago. Incidental collection can occur in a number of ways, including when a U.S. person communicates with a foreign target under surveillance.

Congress passed legislation in January 2018 that renewed the surveillance authority for six years with minimal changes, which Mr. Trump signed into law.

The transparency report released Tuesday also showed that the NSA had gathered in 2018 fewer metadata records of domestic phone calls and text messages—about 434 million compared with the 534 million collected in 2017. But the latest figure includes records collected both before and after the NSA had to purge its database last year, meaning NSA recollected a large amount of those records and counted them twice, Mr. Joel said.

The NSA purged its database after learning it was receiving information it wasn’t authorized to obtain, including data about phone numbers not connected to any surveillance target. Metadata include the numbers and time stamps of a call or text message but not the contents of the conversation.

The law that governs that phone metadata program is due to expire in December. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the NSA had recommended to the White House that it let the program lapse due to logistical and legal burdens and that the White House hadn’t yet made a policy decision on the matter.

In a possible reflection of the phone system’s waning importance—compared to other surveillance programs that saw a rise in phone use—analysts at the NSA obtained orders to gather records about only an estimated 11 targets last year, down from 40 in 2017, the report said.

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1240, April 16, 2019, Story 1: Our Lady of Paris Cathedral Will Be Restored To Its Former Glory — Every Catholic in The World Would Restore Notre Dame Cathedral By Donating $1 Dollar — Videos — Story 2: Vandalism of Churches in France On The Rise — Videos — Story 3: Yes America The FBI Spied On The Trump Campaign By Lying To (By Omission) and Not Verifying Representations To The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — A Felony — Round Up The Conspirators — Vidoes

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Story 1: Our Lady of Paris Cathedral Will Be Restored To Its Former Glory — Every Catholic in The World Would Restore Notre Dame Cathedral By Donating $1 Dollar — Videos

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‘The heart of France burns and the world cries’: How newspapers across the globe reacted to Notre Dame inferno

  • Notre Dame inferno has made international headlines around the world today
  • It sparked a wave of solidarity with France as newspapers reacted to the disaster
  • Many front pages carried dramatic images of the spire collapsing as fire raged
  • Headlines included ‘Heart in Ashes’ and ‘The heart of France burns and the world cries’ 

The Notre Dame inferno has made international headlines as the world reacted in horror to the disaster.

The huge fire sparked a wave of solidarity with France across the globe as newspaper’s dedicated their front pages to the shocking scenes in Paris.

Many carried dramatic images of the famous spire collapsing as the fire raged, alongside eye-catching headlines.

They included one in a daily in Argentina, which said: ‘The heart of France burns and the world cries’ and another in Italy comparing it to ‘The September 11 of Christian Europe.’

In France, La Croix, a daily Catholic paper, carried the headline: ‘Heart in ashes’ with an editorial that said the nation ‘suddenly felt its heart shake to see a church aflame.’

It adds: ‘The cathedral in Paris clearly has a specific place in the collective consciousness, in France, in Europe and in the world.’

Le Figaro, one of the oldest daily newspapers in France, carries the headline 'Disaster'

Le Figaro, one of the oldest daily newspapers in France, carries the headline ‘Disaster’

La Parisien uses the headline 'Our Lady of Tears' and features nine page of images and reports

La Parisien uses the headline ‘Our Lady of Tears’ and features nine page of images and reports

In France, La Croix, a daily Catholic paper in France, carried the headline: 'Heart in ashes'

Daily paper 'Libération,' also known as 'Libé,' uses a play on the French word 'Drame,' which translates to drama.

 

In France, La Croix, a daily Catholic paper in France, carried the headline: ‘Heart in ashes’. Daily paper ‘Libération,’ also known as ‘Libé,’ utilized a play on the French word ‘Drame,’ which translates to drama

La Nacion in Argentina went with 'The Heart of France burns and the world cries'

La Nacion in Argentina went with ‘The Heart of France burns and the world cries’

The El Pais in Spain has the headline 'Flames devastate Notre Dame, a symbol of European culture'

Italian daily il Giornale described it as 'The September 11 of Christian Europe.'

