The intelligence community’s response: Fuhgeddaboudit.
Byron York writes: President-elect Trump stirred yet more controversy Saturday night when, as he entered his New Year’s Eve party at Mar-a-Lago, he said he is not convinced the intelligence community is sure about allegations Russian hackers sought to influence the election.
“I just want them to be sure, because it’s a pretty serious charge,” Trump told reporters, “and I want them to be sure.”
The next morning, Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, scoffed at Trump’s statement. “This is the overwhelming judgment of the intelligence community and, frankly, all of the members of the intelligence committees in Congress, Democrats and Republicans,” Schiff said on ABC Sunday. “None of us have any question about this. The only one who does apparently is Donald Trump.”
That is not the case. There are, in fact, members of the intelligence committees who do have questions about this. Yes, many Republicans believe Russian hackers tried to mess with the U.S. presidential campaign in some way, mostly because they believe Russian hackers are always trying to mess with U.S. systems and institutions. But when it comes to solid information on precisely what was done, and on evidence of motives, many Hill Republicans are mostly in the dark — because the intelligence community has kept them there.
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Remember that before Christmas the intelligence community refused to brief the House Intelligence Committee, telling lawmakers they can wait until intel officials finish the investigation ordered by President Obama. In response, House committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes argued that the Director of National Intelligence was “obligated to comply” with a House request, and that the committee was “deeply concerned” by the DNI’s “intransigence.”
The intelligence community’s response: Fuhgeddaboudit.
So the wait to learn more goes on. Meanwhile, a number of Democrats are arguing that the evidence is so overwhelming that Congress must establish a special investigating committee, even though there will already be multiple investigations of the Russia matter in the standing committees of Congress. Read the rest of this entry »
David French writes: It’s entirely appropriate that the Democrats filibustered Republican efforts to block the Iran Deal on September 10. After all, the Democrats — now fully the party of jihadist appeasement — are the primary political repository of September 10 thinking, but without the excuse of ignorance. We know what jihadists are capable of. We know their war aims.
And yet the Democrats overwhelmingly voted to grant the world’s most powerful terrorist state a $150 billion economic stimulus, access to international arms markets, and access to ballistic missile technology – without even stopping their nuclear program or establishing a viable inspection program….(read more)
Classified emails discovered on the server Clinton maintained at her New York home contained material more sensitive than previously known.
WASHINGTON – Anita Kumar, Marisa Taylor, and Greg Gordon report: As pressure builds on Hillary Clinton to explain her official use of personal email while serving as secretary of state, she faced new complications Tuesday. It was disclosed her top aides are being drawn into a burgeoning federal inquiry and that two emails on her private account have been classified as “Top Secret.”
The inspector general for the Intelligence Community notified senior members of Congress that two of four classified emails discovered on the server Clinton maintained at her New York home contained material deemed to be in one of the highest security classifications – more sensitive than previously known.
“We will follow the facts wherever they lead, to include former aides and associates, as appropriate.”
— Douglas Welty, a spokesman for the State Department’s inspector general
The notice came as the State Department inspector general’s office acknowledged that it is reviewing the use of “personal communications hardware and software” by Clinton’s former top aides after requests from Congress.
“Both the State Department and Intelligence Community inspectors general should be looking into the staff use of the Clinton private server for official State Department business. This means giving both inspectors general access and custody of all emails that haven’t already been deleted.”
“We will follow the facts wherever they lead, to include former aides and associates, as appropriate,” said Douglas Welty, a spokesman for the State Department’s inspector general.
“From what is publicly known, it appears that the investigation thus far has focused so much on the former secretary of state, that it’s gotten lost that high-level staff apparently also used this server too.”
— Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee
Despite the acknowledgment, the State Department inspector general’s office has left numerous unanswered questions, including exactly who and what is being investigated. The office initially declined to comment and referred questions to the Intelligence Community inspector general’s office, which said it is not currently involved in any inquiry into aides and is being denied full access to aides’ emails by the State Department. Clinton, herself, is not a target.
The expanding inquiry threatens to further erode Clinton’s standing as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. Since her reliance on private email was revealed in March, polls in crucial swing states show that increasing numbers of voters say Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, in part, because of her use of private emails.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wants Clinton and her aides to “come clean and cough up” information about their personal email use. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s On: ‘Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich’Posted: April 19, 2015
‘Clinton Cash’ Questions Foreign Donations to Foundation
Amy Chozick reports: The book does not hit shelves until May 5, but already the Republican Rand Paul has called its findings “big news” that will “shock people” and make voters “question” the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” by Peter Schweizer — a 186-page investigation of donations made to the Clinton Foundation by foreign entities — is proving the most anticipated and feared book of a presidential cycle still in its infancy.
