3:45 PM 12/14/2017 – Trump’s Strange Love for Putin Has Become a National Security Nightmare – Vanity Fair

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2:01 PM 12/14/2017 M.N.: Investigate the Obamas FBI and the Obamas DOJ! What the utter idiots! Obama was more Third World caudillo than president
2:13 PM 12/14/2017 Polish official says Putin responsible for 2010 plane crash
2:40 PM 12/14/2017 M.N.: The answer is: YES, and without any doubts! The FBI Did Become A KGB-Type Operation Under Obama! Investigate him personally, investigate the FBI, and investigate how it happened.
Today’s Headlines and Commentary
How Trump’s Russia interference doubts impact national security – CBS News
Theres A Deadly New Threat From North Korea
The American KGB is out of control! Thats how the freedom of speech is raped in America by the FBI! Gregg Jarretts arrest a result of the FBIs provocation and the FBIs retaliation for his criticism of the FBI
HSBC Deferred Prosecution For Cartel Money Laundering Expires
Did The FBI Become A ‘KGB-Type Operation’ Under Obama?
Conservative watchdog head: Do we need to shut down the FBI? – The Hill
Puerto Rico grid fix won’t meet governor’s plan, corps says
Polish official says Putin responsible for 2010 plane crash
FBI Plot Against Trump | Frontpage Mag
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Donald Trump Told Of Putin’s ‘Specific’ Orders For Russia To Hack Election, Ignored CIA Intel, New Report Says – The Inquisitr
How Trumps skepticism of U.S. intelligence on Russia left an election threat unchecked
Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election-meddling divides America – The Economist
Is John Kelly plotting to take Donald Trump down?
FBI Plot Against Trump – FrontPage Magazine
The Early Edition: December 14, 2017 – Just Security
Trump’s Lies vs. Obama’s – New York Times
Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked
The Early Edition: December 14, 2017
Putin’s Syria victory lap is premature, experts say
Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Trump’s Strange Love for Putin Has Become a National Security Nightmare – Vanity Fair

mikenova shared this story from us national security – Google News.


Vanity Fair
Trump’s Strange Love for Putin Has Become a National Security Nightmare
Vanity Fair
In his first press conference as president, Donald Trump made a revealing comment about his relationship with Russia, which the U.S. intelligence community had accused of interfering in the 2016 election and which has been a source of so many of his
Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat uncheckedWashington Post
How Trump’s Russia interference doubts impact national securityCBS News
3 Ways Trump’s Narcissism Is Endangering AmericaEsquire.com
Globalnews.ca –The Hill
all 757 news articles »
2:01 PM 12/14/2017 M.N.: Investigate the Obamas FBI and the Obamas DOJ! What the utter idiots! Obama was more Third World caudillo than president

mikenova shared this story from FBI News Review.

M.N.: Investigate the Obama’s FBI and the Obama’s DOJ! What the utter idiots! “This shouldnt be all that surprising given that Barack Obama gleefully weaponized the FBI, Department of Justice, and various intelligence agencies, and criminalized political differences in the process. A radical zealot with a desire to fundamentally transform the United States, the 44th president … Continue reading“2:01 PM 12/14/2017 – M.N.: Investigate the Obama’s FBI and the Obama’s DOJ! What the utter idiots! – “Obama was more Third World caudillo than president…””

2:13 PM 12/14/2017 Polish official says Putin responsible for 2010 plane crash

mikenova shared this story from Global Security News.

Polish official says Putin responsible for 2010 plane crash Visitors at the Powazki Cemetery, in Warsaw, Poland, on Nov. 12, 2016, walk toward a memorial of some of the victims of a 2010 plane crash in Russia that killed Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski and 95 other prominent Poles. CZAREK SOKOLOWSKI/AP PHOTO WARSAW, Poland Poland’s … Continue reading“2:13 PM 12/14/2017 – Polish official says Putin responsible for 2010 plane crash”

2:40 PM 12/14/2017 M.N.: The answer is: YES, and without any doubts! The FBI Did Become A KGB-Type Operation Under Obama! Investigate him personally, investigate the FBI, and investigate how it happened.

mikenova shared this story from FBI News Review.

M.N.: The answer is: “YES”, and without any doubts! The FBI Did Become A ‘KGB-Type Operation’ Under Obama! Investigate him personally, investigate the FBI, and investigate how it happened.  “I think the FBI has been compromised,” Fitton said on Fox News @ Night. “Forget about shutting down Mr. Mueller. Do we need to shut down the FBI because it was … Continue reading“2:40 PM 12/14/2017 – M.N.: The answer is: “YES”, and without any doubts! The FBI Did Become A ‘KGB-Type Operation’ Under Obama! Investigate him personally, investigate the FBI, and investigate how it happened. “

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

mikenova shared this story from Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices.

6,700 Rohingya diedincluding 730 children under the age of 5 in the first month of the Myanmar governments crackdown on the Muslim ethnic minority group,  the New York Times. The Times also  that two Reuters journalists have been arrested in the country on accusation that they attempted to illegally obtain government documents related to the military’s activities in Rakhine State, where the acts against Rohingya have occurred. Murders, rape, and arson in that state have driven over 645,000 Rohingya into neighboring Bangladesh since August. The United States and United Nations have called the acts ethnic cleansing.

In a 3-2 vote, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the 2015 net neutrality rules,  the Washington Post. A  earlier this month said 83% of Americans oppose the change, which allows internet service providers to discriminate in the connection speeds they allow to different websites. The Times  the final effect that the change will have on internet users remains unclear. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman  he intends to file a lawsuit seeking to stop the rule change.

In the days before President Donald Trump took office, his closest confidants urged him to accept the intelligence communitys assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election,  the Post. The president resisted the advice. Based on interviews with 50 current and former American officials, the Posts essay details episodes that reveal the presidents views and frustrations related to Russia, how those frustrations have affected his relationships with those around him, and the resulting implications for foreign policy and national security. If you talk about Russia, meddling, interferencethat takes the [Presidential Daily Briefing] off the rails, said one former senior intelligence official. The briefing is designed to avoid angering the president, the Posts report says.

In a signing statement for the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, Trump signified that he intends to keep Guantanamo open, though he reserves the right to release detainees, the Miami Herald . Trump stated that restrictions on the Presidents authority to transfer detainees would violate constitutional separation-of-power principles, including the Presidents constitutional authority as Commander in Chief. The statement is similar to President Barack Obamas prior assertion of this authority, though the Obama administration emphasized this authority in an effort to close the facility.

The Trump administration is refocusing on Iran now that the threat from the Islamic State in the Middle East is subsiding,  the Wall Street Journal. Officials from the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia have expressed concern over Iranian military expansion and the threat of Iranian military presence in Syria. While Defense Secretary James Mattis will keep troops in Syria in an effort to keep Islamic State insurgents from regaining ground in the country, U.S. officials state that American troops might also be needed to deter Irans military presence in Syria and prevent Iran from transporting weapons to its allies.

The unnamed U.S. citizen detained as an enemy combatant by the U.S. military since Sept. 16 also holds Saudi citizenship the Hill. John Doe was captured by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic forces while allegedly fighting with Islamic State insurgents. He has not yet been charged or provided counsel, but his Saudi citizenship could allow an arrangement to transfer him into Saudi custody under certain conditions.

James Alex Fields Jr., the self-identified neo-Nazi that killed counterprotester Heather Heyer at a far-right rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, will make his first appearance in court on Thursday,  the Post. He is charged with second-degree murder for deliberately driving his car into another car, killing Heyer and injuring 19 others, among several other charges.

Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee say the president will seek a federal pay freeze and cuts to domestic security programs in the fiscal year 2019 budget, the Post. The senators released two reports citing budget guidance promulgated by the Office of Management and Budget. The documents specifically address the Department of Homeland Security but, regarding pay raises, cite governmentwide guidance that there will be no civilian salary increases. The documents also cite $568 million in cuts to counterterrorism programs, including countering violent extremism initiatives, transportation security, domestic nuclear detection, and emergency response programs. Congress would ultimately have to decide whether to authorize appropriations for those purposes.

On Wednesday, British Parliament dealt a major blow to Prime Minister Theresa May in a 309-305 vote for more control over Brexit negotiations, the New York Times . Parliament must now provide formal approval for any final deal in the ongoing negotiations withdrawing from the European Union. May argued against the vote, calling it another roadblock in the complicated negotiations intended to be completed in March 2019.

On Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in suggested a new start in the relationship between China and South Korea, the Journal . Moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at a Beijing summit, which was the first time the South Korean president visited China since assuming office in May. The two countries, which have suffered from a frayed diplomatic relations, seek to strengthen bilateral ties in a mutual effort to deter North Koreas missile program.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Mieke Eoyang, Benjamin Freeman and Benjamin Wittes  new survey data on public confidence in the FBI.

Mieke Eoyang and Laura S.H. Holgate  the dangers Michael Flynns advocacy for a Middle East nuclear power deal during his tenure as national security adviser.

Arun Sukumar  on the reelection of Judge Dalveer Bandhari to the International Court of Justice.

Matthew Kahn  the live stream of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosensteins testimony on Justice Department oversight before the House Judiciary Committee.

Kahn  the live stream of Tuesdays Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the strategic and legal considerations regarding the use of force.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and  for additional commentary on these issues.  to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our  to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our .

How Trump’s Russia interference doubts impact national security – CBS News

mikenova shared this story from us national security – Google News.


CBS News
How Trump’s Russia interference doubts impact national security
CBS News
December 14, 2017, 8:04 AM | The Washington Post reports President Trump is causing historic turmoil in his administration by refusing to agree that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The paper says the report is “based on interviews with more 

Theres A Deadly New Threat From North Korea

mikenova shared this story from In Homeland Security.

If North Korea is starting a biological weapons program, it’s one more warning of the escalating threat the isolated nation poses to national security.

The American KGB is out of control! Thats how the freedom of speech is raped in America by the FBI! Gregg Jarretts arrest a result of the FBIs provocation and the FBIs retaliation for his criticism of the FBI

mikenova shared this story from FBI News Review.

“Drunk Fox News Anchor Gregg Jarrett Arrested During Airport Fight” VIDEO “Fox News Anchor Arrested” The American KGB is out of control! That’s how the freedom of speech is raped in America by the FBI!  Is Gregg Jarrett’s arrest a result of the FBI’s provocation and the FBI’s retaliation for his criticism of the FBI … Continue reading“The American KGB is out of control! That’s how the freedom of speech is raped in America by the FBI! Gregg Jarrett’s arrest a result of the FBI’s provocation and the FBI’s retaliation for his criticism of the FBI”

HSBC Deferred Prosecution For Cartel Money Laundering Expires

mikenova shared this story from In Homeland Security.

Analysis: The global banking titan HSBC was fined a record-breaking $1.9 billion in 2012 for helping Mexican drug cartels launder money.

Did The FBI Become A ‘KGB-Type Operation’ Under Obama?

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3:39 PM 12/14/2017 – The briefing is designed to avoid angering the president, the Posts report says.

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If you talk about Russia, meddling, interferencethat takes the [Presidential Daily Briefing] off the rails, said one former senior intelligence official.

The briefing is designed to avoid angering the president, the Posts report says.

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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

6,700 Rohingya diedincluding 730 children under the age of 5 in the first month of the Myanmar governments crackdown on the Muslim ethnic minority group,  the New York Times. The Times also  that two Reuters journalists have been arrested in the country on accusation that they attempted to illegally obtain government documents related to the military’s activities in Rakhine State, where the acts against Rohingya have occurred. Murders, rape, and arson in that state have driven over 645,000 Rohingya into neighboring Bangladesh since August. The United States and United Nations have called the acts ethnic cleansing.

In a 3-2 vote, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the 2015 net neutrality rules,  the Washington Post. A  earlier this month said 83% of Americans oppose the change, which allows internet service providers to discriminate in the connection speeds they allow to different websites. The Times  the final effect that the change will have on internet users remains unclear. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman  he intends to file a lawsuit seeking to stop the rule change.

In the days before President Donald Trump took office, his closest confidants urged him to accept the intelligence communitys assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election,  the Post. The president resisted the advice. Based on interviews with 50 current and former American officials, the Posts essay details episodes that reveal the presidents views and frustrations related to Russia, how those frustrations have affected his relationships with those around him, and the resulting implications for foreign policy and national security. If you talk about Russia, meddling, interferencethat takes the [Presidential Daily Briefing] off the rails, said one former senior intelligence official. The briefing is designed to avoid angering the president, the Posts report says.

In a signing statement for the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, Trump signified that he intends to keep Guantanamo open, though he reserves the right to release detainees, the Miami Herald . Trump stated that restrictions on the Presidents authority to transfer detainees would violate constitutional separation-of-power principles, including the Presidents constitutional authority as Commander in Chief. The statement is similar to President Barack Obamas prior assertion of this authority, though the Obama administration emphasized this authority in an effort to close the facility.

The Trump administration is refocusing on Iran now that the threat from the Islamic State in the Middle East is subsiding,  the Wall Street Journal. Officials from the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia have expressed concern over Iranian military expansion and the threat of Iranian military presence in Syria. While Defense Secretary James Mattis will keep troops in Syria in an effort to keep Islamic State insurgents from regaining ground in the country, U.S. officials state that American troops might also be needed to deter Irans military presence in Syria and prevent Iran from transporting weapons to its allies.

The unnamed U.S. citizen detained as an enemy combatant by the U.S. military since Sept. 16 also holds Saudi citizenship the Hill. John Doe was captured by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic forces while allegedly fighting with Islamic State insurgents. He has not yet been charged or provided counsel, but his Saudi citizenship could allow an arrangement to transfer him into Saudi custody under certain conditions.

James Alex Fields Jr., the self-identified neo-Nazi that killed counterprotester Heather Heyer at a far-right rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, will make his first appearance in court on Thursday,  the Post. He is charged with second-degree murder for deliberately driving his car into another car, killing Heyer and injuring 19 others, among several other charges.

Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee say the president will seek a federal pay freeze and cuts to domestic security programs in the fiscal year 2019 budget, the Post. The senators released two reports citing budget guidance promulgated by the Office of Management and Budget. The documents specifically address the Department of Homeland Security but, regarding pay raises, cite governmentwide guidance that there will be no civilian salary increases. The documents also cite $568 million in cuts to counterterrorism programs, including countering violent extremism initiatives, transportation security, domestic nuclear detection, and emergency response programs. Congress would ultimately have to decide whether to authorize appropriations for those purposes.

On Wednesday, British Parliament dealt a major blow to Prime Minister Theresa May in a 309-305 vote for more control over Brexit negotiations, the New York Times . Parliament must now provide formal approval for any final deal in the ongoing negotiations withdrawing from the European Union. May argued against the vote, calling it another roadblock in the complicated negotiations intended to be completed in March 2019.

On Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in suggested a new start in the relationship between China and South Korea, the Journal . Moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping met at a Beijing summit, which was the first time the South Korean president visited China since assuming office in May. The two countries, which have suffered from a frayed diplomatic relations, seek to strengthen bilateral ties in a mutual effort to deter North Koreas missile program.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Mieke Eoyang, Benjamin Freeman and Benjamin Wittes  new survey data on public confidence in the FBI.

Mieke Eoyang and Laura S.H. Holgate  the dangers Michael Flynns advocacy for a Middle East nuclear power deal during his tenure as national security adviser.

Arun Sukumar  on the reelection of Judge Dalveer Bandhari to the International Court of Justice.

Matthew Kahn  the live stream of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosensteins testimony on Justice Department oversight before the House Judiciary Committee.

Kahn  the live stream of Tuesdays Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the strategic and legal considerations regarding the use of force.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and  for additional commentary on these issues.  to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our  to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our .

How much did hacker who taunted Rutgers cost the school? – NJ.com


NJ.com
How much did hacker who taunted Rutgers cost the school?
NJ.com
In a separate case filed in federal court in Alaska, Jha pleaded guilty to conspiring with two other hackers to create computer viruses, including the “Mirai” botnet that was used by other hackers to disable much of the internet in an October 2016 
Three plead guilty to causing massive US cyber attackFinancial Times
Three men plead guilty in case of cyber-attack that paralyzed internet in 2016The Guardian
Fanwood man pleads guilty to Rutgers University cyber attacksMyCentralJersey.com
Department of Justice –Krebs on Security –NJ.com –DocumentCloud
all 80 news articles »
The Next Military-Industrial Complex, Part II: Global Business and National Security – War on the Rocks


War on the Rocks
The Next Military-Industrial Complex, Part II: Global Business and National Security
War on the Rocks
In the future, the American defense establishment’s engagement with the private sector will vary with the mission. The arms-length procurement requirements of a dedicated industrial base for big-ticket weapon systems are different from the requirements 

Theres A Deadly New Threat From North Korea

If North Korea is starting a biological weapons program, it’s one more warning of the escalating threat the isolated nation poses to national security.
Bombing Underscores New York Subway Systems Vulnerability

New York City’s subway system: A 24-hour-a-day operation with 472 stations and more than 5 million daily riders. And, it’s vulnerable to terror attacks.
The American KGB is out of control! Thats how the freedom of speech is raped in America by the FBI! Gregg Jarretts arrest a result of the FBIs provocation and the FBIs retaliation for his criticism of the FBI

“Drunk Fox News Anchor Gregg Jarrett Arrested During Airport Fight” VIDEO “Fox News Anchor Arrested” The American KGB is out of control! That’s how the freedom of speech is raped in America by the FBI!  Is Gregg Jarrett’s arrest a result of the FBI’s provocation and the FBI’s retaliation for his criticism of the FBI … Continue reading“The American KGB is out of control! That’s how the freedom of speech is raped in America by the FBI! Gregg Jarrett’s arrest a result of the FBI’s provocation and the FBI’s retaliation for his criticism of the FBI”
HSBC Deferred Prosecution For Cartel Money Laundering Expires

Analysis: The global banking titan HSBC was fined a record-breaking $1.9 billion in 2012 for helping Mexican drug cartels launder money.
Conservatives want the FBI demolished to protect Donald Trump – Salon


Salon
Conservatives want the FBI demolished to protect Donald Trump
Salon
On Wednesday, the network invited Tom Fitton, president of the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch known for promoting endless scandals in the Obama administration (including Hillary Clinton’s emails) suggested that the FBI is tainted, and 
Judicial Watch’s Fitton: Was FBI Turned Into A KGB-Type Operation Under Obama Administration?RealClearPolitics
Fox News Guest Suggests We Need to ‘Shut Down The FBI‘ Because Obama Made it a ‘KGB-Type Operation’Mediaite

all 3 news articles »

US weapons helped ISIS fuel the industrial revolution of terrorism

A new report, three years in the making, describes ISIS militants as shrewd manufacturing and logistical planners who moved weapons, munitions and bomb-making materials throughout the war zone on a scale unprecedented for a terror organization.

Conservative watchdog head: Do we need to shut down the FBI? – The Hill


The Hill
Conservative watchdog head: Do we need to shut down the FBI?
The Hill
Fitton pointed to recent reports that FBI agent Peter Strzok was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation because of anti-Trump text messages he sent to an FBI colleague during the campaign. In one of those messages, Strzok called  
Conservatives want the FBI demolished to protect Donald TrumpSalon

FACT CHECK: Did The FBI Become A ‘KGB-Type Operation’ Under Obama?Newsweek 
Conservatives want the FBI demolished to protect Donald TrumpSalon

Judicial Watch’s Fitton: Was FBI Turned Into A KGB-Type Operation Under Obama Administration?RealClearPolitics
Mediaite
all 5 news articles »
The FBI Scandal Hiding in Plain Sight – Bloomberg


Bloomberg
The FBI Scandal Hiding in Plain Sight
Bloomberg
Both Strzok, an FBI counter-intelligence agent, and Page, an FBI lawyer, were involved in the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and were both briefly on Mueller’s team investigating Russia’s influence of the 2016 election  
Hillary Is Corrupt and Trump Is Crazy: At the FBI, Anger at Being ScapegoatedVanity Fair
Grassley demands answers on FBI officials’ texts about TrumpPolitico

FBI Agents Sending Anti-Trump Texts Is Not a ScandalNew York Magazine 
The HillPBS NewsHour
 
Grassley demands answers on FBI officials’ texts about TrumpPolitico
Justice Department defends Russia probe from GOP claims of FBI political biasPBS NewsHour
NBCNews.comBBC News
 –NPRPolitico

all 1,143 1,090 news articles »
Puerto Rico grid fix won’t meet governor’s plan, corps says

Puerto Rico’s electrical grid is unlikely to be fully restored until the end of May, the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Wednesday months longer than the timeline offered by the island’s governor.

Trump delivering on foreign policy promises

When he ran for president, he promised, in effect, to destabilize the international order.

Syria’s government team won’t talk with opposition in Geneva

Syria’s government team at the U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Geneva said on Thursday that there will be no dialogue with the opposition as long as it insists on the removal of President Bashar Assad.

U.S. accuses Iran of being terrorist ‘arsonist’

The U.S. offered what it called “concrete evidence” Thursday of Iranian weapons used in terrorist attacks, including a missile officials said was manufactured in the Islamic Republic, exported sent to rebels in Yemen and then fired at a civilian airport in Saudi Arabia.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., …

Inside the Ring: U.S. Military Could Lose Next War, Report Says

A new study by the Rand Corp. is warning that U.S. military forces are poorly structured to meet the threats posed by China, Russia and other states, as well as the continuing war against Islamic terrorism.

The study, “U.S. Military Capabilities and Forces for a Dangerous World,” presents the stark conclusion that the American military needs to reform its structure and war fighting plans to better deal with military challenges.

“Put more starkly, assessments in this report will show that U.S. forces could, under plausible assumptions, lose the next war they are called upon to fight, despite the United States outspending China on military forces by a ratio of 2.7 to 1 and Russia by 6 to 1,” the report said. “The nation needs to do better than this.”

Read the entire article at the Washington Times.

The post Inside the Ring: U.S. Military Could Lose Next War, Report Says appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Hunger at the doors of Damascus, as government blocks aid

At the doors of the Syrian capital, children with wrinkled faces and arms like sticks are going hungry because President Bashar Assad’s forces, supported by Russia and Iran, are blocking trucks filled with humanitarian relief.

Polish official says Putin responsible for 2010 plane crash

Poland’s defense minister says a plane crash that killed the nation’s president in 2010 in Russia was preceded by two explosions on board, calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to “take responsibility for what happened.”

Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked

In the final days before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, members of his inner circle pleaded with him to acknowledge publicly what U.S. intelligence agencies had already concluded – that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was real.

Haley unveils missile parts, says proof Iran arming Houthis

President Donald Trump’s envoy to the United Nations says “undeniable” evidence proves Iran is violating international law by funneling missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Grassley Demands More Answers About FBI Officials Anti-Trump Texts

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) is calling on the Justice Department to hand over more information regarding the text messages exchanged between two senior FBI employees and any communications they had with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

The text messages in question, Grassley said, suggest “some officials took actions beyond expressing their political opinions.”

Grassley wants to know when and how Justice Department officials first learned of the politically charged text messages, and what steps they are taking to fully review the activities referenced in the messages and take any disciplinary measures.

“Any improper political influence or motives in the course of any FBI investigation must be brought to light and addressed,” Grassley wrote in a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “Former Director Comey’s claims that the FBI doesnt give a rip about politics certainly are not consistent with the evidence of discussions occurring in the deputy directors office” in August of last year.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday defended special counsel Robert Mueller in the facing of growing criticism that political bias had infected his probe, as well as the top ranks of decision-makers at the FBI and Justice Department.

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Rosenstein said he does not believe there is good cause to fire Mueller. He acknowledged that some members of the Mueller’s team have political views but said those personal biases don’t necessarily taint their work.

Texts released this week between two FBI officials who worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation before being removed call Trump a “loathsome human” and mention the prospects of an “insurance policy” against a Trump presidency.

The electronic messages between FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer, that mention an “insurance policy” also refer to the potential of Strzok working for “Andy”what some GOP lawmakers believe to be McCabe.

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s officethat there’s no way [Trump] gets electedbut Im afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strzok wrote to Page in a text released by the Justice Department dated Aug. 15.

“It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40,” Strzok wrote in the text.

The Iowa Republican demanded to know when Rosenstein first learned about the texts and asked for any other records relating to McCabes communications between Strzok and Page.

McCabe is under scrutiny for playing a key role in the Clinton email investigation even though his wife received $700,000 from Virginia Democrats when she was running for statewide office. That sum includes nearly $500,000 from a political committee affiliated with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of the Clintons who served on the board of the Clinton Global Initiative.

McCabe failed to recuse himself from the Clinton email probe until one week before the presidential election last year.

Another text referenced a second phone Strzok and Page used to “talk about Hillary because it can’t be traced.”

That text was sent just days before Strzok interviewed Clinton aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills in the FBI investigation into Clintons use of a private email server, Grassley noted.

Grassley asked Rosenstein if the Justice Department has identified the phone referenced in the text, and whether it has taken steps to review the records on the phone that allegedly “cant be traced.”

“If none, please explain why not?” he wrote. “If steps have been taken, please detail them and provide all records reviewed.”
The Justice Department inspector general is investigating the Justice Departments handling of the Clinton email investigation, and reportedly discovered the texts during the course of that probe.

The post Grassley Demands More Answers About FBI Officials Anti-Trump Texts appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

US F-22s intercept Russian fighters over Syria

American stealth fighter jets fired warning flares near Russian fighters over eastern Syria on Wednesday in an attempt to drive them out of airspace controlled by the U.S.-led, anti-Islamic State coalition, Pentagon officials said.

US-backed Syria fighters kill more than 20 ISIS fighters

An American-supported Syrian opposition force killed more than 20 Islamic State fighters in an area near the Jordanian and Iraqi borders, U.S. officials said. The clash was described as a response to the Syrian army’s failure to prevent ISIS from moving freely through its lines.

FCCs Net Neutrality Meeting Evacuated On Advice of Security

A security team abruptly evacuated a Federal Communications Commission meeting as officials were debating and about to vote on the future of net neutrality.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced that the delay would take place.

“On advice of security, we need to take a brief recess,” Pai said.

Officers then told all present to exit the room and leave their belongings behind.

Dogs then swept the room, and shortly afterward, people were allowed back into the area.

FCC hearing on  abruptly interrupted: “On advice of security, we need to take a brief recess.”

This is not the first time the FCC has had such a disruption. In 2010, the FCC’s headquarters was evacuated for about two hours.

The FCC later voted on party lines to undo the net neutrality ruleswhich classified Internet Service Providers as public utilities, giving the government broad regulatory powerthat the Obama administration put in place.

The post FCCs Net Neutrality Meeting Evacuated On Advice of Security appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

NY Times Reports Obama Only Told 18 Falsehoods During Entire Presidency

A recent New York Times analysis claims that over his eight years in office, former President Barack Obama only told 18 distinct lies.

The Times set out to compare the trustworthiness of Obama compared to President Donald Trump. “In his first 10 months in office, [Trump] has told 103 separate untruths, many of them repeatedly. Obama told 18 over his entire eight-year tenure,” the piece reads.

On the list are some of Obama’s most well-known whoppers, including “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan,” and that he “didnt set a red line” on Syria’s use of chemical weapons.

By contrast, fact-checker Politifact ruled that over the course of his presidency, Obama made 43 “false” statements and 48 “mostly false” statements. Politifact also identified 7 “pants on fire” statements, which are falsehoods that are “not accurate and make a ridiculous claim.”

The majority of Politifact’s “Pants on Fire”-rated claims didn’t even make it on to the Times list, including:

In addition, several Obama claims that were rated “Four Pinocchios” by the Washington Post fact-checker are missing from the Times list, including four from the Post‘s list of “Obamas biggest whoppers.”

The post NY Times Reports Obama Only Told 18 Falsehoods During Entire Presidency appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.


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2:13 PM 12/14/2017 – Polish official says Putin responsible for 2010 plane crash

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Polish official says Putin responsible for 2010 plane crash

Visitors at the Powazki Cemetery, in Warsaw, Poland, on Nov. 12, 2016, walk toward a memorial of some of the victims of a 2010 plane crash in Russia that killed Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski and 95 other prominent Poles.

CZAREK SOKOLOWSKI/AP PHOTO

WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s defense minister says a plane crash that killed the nation’s president in 2010 in Russia was preceded by two explosions on board, calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to “take responsibility for what happened.”

Antoni Macierewicz was reacting Thursday to words by Putin, who denied any explosions on board and called on Poland to stop investigating for any potential Russian role in the crash that killed Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others in western Russia.

Macierewicz heads a commission re-investigating the crash and alleges it was preceded by two explosions, which he says would suggest Russia played a role.

Polish and Russian aviation experts concluded it was an accident.

Macierewicz said in a radio interview that Putin “should have the courage to take responsibility for what has happened.”

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Polish official says Putin responsible for 2010 plane crash
Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked
Haley unveils missile parts, says proof Iran arming Houthis
Grassley Demands More Answers About FBI Officials Anti-Trump Texts
US F-22s intercept Russian fighters over Syria
US-backed Syria fighters kill more than 20 ISIS fighters
FCCs Net Neutrality Meeting Evacuated On Advice of Security
NY Times Reports Obama Only Told 18 Falsehoods During Entire Presidency
Haley: Irans Fingerprints All Over Conflicts, Terrorist Groups in the Middle East
10:49 AM 12/14/2017 Mike Novas Shared NewsLinks: Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked
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Lenin
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Polish official says Putin responsible for 2010 plane crash

Poland’s defense minister says a plane crash that killed the nation’s president in 2010 in Russia was preceded by two explosions on board, calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to “take responsibility for what happened.”

Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked

In the final days before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, members of his inner circle pleaded with him to acknowledge publicly what U.S. intelligence agencies had already concluded – that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was real.

Haley unveils missile parts, says proof Iran arming Houthis

President Donald Trump’s envoy to the United Nations says “undeniable” evidence proves Iran is violating international law by funneling missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Grassley Demands More Answers About FBI Officials Anti-Trump Texts

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) is calling on the Justice Department to hand over more information regarding the text messages exchanged between two senior FBI employees and any communications they had with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

The text messages in question, Grassley said, suggest “some officials took actions beyond expressing their political opinions.”

Grassley wants to know when and how Justice Department officials first learned of the politically charged text messages, and what steps they are taking to fully review the activities referenced in the messages and take any disciplinary measures.

“Any improper political influence or motives in the course of any FBI investigation must be brought to light and addressed,” Grassley wrote in a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “Former Director Comey’s claims that the FBI doesnt give a rip about politics certainly are not consistent with the evidence of discussions occurring in the deputy directors office” in August of last year.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday defended special counsel Robert Mueller in the facing of growing criticism that political bias had infected his probe, as well as the top ranks of decision-makers at the FBI and Justice Department.

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Rosenstein said he does not believe there is good cause to fire Mueller. He acknowledged that some members of the Mueller’s team have political views but said those personal biases don’t necessarily taint their work.

Texts released this week between two FBI officials who worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation before being removed call Trump a “loathsome human” and mention the prospects of an “insurance policy” against a Trump presidency.

The electronic messages between FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer, that mention an “insurance policy” also refer to the potential of Strzok working for “Andy”what some GOP lawmakers believe to be McCabe.

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s officethat there’s no way [Trump] gets electedbut Im afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strzok wrote to Page in a text released by the Justice Department dated Aug. 15.

“It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40,” Strzok wrote in the text.

The Iowa Republican demanded to know when Rosenstein first learned about the texts and asked for any other records relating to McCabes communications between Strzok and Page.

McCabe is under scrutiny for playing a key role in the Clinton email investigation even though his wife received $700,000 from Virginia Democrats when she was running for statewide office. That sum includes nearly $500,000 from a political committee affiliated with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of the Clintons who served on the board of the Clinton Global Initiative.

McCabe failed to recuse himself from the Clinton email probe until one week before the presidential election last year.

Another text referenced a second phone Strzok and Page used to “talk about Hillary because it can’t be traced.”

That text was sent just days before Strzok interviewed Clinton aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills in the FBI investigation into Clintons use of a private email server, Grassley noted.

Grassley asked Rosenstein if the Justice Department has identified the phone referenced in the text, and whether it has taken steps to review the records on the phone that allegedly “cant be traced.”

“If none, please explain why not?” he wrote. “If steps have been taken, please detail them and provide all records reviewed.”
The Justice Department inspector general is investigating the Justice Departments handling of the Clinton email investigation, and reportedly discovered the texts during the course of that probe.

The post Grassley Demands More Answers About FBI Officials Anti-Trump Texts appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

US F-22s intercept Russian fighters over Syria

American stealth fighter jets fired warning flares near Russian fighters over eastern Syria on Wednesday in an attempt to drive them out of airspace controlled by the U.S.-led, anti-Islamic State coalition, Pentagon officials said.

US-backed Syria fighters kill more than 20 ISIS fighters

An American-supported Syrian opposition force killed more than 20 Islamic State fighters in an area near the Jordanian and Iraqi borders, U.S. officials said. The clash was described as a response to the Syrian army’s failure to prevent ISIS from moving freely through its lines.

FCCs Net Neutrality Meeting Evacuated On Advice of Security

A security team abruptly evacuated a Federal Communications Commission meeting as officials were debating and about to vote on the future of net neutrality.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced that the delay would take place.

“On advice of security, we need to take a brief recess,” Pai said.

Officers then told all present to exit the room and leave their belongings behind.

Dogs then swept the room, and shortly afterward, people were allowed back into the area.

FCC hearing on  abruptly interrupted: “On advice of security, we need to take a brief recess.”

This is not the first time the FCC has had such a disruption. In 2010, the FCC’s headquarters was evacuated for about two hours.

The FCC later voted on party lines to undo the net neutrality ruleswhich classified Internet Service Providers as public utilities, giving the government broad regulatory powerthat the Obama administration put in place.

The post FCCs Net Neutrality Meeting Evacuated On Advice of Security appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

NY Times Reports Obama Only Told 18 Falsehoods During Entire Presidency

A recent New York Times analysis claims that over his eight years in office, former President Barack Obama only told 18 distinct lies.

The Times set out to compare the trustworthiness of Obama compared to President Donald Trump. “In his first 10 months in office, [Trump] has told 103 separate untruths, many of them repeatedly. Obama told 18 over his entire eight-year tenure,” the piece reads.

On the list are some of Obama’s most well-known whoppers, including “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan,” and that he “didnt set a red line” on Syria’s use of chemical weapons.

By contrast, fact-checker Politifact ruled that over the course of his presidency, Obama made 43 “false” statements and 48 “mostly false” statements. Politifact also identified 7 “pants on fire” statements, which are falsehoods that are “not accurate and make a ridiculous claim.”

The majority of Politifact’s “Pants on Fire”-rated claims didn’t even make it on to the Times list, including:

In addition, several Obama claims that were rated “Four Pinocchios” by the Washington Post fact-checker are missing from the Times list, including four from the Post‘s list of “Obamas biggest whoppers.”

The post NY Times Reports Obama Only Told 18 Falsehoods During Entire Presidency appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Haley: Irans Fingerprints All Over Conflicts, Terrorist Groups in the Middle East

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Thursday unveiled recently declassified evidence that she believes proves Iran is violating international law by funneling missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen.

“Its ballistic missiles and advanced weapons are turning up in war zones across the region,” Haley said at a press conference at the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C. “It’s hard to find a conflict or a terrorist group in the Middle East that does not have Iran’s fingerprints all over it.”

Haley then pushed back against Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s recent New York Times op-ed, in which he argued that Iran’s military activities comply with international law, saying that a newly released report tells the opposite story of what Zarif claims.

“It tells the story of Iran as the arsonist. The report shows the Tehran regime not putting out fires, but fanning the flames of conflict in the region,” Haley said. “In its strongest language yet, the secretary general’s report shows violation after violation of weapons transfers and ballistic missile activity. The United States welcomes this report, as should every nation concerned about uranium expansion.”

Haley added that the report makes a “convincing case” that Iran is illegally providing the Houthi militants in Yemen with dangerous weapons.

“The report provides devastating evidence of missiles, conventional arms, and explosive boats of Iranian origin used by the rebels in Yemen, all of which violate U.N. resolutions,” Haley said. ” The United States and our partners went to great lengths to support the U.N. investigations into Iranian violations by declassifying evidence, so that the world could better be informed of the extent of Iran’s maligned activities. ”

Haley said the fight against Iran’s aggression is the world’s fight and that the United States is acting today in the spirit of transparency and cooperation to help defeat this threat.

