The Senate strikes back with the Flake flip

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘HILL’ NEWS)

 

The Senate strikes back with the Flake flip

Defending the Senate is not exactly the popular take these days. It’s easy to beat up on the upper house of Congress.

Many of those are fair indictments of the institution that George Washington once dubbed, “the cooling saucer of democracy.” But let’s give the ultimate institution of all the Beltway institutions it’s due. This week, notwithstanding the public spectacle of a hearing featuring Supreme Court hopeful Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the Senate worked.

Republicans wanted to shove Brett Kavanaugh through a rushed committee process with scant vetting of the credible allegations against Kavanaugh and force-feed him onto the Supreme Court. Another notch in the belt for President Trump and Senate Republicans going into the midterm elections.

And, to be clear, they still may do that. But the world’s greatest deliberative body did what it was supposed to do. What it was designed to do. It’s slowed the process down. And the process wasn’t slowed down by a powerful committee chair or a 2020 hopeful or any member of leadership. It was slowed down by Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). A retiring, unpopular, and often unremarkable Senator who will leave Congress next January without much of a discernible legacy.

But the Senate makes that possible. Arcane rules and customs that are hard for even the most experienced Senate alumni to explain allow someone like Jeff Flake to gum up the works. The idea that Flake can pull together a small gang of moderates to flip the emergency brake at the last-minute is exactly what the body is set up to do. In the Senate, change is supposed to be slow and deliberate and difficult. That’s the whole point. If you don’t get that, you don’t get the Senate.

Also, the fact that it was Flake is notable. His relationship with someone like Chris Coons (D-Del.), another member from the other party who lives in relative anonymity, was also critical here. Not every member of the Senate should be running for or posturing for a higher office. The sequence of events amplify why the Jeff Flakes and Chris Coons’ are essential to the effectiveness of the Senate. Two Senators who can get in a room and make an imperfect, but nevertheless important deal.

Some people may think it just delays the inevitable for a week. That’s certainly possible. Most of the betting odds would probably still suggest that Senate Republicans are determined to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

But as somebody who was raised by the Senate and worked for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) from 2009-2011 during the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I can speak with firsthand experience about the unpredictability of time inside those chambers. When pursuing a legislative priority, time can be your biggest enemy.

The biggest complication with the passage of the ACA was the extra time that was forced upon Senate Democratic leadership in 2009 and 2010. That extra time allowed public opinion to work its way against the bill, allowed the bill itself to be weakened and watered down and created unforeseen circumstances like the passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and the unlikely special election of Scott Brown (R-Mass.) to fill his seat which significantly weakened the leverage of the Democratic majority. All resulting in a slow roll-out of the bill and ultimately igniting Republicans ability to recapturing control of Congress.

Let’s be clear. The “Profiles in Courage” being written up for Sen. Flake are a bit overdone. Especially because despite his outspokenness against President Trump, the now-senior senator from Arizona votes with the president more than 83 percent of the time according to FiveThirtyEight.com. And he still likely intends to support the Kavanaugh nomination after the one-week delay he negotiated for a FBI investigation into the Kavanaugh accusations to be completed.

But regardless, a reliable conservative stepped in the way to at least slow down a conservative coronation of a second Trump Supreme Court nominee. And yes, we should all give a shout out to the brave protesters, Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher, who inspired the Flake Flip. They exemplify why no American should underestimate their role or take a backseat in our democracy.

But I think we would also be mistaken to withhold another shout out for the United States Senate. In an era where our institutions are being challenged and questioned daily, the Senate proved durable and helped to validate its unique role in our democracy.

Joel Payne is a former deputy press secretary for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and former director of African-American advertising for the Hillary for America 2016 campaign. He is currently a vice president with MWWPR.

