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

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 934,  July 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 933,  July 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 932,  July 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 931,  July 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 930,  July 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 929,  July 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 928,  July 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 927,  July 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 926,  July 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 925,  July 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 924,  July 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 923,  July 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 922,  July 3, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 921,  June 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 920,  June 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 919,  June 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 918,  June 26, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 917,  June 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 916,  June 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 915,  June 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 914,  June 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 913,  June 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 910,  June 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 907,  June 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 906,  June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 904,  June 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 903,  June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 901,  May 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 899,  May 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 898,  May 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 897,  May 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 896,  May 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 895,  May 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 894,  May 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 893,  May 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 892,  May 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891,  May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 890,  May 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 889,  May 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 888,  May 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 887,  May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886,  May 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 884,  May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 881: April 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

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

Senate votes to start debate on health care bill

Senate Dems Stage Strange Protest During ObamaCare Vote

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

Senate to vote on Obamacare repeal today

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three major proposals are being discussed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Senate Passes Vote to Begin Debate on Obamacare Repeal

Image: Senate Passes Vote to Begin Debate on Obamacare Repeal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McCain’s comments were greeted with a standing ovation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

House overwhelmingly passes Russia sanctions bill

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

Bipartisan Russia sanctions clear tough hurdle MSNBC

Congress to vote on sanctions against Russia, 

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

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

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Shapiro Nails It

Ben Shapiro Show 347 | Begun The Sessions War Has

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

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

Trump continues attack on AG Jeff Sessions in new tweets

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Says He Will Appoint Special Prosecutor To Investigate Clinton

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

Trump vs Sessions: How POTUS turned on his AG

Sessions to stay on the job despite Trump’s criticism

News Wrap: Trump tweets new criticism of Sessions

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

Trump Calls Sessions ‘Weak’ as Criticism Continues

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

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

Roger Stone: Trump Should Fire Mueller And Rosenstein

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

 

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

BOB BRIGHAM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latest Trumpian tweet storm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet the consequences in Congress could nevertheless be manifold.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do you think they did?” Carlson said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Image result for democrats play with their ding-ling

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Chuck Berry – My Ding-A-Ling (1972)

 

STATEMENT OF JARED C. KUSHNER TO CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES

July 24, 2017

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

Jared Kushner Details Russia Meetings, Denies Collusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday Night Massacre, redux?

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

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

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

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

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

There’s nothing to investigate

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

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

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

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

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

There’s a conflict of interest

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

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

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

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

Mueller’s team is biased

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

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

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

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

An explosive move, but a tempting one

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Will President Trump Fire Robert Mueller?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump leaves Sessions twisting in the wind while berating him publicly


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

July 24 at 7:15 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet President Trump’s Outside Legal Team

June 24, 20177:00 AM ET

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

Win McNamee/Getty Images

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

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

Here’s an introduction to the men representing Trump:

Marc Kasowitz

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

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

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

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

He hasn’t made any public remarks since.

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

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

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

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

Barrett added Kasowitz is “tough, really tough.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Kasowitz has brought on other lawyers.

Jay Sekulow

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

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

Steve Helber/AP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Dowd

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

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

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

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

Kathy Willens/AP

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

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

Michael Bowe

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

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

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

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

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

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some of the attorneys Mueller has hired:

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

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

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The Pronk Pops Show 926, July 11, 2017, Story 1: Much Ado About Nothing — What Dirt/Leverage/ Compromising Information Did The Russians Have On Hillary Clinton? — Donald Trump Jr. Wanted To Know — Smells Like A Russian Intelligence Setup and/or Democrat Dirty Trick — Who Leaked The Emails To New York Times? FBI leakers — American People Ignoring Paranoid Progressive Propaganda of Big Lie Media — Still Waiting For Any Evidence of Trump/Russian/Putin Collusion — Clinton Collusion Conspiracy Crashing — Desperate Delusional Democrat Deniers of Reality — Videos — Story 2: When Will Attorney General Sessions Appoint A Special Counsel To Investigate Intelligence Community Leaks and Hillary Clinton Destruction of Government Records, Mishandling of Classified Documents and Related Pay for Play Public Corruption of Clinton Foundation? — Was Democratic Hired Opposition Research firm Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele Former British Intelligent MI-6 Agent A Cutout For The Russian Intellegence Disinformation Campaign Contained in The Russian Donald Trump Dossier? — Videos

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Image result for cartoons democrats russion collusion

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Image result for cartoons democrats russion collusion

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Image result for cartoons democrats russion collusion

Image result for cartoons democrats russion collusion

Image result for cartoons democrats russion collusion

Story 1: Much Ado About Nothing — What Dirt/Leverage/ Compromising Information Did The Russians Have On Hillary Clinton? — Donald Trump Jr. Wanted To Know — Smells Like A Russian Intelligence Setup and/or Democrat Dirty Trick — Who Leaked The Emails To New York Times? FBI leakers — American People Ignoring Paranoid Progressive Propaganda of Big Lie Media — Still Waiting For Any Evidence of Trump/Russian/Putin Collusion — Clinton Collusion Conspiracy Crashing — Desperate Delusional Democrat Deniers of Reality — Videos —

“YOU HAVE ZERO CREDIBILITY” HANNITY DESTROYS THE PROPAGANDA MEDIA IN EXPLOSIVE OPENING MONOLOGUE

DON JR (FULL INTERVIEW) ON HANNITY ABOUT MEETING W/ RUSSIAN LAWYER

Sekulow on Don Trump Jr. controversy: Much ado about nothing

‘IT WAS A WASTE OF 20 MINUTES’ – DON TRUMP JR ON MEETING W/ RUSSIAN LAWYER – KRAUTHAMMER REACTS

Brit Hume on ‘farcical episode’ involving Donald Trump Jr.

HEATED DEBATE ON TRUMP JR RUSSIAN MEETING – ERIC BOLLING vs KAT TIMPF

Why Donald Trump Jr.’s email release could be so damaging

“Fake News York Times” Tries Desperately to Slime Donald Trump Jr. to Dilute Trump’s G20 Success

Here’s Why Alan Dershowitz Doesn’t See Any Legal Jeopardy for Trump Jr.

Krauthammer Turns on Trump, Says Trump Jr Revelations Damning

THE FIVE – REACTION TO TRUMP JR RUSSIAN MEETING CONTROVERSY

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

Donald Trump Jr. releases private emails on Russia meeting

Donald Trump, Jr. Russian Collusion Email Scandal | True News

Ben Shapiro: Donald Trump Jr. releases email chain from Russia offering material on Hillary Clinton

EXPOSED: Democratic Operatives Caught FRAMING Trump With Russian Collusion Scandal

Trump Jr.’s released email chain distracts from his father’s agenda: Senator Wicker

Source: Justice Dept. probe to examine Trump Jr. emails

BREAKING: Dems W/ Ties To Clinton Campaign Paid For The “Trump Russia Dossier”

Donald Trump Jr. releases email chain on Russia meeting

TRUMP KEEPS WINNING | TUCKER INTERVIEWS SCOTT ADAMS – TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT

Why the Profoundly Stupid Love “Morning Joe”

PAUL JOSEPH WATSON REACTS TO TRUMP JR RUSSIAN MEETING CONTROVERSY

Roger Stone: Donald Trump Jr Did His Job Investigating Hillary Russia Ties

TRUMP KEEPS WINNING | TUCKER INTERVIEWS SCOTT ADAMS – TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT

What is Fake News?

Russian lawyer who got inside Donald Trump’s inner circle had been denied US visa

By her own account, the Russian lawyer that managed to slide her way into Trump Tower last year and meet with President Donald Trump’s eldest son, his campaign manager and son-in-law is a former Moscow prosecutor who had been denied a visa to enter the United States.

Natalia Veselnitskaya filed an affidavit in a federal case in New York describing how she managed to get special permission to enter the United States after the visa denial to help represent a Russian company called Prevezon Holdings owned by the Russian businessman Denis Katsyv in a case brought against it by U.S. prosecutors.

“I represent victims in many criminal cases involving economic crimes. I have been retained by Denis Katsyv and the defendants in this action to assist their attorneys in the United States, Baker & Hostetler LLP to prepare their defense,” she wrote in the January 2016 affidavit filed in court in New York City.

“As counsel to Defendants, it is important that I be able to participate in the defense of this action by traveling to the United States. For that reason, I applied for a visa to enter the United States, but was denied,” she added. “I also applied for entry visas for my children, so that they could be together with me over the Christmas holiday while I was working in New York on this lawsuit, but this was also denied. However, the United States did issue a parole letter for me to enter the United States in order to help defend this lawsuit.”

It was apparently during the time she was in the United States on that parole entry that she arranged to meet with Donald Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort on June 9, 2016 at Trump Tower.

During the meeting Veselnitskaya raised the issue of restoring U.S. adoptions inside Russia if the United States would repeal the Magnitsky Act, a law passed in 2012 punishing Moscow for human rights violations in connection with the death of a lawyer who had discovered a massive money laundering scheme inside the country.

Another player in the Russian influence scandal, the U.S.-based political firm Fusion GPS, was also involved in helping Prevezon, Katsyv and Baker Hostetler, according to the Grassley letter. Fusion has been a major focal point of the FBI and Congress because it hired a former British intelligence agent named Christopher Steele to produce a salacious intelligence dossier that made wild and still unsubstantiated claims about Trump ties to Russia.

Congressional investigators involved in the Russian influence case told Circa on Sunday that they are almost certain to probe if Veselnitskaya used her parole entry status to contact the Trump family and whether there is any connection to the Steele dossier and Fusion GPS.

“This is new information that raises all sorts of new questions and we are digging into it as we speak,” one congressional investigator told Circa, speaking only on condition of anonymity.

President Trump’s lawyers said Saturday they feared Veselnitskaya’s meeting at Trump Tower may have been part of a broader election opposition effort to smear the Republican by creating the impression he and his family had extensive ties to Russia as the Kremlin was interfering in the 2016 election.

“We have learned from both our own investigation and public reports that the participants in the meeting misrepresented who they were and who they worked for,” said Mark Corallo, a spokesman for President Trump’s legal team. “Specifically, we have learned that the person who sought the meeting is associated with Fusion GPS, a firm which according to public reports, was retained by Democratic operatives to develop opposition research on the President and which commissioned the phony Steele dossier. “

In her affidavit, Veselnitskaya described her path to becoming a successful private attorney in Moscow, starting with working as a Russian government prosecutor in Moscow,

“I have been practicing law since 1998. I am the founder and managing partner of the law offices of Kamerton Consulting. In 1998, I graduated with distinction from the Moscow State Legal Academy with a degree in jurisprudence,” she wrote. “Upon graduation from the Academy, I started working at the Prosecutor’s Office. I worked there for three years, overseeing the legality of statutes that were adopted by legislators of Moscow Oblast. After that I moved into private business.”

She also swore in the affidavit she did not speak English. Trump lawyers said she brought a Russian translator to the June meeting.Veselnitskaya also claimed U.S. government officials so distrusted her that they had her stopped and searched in London on her way back to New York in late 2015.

“I was detained for two hours by Heathrow Airport officials who specifically targeted me on the basis of the parole number that the United States Government had assigned to me. During this detention I was unjustifiably subjected to a strip search, for no apparent reason. I should not be subjected to such humiliation when I have been promised entry into the United States to defend against the scandalous accusations in this lawsuit on behalf of my clients.”

https://www.circa.com/story/2017/07/09/politics/russian-lawyer-who-got-inside-donald-trumps-inner-circle-had-been-denied-us-visa

As part of his Russia investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller plans to review the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-linked lawyer, and the email thread that detailed the planning for that meeting, according to a report Tuesday.CNN reported that Mueller will examine the meeting between Trump Jr., former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, President Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, with a Russian attorney who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton.Trump Jr., released an email chain from June 2016 leading up to the meeting showing that he agreed to meet with the attorney who was offering him “very high level and sensitive information” that would “incriminate” Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president.Mueller is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/robert-mueller-to-review-donald-trump-jrs-meeting-with-russian-attorney-emails-report/article/2628338

Russian Dirt on Clinton? ‘I Love It,’ Donald Trump Jr.

Senate intel panel to seek testimony from Trump Jr.: Senate source

The U.S. Senate’s intelligence committee is seeking documents from Donald Trump Jr. and intends to call on him to testify before lawmakers, a Senate source told Reuters on Tuesday after Trump Jr. released an email chain citing Russian support for his father before last year’s U.S. election.

The source said there is no date set yet to hear testimony from U.S. President Donald Trump’s eldest son, and that the committee is in the process of sending Trump Jr. its request for information.

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted images of emails regarding his 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer on Tuesday. An intermediary said he could connect Trump Jr. with people who had information “that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] … and would be very useful to your father.” Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting, which former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner also attended in June 2016. They met with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, who Trump Jr. said ultimately did not provide the promised material on Clinton.

In the emails, Trump Jr. corresponds with publicist Rob Goldstone, who represents the son of an Azerbaijan-born billionaire who has also done business with the Trumps. Trump Jr. forwarded the thread to Kushner and Manafort.

Here, the text appears in chronological order; headers were added by NPR. See the text as tweeted here, combined into one pdf. NPR journalists have annotated the text below with context and analysis.

Story 2: When Will Attorney General Sessions Appoint A Special Counsel To Investigate Intelligence Community Leaks and Hillary Clinton Destruction of Government Records, Mishandling of Classified Documents and Related Pay for Play Public Corruption of Clinton Foundation? — Was Democratic Hired Opposition Research firm Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele Former British Intelligent MI-6 Agent A Cutout For The Russian Intellegence Disinformation Campaign Contained in The Russian Donald Trump Dossier? Yes — Videos

Report: Pro-Clinton Group Behind Russian Dossier on Trump

EXPOSED: Democratic Operatives Caught FRAMING Trump With Russian Collusion Scandal

Christopher Steele, investigator behind Trump-Russia dossier, breaks his silence

Former British diplomat on Russian “honeytrap” tactic

Comey comments on Fusion GPS

MOTHER OF ALL HOAXES: Pro-Clinton Group Behind Fake Russian Dossier, Now Being Investigated

“YOU HAVE ZERO CREDIBILITY” HANNITY DESTROYS THE PROPAGANDA MEDIA IN EXPLOSIVE OPENING MONOLOGUE

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

Fusion GPS

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fusion GPS
Founded 2009
Headquarters Washington D.C.
Key people
Glenn Simpson
Website fusiongps.com

Fusion GPS is a commercial research and strategic intelligence firm based in Washington D.C. The company conducts open-source investigations, provides research and strategic advice for businesses, law firms and investors, as well as for political inquiries, such as opposition research.[1] Fusion GPS uses “source networks to find information that is not readily accessible or in the public domain”.[2]

History

The company was co-founded in 2009 by Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch, both former journalists for The Wall Street Journal.

