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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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 913,  June 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 910,  June 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 907,  June 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 906,  June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 904,  June 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 903,  June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 901,  May 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 899,  May 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 898,  May 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 897,  May 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 896,  May 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 895,  May 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 894,  May 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 893,  May 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 892,  May 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891,  May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 890,  May 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 889,  May 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 888,  May 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 887,  May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886,  May 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 884,  May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 881: April 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 865: March 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 864: March 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 863: March 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 862: March 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 861: March 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 860: March 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 859: March 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 858: March 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 857: March 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 855: March 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 854: March 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 853: March 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 852: March 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 851: March 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

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

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

Trump’s new Cuba policy, explained

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

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

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

President Donald Trump Cuba Policy Change Speech Full

Cuba

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decades of contention before Obama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is Trump reversing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about diplomatic ties?

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

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

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

Lobbying Trump on Cuba

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did Candidate Trump say?

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

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

Today’s speech

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

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

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

Trump’s Cuba Policy Will Fail

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 905, June 6, 2017, Story 1: Seven Countries Break Off Diplomatic Ties With Qatar’s For Support of Radical Islamic Terrorists — Will Saudi Arabia Invade and Annex Qatar? — No — Videos –Story 2: President Trump Meets With Republican Congressional Leaders About Passing Tax Reform and Repealing and Replacing Obamacare By Labor Day — Videos — Story 3: NSA Contractor Reality Leigh Winner Leaked NSA Top Secret Document To Intercept — Videos — Story 4: Wikileaks Julian Assange Critical Of Intercept and Reporter That Lead To Arrest of NSA Contractor Leaker Reality Winner –Videos

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Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

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Story 1: Seven Countries Break Off Diplomatic Ties With Qatar’s For Support of Radical Islamic Terrorists Including Islamic State, al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood — Will Saudi Arabia Invade and Annex Qatar? — No — Videos —

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Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have said they are withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar because Doha had not implemented an agreement among Gulf Arab countries not to interfere in each others’ internal affairs.The three countries said the move was necessary “to protect their security and stability”. But Qatar called the move a “big mistake”.Al Jazeera speaks with Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the former Qatar ambassador to the UN and US.

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CNN Exclusive: US suspects Russian hackers planted fake news behind Qatar crisis

Washington (CNN)US investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US’ closest Gulf allies, according to US officials briefed on the investigation.

The FBI recently sent a team of investigators to Doha to help the Qatari government investigate the alleged hacking incident, Qatari and US government officials say.
Intelligence gathered by the US security agencies indicates that Russian hackers were behind the intrusion first reported by the Qatari government two weeks ago, US officials say. Qatar hosts one of the largest US military bases in the region.
The alleged involvement of Russian hackers intensifies concerns by US intelligence and law enforcement agencies that Russia continues to try some of the same cyber-hacking measures on US allies that intelligence agencies believe it used to meddle in the 2016 elections.
US officials say the Russian goal appears to be to cause rifts among the US and its allies. In recent months, suspected Russian cyber activities, including the use of fake news stories, have turned up amid elections in France, Germany and other countries.
It’s not yet clear whether the US has tracked the hackers in the Qatar incident to Russian criminal organizations or to the Russian security services blamed for the US election hacks. One official noted that based on past intelligence, “not much happens in that country without the blessing of the government.”
The FBI and CIA declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the Qatari embassy in Washington said the investigation is ongoing and its results would be released publicly soon.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed what he called CNN’s “fake” reporting Wednesday.
“It’s another lie that was published,” he told reporters. “Unfortunately, our colleagues from CNN again and again publish references to unnamed sources in unnamed agencies, etc, etc. These streams of information have no connection with the reality. It’s so far away from the reality. Fake is a fake.”
The Qatari government has said a May 23 news report on its Qatar News Agency attributed false remarks to the nation’s ruler that appeared friendly to Iran and Israel and questioned whether President Donald Trump would last in office.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told CNN the FBI has confirmed the hack and the planting of fake news.
“Whatever has been thrown as an accusation is all based on misinformation and we think that the entire crisis being based on misinformation,” the foreign minister told CNN’s Becky Anderson. “Because it was started based on fabricated news, being wedged and being inserted in our national news agency which was hacked and proved by the FBI.”
Sheikh Saif Bin Ahmed Al-Thani, director of the Qatari Government Communications Office, confirmed that Qatar’s Ministry of Interior is working with the FBI and the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency on the ongoing hacking investigation of the Qatar News Agency.
“The Ministry of Interior will reveal the findings of the investigation when completed,” he told CNN.
Partly in reaction to the false news report, Qatar’s neighbors, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have cut off economic and political ties, causing a broader crisis.
The report came at a time of escalating tension over accusations Qatar was financing terrorism.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted criticism of Qatar that mirrors that of the Saudis and others in the region who have long objected to Qatar’s foreign policy. He did not address the false news report.
“So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off,” Trump said in a series of tweets. “They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”
In his tweet, Trump voiced support for the regional blockade of Qatar and cited Qatar’s funding of terrorist groups. The Qataris have rejected the terror-funding accusations.
Hours after Trump’s tweets, the US State Department said Qatar had made progress on stemming the funding of terrorists but that there was more work to be done.
US and European authorities have complained for years about funding for extremists from Saudi Arabia and other nations in the Gulf region. Fifteen of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens.
Last year, during a visit to Saudi Arabia, Obama administration officials raised the issue of Saudi funding to build mosques in Europe and Africa that are helping to spread an ultra-conservative strain of Islam.
US intelligence has long been concerned with what they say is the Russian government’s ability to plant fake news in otherwise credible streams, according to US officials.
That concern has surfaced in recent months in congressional briefings by former FBI Director James Comey.
Comey told lawmakers that one reason he decided to bypass his Justice Department bosses in announcing no charges in the probe of Hillary Clinton’s private email server was the concern about an apparent fake piece of Russian intelligence. The intelligence suggested the Russians had an email that indicated former Attorney General Loretta Lynch had assured Democrats she wouldn’t let the Clinton probe lead to charges.
The FBI came to believe the email was fake, but still feared the Russians could release it to undermine the Justice Department’s role in the probe.

Gulf plunged into diplomatic crisis as countries cut ties with Qatar

Qatari diplomats ejected and land, air and sea traffic routes cut off in row over terror and regional stability

Saudi Arabia TV reports on cutting of ties with Qatar

The Gulf has been hit by its biggest diplomatic crisis in years after Arab nations including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of destabilising the region with its support for Islamist groups.

The countries said they would halt all land, air and sea traffic with Qatar, eject its diplomats and order Qatari citizens to leave the Gulf states within 14 days. Shoppers in the Qatari capital, Doha, meanwhile packed supermarkets amid fears the country, which relies on imports from its neighbours, would face food shortages after Saudi Arabia closed its sole land border.

Social media reports from Doha showed supermarket shelves empty as nervous consumers began to worry that stocks of food and water would run out. As much as 40% of Qatar’s food comes over the Saudi border.

The small but very wealthy nation, the richest in the world per capita, was also expelled from a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/2016/08/explainer-interactive/embed/embed.html?id=40daeb83-4c13-4fe9-a592-473d1f7eb53e

The coordinated move dramatically escalates a dispute over Qatar’s support of Islamist movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, and its perceived tolerance of Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival, Iran. The dispute is the worst to hit the Gulf since the formation of the Gulf Co-operation Council in 1981.

Qatar’s foreign affairs ministry said the measures were unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions. As the Qatari stock market tumbled and oil prices rose, it accused its fellow Gulf states of violating its sovereignty.

“The state of Qatar has been subjected to a campaign of lies that have reached the point of complete fabrication,” a statement said. “It reveals a hidden plan to undermine the state of Qatar.”

Saudi Arabia said it took the decision to cut diplomatic ties owing to Qatar’s “embrace of various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilising the region”, including the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaida, Islamic State and groups supported by Iran in Saudi Arabia’s restive eastern province of Qatif.

Egypt’s foreign ministry accused Qatar of taking an “antagonist approach” towards the country and said “all attempts to stop it from supporting terrorist groups failed”. It gave the Qatari ambassador 48 hours to leave Egypt, and ordered its own chargé d’affaires in Qatar to return to Cairo within 48 hours.

The tiny island nation of Bahrain blamed its decision on Qatar’s “media incitement, support for armed terrorist activities, and funding linked to Iranian groups to carry out sabotage and spreading chaos in Bahrain”.

In a sign of Qatar’s growing isolation, Yemen’s internationally backed government – which no longer holds its capital and large portions of the country – joined the move to break relations, as did the Maldives and the government based in eastern Libya

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2017/06/qatar-zip/giv-3902pAcwKt0BiU60/

There effect on air travel in the region was immediate. Qatar Airways, one of the region’s major long-haul carriers, said it was suspending all flights to Saudi Arabia. Etihad, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier, said it would suspend flights to Qatar “until further notice”. Emirates, the Dubai-based carrier, announced it would suspend Qatar flights starting on Tuesday, and Dubai-based budget carrier flydubai said it would suspend flights to and from Doha from Tuesday.

Egypt announced its airspace will be closed to all Qatari airplanes from Tuesday.

Monday’s diplomatic moves came two weeks after four Arab countries blocked Qatar-based media over the appearance of comments attributed to the Qatari emir that praised Iran. Qatar said hackers had taken over the website of its state-run news agency and faked the comments.

A senior Iranian official said the decision to sever ties with Qatar would not help end the crisis in the Middle East. Hamid Aboutalebi, deputy chief of staff for Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, tweeted: “The era of cutting diplomatic ties and closing borders is over … it is not a way to resolve crisis. These countries have no other option but to start regional dialogue.”

The US military said it had “no plans to change our posture in Qatar” amid the diplomatic crisis. Qatar is home to the sprawling al-Udeid airbase, which houses the US military’s central command and 10,000 American troops.

Qatar has long faced criticism from its Arab neighbours over its support of Islamists and Doha has long welcomed senior figures from Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Saudi’s chief worry is the Muslim Brotherhood, the transnational Sunni Islamist political movement outlawed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which regards it as posing a threat to their system of hereditary rule.

Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia fell out with Qatar over its backing of the former Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood member, and in March 2014, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar over the rift.

Diplomatic relations resumed eight months later when Qatar forced some Brotherhood members to leave the country and quieted others but the 2014 crisis did not involve a land and sea blockade, as is threatened now.

The Qatar Council issued a fresh statement on Monday afternoon seeking to reassure its citizens that it had taken the necessary steps to ensure normal life continued, including by keeping sea ports open for trade and making sure that air space with countries not involved in the boycott remained open. It said it would not expel the 300,000 Egyptians working in Qatar as a reprisal.

Saudi Arabia however kept up the pressure on Qatar by saying it was withdrawing al-Jazeera’s media licence and closing its Saudi office, saying the Qatar-funded broadcaster had promoted terrorist plots and supported the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

It also banned all Qatar flagged vessels from is ports and lorries due to enter Qatar over the Saudi border were blocked from doing so.

The Saudi aim is to apply pressure to make Qatar change its foreign policy, but questioning the legitimacy of a fellow monarch could prove to be a double edged sword for any Gulf ruler.

Since 2014, Qatar has repeatedly and strongly denied that it funds extremist groups. However, it remains a key financial patron of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and has been the home of the exiled Hamas official Khaled Mashaal since 2012. One of the first signs of any compromise will be the withdrawal of Hamas leaders from Doha.

Western officials have also accused Qatar of allowing or even encouraging funding of Sunni extremists such as al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, once known as the Nusra Front.

The row comes only two weeks after the US president, Donald Trump, visited the Middle East to seal major defence contracts with Saudi Arabia worth $110bn, set up an anti-extremist institute in Riyadh and urge the Gulf states to build an alliance against Iran.

The Saudis are in part countering the allegation of funding extremism, frequently made in Washington and in the past by Trump himself, by pointing the finger at Qatar for backing terrorism.

Speaking in Australia, the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, played down the seriousness of the diplomatic dispute and said it would not affect counter-terrorism efforts.

“I think what we’re witnessing is a growing list of irritants in the region that have been there for some time, and they’ve bubbled up so that countries have taken action in order to have those differences addressed,” he said.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/05/saudi-arabia-and-bahrain-break-diplomatic-ties-with-qatar-over-terrorism

 

7 Countries Break Off Ties With Qatar, Accuse It Of Funding ISIS & Al Qaeda

The Logical Indian Crew

June 5th, 2017

3.1k
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Courtesy: BBC | Image Credit: 1tv

In an unprecedented and major diplomatic rift, six Arab countries (and seven countries overall) have broken ties with Qatar, accusing it of sponsoring terror groups and trying to destablise the Middle-east. Qatar has hit back at the allegations, calling them “unjustified” and having “no basis in fact”.

The development happened in Monday, 5 June, when Bahrain announced diplomatic withdrawal from Qatar. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Maldives swiftly followed suit.

Saudi state news agency SPA stated that the move was to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism”.

The six Arab countries have accused Qatar of channeling funds to the Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda, something Qatar repeatedly denied. The Qatari foreign minister said, “The measures are unjustified and are based on claims and allegations that have no basis in fact … not affect the normal lives of citizens and residents.”

Qatar has a history of sympathy towards extremist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and its state-owned media outlet, Al Jazeera, has been accused of furthering Islamist ideologies. Additionally, Qatar has always been seen with suspicion with its Sunni peers in the Middle-east because of its close ties with Iran.

While hostility between the Gulf countries is not a new concept, this sudden outburst of diplomatic breakdown was largely unforeseen. However, it must be noted that this happened only two weeks after US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and two weeks after several Gulf nations blocked Qatari news sites.

Saudi Arabia has removed Qatar from the coalition fighting rebels in Yemen due to “practices that strengthen terrorism” and its support of extremist groups. The countries said that they have closed their airspace to Qatar Airways. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have given Qatari visitors two weeks’ time to leave their countries.

Meanwhile, the Qatari stock market has plunged. The situation is highly nuclear and unpredictable, with the Qatari government becoming increasingly isolated and the already low oil prices expected to be negatively affected further. There are also humanitarian concerns, especially with food supply as Qatar received 40% of its food supplies by truck from Saudi Arabia.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is currently in Australia, called for the parties involved to solve their disputes through constructive dialogue. Turkey reportedly conveyed that it was ready to mediate between Qatar and the Gulf states.

However, with borders closed and ties existent only with Oman and Kuwait in the region, Qatar struggles to make sense of recent events even as it economy is in freefall.

Qatar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 25°30′N 51°15′E

State of Qatar

دولة قطر (Arabic)
Dawlat Qatar
Flag of Qatar
Emblem of Qatar
Flag Emblem
Anthem: السلام الأميري
As Salam al Amiri  (transliteration)
Amiri Salute

MENU
0:00
Location and extent of Qatar (dark green) on the Arabian Peninsula.

Location and extent of Qatar (dark green) on the Arabian Peninsula.
Capital
and largest city
Doha
25°18′N 51°31′E
Official languages Arabic
Ethnic groups(2010[1])
Religion Islam
Demonym Qatari
Government Unitary constitutionalmonarchy
• Emir
Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani
• Deputy Emir
Abdullah bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani
Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani
Legislature Consultative Assembly
Establishment
18 December 1878
• Declared independence
1 September 1971
• Independence from the United Kingdom
3 September 1971
Area
• Total
11,586 km2(4,473 sq mi) (164th)
• Water (%)
0.8
Population
• 2016 estimate
2,675,522[a][2](142nd)
• 2010 census
1,699,435[3] (148th)
• Density
176/km2 (455.8/sq mi) (76th)
GDP (PPP) 2017 estimate
• Total
$353.143 billion[4](49th)
• Per capita
$145,894[4] (1st)
GDP (nominal) 2015 estimate
• Total
$185.395 billion[4]
• Per capita
$68,940[5] (4th)
Gini (2007) 41.1[6]
medium
HDI (2014) Increase 0.850[7]
very high · 32nd
Currency Riyal (QAR)
Time zone AST (UTC+3)
Drives on the right[8]
Calling code +974
ISO 3166 code QA
Internet TLD

Qatar (/ˈkætɑːr/,[9] Listeni/ˈkɑːtɑːr/, /ˈkɑːtər/ or Listeni/kəˈtɑːr/;[10] Arabic: قطر‎‎ Qatar [ˈqɑtˤɑr]; local vernacular pronunciation: [ˈɡɪtˤɑr]),[11][12] officially the State of Qatar (Arabic: دولة قطر‎‎ Dawlat Qatar), is a sovereign country located in Western Asia, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its territory surrounded by the Persian Gulf. An arm of the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby island country of Bahrain.

Following Ottoman rule, Qatar became a British protectorate in the early 20th century until gaining independence in 1971. Qatar has been ruled by the House of Thani since the early 19th century. Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani was the founder of the State of Qatar. Qatar is a hereditary monarchy and its head of state is Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Whether it should be regarded as a constitutional[13][14] or an absolute monarchy[15][16][17][18] is a matter of opinion. In 2003, the constitution was overwhelmingly approved in a referendum, with almost 98% in favour.[19][20] In early 2017, Qatar’s total population was 2.6 million: 313,000 Qatari citizens and 2.3 million expatriates.[21]

Qatar is a high income economy, backed by the world’s third largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves.[22] The country has the highest per capita income in the world. Qatar is classified by the UN as a country of very high human development and is the most advanced Arab state for human development.[23] Qatar is a significant power in the Arab world, supporting several rebel groups during the Arab Spring both financially and through its globally expanding media group, Al Jazeera Media Network.[24][25][26] For its size, Qatar wields disproportionate influence in the world, and has been identified as a middle power.[27][28] Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, becoming the first Arab country to do so.[29]

In 2017, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, among other Gulf states, cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar and labeled the country a terrorist state, causing the 2017 Qatar diplomatic crisis.