Mueller’s investigation bears the hallmark of an organized crime case

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

Mueller’s investigation bears the hallmark of an organized crime case

Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller has extensive experience prosecuting organized crime and white collar cases from his time as FBI director.
 Alex Wong/Getty Images

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  • Paul Manafort’s recent plea deal and cooperation agreement with the special counsel Robert Mueller is the latest indication of how the Russia investigation mirrors an organized crime case.
  • The hallmark of any prosecutor’s approach to an organized crime case is the use of cooperating witnesses to move up the chain.
  • “You start low and you ask people: who did you answer to? Who gave you orders? Who did you report to?” said one Justice Department veteran. “That’s the only way to get to the top of a criminal organization, and that’s exactly what Mueller’s doing.”
  • But there are also a few crucial differences that make the Russia probe similar to a complex white-collar investigation.

As the special counsel Robert Mueller works his way through the myriad of threads in the Russia investigation, his approach bears more and more similarities to what prosecutors do when they’re tackling complex organized crime cases.

Mueller’s recent plea deal and cooperation agreement with Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, is just the latest indication of that.

The hallmark of any prosecutor’s approach to an organized crime case, experts say, is the use of cooperating witnesses.

Going up the ladder is critical in these types of cases because the organization typically has a hierarchical structure and a clear chain of command. It also usually involves wide-ranging, multi-party criminal activity.

“The higher you go, the more insulated those people are,” said Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor from the Southern District of New York who successfully prosecuted more than 100 members and associates of the Sicilian Mafia. “So the best way to penetrate that closed inner circle is by flipping people, and flipping them up.”

After investigators get a sense of which players are part of a criminal enterprise, they start by targeting those at the lowest levels.

“If they don’t voluntarily cooperate, you get honest leverage on them to compel their cooperation,” said Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor who was part of the team that convicted the Gambino crime family boss John Gotti in the 1990s. “You find their criminal conduct and use that to force them to do what they should have done originally, which is to tell the truth.”

Paul Manafort
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded guilty this week.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Honig said he once nailed a case by flipping someone who was the driver for a more powerful person in the organization.

“That led us right up the chain,” he said. “And you can see that happening in the Russia investigation.”

The first plea deal Mueller’s office announced was that of George Papadopoulos, who served as an early foreign policy aide to the Trump campaign. Next, he looped in Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who admitted to lying to the FBI.

In February, Rick Gates, the former deputy chairman of the Trump campaign, announced that he would be pleading guilty and cooperating with the special counsel. Gates’ cooperation led prosecutors upstream, and his courtroom testimony against Manafort helped them successfully convict his former boss on eight counts of financial fraud last month.

Likewise, legal scholars say, Manafort’s cooperation, as well as that of Trump’s former longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, will likely help Mueller and New York federal prosecutors get information on an even bigger fish.

“It’s a classic strategy used in organized crime,” Cotter said. “You start low and you ask people: who did you answer to? Who gave you orders? Who did you report to? That’s the only way to get to the top of a criminal organization, and that’s exactly what Mueller’s doing.”

‘When you pull at a thread, you never know what you’re going to unravel’

michael cohen paul manafort
Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort are the two highest ranking people who have flipped.
Associated Press/Craig Ruttle; Associated Press/Alex Brandon; Business Insider

That said, there are two critical differences between Mueller’s approach to the Russia probe and prosecutors’ approach to organized crime cases.

The first is that most criminal enterprises don’t have a clear paper trail.

“Organized crime is particularly dependent on insider witnesses, because everything is kind of hidden and done in the shadows,” said Alex Whiting, a former Justice Department lawyer who prosecuted organized crime and corruption cases when he worked at the US attorney’s office in Boston.

“These cases usually aren’t paper heavy because there’s no email trail or documentation,” he added.

The Russia investigation, by contrast, has often been document-heavy. Prosecutors introduced 400 pieces of evidence at Manafort’s first trial in Virginia last month, and they planned to put forward almost three times that amount at his second trial had he not struck a last-minute plea deal.

Similarly, their charging document against Gates extensively cited his financial records, emails, and communications with other witnesses.

In that sense, Whiting said, certain aspects of the Russia probe make it more like a white-collar case.

The other crucial difference is that organized crime cases cases involve activities that clearly cross legal boundaries.

But Mueller’s team is sifting through a mix of legal political activity and potentially illegal activity.