Work

Opposition research on Mitt Romney

Fusion GPS was hired by Democrats in 2012 to do opposition research on Mitt Romney. Some of the work that received the most media attention was focused on investigating the marriage records of a large donor to the Romney presidential campaign, Frank VanderSloot.[2][3]

Planned Parenthood

In August 2015, Planned Parenthood retained Fusion GPS to defensively investigate the veracity of a series of undercover videos released by pro-life activists that they claim showed Planned Parenthood officials agreeing to sell fetal tissues obtained through abortions to medical researchers.[2] Fusion GPS hired video and transcription experts to analyze the videos and summarized the findings in a forensic report.[4] The report concluded that the “unedited” videos posted by activists had been edited. The pro-life activists attributed the gaps to “bathroom breaks and waiting periods.”[5]

The report was provided to U.S. congressional leadership as evidence as they were considering funding and other issues related to Planned Parenthood operations. After a grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing, the pro-life activists behind the undercover videos were later arrested and charged with 15 felonies, including unlawfully recording people without their permission and conspiracy to invade privacy.[6]These charges were dropped 6 months later, but 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. On 21 June 2017, fourteen of these charges were dismissed, with leave to amend, on the grounds that they were legally insufficient.[7]

USA v. Prevezon

During 2015 and 2016, Fusion GPS was hired by the BakerHostetler law firm which was defending Prevezon from an asset seizure by the U.S. government.[8][9] As part of their litigation support, Fusion GPS investigated Bill Browder, a witness central to the case.[10] During the course of the case, Browder claimed that Fusion GPS had previously been hired to undertake a pro-Russia campaign to aimed at stopping passage of the Magnitsky Act,[11] named after Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer and auditor who died while being held without charges in a Russian government prison after he revealed that the Kremlin had stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from Hermitage Capital Management.

On March 30, 2017, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa called for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into connections between Fusion GPS and Russia, and an inquiry as to whether Fusion GPS was acting as an unregistered foreign agent.[11] The company has denied the claim that they were engaged in lobbying or violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.[9][12]

Trump dossier and Christopher Steele

In September 2015, Fusion GPS was hired to do opposition research for Republicans who opposed Donald Trump’s bid during the Republican primary campaign for the 2016 presidential election. When Trump had emerged as the probable Republican candidate for the 2016 U.S. presidential election in the spring of 2016, Republican donors stopped funding the investigation, and Democratic supporters of Hillary Clinton became Fusion GPS’s new clients.[13] In June 2016, after the Democratic National Committee had been hacked and its emails began to be published online, Fusion GPS retained Christopher Steele, a private British corporate intelligence investigator and former MI-6 agent, to research any Russian connections to Trump. Steele issued a series of memos from June to December 2016, which became the document known as the Donald Trump–Russia dossier.[13]

In January 2017, the U.S. intelligence community briefed then-President Barack Obama and President-Elect Donald Trump on the contents of the dossier.[14] CNN reported that U.S. investigators had corroborated some parts of the dossier in February 2017.[15] In March 2017, former FBI director James Comey confirmed that the FBI was conducting an official investigation into one of the central allegations in the dossier, that the Trump campaign had coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 Presidential election.[16]

In March 2017, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley initiated an inquiry into whether the FBI had relied on the dossier and on Steele to further its investigation into Trump and his Russian ties.[11] Others have credited Steele with raising questions about the alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.[17]

See also

External Links

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

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

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

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Trump’s new Cuba policy, explained

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

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

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

President Donald Trump Cuba Policy Change Speech Full

Cuba

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decades of contention before Obama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is Trump reversing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about diplomatic ties?

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

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

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

Lobbying Trump on Cuba

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did Candidate Trump say?

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

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

Today’s speech

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

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

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

Trump’s Cuba Policy Will Fail

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should President Trump fire special counsel Mueller?

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

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

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

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

Trump dropped biggest bombshell on Loretta Lynch: Judge Napolitano

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

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

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

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

Calls for Special Counsel Mueller to Step Down or Recuse.

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

Ann Coulter Finally Weighs in on the James Comey Thimgamabob!

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

Should the special counsel’s probe be shut down?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hume: Mueller-Comey friendship raises an ethical question

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

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

Trump dropped biggest bombshell on Loretta Lynch: Judge Napolitano

Kurtz: Mueller on the hot seat

Gregg Jarrett: Mueller should resign as special counsel

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

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

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

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

Leftist Host Chris Matthews Admits Russia Collusion Narrative Destroyed

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

 

Rosenstein warns Americans to ‘exercise caution’ about anonymous reports

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

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

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

ROBERT MUELLER APPOINTMENT TO LEAD RUSSIA PROBE WINS BIPARTISAN PRAISE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

TWEET STORM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump digs hole, keeps going

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can or should Rosenstein stay?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As part of the probe, the special counsel has also gathered Comey’s written accounts of his conversations with Trump. The president has accused Comey of lying about those encounters.

Mueller is overseeing a host of investigations involving people who are or were in Trump’s orbit, people familiar with the probe said. The investigation is examining possible contacts with Russian operatives as well as any suspicious financial activity related to those individuals.

Last week, Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he had informed Trump that there was no investigation of the president’s personal conduct, at least while he was leading the FBI.

Comey’s carefully worded comments, and those of Andrew McCabe, who took over as acting FBI director, suggested to some officials that an investigation of Trump for attempted obstruction may have been launched after Comey’s departure, particularly in light of Trump’s alleged statements regarding Flynn.

“I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards, to try and understand what the intention was there, and whether that’s an offense,” Comey testified last week.

Mueller has not publicly discussed his work, and a spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.

Accounts by Comey and other officials of their conversations with the president could become central pieces of evidence if Mueller decides to pursue an obstruction case.

Investigators will also look for any statements the president may have made publicly and privately to people outside the government about his reasons for firing Comey and his concerns about the Russia probe and other related investigations, people familiar with the matter said.

Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week that he was certain his firing was due to the president’s concerns about the Russia probe, rather than over his handling of a now-closed FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, as the White House had initially asserted. “It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said. “I was fired, in some way, to change — or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.”

The fired FBI director said ultimately it was up to Mueller to make a determination whether the president crossed a legal line.

In addition to describing his interactions with the president, Comey told the Intelligence Committee that while he was FBI director he told Trump on three occasions that he was not under investigation as part of a counterintelligence probe looking at Russian meddling in the election.

Republican lawmakers seized on Comey’s testimony to point out that Trump was not in the FBI’s crosshairs when Comey led the bureau.

After Comey’s testimony, in which he acknowledged telling Trump that he was not under investigation, Trump tweeted that he felt “total and complete vindication.” It is unclear whether McCabe, Comey’s successor, has informed Trump of the change in the scope of the probe.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/special-counsel-is-investigating-trump-for-possible-obstruction-of-justice/2017/06/14/9ce02506-5131-11e7-b064-828ba60fbb98_story.html?utm_term=.ddf5961ef89d

Eight Laws Hillary Clinton Could Be Indicted For Breaking

Photo of Kenneth P. Bergquist

KENNETH P. BERGQUIST
Brigadier General, U.S. Army (Ret)

As a former Justice Department official, I have, of late, been asked by both Democratic and Republican friends whether Hillary Clinton could be indicted for her email related actions. The simple answer is yes — she, and perhaps some of her senior staff, could be indicted for violating a number of federal criminal statutes. But for reasons that will be discussed later, it is unlikely that she will be.

Nevertheless, it is well worth discussing the various criminal provisions of federal law that she and others may have been violated based on mainstream news reports. Remember that news reporting can be incorrect or incomplete — and that Hillary Clinton, and anyone else involved, deserves every presumption of innocence. Also keep in mind that an indictment is not a conviction but rather the informed opinion of a grand jury that probable cause exists to believe one or more violations of federal criminal statutes have transpired.

This intellectual and legal research exercise should commence with a brief review of the basics of criminal jurisprudence: There are two elements of a criminal offense: the prohibited conduct as defined in statute; and the mens rea or mental intent of the individual or individuals engaging in the prohibited conduct. Thus, to gain a conviction on a criminal count in an indictment, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that: (1) the prohibited conduct occurred, (2) the prohibited conduct was undertaken by the defendant, and (3) the defendant had the requisite mens rea or intent at the time.

1.) 18 U.S. Code § 793 – Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information
18 U.S. Code § 798 – Disclosure of classified information

A federal prosecutor would naturally focus first on the most serious allegations: willfully transmitting or willfully retaining Top Secret and Compartmented (TS/SCI) material using a private server system. The individual who transmits and the individual who receives and retains TS/SCI information on a private server jointly share the culpability for risking the compromise and exploitation of the information by hostile intelligence services. The prosecutor’s charging document would likely include felony counts under 18 U.S. Code § 793 and under 18 U.S. Code § 798 against each transmitting individual as well as separate counts against each receiving and retaining individual. Violation of either provision of the U.S. Code cited above is a felony with a maximum prison term of ten years.

The prohibited conduct is the insecure transmission of highly classified information, as well as the receipt and retention of highly classified information in an unapproved manner. The requisite mens rea is the willful commission of the prohibited conduct and the knowledge that compromised information could result in prejudice or injury to the United States or advantage to any foreign nation. Proof of intent to disclose the classified information is not required.

2.) U.S. Code § 1924 – Unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material

If the federal prosecutors are of a charitable disposition and an accused person has been cooperative, the felony charges under 18 U.S. Code § 793 and 18 U.S. Code § 798 may be “pled-down” to a single or to multiple misdemeanor counts under 18 U.S. Code § 1924. A misdemeanor conviction would probably result in a period of probation and a less significant fine. The prohibited conduct is the unauthorized removal of classified information from government control or its retention in an unauthorized location. The mens rea required is the intent to remove from government control or the intent to store the classified information in an unauthorized location.

3.) 18 U.S. Code § 2071(b) — Concealment, removal, or mutilation generally

To sustain a charge under 18 U.S. Code § 2071(b), a federal prosecutor need only prove that the accused transferred and held the only copies of official government records (whether classified or not), the very existence of which was concealed from government records custodians. The mens rea required is that an accused knows that official government records were transferred or removed from the control of government records custodians. Violation of 18 U.S. Code § 2071(b) is a felony with a maximum prison term of three years.

4.) 18 U.S. Code § 641 – Public money, property or records

Again, if the federal prosecutors are of a charitable disposition and accused has been cooperative, the felony charges under 18 U.S. Code § 2071(b) can be “pled down” to a misdemeanor under 18 U.S. Code § 641. The prohibited conduct is the conversion of official records (whether classified or not) to the accused’s exclusive use and the mens rea is simply the intent to do so. Conviction on the lesser misdemeanor charge would likely result in a period of probation and the imposition of a fine.

5.) 18 U.S. Code § 1505 – Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees

If it can be proven that an accused destroyed, withheld, or concealed the existence of official records being sought under subpoena by a committee of Congress, the accused can be convicted of obstruction under 18 U.S. Code § 1505. The prohibited conduct includes destruction, concealment and withholding of documents, thereby impeding or obstructing the committee’s rightful pursuit of information. The mens rea is knowledge of the committee’s interest in obtaining the official records in the accused’s custody or control. Violation of 18 U.S. Code § 1505 is a felony with a maximum prison term of five years.

6.) 18 U.S. Code § 1519 — Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in federal investigations

If it can be proven that an accused knowingly concealed the existence of official records being sought by the Department of State Inspector General (DOS/IG) or by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), such accused can be convicted of obstruction. The prohibited conduct is the concealment and withholding of documents that impede or obstruct an investigation. The mens rea is the intent to conceal or withhold. Violation of 18 U.S. Code § 1519 is a felony with a maximum prison term of twenty years.

7.) 18 U.S. Code § 1031 — Fraud against the United States
18 U.S. Code § 1343 – Fraud by wire, radio or television
18 U.S. Code § 1346 — Definition of “scheme or artifice to defraud”
18 U.S. Code § 371 – Conspiracy to defraud the United States

If it can be proven that an accused arranged for the Department of State to hire an Information Technology (IT) specialist to primarily administer and maintain a private server system owned by the accused, then the accused can be convicted of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and probably wire fraud. The prohibited conduct is having the United States pay an employee salary and/or official travel funds for performing private services on behalf of accused. The mens rea is simply the knowledge of the employee’s status as a public servant and that the government was not fully reimbursed for the costs to the government of such services. The wire fraud conviction can be sought if it can be proven that accused used electronic means of communication in undertaking such scheme or artifice to defraud.

8.) 18 U.S. Code § 371 – Conspiracy to commit a federal offense

If any accused and any third party can be proven to have colluded in any violation of federal, criminal law, then all involved can be charged with criminal conspiracy as well as being charged with the underlying offense.

Indictment?

The old adage, that a good prosecutor can get a ham sandwich indicted, is bad news for any public servant who risks the compromise of classified information or otherwise violates any of the other federal criminal statutes listed above. Specifically, this Administration has a history of vigorously prosecuting and winning convictions in the mishandling of classified information and other criminal violations of the public trust.

However, Hillary Clinton is anything but a ham sandwich; and she knows it. She and her senior aides will not even be formally investigated by this Justice Department, much less indicted. The president will allow Hillary Clinton and her aides to “tough it out” for as long it is politically possible. However, if and when the political and public opinion costs of a “tough it out” tactic become too great, President Obama will simply use that famous pen of his to issue a succinct pardon and make formal mockery of the concept of equal justice.

