‘It’s Not Syping Spying, it’s Investigating Spying’.
The revelation, stemming from recent reports in which FBI sources admitted sending an agent to snoop on the Trump camp, heightens suspicions that the FBI was seeking to entrap Trump campaign aides. Papodopoulous has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, while Page was the subject of a federal surveillance warrant.
“If the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal,” President Trump tweeted Saturday, calling for the FBI to release additional documents to Congress.
The Halper revelation also shows the Obama administration’s FBI began prying into the opposing party’s presidential nominee earlier than it previously admitted. Read the rest of this entry »
Scott McClallen writes: Millennials rushed to the polls to vote for Bernie Sanders running as a Democratic socialist last election season. However, did they fall in love with socialism or just want free college and healthcare? A new video suggests they have no idea what socialism is.
“I think people throw that word around to try to scare you, but if helping other people is socialism, then I’m all for it,” one girl answered.
“It could really benefit our country in the future,” another said.
“Socialism as a concept, as a philosophy, is good,” a male student said. “I think it’s got a bad rep.” Read the rest of this entry »
When the flawed story broke, the investigations editor was out of town.
While Haris was away, his group published a story on CNN.com that reported — citing a single anonymous source — that Senate investigators were looking into a meeting between a member of President Trump’s transition team, Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci, and an executive of a Russian investment fund before Trump took office. The story seemed to advance the narrative of ties between Trump campaign officials and people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
One problem: When challenged on the particulars of the story, CNN acknowledged that it couldn’t stand by it. It retracted it and apologized to Scaramucci on Saturday. On Monday, Haris and the editor and reporter of the piece, Eric Lichtblau and Thomas Frank, resigned from CNN.
The sequence of events led Trump to take a kind of victory lap on Tuesday. He turned to Twitter to bash CNN and other media outlets (including The Washington Post) that have aggressively reported on his associates’ connections to Russian officials during the 2016 campaign and pre-inaugural period.
“Wow, CNN had to retract big story on “Russia,” with 3 employees forced to resign. What about all the other phony stories they do? FAKE NEWS!” Trump tweeted. He added later, “Fake News CNN is looking at big management changes now that they got caught falsely pushing their phony Russian stories. Ratings way down!”
In fact, CNN isn’t looking at “big management changes,” according to senior executives at the network. But Trump — long resistant to admitting his own falsehoods— is unlikely to correct his tweet anytime soon. He has also been silent about errors committed by other news organizations, such as Fox News, that he deems to be friendly. Read the rest of this entry »
Another widespread cyber attack is causing massive problems across Europe Tuesday.
Ukraine has been hit particularly hard as government and company officials have reported serious intrusions across the Ukrainian power grid, banks and government offices. The country’s prime minister says that the cyber attack affecting his country is “unprecedented,” but “vital systems haven’t been affected.”
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Pavlo Rozenko on Tuesday posted a picture of a darkened computer screen to Twitter, saying that the computer system at the government’s headquarters has been shut down.
There’s very little information about who might be behind the disruption, but technology experts who examined screenshots circulating on social media said it bears the hallmarks of ransomware, the name given to programs that hold data hostage by scrambling it until a payment is made.
“A massive ransomware campaign is currently unfolding worldwide,” said Romanian cybersecurity company Bitdefender. In a telephone interview, Bitdefender analyst Bogdan Botezatu said that he had examined samples of the program and that it appeared to be nearly identical to GoldenEye, one of a family of hostage-taking programs that has been circulating for months. Read the rest of this entry »
Itay Hod reports: Three CNN employees have handed in their resignations over a retracted story linking president Trump to Russia, the network announced Monday.
Thomas Frank, who wrote the story in question; Eric Lichtblau, an editor in the unit; and Lex Haris, who oversaw the unit, have all left CNN.
“In the aftermath of the retraction of a story published on CNN.com, CNN has accepted the resignation of the employees involved in the story’s publication,” a network spokesperson told TheWrap in a statement.
On Thursday, CNN investigative reporter Thomas Frank published a story involving an investigation into a Russian investment fund with possible ties to several Trump associates.
According to the network, an internal investigation found that “some standard editorial processes were not followed when the article was published.”
Citing a single unnamed source, the story reported that Congress was investigating a “Russian investment fund with ties to Trump officials.”
CNN explained Monday that “these types of stories” usually would go through several departments, including fact-checkers, journalism standards experts and lawyers.
But the network says there was a “breakdown in editorial workflow” which “disturbed the CNN executives who learned about it.”
The network’s investigative unit was told during a meeting on Monday that the retraction did not necessarily mean the facts of the story were wrong. But, rather, “the story wasn’t solid enough to publish as-is,” according CNN.com.
The story, which only appeared on the network’s site, was quickly disputed on Friday, as one Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci — who was mentioned in the story — pushed back on Frank’s reporting, insisting he “did nothing wrong.” Read the rest of this entry »
The FBI tried to claim that the shooting at the baseball field was spontaneous and had no target, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Mollie Hemingway writes: The FBI gave an utterly bizarre update on its investigation into an attempt to assassinate Republican members of Congress. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) remains in the hospital from the attempt on his life in which two police officers and a congressional staffer were also shot. The hospital upgraded his condition to “fair” and said he faces a long recovery.