The prototypical example of that overlay, Whiting said, is Trump himself.

“The president has the legal authority to fire the FBI director, but is it obstruction if he fired him to hamper an investigation into him?” Whiting said. “Trump has the power to pardon anyone for any federal crime, but is he obstructing justice if he does it to prevent them from testifying? Is collusion a crime?”

“There’s a complexity here that you don’t often see with organized crime,” he added. “In that respect, it’s much more like investigating white-collar crime, because the main questions there are, what was the conduct, and did the conduct cross into illegal territory?”

The bottom line in a case like the Russia probe, Honig said, is that there’s no way to tell where it will ultimately lead.

“When you pull at a thread, you never know what you’re going to unravel.”

What I Believe The Truth Is About What Happened In The 2016 Presidential Election

What I Believe The Truth Is About What Happened In The 2016 Presidential Election

 

I am a registered independent who does vote in all of the Presidential election cycles and in all of the mid-term elections. I have voted for several Republicans and several Democrats throughout the years. I am not a fan of either of these two main parties and I darn sure can not stomach Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump, I do believe that these two caricatures belong chained in the basement of a Federal Pen until the day they rot away and die. In case you are wondering, I voted for Gary Johnson back in 2016 for President, not because I thought that he would win anything, I just couldn’t get myself to vote for either of those other two donkeys behinds.

 

Now, I am going to tell you what I believe is the honest truth about what happened on election night of 2016. What I believe as of tonight is exactly what I believed happened back on November 8th of 2016, no changes. As pretty much almost all sane folks know (if you are a person who believes all the security agencies) Russia at the direction of their President Mr. Putin had their security agencies interfere in 21 States computer election systems. It is a fact that all these Russian hackers had to do was to move about 1/2 of 1% of the votes in just 3 or 4 of the States that were projected to be close that Hillary was projected to win. This would be enough to flip the winner of the Presidential election away from Hillary whom Mr. Putin hates to Mr. Trump whom I believe Mr. Putin has major ‘dirt’ on.

 

Hillary won the popular vote by a little over 2.8 million total votes. This is more than 5 times the amount that Al Gore beat George W. Bush by back in 2000 yet some how the ‘Arkansas Witch’ lost the election. If you are wondering, Mr. Gore beat Mr. Bush by a little more than 500,000 total votes. Mr. Trump likes to say that he won the election by a ‘historic’ amount even though history shows him to be a liar even on this matter, but then, what doesn’t this fraud not lie about, daily? Mr. Trump is said to have won 304 Electoral College votes to Hillary’s 227. For a person to win the election the had to garner at least 270 of these votes. So, Mr. Trump received 34 more than required to be the winner. Next I am going to show you a few final numbers from the 2016 election. There are more States with more examples of these issues, I have just picked 4 of them to show you. All of these States the poles right up to the election and the exit polls after people had voted all said that Hillary would win these States, but the computers say she didn’t.

 

Florida: 29 Electoral votes: Trump 49.20%,   4,615,910 popular votes

Hillary 47.81%,   4,501,455 popular votes

Trump wins by 1.39%  and by 114,455


Pennsylvania: 20 Electoral Votes: Trump 48.58%, 2,970,753 popular votes

Hillary 47.85%,  2,926,441 popular votes

Trump wins by .73% and by 44,312


Michigan: 16 Electoral Votes:  Trump 47.50%,  2,279,543 popular votes

Hillary 47.27%,  2,268,839 popular votes

Trump wins by .23% and by 10,704


Wisconsin: 10 Electoral Votes:  Trump 47.26%, 1,407,028 popular votes

Hillary 46.45%,  1,382,947 popular votes

Trump wins by .81% and by 24,081


Folks remember, on these percentages all you have to do is to cut the wining margins in half to change the outcome of the election. For example lets use Wisconsin. Mr. Trump is said to have won by .81%, now, cut that in half, take away .41% and give it to Hillary. This would equal a Hillary win 47.86% to Trump at 47.85%. Example of Michigan, .12% changes the winner. It is a well know fact that Russian intelligence agencies hacked these States systems trying to help Mr. Trump win.