Etymology

Pliny the Elder, a Roman writer, documented the earliest account pertaining to the inhabitants of the Peninsula around the mid-first century AD, referring to them as the Catharrei, a designation which may have derived from the name of a prominent local settlement.[30][31] A century later, Ptolemy produced the first known map to depict the peninsula, referring to it as Catara.[31][32] The map also referenced a town named “Cadara” to the east of the peninsula.[33] The term ‘Catara’ (or, alternatively, Cataraei)[34] was exclusively used until the 18th century, after which ‘Katara’ emerged as the most commonly recognised spelling.[33] Eventually, the modern derivative Qatar was adopted as the country’s name.[33]

In Standard Arabic, the name is pronounced [ˈqɑtˤɑr], while in the local dialect it is [ˈɡitˤar].[11]

History

Antiquity

Dot carvings at Jebel Jassassiyeh, dating to c. 4000 BC.

Human habitation of Qatar dates back to 50,000 years ago.[35] Settlements and tools dating back to the Stone Age have been unearthed in the peninsula.[35] Mesopotamian artefacts originating from the Ubaid period (ca. 6500–3800 BC) have been discovered in abandoned coastal settlements.[36] Al Da’asa, a settlement located on the western coast of Qatar, is the most important Ubaid site in the country and is believed to have accommodated a small seasonal encampment.[37][38]

Kassite Babylonian material dating back to the second millennium BC found in Al Khor Islands attests to trade relations between the inhabitants of Qatar and the Kassites in modern-day Bahrain.[39] Among the findings were 3,000,000 crushed snail shells and Kassite potsherds.[37] It has been suggested that Qatar is the earliest known site of shellfish dye production, owing to a Kassite purple dye industry which existed on the coast.[36][40]

In 224 AD, the Sasanian Empire gained control over the territories surrounding the Persian Gulf.[41] Qatar played a role in the commercial activity of the Sasanids, contributing at least two commodities: precious pearls and purple dye.[42] Under the Sasanid reign, many of the inhabitants in Eastern Arabia were introduced to Christianity following the eastward dispersal of the religion by Mesopotamian Christians.[43] Monasteries were constructed and further settlements were founded during this era.[44][45] During the latter part of the Christian era, Qatar comprised a region known as ‘Beth Qatraye’ (Syriac for “region of the Qataris”).[46] The region was not limited to Qatar; it also included Bahrain, Tarout Island, Al-Khatt, and Al-Hasa.[47]

In 628, Muhammad sent a Muslim envoy to a ruler in Eastern Arabia named Munzir ibn Sawa Al Tamimi and requested that he and his subjects accept Islam. Munzir obliged his request, and accordingly, most of the Arab tribes in the region converted to Islam.[48] After the adoption of Islam, the Arabs led the Muslim conquest of Persia which resulted in the fall of the Sasanian Empire.[49]

Early and late Islamic period (661–1783)

Abbasid Caliphate at its greatest extent, c. 850.

Qatar was described as a famous horse and camel breeding centre during the Umayyad period.[50] In the 8th century, it started benefiting from its commercially strategic position in the Persian Gulf and went on to become a centre of pearl trading.[51][52]

Substantial development in the pearling industry around the Qatari Peninsula occurred during the Abbasid era.[50] Ships voyaging from Basra to India and China would make stops in Qatar’s ports during this period. Chinese porcelain, West African coins and artefacts from Thailand have been discovered in Qatar.[49] Archaeological remains from the 9th century suggest that Qatar’s inhabitants used greater wealth to construct higher quality homes and public buildings. Over 100 stone-built houses, two mosques, and an Abbasid fort were constructed in Murwab during this period.[53][54] However, when the caliphate’s prosperity declined in Iraq, so too did it in Qatar.[55]Qatar is mentioned in 13th-century Muslim scholar Yaqut al-Hamawi‘s book, Mu’jam Al-Buldan, which alludes to the Qataris’ fine striped woven cloaks and their skills in improvement and finishing of spears.[56]

Much of Eastern Arabia was controlled by the Usfurids in 1253, but control of the region was seized by the prince of Ormus in 1320.[57] Qatar’s pearls provided the kingdom with one of its main sources of income.[58] In 1515, Manuel I of Portugal vassalised the Kingdom of Ormus. Portugal went on to seize a significant portion of Eastern Arabia in 1521.[58][59] In 1550, the inhabitants of Al-Hasa voluntarily submitted to the rule of the Ottomans, preferring them to the Portuguese.[60] Having retained a negligible military presence in the area, the Ottomans were expelled by the Bani Khalid tribe in 1670.[61]

Bahraini and Saudi rule (1783–1868)

A map of East Arabia in 1794.

In 1766, the Utub tribe of Al Khalifa migrated from Kuwait to Zubarah in Qatar.[62][63] By the time of their arrival, the Bani Khalid exercised weak authority over the peninsula, not withholding that the largest village was ruled by a distant kin of the Bani Khalid.[64] In 1783, Qatar-based Bani Utbah clans and allied Arab tribes invaded and annexed Bahrain from the Persians. The Al Khalifa imposed their authority over Bahrain and extended their area of jurisdiction to Qatar.[62]

A partially restored section of the ruined town of Zubarah.

Following the swearing in of Saud ibn Abd al-Aziz as crown prince of the Wahhabi in 1788, he moved to expand his empire eastward towards the Persian Gulf and Qatar. After defeating the Bani Khalid in 1795, the Wahhabi were attacked on two fronts. The Ottomans and Egyptians assaulted the western front, while the Al Khalifa in Bahrain and the Omanis launched an attack against the eastern front.[65][66] Upon being made aware of advancements by the Egyptians on the western frontier in 1811, the Wahhabi amir reduced his garrisons in Bahrain and Zubarah in order to re-position his troops. Said bin Sultan of Muscat capitalised on this opportunity and raided the Wahhabi garrisons on the eastern coast, setting fire to the fort in Zubarah. The Al Khalifa were effectively returned to power thereafter.[66]

As punishment for piracy, an East India Company vessel bombarded Doha in 1821, destroying the town and forcing hundreds of residents to flee. In 1825, the House of Thani was established with Sheikh Mohammed bin Thani as the first leader.[67]

Although Qatar had the legal status of a dependency, there was a popular sentiment of resentment against the Al Khalifa. In 1867, the Al Khalifa, along with the ruler of Abu Dhabi, sent a massive naval force to Al Wakrah in an effort to crush the Qatari rebels. This resulted in the maritime Qatari–Bahraini War of 1867–1868, in which Bahraini and Abu Dhabi forces sacked and looted Doha and Al Wakrah.[68] However, the Bahraini hostilities were in violation of the 1820 Anglo-Bahraini Treaty. The joint incursion, in addition to the Qatari counterattack, prompted British political agent Lewis Pelly to impose a settlement in 1868. His mission to Bahrain and Qatar and the resulting peace treaty were milestones because they implicitly recognised the distinctness of Qatar from Bahrain and explicitly acknowledged the position of Mohammed bin Thani. In addition to censuring Bahrain for its breach of agreement, the British protectorate asked to negotiate with a representative from Qatar, a role which Mohammed bin Thani was selected to fulfil. The results of the negotiations left the nation with a new-found sense of political identity, although it did not gain an official standing as a protectorate until 1916.

Ottoman rule (1871–1915)

Qatar in an 1891 Adolf Stieler map

Old city of Doha, January 1904.

Under military and political pressure from the governor of the Ottoman Vilayet of Baghdad, Midhat Pasha, the ruling Al Thani tribe submitted to Ottoman rule in 1871.[69] The Ottoman government imposed reformist (Tanzimat) measures concerning taxation and land registration to fully integrate these areas into the empire.[69] Despite the disapproval of local tribes, Al Thani continued supporting Ottoman rule. However, Qatari-Ottoman relations soon stagnated, and in 1882 they suffered further setbacks when the Ottomans refused to aid Al Thani in his expedition of Abu Dhabi-occupied Al Khor. In addition, the Ottomans supported the Ottoman subject Mohammed bin Abdul Wahab who attempted to supplant Al Thani as kaymakam of Qatar in 1888.[70] This eventually led Al Thani to rebel against the Ottomans, whom he believed were seeking to usurp control of the peninsula. He resigned as kaymakam and stopped paying taxes in August 1892.[71]

In February 1893, Mehmed Hafiz Pasha arrived in Qatar in the interests of seeking unpaid taxes and accosting Jassim bin Mohammed’s opposition to proposed Ottoman administrative reforms. Fearing that he would face death or imprisonment, Jassim retreated to Al Wajbah (10 miles west of Doha), accompanied by several tribe members. Mehmed’s demand that Jassim disband his troops and pledge his loyalty to the Ottomans was met with refusal. In March, Mehmed imprisoned Jassim’s brother and 13 prominent Qatari tribal leaders on the Ottoman corvette Merrikh as punishment for his insubordination. After Mehmed declined an offer to release the captives for a fee of 10,000 liras, he ordered a column of approximately 200 troops to advance towards Jassim’s Al Wajbah Fort under the command of Yusuf Effendi, thus signalling the start of the Battle of Al Wajbah.[49]

Effendi’s troops came under heavy gunfire by a sizable troop of Qatari infantry and cavalry shortly after arriving to Al Wajbah. They retreated to Shebaka fortress, where they were again forced to draw back from a Qatari incursion. After they withdrew to Al Bidda fortress, Jassim’s advancing column besieged the fortress, resulting in the Ottomans’ concession of defeat and agreement to relinquish their captives in return for the safe passage of Mehmed Pasha’s cavalry to Hofuf by land.[72] Although Qatar did not gain full independence from the Ottoman Empire, the result of the battle forced a treaty that would later form the basis of Qatar’s emerging as an autonomous country within the empire.[73]

British rule (1916–1971)

Zubarah Fort built in 1938.

The Ottoman Empire fell into disorder after losing battles in different fronts in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I. Qatar took part in the Arab revolt against the Ottomans. The revolt was successful and Ottoman rule in the country further declined. The United Kingdom and the Ottoman Empire accorded their recognition to Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani and his successors’ right to rule over the whole of the Qatari Peninsula. The Ottomans renounced all their rights to Qatar and, following the outbreak of the First World War, Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani (who was pro-British) forced them to abandon Doha in 1915.[74]

As a result of the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, Qatar became a British protectorate on 3 November 1916. On that day, the United Kingdom signed a treaty with Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani to bring Qatar under its Trucial System of Administration. While Abdullah agreed not to enter into any relations with any other power without prior consent of the British government, the British guaranteed the protection of Qatar from all aggression by sea.[74] On 5 May 1935, Abdullah signed another treaty with the British government which granted Qatar protection against internal and external threats.[74] Oil reserves were first discovered in 1939. However, exploitation was delayed by World War II.

The sphere of influence of the British Empire started diminishing after World War II, particularly after the Independence of India and Pakistan in 1947. In the 1950s, oil began replacing pearling and fishing as Qatar’s main sources of revenue. Oil earnings began to fund the expansion and modernisation of Qatar’s infrastructure. Pressure for a British withdrawal from the Arab emirates in the Persian Gulf increased during the 1950s. When Britain officially announced in 1968 that it would politically disengage from the Persian Gulf in three years’ time, Qatar joined Bahrain and seven other Trucial States in a federation. Regional disputes, however, quickly compelled Qatar to resign and declare independence from the coalition which would eventually evolve into the United Arab Emirates.

Independence and aftermath (1971–present)

Traditional dhows in front of the West Bay skyline as seen from the Doha Corniche.

The State of Qatar entered into a general maritime truce with the United Kingdom in 1868. A General Treaty was concluded between the two on 3 November 1916. The General Treaty reserved foreign affairs and defence to the United Kingdom but allowed internal autonomy. On 3 September 1971, those “special treaty arrangements” that were “inconsistent with full international responsibility as a sovereign and independent state” were terminated.[75] This was done under an agreement reached between the Ruler of Qatar and the Government of the United Kingdom.[76][75]

In 1991, Qatar played a significant role in the Gulf War, particularly during the Battle of Khafji in which Qatari tanks rolled through the streets of the town and provided fire support for Saudi Arabian National Guard units that were engaging Iraqi Army troops. Qatar allowed coalition troops from Canada to use the country as an airbase to launch aircraft on CAP duty and also permitted air forces from the United States and France to operate in its territories.[35]

In 1995, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani seized control of the country from his father Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, with the support of the armed forces and cabinet, as well as neighbouring states[77] and France.[78] Under Emir Hamad, Qatar has experienced a moderate degree of liberalisation, including the launch of the Al Jazeera television station (1996), the endorsement of women’s suffrage or right to vote in municipal elections (1999), drafting its first written constitution (2005) and inauguration of a Roman Catholic church (2008). In 2010, Qatar won the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, making it the first country in the Middle East to be selected to host the tournament. The Emir announced Qatar’s plans to hold its first national legislative elections in 2013. They were scheduled to be held in the second half of 2013, but were postponed in June 2013 and may be delayed until 2019.

In 2003, Qatar served as the US Central Command headquarters and one of the main launching sites of the invasion of Iraq.[79] In March 2005, a suicide bombing killed a British teacher at the Doha Players Theatre, shocking the country, which had not previously experienced acts of terrorism. The bombing was carried out by Omar Ahmed Abdullah Ali, an Egyptian resident in Qatar who had suspected ties to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.[80][81] In 2011, Qatar joined NATO operations in Libya and reportedly armed Libyan opposition groups.[82] It is also currently a major funder of weapons for rebel groups in the Syrian civil war.[83] Qatar is pursuing an Afghan peace deal and in January 2012 the Afghan Taliban said they were setting up a political office in Qatar to facilitate talks.

In June 2013, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani became the Emir of Qatar after his father handed over power in a televised speech.[84] Sheikh Tamim has prioritised improving the domestic welfare of citizens, which includes establishing advanced healthcare and education systems, and expanding the country’s infrastructure in preparation for the hosting of the 2022 World Cup.[85]

Qatar participated in the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen against the Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was deposed in the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.[86]

In June 2017, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar, citing the country’s support of groups they considered to be extremist. [87]

Politics

Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani with U.S. President Donald Trump in May 2017

Qatar is either a constitutional[13][14] or an absolute monarchy[16][18] ruled by the Al Thani family.[88][89] The Al Thani dynasty has been ruling Qatar since the family house was established in 1825.[1] In 2003, Qatar adopted a constitution that provided for the direct election of 30 of the 45 members of the Legislative Council.[1][90][91] The constitution was overwhelmingly approved in a referendum, with almost 98% in favour.[19][20]

The eighth Emir of Qatar is Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, whose father Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani handed power to him on 25 June 2013.[92] The supreme chancellor has the exclusive power to appoint and remove the prime minister and cabinet ministers who, together, constitute the Council of Ministers, which is the supreme executive authority in the country.[93] The Council of Ministers also initiates legislation. Laws and decrees proposed by the Council of Ministers are referred to the Advisory Council (Majilis Al Shura) for discussion after which they are submitted to the Emir for ratification.[93] A Consultative Assembly has limited legislative authority to draft and approve laws, but the Emir has final say on all matters.[1] The current Council is composed entirely of members appointed by the Emir,[1] as no legislative elections have been held since 1970 when there were partial elections to the body.[1] Legislative elections have been postponed until at least 2019.[94]

Qatari law does not permit the establishment of political bodies or trade unions.[95]

Sharia law

According to Qatar’s Constitution, Sharia law is the main source of Qatari legislation.[96][97] In practice, Qatar’s legal system is a mixture of civil law and Sharia law.[98][99] Sharia law is applied to family law, inheritance, and several criminal acts (including adultery, robbery and murder). In some cases, Sharia-based family courts treat a female’s testimony as being worth half that of a man.[100] Codified family law was introduced in 2006. Islamic polygyny is permitted.[78]

Judicial corporal punishment is common in Qatar due to the Hanbali interpretation of Sharia Law. Flogging is employed as a punishment for alcohol consumption or illicit sexual relations.[101] Article 88 of Qatar’s criminal code declares that the penalty for adultery is 100 lashes,[102] and in 2006, a Filipino woman received that punishment.[102] In 2010, at least 18 people (mostly foreign nationals) were sentenced to receive between 40 and 100 lashes for offences involving “illicit sexual relations” or alcohol consumption.[103] In 2011, at least 21 people (mostly foreign nationals) were sentenced to between 30 and 100 lashes for the same reasons,[104] and in 2012, six expatriates were sentenced to either 40 or 100 lashes.[101] Only Muslims considered medically fit are liable to have such sentences carried out. It is unknown if the sentences were implemented.[105] In April 2013, a Muslim expatriate was sentenced to 40 lashes for alcohol consumption,[106][107][108] and in June 2014, a Muslim expatriate was sentenced to 40 lashes for consuming alcohol and driving under the influence.[109] Stoning is a legal punishment in Qatar,[110] and apostasy and homosexuality are crimes punishable by the death penalty.[111][112] Blasphemy can result in up to seven years in prison, while proselytising can incur a 10-year sentence.[111] Homosexuality is a crime punishable by the death penalty.