Americans may know, thanks to public social media profiles, that attempted murderer James Hodgkinson was an active Democratic activist and Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer who hated Republican members of Congress. He held membership in multiple social media groups strongly opposed to Republicans, such as “The Road to Hell Is Paved With Republicans,” “Join the Resistance Worldwide,” “Donald Trump is not my President,” “Terminate the Republican Party,” “Boycott the Republican Party,” and “Expose Republican Fraud,” among dozens of other groups. He was a voracious consumer of liberal media and believed the conspiracy theory that Donald Trump colluded with Russia to secure the White House.
The FBI admits that Hodgkinson:
- vociferously raged against Republicans in online forums,
- had a piece of paper bearing the names of six members of Congress,
- was reported for doing target practice outside his home in recent months before moving to Alexandria,
- had mapped out a trip to the DC area,
- took multiple photos of the baseball field he would later shoot up, three days after the New York Times mentioned that Republicans practiced baseball at an Alexandria baseball field with little security,
- lived out of his van at the YMCA directly next door to the baseball field he shot up,
- legally purchased a rifle in March 2003 and 9 mm handgun “in November 2016,”
- modified the rifle at some point to accept a detachable magazine and replaced the original stock with a folding stock,
- rented a storage facility to hide hundreds of rounds of ammunition and additional rifle components,
- asked “Is this the Republican or Democrat baseball team?” before firing on the Republicans,
- ran a Google search for information on the “2017 Republican Convention” hours before the shooting,
- and took photos at high-profile Washington locations, including the east front plaza of the U.S. Capitol and the Dirksen Senate Office.
A police officer has been stabbed in the back and neck at an airport in Michigan, police say.
The officer is in hospital recovering. “Please keep the officer in your prayers,” said Michigan State Police on Twitter.
The Bishop International Airport in Flint has been evacuated and additional officers have been stationed at city hall, officials say.
The officer appears to have been targeted, police tell local media.
Local media report that the officer is Lieutenant Jeff Neville, who is now in a stable condition.
One suspect is in custody.
The incident took place shortly after 09:00 local time on Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry »
Oh my god! Investigate!
Matt Vespa writes: Prior to the testimony given by Attorney General Jeff Sessions before the Senate Intelligence Committee this week, there was a lot of chatter about his third undisclosed meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Depending on whom you read, like the LA Times or the Associated Press, Sessions denied the third meeting, while NBC News says the attorney general said it was “conceivable” a third rendezvous occurred, but he cannot recollect what happened. He did stress that nothing improper had occurred.
Sessions has been under fire for answers he gave to Sens. Al Franken (D-MN) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) about his interactions with the Russians, including two meetings that he did not disclose. At the same time, both questions were within the parameters of the 2016 campaign, not in his former capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The second meeting at the RNC Convention was facilitated by an initiative from the Obama administration. To rehash, here’s what was asked of Sessions during his confirmation hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee:
FRANKEN: CNN just published a story alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week, that included information that “Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.” These documents also allegedly say “there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.” Again, I’m telling you this as it’s coming out, so, you know.
But if it’s true, it’s obviously extremely serious, and if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?
SESSIONS: Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.
FRANKEN: Very well.
[LEAHY:] Several of the President-Elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after Election Day?
[Sessions] RESPONSE: No. Read the rest of this entry »
The New York Times has crossed a moral line, writes James Taranto.
Jan. 11, 2011, James Taranto wrote: After the horrific shooting spree, the editorial board of New York Times offered a voice of reasoned circumspection: “In the aftermath of this unforgivable attack, it will be important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions . . .,” the paper counseled.
Here’s how the sentence continued: “. . . from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East.”
The Tucson Safeway massacre prompted exactly the opposite reaction. What was once known as the paper of record egged on its readers to draw invidious conclusions that are not only prejudicial but contrary to fact. In doing so, the Times has crossed a moral line.
Here is an excerpt from yesterday’s editorial:
It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the right have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the people.
That whirlwind has touched down most forcefully in Arizona, which Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik described after the shooting as the capital of “the anger, the hatred and the bigotry that goes on in this country.” Anti-immigrant sentiment in the state, firmly opposed by Ms. Giffords, has reached the point where Latino studies programs that advocate ethnic solidarity have actually been made illegal. . . .
Now, having seen first hand the horror of political violence, Arizona should lead the nation in quieting the voices of intolerance, demanding an end to the temptations of bloodshed, and imposing sensible controls on its instruments.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions got into a heated exchange when Mr. Wyden accused Mr. Sessions of “stonewalling” by declining to answer questions about his conversations with President Trump.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.) on Wednesday told reporters at a press conference that the United States loses “93 million Americans a day to gun violence.”
The Alexandria Police Department held a joint press conference on Wednesday morning with the United States Capitol Police to address the shooting that occurred hours earlier at a baseball field in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood. A gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing for a charity baseball game, wounding several people including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.).
McAuliffe attended the press conference and was asked whether more needs to be done to protect politicians.