[Order Peter Schweizer’s book “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” from Amazon.com]
The book, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, asserts that foreign entities who made payments to the Clinton Foundation and to Mr. Clinton through high speaking fees received favors from Mrs. Clinton’s State Department in return.
“There is a robust market for books critical of the Clintons. The thinly sourced ‘Blood Feud,’ by Mr. Klein, at one point overtook Mrs. Clinton’s memoir ‘Hard Choices’ on the best-seller list.”
“We will see a pattern of financial transactions involving the Clintons that occurred contemporaneous with favorable U.S. policy decisions benefiting those providing the funds,” Mr. Schweizer writes.
“But whether Mr. Schweizer’s book can deliver the same sales is not clear. He writes mainly in the voice of a neutral journalist and meticulously documents his sources, including tax records and government documents, while leaving little doubt about his view of the Clintons.”
His examples include a free-trade agreement in Colombia that benefited a major foundation donor’s natural resource investments in the South American nation, development projects in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in 2010, and more than $1 million in payments to Mr. Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in the Keystone XL oil pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Department.
In the long lead up to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign announcement, aides proved adept in swatting down critical books as conservative propaganda, including Edward Klein’s “Blood Feud,” about tensions between the Clintons and the Obamas, and Daniel Halper’s “Clinton Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine.”
But “Clinton Cash” is potentially more unsettling, both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book. Read the rest of this entry »
Corker on ISIS Semantics
Fresh off a week-long tour of the Middle East that included stops in Iraq, Kuwait, and Turkey, Senator Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) appeared on Meet the Press today to talk about the U.S. response to ISIS. Right off the bat, host Chuck Todd asked Corker about the ongoing debate over whether to de-emphasize ISIS’s Islamic roots in official American pronouncements on the group.
“Do you think it matters whether we call ISIS ‘radical Islam,’ or just ‘radical extremists’,” Todd asked. Corker didn’t mince words in his response.
“They are Islamic, there’s no question. They are extreme in what they’re doing. And they’re a threat to our country,” he said.
As airtight as Corker’s logic is, it seems unlikely to end the tiresome semantic debate over ISIS, which was a topic of a discussion on all 5 Sunday shows this week…(read more)
WASHINGTON — Colleen McCain Nelson reports: President Barack Obama took responsibility for his party’s poor performance in the midterm elections and said in a new interview that his administration has struggled at times to sell its ideas and to persuade the other side.
“So whenever, as the head of the party, it doesn’t do well, I’ve got to take responsibility for it.”
In the aftermath of a Republican romp that saw the GOP take control of the Senate and tighten its grip on the House, the president told CBS that “the buck stops right here at my desk.”
“There are times, there’s no doubt about it, where, you know, I think we have not been successful in going out there and letting people know what it is that we’re trying to do and why this is the right direction. So there is a failure of politics there that we’ve got to improve on.”
“So whenever, as the head of the party, it doesn’t do well, I’ve got to take responsibility for it,” he said on “Face the Nation.”
In the past, Mr. Obama has been largely reticent to identify specific shortcomings in his administration, but he said in the interview that he must constantly remind himself and his team that good ideas alone aren’t enough. Read the rest of this entry »
Boehner Warns Obama Against Unilateral Action on Immigration: Two days after his party’s midterm romp, House Speaker John Boehner became the second leading Republican to warn that unilateral action by President Barack Obama on immigration would “poison the well” for any cooperation with the new GOP Congress. Among the causes of the standoff: a year of previously unreported talks between the two men over a legislative compromise to fix the balky immigration system.
Mr. Boehner and the president started talking after the 2012 election, according to detailed accounts provided by several aides on both sides. The discussions ended this summer with the two sitting stony-faced around a white wrought-iron table outside the Oval Office.
