8:25 AM 1/11/2018 – Saved Stories: Private investigator stopped cooperating with FBI as he suspected it had been compromised, his employer told committee – Trump-Russia inquiry: transcript reveals ex-spy and FBI’s cloak-and-dagger dance | US news | The Guardian 

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The impression by the professional intelligence officer of the closest allied service is the very serious issue and the very important “matter”. Investigate the FBI fully, thoroughly and deeply, if you want to understand the Trump Presidency and its origins, the “Trump – Russia Affair”, and the history and the essence of the security debacles, starting with the 9/11. -M.N. 

Source: Trump-Russia inquiry: transcript reveals ex-spy and FBI’s cloak-and-dagger dance | US news | The Guardian

“Private investigator stopped cooperating with FBI as he suspected it had been compromised, his employer told committee…

The release of Simpson’s transcripts by Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate judiciary committee, raises questions about what the FBI knew at that time and why federal investigators kept the information quiet.”

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

_________________________

The transcript from the Fusion G.P.S. founders testimony raises questions about what the F.B.I. knew at the time and Steeles role in the investigation. Stephanie Kirchgaessner explains at the Guardian.

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Trump: ‘Unlikely’ Special Prosecutor on Russia Probe Will Interview Him – Voice of America
Trump uses ‘no collusion’ 7 times in a single Russia answer – CNN
Obama reports no gifts from Putin in 2016 sad! – Yahoo Finance
Mr. Trump, DOJ is not your personal justice department – USA TODAY
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Ex-CIA Director Says He’s Surprised Everyone’s Not Outraged by Russian Meddling – Bloomberg

 

Saved Stories – None
The Early Edition: January 11, 2018

Signup to receive the Early Edition in your inbox here.Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Heres todays news.NORTH KOREASouth Korean President Moon Jae-in admitted that there were policy differences with the U.S. in terms of their approach to the Pyongyang regime in a news conference yesterday, however he also expressed guarded optimism about the future of inter-Korean relations and praised President Trump for facilitating the talks which took place Tuesday. Jonathan Cheng reports at the Wall Street Journal.

The current inter-Korean talks could naturally lead to talks between the United States and North Korea for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the White House said in a statement following President Trumps phone call with President Moon yesterday. Reuters reports.

Trump would be open to talks with North Korea at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances, Trump said in the phone call, according to the White House statement. Julian Borger and Justin McCurry report at the Guardian.

I hope you let them know that there will be absolutely no military action as long as inter-Korean talks are ongoing, Trump said, according to the South Korean governments statement on the phone call. Dan Merica reports at CNN.

The U.N. Security Council has welcomed the inter-Korean talks in a statement issued yesterday, which expressed hope that the discussions would open possibilities for confidence building and trust building on the Korean Peninsula. The AP reports.

It would be detrimental to U.S. interests for the U.S. to conduct airstrikes against North Korea, such a measure would risk lives and escalation could lead to a response from China. Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) write at Foreign Policy in response to an article by Edward Luttwak.

An investigation into a Chinese businesswoman represents a test for China, revealing how far it is willing to support U.S. efforts to put pressure on North Korea. The growth of Ma Xiaohongs commercial empire has been supported by trade with North Korea and American prosecutors charged her for helping North Korea to evade international sanctions, Steven lee Myers explains at the New York Times.

IRAN

Some of Trumps top advisers have urged the president to waive sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, according to a senior administration official, Trump has privately expressed reluctance to waive the sanctions and he will seek to make a decision today following a meeting with national security aides. Steve Holland reports at Reuters.

President Trump is expected to continue to waive the sanctions ahead of tomorrows deadline, according to sources familiar with the deliberations, but Trump is likely to add that the waiver be coupled with new, targeted sanctions on Iranian individuals and entities. Matthew Lee and Josh Lederman report at the AP.

A decision to re-impose sanctions could be viewed as a U.S. violation of the 2015 agreement, and senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, have recommended that Trump continue to waive the sanctions. Zachary Cohen, Elise Labott and Ted Barrett report at CNN.   

Irans Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has traveled to Brussels to meet with European Union officials and European foreign ministers to discuss the 2015 agreement, the E.U. has strongly supported the deal but the recent anti-government protests in Iran have complicated its position. Mehreen Khan reports at the Financial Times.

The German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said today that the U.S. was right to raise concerns about Irans ballistic program and its role in the Middle East, but those concerns are separate to the particular issue of the nuclear deal. Robin Emmott reports at Reuters.

The British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is set to meet with Zarif today, where he will discuss the nuclear deal and raise the issue of the recent protests in Iran. Anabelle Dickson reports at POLITICO.

There has been no agreement within the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding legislation addressing what Trump deems to be issues with the nuclear deal, the panels top Democrat Ben Cardin (D-Md.) told reporters yesterday, adding that there have been very positive discussions with the committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and they have an understanding of the framework of issues that need to be dealt with. Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.

TRUMP-RUSSIA

President Trump declined to commit to being interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 U.S. election, saying at a news conference yesterday that when you have no collusion and nobody has found any collusion at any level, it seems unlikely that youd even have an interview. Rebecca Ballhaus reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Ill speak to attorneys, Trump also said in response to the question about meeting with Mueller, adding well see what happens, his answer showing a change from his comments in June, where he said that he would be 100 percent willing to give a sworn statement to Mueller. Julie Hirschfield Davis and Nicholas Fandos report at the New York Times.

For 11 months, weve had this phony cloud over this administration, Trump added, saying that the allegations of collusion were a Democrat hoax and insisting that there has been no collusion. Jeremy Diamond reports at CNN.

Trump attacked Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for her decision to release the transcript of the founder of the opposition research firm Fusion G.P.S.s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week, calling Feinstein Sneaky in a post on Twitter and urged Republicans to take control of the investigation. The Fusion G.P.S. founder Glenn Simpson hired the former British Intelligence officer Christopher Steele to produce a dossier on Trumps connections to Russia, Josh Dawsey and Ed OKeefe report at the Washington Post.

The transcript from the Fusion G.P.S. founders testimony raises questions about what the F.B.I. knew at the time and Steeles role in the investigation. Stephanie Kirchgaessner explains at the Guardian.

Senior Democrats in the Senate have accused Republican of engaging in efforts to discredit the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, leading to break downs in the congressional investigations, and Republicans have accused Democrats of politicizing the inquiries. Karoun Demirjian reports at the Washington Post.

The cybercrime expert Ryan Dickey has been a member of Muellers team since November, according to a U.S. official, Dickeys role in the team suggests that the Mueller investigation may be focusing on computer hacking. Eric Geller reports at POLITICO.

The Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska has filed a lawsuit against Trumps former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his aide Rick Gates, alleging that they misappropriated millions of dollars of his investments. Manafort and Gates have both pleaded not guilty to charges filed by Mueller as part of the Russia investigation in relation to their work while in Ukraine, Scott Patterson reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Russias threat to Western democracies has been revealed as a consequence of the investigations, report released by Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday has revealed the extent of the assault on democratic institutions and the Democrats warnings must be heeded. The New York Times editorial board writes.

The full Russian- Trump- F.B.I. record should be made public, the Wall Street Journal editorial boardwrites, arguing that there should be proper transparency, including the declassification of details relating to the F.B.I.s handling of the Steele dossier.

The possible ways that presidents lawyers are preparing Trump for an interview with Mueller are set out by Bradley P. Moss at POLITICO Magazine.

SYRIA

Syrian pro-government forces have advanced into the rebel-held Idlib province and reached a rebel-controlled air base yesterday. Bassem Mroue reports at the AP.

The offensive on Idlib has led to the displacement of around 100,000 Syrian civilians, according to the U.N., Idlib was designated a de-escalation zone under a Russia-, Iran- and Turkey-brokered deal, nevertheless Syrian forces have continued their advance and Turkey has called on Russia and Iran to pressure Syria to halt the offensive. The BBC reports.

At least 85 civilians have been killed since Dec. 31 in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta near the capital of Damascus, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein said yesterday, calling on all parties to respect international law. The U.N. News Centre reports.

The Turkish foreign ministry yesterday summoned the U.S. Embassys Charge dAffaires to express Turkeys discomfort with Washingtons support for Syrian Kurdish fighters, the Syrian Kurdish Y.P.G. militia have received arms and training from the U.S., Al Jazeera reports.

The drones that recently attacked the Russian Hmeimim air base in Syria were launched from a rebel-held village in the Idlib province, the Russian defense ministry held Turkey accountable for the drone attack, which was in contravention of a cease-fire agreement. Liz Sly and Zakaria Zakaria report at the Washington Post.

Rebel attacks on Russian military outposts in Syria have raised questions about the ability of Syrian President Bashar al-Assads ability to consolidate gains and Russias ability to protect its assets. Vladimir Isachenkov reports at the AP.

Russias representative to the E.U. has called on European states to provide financial support to rebuild Syria, the comments highlight tensions faced by European countries who seek to stem the flow of Syrian refugees but do not want to boost the Assad regime. Michael Peel reports at the Financial Times.

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out 58 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq between December 29, 2017 and January 4, 2018. [Central Command]

CUBA EMBASSY INCIDENTS

Canada has no plans to withdraw diplomats who have suffered symptoms at its embassy in Cuba, a senior Canadian government official said yesterday, U.S. diplomats and personnel also reported illnesses which some have alleged may have been caused by some sort of attack. Tracey Lindeman reports at the AP.

The Canadian government said yesterday that it had no idea what caused the mysterious illnesses, Canadian citizens reported similar symptoms to U.S. Embassy employees in Cuba. Abigail Williams and Tracy Connor report at NBC News.

ISRAEL-PALESTINE

A criminal investigation has been opened by Egypt in relation to a New York Times article that described a covert effort by Egyptian intelligence to try and influence public opinion in favor of Trumps decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israels capital. Declan Walsh reports at the New York Times.