All that historically huge win that Mr. Trump has bragged about would have changed if Hillary had won even the three smallest of these States, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Folks, this is just 3 of the 21 the Russian Agencies hacked. These three States alone totaled 46 Electoral Votes. Flipping just those three States, those 46 votes would have made the final Electoral Vote tally of Hillary 273, Trump 258. I honestly believe that we have a ‘fake’ President who is going to end up being impeached. I would say imprisoned also except that I am quite sure that President Pence as his first piece of business will pardon Mr. Trump of all of his felonies, including the treason charges I believe Mr. Mueller will prove Trump guilty of. I believe that Mr. Trump will pardon all of his mafia clan before he is himself impeached. The clan of which I speak does include the two crooks convicted today, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Manafort. I also believe that Mr. Mueller will get convictions on Eric and Donald Trump Jr, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jarred Kushner.

 

Okay friends, that is my rant for the night. As a very dear old friend of mine used to like to say, now “we shall see what we shall see.” You can say I’m totally correct on everything that I have written this evening, most of it, some of it or even none of it.  I just wanted to get my thoughts down in print. Now, time will tell us “what we shall see.”

 

 

Trump Trying To ‘Stifle Free Speech,’ 12 Former Intelligence Officials Say

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Trump Trying To ‘Stifle Free Speech,’ 12 Former Intelligence Officials Say

The rare rebuke comes after the president revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan.
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In a joint statement Thursday, a dozen of the nation’s leading former intelligence officials slammed President Donald Trump’s recent decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance.

The officials, who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents, include former CIA Directors Michael Hayden, Leon Panetta, William Webster, Porter Goss, David Petraeus and George Tenet, several of the agency’s former deputy directors and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

“We all agree that the president’s action regarding John Brennan and the threats of similar action against other former officials has nothing to do with who should and should not hold security clearances ― and everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech,” they wrote. “You don’t have to agree with what John Brennan says (and, again, not all of us do) to agree with his right to say it, subject to his obligation to protect classified information.”

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Elana Schor

@eschor

New: Statement from a dozen former top intelligence officials representing R and D admins (including ex-CIA chiefs) says yanking Brennan’s clearance has “everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech.”

Trump announced Wednesday that he had revoked Brennan’s clearance, part of an ongoing effort to retaliate against those who have criticized the administration. Former top intelligence and law enforcement officials have traditionally been allowed to retain their clearances as a professional courtesy, which also allows future administrations to call upon them for their expertise.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday also read a list of several other former officials whose credentials are currently being reviewed, including two people who signed Thursday’s statement.

“We have never before seen the approval or removal of security clearances used as a political tool, as was done in this case,” the 12 intelligence leaders wrote. The officials, who served under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, stressed that Brennan was an “enormously talented, capable, and patriotic individual who devoted his adult life to the service of this nation.”

Brennan himself fired back at the White House after the announcement, saying it was “an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge” Trump.

Despite the outcry, The Washington Post reported Thursday that Trump felt bolstered by his decision and was eager to revoke the clearances of others in the near future, an effort sure to provoke the signers of Thursday’s statement.

“As individuals who have cherished and helped preserve the right of Americans to free speech ― even when that right has been used to criticize us ― that signal is inappropriate and deeply regrettable,” the former intelligence officials wrote.

Architect of bin Laden raid issues stunning rebuke of Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Architect of bin Laden raid issues stunning rebuke of Trump

Washington (CNN)Retired Adm. William McRaven, the man who oversaw the 2011 Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden, issued a stunning rebuke of President Donald Trump’s decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan on Thursday, defending the former spy chief as “one of the finest public servants I have ever known.”