Kenneth Bergquist served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the United States Department of Justice during the Reagan Administration and serves now aspro bono legal counsel to the Special Operations Education Fund (OPSEC).

http://dailycaller.com/2015/09/21/eight-laws-hillary-clinton-could-be-indicted-for-breaking/

Yes, There Could Be Serious Legal Problems if Obama Admin Involved in Illegal Surveillance

President Trump recently tweeted claiming that former President Obama wiretapped him during his campaign. One can only imagine how nuts the media would have gone if the roles had been reversed: President Trump wiretapping either Obama or the Clintons, though his DOJ could have authority to do just that given the expansive leaks of intelligence information by Obama and Clinton supporters the last few months. Heck, he could wiretap the media at this point, legally and legitimately, as the sources of these unlawful leaks, for which Obama himself set precedent. Do liberals understand what Pandora’s Box Obama opened up by Obama using the powers of the NSA, CIA and FBI to spy on his political opponents? Even Nixon never did that.

If the stories are correct, Obama or his officials might even face prosecution. But, we are still early in all of this and there are a lot of rumors flying around so the key is if the reports are accurate. We just don’t know at this time. The stories currently are three-fold: first, that Obama’s team tried to get a warrant from a regular, Article III federal court on Trump, and was told no by someone along the way (maybe the FBI), as the evidence was that weak or non-existent; second, Obama’s team then tried to circumvent the federal judiciary’s independent role by trying to mislabel the issue one of “foreign agents,” and tried to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act “courts”, and were again turned down, when the court saw Trump named (an extremely rare act of FISA court refusal of the government, suggesting the evidence was truly non-existent against Trump); and so, third, Obama circumvented both the regular command of the FBI and the regularly appointed federal courts, by placing the entire case as a FISA case (and apparently under Sally Yates at DOJ) as a “foreign” case, and then omitted Trump’s name from a surveillance warrant submitted to the FISA court, which the FISA court unwittingly granted, which Obama then misused to spy on Trump and many connected to Trump. Are these allegations true? We don’t know yet, but if any part of them are then Obama and/or his officials could face serious trouble.

Can a President be charged with a crime? Only once out of office. While in office, impeachment remains the exclusive remedy in order to avoid a single judicial branch trying to overturn an election, such as a grand jury in any part of the country could. Once out of office, a President remains immune from civil liability for his duties while President, under a 1982 decision of the United States Supreme Court. However, as the Nixon pardon attests, nothing forecloses a criminal prosecution of the President after his presidency is complete for crimes against the country. Obama, the Constitutional lawyer, should know that.

What crimes could have been committed? Ironically, for Democrats falsely accusing Attorney General Sessions, perjury and conspiracy to commit perjury, as well as intentional violations of FISA. Rather shockingly, no law currently forbids misusing the power of the presidency to spy on one’s adversaries. What the law does forbid is lying to any judicial officer to obtain any means of surveillance. What the law does forbid, under criminal penalty, is the misuse of FISA. Both derive from the protections of the Fourth Amendment itself. Under section 1809, FISA makes it a crime for anyone to either “engage in” electronic surveillance under “color of law” under FISA without following the law’s restrictions, or “disclose” or “use” information gathered from it in contravention of the statute’s sharp constrictions.

FISA, 50 USC 1801, et seq., is a very limited method of obtaining surveillance authority. The reason for its strict limits is that FISA evades the regular federal court process, by not allowing regularly, Constitutionally appointed federal judges and their magistrates to authorize surveillance the Fourth Amendment would otherwise forbid. Instead, the Chief Justice handpicks the FISA court members, who have shown an exceptional deference to the executive branch. This is because FISA court members trust the government is only bringing them surveillance about pending terror attacks or “grave hostile” war-like attacks, as the FISA statute limits itself to. Thus, a FISA application can only be used in very limited circumstances.

One important reminder about electronic surveillance. Occasionally, a law enforcement officer will hear or see or record information not allowed by the warrant, but incidental or accidental to otherwise lawful surveillance. Their job is to immediately stop listening, stop recording, and to delete such information. This is what you occasionally see in films where the agent in the van hears the conversation turn away from something criminal to a personal discussion, and the agent then turns off the listening device and stops the recording. Such films simply recognize long-standing legal practice.

FISA can only be used for “foreign intelligence information.” Now that sounds broad, but is in fact very limited under the law. The only “foreign intelligence information” allowed as a basis for surveillance is information necessary to protect the United States against actual or potential “grave” “hostile” attack, war-like sabotage or international terror. Second, it can only be used to eavesdrop on conversations where the parties to the conversation are a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power. An agent of a foreign power cannot be a United States person unless they are knowingly involved in criminal espionage. No warrant is allowed on that person unless a FISA court finds probable cause the United States person is knowingly engaged in criminal espionage. Even then, if it involves a United States person, special steps must be taken to “minimize the acquisition and retention, and prohibit the dissemination, of non publicly available information concerning un-consenting United States persons.”

This includes procedures that require they never identify the person, or the conversation, being surveilled, to the public where that information is not evidence of a particular crime. Third, the kind of information sought concerns solely information about a pending or actual attack on the country. That is why the law limits itself to sabotage incidents involving war, not any form or kind of “sabotage,” explicitly limiting itself to those acts identified in section 105 of Title 18 of the United States Code.

This bring us to Watergate-on-Steroids, or #ObamaGate. Here are the problematic aspects of the Obama surveillance on Trump’s team, and on Trump himself. First, it is not apparent FISA could ever be invoked. Second, it is possible Obama’s team may have perjured themselves before the FISA court by withholding material information essential to the FISA court’s willingness to permit the government surveillance. Third, it could be that Obama’s team illegally disseminated and disclosed FISA information in direct violation of the statute precisely prohibiting such dissemination and disclosure. FISA prohibits, under criminal penalty, Obama’s team from doing any of the three.

At the outset, the NSA should have never been involved in a domestic US election. Investigating the election, or any hacking of the DNC or the phishing of Podesta’s emails, would not be a FISA matter. It does not fit the definition of war sabotage or a “grave” “hostile” war-like attack on the United States, as constrictively covered by FISA. It is your run-of-the-mill hacking case covered by existing United States laws that require use of the regular departments of the FBI, Department of Justice, and Constitutionally Senate-appointed federal district court judges, and their appointed magistrates, not secretive, deferential FISA courts.

Out of 35,000+ requests for surveillance, the FISA court has only ever rejected a whopping 12. Apparently, according to published reports, you can add one more to that — even the FISA court first rejected Obama’s request to spy on Trump’s team under the guise of an investigation into foreign agents of a pending war attack, intelligence agents apparently returned to the court, where, it is my assumption, that they did not disclose or divulge all material facts to the court when seeking the surveillance the second time around, some of which they would later wrongfully disseminate and distribute to the public. By itself, misuse of FISA procedures to obtain surveillance is itself, a crime.

This raises the second problem: Obama’s team submission of an affidavit to to the FISA court. An application for a warrant of any kind requires an affidavit, and that affidavit may not omit material factors. A fact is “material” if it could have the possible impact of impacting the judicial officer deciding whether to authorize the warrant. Such affidavits are the most carefully drawn up, reviewed, and approved affidavits of law enforcement in our system precisely because they must be fully-disclosing, forthcoming, and include any information a judge must know to decide whether to allow our government to spy on its own. My assumption would be that intelligence officials were trying to investigate hacking of DNC which is not even a FISA covered crime, so therefore serious questions arise about what Obama administration attorneys said to the FISA court to even consider the application. If the claim was “financial ties” to Russia, then Obama knew he had no basis to use FISA at all.

Since Trump was the obvious target, the alleged failure to disclose his name in the second application could be a serious and severe violation of the obligation to disclose all material facts. Lastly, given the later behavior, it is evident any promise in the affidavit to protect the surveilled information from ever being sourced or disseminated was a false promise, intended to induce the illicit surveillance. This is criminalized both by federal perjury statutes, conspiracy statutes, and the FISA criminal laws themselves.

That raises the third problem: it seems the FISA-compelled protocols for precluding the dissemination of the information were violated, and that Obama’s team issued orders to achieve precisely what the law forbids, if published reports are true about the administration sharing the surveilled information far-and-wide to promote unlawful leaks to the press. This, too, would be its own crime, as it brings back the ghost of Hillary’s emails — by definition, FISA information is strictly confidential or it’s information that never should have been gathered. FISA strictly segregates its surveilled information into two categories: highly confidential information of the most serious of crimes involving foreign acts of war; or, if not that, then information that should never have been gathered, should be immediately deleted, and never sourced nor disseminated. It cannot be both.

Recognizing this information did not fit FISA meant having to delete it and destroy it. According to published reports, Obama’s team did the opposite: order it preserved, ordered the NSA to search it, keep it, and share it; and then Obama’s Attorney General issued an order to allow broader sharing of information and, according to the New York Times, Obama aides acted to label the Trump information at a lower level of classification for massive-level sharing of the information. The problem for Obama is simple — if it could fit a lower level of classification, then it had to be deleted and destroyed, not disseminated and distributed, under crystal clear FISA law. Obama’s team’s admission it could be classified lower, yet taking actions to insure its broadest distribution, could even put Obama smack-middle of the biggest unlawful surveillance and political-opponent-smear campaign since Nixon. Except even Nixon didn’t use the FBI and NSA for his dirty tricks.

Watergate would have never happened if Nixon felt like he could just ask the FBI or NSA to tape the calls. This is Hoover-esque abuses of the kind Bob Woodward pal, former FBI Assistant Director Mark Felt (otherwise known as Deep Throat), routinely engaged in at the FBI until convicted and removed from office. (You didn’t know that Deep Throat was really a corrupt part of Deep State, did you? Guess who ran the famous COINTELPRO? That’s right — Deep Throat. How would the public have reacted if they knew the media had been in bed with the deep state all the way back then? Maybe that was the reason Woodward, Bernstein and Bradley kept Deep Throat’s identity secret all those years?)

Democrats may regret Sessions’ recusal, as his replacement is a mini-Sessions: a long-respected, a-political, highly ethical prosecutor, Dana Boente, whose reputation is well-warranted from his service at the Tax Division, and who won’t be limited by any perceived ties to Trump, given his prior appointment by Obama. Obama himself appeared scared of Boente, as he removed Boente from the successor-to-Sessions position during the lame-duck part of Obama’s presidency, but Trump restored Boente to that role earlier this month. Democrats may get the investigation they wanted, but it may be their own that end up named in the indictment.

Robert Barnes is a California-based trial attorney whose practice focuses on tax defense, civil rights and First Amendment law. You can follow him at @Barnes_Law

http://lawnewz.com/high-profile/yes-obama-could-be-prosecuted-if-involved-with-illegal-surveillance/

The Endless Ironies of Donald J. Trump

by VICTOR DAVIS HANSON June 13, 2017 4:00 AM @VDHANSON

Pandemonium can be a revivifying purgative.

Here are the ironies of Donald Trump as president. 1) For the Left (both Political and Media)

The Left was mostly untroubled for eight years about the often unconstitutional abuses of Barack Obama — given that they saw their shared noble aims as justifying almost any means necessary to achieve them.

There was the not uncommon Rice-Gruber-Rhodes-Holder sort of deception (on Benghazi, on the conduct of Bowe Bergdahl, on the Affordable Care Act, the Iran deal, on Fast and Furious, etc.) — a required tactic because so much of the Obama agenda was antithetical to the wishes and preferences of the American electorate and thus had to be disguised and camouflaged to become enacted.

There was the pen-and-phone mockery of established federal law (the suspension of the ACA employer mandate, the Chrysler creditor reversal, the non-enforcement of federal immigration law, the institutionalization of sanctuary-city nullification).

There was the constant mythmaking (from faux red lines, deadlines, and step-over lines to the fatuity of the Cairo Speech and Iran-deal harangues). There were the abuses of presidential power (the surveillance of journalists, the selective release of the bin Laden trove to pet journalists, the likely surveilling, unmasking, and leaking through reversed targeting of political enemies).

No one worried much when Obama promised on a hot mic to Medvedev that he would be more flexible with the Russians after his reelection, as if they were to conform to a desired sort of behavior in service to Obama that would earn them dividends from him later on — the kind of unapologetic partisan “collusion” that would have earned Trump a Comey-induced indictment.

No one cared that Obama pulled all peacekeepers out of Iraq and thereby ruined what the surge had saved.

Nor did anyone fret much about the serial scandals at the GSA, the VA, the IRS, and the Secret Service, or his disastrous reset policy with Russia and the implosion of the Middle East or the strange spectacles of Obama’s interview with GloZell or polarizing Oval Office guests, such as the rapper whose album cover portrayed celebrations over a dead white judge.

True, none of these were impeachable or even major offenses. But all of them recalibrated the bar of presidential behavior.

So along came the next Republican president, empowered by Obama’s exemptions to do almost anything he wished, albeit without the thin exculpatory veneer of Ivy League pretension, multicultural indemnity, and studied smoothness.

In biblical “there is a season” fashion, for every sermon about not building your business, making too much money, or profiting at the wrong time, there was a Trump retort to profit as never before.

For every too-frequent gala golf outing of a metrosexual Obama decked out in spiffy attire, there is a plumper Trump swinging away, oblivious to the angry pack of reporters that Obama once so carefully courted. For every rapper with an ankle bracelet that went off in the White House, there is now a White House photo-op with Ted Nugent.

For every executive-order suspension of federal immigration enforcement, there is an executive-order corrective.

For every lecture on the crusades, sermons on Western genocidal history, apology tour, or Islamic mythmaking, there is an American Greatness pride in everything.

The progressive ironies continued.

If the media were to be believed when they insisted that Obama was a “god,” or that he was the smartest man ever to achieve the presidency, or that the first lady was Jackie Kennedy incarnate, or that Obama was capable of sending electrical shocks down a reporter’s leg or was sure to be a brilliant president on the basis of his pants crease or because he talked in the manner of Washington elites, then surely it could not be believed when Trump was smeared as a veritable dunce, crook, buffoon, and naïf worthy of impeachment or that his wife (fluent in several languages) was an airhead former escort girl.