The Trump administrations reported decision to fund $125m in funds to the U.N.R.W.A. Palestinian aid agency marks an unprecedented change in policy, the administration should progress from this position by stating that U.N.R.W.A. has outlived its usefulness and that Palestinians are not refugees, following this, the administration should create a detailed plan to shift responsibility from U.N.R.W.A. to the Palestinian Authority. Alex Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky write at the Wall Street Journal.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Punishing Pakistan pushes it towards Americas major adversaries, the Pakistan Defense Minister Khurram Dastgir-Khan said in an interview, warning that Pakistan would move closer to China in light of the U.S. decision last week to freeze military aid to Pakistan. Saeed Shah reports at the Wall Street Journal.

The House is set to vote today on legislation renewing the National Security Agencys (N.S.A.) warrantless surveillance program today, the House is also expected to vote on a bipartisan amendment that would be seen as a victory for privacy advocates. The votea on the legislation and amendment is likely to be close, Katie Bo Williams reports at the Hill.

A U.S. military investigation has been launched after video footage was released appearing to show a U.S. soldier violating the rules of engagement while serving in Afghanistan. Wesley Morgan reports at POLITICO.

The Islamic State group have two options should they decide to come up against the United States, our allies and partners: surrender or die! the Pentagons senior enlisted adviser Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell said in posts on social media yesterday. Dan Lamothe reports at the Washington Post.

The Islamic State affiliate in Egypts Sinai Peninsula have declared on the Palestinian Hamas group, Iyad Abuheweila and Isabel Kershner explain the significance of the declaration at the New York Times.

Chinas rise has been aided by a U.S. absence of leadership, Ishaan Tharoor provides an analysis at the Washington Post.

Serbia Stands by Russia at UN on Crimea Resolution – Balkan Insight
 


Balkan Insight
Serbia Stands by Russia at UN on Crimea Resolution
Balkan Insight
Serbia was the only country in the Balkans to back Russia over a UN General Assembly resolution put forward by Ukraine, which condemns the human rights situation in Russian-annexed Crimea and calls Russia an “occupying power”. The General Assembly 
Trump administration approves lethal arms sales to UkraineWashington Postall 229 news articles »
The Unexpected Regional Player in the Balkans: China

While I was working in the Serbian Foreigna Ministry in late 2012, a delegation of researchers from a Western think tank came to interview the Serbian dipl
Balkans – Wikipedia

Political communities that are usually included in the Balkans. … of the planned invasion in Russia causing a … toward Communist China, …
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Russias Role in the Balkans Cause for Concern? iii Executive Summary Russian foreign policy has become more assertive and revisionist under the leadership of …
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It did not go into the merits of removing specific military units or curbing particularly military activities in the Balkans. The former official … Competitions from Russia, China and North Korea require the United States to rethink the policies …
Chinas Stealthy Advance in Balkans Should Worry EU

When EU officials, including foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, refer to the Balkans as a new chessboard where the big power game can be played, Russia, not China, seems to be on their mind. But, whether or not they wish to recognize it …
Chinas new Silk Road goes straight through the Caucasus

This project involves various transport corridors from China to the west; for example through Russia and Belarus … are in dire need of cash and eager to take it. Many in the Balkans, in particular, feel forgotten by the European Union, and closer …
German foreign minister demands aggressive assertion of great power interests

For this, Europe also has to project its power. For example, Europe should challenge China in Africa, and Russia in the Balkans. China is steadily gaining so much influence in the south and east that some European states no longer dare to take …
This Is How Trump’s Lawyers Are Probably Prepping Him for the Mueller Showdown – Politico
 


Politico
This Is How Trump’s Lawyers Are Probably Prepping Him for the Mueller Showdown
Politico
And he needs to be able to address succinctly his past associations with individuals with questionable backgrounds and alleged ties to the Russian government, such as Russian-born real estate developer Felix Sater. Since Trump’s lawyers cannot expect and more »
Trump: ‘Unlikely’ Special Prosecutor on Russia Probe Will Interview Him – Voice of America
 


The Independent
Trump: ‘Unlikely’ Special Prosecutor on Russia Probe Will Interview Him
Voice of America
U.S. President Donald Trump says it “seems unlikely” that he would need to meet with special counsel Robert Mueller about Mueller’s investigation into allegations that Trump’s presidential campaign had ties with RussiaTrump made the comment Wednesday 
Trump says it ‘seems unlikely’ he’ll give Mueller interviewABC News
Donald Trump ‘discussing options’ for Mueller interview as part of Russia investigationThe Independent
Trump ‘unlikely’ to give interview to Russia collusion investigatorsEast Lothian Courierall 156 news articles »
Trump uses ‘no collusion’ 7 times in a single Russia answer – CNN
 


CNN
Trump uses ‘no collusion’ 7 times in a single Russia answer
CNN
Any mention of the Russia investigation immediately elicits the phrase “no collusion.” (In a 30-minute interview with The New York Times over the holidays, Trump said the words “no collusion” 16 times.) Why? Because he has absolutely convinced himself 
Trump plays down prospect of special counsel interviewing him about RussiaThe Guardian
Trump walks back his willingness to testify in the Russia investigationBusiness Insider
Trump Sidesteps Question on Mueller InterviewNew York Times
ABC News –Voice of America –USA TODAY –C-Span
all 158 news articles »
Obama reports no gifts from Putin in 2016 sad! – Yahoo Finance
 


Yahoo Finance
Obama reports no gifts from Putin in 2016 sad!
Yahoo Finance
At the other end of the spectrum, the name of Russian President Vladimir Putin didn’t appear at all. There were no gifts to report from the Russian leader, accused by the U.S. intelligence community of meddling in the 2016 election, in 2015, either 
Mr. Trump, DOJ is not your personal justice department – USA TODAY
 


USA TODAY
Mr. Trump, DOJ is not your personal justice department
USA TODAY
Trump has repeatedly suggested that the department target his political adversaries. “Why aren’t they going after Hillary Clinton?” Trump wondered in November. This month, he tweeted that the Justice Department was part of the “deep state,” a and more »
Gillibrand plans to stop Trump’s pick for US attorney in New York – The Hill
 


The Hill
Gillibrand plans to stop Trump’s pick for US attorney in New York
The Hill 
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand · Kirsten Elizabeth GillibrandDemocrats turn on Al Franken Report: Franken will resign Thursday Minnesota’s largest newspaper calls on Franken to resign MORE (D-N.Y.) plans to try and block President Trump · Donald John
 
… likely looking at everyone Bharara: Trump should be ‘very worried’ about Flynn if he has ‘done bad things’ Bharara: Paul Manafort could ‘flip’ and ‘cooperate’ with the government MORE as the top prosecutor in southern New York. His appointment is
 and more »
Trump, GOP fire back over Fusion GPS testimony – The Hill
 


The Hill
Trump, GOP fire back over Fusion GPS testimony
The Hill
Dianne Feinstein · Dianne Emiel FeinsteinGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Blumenthal: ‘Credible case’ of obstruction of justice can be made againstTrump MORE (D 
Fusion GPS dossier author ‘feared Trump was blackmail target’BBC News
‘Human source’ in Trump orbit contacted FBI, Fusion GPS co-founder told senatorsPolitico
Fusion co-founder: Dossier author feared Trump was being blackmailedCNN
NBCNews.com –USA TODAY
all 319 news articles »
How True Is the Trump-Russia Dossier? One Year Later, What We Know About Its Claims – Newsweek
 


Newsweek
How True Is the Trump-Russia Dossier? One Year Later, What We Know About Its Claims
Newsweek
Exactly one year after the notorious TrumpRussia dossier became public, President Donald Trump’s campaign is still being investigated for Russian collusion, and the fabled “golden showers” tape has not emerged. But some of the document’s seemingly 
I’m Proud We Published the TrumpRussia DossierNew York Times
Research Firm: TrumpRussia Dossier Author Worried About BlackmailVoice of America
3 Bombshell Claims in the Leaked Testimony on Trump and RussiaNew York Magazine
WLRN –ABC News –TPM
all 227 news articles »
FBI Task Force to Expose Russian Social Media Manipulation – Bloomberg
 


Bloomberg
FBI Task Force to Expose Russian Social Media Manipulation
Bloomberg
Officials in Russia, including President Vladimir Putin, have repeatedly denied interfering in the U.S. election. Adversaries likeRussia are blending cybersecurity, criminal and counter intelligence operations in order to distort the truth or prevent 
Donald Trump is hosed and he knows it

What do you do when you’re facing two bad choices, either of which will destroy you, and you know you’re ultimately going to be forced to pick one? You go back and forth in your mind about which unacceptable outcome might be the least awful. You think you’ve made your choice, and then days later you’re leaning in the other direction. That brings us to Donald Trump, and the choice he has to make that’ll sink him either way.Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now reportedly just a few weeks from being ready to interview Trump about his role in the Russia scandal, at least with regard to obstruction of justice. If Trump voluntarily gives the interview, he’ll either have to confess to obstruction, or lie about obstruction. Lying to a federal investigator is a serious crime itself, and Mueller surely has enough hard evidence to nail Trump on any lies. So if Trump speaks to Mueller at all, he’s going down on criminal charges. Trump’s other option would be to plead the fifth, which would end him politically.Trump told a group of reporters just a few days ago on camera that he’s willing to speak to Mueller because he’s innocent. Now today Trump told reporters that “it seems unlikely that you’d even have an interview” (link). Of course Trump is not innocent, and he knows it. He also knows that speaking to Mueller will doom him, and refusing to speak to Mueller will doom him.If Donald Trump were firmly committed to a course of action with regard to being interviewed by Robert Mueller, perhaps it would be a sign that, at least in his mind, he still has a way out of it. But Trump’s hesitance and rapid flip flopping means that, regardless of his trademark obliviousness and obvious mental decline, he understands the gravity of the situation well enough to know that he’s hosed no matter how he plays this.

The post Donald Trump is hosed and he knows it appeared first on Palmer Report.

