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  • Lawmakers say they have reached an agreement in principle to avoid government shutdown
    WASHINGTON POST February 12 at 6:56 AM
    Erica Werner, Damian Paletta & Sean Sullivan

    Key lawmakers announced a tentative deal late Monday that would avert another government shutdown at the end of the week while denying President Trump much of the money hes sought to build new walls along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    The agreement came together during intense hours of closed-door negotiations at the Capitol, as lawmakers resurrected talks that had fallen apart over the weekend in a dispute over new Democratic demands to limit immigrant detention. Democrats ultimately dropped some of those demands, which had come under fire from Republicans, clearing the way for a deal.

    Hurdles remained, and Trumps ultimate backing was in doubt after quick opposition emerged from conservatives. But lawmakers on both sides said they were motivated to find agreement by the looming specter of another government shutdown Friday night, three weeks after the last one ended.

    What brought us back together I thought, tonight, was we didnt want that to happen, said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), the lead Republican in the talks.

    House Appropriations Committee Chairman Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), who was in Mondays meetings, said she hoped the negotiators would have a finished product by Wednesday. She said she ran the proposal by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and she signed off on it.

    Some may be happy, some may not be happy, said Lowey, assessing how Democrats would receive the deal and saying she hoped the agreement would have the votes needed to pass the House. We did the best we could.

    The deal includes $1.375 billion for 55 miles of fences along the border, compared with $5.7 billion Trump had sought for more than 200 miles of walls. The deal omits a strict new cap Democrats had sought on immigrants detained within the United States as opposed to at the border. At the same time, it limits overall levels of detention beds maintained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, although GOP aides said ICE would have enough money and flexibility to maintain its current detention levels and add more when needed.

    To avert a shutdown, the deal needs to be written into final legislation, passed by both the House and Senate, and signed into law by the president.

    White House officials were reviewing the terms of the deal, and Shelby said he was hopeful Trump would be supportive. But details of the compromise disclosed late Monday quickly came under fire from conservatives, raising the prospect of a backlash from the right that could ultimately render it unacceptable to Trump.

    Fox News host Sean Hannity, a Trump confidant, immediately called the shutdown deal a garbage compromise.

    Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who talks regularly with Trump, said that it fails to address serious threats.

    This does not represent a fraction of what the president has promised the American people, Meadows said in a text message. I dont speak for the president but I cant imagine he will be applauding something so lacking.

    During a Tuesday morning television appearance, Lowey dismissed the criticism from conservative commentators and lawmakers.

    That probably confirms for me that its a good deal, she said on CNN.

    Asked if she had received any signals from the White House that Trump would accept the deal, Lowey said: Look, I dont listen to signals from above. I listen to the words of my colleagues who are negotiating with me. . . . I am cautiously optimistic that those who dont want to shut the government down will endorse this bill.

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    • Lawmakers say they have reached an agreement Pt 2

      At a rally in El Paso on Monday night, Trump told a crowd of supporters that he was briefed on the conference committees progress as he was walking onstage. Just so you know were building the wall anyway, Trump declared to the audience.

      The president has readied a plan to declare a national emergency on the southern border, which he believes will allow him to redirect taxpayer money from other projects to build parts of a wall without approval from Congress. Democrats are all but certain to mount a legal challenge to this approach, and many Republicans also oppose it.

      The president cast the Democratic proposal on detention beds as a dangerous idea.

      I will never sign a bill that forces the mass release of violent criminals into our country, said Trump. And I will never abolish or in any way mistreat our great heroes from ICE and Border Patrol and law enforcement.

      He added: We need the wall and it has to be built, and we want to build it fast.

      And Trump defended the record-long 35-day government shutdown that ended late last month even though polling suggests voters largely blamed him for the impasse.

      If we didnt do that shutdown, we would not have been able to show this country, these politicians, the world, what the hell is happening with the border. That was a very important thing we did, Trump said.

      The reaction from his conservative allies left the ultimate outcome in doubt, but negotiators said that with the presidents assent, there would be time for the legislation to pass the House and Senate and be signed ahead of the Friday midnight deadline when large portions of the government, including the Department of Homeland Security, will run out of funding and begin to shut down.

      Negotiators said the deal would fund all government operations through the end of September, potentially removing any more shutdown threats for the remainder of the fiscal year.

      Shelby, Lowey, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.) participated in the Monday meetings. They are the top lawmakers on a bipartisan conference committee charged with striking a deal and staving off another shutdown.

      Asked why she thought the dispute over the detention beds flared up over the weekend, Lowey paused before saying, Youll have to ask those who were debating it and arguing it. Its one part of the bill. And the issue, in some communities across the country, has really become very volatile and personal to many of the members.

      The White House and congressional leaders have struggled for months to reach an agreement on a government funding bill because of major differences between Democrats and Republicans over immigration policy. Trump called for using $5.7 billion in taxpayer money to construct more than 200 miles of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats objected to this, and Trump forced a partial government shutdown that began Dec. 22 to try to exert pressure on Congress to act. The shutdown dragged on for 35 days.

      The White House and Republicans eventually backed down and agreed last month to a short-term spending bill for a number of agencies that was meant to give congressional negotiators more time to reach a longer-term deal.

      Those negotiators had made steady progress but ran into trouble over the weekend. The White House had largely signaled to Republicans that it would soften its demand for wall money, convinced it could use other legal maneuvers to redirect existing funds. Instead, discussions bogged down over disagreements about how many undocumented immigrants could be detained at once. Republicans wanted flexibility in detention rules, arguing they needed to be able to adjust to account for violent criminals and others. Democrats countered that the changes Republicans sought would give the White House almost limitless powers to detain as many people as it wanted.

      The unexpected dispute imperiled talks, spooking negotiators as they worried they were running out of time. Democrats signaled earlier Monday that they were more interested in cutting a deal than digging in as the Friday deadline neared, and they largely backed down by late Monday.