Elsewhere in Europe, Italian daily il Giornale described it as ‘The September 11 of Christian Europe.’ El Pais in Spain has the headline ‘Flames devastate Notre Dame, a symbol of European culture’

The Portuguese daily Diario de Noticias features an image of the famous spire on fire, with the words  Ardeu da humanidade, that translates as 'Burned humanity'

The Portuguese daily Diario de Noticias features an image of the famous spire on fire, with the words  Ardeu da humanidade, that translates as ‘Burned humanity’

Italian daily La Repubblica features an image of the spire collapsing in flames with the words: The world upset that Notre Dame is gone'

Italian daily La Repubblica features an image of the spire collapsing in flames with the words: The world upset that Notre Dame is gone’

Footage inside flame ravaged Notre Dame shows extent of the damage
Germany's Der Tagesspiegel writes alongside an image of the inferno: 'Notre Dame in flames'

Germany’s Der Tagesspiegel writes alongside an image of the inferno: ‘Notre Dame in flames’

Another French daily, La Parisien uses the headline ‘Our Lady of Tears’ and Le Figaro, one of the biggest selling daily newspapers, went with ‘Disaster’.

The front page carries the words: ‘Faced with this scene of loss, accounts of solidarity and sadness have flocked from across the world.’

And Liberation features a dramatic image of the cathedral ablaze with the words ‘Our tragedy.’

Elsewhere in Europe, Italian daily il Giornale described it as ‘The September 11 of Christian Europe.’

he Chicago Tribune using most of its front page with a picture of the blaze and the headline 'Notre Dame Burns'

The Dallas Morning News went simply with 'Paris icon burns'

The inferno made headlines across most US newspapers. The Chicago Tribune using most of its front page with a picture of the blaze and the headline ‘Notre Dame Burns’ The Dallas Morning News went simply with ‘Paris icon burns’

The New York Times had the headline: 'Fire Mauls Paris's Beloved Notre-Dame' alongside dramatic images of the spire collapsing
The Wall Street Journal also had an image of the spire collapse, with the words: 'Blaze ravages Notre Dame'

 

The blaze also made the front pages of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, describing it as ‘Fire Mauls Paris’s Beloved Notre-Dame alongside dramatic images of the spire collapsing

Belgium’s De Standaard covered the front page with a picture of the spire collapsing.

Also in Belgium, Het Belang Van Limburg declared ‘Paris weeps’ and the Gazet van Antwerpen went with ‘The sorrow of France’.

El Pais in Spain has the headline ‘Flames devastate Notre Dame, a symbol of European culture’.

And in Germany Der Tagesspiegel writes alongside an image of the inferno: ‘Notre Dame in flames’

Clip shows Paris firefighters battling to contain Notre Dame fire
Peruvian newspaper El Comercio featured an image of smoke billowing from the burning cathedral with the headline:  'Notre Dame burns'

 

Peruvian newspaper El Comercio featured an image of smoke billowing from the burning cathedral with the headline:  ‘Notre Dame burns’

In the US the blaze also made the front pages of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

The New York Times describes it as ‘Fire Mauls Paris’s Beloved Notre-Dame’ alongside dramatic images of the spire collapsing.

In South America, Peruvian newspaper El Comercio featured an image of smoke billowing from the burning cathedral with the headline: ‘Notre Dame burns.’

La Nacion in Argentina featured one of the most eye-catching headlines and went with ‘The Heart of France burns and the world cries.’

And the largest newspaper in Argentina, Clarin, simply went with: ‘Paris will no longer be the same.’

Emmanuel Macron vows to rebuild Notre Dame in five years after blaze
Publico in Portugal had the headline 'Our Lady of Europe' and like many other used an image of the spire ablaze

Publico in Portugal had the headline ‘Our Lady of Europe’ and like many other used an image of the spire ablaze

Belgian newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen went with 'The sorrow of France'

 

The largest newspaper in Argentina, Clarin, had the headline: 'Paris will no longer be the same'

Belgian newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen went with ‘The sorrow of France’.  The largest newspaper in Argentina, Clarin, had the headline: ‘Paris will no longer be the same’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6927427/How-newspapers-globe-reacted-Notre-Dame-inferno.html

Years? Decades? Uncertainty over time needed to rebuild Notre-Dame

Clare BYRNE with Herve ASQUIN in Strasbourg
AFP News

 

-A picture taken on April 16, 2019 shows Notre-Dame-de-Paris in the aftermath of a fire that devastated the cathedral

View photos

 

A picture taken on April 16, 2019 shows Notre-Dame-de-Paris in the aftermath of a fire that devastated the cathedral
Rebuilding the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris could take decades after it was gutted by a fire, experts warned Tuesday, even as its top priest expressed hope he could celebrate mass there within years.