Testimony Reveals Fusion GPS Tried to Kill FBI Clinton Investigation – Breitbart News
 


Breitbart News
Testimony Reveals Fusion GPS Tried to Kill FBI Clinton Investigation
Breitbart News
In his August 2017 testimony before Congress, Glenn Simpson admits Christopher Steele reached out to the FBI following thereopening of the Hillary Clinton email investigation in October 2016. Steele and Simpson had previously contacted the FBI
Fusion GPS: Author of Trump-Russia dossier thought Trump ‘was being blackmailed’ by RussiaBusiness Insiderall 323 news articles »
The Digger Who Commissioned the Trump-Russia Dossier Speaks – The New Yorker
 


The New Yorker
The Digger Who Commissioned the Trump-Russia Dossier Speaks
The New Yorker
In May or June of 2016, Simpson recalled, he engaged Christopher Steele, an old associate of his, who was the former head of the Russia desk at the British foreign-intelligence agency, MI6. He and Steele, who was by then running his own intelligence 
Democratic Senator Releases Transcript of Interview With Dossier FirmNew York Times
Dossier author was told FBI had a source inside Trump OrganizationUSA TODAY
Sen. Dianne Feinstein releases transcript of closed-door meeting with Fusion GPS execWashington Times
CBS News –New York Times –The War Log
all 325 news articles »
Trump-Russia Investigation Far from over as Mueller Adds Veteran Cyber Prosecutor to His Team – Newsweek
 


Newsweek
Trump-Russia Investigation Far from over as Mueller Adds Veteran Cyber Prosecutor to His Team
Newsweek
Dickey has previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Virginia and has investigated several high-profile computercrime case. In 2016, Dickey helped prosecute the Romanian hacker Marcel Lazar, who was known as “Guccifer.” That same year, a and more »
Legal expert: Robert Mueller is ready to file criminal charges against Donald Trump

Donald Trump appeared to flip flop yet again on whether or not he’s willing to be interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Just days ago he told reporters that he would do it because he’s innocent, but today he told reporters that such an interview is “unlikely” because he’s innocent. Trump is running out of time, as Mueller reportedly wants the interview to happen within the next few weeks. Now one prominent legal expert says that if the interview doesn’t happen, Mueller is ready to file criminal charges against Trump.Trump said today that “it seems unlikely they could even have an interview” between him and Mueller. As Palmer Report has explained, his hesitant flip flopping on this matter is a sign that he knows he’s screwed either way. If he grants the interview, he’ll have to either admit to obstruction or get charged with lying about obstruction. If he pleads the fifth to avoid the interview, he’s finished politically. But now it turns out Trump is really screwed if he doesn’t grant the interview.Norm Eisen, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, summed it up this way on Twitter today: “Given the state of the obstruction evidence, if POTUS refuses an interview, Mueller WILL file charges.” He went on to add “either criminally or more likely with Congress.” But considering how thoroughly the Republican majority in Congress has thrown its weight behind protecting Trump from prosecution over the past few weeks, it’s difficult to imagine that they would allow impeachment hearings to begin, no matter how damning the charges are against Trump. Mueller has clearly been going for the kill from the start. We believe it’s more likely that he’ll file criminal charges against Trump.Many among the public are under the mistaken impression that Robert Mueller can’t file criminal charges against a sitting president. However, there is no solid legal precedent to substantiate this. Richard Nixon was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator, a route Mueller could go here. But he could also get Trump indicted, and seek to put him on trial in a court of law; the Supreme Court would have to rule on whether he has this power. But one way or the other, some kind of charges against Trump are coming if he doesn’t give Mueller an interview.

The post Legal expert: Robert Mueller is ready to file criminal charges against Donald Trump appeared first on Palmer Report.

Trump Under Oath Is a Different Person – The Atlantic
 


The Atlantic
Trump Under Oath Is a Different Person
The Atlantic
For example, Trump is involved in litigation against Geoffrey Zakarian, a chef who had signed a lease to open a restaurant inTrump’s hotel in D.C., but pulled out in response to inflammatory comments that Trump made as a presidential candidate. During 
Trump’s presidency hangs on whether he can be honest under oathThe Hill
Mueller’s obstruction of justice case against Trump looks damningVoxall 61 news articles »
Ex-CIA Director Says He’s Surprised Everyone’s Not Outraged by Russian Meddling – Bloomberg
 


Bloomberg
Ex-CIA Director Says He’s Surprised Everyone’s Not Outraged by Russian Meddling
Bloomberg
Former CIA Director John Brennan said he told a Russian intelligence official in 2016 that all Americans would be outraged byRussia’s efforts to interfere in that year’s U.S. presidential campaign. Brennan said he now realizes he was wrong. I said and more »

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7:53 AM 1/11/2018 – Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks: US Democrats Accuse Russia of ‘Targeting’ Balkans :: Balkan Insight – FBI knew of possible Trump-Russia collusion, according to Glenn Simpson’s Senate testimony

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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
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US Democrats Accuse Russia of ‘Targeting’ Balkans :: Balkan Insight
 

mikenova shared this story .

Photo: Flickr/Mike Mozart

A new report produced by US Democrats says Russia is aggressively targeting countries that have taken “tangible steps” to integrate with Western institutions like the EU or NATO in order to impede integration processes.
“Georgia, Ukraine, and Montenegro are the most recent cases in a long history of Russian aggression along the periphery that stretches back generations — and, as they have drawn closer to NATO and the EU, they have been the focus of arguably the most brazen Kremlin efforts to keep them from sliding across the finish line,” the report published on Wednesday said.

According to Gallup International Association’s “Global Leaders End of Year” survey, published on Wednesday, the most popular world leader among Serbs is Russian President Vladimir Putin (81 percent). According to the B92 report, Putin is followed by Chinese President Xi Jinping (61 percent), Merkel (38 percent), and Macron and US President Donald Trump (33 percent each).

It added that Russian interference in places like Serbia is less visibly aggressive and focuses more on “cultivating sympathetic elements of society to deter government efforts to integrate with the West”.
“In addition to disinformation and the co-opting of political forces, Russia employs energy resources as a weapon to gain leverage in these countries,” it said.
The Associated Press on Wednesday called the report the first from the US Congress to “comprehensively detail Russian efforts to undermine democracies since the 2016 [US] presidential election”.
AP said the report by Congressional Democrats warns of “deepening Russian interference throughout Europe” – but added that no Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee signed the report.
The document, published on the official website of the Senate, also noted Bulgaria among the “EU members where corruption or vulnerabilities in the rule of law provide openings to erode their bonds to European values and institutions”.
It said most Russian government funding is focused on post-Soviet “swing states” such as Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Armenia, while Kremlin-supported groups also operate in the Balkans, “especially Serbia and Bulgaria”.
The part of the report about Montenegro recalls the events from the 2016 election day when authorities claimed to have quashed a pro-Russian coup.
“Russian malign influence in Montenegro has long been present and intensified in 2016 in an effort to derail the country’s NATO bid,” it said.

“This renewed focus included propaganda, support for NGOs and political parties, and culminated in an alleged Russian effort to overthrow the government following the 2016 parliamentary election,” it added.
Among the recommendations for Montenegro, the report said the United States should recognize its commitment to enter NATO, and that this case should “serve as a wake-up call for other NATO and EU aspirants, especially in the Balkans”.
“The international community should not rest on its laurels now that Montenegro is a NATO member, but should actively help the government to bolster its defenses against other soft power tools in Russia’s asymmetric arsenal,” it said.
In the case of Serbia, the report warned that Russia’s “malign influence” manifests “itself through cultural ties, propaganda, energy, and an expanding defense relationship”.
It added: “Moscow also highlights deep roots between the countries through the Orthodox Church and a shared Slavic culture”.
Despite its close relationship with Moscow, it added, Serbia has made clear that its priority is joining the European Union.
“Serbia’s desire to maintain good relations with both the EU and Russia is reflective of public opinion, but may not be sustainable, as deeper integration may mean adopting EU decisions that run counter to Russian interests,” the report warned, and added that closer ties between Serbia and the EU could result in a surge in Russian influence in the country.
“The government of Serbia has done little to prepare for this eventuality and has taken few discernable actions to defend against Russian malign influence,” it complained.
The report also underlined the energy influence Russia has on Serbia, as it provides 40 per cent of the natural gas consumed in Serbia.
The report urged Serbia to “defend itself against Kremlin interference” and the United States to re-engage with resources and send “a clear message that it is willing to spend the time and effort necessary to support those who want a democratic future in Europe”.
On Bulgaria, report said that the country, “despite pressure, remains resilient”.
“With the dedication of more diplomatic attention and resources—particularly on energy diversification, addressing corruption, and building up the democratic rule of law – the United States will be in a position to help leaders within the Bulgarian government and civil society counter Russia’s asymmetric arsenal,” the report concluded.

US Democrats have accused Donald Trump’s election team of colluding with Russia to win the US presidential election and have fiecely opposed Trump’s call for the US to establish warmer ties to the Kremlin at last in their joint struggle against Islamist terrorists.

Chinas Stealthy Advance in Balkans Should Worry EU :: Balkan Insight
 

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comment11 Jan 182018-01-11 11:06:10

While Europe focuses on the threat of Russian penetration in Eastern Europe, it is neglecting the subtler dangers than come from China’s growing influence in the region.

Vesko Garcevic

BIRN

The region is still unaware of potential risks of dealing with China. Hence, it’s not whether or not to do business with China; the question is how to make yourself able to negotiate a fair deal.

When EU officials, including foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, refer to the Balkans as a new “chessboard where the big power game can be played”, Russia, not China, seems to be on their mind.

But, whether or not they wish to recognize it, China is becoming a powerful player in the strategic chess game in the Balkans.

Beijing’s “One Belt One Road” policy is already affecting the Balkans, and its presence is visible in almost every corner of the region.

The Republicans Fake Investigations – The New York Times
 

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Republicans have refused to release full transcripts of our firm’s testimony, even as they selectively leak details to media outlets on the far right. It’s time to share what our company told investigators.