Alcohol consumption is partially legal in Qatar; some five-star luxury hotels are allowed to sell alcohol to their non-Muslim customers.[113][114] Muslims are not allowed to consume alcohol, and those caught consuming it are liable to flogging or deportation. Non-Muslim expatriates can obtain a permit to purchase alcohol for personal consumption. The Qatar Distribution Company (a subsidiary of Qatar Airways) is permitted to import alcohol and pork; it operates the one and only liquor store in the country, which also sells pork to holders of liquor licences.[115][116] Qatari officials have also indicated a willingness to allow alcohol in “fan zones” at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.[117]

Until 2011, restaurants on the Pearl-Qatar (a man-made island near Doha) were allowed to serve alcoholic drinks.[113][114] In December of that year, however, restaurants there were told to stop selling liquor.[113][118] No explanation was given for the ban,[113][114] but it was speculated that the government wanted to project a more pious image in advance of the country’s first election of a royal advisory body, and there were rumours of a financial dispute between the government and the resort’s developers.[118]

In 2014, a modesty campaign was launched to remind tourists of the country’s restrictive dress code.[119] Female tourists were advised not to wear leggings, miniskirts, sleeveless dresses, or short or tight clothing in public. Men were warned against wearing only shorts and singlets.[120]

Human rights

According to the U.S. State Department, expatriate workers from nations throughout Asia and parts of Africa voluntarily migrate to Qatar as low-skilled labourers or domestic servants, but some subsequently face conditions indicative of involuntary servitude. Some of the more common labour rights violations include beatings, withholding of payment, charging workers for benefits for which the employer is responsible, restrictions on freedom of movement (such as the confiscation of passports, travel documents, or exit permits), arbitrary detention, threats of legal action, and sexual assault.[121] Many migrant workers arriving for work in Qatar have paid exorbitant fees to recruiters in their home countries.[121]

As of 2014, certain provisions of the Qatari Criminal Code allows punishments such as flogging and stoning to be imposed as criminal sanctions. The UN Committee Against Torture found that these practices constituted a breach of the obligations imposed by the UN Convention Against Torture.[122][123] Qatar retains the death penalty, mainly for threats against national security. Use of the death penalty is rare and no state executions have taken place in Qatar since 2003.[124] In Qatar, homosexual acts are illegal and can be punished by death.[125]

Under the provisions of Qatar’s sponsorship law, sponsors have the unilateral power to cancel workers’ residency permits, deny workers’ ability to change employers, report a worker as “absconded” to police authorities, and deny permission to leave the country.[121]As a result, sponsors may restrict workers’ movements and workers may be afraid to report abuses or claim their rights.[121] According to the ITUC, the visa sponsorship system allows the exaction of forced labour by making it difficult for a migrant worker to leave an abusive employer or travel overseas without permission.[126] Qatar also does not maintain wage standards for its immigrant labourers. Qatar commissioned international law firm DLA Piper to produce a report investigating the immigrant labour system. In May 2014 DLA Piper released over 60 recommendations for reforming the kafala system including the abolition of exit visas and the introduction of a minimum wage which Qatar has pledged to implement.[127]

In May 2012, Qatari officials declared their intention to allow the establishment of an independent trade union.[128] Qatar also announced it will scrap its sponsor system for foreign labour, which requires that all foreign workers be sponsored by local employers.[128]Additional changes to labour laws include a provision guaranteeing that all workers’ salaries are paid directly into their bank accounts and new restrictions on working outdoors in the hottest hours during the summer.[129] New draft legislation announced in early 2015 mandates that companies that fail to pay workers’ wages on time could temporarily lose their ability to hire more employees.[130]

In October 2015 Qatar’s Emir signed into law new reforms to the country’s sponsorship system, with the new law taking effect within one year.[131] Critics claim that the changes could fail to address some labour rights issues.[132][133][134]

The country enfranchised women at the same time as men in connection with the 1999 elections for a Central Municipal Council.[90][135] These elections—the first ever in Qatar—were deliberately held on 8 March 1999, International Women’s Day.[90]

Foreign relations

Former Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013.

As a small country with larger neighbours, Qatar seeks to project influence and protect its state and ruling dynasty.[136] The history of Qatar’s alliances provides insight into the basis of their policy. Between 1760 and 1971, Qatar sought formal protection from the high transitory powers of the Ottomans, British, the Al-Khalifa’s from Bahrain, the Arabians, and the Wahhabis from Saudi Arabia.[137][page needed] Qatar’s rising international profile and active role in international affairs has led some analysts to identify it as a middle power. Qatar was an early member of OPEC and a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It is a member of the Arab League. The country has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction.[1]

Qatar also has bilateral relationships with a variety of foreign powers. Qatar hosts the Al Udeid Air Base, a joint U.S.-British base, which acts as the hub for all American and British air operations in the Persian Gulf.[138] It has allowed American and British forces to use an air base to send supplies to Iraq and Afghanistan.[139] Despite hosting this strategic military installation, Qatar is not always a strong Western ally. Qatar has allowed the Afghan Taliban to set up a political office inside the country and has close ties to Iran, including a shared natural gas field.[140] According to leaked documents published in The New York Times, Qatar’s record of counter-terrorism efforts was the “worst in the region”.[141] The cable suggested that Qatar’s security service was “hesitant to act against known terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and provoking reprisals”.[141]

Qatar has mixed relations with its neighbours in the Persian Gulf region. Qatar signed a defence co-operation agreement with Iran,[142] with whom it shares the largest single non-associated gas field in the world. It was the second nation, the first being France, to have publicly announced its recognition of the Libyan opposition‘s National Transitional Council as the legitimate government of Libya amidst the 2011 Libyan civil war.[143]

Qatar’s flag in Libya after the Libyan Civil War; Qatar played an influential role during the Arab Spring.

In 2014, Qatar’s relations with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates came to a boiling point over Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood[77] and extremist groups in Syria.[144] This culminated in the three aforementioned countries withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar in March 2014.[145] When the ambassadors withdrew, the GCC was reportedly on the verge of a crisis linked to the emergence of distinct political blocs with conflicting interests. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain were engaged in a political struggle with Qatar, while Oman and Kuwait represent a non-aligned bloc within the GCC.[145] Relations between the countries improved after the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) announced Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE returned their diplomats to Qatar.[146] Islam Hassan, a researcher in Persian Gulf Studies at Qatar University, claims that, with the resolution of the GCC crisis, Qatar reached a new level of political maturity. He goes on to assert that Qatar managed to bring an end to the crisis without changing any of its foreign policy principles or abandoning its allies.[145]

According to the Al Jazeera America, “Numerous reports suggest that the Saudi-led coalition against opposition groups in Yemen has indiscriminately attacked civilians and used cluster bombs in civilian-populated areas, in violation of international law.”[147]

In recent years, Qatar has been using Islamist militants in a number of countries including Egypt, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Mali to further its foreign policy. Courting Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood to Salafist groups has served as a power amplifier for the country, as it believes since the beginning of the Arab Spring that these groups represented the wave of the future.[141][136][148] David Cohen, the Under Secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the U.S. Treasury, said that Qatar is a “permissive jurisdiction for terrorist financing.”[149]There is evidence that these groups supported by Qatar include the hard-line Islamic militant groups active in northern Syria.[141] As of 2015, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are openly backing the Army of Conquest,[150][151] an umbrella group of anti-government forces fighting in the Syrian Civil War that reportedly includes an al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front and another Salafi coalition known as Ahrar ash-Sham.[149][152]

Qatar supported the democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi with diplomatic support and the state-owned Al Jazeera network before he was deposed in a military coup.[153][154] Qatar offered Egypt a $7.5 billion loan during the year he was in power.[155]

Qatar’s alignment with Hamas, first reported in early 2012,[156] has drawn criticism from Israel, the United States, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, “who accuse Qatar of undermining regional stability by supporting Hamas.”[157]However, the Foreign Minister of Qatar has denied supporting Hamas, stating “We do not support Hamas but we support the Palestinians.”[158] Following a peace agreement, Qatar pledged $1 billion in humanitarian aid to Gaza.[159]

Qatar has hosted academic, religious, political, and economic conferences. The 11th annual Doha Forum recently brought in key thinkers, professionals of various backgrounds, and political figures from all over the world to discuss democracy, media and information technology, free trade, and water security issues. In addition, the forum has featured the Middle East Economic Future conference since 2006.[160] In more recent times, Qatar has hosted peace talks between rival factions across the globe. Notable among these include the Darfur Agreement. The Doha Declaration is the basis of the peace process in Darfur and it has achieved significant gains on the ground for the African region. Notable achievements included the restoration of security and stability, progress made in construction and reconstruction processes, return of displaced residents and uniting of Darfur people to face challenges and push forward the peace process.[161] Qatar donated £88.5million in funds to finance recovery and reconstruction in Darfur.[162]

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen broke diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing Qatar of supporting Islamist extremism and terrorism,[163] escalating a dispute over Qatar’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s oldest Islamist movement.[164] Saudi Arabia explained the move to be a necessary measure in protecting the kingdom’s security. Qatari troops were also removed from the military coalition in Yemen. Egypt closed its airspace and seaports to all Qatari transportation.[164][165]

Military

Qatar’s Dassault Mirage 2000 flying over Libya.

The Qatar Armed Forces are the military forces of Qatar. The country maintains a modest military force of approximately 11,800 men, including an army (8,500), navy (1,800) and air force (1,500). Qatar’s defence expenditures accounted for approximately 4.2% of gross national product in 1993. Qatar has recently signed defence pacts with the United States and United Kingdom, as well as with France earlier in 1994. Qatar plays an active role in the collective defence efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council; the other five members are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, and Oman. The presence of a large Qatari Air Base, operated by the United States and several other UN nations, provides a guaranteed source of defence and national security. In 2008 Qatar spent US$2.355 billion on military expenditures, 2.3% of the gross domestic product.[166] Qatari special forces have been trained by France and other Western countries, and are believed to possess considerable skill.[167] They also helped the Libyan rebels during the 2011 Battle of Tripoli.[167]

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) found that in 2010–14 Qatar was the 46th largest arms importer in the world. However, SIPRI writes, Qatar’s plans to transform and significantly enlarge its armed forces have accelerated. Orders in 2013 for 62 tanks and 24 self-propelled guns from Germany were followed in 2014 by a number of other contracts, including 24 combat helicopters and 3 AEW aircraft from the USA, and 2 tanker aircraft from Spain.[168]

Qatar’s military participated in the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen against the Shia Houthis. In 2015, Al Jazeera America reported: “Numerous reports suggest that the Saudi-led coalition against opposition groups in Yemen has indiscriminately attacked civilians and used cluster bombs in civilian-populated areas, in violation of international law.”[169] Many civilians have been killed and the large parts of the infrastructure in this region is now destroyed.[170] Hospitals have also been bombed by the Saudis and those operating with them.[171][172]

Administrative divisions

Municipalities of Qatar since 2004

Since 2004, Qatar has been divided into seven municipalities (Arabic: baladiyah).[173]

  1. Madinat ash Shamal
  2. Al Khor
  3. Umm Salal
  4. Al Daayen
  5. Al Rayyan
  6. Doha
  7. Al Wakrah

For statistical purposes, the municipalities are further subdivided into 98 zones (as of 2010),[174] which are in turn subdivided into blocks.[175]

Geography

Desert Coast
Desert landscape in Qatar

The Qatari peninsula 160 kilometres (100 mi) protrudes into the Persian Gulf north of Saudi Arabia. It lies between latitudes 24° and 27° N, and longitudes 50° and 52° E. Most of the country consists of a low, barren plain, covered with sand. To the southeast lies the Khor al Adaid (“Inland Sea“), an area of rolling sand dunes surrounding an inlet of the Persian Gulf. There are mild winters and very hot, humid summers.

The highest point in Qatar is Qurayn Abu al Bawl at 103 metres (338 ft)[1] in the Jebel Dukhan to the west, a range of low limestone outcroppings running north-south from Zikrit through Umm Bab to the southern border. The Jebel Dukhan area also contains Qatar’s main onshore oil deposits, while the natural gas fields lie offshore, to the northwest of the peninsula.

Biodiversity and environment

Qatari Ostriches

Qatar signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 11 June 1992, and became a party to the convention on 21 August 1996.[176] It has subsequently produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which was received by the convention on 18 May 2005.[177] A total of 142 fungal species have been recorded from Qatar.[178] A book recently produced by the Ministry of Environment documents the lizards known or believed to occur in Qatar, based on surveys conducted by an international team of scientists and other collaborators.[179]

For two decades, Qatar has had the highest per-capita carbon dioxide emissions in the world, at 49.1 metric tons per person in 2008.[180] Qataris are also some of the highest consumers of water per capita per day, using around 400 litres.[181]

In 2008 Qatar launched its National Vision 2030 which highlights environmental development as one of the four main goals for Qatar over the next two decades. The National Vision pledges to develop sustainable alternatives to oil-based energy to preserve the local and global environment.[182]

Climate

[hide]Climate data for Qatar
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 22
(72)
23
(73)
27
(81)
33
(91)
39
(102)
42
(108)
42
(108)
42
(108)
39
(102)
35
(95)
30
(86)
25
(77)
33.3
(91.9)
Average low °C (°F) 14
(57)
15
(59)
17
(63)
21
(70)
27
(81)
29
(84)
31
(88)
31
(88)
29
(84)
25
(77)
21
(70)
16
(61)
23
(73.5)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 12.7
(0.5)
17.8
(0.701)
15.2
(0.598)
7.6
(0.299)
2.5
(0.098)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
2.5
(0.098)
12.7
(0.5)
71
(2.794)
Source: http://us.worldweatheronline.com/doha-weather-averages/ad-dawhah/qa.aspx

Economy

Graphical depiction of Qatar’s product exports in 28 color-coded categories (2011).

Commercial district in Doha.

Before the discovery of oil, the economy of the Qatari region focused on fishing and pearl hunting. Report prepared by local governors of Ottoman Empire in 1892 states that total income from pearl hunting in 1892 is 2,450,000 kran.[68] After the introduction of the Japanese cultured pearl onto the world market in the 1920s and 1930s, Qatar’s pearling industry crashed. Oil was discovered in Qatar in 1940, in Dukhan Field.[183] The discovery transformed the state’s economy. Now, the country has a high standard of living for its legal citizens. With no income tax, Qatar (along with Bahrain) is one of the countries with the lowest tax rates in the world. The unemployment rate in June 2013 was 0.1%.[184] Corporate law mandates that Qatari nationals must hold 51% of any venture in the Emirate.[78]

As of 2016, Qatar has the fourth highest GDP per capita in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund[5] It relies heavily on foreign labour to grow its economy, to the extent that migrant workers compose 86% of the population and 94% of the workforce.[185][186] Qatar has been criticised by the International Trade Union Confederation.[187] The economic growth of Qatar has been almost exclusively based on its petroleum and natural gas industries, which began in 1940.[188] Qatar is the leading exporter of liquefied natural gas.[167] In 2012, it was estimated that Qatar would invest over $120 billion in the energy sector in the next ten years.[189] The country is a member state of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), having joined the organisation in 1961.[190]

In 2012, Qatar retained its title of richest country in the world (according to per capita income) for the third time in a row, having first overtaken Luxembourg in 2010. According to the study published by the Washington based Institute of International Finance, Qatar’s per capita GDP at purchasing power parity (PPP) was $106,000 (QR387,000) in 2012, helping the country retain its ranking as the world’s wealthiest nation. Luxembourg came a distant second with nearly $80,000 and Singapore third with per capita income of about $61,000. The research put Qatar’s GDP at $182bn in 2012 and said it had climbed to an all-time high due to soaring gas exports and high oil prices. Its population stood at 1.8 million in 2012. The same study published that Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), with assets of $115bn, was ranked 12th among the richest sovereign wealth funds in the world.[191]

Established in 2005, Qatar Investment Authority is the country’s sovereign wealth fund, specialising in foreign investment.[192] Due to billions of dollars in surpluses from the oil and gas industry, the Qatari government has directed investments into United States, Europe, and Asia Pacific. As of 2013, the holdings were valued at $100 billion in assets. Qatar Holding is the international investment arm of QIA. Since 2009, Qatar Holding has received $30–40bn a year from the state. As of 2014, it has investments around the world in Valentino, Siemens, Printemps, Harrods, The Shard, Barclays Bank, Heathrow Airport, Paris Saint-Germain F.C., Volkswagen Group, Royal Dutch Shell, Bank of America, Tiffany, Agricultural Bank of China, Sainsbury’s, BlackBerry,[193] and Santander Brasil.[194][195]

The country is free from taxes, however, authorities have announced plans to levy taxes on junk food and luxury items in the coming years. The taxes would be implemented on goods that harm the human body – for example fast food, tobacco products, and soft drinks. The roll out of these initial taxes is believed to be due to the fall in oil prices and a deficit that the country faced in the year 2016. Additionally, the country has seen job cuts in the year 2016 from its petroleum companies and other sectors in the government.[196] [197]

Energy

Qatar Airways Airbus A380, Qatar Airways, one of the world’s largest airlines, links over 150 international destinations from its base in Doha.

As of 2012, Qatar has proven oil reserves of 15 billion barrels and gas fields that account for more than 13% of the global resource. As a result, it is the richest state per-capita in the world. None of its 2 million residents live below the poverty line and less than 1% are unemployed.[198]

Qatar’s economy was in a downturn from 1982 to 1989. OPEC quotas on crude oil production, the lower price for oil, and the generally unpromising outlook on international markets reduced oil earnings. In turn, the Qatari government’s spending plans had to be cut to match lower income. The resulting recessionary local business climate caused many firms to lay off expatriate staff. With the economy recovering in the 1990s, expatriate populations, particularly from Egypt and South Asia, have grown again.