She then presented what she described as recovered pieces of a missile fired by Houthi militants from Yemen into Saudi Arabia, missing a civilian airport in Riyadh, its intended target. She reiterated that the missile was intended for an international civilian airport where tens of thousands of people travel every day, and then asked the audience to imagine if this happened at Dulles International Airport near D.C. or John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City

“This evidence is part of what has led the U.S. intelligence community to conclude unequivocally that these weapons were supplied by the Iranian regime,” Haley said. “The evidence is undeniable. The weapons might as well have had ‘Made in Iran’ stickers all over it. The United States stands ready to share what we know to further the cause of peace. We ask our friends and our allies to do the same.”

The post Haley: Iran’s Fingerprints ‘All Over’ Conflicts, Terrorist Groups in the Middle East appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

10:49 AM 12/14/2017 Mike Novas Shared NewsLinks: Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked

Mike Novas Shared NewsLinks Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked The Early Edition: December 14, 2017 Putin’s Syria victory lap is premature, experts say “Drunk Fox News Anchor Gregg Jarrett Arrested During Airport Fight” VIDEO “Fox News Anchor Arrested” – YouTube Gregg Jarrett – Google … Continue reading“10:49 AM 12/14/2017 – Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks: Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked”
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Lenin

Title:                      Lenin

Author:                 Victor Sebestyen

Sebestyen, Victor (2017). Lenin: The Man, The Dictator, And The Master of Terror. New York: Pantheon

LCCN:    2017008076

DK254.L4 S34 2017

Scope and content

  • Since the birth of Soviet Russia, Vladimir Lenin has been viewed as a controversial figure, revered and reviled for his rigid political ideals. He continues to fascinate as a man who made history, and created the first Communist state, a model that would later be imitated by nearly half the countries in the world. Drawing on new research, including the diaries, memoirs, and personal letters of both Lenin and his friends, Victor Sebestyens biography–the first in English in nearly two decades–is not only a political examination of one of the most important historical figures of the twentieth century, but a portrait of Lenin the man. Lenin was someone who loved nature, hunting, fishing and could identify hundreds of species of plants, a despotic ruler whose closest ties and friendships were with women. The long-suppressed story of the complex love triangle Lenin had with his wife, and his mistress and comrade, reveals a different character to the coldly one-dimensional figure of the legend. Sebestyen also reveals Lenin as a ruthless and single-minded despot and a product of his time and place: a violent, tyrannical and corrupt Russia. He seized power in a coup, promised a revolution, a socialist utopia for the people, offered simple solutions to complex issues and constantly lied; in fact, what he created was more a mirror image of the Romanov autocracy. He authorized the deaths of thousands of people, and created a system based on the idea that political terror against opponents was justified for the greater ideal. One of his old comrades who had once admired him said he desired the good… but created evil. And that would include his invention of Stalin, who would take Lenins system of the gulag and the secret police to new heights– Provided by publisher.

LC Subjects

Other Subjects

  • BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Historical.
  • HISTORY / Europe / Russia & the Former Soviet Union.

Date Posted:      December 14, 2017

Reviewed by Joseph C. Goulden[1]

Let not October pass by without proper notice of the 100th anniversary of one of the greater calamities of modern history: the seizure of control of Russia on Oct. 25, 1917, by what became the Communist Party.

As biographer Victor Sebestyen writes in his horrifying biography of Vladimir Lenin, under communism millions of people were killed, jailed or sent into the great maw of the gulag. The estimated body count, in Russia and the rest of the world, is in multi-digit territory.

Should we fret about communism now that the Soviet Union and its subsidiaries are defunct? Think again. Recent public opinions show that some 80 percent of Russians look with favor upon Joseph Stalin, Lenins successor as dictator. President Vladimir Putin recently spent millions restoring Lenins tomb in Moscowan artifice that Mr. Sebestyen labels as part shrine, part tourist trap. Mr. Putins goal of restoring Russias rightful grandeur is frequently stated.

The Hungarian-born Sebestyen, a foreign correspondent for several London dailies, including the Times, the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard, traces Lenins origins as a member of the comfortable minor nobility. Born Vladimir Ulyanov, he was radicalized when an older brother was hanged for working against Tsar Nicholas II.

Appalled, the young man took the revolutionary name of Lenin (one of more than 100 pseudonyms he used over the years) and launched his career as a revolutionist. Arrested, he defended himself with an assertion oft repeated over the years: Terror is the only form of defense, the only road individuals can take when their discontent becomes extreme.

Sentenced to Siberia, on release he fled to Europe, spending most of 17 years in Switzerland. There he published newspapers supporting revolutionaries in Russia.

In 1913 the Tsar permitted a semblance of elective government, headed by Alexander Kerensky. But the opposition became a noisy mélange of competing factions. With World War I casualties well over a million by 1917, and inflation out of control, the inept Nicholas II lost control of the then-capital of Petrogradessentially dethroned.

Along with other exiles, Lenin tried to meld the opposition into a unified party. After a hot debate over Marxist teachings, the faction that Lenin headed became known as the Bolsheviks, or majority; the remainder were the Mensheviks. The schism would haunt the Communist Party for decades.

As war continued, Lenin saw an opportunity. At risk of being branded as a traitor, he obtained German support to return to Russia. (Considerable money apparently went to him as well, although the exact amount is unknown.) A sealed train carried him through Germany and Finland to Petrograd, where he plunged into the revolution with an oratorical fervor, leading what he termed Soviets.

He was not universally popular. Debate foes termed him dominating, abrasive, combative and often downright vicious. He disdained cooperation with Kerensky. All power must go to the Soviets, he declared. But, as Mr. Sebestyen writes, he had developed a voice that would revolutionize workers.

With Kerenskys mandate due to expire on Oct. 27, Lenin saw the chance to install his own government. By a vote of 10 to 2, the governing board of the Bolsheviks anointed him as leader, and he emerged as the dominant figure.

Generalities were his only promise. As he told future rival Leon Trotsky, First, we must seize power. Then we decide what to do with it.

Revolutionary betrayals began immediately. Despite his calls for freedom for all, he detested peasants as a class. Hence, vows of land reform, under which farmers would gain possession of their own land, became collective agriculture.

When farmers in the grain-rich Ukraine did not deliver the desired amounts of foodstuffs, Lenin ordered their farms seized. Thousands of families were displaced; many were killed. The resultant famine brought death to uncounted millions of persons.

Lenin detested the working class, deriding them for their trade union consciousness. What was needed, he declared, was a “tribune of the people.” So, a legislative assembly was convened. It lasted only a few hours until Lenin lost a key supporter and let it collapse.

Even more deadly, he pushed the theory that dissent was equivalent to treason. As Trotsky astutely observed, When Lenin talks about the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat he means the dictatorship over the proletariat.

A free press? Censorship was imposed the second day of Lenin’s rule to stop the torrent of filth and slander against the new order.

Such was arguably the most evil legacy of communisma rule that gave Lenin and subsequent dictators the authority to murder dissidents at will. As he put it, “How can you make a revolution without firing squads?”

Lenin did not anoint a successor, although his initial choice, later withdrawn, was Stalin. Nonetheless, as Victor Sebestyen writes, Lenin created the monster, and it was his greatest crime that he was now leaving Stalin with good prospects of becoming the Soviet dictator.

[1] Goulden, Joseph C. in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (23, 2 Fall 2017, pp. ). Joseph C. Goulden is a long-time review of espionage and spy books for Intelligencer, for the Washington Times,for law journals and other publications. Some of these reviews appeared in prior editions of the Washington Times or the Washington Lawyer (DC Bar Association). Joe Gouldons most recent book is Goulden, Joseph C. (2012). The Dictionary of Espionage: Spyspeak into English. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications. His 1982 book, Korea: The Untold Story of the War, was published in a Chinese-language edition in 2014 by Beijing Xiron Books. He is author of 18 nonfiction books.

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Perez Refuses to Give Straight Yes When Asked if Hes Fully Satisfied With Pelosi, Schumer Leadership

Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez refused to say Thursday if he is was fully satisfied with Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.).

When asked by Fox News’ Bill Hemmer about the calls for new leadership by some Democratic lawmakers, Perez wouldn’t give a straight answer.

“Were making real progress, look at the 2017 elections here, Bill. Democrats, not only in Alabama, but in Virginia, New Jersey all sorts of other races,” Perez said.

“Were leading with our values, weve learned from our mistakes,” he added.

“Is that a yes?” Hemmer interjected

“Without Nancy Pelosi, we wouldn’t have health care,” Perez stated.

Hemmer continued to pressure Perez for a straight answer.

“So you are satisfied with her leadership,? I take it thats a yes?” Hemmer persisted.

“Well you know what? We’re leading into the 2018 election cycle,” Perez said.

“So its a maybe?” Hemmer commented.

“I think we are going to win the Senate and the House. It’s an uphill battle, but I think with their leadership we can do it,” Perez said.

“I cant chalk up that answer to a yes,” Hemmer concluded.

Pelosi, who has served in the House since 1987, has long held influence among House Democrats. She served as Speaker of the House from 2007-11 and has served as House Minority Leader since that time.

Over the past year, a number of Democratic lawmakers have called for new blood.

Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton has been an outspoken critic of Pelosi, and called for new leadershipon multiple occasions.

Linda Sanchez (D., Calif.) said in October she believed it was time to “pass the torch to a new generation.”

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D., N.Y.) also wants a “leadership change,” telling CNN “It’s time for Nancy Pelosi to go, and the entire leadership team.”It’s time for Nancy Pelosi to go, and the entire leadership team.”

Pelosi defend herself against criticism in October while she talked to ABCs George Stephanopoulos about her strengths as a leader.

“I think we do have a great array of talent, and I have promoted it all along the way,” she said, naming Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) as an example.

“I think Im a great legislator, I know the budget,” she said. “Self-promotion is a terrible thing but clearly somebody has to do it.”

The post Perez Refuses to Give Straight Yes When Asked if Hes Fully Satisfied With Pelosi, Schumer Leadership appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Until Trump. In August 2016, the retired-but-still-active-in-intelligence-matters Morell decided to abandon decades of nonpartisanship and come out in support of Hillary Clinton. In a New York Times op-ed, he praised Clinton’s experience and called 

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Washington Examiner
A national poll released Thursday morning finds that 70 percent of GOP voters want President Trump to run again, a strong endorsement of his agenda and approach. Public Policy Polling said that Trump would crush any opponent in the Republican Party 

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10:49 AM 12/14/2017 – Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks: Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked

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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks

Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked

The Early Edition: December 14, 2017

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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked

mikenova shared this story from | INFORUM.

Holding impromptu interventions in Trump’s 26th-floor corner office at Trump Tower, advisers – including Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and designated chief of staff, Reince Priebus – prodded the president-elect to accept the findings that the nation’s spy chiefs had personally presented to him on Jan. 6.

They sought to convince Trump that he could affirm the validity of the intelligence without diminishing his electoral win, according to three officials involved in the sessions. More important, they said that doing so was the only way to put the matter behind him politically and free him to pursue his goal of closer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“This was part of the normalization process,” one participant said. “There was a big effort to get him to be a standard president.”

But as aides persisted, Trump became agitated. He railed that the intelligence couldn’t be trusted and scoffed at the suggestion that his candidacy had been propelled by forces other than his own strategy, message and charisma.

Told that members of his incoming Cabinet had already publicly backed the intelligence report on Russia, Trump shot back, “So what?” Admitting that the Kremlin had hacked Democratic Party emails, he said, was a “trap.”

As Trump addressed journalists on Jan. 11 in the lobby of Trump Tower, he came as close as he ever would to grudging acceptance. “As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” he said, adding that “we also get hacked by other countries and other people.”

As hedged as those words were, Trump regretted them almost immediately. “It’s not me,” he said to aides afterward. “It wasn’t right.”

Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump continues to reject the evidence that Russia waged an assault on a pillar of American democracy and supported his run for the White House.

The result is without obvious parallel in U.S. history, a situation in which the personal insecurities of the president – and his refusal to accept what even many in his administration regard as objective reality – have impaired the government’s response to a national security threat. The repercussions radiate across the government.

Rather than search for ways to deter Kremlin attacks or safeguard U.S. elections, Trump has waged his own campaign to discredit the case that Russia poses any threat and he has resisted or attempted to roll back efforts to hold Moscow to account.

His administration has moved to undo at least some of the sanctions the previous administration imposed on Russia for its election interference, exploring the return of two Russian compounds in the United States that President Barack Obama had seized – the measure that had most galled Moscow. Months later, when Congress moved to impose additional penalties on Moscow, Trump opposed the measures fiercely.

Intelligence officials who brief the president play down information about Russia they fear might displease him, current and former officials said. Plans for the State Department to counter Russian propaganda remain stalled. And while Trump has formed a commission to investigate widely discredited claims of U.S. voter fraud, there is no task force focused on the election peril that security officials regard as a certainty – future Russian attacks.

Trump has never convened a Cabinet-level meeting on Russian interference or what to do about it, administration officials said. Although the issue has been discussed at lower levels at the National Security Council, one former high-ranking Trump administration official said there is an unspoken understanding within the NSC that to raise the matter is to acknowledge its validity, which the president would see as an affront.

Trump’s stance on the election is part of a broader entanglement with Moscow that has defined the first year of his presidency. He continues to pursue an elusive bond with Putin, which he sees as critical to dealing with North Korea, Iran and other issues. “Having Russia in a friendly posture,” he said last month, “is an asset to the world and an asset to our country.”

His position has alienated close American allies and often undercut members of his Cabinet – all against the backdrop of a criminal probe into possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

This account of the Trump administration’s reaction to Russia’s interference and policies toward Moscow is based on interviews with more than 50 current and former U.S. officials, many of whom had senior roles in the Trump campaign and transition team or have been in high-level positions at the White House or at national security agencies. Most agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the subject.

Trump administration officials defended the approach with Russia, insisting that their policies and actions have been tougher than those pursued by Obama but without unnecessarily combative language or posture. “Our approach is that we don’t irritate Russia, we deter Russia,” a senior administration official said. “The last administration had it exactly backwards.”

White House officials cast the president’s refusal to acknowledge Russian interference in the election as an understandably human reaction. “The president obviously feels . . . that the idea that he’s been put into office by Vladimir Putin is pretty insulting,” said a second senior administration official. But his views are “not a constraint” on the government’s ability to respond to future election threats, the official said. “Our first order in dealing with Russia is trying to counter a lot of the destabilizing activity that Russia engages in.”

Others questioned how such an effort could succeed when the rationale for that objective is routinely rejected by the president. Michael V. Hayden, who served as CIA director under President George W. Bush, has described the Russian interference as the political equivalent of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, an event that exposed a previously unimagined vulnerability and required a unified American response.

“What the president has to say is, ‘We know the Russians did it, they know they did it, I know they did it, and we will not rest until we learn everything there is to know about how and do everything possible to prevent it from happening again,’ ” Hayden said in an interview. Trump “has never said anything close to that and will never say anything close to that.”

The feeble American response has registered with the Kremlin.

U.S. officials said that a stream of intelligence from sources inside the Russian government indicates that Putin and his lieutenants regard the 2016 “active measures” campaign – as the Russians describe such covert propaganda operations – as a resounding, if incomplete, success.

Moscow has not achieved some its most narrow and immediate goals. The annexation of Crimea from Ukraine has not been recognized. Sanctions imposed for Russian intervention in Ukraine remain in place. Additional penalties have been mandated by Congress. And a wave of diplomatic retaliation has cost Russia access to additional diplomatic facilities, including its San Francisco consulate.

But overall, U.S. officials said, the Kremlin believes it got a staggering return on an operation that by some estimates cost less than $500,000 to execute and was organized around two main objectives – destabilizing U.S. democracy and preventing Hillary Clinton, who is despised by Putin, from reaching the White House.

The bottom line for Putin, said one U.S. official briefed on the stream of post-election intelligence, is that the operation was “more than worth the effort.”

The Russian operation seemed intended to aggravate political polarization and racial tensions and to diminish U.S. influence abroad. The United States’ closest alliances are frayed, and the Oval Office is occupied by a disruptive politician who frequently praises his counterpart in Russia.

“Putin has to believe this was the most successful intelligence operation in the history of Russian or Soviet intelligence,” said Andrew Weiss, a former adviser on Russia in the George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations who is now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It has driven the American political system into a crisis that will last years.”

U.S. officials declined to discuss whether the stream of recent intelligence on Russia has been shared with Trump. Current and former officials said that his daily intelligence update – known as the president’s daily brief, or PDB – is often structured to avoid upsetting him.

Russia-related intelligence that might draw Trump’s ire is in some cases included only in the written assessment and not raised orally, said a former senior intelligence official familiar with the matter. In other cases, Trump’s main briefer – a veteran CIA analyst – adjusts the order of his presentation and text, aiming to soften the impact.

“If you talk about Russia, meddling, interference – that takes the PDB off the rails,” said a second former senior U.S. intelligence official.

Brian Hale, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said the briefing is “written by senior-level, career intelligence officers,” and that the intelligence community “always provides objective intelligence – including on Russia – to the president and his staff.”

Trump’s aversion to the intelligence, and the dilemma that poses for top spies, has created a confusing dissonance on issues related to Russia. The CIA continues to stand by its conclusions about the election, for example, even as the agency’s director, Mike Pompeo, frequently makes comments that seem to diminish or distort those findings.

In October, Pompeo declared the intelligence community had concluded that Russia’s meddling “did not affect the outcome of the election.” In fact, spy agencies intentionally steered clear of addressing that question.

On Jan. 6, two weeks before Trump was sworn in as president, the nation’s top intelligence officials boarded an aircraft at Joint Base Andrews on the outskirts of Washington to travel to New York for one of the most delicate briefings they would deliver in their decades-long careers.

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., CIA Director John Brennan and National Security Agency chief Michael S. Rogers flew together aboard an Air Force 737. FBI Director James B. Comey traveled separately on an FBI Gulfstream aircraft, planning to extend his stay for meetings with bureau officials.

The mood was heavy. The four men had convened a virtual meeting the previous evening, speaking by secure videoconference to plan their presentation to the incoming president of a classified report on Russia’s election interference and its pro-Trump objective.

During the campaign, Trump had alternately dismissed the idea of Russian involvement – saying a hack of the Democratic National Committee was just as likely carried out by “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds” – and prodded the Kremlin to double down on its operation and unearth additional Clinton emails.

The officials had already briefed Obama and members of Congress. As they made their way across Manhattan in separate convoys of black SUVs, they braced for a blowup.

“We were prepared to be thrown out,” Clapper said in an interview.

Instead, the session was oddly serene.

The officials were escorted into a spacious conference room on the 14th floor of Trump Tower. Trump took a seat at one end of a large table, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence at the other. Among the others present were Priebus, Pompeo and designated national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Following a rehearsed plan, Clapper functioned as moderator, yielding to Brennan and others on key points in the briefing, which covered the most highly classified information U.S. spy agencies had assembled, including an extraordinary CIA stream of intelligence that had captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation.

Trump seemed, at least for the moment, to acquiesce.

“He was affable, courteous, complimentary,” Clapper said. “He didn’t bring up the 400-pound guy.”

A copy of the report was left with Trump’s designated intelligence briefer. But there was another, more sensitive matter left to cover.

Clapper and Comey had initially planned to remain together with Trump while discussing an infamous dossier that included salacious allegations about the incoming president.

It had been commissioned by an opposition research firm in Washington that had enlisted a former British intelligence officer to gather material. As The Washington Post reported in October, the research was paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC.

But in the end, Comey felt he should handle the matter with Trump alone, saying that the dossier was being scrutinized exclusively by the FBI. After the room emptied, Comey explained that the dossier had not been corroborated and that its contents had not influenced the intelligence community’s findings – but that the president needed to know it was in wide circulation in Washington.

Senior officials would subsequently wonder whether the decision to leave that conversation to Comey helped poison his relationship with the incoming president. When the dossier was posted online four days later by the news site BuzzFeed, Trump lashed out the next morning in a 4:48 a.m. Twitter blast.

“Intelligence agencies never should have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public,” Trump said. “One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?” The Post was one of several news organizations that had received the dossier months earlier, had been attempting to verify its claims and had not published it.

After leaving the Jan. 6 meeting at Trump Tower, Comey had climbed into his car and began composing a memo.

“I knew there might come a day when I would need a record of what happened, not just to defend myself but to defend the FBI and our integrity as an institution,” he testified to Congress in June. It was the first of multiple memos he would write documenting his interactions with Trump.

Clapper’s office released an abbreviated public version of the intelligence report later that day. Trump issued a statement saying that “Russia, China” and “other countries” had sought to penetrate the cyberdefenses of U.S. institutions, including the DNC.

In their Trump Tower interventions, senior aides had sought to cement his seeming acceptance of the intelligence. But as the first year of his presidency progressed, Trump became only more adamant in his rejections of it.

In November, during a 12-day trip to Asia, Trump signaled that he believed Putin’s word over that of U.S. intelligence.

“He said he didn’t meddle,” Trump said to reporters aboard Air Force One after he and Putin spoke on the sidelines of a summit in Vietnam. “Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”

As those remarks roiled Washington, Trump sought to calm the controversy without fully conceding the accuracy of the intelligence on Russia. He also aimed a parting shot at the spy chiefs who had visited him in January in New York.

“As to whether I believe it or not,” he said the next day, “I’m with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with their leadership.”

In the early days of his presidency, Trump surrounded himself with aides and advisers who reinforced his affinity for Russia and Putin, though for disparate reasons not always connected to the views of the president.

Flynn, the national security adviser, saw Russia as an unfairly maligned world power and believed that the United States should set aside its differences with Moscow so the two could focus on higher priorities, including battling Islamist terrorism.

Some on the NSC, including Middle East adviser Derek Harvey, urged pursuing a “grand bargain” with Russia in Syria as part of an effort to drive a wedge into Moscow’s relationship with Iran. Harvey is no longer in the administration.

Others had more idiosyncratic impulses. Kevin Harrington, a former associate of Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel brought in to shape national security strategy, saw close ties with oil- and gas-rich Russia as critical to surviving an energy apocalypse – a fate that officials who worked with him said he discussed frequently and depicted as inevitable.

The tilt of the staff began to change when Flynn was forced to resign after just 24 days on the job for falsehoods about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. His replacement, Army Gen. H.R. McMaster, had more conventional foreign policy views that included significant skepticism of Moscow.

The change helped ease the turmoil that had characterized the NSC but set up internal conflicts on Russia-related issues that seemed to interfere with Trump’s pursuit of a friendship with Putin. Among them was the administration’s position on NATO.

The alliance, built around a pledge of mutual defense against Soviet or Russian aggression among the United States and its European allies, became a flash point in internal White House battles. McMaster, an ardent NATO supporter, struggled to fend off attacks on the alliance and its members by Trump’s political advisers.

The president’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, moved to undermine support for NATO within weeks of arriving at the White House. After securing a position on the NSC, Bannon ordered officials to compile a table of arrears – alleged deficits on defense spending by every NATO member going back 67 years. Officials protested that such a calculation was impractical, and they persuaded Bannon to accept a partial list documenting underspending dating from 2007.

Bannon and McMaster clashed in front of Trump during an Oval Office discussion about NATO in the spring, officials said. Trump, sitting behind his desk, was voicing frustration that NATO member states were not meeting their defense spending obligations under the treaty. Bannon went further, describing Europe as “nothing more than a glorified protectorate.”

McMaster, an ardent supporter of NATO, snapped at Bannon. “Why are you such an apologist for Russia?” he asked, according to two officials with knowledge of the exchange. Bannon shot back that his position had “nothing to do with Russians” and later told colleagues how much he relished such confrontations with McMaster, saying, “I love living rent-free in his head.”

Bannon and his allies also maneuvered to sabotage displays of unity with the alliance. As NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg arrived for an April visit at the White House, McMaster’s team prepared remarks for Trump that included an endorsement of Article 5 – the core NATO provision calling for members to come to one another’s defense.

But the language was stripped out at the last minute by NATO critics inside the administration who argued that “it didn’t sound presidential enough,” one senior U.S. official said. A month later, Stephen Miller, a White House adviser close to Bannon, carried out a similar editing operation in Brussels where Trump spoke at a dedication ceremony for NATO’s gleaming new headquarters.

Standing before twisted steel wreckage from the World Trade Center that memorialized NATO’s commitment to defend the United States after the 9/11 attacks, Trump made no mention of any U.S. commitment to mutual defense.

Trump finally did so in June during a meeting with the president of Romania. Officials said that in that case, McMaster clung to the president’s side until a joint news conference was underway, blocking Miller from Trump and the text. A senior White House official said that Trump has developed a good relationship with Stoltenberg and often praises him in private.

On sensitive matters related to Russia, senior advisers have at times adopted what one official described as a policy of “don’t walk that last 5½feet” – meaning to avoid entering the Oval Office and giving Trump a chance to erupt or overrule on issues that can be resolved by subordinates.

Another former U.S. official described being enlisted to contact the German government before Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit at the White House in March. The outreach had two aims, the official said – to warn Merkel that her encounter with Trump would probably be acrimonious because of their diverging views on refugees, trade and other issues, but also to urge her to press Trump on U.S. support for NATO.

The signature moment of the trip came during a brief photo appearance in which Trump wore a dour expression and appeared to spurn Merkel’s effort to shake his hand, though Trump later said he had not noticed the gesture.

His demeanor with the German leader was in striking contrast with his encounters with Putin and other authoritarian figures. “Who are the three guys in the world he most admires? President Xi [Jinping] of China, [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and Putin,” one Trump adviser said. “They’re all the same guy.”

Merkel has never fit into that Trump pantheon. Before her arrival, senior White House aides witnessed an odd scene that some saw as an omen for the visit. As McMaster and a dozen other top aides met with Trump in the Oval Office to outline issues Merkel was likely to raise, the president grew impatient, stood up and walked into an adjoining bathroom.

Trump left the bathroom door open, according to officials familiar with the incident, instructing McMaster to raise his voice and keep talking. A senior White House official said the president entered the restroom and merely “took a glance in the mirror, as this was before a public event.”

McMaster gained an internal ally on Russia in March with the hiring of Fiona Hill as the top Russia adviser on the NSC. A frequent critic of the Kremlin, Hill was best known as the author of a respected biography of Putin and was seen as a reassuring selection among Russia hard-liners.

Her relationship with Trump, however, was strained from the start.

In one of her first encounters with the president, an Oval Office meeting in preparation for a call with Putin on Syria, Trump appeared to mistake Hill for a member of the clerical staff, handing her a memo he had marked up and instructing her to rewrite it.

When Hill responded with a perplexed look, Trump became irritated with what he interpreted as insubordination, according to officials who witnessed the exchange. As she walked away in confusion, Trump exploded and motioned for McMaster to intervene.

McMaster followed Hill out the door and scolded her, officials said. Later he and a few close staffers met to explore ways to repair Hill’s damaged relationship with the president.

Hill’s standing was further damaged when she was forced to defend members of her staff suspected of disloyalty after details about Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak – in which the president revealed highly classified information to his Russian guests – were leaked to The Post.

The White House subsequently tightened the circle of aides involved in meetings with Russian officials. Trump was accompanied only by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a meeting with Putin at a July summit of Group of 20 nations in Hamburg. In prior administrations, the president’s top aide on Russia was typically present for such encounters, but Hill has frequently been excluded.

A senior administration official said that the NSC “was not sidelined as a result” of Hill’s difficult encounters with Trump, that Hill is regularly included in briefings with the president and that she and her staff “continue to play an important role on Russia policy.”

White House officials insist that the Trump administration has adopted a tougher stance toward Moscow than the Obama administration on important fronts.

They point to Trump’s decision, after a chemical weapons attack in Syria, to approve a U.S. military strike on a base where Russian personnel and equipment were present. They cite Trump’s decision in early August to sign legislation imposing additional economic sanctions on Moscow and steps taken by the State Department at the end of that month ordering three Russian diplomatic facilities – two trade offices and the consulate in San Francisco – closed. They also said that the NSC is preparing options for the president to deal with the threat of Russian interference in American elections.

“Look at our actions,” a senior administration official said in an interview. “We’re pushing back against the Russians.”

Senior Trump officials have struggled to explain how. In congressional testimony in October, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was pressed on whether the administration had done enough to prevent Russian interference in the future. “Probably not,” Sessions said. “And the matter is so complex that for most of us we are not able to fully grasp the technical dangers that are out there.”

The administration’s accomplishments are to a large measure offset by complicating factors – Trump had little choice but to sign the sanctions – and competing examples. Among them is the administration’s persistent exploration of proposals to lift one of the most effective penalties that Obama imposed for Russia’s election interference – the seizure of two Russian compounds.

Russia used those sprawling estates in Maryland and New York as retreats for its spies and diplomats but also – according to CIA and FBI officials – as platforms for espionage. The loss of those sites became a major grievance for Moscow.

Lavrov has raised the confiscation of those properties in nearly every meeting with his American counterparts, officials said, accusing the United States of having “stolen our dachas,” using the Russian word for country houses.

Putin may have had reason to expect that Russia would soon regain access to the compounds after Trump took office. In his recent guilty plea, Flynn admitted lying to the FBI about a conversation with the Russian ambassador in late December. During the call, which came as Obama was announcing sanctions on Russia, Flynn urged the ambassador not to overreact, suggesting the penalties would be short-lived.

After a report in late May by The Post that the administration was considering returning the compounds, hard-liners in the administration mobilized to head off any formal offer.

Several weeks later, the FBI organized an elaborate briefing for Trump in the Oval Office, officials said. E.W. “Bill” Priestap, the assistant director of the counterintelligence division at the FBI, brought three-dimensional models of the properties, as well as maps showing their proximity to sensitive U.S. military or intelligence installations.

Appealing to Trump’s “America first” impulse, officials made the case that Russia had used the facilities to steal U.S. secrets. Trump seemed convinced, officials said.

“I told Rex we’re not giving the real estate back to the Russians,” Trump said at one point, referring to Tillerson, according to participants. Later, Trump marveled at the potential of the two sites and asked, “Should we sell this off and keep the money?”

But on July 6, Tillerson sent an informal communication to the Kremlin proposing the return of the two compounds, a gesture that he hoped would help the two sides pull out of a diplomatic tailspin. Under the proposed terms, Russia would regain access to the compounds but without diplomatic status that for years had rendered them outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law enforcement.

The FBI and some White House officials, including Hill, were livid when they learned that the plan had been communicated to Russia through a “non-paper” – an informal, nonbinding format. But “Tillerson never does anything without Trump’s approval,” a senior U.S. official said, making clear that the president knew in advance.

Administration officials provided conflicting accounts of what came next. Two officials indicated that there were additional communications with the Kremlin about the plan. One senior official said that Tillerson made a last-minute change in the terms, proposing that the Maryland site be returned “status quo ante,” meaning with full diplomatic protections. It would again be off-limits to law enforcement agencies, including the FBI.

State Department officials disputed that account, however, saying that no such offer was ever contemplated and that the final proposal shared with the Kremlin was the non-paper sent on July 6 – one day before Trump met with Putin in Hamburg.

Tillerson “never directed anyone to draft” a revised proposal to the Kremlin, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a written statement. “We considered possible options for restoring Russian access for recreational purposes in a way that would meet the security concerns of the U.S. government.” By the end of July, Congress had passed a new sanctions bill that “imposed specific conditions for the return of the dachas,” she said, “and the Russians have so far not been willing to meet them.”

Moscow made clear through Lavrov and others in mid-July that it regarded the overture, and the idea that any conditions would be placed on the return of the sites, as an insult. State Department officials interpreted that response as evidence that Russia’s real purpose was the resumption of espionage.

With no deal on the dachas, U.S.-Russia relations plunged into diplomatic free fall.

Even before Trump was sworn in, a group of senators including John McCain, R-Ariz., and Ben Cardin, D-Md., had begun drafting legislation to impose further sanctions on Russia.

In the ensuing months, McCain’s office began getting private warnings from a White House insider. “We were told that a big announcement was coming regarding Russia sanctions,” a senior congressional aide said. “We all kind of assumed the worst.”

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had blocked the sanctions bill from moving forward at the behest of Tillerson, who kept appealing for more time to negotiate with Moscow.

But after Comey’s firing in early May, and months of damaging headlines about Trump and Russia, an alarmed Senate approved new sanctions on Russia in a 98-to-2 vote.

Trump at times seemed not to understand how his actions and behavior intensified congressional concern. After he emerged from a meeting in Hamburg with Putin, Trump said he and the Russian leader had agreed upon the outlines of a cooperative cybersecurity plan.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., described the proposed pact as “pretty close” to “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard” and introduced additional provisions to the sanctions bill that would strip Trump of much of his power to undo them – a remarkable slap at presidential prerogative.

Then, in late July, new information surfaced about the extent of Trump’s interactions with Putin in Hamburg that sent another wave of anxiety across Capitol Hill.

At the end of a lavish banquet for world leaders, Trump wandered away from his assigned seat for a private conversation with the Russian leader – without a single U.S. witness, only a Kremlin interpreter.

A Trump administration official described the reaction to the encounter as overblown, saying that Trump had merely left his seat to join the first lady, Melania Trump, who had been seated for the dinner next to Putin. Whatever the reason, little over a week later both chambers of Congress passed the sanctions measure with overwhelming margins that would withstand any Trump veto.

Trump’s frustration had been building as the measure approached a final vote. He saw the bill as validation of the case that Russia had interfered, as an encroachment on his executive authority and as a potentially fatal blow to his aspirations for friendship with Putin, according to his advisers.

In the final days before passage, Trump watched MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program and stewed as hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski declared that the bill would be a slap in the face to the president.

“He was raging,” one adviser said. “He was raging mad.”

After final passage, Trump was “apoplectic,” the adviser recalled. It took four days for aides to persuade him to sign the bill, arguing that if he vetoed it and Congress overturned that veto, his standing would be permanently weakened.

“Hey, here are the votes,” aides told the president, according to a second Trump adviser. “If you veto it, they’ll override you and then you’re f—ed and you look like you’re weak.”

Trump signed but made his displeasure known. His signing statement asserted that the measure included “clearly unconstitutional provisions.” Trump had routinely made a show of bill signings, but in this case no media was allowed to attend.

The reaction from Russia was withering. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev taunted the president in a Facebook post that echoed Trump’s style, saying that the president had shown “complete impotence, in the most humiliating manner, transferring executive power to Congress.”

Putin, who had shown such restraint in late December 2016, reacted to the new sanctions with fury, ordering the United States to close two diplomatic properties and slash 755 people from its staff – most of them Russian nationals working for the United States.

Rather than voice any support for the dozens of State Department and CIA employees being forced back to Washington, Trump expressed gratitude to Putin.

“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down on payroll,” Trump told reporters during an outing at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey – remarks his aides would later claim were meant as a joke. “We’ll save a lot of money.”

Trump has never explained why he so frequently seems to side with Putin.

To critics, the answer is assumed to exist in the unproven allegations of coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, or the claim that Putin has some compromising information about the American president.

Aides attribute Trump’s affection for Putin to the president’s tendency to personalize matters of foreign policy and his unshakable belief that his bond with Putin is the key to fixing world problems.

“When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,” Trump tweeted last month. “There always playing politics – bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!”

White House officials present Trump as the latest in a long line of presidents who began their tenures seeking better relations with Moscow, and they argue that the persistent questions about Russia and the election only advance the Kremlin’s aims and damage the president. “This makes me pissed because we’re letting these guys win,” a senior administration official said of the Russians. Referring to the disputed Florida tallies in the 2000 presidential election, the official said: “What if the Russians had created the hanging chads? How would that have been for George Bush?”

The allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, which the president has denied categorically, also contribute to his resistance to endorse the intelligence, another senior White House official said. Acknowledging Russian interference, Trump believes, would give ammunition to his critics.

Still others close to Trump explain his aversion to the intelligence findings in more psychological terms. The president, who burns with resentment over perceived disrespect from the Washington establishment, sees the Russia inquiry as a conspiracy to undermine his election accomplishment – “a witch hunt,” as he often calls it.

“If you say ‘Russian interference,’ to him it’s all about him,” said a senior Republican strategist who has discussed the matter with Trump’s confidants. “He judges everything as about him.”

Recent months have been marked by further erosion of the U.S.-Russia relationship and troubling developments for the White House, including the indictment of Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and the guilty plea of Flynn.