We don’t believe the Steele dossier was the trigger for the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russian meddling. As we told the Senate Judiciary Committee in August, our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the bureau had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp.

The intelligence committees have known for months that credible allegations of collusion between the Trump camp and Russia were pouring in from independent sources during the campaign. Yet lawmakers in the thrall of the president continue to wage a cynical campaign to portray us as the unwitting victims of Kremlin disinformation.

We suggested investigators look into the bank records of Deutsche Bank and others that were funding Mr. Trump’s businesses. Congress appears uninterested in that tip: Reportedly, ours are the only bank records the House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed.

We told Congress that from Manhattan to Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., and from Toronto to Panama, we found widespread evidence that Mr. Trump and his organization had worked with a wide array of dubious Russians in arrangements that often raised questions about money laundering. Likewise, those deals don’t seem to interest Congress.

We explained how, from our past journalistic work in Europe, we were deeply familiar with the political operative Paul Manafort’s coziness with Moscow and his financial ties to Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin.

Finally, we debunked the biggest canard being pushed by the president’s men — the notion that we somehow knew of the June 9, 2016, meeting in Trump Tower between some Russians and the Trump brain trust. We first learned of that meeting from news reports last year — and the committees know it. They also know that these Russians were unaware of the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele’s work for us and were not sources for his reports.

Yes, we hired Mr. Steele, a highly respected Russia expert. But we did so without informing him whom we were working for and gave him no specific marching orders beyond this basic question: Why did Mr. Trump repeatedly seek to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state that most serious investors shun?

What came back shocked us. Mr. Steele’s sources in Russia (who were not paid) reported on an extensive — and now confirmed — effort by the Kremlin to help elect Mr. Trump president. Mr. Steele saw this as a crime in progress and decided he needed to report it to the F.B.I.

We did not discuss that decision with our clients, or anyone else. Instead, we deferred to Mr. Steele, a trusted friend and intelligence professional with a long history of working with law enforcement. We did not speak to the F.B.I. and haven’t since.

After the election, Mr. Steele decided to share his intelligence with Senator John McCain via an emissary. We helped him do that. The goal was to alert the United States national security community to an attack on our country by a hostile foreign power. We did not, however, share the dossier with BuzzFeed, which to our dismay published it last January.

We’re extremely proud of our work to highlight Mr. Trump’s Russia ties. To have done so is our right under the First Amendment.

It is time to stop chasing rabbits. The public still has much to learn about a man with the most troubling business past of any United States president. Congress should release transcripts of our firm’s testimony, so that the American people can learn the truth about our work and most important, what happened to our democracy.

Continue reading the main story

Fusion GPS Speaks | TrumP Россия
 

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1060x600-7763685d68b3f61401827c6db1372603Glenn Simpson

Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, the two former Wall Street Journal reports who founded Fusion GPS, have broken their silence about their role in the Trump-Russia affair.

Simpson and Fritsch penned an opinion piece in today’s New York Times. The purpose of the opinion piece was to let the public know what they spent 21 hours explaining to three congressional committees.

Most of the piece rebuts the many rumors surrounding Fusion GPS, including one big one — former British spy Christopher Steele’s sources were not paid for the information that he compiled about Trump, including the scandalous watersports-in-Moscow story.  This is big because paying sources undermines their credibility.

Simpson and Fritsch note their “dismay” that Buzzfeed published the Steele dossier in January 2017. This bothers me because Fusion GPS was shopping Steele and this dossier to every major news outlet who would listen. I guess this is the Washington game, but washing your hands in dirty water is not how you stay clean.

For Trump-Russia investigators, they did offer up a few tidbits:

  • Simpson and Fritsch told investigators to look into the bank records of Deutsche Bank and others that were funding Trump’s businesses.
  • In Manhattan,  Sunny Isles Beach, Florida; Toronto; and Panama, they found “widespread evidence” that Trump had worked with “dubious Russians in arrangements that often raised questions about money laundering.”

There is a lot of information packed in to those few sentences.

Simpson and Fritsch also note, as we did recently here, that Trump’s allies in Congress have dug through their bank records to tarnish the firm and punish them for bringing light into the darkness of Trump’s Russia dealings.

One person who lit up after reading this piece was Bill Browder, Putin’s self-styled enemy No. 1 who was once his biggest fan. Here he is, borrowing from the Devin Nunes “attack the client” strategy, as he vented his anger on Twitter today:

The Steele dossier, unfortunately, is a distraction. It is raw intelligence, not evidence, and was never intended to be used in a court of law. In the public’s mind, however, it has been impossibly conflated with the legitimate investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

It does Browder no credit that he stokes this confusion and allows his hatred of Fusion GPS to become grist for conservative media outlets that seek to undermine the Mueller inquiry. (“The dossier is the foundation on which the case for Russiagate, including Mueller’s investigation, is built.”)

As Browder surely knows, since he’s paid for many an investigation himself, who hired Fusion GPS doesn’t really matter. The bottom line is that if Fusion GPS didn’t dish up facts, it wouldn’t be in business. Period.

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Today’s Headlines and Commentary
 

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President Donald Trump is expected to continue economic sanctions relief to Iran as part of the Iran nuclear deal, but he will impose new targeted sanctions on Iranian individuals and businesses for their involvement in Irans ballistic missile program and human rights abuses, the AP . Trump faces a deadline on Friday to extend or cancel sanctions relief for Irans central bank, which was lifted as part of the 2015 multilateral agreement. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster have recommended that Trump extend the sanctions. The administration has not yet made a final decision. Maintaining the core sanctions relief while adding new targeted measures could allow the nuclear deal to remain in place while satisfying the administrations desire to put pressure on Iran.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein released the transcript of Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpsons interview with Senate Judiciary Committee investigators about the Steele dossier, the Washington Post . Simpson spoke to the committee about Fusion GPS, the firm he co-founded, and its work on the dossier. Republicans have tried to discredit the Trump-Russia dossier as a politically-motivated document. Sen. Chuck Grassley, the committees chairman, had refused to release the transcript. Simpson said in his testimony that the FBI believed some of the allegations Steele shared with its investigators about the Trump campaigns ties to Russia because of other intelligence already in the bureaus possession, including information related to a person in the Trump campaign.. That person is believed to be George Papadopoulos, a campaign foreign policy adviser who spoke to an Australian diplomatwhose government then relayed to the FBIinformation about Russian efforts to undermine the Clinton campaign. The testimony refutes GOP talking points that say the dossier served as the basis for opening the investigation into possible collusion with the Russian government.

Separately, Michael Cohen, an attorney and business partner of Trump, filed defamation lawsuits against Fusion GPS and BuzzFeed for publishing the dossier, Politico . The dossier discusses Cohens ties to Russia. BuzzFeeds editor said in an  in the New York Times that it was the right decision to publish the dossier.

Senate Democrats released a report saying Russia conducted a broad campaign to undermine democratic institutions in Western Europe and North America using military operations, cyber attacks, and disinformation over the past 20 years, the Wall Street Journal . The 200-page report from the Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says Russian President Vladimir Putins goal was to undermine the transatlantic alliance. It makes 30 policy recommendations, including freezing Russian finances linked to corruption, supporting democratic institutions abroad and levying new sanctions against Russia. Senate Republicans declined to join the report.

Tillerson is opening a State Department investigation into the mysterious attacks on U.S. personnel stationed at the U.S. embassy in Cuba, the New York Times . Senators told senior State Department officials that it should have opened the Accountability Review Board inquiry much earlier to look into the strange illnesses that afflicted U.S. diplomats serving in Cuba. The Cuban government has denied any responsibility for the incidents.

A bill to reauthorize surveillance authorities under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act advanced to the House floor after the Rules Committee approved it in a 6-3 vote, Politico . The bill would renew Section 702, which is currently scheduled to expire on Jan. 19, for six more years. It is a combination of competing bills from the House intelligence and judiciary committees. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House intelligence committee, said the measure is likely to pass both the House and Senate. Sen. Mark Warner, the top democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said the bill would receive support in the Senate.

The Islamic State called on its fighters to attack the militant organization Hamas, saying Hamas had betrayed Palestinians by refusing to release Palestinian extremists and by participating in Palestinian elections, the New York Times . A video released from the Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State, which is currently fighting Egyptian security forces in the Sinai peninsula, showed Islamic State fighters denouncing Hamas. The feud between the militant organizations makes an already unstable situation near the Sinai-Gaza border even more hostile.

Prosecutors in Myanmar formally charged two Reuters journalists who have been detained in the country for more than a month with violating a law protecting state secrets, the Times . The journalists were investigating mass graves in areas where Myanmars military has carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims. They denied any wrongdoing. American and European diplomats in Myanmar called for the journalists release.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Mieke Eoyang, Ben Freeman and Benjamin Wittes  their analysis of polling data on government and national security matters from December 2017.

Samuel Estreicher  separation of powers issues with the Iran nuclear deal agreement.

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck  a primer on the merits issues in ACLU v. Mattis.

J. Dana Stuster  the Middle East Ticker, covering the Iran protests, austerity for the royal family in Saudi Arabia and possible U.S. cuts to U.N. relief for Palestine.

Matthew Kahn  the transcript of the Senate Judiciary Committees interview with Glenn Simpson.

Kahn  Lawfares resource page for documents related to FISA Section 702 reauthorization.

Kahn  the text of a speech FBI Director Christopher Wray gave on Jan. 9 about encryption and cyber security.

Vanessa Sauter  the Lawfare Podcast, featuring an interview between Alina Polyakova and Julia Ioffe about Ioffes recent piece on Putins goals.

Paul Rosenzweig  the context for the Trump administrations decision to end Temporary Protected Status for El Salvadorans.

 

 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 .