In an op-ed published by the Washington Post, McRaven, a former Navy SEAL who led US Joint Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014, not only called Brennan “a man of unparalleled integrity,” but volunteered to have his own security clearance revoked in an act of solidarity.
“Few Americans have done more to protect this country than John. He is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him,” McRaven wrote.
“Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency,” he added.
His comments come just one day after Trump announced his decision to revoke Brennan’s security clearance, marking an unprecedented use of a president’s authority over the classification system to strike back at one of his prominent critics.
“This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics. It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals, about the cost of speaking out. My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent,” Brennan tweeted after the announcement.
McRaven, who resigned as chancellor of the University of Texas in Austin earlier this year, is widely respected among the tens of thousands of active and retired special operators and his message will likely resonate within that community.
“Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation,” McRaven said of Trump.
“If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be,” he added.

If Mueller Is Fired: Then Trump And Sessions Must Be Impeached Right Now

AGAIN TODAY TRUMP IS TELLING ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS TO FIRE SPECIAL COUNCIL ROBERT MUELLER AND TO SHUT DOWN THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION: RIGHT NOW!

 

The U.S. Congress can not Impeach a sitting President, only the U.S. Senate can do that. Back when Bill Clinton was President the Republican led Congress voted to Impeach Bill Clinton because an adult female intern gave him oral sex in the Oval Office. What Mr. Clinton did was morally wrong but so is being a liar, a tax fraud, or colluding with a know enemy to commit treason. All are sins, all are wrong, just like making up evidence so that you can go bomb people is a sin, morally and physically. When the Republican led Congress voted to Impeach Mr. Clinton the whole act was nothing but symbolic, the vote had no teeth. Via the U.S. Constitution only the U.S. Senate can Impeach a sitting President and to do so it will require 67 of the 100 Senators to vote for the impeachment, in the Clinton case the Senate didn’t even hold a vote on the issue. There is another set of rules as far as Impeaching the Attorney General is concerned though. To do this, a simple majority of the Congress has to vote to Impeach and then the Senate would have to get 67 of their 100 to vote to Impeach.

 

One of the many things that Mr. Trump has proven over and over again is that he is a total habitual liar, folks this is not a quality trait for anyone to have, especially the Leader of any group or organization. If you can not believe anything that is coming out of a persons mouth, what good are they as a person or as a Leader? If you remember, right after Jeff Sessions was approved by the Senate to be Mr. Trumps Attorney General he was caught lying at least twice to the Senate about his Russian contacts during the Presidential campaign of 2016. This is why Mr. Sessions recused himself from anything to do with any investigation into any Russian collusion during the 2016 Presidential Campaign. Mr. Sessions turned over this investigation to his number two-man Rob Rosenthal who then appointed the former Republican FBI Director Bob Mueller to head this investigation. As you most likely know, this whole set of events infuriated Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump has tried to get Mr. Sessions to fire Mr. Rosenthal several times but Mr. Sessions has refused to do so. Now Mr. Trump is demanding that Mr. Sessions fire the Special Council, Mr. Mueller. One of the many realities of the real world that Mr. Trump doesn’t seem to understand is that Mr. Sessions can not legally fire the Special Council or shut down the Russia investigation because Mr. Sessions in his recusing himself made it to where he can not legally do what the President is demanding that he do.

 

As a 62-year-old citizen of the United States I have learned very plainly that the politicians on both sides of the ‘political isle’ both Republicans and Democrats, as a whole do not give a damn about this country or the people who live within its borders. The only reason that the Republicans in the Congress and the Senate are backing Mr. Trump is because the President says he is a Republican. If Mr. Trump was a Democrat these same Republicans like my disgusting home state Senator Mitch McConnell would have been trying to get him Impeached ever since he took Office on January 20th of 2017. I am not by any means going to give the Democrats a free pass here in this article today either, to do so would be total hypocrisy. If the Congress and the Senate were controlled by the Democrats at this time and Hillary Clinton were the President and she had done all these exact same treasonous sins that Mr. Trump has done (she has many of her own personal sins which she should be in prison for, just some different ones than Mr. Trump has) the Democratic leadership would be shielding her from Impeachment just like the Republicans are doing right now with Mr. Trump. To hell with the Country, to hell with the people, the only things that matter are ‘the Party’,  personal power and bigger bank accounts. If you don’t think so my friend, you are being naive at best.