Parisians and people around the world watched in horror on Monday as flames ripped through the roof of the beloved 850-year-old Gothic cathedral, causing the spire and most of the vaulted roof to collapse.

“We will rebuild Notre-Dame together,” French President Emmanuel Macron vowed after assessing the damage, declaring that the disfigured cathedral had been spared “the worst”.

France has experience of reconstructing cathedrals, including one in Reims that was severely damaged by shelling during World War I and another in Nantes that was gutted by fire in 1972.

Asked how long the rebuild could last, Eric Fischer, head of the foundation in charge of restoring the 1,000-year-old Strasbourg cathedral, which recently underwent a three-year facelift, said: “I’d say decades.”

“The damage will be significant. But we are lucky in France to still have a network of excellent heritage restoration companies, whether small-time artisans or bigger groups,” he told AFP.

Fischer said the ability to rebuild the colossal cathedral in a manner that respects its original form and character would depend on the plans, diagrams and other materials available to the architects.

They would need “a maximum of historical data or more recent data gathered with modern technology such as 3D scans” of the kind used in the restoration of the Strasbourg cathedral, he said.

– ‘Not in my lifetime’ –

The French government’s representative for heritage, Stephane Bern, said that money would not be the problem.

Within hours, pledges of donations amounting to nearly 700 million euros ($790 million) had flooded in from some of France’s richest families and companies and foreign governments were lining up with offers of help.

Bern, a 55-year-old TV presenter famous for his programmes on medieval France, said he feared it would not reopen in his lifetime.

“It will be rebuilt for future generations,” he said.

A symbol of Paris for close to a millenium, serving as a sanctuary for the hero in Victor Hugo’s classic novel “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”, the towering house of worship has been in the wars before.

During the French Revolution its treasures were plundered and the figures of kings carved into the stone above its entrance doors defaced.

Deemed unstable the spire was dismantled in 1792 and the cathedral fell into a state of disrepair until the mid-19th century when architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc gave the famed structure a major makeover.

But the intricate wooden oak frame that held up the roof, the so-called “forest”, had stood the test of time since its construction in 1220-1240 — until being consumed by Monday’s inferno.

For carpenters, “it’s a bit as if the Mona Lisa went up in smoke,” Thomas Buechi, head of Charpente Concept which specialises in timber frames, told AFP.

Recreating it will be the trickiest part of the restoration, experts said.

France’s top producer of oak said he was worried the country did not have enough of the precious timber for the job.

Sylvain Charlois estimated that around 1,300 oak trees had been used in the construction of the original roof.

“To constitute a big enough stock of oak logs of that quality will take several years,” he said.

– Tighter deadline needed? –

Francois Jeanneau, one of the 40 architects in charge of state monuments, suggested that Paris draw on the example of Nantes cathedral and build a new “forest” of reinforced concrete.

“The un-initiated can barely tell the difference,” he told Le Parisien newspaper.

Despite the longer forecasts of decades of work, the rector of Notre-Dame, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, said he was hopeful of being back behind the pulpit before he retired.

“I’m 67 now and if all goes well, even if it takes 10 years, I will be 77 and still able to do it,” he told France Inter radio.

Jack Lang, who served as a hugely prominent culture minister under late president Francois Mitterrand, called talk of a decade-long restoration programme “a joke”.

“We have to give ourselves a tighter deadline, like we have done in the past on major projects.”