By their former unhinged adoration and obsequiousness, progressives and the media undermined all future credibility in their unhinged venom and loathing of Donald Trump. Now they live with the reality that by elevating Obama into a deity, they unleashed their own worst nightmare and have reduced themselves to irrelevance.

In the end, no one believes the current venom of a CNN or a New York Times precisely because no one could have believed their prior slavish adulation.

Anderson Cooper has become Keith Olbermann, as Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer meld into Maxine Waters: now malevolent rather than previously sycophantic, but in their extremism still no more credible in 2017 than they were in 2009. 2) For the Orphaned Never Trump Right (as Overrepresented in the Punditocracy as Underrepresented in the Electorate)

Even the most die-hard Never Trump conservative has had to make some adjustments. Despite assurances that Trump would not get the nomination, he did. Despite assurances that he could never be elected, he was. Despite prognostications that Trump was a liberal wolf hiding in conservative fleece, Trump’s appointments, his executive orders, his legislation pending before the Congress, his abrupt withdrawal from the Paris global-warming accords, his fierce support for vouchers, his pro-life advocacy, and his immigration normality were so far orthodoxly conservative.

Most Never Trumpers now concede that something had gone terribly wrong with their top-down party, although they resent that it was raucous billionaire Donald Trump who administered the diagnosis.

Despite suspicions that Trump’s appeal to the working class was nursed on racism, fanatic nationalism, xenophobia, and nativism, the appeal instead grew from a shared disgust with blue-stocking Republicans who were perceived in word and deed as little different from coastal Democratic look-alikes. Most Never Trumpers now concede that something had gone terribly wrong with their top-down party, although they resent that it was raucous billionaire Donald Trump who administered the diagnosis.

Where Never Trump conservatives worried that Trump was too uninformed or too reckless (e.g., pulling out of an “obsolete” NATO, rejecting Article 5 of the NATO alliance, starting a trade war with China, or erecting tariffs in 1920s style), Trump was forced to separate his past rhetoric from present reality — confirming in a way his transparent art-of-the-deal negotiating style of asking for twice what he could acceptably settle for, or acting unhinged to unsettle negotiators, enemies, and rivals. Given these surprises, the Never Trump position has now receded to a simpler proposition: The uncouth character of Donald J. Trump is not worth the conservative agenda that he may well enact, as we all will eventually and inevitably learn. Or how can conservative moralists stomach such a supposedly immoral incarnation of their own views? Such a paradox hinges on four corollaries, many of them dubious.

One: The ideological trajectory of a probable 16 years of Obama–Hillary Clinton progressive transformation of the country was never as dangerous as turning over executive power to someone as purportedly uncouth and unpredictable as Trump.

Two: Trump’s character defects were like none other in a previous American president (which would include John Kennedy’s pathological and dangerous womanizing, Lyndon Johnson’s in-office profiteering and crudity, Richard Nixon’s disrespect for truth and the law, Bill Clinton’s demonstrable White House sex escapades and lying under oath) and thus would cancel out the entire gamut of renewed energy production, deregulation, tax reform, deterrent foreign policy, Obamacare reform, and the sort of Cabinet appointment that will prune back the deep state.

Three: Ideas matter more than politics and governance. Being 51 (or far more) percent preferable is still either not being preferable at all or at least not enough to warrant pragmatic assent.

Four: Even snarky and “see, how I was right” attacks on Trump from the right keep conservatism honest, rather than implode it in the manner that the Left most assiduously avoids. (Was there ever a “Never Hillary” movement after the Democratic convention to protest her pollution of the Democratic National Committee?)

For now, the fallback position of “I told you so” hinges on Trump’s proving, in a downward spiral, far more recklessly obstreperous in the future than he has been so far, and on his agenda’s either fossilizing or reverting to his own 1980s liberal outlook. 3) Always Trump There are few ironies for Always Trumpers who supported Trump from well before the primaries. They wished an iron wrecking ball to be thrown into the deep-state glass, and they certainly got what they wished for. The uncouthness of Trump is not vulgarity for them. It’s the necessary tough antidote to what they see as the polished crudity of the elite class, who are quite indecent in their sanctimonious lectures on amnesties or globalized free but unfair trade — while having the personal means of navigating around the deleterious consequences of their own advocacy. Trump’s nihilistic and self-destructive tweets are yet again, for the Always Trumpers, the Semtex that helps blow up the entire spectacle of the feeding frenzy Washington press conference, the embarrassment of the White House Correspondents Dinner, the soft-ball televised interview, and the moral preening of television’s talking heads. Dr. Sawbones Trump smelled a festering wound, ripped off the scab, and proclaimed that the exposure would aerate and cure the gangrenous mass below. For the Always Trumpers, without the Trump shock, we would never have fully appreciated just how politically crude a Stephen Colbert really was, or just how obscene was a Tom Perez or

3) Always Trump There are few ironies for Always Trumpers who supported Trump from well before the primaries. They wished an iron wrecking ball to be thrown into the deep-state glass, and they certainly got what they wished for. The uncouthness of Trump is not vulgarity for them. It’s the necessary tough antidote to what they see as the polished crudity of the elite class, who are quite indecent in their sanctimonious lectures on amnesties or globalized free but unfair trade — while having the personal means of navigating around the deleterious consequences of their own advocacy. Trump’s nihilistic and self-destructive tweets are yet again, for the Always Trumpers, the Semtex that helps blow up the entire spectacle of the feeding frenzy Washington press conference, the embarrassment of the White House Correspondents Dinner, the soft-ball televised interview, and the moral preening of television’s talking heads. Dr. Sawbones Trump smelled a festering wound, ripped off the scab, and proclaimed that the exposure would aerate and cure the gangrenous mass below. For the Always Trumpers, without the Trump shock, we would never have fully appreciated just how politically crude a Stephen Colbert really was, or just how obscene was a Tom Perez or a Senator Gillibrand, or how rankly partisan was a Chuck Schumer or how incapacitated a Nancy Pelosi. Dr. Sawbones Trump smelled a festering wound, ripped off the scab, and proclaimed that the exposure would aerate and cure the gangrenous mass below — however crudely administered the remedy without analgesics. In this view, Trump’s ostensibly counterproductive outbursts and Twitter rants are the unpleasant castor oil that was long ago needed to break up and pass on a constipated, corrupt, and incestuous elite.

4) Trump, Better Far Than the Alternative Lastly, there are the conservatives and Republicans (well over 90 percent) who voted for Trump on the grounds that, while he may not have been preferable to most of the alternatives in the primary, he most certainly was in the general election. For these pragmatists, there are both pleasant and occasionally worrisome ironies. On the upside, it seems clear that Trump is not just conservative to his word, but, in the first 100 days, conservative in terms of policy to a degree unlike any other Republican president or presidential nominee since Ronald Reagan. Mitt Romney would not have yanked the U.S. out of the jerry-rigged Paris climate accord. John McCain would not have appointed a Neal Gorsuch or proposed to radically recalibrate the tax code. Neither of the two Bushes would have felt politically secure enough to shut down the border to illegal immigration; neither would have pressed to finished the border wall. None since Reagan would have made the sort of conservative appointments at the cabinet and bureaucratic level as has Trump. If Trump were really a namby-pamby conservative, the sheer hatred of Trump the person by the progressive Left has had the predictable effect of making him against everything his loudest enemies are for. For the realist Trump supporters, Trump’s tweets or outbursts are often regrettable and occasionally bothersome, but not so much because they demonstrate an unprecedented level of presidential indecency. (Cynical realists with knowledge of history accept what FDR or JFK was capable of, and thus what they said in private conservations, and occasionally out loud.) Trump’s sin, then, is that he more often says out loud what prior presidents kept to their inner circle. Rather, their worry is more tactical and strategic: Trump, the bull-in-the-china-shop messenger, breaks up too much of the vital message of Trump. In public, they may cringe at Trump’s excesses (though enjoying in private how he forces sanctimonious progressives to melt down), but their worry over Trump’s overkill is mostly from the fear that no mortal 70-year-old male, without a traditionally loyal support staff, but with unhealthy sleep and diet habits, and under the stress of historic vituperation, could see through such an ambitious conservative agenda. They are worried, then, that the 24/7 and extraneous fights that Trump picks will eventually undo him, and with his demise will go his entire conservative resurgence for a generation. They admire enormously Mike Pence but concede that he would have been neither nominated nor elected. And should Trump fall, Pence would be unable amid the nuclear fallout to press the conservative agenda further. And yet there is some doubt even here as well. Trump’s tweets can be as prescient as they are reckless.

Take the infamous “Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory” and substitute “Obama administration” for Obama, and “surveil” for “wires tapped,” and Trump’s tweet about the former president’s intelligence agencies improperly monitoring him may yet prove in a broad sense correct.

In other words, cringe-worthy Trump behavior so often is the lubricant that oils his success against cringe-worthy opponents, turning upside down the Heraclitean axiom that character is destiny, or rather redefining it, because Trump’s targets so often were hubristic and deserved the nemesis sent their way.

For the realist Trump supporters, Trump’s tweets or outbursts are often regrettable and occasionally bothersome, but not so much because they demonstrate an unprecedented level of presidential indecency. (Cynical realists with knowledge of history accept what FDR or JFK was capable of, and thus what they said in private conservations, and occasionally out loud.)

Trump’s sin, then, is that he more often says out loud what prior presidents kept to their inner circle. Rather, their worry is more tactical and strategic: Trump, the bull-in-the-china-shop messenger, breaks up too much of the vital message of Trump. In public, they may cringe at Trump’s excesses (though enjoying in private how he forces sanctimonious progressives to melt down), but their worry over Trump’s overkill is mostly from the fear that no mortal 70-year-old male, without a traditionally loyal support staff, but with unhealthy sleep and diet habits, and under the stress of historic vituperation, could see through such an ambitious conservative agenda.

They are worried, then, that the 24/7 and extraneous fights that Trump picks will eventually undo him, and with his demise will go his entire conservative resurgence for a generation.

They admire enormously Mike Pence but concede that he would have been neither nominated nor elected. And should Trump fall, Pence would be unable amid the nuclear fallout to press the conservative agenda further. And yet there is some doubt even here as well. Trump’s tweets can be as prescient as they are reckless. Take the infamous “Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory” and substitute “Obama administration” for Obama, and “surveil” for “wires tapped,” and Trump’s tweet about the former president’s intelligence agencies improperly monitoring him may yet prove in a broad sense correct. In other words, cringe-worthy Trump behavior so often is the lubricant that oils his success against cringe-worthy opponents, turning upside down the Heraclitean axiom that character is destiny, or rather redefining it, because Trump’s targets so often were hubristic and deserved the nemesis sent their way.

It may not be that Trump earns hatred for unnecessary provocation and vitriol, but instead that he or any other Republican would have earned such venom anyway; thus his own searing tactics and narcissistic belief in his own destiny are predicated on the assumption that his unhinged enemies will vaporize first. And he may be right. James Comey has underestimated Donald Trump every bit as much as Marco Rubio or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama did. In the end, the pragmatists apparently believe conservatives will hang together or hang separately.

Never have so many bright people proved so dense.

Never have polls and politics proved so unreliable or partisan. Never have unintended consequences so replaced predictable results.

Yes, we are in chaos, but we sense also that the pandemonium is purgative of the worse that prompted it — and it is unpleasant mostly because it has so long been overdue.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, to appear in October from Basic Books.

 http://www.nationalreview.com/article/448562/donald-trump-ironies-wrecking-ball-long-overdue-may-benefit-country

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The Pronk Pops Show 898, May 23, 2017, Story 1: Suicide Bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi, Killed 22 and Wounded 119 In Radical Islamic Terrorist Attack in Manchester, England — Islamic State Claims Responsibility — President Trump Calls Them “Evil Losers” — Videos — Story 2: Budget Director Mulvaney Presents President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 U.S. Federal Budget — Dead On Arrival — Spending Addiction Disorder (SAD) Rampant in Congress — $500-$600 Billion Deficit in Fiscal Year 2018! — Videos — Story 3: Where is The Evidence of Collusion, Conspiracy, or Coordination Between Russians and Trump Campaign? and Where is The Evidence of Collusion, Conspiracy, or Coordination Between Foreign Governments and Clinton Campaign and Clinton Foundation? — Videos

Posted on May 23, 2017. Filed under: American History, Bombs, Breaking News, Congress, Countries, Crime, Culture, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Elections, Employment, European History, Federal Government, Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Great Britain, Hate Speech, History, Homicide, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Independence, Islamic State, Language, Law, Life, Media, Medicare, Music, News, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Second Amendment, Senate, Social Security, Spying, Success, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, United Kingdom, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, War, Wealth, Weapons, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Image result for manchester england suicide bomber Suicide Bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi

This graphic shows where the explosion took place, in the foyer area, leading towards Victoria railway station Image result for trump budget proposal

Story 1:  Suicide Bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi,  Killed 22 and  Wounded 119 In Radical Islamic Terrorist Attack in Manchester, England — Islamic State Claims Responsibility — President Trump Calls Them “Evil Losers” — Videos

Image result for manchester england suicide bomberImage result for manchester england suicide bomber Suicide Bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi

Trump calls Manchester masterminds ‘evil losers’

U.K.’s Theresa May on Manchester Terror Attack

Lt. Col. Shaffer: Manchester terror attack is symbolic

Trump reacts to Manchester attack

Manchester police confirm identity of concert bomber

Published on May 23, 2017

The suicide bomber at an Ariana Grande concert has been identified as 22-year-old Salman Abedi, Manchester Police confirmed at a news conference Tuesday. Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins also said a 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with the attack. See the full news conference.

Who was behind the Manchester terror attack?

Manchester remains on edge following terror attack.

 

Manchester bomber identified: Latest in terror investigation

Last Updated May 23, 2017 3:03 PM EDT

LONDON — Police on Tuesday identified the man who blew himself up the previous night at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, as 22-year-old Salman Abedi. CBS News confirmed Abedi was known to British authorities prior to the attack.