 

Evidently by law the President can fire the Special Council, Mr. Mueller himself, just as he can fire Jeff Sessions and or Mr. Rosenthal and he can assign some flunky into those positions. This ‘flunky’ could then fire Mr. Mueller and shut down every thing that the DOJ (Department Of Justice) is investigating concerning the crimes that Mr. Trump and his family are so obviously guilty of. Then all the world will see if Mitch McConnell will grow a set of balls and insist that a vote for Impeachment take place, at once.  My guess is no, he won’t. The reason that I believe this is because of seeing how these bought and paid for pieces of trash have operated over the past 50 or so odd years. I have absolutely no faith in either ‘Party’ to ever simply be honest with the American people and to do their damn jobs that the people have been paying them to do. To me, if the events do play out like I believe they will with Mr. Trump and several members of his family being charged with major crimes against the sovereignty and security of the people of Our Nation, then it is time for the people to remove all the trash in the Senate and the Congress who are betraying us. Simply put, the people must then Impeach them ourselves, or we don’t deserve a free Country to live in!

Senator Corker compares revoking security clearances to Venezuela’s dictatorship

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO NEWS)

 

Corker compares revoking security clearances to Venezuela’s dictatorship

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Tuesday criticized the Trump administration’s decision to consider revoking security clearances for several ex-government officials who have been vocal about their opposition to President Donald Trump, adding that it’s “the kind of thing that happens in Venezuela.”

“I can’t even believe that somebody at the White House thought up something like this,” Corker said during an interview on MSNBC. “I mean, when you’re going to start taking retribution against people who are your political enemies in this manner, that’s the kind of thing that happens in Venezuela.”

“So you just don’t do that. I can’t believe they even allowed it to be aired, to be honest,” he said. “I mean, it’s a banana republic kind of thing.”

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s administration is considered a dictatorship by the United States.

Corker’s comments come a day after the White House announced it was looking to remove security clearances held by former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former NSA Director Michael Hayden, former national security adviser Susan Rice and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

McCabe’s security clearance was deactivated after he was fired earlier this year, and Comey also does not currently have a security clearance. Hayden, the only Bush administration-era official who is facing revocation of his security clearance, tweeted he does not go back for classified briefings but has occasionally been asked to offer a view on something.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during Monday’s press briefing that Trump feels as though the former officials have “politicized” their positions by accusing Trump of inappropriate contact with Russia.

“The fact that people with security clearances are making baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence,” she said.

Gowdy: Trump advisers should consider quitting over Russia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO)

 

CONGRESS

Gowdy: Trump advisers should consider quitting over Russia

The South Carolina Republican chastised Trump for inviting Putin to Washington this fall.

Updated 

House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy chastised Donald Trump for inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington, saying Sunday that some members of the president’s administration should consider quitting if Trump won’t listen to their advice.

“The fact that we have to talk to you about Syria or other matters is very different from issuing an invitation,” Gowdy said on “Fox News Sunday” of the Putin invitation, which the White House confirmed last week would be extended for the fall. “Those should be reserved for, I think, our allies.”

The South Carolina Republican suggested that some members of the administration may need to consider leaving if Trump continues to disregard their advice to stand firm against Russia.

That concern has dominated discourse in Washington since Trump’s summit with Putin in Helsinki last week, at which he spoke more harshly of the FBI than of Russia.

“It can be proven beyond any evidentiary burden that Russia is not our friend and they tried to attack us in 2016,” Gowdy told host Bret Baier. “So the president either needs to rely on the people that he has chosen to advise him, or those advisers need to reevaluate whether or not they can serve in this administration. But the disconnect cannot continue.”

Political commentators and Democratic lawmakers said after Trump’s news conference with Putin — in which he refused to side with the U.S. intelligence community on the issue of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and said he held both countries responsible for tensions — that advisers including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and national security adviser John Bolton should quit their posts.