      The discussions are the first major political test for Democrats and Republicans after the last government shutdown froze the paychecks of 800,000 federal workers.

      A partial shutdown could have a broad impact on the country. Funding lapses would go beyond DHS to hit a number of other federal departments, including the Housing and Urban Development, Treasury, Agriculture and Interior departments, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Internal Revenue Service.

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      Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


      • Facebook Could Pay Multi-Billion Dollar Fine in FTC Settlement
        Facebook and the FTC are negotiating details of a settlement related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, a report says.
        THE STREET Jacob Sonenshine Feb 15, 2019 9:00 AM EST

        Facebook Inc. (FB - Get Report) and the Federal Trade Commission currently are negotiating details of a settlement related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the Washington Post reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

        The penalty imposed by the FTC likely would be a multi-billion dollar fine, which would easily be the largest fine ever issued to a tech company by the FTC. In 2012, Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL - Get Report) Google was fined $22.5 million by the agency for user privacy offenses.

        The two sides are still negotiating the amount of the fine. If no agreement is reached, the FTC could take the issue to court, according to the Washington Post.

        Facebook's privacy issues date back to 2012. Facebook settled a case with the FTC in August 2012, when the two parties reached an agreement that "Facebook must obtain consumers' consent before sharing their information beyond established privacy settings," according to a press release from the FTC published at the time the deal was made.

        Facebook's privacy issues continued last March when news broke that Cambridge Analytica, a political research company, had harvested user data beyond what was acceptable. It later became evident that Facebook likely was aware of Cambridge's actions on the platform.

        Facebook's user growth, and subsequently its revenue growth, has decelerated in the European Union after GDPR (General Data Protection Rule) went into effect in May. The rule makes it clearer to users what the risks of being on the platform are, and more importantly, obliges Facebook to get highly explicit consent from users before using their data for advertisers.

        Since then, there have been other user security and privacy issues on Facebook, including an incident in September when 50 million user accounts were hacked.

        The stock was down 0.27% to $163.50 a share in premarket trading. The stock has declined 5.5% since March 19, when news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke.

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        • Intimidation, Pressure and Humiliation: Inside Trumps Two-Year War on the Investigations Encircling Him
          President Trumps efforts have exposed him to accusations of obstruction of justice as Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, finishes his work.
          NY TIMES Feb. 19, 2019
          Mark Mazzetti, Maggie Haberman, Nicholas Fandos & Michael S. Schmidt

          WASHINGTON As federal prosecutors in Manhattan gathered evidence late last year about President Trumps role in silencing women with hush payments during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump called Matthew G. Whitaker, his newly installed attorney general, with a question. He asked whether Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and a Trump ally, could be put in charge of the widening investigation, according to several American officials with direct knowledge of the call.

          Mr. Whitaker, who had privately told associates that part of his role at the Justice Department was to jump on a grenade for the president, knew he could not put Mr. Berman in charge because Mr. Berman had already recused himself from the investigation. The president soon soured on Mr. Whitaker, as he often does with his aides, and complained about his inability to pull levers at the Justice Department that could make the presidents many legal problems go away.

          Trying to install a perceived loyalist atop a widening inquiry is a familiar tactic for Mr. Trump, who has been struggling to beat back the investigations that have consumed his presidency. His efforts have exposed him to accusations of obstruction of justice as Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, finishes his work investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

          Mr. Trumps public war on the inquiry has gone on long enough that it is no longer shocking. Mr. Trump rages almost daily to his 58 million Twitter followers that Mr. Mueller is on a witch hunt and has adopted the language of Mafia bosses by calling those who cooperate with the special counsel rats. His lawyer talks openly about a strategy to smear and discredit the special counsel investigation. The presidents allies in Congress and the conservative news media warn of an insidious plot inside the Justice Department and the F.B.I. to subvert a democratically elected president.

          An examination by The New York Times reveals the extent of an even more sustained, more secretive assault by Mr. Trump on the machinery of federal law enforcement. Interviews with dozens of current and former government officials and others close to Mr. Trump, as well as a review of confidential White House documents, reveal numerous unreported episodes in a two-year drama.

          White House lawyers wrote a confidential memo expressing concern about the presidents staff peddling misleading information in public about the firing of Michael T. Flynn, the Trump administrations first national security adviser. Mr. Trump had private conversations with Republican lawmakers about a campaign to attack the Mueller investigation. And there was the episode when he asked his attorney general about putting Mr. Berman in charge of the Manhattan investigation.

          Mr. Whitaker, who this month told a congressional committee that Mr. Trump had never pressured him over the various investigations, is now under scrutiny by House Democrats for possible perjury.

          On Tuesday, after The Times article published, Mr. Trump denied that he had asked Mr. Whitaker if Mr. Berman could be put in charge of the investigation. No, I dont know who gave you that, thats more fake news, Mr. Trump said. Theres a lot of fake news out there. No, I didnt.

          A Justice Department spokeswoman said Tuesday that the White House had not asked Mr. Whitaker to interfere in the investigations. Under oath to the House Judiciary Committee, then-Acting Attorney General Whitaker stated that at no time has the White House asked for nor have I provided any promises or commitments concerning the special counsels investigation or any other investigation, said the spokeswoman, Kerri Kupec. Mr. Whitaker stands by his testimony.

          The story of Mr. Trumps attempts to defang the investigations has been voluminously covered in the news media, to such a degree that many Americans have lost track of how unusual his behavior is. But fusing the strands reveals an extraordinary story of a president who has attacked the law enforcement apparatus of his own government like no other president in history, and who has turned the effort into an obsession. Mr. Trump has done it with the same tactics he once used in his business empire: demanding fierce loyalty from employees, applying pressure tactics to keep people in line and protecting the brand himself at all costs.