In a generic statement posted online, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for Abedi’s suicide bomb attack, which left 22 people dead, including children, at one of the entrances to the Manchester Arena.

Officials said one man was arrested Tuesday in southern Manchester in connection with the attack, and urged people to avoid the center of the city as raids continued at addresses around the city.

Police and British Prime Minister Theresa May made it clear the focus of the investigation was to determine whether the bomber “was acting alone, or was part of a wider group.”

ISIS issued its claim of responsibility in a brief, generic statement that did not identify the bomber and appeared to get some of the facts of the attack wrong. It claimed a “caliphate soldier managed to place a number of devices among a gathering of crusaders in Manchester, and detonated them.”

Officials say there was only one explosion, and there have been no indications that other devices were discovered at or near the arena.

U.S. intelligence sources told CBS News they were exercising caution on the early claim of responsibility from ISIS. Authorities are still looking into whether it was a killer who acted alone or who might have had some level of support from the terror network. U.S. intelligence officials were offering assistance in the investigation, as is standard practice in any case involving a close ally.

Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, noted in Congress on Tuesday that ISIS frequently claims responsibility for terror attacks, and their claim has yet to be verified by U.S. officials.

Testifying in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Coats said the Manchester attack should serve as a reminder that the terrorist threat is “not going away and it needs significant attention.”

ISIS has repeatedly called for its supporters in the West to attack “soft targets” like sports events and concerts in any way possible.

Previous attacks in Europe and the U.S. have been claimed by individuals who support ISIS and have made contact with its members, but who were not directly supported or guided by the terror network.

Manchester police confirmed the arrest of a 23-year-old man in the southern Chorlton neighborhood of the city on Tuesday morning. The suspect taken into custody was not identified, but police said the arrest was linked to the bombing. Witnesses said the man was smiling as he was apprehended.

Police also confirmed that officers had conducted a controlled explosion at the scene of a separate raid connected to the arena attack in the Fallowfield neighborhood, in south Manchester.

According to British election rolls, Abedi was listed as living at the modest red brick semi-detached house in Fallowfield where police performed the controlled explosion.

Theo Brown, who lives near the Fallowfield address, told CBS News he heard a loud explosion and then saw about 50 law enforcement officers in the street.

The bomb wielded by Abedi was designed to kill and maim as many people as possible; many of the survivors suffered shrapnel wounds and ball bearings were found at the scene.

There was security at the concert, but the bomber apparently didn’t try to get into the venue, instead blowing himself up in an entrance foyer area as concert-goers flooded out of the arena. Prime Minister May said the attacker had deliberately chosen “his time and place to cause maximum carnage” in the young crowd.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ariana-grande-concert-manchester-arena-bombing-suspect-salman-abedi-isis-claim/

‘He was chanting Islamic prayers loudly in the street’: Neighbours of British-born suicide bomber – a keen Manchester United fan and son of airport security worker – tell of his ‘strange behaviour’ in the weeks before deadly attack

  • Manchester Arena concert suicide bomber has been named as Salman Abedi 
  • Terrorist was killed in the blast as he murdered 22 after Ariana Grande concert
  • Raids on address believed to be Abedi’s, where controlled explosion took place, and his brother Ismail’s address, where police arrested a 23-year-old man
  • Neighbours described Abedi as an abrasive, tall, skinny young man who was little known in the neighbourhood, and often seen in traditional Islamic clothing 
  • ISIS claimed today that one of its fanatics was responsible for the massacre
  • The ranting message threatened further attacks on ‘worshippers of the Cross’ 

The imam of the Mosque attended by Manchester Salman Abedi has revealed the suicide bomber looked at him ‘with hate’ when he gave a sermon criticising ISIS.

It comes as neighbours of the British-born Manchester United fan described his ‘strange behaviour’ in the weeks before he slaughtered 22 people.

The 22-year-old attacker, described as an abrasive, tall, skinny young man who was often seen in traditional Islamic clothing, was heard ‘chanting prayers loudly in the street’ outside his home in the south of the city.

Abedi is the third of four children by Libyan refugees who came to the UK to escape the Gaddafi regime.  They are believed to have lived in the Fallowfield area of south Manchester for at least ten years.

Last night, Abedi murdered and maimed concert goers as they left Manchester Arena after an Ariana Grande concert.

Armed police prepare to raid ‘home of Manchester suicide bomber’

This is the moment anti-terror police swooped to arrest a man over last night’s ISIS suicide bomb atrocity at Manchester Arena

Neighbours of British-born Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi have revealed his 'strange behaviour' in the weeks before he slaughtered 22 people

Neighbours of British-born Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi have revealed his ‘strange behaviour’ in the weeks before he slaughtered 22 people

A forensic investigator emerged from the house carrying a booklet called 'Know Your Chemicals'

A forensic investigator emerged from the house carrying a booklet called ‘Know Your Chemicals’

Mohammed Saeed, the imam of Didsbury Mosque and Islamic Centre (pictured), said Abedi had looked at him 'with hate' after he gave a sermon criticising ISIS

Mohammed Saeed, the imam of Didsbury Mosque and Islamic Centre (pictured), said Abedi had looked at him ‘with hate’ after he gave a sermon criticising ISIS

ISIS this morning claimed responsibility and threatened further attacks, saying ‘one of the caliphate’s soldiers placed bombs within a gathering of the Crusaders’.

Mohammed Saeed, the imam of Didsbury Mosque and Islamic Centre, said Abedi had looked at him ‘with hate’ after he gave a sermon criticising ISIS and Ansar al-Sharia in Libya in 2015.

He said the vast majority of people at the mosque were with him but a few signed a petition against him, reports the Guardian.

Mr Saeed said: ‘Salman showed me a face of hate after that sermon. He was showing me hatred.’

Forensic officers raid ‘home of Manchester suicide bomber’

Police were seen clutching a 'know your chemicals' manual as they carried out a raid at the property

Police were seen clutching a ‘know your chemicals’ manual as they carried out a raid at the property

He added that a friend was so worried for his safety that he got his adult children to sit beside Amedi in case he attacked the imam.

Police are trying to determine whether Abedi, a former Burnage Boys Academy pupil who appears to have been radicalised within the last couple of years, acted alone or was part of a wider terror cell.

There were unconfirmed reports that the whole family, apart from the two elder sons, recently returned to their native Libya.

It comes as dramatic pictures emerged showing anti-terror police swooping to arrest a 23-year-old man in Manchester over last night’s atrocity.

Abedi grew up in the Whalley Range area of the city, just yards from the school which hit the headlines in 2015 when twins and aspiring medical students, Zahra and Salma Halane, fled their homes and moved to Syria.

He is registered as having lived with his mother Samia Tabbal, father Ramadan, a former airport security worker, and a brother, Ismail, who was born in Westminster in 1993.

Separate pictures show raids at what is believed to have been Abedi’s home in Fallowfield, where a controlled explosion took place, and his brother Ismail’s address, where a 23-year-old man was arrested.

One neighbour claimed they heard Abedi chanting Islamic prayers at the home just weeks before the concert hall atrocity.

Police are urgently trying to work out whether Salman Abedi, who killed 22 last night as thousands of young people were leaving an Ariana Grande concert, was acting alone or whether he was 'part of a network'

Police are urgently trying to work out whether Salman Abedi, who killed 22 last night as thousands of young people were leaving an Ariana Grande concert, was acting alone or whether he was ‘part of a network’

A father carries away his daughter away following the suspected terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert 

A father carries away his daughter away following the suspected terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert

This was the scene inside the Manchester Arena last night after the suspected terror attack at the teen concert

This was the scene inside the Manchester Arena last night after the suspected terror attack at the teen concert

A major police operation is underway this morning to determine whether the suicide attacker who detonated a nail bomb at Manchester Arena last night was part of a terror cell

A major police operation is underway this morning to determine whether the suicide attacker who detonated a nail bomb at Manchester Arena last night was part of a terror cell

Forensic officers were seen emerging from the property carrying a police-issue booklet called ‘Know Your Chemicals’.

Lina Ahmed, 21, told MailOnline: ‘They are a Libyan family and they have been acting strangely.

‘A couple of months ago he [Salman] was chanting the first kalma [Islamic prayer] really loudly in the street. He was chanting in Arabic.

‘He was saying ‘There is only one God and the prophet Mohammed is his messenger’.’

Abedi’s former school friend Leon Hall told MailOnline he saw the killer last year and said he had grown a beard.

He also said the jihadist was a keen Manchester United fan.

Hall, 26, and Abedi lived close to each other in a row of run down terraced houses in the Moss Side area of Manchester.

They later ended up living next door to each other in a nearby street and went to the same school.

Hall said: ‘I saw him last year and he had a beard thing going on. We didn’t speak but just nodded to each other. I don’t remember seeing him with beard before.’

Hall said they grew up playing together on the street around their home.

‘He and I had a tussle many years ago when we were kids. It was over nothing, but he always had a bit of an attitude problem. I can’t say I really liked the man.’

A large police presence, including armed officers, was seen outside an address about a mile from the scene of the arrest

A large police presence, including armed officers, was seen outside an address about a mile from the scene of the arrest

Forensics wearing white suits were called to an address in Greater Manchester after a police operation

Forensics wearing white suits were called to an address in Greater Manchester after a police operation

Hall, who was sat outside his home with his sister, said Abedi was a Muslim.

Other family members at the house, who asked not to be named, confirmed that Abedi was a Muslim.

Hall said:’ I remember that he was a big Man Utd fan. I don’t think he went to the games but would follow them.’

Aerial shots showed police descending on a house in Fallowfield, Manchester as part of the investigation into the bombing massacre last night

Aerial shots showed police descending on a house in Fallowfield, Manchester as part of the investigation into the bombing massacre last night

Abedi, who lived in a housing association owned home about two miles from the scene of Monday night’s terror attack.

He later moved 400 yards away to another terraced home. The area is predominantly occupied by immigrants with many of the terraced homes housing newly arrived immigrants.

The current occupiers of the three-bedroom home where Abedi lived more than a decade ago said they had never met him or his family.

‘They were already gone when we moved in,’ said a woman clutching a small baby.

‘We do not know them and have never spoken to them.’

Abedi is understood to have attended Claremont Primary School a short distance from his home.

Officers are combing CCTV to determine whether the attacker carried out a ‘recce’ of the arena before detonating a nail bomb as thousands were leaving the concert.

The suicide attacker is said to have been ‘known’ to the authorities and anti-terrorist officers are going through hundreds of hours of CCTV footage trying to ‘pick him up’ during his journey to the arena.

Officers also believe that he will have carried out a ‘recce’ to the giant venue in recent days and a separate team are studying footage going back into the past week.

Footage shows officers arresting a 23-year-old man outside a Morrisons supermarket in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, south Manchester this morning

Footage shows officers arresting a 23-year-old man outside a Morrisons supermarket in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, south Manchester this morning

Police probing last night's terror attack said a 23-year-old man has been arrested outside a supermarket in south Manchester in connection with the arena massacre

Police probing last night’s terror attack said a 23-year-old man has been arrested outside a supermarket in south Manchester in connection with the arena massacre

Non-uniform anti-terror officers wearing masks to conceal their faces were seen emerging from a Black Mercedes before arresting a man outside a Morrison's in Chorlton

Non-uniform anti-terror officers wearing masks to conceal their faces were seen emerging from a Black Mercedes before arresting a man outside a Morrison’s in Chorlton

Forensic and bomb squad officers are studying the remains of the device recovered so far but initial indications are that the bombmaker had used a ‘level of sophistication’ suggesting he had received training and not made it from ‘a terror recipe’ on the Internet.

One security source told MailOnline: ‘It is unlikely that if the device was sophisticated that the suicide bomber made it – experience shows that organisations are reluctant to ‘waste’ the expertise of a bombmaker in an attack, preferring to keep him or her for another attack.

ISIS WARNS OF MORE ATTACKS

ISIS this morning claimed responsibility for the atrocity in a ranting statement that threatened further attacks on ‘worshippers of the Cross.

‘With Allah’s grace and support, a soldier of the Khilafah managed to place explosive devices in the midst of the gatherings of the Crusaders in the British city of Manchester,’ the statement said.

It added that the massacre was ‘revenge for Allah’s religion… in response to their transgressions against the lands of the Muslims.

‘The explosive devices were detonated in the shameless concert arena.

‘What comes next will be more severe on the worshipers of the Cross and their allies.’

‘It is therefore highly likely that this terrorist is part of a cell or had a support network and they are the priority.

‘Are there other devices, other terrorists out there and you can expect to see raids carried out in the next 48 hours linked to this.’

Detectives are also studying the bomber’s links to Syria or other jihadi hotbeds amid intelligence that he may have travelled abroad to the region.

At least 16 convicted or dead jihadi terrorists are known to have come from a small area of Manchester and several surveillance operations on suspects from the region have been on-going.

Possible links to ISIS-inspired cells involved in the Belgium, Paris and Stockholm attacks are also being examined.

Less than 24 hours after the atrocity ISIS claimed responsibility for the murders.

The extremists were quick to call the killer one of their soldiers, as has become the trend in the wake of many recent attacks in Europe.

According to the SITE Intel Group, which monitors jihadist groups, the ISIS statement described the explosion as having taken place at a ‘shameless concert arena’.

Casualties are stretchered out of the concert on Monday evening after a terror attack in the Ariana Grande concert

Casualties are stretchered out of the concert on Monday evening after a terror attack in the Ariana Grande concert

Police confirm 22 people are now confirmed dead after Manchester attack

They appeared to wrongly state that a number of explosive devices had been detonated, when police have said the attacker was carrying one bomb.

Part of the investigation into what happened is probing whether the killer was acting alone or as part of a network. ISIS has previously encouraged lone wolf attacks against Westerners.

Monday night’s carnage came as a result of a method described by some terror experts as more ‘sophisticated’ than other recent attacks in Europe.