Trump remains defiant about the special counsel’s probe, maintaining that he will be cleared of any wrongdoing and describing the matter as a “hoax” and a “hit job.”

Some of Trump’s most senior advisers support that view. One senior official said that Trump is right to portray the investigations and news reports as politically motivated attacks that have hurt the United States’ ability to work with Russia on real problems.

“We were looking to create some kind of bargain that would help us negotiate a very dangerous world,” said a senior White House official. “But if we do anything, Congress and the media will scream bloody murder.”

Putin expressed his own exasperation in early September, responding to a question about Trump with a quip that mocked the idea of a Trump-Putin bond while aiming a gender-related taunt at the American president. Trump “is not my bride,” Putin said, “and I am not his groom.”

The remark underscored the frustration and disenchantment that have taken hold on both sides amid the failure to achieve the breakthrough in U.S.-Russian relations that Trump and Putin both envisioned a year ago.

As a result, rather than shaping U.S. policy toward Russia, Trump at times appears to function as an outlier in his own administration, unable to pursue the relationship with Putin he envisioned but unwilling to embrace tougher policies favored by some in his Cabinet.

A Pentagon proposal that would pose a direct challenge to Moscow – a plan to deliver lethal arms to Ukrainian forces battling Russia-backed separatists – has languished in internal debates for months.

The plan is backed by senior members of Trump’s Cabinet, including Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who voiced support for arming Ukrainian forces in meetings with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in August. Mattis “believes that you should help people who are fighting our potential adversaries,” said a senior U.S. official involved in the deliberations.

A decision to send arms has to be made by the president, and officials said Trump has been reluctant even to engage.

“Every conversation I’ve had with people on this subject has been logical,” the senior U.S. official said. “But there’s no logical conclusion to the process, and that tells me the bottleneck is in the White House.”

In July, the administration appointed former NATO ambassador Kurt Volker to serve as special envoy to Ukraine, putting him in charge of the delicate U.S. relationship with a former Soviet republic eager for closer ties with the West.

Putin has taken extraordinary measures to block that path, sending Russian commandos and arms into Ukraine to support pro-Russian separatists. And Putin is bitter about U.S. and European sanctions imposed on Russia for its aggression. A decision by Trump to send arms would probably rupture U.S.-Russian relations beyond immediate repair.

Trump was forced to grapple with these complexities in September, when he met with Poroshenko at the United Nations. Volker met with Trump to prepare him for the encounter. Tillerson, McMaster and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, who had replaced Priebus, were also on hand.

Trump pressed Volker on why it was in the United States’ interests to support Ukraine and why U.S. taxpayers’ money should be spent doing so, Volker said in an interview. “Why is it worth it?” Volker said Trump asked. As Volker outlined the rationale for U.S. involvement, Trump seemed satisfied.

“I believe that what he wants is to settle the issue, he wants a better, more constructive U.S.-Russia relationship,” Volker said. “I think he would like [the Ukraine conflict] to be solved . . . get this fixed so we can get to a better place.”

The conversation was about Ukraine but seemed to capture Trump’s frustration on so many Russia-related fronts – the election, the investigations, the complications that had undermined his relationship with Putin.

Volker said that the president repeated a single phrase at least five times, saying, “I want peace.”

Authors Information: Greg Jaffe is a national security reporter for The Washington Post, where he has been since March 2009. Greg Miller is a national security correspondent for The Washington Post. Philip Rucker is the White House Bureau Chief for The Washington Post. The Washington Post’s Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Julie Tate contributed to this report.

The Early Edition: December 14, 2017

mikenova shared this story from Just Security.

Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Heres todays news.

 

ISRAEL-PALESTINE

The leaders gathered at the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (O.I.C.) declared East Jerusalem to be the capital of Palestine yesterday in response to Trumps decision last week to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the meeting also considered Trumps announcement to be a violation of U.N. resolutions and illegal under international law. Carlotta Gall reports at the New York Times.

The U.N. should replace the U.S. as the mediator of Middle East peace talks, the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday, signaling a possible refusal to engage with the U.S. following Trumps announcement. Karin Laub and Zeynep Bilginsoy report at the AP.

The U.S. can no longer act impartially, the Turkish President Reçep Tayyip Erdoğan said at the O.I.C. meeting, Isil Sariyuce and Arwa Damon and Tamara Qiblawi report at CNN.

All these statements fail to impress us, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response to the O.I.C. communiqué recognizing East Jerusalem as Palestines capital. Al Jazeera reports.

Trump remains as committed to peace as ever, a senior White House official said in response to Abbass comments that the Palestinians would no longer accept a U.S. role in the peace process, adding that the Trump administration would unveil its plan for peace when it is ready and the time is right. The APreports.

The Israeli military carried out overnight airstrikes on facilities belonging to the Palestinian Hamas militant group in the Gaza Strip in response to rockets being fired from the territory, the AP reports.

Israel announced the closure of its Gaza border crossing today in response to daily rocket fire over the past week, Reuters reports.

The Islamic State group today threatened attacks on U.S. soil in response to the Trumps Jerusalem decision, but did not give any details. Reuters reports.

Trumps announcement has angered Christians in the region and the pope of the Egyptian Coptic Church has called off a scheduled meeting with Vice President Mike Pence when he visits the region next week. Loveday Morris reports at the Washington Post.

A video has emerged of plain clothes Israeli troops infiltrating a Palestinian demonstration in Ramallah near the military checkpoint in the occupied West Bank, the undercover soldiers arrested Palestinians throwing stones yesterday. Peter Beaumont reports at the Guardian.

The Israeli government should be wary of aligning itself too closely with Trump as it has the potential to undermine the bipartisan support for Israel and ultimately undermine the U.S.-Israel relationship. Derek Chollet writes at Foreign Policy.

NORTH KOREA

Given North Koreas most recent missile test, clearly right now is not the time to engage in dialogue, a White House official said yesterday after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the U.S. is ready to talk without preconditions. Zachary Cohen and Brian Todd report at CNN.

The time for dialogue with North Korea is not now, the State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said yesterday, emphasizing that the Trump administrations policy on North Korea has not changed: talks with North Korea must be based on a commitment to denuclearize. The BBC reports.

The Security Council must be united in implementing sanctions on North Korea, the U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said today during a visit to Japan, adding that diplomatic engagement must be permitted to achieve a peaceful resolution to the crisis. The AP reports.

Tillerson is scheduled to participate in a Security Council Ministerial Briefing tomorrow and reiterate the Trump administrations efforts for maximum pressure to be exerted on North Korea. Max Greenwood reports at the Hill.

The South Korean President Moon Jae-in landed in Beijing yesterday for an official trip aimed at improving ties with China, which have been strained due to the deployment of the U.S.-made T.H.A.A.D. anti-missile system in South Korea. The threat posed by North Korea and a resolution to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula are set to feature high on the agenda, Christopher Bodeen reports at the AP.

The Russian-North Korean military commission have gathered to discuss a 2015 agreement preventing dangerous military activities, Russias embassy to North Korea said today, Reuters reporting.

The U.S. reneged on its pledge to engage in talks with North Korea if it paused all nuclear and missile tests for 60 days and imposed new sanctions instead, North Korean officials have complained, raising skepticism in Pyongyang about the value of diplomatic engagement. Colym Lynch and Dan De Luce explain at Foreign Policy.

The apparent shift in U.S. policy on North Korea in light of Secretary of State Rex Tillersons comments on engaging in talks without preconditions, is analyzed by Adam Taylor at the Washington Post.

TRUMP-RUSSIA

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Muellers investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election during testimony before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, making the comments following revelations of alleged bias in text messages between top F.B.I. agent Peter Strzok and F.B.I. lawyer Lisa Page. Aruna Viswanatha and Del Quentin Wilber report at the Wall Street Journal.

Republicans on the Committee called for investigations into former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the Justice Departments handling of the controversial dossier compiled by former British Intelligence officer Christopher Steele, and some called for an investigation into Mueller himself, however Rosenstein defended Mueller from the attacks and noted that Strzok was removed from Muellers team as soon as the special counsel learned of the text messages. Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein report at POLITICO.

Rosenstein said he would only fire the special counsel if there was good cause and called Mueller a dedicated, respected and heroic public servant, Spencer Ackerman reports at The Daily Beast.

Donald Trump Jr. appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday as part of their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Reuters reports.

There are causes of concern regarding Muellers investigation, the results till now suggest that his probe is free of political taint, but the special counsel must be mindful that the appearance of fairness is as important as the reality, therefore he should remove Andrew Weissmann from his team because he does not appear to be objective. Andrew C. McCarthy writes at the Washington Post.

Mueller has undermined his own credibility, his team have been revealed to have been biased, the talk of anti-Trump insurance policy among F.B.I. officials suggest potential nefarious activity, and the Justice Department and the F.B.I. have damaged public confidence by refusing to cooperate with Congress. The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes.

IRAN

Iran may be defying a U.N. resolution calling on it to halt ballistic missile development, the U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has said in a report to the Security Council, which said that the U.N. was investigating the possible transfer of ballistic missiles to the Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen. However, the report emphasized that the 2015 Iran nuclear deal remains the best way to ensure that Irans nuclear program remains exclusively peaceful in nature. Edith M. Lederer reports at the AP.

The Trump administration has been turning its focus to Iran as its military campaign against the Islamic State group winds down, with some sources saying that the national security adviser H.R. McMaster is considering giving a policy speech on Syria that would outline a new administration strategy and may address the issue of whether U.S. troops in Syria should be used as a bulwark against Iranian expansionism. Dion Nissenbaum reports at the Wall Street Journal.

GUANTÁNAMO BAY

The U.N. special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, claimed that the U.S. has been torturing a detainee at Guantánamo Bay despite banning so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, Melzer made the statement yesterday based on information he has received, however the Pentagon has denied the allegation with a spokesperson saying that no credible evidence has been found to substantiate his claims. Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.

The president signed a statement this week saying that he was keeping the prison at Guantánamo Bay open, but added that he had authority under the constitution as commander-in-chief to release captives, an action that bears similarity to the authority asserted by President Barack Obama, but the statement differed by explicitly saying that the president fully intends to keep open that detention facility and to use it for detention operations.  Carol Rosenberg reports at the Miami Herald.

CHINA

Visits by the U.S. navy vessels to Taiwan would constitute an interference in Chinas internal affairs, Chinas foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said today, after Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, which lays the groundwork for possible mutual visits. Michael Martina and Jess Macy Yu report at Reuters.

The longer-term concerns of U.S. strategists may turn to the influence exerted by China, while the current focus has been on Russia, China has been developing its soft power, economic interests, possibly interfering in the politics of other countries and using its reach to shape norms and narratives. Ishaan Tharoor writes at the Washington Post.

SYRIA

Russian President Vladimir Putins declaration of impending victory in Syria was an over-simplification that does not take into account the vast swaths of territory beyond the control of Putins ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Alexander Smith provides an analysis at NBC News.

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out 18 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq between December 4 and December 7. [Central Command]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The Islamist al-Shabaab group claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on a police training camp in Somalias capital of Mogadishu today, the explosion killed at least 15 officers, according to officials. Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar report at Reuters.

A U.S. citizen who has been held as an enemy combatant in Iraq also hold Saudi Arabian citizenship, the detainee was captured in mid-September and surrendered to the U.S. military having apparently fought with the Islamic State group in Syria. Katie Bo Williams reports at the Hill.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee does not expect to pass a new Authorization on the Use of Military Force (A.U.M.F.) before the end of the year, the chairman of the committee Bob Coker (R-Tenn.) said yesterday, adding that there has, however, been progress on the measure and five principles on the authorization have been circulated. Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.

The closeness between the Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab and Russias F.S.B. security service appears to be unusually close according to a court document revealed by suspected cybercriminal from his jail in Moscow. Ellen Nakashima reports at the Washington Post.

The nearly $700bn allocated to the Pentagon in the annual defense policy bill ignores Americas other urgent needs, some of the budget process has been influence by lobbyists who woo lawmakers to back unneeded or extravagant weapons. While the military is critical to national security, it should not have a license to gobble up tax dollars at the expense of other programs, the New York Times editorial boardwrites.

Putin’s Syria victory lap is premature, experts say

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Standing under clear skies at an air base in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his troops the good news: They had all but secured victory in the Middle East country’s six-year civil war.

“The task of combating armed gangs here in Syria … has been largely resolved — brilliantly resolved,” he said during a surprise announcement Monday.

Image: Russian President Vladimir PutinBut many experts say Putin’s victory lap is premature with huge swaths of the country still out of the control of his ally, President Bashar Assad.

“It’s an over-simplification when people say the war is ending,” said Haid Haid, a consulting research fellow at London’s Chatham House think tank. “This conflict will most likely go on for some time.”

Assad has been fighting a patchwork rebel force since 2011 — a conflict that the hyper-violent Islamic State entered three years later.

His regime was losing ground until Russia joined the fray in 2015, launching what many say has been an indiscriminate bombing campaign that turned the tide in Assad’s favor.

An estimated 400,000 people have died in the conflict and 11 million have been displaced from their homes. During the battle for Aleppo, perhaps the war’s most notorious chokepoint, United Nations investigators found that all sides were guilty of war crimes.

For its part, the Assad’s regime has been accused of chemical attacks on its own people, laying sieges that cut off civilians from essential supplies, and torturing or arbitrarily killing thousands of prison inmates.

This campaign has put Assad in a commanding position.

Supported by Russian airstrikes, as well as Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah and Shiite militias, Syrian forces have squeezed most of the rebels into a relatively small pocket in Idlib Province.

ISIS has been routed from its strongholds of Raqqa and Deir el-Zour and currently controls a sliver of land along the Euphrates River and Syria’s border with Iraq, as well as other low-population desert areas.

Heralding these achievements during his victory speech Monday, Putin also announced he would withdraw some of his forces from Syria because they were no longer necessary.

And the drawdown may not mean that Russia is looking to end its involvement in the conflict anytime soon, according to the Institute for the Study of War. According to a recent report by the Washington think tank, in the past these have been used to “reinsert alternative weapons systems better suited for the next phase of pro-regime operations.”

Image: Syrian airstrikeWhatever Putin’s next motive, most experts agree that a complete victory for his Syrian allies is some way off.

Although precise estimates vary, some say Assad only controls 60 percent of the country, and his forces are still fighting ISIS in the east and other rebels in the west.

The parts of the country not governed by the regime are under the command of a web of different actors, each with their own agendas and demands that experts say could lead to more bloodshed.

“Syria and Russia have obtained the upper hand but that doesn’t mean there won’t continue to be violence between these other groups,” according to Robert Lowe, the deputy director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics. “It’s hard to see any end to the war in sight.”

And it’s not just the forces that Assad is fighting directly whose presence he may have to worry about.

Kurdish-led fighters backed by the United States were central to the liberation of Raqqa and areas along the Euphrates river. The Syrian Kurds also control a huge chunk of northeastern Syria and their long-held ambitions for statehood are vehemently opposed by Turkey.

“Tensions between Turkey and Kurdish forces could escalate into armed conflict,” according to Ziad Majed, an associate professor at the American University in Paris, writing for the Carnegie Middle East Center last month.

The U.S. has some 4,000 troops in Syria. And although President Donald Trump’s focus is apparently elsewhere, namely North Korea, U.S. officials cast doubt on Putin’s claims of victory.

“We think the Russian declarations of ISIS’ defeat are premature,” a White House National Security Council spokeswoman told Reuters on Tuesday. “We have repeatedly seen in recent history that a premature declaration of victory was followed by a failure to consolidate military gains, stabilize the situation and create the conditions that prevent terrorists from reemerging.”

In Idlib Province, the al Qaeda-linked group Tahrir al-Sham is now the dominant force. And ISIS may be squeezed, but earlier this month the group claimed a car bomb attack in the city of Homs that killed 11 members of the Syrian army.

One arena where Assad does appear to hold all the cards is the ongoing peace talks.

The eighth round of negotiations began in Geneva last week but there is still little sign of progress. Assad’s representative suggested at one point that he might not even return to the summit because of the opposition’s demand that the president play no role in any interim administration.

“The regime does not have a reason to negotiate,” said Haid at Chatham House.

The only thing keeping Assad’s representatives engaged at all, according to Lowe at LSE, is international recognition. While Assad has emerged from the past six years still in charge, his supporters hope a peace deal could see Western powers accept his presidency as legitimate.

“If a deal can be done that keeps the regime in power, then that’s in Assad’s interests,” Lowe said. “It’s true that power is what he has now, but it’s not recognized internationally and there’s lots of opposition to him around the world.”

“Drunk Fox News Anchor Gregg Jarrett Arrested During Airport Fight” VIDEO “Fox News Anchor Arrested” – YouTube

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Gregg Jarrett – Google Search

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Gregg Jarrett: FBI Has Become “America’s Secret Police,” Mueller …

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GREGG JARRETT, FOX NEWS: I think we now know that the Mueller investigation is illegitimate and corrupt. And Mueller has been using the FBI as a political weapon. And the FBI has become America’s secret police. Secret surveillance, wiretapping, intimidation, harassment, and threats. It’s like the old …
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Discussing that testimony, Fox News’ Gregg Jarrett told host Sean Hannity why the investigation—defended by Rosenstein—is “all manufactured” by the FBI. “It was always a myth that collusion in a political campaign is a crime,” Jarrett insisted. “It’s not. And there was never a scintilla of evidence that …
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Pills possible factor in Fox News anchor’s arrest

mikenova shared this story .

CLOSE

FOX News weekend anchor Gregg Jarrett was arrested Wednesday and charged with a misdemeanor at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. He was on a leave of absence from the station for ‘personal reasons.’ VPC

Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett. Authorities say Jarrett was charged with a misdemeanor following his arrest May 21, 2014, at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.(Photo: Hennepin County Sherriff’s Office via AP)

Fox News Network anchor Gregg Jarrett, who was arrested in a bar at Minneapolis-St.Paul Airport, may have been under the influence of medication that did not mix well with alcohol, a police report says, according to the Associated Press.

The 59-year-old Jarrett was arrested Wednesday afternoon at Northern Lights Grill in Terminal One, according to Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Patrick Hogan, KARE-TV reports.

Airport police, who were called to the bar, reported that Jarrett seemed intoxicated, acted belligerently and refused to follow their orders.

A bar employee said Jarrett became intoxicated after only one drink, AP reported. He allegedly told a customer he took medication before his flight, but Jarrett denied the statement when questioned by police.

Police found gabapentin pills in his pocket, according to the report. When officers searched Jarrett’s bag it was revealed he was recently released from an alcohol and chemical dependency treatment facility.

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant used to treat conditions ranging from epilepsy to restless leg syndrome, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Strange or unusual thoughts” and drowsiness are listed as potential side effects of the medication. Alcohol may add to the drowsiness, the Library of Medicine adds.

In some cases people taking gabapentin may become suicidal, and there is a risk a user may experience changes in their mental health, including “aggressive, angry, or violent behavior.”

According to the Star-Tribune, the police report also said that Jarrett, at one point, became increasingly agitated and swore as the arresting officer as fire department personnel began evaluating his medical condition.

As the officer was trying to re-handcuff the newsman, Jarrett allegedly grabbed the officer’s arm. Struggling to get Jarrett cuffed, other officers helped subdue the inmate, who was then driven to jail in downtown Minneapolis, the newspaper reports.

A Fox News spokeswoman said Jarrett, who has not been on the air since mid-April, is dealing with “serious personal issues” and his return to the air has yet to be determined.

Gregg Jarrett is seen in a frame grab from his appearance on Fox News Network’s The Kelly File. (Photo: YouTube via Fox News Network)

“We were made aware late last night that Gregg Jarrett was arrested in Minneapolis yesterday and charged with a misdemeanor,” the statement says. “He is dealing with serious personal issues at this time. A date at which Gregg might return to air has yet to be determined.”

The newsman was booked into Hennepin County Jail and charged with interfering with a peace officer, a misdemeanor.

County jail records show that Jarrett posted $300 bail and is scheduled for a court appearance on June 6. He was released at 1:30 a.m. Thursday.

The website TVNEWSER reported this month that Jarrett, a weekend co-anchor, was taken off the air recently after requesting a leave of absence for personal reasons.

The veteran newsman, who was born in Los Angeles, worked at MSNBC before joining Fox in 2002.

Jarrett, who also worked at CNBC and Court TV, has covered stories ranging from the Iraq War to the O.J. Simpson trial.

Contributing: KARE-TV; the Associated Press

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Has the FBI ‘become America’s secret police,’ like the KGB?

mikenova shared this story from The latest updates from The Obameter.

A Fox News legal commentator argued the FBI has become the new KGB, the Soviet-era secret police, during a segment of Hannity.

Here’s the exchange between Gregg Jarrett and the show’s host, Sean Hannity, during the Dec. 6, 2017, edition:

Jarrett: “I think we now know that the (Robert) Mueller investigation is illegitimate and corrupt. And Mueller has been using the FBI as a political weapon. And the FBI has become America’s secret police. Secret surveillance, wiretapping, intimidation, harassment and threats. It’s like the old KGB that comes for you in the dark of the night banging through your door.”

Hannity: “By the way, this is not a game. This is not hyperbole you are using here.”

Jarrett: “No. Ask Paul Manafort, they came for him and broke through his front door.”

Hannity: “And if it can happen to him, Gregg….”

Jarrett: “It can happen to all of us. Absolutely. The FBI is a shadow government now.”

Are today’s FBI and yesterday’s KGB really interchangeable? Jarrett and Hannity said it wasn’t hyperbole.

We checked with a range of experts in the history of both agencies, and even those who are no fans of past and present FBI practices say the comparison is wrongheaded.

Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett

The statement “is over the top and ridiculous,” said Douglas Charles, a historian at Penn State University Greater Allegheny and author of three books on the FBI, including J. Edgar Hoover and the Anti-interventionists: FBI Political Surveillance and the Rise of the Domestic Security State. “And I say this as an FBI historian who has long been critical of the bureau’s history, its political surveillance, its use of illegal wiretaps, its harassment of the LGBT community, and its promotion of ‘morality’ issues.”

To be sure, some of the tactics Jarrett cited are used by the FBI, or more broadly by law enforcement agencies in the United States.

The pre-dawn, break-down-the-door raid ordered at a house owned by Manafort — President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman now under indictment on several counts involving his foreign lobbying business — is not especially unusual. Such raids are more common in drug investigations than in white collar crime, according to Radley Balko, a criminal justice blogger for the Washington Post and author of Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.

Meanwhile, law enforcement has the ability to conduct warrantless wiretaps under certain circumstances, despite the longstanding opposition of civil liberties groups.

A category of subpoena called a “national security letter” provides “a law-enforcement officer with broad discretion or authority to search and seize unspecified places or persons,” said John Pike, director of <a href=”http://globalsecurity.org” rel=”nofollow”>globalsecurity.org</a>.

National security letters have been used to trawl through “customer records held by banks, telephone companies, Internet service providers, and others,” who are then prevented from telling anyone about these searches, according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

However, the use of such tools does not make the FBI, or any other U.S. law enforcement agency, the same as a secret police agency such as the old KGB. For one thing, those tactics sometimes may be needed.

“Breaking down front doors in the dark of night is a bit melodramatic, but it is probably necessary to avoid destruction of evidence,” Pike said. (Preventing destruction of evidence was the reported justification for the Manafort raid.)

“Legitimate concerns about the increase in law enforcement’s surveillance capacity over the last decade or so are de-legitimized by such a specious pairing of agencies,” said Victor E. Kappeler, a criminologist at Eastern Kentucky University and co-author of Policing in America and Homeland Security.

Here are some of the reasons why any comparison between the two agencies is problematic.

• Just because the FBI sometimes operates in secret does not mean that it’s a “secret police.”

“By ‘secret police,’ we do not mean ‘police activity that is secret’ any more than by ‘public interest’ we mean ‘what the public is interested in,’ ” said Anthony Glees, director of the Center for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham and the author of The Stasi Files: The UK Operations of the East German Intelligence and Security Service.

Indeed, the very fact that a legal analyst can criticize the FBI on a national television broadcast is a significant departure from anything that would be possible in a country with a true secret police.

• The FBI is run by laws, not by whim. The KGB — which translates from the Russian acronym for Committee for State Security — answered to and served the interests of the Communist Party, not any system of law.

Put simply, “the FBI is subject to the laws limiting police powers,” said Joseph Wippl, a former clandestine Central Intelligence Agency officer who now teaches at Boston University. “These laws were passed by a Congress elected by the U.S. population. These laws can be changed, either restricting or expanding police powers.”

Robert Mueller, the special counsel, “needs to work within an independent judicial system to get search warrants and to indict suspects, whereas in the Soviet Union, there was generally no meaningful judicial oversight of the secret police,” said Edward Cohn, a Grinnell College historian and author of The High Title of a Communist. “And KGB efforts at intimidation and surveillance often went beyond anything the FBI is accused of doing.”

Simon Ball, the chair of international history and politics at the University of Leeds and author of The Cold War: An International History 1947-1991, agreed. “The contemporary U.S. political system and the Soviet political system of 1954, when the KGB was formed, are not comparable in any sensible analytical scheme,” he said.

• The FBI doesn’t torture or carry out extrajudicial executions. “The KGB carried out the repression of a totalitarian state that murdered tens of millions of innocent people in the name of a political ideology,” said Gregory Feifer a journalist and author of Russians: The People Behind the Power. “Whatever one thinks about the FBI — with its many faults and occasional moves toward KGB-like surveillance of government critics over the years — it is an integral part of our rule-of-law society.”

A secret police like the KGB operates “through the institutionalised use of torture,” Glees said. By contrast, “any use of unnecessary violence, let alone torture, would be met with the full force of the criminal law.”

Even as bad as the Hoover-era FBI was about civil liberties and abuse of power, Charles said, “it was still no KGB-like organization coming for people in the dead of night who were then ‘disappeared.’ ” Indeed, he said, the excesses of Hoover’s tenure were, to a large extent, curbed after his death by the ordinary workings of the democratic process.

Pike of <a href=”http://globalsecurity.org” rel=”nofollow”>globalsecurity.org</a> said that, while there’s a need for vigilance, “there does seem to have been a remarkable absence of abuses of these far-reaching powers.”

He added, “Whatever happens to you down at the J.Edgar Hoover building, you are pretty confident it will not entail a bullet to the back of the head.”

A Fox News representative did not respond to an inquiry for this article.

Our ruling

Jarrett said that “the FBI has become America’s secret police … “The FBI has become America’s secret police …  like the old KGB.” He also agreed with Hannity that the statement was not an exaggeration.

Numerous historians of the FBI and the KGB say the comparison is ridiculous. The KGB implemented the goals of the Communist Party leadership, including countless examples of tortures and summary executions. The FBI, by contrast, is subject to the rule of law and is democratically accountable. We rate the statement Pants on Fire.

Gregg Jarrett

Fox legal analyst

“The FBI has become America’s secret police … like the old KGB.”

an interview on “Hannity” – Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Not for the criminals but for themselves Mike Novas Shared NewsLinks 2:48 PM 12/12/2017

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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Not for the criminals whom they cannot catch because they are not capable of solving their crimes, but for themselves, for the years of abuse of power, lying to the American people… pic.twitter.com/nVviEklIuq Putin Ordered Theft Of Clinton’s Emails From DNC, Russian Hacker … Continue reading“Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Not for the criminals but for themselves – Mike Novas Shared NewsLinks – 2:48 PM 12/12/2017”

Trump – Google News: Omarosa Manigault’s departure highlights lack of diversity in Trump White House – Washington Post

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Washington Post
Omarosa Manigault’s departure highlights lack of diversity in Trump White House
Washington Post
Omarosa Manigault, the former reality TV star who joined President Trump’s White House as one of his most prominent African American supporters, resigned under pressure after a confrontation with Chief of Staff John F. Kelly that ended when she was 
Donald Trump Wishes Omarosa Continued Success After She Exits White House Under Security EscortDeadline
Omarosa Manigault Newman, Trump’s apprentice on television and at the White House, resignsUSA TODAY
Trump thanks Omarosa, “Apprentice” star escorted from White House in dramatic departureCBS News
ABC News –Business Insider –TMZ.com
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Handcuffs for the FBI: This is the best solution for their problems!

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Handcuffs for the FBI: This is the best solution for their problems!
Sanctions trial witness says he got $50,000 from FBI

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 NEW YORK/ ANKARA

Sanctions trial witness says he got $50,000 from FBIA fugitive police officer sought over links to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) said he received financial aid from the FBI during a trial into a former Turkish bank executive held in the United States.

Former police officer Hüseyin Korkmaz acknowledged receiving financial assistance from the U.S. government, including $50,000 from the FBI and housing assistance from prosecutors, Courthouse News reported on Dec. 12.

Cooperating with the prosecutors, Korkmaz has been testifying against the former Halkbank deputy general manager Mehmet Hakan Atilla.

Another name cooperating with the prosecutor is Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, who was arrested in the Miami last year over violating U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Zarrab’s name was involved in the corruption probes in Turkey from Dec. 17-25, 2013, which also embroiled four former ministers and other state officials. Zarrab was accused of paying bribes to senior government figures but eventually the charges were quashed by the government, which said the probe was masterminded by followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.

After getting arrested in the U.S., Zarrab become the prosecution’s top witness in the trial, leaving Atilla as the sole man on the dock accused of violating sanctions, bribery and money laundering.

Atilla’s trial continued on Dec. 12 with the testimony of Korkmaz, who said he received financial aid from the U.S. authorities but had not asked for it.

Along the way, Korkmaz claimed that Turkish police were watching Halkbank’s former general manager Süleyman Aslan, former Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan and former Interior Minister Muammer Güler.

On Dec. 12, Korkmaz turned his sights to the man on trial, referring to evidence that he said he found on Zarrab’s cellphone.

“I spoke to Hakan,” Zarrab said in a transcript of a phone conversation, according to Korkmaz. “They’re going to transfer soon.”

Korkmaz added later that he recognized the last four digits of two phone numbers: Atilla’s and Zarrab’s.

Such testimony could prove crucial for prosecutors to prove that Atilla played an important role in a scheme in which his attorneys contend he was at best, a minor player.

Before fleeing Turkey, Korkmaz said, he gathered all of the evidence of the cases he had been building and prosecutors entered more of that evidence into the record.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ has blasted the New York trial as a “plot against Turkey,” saying Zarrab was “forced to confess” in a case “that includes FETÖ members.”

“Zarrab was put under pressure either with the threat of punishment or on the hope of being released. Would you seek justice in this case?” Bozdağ told parliament during 2018 budget talks on Dec. 12.

“FETÖ terrorists are witnesses in the trial,” he said.

“Recent testimonies have surfaced. The FETÖ terrorist who carried out the Dec. 17 investigation is there and says he ‘brought the documents and pieces of paper.’ He is a witness. Another witness is a fugitive FETÖ banker and his signature is on a piece of paper that is a so-called report there. An official expert was appointed from a non-governmental organization financially supported by FETÖ,” Bozdağ said, noting that the case’s judge Richard Berman visited Turkey in 2014.

“The judge carrying out the trial was brought to Turkey in May 2014 by FETÖ members. This judge released a statement of support regarding the Dec. 17-25 process here,” he added.

“But it is impossible for them to finish a plot in the U.S. that started in Turkey,” Bozdağ said, decrying “lies and smears” in the trial.

“This is a plot and all of those [allegations] were investigated by prosecutors in Turkey. They were also investigated by parliament and decisions were given. So there is nothing new. No one has the right to tire Turkey with these smears and lies. Our stance in this regard is very clear and we will continue to maintain our stance on the side of the people,” he said.

FETÖFethullah GülenReza ZarrabBekir BozdağHüseyin KorkmazSüleyman Aslan

Report: Turkish Police Summon FBI Official – Voice of America

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Voice of America
Report: Turkish Police Summon FBI Official
Voice of America
Turkish police summoned a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) official on Wednesday over statements made in a U.S. court by a former Turkish police investigator who fled the country last year, the state-run Anadolu Agency said. Anadolu said the FBI
FBI’s Turkey representative summoned to the Directorate General of SecurityDaily Sabah
Sanctions trial witness says he got $50000 from FBIHurriyet Daily News
Turkish security HQ summons FBI representativeAnadolu Agency

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6:56 AM 11/20/2017 Should The FBI Be Abolished?

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Investigate the investigators! Save America! Reform the FBI now! Should The FBI Be Abolished? Monday November 20th, 2017 at 6:34 AM 1 Share For the last few years, the media has been dominated by a number of sensational stories: that Trump colluded with Russia to influence the presidential election; that the Trump team was wiretapped by Obama … Continue reading“6:56 AM 11/20/2017 – Should The FBI Be Abolished?”

In Major Shift, Putin Pushing Russia’s Military Leadership Into Foreign Policy Role – Haaretz

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In Major Shift, Putin Pushing Russia’s Military Leadership Into Foreign Policy Role
Haaretz
During the visit, Haftar spoke to Shoigu via video link about fighting terrorism in the Middle East. One Western official told Reuters such incidents were fuelling fears that Russia plans to expand its footprint beyond Syria, where it has an air base 
Russian sale of anti-missile system to Turkey: A dagger in the heart of NatoThe Straits Times

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‘Unfit to clean toilets’: USA Today’s unusually forceful editorial about Trump – Washington Post

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‘Unfit to clean toilets’: USA Today’s unusually forceful editorial about Trump
Washington Post
Hot takes aren’t really USA Today’s thing, but the newspaper’s editorial board delivered a pillar of fire to hotel rooms across the country Wednesday. Writing about President Trump’s sexually suggestive statement that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y 
A good day for decency is a bad day for TrumpCNN
USA Today editorial says Trump unfit to clean Obama’s toiletBBC News
Trump Blames Democrats for ‘False Accusations’ From WomenNew York Times
NPR –Politico –CNN
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Tyrrell: Russia’s influence spreads throughout the capital – News Chief

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Tyrrell: Russia’s influence spreads throughout the capital
News Chief
The FBI has a lot to answer for, and it ought to be investigated itself. As for the Russians, they now have more say in Washington than at any time I can remember. Those in Official Washington who have adopted Clinton’s strategy have made Kislyak a 

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Donald Trumps demise just became assured

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Donald Trumps demise just became assured

Donald Trumps demise just became assured

For some time now, Donald Trump’s demise has been nearly inevitable, and anyone who has paid close attention has been able to see it. However, no matter how thoroughly Special Counsel Robert Mueller proves that

Russia, China make gains globally as US influence wanes – CBC.ca

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Russia, China make gains globally as US influence wanes
CBC.ca
And then the Russian President carried on to Cairo, where he signed a $21 billion US deal to build a nuclear plant for the Egyptian government, rekindling a Cold War alliance. Putin also spent some time in Ankara, cozying up to President Recep Tayyip 

investigation of fbi Handcuffs for the FBI: This is the best solution for their problems! pic.twitter.com/pLC3OlUCuR

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Bashing Mueller won’t make the Russia probe go away

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To the editor: When Robert S. Mueller III was appointed special counsel by the Justice Department earlier this year to investigate the Trump campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 election, he was spoken about as if he were the next best thing to come around since sliced bread. Now there is a campaign against him merely because he is getting some results. (“The campaign to delegitimize the Russia probe is well under way,” Opinion, Dec. 10)

Let the man do his job as he has done thus far, quietly and effectively. As has so often been pointed out to President Trump’s followers, the more you leave Mueller to his task, the more quickly he will probably finish it.

J. David Knobler, Winnetka

..

To the editor: Forgive me if I seem somewhat more cynical than columnist Doyle McManus in his characterization of the anti-Mueller campaign as something that might cause Trump to fire the special counsel. It doesn’t take too wild of an imagination to assume that this “campaign” is being orchestrated by Trump’s inner circle as a prelude to Mueller’s dismissal.

Trump is now facing the Hobson’s choice of allowing Mueller’s investigation to continue, thereby almost certainly exposing a boatload of Trump’s questionable financial dealings, which could provide grounds for impeachment, or firing Mueller and hoping to whether the resultant calls for impeachment.

The president would be more likely to survive the latter scenario, especially if he dismisses Mueller when the electorate is distracted with holiday preparations. So, look for Trump to act just before Christmas Day.

Happy holidays!

Robert Michael LaCarr, Los Angeles

..

To the editor: As the Los Angeles Times’ former Washington bureau chief, McManus knows well that what is going on now with Mueller pales in comparison to the bashing of special prosecutor Kenneth Starr by Bill Clinton’s ferocious partisans in the late 1990s.