“Let me say this, I think we need to do more to protect all of our citizens,” McAuliffe said. Read the rest of this entry »
BREAKING: Shooter Identified by Law Enforcement Officials as James T. Hodgkinson; UPDATE: Shooter DeadPosted: June 14, 2017
Ann E. Marimow and Tom Jackman report: The shooter at the GOP congressional baseball practice this morning is James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill., according to law enforcement officials. Hodgkinson, 66, owns a home inspection business. His home inspection license expired in November 2016 and was not renewed, state records show … (more)
A Facebook page belonging to a person with the same name includes pictures of Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, and rhetoric against President Trump, including a post that reads: “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”
BREAKING: Rep. Meehan confirms shooter approached Rep. Don Desantis & asked if players were Republicans or Democrats before the shooting, pic.twitter.com/JRSytW1J7j
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) June 14, 2017
Charles Orear, 50, a restaurant manager from St. Louis, said in an interview Wednesday that he became friendly with Hodgkinson during their work together in Iowa on Sanders’s campaign.
Orear said Hodgkinson was a passionate progressive and showed no signs of violence or malice toward others.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Orear said when told by phone about the shooting.
Orear described Hodgkinson as a “quiet guy” who was “very mellow, very reserved” when they stayed overnight at the home of a Sanders’s supporter in Rock Island, Ill., after canvassing for the Vermont senator.
“He was this union tradesman, pretty stocky, and we stayed up talking politics,” he said. “He was more on the really progressive side of things.”
When informed that the suspect’s Facebook page prominently features Sanders’s image, the senator’s spokesman Michael Briggs said:
“Our prayers go out for a full recovery of Rep. Scalise, the congressional aides and police officers who were injured. We’ve got to stop the violence.” Read the rest of this entry »
Special counsel’s team includes former Clinton Foundation lawyer, contributors to Obama, Hillary, more.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich sparked a mini-meltdown in the media Monday with a tweet challenging the fairness of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair,” he tweeted. “Look who he is hiring.check fec [sic] reports. Time to rethink.”
He’s not wrong about the donations. Four top lawyers hired by Mueller have contributed tens of thousands of dollars over the years to the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates, including former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump’s 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton.
One of the hires, Jeannie Rhee, also worked as a lawyer for the Clinton Foundation and helped persuade a federal judge to block a conservative activist’s attempts to force Bill and Hillary Clinton to answer questions under oath about operations of the family-run charity.
Campaign-finance reports show that Rhee gave Clinton the maximum contributions of $2,700 in 2015 and again last year to support her presidential campaign. She also donated $2,300 to Obama in 2008 and $2,500 in 2011. While still at the Justice Department, she gave $250 to the Democratic National Committee Services Corp. Read the rest of this entry »
The agency’s response to a freedom of information request submitted by The Wall Street Journal doesn’t exclude the possibility that recordings could have been created by another entity.
In recent days, the two men have offered differing accounts of whether Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey in private conversations within the White House complex to ease off the FBI’s probe of former national security adviser Mike Flynn.
On Friday, Mr. Trump kept the tapes mystery alive, telling reporters in the White House Rose Garden, “I’ll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future.” He added, “Oh, you’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer, don’t worry.” Read the rest of this entry »
Greg Evans writes: Full-page ads in today’s The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post feature a striking image and little text to explain: “The Russians Are Here” says a banner headline, above a Washington Monument shrouded in an old Soviet-style hammer and sickle flag.
Smaller text at the bottom of the page reads: THERUSSIANSAREHERE.ORG. An anti-Trump faction? An alarmist watchdog?
Nah. The ad actually is a well-disguised For Your Consideration ad for FX’s The Americans, and the web address opens with a photo of gun-toting stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys surrounded by laudatory critics’ quotes. Click on the page’s “FYC” icon and up pops a roster of 11 cast members FX suggests is Emmy-worthy.
Another click takes you to a page full of videos of Season 5 episodes, plus a few promos. Read the rest of this entry »
Government by unelected experts isn’t all that different from the ‘royal prerogative’ of 17th-century England, argues constitutional scholar Philip Hamburger.
Like the blind men in the fable who try to describe an elephant by feeling different parts of its body, they’re not perceiving the whole problem: the enormous rogue beast known as the administrative state.
Sometimes called the regulatory state or the deep state, it is a government within the government, run by the president and the dozens of federal agencies that assume powers once claimed only by kings. In place of royal decrees, they issue rules and send out “guidance” letters like the one from an Education Department official in 2011 that stripped college students of due process when accused of sexual misconduct.
Unelected bureaucrats not only write their own laws, they also interpret these laws and enforce them in their own courts with their own judges. All this is in blatant violation of the Constitution, says Mr. Hamburger, 60, a constitutional scholar and winner of the Manhattan Institute’s Hayek Prize last year for his scholarly 2014 book, “Is Administrative Law Unlawful?” (Spoiler alert: Yes.)
“Essentially, much of the Bill of Rights has been gutted,” he says, sitting in his office at Columbia Law School. “The government can choose to proceed against you in a trial in court with constitutional processes, or it can use an administrative proceeding where you don’t have the right to be heard by a real judge or a jury and you don’t have the full due process of law. Our fundamental procedural freedoms, which once were guarantees, have become mere options.”
In volume and complexity, the edicts from federal agencies exceed the laws passed by Congress by orders of magnitude. “The administrative state has become the government’s predominant mode of contact with citizens,” Mr. Hamburger says. “Ultimately this is not about the politics of left or right. Unlawful government power should worry everybody.”