Oil production will not long remain at peak levels of 500,000 barrels (80,000 m³) per day, as oil fields are projected to be mostly depleted by 2023. However, large natural gas reserves have been located off Qatar’s northeast coast. Qatar’s proved reserves of gas are the third-largest in the world, exceeding 250 trillion cubic feet (7,000 km³). The economy was boosted in 1991 by completion of the $1.5-billion Phase I of North Field gas development. In 1996, the Qatargas project began exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Japan. Further phases of North Field gas development costing billions of dollars are in various stages of planning and development.

Qatar’s heavy industrial projects, all based in Umm Said, include a refinery with a 50,000 barrels (8,000 m³) per day capacity, a fertiliser plant for urea and ammonia, a steel plant, and a petrochemical plant. All these industries use gas for fuel. Most are joint ventures between European and Japanese firms and the state-owned Qatar General Petroleum Corporation (QGPC). The US is the major equipment supplier for Qatar’s oil and gas industry, and US companies are playing a major role in North Field gas development.[198]

Qatar’s National Vision 2030 has made investment in renewable resources a major goal for the country over the next two decades.[182] Qatar pursues a vigorous programme of “Qatarisation“, under which all joint venture industries and government departments strive to move Qatari nationals into positions of greater authority. Growing numbers of foreign-educated Qataris, including many educated in the US, are returning home to assume key positions formerly occupied by expatriates. To control the influx of expatriate workers, Qatar has tightened the administration of its foreign manpower programmes over the past several years. Security is the principal basis for Qatar’s strict entry and immigration rules and regulations.[198]

Demographics

Skyline of Doha

The number of people in Qatar fluctuates considerably depending on the season, since the country relies heavily on migrant labour. In early 2017, Qatar’s total population was 2.6 million, of which 313,000 were Qatari citizens (12%) and 2.3 million were expatriates.[21] Non-Arab foreigners make up the vast majority of Qatar’s population; Indians are the largest community, numbering 650,000 in 2017,[21] followed by 350,000 Nepalis, 280,000 Bangladeshis, 260,000 Filipinos, 200,000 Egyptians, 145,000 Sri Lankans and 125,000 Pakistanis among many other nationalities.[21]

Qatar’s first demographic records date back to 1892, and were conducted by Ottoman governors in the region. Based on this census, which includes only the residents in cities, the total population in 1892 was 9,830.[68]

Populations
Year Pop. ±%
1904 27,000
1970 111,133 +311.6%
1986 369,079 +232.1%
1997 522,023 +41.4%
2004 744,029 +42.5%
2010 1,699,435 +128.4%
2013 1,903,447 +12.0%
2016 2,545,000 +33.7%
Source: Qatar Statistics Authority (1904–2004);[199]2010 Census;[3] 2013 est.[200][201] 2016[202]

The 2010 census recorded the total population at 1,699,435.[3] In January 2013, the Qatar Statistics Authority estimated the country’s population at 1,903,447, of which 1,405,164 were males and 498,283 females.[200] At the time of the first census, held in 1970, the population was 111,133.[199] The population has tripled in the decade to 2011, up from just over 600,000 people in 2001, leaving Qatari nationals as less than 15% of the total population.[201] The influx of male labourers has skewed the gender balance, and women are now just one-quarter of the population.

Projections released by Qatar Statistical Authority indicates that the total population of Qatar could reach 2.8 million by 2020. Qatar’s National Development Strategy (2011–16) had estimated that the country’s population would reach 1.78m in 2013, 1.81m in 2014, 1.84m in 2015 and 1.86m in 2016 – the yearly growth rate being merely 2.1%. But the country’s population has soared to 1.83 million by the end of 2012, showing 7.5% growth over the previous year.[203] Qatar’s total population hit a record high of 2.46 million in November 2015, an increase of 8.5% from the previous year, far exceeding official projections.[204]

Religion

Mosque in Qatar

Religion in Qatar (2010)[205][206]

  Islam (67.7%)
  Christianity (13.8%)
  Hinduism (13.8%)
  Buddhism (3.1%)
  Others (0.7%)
  Unaffiliated (0.9%)

Islam is Qatar’s predominant religion and enjoys official status.[207] Most Qatari citizens belong to the Salafi Muslim movement of Sunni Islam, about 20% of Muslims in Qatar follow Shia Islam with other Muslims sects being very small in number.[208][209][210][211] Qatar is 67.7% Muslim, 13.8% Christian, 13.8% Hindu and 3.1% are Buddhist– other religions and religiously unaffiliated people accounted for the remaining 1.6%.[212] Sharia law is the main source of Qatari legislation according to Qatar’s Constitution.[96][97]

The Christian population is composed almost entirely of foreigners. Since 2008, Christians have been allowed to build churches on ground donated by the government,[213] though foreign missionary activity is officially discouraged.[214] Active churches include the Mar Thoma Church, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and the Anglican Church of the Epiphany.[215][216][217] There are also two Mormon wards.[215][216][217]

Languages

Arabic is the official language of Qatar, with Qatari Arabic the local dialect. Qatari Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. English is commonly used as a second language,[218]and a rising lingua franca, especially in commerce, to the extent that steps are being taken to try to preserve Arabic from English’s encroachment.[219] English is particularly useful for communication with Qatar’s large expatriate community. Reflecting the multicultural make-up of the country, many other languages are also spoken, including Baluchi, Hindi, Malayalam, Urdu, Pashto, Tamil, Telugu, Nepali, Sinhalese, Bengali, and Tagalog, Bahasa Indonesia.[220]

In 2012, Qatar joined the international French-speaking organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) as a new associate member. However, in December 2013, the French daily Le Monde revealed that Qatar, which has very few native French speakers, had not yet paid any contribution to the OIF,[221] while the outgoing Administrator of the OIF complained in 2015 that Qatar had not kept any of the promises it made when it joined the organisation and had never paid its annual membership fees.[222]

Culture

Qatar’s culture is similar to other countries in Eastern Arabia, being significantly influenced by Islam. Qatar National Day, hosted annually on 18 December, has had an important role in developing a sense of national identity.[223] It is observed in remembrance of Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani‘s succession to the throne and his subsequent unification of the country’s various tribes.[224][225] Since 1 July 2008, Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari has been the Minister for Culture, Arts and Heritage of Qatar.

Arts and museums

Several senior members of Qatar’s ruling Al Thani family are noted collectors of Islamic and contemporary art.

The Museum of Islamic Art, opened in 2008, is regarded as one of the best museums in the region.[226] This, and several other Qatari museums, like the Arab Museum of Modern Art, falls under the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) which is led by Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the sister of the ruling Emir of the State of Qatar, and the prominent collector and art patron Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed Al Thani.[227] The QMA also sponsors artistic events abroad, such as major exhibitions by Takahashi Murakami in Versailles (2010) and Damien Hirst in London (2012).

Qatar is the world’s biggest buyer in the art market by value.[228] The Qatari cultural sector is being developed to enable the country to reach world recognition to contribute to the development of a country that comes mainly from its resources from the gas industry.[229]

Media

The news desk of Al Jazeera English, a Qatari news channel

Qatar’s media was classified as “not free” in the 2014 Freedom of the Press report by Freedom House.[230] TV broadcasting in Qatar was started in 1970.[231] Al Jazeera is a main television network headquartered in Doha, Qatar. Al Jazeera initially launched in 1996 as an Arabic news and current affairs satellite TV channel of the same name, but has since expanded into a global network of several speciality TV channels known collectively as the Al Jazeera Media Network.

It has been reported that journalists practice self-censorship, particularly in regards to the government and ruling family of Qatar.[232] Criticism of the government, Emir and ruling family in the media is illegal. According to article 46 of the press law “The Emir of the state of Qatar shall not be criticised and no statement can be attributed to him unless under a written permission from the manager of his office.”[233] Journalists are also subject to prosecution for insulting Islam.[230]

In 2014, a Cybercrime Prevention Law was passed. The law is said to restrict press freedom, and carries prison sentences and fines for broad reasons such as jeopardising local peace or publishing false news.[234] The Gulf Center for Human Rights has stated that the law is a threat to freedom of speech and has called for certain articles of the law to be revoked.[235]

Press media has undergone expansion in recent years. There are currently seven newspapers in circulation in Qatar, with four being published in Arabic and three being published in English.[236] There are also newspapers from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka with editions printed from Qatar.

In regards to telecommunication infrastructure, Qatar is the highest ranked Middle Eastern country in the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (NRI) – an indicator for determining the development level of a country’s information and communication technologies. Qatar ranked number 23 overall in the 2014 NRI ranking, unchanged from 2013.[237]

Music

The music of Qatar is based on Bedouin poetry, song and dance. Traditional dances in Doha are performed on Friday afternoons; one such dance is the Ardah, a stylised martial dance performed by two rows of dancers who are accompanied by an array of percussion instruments, including al-ras (a large drum whose leather is heated by an open fire), tambourines and cymbals with small drums.[238] Other percussion instruments used in folk music include galahs (a tall clay jar) and tin drinking cups known as tus or tasat, usually used in conjunction with a tabl, a longitudinal drum beaten with a stick.[239] String instruments, such as the oud and rebaba, are also commonly used.[238]

Sport

Association football is the most popular sport in Qatar, both in terms of players and spectators.[240] The Qatar national under-20 team finished runners-up to West Germany in the 1981 FIFA World Youth Championship after a 4–0 defeat in the final. In January 2011, the Asian Football Confederation’s fifteenth Asian Cup was held in Qatar. It was the second time Qatar had hosted the tournament, with the other instance being the 1988 edition.[241]

On 2 December 2010, Qatar won their bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, despite never previously qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Finals.[242] Local organisers are planning to build 9 new stadiums and expand 3 existing stadiums for this event. Qatar’s winning bid for the 2022 World Cup was greeted enthusiastically in the Persian Gulf region as it was the first time a country in the Middle East had been selected to host the tournament. However, the bid has been embroiled in much controversy, including allegations of bribery and interference in the investigation of the alleged bribery. European football associations have also objected to the 2022 World Cup being held in Qatar for a variety of reasons, from the impact of warm temperatures on players’ fitness, to the disruption it might cause in European domestic league calendars should the event be rescheduled to take place during winter.[243][244] In May 2014, Qatari football official Mohammed bin Hammam was accused of making payments totalling £3m to officials in return for their support for the Qatar bid.[245] However, a FIFA inquiry into the bidding process in November 2014 cleared Qatar of any wrongdoing.[246]

The Guardian, a British national daily newspaper, produced a short documentary named “Abuse and exploitation of migrant workers preparing emirate for 2022”.[247] A 2014 investigation by The Guardian reports that migrant workers who have been constructing luxurious offices for the organisers of the 2022 World Cup have not been paid in over a year, and are now “working illegally from cockroach-infested lodgings.”[248] For 2014, Nepalese migrants involved in constructing infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup died at a rate of one every two days.[249] The Qatar 2022 organising committee have responded to various allegations by claiming that hosting the World Cup in Qatar would act as a “catalyst for change” in the region.[250]

Though football is the most popular sport, other team sports have experienced considerable success at senior level. In 2015, the national handball team emerged as runners-up to France in the World Men’s Handball Championship as hosts, however the tournament was marred by numerous controversies regarding the host nation and its team.[251] Further, in 2014, Qatar won the world championship in men’s 3×3 basketball.[252]

Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha hosted the WTA Tour Championships in women’s tennis between 2008 and 2010. Doha holds the WTA Premier tournament Qatar Ladies Open annually. Since 2002, Qatar has hosted the annual Tour of Qatar, a cycling race in six stages. Every February, riders are racing on the roads across Qatar’s flat land for six days. Each stage covers a distance of more than 100 km, though the time trial usually is a shorter distance. Tour of Qatar is organised by the Qatar Cycling Federation for professional riders in the category of Elite Men.[253]

The Qatar Army Skydiving Team has several different skydiving disciplines placing among the top nations in the world. The Qatar National Parachute team performs annually during Qatar’s National Day and at other large events, such as the 2015 World Handball Championship.[254] Doha four times was the host of the official FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship and three times host FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship. Doha one time Host Asian Volleyball Championship.[255]

Education

Qatar University, main area

Qatar University, east view

Qatar hired the RAND Corporation to reform its K–12 education system.[167] Through Qatar Foundation, the country has built Education City, a campus which hosts local branches of the Weill Cornell Medical College, Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Texas A&M’s School of Engineering, and other Western institutions.[167]

UNESCO Institute for Statistics Literacy Rate Qatar population plus 15 1985-2015

The illiteracy rate in Qatar was 3.1% for males and 4.2% for females in 2012, the lowest in the Arab-speaking world, but 86th in the world.[256] Citizens are required to attend government-provided education from kindergarten through high school.[257] Qatar University, founded in 1973, is the country’s oldest and largest institution of higher education.[258][259]

In November 2002, emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani created The Supreme Education Council.[260] The Council directs and controls education for all ages from the pre-school level through the university level, including the “Education for a New Era” initiative which was established to try to position Qatar as a leader in education reform.[261][262] According to the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, the top-ranking universities in the country are Qatar University (1,881st worldwide), Texas A&M University at Qatar (3,905th) and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (6,855th).[263]

In 2008, Qatar established the Qatar Science & Technology Park in Education City to link those universities with industry. Education City is also home to a fully accredited international Baccalaureate school, Qatar Academy. In addition, two Canadian institutions, the College of the North Atlantic (headquarters in Newfoundland and Labrador) and the University of Calgary, have inaugurated campuses in Doha. Other for-profit universities have also established campuses in the city.[264] In 2009, under the patronage of H.H. Sheikha Mozah Al Missned, the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) was established with the aim of transforming education through innovation.

In 2012, Qatar was ranked third from the bottom of the 65 OECD countries participating in the PISA test of maths, reading and skills for 15- and 16-year-olds, comparable to Colombia or Albania, despite having the highest per capita income in the world.[265][266] As part of its national development strategy, Qatar has outlined a 10-year strategic plan to improve the level of education.[267] Furthermore, the government has launched educational outreach programs, such as Al-Bairaq. Al-Bairaq was launched in 2010 aims to provide high school students with an opportunity to experience a research environment in the Center for Advanced Materials in Qatar University. The program encompasses the STEM fields and languages.[268]

Healthcare

See also

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

Story 2: President Trump Meets With Republican Congressional Leaders About Passing Tax Reform and Repealing and Replacing Obamacare By Labor Day — Videos — 

Image result for republican leaders meet at white house June 6 2017

Trump Talks Health Care Bill with GOP Leaders

Trump and GOP leaders meet at White House

Trump tweets about congressional leader meeting

President Trump Meets with Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell & GOP Leaders 6/6/17

White House wants healthcare vote this summer, tax reform in fall

By Ayesha Rascoe | WASHINGTON

The White House is hoping to kick-start its stalled legislative agenda with congressional action on healthcare reform this summer that will clear the way for lawmakers to begin work on a major tax bill after the Sept. 4 Labor Day holiday, an administration official said on Monday.

Senate Republicans will vote on their version of healthcare reform legislation before lawmakers’ August recess, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short said. The House of Representatives passed a bill in May.

“There’s been a lot of discussions with staff,” Short told reporters at a briefing. “I think the text is pretty far along.”

Congress will then turn its focus to overhauling the tax code in September. While the administration would prefer that the effort not add to the national debt, Short stressed that the top priority would be cutting taxes.

“We want it to be revenue neutral, and we are still supportive of tax reform, but I am also saying to you that what we believe is most important to get the economy going is the tax cuts,” he said.

President Donald Trump will meet with the Republican leaders of the House and the Senate, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, on Tuesday to discuss the path forward for his agenda, said White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters.

Trump has pressed for quicker action in Congress, but his administration has also been hampered by investigations into alleged ties between Trump’s election campaign and Russia.

The Trump administration has outlined a broad plan that would cut tax rates for businesses and streamline the tax system for individuals. But, the proposal has been short on details — including the cost of the tax cuts and what loopholes would be closed.

The healthcare bill passed by the House could result in 23 million people losing insurance, the Congressional Budget Office estimated, a conclusion that Republicans were quick to challenge. The bill would also reduce federal deficits by $119 billion between 2017 and 2026, according to the analysis.

Short said he believed that the Senate healthcare bill would be “similar” to the House package.

Senator John Cornyn, the No.2 Republican in the Senate, said Monday evening he thought there would be a vote on a healthcare bill in the Senate in July.

Short also said the White House expects for Congress to raise the government’s borrowing authority, also known as the debt limit, before the August recess.

(Additional reporting Richard Cowan, Susan Cornwell and Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-congress-idUSKBN18X031

Story 3: NSA Contractor Pluribus International Employee Reality Winner Leaked NSA Top Secret Document To Intercept — Videos —

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NSA Hacking Leak: Who is Reality Winner?

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Varney & Co : Napolitano on NSA contractor who leaked classified Russia report : 6/6/2017

Published on Jun 6, 2017

A federal contractor was arrested for leaking a classified, top secret NSA report on Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential election. Reality Leigh Winner appeared in U.S. District Court in Augusta, Ga., to face one charge of removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet.