Those doing the Mueller bashing today would be well-advised to take a page or two from the history books on Starr’s demonization.

George A. Vandeman, Pacific Palisades

..

To the editor: If Trump wants a successful Saturday Night Massacre, he should have Mueller fired before the pending tax legislation gets signed into law.

While the Republicans in Congress have expressed publicly that a Mueller firing may trigger an obstruction of justice investigation — possibly cascading into a full-blown constitutional crisis — they will nary allow it to happen before their precious “Donor Relief Act” arrives at Trump’s desk ready for him to sign.

Larry Craig, Encinitas

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

Bashing Mueller won’t make the Russia probe go away – Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles Times
Bashing Mueller won’t make the Russia probe go away
Los Angeles Times
Trump is now facing the Hobson’s choice of allowing Mueller’s investigation to continue, thereby almost certainly exposing a boatload of Trump’s questionable financial dealings, which could provide grounds for impeachment, or firing Mueller and hoping 
Why Conservatives Should Embrace Robert MuellerSlate Magazine

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Is the US on the Verge of a Constitutional Crisis? – In Homeland Security

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Is the US on the Verge of a Constitutional Crisis?
In Homeland Security
So why did the FBI prosecute Flynn for lying, but not Abedin and Mills? What was Strzok’s role in the now infamously discredited Russian Dossier that might have been used as the excuse to gain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to 
FBI Agent Praised Hillary Clinton While He Was Leading Email InvestigationThe Narrative Times
Mueller Team Member Texts Mention Protecting Country from TrumpFrontPage Magazine
CONFLICT OF INTEREST – The Mueller Investigation is Wholly UnlawfulCanada Free Press
Slate Magazine –WXIA-TV
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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Putin Ordered Theft Of Clinton’s Emails From DNC, Russian Hacker Confesses
Putin Ordered Theft Of Clinton’s Emails From DNC, Russian Hacker Confesses – Newsweek
Is The FBI Biased? Democrats and Republicans Have Accused the Bureau of Political Persecution
Is The FBI Biased? Democrats and Republicans Have Accused the Bureau of Political Persecution – Newsweek
8:56 AM 12/12/2017 FBI News Review: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! | Democrats seek alleged evidence of anti-Clinton bias at the FBI Politico
Former police officer argues FBI pushed him to support terrorism – Washington Post
Trump attorney says FBI, DOJ ‘conflicts’ require second special counsel – NBCNews.com
12:01 PM 12/12/2017 fbi Google News: Former police officer argues FBI pushed him to support terrorism Washington Post
Trumps lawyer calls for a special counsel investigation of alleged corruption at FBI and Justice Department
fbi – Google News: Former police officer argues FBI pushed him to support terrorism – Washington Post
FBI News Review: The Showboats and The Perfect Robots: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Fire the nincompoops and put them in prison! Front Page Link
The Showboats and The Perfect Robots: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Fire the nincompoops and put them in prison! Front Page Link
8:16 AM 11/2/2017 Is FBI indeed any closer to drawing a conclusion on motive f…
mueller – Google News: Why Team Trump Needs to Lay Off the Mueller Probe – New York Times
peter strzok is removed – Google News: HUGH HEWITT: A special counsel needs to investigate the FBI and Justice Department. Now – Apalachicola Times
Andrew McCabe – Google News: Democrats seek alleged evidence of anti-Clinton ‘bias’ at the FBI – Politico
mueller – Google News: Let Mueller Keep Digging – Wall Street Journal
fbi – Google News: FBI’s McCabe ‘has an Ohr problem,’ will not testify on Tuesday, source says – Fox News
Andrew McCabe – Google News: FBI’s McCabe ‘has an Ohr problem,’ will not testify on Tuesday, source says – Fox News
FBI News Review: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems!
Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems!
Trump is the one in ‘tatters,’ not the FBI (opinion)
Democrats seek alleged evidence of anti-Clinton ‘bias’ at the FBI
Leah Vukmir slams Russia probe, FBI: ‘Something is rotten’ | State and Regional
Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Not for the criminals whom they cannot catch because they are not capable of solving their crimes, but for themselves, for the years of abuse of power, lying to the American people… pic.twitter.com/nVviEklIuq
 

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Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Not for the criminals whom they cannot catch because they are not capable of solving their crimes, but for themselves, for the years of abuse of power, lying to the American people… pic.twitter.com/nVviEklIuq



Posted by mikenov on Tuesday, December 12th, 2017 10:54am
Putin Ordered Theft Of Clinton’s Emails From DNC, Russian Hacker Confesses
 

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A Russian hacker accused of stealing from Russian banks reportedly confessed in court that he hacked the U.S. Democratic National Committee (DNC) and stole Hillary Clinton’s emails under the direction of agents from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

According to Russian news site The Bell, Konstantin Kozlovsky, a Russian citizen working for a hacker group called Lurk, confessed to hacking Clinton’s emails during a hearing about his arrest in August. An audio recording and minutes from the hearing were posted on Kozlovsky’s Facebook page, and their authenticity was reportedly confirmed by The Bell.

In a handwritten letter that also appears in a photo on his Facebook page, Kozlovsky admits to hacking the DNC on the orders of an FSB agent he called “Ilya.”

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If confirmed, the hacker’s claims could prove that President Vladimir Putin’s government was behind the hacking of the DNC, despite the Kremlin’s insistence that it was not involved.

A handwritten confession appears on Konstantin Kozlovsky’s Facebook page. Facebook

U.S. intelligence services have determined that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and was involved in stealing emails from the DNC. Cybersecurity company CrowdStrike concluded last year that the DNC’s emails had been breached by hackers associated with the FSB and Russian military intelligence.

“CrowdStrike stands fully by its analysis and findings identifying two separate Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries present in the DNC network in May 2016,” the company said in a statement.

Some of the hacked emails were released by WikiLeaks in July 2016, just in time for the Democratic National Convention. Reportedly, the CIA later identified Russian officials who fed material hacked from the DNC to WikiLeaks under Putin’s orders.

Clinton’s emails also have been the subject of multiple investigations into whether President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. Donald Trump Jr. and the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have admitted to meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 who promised that she had dirt on Clinton. Both men later claimed that the lawyer did not provide the promised material.

In this context, it is tempting to view Kozlovsky’s confession as the smoking gun needed to link the Kremlin to the hacks. Nevertheless, experts say there are reasons to be skeptical of the confession.

Many of the individuals implicated in Kozlovsky’s letter are currently on the bad side of the Russian government. For example, Kozlovsky identified his FSB handler as Dmitry Dokuchaev, a cybersecurity expert who worked as a hacker before joining the FSB.

Dokuchaev, who used the moniker “Forb,” has been linked to a group of hackers called Shaltai Boltai, or Humpty Dumpty, that published emails from Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and other Kremlin officials. The Kremlin has accused him of being a double agent working with U.S. intelligence services.

Dokuchaev is accused in the U.S. of hacking about 500 million Yahoo email accounts in 2014. He appears on the FBI’s most wanted list.

Dmitry Dokuchaev, an officer in Russia’s Federal Security Service, is accused in the U.S. of hacking about 500 million Yahoo email accounts in 2014. Reuters

Kozlovsky also names Kaspersky Lab official Ruslan Stoyanov, who is currently jailed in Russia on charges of treason for allegedly leaking information about Russian hackers to the U.S. government.

In September, the U.S. government ordered all federal agencies to remove Kaspersky Lab software from their networks, alleging that the company is linked to Russian spy networks. Kaspersky has denied that it is tied to the Kremlin, but experts say it would be almost impossible for a company as large as Kaspersky to operate in Russia without cooperating with the government in some way.

To some, it appears that Kozlovsky’s confession conveniently targets enemies of the Kremlin and provides Putin with an opportunity to claim that the hack was ordered by rogue elements.

“[The confession] puts the blame on a narrow group of people who are already in prison, and it moves the blame to an outsourced hack. This would allow Putin to pretend to be shocked that there are hackers in Russia doing this,” Mark Galeotti, a researcher on Russian crime at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, told Newsweek.

“The FSB is prone to employ outside hackers and gives them a choice of working with the FSB or go to prison,” he said.

What’s more, Galeotti said, it’s unlikely the confession letter would have been leaked from prison and added to Kozlovsky’s Facebook page unless someone higher up wanted it to be seen.

Meanwhile, some experts say that Kozlovsky likely had his own reasons for pointing a finger at the two men. Andrei Soldatov, co-author of the book the Red Web and an expert on Russian cybersecurity, said he believes Kozlovsky invented the story about his direction from the FSB for personal gain.

“I’ve been communicating with [Kozlovsky] for four months, and he has failed to give me any proof or answer my questions,” Soldatov told Newsweek.

Kozlovsky’s former hacking group has been accused of stealing more than $17 million from Russian financial institutions with the help of a computer virus. Stoyanov, who worked for Kaspersky’s investigative unit, was allegedly one of the individuals who helped put Kozlovsky and the rest of his hacker group in prison.

“He was put in jail by these guys so it could be out of revenge, or he wanted to make a deal with the FSB,” Soldatov said.

Putin Ordered Theft Of Clinton’s Emails From DNC, Russian Hacker Confesses – Newsweek
 

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Newsweek
Putin Ordered Theft Of Clinton’s Emails From DNC, Russian Hacker Confesses
Newsweek
If confirmed, the hacker’s claims could prove that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government was behind the hacking of the DNC, despite the Russian government’s insistence that it was not involved. 20770072_1620562114642453_7469519988792329785_n A 
Jailed hacker claims Russia’s secret service ordered him to break into Democratic Party computers during US electionThe Sun
Russian hacker claims he hacked the DNC during the 2016 election ‘under the orders’ of the FSBInternational Business Times UKall 5 news articles »

Is The FBI Biased? Democrats and Republicans Have Accused the Bureau of Political Persecution
 

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Once largely removed from the partisan political maelstrom of Washington, D.C., the FBI is now the focus of a fierce tussle by Republicans and Democrats.

Allies of President Donald Trump and pro-Trump conservative news outlets have launched a series of blistering attacks against Robert Mueller, former FBI director and now special counsel, appointed to investigate alleged ties between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.

Former FBI Director James Comey speaks before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty

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Republican anger has focused on Peter Strzok, a senior FBI official dismissed from the Russia probe after allegedly sending anti-Trump texts. For Republicans, the reports were yet more evidence that the Russia probe is a politically motivated “witch hunt,” as Trump has repeatedly tweeted.

Some on the right have also alleged Strzok may have stymied the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email account while secretary of state—one of the defining controversies of her 2016 presidential campaign. Controversy in particular stems from the suggestion in a CNN report that Strzok had a role in a drafting a July 2016 statement by former Director James Comey, in which Clinton’s handling of the emails was described as “extremely careless,” while in earlier drafts Comey used the phrase “grossly negligent”—a difference in phrasing with important legal repercussions.

“How did the Russia investigation start? Did Peter Strzok—did he start it?” Representative Ron DeSantis, a Florida Republican, demanded of current FBI Director Christopher Wray during an Congressional oversight hearing last week.

As the Russia probe closed round key Trump campaign officials, the president described the FBI as a “shambles” in a tweet in early December. This followed his statements in October that said the bureau may have conspired to fabricate the notorious Christopher Steele dossier, in which the British spy suggested Trump might have been ensnared by Russian intelligence.

Fearing Trump could try to use the criticism over Strzok as a pretext to sack Mueller, Democrats have hit back in a bid to turn the tables on Republican allegations of bias. Two House Democrats on Monday demanded the Justice Department hand over documents they believe could show “politically motivated misconduct” at the bureau meant to harm Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election chances, as well as leaks to a conservative website about the Clinton emails investigation.

Representatives Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, and Elijah Cummings, of Maryland, the senior Democrats on the House’s judiciary and oversight committees, wrote a letter to the Justice Department, saying the agency should look into the suggestion that FBI agents may have leaked information on the Clinton investigation to pro-Trump conspiracy site True Pundit in 2016.

The site published a number of stories alleging that pro-Clinton government officials blocked efforts to bring charges against the candidate, which the Democrats believe may have played a role in encouraging the FBI to re-open the investigation only weeks before the election. Clinton has blamed her loss on Comey’s decision to go public with the new investigation.

In their letter, reported in Politico, the House Democrats reference senior Trump allies, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, suggesting they may have been tipped off about the new investigation by anti-Clinton FBI insiders before it was publicly announced, giving new impetus to the foundering Trump campaign.

As the bureau negotiates arguably the most perilous political terrain it has encountered since Watergate, former senior officials have stepped forward to defend its integrity.

“Every FBI agent, and Pete [Strzok] is no different, knows how to investigate and follow the facts,” a former senior official told The Hill. “It’s astonishing. There’s a lack of understanding of how we operate as an organization—one, to think that we could not have political views and conduct impartial investigations, and two, to assume with a complex investigation like this that one person could change the outcome.”

Amid the attacks, FBI Director Christopher Wray sent a morale boosting message to staff early in December.

Wray said he was, “inspired by example after example of professionalism and dedication to justice demonstrated around the Bureau. It is truly an honor to represent you.”

“Keep calm and tackle hard” wrote Wray in the agency-wide internal email.

The handling of the Clinton email investigation is currently under review by the Justice Department inspector general, Michael Horowitz, an investigation Wray described in testimony to Congress last week as “very active.” He went on to say that politicized decisions had no role in the FBI.

“I am emphasizing in every audience I can inside the bureau that our decisions need to be made based on nothing other than the facts and the law and our rules and our processes and our core values and not based on any political considerations by any side of the aisle,” he said.

For critics it is precisely a misplaced sense of personal integrity that lies at the heart of the bureau’s current position. They argue that Comey’s belief in his own personal righteousness led him to abandon long-established protocols in the handling of the Clinton investigation—leaving the bureau open to accusations of bias and political meddling.

“I think he has a bit of a God complex—that he’s the last honest man in Washington,” a former Justice Department official who has worked with him told the New Yorker in May. “And I think that’s dangerous.”

Customarily the FBI does not disclose information about ongoing investigations, or do anything that may influence an election. Comey was reportedly reluctant to plunge the bureau into the center of a bitterly contested election in 2016—but was concerned of the consequences should it emerge that the agency had not revealed that Clinton, who was widely expected to win, was under investigation.

What Comey didn’t reveal at the time was that the Trump campaign was also under investigation for its ties to Russian officials—placing Comey in the unprecedented positon in 2016 of being in possession of information potentially severely damaging to either candidate’s prospects.

But with Trump the unexpected victor and with no end in sight for the Mueller probe—it is this investigation that seems likely will continue to act as a lightening rod for controversy.

Is The FBI Biased? Democrats and Republicans Have Accused the Bureau of Political Persecution – Newsweek
 

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Newsweek
Is The FBI Biased? Democrats and Republicans Have Accused the Bureau of Political Persecution
Newsweek
The handling of the Clinton email investigation is currently under review by the Justice Department inspector general, Michael Horowitz, an investigation Wray described in testimony to Congress last week as very active. He went on to say that and more »

8:56 AM 12/12/2017 FBI News Review: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! | Democrats seek alleged evidence of anti-Clinton bias at the FBI Politico
 

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FBI News Review: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Saved Stories Saved Stories – None fbi – Google News: FBI director again laments strong encryption in remarks to Congress – Ars Technica fbi – Google News: Military Fails to Disclose Criminal Convictions to FBI – U.S. News & World Report mueller – Google … Continue reading“8:56 AM 12/12/2017 – FBI News Review: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! | Democrats seek alleged evidence of anti-Clinton ‘bias’ at the FBI – Politico”

Former police officer argues FBI pushed him to support terrorism – Washington Post
 

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Washington Post
Former police officer argues FBI pushed him to support terrorism
Washington Post
A police officer on trial this week claims that he was pushed into trying to help the Islamic State by federal agents pretending to be his friend. Prosecutors say that Nicholas Young is a dangerous believer in not just radical Islam but neo-Nazism and more »

Trump attorney says FBI, DOJ ‘conflicts’ require second special counsel – NBCNews.com
 

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NBCNews.com
Trump attorney says FBI, DOJ ‘conflicts’ require second special counsel
NBCNews.com
WASHINGTON A member of President Donald Trump’s legal team said Tuesday that it’s time to create a second special counsel to start investigating the FBI and Department of Justice. Jay Sekulow confirmed his remarks, which were first reported by Axios 
Trump is the one in ‘tatters,’ not the FBICNN
FBI agent becomes GOP public enemy No. 1The Hill
FBI director again laments strong encryption in remarks to CongressArs Technica
New York Magazine –Business Insider –FactCheck.org –Twitter
all 397 news articles »
12:01 PM 12/12/2017 fbi Google News: Former police officer argues FBI pushed him to support terrorism Washington Post
 

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Saved Stories Saved Stories – None fbi – Google News: Former police officer argues FBI pushed him to support terrorism – Washington Post FBI News Review: The Showboats and The Perfect Robots: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Fire the nincompoops and put them in prison! Front Page Link The Showboats and The … Continue reading“12:01 PM 12/12/2017 – fbi – Google News: Former police officer argues FBI pushed him to support terrorism – Washington Post”

Trumps lawyer calls for a special counsel investigation of alleged corruption at FBI and Justice Department
 

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Trump's lawyer calls for a special counsel investigation of alleged corruption at FBI and Justice Department

One of President Trump’s personal lawyers called Tuesday for a special counsel to investigate alleged corruption at the FBI and Justice Department. Jay Sekulow, a member of the legal team counseling Trump on special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s wide-ranging Russia probe, said Tuesday that a second special counsel should be appointed to focus on FBI […]

fbi – Google News: Former police officer argues FBI pushed him to support terrorism – Washington Post
 

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Washington Post
Former police officer argues FBI pushed him to support terrorism
Washington Post
A police officer on trial this week claims that he was pushed into trying to help the Islamic State by federal agents pretending to be his friend. Prosecutors say that Nicholas Young is a dangerous believer in not just radical Islam but neo-Nazism and more »

 fbi – Google News

FBI News Review: The Showboats and The Perfect Robots: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Fire the nincompoops and put them in prison! Front Page Link
 

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The Showboats and The Perfect Robots: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Fire the nincompoops and put them in prison! Front Page – Link  FBI News Review fbinewsreview.org | Investigate the investigators! Save America! Reform the FBI now! | News, Reviews, Analysis, Opinions

 FBI News Review

The Showboats and The Perfect Robots: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Fire the nincompoops and put them in prison! Front Page Link
 

mikenova shared this story from FBI News Review.

The Showboats and The Perfect Robots: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Fire the nincompoops and put them in prison! Front Page – Link  FBI News Review fbinewsreview.org | Investigate the investigators! Save America! Reform the FBI now! | News, Reviews, Analysis, Opinions

8:16 AM 11/2/2017 Is FBI indeed any closer to drawing a conclusion on motive f…
 

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8:16 AM 11/2/2017 – Is FBI indeed any closer to drawing a conclusion on motive for Las Vegas shooting?! I very much doubt it. – M.N. | Las Vegas Shooting

Is FBI indeed any closer to drawing a conclusion on motive for Las Vegas shooting?! I very much doubt it. – M.N. FBI is closer to drawing a conclusion on motive for Las Vegas shooting Thursday November 2nd, 2017 at 8:04 AM 1 Share Jim Wilson / The New York Times FBI agents gather near an entrance to…

mueller – Google News: Why Team Trump Needs to Lay Off the Mueller Probe – New York Times
 

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New York Times
Why Team Trump Needs to Lay Off the Mueller Probe
New York Times
While President Trump’s allies have unleashed a political assault on the investigation led by the special counsel, RobertMueller, his lawyers are arguing that Mr. Mueller lacks even the legal authority to investigate the president for obstruction of 
NBC: Mueller Focusing on Trump ObstructionValueWalkall 5 news articles »

 mueller – Google News

peter strzok is removed – Google News: HUGH HEWITT: A special counsel needs to investigate the FBI and Justice Department. Now – Apalachicola Times
 

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Power Line (blog)
HUGH HEWITT: A special counsel needs to investigate the FBI and Justice Department. Now
Apalachicola Times
The Washington Post reported that a former top FBI official, Peter Strzok, who had been assigned to and then removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, had exchanged politically charged texts disparaging President Donald Trump and 
Gregg Jarrett: How an FBI official with a political agenda corrupted both Mueller, Comey investigationsFox News
Stray Strzok thoughtsPower Line (blog)
Sean Hannity: Robert Mueller is ‘a disgrace to the American justice system’Washington Times
New York Times –CNN
all 82 news articles »

 peter strzok is removed – Google News

Andrew McCabe – Google News: Democrats seek alleged evidence of anti-Clinton ‘bias’ at the FBI – Politico
 

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Politico
Democrats seek alleged evidence of anti-Clinton ‘bias’ at the FBI
Politico
New emails released by the FBI, in response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act request, show that the bureau’s deputy director, Andrew McCabe, forwarded to then-director James Comey an Oct. 26 True Pundit story which insinuated that McCabe 
Suspend Robert Mueller’s politically tainted investigation into Russia-Trump collusionUSA TODAY
America Is Heading for an Unprecedented Constitutional CrisisForeign Policy (blog)
Congress Must Charge Stonewalling DOJ, FBI With ContemptNewsmax
World Tribune –ExpressNewsline –Canada Free Press –Wall Street Journal
all 375 news articles »

 Andrew McCabe – Google News

mueller – Google News: Let Mueller Keep Digging – Wall Street Journal
 

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Wall Street Journal
Let Mueller Keep Digging
Wall Street Journal
At a moment when the special counsel’s team is busy calling its own fairness and impartiality into question, why would Donald Trump even think of firing Robert Mueller ? When the special counsel picked his team, almost half the lawyers he selected had 

 mueller – Google News

fbi – Google News: FBI’s McCabe ‘has an Ohr problem,’ will not testify on Tuesday, source says – Fox News
 

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Fox News
FBI’s McCabe ‘has an Ohr problem,’ will not testify on Tuesday, source says
Fox News
House investigators previously told Fox News they have long regarded Strzok as a key figure in the chain of events when the bureau, in 2016, received the infamous anti-Trump dossier, which launched a counterintelligence investigation into possible and more »

 fbi – Google News

Andrew McCabe – Google News: FBI’s McCabe ‘has an Ohr problem,’ will not testify on Tuesday, source says – Fox News
 

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Fox News
FBI’s McCabe ‘has an Ohr problem,’ will not testify on Tuesday, source says
Fox News
Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who was reportedly scheduled to testify behind closed doors in front of the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, will instead meet next week due to a “scheduling error,” Department of Justice officials told Fox and more »

 Andrew McCabe – Google News

FBI News Review: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems!
 

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Judge Jeanine Pirro Opening Statement – There’s A Cleansing Needed In FB… https://t.co/Ara3oNDvAq via @YouTube Michael Novakhov (@mikenov) December 11, 2017 ___________________________________ Judge Jeanine Pirro Opening Statement – There’s A Cleansing Needed In FBI & DOJ – Handcuffs Needed? 3:02 AM 12/11/2017 Pirro: FBI, DOJ Need a Cleansing With People Taken Out in Cuffs … Continue reading“Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems!”

 FBI News Review

Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems!
 

mikenova shared this story from FBI News Review.

Judge Jeanine Pirro Opening Statement – There’s A Cleansing Needed In FB… https://t.co/Ara3oNDvAq via @YouTube Michael Novakhov (@mikenov) December 11, 2017 ___________________________________ Judge Jeanine Pirro Opening Statement – There’s A Cleansing Needed In FBI & DOJ – Handcuffs Needed? 3:02 AM 12/11/2017 Pirro: FBI, DOJ Need a Cleansing With People Taken Out in Cuffs … Continue reading“Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems!”

Trump is the one in ‘tatters,’ not the FBI (opinion)
 

mikenova shared this story .

Strozk’s demotion, which is what the transfer amounts to, came as soon as Mueller learned of

allegations

 that Strzok and a colleague had reacted to news events, such as the presidential debates, with text messages that could be

 considered politically biased

.

Interpreted in the context of Mueller’s action in response to them, I say they are cause for pride. As long as those we entrust to enact, apply and enforce the law perform in this way, we can be confident about justice in our democracy.

We should always be proud of a government that does the right thing. And the special counsel did the right thing. He acted without hesitation not to whitewash anything or anybody, but to preserve both the integrity of the FBI and the investigation it is conducting and he is leading.

close dialog

Mueller’s response is in the spirit of what John Adams wrote over 200 years ago in his

Constitution for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

: a just democracy must be “a government of laws and not of men.” In transferring Strzok, Robert Mueller honored the law above all else.

The day after Strzok’s transfer became public, did President Donald Trump accordingly tweet his pride in the just triumph of law? No. He sought to demonize and delegitimize the FBI by

declaring

 that “its reputation is in Tatters—worst in History!”

It was an outrageous statement, and former Attorney General Eric Holder, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, and former FBI director James Comey

were having none of it

.

According to Holder: “The FBI’s reputation is not in ‘tatters.’ It’s composed of the same dedicated men and women who have always worked there and do a great, apolitical job. You’ll find integrity and honesty at FBI headquarters and not at 1600 Penn Ave right now.”

Yates said: “The only thing in tatters is the President’s respect for the rule of law. The dedicated men and women of the FBI deserve better.”

As for Comey, he quoted his own June 8 testimony to Congress: “I want the American people to know this truth: The FBI is honest. The FBI is strong. And the FBI is, and always will be, independent.”

In my years as a law enforcement executive, I have worked closely with the FBI on many occasions, and I can attest to the absolute accuracy of what Holder, Yates and Comey say about it. We are blessed as a democratic nation to have today’s FBI.

The agency has

 evolved mightily 

from its first years under J. Edgar Hoover, a leader who ultimately failed to uphold the supremacy of the law.

The FBI of today is an agency of supreme integrity. And while it was born far from perfect, its men and women have worked tirelessly to make the FBI the crown jewel of American criminal investigation and law enforcement. No comparable agency is more highly respected the world over.

Both as a citizen of the nation and its chief executive, Donald Trump should be proud of the FBI. After all, he

campaigned

 as the “law and order candidate.” But then, it is true, as President, he is on record

advising police officers 

to be “rough” with the suspects they arrest. It was advice America’s police chiefs were quick to reject. They understood, even if their President did not, that upholding law and order means upholding the Constitution, no matter how you may personally feel about the suspect in your custody.

President Trump voices support for the police, especially when, like former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, they support his idea of law and order. When a US District Judge

found Arpaio guilty

 of criminal contempt in defying a court order to end unconstitutional racial-profiling of Latinos in a campaign to arrest undocumented immigrants, President Trump nullified the law with a presidential pardon.

Was such a nullification the act of a true “law and order” President?

And when law and order gets uncomfortably close to home, when the inner circle of the White House, including members of the President’s own family, come under investigation by the special counsel, Donald Trump applies a different tactic. He attempts to tweet to “tatters” the very American institutions dedicated to law and order.

Our leaders and lawmakers must question the behavior of any agency when there is good reason to do so. But we cannot allow to pass unchallenged reckless attempts to denounce, demonize, or delegitimize an agency of government on the basis of allegations against one agent.

The current work of the special counsel is about defending the sanctity and legitimacy of the free and fair elections that are the heart and soul of our democracy. The President and the legislators who have spoken so destructively surely must realize that the only reason they learned about the alleged misconduct of Strozk at all is because the officials responsible for enforcing the rule of law and order in the conduct of the investigation discovered a problem, reported it, and acted promptly to fix it. Such is the great glory of a government of laws, not an agency “in tatters.”

Democrats seek alleged evidence of anti-Clinton ‘bias’ at the FBI
 

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“The facts point to a coordinated effort by some in the FBI to change the course of the Clinton investigation by leaking sensitive information to the public,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) wrote in a letter with other senior Democrats.

Amid GOP attacks on the bureau, House Democrats say the FBI’s real prejudice was against their party’s 2016 presidential nominee.

By KYLE CHENEY

Turning the tables on Republican charges that the FBI’s Russia probe is tainted by political bias, two top House Democrats are demanding Justice Department documents they say could reveal “politically-motivated misconduct” at the bureau meant to harm Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election chances, including potential leaks to a conservative website about the Clinton email investigation.

Days before Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is set to testify before the House judiciary committee, the two lawmakers are calling on Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to turn over any material showing FBI agents or officials revealing “animus” toward Clinton.

Story Continued Below

“The facts point to a coordinated effort by some in the FBI to change the course of the Clinton investigation by leaking sensitive information to the public,” write Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the senior Democrats on the House’s judiciary and oversight committees.

The Democratic letter is a clear retort to conservative charges of bias against President Donald Trump within the FBI and in the office of special counsel Robert Mueller as both investigate Russia’s 2016 election meddling. Democrats fear Trump might use such charges as grounds for firing Mueller.

Amid broader complaints about the Justice Department’s interactions with Congressional Democrats, the letter from Nadler and Cummings specifically focuses on whether articles published last year by the “fringe conspiracy website True Pundit” might suggest anti-Clinton bias at the FBI.

The letter suggests that True Pundit — an anonymously written pro-Trump website — received information from FBI agents frustrated with the agency’s handling of the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server. They ask Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions whether the information provided to True Pundit may have influenced the FBI’s decision to reopen the Clinton investigation a week before the election.

True Pundit published multiple stories last year claiming that the FBI did not bring charges in the Clinton case because senior officials there supported her campaign. The site claimed to have sources inside the government.

By fall of 2016, True Pundit had attracted the notice of the FBI’s most senior officials. New emailsreleased by the FBI, in response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act request, show that the bureau’s deputy director, Andrew McCabe, forwarded to then-director James Comey an Oct. 26 True Pundit story which insinuated that McCabe’s wife had been paid by Clinton’s political allies to boost a failed 2015 bid for Virginia state senate.

“FYI. Heavyweight source,” McCabe wrote to Comey. (Comey demurred, saying that the leak appeared to come from “lower-level folks.”)

Nadler and Cummings write also cited cases in which Trump allies seemed to be aware of impending FBI action in the days before Comey reopened the Clinton email probe. Their letter cites a comment by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — a Trump ally who acknowledges that he is in touch with FBI officials — that the bureau’s rank-and-file were “boiling” over the Clinton probe.

Giuliani also said shortly before Comey reopened the email probe that the Trump campaign “has a couple of things up our sleeves that should turn things around.”

The letter complains more generally that the Justice Department has favored Republicans by responding to their inquiries while ignoring Democratic ones, and by failing to share documents turned over to Republicans with Democrats on the same committees. The Democrats say the Justice Department provided more than 1,100 pages of documents to Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee — without notifying Democrats, per standard practice.

“Unfortunately, we did not learn of your interactions with the Majority until after [Judiciary] Chairman [Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)] mentioned his efforts at last week’s Judiciary Committee hearing with FBI Director Christopher Wray,” they wrote. “Your failure to treat us as an equal participant in this investigation, to simultaneously provide us with copies of that correspondence, or to produce these documents to our offices directly, is unacceptable and inconsistent with House rules.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman said previous document requests by committee chairmen were not typically forwarded to the committee’s ranking member unless the ranking member also submitted a request for the same information. Now that the request has been lodged, the department intends to send the material to the Democrats within 24 hours, she said.

The Democrats also demanded that DOJ turn over a response to their separate request about FBI bias by Dec. 21.

Meanwhile, House Republicans have pressed their own scrutiny of the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email case. Last month, Goodlatte and Oversight Committee chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) demanded last month that the FBI produce documents related to its investigation of Clinton’s email practices.

At last week’s hearing, Goodlatte also requested details on how the FBI obtained a surveillance warrant for Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page last year.

Leah Vukmir slams Russia probe, FBI: ‘Something is rotten’ | State and Regional
 

mikenova shared this story from lacrossetribune.com – RSS Results in news/state-and-regional of type article.

State Sen. Leah Vukmir has slammed the FBI and the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, declaring “something is rotten with the way justice is implemented in America today.”

Vukmir, R-Brookfield, who is running for U.S. Senate, made the comments in a Sunday column in the Wall Street Journal that also criticized state prosecutors and the state’s former ethics agency for their involvement in a now-ended secret investigation into Wisconsin Republicans.

Vukmir wrote that “unaccountable investigations and special prosecutors have become typical.”

“Take a look at the investigation of the president by Robert Mueller,” Vukmir wrote. “More than $3 million in taxpayer funds, and what has been accomplished? From Lois Lerner and the IRS to James Comey and the FBI, something is rotten with the way justice is implemented in America today.”

What state Attorney General Brad Schimel called the “John Doe III” investigation — to which Vukmir compared the Russia investigation in the column — did not result in charges.

The Russia investigation, since it began in May, has led to charges against four former members of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign: former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos; former campaign chairman Paul Manafort; Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates; and Trump’s former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn.

Flynn and Papadopoulos have pleaded guilty to making false statements to investigators. Manafort and Gates have pleaded not guilty to charges against them.

Headed by Mueller, a Republican and former FBI director, the investigation is probing Russian government efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, including any coordination between the Russians and the Trump campaign.

Congressional Republicans generally have been split on the Russia investigation, while Democrats have said it must go forward.

Critics of the probe have become more vocal in recent days after Mueller removed FBI agent Peter Strzok from the investigation “after an internal investigation found messages he sent that could be interpreted as showing political bias” against Trump, CNN reported.

Neither Vukmir nor her opponent for the Republican U.S. Senate nod, Kevin Nicholson, immediately responded Monday to requests for comment on her column. Both are seeking to run against Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin in 2018.


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The Coming Purge and The Perfect Robots

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First Published on 12.12.17 in:

FBI News Review

fbinewsreview.org | Investigate the investigators! Save America! Reform the FBI now! | News, Reviews, Analysis, Opinions

The “Showboats” and The Perfect Robots: Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Fire the nincompoops and put them in prison!

______________________

Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Not for the criminals whom they cannot catch because they are not capable of solving their crimes, but for themselves, for the years of abuse of power, lying to the American people, and attempts to rule them illegally. 
Investigate the investigators! Save America! Reform the FBI now! 
Down with the American KGB! Put the FBI thugs and usurpers in prison now! Abolish the FBI, fire the nincompoops on the spot, and start the new and healthy domestic security organization that America will be proud of. 
Michael Novakhov 
12.12.17 

The Perfect Robots

FBI News Review on Facebook

_____________________________________

The FBI did not report the “Otherwise Illegal Activity”, the crimes specifically approved by the FBI (no one knows for what purposes), for 2016. What do they have to hide?! Did the FBI become the frank and overt criminal organization, the “Federal Mob”, hiding behind the government shingle?!

______________________________

“It is high time to clean house in the swamp that the FBI has become…”

Image result for Congress Must Charge DOJ, FBI With Contempt

8:17 AM 12/9/2017 – Congress Must Charge Stonewalling DOJ, FBI With Contempt – Newsmax

___________________________________________

___________________________________

Judge Jeanine Pirro Opening Statement – There’s A Cleansing Needed In FBI & DOJ – Handcuffs Needed?

3:02 AM 12/11/2017 – Pirro: FBI, DOJ Need a ‘Cleansing’ With People ‘Taken Out in Cuffs’ – Breitbart News 

Investigate the investigators! Save America! Reform the FBI now! 

Tucker Carlson Tonight 12/4/17 – Tucker Carlson Tonight December 4, 2017 Fox News

______________________________________

Fire the nincompoops and put them in prison!

Handcuffs are the solution to the FBI problems! Not for the criminals whom they cannot catch because they are not capable of solving their crimes, but for themselves, for the years of abuse of power, lying to the American people, and attempts to rule them illegally. 

Investigate the investigators! Save America! Reform the FBI now! 

Practice the COINTELPRO on them until they reveal their true selves: the perfect robots! Their assigned task is to turn all the others into their robots and their informants too: “So I wouldn’t feel so alone, everybody must become a robot and the informant!” 

I think I figured out how they think or presume, this “method” works, and what is the intended mechanism of their Cointelpro actions and activities: they try to control the subject of their surveillance and they practice their “behavioral modification” attacks by inducing the mental illness, specifically Schizophrenia. This betrays the old underlying concepts of the 1950-s, and the common erroneous understanding of Schizophrenia as the “splitting of the mind”. The little ignorant illiterate FBI nincompoops do not even know what the mental illness is, and what the so-called “Schizophrenia” is: a myth as a single disease or the single nosological entity, but the artificially lumped together various different and separate mental illnesses and conditions.  Nevertheless, they try to use this erroneous and outdated concept for their purposes. Their ignorance and their self-assurance and righteousness are boundless and go hand in hand. 