Mr. Boehner said yesterday that the president risks “burning” himself if he implements unilateral immigration action, echoing similar admonitions made a day earlier by Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is expected to lead the GOP’s new Senate majority. The immigration issue could put in danger what had looked like a rare opportunity offered to find common ground on trade and business taxes, among other matters….(read more) Carol E. Lee and Peter Nicholas report…
Kurt Schlichter writes: I have to admit that the Congressional GOP’s Obamacare defunding strategy has me a little nervous – mostly because it just might work. When the GOP does something clever, I start looking for the other three horsemen of the apocalypse.
Designing a strategy starts with understanding the ends you seek. Sure, the memo has gone out about the GOP’s “civil war” and how the GOP is “crazy,” but it seems that the party has a realistic end state in mind. It’s not to stop Obamacare today, or even next year, but in 2017 when we can actually drive a stake through the heart of this neo-socialist abomination. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON – The fate of President Obama’s appeal to Congress to undertake a military strike against the government of Syria for employing chemical weapons against rebel forces remains as murky as the Barada River, but there exists a growing feeling that the White House has a lot of ground to make up.
A rough survey of congressional offices by CNN established that most lawmakers remain undecided on the president’s entreaty at this late stage. More than half of the Senate – 70 members, according to CNN – remain uncommitted. The same is true in the House, where 338 of the 435 representatives have yet to make their feelings known.
Drew M. via Ace of Spades HQ
As one of the first, if not the first, people to say Let It Burn, I’m clearly thrilled with the growing chorus of voices joining the movement.
Like any movement, there are true believers and Let It Burn In Name Only (LIBINO) types. Since it’s never too early to purge a movement of its impure elements, let us lay out some key principles of Let It Burn.
1- America isn’t a conservative country anymore and hasn’t been for a while. Yes, you can point to lots of surveys that show people identify themselves as conservatives and they even say government should be doing fewer things.
The fact is, a conservative country doesn’t “accidentally” elect Barack Obama twice. It doesn’t continue to send Democrats to the Senate who voted for ObamaCare and force the GOP to run as the saviors of Medicare.
People want the ever expanding welfare state, they simply don’t want to have to pay for it. They are happy to pretend they can “ask the rich to pay a little more” (it won’t work) or to pile on debt for some generation to be born later to pay for it. What they are very clear about in their votes is…”don’t you dare touch my “free” stuff”.
One foundation of conservatism is to see the world as it is, imperfections and all, and not the way we wish it to be. Unless we can admit the reality of the country we are living in, Let It Burn makes no sense.
If you think we’re just one or two tactical moves and a great candidate away from political victory, you’re not in the Let It Burn camp.
2- Gabe and several commenters yesterday wondered, why isn’t Bob Corker’s “tax cuts now, entitlements later” idea consistent with Let It Burn?
The answer is simple: It’s a deliberate action is based on doing several things- raising taxes and then magically reforming entitlements.
Even if the GOP managed to “win” this standoff with Obama by generating more revenue through tax reform than hiking tax rates, who cares? We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.
“Let It Burn” is about inaction. There’s no point in trying do anything that avoids going over the fiscal cliff/sequestration. Remember, the deal that got us to this point was agreed to by House Republicans, Senate Democrats and signed by Obama. That’s as bi-partisan as it gets. I’ve heard from squishy low information voters, Obama and the media that “bi-partisan problem solving” is the Holy Grail of politics. Well, here it is.
Will it lead to massive disruptions? Yes. That’s the point. The current system is rigged against conservative. We should play no part in its perpetuation. If you can’t win the game, concede and start new one. That’s the heart of Let It Burn.
This isn’t some petty “I lost so I’m taking my ball and going home” tirade. This is what people want. It’s simply not sustainable. If we can’t stop them, we don’t have to continue to enable them either.
What Podhoretz should have done is challenge any Republican to argue against Kritol’s analysis. That can’t be done in a serious way.
We need to start disassociating conservatism from the GOP. We’ve tried it for 30 years. It hasn’t worked.
We’ve tried to save the country from the folly of expanding liberalism and the country said, “we don’t want to be saved”. Let It Burn just means letting them have what they want and rebuilding later.
After 2010 I had some hope that we might be able to turn this massive welfare state around. The full implementation of ObamaCare means that isn’t going to happen. At least not absent a total collapse of our fiscal house of cards.
Let It Burn isn’t an option, it’s an eventuality. The questions are will we be complicit in it any longer and do we want to delay it? I say no. Let the liberals own it. Very few things are made better by delaying the day of inevitable reckoning.
The sooner it burns, the sooner we can try and rebuild.