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Deep State NSA Contractor “Reality Winner” Caught Leaking Top Secret Info

Augusta contractor charged with mishandling top-secret U.S. materials

The government announced Reality Leigh Winner’s arrest Monday, about an hour after The Intercept reported that it had obtained a top-secret National Security Agency report about Russia’s interference. The NSA report, according to The Intercept, says Russian military intelligence officials executed a cyberattack on a U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials days before last November’s presidential election.

Former FBI Director James Comey is expected to testify Thursday before a Senate panel that is probing Russia’s interference in the presidential election. Comey was fired last month amid an FBI investigation into possible ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign.

In announcing the charge against Winner, the U.S. Justice Department did not identify the classified material — which was dated on or about May 5 — or the news outlet. But The Intercept reported the NSA document it received anonymously was dated May 5.

Trump has railed against leaks from his government, calling for a Justice Department investigation. While Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis, described her as no fan of the president, she added, “she’s not an activist.”

Winner is a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation and is assigned to a U.S. government facility in Georgia, where she has held a top-secret clearance, according to the U.S. Justice Department. The government started investigating her after the news outlet contacted it on Tuesday about an upcoming story concerning the intelligence materials.

The news outlet provided federal officials a copy of the classified information. Federal investigators said the pages appeared “folded and/or creased, suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space.” They quickly identified six people who had printed the materials, including Winner, and found she had email contact with the news agency.

While the Justice Department did not identify the material Winner allegedly mailed the news outlet, it did disclose it is classified at the “Top Secret level, indicating that its unauthorized disclosure could reasonably result in exceptionally grave damage to the national security, and is marked as such.”

Winner’s attorney, Titus Nichols, said she is a U.S. Air Force veteran with no criminal convictions. Winner’s last station with the Air Force was at Fort Meade in Maryland, where the NSA is located. She was still in federal custody Monday, Nichols said, and a court hearing about her detention is set for Thursday. Nichols plans to argue for her release.

“We look forward to getting the evidence and reviewing it and working hard to resolve this matter so my client can put it behind her and so she can go back on with her life,” he said. “She is a good person.”

Monday, Winner-Davis, 51, of Kingsville, Texas, said she spoke to her daughter by phone after she was arrested Saturday.

“She was just in shock,” she said. “She was very quiet. She was scared.”

While Trump is “not her man,” Winner-Davis said, “she hasn’t gone to any riots or marches.” Her daughter was involved with an organization called Athletes Serving Athletes, and she would run with disabled children, helping them along. She also loves to paint and sketch and is fond of drawing Jesus Christ. Her photos on social media show her to be a fitness buff who enjoyed yoga and weightlifting.

“Reality is a beautiful person,” she said. “She’s kind and caring.”

Winner’s posts on Facebook and Twitter have been decidedly anti-Trump. She appeared to be acting on her strong political opinions, even recently visiting the office of a Republican U.S. senator. A Feb. 14 post on Facebook showed her standing outside the downtown Atlanta district office of U.S. Sen. David Perdue. She wrote, “A great American once told us to go out and have conversations with one another.”

One person posted a comment asking her how it went. She responded that she got a “private 30-minute meeting,” not specifying with whom, and said Perdue’s “state policy director is going to send me email updates on some of my concerns regarding climate change and what the state of Georgia is doing to reduce dependency on fossil fuels.

“I was able to draw the parallel between the 2011 interview of President Bashar al Assad claiming utter ignorance of the human rights violations his citizens were protesting,” Winner wrote, “to Trump’s statement last week that the White House hadn’t received any calls about the DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline), nor were there any protests before last week. They got the message.”

Since the news of her arrest broke, other Facebook users have hijacked many of her posts with angry messages. Below the post about her visit to Perdue’s office, someone wrote, “Hope they toss you in Ft. Leavenworth for the better part of a half century. You are a TRAITOR to your country and the Govt. should absolutely make an example out of you!”

Other recent comments: “Leakers wear prison sneakers” and “Enjoy life in prison you traitor.” Under a photo of Winner doing a pull-up someone posted: “Looks like you’ll have fun lifting weights in prison for the next 10-20 years.”

A few people offered messages of support, such as, “Hey girl we need to send you money for your defense fund.”

If convicted of the charge of “gathering, transmitting or losing defense information,” Winner could face up to 10 years in prison, court records show.

“Exceptional law enforcement efforts allowed us quickly to identify and arrest the defendant,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a prepared statement. “Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation’s security and undermines public faith in government. People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation.”

Winner-Davis said she feels like she’s in a “whirlwind.” She traveled to Augusta and saw her daughter in court Monday but could not talk to her. They just exchanged glances.

“It’s hard not to cry,” she said.

Staff writers Johnny Edwards and Craig Schneider contributed to this story.

Read the FBI arrest application affidavit

http://www.ajc.com/news/breaking-news/augusta-contractor-charged-with-mishandling-top-secret-materials/VFqwwNvxTBe7w2BxkQaWNM/?icmp=AJC_internallink_06062017_digesttease_0606

‘My daughter served her country and ALWAYS does what’s right. But she is NOT a fan of Trump’ – NSA leaker Reality Winner’s parents say Air Force vet is ‘good girl’ being used for ‘political purposes’

  • Reality Winner charged with taking classified material from government facility
  • Her parents Billie-Jean and Gary Davis spoke at her Augusta, GA, home on Tuesday to tell of their concern and stress her good record
  • Her father Gary hinted at her defense tactic and said:  ‘We want her face out there rather than what’s being pulled for their own political purposes.’
  • The decorated former US Air Force linguist, who held Top Secret government clearance, made multiple posts on social media attacking Donald Trump
  • She tweeted ‘Trump is a c**t’ and a ‘piece of s**t’ in a series of posts and compared being white to terrorism
  • Her Nissan Cube was covered in bumper stickers including one saying ‘make America green again’ and the car had what looks like more NSA paper inside
  • Vegan, tattooed yoga instructor was fan of pollster Nate Silver, too ‘scared’ of climate change to have children and had signed picture of Anderson Cooper
  • If convicted of leaking intel, Winner could spend up to 10 years in a federal penitentiary 
  • Her case bears resemblance to Chelsea Manning, a former US Army soldier who leaked classified military documents to Wikileaks 

The mother of alleged NSA leaker Reality Leigh Winner told DailyMail.com today that her daughter always does what’s right, had served her country for six years and had never been in trouble with anyone.

Billie-Jean Davis said they didn’t know what was going on and wouldn’t know anything more until her daughter’s next hearing on Thursday.

‘We haven’t talked with her that much. We saw her only at the court hearing. I think she’s doing okay,’ she said. ‘I’m overwhelmed, I’m very worried about her. I never saw any of this coming.’

Mrs Davis spoke outside her daughter’s home alongside her husband Gary. He hinted at her defense by saying people were using her for ‘their own political purposes’.

If found guilty of breaching the Espionage Act by passing an NSA analysis of alleged Russian hacking to The Intercept, she faces up to ten years in prison.

Her father’s comments and Winner’s social media accounts, which is filled with loathing for Donald Trump, suggests she may try to claim her prosecution is politically-motivated and that she was acting as a whistleblower.

Reality Leigh Winner, a decorated former US Air Force linguist who held Top Secret government clearance, is accused of leaking NSA intelligence

Support: Billie-Jean Davis, Reality Winner's mother, and Gary Davis, her father, have flown from their home in Texas to be nearer their daughter, who will be arraigned on Thursday

Support: Billie-Jean Davis, Reality Winner’s mother, and Gary Davis, her father, have flown from their home in Texas to be nearer their daughter, who will be arraigned on Thursday

Right-on causes: Bumper stickers on the Bernie Sanders-supporting, Trump-hating alleged NSA leaker called for people to 'make America green again' and to 'pray for our priests'

Right-on causes: Bumper stickers on the Bernie Sanders-supporting, Trump-hating alleged NSA leaker called for people to ‘make America green again’ and to ‘pray for our priests’

Speaking outside the Augusta, Georgia, home where Winner was arrested on Saturday by ten car loads of FBI agents, her mother said her daughter had not been politically-minded growing up.

‘She’s a good girl, she’s a good person, she’s never been in trouble with anyone, the law or anything.

‘She always does what’s right. She served her country, she was in the Air Force for six years. She volunteers, she does whatever she can to make the community and the world better. That’s what she wants to do.’

Mrs Davis said that the 25-year-old did not share anything about her job with her parents but described her interests.

‘She’s very talented artist – she paints, she draws. She loves studying about anything and everything she can.

‘She taught herself Arabic before she even got in the Air Force. She’s a yoga instructor and very athletic. Loves to work out, that is her world.’

THE SAYINGS OF COMRADE REALITY WINNER

@realDonaldTrump the most dangerous entry to this country was the orange fascist we let into the white house 

– February 11, 2017

 TrumpIsAC***

– January 30, 2017

#notmypresident #Recount2016

– November 29, 2016 

@kanyewest you should make a shirt that says, ‘being white is terrorism’

– February 25, 2017 

You have got to be s****ing me right now. No one has called? The White House shut down their phone lines. There have been protests for months, at both the drilling site and and outside the White House. I’m losing my mind. If you voted for this piece of s***, explain this. He’s lying. He’s blatantly lying and the second largest supply of freshwater in the country is now at risk. #NoDAPL #NeverMyPresident #Resist 

-February 9, 2017 

 @altusda #NoUSDAblackout #RESISTANCE

– February 18, 2017

#F***ingWall

– January 26, 2017 

On people invading Augusta for Master’s week: They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,

– April 2, 2017 

Her mother said that her daughter, who speaks Farsi, Pashto and Dari – the principal languages of Iran and Afghanistan – was based solely in the U.S. for the Air Force and had not been sent overseas.

Mrs Davis said that Winner had called her father on Saturday. ‘She let him know that she was in trouble and that she had been arrested. She asked if we could come on up and take care of her animals.’

She said that her daughter had not appeared particularly upset about anything in relation to the Trump administration in recent months, despite her extensive social media postings.

‘Not anything more than our normal conversations. Not anything more than that. I never saw this coming.’

Her mother said her daughter did not have any association with any other hackers or groups.

‘Absolutely not,’ she said. ‘In fact if you look on her Facebook, she had posted that she actually went and met with the state representative here in Georgia, to have a sit-down talk with him about what was important to her.

‘[Their conversation] had to do with the climate and the North Dakota pipeline. That was her issue at that point.

‘She posted on Facebook, that instead of bashing people, do it the right way. That’s what kind of a girl she is.’

Her father, Gary Davis, added that they would be staying in Georgia ‘as long as we are needed. We want to make sure she is treated fairly and afforded all her rights.’

He added: ‘The side of Reality we know and love is not what’s being portrayed.

‘We want her face out there rather than what’s being pulled for their own political purposes. She’s a good kid and we are here to help her get through this.’

Neighbor Hank Thompson shared with DailyMail.com the scene on Saturday when Winner had been arrested.

He said that about ten cars with dark windows surrounded the house and had it cordoned off with police tape.

‘They were talking to her out on the step,’ he said. ‘She seemed nervous, I guess, with everything that’s going on.’

He said that she had only been at the property for a few months and was ‘pretty quiet’ in her comings and goings but that he occasionally saw a ‘tall, young man with a red pick-up truck’ at the house. He also said that the mail truck regularly stopped to deliver packages.

When she wasn't tweeting about Trump, Winner spent much of her free time working out

When she wasn’t tweeting about Trump, Winner spent much of her free time working out

Lots of paper: Reality Winner's car also housed other paperwork - it is unclear if these documents were connected with her work

Lots of paper: Reality Winner’s car also housed other paperwork – it is unclear if these documents were connected with her work

It has since been revealed that she was an outspoken opponent of Trump who once branded the president a c**t

It has since been revealed that she was an outspoken opponent of Trump who once branded the president a c**t

Winner’s posting show she was a Bernie Sanders supporter who hated Donald Trump. She even claimed that being white could be compared to terrorism.

It has since emerged the contractor who speaks four languages may have used her linguistics skills to work at a government ‘listening post’ which collects intelligence from the Middle East and Europe, The Daily Beast reported.

She is believed to have worked at the ‘Sweet Tea’ outpost in Fort Gordon, Georgia, where thousands of specialists allegedly work to translate and analyze intercepted messages.

The decorated former USAF linguist – who held Top Secret government clearance – made multiple posts on social media attacking Trump and joking about Russia’s influence in the election.

Under the alias Sara Winners, she made several tweets with the hashtag #NotMyPresident and #Recount 2016. She wrote that ‘Trump is a c**t’ and a ‘piece of s**t’ in a series of angry tweets over the past few months.

The outspoken Sanders supporter also posted a signed picture of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, thanking her for her service.

During the run-up to presidential election, Winner – a keen bodybuilder and fitness fanatic – had joked about the Kremlin’s influence, saying: ‘On a positive note, this Tuesday when we become the United States of the Russian Federation, Olympic lifting will be the national sport.’

After Trump was declared president, the apparently distraught 25-year-old wrote: ‘Well. People suck.’

She also posted a signed picture of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, thanking her for her service 

She also posted a signed picture of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, thanking her for her service

Bernie Sanders-supporting Reality Winner served as a linguist in the US Air Force since 2013 and spoke Pashto, Farsi and Dari. Pictured here in uniform with her mother Billie

Bernie Sanders-supporting Reality Winner served as a linguist in the US Air Force since 2013 and spoke Pashto, Farsi and Dari. Pictured here in uniform with her mother Billie

She also tweeted to Nate Silver, the ex-New York Times pollster whose confident predictions that Clinton had as high as an 85 per cent chance of winning made him a laughing stock – but not to Winner.

‘I listened to you daily, and your podcast kept me sane,’ Winner wrote at the FiveThirtyEight podcast on November 9. ‘What the heck #betrayed #disillusioned.’

‘Privjet Russia’  tweeted Winner the following day, which translates to ‘Hi Russia.’

She also retweeted Sanders’ statement calling the president racist and xenophobic.

Winner has also frequently trolled the president, tweeting at him directly.

In response to a Trump tweet about immigrants coming from seven Muslim-majority countries  being ‘SO DANGEROUS’, Winner asked: ‘have you ever even met an Iranian?’

After the U.S. Department of Agriculture began blacking out public information, Winner tweeted ‘#RESISTANCE’.

Her frustration appears to have come to a head in May when Winner, a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation – a defense contractor that does work for the NSA – allegedly downloaded documents revealing that Russia had hacked an electoral voting machine.

She then posted the intel to online news site The Intercept who published the findings last month.

The leaked documents seemed to show Russia carried out cyber attacks on companies which produce software used during elections.

But the NSA were quickly able to link the leak back to Winner after The Intercept presented them with stolen documents for verification.

NSA officers were able to determine, by analyzing creases in the pages and a secret series of ‘tracking dots’ on the paper, that they had been printed at the NSA’s Augusta, Georgia offices.

Only six people had access to those printers so from there, it was simply a case of narrowing down the suspects. After agents found communication between Winner and the new site, she was arrested.

Winner is now facing up to ten years in jail if found guilty on charged of removing classified material from a government facility.

When Winner wasn’t posting about politics, her social media paints her as something of a loner.

Her life appears to have revolved around her frequent body building and work outs, her vegan diet, and her pets. She has countless selfies of herself working out at the gym, yet few photos of herself with friends.

The 25-year-old, who lists herself as ‘single’ recently held a ‘cativersary’ – complete with birthday cake for her cat Mina and regularly posted about her dog. She also revealed she had been ‘feeling so down.’

The intelligent US Air Force vet had just returned from a solo ‘spiritual journey’ to Belize in Central America when she was arrested.

In one of her vacation snaps, Winner – who appears to be very close with her family including sister Britty – revealed she had recently lost her step father Gary Winner who she considered her dad.

‘There is nothing that can fix the hole in my heart that you left behind,’ she wrote.

‘I still don’t know who I am without you here or how to keep moving forward without the one person who believed unconditionally in everything I want to do in life.

‘Old habits die hard, I still find myself making time to call you in the evenings or jotting down notes or stories to tell you next time we speak. It’s like I have a little piece of you here with me. I miss you, Dad.’

Billie Winner-Davis said that her daughter never discussed her work, and that her family didn’t know much information about her job as a government contractor.

She said Winner who had been a linguist for the U.S. Air Force and can speak middle eastern languages Farsi, Dari and Pashto.

Farsi is the principal language of Iran, while Dari and Pashto are the two most commonly-spoken languages of Afghanistan.

She won a commendation medal for he work as a Cryptologic Language Analyst before she left service in December 2016 at rank of senior airman.

 When she wasn't posting about politics, Winner's social media paints her as something of a loner whose main focus was on bodybuilding

 When she wasn’t posting about politics, Winner’s social media paints her as something of a loner whose main focus was on bodybuilding

Arrested: The government has charged Reality Leigh Winner (pictured), 25, a Georgia intelligence contractor, with passing secret documents to the media

Arrested: The government has charged Reality Leigh Winner (pictured), 25, a Georgia intelligence contractor, with passing secret documents to the media

She is the first person to have charges leveled against her in connection with leaks related to Russian election hacking

She is the first person to have charges leveled against her in connection with leaks related to Russian election hacking

Winner was employed by contractor Pluribus International Corporation in February, and had been working with access to top secret documents since then

Smarts appear to run in the family as her sister Britty is studying for a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology at Michigan State University.

Winner was an employee at Pluribus International Corporation based out of Alexandria, Virginia. She was then posted to a government agency in Georgia. She worked at the facility since February 13, and held Top Secret security clearance.