The COINTELPRO is still very much alive and well and is broadly used in the various FBI practices. It is officially allowed to be practiced in the Counterintelligence operations, according to the military, and possibly other services’ manuals. I think it is absolutely inefficient and is a great waste of time and the resources, not mentioning the definitely and crudely anti-humane nature of this witchcraft. There is indeed the “method” in this “madness” and the “madness” in this “method”.

Investigate the FBI’s use of the Cointelpro, and specifically for the political purposes!

The FBI also employs a wide variety of the other “methods” and “technics”. For example, one of them, a “truth serum”, a pharmacological cocktail, of the essentially unknown exact composition, can induce the serious health problems. 

The problem is that we do not know exactly what and how they use, including their operations against the ordinary and law-abiding American citizens, and many of their practices can be definitely and sometimes severely harmful. And they do not keep, destroy or hide the records, so no one could learn about their crimes! Do we live in a 21-st century America or some third world FBI-Land?! We have more than enough reasons to feel ashamed of the FBI, and to dislike and to despise them deeply. I certainly do. 

Investigate specifically the FBI’s use of the “COINTELPRO” techniques. It also cannot be excluded that some “rogue” FBI agents might use these “methods” for their personal purposes and for the exercise of their personal “powers”. 

We have to investigate the FBI, their “methods”, “technics”, attitudes, all aspects of their “work” in depth, objectively, and if you will, “aggressively”, the same way Mr. Mueller investigates Mr. Trump. I really do think that this is a matter of life and death for the American liberal and democratic values, society, and culture. I think it is possible that many of these “technics” and methods came from the Soviet KGB which Mr. Hoover was so keen to emulate. 

Down with the American KGB! 

Put the FBI thugs and usurpers in prison now! Abolish the FBI, fire the nincompoops on the spot, and start the new and healthy domestic security organization that America will be proud of. With their favorite and nincompoopy uses of all the various provocations, imaginable and unimaginable, they will eventually provoke themselves into the non-existence. The sooner the better. Amen. But the guilty ones will be punished, fairly and severely, when their guilt is proven. And it will be proven. Get ready. The FBI in its present form and with their ways and moda operandi is the insult and the assault on the emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, and security fabric of the modern American society. They are dangerous, ugly, and unseemly, and cannot be tolerated. And it is only logical that they need The Purge, just like in 1937, for which they should thank themselves, and themselves only.  

Michael Novakhov 

12.12.17 

Links and Keywords 

MICHAEL NOVAKHOV AND FBI

political chutzpah 

FBI political chutzpah:

The FBI’s Extraordinary Chutzpah – Patheos

www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2017/01/17/fbis-extraordinary-chutzpah/

Jan 17, 2017 – I know it’s not the same people running it, that J. Edgar Hoover is dead and all, but the FBIshould at least have the good sense to just stay silent about his holiday. This is the same agency that illegally taped his phones, bugged his hotel rooms, gathered blackmail material that they then used to encourage … 

10:32 AM 12/11/2017 – Worse than sharks: “The FBI: They Eat Their Young”, (and each other, too…)

“The FBI: They Eat Their Young” is available on Amazon.com or from the author directly at WilliamLarshBooks@gmail.com. The book details Larsh’s scrapes with FBI management and he exposes a dark side of the FBI hierarchy, illustrating their pettiness, vindictiveness, massive egos, and retaliatory nature. “If they go after you, they can do anything they want to you,” he said. Behind the scenes at the FBI – News – Waynesboro Record Herald – Waynesbo…

The F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray’s testimony to the House Judiciary Committee last week suggests that he has “joined the Justice Department effort to stop the public from learning about the bureau’s role in the 2016 election,” he avoided answering questions about the alleged bias of the top F.B.I. agent, and former member of Mueller’s team, Peter Strzok, and dismissed questions about surveillance warrants that may have been obtained to spy on the Trump campaign. The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes. 
12:21 PM 12/10/2017 – The Trump-Russia Probe Is About to Get Uglier – Bloomberg

Saved Stories Saved Stories – None The Trump-Russia Probe Is About to Get Uglier – Bloomberg Data: Republican Party ID drops after Trump election – NBCNews.com Super Putin: Exhibition Depicting Trump’s Favourite Russian as Superhero Opens in Moscow – Newsweek James Comey slams weak Donald Trump Prosecutors say emails prove Manafort heavily edited Ukraine op-ed – 41 NBC News Trump – Google News: Trump Thinks People Should Be Fired for Misrepresent…

James Comey

@Comey
“Applause is the spur of noble minds, the end and aim of weak ones.” – Edmund Burke (1730-1797)
7:20 PM – Dec 8, 2017
2,476 2,476 Replies 13,601 13,601 Retweets 46,995 46,995 likesHello, Mr. Comey. Glad to see you on Twitter. This very nice quote prompts an associative response in me: If these “mind spurs” work the same like the heel spurs, then it is much more pain than anything else, including the effect on function and functioning. And why do things need to be spurred, especially such an interesting thing as the Human Mind? 

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Democrats seek alleged evidence of anti-Clinton ‘bias’ at the FBI http://politi.co/2jtPdlv  via @politico

Democrats seek alleged evidence of anti-Clinton ‘bias’ at the FBI

Amid GOP attacks on the bureau, House Democrats say the FBI’s real prejudice was against their party’s 2016 presidential nominee.

politico.com


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6:46 AM 12/11/2017 – Morell: “I was deputy director of the CIA until August of 2013…”

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Morell:

“I was deputy director of the CIA until August of 2013—I didn’t see anywhere in those worldwide threat testimonies a warning about the possible use of social media to attack us. So, I think it’s a legitimate question.

And on the tactical question, my question is, when—and I don’t know the answer this—my question is, when did the intelligence community see the Russians messing around with social media in the election?

…it’s a failure of imagination that’s not dissimilar to the failure of imagination that we had for 9/11. 

So, it’s a useful critique of analysts. But the other important players here are intelligence collectors, right? So, the failure to see this coming, and the failure to take some time before you actually see what’s happening is also a collection failure. It means you haven’t penetrated the right places with the right assets—CIA and NSA are the two big ones here—to tell you exactly what the Russians are doing. So, it’s a couple of important failures there.” 

“Glasser: So, do you think that in making choices, we underestimated Russia and its return under Vladimir Putin?

Morell: I think yes. Right? I think in the early Putin days as president, and then certainly when Medvedev was president and Putin was prime minister, Russia was not what it is today. We were interacting with them in a much more normal way—we being the United States and Europe. It was only when Putin came back the second time as president, that the behavior started to turn, and turned significantly back towards what was essentially Russian behavior during the Cold War, which is challenge the United States everywhere you can in the world, and do whatever you can to undermine what they’re trying to accomplish. Do whatever you can to weaken them.

They’re being extraordinarily aggressive with regard to that. And that was a change. That wasn’t Vladimir Putin from day one.”

“Am I open to the possibility that there is a malign view? Absolutely. I don’t discard that. I’ve been criticized by some people on the left for saying I don’t see any evidence here of a crime.

I still don’t see any evidence of a crime.

It doesn’t mean there is any. I just don’t see it.”

“Glasser: Is ourselves. Do you think Donald Trump has been as bad as you feared?

Morell: I think that his instincts have been as bad as I feared. I think that we are very lucky to have people like Jim Mattis, and people like H.R. McMaster, and people like Dan Coats and others, who are able to pull him back from where his instincts are.

In some cases, they haven’t succeeded, like on Paris. In other cases, they pulled him halfway back, like on Iran. I think his initial instinct was rip up the deal. I think they pulled him back. I think on issues like Afghanistan, they’ve pulled him all the way back…”

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mikenova shared this story .

Subscribe to The Global POLITICO on Apple Podcasts here. | Subscribe via Stitcher here.

The politics of spying in America has never been more intense. President Trump has taken to publicly bashing his intelligence agencies and continues, a full year later, to question their conclusion that Russia intervened in the 2016 U.S. election on his behalf. For their part, an array of career spooks have come out of the shadows where they spent their careers to challenge the commander-in-chief in once unthinkably public terms.

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Michael Morell is one of the career types who’s broken with decades of practice to confront Trump. A veteran of nearly three decades in the CIA, Morell rose from within the ranks to become the agency’s longtime deputy director, twice serving as its acting leader before retiring during President Barack Obama’s second term. In the summer of 2016, he broke with tradition to endorse Hillary Clinton over Trump, and he has continued to sound the alarm ever since.

But in a revealingly self-critical and at times surprising interview for this week’s Global POLITICO, Morell acknowledges that he and other spy-world critics of the president failed to fully “think through” the negative backlash generated by their going political. “There was a significant downside,” Morell said in the interview.

Morell, who grew up as a superstar CIA analyst and eventually graduated to become President George W. Bush’s personal daily intelligence briefer during the momentous events before and after the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, was also reflective about the costs of the massive shift in emphasis toward counterterrorism after that attack – in particular, a failure to focus on the threat posed by a resurgent Russia under President Vladimir Putin until it was arguably too late.

The Russian 2016 hacking, Morell told me, was in fact a U.S. “intelligence failure” in multiple ways. It was, he argued, at the least “a failure of imagination that’s not dissimilar to the failure of imagination that we had for 9/11,” with America’s spy agencies apparently unable to have conceived of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and electronic hacking of Gmail being used to attack the country’s election.

But it was another kind of failure, too, Morell argued, of shifting money away from Russia and elsewhere in the name of fighting terrorism. “As we were trying to protect the country from terrorists,” he said, “we became more blind to what was going on in the rest of the world, both from a collection perspective and from an analytic perspective. And that was a cost…. When you make choices, you leave significant risk on the table.”

You can read the rest of our provocative conversation, which ranges from the internal debate over when Putin turned from frenemy to foe to whether Morell thinks Trump will ultimately be caught up in special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s net, below.

***

Glasser: I’m Susan Glasser, and welcome back to The Global POLITICO. I’m delighted to tell you that our guest this week is Michael Morell, who has not once, but twice, been the acting director of the CIA and has emerged out of the shadows of the deep state, if you will, to become not only a very vocal public advocate for the intelligence community in these embattled times, but also something of a journalist and a creator of podcasts, as we’ll talk about, I’m sure.

But, of course, intelligence matters—which I believe is the name of your podcast—

Morell: It is the name of the podcast, yes.

Glasser: And is also really the subject of this conversation, as of most of your conversations, because it’s very rare that you have somebody who’s emerging—or at least, it would have been, until Donald Trump—to have somebody like you, who’s emerging from a three-decade-long career inside the intelligence community, to play such vocal and public role. Was there any particular sort of tipping point for you that made you think, “Well, I’m going to go public with this”?

Morell: So, there were really two moments here, right, for me. One was when I first left government, I did a 60 Minutes interview about my life inside CIA, and it’s something the agency thought that was a good thing to do, and I taped most of it before I left the agency. And I really liked it. And I, soon after that, joined CBS News as an on-air commentator on national security issues, and it resonated with me because I saw it in very similar terms to what I used to do for presidents. And I used to help–

Glasser: And you were the guy who literally gave the presidential daily briefing to George W. Bush, before and after 9/11?

Morell: Correct. For the entire year of 2001. And then, I had been involved in the publication of the president’s daily brief before that and after that. And of course, I briefed President Obama a lot when I was deputy director.

So, my fundamental job at the agency, as an analyst and then running the place, was to help the president think about the challenges we face in the world, right? And so, I saw my role on CBS, then, as helping the American people understand these incredibly complex challenges that we face. So, that was the first kind of public stepping out.

The second was in August of 2016, when I became political, when I endorsed Hillary Clinton with an op-ed in The New York Times, and that was a very difficult decision for me, because I had never been political before. I worked at this nonpolitical agency, bright red line between intelligence and policy, and intelligence and politics. So, I had never played that role before.

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But I was so deeply concerned about what a Trump presidency might look like from a national security perspective, and believed that there was such a gap between Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump with regard to how well they would protect the country, that I thought it extremely important to come out and say that.

Glasser: Okay, so, flash-forward a year. Was that a mistake?

Morell: So, I don’t think it was a mistake. I think there were downsides to it that I didn’t think about at the time. I was concerned about what is the impact it would have on the agency, right? Very concerned about that, thought that through. But I don’t think I fully thought through the implications.

And one of the ways I’ve thought about that, Susan, is—okay, how did Donald Trump see this? Right? And from—it’s very important—one of the things we do as intelligence analysts is make sure that our guy—the president—understands the other guy. Right?

So, let’s put ourselves here in Donald Trump’s shoes. So, what does he see? Right? He sees a former director of CIA and a former director of NSA, Mike Hayden, who I have the greatest respect for, criticizing him and his policies. Right? And he could rightfully have said, “Huh, what’s going on with these intelligence guys?” Right?

Glasser: It embroiders his narrative.

Morell: Exactly. And then he sees a former acting director and deputy director of CIA criticizing him and endorsing his opponent. And then he gets his first intelligence briefing, after becoming the Republican nominee, and within 24 to 48 hours, there are leaks out of that that are critical of him and his then-national security advisor, Mike Flynn.

And so, this stuff starts to build, right? And he must have said to himself, “What is it with these intelligence guys? Are they political?” The current director at the time, John Brennan, during the campaign occasionally would push back on things that Donald Trump had said.

So, when Trump talked about the Iran nuclear deal being the worst deal in the history of American diplomacy, and he was going to tear it up on the first day—John Brennan came out publicly and said, “That would be an act of folly.” So, he sees current sitting director pushing back on him. Right?

Then he becomes president, and he’s supposed to be getting a daily brief from the moment he becomes the president-elect. Right? And he doesn’t. And within a few days, there’s leaks about how he’s not taking his briefing. So, he must have thought—right?—that, “Who are these guys? Are these guys out to get me? Is this a political organization? Can I think about them as a political organization when I become president?”

So, I think there was a significant downside to those of us who became political in that moment. So, if I could have thought of that, would I have ended up in a different place? I don’t know. But it’s something I didn’t think about.

Glasser: Well, it’s very interesting, because of course, there are so many things you don’t know at that moment in time, including, of course, I’m sure you assumed, along with everybody else, that Hillary Clinton was likely to be elected, and you saw this as contributing to that in some way. But it’s certainly relevant in the context of the situation we find ourselves in a year later. And, if it tends to embolden Trump in his critique of your former colleagues who are still serving in the intelligence agencies, and not only has this been a theme that he has struck repeatedly to criticize—but also to politicize this.

And inadvertently, perhaps, you or others who spoke out and have continued to speak out actually tend to underscore his feeling that there’s a political divide, and now you and others are on one side of it, and potentially all your former colleagues, and then he’s on the other side of it.

That was really underscored for me on his recent trip to Asia, when Donald Trump once again seemed to take Vladimir Putin’s side on the issue of Russian intervention in the election over the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence agencies. But it was so revealing when they tried to fix it—right?—and he sort of said, “Well, I’m in favor of the current intelligence agencies, but not the former ones.”

Morell: Yeah, and you can’t pick and choose like that. And when people in the intelligence community—particularly people in CIA, because for every other part of the intelligence community except CIA, you’re working for a cabinet member. At CIA, you are working for the president of the United States. That is your customer. Right?
00:08:03 So, when you see your customer questioning what it is that you are providing to him or her, and that person seems to be cherry-picking what they accept and what they don’t accept, it’s demoralizing. And when it’s demoralizing, people take actions, right? So, I live pretty close to the agency, and there’s a coffee shop between me and the agency, and I’ve met a number of agency officers in that coffee shop who have said to me, “I’m thinking about leaving.”

And my pushback to them is, “Your country needs you now more than ever. Don’t leave.” Right? But it does lead people to question whether or not what they’re doing is of value. And—look—working there is really hard. The problems are hard. They’re complex. They’re not easy to solve. Some of these targets where we’re trying to collect intelligence are extraordinarily difficult. People operate in very dangerous places. The hours are long. The pressure on families is really tough.

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And so, if you think what you’re doing doesn’t matter, because the president of the United States is selectively listening, it has impact.

Glasser: So, tell me about your views of the current director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo. It’s been reported that he’s a leading candidate to potentially become secretary of state when Rex Tillerson leaves, which is the subject, of course, of a big Washington parlor game.

But Pompeo has personally been undertaking the presidential daily brief, by all accounts, as much as six days a week, he’s leveraged that time with the president into a close relationship with the president. So, is that a normal role for the director of the CIA to be playing? Do you think that he has politicized the agency further by doing so?

Morell: I think that the relationship that Mike Pompeo has developed with the president is a very good thing. One of the most important things a director does is develop a relationship with the president that allows you to get your best information and your best analysis in front of the president. So, I actually believe that it’s Mike’s relationship with the president that has gotten the intelligence community and the CIA in the room almost every day of the week, and is getting them time, which gives the intelligence community—Susan—and the CIA the opportunity to tell the president what they think.

And I think without that relationship that the two of them have—which is why he’s the leading candidate to replace Secretary Tillerson—we might not be in the room at all. So, I think that is a very good thing. And one of the things that folks at CIA feel really good about is the fact that their director is getting them in the room every day.

Glasser: Do you think the director is presenting objective, unbiased analysis of situations like the Russia situation or the Iran situation to the president?

Morell: So, I’m not in the room.

Glasser: No, I know.

Morell: Obviously, I’m not in the room, but there’s really three people in the room. There’s the director, Mike Pompeo, and there’s the DNI, Dan Coats, and then there’s the briefer, somebody like me, right? What I did for George Bush, there’s a senior analyst who’s doing that for President Trump. He’s the one who actually does the briefing, and Mike Pompeo and Dan Coats, I would bet, do the color commentary, right? That’s the way it worked with me and George Tenet. I was the play-by-play guy and George Tenet was the color commentator.

I’m absolutely certain—because I know the person who’s briefing—I mean, I grew up with that person, worked with that person, have a hundred percent confidence that that person is presenting the intelligence in a nonpolitical, nonpartisan, nonpolicy manner. What Mike Pompeo might say, or Dan Coats might say is—no idea.

But I believe the views of the intelligence community are getting across. Whether the president is accepting them or not is really hard to say.

Glasser: Well, his public statements indicate that he’s not accepting them, at least in certain critical areas.

Morell: On certain cases, yes. Russia, for example.

Glasser: Russia. Okay. So, let’s talk about Russia. Dana Priest—a terrific journalist whom you know—just wrote a very critical and very interesting piece in The New Yorker, and she said Russia was an intelligence failure, the Russian intervention in our elections. That’s not really the widely accepted narrative, but I thought it was a powerful piece. Do you agree with that?

Morell: So, she had a couple of different themes, right? And I’d say charges, right? One was the intelligence failure. One was you didn’t brief Congress soon enough, right?

Glasser: Right.

Morell: On what you did know.

Glasser: And then there’s the question of the social media piece, and basically—

Morell: Right. So, let’s deal with just the intelligence failure piece. I think this is a legitimate question to ask. And I look at it from two perspectives. One, in the intelligence business, we think about warning in two ways: strategic warning—Al Qaeda wants to attack us in the United States, right? And tactical warning: they’re going to attack us next week using this method, right? Those are two different kinds of warning.

So, I have little doubt that we, the intelligence community, didn’t see from a strategic sense this particular—and I’m talking about social media here, the weaponization of social media—that we did see that coming. Susan, I went back and looked at all of the unclassified versions of the worldwide threat testimony that the DNI and the director of the agency and the director of DIA give every year, and I read all of those.

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I reread all of those. There’s a cyber section in every one, right? And the warnings are about—

Glasser: I remember Panetta, right? “The danger of a cyber Pearl Harbor.”

Morell: Right. “Cyber Pearl Harbor,” right. Attack on our infrastructure. I didn’t see anywhere in there—and this was criticism of myself, right, because I was deputy director of the CIA until August of 2013—I didn’t see anywhere in those worldwide threat testimonies a warning about the possible use of social media to attack us. So, I think it’s a legitimate question.

And on the tactical question, my question is, when—and I don’t know the answer this—my question is, when did the intelligence community see the Russians messing around with social media in the election?

And my question’s there because you remember the DNI—the Director of National Intelligence—and the Secretary of Homeland Security put out a public statement—

Glasser: On October 7.

Morell: Exactly. And it said two things. Right? The Russians used cyber to steal stuff from the Democratic National Committee and from John Podesta—Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager—and gave the embarrassing stuff to WikiLeaks, right? Which then used it against the secretary.

And then, two, tried to get into voting systems in the states. It didn’t mention anything about the use of social media to spread and amplify fake news. And so, I wonder, did they know about it at that point? Or did they not know about it at that point?

Glasser: Well, you know, it’s very interesting you raise this, because I think they didn’t. Because I did a very interesting interview of The Global POLITICO with Jim Clapper, who was the DNI at the time, who was the signatory, or was the issuer of that statement, along with Jeh Johnson—who I also interviewed on The Global POLITICO—I asked Clapper—this was quite recently, this fall—“What have you learned that you didn’t know before the election?” What have you learned from the disclosures that are coming out publicly, or in testimony and the like as this Russiagate investigation unfolds?

That was what he spotlighted for me, in our conversation. Just this fall he said, I learned the extent to which they were active on these platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which was not something I really was aware of. And I thought, “Wow, that’s pretty amazing. He was the Director of National Intelligence.”

Morrell: You know what’s interesting is, if that’s true—and it certainly sounds like it is, based on your conversation with Jim, who is a wonderful man and is the best DNI that we’ve ever had, in my view—if that’s true, then it’s a failure of imagination that’s not dissimilar to the failure of imagination that we had for 9/11. Right?

Glasser: That’s right. And, by the way, another part of Dana’s critique is relevant here, which is the blind spot, or the failure of imagination at a time when we’ve invested literally billions of dollars—you know far better than I do—since 9/11, in our collection capabilities, in actually operationalizing the CIA, turning them into a fighting force; giving them capabilities you could have only dreamed of.

Are we too busy, basically, looking at satellite images of tanks when Facebook is the new Fulda Gap?

Morell: Let me say two things. One is, there’s a little bit of a danger in—and I’m correcting myself here a little bit—a little bit of a danger in overemphasizing the failure of imagination, which is an analytic thing. Right?

Glasser: Correct.
Morell: So, it’s a useful critique of analysts. But the other important players here are intelligence collectors, right? So, the failure to see this coming, and the failure to take some time before you actually see what’s happening is also a collection failure. It means you haven’t penetrated the right places with the right assets—CIA and NSA are the two big ones here—to tell you exactly what the Russians are doing. So, it’s a couple of important failures there.

The other way to answer your question, Susan, is that post-9/11, there was a huge flow of resources to counterterrorism. Not surprising. I mean, we moved hundreds of people internally. The collection resources were focused on counterterrorism. CIA got back into the paramilitary business in a way that it hadn’t been since the Office of Strategic Services days during World War II.

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All understandable, but with the implication that we moved resources that were focused on the rest of the world, to include places like Russia. So, as we were trying to protect the country from terrorists, we became more blind to what was going on in the rest of the world, both from a collection perspective and from an analytic perspective. And that was a cost.

One of the things I’d like to point out is that—the CIA’s a large place and the total number of employees there is classified, but to put it into perspective for you, in 1991 we had x employees. By 2001—10 years later—we had .75x, so a 25 percent decline. When I walked out the door in 2013, even with a significant ramp-up in resources post-9/11, we only had 1.1x. So, essentially the same number of employees in 2013 as we had in 1991, in a world that was much, much more complex, with many, many more issues.

How do you cover all of that in the way you have to to protect the country? And the answer is, you can’t. Right? You’ve got to make choices. And when you make choices, you leave significant risk on the table.

Glasser: So, do you think that in making choices, we underestimated Russia and its return under Vladimir Putin?

Morell: I think yes. Right? I think in the early Putin days as president, and then certainly when Medvedev was president and Putin was prime minister, Russia was not what it is today. We were interacting with them in a much more normal way—we being the United States and Europe. It was only when Putin came back the second time as president, that the behavior started to turn, and turned significantly back towards what was essentially Russian behavior during the Cold War, which is challenge the United States everywhere you can in the world, and do whatever you can to undermine what they’re trying to accomplish. Do whatever you can to weaken them.

They’re being extraordinarily aggressive with regard to that. And that was a change. That wasn’t Vladimir Putin from day one.

Glasser: Well, that’s very interesting you make that argument. My husband and I were stationed in Moscow during Putin’s first term in office, and then back here for the second term of Bush’s presidency on forward. And there’s a real debate, I would say, among Russia hands about that argument that you just made. That’s very interesting to me, because Russia did invade Georgia in 2008, before Putin returned officially to the presidency.
And I think the Obama White House arguably staked its Russia policy on the view that you are expounding, that somehow Russia was more amenable to us, and then with Putin’s return to power, that it changed in some marked way.

I’m not sure that I agree with that, but it’s interesting that you take a definitive position on it.

Morell: I think there’s a debate, but I feel pretty comfortable with the position I’ve taken. I think Georgia was a turning point. I think Georgia was a really important moment, and maybe that should have been the wakeup call, you know, that moment where he was willing to invade a neighbor.

Glasser: And also, what lessons he took or didn’t take from that Western response to that.

Morell: Or lack of Western response to that, right?

Glasser: Yes.

Morell: Absolutely.

Glasser: I think so. To me, that’s a very key moment.

Morell: And, the two things we just talked about go in parallel, right? And are reinforcing to each other. So, he takes an aggressive step and he doesn’t get any pushback; he doesn’t get anything to deter him. Right? And that’s been the history of this relationship, in my view, since Georgia. Right? Is, he does something that is damaging to our interests or the interests of our allies, and there’s not a response, and so he keeps going, and he keeps going, and he keeps going.

Glasser: So, this is endlessly interesting to me to talk about Putin, but I want to cast it into the present a little bit more. So, he keeps going; he’s not only invading Ukraine, but much more aggressive in intervening in the elections, for example, of other countries on the periphery of Russia and Eastern and Central Europe, aggressive measures against neighbors in the Baltics, for example, in Estonia.

00 And so, that’s where you get this argument from many of my Russia-hand friends that, of course, this wasn’t something new, to intervene in the United States, and it’s exactly what he did in Poland, or in other countries. So that’s one bullet point on the question of our intelligence.

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The other question is, did we do things to kind of unilaterally disarm from an intelligence point of view, on Russia?

Morell: Well, I think Russia was one of the places that suffered from the loss of resources as they flowed to counterterrorism—no doubt in my mind. There were things with regard to Georgia, for example, that I can’t talk about specifically, but things we could not tell the president about what was happening in Georgia at the particular time that they were doing what they were doing because we had turned off systems that used to be turned on, because now they were focused on other parts of the world. Right?

Glasser: The eye had turned.

Morell: So, absolutely, that suffered. I think—and there were also things that we were doing as a country that he was misreading—Putin was misreading. So, I talked earlier about the importance of an intelligence officer being able to tell the president, “Here’s the other guy’s view.” Well, what’s Putin’s view of us? Right?
Putin’s view of us is that we want to undermine him, and that we are actively working to do so. Right? He really believes that. And he points to things that are absolutely true. The State Department pushing for democracy in Russia openly. And then he points to things that aren’t true, like the CIA was behind the street protests in Kiev that led to all the problems in Ukraine. Right?

That’s his worldview, is that we are trying to undermine him, and that we want him to go away, right? And so, when you think about it in those terms, what he’s doing against us—right? It’s kind of interesting, right? It doesn’t justify what he’s doing, but it certainly puts it in perspective.

Glasser: No, I think that’s a great point to make, and I think it’s so important. So, Russiagate? Or whatever we want to call it. I don’t know if you have a better name for it than that. Based on your intelligence analyst hat, looking at the dots that are out there—how do we construct a narrative around them that makes sense? Is there enough information to construct a narrative? What do you make of the evidence that’s public, recognizing that it’s a very small amount of the evidence, presumably?

Morell: The best place to start is with a caveat, is I have no insight into the FBI investigation or the two investigations being done by the Intelligence Committees in the House and Senate. So, this is really me being an analyst, looking at everything that’s available, right?

The first thing I’d say is that there may be a benign explanation for all of this. What might that be? The benign explanation is that Vladimir Putin, understanding who Donald Trump was as a person, understanding how narcissistic he is, played to Donald Trump by saying he was a great guy—right? Had the potential to be a great leader, et cetera, et cetera.

And Trump responded exactly the way Putin wanted him to by reciprocating, right? Great leader, et cetera, et cetera. Right? Maybe what he did in Ukraine and Crimea was all right. Who are we to say? You know, Putin’s killed all these people, but so do we. You know, try to put this in perspective. Right? All of these things that Trump said could have been simply in response to Putin playing him, and playing his personality.

You know, when all that happened, of course, the media and the Clinton campaign jumped all over Donald Trump, right?—and said, “Boy, look at what this guy’s saying,” right? “This is inconsistent with the world in which we live in.” It is possible at that moment, that Steve Bannon and Steve Miller and Sebastian Gorka walked into Trump’s office in Trump Tower and said, “You know, you’re being criticized for what you said about Putin and Russia, but, boss, you’re right. Right? You’re absolutely right, and let us give you the intellectual context in which to think about this. And the intellectual context in which to think about it is, we actually need Russia as a partner, to push back against the two biggest threats that we see.”

Glasser: Right. China, yes.

Morell: Bannon, Miller and Gorka. China and Islamic extremism. And, Russia, a white, Christian country, fits—

Glasser: Their worldview.

Morell: Their worldview. Right? So, Putin might have played him, and then Bannon gives him an intellectual framework to say, “You’re right. Keep talking about this.” So, that is the totally benign view.

Am I open to the possibility that there is a malign view? Absolutely. I don’t discard that. I’ve been criticized by some people on the left for saying I don’t see any evidence here of a crime. I still don’t see any evidence of a crime. It doesn’t mean there is any. I just don’t see it.

Glasser: Including evidence of obstruction of justice?

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Morell: So, let’s talk about what I think the possibilities are, going forward. So, I would not be surprised if Bob Mueller concludes that the Trump campaign did not violate the law with regard to its interactions with the Russians. I’m really open to that possibility. Why? Because, as you know, The New York Times, The Washington Post, every media outlet that is worth its salt has reporters digging into this, and they haven’t found anything.
And I think that, had there been something there, they would have found something. And I think Bob Mueller would have found it already and it would have leaked.
So, I’m really open to the possibility that there’s no there there on a crime being committed by the campaign and the Russians. Right? That interaction leading to criminal charges.

The second point I’d make is that I wouldn’t be surprised if there were single individuals who were associated with the campaign who violated the law with respect to their interactions with the Russians on the election. Paul Manafort comes to mind. I think he has little to no integrity. There’s no way you spend that much time with the old Ukrainian government and not bump up against Russian intelligence officers a lot.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there were single individuals who faced criminal charges here with regard to their interactions with the Russians, and Paul Manafort’s a possibility. But that’s different than a conspiracy by the campaign, right?

The third thing I’d say is, every FBI investigation that I’ve ever had visibility into or been involved in, the people who they’re looking at actually don’t end up getting charged with the crime they were being investigated for. They get charged with something else. Right? And that something else in this case could be the laundering of Russian organized crime funds. And if that was done by the Trump organization—if that was done knowingly—it’s a criminal violation.

If it was done unwittingly, because you didn’t do the due diligence that’s required under U.S. law for where the money is coming from, from overseas—it’s a civil penalty. And the Trump organization gets fined. What the politics of all that is, I have no idea. That’s the third thing I’d say.

The fourth thing I’d say is, the obstruction of justice issue. In my view, when I read the statute, boy, it looks—you know, it looks like you could make a case. Now, the hard part is intent. Right? You have to intend to violate the statute. You have to intend to obstruct justice. That’s the difficult piece to prove here.

You need something on paper, or you need somebody who heard the president say something about what he was trying to do here, or you need him to tell you that. Right? Well, he’s not going to do that. And so, while it looks like it to all of us, that that’s what he was trying to do—you’ve got to get to that intent part, and that’s what’s hard from a criminal perspective.

Glasser: So, well, it goes to Donald Trump’s state of mind, which is the other question I would ask you, with your intelligence analyst hat on. If you were the presidential daily briefer for Emmanuel Macron, or Vladimir Putin, for that matter—what would you tell that president about our president?

Morell: What I would say is—you know, I worked for 33 years at CIA. I watched a lot of foreign leaders. There’s a spectrum of narcissism among human beings. Right?
Glasser: Foreign leaders often—leaders have a lot of it.

Morell: Leaders of any country, right? They have a lot of it. Right? They are one or two standard deviations to the right of the mean. President Trump is no different from that, and in fact, he might be three or four standard deviations out. Right?
So, what I would say is, “Play to his narcissism. Play to his narcissism.” I think some leaders have done that exceptionally well. I think Prime Minister Abe of Japan has done it. I think Xi Jinping has done it. I think Macron has done it. There are some leaders who simply can’t bring themselves to do it, like Angela Merkel. She just—bless her heart—she can’t bring herself to do it.

But, play to his narcissism. Tell him he’s great. Tell him you want to help him. And then leave the details of the policy to your ministers. Right? So, from ministers to U.S. Cabinet officials, leave the details. Don’t talk about details with the president, just—

Glasser: Pretend you agree. Well, is it narcissism? Is it something more than that, though? Do you believe there’s some sort of an impairment?

Morell: I don’t know. I think narcissism itself is an impairment. Right?

Glasser: Speaking of—by the way, the mental state of people—there’s been a little bit of a controversy this year about Kim Jong Un and whether the United States government assesses him to be crazy in some way, or a rational actor. And there was an interesting testimony at an open conference by a CIA analyst, who said he is a rational actor.

Morell: Yes.

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Glasser: But Donald Trump disagrees. What do you think?

Morell: He is. He is most definitely a rational actor. Within his worldview, right?

Glasser: Right.

Morell: And his worldview is not that different from Putin’s. His worldview is that the United States wants to overthrow him.

Glasser: Is out to get him, yeah, which is not wrong.

Morell: No. No, it is wrong. It is wrong. The United States of America doesn’t care whether there’s a North Korea. Right? The United States wants Kim Jong Un to stop his behavior that is threatening to us. If he does that, he is welcome to stay up there and run North Korea for as long as he wants. That is our view.

We are not trying to reunite the peninsula on the South’s terms. We are not trying to drive him from power. Right? We’re not.

Glasser: But, as a matter of policy, though, I believe it is our policy that we are very sorry for the people of North Korea that they live in such a totalitarian dictatorship.

Morell: Absolutely, but our—

Glasser: And we would prefer for their sake that they not live under it, but we’re not pursuing a policy of active regime change. That’s the difference.

Morell: Correct. Correct.

Glasser: I do believe it is our policy, actually, to oppose the North Korean regime, not just on nuclear weapons, but—

Morell: But across the board, right. But the most important stuff—

Glasser: Fair enough. I just wanted to clarify that we do actually care about the people of North Korea.

Morell: Yes, we do. Yes, we do. But the most important thing here, right—I mean, we care about human rights—the most important thing here is protecting U.S. cities from nuclear attack.

Glasser: Yes. We can definitely all agree on that.

Morell: Yes.

Glasser: Definitely. Well, I’m glad you clarified that point, though, on Kim Jong Un, because you do see that recur over and over again as an issue. I know we’re running out of time here.

So, we’ve talked Russia; we’ve talked Russiagate. Are there things that worry you, or that keep you up at night, that you think we are not paying attention to because we’re so obsessed with things like Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, and whether we’re going to have a nuclear war with North Korea, and Russia?

Morell: I’m smiling because—so, when I was deputy director, and I would do public events, or go to college campuses and talk to people and so forth and so on, I would always get asked what’s the one thing that keeps you up at night? Right? And I felt when I was in the job of deputy or acting director that I needed to answer it with a national security answer. So my answer was always terrorists with nuclear weapons. Right? That’s what keeps me up at night. And it still does. I still worry about that. Both Al Qaeda and Isis and other groups have said, “We’d like to get our hands on weapons of mass destruction, and we would use them.”

But the thing, Susan, that really keeps me up at night is that, at the end of the day the most important determinant of a country’s national security is the health of its economy and its society. Right? So, the thing that really keeps me up at night is the dysfunction in Washington that makes it impossible for people to come together and to compromise and make decisions that move our economy and our society forward. That is the most dangerous thing that we face.

I think Senator Corker essentially said that a couple weeks ago. Right? The biggest threat to the United States is us.