The apparent suicide bombing tactic is markedly different from lone wolf Khalid Masood’s car and knife rampage in Westminster earlier this year.

Theresa May this morning said that police believe they know the identity of the attacker.

Children were among the 22 people killed as the explosion tore through fans leaving the pop concert at about 10.30pm last night.

Some 119 people were also injured in the blast caused by an improvised explosive device carried by the attacker, who was also killed.

Experts say the bomber employed a ‘sophisticated’ method of attack using a a device packed with nuts and bolts, so-called ‘dockyard confetti’, to cause maximum damage.

Former police officer and counter-terrorism expert Chris Phillips described the latest attack to hit the UK as ‘a step up’.

This distressing picture purportedly shows the inside of the arena after the suicide attack at the Ariana Grande concert - its veracity has been confirmed by the two witnesses

This distressing picture purportedly shows the inside of the arena after the suicide attack at the Ariana Grande concert – its veracity has been confirmed by the two witnesses

The identity of the attacker, who was also killed, is not yet known and the deadly blast is being treated as an act of terrorism

The identity of the attacker, who was also killed, is not yet known and the deadly blast is being treated as an act of terrorism

Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos, from Preston, was killed when a suicide bomber let off a nail bomb at a packed pop concert last night

Another victim of the terror attack has been named locally as 18-year-old Georgina Callander. It is feared many children are among those killed, as well as parents who had accompanied their youngsters to the concert or were picking them up

Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos (left), from Preston, and 18-year-old Georgina Callander (right) have been named as victims. It is feared many children are among those killed, as well as parents who had accompanied their youngsters to the concert or were picking them up

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think the point is that this was obviously a planned attack and that will involve people looking at the venue and seeing how the venue operates.

‘And also the fact that it sounds like this was a strapped on suicide belt and also from what we just heard, perhaps, with what we call dockyard confetti which is the little bits of nuts and bolts that are attached to the vest.

‘And those unfortunately are there deliberately to kill people and that’s the whole purpose of them. This does look like a step up and my worry, and I think the police’s worry now, is that this person probably wasn’t acting alone and there are other people that to be captured.’

Britain’s terrorist threat level stands at ‘severe,’ the second-highest rung on a five-point scale, meaning an attack is highly likely. Counter-terrorism police have said they are making on average an arrest every day in connection with suspected terrorism.

For the second time in two months, police and security services are embarking on a major terror investigation.

A Twitter account - which was unverified - posted this hours before the attack, warning of a terror attack 
The Twitter account also posted this picture of the ISIS flag with the hashtag 'Manchester Arena' 

A Twitter account – which was unverified – posted this four hours before the attack

Several ISIS-friendly accounts posted the hashtag #ManchesteArena and #ArianaGrande

Several ISIS-friendly accounts posted the hashtag #ManchesteArena and #ArianaGrande

None of the ISIS fan pages have claimed responsibility for last night's terror attack 

None of the ISIS fan pages have claimed responsibility for last night’s terror attack

The bomber is believed to have entered a foyer area of the venue through doors opened to allow young music fans to leave

The bomber is believed to have entered a foyer area of the venue through doors opened to allow young music fans to leave

As with the Westminster atrocity in March, in which five were killed, the most pressing question is whether the individual behind the Manchester blast was a so-called ‘lone wolf’ or part of a wider terror cell.

The working theory is that the perpetrator triggered the blast alone but the national police counter-terror network, assisted by MI5, are urgently piecing together his background to see whether he had any help in planning the outrage.

They will be looking to build a picture of the attacker’s movements both in recent weeks and months as well as immediately before the strike.

Another priority will be to establish whether any further linked attacks or copycat incidents are planned.

It is likely that the bomber’s communications will form a significant part of the inquiry, while investigators will also be checking if he was known to authorities in any way.

One area of focus will be examining the remnants of the device used in the attack as officers work to establish whether the perpetrator built it himself or had help.

As well as seeking to identify any potential accomplices in Britain, authorities will also be looking into the possibility of any link to international groups.

HOW BRITAIN HAS SUFFERED AT THE HANDS OF EXTREMISTS

After Britain as struck by terror again, here are some of the terrible events suffered by the country at the hands of extremists in recent years:

May 22, 2017: Twenty-two people – including children – are killed and around 59 injured during a terrorist bombing at a pop concert in Manchester.

It is thought a lone suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device as crowds of music fans, many of them youngsters, left the Manchester Arena following a performance by US artist Ariana Grande.

Concert-goers and witnesses have described the chaos after 'huge bomb-like bangs' went off in Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande gig

Concert-goers and witnesses have described the chaos after ‘huge bomb-like bangs’ went off in Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande gig

March 22, 2017: Five people are killed when an Islamist extremist launched a car and knife attack in central London.

Khalid Masood drove a hired car over Westminster Bridge, near the Houses of Parliament, mounted the pavement and hit pedestrians before crashing into railings outside the Palace of Westminster.

He stabbed Pc Keith Palmer, 48, to death and also killed US tourist Kurt Cochran, Romanian tourist Andreea Cristea, 31, plus Britons Aysha Frade, 44, and 75-year-old Leslie Rhodes. Masood was shot dead by police.

June 16, 2016: Labour MP Jo Cox is murdered outside her constituency office in Batley, West Yorkshire.

The mother-of-two, 41, was shot and stabbed multiple times by right-wing extremist Thomas Mair. He was later handed a whole-life prison sentence for her murder.

Fusilier Lee Rigby was murdered by Islamic extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale

Fusilier Lee Rigby was murdered by Islamic extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale

December 5, 2015: A lone attacker attempts to behead a passenger during an ISIS-inspired rampage in the ticket hall of Leytonstone Underground station in east London.

Somali-born Muhiddin Mire targeted strangers at random during the attack on December 5 2015 before slashing fellow passenger Lyle Zimmerman, 56, with a knife.

The schizophrenic was sent to Broadmoor Hospital after being given a life sentence with a minimum term of eight years for attempted murder.

May 22, 2013: Fusilier Lee Rigby is murdered by Islamic extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale.

The 25-year-old serviceman was walking near his barracks in Woolwich, south-eastLondon, when the pair rammed him with his car before attempting to hack off his head with knives.

The killers were jailed for life at the Old Bailey in February 2014.

June 30, 2007: Two men inspired by Islamist extremism ram a 4×4 laden with petrol and propane tanks into the main terminal of Glasgow Airport. One of the attackers died in the incident and five people were injured.

July 7, 2005: Four suicide bombers kill 52 and injure hundreds of others in blasts on the London Underground network and a bus.

Twenty-six died in the bombing at Russell Square on the Piccadilly line, six in the bombing at Edgware Road on the Circle line, seven in the bombing at Aldgate on the Circle line, and 13 in the bombing on a bus at Tavistock Square.

In the first hours after an attack on this scale investigators will be sifting through a number of theories as they work to settle on the most likely lines of inquiry.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Supporters of the ISIS, which holds territory in Iraq’s Mosul and around its de facto capital in the Syrian city of Raqqa, celebrated the blast online.

One wrote: ‘May they taste what the weak people in Mosul and (Raqqa) experience from their being bombed and burned,’ according to the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group.

Focus will now turn on why Manchester was selected as a target.

It comes two months after a 35-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman were arrested at an address in West Didsbury, Manchester on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts.

The raids were linked to the Westminster attack that month in which Khalid Masood killed five and injured more than 50 by driving through crowds of tourists.

Earlier this year, Manchester-born jihadi Jamal Al-Harith was killed carrying out an ISIS suicide car bomb attack in Iraq.

Shortly after detonating the explosive-laden car near an army base, ISIS released a statement revealing al-Harith had been fighting for them under the name Abu Zakariya al-Britani.

Leaked ISIS documents later claimed he was recommended to the terror group by Raphael Hostey, a 24-year-old jihadi based in the northern city.

This graphic shows where the explosion took place, in the foyer area, leading towards Victoria railway station 

This graphic shows where the explosion took place, in the foyer area, leading towards Victoria railway station

Hostey is thought to have encouraged dozens of British Muslims to travel to Syria – including close friends Mohammad Azzam Javeed and Anil Khalil Raoufi – before being killed in a drone strike last May.

Last year, two British brothers from Manchester were killed fighting for ISIS in Syria.

Khalif Shariff, 21, and 18-year-old Abdulrahman are understood to have left their home in the city and travelled to the war-torn country in November 2014.

In 2015, Pakistani student Abid Naseer was convicted in a U.S. court of conspiring with al Qaeda to blow up the Arndale shopping centre in the centre of Manchester in April 2009.

In September, a Manchester florist was stunned after his image was used in an ISIS magazine.

Stephen Leyland, 64, was interviewed by counter-terrorism police after a photograph of him standing next to flowers was used in the Rumiyah publication.

The ranting 38-page magazine was one of many pieces of propaganda aimed at encouraging violence in the West.

It called for attacks on Britons and urged supporters of the terror group to take ‘even the blood of a merry Crusader citizen selling flowers to passersby’.

Two months later, fanatics urged lone-wolf attackers to ‘open the door to jihad’ in a video showing how to make a bomb and decapitate people.

Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins revealed the suicide bomber 'was carrying an improvised explosive device'

Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins revealed the suicide bomber ‘was carrying an improvised explosive device’

Forensics have been called in to examine the scene as police attempt to identify the attacker

Forensics have been called in to examine the scene as police attempt to identify the attacker

The instructional video, called ‘Explanation of How to Slaughter Disbelievers’, featured a balaclava-wearing terrorist in a kitchen explaining how to make bombs.

According to the terror monitoring group SITE, the bomb expert took viewers on a step-by-step guide on how to make deadly explosives.

Approximately 850 people from the UK have travelled to support or fight for jihadist organisations in Syria and Iraq, according to British authorities.

About half have since returned to the UK, with more than 100 people having been convicted foroffences relating to the conflict.

Former global terrorism operations director at MI6, Richard Barrett, said, while the attack was more sophisticated than recent ones, it does not automatically mean the person responsible was trained abroad to carry out the massacre.

He told Today: ‘I think people can build bombs, we have seen that in the past that it may be not that complicated to build a bomb which has an effect on the people immediately around you as this one certainly did.

‘Yeah, sure that’s a bit more sophisticated clearly than driving a car into people or stabbing them with a knife but I’m not sure that it requires somebody to go to Syria for example, to have training there to get that sort of expertise so I’m sure the police will be very interested indeed to look at whoever is responsible, what he has been doing over the last months.’

Witnesses reported hearing a 'huge bang' at the venue shortly after US singer Ariana Grande's gig finished

Witnesses reported hearing a ‘huge bang’ at the venue shortly after US singer Ariana Grande’s gig finished

A child was spotted clutching a balloon while wrapped in a foil wrap following the terror attack at the Manchester Arena

A child was spotted clutching a balloon while wrapped in a foil wrap following the terror attack at the Manchester Arena

Concert-goers helped injured people away from the gig last night. Witnesses describe the scene as 'like a warzone'

Concert-goers helped injured people away from the gig last night. Witnesses describe the scene as ‘like a warzone’

This photo shows the aftermath of the suicide bomb which ripped through the foyer of the venue killing parents and children

This photo shows the aftermath of the suicide bomb which ripped through the foyer of the venue killing parents and children

He said the security services face a ‘real challenge’ in monitoring potential threats and said investigations must involve ‘engagement’ with communities.

He said: ‘I think in terms of additional security it’s much more on that intelligence side, on engagement with the community, on trying to understand better why people do this sort of thing than it is on putting up more bollards or, as you say, moving the choke point of security just a bit further away.’

He described the attack, targeted at concert-goers including children, as ‘very, very cynical’.

He added: ‘That is why it is so important to understand, I think, whether this person was connected with other people, whether it was in some way directed by an organised group.

‘What was the intention behind it, in the broader strategic sense?’

The Manchester attack was the deadliest in Britain since four suicide bombers killed 52 London commuters on three subway trains and a bus in July 2005.

Pop concerts and nightclubs have been a terrorism target before. Almost 90 people were killed by gunmen inspired by ISIS at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris during a performance by Eagles of Death Metal in November 2015.

In Turkey, 39 people died when a gunman attacked New Year’s revelers at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul.

Manchester was hit by a huge Irish Republican Army bomb in 1996 that leveled a swath of the city center. More than 200 people were injured, though no one was killed.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4534224/Security-agents-know-Ariana-Grande-concert-bomber-s-name.html#ixzz4hwHwxSJE

Story 2: Budget Director Mulvaney Presents President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 U.S. Federal Budget —  Taxpayers First Budget — Videos

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Mulvaney: Trump’s Budget Puts Taxpayers First

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Chuck Todd DESTROYS OMB DIR. MICK MULVANEY FOR TRUMP’S UNBALANCED BUDGET

Heritage Experts Analyze Trump’s Budget

May 23rd, 2017

Today, the Trump administration officially unveiled their first complete budget proposal called “A New Foundation for American Greatness.” Below is reaction from Heritage experts on the president’s plans:

Balancing the Budget

The president’s budget seeks to balance in no more than 10 years. This is a laudable and important goal that fiscal conservatives should keep their eye on. The budget does this in part with sensible mandatory spending reforms to Medicaid, welfare and disability programs. This budget proposal also follows the right approach on discretionary spending, by prioritizing national defense in a fiscally responsible way, with offsetting cuts to domestic programs that are redundant, improper, or otherwise wasteful. As is so often the case, however, the devil is in the details. Long-term budget solvency must include reforms to the largest entitlement programs: Medicare and Social Security. These programs alone consume 4 of every 10 federal dollars, and they are expanding. Moreover, this budget would rely on $2 trillion in economic feedback effects for deficit reduction, a figure that is highly uncertain. Greater spending cuts would have lent more fiscal credibility. Overall, this budget takes important strides toward cutting the federal government down to size.” —Romina Boccia, Deputy Director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies and the Grover M. Hermann fellow in federal budgetary affairs

Defense

“Though the White House is right to call for more, much-needed defense funding, $603 billion represents only a $16.8-billion increase from the Obama administration’s meager planned defense spending for 2018. A $603 billion budget for 2018 might be enough to stop the immediate deterioration and cuts in forces, but it will certainly not be enough to reverse the ravages already experienced. Perhaps the most heartening thing about this request is the administration’s follow-through on its expressed intent to repeal the defense budget caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011, which have been both disruptive and destructive to military readiness.