Pluribus is an analytical and engineering service that provides its services to federal, defense, security and the intelligence community on a contractual basis. The company has 22 locations across the world, including three in the Republic of Korea.

Her mother revealed that she is unsure if her daughter will be able to seek bond and that she has a hearing on Thursday.

‘I don’t know what they’re alleging,’ she told told The Daily Beast. ‘I don’t know who she might have sent it to. [DOJ] were very vague.

 President Trump (above on Monday) has repeatedly railed against leaks, and administration members have called on congressional committees to focus on alleged Russian interference

 President Trump (above on Monday) has repeatedly railed against leaks, and administration members have called on congressional committees to focus on alleged Russian interference

An NSA document published by The Intercept reveals a Russian-backed effort to target local government officials and U.S. firms as part of the campaign

An NSA document published by The Intercept reveals a Russian-backed effort to target local government officials and U.S. firms as part of the campaign

‘They said she mishandled and released documents that she shouldn’t have, but we had no idea what it pertained to or who.’

Winner’s case has divided opinion, with some branding her a ‘traitor’ but others hailing her as a hero.

It bears some resemblance to the case of Chelsea Manning, a transgender US Army soldier who was convicted by court-martial in July 2013 for leaking nearly three-quarters of a million classified or sensitive military materials to Wikileaks.

She said at the time she’d been moved to release the secret information because she ‘believed I was going to help people’. She wanted to provide a real record of the realities of war, and give a human face to the casualties.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years at the maximum-security U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth but had her sentence commuted by then-President Obama to just seven years, and she was freed on May 17.

Just as with Winner, public reaction to news Manning leaked the document was mixed. Some hailed her as a 21st-century Tiananmen Square Tank Man after some believe the documents may have triggered the Arab Spring, while others denounced her as a traitor.

The Intercept report based on her leak has been largely overshadowed by her arrest.

It said a top secret NSA document revealed efforts by Russian military intelligence to conduct a spear phishing cyber attack on a company and on local voter registration.

The NSA document is titled ‘Spear-Phishing campaign TTPs used Against U.S. and Foreign Government Political Entities

It states that ‘It is unknown if the GRU (Russian military intelligence) was able to successfully compromise any of the entities targeted as part of this campaign. While this [redacted] cyber espionage program utilized some techniques that were similar to other Russian GRU cyber operations units, this activity demonstrated several characteristics that distinguish it from another major GRU spear-phishing program known as [redacted].’

‘Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors… executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions,’ according to the document the Intercept published.

‘The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to… launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations.’

Previous analyses by the intelligence community have stated that Russia was behind hacking into the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair in an effort to impact the election, but have not provided evidence of a successful campaign to affect the vote count or voter rolls.

The feds got a warrant for Winner's arrest

The feds got a warrant for Winner’s arrest

The affidavit mentions a 'U.S. Government Agency' believed to be the NSA

The affidavit mentions a ‘U.S. Government Agency’ believed to be the NSA

Winner confessed to being the source quickly.

According to the FBI, ‘Winner agreed to talk with agents during the execution of the warrant. During that conversation, Winner admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue despite not having a ‘need to know,’ and with knowledge that the intelligence reporting was classified.’

Without a lawyer present, ‘Winner further admitted removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it from Augusta, Georgia, to the news outlet, which she knew was not authorized to receive or possess the documents,’ according to the government.

The prosecution documents do not name The Intercept, but sources said it was the outlet the leak was to.

An affidavit by an FBI agent in support of an arrest warrant states that on June 1, the FBI was notified by a government agency that it had been contacted by an unnamed news outlet in connection to a story.

After examining the Top Secret document, investigators found pages appeared to be folded or creased – indicating it was printed and carried out of a ‘secured space’ by hand.

An audit concluded that six individuals had printed the document – including Winner.

Upon being interviewed, Winner admitted printing it without having a ‘need to know.’

According to the Intercept, the NSA sought redactions after being contacted, some of which were accepted.

President Trump has repeatedly railed against leaks, and administration members have called on congressional committees to focus not just on alleged Russian interference, but ‘unmasking’ of individuals in leaked governments and leak investigations.

‘It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the media,’ Trump tweeted last week.

HOW THE INTERCEPT REPORT COINCIDES WITH CHARGES AGAINST REALITY WINNER

The charges against Reality Winner, 25, coincided with a report by The Intercept that a top secret NSA document revealed efforts by Russian military intelligence to conduct a spear phishing cyber attack on a company and on local voter registration. 

‘Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors … executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions,’ according to the document the Intercept published.

‘The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to … launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations.’

The Intercept story states that the documents raise the possibility that Russian-based hackers ‘may have breached at least some elements of the voting system,’ bringing the investigation of election interference to a new level. 

According to the FBI, ‘Winner agreed to talk with agents during the execution of the warrant. During that conversation, Winner admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue despite not having a ‘need to know,’ and with knowledge that the intelligence reporting was classified.’

Without a lawyer present, ‘Winner further admitted removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it from Augusta, Georgia, to the news outlet, which she knew was not authorized to receive or possess the documents,’ according to the government.

An affidavit by an FBI agent in support of an arrest warrant states that on June 1, the FBI was notified by a government agency that it had been contacted by an unnamed news outlet in connection to a story.

After examining the Top Secret document, investigators found pages appeared to be folded or creased – indicating it was printed and carried out of a ‘secured space’ by hand.

An audit concluded that six individuals had printed the document – including Winner.

Upon being interviewed, Winner admitted printing it without having a ‘need to know.’ 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4578260/NSA-leaker-Reality-Winner-s-parents-say-served-country.html#ixzz4jKnlrQa5

 

Alleged NSA leaker met with Perdue staff months before arrest

Who is Reality Winner? The Accused NSA Leaker
The Augusta federal contractor who was charged Monday with leaking top-secret information to the press met with members of U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s staff earlier this year, the Republican’s office confirmed.

Reality Leigh Winner, a 25-year-old contractor with Pluribus International Corporation, posted a selfie with her eyebrows raised outside of the first-term senator’s Atlanta office to Facebook on Feb. 14.

“A great American once told us to go out and have conversations with one another,” Winner wrote in the post, in which she also wrote she was “feeling optimistic.”

A Perdue spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday that aides from the senator’s Atlanta office indeed met with Winner in February to discuss “environmental issues.”

Then-Senator-elect David Perdue in November 2014. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Our team meets with hundreds of Georgians monthly to discuss issues important to them,” the spokeswoman said in a statement. She said Perdue’s office does not ask about employment in routine meetings with constituents and that Winner’s work as a federal contractor did not come up then.

“The allegations against Ms. Winner are very serious, and if true, directly threaten our national security,” the spokeswoman said. “I trust our Justice Department will get to the bottom of this and handle it appropriately.”

Using a pseudonym, Winner frequently posted to Twitter about her liberal political views and her revulsion to President Donald Trump and his policies. Her feeds show she was particularly passionate about climate change, refugees, Syria’s civil war and the citizens of Iran, one of the U.S.’ top adversaries.

After a friend asked about her meeting with Perdue’s staff, Winner said it went “really well.”

“I can’t believe I got a private 30 minute meeting, and his state policy director is going to send me email updates on some of my concerns regarding climate change and what the state of Georgia is doing to reduce dependency on fossil fuels,” she wrote.

Winner said she also told Perdue staffers that senators should “not be afraid to directly state when our president or his cabinet tell outright lies.” She said her suggestion was “well heard.”

“I was able to draw the parallel between the 2011 interview of President Bashar al Assad claiming utter ignorance of the human rights violations his citizens were protesting,” Winner wrote, “to Trump’s statement last week that the White House hadn’t received any calls about the DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline), nor were there any protests before last week. They got the message.”

http://www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/alleged-nsa-leaker-met-with-perdue-staff-months-before-arrest/3hkGgsRJhbN9mRl9gsy8aK/

Story 4: Wikileaks Julian Assange Critical Of Intercept and Reporter That Lead To Arrest of NSA Contractor Leaker Reality Winner –Videos

 

Image result for wikileaks julian assange critical reality winner leaker of classified documents

INTERCEPT BETRAYS WHISTLEBLOWER TO FEDS: Reporter Possibly Betrays Reality Leigh Winner

The Intercept Burns Reality Winner: Deep State NSA Dupe and Clueless Unwitting Shill

Reality Winner Psy-Op: The Intercept Rats Out Deep State NSA Contractor Shill and Top Secret Leaker

WikiLeaks Declares War on The Intercept

The FBI says a reporter led them to an NSA leaker. Julian Assange says that person, whom he suspects is an Intercept reporter, is a “menace” to sources, journalists, and democracy.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told The Daily Beast he holds reporters—not just the Trump administration—responsible for the arrest of a U.S. intelligence contractor charged with leaking classified information.On Monday, the Justice Department said Reality Winner, a 25-year-old National Security Agency contractor, sent top secret information to a news outlet. The announcement came shortly after The Intercept published a series of NSA documents claiming that Russian hackers targeted a voting-software supplier and local election officials just prior to Election Day.
According to the affidavit, reporters for the unnamed news organization provided a copy of the printed NSA report to the agency in order to seek comment. The NSA claimed six people had printed out the report including Winner, who the agency said had been in contact with an unnamed news outlet.

“If the FBI affidavit is accurate the reporter concerned must be named, shamed and fired by whomever they work for to maintain industry standards,” Assange said via Twitter direct message through the WikiLeaks account on Tuesday.

“Source burning reporters are a menace,” he said. “They chill trust in all journalists which impedes public understanding.”

WikiLeaks offered a $10,000 reward for information “leading to the public exposure & termination” of the reporter.

“It seems likely that the FBI affidavit refers to The Intercept, but not certain, hence we say ‘suspected Intercept reporter,’ said Assange. “But whomever this reporter was they are a menace not only to sources but to all journalists by decreasing the trust between sources and journalist and ultimately the public. Democracy dies in darkness.”

Assange’s defense of leaking NSA documents that accuse Russia of interfering in the U.S. election is in contrast to his agreement last year that he was “1,000 percent” confident Russia did not give WikiLeaks hacked Democratic National Committee emails. While Assange did not comment on the content of the leaks, he defended the alleged leaker Monday night.

It doesn’t matter why she did it or the quality the report. Acts of non-elite sources communicating knowledge should be strongly encouraged.

As for The Intercept, it said in a statement Tuesday that it has “no knowledge of the identity of the person who provided us with the document,” before adding “the U.S. government has told news organizations that Winner was that individual.”

“While the FBI’s allegations against Winner have been made public through the release of an affidavit and search warrant, which were unsealed at the government’s request, it is important to keep in mind that these documents contain unproven assertions and speculation designed to serve the government’s agenda and as such warrant skepticism,” The Intercept’s statement reads.

The Intercept added it will not make further comments at this time.

With President Donald Trump’s call to prosecute leakers, WikiLeaks and Assange find themselves opposing the man who once said, “I love WikiLeaks.”

“The Trump administration has already capitalized on the incompetence or treachery of this reporter by gloating about her arrest in press release hours after the Intercept story broke,” Assange said. “Such press releases are designed to deter future sources.”

On his personal Twitter account, Assange expressed support for Winner’s actions, saying “she is a young women [sic] accused of courage in trying to help us know.”

View image on Twitter

Alleged NSA whistleblower Reality Leigh Winner must be supported. She is a young women accused of courage in trying to help us know.

The Intercept was launched in 2014 initially for the purposes of publishing documents released by Edward Snowden. They have faced criticism from WikiLeaks before. In 2014, The Intercept published a story about the NSA’s recording of cell phone calls from the Bahamas and WikiLeaks took issue with the publication redacting Afghanistan in its report.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/wikileaks-declares-war-on-the-intercept

 

Did the Intercept Betray Its NSA Source?

By Jake Swearingen

Image
Alleged leaker Reality Leigh Winner. Photo: reezlie/Instagram

How, exactly, did the FBI zero in on alleged NSA leaker Reality Leigh Winner? Winner, a contractor for the NSA, was quietly arrested on Sunday and charged with leaking top secret documents. According to the Justice Department, she confessed to printing out classified information while authorities were searching her home and vehicle. Those documents are now confirmed to be the same documents published by the Intercept on Monday afternoon about a Russian cyberattack on U.S. voting machines and officials. About an hour after the Intercept published the story, the Justice Department revealed to the press that it already had Winner in custody, and would be prosecuting her under the Espionage Act. It was an effective bit of showmanship.

The Intercept, for obvious reasons, is saying very little. A statement posted to the site describes the claims made in the government search affidavit and the criminal complaint as “unproven assertions and speculation designed to serve the government’s agenda and as such warrant skepticism.” Naturally, any specific details revealed by the publication could be used to build a case against its sources.

The understandable silence from the Intercept, combined with the fragmented details provided by the court documents, has led to a significant amount of back and forth on Twitter on how much culpability the Intercept has in Winner’s arrest — whether the Intercept’s bad “opsec” led to the government charging Winner, or if Winner’s own missteps led to her arrest. The discussion is more than just a journalistic pissing match: Not only does the site’s reputation as a safe place for anonymous leaks hang in the balance, but journalists and their sources at all publications are nervous about the capabilities of a Trump administration that has declared war on leakers everywhere.

If you go strictly by what’s contained in the FBI’s search affidavit, there were three important pieces of circumstantial evidence that led the Feds to Winner.

The first is that Winner had previous contact with the Intercept. It’s important to note here that — contra the assumptions of many on Twitter — her contact had nothing to do with the story, and occurred months before she even allegedly accessed the report that was leaked. She emailed the site on March 30 from her private Gmail account, asking for a transcript of a podcast. She emailed the site again on March 31, confirming “subscription to the service,” (likely one of the Intercept’s newsletters).

The second is that on May 24, a reporter from the Intercept reached out to an unnamed government contractor, trying to determine the validity of the leak. During the exchange, the Intercept revealed that the leak had been mailed with a postmark of Augusta, Georgia, where Winner lives. (Checking with other sources about the validity of a leak is not necessarily bad opsec; revealing specific information about the leak almost certainly is — though it’s also probably more common than journalists would like to admit.) The contractor told the Intercept that they believed the leak to be fake; when the Intercept returned on June 1, saying that the leak’s authenticity had been confirmed, the original anonymous government contractor turned around and alerted the NSA to the matter — including the key detail that the document had been mailed from Augusta.

The third, and most glaring, is that the Intercept provided a copy of the report itself to the NSA on May 30. It’s unclear if the Intercept gave the NSA a scanned copy of the printed material it had received, or a retyped or otherwise altered version, but the NSA then turned the report over to the FBI for further investigation. According to the FBI’s affidavit, Feds noticed that pages of the intelligence reporting appeared “folded and/or creased,” thus alerting them that the information had been printed. Per the affidavit, the government then found that only six people had printed that report, and Winner had no reason to do so — the report was outside of her job duties.

The “crease” has been bandied about in the press, but there’s good reason to believe that the Feds had a more sophisticated way of figuring out that the document had been printed out. The Intercept’s PDF of the document also contains “tracking dots,” barely visible yellow dots available on printed pages that allow anyone to determine the serial number, model date, and date and time of printed material. You can see these for yourself: Just screenshot the top-left corner of any page of the PDF and invert the colors in an image-editing tool. The dots should become immediately apparent. The tracking dots on the documents from the Intercept show a print date of May 9 at 6:20 from a printer with model number 54, serial number 29535218. (The last page of the PDF has a different set of tracking dots — it’s unclear why.)

If this is the copy that the Intercept also provided to the NSA, then the government likely knew enough to determine which employee had used that specific printer at that specific time — no need to see “creases” at all. In fact, the crease may be pretext to avoid mentioning tracking dots (or another forensic method) used to determine that the document was printed — a prosecutorial technique known as “parallel construction” that avoids revealing how evidence on a case was actually gathered.

The problem with apportioning blame in this case is that we don’t know if the Intercept handed over to the NSA the original copy of the report that they’d received — which would have been a grave security error — or if it was a photocopy or reprint that nonetheless betrayed some evidence.

And it’s important to note that the FBI and NSA didn’t need to know that the pages had even been printed. All material classified “top secret” (the highest security rating a document can receive) are stored in a massive government intranet known as the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, or JWICS. As detailed by New York Magazine contributer Yashar Ali on Twitter, this system logs everyone who accesses top secret documents, as well as what they do with them. Even if the Intercept had verified the document without alerting the NSA, and then paraphrased the entire report, after it published its story, the government would have quickly moved to determine who had accessed the document — and Winner would have, eventually, come under the same scrutiny.

Nonetheless, it’s clear that there were serious mistakes made by both the Intercept and its leaker. It’s quite reasonable for the Intercept to seek confirmation that the document in question was real with third-party sources, and eventually the NSA. But revealing the Augusta, Georgia, postmark to the third-party source clearly helped the government build its case. Providing a copy of the report seems to have, in some way, added to the government’s pile of evidence. And the decision to publish the PDF with the tracker dots unobscured — especially considering the Intercept likely had no knowledge that Winner was the leaker, and she was already in custody — is a baffling unforced error from a site that hinges on being a secure place to send documents.

Assuming Winner is the leaker, too, she made a mistake in contacting the Intercept at work — though given that it happened months before she allegedly sent the report, it’s hard to blame her. Still, Winner, as a contractor for the NSA and an Air Force veteran with top secret clearance, would have known as well as anyone that her traffic would be logged, and would also likely have known that accessing top secret documents — even without printing them out — would have thrown up red flags in the aftermath of a leak.