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/years-decades-uncertainty-over-time-needed-rebuild-notre-111811083.html

Story 2: Vandalism of Churches in France On The Rise — No Go Areas and No Media Coverage Areas — Videos

French Church Is Ninth in Eleven Days Vandalized Across The Country

Published on Feb 12, 2019

French Church Is Ninth in Eleven Days Vandalized Across The Country. The attack, which targeted the Saint Nicolas Roman Catholic church, saw the tabernacle of the church overthrown and vandalised and is not the first church in the area to be vandalised in recent weeks, according to local prefect Jean-Jacques Brot, Le Parisien reports. Mr Brot commented on the incident saying, “This vandalism is part of a sensitive and distressing context and the church of Saint-Nic…..

800 Year Old Church In Paris No-Go Zone Vandalized

Published on Mar 12, 2019

Paul Joseph Watson reveals that the Basilica of Saint-Denis was heavily damaged in Paris by vandals in one of the city’s suburban “no-go” zones where primarily Muslim migrants are held by the government.

France: Four were inside burning Saint-Sulpice Church but no one hurt

Notre Dame burns as Fox News host Shepard Smith shuts down “Conspiracy Theory”

Your World With Neil Cavuto 4/15/19 | Fox News Breaking April 15, 2019

Saint Denis France Muslim immigrants attack a Catholic church !

The Norte Dame Cathedral Conspiracy!! The Renovation Project & Removal of Statues!!!

 

France: basilica of Saint-Denis recovers its former majesty

 

If churches keep getting vandalized in France, should American news outlets cover the story?

By

Is it a news story if a church is set on fire or vandalized in some other way? What about if it’s part of a string of incidents? What if it happens five times? How about 10 times?

What if there are flames pouring out of one of the world’s most iconic cathedrals and it’s Monday of Holy Week?

We will come back to the flames over Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in a moment.

The answers to the earlier questions are yes, yes, yes, yes and, of course, yes! As someone who worked as a news reporter (and later a editor) at two major metropolitan dailies (at the New York Post and New York Daily News) and a major news network website (ABC News), I can tell you that any suspicion of arson at a house of worship, for example, is a major story.

It must somehow no longer be the case in the new and frenetic world of the internet-driven, 24-hour news cycle. That’s because a major international story — one involving at least 10 acts of vandalism at Catholic churches in France — went largely unreported (underreported, really) for weeks. The vandalism included everything from Satanic symbols scrawled on walls to shattered statues.

That’s right, a rash of fires and other acts of desecration inside Catholic churches — during Lent, even — in a country with a recent history of terrorism somehow didn’t warrant any kind of attention from American news organizations. Even major news organizations, such as The Washington Post, were late to covering it and only did after running a Religion News Service story.

This brings us to Monday’s fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, where a massive blaze engulfed the 12th century gothic house of worship. It’s too early to tell if this incident is part of the earlier wave of vandalism, but it certainly comes at a strange time. For now, officials say the blaze remains under investigation. The cathedral has been undergoing some renovation work and the fire may — repeat MAY — have started in one of those areas.

It would be crazy to assume there is a connection between all of these fires and acts of vandalism. It would be just as crazy for journalists not to investigate the possibility that there are connections.

There will be more to come on the Notre Dame story in the hours and days that follow and comes at the start of Holy Week, the most solemn time on the Christian calendar.

But back to my questions about the earlier string of fires and the lack of coverage. In my experience, fires were always a thing because they generally produced good art. Flames shooting from a window, whether a still photograph or video, was always a major reason editors put these incidents on their story budgets. In the case of the French churches, however, the photos tell only a small part of the story.

I recall covering several church fires in New York City during my time as a general assignment reporter, one in February 1999 just days before Ash Wednesday and another in March 2002. In the case of the second blaze, no one was hurt and it ultimately proved to be an electrical fire. Nonetheless, sacred relics were destroyed in the process. That it happened during Lent had made it that much worse for worshippers — and certainly a news story.

Fast-forward to present-day France. Crux was one of the first English-language Catholic news outlets to cover the phenomenon on March 28. While the article was accompanied by flames shooting through the front door of St. Sulpice Church in Paris, it wasn’t the reason why they wrote about it. It’s worth noting that St. Sulpice is a baroque church completed in 1870. It is also the city’s second-largest church, behind Notre Dame, and used in the movie version of The Da Vinci Code.