Defenders of agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Environmental Protection Agency often describe them as the only practical way to regulate today’s complex world. The Founding Fathers, they argue, could not have imagined the challenges that face a large and technologically advanced society, so Congress and the judiciary have wisely delegated their duties by giving new powers to experts in executive-branch agencies.
Mr. Hamburger doesn’t buy it. In his view, not only is such delegation unconstitutional, it’s nothing new. The founders, far from being naive about the need for expert guidance, limited executive powers precisely because of the abuses of 17th-century kings like James I. Read the rest of this entry »
Kurt Schlichter writes: That towering doofus James Comey crushed the spirits of millions of democracy-hating geebos when, trapped by his own prior testimony, he was forced to admit the truth on national television. And that truth, as those of us not caught up in the whirlpool of Menschian insanity and liberal wishcasting all know, is that the whole Russia thing is a wheelbarrow of fresh Schumer squeezed out by Hillary and her minions in order to create a narrative – any narrative – that would hide the bitter truth. We rejected her, and now we’re rejecting the Russia idiocy too.
Poor Comey, having to contort his grossly-elongated body into something like a pose of victimhood in front of the unforgiving glare of the TV lights. And all the time watched by eager, credulous resisters, taking their day off from their usual routine of sponging and posing, and gathering at mid-day to view the proceedings from lame urban bars with dorky names like “The Peculiar Muskrat & Sons,” while clutching cucumber-infused IPAs and sipping twee mixed drinks specially-formulated so that their femboy imbibers don’t start crying because they taste actual alcohol.
Where were the TREASON BOMBSHELLS OF TREASON!!!!!!!!!!! they were promised? Probably somewhere near the jobs they were promised they’d get with their degrees in Intersectional Feminist Marketing or Gender Neutral Namibian Poetry that they took out $250,000 in loans to pay for.
Comey’s opinion of his own rectitude is formidable – he’s the only honest guy there is, you know – and he loves to be seen furrowing his brow under the crushing weight of his own goodness in a way Ben Sasse no doubt envies during those moments when Senator Sanctimony isn’t busy grinning like a moron at liberal media jerks’ racial epithets. However, similarly exaggerated is Comey’s opinion of himself as a cunning bureaucratic player. He thinks he’s the King of the DC Power Gamers; instead, he’s more like that feckless Games of Thrones prince who ends up losing his Harry Reid. Read the rest of this entry »
PUNDITOCALYPSE! Alan Dershowitz: Comey Confirms that I’m Right – and All the Democratic Commentators are WrongPosted: June 8, 2017
Alan Dershowitz writes: In his testimony former FBI director James Come echoed a view that I alone have been expressing for several weeks, and that has been attacked by nearly every Democratic pundit.
Comey confirmed that under our Constitution, the president has the authority to direct the FBI to stop investigating any individual. I paraphrase, because the transcript is not yet available: the president can, in theory, decide who to investigate, who to stop investigating, who to prosecute and who not to prosecute. The president is the head of the unified executive branch of government, and the Justice Department and the FBI work under him and he may order them to do what he wishes.
As a matter of law, Comey is 100 percent correct. As I have long argued, and as Comey confirmed in his written statement, our history shows that many presidents—from Adams to Jefferson, to Lincoln, to Roosevelt, to Kennedy, to Bush 1, and to Obama – have directed the Justice Department with regard to ongoing investigations. The history is clear, the precedents are clear, the constitutional structure is clear, and common sense is clear.
Yet virtually every Democratic pundit, in their haste to “get” President Trump, has willfully ignored these realities. In doing so they have endangered our civil liberties and constitutional rights.
Now that even former Director Comey has acknowledged that the Constitution would permit the president to direct the Justice Department and the FBI in this matter, let us put the issue of obstruction of justice behind us once and for all and focus on the political, moral, and other non-criminal aspects of President Trump’s conduct.
Comey’s testimony was devastating with regard to President Trump’s credibility – at least as Comey sees it. He was also critical of President Trump’s failure to observe the recent tradition of FBI independence from presidential influence. Read the rest of this entry »
Kevin Daley writes: Former FBI Director James Comey acknowledged that he orchestrated the leak of a memorandum detailing his private interactions with President Donald Trump during testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Thursday morning.
“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter,” Comey said. “I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons.”
He added that he did so in hopes that his account might spur the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the Trump campaign’s contacts with elements of the Russian government, and any subsequent cover up.
The leak to The New York Times’ Michael Schmidt appears to have come by way of Daniel Richman, a Columbia Law School professor and close friend of the former director. The New Yorker describes Richman as Comey’s “unofficial media surrogate.”
Comey told Maine GOP Sen. Collins that he transmitted the memos to TheNYT through a friend at Columbia Law School.
At the hearing’s conclusion, the president’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, told reporters that Comey conceded to making unauthorized disclosures to undermine the president. Read the rest of this entry »
Ian Schwartz reports: FOX News Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge reacts to former FBI director James Comey‘s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. Herridge said she can not recall a time when a former FBI director deliberately leaked a memo to start an investigation or change the entire focus of an investigation going forward.
“What you can draw here from that testimony is that once he left the office of FBI director, he was not necessarily a person of principle. He made a decision to leak information on an anonymous basis in the hope of really changing the entire focus of the Russia investigation going forward.”