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          Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


          • Trump's Obstruction of Justice Pt 2
            It is a public relations strategy as much as a legal strategy a campaign to create a narrative of a president hounded by his deep state foes. The new Democratic majority in the House, and the prospect of a wave of investigations on Capitol Hill this year, will test whether the strategy shores up Mr. Trumps political support or puts his presidency in greater peril. The president has spent much of his time venting publicly about there being no collusion with Russia before the 2016 election, which has diverted attention from a growing body of evidence that he has tried to impede the various investigations.

            Julie OSullivan, a criminal law professor at Georgetown University, said she believed there was ample public evidence that Mr. Trump had the corrupt intent to try to derail the Mueller investigation, the legal standard for an obstruction of justice case.

            But this is far from a routine criminal investigation, she said, and Mr. Mueller will have to make judgments about the effect on the country of making a criminal case against the president. Democrats in the House have said they will wait for Mr. Mueller to finish his work before making a decision about whether the presidents behavior warrants impeachment.

            In addition to the Mueller investigation, there are at least two other federal inquiries that touch the president and his advisers the Manhattan investigation focused on the hush money payments made by Mr. Trumps lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, and an inquiry examining the flow of foreign money to the Trump inaugural committee.

            The presidents defenders counter that most of Mr. Trumps actions under scrutiny fall under his authority as the head of the executive branch. They argue that the Constitution gives the president sweeping powers to hire and fire, to start and stop law enforcement proceedings, and to grant presidential pardons to friends and allies. A sitting American president cannot be indicted, according to current Justice Department policy.

            Mr. Trumps lawyers add this novel response: The president has been public about his disdain for the Mueller investigation and other federal inquiries, so he is hardly engaged in a conspiracy. He fired one F.B.I. director and considered firing his replacement. He humiliated his first attorney general for being unable to control the Russia investigation and installed a replacement, Mr. Whitaker, who has told people he believed his job was to protect the president. But that, they say, is Donald Trump being Donald Trump.

            In other words, the presidents brazen public behavior might be his best defense.

            The first crisis
            The investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign aided the effort presented the new White House with its first crisis after only 25 days. The president immediately tried to contain the damage.

            It was Feb. 14, 2017, and Mr. Trump and his advisers were in the Oval Office debating how to explain the resignation of Mr. Flynn, the national security adviser, the previous night. Mr. Flynn, who had been a top campaign adviser to Mr. Trump, was under investigation by the F.B.I. for his contacts with Russians and secret foreign lobbying efforts for Turkey.

            The Justice Department had already raised questions that Mr. Flynn might be subject to blackmail by the Russians for misleading White House officials about the Russian contacts, and inside the White House there was a palpable fear that the Russia investigation could consume the early months of a new administration.

            As the group in the Oval Office talked, one of Mr. Trumps advisers mentioned in passing what Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, then the speaker of the House, had told reporters that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Flynn to resign.

            It was unclear where Mr. Ryan had gotten that information, but Mr. Trump seized on Mr. Ryans words. That sounds better, the president said, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. Mr. Trump turned to the White House press secretary at the time, Sean Spicer, who was preparing to brief the news media.

            Say that, Mr. Trump ordered.

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            • Trump's Obstruction of Justice Pt 3
              But was that true? Mr. Spicer pressed.

              The president appeared to have little concern about what he told the public about Mr. Flynns departure, and he quickly warmed to the new narrative. The episode was among the first of multiple ham-handed efforts by the president to carry out a dual strategy: publicly casting the Russia story as an overblown hoax and privately trying to contain the investigations reach.

              This Russia thing is all over now because I fired Flynn, Mr. Trump said over lunch that day, according to a new book by Chris Christie, a former New Jersey governor and a longtime Trump ally.

              Mr. Christie was taken aback. This Russia thing is far from over, Mr. Christie wrote that he told Mr. Trump, who responded: What do you mean? Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn. Its over.

              Jared Kushner, the presidents son-in-law and senior adviser, who was also at the lunch, chimed in, according to Mr. Christies book: Thats right, firing Flynn ends the whole Russia thing.

              As Mr. Trump was lunching with Mr. Christie, lawyers in the White House Counsels Office met with Mr. Spicer about what he should say from the White House podium about what was a sensitive national security investigation. But when Mr. Spicers briefing began, the lawyers started hearing numerous misstatements some bigger than others and ended up compiling them all in a memo.

              The lawyers main concern was that Mr. Spicer overstated how exhaustively the White House had investigated Mr. Flynn and that he said, wrongly, that administration lawyers had concluded there were no legal issues surrounding Mr. Flynns conduct.

              Mr. Spicer later told people he stuck to talking points that he was given by the counsels office, and that White House lawyers expressed concern only about how he had described the thoroughness of the internal inquiry into Mr. Flynn. The memo written by the lawyers said that Mr. Spicer was presented with a longer list of his misstatements. The White House never publicly corrected the record.

              Later that day, Mr. Trump confronted the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, in the Oval Office. The president told him that Mr. Spicer had done a great job explaining how the White House had handled the firing. Then he asked Mr. Comey to end the F.B.I.s investigation into Mr. Flynn, and said that Mr. Flynn was a good guy.

              Mr. Comey responded, according to a memo he wrote at the time, that Mr. Flynn was indeed a good guy. But he said nothing about ending the F.B.I. investigation.

              By March, Mr. Trump was in a rage that his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, had recused himself from the Russia inquiry because investigators were looking into the campaign, of which Mr. Sessions had been a part. Mr. Trump was also growing increasingly frustrated with Mr. Comey, who refused to say publicly that the president was not under investigation.

              Mr. Trump finally fired Mr. Comey in May. But the president and the White House gave conflicting accounts of their reasoning for the dismissal, which served only to exacerbate the presidents legal exposure.

              A week after the firing, The Times disclosed that the president had asked Mr. Comey to end the Flynn investigation. The next day, the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, appointed Mr. Mueller, a Republican, as special counsel.

              Instead of ending the Russia investigation by firing Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump had drastically raised the stakes.