Here’s how the story opens:

Vandals and arsonists have targeted French churches in a wave of attacks that has lasted nearly two months.

More than 10 churches have been hit since the beginning of February, with some set on fire while others were severely desecrated or damaged.

St. Sulpice, the second-largest church in Paris, after Notre Dame Cathedral, had the large wooden door on its southern transept set ablaze March 17.

Investigators confirmed March 18 that the fire was started deliberately, according to the website of the Vienna-based Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, an independent organization founded with the help of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences.

In early February, in the Church of Notre-Dame-des-Enfants in Nimes, near the Spanish border, intruders drew a cross on a wall with excrement then stuck consecrated hosts to it.

Utter the words “France” and “Catholicism” in the same breath and you immediately get statements such as, “No one in France goes to church anymore.” While it is true that France ranks near the bottom of countries in the world where regular church attendance is low. While Pew Research found that 64% identified as Christians in 2018, only 18% attend services regularly in some of the same places that have been recently vandalized. It took me a simple Google search to find this information.

Furthermore, a very good piece in America magazine posted to its website in April 2018 alluded to a French Catholic renaissance. The essay looked at how faith and politics influenced the country’s presidential elections the year before. Could these heinous acts have a political connection? More on that later.

With all that, the spate of vandalism was picked up by a major outlet when it was published as a feature story by RNS on April 2. The nut graph — what journalists refer to as the part of the story that tells the reader why they’ve even bothered to write this thing — is the third paragraph. Here’s how the story opened:

Sometimes it’s a cross of human excrement smeared on a church wall, with stolen Communion hosts stuck at the four corners. Other times, a statue of the Virgin Mary lies shattered on the floor.

Now and then, a fire breaks out in a house of prayer.

Roman Catholic churches have increasingly come under attack in France, a country so long identified with Christianity that it used to be called “the eldest daughter of the church.”

A recent fire at St. Sulpice, the second-largest church in Paris, has shed light on a trend that has become commonplace in many smaller towns.

“Who has heard of the sacking of the monastery of Saint Jean des Balmes in Aveyron? Of those teenagers who urinated into the holy water font of the church at Villeneuve de Berg in Ardèche?” the Paris daily Le Figaro asked last week in an article highlighting some of the lesser-known profanations around the country this month.

Incidents such as these get a brief mention in the press, complete with quotes from Catholics shocked at the sight of scattered hosts or beheaded statues, and sometimes a short video clip on national television.

Other wire services, such as Reuters, wrote about the St. Sulpice fire. So did Newsweek, which was one of the first U.S. outlets to do so. That’s largely it. In England, The Daily Express, a tabloid newspaper, published a story on March 20 detailing the phenomenon. In Russia, RT’s English-language site also made a point of covering it.

The American press in particular has been negligent on this one. In fact, one of the first websites to write about the incidents for American audiences was Breitbart. Did coverage on the politically conservative site dated March 20 suddenly make this a right-wing story? It shouldn’t have. Vandalism, no matter who the potential culprits are, should be reported by journalists. Is there a conservative or liberal way to cover a fire? I never thought so — until now.

The Brietbart story ends with several key statistics, further proving that these cases aren’t isolated, but part of a terrifying trend:

The Catholic hierarchy has kept silent about the episodes, limited themselves to highlighting that anti-Christian threat and expressing hope that politicians and police will get to the bottom of the crimes.

Reports indicate that 80 percent of the desecration of places of worship in France concerns Christian churches and in the year 2018 this meant the profanation of an average of two Christian churches per day in France, even though these actions rarely make the headlines.

In 2018, the Ministry of the Interior recorded 541 anti-Semitic acts, 100 anti-Muslim acts, and 1,063 anti-Christian acts.

Even with the RNS story out there for media subscribers to use, the only major media outlet to run the story on its website was The Washington Post. There was, for example, no New York Times story (just to name one of the largest newspapers in the English-speaking world) until Monday’s Notre Dame disaster. It’s hard to believe that a rash of fires tied to vandals isn’t of interest to one of the world’s largest news organizations with a bureau in the French capitol.