Glasser: Is ourselves. Do you think Donald Trump has been as bad as you feared?

Morell: I think that his instincts have been as bad as I feared. I think that we are very lucky to have people like Jim Mattis, and people like H.R. McMaster, and people like Dan Coats and others, who are able to pull him back from where his instincts are.

In some cases, they haven’t succeeded, like on Paris. In other cases, they pulled him halfway back, like on Iran. I think his initial instinct was rip up the deal. I think they pulled him back. I think on issues like Afghanistan, they’ve pulled him all the way back to—I think his initial instinct on Afghanistan was to get out, and they pulled him all the way back to a long-term commitment.

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So, I think that his instincts are what I feared. We’re very lucky to have people who are willing to take on his instincts and to debate and question him to the point where he is willing to change his mind.

Glasser: Well, the question is also, if he’s going to change his mind, or do it only for a short amount of time. Jerusalem is another example of something where maybe people thought he’d changed his mind because he didn’t do it right at the opening strokes of January 20th, as he initially planned to do. But then you see, ten months later, that he is not really deterred from what was his—

Morell: Right. And I would probably—I mean, I don’t know what the internal debates were, but I would bet his national security team was undoubtedly unified in not thinking this was a good idea.

Glasser: Well, that’s right. And that’s the other thing we’ve learned that we didn’t know a year ago. Which was that, Trump placed great faith, on one hand, in all these big, brawny, military officers, current and former, but on the other hand, we’ve learned in a year that he’s willing to disregard their professional advice.

Morell: And I think there’s examples on both sides, right? I think that in some cases—look, it’s difficult over time to fight every day, to struggle every day with your boss. And it can wear you down. Right? And I hope that people like Jim Mattis and H.R. McMaster and John Kelly aren’t getting worn down.

Glasser: Well, you know, it’s interesting. While we were sitting here in this conversation, I just got an email saying that Dina Powell, the president’s deputy national security sdvisor, and by all accounts played a key early role. She was a Bush administration veteran, has been someone who has been helpful in translating General McMaster to Trump and his circle, is leaving. And so, another interesting data point.

Morell: We don’t know why she’s leaving, right, but that would be an example of getting worn down to the point where you lose somebody of Dina’s talent, worldview, perspective, that is consistent with, in my view, the right worldview, that the U.S. has to play a leadership role in the world—that maybe she’s gotten worn down.

Glasser: Well, not to mention the fact, I have to say, every time I look at a picture of a Trump meeting with a major foreign leader, especially like in the Middle East, Dina’s the only woman at the table. Always. Always. And so, who knows what that would be?

So, a final thought as we leave this really stimulating and interesting conversation. We’ve been pretty Russia-focused today, but I do love that you’ve jumped on over to the side of the fence and after three decades in the most secretive and closed organization in the United States, you are now a host of your own podcast. You’re a public commentator. You’re a journalist. What’s it like to be on the other side of the First Amendment?

Morell: I believe deeply in the role of the media. I just finished watching Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War.

Glasser: The Vietnam series—I’m halfway through.

Morell: I think it should be required watching for every American. Right? And what you see when you watch that is multiple presidents not only making the wrong decision, but actually lying to the American people. And the role of the media in making transparent the decisions the government is making and why they’re making them is extraordinarily important to our democracy. And it is very, very important that that Fourth Estate be vibrant and strong, very, very important.

And I’m worried about that a little bit. My college son a few months ago sent me an email and said, “Dad, you need to read this book on Hugo Chavez.” And he said, “You need to read it because the parallels between Chavez and Trump are striking.” So I got the book and I read it. And there’s some parallels, and there’s some similarities, and there’s as many differences, I thought. But there was something that really struck me, and it has to do with the media business.

And what struck me was that, when Hugo Chavez first got elected there was no political opposition. It had faded away. There was no opposition leader to stand up and paint a different future for Venezuela, one that challenged Chavez’s future. And, as a result of there being no political opposition, the Venezuelan media became the political opposition. And in becoming the political opposition, it lost all of its credibility with the Venezuelan people. Sound familiar?

Glasser: Yes.

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Morell: So, I think that as important as the media’s role is here—and it’s probably more important today than it ever has been, given where we are—the media has to absolutely make certain that they are playing this straight. Right? And that they aren’t taking sides in any way.

Glasser: You know, I’m so glad you brought this up, and I think this is a very powerful point. And really, this has been one of my favorite episodes, I think, of The Global POLITICOI’m really grateful to you for spending the time with us.

Our guest this week at The Global POLITICO, Michael Morrell, former director of the CIA, and all-around smart guy.

Morell: Susan, great to be with you. Thank you.

Glasser: Thank you to our listeners, as well. You can listen to us at The Global POLITICO on your favorite podcast platform, iTunes or anything else. You can email me any time—and I do love to hear from you. I’ve heard from a lot listeners over time. sglasser@politico.com. I think we’re well over the 2 million listeners downloaded mark. I hope you can pass on the word about The Global POLITICO and keep listening to us well into 2018, and beyond. Thank you.

Susan Glasser is POLITICO’s chief international affairs columnist and host of its new weekly podcast, The Global Politico.

Ex-Spy Chief: Russia’s Election Hacking Was An ‘Intelligence Failure’ – Politico
 

mikenova shared this story from Russian Intelligence services and organized crime – Google News.


Politico
Ex-Spy Chief: Russia’s Election Hacking Was An ‘Intelligence Failure’
Politico
Subscribe to The Global POLITICO on Apple Podcasts here. | Subscribe via Stitcher here. The politics of spying in America has never been more intense. President Trump has taken to publicly bashing his intelligence agencies and continues, a full year 
Poll: Percentage of Americans Identifying As Republican Has Dropped Since Trump Won
 

mikenova shared this story from Donald Trump.

The biggest dip is among white women, the Gallup survey found.

Was Trump SoHo Used to Hide Part of a Kazakh Banks Missing Billions?
 

mikenova shared this story .

For eight years, Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank has waged a legal war on three continents against former Chairman Mukhtar Ablyazov. It’s a clash that has featured death threats, a hack of Kazakh government computers and at least $4 billion in missing bank assets. Now, court cases playing out on both sides of the Atlantic could pull back the curtain on whether some of those funds wound up in properties developed by former associates of Donald J. Trump.

BTA Bank, once the Central Asian nation’s biggest lender, has accused Ablyazov of embezzling billions of dollars’ worth of mines, hotels, shopping centers and other assets in the former Soviet bloc between 2005 and 2009. Even as the lender sought to recover those holdings, Ablyazov and members of his family were funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into properties in Europe and the U.S., including three condominiums in a 46-story luxury development in lower Manhattan known as Trump SoHo, court documents allege.

Ablyazov enlisted his son-in-law, Iliyas Khrapunov, to help him conceal his assets, according to sworn statements from former associates of the fugitive financier. The previously reported purchases in Trump SoHo, developed by Bayrock Group LLC in partnership with the Trump Organization, were made by members of Khrapunov’s family, the bank has alleged in court documents. Khrapunov also worked on a separate deal with Felix Sater, a former Bayrock executive and onetime adviser to Trump.

And, in a new wrinkle, emails reviewed by Bloomberg News show that BTA Bank’s current chairman, Kenges Rakishev, the man who’s now pursuing Ablyazov, considered buying a stake in Trump SoHo in 2012.

The Trump SoHo in lower Manhattan, on April 4, 2016.

Photographer: Todd Heisler/The New York Times via Redux

Sitting in a studio apartment in Paris a few blocks from the Louvre on a balmy October afternoon, looking relaxed in a blue blazer with brass buttons, a white shirt and jeans, Ablyazov, 54, said he didn’t steal anything from BTA Bank. He also said he knows nothing about links to Trump or his former partners. “First of all, I can account for my whereabouts during this time,” he said with a laugh. “I was in jail.”

But the purported Trump link may figure in litigation underway in London and New York. In its quest to recover assets, BTA Bank has sued Ablyazov and Khrapunov family members in both cities. As the cases unfold, the bank’s lawyers plan to show how they used a constellation of shell companies to hide and launder assets. One in particular has come into focus: Swiss Development Group SA, a Geneva-based firm allegedly used to violate British court orders freezing those assets. In three days of hearings in London in November, lawyers for Khrapunov and BTA Bank sparred over the credibility of a key witness, a Ukrainian woman who once worked with Ablyazov but, the bank says, has revealed secrets of Ablyazov’s alleged laundering.

The cases could shed light on how cash flowed between Kazakhstan and the U.S. in the past decade, a time when Trump and his partners were soliciting investments in the East. It’s a period that Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election, is looking at as he examines evidence of possible money laundering and other financial malfeasance by some former associates of the president.

Kazakh investors were drawn to the allure of the Trump brand and a country with the rule of law, according to Kate Mallinson, a partner at Prism Political Risk Management Ltd. in London and an expert on Kazakhstan. “The Kazakhs learned from Russia that a Trump property was a safe place to park your money for a while,” she said, pointing out that capital flight from the country, fueled by political uncertainty, probably reached a peak in 2012.

“If the president oversteps this line, I am warning you that I will spend my last cent to take this regime down”

The Trump Organization hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing in connection with the BTA Bank litigation. The company’s chief legal officer, Alan Garten, said it “had nothing to do with the sale of units in Trump SoHo,” which were handled by Bayrock, and had never done any business in Kazakhstan or had any dealings with Ablyazov or Khrapunov. On Nov. 22, the Trump Organization said it sold its management and licensing agreement and the president’s name would be removed from the building.

Sater and his lawyer didn’t respond to emails seeking comment. Khrapunov, 33, declined in an October interview in Geneva to comment on his relationship with Sater or Bayrock. He said he managed his own family’s investments legally and denied that SDG was a front for his father-in-law or that he had laundered any ill-gotten gains.

“The only reason they’re going after me is that I intervened to help get Mukhtar out of prison and his wife and daughter out of Kazakhstan,” Khrapunov said. “That was the turning point after which they unleashed hell on me.”

Ablyazov also rejected the bank’s claim that he deputized Khrapunov to hide his assets. “Iliyas has nothing to do with my property,” he said.

A boyish-faced man with a passion for chess and a knack for eluding adversaries, Ablyazov is at the center of an asset hunt that has stretched from Almaty to Moscow to London and New York. When he was in a French prison from 2013 to 2016 fighting extradition to Russia on fraud charges, he fashioned a chess set out of paper and played games against himself. As the months ticked by, he wrote a treatise on the Old Indian Defense, a chess gambit designed to lull an opponent into overconfidence and make him vulnerable to counterattacks.

It appears to have worked as well for him in the legal world as on the chessboard. Ablyazov was charged with financial crimes in Russia and Ukraine. He was convicted in absentia of embezzlement in Kazakhstan and sentenced to 20 years in prison. British courts ruled he misappropriated more than $4 billion from BTA Bank, and a U.K. judge found him in contempt for violating a freeze on his assets. In 2015, Manuel Valls, then France’s prime minister, signed an order extraditing Ablyazov to Russia, where charges are still pending.

And yet, after all that, the bank has recovered less than $500 million. A French administrative court canceled the extradition decree last December, finding that Russia sought him for “a political purpose,” leaving Ablyazov a free man in Paris.

Ablyazov, who held a majority stake in BTA Bank, said in the interview that he legally owned the properties and stakes in companies he acquired during his spell as chairman. He said he earned $200 million in 2007 from his investments and that his net worth in 2009 was $6 billion. While he held his assets in shell companies in Cyprus and other offshore havens, he said he wasn’t fleecing the bank — he was trying to keep them out of the hands of Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s president since 1991.

Nazarbayev has long hated him, Ablyazov said, because he has supported opposition groups and media outlets. A theoretical physicist and former minister of energy, Ablyazov did time in Nazarbayev’s jails as a political prisoner in the early 2000s. After taking control of BTA Bank in 2005, he said he spurned demands from Nazarbayev to give him a stake in the lender as an act of tribute. Certain the government was going to nationalize the bank, Ablyazov fled for the U.K. in January 2009. But he didn’t go quietly.

“When the plane passed over Russian territory and entered European airspace, I telephoned Nazarbayev’s assistant,” Ablyazov recalled. “I told him, ‘There’s no way you can stop the plane now. I know Nazarbayev intends to seize the bank. If the president oversteps this line, I am warning you that I will spend my last cent to take this regime down.’”

Ablyazov arrives under police protection at a courthouse in Lyon, France, for a hearing in his appeal trial regarding his extradition to Russia, on Oct. 17, 2014.

Photographer: Philippe Merle/AFP/Getty Images

It was a declaration of war, and that’s what Ablyazov got. Over the next few years, the bank filed 11 civil actions in the U.K. against Ablyazov and his associates. It hired investigative firms led by former members of the British Special Forces and the CIA to track his movements and those of his family members.

Scotland Yard warned Ablyazov in 2011 that it had information indicating his life was in danger, though police officers couldn’t identify the plotters. The next year, he slipped out of the U.K. and went underground. While in hiding in May 2013, the Kazakh government forcibly returned his wife and daughter to Almaty from Rome in an apparent attempt to pressure him to turn himself in. After an uproar over what United Nations human rights officials called an “extraordinary rendition,” Kazakhstan permitted them to return to Italy seven months later.

“The charges laid against me are false, artificial and wrong,” Ablyazov said in Paris. “This is not a commercial dispute but a political persecution.”

Nonsense, said Rakishev, the current BTA Bank chairman. Sipping coffee at a conference table in his seventh-floor office at the lender’s headquarters in Almaty, the 38-year-old financier said the case isn’t about politics — it’s about money. There’s ample evidence Ablyazov used the lender like his personal piggy bank, Rakishev said.

That’s also the government’s view. “Ablyazov through his crimes did significant damage to BTA Bank and its depositors, as well as to the state,” Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Justice said in an email. It denied accusations that Nazarbayev is hounding Ablyazov for his politics.

While at BTA Bank, Ablyazov sold billions of dollars of bonds and borrowed from banks including Credit Suisse Group AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Then he turned around and used a unit inside the bank called UKB6 to lend money to investment projects throughout the former Soviet bloc, according to judgments entered by U.K. courts.

The borrowers were shell companies controlled by Ablyazov, the judges concluded. They said he siphoned so much capital out of BTA Bank that by the time the global financial crisis struck in 2008, the lender was crippled. The government nationalized BTA Bank in February 2009, and a few months later it defaulted on more than $12 billion of debt. Since then, the bank has been trying to recover whatever it can.

Rakishev, who has interests in mining, energy and banking in Kazakhstan, said the biggest challenge for him is Ablyazov’s allegation of political persecution. “But my task is recovering assets,” he said. “There is a business part of this issue that is clear and understandable. If Ablyazov is sure that he earned the money correctly, then he should come to court and prove it.”

Both sides will get the chance to prove their cases in the civil proceedings in London. In three days of hearings last month, Khrapunov’s lawyers asked the court to throw out a 2015 order that froze his assets, a decision that would be a blow to the bank’s efforts to recover its money.

At the center of the case is Ukrainian lawyer Olena Tyschenko, who was detained in Moscow in 2013 on suspicion of laundering money for Ablyazov. She agreed to cooperate with BTA Bank in exchange for the bank not pressing Russian authorities to prosecute her. Tyschenko said Khrapunov was helping his father-in-law and had been tapped to “take over all of his business,” according to a sworn affidavit from Chris Hardman, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells representing the bank.

Khrapunov’s lawyer Charles Samek urged the court not to rely on Tyschenko’s statements. “The evidence is false,” Samek said. “It’s clear that the bank was intimately involved in her arrest and detention and in the criminal proceedings against her.”

Another BTA Bank lawyer, Stephen Smith, said the bank had cooperated with Russian prosecutors but hadn’t instigated the investigation. “The bank doesn’t have the power to put people in a Russian jail,” Smith argued.

Judge Andrew Smith is expected to rule on the matter by early next year, and a trial in the case is scheduled for 2019.

“This is not a commercial dispute but a political persecution”

Ablyazov and Khrapunov may have more ammunition. In 2014, hackers penetrated the databases of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Justice and captured 69 gigabytes of emails and documents, including confidential communications between BTA Bank’s lawyers and government officials on how to fight Ablyazov.

The British courts have admitted the material in the so-called Kazaword hack in the pending litigation. Khrapunov and Ablyazov plan to use the documents to show the bank’s asset-recovery case is a smokescreen for Nazarbayev’s politically motivated pursuit of them, a strategy that paid off in France.

Rakishev counters that Khrapunov is behind the hack. A Kazakh news site financed by Ablyazov in the past published many of the documents. “Who is the biggest benefactor of publication?” Rakishev said. “Iliyas and Mukhtar.”

Khrapunov said he had nothing to do with the attack. But, he said, “it is a relief that the truth is finally out about the extent of Kazakhstan’s corruption and persecution of my family.”

Educated at Le Rosey, a Swiss boarding school that attracts Russian elites unfazed by the six-figure annual tuition, Khrapunov hikes in the Alps and lives in a village on the shores of Lake Geneva. With an Interpol-distributed arrest warrant from Kazakhstan hanging over him, Khrapunov, a Swiss citizen, hasn’t crossed the border in four years. Lunching on grilled fish and tomato juice at a sidewalk cafe in Geneva, he came across as an easygoing man on holiday, not the adjutant of a shadowy offshore financial empire.

Yet starting in 2011, Khrapunov turned SDG into a machine for laundering his father-in-law’s wealth, according to a sworn statement filed in court by Nicolas Bourg, a Belgian businessman who had worked at SDG. In that 2016 declaration, Bourg stated that Khrapunov directed him to set up a real estate fund as an SDG subsidiary. He said he created a series of investment entities in Luxembourg that all answered to Khrapunov, and ultimately to Ablyazov.

Khrapunov, who denied the allegations, also helped launder about $300 million for his father, Viktor Khrapunov, who’s accused of embezzling the money from Almaty when he was its mayor from 1997 to 2004, according to a lawsuit the city and BTA Bank filed in federal court in New York in 2015. Both Khrapunovs, who have been indicted for fraud and other charges by Kazakh prosecutors, say the allegations are politically motivated.

Iliyas Khrapunov first crossed paths with Sater around 2008. Sater and Bayrock founder Tevfik Arif had been hopscotching from Moscow to the Cote d’Azur hitting up oligarchs for investments in Trump-branded projects since 2004, according to a person who worked at Bayrock at the time.

With his Brooklyn accent and outer-borough savvy, Sater had a gift for schmoozing investors, the person said. He clicked with Trump, and the two met often at Trump Tower to talk business. Bayrock and the Trump Organization had projects percolating in New York, South Florida, Phoenix and Denver, and were even eyeing one in Moscow. In 2008, SDG and Bayrock joined forces to turn the Hotel du Parc on Lake Geneva into 24 “ultra-luxury” residences, according to court documents in the U.S. and a Bayrock presentation.

Khrapunov family members purchased three condominiums in Trump SoHo in 2013 for a total of $3.2 million, according to lawsuits filed by BTA Bank in federal courts in New York and California. All three units were sold by 2015, two of them at a loss, public records show.

Khrapunov did a separate deal with Sater, a Russian-born dealmaker who served time in prison for stabbing a man in the face with a margarita glass in a bar fight and later pleaded guilty to taking part in stock swindles with Russian organized-crime figures. To stay out of prison, he worked as an informant to U.S. prosecutors investigating the mob’s role on Wall Street.

By 2013, an SDG subsidiary called Triadou had invested more than $114 million in four projects in the U.S., according to a company financial report, none of them connected to Trump. That April, Triadou used a shell company to purchase a foreclosed shopping center outside Cincinnati for $30 million, court documents show. The money came from an entity called Telford that was controlled by Ablyazov, Bourg said. Sater helped manage the deal. Sater has since worked as a consultant helping BTA Bank’s asset-recovery program, according to a person familiar with the arrangement.

“This case has been a civil war played out in the courts”

In 2012, before the Khrapunovs bought the three Trump SoHo condos, Rakishev was approached about purchasing a stake in the building and perhaps even the whole tower. Ever since Trump had unveiled plans for the tower in 2006, the developers had struggled to sell its 380-plus units. On Feb. 27, 2012, Rakishev received an email from Keith Rubenstein, founder of New York real estate investment firm Somerset Partners, suggesting that Trump SoHo might be available in a “distressed sale.”

“Don’t love the location, but at the right price could be interesting,” Rubenstein wrote in an email seen by Bloomberg News. “Shall we take a look at this together?”

Rakishev liked the idea. “Can we look with detail and most important is price?” he replied.

One of Rubenstein’s associates sent Rakishev a spreadsheet that showed the development had sold less than a quarter of its units and had lost $3.6 million on its food and beverage services in 2011, according to the documents seen by Bloomberg News. Rakishev said he doesn’t recall reviewing the deal. A spokesman for Rubenstein declined to comment.

Two years later, Rakishev acquired control of BTA Bank in a series of transactions with Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund. Today, the bank is little more than a holding company, and its primary business is recovering the assets allegedly taken by Ablyazov.

As for Ablyazov, he hasn’t let go of his dream of toppling Nazarbayev. He’s trying to resurrect Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan, once the country’s biggest opposition group, and he regularly posts anti-Nazarbayev jeremiads on his Facebook page.

“The main task,” he said, “is to replace the dictatorial regime in Kazakhstan and build a country on the model of America and Europe.”

Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Justice may have other ideas about Ablyazov’s future. Last month, Muratkhan Tokmadi, a wealthy businessman, said in a documentary broadcast on Kazakh television that in 2004 he murdered Erzhan Tatishev, BTA Bank’s co-owner and first chief executive officer, at the direction of Ablyazov.

Tatishev was killed by a gunshot during a wolf hunt on Kazakhstan’s southern border. For years, the shooting was believed to have been an accident. But in the documentary, Tokmadi said Ablyazov instructed him to make it “look like an accidental killing.”

Prosecutors have opened an investigation. Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Justice told Bloomberg News that Tokmadi has agreed to cooperate.

“Now they will accuse me of murder,” Ablyazov said in Paris, adding that he had never met Tokmadi.

A murder charge against Ablyazov would just be the latest twist in a saga that has already featured a cyberattack, a fugitive banker and links with Trump’s real estate empire.

“For years, this case has been a civil war played out in the courts,” said John Howell, a British financial-crime consultant who assisted BTA Bank in its efforts to uncover whether Ablyazov committed fraud. “Now, with a criminal case potentially coming in, the hunt for BTA’s assets may pick up new momentum.”

— With assistance by David Voreacos

Stratfor describes Russia and China allying against America
 

mikenova shared this story from Fabius Maximus website.

Summary: The world’s nations are forming new alliances. Last month we looked at the Saudi-Israel alliance. Here Stratfor looks at major nations allying against America (other powers always organize against a hegemon), starting with Russia and China. How this plays out will shape the 21st century.

Russia-China Alliance

“The Rise of a Not-So-New World Order”

BY SARANG SHIDORE, SENIOR GLOBAL ANALYST, AT STRATFOR.

HIGHLIGHTS.

  • Despite lacking an official alliance, Russia and China have acted virtually in lockstep on many major security issues.
  • Russia seems to have largely accepted the reality of China’s rising power — an acceptance that is key to the formation of a compact between the two countries.
  • The country most likely to join the Sino-Russian compact is Iran.

STRATFOR’S REPORT.

For decades the United States has sat atop a unipolar world, unrivaled in its influence over the rest of the globe. But now that may be changing as a new, informal alliance takes shape between China and Russia. The two great powers have a mutual interest in overturning an international order that has long advantaged the West at their own expense. And as the Earth’s sole superpower turns inward, they will seek to carve out bigger backyards for themselves. Will their marriage of convenience once more give rise to the bipolarity that characterized the Cold War, or will it unravel in the face of a natural rivalry rooted in geopolitics?

AN INFORMAL ALLIANCE EMERGES.

First, a few observations about the Cold War. The multidecade conflict was much like the classical great-power contests that have taken place since the advent of the modern nation-state: Two blocs of roughly equal power (NATO and the Warsaw Pact) participated in a continuous arms race, waged proxy wars and engaged in the politics of securing spheres of influence.

But the Cold War also contained some striking new elements. Chief among them were the feud’s pervasive reach into most sovereign states, the presence of nuclear weapons, the two participants’ radically different economic and political systems, and the missionary zeal each superpower had for exporting its ideology worldwide. Moreover, membership within each alliance was sizable and stable, though developing countries occasionally shifted their loyalties after a revolution or military intervention by the United States or the Soviet Union.

On their face, any parallels between today and the Cold War of decades past seem overblown. The United States leads most formal alliance structures; Russia and China have no obvious ideology to export; and variations of capitalism have won out worldwide, leading to a deeply integrated global economy. Furthermore, Russia and China appear to have too many conflicts of interest to form an enduring partnership.

A world held in a hand

A closer look at recent events, however, suggests otherwise. Despite lacking an official alliance, Russia and China have acted virtually in lockstep on many major security issues. Both were first neutral, then opposed to, NATO’s intervention in Libya in 2011. Both have taken nearly identical positions on the Syrian conflict and cybergovernance at the United Nations. Both have issued a joint proposal to resolve the crisis on the Korean Peninsula by freezing North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs in exchange for halting joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States. Both are firmly opposed to undermining the Iranian nuclear deal. And both have lobbied against U.S. missile defenses in Central Europe and Asia, as well as the Western doctrine of intervention known as “responsibility to protect.” Meanwhile China — a well-known defender of the principle of national sovereignty — has been noticeably silent on Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.

At the same time, Beijing and Moscow have symbolically demonstrated their compact in the realm of defense. They have conducted joint military exercises in unprecedented locales, including the Mediterranean Ocean and the Baltic Sea, as well as in disputed territories, such as the Sea of Japan and the South China Sea. Weapons deals between them are likewise on the rise. Russian arm sales to China skyrocketed in 2002. After temporarily dropping off between 2006 and 2013 amid suspicion that China was reverse-engineering Russian platforms, Russia’s sales to China resumed. Moscow agreed to sell its most sophisticated systems, the Su-35 aircraft and the S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, to its Asian neighbor.

The two great powers have signed several major energy deals of late, too. Russian oil has made up a steadily growing share of China’s energy portfolio for years, and in 2016 Russia became the country’s biggest oil supplier. China, for its part, has begun to substantially invest in Russia’s upstream industry while its state-run banks have heavily bankrolled pipelines connecting the two countries. Beijing, for instance, recently acquired a large stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft. Russian exports of natural gas, including liquefied natural gas, to China are climbing as well. These moves are rooted in grand strategy: Russia and China are privileging each other in energy trade and investment to reduce their dependence on locations where the United States is dominant.

With their robust indigenous defense industries and vast energy reserves alone, China and Russia satisfy the basic requirements of presenting an enduring challenge to the United States. But both have also begun pushing for greater financial and monetary autonomy by distancing themselves from the dollar-dominated order of international trade and finance. China has already partially seceded from the SWIFT system of global banking transactions by creating its own system, CIPS. Russia is following suit, and it too has started to build an alternative network. Moreover, the Chinese yuan recently entered the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights currency basket. Now most Asian currencies track far more closely with the yuan than the dollar in value.

China plans to introduce an oil futures contract in yuan that can be fully converted to gold as well. This, along with Beijing and Moscow’s decision to boost their gold reserves, suggests that they may be preparing to switch to a gold standard someday. (The convertibility of gold is an important intermediate step toward boosting investor confidence in an up-and-coming currency like the yuan, which still suffers from many constraints such as illiquidity and significant risk in its country of origin.) The seriousness of their effort indicates their determination to move away from a system ruled by the U.S. currency.

Of course, China and Russia still suffer huge deficits with respect to the United States in technology, innovation and global force projection. But the gap may be closing as China makes substantial investments into sunrise technologies such as renewable energy, biotechnology and artificial intelligence.

Plus, the projection of power to every corner of the globe probably isn’t their immediate goal. Rather, the two powers seem to be aiming for maximum autonomy and a proximate sphere of influence that encompasses Eastern Europe and parts of the Middle East and Asia. They also seek to overhaul international rule-making with the intention of gaining greater influence in multilateral institutions, securing vetoes over military interventions, increasing global governance of the internet (albeit for their own self-interest), ending U.S. pressure regarding democracy and human rights, dethroning the reigning dollar and accounting for their interests in the design of the global security order.

A DURABLE MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE.

China and Russia are not natural allies. They have a long history of discord and at least three areas of conflicting interests: overlapping backyards in Central Asia, competition in arms sales and a growing asymmetry in power that favors Beijing.

Over the years, the two countries have taken on somewhat distinct roles in Central Asia. Russia has become the leading security guarantor in the region by founding the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a formal alliance with a mutual self-defense clause, and by building military bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Russia has also integrated Kazakhstan into its air defense system. By comparison, China is rapidly emerging as the leading energy and infrastructure partner in the region. The country’s Belt and Road Initiative is well underway, and several oil and natural gas pipelines connecting China to its Central Asian neighbors are already functional. That said, both powers have a stake in the region’s security and economic integration, as evidenced by the presence of the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union and the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization there.

Despite their dependence on China and Russia, Central Asian states still enjoy considerable autonomy and cannot be deemed satellites of either great power. The recent resistance of Kazakhstan, a CSTO member, to Russian pressure to deploy troops to Syria is a case in point. Of the five Central Asian countries, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan are most closely intertwined with China and Russia; Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have kept a greater distance.

The dynamic Chinese economy’s steady outpacing of its Russian counterpart would ordinarily cause deep consternation in Moscow. However, Russia seems to have largely accepted the reality of China’s rising power — an acceptance that is key to the formation of a compact between them. Beijing, for its part, has tactfully walked back from its historical claims to Outer Manchuria, paving the way for the settlement of its long-standing border dispute with Moscow. China has also worked to keep its economic competition with Russia from degenerating into political antagonism.

Russia is still wary of China, though. Against the wishes of Beijing, which has a long-standing competition with New Delhi, Moscow supported and facilitated India’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The Kremlin also keeps close ties to Vietnam and maintains an ongoing dialog with Japan. However, Russia has also compromised with China on some of these matters, including by agreeing to Pakistan’s simultaneous admission to the bloc. It has also limited its cooperation with Tokyo, dragging its feet in settling its Kuril Islands dispute with Japan.

These concessions indicate Moscow’s pursuit of a hedging strategy, not a balancing one. If Russia were truly trying to balance China, their rivalry in Central Asia would take on a security dimension, resulting in factionalization or, in the worst-case scenario, wars between their local proxies. So while some structural tension certainly exists between China and Russia and could lead to a security rivalry in the long run, their leaders have actively managed and largely contained it thus far. This marriage of convenience will likely prove lasting, given its goals for dramatically transforming the international system. And even if a formal Russia-China alliance never comes to pass, the durability of their partnership already makes it feel like one in many ways. That the two countries feel no need to formalize their alliance, moreover, indicates that informality will increasingly serve as a template for strategic partnerships in the future.

THE RESURGENCE OF THE MIDDLE.

Could an alignment between Russia and China expand to new states? The country most likely to join their compact is Iran. A revolutionary state with deep enmity for the United States and its allies, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, Iran has a strong desire to rewrite the rules of the current global order. As China’s Belt and Road Initiative has taken off, Chinese investment in Iran has started to rise. And though Iran and Russia have their differences, their security interests have recently aligned. In the Syrian civil war, for instance, they have closely coordinated their air and ground operations over the past two years. Iran, meanwhile, would add to the two great powers’ energy heft and welcome any attempt to shift global energy markets away from the dollar. Under the current circumstances, Iran has every reason to strengthen its strategic ties with Russia and China, even as it woos global investors.

Iran isn’t the only core state candidate that may join the Sino-Russian compact. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is a formidable gambit, partly intended to draw several states into its orbit. Among them are Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Turkey, Sri Lanka and Thailand. All of these nations, in theory, could join the Sino-Russian core. Still, it is doubtful whether most will. Turkey, a member of NATO, has worked more closely with Russia and Iran in the past few months to manage the Syrian conflict, and it is heavily reliant on Russian energy supplies. But Turkey will find it difficult to abandon its commitments to NATO; instead it will most likely play a transactional game with all three powers.

On the Asian continent, it is in Sri Lanka’s and Bangladesh’s best interests not to antagonize their next-door neighbor, India, by tilting too far toward China. Moreover, Myanmar has a complex history with China, while Thailand is a U.S. treaty ally that lately has sought a middle ground between Washington and Beijing. Pakistan has been close to China for decades while maintaining an intense (if transactional) security relationship with the United States and complicated ties with Iran. If relations between Islamabad and Washington as well as New Delhi and Beijing deteriorate sharply, Pakistan may find that aligning with Russia and China brings more benefits than costs. But when all is said and done, any attempt to transform the Sino-Russian compact into an expansive, international alliance would encounter massive roadblocks.

LOOKING AT AMERICA’S ALLIANCES.

Meanwhile, all is not going as planned within the United States’ own bloc. Washington’s treaty ally, South Korea, staunchly opposes any U.S. military action against North Korea. The United States’ ties with another major partner, Turkey, are deteriorating. The Philippines is trying to balance between the United States and China, as is Thailand. Australia is increasingly torn between its deep economic dependence on China and its commitments to the United States. Wide rifts have opened between the United States and Europe over trade, climate action and Iran. Hungary has moved closer to Russia as populist nationalism — in some cases laced with support for Russian President Vladimir Putin — rises across the Continent. Then there is Germany, which the United States has long worried is less than fully committed to balancing against Russia. On top of all this, a nationalist upswing in U.S. politics has made the superpower more hostile to trade agreements and foreign entanglements.

On the other hand, the United States is bolstering its security relationship with India and Vietnam, finding ready partners against China and Russia in Japan and Poland, respectively, and enjoying the prospect of a post-Brexit United Kingdom that is more beholden to Washington than ever before. With a population of more than a billion people, India’s future is particularly consequential to the global order — but only if it can transcend its many domestic challenges. And though India could become a core member of the U.S.-led bloc in the future, its historical autonomy and deep defense ties with Russia could limit just how close New Delhi can get to Washington and Tokyo.

Added to these factors are the non-state challenges to state power that have emerged since the 1990s and now show no sign of going away. Giant technology corporations, criminal networks, transnational terrorist groups, global civil society and growing environmental threats often weaken the system of sovereign nation-states, and they will continue to do so in the years to come.

TWO POLES, MUCH SMALLER THAN BEFORE.

The upshot of these changes is that bipolarity, though not inevitable, is likely a foundational feature of the future. But it would be much diminished, compared with that of the Cold War — a “bipolarity-minus” of sorts. Each side in such a world would boast a much smaller set of core members: Russia, China, probably Iran and plausibly Pakistan, on one side, and the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, probably Japan and plausibly India and Australia on the other.

Though all other powers may lean in one direction or another, they would have more malleable relationships with each bloc and with each other. At the same time, there would be ample space for non-state actors and fluid minor coalitions to try to maximize their own freedom by, among other things, limiting the intensity of bipolarity among the great powers. Core states would have to work that much harder to win over the many swing states scattered across the globe, and alignment based on specific issues will become the norm. Existing institutions of global governance will either become moribund or will shrink as competing institutions with different approaches form and gain traction.

The Cold War years offered a faint preview of this world. The Non-Aligned Movement and the G-77 influenced issues such as decolonization, foreign aid and disarmament, while OPEC briefly shook the world with an oil embargo. Core bloc members occasionally demonstrated radical autonomy — the Sino-Soviet split of 1959, “goulash communism” in Hungary and Ostpolitik in West Germany are only a few examples. Still, these deviations never seriously undermined the global system, dominated as it was by two superpowers.

Today a new constraint on the emergence of true bipolarity exists: the intertwining of the U.S. and Chinese economies. Interdependence determinists will argue that such ties are incompatible with bipolarity and will ultimately prevent it. However, the limited nature of a bipolarity-minus world may allow the phenomena to coexist, albeit uneasily, as they did in a highly interdependent Europe before World War I. Alternatively, the United States and China may reorder their supply chains to reduce this interdependence over time. Technological advances are already shrinking these supply chains, a trend that could accelerate if the United States becomes far more protectionist.

If the future does indeed hold a bipolar-minus world, the United States may not be ready for it. To be prepared, Washington would have to recalibrate its strategy. In a world in which many major powers are uncommitted and have large degrees of freedom, tools like open-ended military interventions, unilateral sanctions, extraterritoriality and hostility to trade will likely yield diminishing returns. By comparison, incentivization, integration, innovation and adroit agenda-setting can be smarter and more effective options. The United States historically has been a pioneer of these approaches, and it may prove able to wield them persuasively once again. But perhaps most important, the superpower will have to resolve its internal polarization if it hopes to position itself as a cohesive leader of the international community. Only then will it once again become, as former U.S. President Ronald Reagan so eloquently put it, “a shining city upon a hill.”

