2:08 PM 12/10/2017 – Senior military commander says Iraq’s war against the Islamic State group is over

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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
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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
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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 
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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 

and more »

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 
all 28
 
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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 

F.B.I. Director Denies Political Bias Is Tainting Investigations

The F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, defended his employees during a politically charged appearance on Capitol Hill.
How Trump Has Flip-Flopped on Intelligence Agencies

President Trump has offered lavish praise when the intelligence community or law enforcement investigates his opponents but rebuked them when their actions do not align with his interests.
FOX NEWS FIRST: Roy Moore hopes for boost from Trump rally; FBI director in hot seat – Fox News


Fox News
FOX NEWS FIRST: Roy Moore hopes for boost from Trump rally; FBI director in hot seat
Fox News
Lawmakers’ concerns were sparked by the revelation that FBI official Peter Strzok was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe over the summer for allegedly exchanging anti-Trump texts with an FBI lawyer with whom he was romantically

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Trumpocalypse: The End Game

Our once bright and shiny democracy may be going down the drain before the holidays are out.
Congressional Republicans channel Trump in bashing the FBI – Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles Times
Congressional Republicans channel Trump in bashing the FBI
Los Angeles Times
Strzok also was involved in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for State Department business, and some Republicans speculate that he softened the FBI’s conclusion about Clinton’s culpability. Trump has made a similar
Republicans hammer Mueller, FBI as Russia investigation intensifiesWashington Post
The Strange Tale of Peter StrzokThe Atlantic
Trump’s campaign against Justice, FBI is working | Fox NewsFox News
Washington Examiner –New York Times
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Jake Tapper: Trump Attacks FBI Only When His Side Is Threatened

Saved Stories Saved Stories – None Jake Tapper: Trump Attacks FBI Only When His Side Is Threatened Donald Trump: The huge Israel announcement has overshadowed the Russia turmoil at home – ABC Online Judge: Man accused of threatening court unfit to stand trial – Hudson Valley 360 Russian social media executive sought to help Trump … Continue reading

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