Why? Would this rash of sacrilegious attacks have enjoyed more coverage had they occurred in synagogues or mosques? It’s hard to say. After all, the string of fires at black churches in Louisiana has warranted — and deservingly so — lots of media attention. On this series of fires, culminating with the arrest of a suspect on April 10, The New York Times did a solid job.

What makes this story even more intriguing is that it remains largely a mystery who committed these awful acts. This was buried in the Newsweek account from March 21:

The Vienna-based Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, which was founded in cooperation with the Council of European Bishops Conferences (CCEE) but is now independent said there had been a 25 percent increase in attacks on Catholic churches in the first two months of the year, compared with the same time last year.

Its executive director, Ellen Fantini, told Newsweek that while in many cases the motive for the attacks was not known, France faced growing problems with anti-Christian violence, especially by anarchist and feminist groups.

“I think there is a rising hostility in France against the church and its symbols,” but “it seems to be more against Christianity and the symbols of Christianity.

“These attacks are on symbols that are really sacred to parishioners, to Catholics. Desecration of consecrated hosts is a very personal attack on Catholicism and Christianity, more than spray-painting a slogan on the outside wall of a church.”

She said that while France had a long tradition of secularism, it was seen as a culturally Christian country, and so any “attack on the church as a symbol of religion was also an attack on authority and patrimony.

Maybe it’s the suspects in this case that made the mainstream press skittish to report on it extensively. It’s true that foreign news is expensive for American news outlets. Furthermore, my experience is that Europeans know a lot more about what happens in America compared to what most Americans know about Europe.

Nevertheless, the political unrest in France involving protestors clad in yellow vests have, by comparison, gotten lots of attention from many of these aforementioned news sites. Another good example, Brexit and its aftermath, has been something The New York Times and many U.S. news websites can’t get enough of. Political stories, the new religion of our secular culture, are widely covered. The past few weeks has shown that when it comes to vandalism against Catholics, there isn’t so much interest in covering it.

https://www.getreligion.org/getreligion/2019/4/10/is-it-a-story-if-french-churches-are-vandalized

CATHOLIC CHURCHES ARE BEING DESECRATED ACROSS FRANCE—AND OFFICIALS DON’T KNOW WHY

France has seen a spate of attacks against Catholic churches since the start of the year, vandalism that has included arson and desecration.

Vandals have smashed statues, knocked down tabernacles, scattered or destroyed the Eucharist and torn down crosses, sparking fears of a rise in anti-Catholic sentiment in the country.

Last Sunday, the historic Church of St. Sulpice in Paris was set on fire just after midday mass on Sunday,  Le Parisien reported, although no one was injured. Police are still investigating the attack, which firefighters have confidently attributed to arson.

RELATED: Everything we know about the devastating fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Built in the 17th century, St. Sulpice houses three works by the Romantic painter Eugene de la Croix, and was used in the movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown.

Notre Dame cathedralPolice officers patrol Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, on September 10. French churches have been targeted by vandals in a spate of attacks since the start of the year.MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Last month, at the St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Houilles, in north-central France, a statue of the Virgin Mary was found smashed, and the altar cross had been thrown on the ground, according to  La Croix International, a Catholic publication.

Also in February, at Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur, in south-central France, an altar cloth was burned and crosses and statues of saints were smashed. The attack prompted Lavaur Mayor Bernard Canyon to say in a statement: “God will forgive. Not me.”

And in the southern city of Nimes, near the Spanish border, vandals looted the altar of the church of Notre-Dame des Enfants (Our Lady of the Children) and smeared a cross with human excrement.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Diocese de Dijon@DiocesedeDijon

Tristesse de la communauté catholique diocésaine et de la paroisse Dijon-Notre-Dame en particulier: profanation de l’église ce matin. Messe de réparation présidée par l’archevêque ce samedi à 17h30. @Lebienpublic @RCFDijon @F3Bourgogne Merci pour vos RT.

Consecrated hosts made from unleavened bread, which Catholics believe to be the body of Jesus Christ, were taken and found scattered among rubbish outside the building.

Bishop Robert Wattebled of Nimes said in a statement: “This greatly affects our diocesan community. The sign of the cross and the Blessed Sacrament have been the subject of serious injurious actions.