THE RISE OF A NOT-SO-NEW WORLD ORDER
IS REPUBLISHED WITH PERMISSION OF STRATFOR.

——————————————

Sarang Shidore

About Sarang Shidore

Sarang Shidore is a Senior Global Analyst at Stratfor. He is also a Visiting Scholar at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, where he conducts policy research. His areas of focus include international relations and energy/climate policy, and he has several peer-reviewed publications in these areas.

Stratfor-Worldview

About Stratfor

Founded in 1996, Stratfor provides strategic analysis and forecasting to individuals and organizations around the world. By placing global events in a geopolitical framework, they help customers anticipate opportunities and better understand international developments. They believe that transformative world events are not random and are, indeed, predictable. See their About Page for more information.

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TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CHINA’S NEW SILK ROAD…

See Tom Miller’s China’s Asian Dream: Empire Building along the New Silk Road. From the publisher …

“Under Xi, China is pursuing an increasingly ambitious foreign policy with the aim of restoring its historical status as the dominant power in Asia. From the Mekong Basin to the Central Asian steppe, the country is wooing its neighbors with promises of new roads, railways, dams, and power grids. Chinese trade and investment presents huge opportunities for China’s neighbors, and its ability to build much-needed infrastructure could assist in the development of some of the world’s poorest countries.

“Yet China’s rise also threatens to reduce its neighbours to the status of exploited vassals. In Vietnam and Myanmar, resentment of Chinese encroachment has already incited anti-Chinese protests, and many countries in the region are seeking to counterbalance its influence by turning to the US and Japan. Combining a concise overview of the situation with on-the-ground reportage from over seven countries, China’s Asian Dream offers a fresh perspective on one of the most important questions of our time: what does China’s rise mean for the future of Asia and of the world?”

Stratfor describes Russia and China allying against America – Fabius Maximus website (blog)
 

mikenova shared this story from Russia influence in Eastern Europe – Google News.


Fabius Maximus website (blog)
Stratfor describes Russia and China allying against America
Fabius Maximus website (blog)
Rather, the two powers seem to be aiming for maximum autonomy and a proximate sphere of influence that encompassesEastern Europe and parts of the Middle East and Asia. They also seek to overhaul international rule-making with the intention of gaining and more »
Pirro: FBI, DOJ Need a ‘Cleansing’ With People ‘Taken Out in Cuffs’
 

mikenova shared this story from Breitbart News.

by Trent Baker9 Dec 20171,245

Saturday during her opening statement for Fox News Channel’s “Justice,” host Jeanine Pirro took aim at the FBI and the Department of Justice, both of which she said needed a “cleansing.” She added it should end with people like FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI special counsel Robert Mueller taken away in handcuffs.

“There is a cleansing needed in our FBI and Department of Justice– it needs to be cleansed of individuals who should not just be fired, but who need to be taken out in cuffs,” Pirro began her opening statement.

Pirro likened the political corruption to that of a third-world country.

“I, for one, am tired of investigations [and] politicians posturing — something more has to be done,” she said. “The stench coming out of the Justice Department and the FBI is like that of a third-world country where money and bullies and clubs decide election. It all started with cardinal [Jim] Comey destroyed our FBI with political hacks to set events in motion to destroy the republic because they did not like the man we chose to be our president. Well, it is time to take them out in cuffs.”

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent

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Pirro: FBI, DOJ Need a ‘Cleansing’ With People ‘Taken Out in Cuffs’ – Breitbart News
 

mikenova shared this story from Andrew McCabe – Google News.


Breitbart News
Pirro: FBI, DOJ Need a ‘Cleansing’ With People ‘Taken Out in Cuffs’
Breitbart News
Saturday during her opening statement for Fox News Channel’s Justice, host Jeanine Pirro took aim at the FBI and the Department of Justice, both of which she said needed a cleansing. She added it should end with people like FBI deputy director and more »
Judge Jeanine: There Needs to Be a ‘Cleansing’ at the FBI, DOJ – Fox News Insider
 

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Salon
Judge Jeanine: There Needs to Be a ‘Cleansing’ at the FBI, DOJ
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In her Opening Statement Saturday night, Judge Jeanine Pirro said there needs to be a “cleansing” at the FBI and the Department of Justice. Judge Jeanine ran down a list of individuals who she said have been dedicated to protecting Hillary Clinton or 
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FBI Stonewall – Google Search
 

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Story image for FBI Stonewall from Wall Street Journal

Christopher Wray’s FBI Stonewall

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Christopher Wray was supposed to bring a new candor and credibility to the FBI after the James Comey debacle, but the country is still waiting. The director’s testimony Thursday to the House Judiciary Committee suggests he has joined the Justice Department effort to stop the public from learning about the …

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Nunes Draws Up Contempt Citations After FBI Stonewall on Russia …

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In what appears to be an orchestrated leak, both the Washington Post and New York Times reported on Saturday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller removed an FBI agent from the Russia collusion investigation in July over anti-Trump text messages. And the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee …

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Sen. Grassley Turns Up Heat on FBI to ‘Cough Up’ Strzok Documents

PJ MediaDec 6, 2017
The FBI, shockingly enough, has not been cooperating with requests from congressional Republicans to pony up documents related to Strzok’s involvement with both cases. It appears that Sen. Grassley is getting almost as frustrated with the FBI stonewall as House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes.
Christopher Wray’s FBI Stonewall – Wall Street Journal
 

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Wall Street Journal
Christopher Wray’s FBI Stonewall
Wall Street Journal
Christopher Wray was supposed to bring a new candor and credibility to the FBI after the James Comey debacle, but the country is still waiting. The director’s testimony Thursday to the House Judiciary Committee suggests he has joined the Justice
Christopher Wrays FBI Stonewall – WSJ
 

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What Is the ‘Russia Story’? – New York Times
 

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investigations. Engage in. a cover up. Requests. to end. inquiries. Tweets to. discredit. probes. Reasons. for firing. Comey. Reason for son’s. meeting with. Russian lawyer. Here are some of the ways Mr. Trump may have interfered in the continuing and more »
Notable surgeon who treated Bono commits suicide: NYPD
 

mikenova shared this story from Daniel Prendergast New York Post.

A notable Manhattan surgeon who treated U2 singer Bono after a serious bicycle accident was found dead in his Upper East Side apartment from an apparent suicide, officials said Sunday.

Dr. Dean Lorich, 54, was found by his 11-year-old daughter lying face up on the bathroom floor of his Park Avenue home with a knife sticking out of his chest around 1 p.m., authorities said.

The girl ran downstairs and told the doorman, who called 911, police said.

Police said Lorich’s wife and older daughter were out at the time.

There were no signs of forced entry. It appears he did not leave a suicide note.

Police are still investigating.

Lorich was the associate director of the Orthopedic Trauma Service at Hospital for Special Surgery and the Chief of the Orthopedic Trauma Service at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Hewas in charge of caring for Bono following a 2014 bicycling accident in Central Park.

The rock star lost control of his bike when he swerved to avoid another cyclist and landed on his face, fracturing his eye socket, shoulder and elbow.

Lorich performed several surgeries on the singer while he was laid up New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Yesterday’s snow transformed some city streets into scenes from a wintry postcard. Photos: http://brooklyn.news12.com/story/37034448/photos-first-snowfall-of-the-season-in-nyc pic.twitter.com/bVrc8qmzlB
 

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Yesterday’s snow transformed some city streets into scenes from a wintry postcard. Photos:http://brooklyn.news12.com/story/37034448/photos-first-snowfall-of-the-season-in-nyc …

The Trump-Russia Probe Is About to Get Uglier – Bloomberg
 

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Bloomberg
The Trump-Russia Probe Is About to Get Uglier
Bloomberg
Equally clear is that no matter what is revealed, Trump and his allies won’t go quietly. Already, some congressional Republicans are trying to smear Mueller, the most experienced and respected special counsel in more than 40 years. If cornered, does 
A battle for public opinion: Trump goes to war over Mueller and RussiaThe Guardian
Trump escalates ‘rigged system’ rhetoric amid Russia probeCNN
The campaign to delegitimize the Russia probe is well under wayLos Angeles Times
BBC News –NPR –Business Insider –NPR
all 788 news articles »
Russian Intelligence services – Google News: Russia has MORE sleeper agents in UK now than during the Cold War, expert warns MPs – Express.co.uk
 

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Express.co.uk
Russia has MORE sleeper agents in UK now than during the Cold War, expert warns MPs
Express.co.uk
“These hand-picked, deep-cover intelligence officers live abroad under assumed ‘legends’: carefully constructed false foreign identities and life stories (over decades in some cases), allowing ‘illegals’ to blend in. “Nowadays, UK CI and CE 

 Russian Intelligence services – Google News

Russian propaganda on social media – Google News: Fake Twitter accounts boost mass hashtag protest as part of Russian backlash against Winter Olympics ban – Firstpost
 

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Firstpost
Fake Twitter accounts boost mass hashtag protest as part of Russian backlash against Winter Olympics ban
Firstpost
Social media companies, including Twitter, are under intense scrutiny in the United States where lawmakers suspect their platforms were used as part of an alleged Russian effort to sway the 2016 US presidential election in favour of Donald Trump. The 
Russian Bots Manipulate Online Conversation About Olympics, Sexual HarassmentObserver
The Cool War: Putin’s Twitter trolls are fighting to undermine Britain and wreck our economy, warns Defence SecretaryDaily Mailall 345 news articles »

 Russian propaganda on social media – Google News

Firing Mueller would be disastrous; discrediting him is impeachment politics
 

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Short of impeaching President Trump, does anything excite Democrats, the Resistance, and NeverTrumpers like the prospect of the president firing special counsel Robert Mueller? Firing Mueller would, or course, be the quickest way for Trump to get impeached, which might explain a certain air of anticipation in discussions of whether — some prefer to say when — Trump will sack the prosecutor leading the Trump-Russia investigation.

There has been a lot of news and commentary recently interpreting criticism of Mueller by a number of pro-Trump media voices as an effort to encourage Trump to fire Mueller, or lay the groundwork for firing Mueller, or somehow start the process of getting rid of him.

“Overarching message to President Trump from pro-Trump talk shows: ‘Mueller is out to get you. He must be stopped,'” CNN’s Brian Stelter tweeted on Friday. In response, the NeverTrump former conservative radio host Charlie Sykes added, “Concerted effort to (1) discredit Mueller investigation, (2) lay groundwork for firing him.”

“YOU’RE FIRED!” reads the anticipatory cover of the Weekly Standard, over a photo of Mueller.

There are plenty of other similar messages.

But there is another way to look at the recent wave of Mueller criticism: It’s all politics. The overriding purpose of the anti-Mueller Trump defenses is not to goad the president into firing Mueller, which would be a disastrous act that could spell an early end to Trump’s presidency. Instead, the overriding purpose is to discredit the Mueller investigation in the expectation that the probe will ultimately lead to articles of impeachment filed against the president in the House of Representatives. If that happens, and the impeachment goes to the Senate for trial, Trump, like President Bill Clinton before him, will have a ready, cable TV-tested line of defense focusing on the unfairness of the prosecutor. The audience for that defense would be Republican senators who will vote for or against the articles of impeachment.

Firing Mueller would be insane. Discrediting him is pure impeachment politics.

The current debate over whether Trump can be indicted for obstruction of justice is a sideshow. It’s very, very likely Mueller subscribes to the view that the president cannot be indicted while in office and that impeachment — a political process — is the constitutionally-prescribed way of dealing with presidential misconduct.

That means it is far more likely that Mueller, if he felt he had evidence that could serve as the basis for impeachment, would write a report laying out that evidence. Justice Department regulations creating the special counsel office require that at the end of the investigation he give the attorney general “a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the special counsel.” That report might be detailed, or it might be general, but if Mueller outlines any wrongdoing by the president, it will undoubtedly end up in the House Judiciary Committee, where articles of impeachment originate.

If Republicans control the House, it’s highly likely that nothing will happen. If Democrats are in control, Trump could well be impeached. And if the House impeaches Trump, the Senate will hold his trial, where it will require 67 votes to convict and remove him from office. And that’s where the discrediting will come in.

Remember the words of Bill Clinton. In the early days of the Lewinsky scandal, Clinton asked his pollster Dick Morris to survey whether Americans would want him impeached if he had lied under oath. Morris found that yes, the public would favor impeachment. To which Clinton famously replied, according to Morris: “Well, we’ll just have to win, then.”

Clinton’s way to win was a furious and sustained attack on the judicially-appointed independent counsel, Kenneth Starr, and the federal prosecutors and investigators working for him.

On February 8, 1998, for example, a New York Times headline on the Lewinsky matter read: “President’s Aides Expand Offensive to Counter Starr; Urging Inquiry on Leaks; Prosecutor Is Denounced as ‘Corrupt’ and Accused of Leading ‘Witch Hunt.'” It’s a headline that would have worked on many, many days in the Lewinsky battle.

Some of the attacks were silly — as when Clinton ally James Carville called Starr a “nicotine-stained tobacco lawyer.” Others were serious, as when Clinton pushed his own Justice Department to investigate the independent counsel. But silly or substantive, the attacks continued unabated until the Senate decided not to convict Clinton in February 1999.

The Senate trial, by the way, was a pointless exercise. The Senate’s 45 Democrats decided in advance that they would under no circumstances vote to convict Clinton, which meant there was no way for Clinton’s accusers to get 67 votes for conviction. When the House impeachment managers showed up with their case against the president, the Senate humored them for a while and then put an end to it. Clinton won.

Now, Trump allies are beginning to attack Mueller. They got a later start than Clinton’s allies did, but they are also operating in a much faster-paced media environment than the Clinton era. They can catch up fast.

They also have another thing going for them: The Mueller team deserves some of the criticism it has been receiving. Not only does Mueller himself arguably have a conflict — he has what has been called a close, “brothers in arms” relationship with former FBI Director James Comey, the key figure in the obstruction of justice part of the Trump-Russia probe — but he has hired lawyers and investigators who actively supported and defended Hillary Clinton in recent times. The FBI’s Peter Strzok was bounced from the Mueller investigation for anti-Trump and pro-Clinton texts exchanged with an FBI lawyer, who also left the Mueller Team. Top prosecutor Andrew Weissmann heaped praise on Justice Department official Sally Yates for defying Trump, and also attended Clinton’s election-night “shattered glass ceiling” party in New York. Other Mueller prosecutors defended the Clinton side in the email investigation, and one, Jeannie Rhee, “defended the Clinton Foundation against racketeering charges, and represented Mrs. Clinton personally in the question of her emails,” noted the Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel.

“Imagine Dem response if Trump’s personal lawyer hired to investigate Hillary,” tweeted Andrew McCarthy, the former federal prosecutor who writes for National Review.

The bottom line: There’s a case to be made against Mueller.

It’s not possible to say whether the Trump strategy will work, or even be needed, because there are just too many moving parts at the moment. Mueller might not take any action touching directly on the president. The House might decline to impeach him. Even if the House did impeach, the Senate might pre-emptively make a trial moot, as it did in 1999. It’s just impossible to know.

But there is one huge difference in the Clinton and Trump strategies, and it does not work in Trump’s favor. Clinton attacked Starr from a position of popularity. Clinton’s job approval rating was around 60 percent in the Gallup poll when the Lewinsky scandal began. It was about 68 percent when the Senate voted not to remove him from office. Impeachment is a political process, so of course Clinton was going to win.

It’s an understatement to say Trump’s numbers are nowhere near Clinton’s. The president is at 35 percent job approval in Gallup now, and has never been higher than 45 percent. And along with that unpopularity — driving some of that unpopularity — is a hostile and negative press. (In the Lewinsky matter, much of the mainstream media megaphoned Clinton’s campaign against “Inspector Javert” Starr.) Put low popularity and an unfriendly press together, and it seems unlikely Trump could set off any wave of public disapproval of Mueller the way Clinton did with Starr. Instead, if there were an impeachment trial, Trump would have to focus on raising doubt about the prosecutor’s tactics among the 34 Republican senators he needs to vote to keep him in office.

That’s what the attacks on Mueller are about. And that’s why they will continue. Impeachment politics start early.

Peter Strzok: Former FBI agents defend Mueller’s top agent
 

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Robert MuellerRobert Mueller Aaron Bernstein/Reuters

  • Allies of President Donald Trump have been attacking special counsel Robert Mueller’s team amid revelations of potential political biases.
  • One veteran agent was removed from Mueller’s team over the summer after the Justice Department learned of text messages that could be perceived as anti-Trump.
  • Former FBI agents say the attacks on Mueller’s team are “nonsense.”

Attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of investigators escalated sharply last week, culminating in a partisan haranguing of the FBI director on Thursday over the perceived missteps of his predecessor.

Conservative and far-right media outlets, already skeptical of Mueller’s probe into President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, grew louder in their calls for FBI Director Chris Wray to either clean house or for Mueller to resign. It came after news that two special counsel investigators at one point exhibited perceived political bias.

Trump again characterized the criminal justice system as “rigged” during a rally in Florida on Friday, echoing comments he made last weekend following former national security Michael Flynn’s guilty plea as part of Mueller’s probe.

“So General Flynn lies to the FBI and his life is destroyed, while Crooked Hillary Clinton, on that now famous FBI holiday ‘interrogation’ with no swearing in and no recording, lies many times,” Trump tweeted last Saturday. “And nothing happens to her? Rigged system, or just a double standard?”

Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, implored Wray during a hearing on Thursday to “repair the damage done by” former FBI Director James Comey. And he took a shot at Mueller’s investigation, questioning “the magnitude of insider bias” that exists on his team.

Former FBI agents who spoke to Business Insider this week characterized the outcry as “nonsense” aimed at discrediting an investigation that has dogged Trump and the GOP more broadly for over a year.

Frank Montoya, Jr., a former FBI special agent who served as the Director of the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, was blunt.

“There is a lot of anger in the FBI (the entire intelligence community, for that matter) over how this president will say nary a negative word about the Russians, but will insult us every chance he gets,” he said.

‘Moscow was happy, I’m sure’

trump comeyGetty

Peter Strzok, a veteran counterintelligence agent who was among those overseeing the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server last year, was abruptly removed from Mueller’s Russia probe in late July and relegated to the human resources department.

Neither Mueller nor the Justice Department have commented on Strzok’s sudden demotion. But he was apparently removed as part of a broader investigation into the bureau’s handling of the Clinton email probe by the DOJ’s inspector general.

Strzok reportedly sent text messages during the presidential campaign to another member of Mueller’s team, Lisa Page, that could be perceived as anti-Trump. He and Page were also having an extramarital affair that the DOJ worried could make them both subject to blackmail. Page left Mueller’s team over the summer for unrelated reasons.

High-profile conservative figures and Trump allies, such as the conservative-leaning Wall Street Journal editorial board and Fox News host Sean Hannity, quickly weaponized another damaging report published last week. It said Strzok had been instrumental in changing Comey’s final characterization of Clinton’s conduct from “grossly negligent” — which would have carried legal consequences — to “extremely careless.”

Former FBI agents who knew and worked with Strzok acknowledged that he should have been more circumspect with his comments, even if they were private, given the highly politicized nature of both the Clinton and Russia probes. But they broadly characterized him as a professional who never expressed his political opinions when conducting an investigation.

Montoya, who served in the bureau for over two decades, called Strzok “an exceptional agent” and “rising star” whose removal from Mueller’s probe was “a g reat loss to the investigation.”

“Moscow was happy, I’m sure when that happened,” he said.

“There’s a lot of partisan political white noise out there about Pete’s supposed ‘bias,'” Montoya said. “It’s all nonsense. I’ve known Pete for a long time. I didn’t know what his political opinions were. Never asked. Never cared. That’s the way it was for the vast majority of us.”

Another veteran FBI counterintelligence agent who knew Strzok but requested anonymity to discuss internal DOJ decisions called him an “expert” in counterintelligence work who “rose to the level of Deputy Assistant Director in the usual way: by being a reliable, consistent, and capable member of the executive team.”

‘He didn’t act alone’

trump florida rallyPresident Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Pensacola, Fla., Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. Jonathan Bachman/AP

The nature of FBI investigations makes it impossible for one employee to exert outsized influence over others, former agents emphasized.

“There’s been a lot of accusation lately in the public arena about how Pete’s supposed biases may have affected outcome of the email investigation and predication for Russia investigation,” Montoya said. “More nonsense.”

“Pete wasn’t the only guy working on those cases,” he added. “His was one voice, albeit an important one, but there were other important voices in the mix, too.”

With regard to the email investigation, Montoya said, “p rofessional, experienced prosecutors and senior leadership (above Pete) in the FBI played the key roles in the final decision not to prosecute Clinton.

Pete may have helped draft the public messaging at the conclusion of the case, but he didn’t act alone. I participated in quite a few of these matters myself and the planning process was always a group effort.”

Former FBI unit chief Mark Rossini, who spent 17 years at the bureau, largely agreed.

“It would be literally impossible for one human being to have the power to change or manipulate evidence or intelligence according to their own political preferences,” he said.

” FBI agents, like anyone else, are human beings. W e are allowed to have our political beliefs. If anything, the overwhelming majority of agents are conservative Republicans,” he added.

Former FBI counterintelligence agent Asha Rangappa made a similar point in an interview earlier this week.

“The FBI investigators who are working on any given day will probably be mostly politically conservative,” Rangappa said, drawing from her interactions with agents under President George W. Bush. That is one reason, she said, why Republicans should “think carefully” about the precedent they’re setting in pointing to agents’ political leanings as evidence of a tainted investigation.

‘He was thrown to the wolves’

Robert MuellerRobert Mueller. Aaron Bernstein/Reuters

Still, some agents said there is lingering resentment over Comey’s handling of the Clinton email probe — not necessarily because of the conclusions he drew, but because of the process decisions he made at various points in the investigation that left the bureau vulnerable to partisan attacks.

The two that drew the biggest criticism last year: an unprecedented press conference in which he chastised Clinton for using a private server but ultimately cleared her of criminal wrongdoing; and a letter to Congress announcing that he was effectively reopening the case 11 days before the election.

“There was a perception among many agents that the bureau was tending to become more politicized than it had been in the past,” said former FBI special agent Mark Ruskin, author of “The Pretender: My Life Undercover for the FBI.”

“Some believed that Comey was allowing political winds to buffet the bureau as a whole,” he continued. “And there was an ambiguity about which way it was even being politicized.”

In any case, Ruskin said, “both sides of the aisle were getting the impression that the bureau was not acting completely objectively, and the agents blamed it more on Comey because he seemed to waffle.” The ambiguity was frustrating, Ruskin said, given Comey’s propensity for taking matters into his own hands.

But the agents suggested the perceived politicization of the FBI was not the result of individual agents’ biases. Incidentally, it came because of the former director’s excessive attempts to avoid the appearance of partisanship.

“I think Comey did more damage than he realized or intended by how he handled things last year,” said former FBI counterintelligence agent Scott Olson. “But Director Wray has corrected that by now.”

Some still have questions, however, about why Strzok was “thrown to the wolves.”

“I think Pete did what he was asked to do, and then he was thrown to the wolves,” said the former counterintelligence agent who requested anonymity to discuss Strzok. “What I don’t yet see is what Mueller is getting out of it. But there is a lot going on here that is still not known to the public.”

The FBI Is No Friend of Liberty and Justice
 

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Paul Hennessy/Polaris/NewscomPaul Hennessy/Polaris/NewscomOne of the unfortunate ironies of the manufactured “Russiagate” controversy is the perception of the FBI as a friend of liberty and justice. But the FBI has never been a friend of liberty and justice.

Rather, as James Bovard writes, it “has a long record of both deceit and incompetence. Five years ago, Americans learned that the FBI was teaching its agents that ‘the FBI has the ability to bend or suspend the law to impinge on the freedom of others.’ This has practically been the Bureau’s motif since its creation in 1908…. The FBI has always used its ‘good guy’ image to keep a lid on its crimes.” (Bovard has made a vocation of cataloging the FBI’s many offenses against liberty and justice, for which we are forever in his debt.)

Things are certainly not different today. Take the case of Michael Flynn, the retired lieutenant general who spent less than a month as Donald Trump’s national-security adviser. Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in connection with conversations he had with Russia’s then-ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, between Trump’s election and inauguration. One need not be an admirer of Flynn—and for many reasons I certainly am not—to be disturbed by how the FBI has handled this case.

One ought to be immediately suspicious whenever someone is charged with or pleads guilty to lying to the FBI without any underlying crime being charged. Former assistant U.S. attorney Andrew C. McCarthy points out:

When a prosecutor has a cooperator who was an accomplice in a major criminal scheme, the cooperator is made to plead guilty to the scheme. This is critical because it proves the existence of the scheme. In his guilty-plea allocution (the part of a plea proceeding in which the defendant admits what he did that makes him guilty), the accomplice explains the scheme and the actions taken by himself and his co-conspirators to carry it out. This goes a long way toward proving the case against all of the subjects of the investigation.

That is not happening in Flynn’s situation. Instead, like [former Trump foreign-policy “adviser” George] Papadopoulos, he is being permitted to plead guilty to a mere process crime.

When the FBI questioned Flynn about his conversations with Kislyak, it already had the transcripts of those conversations—the government eavesdrops on the representatives of foreign governments, among others, and Flynn had been identified, or “unmasked,” as the ambassador’s conversation partner. The FBI could have simply told Flynn the transcripts contained evidence of a crime (assuming for the sake of argument they did) and charged him with violating the Logan Act or whatever else the FBI had in mind.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, the FBI asked Flynn about his conversations with Kislyak, apparently to test him. If he lied (which would mean he’s pretty stupid since he once ran the Defense Intelligence Agency and must have known about the transcripts!) or had a bad memory, he could have been charged with lying to the FBI.

As investigative reporter Robert Parry explains:

What is arguably most disturbing about this case is that then-National Security Adviser Flynn was pushed into a perjury trap by Obama administration holdovers at the Justice Department who concocted an unorthodox legal rationale for subjecting Flynn to an FBI interrogation four days after he took office, testing Flynn’s recollection of the conversations while the FBI agents had transcripts of the calls intercepted by the National Security Agency.

In other words, the Justice Department wasn’t seeking information about what Flynn said to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak–the intelligence agencies already had that information. Instead, Flynn was being quizzed on his precise recollection of the conversations and nailed for lying when his recollections deviated from the transcripts.

For Americans who worry about how the pervasive surveillance powers of the U.S. government could be put to use criminalizing otherwise constitutionally protected speech and political associations, Flynn’s prosecution represents a troubling precedent.

Why didn’t the FBI charge Flynn with an underlying crime? It might be because his conversations with Kislyak were not criminal. McCarthy writes:

A breaking report from ABC News indicates that Flynn is prepared to testify that Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians—initially to lay the groundwork for mutual efforts against ISIS in Syria. That, however, is exactly the sort of thing the incoming national-security adviser is supposed to do in a transition phase between administrations. If it were part of the basis for a “collusion” case arising out of Russia’s election meddling, then Flynn would not be pleading guilty to a process crime—he’d be pleading guilty to an espionage conspiracy.

David Stockman shows that the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller themselves indicate the Flynn-Kislyak conversations contained no evidence of criminal behavior.

Flynn spoke to Kislyak to ask that Russia not escalate tensions after President Obama imposed sanctions last December for the alleged election meddling and to ask that Russia not vote to condemn Israel, via a UN Security Council resolution, for its illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land. In other words, not only were Flynn’s discussions with Kislyak unexceptional—presidential transition-team foreign-policy officials have spoken with representatives of other governments in the past—but the content of those discussions should have raised no suspicions. Would non-escalation of the sanctions controversy or a UN veto have undermined Obama’s foreign policy? I don’t see how. (True, the Obama administration abstained on the resolution, but would Obama have objected had Russia vetoed it? By the way, Russia voted for it, and the resolution passed, as it should have.)

The Flynn plea certainly does nothing to indicate “collusion” with the Russians. For one thing, the conversations were after the election. And perhaps more important, Kislyak was not looking for favors from Flynn; on the contrary, Flynn was lobbying the Russians (successfully on the sanctions—Vladimir Putin did not retaliate—and unsuccessfully on the UN resolution.) Where’s the evidence of Russian influence on the Trump team? There was foreign influence, but it was from Israel, a regular meddler in the American political process. All indications are that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Trump son-in-law and special envoy to everywhere Jared Kushner to lobby the world to defeat the UN resolution. Kushner, who has helped finance illegal Israeli settlements, then directed Flynn to call everySecurity Council member, not just Russia.

What about the Logan Act? The Act, enacted in 1799, around the time of the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts, prohibits private citizens from unauthorized “correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

Right off the bat, the Act appears to violate freedom of speech. And as Parry writes, “That law … was never intended to apply to incoming officials in the transition period between elected presidential administrations.”

Note also that only two indictments have been brought in 218 years: in 1803 and 1852. Both cases were dropped. Far more serious contacts with foreign governments have occurred.

In 1968 Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon (with help from Henry Kissinger who was working in the Johnson administration) had a representative persuade the president of South Vietnam to boycott the peace talks President Lyndon Johnson had been arranging with North Vietnam. That decision most likely prolonged the Vietnam war and resulted in combat deaths that would not have occurred. Unlike the Flynn case, Nixon’s action undercut the sitting president’s policy and, more important, the interests of the American people.

I hold no brief for Flynn, whose conduct while working for Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan, his dubious efforts on behalf of Turkey’s strongman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and his apparent financial conflicts of interest are enough to make anyone cringe. But that cannot justify what the FBI did in this plea case.

Government law-enforcement agencies should not be allowed to administer credibility tests to Americans or others. If they have evidence of real offenses against persons and property, bring charges. Otherwise, leave us all alone.

This piece was originally published by The Libertarian Institute.

Putin and American political process – Google News: The FBI Is No Friend of Liberty and Justice – Reason
 

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Reason
The FBI Is No Friend of Liberty and Justice
Reason
And perhaps more important, Kislyak was not looking for favors from Flynn; on the contrary, Flynn was lobbying the Russians (successfully on the sanctionsVladimir Putin did not retaliateand unsuccessfully on the UN resolution.) Where’s the evidenceand more »

 Putin and American political process – Google News

michael flynn – Google News: FBI Handling of Michael Flynn Case Is Disturbing: New at Reason – Reason (blog)
 

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Reason (blog)
FBI Handling of Michael Flynn Case Is Disturbing: New at Reason
Reason (blog)
But the FBI has never been a friend of liberty and justice, writes Sheldon Richman. And the Michael Flynn case doesn’t seem to be an exception. Flynn, the retired lieutenant general who spent less than a month as Donald Trump’s national-security and more »

 michael flynn – Google News

Did the CIA’s chief James Angleton fall for British traitor Kim Philby?
 

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As a double agent, Philby not only betrayed his home country, but the Americans who placed so much trust in their more experienced British counterparts. That is why I have written a biography of Angleton – not only to capture Kim Philby through American eyes, but to understand the impact his audacious treachery had on the CIA in its formative years.

These were times fraught with sexual tension in intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic.

Philby touched on homoerotic currents as electric and buried as the phone lines those spies routinely wiretapped. His betrayal of Angleton was ideological and emotional. Its impact was political and psychological.

Philby and Angleton’s friendship blossomed in the spring of 1950, amid a moral panic in Washington. In a series of sensational speeches, Republican senator Joe McCarthy had woven together the threats of communism and homosexuality into twin fervours that historians have dubbed the “Red Scare” and the “Lavender Scare”.

Senator Joseph McCarthy with the avalanche of mail that greeted his crusade against communism in the US government and public life, December 1952.

Photo: Camera Press

The two spies were cosmopolitan men who disliked McCarthy’s demagogic style. Angleton was married and a father of three. Philby was on the second of his four marriages, had four children, several mistresses, and many conquests. His housemate in Washington (and fellow spy) was Guy Burgess, a Cambridge classmate who had previously worked for the BBC and the Home Office. Openly gay, he did not conceal his amused contempt for American morality.

Philby’s affection for Burgess bordered on the physical. Wilfred Mann, a scientist who worked in the British embassy, dropped by Philby’s house unannounced one morning in early 1951 and found Philby and Burgess lounging together in bed, sipping champagne and dressed only in bathrobes.

Kim Philby is surrounded by media at his mother’s home in West Kensington after his name surfaced in the MacLean-Burgess inquiry, November 1955.

Photo: Fairfax Archive

Angleton was half-amused, half-appalled by Burgess’ exuberant style. When Angleton invited both men to his house, his daughter remembered how they frolicked. “They’d start chasing each other through the house in this little choo-choo train,” Siri Hari Angleton once remarked. “These men in their Eton ties, screaming and laughing!”

Thanks to McCarthy’s insinuations, homosexuals were presumed to be a security risk because of the potential for blackmail. For these spies, same-sex liaisons were seen as an aberration; an indicator of psychological weakness (but not sufficient for disqualification from the intelligence community).

Kim Philby (left) and George Blake talk over a bottle of wine, July 1979.

Photo: Fairfax Archive

In May 1951, the friendship of Philby and Angleton was tested by terrible news. While on home leave, Burgess had disappeared, along with Donald Maclean, an Embassy official who GCHQ and National Security Agency code-crackers had identified as a probable Soviet spy. The two men soon turned up in Moscow.

Had someone tipped off Burgess and Maclean that the net was closing?

Jefferson Morley’s The Ghost.

Photo: Supplied

Many suspected Philby, who insisted, with sheepish aplomb, that he had been fooled like everyone else. Angleton sided with his friend.

Perhaps, some colleagues later wondered, he had been blinded by affection. In a memo, he wrote: “Philby had consistently ‘sold’ [Burgess] as a most gifted individual … In this respect, he has served as subject’s apologist on several occasions when subject’s behaviour has been a source of extreme embarrassment in the Philby household.”

James Angleton, former CIA counter-intelligence chief, brushes past newsmen during the Rockfeller commission into alleged domestic spying by the agency, February 1975.

Photo: AP

Bill Harvey, a senior CIA Soviet expert, scoffed. “Where’s the rest of the story?” he scrawled on Angleton’s memo, confiding in one colleague he thought there had been a homosexual relationship between the two friends.

After Maclean and Burgess defected, it became apparent the Soviets had agents deep in Western intelligence. Still, Angleton remained blind to any involvement on the part of Philby, insisting to James McCargar, a CIA colleague: “I still feel Philby some day will head the British service.”

Philby never escaped the shadow of suspicion but Angleton sided with MI6 officials who rejected the charge that he was a spy. By the time Philby moved to Beirut in 1956 to work as a journalist, Angleton had become chief of counter-intelligence at the CIA, with a staff of 200.

Knowing there were lingering suspicions, he arranged for Lebanese police to watch his old friend. They reported that Philby had been spotted sneaking off to rendezvous with the wife of a friend and Angleton was satisfied. Kim was a rogue, not a Red.

So when Philby finally defected to Moscow in January 1963, Angleton was shattered. For 19 years, his mentor and dear companion had played him for a fool, while stealing atomic secrets, US plans for the Korean War and countless secrets that had been read by Stalin.

The realisation came as a “terrible shock”. Angleton knew he had confided in Philby “far beyond any routine relationship between the colleagues of two friendly countries”, said Nicholas Elliott, Philby’s best friend in MI6. “The knowledge that he, the top expert in the world on Soviet espionage, had been totally deceived had a cataclysmic effect.”

The powerful and now paranoid Angleton redoubled his search for a KGB mole in the upper ranks of the CIA, certain that another Philby was lurking. He investigated 40 agency employees, and effectively killed the careers of about a third of them. Yet he never found a plausible suspect.

From Moscow, his former pal Philby tormented him. In his witty, malicious 1968 memoir, My Silent War, Philby depicted Angleton as a hapless dupe.

“The key to Philby, if there is a single one,” wrote McCargar who worked with both men, “is less likely to be found in the faults of the Establishment, than it is in a compulsion to betray and deceive, which underlay all his relationships.”

Ultimately, Angleton knew that better than anyone. Near the end of his life, his CIA colleagues threw him a farewell luncheon where he was asked if he wanted to say anything that he had previously never disclosed about the Philby case.

“There are some matters I shall have to take to the grave with me,” he replied, heartbroken to the end, “and Kim is one of them.”