It’s worth reiterating that the FBI has a strong incentive to cast the Intercept as incompetent handlers of sources. There’s a decent chance that the case was built against Winner in a completely different way — one that didn’t rely on mistakes by the journalists at all — and this particular parallel construction of the case is being put forward to cast aspersions on one of the most notorious investigative outfits online. But there’s no escaping that the mistakes made by the Intercept and Winner — small as they may have been — were enough to get a search warrant and indictment signed. If there’s any consolation for leakers and the journalists they rely on, it’s that the affidavit provides an object lesson in protecting sources.

http://nymag.com/selectall/2017/06/intercept-nsa-leaker-reality-winner.html

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The Pronk Pops Show 860, March 24, 2017, Story 1: Two Party Interference In Health Care Insurance Industry With Federal Regulation and Taxation Is A Big Government Failure — Time for New Independent Constitutional Limited Government Party — Bring Back Free Market Competition For Health Care and Insurance — Leave The American People and Business Alone! — Videos — Story 2: Obama Administration Criminal Activity in Misusing Intelligence Agencies and Mishandling National Security Documents — Who Authorized The Targeting of President-Elect Trump and Trump’s Transition Team for National Security Surveillance and The Unmasking of Their Names? — Watergate Redux — National Security Agency Surveillance of American People Using Stellar Wind — Videos

Posted on March 24, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Breaking News, College, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Elections, Employment, Federal Government, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Spending, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Insurance, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Medicare, Mike Pence, News, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Radio, Rand Paul, Rand Paul, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Rule of Law, Scandals, Security, Senate, Social Security, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Ted Cruz, Ted Cruz, Terror, Terrorism, United States of America, Welfare Spending | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: Two Party  Interference In Health Care Insurance Industry With Federal Regulation and Taxation Is A Big Government Failure — Time for New Independent Constitutional  Limited Government Party — Bring Back Free Market Competition For Health Care  Insurance — Lower Premiums and Deductibles and More Choice of Plans With National Competition — Leave The American People and Business Alone! — Videos — 
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Gohmert: ObamaCare Replacement Bill Was ‘Based on a Lie’

WATCH LIVE Speaker Paul Ryan speaks after House pulls ‘Obamacare’ repeal bill before Friday’s planning

President Trump Speaks After Pulling Healthcare Bill plan 3/24/17 3/24/2017 video

Mark Levin interviews Sen. Mike Lee about the upcoming vote on Obamacare replacement (March 22 2017)

RAND PAUL REACTS TO THE GOP HEALTHCARE BILL GETTING PULLED

Mike Lee Says GOP Healthcare Bill will Fail. Rebuts Paul Ryan, Bigtime

Trump tastes failure as U.S. House healthcare bill collapses

By David Lawder and Steve Holland
ReutersMarch 25, 2017
Trump tastes failure as U.S. House healthcare bill collapses

By David Lawder and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump suffered a stunning political setback on Friday in a Congress controlled by his own party when Republican leaders pulled legislation to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system, a major 2016 election campaign promise of the president and his allies.

House of Representatives leaders yanked the bill after a rebellion by Republican moderates and the party’s most conservative lawmakers left them short of votes, ensuring that Trump’s first major legislative initiative since taking office on Jan. 20 ended in failure. Democrats were unified against it.

House Republicans had planned a vote on the measure after Trump late on Thursday cut off negotiations with Republicans who had balked at the plan and issued an ultimatum to vote on Friday, win or lose. But desperate lobbying by the White House and Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan was unable to round up the 216 votes needed for passage.

“We learned a lot about loyalty. We learned a lot about the vote-getting process,” Trump told reporters at the White House, although he sought to shift the blame to the Democrats even though his party controls the White House, the House and the Senate.

With Friday’s legislative collapse, Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement, the 2010 Affordable Care Act – known as Obamacare – remains in place despite seven years of Republican promises to dismantle it.

The healthcare failure called into question not only Trump’s ability to get other key parts of his agenda, including tax cuts and a boost in infrastructure spending, through Congress, but the Republican Party’s capacity to govern effectively.

Neither Trump nor Ryan indicated any plans to try to tackle healthcare legislation again anytime soon. Trump said he would turn his attention to getting “big tax cuts” through Congress, another tricky proposition.

Republican supporters said the legislation would achieve their goal of rolling back the government’s “nanny state” role in healthcare. The White House made undoing Obamacare its top priority when Trump took office two months ago.

But the White House and House leaders were unable to come up with a plan that satisfied the clashing interests of moderates and conservatives, despite Trump’s vaunted image as a deal maker.

Amid a chaotic scramble for votes, Ryan, who championed the bill, met with Trump at the White House. Ryan said he recommended that it be withdrawn from the House floor because he did not have the votes to pass it, and Trump agreed.

“We were just probably anywhere from 10 to 15 votes short,” Trump said. “With no Democrat support we couldn’t quite get there.”

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the bill failed “because of two traits that have plagued the Trump presidency since he took office: incompetence and broken promises.”

Democrats said the bill would take away medical insurance from millions of Americans and leave the more-than-$3 trillion U.S. healthcare system in disarray.

And some moderate Republicans opposed the bill because of worries that millions of America would be hurt.

“There were things in this bill that I didn’t particularly like,” Trump added, without specifying what those were, but expressed confidence in Ryan’s leadership.

“Perhaps the best thing that could happen is exactly what happened today, because we’ll end up with a truly great healthcare bill in the future after this mess known as Obamacare explodes,” said Trump, who had posted multiple tweets throughout March proclaiming that “Obamacare is imploding” and repeatedly saying that Republicans were coming together to pass the bill.

Friday’s events cast doubt on whether Ryan can get major legislation approved by fractious Republican lawmakers.

“I will not sugarcoat this. This is a disappointing day for us. Doing big things is hard,” Ryan said at a news conference, adding that his fellow Republicans are experiencing what he called “growing pains” transitioning from an opposition party to a governing party.

“Obamacare’s the law of the land,” Ryan added. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”

Members of the Freedom Caucus, the House’s most conservative members, were instrumental in the bill’s failure, opposing it among other reasons because they considered parts too similar to Obamacare.

Trump said he was disappointed and “a little surprised” with the Freedom Caucus opposition.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said under the Republican legislation 14 million people would lose medical coverage by next year and more than 24 million would be uninsured in 2026.

News that the bill had been pulled before a final vote was greeted initially with a small sigh of relief by U.S. equity investors, who earlier in the week had been fretful that an outright defeat would damage Trump’s other priorities, such as tax cuts and infrastructure spending.

Benchmark U.S. stock market indexes ended the session mixed after rallying back from session lows following the news. The S&P 500 Index ended fractionally lower, the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped about 0.3 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose about 0.2 percent.

Shares of hospital operators finished sharply higher, with the S&P healthcare facilities index up 2.7 percent, while the S&P 500 healthcare sector edged down 0.03 percent. The dollar strengthened modestly on the news, and U.S. Treasury bond yields edged up from session lows.

Trump said he would be “totally open” to working with Democrats on healthcare “when they all become civilized.” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said working to lower prescription drug prices was one area of possible cooperation with Republicans.

Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher said before the bill was pulled that voting it down would be “neutering Trump” while empowering his opponents.

“You don’t cut the balls off a bull and then expect that he can go out and get the job done,” Rohrabacher told Reuters. “This will emasculate Trump and we can’t do that. … If we bring this down now, Trump will have lost all of his leverage to pass whatever bill it is, whether it’s the tax bill or whatever reforms that he wants.”

Representative Joe Barton of Texas, when asked why his fellow Republicans were so united over the past seven years to dump Obamacare only to fall apart when they actually do something about it, said, “Sometimes you’re playing fantasy football and sometimes you’re in the real game.”

Obamacare boosted the number of Americans with health insurance through mandates on individuals and employers, and income-based subsidies. About 20 million Americans gained insurance coverage through the law.

The House plan would have rescinded a range of taxes created by Obamacare, ended a penalty on people who refuse to obtain health insurance, and ended Obamacare’s income-based subsidies to help people buy insurance while creating less-generous age-based tax credits

It also would have ended Obamacare’s expansion of the Medicaid state-federal insurance program for the poor, cut future federal Medicaid funding and let states impose work requirements on some Medicaid recipients.

House leaders agreed to a series of last-minute changes to try to win over disgruntled conservatives, including ending the Obamacare requirement that insurers cover certain “essential benefits” such as maternity care, mental health services and prescription drug coverage.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-tastes-failure-u-house-healthcare-bill-collapses-150843163–business.html

Failure on health bill also hurts prospects for tax overhaul

FILE – In this Feb. 22, 2017, file photo photo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin listens at right… Read more

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans’ failure to repeal Barack Obama’s health care law deals a serious blow to another big part of President Donald Trump’s agenda: tax reform.

Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., say they will soon turn their attention to the first major re-write of the tax code in more than 30 years. But they will have to do it without the momentum of victory on health care.

Just as important, the loss on health care will deprive Republicans of $1 trillion in tax cuts.

The GOP health plan would have repealed nearly $1 trillion in taxes enacted under Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The bill coupled the tax cuts with spending cuts for Medicaid, so it wouldn’t add to the budget deficit.

Without the spending cuts, it will be much harder for Republicans to cut taxes without adding to the federal government’s red ink.

“Yes this does make tax reform more difficult,” said Ryan. “But it does not in any way make it impossible.”

“That just means the Obamacare taxes stay with Obamacare. We’re going to go fix the rest of the tax code,” he added.

House Republicans couldn’t round up enough votes Friday to repeal and replace a law they despise, raising questions about their ability to tackle other tough issues.

“Doing big things is hard,” Ryan conceded as he vowed to press on.

Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, acknowledged that Friday’s turn of events made him doubtful about the Republicans’ ability to tackle major legislation.

“This was my first big vote and our first big initiative in the line of things to come like tax reform,” said the freshman. “I think this would have given us tremendous momentum and I think this hurts that momentum.”

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., said, “You always build on your last accomplishment.”

Nevertheless, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday the administration plans to turn quickly to tax reform with the goal of getting an overhaul approved by Congress by August.

“Health care is a very complicated issue,” Mnuchin said. “In a way, tax reform is a lot simpler.”

Don’t tell that to House Republicans who have been struggling with the issue for years.

The general goal for Republicans is to lower income tax rates for individuals and corporations, and make up the lost revenue by reducing exemptions, deductions and credits.

Overhauling the tax code is hard because every tax break has a constituency. And the biggest tax breaks are among the most popular.

For example, nearly 34 million families claimed the mortgage interest deduction in 2016, reducing their tax bills by $65 billion.

Also, more than 43 million families deducted their state and local income, sales and personal property taxes from their federal taxable income last year. The deduction reduced their federal tax bills by nearly $70 billion.

Mnuchin said he had been overseeing work on the administration’s tax bill for the past two months. He said it would be introduced soon.

Mnuchin said the White House plan would cut individual and corporate tax rates, though he didn’t offer specifics.

House Republicans have released a blueprint that outlines their goals for a tax overhaul. It would lower the top individual income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 33 percent, and reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three.

The House plan retains the mortgage interest deduction but repeals the deduction for state and local taxes.

On the corporate side, the plan would repeal the 35 percent corporate income tax and replace it with a 20 percent tax on profits from selling imports and domestically produced goods and services consumed in the U.S.

Exports would be exempt from the new tax, called a border adjustment tax.

The new tax has drawn opposition from Republicans in the Senate. Mnuchin would not reveal whether the administration will include the border adjustment tax in the White House proposal. He was speaking at a public interview event with the news site Axios.

Republicans often complained that they couldn’t do a tax overhaul when Obama was president. Now, Republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House, and they see a great opportunity.

They plan to use a complicated Senate rule that would prevent Democrats from blocking the bill. But there’s a catch: Under the rule, the package cannot add to long-term budget deficits.

That means every tax cut has to be offset by a similar tax increase or a spending cut. That’s why the loss on health care was so damaging to the effort to overhaul taxes.

Ryan made this case to fellow House Republicans in his failed effort to gain support for the health plan.

“That was part of the calculation of why we had to take care of health care first,” said Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y.

___

Associated Press writers Kevin Freking and Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.

___

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/d6b3f963391a4b9486bc847a7f286a55/failure-health-bill-hurts-prospects-tax-overhaul

Mike Lee: Senate parliamentarian told me it’s possible to push harder on repealing Obamacare regulations

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said on Wednesday that the Senate parliamentarian has told him that it may be possible for Republicans to push harder on repealing Obamacare’s regulations than the current House bill, which contradicts the assertion by House leadership that the legislation goes after Obamacare as aggressively as possible under Senate rules.

“What I understood her to be saying is that there’s no reason why an Obamacare repeal bill necessarily could not have provisions repealing the health insurance regulations,” Lee said in an interview with the Washington Examiner, relating a conversation with parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough about reconciliation he had on Tuesday.

Lee also said that the parliamentarian told him it wasn’t until very recently, after the unveiling of the House bill, that any Republican even asked her about the possibility of repealing regulations with a simple majority.

With a House vote currently expected on Thursday, Republican leadership is scrambling for votes, trying to stave off a backlash from conservatives that could sink the bill. One of the issues conservatives have raised is that the House bill leaves most of the regulations in place, thus not combatting one of the main complaints about Obamacare – its skyrocketing premiums and limited choice.

Because Republicans don’t have 60 Senate seats to kill a filibuster, they have to pass a healthcare bill through a procedure known as reconciliation, which allows the majority party to pass legislation with a simple majority, assuming it meets a certain set of requirements, including that all provisions be primarily budgetary in nature.

Conservatives such as Lee have argued that Republicans should fight harder to argue that the regulations, which have a clear budgetary impact, can be passed through reconciliation. But House leadership and supporters of the bill have countered that the legislation already goes as far as possible. House Speaker Paul Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong, when asked about this by the Washington Examiner last week, said “We’ve worked closely with the Senate to carefully craft the bill to repeal and replace the law to the full extent allowed under the rules.”

But having met with the parliamentarian, who plays a key role in advising the presiding officer of the Senate over what’s in bounds during reconciliation, Lee is more convinced than ever that this is not true.

“One of the things we’ve been told over and over again is the bill was no more aggressive than it has been… in part because of Senate rules,” Lee said. “And the Senate rules are something those defending the bill have repeatedly pointed to in defense of why they wrote it the way they wrote it. The parliamentarian said, there’s not necessarily any reason that would categorically preclude you from doing more, both on the repeal front and the replacement front, all sorts of things are possible.”

He continued, “What matters is how it’s done, how it’s written up. There are ways it’s written up that perhaps make it not subject to passage through reconciliation, but there are other ways you could write it that might make it work.”

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/article/2618154

On his radio show Wednesday evening, Conservative Review Editor-in-Chief Mark Levin interviewed Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, about a recent conversation the lawmaker had with the Senate parliamentarian. The discussion: whether or not Obamacare’s regulations could be repealed via reconciliation, which only needs a simply majority to pass.

As previously reported by the Washington Examiner, Lee says that he was told by the parliamentarian (who interprets the rules of the Senate) that, despite claims from House leadership, the current “repeal and replace” legislation could do much more to undo Obamacare’s harmful mandates — if so desired.

 

“I honestly believe that the Republican establishment does not want to repeal the entirety of Obamacare,” Levin said. “I think you have Republican governors … who like the expanded Medicaid, so they’ve already sold out. There’s a lot of that going on.”

As it stands now, the current RINOcare version would repeal several taxes and mandates, but it leaves in place the major regulations that are the primary drivers of America’s skyrocketing health insurance premiums. One of the major reasons that these have been left in place, GOP leaders have said, is that the Byrd Rule in the Senate would prohibit them from repealing them in a budget bill.

But this doesn’t appear to be the case, Sen. Mike Lee says, who says he found out in his meeting with the parliamentarian that nobody from leadership so much as asked how much of Obamacare could be gutted in the budget process.

“She pointed out that it’s not necessarily true what we’ve been told [by leadership],” Lee said.

“I think this is very distressing,” Sen. Lee concluded. “Because a whole lot of congressmen have been told a whole lot of times that this is the best we can do under the Senate’s reconciliation rules. And it’s not true.”

https://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2017/03/sen-mike-lee-puts-the-establishments-rinocare-lies-on-full-display#sthash.CjPMfFOw.dpuf

Story 2: Obama Administration Criminal Activity in Misusing Intelligence Agencies and Mishandling National Security Documents — Who Authorized The Targeting of President-Elect Trump and Trump’s Transition Team for National Security Surveillance and The Unmasking of Their Names? — Watergate Redux — National Security Agency Surveillance of American People Using Stellar Wind —  Videos

House Intelligence Chair News Conference – House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA)

NSA Whistleblower: Trump Was Right On Wiretap Bill Binney – Tucker Carlson Tonight Fox News 3/24/17

NSA Whistleblower William Binney: The Future of FREEDOM

Nunes: Surveillance reports I’ve seen are ‘concerning’

Joe: Devin Nunes Blew Up Hopes Of Independent Russia Investigation | Morning Joe | MSNBC

Newt Gingrich on Nunes’ surveillance revelations

‘This Is All Political’ David Nunes Responds to Tapper- JAKE TAPPER 3/22/17

Breaking/ House intelligence committee chairman say’s Trump was wiretapped. 