“This act of profanation hurts us all in our deepest convictions,” he added, according to The Tablet, which reported that in February alone there had been a record 47 documented attacks on churches and religious sites.

The Vienna-based Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, which was founded in cooperation with the Council of European Bishops Conferences (CCEE) but is now independent said there had been a 25 percent increase in attacks on Catholic churches in the first two months of the year, compared with the same time last year.

Its executive director, Ellen Fantini, told Newsweek that while in many cases the motive for the attacks was not known, France faced growing problems with anti-Christian violence, especially by anarchist and feminist groups.

“I think there is a rising hostility in France against the church and its symbols,” but “it seems to be more against Christianity and the symbols of Christianity.

“These attacks are on symbols that are really sacred to parishioners, to Catholics. Desecration of consecrated hosts is a very personal attack on Catholicism and Christianity, more than spray-painting a slogan on the outside wall of a church.”

She said that while France had a long tradition of secularism, it was seen as a culturally Christian country, and so any “attack on the church as a symbol of religion was also an attack on authority and patrimony.

Embedded video

Ruthann@TeaBoots

Saint Sulpice Church
The moment it caught on fire people were inside and attending. Firemen on the ground saying this was no accident- This was set.

“The pressure is coming from the radical secularists or anti-religion groups as well as feminist activists who tend to target churches as a symbol of the patriarchy that needs to be dismantled,” she added.

On February 9, the altar at the church of Notre-Dame in Dijon, the capital of the Burgundy region, was also broken into. The hosts were taken from the tabernacle, which adorns the altar at the front of the church, and scattered on the ground.

Last month, the Prime Minister Edouard Phillipe met French church leaders and said in a statement: “In our secular Republic, places of worship are respected. Such acts shock me and must be unanimously condemned.”

Senior Figures within the French Catholic Church expressed their sorrow at the rise in attacks on symbols of their faith.

“To  open the tabernacle, to take the hosts and to profane what for us is the basis of our faith, that is to say the presence of Jesus Christ in the hosts is something that is terrible for us.”

https://www.newsweek.com/spate-attacks-catholic-churches-france-sees-altars-desecrated-christ-statue-1370800

Story 3: Yes America The FBI Spied On The Trump Campaign By Lying To (By Omission) and Not Verifying Representations To The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — A Felony — Round Up The Conspirators — Vidoes

Hannity tonight Fox News on Youtube 4/16/19_Breaking News April 16, 2019

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Andrew Mccarthy on the Release of Mueller’s Redacted Report

SPYING: William Barr Says Trump Campaign Was Spied On By Feds

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What happens if Obama was involved in illegal surveillance?

FBI Trump campaign spying allegations: How much did Obama know?

Did Obama lie about his knowledge of Clinton’s server?

 

Behind the Obama administration’s shady plan to spy on the Trump campaign

In Senate testimony last week, Attorney General William Barr used the word “spying” to refer to the Obama administration, um, spying on the Trump campaign. Of course, fainting spells ensued, with the media-Democrat complex in meltdown. Former FBI Director Jim Comey tut-tutted that he was confused by Barr’s comments, since the FBI’s “surveillance” had been authorized by a court.

(Needless to say, the former director neglected to mention that the court was not informed that the bureau’s “evidence” for the warrants was unverified hearsay paid for by the Clinton campaign.)

The pearl-clutching was predictable. Less than a year ago, we learned the Obama administration had used a confidential informant — a spy — to approach at least three Trump campaign officials in the months leading up to the 2016 election, straining to find proof that the campaign was complicit in the Kremlin’s hacking of Democratic emails.

As night follows day, we were treated to the same Beltway hysteria we got this week: Silly semantic carping over the word “spying” — which, regardless of whether a judge authorizes it, is merely the covert gathering of intelligence about a suspected wrongdoer, organization or foreign power.

There is no doubt that the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign. As Barr made clear, the real question is: What predicated the spying? Was there a valid reason for it, strong enough to overcome our norm against political spying? Or was it done rashly? Was a politically motivated decision made to use highly intrusive investigative tactics when a more measured response would have sufficed, such as a “defensive briefing” that would have warned the Trump campaign of possible Russian infiltration?