A Jersey Shore doctor killed his wife after she threatened to expose the drug ring he ran, prosecutors say
 

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Russian trolls went on attack during key election moments

<a href=”http://NBCNews.com” rel=”nofollow”>NBCNews.com</a>Dec 20, 2017
Thousands of Russian trolls targeted national events during the 2016 U.S. presidential election to infiltrate the online conversations of millions of Americans, …. but we knew there were underground networks to spread content that would undermine Hillary,” said Emmy Bengtson, former deputy social media …

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Bess: From Russia with love … sort of

Bolivar Herald-Free Press42 minutes ago
Putin and his disciples have infiltrated numerous public and private institutions and made off with information sensitive to both our government and its citizens. They have exploited our free press, spread disinformation through social media, and have created online propaganda networks and websites.

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What does Trump think Mueller will find?

Washington PostJan 4, 2018
Trump and his top advisers were distributors of the Russian social media propaganda, retweeting and distributing it widely. And much of this happened after Trump was briefed in July by top U.S. professional counterintelligence officers who warned him of a Russian effort to infiltrate the 2016 campaign.

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American Elections Remain Unprotected

The AtlanticDec 28, 2017
Two weeks before the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the U.S. intelligence community released a declassified version of its report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. It detailed the activities of a network of hackers who infiltrated voting systems and stole documents from the Democrati
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Twitter misses Senate deadline on Russian meddling

CNNMoney15 hours ago
Twitter missed a Senate Intelligence Committee deadline to answer questions about Russian meddling in the 2016 election and its platform, Senator Mark … testified before the committee in November on how a Russian troll army had set up accounts posing as American in an effort to influence U.S. politics.

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Russian trolls went on attack during key election moments

<a href=”http://NBCNews.com” rel=”nofollow”>NBCNews.com</a>Dec 20, 2017
Thousands of Russian trolls targeted national events during the 2016 U.S. presidential election to infiltratethe online conversations of millions of …. we knew there were underground networks to spread content that would undermine Hillary,” said Emmy Bengtson, former deputy social media director for the …

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American Elections Remain Unprotected

The AtlanticDec 28, 2017
Two weeks before the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the U.S. intelligence community released a declassified version of its report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. It detailed the activities of a network of hackers who infiltrated voting systems and stole documents from the Democratic …
Grim dossier claim spurs speculation about possible Russian rubout
 

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A bombshell revelation made public Tuesday that “somebody’s already been killed” as a result of the publication of an unconfirmed anti-Trump dossier has sparked speculation that it was a reference to an ex-KGB agent mysteriously found dead in his car a year ago in Moscow.

The attorney for Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson told Senate investigators in a 300-page deposition released Tuesday that a murder had been carried out as a result of the publication of an unverified and salacious dossier about Donald Trump.

“Somebody’s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work,” said Joshua Levy in the deposition, which was taken Aug. 22, but released by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Somebody’s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work.”

– Joshua Levy, attorney for Glenn Simpson

The cryptic reference spurred a guessing game about who the unlucky person was. The best guess, at least for now, seems to be former KGB general, Oleg Erovinkin, who was found dead in the back of his car on a Moscow street in December 2016.

Oleg Erovinkin1

According to a January 2017 report in British newspaper The Telegraph, Erovinkin was a top aide to Igor Sechin, a former deputy prime minister who was named repeatedly throughout the dossier. The KGB chief was also suspected at the time of helping former MI6 spy Christopher Steele compile info on Trump for the dossier.

Erovinkin and details of his death were published in the book, “Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump win.” It alleges that the street his body was found on in Moscow was desolate with no cafes or other businesses and not much pedestrian traffic, making it an ideal spot to carry out an assassination.

“The vehicle had halted in Kitaigorodsky Proyezd – a street devoid of pedestrians and home to government buildings and an unfinished office block,” reads a line from the book detailing where Erovinkin’s body and the car were found. “It was three weeks after [Center for Information Security head Sergei] Mikhailov’s arrest, Monday, December 26. At number 9 there is a military academy named after Peter the Great. Guards turn back any errant drivers who try to enter the courtyard.”

Local media reports suggested at the time of his death that foul play was involved, but it was later claimed that his death was a result of a heart attack.

FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2017, file photo, Glenn R. Simpson, co-founder of the research firm Fusion GPS, arrives for a scheduled appearance before a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has released a transcript from an interview with Simpson, the firm that commissioned a dossier of allegations about President Donald Trump's ties to Russia. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion, which commissioned the dossier, was deposed in August  (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

In the aftermath of his death, media reports speculated that Erovinkin was an unnamed informant for the dossier and Christo Grozev of Risk Management Lab, a think-tank based in Bulgaria claimed in a January 2017 Haaretz article eluded to the former KGB general being the main source of information for the dossier.

“Insiders have described Erovinkin to me alternately as ‘Sechin’s treasurer’ and ‘the go-between between Putin and Sechin,’” Grozev said to the newspaper. “One thing that everyone seems to agree – both in public and private sources – is that Erovinkin was Sechin’s closest associate.”

“I have no doubt that at the time Erovinkin died, Mr. Putin had Mr. Steele’s Trump dossier on his desk. He would – arguably – have known whether the alleged… story is based on fact or fiction,” Grozev also said. “Whichever is true, he would have had a motive to seek and find the mole… He would have had to conclude that Erovinkin was at least a person of interest.”

Levy did not immediately return messages requesting information about who he was referring to.

Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for <a href=”http://FoxNews.com” rel=”nofollow”>FoxNews.com</a>. Follow him on Twitter at @perrych

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BuzzFeed editor ‘proud’ to have published Trump dossier

ABC News3 hours ago
BuzzFeed’s top editor says he’s “proud” that the organization published an uncorroborated dossierabout Donald Trump and his presidential campaign. Ben Smith writes in an opinion column in The New York Times that it’s clear “the dossier is unquestionably real news.” Smith argues that the investigation …
I’m Proud We Published the Trump-Russia Dossier
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Trump Russia Dossier: Fusion GPS Transcript, Glenn Simpson …
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Bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies suffer big declines

USA TODAYJan 8, 2018
The unpredictable cryptocurrency market continued its wild ride to start the week, with all of the 10 most-valuable digital currencies, including Bitcoin, suffering steep declines. None of the largest digital currencies ranked by market value were spared, according to data from <a href=”http://coinmarketcap.com” rel=”nofollow”>coinmarketcap.com</a>. Bitcoin …

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Five predictions for digital currencies in 2018 — including stomach …

CNBCJan 5, 2018
One reason some analysts say bitcoin will ultimately rise further is that investors will bet on a payout from more splits in the digital currency. When some bitcoin developers decide to implement their own upgrade of the bitcoin network, bitcoin investors at the time of the split receive equal amounts of the …
The Early Edition: January 10, 2018
 

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

TRUMP-RUSSIA

The transcript of the Glenn R. Simpsons interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee was unilaterally made public by the top Democrat on the panel, Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Simpson is the co-founder of the opposition research firm Fusion G.P.S. and the transcript provides details about the commissioning of a dossier which alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia compiled by former British Intelligence officer Christopher Steele. In an op-ed for the New York Times last week, Simpson and his co-founder Peter Fritsch called on the Judiciary Committee to release the transcript, but this was met with a pushback from Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). Nicholas Fandos, Matthew Rosenberg and Sharon LaFraniere report at the New York Times.

The transcript of Simpsons testimony is available at Just Security.

Steele sat down for a full debriefing with the F.B.I. in September 2016 over his concerns about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and that Trump could have been blackmailed over an alleged sexual escapade at a hotel in Moscow in 2013. Ken Dilanian and Mike Memoli report at NBC News.

An internal Trump campaign source reported his or her concerns about Trump-Russia connections to the F.B.I., Simpson said in the testimony, also saying that Steele severed his relationship with the F.B.I. as he was concerned based on an article that was published by the New York Times in October 2016 that agents were being manipulated by Trump insiders. Alan Yuhas, Julian Borger and Stephanie Kirchgaessner report at the Guardian.

Its political rhetoric to call the dossier phony. We can argue about whats prudent and whats not, but its not a fabrication, Simpson said in the interview, adding that Fusion G.P.S. were mostly concerned with Trumps business dealings until Steele brought back something very different. Katie Bo Williams and KJonathan Easley report at the Hill.

Somebodys already been killed as a result of the publication of the Steele dossier, Simpsons testimony claimed, declining to reveal further details because, Simpsons lawyer claimed, he wanted to be very careful to protect his sources. Brandon Carter reports at the Hill.

Feinstein said that she decided to release the transcript because the American people deserve the opportunity to see what he [Simpson] said and judge for themselves, a spokesperson for Grassley said that Feinstein made the transcript public with no agreement from committee Republicans and accused her of undermining the integrity of the committees oversight work. Kyle Cheney reports at POLITICO.

Speculation over the New York Times article published in October 2016 has increased following the release of Simpsons testimony, Erik Wemple explains at the Washington Post.

The key points from Simpsons interview are provided by Amber Phillips at the Washington Post.

Trumps personal lawyer Michael Cohen has filed a defamation lawsuit against BuzzFeed for publishing the Steele dossier, Cohen said that allegations against him in the dossier are provably false, including claims that Cohens wife is Russian and that her father is a leading property developer in Russia. Alex Johnson reports at NBC News.

The editor in chief of BuzzFeed News has defended his websites decision to publish the Steele dossier in an op-ed at the Washington Post, saying that a year of government inquiries and blockbuster journalism has made clear the dossier is unquestionably real news.

Twitter has failed to meet a deadline to provide lawmakers with further information on Russian interference in the 2016 election, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee Mark Warner (Va.) yesterday expressed disappointment with the social media company. Ali Breland reports at the Hill.

U.S.-Russia relations would be done if Russia attempts to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections, the U.S. ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman said yesterday in a closed-door session with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Andrew Desiderio reports at The Daily Beast.

NORTH KOREA

North Korea has agreed to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month but the issue of North Koreas nuclear weapons program was not mentioned in the joint statement released after yesterdays inter-Korean talks, which were the first official face-to-face talks in over two years, with North Koreas chief delegate saying that the nuclear weapons were strictly aimed at the U.S. and it would be ridiculous to discuss the program. Andrew Jeong reports at the Wall Street Journal.