“I can’t remember a time ever where a former FBI director has deliberately leaked the contents of a government document so it would get to a reporter in the hopes that it would prompt a special counsel investigation,” Herridge said Thursday afternoon.
“What you can draw here from that testimony is that once he left the office of FBI director, he was not necessarily a person of principle,” Herridge said. “He made a decision to leak information on an anonymous basis in the hope of really changing the entire focus of the Russia investigation going forward.”
CATHERINE HERRIDGE, FOX NEWS: I can’t remember a time ever where a former FBI director has deliberately leaked the contents of a government document so it would get to a reporter in the hopes that it would prompt a special counsel investigation. Read the rest of this entry »
Comey said that report was wrong and so are many reports that relate to intelligence material.
“In the main, it was not true. And again, all of you know this, many of the American people don’t. The challenge — and I’m not picking on reporters — about writing on classified information is the people talking about it often don’t really know what’s going on. And those of us that know what’s going on aren’t talking about it. And we don’t call the press to say, ‘hey, you got that thing wrong about this sensitive topic.’ We just have to leave it there.”
The ‘Independent’ Mr. Comey
The Senate Intelligence Committee released James Comey’s prepared testimony a day early on Wednesday, and it looks like a test of whether Washington can apprehend reality except as another Watergate. Perhaps the defrocked FBI director has a bombshell still to drop. But far from documenting an abuse of power by President Trump, his prepared statement reveals Mr. Comey’s misunderstanding of law enforcement in a democracy.
Mr. Comey’s seven-page narrative recounts his nine encounters with the President-elect and then President, including an appearance at Trump Tower, a one-on-one White House dinner and phone calls. He describes how he briefed Mr. Trump on the Russia counterintelligence investigation and what he calls multiple attempts to “create some sort of patronage relationship.”
But at worst Mr. Comey’s account of Mr. Trump reveals a willful and naive narcissist who believes he can charm or subtly intimidate the FBI director but has no idea how Washington works. This is not new information.
When you’re dining alone in the Green Room with an operator like Mr. Comey—calculating, self-protective, one of the more skilled political knife-fighters of modern times—there are better approaches than asserting “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” Of course the righteous director was going to “memorialize” (his word) these conversations as political insurance.
Mr. Trump’s ham-handed demand for loyalty doesn’t seem to extend beyond the events of 2016, however. In Mr. Comey’s telling, the President is preoccupied with getting credit for the election results and resentful that the political class is delegitimizing his victory with “the cloud” of Russian interference when he believes he did nothing wrong.
Mr. Comey also confirms that on at least three occasions he told Mr. Trump that he was not a personal target of the Russia probe. But Mr. Comey wouldn’t make a public statement to the same effect, “most importantly because it would create a duty to correct” if Mr. Trump were implicated. This is odd because the real obligation is to keep quiet until an investigation is complete. Read the rest of this entry »
Judson Berger reports: James Comey plans to testify Thursday that in the months before he was fired as FBI director, President Trump sought his “loyalty” while also pressing him to “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation and lay off Michael Flynn, according to written testimony released ahead of his Senate committee appearance.
The prepared remarks for his opening statement, released by the Senate Intelligence Committee, also make clear that Comey repeatedly assured Trump he was not personally under investigation.
Comey’s statement detailed several meetings he had with Trump dating back to January.
He extensively described a Jan. 27 dinner where he said Trump told him: “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.”
Comey plans to say as well that Trump sought help ending any probe of former national security adviser Flynn, reiterating previously published reports about such claims.
Comey’s testimony will mark his first Capitol Hill appearance since his firing a month ago. Lawmakers are eager to hear his side, amid a raft of reports suggesting Trump had pressured Comey over investigations of Russian meddling in the election and coordination with his associates.
Trump has denied pressuring Comey as well as any collusion with Russia.
If Comey’s opening statement is any gauge, Thursday’s testimony will be explosive. Read the rest of this entry »
The Private Jim Comey.
The media are pitching James Comey’s Thursday testimony as the biggest since Watergate, and the former FBI director may provide high Trump ian drama. Let’s hope Congress also challenges Mr. Comey on matters he’d rather not talk about.
The politically savvy Mr. Comey has a knack for speaking in congenial forums such as the clubby Senate Intelligence Committee he’ll address Thursday. By contrast he is refusing to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee—where he came under a grilling in May, days before he was fired—though there is no bar to him testifying more than once.
Circa News is also reporting (and we have confirmed) that Mr. Comey is refusing to answer seven questions sent to him in a letter from Judiciary on May 26. The bipartisan request is from Republican Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein, as well as the chairman and ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.
The questions are aimed at discovering how the contents of Mr. Comey’s famous “memo” to himself came to be splashed across the press. This still private memo reportedly says President Trump asked Mr. Comey to back off an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and its contents surfaced in the New York Times not long after Mr. Comey was fired—courtesy of an unidentified Comey “associate.”
The Judiciary letter asks if Mr. Comey created other memos about interactions with Justice Department officials or Mr. Trump; if he shared the contents of his memos with people inside or outside the Justice Department; if he retained copies of the memos, and if so to turn them over to the committee.
We’re told Mr. Comey replied via email that he didn’t have to answer the questions because he is now a “private citizen.” But that same private citizen will be opining in front of a national TV audience before a committee investigating serious questions of law and intelligence … (read more)
…but probably won’t.