Rep. Adam Schiff slams Rep. Devin Nunes’ comments on Trump intel

Nunes says information from Trump surveillance ‘concerned me’

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The Pronk Pops Show 841, February 17, Story 1: President Trump’s First Press Conference Part 2: President Trump Speaks Directly To The American People — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Educates The Big Lie Media (Democratic Newspapers and Television Networks) with Fake News Spinning Propaganda — Trump to news media: The public doesn’t believe you anymore! — Trump On Offense vs. Big Lie Media On Defense — President Trump Wins With Working Americans — Buy American and Hire American — Videos

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 Story 1: President Trump’s First Press Conference Part 1: President Trump Speaks Directly To The American People — Videos — 

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President Donald Trump Full Press Conference Addresses Ties to Russia, Leaks, and “Fake News” 2/16

President Trump scolds media at news conference

Trump to news media: The public doesn’t believe you anymore

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President Trump helps Boeing debut it’s new 787

Trump Full Speech at Boeing 787 Dreamliner Unveiling | ABC News

Coal Miner Thanks President Trump for Removing Regulations

Published on Feb 17, 2017

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President Trump scolds media at news conference

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Sorry media — this press conference played very different with Trump’s supporters

 Far from dead, he was positively exuberant. His performance at a marathon press conference was a must-see-tv spectacle as he mixed serious policy talk with stand-up comedy and took repeated pleasure in whacking his favorite pinata, the “dishonest media.”

“Russia is a ruse,” he insisted, before finally saying under questioning he was not aware of anyone on his campaign having contact with Russian officials.

Trump’s detractors immediately panned the show as madness, but they missed the method behind it and proved they still don’t understand his appeal. Facing his first crisis in the Oval Office, he was unbowed in demonstrating his bare-knuckled intention to fight back.

He did it his way. Certainly no other president, and few politicians at any level in any time, would dare put on a show like that.

In front of cameras, and using the assembled press corps as props, he conducted a televised revival meeting to remind his supporters that he is still the man they elected. Ticking off a lengthy list of executive orders and other actions he has taken, he displayed serious fealty to his campaign promises.

Trump goes on marathon rant against the media

Sure, sentences didn’t always end on the same topic they started with, and his claim to have won the election by the largest electoral college margin since Ronald Reagan wasn’t close to true.

Fair points, but so what? Fact-checkers didn’t elect him, nor did voters who were happy with the status quo.

Trump, first, last and always, matches the mood of the discontented. Like them, he is a bull looking for a china shop. That’s his ace in the hole and he played it almost to perfection.

The immediate impact of his performance is likely to calm some of the jitters among Republicans in congress and supporters elsewhere, especially after the beating he took in the last few days.

On Monday night, Trump suddenly removed Gen. Michael Flynn, his national security adviser, over circumstances that still are not entirely clear. And on Wednesday, his nominee for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, withdrew after Republicans said he didn’t have the votes to be confirmed.

Combined with courts blocking his immigration and refugee order, unflattering leaks of confidential material from intelligence agencies and numerous demands for investigations into any Russian connections, Trump’s fast start suddenly hit a wall.

Just three weeks into his term, Democrats, in and out of the media, smelled blood. Many already were going for the kill.

They won’t get it, at least now. Trump bought himself time yesterday.

Yet those determined to bring him down won’t give up, and the insidious leaks of secret material suggest some opponents are members of the permanent government who are willing to use their position and the media to undermine him.

Indeed, the most serious leaks seem to vindicate a warning that Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer made in early January after Trump criticized leaders of the spook agencies.

“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” Schumer told an interviewer. “So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”

That incredible statement reflects what a dangerous game rogue agents are playing. The world is on fire yet the president is the target of partisan revenge in his own government. It’s a scandal and it’s outrageous, but it’s a fact that Trump must confront.

Finding the leakers and prosecuting them, which he promises to do, is part of the solution.

rAnother part comes Saturday, when Trump takes his solo act to Florida for a massive public rally. It’s smart for him to get out of Washington and soak in the enthusiasm of the populist movement he leads.

He should do it regularly, and also hold smaller, town-hall style forums where ordinary citizens can ask him questions in more intimate settings. Any way he can speak directly to the American people and hear from them democratizes his presidency and reduces the power of big biased media and the Washington establishment.

Yet the only sure and lasting way to keep ahead of the lynch mob is by producing results. Success will be Trump’s savior.

And nothing says success like jobs, jobs, jobs. Getting the economy to reach lift-off speed is essential so it can deliver the good-paying jobs and prosperity that he promised and the nation needs.

While Republican honchos in congress say they’re getting ready to move on tax cuts and replacing ObamaCare, nothing will happen without presidential leadership. That means Trump’s fate is in his own hands and he must keep himself and his White House team focused on delivering an economic revival.

If he does that, the lynch mob will be left holding an empty rope.

http://nypost.com/2017/02/16/sorry-media-this-press-conference-played-very-different-with-trumps-supporters/

At Boeing, Trump returns to an economic message after a week of controversy

February 17 at 2:35 PM

Trump promises focus on jobs, lower taxes in speech at Boeing factory

President Trump promised to work to keep manufacturing companies in the U.S., and to lower taxes for businesses, speaking at the unveiling of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on Feb. 17 in North Charleston, S.C. (The Washington Post)

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — When President Trump took the stage here Friday to mark the launch of Boeing’s newest aircraft, it was a scene reminiscent of his airplane hangar rallies during the presidential campaign.

Except, instead of his “Trump” branded Boeing 757 parked in the background, Boeing’s newest product, the Dreamliner 787-10, glittered in the sun behind him, and off to the side stood Trump’s new ride, Air Force One.

Trump’s somewhat unusual appearance at the launch event for the company’s highly anticipated version 10 of the Dreamliner wasn’t to roll out new economic policy or even push a specific economic agenda item. Instead, it seemed that Trump was there to boost the company with a presidential endorsement for its American-made fleet, and he in turn would be the face of a major milestone for one of the country’s largest job creators.

“We’re here today to celebrate American engineering and American manufacturing,” Trump said. “We’re also here today to celebrate jobs. Jobs!”

“Jobs is one of the primary reasons I’m standing here as president, and I will never ever disappoint you. Believe me,” he added.

Trump’s visit to the Boeing plant also comes at a time when the Trump administration is struggling to establish a greater sense of order and focus after weeks of distractions and negative headlines.

The White House has aimed to structure his daily schedule with at least one jobs-focused meeting each day. But much of that has been overshadowed by several all-consuming stories, the most damaging of which was the ouster of Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, on Monday.

Questions about the Trump administration and campaign’s ties to Russia have only intensified after multiple media reports revealed that Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, despite Flynn’s statements to the contrary.

Friday’s event on the manufacturing floor of Boeing’s South Carolina plant offered Trump a much-needed opportunity to reset his administration and refocus an economic-based message.

“You look at what’s happening with jobs. You look at what’s happening with plants moving back to this country. All of a sudden they’re coming back,” Trump said. “As your president, I’m going to do everything that I can to unleash the power of the American spirit and put our great people back to work.

“This is our mantra, buy American and hire American.”

A few months ago, it seemed that Trump’s relationship with Boeing was on the rocks before it even really began.

As president-elect, Trump launched into a Twitter fight with the company and its chief executive, Dennis Muilenburg, over the cost of a new fleet of presidential airplanes that would be used as Air Force One. Quickly, Boeing relented, promising to bring down the plane’s costs after meetings with Trump.

Less than a month into his presidency, Trump is back to Boeing on a decidedly more positive note.

“That plane, as beautiful as it looks, is 30 years old,” Trump said, pointing to the Boeing 747 that serves as Air Force One. “What can look so beautiful at 30?”

The turnabout is emblematic of Trump’s preferred mode of dealing with America’s largest and most powerful businesses. It reflects the degree to which Trump has already changed the terms of engagement with the business community, quickly creating an incentive structure where businesses are rewarded with praise from the highest office in the land when they roll out jobs or cost savings for taxpayers — and credit him for influencing their decision-making.

Over the past several weeks, chief executives including Intel’s Brian Krzanich traveled to the White House to announce new American jobs, thanks to fresh “confidence” in the economy spurred by the new administration.

“They’re keeping and bringing thousands of jobs back to our country because the business climate, they know, has already changed,” Trump said, highlighting jobs announcements from automakers Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler. “We will see more and more of that across the country as we continue to work on reducing regulations, cutting taxes — including for the middle class, including for everyone, and including for businesses.”

In this setting, Trump seems at his most comfortable.

Here, Trump reveled in his electoral victory and the adulation of a supportive crowd in a state that he won in both the Republican primary and the general election.

“This was going to be a place that was tough to win, and we won in a landslide,” Trump declared.

As the restive crowd of Boeing employees waited for hours for Trump to arrive, some cheered when his name was mentioned in the preshow. “Make America Great Again” hats and T-shirts dotted the sea of people on the plant’s manufacturing floor where more than 5,000 employees were gathered.

He toured the new Dreamliner with Boeing executives and could be seen sitting in the plane’s cockpit after his speech.

On Saturday, Trump plans something of a repeat performance in what the White House is dubbing the first “campaign” event of his presidency, at an airplane hangar rally in Melbourne, Fla.

Among some Boeing employees, the reception to Trump was reserved, but optimistic.

Leif Anderson, who started working at the factory six years ago after leaving the Air Force, sat Thursday night at the bar at Domino Lounge, a pool hall three miles from the Boeing plant, smoking cigarillos and sipping a shot of Crown Royal apple whiskey alongside a glass of Bud Lite.

Anderson said he voted for Trump more out of loyalty to the Republican Party, but is “not jumping to conclusions” about the president as a leader.

“I’m really curious to see what he does,” said Anderson, who leads a group of workers at the Boeing plant installing the planes’ interiors. He hopes that Trump’s economic policies succeed, which he said would help his own career along with the country as a whole.

“If he does good, then I’m going to do good,” Anderson said.

Elliott Slater, a Boeing mechanic, took the day off Friday and did not attend Trump’s speech, saying he wanted to avoid the traffic.

“I didn’t vote for him, either.” said Slater, a veteran of the Navy. “He’s not my president. He’s got to earn my respect.”

Slater, who supported the union’s unsuccessful vote to organize the plant in Wednesday’s election, said that Trump would support companies over workers. “He’s definitely pro businesses, being a business man himself. … That’s fine, but you know, how does the business treat its workers?”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/02/17/at-boeing-trump-returns-to-an-economic-message-after-a-week-of-controversy/?utm_term=.208a463653aa

Trump signs bill undoing Obama coal mining rule

Trump signs bill undoing Obama coal mining rule
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President Trump on Thursday signed legislation ending a key Obama administration coal mining rule.

The bill quashes the Office of Surface Mining’s Stream Protection Rule, a regulation to protect waterways from coal mining waste that officials finalized in December.

The legislation is the second Trump has signed into law ending an Obama-era environmental regulation. On Tuesday, he signed a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution undoing a financial disclosure requirement for energy companies.

Both the mining and financial disclosure bills are the tip of a GOP push to undo a slate of regulations instituted in the closing days of the Obama administration. The House has passed several CRA resolutions, and the Senate has so far sent three of them to President Trump for his signature.

Regulators finalized the stream protection rule in December, but they spent most of Obama’s tenure writing it.The rule is among the most controversial environment regulations the former administration put together. The coal mining industry said it would be costly to implement and lead to job losses across the sector, which is already suffering from a market-driven downturn in demand for its product.

At the signing, Trump called the regulation “another terrible job killing rule” and said ending it would save “many thousands American jobs, especially in the mines, which, I have been promising you — the mines are a big deal.”

“This is a major threat to your jobs and we’re going to get rid of this threat,” he added. “We’re going to fight for you.”

Republicans on Congress, especially from Appalachia, supported that argument and sought to block the rule several times before finally passing the CRA resolution this month.

“In my home state of Kentucky and others across the nation, the stream buffer rule will cause major damage to communities and threaten coal jobs,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said before the bill passed. “We should heed their call now and begin bringing relief to coal country.”

Environmentalists supported the administration rule, saying it would protect waterways from pollution and preserve public health. They have criticized the GOP for repealing environmental rules in the name of supporting coal mining jobs, but doing little else to help displaced workers in mining areas.

“If you want to help miners, then come address their health and safety and their pension program,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said during floor debate on the measure.

“You can protect the coal industry here with special interests and the amount of lobbying they do, or you can step up in a process and have a regulation that works for the United States of America so the outdoor industry and sportsman and fishermen can continue to thrive.”

The Senate this week sent Trump a CRA resolution blocking a gun sales regulation. Members could soon take up a measure undoing a methane rule for natural gas drilling operations on public land.

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/319938-trump-signs-bill-undoing-obama-coal-mining-rule

Dan Coats Announced as Trump’s Pick for Director of National Intelligence

President-Elect Trump Goes on Tweetstorm for Better Russia Relations 1:38

President-elect Donald Trump intends to nominate former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats to serve as national intelligence director, his transition team announced Saturday.

Coats, would need to be confirmed by Senate for the role, served eight years in the House of Representatives and two years in the Senate. During the George W. Bush administration, he served as U.S. ambassador to Germany.

“I’m very confident that Senator Dan Coats is the right choice to serve as Director of National Intelligence,” President-elect Trump said in a statement. “Dan has clearly demonstrated the deep subject matter expertise and sound judgment required to lead our intelligence community.”

As director of national intelligence, Coats would serve as the head of the United States’ intelligence community and be the president’s principal adviser on the issue.

Image: Trump to name Dan Coats as Director of national intelligence
Indiana Senator Dan Coats speaks briefly with the press following his meeting with US President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York, New York, USA, 30 November 2016 AALBIN LOHR-JONES / POOL / EPA

Coats will succeed James Clapper, who recently testified in front of Congress that Russia had stepped up its cyber espionage operation in an attempt to undermine the election. A redacted report about the hack and its goals was released on Friday.

First elected to the Senate in 1990 in a special election that filled the seat vacated by Dan Quayle — who departed the Senate to serve as George H. W. Bush’s vice president — Coats won reelection in 1992 before retiring from the Senate in 1998. He then was nominated to serve as U.S. ambassador to Germany in 2001, arriving there mere days before the Sept. 11 terrorism attack.

After departing as ambassador four years later, Coats worked as a prominent lobbyist in Washington D.C. and then decided to run for his former Senate seat in 2010 — an election he won.

Coats again announced his retirement from government in November 2015.

Most recently while in the Senate, Coats served as the chairman of the Joint Economic Committee and as a member of the Senate Committee on Finance and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

“If confirmed as Director of National Intelligence, he will provide unwavering leadership that the entire intelligence community can respect, and will spearhead my administration’s ceaseless vigilance against those who seek to do us harm,” Trump added in his statement.

“I’m pleased to hear the President-elect has nominated my colleague and friend Dan Coats to be the next head of our Intelligence Community,” said Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “Dan’s experience as a valued member of the Senate Intelligence Committee will help to guide him as the next Director of National Intelligence.”

In the past year as a senator, Coats has introduced six bills. Only two simple resolutions passed: The first recognized the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and the other commemorated the bicentennial of the state of Indiana.

Coats will lead an intelligence community that already has a rocky relationship with the president-elect, as Trump has continued to float doubts about the community’s findings in the Russia hacking investigation.

While testifying before the Armed Services Committee, Clapper stopped short of calling Russia’s interference in the election an act of war, saying that was something for lawmakers to discern.

However, the committee’s chairman, John McCain (R-AZ), maintained that the attack was alarming.

“Every American should be alarmed by Russia’s attacks on our nation. There is no national security interest more vital to the United States of America than the ability to hold free and fair elections without foreign interference,” McCain said in his opening statement during the hearing. “That is why Congress must set partisanship aside, follow the facts, and work together to devise comprehensive solutions to deter, defend against, and, when necessary, respond to foreign cyberattacks.”

On Twitter, Donald Trump seemed more concerned with the intelligence community’s findings that pertained to the legitimacy of his election rather than Russia’s involvement.

Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. Only “stupid” people, or fools, would think that it is bad! We…..

The president-elect has maintained a belief that the United States should “move on” from the attack, adding on Saturday that the country will have a good relationship and will work together with Russia under his administration.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/dan-coats-announced-trump-s-pick-director-national-intelligence-n704231

CNN’s Jeff Zucker on Covering Donald Trump — Past, Present, and Future

By Gabriel Sherman

At his press conference last week, President-elect Trump refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta, denouncing the network as a purveyor of “fake news.” Trump’s ire was in response to CNN’s explosive report that U.S. intelligence chiefs had briefed Trump on claims that the Kremlin had collected compromising information on him. In the wake of CNN’s report, BuzzFeed published the unedited, and unverified, opposition-research dossier referenced in the intel briefing, which included lurid allegations about Trump’s behavior and his campaign’s ties to Russia.

On Tuesday morning, I sat down with CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker for a wide-ranging discussion about that controversial scoop, Trump’s threat to press freedom, and why he’s not worried about losing access to the White House.

After Trump attacked CNN for reporting on the intelligence chiefs’ briefing on the Russian dossier, you issued a strongly worded statement defending your story. What made CNN decide to publish reporting on the existence of the dossier?
I actually think this was a pretty easy call in terms of its news value. The fact is, the top four intelligence chiefs of the United States decided to include in their briefing to the president and president-elect a two-page summary of allegations involving the president-elect. That is newsworthy by any definition.

Even if the allegations themselves weren’t verified?
We didn’t pass judgment on the allegations. We reported we had not been able to corroborate them. But the news was that the two most powerful people in the world had been briefed on the existence of these allegations.

I was at the press conference at Trump Tower, where Trump’s incoming press secretary Sean Spicer and Trump himself denounced CNN and BuzzFeed as fake news. What do you think of BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the complete dossier?