I am giving a lot of credit to President Trump, the South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a press conference today, recognizing Trumps contribution to forcing North Korea to engage in discussions, but adding that relations between the two Koreas were ultimately dependent on Pyongyangs willingness to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. Choe Sang-Hun reports at the New York Times.

While Moon praised Trump, he also warned that pressure on North Korea could raise tensions and bring about unintentional clashes, James Griffiths reports at CNN.

South Korea presented North Koreas agreement to send athletes to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as a significant breakthrough in bilateral relations, however it is unclear whether North Korea would engage sincerely with South Korea to further improve relations. Anna Fifield reports at the Washington Post.

The talks between North and South Korea were a good first step in the process to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, Steve Goldstein, said yesterday in response to the North and South Korea joint statement. Christine Kim and David Brunnstrom report at Reuters.

President Moon said today that he was willing to meet with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un under certain conditions, saying that a summit must be committed to resolving the nuclear issue and not just for the sake of holding a summit. Bryan Harris and Katrina Manson report at the Financial Times.

The U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the progress made at the inter-Korean talks and welcomed North Koreas decision to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics. The U.N. News Centrereports.

North Korea stepped up its criticism of the U.S. and Trump as the talks with South Korea took place, putting forward a message that calls on the U.S. to steer clear of the crisis and let Koreans solve the issue, however such a message would be hard for South Koreans to accept due to Seouls close relationship with Washington. Eric Talmadge provides an analysis at the AP.

The State Department has proposed a military sale of more than $133m worth of missiles and equipment to Japan to counter the North Korean threat, the State Department told Congress yesterday. Ellen Mitchell reports at the Hill.

A profile of President Moon, and a discussion of whether he has the ability to resolve the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, is provided by Paula Hancocks and James Griffiths at CNN.

The inter-Korean talks offered Kim a propaganda victory and drove a wedge between the U.S. and South Korea, President Moon faces huge obstacles in achieving reconciliation and the presence of the a U.S. military aircraft off the coast of Korea during the Olympics offers a more reliable guarantor of peace than the gestures of a young dictator who pretends to want peace even as he threatens war. The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes.

Moon and Kim are well-placed to resolve the crisis due to their respective abilities to leverage political capital, they must now use this political capital to promote the possibility for peace. S. Nathan Park writes at Foreign Policy.

IRAN

[Trump] must realize that these extreme and psychotic episodes wont be left without a response, the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said yesterday, blaming the U.S. for fomenting the recent unrest in Iran. Thomas Erdbrink reports at the New York Times.

Iran foiled the U.S., Britain and others in their attempts to overthrow the Islamic Republic, Khamenei also said, making the comments as the protests in Iran have started to wind down. Babak Dehghanpisheh reports at Reuters.

Around 3,700 people have been arrested during the demonstrations in Iran, according to an Iranian member of parliament. Al Jazeera reports.

Withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal could make it difficult to make an agreement with North Korea in the future, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) warned yesterday, making the comments ahead of a series of deadlines that Trump faces regarding the deal and whether to continue to waive sanctions on Iran. Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.

The decision to whether to waive or re-impose sanctions on Iran is expected to be made Friday, the State Department said yesterday, Reuters reporting.

Trump should waive sanctions on Iran and play the long game, with the aim of fixing the nuclear deal. Michael Doran writes at the Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley faces a difficult task when it comes to Iran and the nuclear deal, if she aspires to be president, she would be wise to avoid trouble with Iran that could easily backfire. Richard Gowan writes at POLITICO Magazine.

SYRIA

The Syrian army has started to advance on the rebel-held Idlib province, leading to around 70,000 civilians to flee the area. Kareem Shaheen reports at the Guardian.

Turkey today urged Russia and Iran to pressure Syria to respect the de-escalation zone in Idlib and to stop the Syrian military advance. Tuvan Gumrukcu reports at Reuters.

A spate of attacks on the Russian Hmeimim air base in Syria has raised numerous questions, it is unclear who is responsible and it appears to be part of a concerted assault. Liz Sly reports at the Washington Post.

Russia appeared to suggest that the U.S. were behind the attacks in a statement yesterday, the APreports.

Russias ambassador to the U.N. yesterday expressed hope that a new round of U.N.-led peace talks in Geneva would be more fruitful and contribute to the peace initiative being held in the Russian city of Sochi. The AP reports.

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out 58 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq between December 29, 2017 and January 4, 2018. [Central Command]

CUBA EMBASSY INCIDENTS

The U.S. are exploring a range of theories in relation to the symptoms experienced by employees at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba in 2016, the State Department said yesterday, 24 U.S. personnel and family members experienced mysterious illnesses in Havana and there have been speculation that they were subjected to some sort of acoustic or sonic attack. Matt Spetalnick reports at Reuters.

The State Department did not follow the law in failing to set up a review board months ago to establish what happened in Havana, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said at a hearing yesterday. Gardiner Harris reports at the New York Times.

ISRAEL-PALESTINE

An Israeli man was killed by a suspected Palestinian gunman yesterday, according to Israeli military and medical officials, the man was a resident of a West Bank settlement near the Palestinian city of Nablus. Reuters reports.

The Israeli military has conducted raids near Nablus following the shooting, Al Jazeera reports.

The Swedish ambassador to the U.N. yesterday expressed concern about the Trump administrations plan to review funding for the U.N.R.W.A. aid agency for Palestinian refugees, saying that such action would have negative humanitarian implications and would be destabilizing for the region. Reutersreports.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The Trump administrations nuclear posture review plans to loosen constraints on the use of nuclear weapons, according to what is believed to be the final draft of the review. Julian Borger reports at the Guardian.

Ecuador has been exploring ways for the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave its embassy in London, the Ecuadorean foreign relations minister said, who was quoted as saying that it was unsustainable for Assange to remain at the embassy indefinitely and that the solution would require international cooperation and the cooperation of the U.K., Ryan Dube reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Trump has signed a memorandum calling on the Director of National Intelligence to establish a new policy on unmasking Americans in intelligence reports, Morgan Chalfant reports at the Hill.

Senior National Security Council official Kevin Harrington proposed withdrawing some U.S. troops from Eastern Europe to please the Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to two former administration officials. Spencer Ackerman reveals at The Daily Beast.

Trump and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are playing the same game, both are embroiled in domestic issues that involve their sons and both are pursuing illiberal agendas. Ishaan Tharoor writes at the Washington Post.

Foreign spies are watching and probably targeting Fox News Channel
 

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Doctor Charged With Having Wife Killed to Protect Drug Ring – U.S. News & World Report
 

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U.S. News & World Report
Doctor Charged With Having Wife Killed to Protect Drug Ring
U.S. News & World Report
Authorities say a New Jersey doctor running an illegal prescription drug ring with a motorcycle gang hired one of the members to kill his wife after she threatened to expose the scheme. Jan. 9, 2018, at 7:32 p.m.. Doctor Charged With Having Wife Killedand more »

inquiry on electronic mass surveillance of eu citizens – Google Search
 

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NSA and GCHQ activities appear illegal, says EU parliamentary …

The GuardianJan 9, 2014
The inquiry by the European parliament’s civil liberties committee says the activities of America’s National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart, GCHQ, appear to be illegal … The former allows the NSA to conduct mass surveillance on EU citizens through the servers of US internet companies.

Story image for inquiry on electronic mass surveillance of eu citizens from PCWorld

NSA created ‘European bazaar’ to spy on EU citizens, Snowden tells …

PCWorldMar 7, 2014
The European Parliament had invited Snowden to provide testimony for an inquiry into the electronic mass surveillance of EU citizens. That surveillance, often instigated by the NSA but carried out with help of EU member states, is quite extensive, he wrote. The NSA has been pressuring EU member states …

Story image for inquiry on electronic mass surveillance of eu citizens from The Guardian

‘Extreme surveillance‘ becomes UK law with barely a whimper

The GuardianNov 19, 2016
Even in Germany, with East Germany’s history of mass surveillance by the Stasi and where Snowden’s revelations produced the most outcry, the Bundestag recently passed legislation giving the intelligence agencies more surveillance powers. The US passed a modest bill last year curtailing bulk phone …

Story image for inquiry on electronic mass surveillance of eu citizens from EUobserver

EU counter-terrorism laws “stripping rights”, says Amnesty

EUobserverJan 17, 2017
Executive power grabs and counter-terrorism laws are rolling back freedoms across the EU, according to a report by Amnesty International. … Germany, Poland, and the UK, among others, have recently passed laws described by London-based Privacy International as “a new era of mass surveillance” in …
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Story image for electronic mass surveillance of eu citizens from The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe

Europe’s Courts Decide: Does US Spying Violate Europe’s Privacy?

EFFOct 3, 2017
The decision confirms the suspicion of Ireland’s privacy regulators (and EFF) that Facebook’s business practices are not the only matters under the microscope in Europe: the EU courts also care about the American mass surveillance of ordinary innocent Europeans. The judge in the matter, Justice Caroline …
High Court asks ECJ to examine Facebook case
InternationalIrish TimesOct 3, 2017
High Court asks European Court of Justice to examine Facebook …
InternationalIndependent.ieOct 3, 2017
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Story image for mass surveillance in the us from Daily Beast

Devin Nunes Messed With NSA’s Most Cherished Surveillance Power

Daily BeastJan 9, 2018
It’s the NSA’s most cherished masssurveillance law, albeit one civil libertarians consider dubiously constitutional. … include in the bill an unrelated a provision on so-called unmasking, the process that intelligence agencies use to reveal the names of U.S. persons who may be involved in crimes like spying.