              Boiling frustration
              Mr. Muellers appointment fueled Mr. Trumps anger and what became increasingly reckless behavior setting off a string of actions over the summer of 2017 that could end up as building blocks in a case by Congress that the president engaged in a broad effort to thwart the investigation.

              On Twitter and in news media interviews, Mr. Trump tried to pressure investigators and undermine the credibility of potential witnesses in the Mueller investigation.

              He directed much of his venom at Mr. Sessions, who had recused himself in March from overseeing the Russia investigation because of contacts he had during the election with Russias ambassador to the United States.

              The president humiliated Mr. Sessions at every turn, and stunned Washington when he said during an interview with The Times that he never would have named Mr. Sessions attorney general if he had known Mr. Sessions would step aside from the investigation.

              Privately, Mr. Trump tried to remove Mr. Sessions he said he wanted an attorney general who would protect him but did not fire him, in part because White House aides dodged the presidents orders to demand his resignation. The president even called his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, over the Fourth of July weekend to ask him to pressure Mr. Sessions to resign. Mr. Lewandowski was noncommittal and never acted on the request.

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              • Trump's Obstruction of Justice Pt 4
                One of Mr. Trumps lawyers also reached out that summer to the lawyers for two of his former aides Paul Manafort and Mr. Flynn to discuss possible pardons. The discussions raised questions about whether the president was willing to offer pardons to influence their decisions about whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the Mueller investigation.

                The president even tried to fire Mr. Mueller himself, a move that could have brought an end to the investigation. Just weeks after Mr. Muellers appointment, the president insisted that he ought to be fired because of perceived conflicts of interest. Mr. Trumps White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, who would have been responsible for carrying out the order, refused and threatened to quit.

                The president eventually backed off.

                A new strategy: discrediting an investigation
                Say that I asked for his resignation, Mr. Trump repeated.

                Sitting in the Delta Sky Lounge during a layover at Atlantas airport in July 2017, Representative Matt Gaetz, a first-term Republican from the Florida Panhandle, decided it was time to attack. Mr. Gaetz, then 35, believed that the presidents allies in Congress needed a coordinated strategy to fight back against an investigation they viewed as deeply unfair and politically biased.

                He called Representative Jim Jordan, a conservative Republican from Ohio, and told him the party needed to go play offense, Mr. Gaetz recalled in an interview.

                The two men believed that Republican leaders, who publicly praised the appointment of Mr. Mueller, had been beaten into a defensive crouch by the unending chaos and were leaving Democrats unchecked to pistol whip the president with constant accusations about his campaign and Russia.

                So they began to investigate the investigators. Mr. Trump and his lawyers enthusiastically encouraged the strategy, which, according to some polls, convinced many Americans that the countrys law enforcement apparatus was determined to bring down the president.

                Within days of their conversation, Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Jordan drafted a letter to Mr. Sessions and Mr. Rosenstein, the first call for the appointment of a second special counsel to essentially reinvestigate Hillary Clinton for her handling of her emails while secretary of state the case had ended in the summer of 2016 as well as the origins of the F.B.I.s investigation of Mr. Flynn and other Trump associates.

                The letter itself, with the signatures of only 20 House Republicans, gained little traction at first. But an important shift was underway: At a time when Mr. Trumps lawyers were urging him to cooperate with Mr. Mueller and to tone down his Twitter feed, the presidents fiercest allies in Congress and the conservative news media were busy trying to flip the script on the federal law enforcement agencies and officials who began the inquiry into Mr. Trumps campaign.

                Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Jordan began huddling with like-minded Republicans, sometimes including Representative Mark Meadows, a press-savvy North Carolinian close to Mr. Trump, and Representative Devin Nunes of California, the head of the House Intelligence Committee.

                Mr. Nunes, the product of a dairy farming family in Californias Central Valley, had already emerged as one of Mr. Trumps strongest allies in Congress. He worked closely with Mr. Flynn during the Trump transition after the 2016 election, and he had a history of battling the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies, which he sometimes accused of coloring their analysis for partisan reasons. In the spring of 2017, Mr. Nunes sought to bolster Mr. Trumps false claim that President Barack Obama had ordered an illegal wiretap on Trump Tower in Manhattan.

                Using Congresss oversight powers, the Republican lawmakers succeeded in doing what Mr. Trump could not realistically do on his own: force into the open some of the governments most sensitive investigative files including secret wiretaps and the existence of an F.B.I. informant that were part of the Russia inquiry.

                House Republicans opened investigations into the F.B.I.s handling of the Clinton email case and a debunked Obama-era uranium deal indirectly linked to Mrs. Clinton. The lawmakers got a big assist from the Justice Department, which gave them private texts recovered from two senior F.B.I. officials who had been on the Russia case. The officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page repeatedly criticized Mr. Trump in their texts, which were featured in a loop on Fox News and became a centerpiece of an evolving and powerful conservative narrative about a cabal inside the F.B.I. and Justice Department to take down Mr. Trump.

                The president cheered on the lawmakers on Twitter, in interviews and in private, urging Mr. Gaetz on Air Force One in December 2017 and in subsequent phone calls to keep up the House Republicans oversight work. He was hoping for fair treatment from Mr. Mueller, Mr. Trump told Mr. Gaetz in one of the calls just after the congressman appeared on Fox News, but that did not preclude him from encouraging his allies scrutiny of the investigation.

                Later, when Mr. Nunes produced a memo alleging that the F.B.I. had abused its authority in spying on a former Trump campaign associate, Carter Page, Mr. Trump called Mr. Nunes a Great American Hero in a tweet. (The F.B.I. said it had grave concerns about the memos accuracy.)

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                • Trump's Obstruction of Justice Pt 5
                  The president became an active participant in the effort to attack American law enforcement. He repeatedly leaned on administration officials on behalf of the lawmakers urging Mr. Rosenstein and other law enforcement leaders to flout procedure and share sensitive materials about the open case with Congress. As president, Mr. Trump has ultimate authority over information that passes through the government, but his interventions were unusual.