David Harsanyi writes: Almost a month after President Donald Trump fired him, former FBI Director James Comey is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.
Comey will reportedly claim that the president asked for his “loyalty” but that he “demurred.” A keeper of meticulous notes, Comey will also likely testify that the president asked him to drop the Michael Flynn investigation only days after the national security advisor was fired. “I hope you can let this go,” the president purportedly told Comey. “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”
One imagines that special counsel Robert Mueller would not have agreed to allow Comey to testify publicly in the middle of ongoing investigation if the content of his testimony implicated the president in a criminal offense. Comey also won’t be able to shed light on the ongoing investigations. Still, there’s lots of anticipation out there. And there are a slew of questions Comey should answer.
For instance: As the former head of the FBI, do you believe your private conversation with the president rose to the level of obstruction of justice? Was it your impression that the president was speaking extemporaneously about an investigation, offering an opinion about its prospects and your actions, or do you believe he was demanding or insisting that the FBI drop the investigation into Michael Flynn?
Do you believe the president exhibited criminal intent?
Were there any other occasions in which the president brought up Flynn, or any other ongoing investigation of his campaign or administration officials? If so, what was the substance and tone of those conversations? Read the rest of this entry »
In the wake of the U.K.’s most recent terrorist attacks, its prime minister is talking tough on Internet regulation, but what she’s suggesting is impractical.
Tragically, there have been three major terrorist attacks in the U.K. in less than three months’ time. After the second, in Manchester, May and others said they would look into finding ways to compel tech companies to put cryptographic “back doors” into their services, so that law enforcement agencies could more easily access suspects’ user data.
May repeated her stance in broaders terms Sunday, following new attacks in London. “The Internet, and the big companies” are providing “safe spaces” for extremism, she said, and new regulations are needed to “regulate cyberspace.” She offered no specifics, but her party’s line, just days from the June 8 national election, is clear: a country that already grants its government some of the most sweeping digital surveillance powers of any democracy needs more and tougher laws to prevent terrorism (see “New U.K. Surveillance Law Will Have Worldwide Implications”).
The trouble is, this kind of talk ignores how the Internet and modern consumer technology works. As Cory Doctorow points out in a detailed look at how you would actually go about creating services with cryptographic holes, the practicalities of such a demand render it ludicrous bordering on impossible. Even if all of the necessary state-mandated technical steps were taken by purveyors of commercial software and devices—like Google or Apple, say—anyone who wanted to could easily skirt their restrictions by running open-source versions of the software, or unlocked phones.
That isn’t to say that May and the Conservatives’ general idea that the government should be able to probe user data as part of an investigation should be dismissed out of hand. The balancing act between national security and digital privacy has become one of the central themes of our digital lives (see “What If Apple Is Wrong?”). And while there are advocates aplenty on both sides, simple answers are hard to come by. Read the rest of this entry »
Mike Fleming Jr reports: Amazon Studios has acquired Linda And Monica, the Black List script by Flint Wainess that details the budding friendship between D.C. pals Linda Trippand Monica Lewinsky that imploded when it led to the revelation of the scandalous relationship between the White House intern and President Bill Clinton.
Lewinsky was a 22-year old White House intern and Tripp a White House aide who secretly recorded her young pal’s revelations of sexual liasons with then President Bill Clinton in the White House. Tripp, who later said she was acting in her former friend’s best interests, leaked the tape to Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor who was investigating Whitewater. It became a tawdry scandal complete with a subpoena of her blue semen-stained dress, and it later a congressional call for impeachment. It severely crushed the career and life of Lewinsky, and her family — I remember her father once speaking out publicly when the NBC series Law & Order took to calling a certain sex act a “Lewinsky.” Lewinsky said the notoriety made it impossible for her to find work, and she stayed out of the limelight until briefly resurfacing as an anti-bullying advocate several years ago. Read the rest of this entry »
This occurred over what the Washington Post and the New York Times suggest was President Trump’s inadvertent disclosure of highly classified intelligence from Israel in the Oval Office when Trump received Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The disclosure, the Times quoted American officials as representing, “could expose the source of the information and the manner in which it was collected.” At one moment Wednesday, the Times had on its home page something like 18 pieces on this or related scandals.
What a contrast to, say, 2006. That’s when the Gray Lady thumbed its nose for news at President George W. Bush’s pleadings that the paper refrain from disclosing how the government, in its hunt for terrorists, was mining data of the Swift banking consortium.
The Bush administration had begged the Times not to proceed. Yet it did so. Bush called it “disgraceful,” adding that the “fact that a newspaper disclosed it makes it harder to win this war on terror.” Treasury said it would hamper the pursuit of terrorists.
Such a hullabaloo arose from long-suffering Times readers that the paper’s executive editor, then Bill Keller, issued a 1,400-word “personal response.” In it, he suggested that if conservative bloggers were so worried, they should stop calling attention to it. Read the rest of this entry »
Obama, Trump and Surveillance
James Freeman reports: Another day brings another series of tweets from President Trump that have his opponents—and even some of his allies—expressing shock and outrage. In one particularly incendiary missive this morning Mr. Trump wrote, “ James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” It’s no surprise that Mr. Trump is once again dominating the news via Twitter, but reporters might also want to pay attention to presidential use of a much more powerful set of electronic tools.