The U.S. military—in both size and readiness—has shrunk to historically low levels, all while its budget has been held hostage to domestic policy whims.  Naysayers downplay the poor state of the military. But those who deny the existence of readiness problems are contradicted by the repeated testimony of dozens of senior uniformed and civilian military leaders. Those leaders uniformly agree that today’s military is desperately overtaxed and under-resourced. As the Heritage Foundation’s Index of U.S. Military Strength reports, today our armed forces would be severely challenged to execute our defense strategy with the current force.

The Heritage Foundation has proposed a 2018 funding level of $632 billion. It includes proposals for defense reform and savings to help restore our military’s strength and punch. Lawmakers finally need to demonstrate that they take the duty to provide for the common defense quite seriously. Lip service is not enough. We must begin to provide our men and women in uniform the equipment and resources they need to defend our country. Congress must hear and heed the Pentagon’s candid voice in the upcoming budget debates. And lawmakers must then act to begin rebuilding our depleted military now.” —Thomas Spoehr, Director of Heritage’s Center for National Defense

Transportation and Infrastructure

“The administration’s budget contains a number of laudable transportation and infrastructure proposals that reform wasteful or improper programs while empowering states and the private sector to meet the nation’s burgeoning transportation needs. Many of the reforms were recommended by the Heritage Foundation in its roadmap for $1.1 trillion in infrastructure investment and Blueprint for Balance, including: structural reform of our outdated Air Traffic Control system; reforming the wasteful Essential Air Service program; and auctioning off valuable spectrum for private use. Also encouraging is the proposal to reform the financing of the nation’s inland waterways infrastructure, which has long required modernization.

“However, many questions about the Administration’s signature infrastructure proposal remain. Worrisomely, the budget includes an additional $200 billion in spending as a placeholder for ‘private/public infrastructure investment’ with few details as to how the funds will be allocated. Details regarding the plan and whether they will be offset with meaningful cuts elsewhere will be crucial in evaluating the plan and ensuring a repeat of the 2009 stimulus boondoggle is avoided. In addition, the Budget includes a proposal to assume Highway Trust Fund spending levels fall to revenue levels—a savings of $15 billion to $20 billion per year. While limiting trust fund spending to revenues would be excellent policy, it is highly unlikely Congress will decide to rein in its overspending out of the Highway Trust Fund, which it has carried on for nearly 10 years. Simply assuming these savings will accrue without putting forward a substantive proposal to ensure that Congress stops its mismanagement of the trust fund would represent a nearly $100 billion budget gimmick and cannot be considered to have a real budgetary impact.

“While the Budget contains many worthwhile reforms, more details regarding the administration’s infrastructure proposal are required in order to form a comprehensive evaluation of the administration’s infrastructure agenda.” —Michael Sargent, Policy Analyst in Heritage’s Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity

Education

“The Trump administration’s full budget for education for FY 2018 would make some long-overdue cuts at the Department of Education, eyeing reductions in spending totaling $9.2 billion – a 13.6 percent cut in the agency’s current $68 billion annual budget. That type of reduction signals a serious commitment to reducing federal intervention in education – a necessary condition to make space for a restoration of state and local control.” —Lindsey Burke, Director of Heritage’s Center for Education Policy

Healthcare

“If enacted, the President’s budget would be a major down payment on federal entitlement reform. It cannot be overemphasized that analysts and economists, often of very different political persuasions, are united in their conviction that policymakers must take decisive steps to slow the growth of federal entitlement spending. By putting Medicaid on a budget—either through a fixed allotment to the states in the form of a block grant or a per capita cap—the Trump budget would give state officials much needed flexibility in managing the program and better target services to the poorest and most vulnerable of our citizens.” —Robert Moffit, Senior Fellow in Heritage’s Center for Health Policy Studies.

Tax Reform

“A month ago President Trump proposed a true tax cut for the American people. The President’s Budget assumes economic growth will make up the lost revenue, after including revenue reductions from Obamacare repeal. The budget proposal does not spell out exactly how the new tax code would accomplish this. The feasibility of the assumed three percent annual growth rate is highly dependent on the ultimate design of tax, regulatory, and other reforms – but we should continue to be optimistic that the economy is indeed able to sustain such growth. Regardless, updating the tax code while lowering tax rates for all Americans does not need to rely so heavily on economic growth. In combination with spending cuts, President Trump and Congress can provide tax and spending relief for the American people.” —Adam Michel, Policy Analyst in Heritage’s Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies

Border Security 

“Given the intentional neglect towards border security that was a hallmark of the Obama administration, this additional funding that will improve physical security, as well as increase the technology, agents, officers, and equipment needed to actually enforce our immigration laws and secure the border, should be rapidly approved by Congress.”  —Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow in Heritage’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies

GDP Projections

“The president’s budget includes very optimistic economic growth projections, which are a key ingredient in getting the debt under control and reaching budget balance by 2027. The growth projections have two flaws and one strength.

“The first flaw is that the Congressional Budget Office’s baseline—the rate of growth expected with no change to policy—is probably too optimistic to begin with. CBO has been forced to lower its future growth forecast every year since 2009. The second flaw is that the plan expects the president’s policies to sustain growth rates at the outer limit of pro-market optimism despite unfavorable demographics.

“The president’s economic projections do have a major data point in their favor: they represent a return toward the long-run trend in per capita GDP. That deviation from trend is partly to blame on the stultifying economic policies of the previous decade. Removing those constraints will be the first step in restoring the income growth to which Americans are long accustomed. With the right policies, 3 percent real GDP growth could be within the realm of the feasible. It would certainly be desirable.

“A restoration of growth will not, however, follow automatically from enacting the president’s agenda. A lot of other things have to go right as well as policy. So the president’s plan to eliminate the deficit and control the debt should not depend so much on things outside his control. Limiting the growth of entitlement spending would be a more certain path to balance than relying on historical forces.” —Salim Furth, Research Fellow in macroeconomics in Heritage’s Center for Data Analysis

http://www.heritage.org/budget-and-spending/commentary/heritage-experts-analyze-trumps-budget

Trump 2018 Budget Puts Tax Reform In Jeopardy

Federal taxes, spending, deficits, debt and politics.

The Trump fiscal 2018 budget that was released last night was a huge missed opportunity by the administration to switch from campaigning to governing. The Trump budget has next-to-no chance of being adopted or implemented by Congress, makes a government shutdown this fall far more likely and puts tax reform in serious jeopardy.

The Trump 2018 budget clearly is designed to appeal to no one but the Trump base. Not only does it make no effort to broaden interest in and support for the president’s program, but the budget’s extremely harsh spending cuts are almost certain to make opposition from both Democrats and moderate Republicans much, much easier.

This enhanced, enthusiastic and self-assured Democratic and Republican resistance to the Trump budget will greatly complicate congressional efforts to pass a fiscal 2018 budget resolution that were problematic even before the president submitted his plan.

Yes, the Trump budget will appeal to the House Freedom Caucus. Indeed, rather than having the work done in house, the White House seems to have outsourced its budget to the HFC and it’s budget philosophy.

But the HFC-preferred spending proposals that on the surface so appeal to the Trump base (let’s see how these voters feel when they realize how many of these cuts will affect them personally) will be eagerly opposed en masse by House Democrats. That will once again put GOP moderates — who after repeal and replace, the Comey firing and the president’s dwindling approval numbers are increasingly nervous about their reelection — in the position to determine whether the House can pass a budget resolution.

But if the Trump budget is any indication, it’s not clear that the White House or HFC will be willing to deal to comply with what the moderates will want.

Even if the House did manage to adopt a budget resolution with the extreme proposals in the Trump budget, that is almost certain to be opposed by enough Senate Republicans and all Senate Democrats to make passage in that house impossible. The Senate leadership then would have to choose between no budget resolution this year or developing a more restrained budget that its members could support.

No budget resolution would be a huge problem because it would prevent the use of the no filibuster reconciliation rules for tax reform (Reconciliation can only happen if a Congress adopts a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions). That may make a much more moderate budget resolution with far fewer (as in almost none) spending cuts the only way to move tax reform forward.

But that type of budget resolution would be a total repudiation of the Trump 2018 budget and yet another huge defeat for the White House. Although he won’t be able to veto the budget resolution to stop the legislative rout, Trump could retaliate by vetoing any fiscal 2018 appropriations that reflect Congress’s rejection of his spending priorities. Given that there’s not likely to be enough votes to override those vetoes, one, several or all federal agencies and departments could be forced to shut down this fall.

This situation would have been completely different had Trump chosen to govern rather than campaign and submitted a 2018 budget that reflected political realities instead of political arrogance. Had that happened, the budget would have been hailed as the start of a cooperative effort between the White House and Congress that showed Trump as a political and legislative force.

Instead, by the end of this week, the Trump 2018 budget is very likely to be nothing more than a political artifact that will have accomplished nothing.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stancollender/2017/05/23/trump-2018-budget-puts-tax-reform-in-jeopardy/#5c49685e4e29

Story 3: Where is The Evidence of Collusion, Conspiracy, or Coordination Between Russians and Trump Campaign? and Where is The Evidence of Collusion, Conspiracy, or Coordination Between Foreign Governments and Clinton Campaign and Clinton Foundation? — Videos

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Pronk Pops Show 890,  May 10, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

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United States Intelligence Community

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
United States Intelligence Community
United States Intelligence Community Seal.svg

Seal of the United States Intelligence Community
Agency overview
Formed December 4, 1981
Agency executive

The United States Intelligence Community (IC)[1] is a federation of 16 separate United States government agencies that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities considered necessary for the conduct of foreign relations and national security of the United States. Member organizations of the IC include intelligence agencies, military intelligence, and civilian intelligence and analysis offices within federal executive departments. The IC is headed by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), who reports to the President of the United States.

Among their varied responsibilities, the members of the Community collect and produce foreign and domestic intelligence, contribute to military planning, and perform espionage. The IC was established by Executive Order 12333, signed on December 4, 1981, by U.S. PresidentRonald Reagan.[2]

The Washington Post reported in 2010 that there were 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies in 10,000 locations in the United States that are working on counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence, and that the intelligence community as a whole includes 854,000 people holding top-secret clearances.[3] According to a 2008 study by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, private contractors make up 29% of the workforce in the U.S. intelligence community and account for 49% of their personnel budgets.[4]

Etymology

The term “Intelligence Community” was first used during Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith‘s tenure as Director of Central Intelligence (1950–1953).[5]

History

Intelligence is information that agencies collect, analyze, and distribute in response to government leaders’ questions and requirements. Intelligence is a broad term that entails:

Collection, analysis, and production of sensitive information to support national security leaders, including policymakers, military commanders, and Members of Congress. Safeguarding these processes and this information through counterintelligence activities. Execution of covert operations approved by the President. The IC strives to provide valuable insight on important issues by gathering raw intelligence, analyzing that data in context, and producing timely and relevant products for customers at all levels of national security—from the war-fighter on the ground to the President in Washington.[6]

Executive Order 12333 charged the IC with six primary objectives:[7]

  • Collection of information needed by the President, the National Security Council, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and other executive branch officials for the performance of their duties and responsibilities;
  • Production and dissemination of intelligence;
  • Collection of information concerning, and the conduct of activities to protect against, intelligence activities directed against the U.S., international terrorist and/or narcotics activities, and other hostile activities directed against the U.S. by foreign powers, organizations, persons and their agents;
  • Special activities (defined as activities conducted in support of U.S. foreign policy objectives abroad which are planned and executed so that the “role of the United States Government is not apparent or acknowledged publicly”, and functions in support of such activities, but which are not intended to influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies, or media and do not include diplomatic activities or the collection and production of intelligence or related support functions);
  • Administrative and support activities within the United States and abroad necessary for the performance of authorized activities and
  • Such other intelligence activities as the President may direct from time to time.

Organization

Members

The IC is headed by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), whose statutory leadership is exercised through the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). The 16 members of the IC are:[8]

The official seals of U.S. Intelligence Community members.

Agency/Office Parent Agency Federal Department Date est.
Defense Intelligence Agency none Defense 1961
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency none Defense 1996
National Reconnaissance Office none Defense 1961
National Security Agency none Defense 1952
Military Intelligence Corps United States Army Defense 1863
Office of Naval Intelligence United States Navy Defense 1882
Twenty-Fifth Air Force United States Air Force Defense 1948
Marine Corps Intelligence United States Marine Corps Defense 1939
Coast Guard Intelligence United States Coast Guard Homeland Security 1915
Office of Intelligence and Analysis none Homeland Security 2007
Central Intelligence Agency none Independent agency 1947
Bureau of Intelligence and Research none State 1945
Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence none Treasury 2004
Office of National Security Intelligence Drug Enforcement Administration Justice 2006
Intelligence Branch Federal Bureau of Investigation Justice 2005
Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence none Energy 1977

Programs

The IC performs under two separate programs:

  • The National Intelligence Program (NIP), formerly known as the National Foreign Intelligence Program as defined by the National Security Act of 1947 (as amended), “refers to all programs, projects, and activities of the intelligence community, as well as any other programs of the intelligence community designated jointly by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the head of a United States department or agency or by the President. Such term does not include programs, projects, or activities of the military departments to acquire intelligence solely for the planning and conduct of tactical military operations by United States Armed Forces”. Under the law, the DNI is responsible for directing and overseeing the NIP, though the ability to do so is limited (see the Organization structure and leadership section).
  • The Military Intelligence Program (MIP) refers to the programs, projects, or activities of the military departments to acquire intelligence solely for the planning and conduct of tactical military operations by United States Armed Forces. The MIP is directed and controlled by the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. In 2005 the Department of Defense combined the Joint Military Intelligence Program and the Tactical Intelligence and Related Activities program to form the MIP.