But Republican lawmakers have been more hesitant to call for such a response from the president’s team.

Earlier this weekend, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman penned an op-ed for a Utah newspaper in which he said he would not resign, saying he felt he is very much needed in the role. And Coats said during a Thursday interview with NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell that the question of resigning was “a place I don’t really go to publicly.”

“As long as I’m able to have the ability to seek the truth and speak the truth, I’m on board,” Coats said. After Trump indicated Monday that he did not believe Russia was responsible for hacking Democratic Party computers and other wrongdoing during the 2016 election, Coats defended American spies’ assessment that Moscow was to blame.

Gowdy struck a tone of admonishment Sunday on Trump’s refusal to side with the U.S. intelligence community — comments that the president later partially walked back.

“I’m glad he corrected it,” Gowdy said, “but when you’re the leader of the free world, every syllable matters.”

Still, Gowdy urged Trump to separate concerns about Russian interference from his frustration with the investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

“I have not seen one scintilla of evidence that this president colluded, conspired, confederated with Russia,” he said. “And neither has anyone else, or you may rest assured Adam Schiff would have leaked it,” he said, referring to the Democratic congressman from California.

Congressional Democrats continued Sunday to be skeptical of the response of their Republican colleagues on the Russia issue.

“When it comes to defending the country, they’re not willing to follow through,” Schiff said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Others were just rather startled at the week’s whole turn of events.

“The fact that we have to question the integrity, the honesty and the loyalty of a commander in chief when it comes to dealing with Russia is a problem in and of itself,” said Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) on CNN‘s “State of the Union.”

Trump: released FISA documents show is that Republicans have been lying for months

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THINKPROGRESS’)

 

The only thing the newly released FISA documents show is that Republicans have been lying for months

Trump and his allies claim the Steele Dossier was the sole basis for a surveillance warrant of Carter Page. They are lying.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - DECEMBER 12, 2016: Carter Page, Global Energy Capital LLC Managing Partner and a former foreign policy adviser to U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump, makes a presentation titled " Departing from Hypocrisy: Potential Strategies in the Era of Global Economic Stagnation, Security Threats and Fake News" during his visit to Moscow. Credit: Artyom Korotayev/TASS via Getty Images
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – DECEMBER 12, 2016: CARTER PAGE, GLOBAL ENERGY CAPITAL LLC MANAGING PARTNER AND A FORMER FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER TO U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP, MAKES A PRESENTATION TITLED ” DEPARTING FROM HYPOCRISY: POTENTIAL STRATEGIES IN THE ERA OF GLOBAL ECONOMIC STAGNATION, SECURITY THREATS AND FAKE NEWS” DURING HIS VISIT TO MOSCOW. CREDIT: ARTYOM KOROTAYEV/TASS VIA GETTY IMAGES

 

On Saturday night, the New York Times published a report detailing the public disclosure of more than 400 pages of heavily redacted documents related to a FISA warrant filed in 2016 against Carter Page, an advisor for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Page has been a key focus of the intelligence community’s investigation into Russian interference from the very beginning. And as Saturday’s disclosure reveals, the FBI presented enough probable cause suggesting Page had been recruited by Russian officials that four separate Republican-appointed judges authorized still-undisclosed surveillance measures targeting Page.

Oddly, both Donald Trump and Carter Page tried to spin Saturday’s disclosure as some kind of victory. Several members of the far-right fringe in Congress — led by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) — lied to the public several months ago via a memo that falsely asserted the FBI sought the warrant on the sole basis of the infamous Steele dossier, a Republican-conceived memo written by a former British intelligence officer containing several salacious rumors about Donald Trump.

As Democrats and the FBI later disclosed — and as Saturday’s release makes clear — the dossier was far from the only evidence provided to the FISA court, and its inclusion contained a lengthy caveat noting the politicized nature and unsubstantiated claims contained within the document. Incidentally, several of the allegations contained in the dossier have since been verified. On Sunday, CNN’s Jake Tapper invited Page to respond to Saturday’s revelations, and it took exactly one question for him to trip over the facts of the case.

