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 »
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 »
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 »
“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 »
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 »
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 »
YOU’RE FIRED: Obama Holdover Sally Yates, AG Who Ordered Justice Deptartment Not to Defend President’s Travel Ban, FiredPosted: January 30, 2017
‘It’s sad that our politics have become so politicized that you have people refusing to enforce our laws’
Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz and Mark Berman reports: President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night, after Yates ordered Justice Department lawyers Monday not to defend his immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world.In a press release, the White House said Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) January 31, 2017
The White House has named Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general. Boente told The Washington Post that he will agree to enforce the immigration order.
Earlier on Monday, Yates ordered Justice Department not to defend President Trump’s immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world, declaring in a memo that she is not convinced the order is lawful.
Yates wrote that, as the leader of the Justice Department, she must ensure that the department’s position is “legally defensible” and “consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”
“At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful,” Yates wrote. She wrote that “for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.”
Yates is a holdover from the Obama administration, but the move nonetheless marks a stunning dissent to the president’s directive from someone who would be on the front lines of implementing it.
Also Monday, State Department diplomats circulated various drafts of a memo objecting to Trump’s order, which was issued Friday. The document is destined for what’s known as the department’s Dissent Channel, which was set up during the Vietnam War as a way for diplomats to signal to senior leadership their disagreement on foreign policy decisions. More than 100 diplomats have signed the memo, which argues that the immigration ban will not deter attacks on American soil but will generate ill will toward U.S. citizens.
What will happen next is unclear. A Justice Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said those who would normally defend the order under Yates’s authority can no longer do so. Yates will probably be replaced soon by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump’s attorney general nominee, who could be confirmed as early as Thursday or Friday. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider his nomination Tuesday, and the entire Senate must wait one day before voting. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] REWIND: Cory ‘Arc Bender’ Booker in 2016: ‘Blessed, Honored’ to Work With Senator Jeff Sessions on Civil RightsPosted: January 11, 2017
“I am humbled to be able to to participate here in paying tribute to some of the extraordinary Americans, whose footsteps paved the way for me and my generation. I feel blessed and honored to have partnered with Sen. Sessions in being the Senate sponsors of this important award.”
— Booker at the Capitol Visitor Center last year
Democratic Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) thanked his colleague Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) last year at the Capitol for his help celebrating the 1965 “Foot Soldiers,” those who marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to promote civil rights for African Americans.
The NTK Network found the video from February, which shows Booker striking a much different tone toward Sessions than his current position on the Alabama senator, whose confirmation hearing to be Donald Trump’s attorney general began on Tuesday.
John R. Schindler writes: Back in October I told you that Hillary Clinton’s email troubles were anything but over, and that the scandal over her misuse of communications while she was Secretary of State was sure to get worse. Sure enough, EmailGate continues to be a thorn in the side of Hillary’s presidential campaign and may have just entered a new, potentially explosive phase with grave ramifications, both political and legal.
The latest court-ordered dump of her email, just placed online by the State Department, brings more troubles for Team Hillary. This release of over 3,000 pages includes 66 “Unclassified” messages that the State Department subsequently determined actually were classified; however, all but one of those 66 were deemed Confidential, the lowest classification level, while one was found to be Secret, bringing the total of Secret messages discovered so far to seven. In all, 1,340 Hillary emails at State have been reassessed as classified.
There are gems here. It’s hard to miss the irony of Hillary expressing surprise about a State Department staffer using personal email for work, which the Secretary of State noted in her own personal email. More consequential was Hillary’s ordering a staffer to send classified talking points for a coming meeting via a non-secure fax machine, stripped of their classification markings.
This appears to be a clear violation of Federal law and the sort of thing that is a career-ender, or worse, for normals. The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee termed that July 2011 incident “disturbing,” and so it is to anyone acquainted with U.S. Government laws and regulations regarding the handling of classified material.
But the biggest problem may be in a just-released email that has gotten little attention here, but plenty on the other side of the world. Read the rest of this entry »
Cloudy With a Chance of Thunderstorms.
Greg Gordon reports: Hillary Clinton hired a Connecticut company to back up her emails, and due to a technical glitch some may still reside on one of the firm’s “cloud” storage sites, a Republican Senate committee chairman revealed.
The disclosures, in a letter Monday from Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, heighten the possibility that some of Clinton’s more than 31,000 personal emails may still be recovered. She said last March that she deleted them all upon turning over her official emails to the State Department in December 2014.
Congressional committees have voiced skepticism as to whether the 30,940 emails that the Democratic presidential candidate handed over represented all of her official emails. The FBI is separately investigating whether Clinton’s arrangement put classified information at risk.
- Clinton hired Datto Inc. to provide a private cloud backup – a virtual server
- Some of Clinton’s emails apparently migrated to the firm’s off-site server, as well
- Did Clinton aides order email storage reduced as State Department sought records?
His letter to the chief executive of Datto Inc. of Norwalk, Conn., offers the first public confirmation that Clinton or her aides arranged for a backup of her email server after leaving office.
The letter also recounts a series of events that led an employee of Colorado-based Platte River Networks to air suspicions in an email as to whether “this whole thing really is covering up some shaddy shit,” according to an excerpt of an email cited by Johnson, who is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
On May 31, 2013, four months after Clinton left office, the Clinton Executive Service Corp., which oversaw her email server contracts, hired Platte River to maintain her account. Its New Jersey-based server replaced the server in the basement of her New York home that handled her emails as secretary of state.
At the same time, Platte River retained Datto to set up a virtual backup server that could provide immediate recovery if the primary server failed, Johnson said in his letter. Datto says it offers two kinds of backup storage: a private cloud virtual server that takes data from a server and converts it into “virtual machines that can be booted instantly,” and an off-site “secure cloud.”