Mr. Trump’s political skills have been repeatedly underestimated, including by your humble correspondent. But at the risk of being proven wrong again, the prediction here is that Mr. Trump will fail if he thinks he’s going to prevent the former FBI director from conducting effective media relations. This is Mr. Comey’s core competency.
Democrats expressed shock. “For a president who baselessly accused his predecessor of illegally wiretapping him, that Mr. Trump would suggest that he, himself, may have engaged in such conduct is staggering,” said Representative Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “The president should immediately provide any such recordings to Congress or admit, once again, to have made a deliberately misleading — and in this case threatening — statement.”
Mr. Schiff also took to Twitter on Friday to add: “Mr. President, if there are ‘tapes’ relevant to the Comey firing, it’s because you made them and they should be provided to Congress.”
So the ranking Democrat on the House intel committee clearly seems to be concerned about the possibility that a president would record the conversations of a subordinate in the executive branch. Rep. Schiff also spent years in Congress professing to be deeply concerned about government collection of telephone metadata, which did not even include the content of any conversations. So it would clearly follow that if the executive branch were spying on the Congress and a president’s political opposition, Mr. Schiff would be horrified.
Yet Mr. Schiff’s Twitter followers are still awaiting comment on yesterday’s report from a congressional colleague suggesting that’s exactly what happened. Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) appeared on Fox News Thursday afternoon and said that a Senate colleague “confided to me that he was surveilled by the Obama Administration, including his phone calls.” Read the rest of this entry »
“Today, President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office,” the White House statement reads.
President Trump has previously been critical of Comey, suggesting that his actions helped Hillary Clinton during the campaign, while Clinton blamed Comey and his late announcement about the FBI’s investigation into her email server contributed to her electoral college loss. Read the rest of this entry »
Mike Carter reports: Veteran Seattle police Officer Alex Chapackdee is accused of helping his brother-in-law and others smuggle at least 100 kilograms of marijuana to the East Coast. In return, Chapackdee was paid $10,000 a month, charges allege.
Federal prosecutors will ask that a suspended Seattle police officer charged with being part of a large-scale East Coast marijuana smuggling ring be held in jail pending trial.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida set a detention hearing Friday for Alex Chapackdee, who faces a mandatory-minimum five-year federal prison sentence — and perhaps up to 40 years — for his role in allegedly transporting hundreds of pounds of marijuana from Washington to Baltimore then driving back with boxes of cash. The court also could impose a fine of up to $5 million if he’s found guilty.
Chapackdee, a veteran Seattle police officer, appeared briefly in U.S. District Court in Seattle Monday afternoon along with three co-defendants named in a 15-page complaint unsealed Monday. He was arrested last Friday and suspended from duty without pay.
More than two dozens shocked friends and family members crowded Tsuchida’s courtroom during the brief hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Vince Lombardi said the serious allegations and significant penalty prompted him to seek detention for all four defendants. Read the rest of this entry »
The FBI spied on a Trump associate. Do they have evidence that Trump colluded with Russians, or was this a rampant abuse of power?
These latest leaks of classified information appear to be in response to Sen. Charles Grassley’s inquiry to FBI Director James Comey on behalf of the Senate Judiciary Committee he chairs. Grassley noted a February 28 Washington Post report, which used anonymous sources to report the FBI had made plans to pay dossier author Christopher Steele to continue investigating Trump before the election.
Paying an opposition researcher to investigate the Republican nominee for president in the run-up to the election “raises further questions about the FBI’s independence from politics, as well as the Obama administration’s use of law enforcement and intelligence agencies for political ends,” Grassley wrote.
Grassley demanded that the FBI turn over all records relating to the agreement, interviews of Steele, information on any government officials outside the FBI discussing the agreement with Steele, information on how the FBI obtained the dossier, any official reports that used Steele-collected information, any indication the FBI used the information before verifying it, and various other information, including:
9. Has the FBI relied on or otherwise referenced the memos or any information in the memos in seeking a FISA warrant, other search warrant, or any other judicial process? Did the FBI rely on or otherwise reference the memos in relation to any National Security Letters? If so, please include copies of all relevant applications and other documents.
These latest leaks answer that question. And the leaks about what intelligence agencies were doing during the presidential campaign begin to answer questions about whether the U.S. government has hard evidence that the Trump campaign had foreknowledge of Russian meddling and coordinated with Russians about that meddling, or whether there was rampant abuse of power in stripping an innocent U.S. citizen of his right not to be surveilled by his own government. Read the rest of this entry »
Adam Housley and Malia Zimmerman report: Lawmakers probing the surveillance of key officials in the Trump campaign and administration say the intelligence agencies now nominally under the president’s control are stonewalling efforts to get to the bottom of who revealed names and leaked protected information to the press.
“Our requests are simply not being answered.”
– House Intelligence Committee source
The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are currently investigating allegations the Obama administration spied on Trump associates – and possibly Trump himself – for as long as the year preceding his inauguration. And while former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice has been implicated as at least one of the officials who sought redacted names from surveillance transcripts, multiple lawmakers and investigators for the panel told Fox News the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency – all agencies in position to aid the probe – are not cooperating.
“Our requests are simply not being answered,” said one House Intelligence committee source about the lack of responsiveness. “The agencies are not really helping at all and there is truly a massive web for us to try and wade through.”