Last year, when the “spy” games got underway, James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence, conceded that, yes, the FBI did run an informant — “spy” is such an icky word — at Trump campaign officials; but, we were told, this was merely to investigate Russia. Cross Clapper’s heart, it had nothing to do with the Trump campaign. No, no, no. Indeed, the Obama administration only used an informant because — bet you didn’t know this — doing so is the most benign, least intrusive mode of conducting an investigation.

Me? I’m thinking the tens of thousands of convicts serving lengthy sentences due to the penetration of their schemes by informants would beg to differ. (Gee, Mr. Gambino, I assure you, this was just for you own good . . .) And imagine the Democrats’ response if, say, the Bush administration had run a covert intelligence operative against Obama 2008 campaign officials, including the campaign’s co-chairman. Surely David Axelrod, Chuck Schumer, The New York Times and Rachel Maddow would chirp that “all is forgiven” once they heard Republicans punctiliously parse the nuances between “spying” and “surveillance”; between “spies” and “informants”; and between investigating campaign officials versus investigating the campaign proper — and the candidate.

The “spying” question arose last spring, when we learned that Stefan Halper, a longtime source for the CIA and British intelligence, had been tasked during the FBI’s Russia investigation to chat up three Trump campaign advisers: Carter Page, George Papadopoulos and Sam Clovis. This was in addition to earlier revelations that the Obama Justice Department and FBI had obtained warrants to eavesdrop on Page’s communications, beginning about three weeks before the 2016 election.

The fact that spying had occurred was too clear for credible denial. The retort, then, was misdirection: There had been no spying on Donald Trump or his campaign; just on a few potential bad actors in the campaign’s orbit.

It was nonsense then, and it is nonsense now.

The pols making these claims about what the FBI was doing might have been well served by listening to what the FBI said it was doing.

There was, for example, then-Director Comey’s breathtaking public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on March 20, 2017. Comey did not just confirm the existence of a counterintelligence probe of Russian espionage to influence the 2016 election — notwithstanding that the government customarily refuses to confirm the existence of any investigation, let alone a classified counterintelligence investigation. The director further identified the Trump campaign as a subject of the probe, even though, to avoid smearing people, the Justice Department never identifies uncharged persons or organizations that are under investigation. As Comey put it:

“I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts . . .”

The FBI was spying, and it was doing so in an investigation of the Trump campaign. That is why, for over two years, Washington has been entranced by the specter of “Trump collusion with Russia” — not Page or Papadopoulos collusion with Russia. Comey went to extraordinary lengths to tell the world that the FBI was not merely zeroing in on individuals of varying ranks in the campaign; the main question was whether the Trump campaign itself — the entity — had “coordinated” in Russia’s espionage operation.

In the months prior to the election, as its Trump-Russia investigation ensued, some of the overtly political, rabidly anti-Trump FBI agents running the probe discussed among themselves the prospect of stopping Trump, or of using the investigation as an “insurance policy” in the highly unlikely event that Trump won the election. After Trump’s stunning victory, the Obama administration had a dilemma: How could the investigation be maintained if Trump were told about it? After all, as president, he would have the power to shut it down.

On Jan. 6, 2017, Comey, Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and National Security Agency chief Michael Rogers visited President-elect Trump in New York to brief him on the Russia investigation.

Just one day earlier, at the White House, Comey and then–Acting Attorney General Sally Yates had met with the political leadership of the Obama administration — President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and national security adviser Susan Rice — to discuss withholding information about the Russia investigation from the incoming Trump administration.

Rice put this sleight-of-hand a bit more delicately in the memo about the Oval Office meeting (written two weeks after the fact, as Rice was leaving her office minutes after Trump’s inauguration):

“President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia. [Emphasis added.]”

It is easy to understand why Obama officials needed to discuss withholding information from Trump. They knew that the Trump campaign — not just some individuals tangentially connected to the campaign — was the subject of an ongoing FBI counterintelligence probe. An informant had been run at campaign officials. The FISA surveillance of Page was underway — in fact, right before Trump’s inauguratio