                  By the spring of 2018, Mr. Nunes zeroed in on new targets. In one case, he threatened to hold Mr. Rosenstein in contempt of Congress or even try to impeach him if the documents he wanted were not turned over, including the file used to open the Russia case. In another, he pressed the Justice Department for sensitive information about a trusted F.B.I. informant used in the Russia investigation, a Cambridge professor named Stefan Halper even as intelligence officials said that the release of the information could damage relationships with important allies.

                  The president chimed in, accusing the F.B.I., without evidence, of planting a spy in his campaign. SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history! Mr. Trump wrote, turning the term into a popular hashtag.

                  Most Senate Republicans tried to ignore the House tactics, and not all House Republicans who participated in the investigations agreed with the scorched-earth approach. Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina and a former federal prosecutor who had led Republicans in the Benghazi investigation, felt that figures like Mr. Gaetz and, in some cases, Mr. Nunes, were hurting their own cause with a sloppy, overhyped campaign that damaged Congresss credibility.

                  Former Representative Thomas J. Rooney of Florida, a Republican who sat on the Intelligence Committee and retired last year, was similarly critical. The efforts to tag Mueller as a witch hunt are a mistake, he said in an interview. The guy is an American hero. He is somebody who has always spouted the rule of law in what our country is about.

                  But Mr. Gaetz makes no apologies.

                  Do I think its right that our work in the Congress has aided in the presidents defense? he asked, before answering his own question.

                  Yeah, I think it is right.

                  Ultimately, his strategy was successful in softening the ground for a shift in the presidents legal strategy away from relatively quiet cooperation with Mr. Muellers investigators and toward a targeted and relentless frontal attack on their credibility and impartiality.

                  The president opens a new front
                  Last April, Mr. Trump hired Rudolph W. Giuliani, his longtime friend and a famously combative former mayor of New York, as his personal lawyer and ubiquitous television attack dog. A new war had begun.

                  In jettisoning his previous legal team which had counseled that Mr. Trump should cooperate with the investigation the president decided to combine a legal strategy with a public relations campaign in an aggressive effort to undermine the credibility of both Mr. Mueller and the Justice Department.

                  Mr. Mueller was unlikely to indict Mr. Trump, the presidents advisers believed, so the real danger to his presidency was impeachment a political act that Congress would probably carry out only with broad public support. If Mr. Muellers investigation could be discredited, then impeachment might be less likely.

                  Months of caustic presidential tweets and fiery television interviews by Mr. Giuliani unfolded. The former mayor accused Mr. Mueller, without evidence, of bias and ignoring facts to carry out an anti-Trump agenda. He called one of Mr. Muellers top prosecutors, Andrew Weissmann, a complete scoundrel.

                  Behind the scenes, Mr. Giuliani was getting help from a curious source: Kevin Downing, a lawyer for Mr. Manafort. Mr. Manafort, who had been Mr. Trumps 2016 campaign chairman, had agreed to cooperate with the special counsel after being convicted of financial crimes in an attempt to lessen a potentially lengthy prison sentence. Mr. Downing shared details about prosecutors lines of questioning, Mr. Giuliani admitted late last year.

                  It was a highly unusual arrangement the lawyer for a cooperating witness providing valuable information to the presidents lawyer at a time when his client remained in the sights of the special counsels prosecutors. The arrangement angered Mr. Muellers investigators, who questioned what Mr. Manafort was trying to gain from the arrangement.

                  The attacks on the Mueller investigation appeared to have an effect. Last summer, polling showed a 14-point uptick in the percentage of Americans polled who disapproved of how Mr. Mueller was handling the inquiry. Mueller is now slightly more distrusted than trusted, and Trump is a little ahead of the game, Mr. Giuliani said during an interview in August.

                  So I think weve done really well, Mr. Giuliani added. And my clients happy.

                  The F.B.I. raids Michael Cohen
                  But Mr. Giuliani and his client had a serious problem, which they were slow to comprehend.

                  In April, the F.B.I. raided the Manhattan office and residences of Mr. Cohen the presidents lawyer and fixer walking off with business records, emails and other documents dating back years. At first, Mr. Trump was not concerned.

                  The president told advisers that Mr. Rosenstein assured him at the time that the Cohen investigation had nothing to do with him. In the presidents recounting, Mr. Rosenstein told him that the inquiry in New York was about Mr. Cohens business dealings, that it did not involve the president and that it was not about Russia. Since then, Mr. Trump has asked his advisers if Mr. Rosenstein was deliberately misleading him to keep him calm.

                  Mr. Giuliani initially portrayed Mr. Cohen as honest, and the president praised him publicly. But Mr. Cohen soon told prosecutors in New York how Mr. Trump had ordered him during the 2016 campaign to buy the silence of women who claimed they had sex with Mr. Trump. In a separate bid for leniency, Mr. Cohen told Mr. Muellers prosecutors about Mr. Trumps participation in negotiations during the height of the presidential campaign to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

                  Mr. Trump was now battling twin investigations that seemed to be moving ever close to him. And Mr. Cohen, once the presidents fiercest defender, was becoming his chief tormentor.

                  In a court appearance in August, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty and told a judge that Mr. Trump had ordered him to arrange the payments to the women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Mr. Cohens descriptions of Mr. Trumps actions made the president, in effect, an unindicted co-conspirator and raised the prospect of the president being charged after he leaves office. Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, who in January became the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the matter, said the implied offense was probably impeachable.

                  The president struck back, launching a volley of tweets that savaged Mr. Cohen and his family insinuating that Mr. Cohens father-in-law had engaged in unexamined criminal activity. He called Mr. Cohen a rat. The messages infuriated Democratic lawmakers, who claimed the president was trying to threaten and intimidate a witness before testimony Mr. Cohen planned before Congress.

                  Hes only been threatened by the truth, the president responded.