A Senate Intelligence Committee source said the upper chamber had the same experience.
“Any information that will help find the wide extent on the unmasking and surveillance is purposely not being provided,” said the Senate source.
An FBI spokesperson said the bureau is working in good faith. Read the rest of this entry »
Nunes’ Trump surveillance claims raise more even questions.
James Rosen reports: Republican congressional investigators expect a potential “smoking gun” establishing that the Obama administration spied on the Trump transition team, and possibly the president-elect himself, will be produced to the House Intelligence Committee this week, a source told Fox News.
Classified intelligence showing incidental collection of Trump team communications, purportedly seen by committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and described by him in vague terms at a bombshell Wednesday afternoon news conference, came from multiple sources, Capitol Hill sources told Fox News. The intelligence corroborated information about surveillance of the Trump team that was known to Nunes, sources said, even before President Trump accused his predecessor of having wiretappedhim in a series of now-infamous tweets posted on March 4.
The intelligence is said to leave no doubt the Obama administration, in its closing days, was using the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on President-elect Trump, according to sources.
The key to that conclusion is the unmasking of selected U.S. persons whose names appeared in the intelligence, the sources said, adding that the paper trail leaves no other plausible purpose for the unmasking other than to damage the incoming Trump administration.
The FBI hasn’t been responsive to the House Intelligence Committee’s request for documents, but the National Security Agency is expected to produce documents to the committee by Friday. The NSA document production is expected to produce more intelligence than Nunes has so far seen or described – including what one source described as a potential “smoking gun” establishing the spying.
Some time will be needed to properly assess the materials, with the likely result being that congressional investigators and attorneys won’t have a solid handle on the contents of the documents – and their implications – until next week.
Because Nunes’s intelligence came from multiple sources during a span of several weeks, and he has not shared the actual materials with his committee colleagues, he will be the only member of the panel in a position to know whether the NSA has turned over some or all of the intelligence he is citing. However, Fox News was told Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., had been briefed on the basic contents of the intelligence described by Nunes. Read the rest of this entry »
CRACKDOWN: FBI Arrests Man for Alleged Seizure-Inducing Tweet to Triggered Journalist Kurt EichenwaldPosted: March 17, 2017
The FBI arrested a man accused of sending Dallas reporter Kurt Eichenwald a tweet that Eichenwald claims triggered an epileptic seizure.
The name of the suspect has not yet been released, but FBI spokeswoman Lauren Hagee confirmed that an arrest in the case was made Friday morning.
Eichenwald tweeted that the man who “assaulted” him faces federal charges and is also expected to be indicted by the Dallas district attorney on different charges in the next few days.
Kevin Daley reports: Journalists and Democrats in Congress were far too quick to speculate that Attorney General Jeff Sessions perjured himself during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, after The Washington Post revealed he had failed to disclose two meetings with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.
“There are three elements here: a statement must be false, the false statement must be material (relevant) to the question/s asked, and the false statement must be made with an intent to deceive.”
Perjury is the crime of willfully telling an untruth while under oath before a court or tribunal. Read the rest of this entry »
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has stopped accepting Freedom of Information Act requests by email. The agency wants requesters to use fax, standard mail, or the agency’s online portal to make things on their end more efficient. But, FOIA advocates say this puts a lot of burden on the requester.
Hey millennial FOIA nuts: Time to familiarize yourselves with the concept of a paper jam.
“The goal seems to be ‘creating a lot of extra burden. Everyone is used to emails. It creates a permanent record. It has a time-stamp on it. Everyone knows how to use it’.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has stopped accepting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by email. The agency wants requesters to use fax, standard mail, or the agency’s online portal, FBI eFOIPA.
The goal seems to be “creating a lot of extra burden,” says Adam Marshall, an attorney with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. “Everyone is used to emails. It creates a permanent record. It has a time-stamp on it. Everyone knows how to use it.”
The FBI says the move will help the agency expedite its backlog, which was estimated at 2,614 requests in 2015. Agency spokesperson Jillian Stickels told the Daily Caller that using an online portal will automate the processing of requests and “increase efficiency.”
But does the FBI really want to make the process more efficient? And its decision to continue accepting faxes and standard mail seems to only create headaches for requesters, who might run out of toner or have their transmission signal interrupted when someone picks up the line.
“Most mail that goes to a federal agency has to go through a screening process,” says Marshall. “Sometimes they irradiate it to make sure that there isn’t anthrax or other things in it […] So, it can take a long time for your mail to get from you to the FOIA officer who’s going to open it up and read it.” Yet the law says that the agency is required to provide a response to a FOIA request within 20 business days.
A beta version of the online portal required users to provide personal information about themselves and limited requests to one per day. The FBI backed away from these rules in response to public pressure from Muckrock and Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), but the system still imposes a 3,000-character restriction. Also, the FBI says that not all types of requests can be fulfilled through the portal, though which types the agency won’t say.
There are other bureaucratic hurdles: The FBI has multiple computerized filing systems for documents. Typically, if a requester doesn’t specify which records system to search, the Bureau only queries its Central Records System (CRS) and then might fail to locate a document that it actually has on file. Marshall finds these multiple record systems “incredibly confusing” even though understanding them, he says, is part of his job. Read the rest of this entry »