Story image for mass surveillance in the us from RT

Snowden hosts Reddit AMA over Congress’ mass surveillance plan

RTDec 20, 2017
As early as tonight, Congress plans to sneak an expansion of mass surveillance into law. Only your call, right now, can stop them. The @ACLU and I are here to help, doing a live Q&A on @reddit in a half hour (<a href=”https://t.co/qlo4REMoFl” rel=”nofollow”>https://t.co/qlo4REMoFl</a> @ 2PM EST). Ask usanything! (SuddenlySnowden) pic.twitter.com/ …

Story image for mass surveillance in the us from Reason (blog)

Federal Agencies May Be Regularly Hiding Surveillance Methods in …

Reason (blog)22 hours ago
A DEA training slide on parallel constructionAlthough mass surveillance is usually identified with the war on terror and the National Security Agency, a subsequent USA Today investigation found the DEA and Justice Department had been collecting logs of billions of phone calls originating from the U.S. in a …

Story image for mass surveillance in the us from The Intercept

Welcome to Law Enforcement’s “Dark Side”: Secret Evidence, Illegal …

The Intercept20 hours ago
Federal agents at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration speak in veiled terms about the secret DEA unit that shares intelligence from the National Security … The Special Operations Division receives raw intelligence from the NSA’s surveillance programs, including from the mass surveillance programs …

Story image for mass surveillance in the us from Washington Examiner

The tech generation should reject mass surveillance

Washington ExaminerDec 20, 2017
Last week, the two gave a joint talk at George Washington University about the implication of mass surveillance and the eroding of the Fourth … This lessens their confidence in the U.S. economy and can lead to fewer jobs for millennials, who will be shouldering the brunt of expenses when it comes to …
mass electronic surveillance – Google Search
 

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Story image for mass electronic surveillance from WIRED

Congress Is Debating Warrantless Surveillance in the Dark

WIREDDec 23, 2017
For the first time, the American people learned that the NSA was collecting millions of their phone calls and electronic communications—emails, Facebook … Hanging in the balance is the legal framework the government largely relies on to conduct mass surveillance of foreigners, and Americans who …

Story image for mass electronic surveillance from EFF

Urgent: We Only Have Hours Left to Stop the NSA Expansion Bill

EFFDec 19, 2017
According to reports published Tuesday evening by Politico, a group of surveillance hawks in the House of Representatives is trying to ram through a bill that would extend mass surveillance by the National Security Agency. We expect a vote to happen on the House floor as early as tomorrow, which means …

Story image for mass electronic surveillance from EFF

Court Challenges to NSA Surveillance: 2017 in Review

EFFDec 28, 2017
“[T]he volume of documents and electronic data that the government defendants must review for potentially responsive information is massive,” the … “We have long advocated for reining in NSA mass surveillance, and the ‘incidental’ collection of Americans’ private communications under Section 702 …

Story image for mass electronic surveillance from Newsmax

America No Safer Under Mass Surveillance

NewsmaxDec 12, 2017
Just in time for Christmas, the deep state wants to give America the gift that keeps on giving — never-ending mass surveillance. … second of every day, the American people are being spied on by the U.S. government’s vast network of digital peeping Toms, electronic eavesdroppers and robotic snoops.
How the Government Hides Secret Surveillance Programs
 

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In 2013, 18-year-old Tadrae McKenzie robbed a marijuana dealer for $130 worth of pot at a local Taco Bell in Tallahassee, Florida. He and two friends had used BB guns to carry out the crime, which under Florida law constituted robbery with a deadly weapon. McKenzie braced himself to serve the minimum four years in prison.

But in the end, a state judge offered McKenzie a startlingly lenient plea deal: He was ordered to serve only six months’ probation, after pleading guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor. The remarkable deal was related to evidence McKenzie’s defense team uncovered before the trial: Law enforcement had used a secret surveillance tool often called Stingray to investigate his case.

Stingrays are devices that behave like fake cellphone towers, tricking phones into believing they’re pinging genuine towers nearby. By using the device, cops can determine a suspect’s precise location, outgoing and incoming calls, and even listen-in on a call or see the content of a text message.

Many people may have been convicted using techniques that violated their rights.

McKenzie’s lawyers suspected cops had used a Stingray because they knew exactly where his house was, and knew he left his home at 6 a.m. the day he was arrested. The cops had obtained a court order from a judge to authorize Verizon to hand over data about the location of Mckenzie’s phone. But cell tower data isn’t precise enough to place a device at a specific house.

The cops also said they used a database that lets law enforcement agencies locate individuals by linking them with their phone numbers. But the phone McKenzie was using was a burner, and not associated with his name. Law enforcement couldn’t adequately explain their extraordinary knowledge of his whereabouts.

The state judge in the case ordered police to show the Stingray and its data to McKenzie’s attorneys. They refused, because of a non-disclosure agreement with the FBI. The state then offered McKenzie, as well as the two other defendants, plea deals designed to make the case go away.

The cops in McKenzie’s case had ultimately failed to successfully carry out a troubling technique called “parallel construction.”

First described in government documents obtained by Reuters in 2013, parallel construction is when law enforcement originally obtains evidence through a secret surveillance program, then tries to seek it out again, via normal procedure. In essence, law enforcement creates a parallel, alternative story for how it found information. That way, it can hide surveillance techniques from public scrutiny and would-be criminals.

A new report released by Human Rights Watch Tuesday, based in part on 95 relevant cases, indicates that law enforcement is using parallel construction regularly, though it’s impossible to calculate exactly how often. It’s extremely difficult for defendants to discern when evidence has been obtained via the practice, according to the report.

“When attorneys try to find out if there’s some kind of undisclosed method that’s been used, the prosecution will basically stonewall and try not to provide a definitive yes or no answer,” says Sarah St. Vincent, the author of the report and a national security and surveillance researcher at Human Rights Watch.

In investigation reports, law enforcement will describe evidence obtained via secret surveillance programs in inscrutable terms. “We’ve seen plenty of examples where the police officers in those reports write ‘we located the suspect based on information from a confidential source;’ they use intentionally vague language,” says Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney at the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology project. “It sounds like a human informant or something else, not like a sophisticated surveillance device.”

Sometimes, when a savvy defense attorney pushes, an unbelievable plea deal is offered, or the the case is dropped entirely. If a powerful, secret surveillance program is at stake, a single case is often deemed unimportant to the government.

“Parallel construction means you never know that a case could actually be the result of some constitutionally problematic practice,” says St. Vincent. For example, the constitutionality of using a Stingray device without a warrant is still up for debate, according to the Human Rights Watch report. Some courts have ruled that the devices do violate the Fourth Amendment.

Hemisphere, a massive telephone-call gathering operation revealed by The New York Times in 2013, is one of the most well-documented surveillance programs that government officials attempt to hide when they use parallel construction. The largely secret program provides police with access to a vast database containing call records going back to 1987. Billions of calls are added daily.

In order to create the program, the government forged a lucrative partnership with AT&T, which owns three-quarters of the US’s landline switches and much of its wireless infrastructure. Even if you change your number, Hemisphere’s sophisticated algorithms can connect you to your new line by examining calling patterns. The program also allows law enforcement to have temporary access to the location where you placed or received a call.

The Justice Department billed Hemisphere as a counter-narcotics tool, but the program has been used for everything from Medicaid fraud to murder investigations, according to documentation obtained in 2016 by The Daily Beast.

“What Hemisphere’s capabilities allow it to do is to identify relationships and associations, and to build people’s social webs,” says Aaron Mackey, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). “It’s highly likely that innocent people who are doing completely innocent things are getting swept up into this database.”

The EFF filed Freedom of Information Act and Public Records Act requests in 2014 seeking info about Hemisphere, but the government only provided heavily redacted files. So the EFF filed a lawsuit in 2015. It’s currently waiting for a California judge to decide whether more information can be made public without impeding law enforcement’s work.

“[The government] is obscuring what we believe to be warrantless or otherwise unconstitutional surveillance techniques, and they’re also jeopardizing a defendant’s ability to obtain all the evidence that’s relevant,” says Mackey.

Parallel construction can also involve a simple event like a traffic stop. In these instances, local law enforcement follows a suspect and then pulls them over for a mundane reason, like failing to use a turn signal. While the stop is meant to look random, cops are often working on a tip they received from a federal agency like the DEA.

“Sometimes when tips come through, the federal authorities don’t even tell the local authorities what they’re looking for,” says St. Vincent. The tip could be as simple as to watch out for a car at a specific place and time.

These stops are referred to as “wall off” or “whisper” stops, according to the Human Rights Watch report. In these instances, local law enforcement has to find probable cause for pulling the suspect over to avoid disclosing the tip. The tip is then never mentioned in court, and instead the beginning of the investigation is said to be the “random” stop.

The Human Rights Watch report concludes that Congress should pass legislation forbidding the use of parallel construction because it impedes on the right to a fair trial. Some representatives, like Republican Senator Rand Paul, have also called for banning the practice.

Opponents of parallel construction believe it should be outlawed because it prevents judges from doing their jobs. “It really gives a lot of power to the executive branch,” says St. Vincent. “It cuts judges out of the role of deciding whether something was legally obtained.”

One of the most concerning aspects of the practice is it shields government surveillance technology from public scrutiny. Stingrays, the cellphone-tracking device used in the Florida robbery case, have existed for years, but they’ve only recently been disclosed to the public. Lawyers and legal scholars haven’t yet conclusively decided whether their use without a warrant violates the Fourth Amendment, in part because so little is known about them. That means many people may have been convicted using techniques that violated their rights.

In the future, if the government hides new surveillance technology like facial recognition, the public will be unable to discern if it’s biased or faulty. Unless judges and citizens understand how surveillance techniques are used, we also can’t evaluate their constitutionality.

The public needs to determine if hiding surveillance programs is something it’s comfortable with at all. On one hand, keeping certain techniques secret likely helps authorities apprehend criminals. But if we don’t know how at least the basic contours of how a program works, it’s hard to have any discussion at all.