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                  Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                  • Trump's Obstruction of Justice Pt 6

                    Another attorney general takes office
                    As the prosecutors closed in, Mr. Trump felt a more urgent need to gain control of the investigation.

                    He made the call to Mr. Whitaker to see if he could put Mr. Berman in charge of the New York investigation. The inquiry is run by Robert Khuzami, a career prosecutor who took over after Mr. Berman, whom Mr. Trump appointed, recused himself because of a routine conflict of interest.

                    What exactly Mr. Whitaker did after the call is unclear, but there is no evidence that he took any direct steps to intervene in the Manhattan investigation. He did, however, tell some associates at the Justice Department that the prosecutors in New York required adult supervision.

                    Second, Mr. Trump moved on to a new attorney general, William P. Barr, whom Mr. Trump nominated for the job in part because of a memo Mr. Barr wrote last summer making a case that a sitting American president cannot be charged with obstruction of justice for acts well within his power like firing an F.B.I. director.

                    A president cannot be found to have broken the law, Mr. Barr argued, if he was exercising his executive powers to fire subordinates or use his complete authority to start or stop a law enforcement proceeding.

                    The memo might have ingratiated Mr. Barr to his future boss, but Mr. Barr is also respected among the rank and file in the Justice Department. Many officials there hope he will try to change the Trump administrations combative tone toward the department, as well as toward the F.B.I.

                    Whether it is too late is another question. Mr. Trumps language, and allegations of deep state excesses, are now embedded in the political conversation, used as a cudgel by the presidents supporters.

                    This past December, days before Mr. Flynn was to be sentenced for lying to the F.B.I., his lawyers wrote a memo to the judge suggesting that federal agents had tricked the former national security adviser into lying. The judge roundly rejected that argument, and on sentencing day, he excoriated Mr. Flynn for his crimes.

                    The argument about F.B.I. trickery did, however, appear to please the one man who holds great power over Mr. Flynns future the constitutional power to pardon.

                    Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump tweeted cheerily on the morning of the sentencing.

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                    • Opinion
                      NY TIMES Adam Jentleson Feb. 18, 2019
                      Mr. Jentleson is a former deputy chief of staff to retired Senator Harry Reid.

                      How Mitch McConnell Enables Trump
                      Hes not an institutionalist. Hes the man who surrendered the Senate to the president.

                      Among the casualties of President Trumps declaration of a national emergency to build his border wall is the reputation of the majority leader Mitch McConnell as a Senate institutionalist. The evidence of the last few days has confirmed, if there were still any doubt, that he is no such thing.

                      First, he helped prolong the longest government shutdown in American history by insisting that the Senate would act only with explicit approval from the president. Now Mr. McConnell has fully acquiesced in President Trumps power grab by supporting an emergency declaration, which he opposed just weeks before, aimed at addressing a crisis that Senate Republicans know does not exist.

                      This display of obedience from the leader of a supposedly coequal branch of government is shocking only if you ever believed Mr. McConnell was an institutionalist. But his defining characteristic has always been his willingness to do anything and sacrifice any principle to amass power for himself. What separates him from the garden-variety politicians what makes him a radical are the lengths he is willing to go. Seeing this with clarity should help us grasp the danger to which he is subjecting the Senate and, more important, our democracy.

                      The signs of Mr. McConnells malign influence were always there. Before he became a Senate leader, he dedicated himself to opening the floodgates for corporate money to flow into our political system. Mr. McConnell chased the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law all the way to the Supreme Court; the 2003 challenge to the law bears his name. Mr. McConnell lost that one, but his cause prevailed six years later when the Supreme Court overturned restrictions on corporate contributions in Citizens United.

                      n 2010, as minority leader, Mr. McConnell stated that his main goal was not to help our country recover from the Great Recession but to make President Obama a one-term president. A self-declared proud guardian of gridlock, he presided over an enormous escalation in the use of the filibuster. His innovation was to transform it from a procedural tool used to block bills into a weapon of nullification, deploying it against even routine Senate business to gridlock the legislative process.

                      The two forces that characterized Mr. McConnells career, obstruction and increasing the power of corporate money in our democracy, have worked hand in hand to diminish the Senate and paralyze American politics. The flood of outside money incentivized obstruction over cooperation, and a new generation of Republicans embraced Mr. McConnells obstructionist tactics. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, for example, owes his standing to a few filibusters and a super PAC: As a freshman senator, he used Mr. McConnells tactics to shut down the government in 2013 and parlayed the resulting attention and fund-raising to run for president (and lose to Mr. Trump).

                      Republicans actually took the Senate majority in 2014 in large part on claims to restore the Senate. Unsurprisingly, they broke their promises. Under President Trump, Mr. McConnell continued to run roughshod over Senate traditions, jamming the $1.5 trillion tax bill through without so much as a proper hearing. The one place the Senate has functioned efficiently is in judicial confirmations, but even here Mr. McConnell has cast aside bipartisan norms and reduced the Senate to a rubber stamp for some unqualified, extremist judges, including those rated unqualified by the American Bar Association.

                      Mr. McConnell is not playing three-dimensional chess. There is no grand strategy or long game there is only what best serves his narrow interest. And since 2010, Mr. McConnell has been convinced that his interests are best served through strict obedience to the Republican base. That year, his handpicked candidate, Trey Grayson, lost a Senate Republican primary in Kentucky to an insurgent named Rand Paul. It was a humiliating defeat and called into question Mr. McConnells power in his own backyard. It also invited a Tea Party challenge against his re-election in 2014.

                      Since that scare, Mr. McConnell has rigidly adhered to whatever the base wants, institutions be damned. When the base wanted Judge Merrick Garland blocked, he obeyed. When the base wanted Mr. Trump embraced, he obeyed. While Paul Ryan was playing Hamlet in the summer of 2016, Mr. McConnell quickly endorsed Mr. Trump, providing institutional cover and repeatedly assuring Republicans that Trump would be fine. Mr. McConnell didnt think Trump was going to win he has said so himself but he probably figured that the damage could be contained.