Since the definitions of the NIP and MIP overlap when they address military intelligence, assignment of intelligence activities to the NIP and MIP sometimes proves problematic.

Organizational structure and leadership

IC Circle.jpg

The overall organization of the IC is primarily governed by the National Security Act of 1947 (as amended) and Executive Order12333. The statutory organizational relationships were substantially revised with the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) amendments to the 1947 National Security Act.

Though the IC characterizes itself as a federation of its member elements, its overall structure is better characterized as a confederation due to its lack of a well-defined, unified leadership and governance structure. Prior to 2004, the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) was the head of the IC, in addition to being the director of the CIA. A major criticism of this arrangement was that the DCI had little or no actual authority over the budgetary authorities of the other IC agencies and therefore had limited influence over their operations.

Following the passage of IRTPA in 2004, the head of the IC is the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). The DNI exerts leadership of the IC primarily through statutory authorities under which he or she:

  • controls the “National Intelligence Program” budget;
  • establishes objectives, priorities, and guidance for the IC; and
  • manages and directs the tasking of, collection, analysis, production, and dissemination of national intelligence by elements of the IC.

However, the DNI has no authority to direct and control any element of the IC except his own staff—the Office of the DNI—neither does the DNI have the authority to hire or fire personnel in the IC except those on his own staff. The member elements in the executive branch are directed and controlled by their respective department heads, all cabinet-level officials reporting to the President. By law, only the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency reports to the DNI.

In light of major intelligence failures in recent years that called into question how well Intelligence Community ensures U.S. national security, particularly those identified by the 9/11 Commission (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States), and the “WMD Commission” (Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction), the authorities and powers of the DNI and the overall organizational structure of the IC have become subject of intense debate in the United States.

Interagency cooperation

Previously, interagency cooperation and the flow of information among the member agencies was hindered by policies that sought to limit the pooling of information out of privacy and security concerns. Attempts to modernize and facilitate interagency cooperation within the IC include technological, structural, procedural, and cultural dimensions. Examples include the Intellipediawiki of encyclopedic security-related information; the creation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, National Intelligence Centers, Program Manager Information Sharing Environment, and Information Sharing Council; legal and policy frameworks set by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, information sharing Executive Orders 13354 and Executive Order 13388, and the 2005 National Intelligence Strategy.

Budget

Data visualization of U.S. intelligence black budget (2013)

The U.S. intelligence budget (excluding the Military Intelligence Program) in fiscal year 2013 was appropriated as $52.7 billion, and reduced by the amount sequestered to $49.0 billion.[9] In fiscal year2012 it peaked at $53.9 billion, according to a disclosure required under a recent law implementing recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.[10]The 2012 figure was up from $53.1 billion in 2010,[11] $49.8 billion in 2009,[12] $47.5 billion in 2008,[13] $43.5 billion in 2007,[14] and $40.9 billion in 2006.[15]

About 70 percent of the intelligence budget went to contractors for the procurement of technology and services (including analysis), according to the May 2007 chart from the ODNI. Intelligence spending has increased by a third over ten years ago, in inflation-adjusted dollars, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.[citation needed]

In a statement on the release of newdeclassified figures, DNI Mike McConnell said[when?] there would be no additional disclosures of classified budget information beyond the overall spending figure because “such disclosures could harm national security”. How the money is divided among the 16 intelligence agencies and what it is spent on is classified. It includes salaries for about 100,000 people, multibillion-dollar satellite programs, aircraft, weapons, electronic sensors, intelligence analysis, spies, computers, and software.

On August 29, 2013 the Washington Post published the summary of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s multivolume FY 2013 Congressional Budget Justification, the U.S. intelligence community’s top-secret “black budget.”[16][17][18] The IC’s FY 2013 budget details, how the 16 spy agencies use the money and how it performs against the goals set by the president and Congress. Experts said that access to such details about U.S. spy programs is without precedent. Steven Aftergood, Federation of American Scientists, which provides analyses of national security issues stated that “It was a titanic struggle just to get the top-line budget number disclosed, and that has only been done consistently since 2007 … but a real grasp of the structure and operations of the intelligence bureaucracy has been totally beyond public reach. This kind of material, even on a historical basis, has simply not been available.”[19] Access to budget details will enable an informed public debate on intelligence spending for the first time said the co-chair of the 9/11 Commission Lee H. Hamilton. He added that Americans should not be excluded from the budget process because the intelligence community has a profound impact on the life of ordinary Americans.[19]

Oversight

Intelligence Community Oversight duties are distributed to both the Executive and Legislative branches. Primary Executive oversight is performed by the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the Joint Intelligence Community Council, the Office of the Inspector General, and the Office of Management and Budget. Primary congressional oversight jurisdiction over the IC is assigned to two committees: the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The House Armed Services Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee draft bills to annually authorize the budgets of DoD intelligence activities, and both the House and Senate appropriations committees annually draft bills to appropriate the budgets of the IC. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs took a leading role in formulating the intelligence reform legislation in the 108th Congress.

See also

References

  1. Jump up^ Agrawal, Nina. “There’s more than the CIA and FBI: The 17 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community”. latimes.com. Retrieved 2017-01-30.
  2. Jump up^ “Executive Order 12333”. Cia.gov. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
  3. Jump up^ Dana Priest & William M Arkin (19 July 2010). “A hidden world, growing beyond control”. The Washington Post.
  4. Jump up^ Priest, Dana (2011). Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State. Little, Brown and Company. p. 320. ISBN 0-316-18221-4.
  5. Jump up^ Michael Warner; Kenneth McDonald. “US Intelligence Community Reform Studies Since 1947” (PDF). CIA. p. 4. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  6. Jump up^ Rosenbach, Eric & Aki J. Peritz (12 June 2009). “Confrontation or Collaboration? Congress and the Intelligence Community” (PDF). Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. Retrieved 21 July 2009.
  7. Jump up^ Executive Order 12333 text
  8. Jump up^ User, Super. “Members of the IC”.
  9. Jump up^ “DNI Releases Budget Figure for 2013 National Intelligence Program”. Office of the Director of National Intelligence. 30 October 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  10. Jump up^ DNI Releases FY 2012 Appropriated Budget Figure. Dni.gov (2012-10-30). Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  11. Jump up^ “DNI Releases Budget Figure for 2010 National Intelligence Program”(PDF). Office of the Director of National Intelligence. 2010-10-28. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  12. Jump up^ “DNI Releases Budget Figure for 2009 National Intelligence Program”(PDF). Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  13. Jump up^ “DNI Releases Budget Figure for 2008 National Intelligence Program”(PDF). Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  14. Jump up^ “DNI Releases Budget Figure for 2007 National Intelligence Program”(PDF). Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  15. Jump up^ Hacket, John F. (2010-10-28). “FY2006 National Intelligence Program Budget, 10-28-10” (PDF). Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  16. Jump up^ Matt DeLong (29 August 2013). “Inside the 2013 U.S. intelligence ‘black budget'”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  17. Jump up^ Matthews, Dylan (29 August 2013). “America’s secret intelligence budget, in 11 (nay, 13) charts”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  18. Jump up^ DeLong, Matt (29 August 2013). “2013 U.S. intelligence budget: Additional resources”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  19. ^ Jump up to:a b Barton Gellman & Greg Miller (29 August 2013). “U.S. spy network’s successes, failures and objectives detailed in ‘black budget’ summary”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2013.

Further reading

External links

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

National Security Agency

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
National Security Agency
Seal of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

Seal of the National Security Agency
Flag of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

Flag of the National Security Agency
National Security Agency headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland.jpg
NSA Headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland
Agency overview
Formed November 4, 1952; 64 years ago[1]
Preceding agency
  • Armed Forces Security Agency
Headquarters Fort Meade, Maryland, U.S.
39°6′32″N 76°46′17″WCoordinates: 39°6′32″N 76°46′17″W
Motto “Defending Our Nation. Securing The Future.”
Employees Classified (30,000–40,000 estimate)[2][3][4][5]
Annual budget Classified (estimated $10.8 billion, 2013)[6][7]
Agency executives
Parent agency United States Department of Defense
Website www.nsa.gov

The National Security Agency (NSA) is a military intelligence organization and a constituent of the United States Department of Defense (DOD). The NSA is responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT). NSA is concurrently charged with protection of U.S. government communications and information systems against penetration and network warfare.[8][9] Although many of NSA’s programs rely on “passive” electronic collection, the agency is authorized to accomplish its mission through active clandestine means,[10] among which are physically bugging electronic systems[11] and allegedly engaging in sabotage through subversive software.[12][13] Moreover, NSA maintains physical presence in a large number of countries across the globe, where its Special Collection Service (SCS) inserts eavesdropping devices in difficult-to-reach places. SCS collection tactics allegedly encompass “close surveillance, burglary, wiretapping, breaking and entering.”[14][15]

Unlike the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), both of which specialize primarily in foreign human espionage, NSA does not unilaterally conduct human-source intelligence gathering, despite often being portrayed so in popular culture. Instead, NSA is entrusted with assistance to and coordination of SIGINT elements at other government organizations, which are prevented by law from engaging in such activities without the approval of the NSA via the Defense Secretary.[16] As part of these streamlining responsibilities, the agency has a co-located organization called the Central Security Service (CSS), which was created to facilitate cooperation between NSA and other U.S. military cryptanalysis components. Additionally, the NSA Director simultaneously serves as the Commander of the United States Cyber Command and as Chief of the Central Security Service.

Originating as a unit to decipher coded communications in World War II, it was officially formed as the NSA by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. Since then, it has become one of the largest U.S. intelligence organizations in terms of personnel and budget,[6][17] operating as part of the Department of Defense and simultaneously reporting to the Director of National Intelligence.

NSA surveillance has been a matter of political controversy on several occasions, such as its spying on anti-Vietnam-war leaders or economic espionage. In 2013, the extent of some of the NSA’s secret surveillance programs was revealed to the public by Edward Snowden. According to the leaked documents, the NSA intercepts the communications of over a billion people worldwide, many of whom are United States citizens, and tracks the movement of hundreds of millions of people using cellphones. Internationally, research has pointed to the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries through “boomerang routing”.[18]

Contents

 [show

History

Army predecessor

The origins of the National Security Agency can be traced back to April 28, 1917, three weeks after the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany in World War I. A code and cipher decryption unit was established as the Cable and Telegraph Section which was also known as the Cipher Bureau. It was headquartered in Washington, D.C. and was part of the war effort under the executive branch without direct Congressional authorization. During the course of the war it was relocated in the army’s organizational chart several times. On July 5, 1917, Herbert O. Yardley was assigned to head the unit. At that point, the unit consisted of Yardley and two civilian clerks. It absorbed the navy’s cryptoanalysis functions in July 1918. World War I ended on November 11, 1918, and MI-8 moved to New York City on May 20, 1919, where it continued intelligence activities as the Code Compilation Company under the direction of Yardley.[19][20]

Black Chamber

Western Union allowed MI-8 to monitor telegraphic communications passing through the company’s wires until 1929.[21]

MI-8 also operated the so-called “Black Chamber“.[22] The Black Chamber was located on East 37th Street in Manhattan. Its purpose was to crack the communications codes of foreign governments. Jointly supported by the State Department and the War Department, the chamber persuaded Western Union, the largest U.S. telegram company, to allow government officials to monitor private communications passing through the company’s wires.[23]

Other “Black Chambers” were also found in Europe. They were established by the French and British governments to read the letters of targeted individuals, employing a variety of techniques to surreptitiously open, copy, and reseal correspondence before forwarding it to unsuspecting recipients.[24]

Despite the American Black Chamber’s initial successes, it was shut down in 1929 by U.S. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, who defended his decision by stating: “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail”.[21]

World War II and its aftermath

During World War II, the Signal Security Agency (SSA) was created to intercept and decipher the communications of the Axis powers.[25] When the war ended, the SSA was reorganized as the Army Security Agency (ASA), and it was placed under the leadership of the Director of Military Intelligence.[25]

On May 20, 1949, all cryptologic activities were centralized under a national organization called the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA).[25] This organization was originally established within the U.S. Department of Defense under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[26] The AFSA was tasked to direct Department of Defense communications and electronic intelligence activities, except those of U.S. military intelligence units.[26] However, the AFSA was unable to centralize communications intelligence and failed to coordinate with civilian agencies that shared its interests such as the Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).[26] In December 1951, President Harry S. Truman ordered a panel to investigate how AFSA had failed to achieve its goals. The results of the investigation led to improvements and its redesignation as the National Security Agency.[27]

The agency was formally established by Truman in a memorandum of October 24, 1952, that revised National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 9.[28] Since President Truman’s memo was a classified document,[28] the existence of the NSA was not known to the public at that time. Due to its ultra-secrecy the U.S. intelligence community referred to the NSA as “No Such Agency”.[29]

Vietnam War

In the 1960s, the NSA played a key role in expanding America’s commitment to the Vietnam War by providing evidence of a North Vietnamese attack on the American destroyer USS Maddox during the Gulf of Tonkin incident.[30]

A secret operation, code-named “MINARET“, was set up by the NSA to monitor the phone communications of Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker, as well as major civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and prominent U.S. journalists and athletes who criticized the Vietnam War.[31] However, the project turned out to be controversial, and an internal review by the NSA concluded that its Minaret program was “disreputable if not outright illegal”.[31]

The NSA mounted a major effort to secure tactical communications among U.S. forces during the war with mixed success. The NESTOR family of compatible secure voice systems it developed was widely deployed during the Vietnam War, with about 30,000 NESTOR sets produced. However a variety of technical and operational problems limited their use, allowing the North Vietnamese to exploit intercepted U.S. communications.[32] :Vol I, p.79

Church Committee hearings

In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, a congressional hearing in 1975 led by Sen. Frank Church[33] revealed that the NSA, in collaboration with Britain’s SIGINT intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had routinely intercepted the international communications of prominent anti-Vietnam war leaders such as Jane Fonda and Dr. Benjamin Spock.[34] Following the resignation of President Richard Nixon, there were several investigations of suspected misuse of FBI, CIA and NSA facilities.