The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton by Jefferson Morley is published by Scribe.

Telegraph, London

The ‘illegals’ of ‘Directorate S’: Russia’s undercover ‘sleeper’ agent program is ongoing
 

mikenova shared this story from Politics.

  • Russia’s programme for placing sleeper agents in foreign countries — spies who live ordinary, mundane lives — is probably bigger now than it was in the Cold War, the House of Commons Defence Committee has been told.
  • The so-called “illegals” are trained and controlled by two separate and sometimes competing Russian agencies, the mysterious “Directorate S” within the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR); and the “Main Intelligence Directorate” (GRU).
  • The end of the Cold War actually made it easier for Russia to place illegals inside the UK and US.
  • Russia wants its illegals to remain quiet and anonymous, developing low-level contacts on the edges of power. They don’t act like James Bond.

LONDON — There are probably more Russian “sleeper” agents in the UK and US today than there were during the Cold War, according to Victor Madeira, a senior fellow at The Institute for Statecraft who testified to Parliament about Russian covert interference in Britain.

Victor MadeiraVictor Madeira: “Despite the ‘end’ of the Cold War in 1989-1991, Russia’s decades-long ‘illegals’ programmes didn’t miss a beat.” Victor Madeira

In written evidence to the House of Commons Defence Committee, Madeira — a Russia expert — described the resources Russia commands in its efforts to subdue British, European and American influence.

Most of his evidence focused on the fact that Russia’s intelligence services vastly outnumber their counterparts in the UK. But he also included this tidbit about Russia’s “Main Intelligence Directorate,” the GRU, and its “illegals” operation, which places spies in Britain and the US where they live seemingly ordinary lives, until called upon by Moscow:

“GRU has long deployed ‘illegals’. These hand-picked, deep-cover intelligence officers live abroad under assumed ‘legends’: carefully constructed false foreign identities and life stories (over decades in some cases), allowing ‘illegals’ to blend in.”

“… Nowadays, UK CI and CE [counterintelligence and counterespionage] resources are much diminished, while former Warsaw Pact nationals can easily travel across NATO. This is a particular problem if an intelligence officer/asset uses ‘natural cover’ (i.e. their own identity, sometimes called ‘non-official cover’ or NOC). A banker or travel agent may be just that – or they may also be intelligence officers or assets (the latter willing or coerced). Having few(er) or no traceable links to a hostile intelligence service, NOCs are far more difficult to detect, monitor and counter. This is why they are so valued.”

“‘Illegals’ are the most prized of intelligence officers,” Madeira, the author of “Britannia and the Bear,” a history of espionage between the two nations, concluded.

“Despite the ‘end’ of the Cold War in 1989-1991, Russia’s decades-long ‘illegals’ programmes didn’t miss a beat. These programmes remain as strategic, long-term, resource-intensive in nature and prized as ever, with a single purpose: placing hand-picked Russian intelligence assets across foreign societies and governments, regardless of the current state of East-West relations,” he told Business Insider recently.

Anna Chapman, the spy who worked at Barclays

anna chapman facebookAnna Chapman posted this photo of herself on Facebook before she was arrested.Facebook

The most famous of the “illegals” is probably Anna Chapman, who was arrested and deported from the US with nine other sleeper agents in 2010.

When Chapman (real name Anna Vasilevna Kushchenko) was arrested, the media treated the event like a joke. Chapman did not appear to be engaged in any serious spying.

She gained UK citizenship through a marriage to a British citizen she met at a rave. She lived in London for at least five years, between 2001 and 2006, and worked at NetJets and Barclays, before moving to America. Perhaps, people said, the Chapman ring was a set of Soviet agents that the Russians forgot about after the wall came down? The story was later used as the premise for a TV show, “The Americans,” starring Keri Russell. It tells the story of two KGB officers posing as a married couple who live in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Today, little is known about the true scale of Russia’s “illegals” programme, beyond the fact that the Chapman arrests proved it was alive and well in 2010. What we do know comes from the Cold War, when Western counter-intelligence took the Russian threat more seriously.

In the mid-1980s, researchers estimated that the KGB’s First Chief Directorate unit operated 200 “illegal” agents, and the GRU, separately, another 150.

The numbers of ‘illegals’ undercover in the West “are much higher nowadays.”

“Personally, I am certain those figures are much higher nowadays,” Madeira told Business Insider.

The reason: Russian state security agencies tend to think in terms of decades or generations, not years. The end of the Cold War made it easier for Russians to travel to Western countries, and the KGB’s successor agencies will have regarded this as a long-term opportunity.

Spies no longer need to make a tortuous journey from Moscow through Asia or the Middle East, changing passports multiple times, before arriving in Europe. At the same time, the UK’s commitment to counter-intelligence dwindled, as we entered the decade-long period of peace in the 1990s that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

That made it easier for illegals to operate. Now they can get on the plane to Heathrow and disappear by lunchtime.

Anna ChapmanFBI mugshots of Anna Chapman and nine others in the “illegals” ring of 2010. FBI

The “Directorate S” training process can take years

The Chapman spy ring was run by Russia’s SVR, or Foreign Intelligence Service (Russia has a multitude of often competing intelligence services). The SVR is a former unit of the KGB. Within the SVR is the mysterious “Directorate S,” which recruits, trains, and supervises “illegals.”

The process can take decades, and some “illegals” are sent over as married couples while their grown children stay behind in Russia as semi-free “hostages,” to guarantee they will not defect. An account of the process was published in 1984 by Viktor Suvorov, a GRU agent who defected to the UK in 1978. It begins when the illegal trainee is housed in a secret Moscow dacha outfitted entirely as if it were a home in the West:

“… he wears the clothes and shoes, and eats the food, even smokes cigarettes and uses razor blades procured from overseas. In each room a tape recorder is installed which runs twenty-four hours a day while he is occupying the dacha. These tape recorders continuously broadcast news from the radio programmes of his target country. From the first day of his training he is supplied with the majority of papers and magazines. He sees many films and descriptions on video tapes of television broadcasts.

The instructors, for the most part former illegals, read the same papers and listen to the same radio programmes and spend their time asking their pupil the most difficult questions imaginable with regard to what has been read. It is quite obvious that after a number of years of such training, the future illegal knows by heart the composition of every football team, the hours of work of every restaurant and nightclub, the weather forecasts and everything that is going on in the realm of gossip as well as current affairs, in a country where he has never been in his life.”

They become ordinary citizens, leading mundane lives

anna chapman russiaAfter she was deported back to Russia, Chapman went on to become a media celebrity. AP

The curious aspect of the illegals programme is that once activated, these agents do not turn into Le Carre characters. They don’t immediately infiltrate the military or MI6 or the CIA and transmit secret information back to Moscow. Rather, they become ordinary citizens, leading mundane lives.

The obvious question is, why do the Russians bother? The answer is that the mere ability to place foreign agents inside another country is an end in itself. Only then do they set about actually trying to conduct espionage.

“Historically, it’s been exceedingly rare for ‘illegal’ Russian intelligence officers themselves to penetrate foreign governments generally. As good as ‘illegal’ legends can be for daily life, it’d be impossible for ‘first-generation’ ‘illegals’ to pass proper security vetting (I would hope!)” Madeira says.

“The role of the ‘illegal’ intelligence officer is to remain undetected by foreign counter-intelligence and counter-espionage services, while recruiting assets/agents/sources that either already have access to valuable information or are assessed to have the potential to do so,” he told Business Insider.

“These assets/agents/sources are the ones working inside foreign governments, corporations, NGOs, media, academia, etc.”

Suvorov has a good description of this:

“… On his arrival at his objective, the illegal sets about basic legalisation. He has been provided with good papers by the best forgers of the GRU on genuine blank passports. At the same time he is extremely vulnerable if he is not registered with the police or the tax departments. Any check may give him away and for this reason he endeavours to change jobs and places of work often to get his name onto as many company lists as he can and to acquire character references signed by real people. The ideal solution is for him to obtain new documentation from the police department under some pretext or another. Often he will marry another agent (who may already be his wife); she will then be given a genuine passport, and he will ‘lose’ his false one to have it replaced with a real one on the production of his wife’s genuine document. The acquisition of a driving licence, credit cards, membership documents of clubs and associations are a vital element in ‘legalising’ the status of an illegal.”

“One of their favourite means is to go through Western cemeteries, find a deceased child that passed away very young, then they will take that identity”

Viktor SuvorovViktor Suvorov Wikimedia 2,0, CC

They will often steal the identity of a dead baby, Madeira says. “One of their favourite means is to go through Western cemeteries, find a deceased child that passed away very young, then they will take that identity, and if the checks work out they will create a false ‘legend’ and that person will gradually develop a life history, a foreign passport, they will speak foreign languages with no trace of an accent.”

In addition to NetJets and Barclays, Chapman also ran a real estate agent office in New York.

The aim is to start at the outer circles of influence and develop a network that reaches upward to the top. Illegals have been “travel agents, think tanks, students,” Madeira says.

“But what they all had in common was they were gradually trying to find their way, through work and networking, to the centres of power, the policymakers, the special advisers, people who have privileged insight to decision-making, or people who have a way of influencing. A wealthy individual who happens to be a party donor … they may have gone to school with a senator, they may have gone to school with an MP.”

Sometimes, they identify experts for assassination

The scariest part is what they are capable of if Russia wants to activate them in an emergency. Some illegals will be used to identify targets for assassinations. When conflict broke out on the Ukraine-Russia border, Madeira says, one of the first things that happened was senior Ukrainian security experts began to die. The most recent attempted killing was in October.

“They identify experts for assassination … confusion is half the battle.” Their targets were “senior military and counter-intelligence officers,” Madeira says. “Those people were very carefully targeted for assassination.”

Assassinations work because “at the very least it’s disruptive and demoralising … at best it’s years of knowledge and contacts – that’s all gone,” Madeira says.

“The media underestimated considerably just how much of a continuous element this represents from a Russian point of view.”

 


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Saved Stories – 1. US Security

Senior military commander says Iraq’s war against the Islamic State group is over

Iraq says its war against IS has ended
Analysis: Cotton exit could upend Arkansas ’18 election
Polish counterintelligence chief questioned over alleged deal with Russia
Wheres the Immigration Crisis? U.S. Border Patrol Reports Illegal Border Crossings At Record Low
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Case Closed: FBI says Sessions didn’t have to reveal Russia talks – Washington Examiner
Apparent FBI investigation of Cuomo’s office called a ‘charade’ – Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Robert Mueller has got some explaining to do – Washington Post
Today’s Headlines and Commentary
9:55 AM 12/7/2017 Ex-intelligence chiefs probed over worst type of betrayal: Polish defence minister thenews.pl |  The Early Edition: December 7, 2017|  Mike Flynn Google News: Mike Flynn and the Russians: Was he reckless, greedy or hopelessly corrupt? Salon
8:14 AM 12/8/2017 Wray seemingly confirmed that the F.B.I. had applied for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (F.I.S.A.) as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign
Thoughts on Erik Princes Proposal to Privatize Intelligence Gathering
The Early Edition: December 8, 2017
FBI Director Chris Wray Briefs Congress And Defends His Institution – NPR
F.B.I. Director Denies Political Bias Is Tainting Investigations
How Trump Has Flip-Flopped on Intelligence Agencies
FOX NEWS FIRST: Roy Moore hopes for boost from Trump rally; FBI director in hot seat – Fox News
Trumpocalypse: The End Game
Congressional Republicans channel Trump in bashing the FBI – Los Angeles Times
Jake Tapper: Trump Attacks FBI Only When His Side Is Threatened

 

Saved Stories – 1. US Security
Senior military commander says Iraq’s war against the Islamic State group is over

BAGHDAD (AP) – Senior military commander says Iraq’s war against the Islamic State group is over.
Iraq says its war against IS has ended

BAGHDAD (AP) – Iraq said Saturday that its war on the Islamic State group is over after more than three years of combat operations drove the extremists from all of the territory they once held.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced Iraqi forces were in full control of the country’s border with …

Analysis: Cotton exit could upend Arkansas ’18 election

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – After a string of elections that underscored just how much Arkansas has shifted from a Democratic stronghold to solidly Republican territory, next year’s races for the state’s top offices and legislative seats appeared likely to be a relatively ho-hum, predictable affair. The possibility of the …
Polish counterintelligence chief questioned over alleged deal with Russia

The former director of Polands military counterintelligence agency has been questioned by the countrys military police, over allegedly illegal cooperation with Russian intelligence.

Wheres the Immigration Crisis? U.S. Border Patrol Reports Illegal Border Crossings At Record Low

Report: In FY17, CBP recorded the lowest level of illegal cross-border migration on record, as measured by apprehensions along the border and inadmissible encounters at U.S. ports of entry.
The Weekend “Planet Earth Report” –Google’s CIA Origins, Hubble’s ‘Time-Machine’ Successor, Destructive Bitcoin … – The Daily Galaxy (blog)


The Daily Galaxy (blog)
The Weekend “Planet Earth Report” –Google’s CIA Origins, Hubble’s ‘Time-Machine’ Successor, Destructive Bitcoin …
The Daily Galaxy (blog)
December 9, 2017: Today’s links to headline stories from around the world on the threats, opportunities, and dangers facing our fragile planet –along with an occasional dash of humor, popular culture, and an intriguing conspiracy theory or two 

Congress Should Help Wray Defend the FBI – Lawfare (blog)


Lawfare (blog)
Congress Should Help Wray Defend the FBI
Lawfare (blog)
Rosenstein and Wray thus find themselves in a wholly unprecedented situation and very awkward position. For reasons I outlined Monday, they must defend their workforce from the President’s unprecedented attacks. But they must do so in ways that do not 
FBI Director Chris Wray Briefs Congress And Defends His InstitutionNPR
FBI director defends bureau’s integrity as GOP lawmakers press him on Trump, Clinton probesWashington Post
WATCH: Christopher Wray defends FBI against Trump’s tweetsPBS NewsHour
CNN –BBC News –Twitter
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Congress Must Charge Stonewalling DOJ, FBI With Contempt – Newsmax


Newsmax
Congress Must Charge Stonewalling DOJ, FBI With Contempt
Newsmax
Rosenstein had appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel under a Judicial Order confirmed by then-FBI Director James BComey into any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the 
Congressional Republicans channel Trump in bashing the FBILos Angeles Times
Director Defends FBI After Trump Says Bureau Is in ‘Tatters’New York Times
Jennifer Rubin: Trump can’t keep his story straightKyiv Post
WND.com
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The Latest: Defense Attorney Worries Over FBI ‘Trolling’ – U.S. News & World Report


SFGate
The Latest: Defense Attorney Worries Over FBI ‘Trolling’
U.S. News & World Report
The Latest: Defense Attorney Worries Over FBI ‘Trolling’. Attorney for Arizona man charged with sexual abuse in sweat lodge ceremony says FBI’s call for potential victims is ‘dangerous practice.’. Dec. 8, 2017, at 2:01 p.m.. The Latest: Defense 
FBI seeks potential sex abuse victims on Arizona reservationSFGate
FBI seeking victims after man arrested for sexual assault at HavasupaiAZFamily

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FBI probing Cuomo office’s hiring practices – Albany Times Union


Albany Times Union
FBI probing Cuomo office’s hiring practices
Albany Times Union
FBI spokeswoman said she could not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation. It’s unclear what criminal law might have been violated by the hiring practice. An analysis by the Times Union a year ago found that more than 40 percent of the 

Case Closed: FBI says Sessions didn’t have to reveal Russia talks – Washington Examiner


Washington Examiner
Case Closed: FBI says Sessions didn’t have to reveal Russia talks
Washington Examiner
It does not list any name, but the From line reads FBI. It is dated March 7, 2017. The email references a question asked by Sessions aide Peggi Hanrahan about previously asking if the attorney general needed to list is foreign contacts on the SF-86 

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Apparent FBI investigation of Cuomo’s office called a ‘charade’ – Rochester Democrat and Chronicle


Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Apparent FBI investigation of Cuomo’s office called a ‘charade’
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is under FBI investigation for a decades-old practice of spreading governor’s office employee salaries across the payrolls of various other state agencies and authorities, according to a published report. The  
Report: FBI investigates Cuomo administration hiring practiceSyracuse.com
FBI investigating 
FBI probing
 Cuomo office’s hiring practicesAlbany Times Union
FBI investigating Cuomo administration’s hiring practiceswivb.com hiring, pay practices
New York Daily News 
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Sources: FBI looking into hiring practices of governor’s officeNY1

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Robert Mueller has got some explaining to do – Washington Post


Washington Post
Robert Mueller has got some explaining to do
Washington Post
Strzok, it turns out, was also responsible for editing then-FBI Director James BComey’s description of Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified emails, reportedly softening the language from describing Clinton’s actions as grossly negligent to 

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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli security forces on Thursday as people in the West Bank and Gaza reacted to President Donald Trumps recognition of Jerusalem as Israels capital on Wednesday,the Wall Street Journal reported. About 50 Palestinians were injured after protesters threw stones at Israeli soldiers, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. Hamas called for a new uprising against Israel while mostly peaceful demonstrations took place in East Jerusalem. U.S. partners in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan, condemned the U.S. decision and said it worsened tensions in the region.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said U.S. relations with Russia would not improve until Moscow stops supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine, the Washington Post reported. Speaking at a summit where he met with his Russian counterpart about a U.N. peacekeeping force for Ukraine, Tillerson promised that the U.S. would not reduce its sanctions on Russia until Moscow reverses its apparent annexation of Crimea. The U.S. has supported an expanded mission for the U.N. peacekeeping force while Russia has advocated limiting its mandate to just protecting election monitors.

Emails from Rob Goldstone, the British publicist who organized the 2016 meeting at Trump tower between a Russian lawyer and Trump campaign officials, showed continued coordination between the Trump campaign and Goldstone after the meeting, CNN reported. Goldstone attempted to convince Dan Scavino Trumps social media director on the campaign and, now, in the White Houseto set up a social media profile for Trump on Russian site VKontakte (VK). Executives from VK repeatedly reached out to the Trump campaign with offers to help promote Trump, the Post reported. Other emails appeared to refer to the news of the hacks of the Democratic National Convention. Additionally, emails revealed an effort to provide access to hacked documents from Wikileaks to the Trump campaign in September 2016, according to CNN. An unknown individual sent an email to Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign staffers with a link to an encrypted Wikileaks page and a decryption key. The pages contents are not publicly known.

The House Ethics Committee cleared Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, of wrongdoing relating to the disclosure of classified information about foreign surveillance reports earlier this year, the Post reported. Nunes recused himself from his committees investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election after he said the Obama administration may have improperly unmasked Trump campaign officials identities in surveillance intercepts. Nunes did not say whether he would terminate his recusal and resume oversight of the Russia probe.

A judge in Argentina charged former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner with treason, saying she helped hide Iranian involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, the Post reported. The judge requested that the Argentine Congress lift Kirchner’s immunity from prosecution so that she can face charges related to accusations that she covered up Irans role in the bombing in exchange for a lucrative trade deal. On Thursday, authorities arrested Kirchners former foreign minister for his role in the plot.

France led a delegation of world leaders to pledge their support for Lebanons government in a bid to prevent further interference from Iran and Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported. The International Lebanon Support Groupwhich includes the U.S., Great Britain, France, Russia and Chinamet in Paris to express its support for Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Hariri formally renounced his resignation on Tuesday, shoring up support for the government he attempted to leave while on a visit to Saudi Arabia in November. At the meeting, France declared its backing for Lebanons policy of non-alignment in the Middle East.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the first visit to Greece by a Turkish head of state in 65 years, causing tension by confronting the Greek government about long-standing disputes, the Guardian reported. Erdogans statements at a press conference with the Greek president about the entry of Greece into NATO and the treaty that set the modern borders between the two countries in 1923 caused consternation from his hosts. Erdogans visitwhich many in Greece had hoped would lead to a rapprochement between the two Balkan rival statesexacerbated disputes about extradition and the rights of Muslims in Greece.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Matthew Kahn argued that Congress should help FBI Director Christopher Wray rebuke the presidents attacks on his agency.

Evelyn Douek discussed how fake audio and video content could exacerbate the problems of misinformation and fake news.

Nicholas Weaver asked why the NSAs investigations into the Shadow Brokers the Vault 7 leaks have not yet led to any arrests.

Kahn posted the video and testimony from FBI Director Christopher Wrays testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

Daniel Hemel and Eric Posner argued that the Logan Act would be construed narrowly to limit its scope if courts ever applied it.

Mieke Eoyang, Ben Freeman and Benjamin Wittes shared the November polling data on confidence in government on national security matters.

Peter Margulies summarized oral arguments at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Hawaii v. Trumps challenge to the Sept. 24 travel ban proclamation.

Wittes shared the When Youre the President They Let You Do It edition of Rational Security.

 

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

9:55 AM 12/7/2017 Ex-intelligence chiefs probed over worst type of betrayal: Polish defence minister thenews.pl |  The Early Edition: December 7, 2017|  Mike Flynn Google News: Mike Flynn and the Russians: Was he reckless, greedy or hopelessly corrupt? Salon

Ex-intelligence chiefs probed over worst type of betrayal: Polish defence minister Thursday December 7th, 2017 at 10:14 AM 1 Share PR dla Zagranicy Paweł Kononczuk 07.12.2017 13:13 Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz has said that former heads of Polands Military Counterintelligence Service (SKW) are suspected of the worst type of betrayal a Pole can commit.” Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz. … Continue reading“9:55 AM 12/7/2017 – Ex-intelligence chiefs probed over ‘worst type of betrayal’: Polish defence minister – thenews.pl |  The Early Edition: December 7, 2017|  Mike Flynn – Google News: Mike Flynn and the Russians: Was he reckless, greedy or hopelessly corrupt? – Salon”
8:14 AM 12/8/2017 Wray seemingly confirmed that the F.B.I. had applied for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (F.I.S.A.) as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign

Wray seemingly confirmed that the F.B.I. had applied for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (F.I.S.A.) as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign Saved Stories Saved Stories – None The Early Edition: December 8, 2017 FBI Director Chris Wray Briefs Congress And Defends … Continue reading“8:14 AM 12/8/2017 – Wray seemingly confirmed that the F.B.I. had applied for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (F.I.S.A.) as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign”
Thoughts on Erik Princes Proposal to Privatize Intelligence Gathering

This week we learned, via the Intercept, of Erik Princes proposal to provide the Trump Administration with a private intelligence outfit.  According to the Intercept, The Trump Administration is considering a set of proposals developed by Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a retired CIA officer with assistance from Oliver North, a key figure in the Iran-Contra scandal to provide CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the White House with a global, private spy network that would circumvent official U.S. intelligence agencies.  The Intercepts sources indicate that the plans have been pitched to the White House as a means of countering deep state enemies in the intelligence community seeking to undermine Donald Trumps presidency.

It is far from clear whether Princes proposal has any traction.  CNN, for instance, quotes Administration officials as saying the White House does not and would not support such a proposal.  Still, given Princes clout and resourcefulnessreports of other proposals recommending privatized intelligence operations, and the need to maintain healthy skepticism when it comes to representations made by this Administration. we ought not be hasty in looking past the proposal.

At this preliminary stage, a few scattershot thoughts come to mind:

1. Even in this year of never-ending political surprises, can this proposal be taken seriously? Or, is this another, more forceful ploy to unnerve and delegitimize a federal bureaucracy whose members have questioned and challenged quite a few of the Presidents policy initiatives?  Recall that just this past week, the President signaled his distrust of the Justice Department, among others in federal employ, seemingly placing them within the ever-expanding fold of so-called Deep State conspirators.  (Though we have traditionally associated deep states with rogue and powerful anti-democratic cabals that threaten popular rulethink Turkey, Pakistan, and Egyptthe President and his surrogates importation of the term to apply to American civil servants, journalists, and the like has rendered the term all but meaningless.)

2. Setting up what according to the Intercept seems to be a private, parallel intelligence apparatus represents a radical departure from the already highly questionable practice of outsourcing military, intelligence, and counterterrorism responsibilities. The well-documented abuses by private contractors in Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as stateside (teaching, for instance, master classes on waterboarding)and the very public calls by our allies in Afghanistan and Iraq to give Princes Blackwater the bootshould all still be fresh in our memory.  Nevertheless, this summer Prince met with senior officials in the Trump White House, pitching Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon on a private military surge in Afghanistan.

However imprudent private military and intelligence operations have heretofore been, we should be clear on one thing: the private firms were supposed to reinforce or at the very least complement the efforts undertaken by members of the armed forces and intelligence agencies.  (In fairness, this seemed to be what Prince was proposing when he met with White House officials this summer.)

Whats more, when and where military and intelligence contractors werent deployed simply as force multipliers, they were chosen because they were less legally encumbered than their government counterparts to carry out certain tasks.  As I have argued elsewhere, exploiting the differences in legal status between public and private actors is a deeply problematic reason for using contractors.  Yet, being hired to circumvent federal statutes and regulationswhich the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations viewed as unnecessarily or unduly hamstringingis a far cry from being hired because the feds couldnt be trusted.  (If anything, the converse was true.)

3. By contrast, based on the reporting we’ve seen, Prince wants to contract out intelligence work because he doesnt seem to trust the U.S. intelligence community. Thus, this privatization push isnt about hiring contractors to leverage market efficiencies; it isnt about using contractors to break free of the shackles of constitutional and statutory law; and, lastly, this isnt even about employing contractors to avoid tedious internal debates with career officials about the prudence or legality of intelligence operations.  It seems, instead, that Prince sees the need for a parallel intelligence service that takes orders from the President and CIA director and answers directly to them.

If thats a fair reading of whats being proposed, then we must consider the Prince plan to be profoundly different and far more alarming, particularly if his private intelligence service will be tasked with counteringperhaps undermining or discreditingtheir (distrusted) government counterparts.  All of this is to say that if the raison dêtre of Prince’s intelligence team is indeed to neutralize  federal officials whove shown no signs of disloyalty, thats precisely the type of domestic counterintelligence work we can expect.  And, as Rebecca Ingber puts it, it is the creation of a private, domestic counterintelligence squad, more than anything else, that draws us closer to an actual deep state.

4. Lastly, a word of caution. Not too long ago, Erik Prince was a guy whose fifteen minutes had seemingly run their course.  The notorious Blackwater firm had to change its nametwice.   The beleaguered company was the subject of congressional investigations and was ticketed with massive administrative penalties.   And Prince himself moved his operations overseasperhaps a step or two ahead of federal criminal charges being levied against him.  Yet this past August, the Prince rehabilitation tour was boosted by the likes of the New York Times and USA Today, both of which published his op-eds touting his plan to deploy private contractors to Afghanistan.   By no means am I suggesting that major newspapers should refrain from amplifying controversial voices or proposals.  But at a moment when were pondering the medias complicity in enabling Donald Trumps then-implausible presidential campaign, we may want to take a step back and consider whether these platforms were somewhat irresponsible in lending respectability to a plan that, at best, amounted to a self-serving image makeoverPrince compared himself to Elon Muskand money grab, and that perhaps paved the way for him to pitch this new and far more dangerous private intelligence scheme.

The Early Edition: December 8, 2017

Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Heres todays news.

ISRAEL-PALESTINE

Clashes broke out between Palestinian protestors and Israeli soldiers yesterday in a number of West Bank cities and near the Gaza Strip following President Trumps decision to announce that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that the U.S. would begin moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, over 100 people were injured and larger demonstrations are expected today after Friday prayers, Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash report at the Washington Post.

The Palestinian Hamas militant group have called for a Day of Rage today in protest of Trumps decision, Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem could be a flashpoint and there have also been concerns that Trumps decision could disrupt the reconciliation efforts between the Palestinian Fatah Party, who control the West Bank, and Hamas, who control the Gaza Strip. Dan Williams and Nidal al-Mughrabi report at Reuters.

The State Department have ordered tight security restrictions for U.S. diplomatic staff and their families in preparation for violent protests at U.S. missions across the Middle East, confrontations took place yesterday in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and at the border between Israel and Gaza, and there were demonstrations across the region. Peter Beaumont reports at the Guardian.

We support the call for a new Palestinian intifada (uprising) and escalating the resistance, the leader of the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah militant group, Hassan Nasrallah, said in a speech yesterday. Reutersreports.

A senior Palestinian official said that Vice President Mike Pence would not be welcome in the Palestinian territories during his visit to Israel later this month the trip is expected to include a stop at the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, Al Jazeera reports.

Pence still intends to meet with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian leaders and any decision to pull out of the meeting would be counterproductive, a White House official said in response to comments by the senior Palestinian official. The BBC reports.

Trump and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have managed to destroy hope in the two-state solution, the secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (P.L.O.) Saed Erekat said yesterdayadding that Palestinians have no option but to focus on equal rights rather than the pursuit of a Palestinian state. Erekats comments may not translate into a change in Palestinian policy, however he has said he planned to push for a shift in strategy within the Palestinian National Council, Mark Landler, David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner report at the New York Times.

The Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (A.Q.A.P.) called on militants to close ranks to be ready to support Palestinians and appealed to Muslims to help with money and weapons, Reutersreports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Reçep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed serious concerns over Trumps announcement on recognizing Jerusalem as Israels capital and to move the U.S. Embassy, the Kremlin said in a statement yesterday following a phone call between the two leaders. Reuters reports.

Netanyahu is headed to Brussels as part of an effort to rally European cooperation for curbing Irans influence in Lebanon and Syria and along the Israeli-Syrian border, according to Israels Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs. While Netanyahu may have been bolstered by Trumps announcement on Jerusalem, it may also have made it harder to enlist European support because of their objection to the move, Laurence Norman observes at the Wall Street Journal.

Muslims in Asia have protested against Trumps decision, including in Indonesia and Malaysia, Kanupriya Kapoor and Joseph Sipalan report at Reuters.

Any changes to the status of the city without the consent of the Palestinians jeopardizes any prospect for peace, former President Jimmy Carter said yesterday in a statement, warning that Trumps decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israels capital exacerbates tensions. Rebecca Savransky reports at the Hill.

Almost all former U.S. ambassadors to Israel disagree with Trumps change in policy, a typical view among the diplomats being that the presidents announcement has isolated the U.S. and undermined its position as a broker in the peace process. Sewell Chan reports at the New York Times.

President Trumps decision was symbolic, but has very real, negative consequences for the Israel-Palestine peace process, for the region, and has implications for the U.S.s relationships with key Arab and Muslim allies; it raises the possibility of an enhanced Israeli military occupation and increased settlement in occupied Palestinian territories. Warhad Khalid writes at CNN.

Palestinians, Arabs and the rest of the world will interpret Trumps decision as a major provocation and the president should reconsider this decision immediately as he has undermined international law, conventions and norms, given Israel the green light to continue expanding its settlements, and has potentially emboldened messianic Jewish extremists that could easily ignite a major religious conflagration in the Middle East and beyond. P.L.O. executive member and Palestinian lawmaker, Hanan Ashrawi, writes at the New York Times.

The recognition of Jerusalem as Israels capital is not a disaster if the president and the White House are able to keep message discipline, crucially by maintaining the distinction between acknowledging Jerusalem as Israels capital and recognition that the boundaries of the city are yet to be resolved through negotiations. Dennis Ross and David Makovsky write at Foreign Policy.

TRUMP-RUSSIA

The British publicist Rob Goldstone sent emails to a Russian participant after the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian individuals, with one of the emails saying that a story about Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee (D.N.C.) server was eerily weird considering what they had discussed at Trump Tower. Jim Sciutto, Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb report at CNN.

The executive of the Russian equivalent to Facebook emailed Donald Trump Jr. and Trump campaign social media director Dan Scavino during the 2016 presidential campaign offering help to promote the Trump campaign among Russian Americans and Russians, the revelations demonstrate a new point of direct contact between influential Russian individuals and Trump campaign officials. Rosalind S. Helderman, Anton Troianovski and Tom Hamburger report at the Washington Post.

An op-ed by the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on his work in Ukraine was not intended for a U.S. audience or to influence the forthcoming case against Manafort, his lawyer, Kevin Downing said yesterday, making the comments after special counsel Robert Muellers team which is investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia accused Manafort of violating a court gag order by ghost-writing the article with a long-time Russian colleague of Manaforts. Darren Samuelsohn reports at POLITICO and the article published about Manaforts consulting activities in Ukraine, published under the name of Oleg Voloshin, is available at the Kyiv Post.

Voloshin confirmed that the longtime Manafort colleague referred to by prosecutors was Konstantin Kilimnik, he said that allegations by Muellers team that Kilimnik had ties to Russian intelligence were shocking. Spencer S. Hsu reports at the Washington Post.

The F.B.I. Director Christopher A. Wray defended his agency during questioning by Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, following revelations of alleged bias from top F.B.I. agent Peter Strzok, who was a senior member of Muellers team but removed in July from the investigation. Devlin Barrett and Ellen Nakashima report at the Washington Post.

Wray seemingly confirmed that the F.B.I. had applied for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (F.I.S.A.) as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign. Ken Dilanian reports at NBC News.

The judge presiding over the case of Trumps former national security adviser Michael Flynn has recused himself, it remains unclear why Judge Rudolph Contreras took the decision not to hear the case which concerns a guilty plea by Flynn that he made a false statement to F.B.I. agents about his communications with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition. Josh Gerstein reports at POLITICO.

RUSSIA

We will never accept Russias occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said yesterday in a meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, adding that Russia was arming and supporting antigovernment forces in Eastern Ukraine. Gardiner Harris reports at the New York Times.

Tillerson said that U.S. would find it hard to look past or to reconcile Russias invasion of Ukraine, saying that the issue stands as the single most difficult obstacle to us re-normalizing a relationship with Russia. Carol Morello reports at the Washington Post.

Russia is prepared to discuss the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (I.N.F.) treaty with the U.S., a statement by Russias foreign ministry said today, the treaty helped end the Cold War and banned all Soviet Union and American short and intermediate-range land-based nuclear and conventional missiles. Reuters reports.

NORTH KOREA

North Korea is open to direct talks with the U.S., the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said, who added that he had conveyed the message to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when they met in Vienna yesterday. Julian Borger reports at the Guardian.

Lavrov accused the U.S. of escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula and said the U.S. military maneuvers and aggressive rhetoric were unacceptable, according to a statement by the Russian foreign ministry describing the meeting with Tillerson. Reuters reports.

YEMEN

Intense conflict over six days in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa killed 230 people and injured over 400, according to the U.N. humanitarian coordinator, who noted that an intense calm had returned to Sanaa in the last day or so. Edith M. Lederer reports at the AP.

The White House stated that it believed Saudi Arabia were taking actions to open a port in Yemen after Trump called on the blockade to be lifted, Reuters reports.

SYRIA

The U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Syria yesterday reproached Russia and Iran for failing to support civilians seeking to evacuate from the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area near the Syrian capital of Damascus, the BBC reports.

The U.N. envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said that he would assess the behavior of President Bashar al-Assads delegation and the opposition to see if they have tried to sabotage the peace process being held in Geneva. Tom Miles reports at Reuters.

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition coalition forces carried out 33 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq between December 1 and December 3. [Central Command]

LEBANON

Lebanons Prime Minister Saad Hariri called for international support for Lebanon at a summit in France today, following a political crisis that was triggered by Hariris unexpected resignation on Nov. 4, which was later rescinded, before the summit, the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressed the U.S. backing for Lebanons sovereignty, stability and independence. Josh Lederman and Philip Issa reports at the AP.

The summit in France is expected to send a message to Saudi Arabia and Iran to stop interfering in Lebanon, John Irish reports at Reuters, explaining the significance of Lebanon to the Saudi-Iran rivalry and the bizarre circumstances since Hariris Nov. 4 announcement.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

An Argentine federal judge is seeking to arrest the former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchener, accusing her of covering-up the alleged involvement of senior Iranian officials in a 1994 bomb against a Jewish center in Beunos Aires. The BBC reports.

The Libyan Foreign Ministry has sought to remove Libya from Trumps travel ban, the ministry said in a statement yesterday, Reuters reporting.

FBI Director Chris Wray Briefs Congress And Defends His Institution – NPR

FBI Director Chris Wray Briefs Congress And Defends His Institution
NPR
FBI director Chris Wray is briefed Congress on Thursday. He faced questions about the Russia probe which has intensified in recent weeks. Facebook; Twitter; Flipboard; Email. Sign Up for the NPR Politics Newsletter. We follow politics; you follow us 

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