                      The crass self-interest at so many turns now poses a danger to our democracy. With Mr. Trump increasingly erratic and Robert Muellers investigation advancing, there is simply no reason to believe he will stand up for American institutions when it counts. He has already demonstrated a willingness to put his self-interest above Americas national security: In a classified briefing in 2016, Mr. McConnell reportedly cast doubt on C.I.A. intelligence about Russias interference in our election and threatened that if President Obama publicly challenged Russia, hed twist it into a partisan issue. And when the four congressional leaders drafted a bipartisan letter to the states urging them to take action to protect our election infrastructure against Russian interference, Mr. McConnell categorically rejected all efforts to strengthen the letter.

                      Last week, Mr. McConnell had a choice. He didnt have to acquiesce to the emergency declaration he could have asserted the Senates independence at a critical time by passing the spending bill without validating Mr. Trumps emergency declaration. If that prompted a veto, Mr. McConnell could have overridden it. That would be real leadership, and a clear assertion of the Senates independence. Instead, he meekly acquiesced in another presidential power grab.

                      In the months ahead, our institutions are likely to be tested as rarely before. Under a strong leader, the Senate could provide a critical counterweight to an out-of-control executive. Instead, we have a man who will put his self-interest first, every single time. We should enter this chapter with clarity and finally see Mr. McConnell for what he is. Hes not an institutionalist. He is the man who surrendered the Senate to Donald Trump.

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                      • Robert Muellers collusion case so far, explained
                        Court filings about Cohen, Manafort, and Stone have alleged scandalous activities during the 2016 campaign.
                        VOX Andrew Prokopandew Feb 21, 2019, 1:00pm EST

                        President Trump keeps insisting that special counsel Robert Muellers investigation has found no collusion between his 2016 presidential campaign and Russia. But a close read of what we already know about what Muellers been doing suggests at the very least, some very questionable things were going on during the campaign.

                        Muellers team has already laid out a startling story in indictments, plea deals, and other court documents that are full of new revelations about the Trump teams contacts with Russia that year contacts that have moved from suspicious to downright scandalous.

                        The special counsel has not alleged any sinister, high-level election interference conspiracy involving Trump himself and the Russian government. But, particularly in recent filings, he has laid out damaging facts on three major matters that certainly seem at least collusion-adjacent.

                        1) The business opportunity for Trump: The Trump Organization was secretly in talks for a potentially very lucrative Moscow real estate deal during the campaign, and Russian government officials were involved. Trump and members of his family were briefed several times on the project.

                        2) A key figure with shady Russia connections: Trumps former campaign chair Paul Manafort had a history of illegal work for pro-Russian interests and was in debt to a Russian oligarch. Then, during the campaign, he allegedly handed over Trump polling data to a Russian intelligence-tied associate.

                        3) The hacked and leaked emails: Russian intelligence officers hacked leading Democrats emails, and WikiLeaks eventually posted many of those stolen emails publicly. Trump associates like George Papadopoulos and Roger Stone seem to have had at least some advance knowledge of this.

                        These revelations are all significant, and greatly change what we know about what happened in 2016. They tell us that while Trump was praising Putin on the campaign trail, he and his family were trying to make massive amounts of money in Russia. Meanwhile, Manafort was handing out his polling data for unknown reasons, and Stone was at least trying to get an inside line on the emails criminally stolen from Democrats.

                        We dont yet know whether theres more to be revealed about any of these. Mueller also hasnt indicated how these pieces fit together to form a larger story, and he hasnt yet assessed how much, exactly, the president knew about each. And there are other incidents, like the infamous meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower, that the special counsel has not yet said a single word about.

                        But the bigger picture is that, however you define collusion, weve learned a great deal more about just what top figures in Trumpworld were doing regarding Russia during the election and its far from being a nothingburger.
                        1) Trump pursued a major Moscow business deal during the campaign

                        After Donald Trump began running for president in June 2015, Michael Cohen his longtime lawyer and an executive at the Trump Organization embarked on a secret effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

                        Last November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about that project, and Mueller has used Cohens criminal information and a subsequent sentencing memo to lay out facts related to the project. Namely:

                        The deal could have made Trump and Cohen lots of money: If the project was completed, Muellers team asserted in the sentencing memo, Trumps business could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other venues. They added that once Cohen began cooperating, he explained financial aspects of the deal that would have made it highly lucrative for the Company and himself.

                        Trump and his family members were briefed on the talks: Cohen discussed the project with Trump personally at least four times, according to his plea agreement, and briefed Trumps family members about it.

                        The Russian government got involved: We know that in January 2016, Cohen twice emailed Vladimir Putins press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, asking for help moving the project forward. On January 20, Peskovs personal assistant got in touch, and in a phone call, Cohen asked for assistance in securing land to build the proposed tower and financing the construction.

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                        • Trips to Russia were planned but scrapped: At one point, Cohen asked Trump whether hed be able to travel to Russia in connection with the project. In May 2016, Cohen texted an associate that hed make the trip first, and Trump would do so once he becomes the nominee after the convention. Arrangements were made for Cohen to attend the St. Petersburg Forum in mid-June 2016, but days before it began, Cohen called off the trip. The deal, so far as we know, never ended up happening.

                          Importantly, Trump was either the Republican presidential primary frontrunner or the nominee-in-waiting all this time. He offered an unusually positive assessment of Putin on the campaign trail. It now seems likely this was motivated, at least in part, by Trumps desire to score a major business deal in Russia.
                          2) Trumps campaign chair, Paul Manafort, was compromised in all sorts of ways

                          Paul Manafort, a longtime Republican operative, joined the Trump campaign in March 2016, and a few months later he was put in charge as campaign chair.

                          There were three serious problems with that, Muellers charges against Manafort and other court filings make clear.