“The document accuses you of being an ‘agent of a foreign power.’ Were you?,” asked Tapper.

Jake, this is so ridiculous, it’s just beyond words,” said Page. “You know, it’s — you’re talking about misleading the courts. It’s just so misleading, going through those 400-plus page documents, where do we even begin? It’s literally a complete joke, and it only continues. It’s just really sad.”

Tapper, who was still waiting for Page to answer his question, tried again. “Were you ever an agent of a foreign power? Did you ever advise the Kremlin or work with the Kremlin on anything?” 

After more stammering, Page finally got around to a “no,” before immediately admitting that he had, in fact, served as an advisor to the Kremlin and met several times with Russian officials during multiple trips to Russia over a period of years leading up to and including 2016.

Page went on to claim that the courts were misled by the FBI, alleging the agency knowingly relied on incorrect or incomplete information in seeking their warrant. He offered no basis for those allegations however, and the documents released on Saturday in fact make it clear that the FBI was very forthright about the sourcing of its information.

Of course, that didn’t stop Donald Trump from leveling the same false allegation. He tweeted about the release of the FISA documents early Sunday, lying about law enforcement agencies “misleading” the FISA court.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Congratulations to @JudicialWatch and @TomFitton on being successful in getting the Carter Page FISA documents. As usual they are ridiculously heavily redacted but confirm with little doubt that the Department of “Justice” and FBI misled the courts. Witch Hunt Rigged, a Scam!

Because the FISA documents were heavily redacted, there isn’t very much new information the public learned on Saturday. One thing was made very clear though: the Trump administration and their extremist allies in Congress have been lying to the public for months.

12 Russian Indictments For Hacking Clinton Campaign: How Much Did Trump Know?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES NEWSPAPER)

 

Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein outlines a new indictment Friday against alleged Russian hacks into Hillary Clinton campaign accounts.
Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein outlines a new indictment Friday against alleged Russian hacks into Hillary Clinton campaign accounts. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Then-candidate Donald J. Trump said he was just joking in July 2016 when he called on Russia to “find the 30,000 emails” that Hillary Clinton had not turned over to State Department investigators, ostensibly because they were personal correspondence and not government business.

Now that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has obtained indictments against 12 Russian intelligence officers in connection with hacking into multiple Clinton campaign-related email accounts in the four previous months, it puts Trump’s comments in a different light.

The indictment alleges that the Russian agents broke into accounts for the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and various volunteers and employees at Clinton’s campaign — including the email account of her campaign chairman, John Podesta. It goes into some detail on how it identified the responsible parties, adding weight to the allegations.

The agents are not accused of hacking Clinton’s private email server, which isn’t surprising. Although former FBI director James Comey said in 2016 that the server could have been hacked by a hostile government, FBI investigators later told the agency’s inspector general that they were “fairly confident” the server was not compromised.

Regardless, emails taken from the DNC account started leaking in June 2016 at the site DCLeaks, then the following month from WikiLeaks. A hacker using the moniker Guccifer 2.0 — later linked by security experts to Russia — claimed credit for the leaks, but others did too, leaving the culprits unclear. Bear in mind that much of the discussion of the leaks centered on the DNC’s apparent favoritism for Clinton over her main rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). So while there were suspicions about Russia, the precise motives behind the leaks were hard to divine.

That’s the backdrop for Trump’s remarks. And now one has to wonder, just how much did he know about what Russia was actually doing?

In an editorial The Times ran shortly after Trump’s remarks, we noted the spin applied by Trump’s campaign:

“A spokesman for the Trump campaign later insisted that ‘Mr. Trump did not call on, or invite, Russia or anyone else to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.’ Instead, Jason Miller suggested, Trump was saying the Russians already had the data because Clinton’s server wasn’t secure.”

Or maybe Trump was saying the Russians probably had the data because he knew they’d grabbed so much else from Clinton’s campaign.

The White House responded with a statement from Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters: “Today’s charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result. This is consistent with what we have been saying all along.”

Umm, Roger Stone?

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