The Clinton firm chose the private cloud virtual server for Platte River to manage, Johnson wrote. Read the rest of this entry »
Ed Morrissey writes:
A perp walk? Oddly, that doesn’t come up in this clip from Bloomberg’s “With All Due Respect,” where John Heilemann and Mark Halperin focus more on the short-term worst-case scenarios for Hillary Clinton. If the scrubbed server gets restored and classified material is found, plus e-mail that Hillary deleted turns out to be work-related, she could face a lot more problems than she does now, Halperin states. Heilemann replies that if the server stays scrubbed, that won’t play well either, but whose fault is that? “This story is not going away,” Halperin concludes, “and it’s of her own doing.”
It’s a pretty good look at the short-term risks for Hillary, but mostly from a political point of view. That is no longer the big risk, though. Given the referral from the IGs on just a sample of 40 e-mails, there is plenty of evidence strongly
suggesting that Hillary and her team violated two laws governing the handling of classified material, 18 USC 1924 and 18 USC 793 — both of which carry prison terms.
The Department of Justice has prosecuted people for criminal violations of both statutes, especially 1924, which was used against David Petraeus in this administration. As one former US Attorney tells the Boston Herald, a refusal to prosecute in this case would raise all sorts of red flags about favoritism, especially after Petraeus’ conviction:
“I believe there will be a concern that if they don’t in this case, that it will be perceived as preferential treatment,” said Bradley D. Simon, a former federal prosecutor, noting the Justice Department set a recent precedent by going after the high-profile general who was admired for pulling the Iraq War back from disaster….(read more here)
At a minimum, Clinton kept classified material at an unauthorized location — her house in Chappaqua, in electronic form. The referral makes that clear. The question will be whether the Department of Justice will want to look much farther past that point to see what else Clinton did. Read the rest of this entry »
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley called into question a $33,000 payment Abedin received from the State Department for leave she hadn’t used.
Sarah Westwood reports: An investigation may have found evidence a top State Department aide to Hillary Clinton took advantage of government employment rules with potential conflicts of interest and overpayments.
“As an example of the potential conflicts of interest at play, Grassley cited an email exchange in which Band pressed Abedin to encourage her State Department boss, Hillary Clinton, to facilitate a White House appointment for one of his clients.”
In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said an inspector general probe suggested Huma Abedin leveraged her State Department job to benefit her two other employers at the time: the Clinton Foundation and a consulting firm called Teneo Strategies.
Teneo Strategies was founded by a longtime aide to Bill Clinton, Douglas Band, and boasted the former president as a paid board member when it first launched in 2011.
Abedin allegedly sent or received more than 7,000 emails on her government account that involved Band, the letter said.
As an example of the potential conflicts of interest at play, Grassley cited an email exchange in which Band pressed Abedin to encourage her State Department boss, Hillary Clinton, to facilitate a White House appointment for one of his clients.
Judith Rodin, the Teneo client in question, was then president of the Rockefeller Foundation, “which donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, a fact which Mr. Band allegedly noted in his email to Ms. Abedin,” the letter said.
“[E]mail evidence allegedly suggests that Ms. Abedin and Ms. Mills shared a desire to find a way to ensure the Department paid for Ms. Abedin’s travel to and from New York,” the letter continued. Read the rest of this entry »
REWIND: #Baltimore Police Chief Calls For More Gun Control, NRA Predicts Citizens Will Need Guns In CrisisPosted: May 2, 2015
When asked by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, “We need the firepower and the ability to protect ourselves from our government” — from our government, from the police — “if they knock on our doors and we need to fight back.”
“Do you agree with that point of view?” Senator Durbin asked NRA executive VP Wayne LaPierre.
LaPierre initially responded, “I think without any doubt, if you look at why our founding fathers put it there, they had lived under the tyranny of King George and they wanted to make sure that these free people in this new country would never be subjugated again and have to live under tyranny.”
Then the NRA VP continued with a statement that has since been proven to be true in both Ferguson, Mo., and now Baltimore, Md. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Cuban Immigrant Manuel Martinez’s Challenge to Oregon Lawmakers: ‘Marxism is not Coming, Marxism is Here’Posted: February 10, 2014
This isn’t the first time Manuel Martinez, a man who fled Communist Cuba has voiced his concern to Oregon lawmakers about gun control. And he always seems to make the news because his words are so powerful. He knows that once the government disarms the people it’s over and he plainly warns Oregon lawmakers that Marxism isn’t coming to America, it’s already here…
Jordy Yager writes: The Justice and Treasury departments are talking with banking regulators about how banks can legally work with businesses that sell marijuana.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole on Tuesday alerted a Senate panel to the discussions as part the DOJ’s decision not to sue states that have legalized the use, sale and trafficking of small quantities of marijuana. Read the rest of this entry »
The Obama administration faced a backlash from congressional Democrats on Friday following revelations that the National Security Agency broke privacy rules and overstepped its authority thousands of times since 2008.
The details were reported late Thursday in The Washington Post, based on an audit and other secret documents provided by NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The report challenged claims by President Obama just last week that the NSA was not abusing its authority, and complicated his effort to reassure Americans and Congress that — with a little more oversight and transparency — the surveillance programs are nothing to be worried about.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called the latest reports “extremely disturbing.”
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said: “Reports that the NSA repeatedly overstepped its legal boundaries, broke privacy regulations and attempted to shield required disclosure of violations are outrageous, inappropriate and must be addressed.”
Senior lawmakers said they had been unaware of the audit until they read the news on Friday.