How the Government Hides Secret Surveillance Programs – WIRED
 

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How the Government Hides Secret Surveillance Programs
WIRED
In investigation reports, law enforcement will describe evidence obtained via secret surveillance programs in inscrutable terms. We’ve seen plenty of examples where the police officers in those reports write ‘we located the suspect based on  

9:16 PM 1/9/2018 FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people, Simpson said FBI knew of possible Trump-Russia collusion, according to Glenn Simpsons Senate testimony Mike Novas Shared NewsLinks
 

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“Steele broke off contact with the FBI sometime between Oct. 31, 2016, and the election on Nov. 8, Simpson said, because Steele concluded that the information he had given to the FBI was not elevated to the highest levels of the bureau and was not being vigorously pursued. A front-page New York Times article on Oct. 31 … Continue reading“9:16 PM 1/9/2018 – “FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people”, Simpson said” – FBI knew of possible Trump-Russia collusion, according to Glenn Simpson’s Senate testimony – Mike Novas Shared NewsLinks”

Pakistan halts intelligence cooperation with US, but US embassy denies knowledge
 

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Pakistan said on Tuesday that it had suspended military and intelligence cooperation with the United States in the wake of Washingtons decision to stop security assistance to Pakistan. But the US embassy in Islamabad said it had no information about Khans announcement.

Democratic Senator Releases Transcript of Interview with Dossier Firm
 

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“The American people deserve the opportunity to see what he said and judge for themselves,” she said. “The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice. The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public.”

For Ms. Feinstein and Mr. Grassley, two senior senators who worked closely last summer to initiate a joint Russia investigation, the breach was striking. But it reflects the growing divide between the two parties.

Republicans have repeatedly and vocally raised concerns that the dossier — a set of reports paid for by Democrats — could have been mishandled by the F.B.I. as it was opening its own investigation into the Russian effort and the Trump campaign. Democrats say scrutiny of the dossier’s provenance is a distraction from the central question: Did the Trump campaign knowingly seek aid from Russia?

The Fusion GPS founder appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Aug. 2017 to answer questions about the dossier on President Trump that the research company compiled with the assistance of Christopher Steele, a former British spy.

OPEN Document

Democrats were still seething on Tuesday at the decision by Mr. Grassley and another Republican on the panel, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, to issue a criminal referral last week for Mr. Steele. The senators said they had reason to believe Mr. Steele had lied to federal authorities about his contacts with the media and urged the Justice Department to investigate.

A spokesman for Mr. Grassley said Ms. Feinstein’s decision was “totally confounding.”

“Her action undermines the integrity of the committee’s oversight work and jeopardizes its ability to secure candid voluntary testimony,” the spokesman, Taylor Foy, said.

Mr. Simpson said he hired Mr. Steele in the late spring of 2016, and the former spy grew alarmed soon after getting to work. With Mr. Simpson’s blessing, he reached out to an old contact at the F.B.I. in early July.

“To me, it was like, you know, you’re driving to work and you see something happen, and you call 911,” Mr. Simpson said.

Current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the investigation say that the federal inquiry did not start with Mr. Steele’s dossier, early parts of which did not reach counterintelligence investigators at the F.B.I. until August, after the bureau’s inquiry had already begun. But the officials have said that the dossier added material and buttressed what American law enforcement and spy agencies were gleaning from other sources.

According to Mr. Simpson, it was not until late September, nearly two months after the F.B.I. investigation had begun, that the F.B.I. reached out to Mr. Steele. He then met with agents in Rome to brief them on his work.

At that meeting, Mr. Steele learned that his information was considered credible by the F.B.I. “because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization,” Mr. Simpson testified.

Mr. Simpson did not disclose the identity of the human source in his August testimony. But people familiar with the matter said that Mr. Steele, after being questioned by the F.B.I., came to believe that the bureau’s human source was George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign foreign adviser.

In fact, the source was an Australian diplomat who had spent a night drinking in London with Mr. Papadopoulos in the spring, and then shared with American officials what he had learned from the Trump aide.

Mr. Simpson said Fusion played no role in deciding what to include in the memos that would eventually be compiled into the dossier.

But Mr. Simpson said that Mr. Steele “broke off” his connections with the F.B.I. after The New York Times ran an article on Oct. 31 that said the bureau had found no conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government.

Citing law enforcement officials, the Times article said that “none of the investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government.”

Since then, investigators and journalists have developed extensive evidence linking Mr. Trump’s associates to Russian government and intelligence operatives, but as yet there is still no public evidence of a direct link between President Trump himself and the Kremlin.

At the time, many in the F.B.I. did not believe Russia was aiming to explicitly help Mr. Trump. That consensus did not emerge fully until January 2017 when American intelligence agencies released a report saying that the Kremlin’s intentions were twofold: to “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process” and to “help President-elect Trump’s election chances.”

Mr. Simpson, in his testimony, called the Times article “a real Halloween special.”

“There was a concern that the F.B.I. was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people and that we didn’t really understand what was going on,” Mr. Simpson said. “So he stopped dealing with them.”

The concerns prompted Mr. Steele to share his work with a former British diplomat, who passed the information to Senator John McCain after the election.

Mr. McCain is believed to have then met with James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, to discuss the dossier. In January, weeks before the inauguration, the dossier became public after news broke that Mr. Comey had briefed President Barack Obama and Mr. Trump on Mr. Steele’s work.

The release of the transcript broke what had more or less been a prevailing rule of secrecy around Congress’s various investigations into Russia’s efforts and the Trump campaign. Though pieces of information from witness interviews in the House and the Senate have leaked to the news media, only two complete transcripts — from House Intelligence Committee interviews with Carter Page and Erik Prince — had been publicly released among hundreds.

In a brief interview, Ms. Feinstein left open the possibility of releasing other transcripts from the committee’s investigation.

Continue reading the main story

FBI knew of possible Trump-Russia collusion, according to Glenn Simpson’s Senate testimony
 

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WASHINGTON — By the time the FBI sat down in September 2016 for a full interview with the ex-British spy who had been researching Donald Trump’s Russia connections, the bureau had already received information raising concerns about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to a transcript made public Tuesday.

Glenn Simpson, a former newspaper reporter and the founder of a research firm called Fusion GPS, spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee for more than 10 hours in August about his research into Trump, and on Tuesday more than 300 pages of his testimony were released by the committee’s ranking Democrat, Dianne Feinstein of California.

Feinstein releases Fusion GPS testimony on Trump dossier 3:14

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Simpson told the committee that his associate, the former British intelligence operative Christopher Steele, sat down for a “full debriefing” with an FBI contact in Rome in September 2016. During the debriefing, Steele shared information from his Russian sources, who said Trump had been coordinating with the Russian election-interference campaign of hacking and leaking.

For the FBI, it wasn’t entirely new information, Simpson testified.

“They believed Chris might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing,” Simpson said. “One of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization.” He added that the FBI had a “walk-in” whistleblower who was someone in Trump’s orbit.

‘People are entitled to know’: Sen. Feinstein responds to releasing transcripts on possible Trump-Russia collusion 1:14

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However, two sources close to Fusion GPS told NBC News that Simpson’s testimony inaccurately conflated what he had been told, and that the human source was actually George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign aide who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller.

By the time Steele sat down with the FBI in September, an Australian diplomat had passed to U.S. officials details of his conversation with Papadopoulos, who seemed to know that the Russians possessed hacked Democratic emails.

Steele first reached out to the FBI in early July 2016, because he was alarmed by the information he collected in June and felt obligated to step forward, Simpson said.

“He said he was professionally obligated to do it,” Simpson testified. “Like if you’re a lawyer and, you know, you find out about a crime, in a lot of countries you must report that.”

Steele was concerned that Trump could be blackmailed by the Russians over an alleged 2013 sexual escapade Steele believed had been recorded at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Moscow, Simpson testified.

The FBI responded to Steele “by September,” Simpson said, and Steele then met in mid- or late September with an FBI legal attaché in Rome.

Steele broke off contact with the FBI sometime between Oct. 31, 2016, and the election on Nov. 8, Simpson said, because Steele concluded that the information he had given to the FBI was not elevated to the highest levels of the bureau and was not being vigorously pursued.

front-page New York Times article on Oct. 31 about the Trump-Russia investigation said the FBI had found no conclusive link between Trump and Russia.

After the article was published, Simpson said, Steele severed his relationship with the FBI. “There was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people and that we didn’t really understand what was going on,” Simpson said.

It has since emerged that there was an active FBI counterintelligence investigation, which began in July 2016 but which the bureau kept secret.

Simpson said a dossier, which contained unverified allegations that Russia had been cultivating Trump for years and had gathered compromising information on Trump, contained all the memos Steele had produced for Fusion GPS, and that neither Fusion nor Simpson selected the content or edited the memos. The dossier was published by Buzzfeed.

Simpson said when he began his research into Trump, he was struck by Trump’s many connections to people linked to Russian organized crime, including Felix Sater, who pleaded guilty in 1998 to a mafia stock swindle and later helped Trump develop the Trump Soho hotel.

Simpson said he found Steele’s reports that the Russians were coordinating with the Trump campaign credible.

During the Senate hearing, he was asked to respond to a comment from a White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, that his was a “Democrat-linked firm” that “took money from the Russian government” and “created the phony dossier that’s been the basis for all of the Russia scandal fake news.”

“It’s a false allegation,” he said. “It’s political rhetoric to call the dossier phony. The memos are field reports of real interviews that Chris’s network conducted and there’s nothing phony about it. We can argue about what’s prudent and what’s not, but it’s not a fabrication.”

Simpson acknowledged that at the time he was working with Steele he was also working with a law firm that was defending a Russian oligarch in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Attorney in New York. But he testified that the two cases were entirely separate, and did not influence one another.

Two of the people working on the New York case with Simpson were Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin, both of whom attended a now-notorious June 2016 Trump Tower meeting that had been billed as an attempt by Russian officials to give negative information about Hillary Clinton to the Trump campaign. Simpson said he was unaware of that meeting at the time it occurred.

Simpson said he concluded from his research that Trump was not as rich as he has claimed, and that he had a lot of questionable business entanglements that bear further scrutiny.

“There were various allegations of fraudulent business practices or dishonest business practices or connections with organized crime figures,” Simpson said. “It was a long history of associations with people accused of involvement in criminal activity.”


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