                          Manafort had skeletons in his closet: The GOP operative had spent much of the previous decade working for Ukraines pro-Russian political faction, including various oligarchs and Ukraines then-President Viktor Yanukovych.

                          Manafort made more than $60 million from this work and hid much of it from the US government, laundering the money into the country through shell companies and dodging $15 million in taxes. He also coordinated an illegal unregistered lobbying campaign on the Ukrainian governments behalf in the United States. (Manafort was convicted at trial for some of these crimes, and subsequently pleaded guilty to others.)

                          Manafort needed money: The second problem was that Manafort was in serious financial trouble. His patron Yanukovych had been deposed as president of Ukraine in 2014, and the Ukrainian money dried up.

                          As a result, Mueller has alleged, and Manafort eventually admitted, both before and after joining the campaign, Manafort made a series of fraudulent declarations to banks to try to get hefty mortgage loans. (He admitted the truth of these charges in his plea deal with Mueller.)

                          Clearly, Manafort needed money by the time he joined the Trump campaign. But he took the Trump job unpaid. Its also worth noting that Manafort was heavily indebted to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, whom he had once worked for.

                          Manafort gave Trump campaign polls to Konstantin Kilimnik: Manafort had a years-long business relationship with a Russian associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, whom hed worked with on his Ukrainian projects. And according to the FBI, Kilimnik has ties to a Russian intelligence service.

                          Manafort remained in contact with Kilimnik during the Trump campaign. And Mueller has alleged that in August 2016, Manafort shared the campaigns private polling data with Kilimnik at a secret meeting in New York City. Many of the details of this accusation are still redacted.

                          So at the very least, Manafort was badly compromised due to his history of illegal work for pro-Russian interests and his financial troubles. And handing over the presidential campaigns polling data to an associate tied to Russian intelligence is certainly highly inappropriate.

                          However, we dont yet know what the purpose of transferring the polling data was whether Manafort was merely trying to impress foreign oligarchs and secure future business and income, or whether he handed over the data in hopes it could inform Russian interference efforts.
                          3) Trump associates appear to have had at least some knowledge of Democrats emails that were hacked by Russia

                          The most visible, high-profile way the Russian government interfered with the 2016 election was through hacking and leaking leading Democrats emails. And weve learned, through Muellers charges, that some Trump associates appear to have had some information about what was coming.

                          The hack and leak: During the 2016 campaign, officers of Russias military intelligence agency, the GRU, stole emails and other electronic documents from several leading Democrats and Democrat organizations including the DNC, the DCCC, and several Clinton staffers, including campaign chair John Podesta.

                          The Russian intelligence officers publicly posted some of these stolen documents themselves through a website they had set up called DCLeaks, and through an online persona they created called Guccifer 2.0. Other emails from the DNC and Podesta were eventually posted by WikiLeaks.

                          The Papadopoulos tip: In March 2016, George Papadopoulos, a little-known London-based energy consultant, was named a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. Shortly afterward, Papadopoulos met Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor. Mifsud said he had ties to the Russian government, began talking with him about a potential Trump trip to Russia, and soon afterward introduced him to two Russians with ties to the countrys government.

                          Then on April 26, 2016, Papadopoulos heard a bombshell from the professor. Mifsud had just returned from meeting top Russian officials in Moscow, he said, and hed learned that the Russians had dirt on Clinton. Papadopoulos later told the FBI that Mifsud specifically said Russia had thousands of emails. (At this time, much of the hacking had been carried out, but it was not yet publicly known.)

                          Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about these contacts, but it hasnt been shown that he shared this tip with others in the Trump campaign.

                          Roger Stone, Jerome Corsi, and WikiLeaks: In June and July 2016, longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone then supporting the campaign from the outside allegedly informed top campaign officials that WikiLeaks had documents that would hurt Clintons campaign.

                          Then after WikiLeaks began posting its first such documents the hacked DNC emails a senior Trump campaign official was directed to get in touch with Stone and learn more about WikiLeaks plans, Mueller alleges.

                          Stone emailed an associate, Jerome Corsi, telling him to get to Assange and get the pending WikiLeaks emails. Corsi eventually responded with an email claimed that Assange planned 2 dumps, including one in October. He also mentioned Podesta in the email, claiming he would be exposed as in bed w enemy. (At the time, it was not public knowledge that Podesta had been hacked.)

                          After that, Stone claimed some knowledge of Assanges plans, both publicly and privately, including to Trump campaign officials like Steve Bannon. He also exchanged private Twitter messages with both Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks, though the messages weve seen are brief.

                          But Stone later said he didnt actually know anything about Assanges plans and was just passing on hearsay hed gotten from a separate source, radio host Randy Credico. Corsi, too, said he didnt know anything and had just somehow guessed that Assange had Podestas emails. (Mueller indicted Stone for allegedly lying to Congress about this.)

                          The full story of what happened here remains unclear. But at the very least, Stone was clearly trying to get in touch with WikiLeaks regarding the documents it had. There are some indications he knew the group had Podestas emails. And he was in touch with top Trump campaign officials about this operation to release Democrats stolen documents.
                          Closer to collusion but scandalous in their own right

                          Again, Mueller has brought no charges against Trump officials for criminally conspiring to interfere with the 2016 election.

                          Regardless of what is still to come from Mueller and what Mueller puts in his final report, which is rumored to be coming soon the special counsels court filings have already revealed or shed more light on matters like the Trump Tower Moscow talks, Manaforts Russian contacts, and Stones outreach to WikiLeaks.

                          Whether these count as collusion may be in the eyeof the beholder. But theyre all scandalous in and of themselves and should be treated that way.

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                          • UNIFORMED NAZI
                            Coast Guard Officer Accused of Racist Mass-Murder Plot, Kept Hit List of Democrats and MSNBC Hosts
                            Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson hoarded guns and drugs and wrote about kill[ing] almost every last person on the earth in pursuit of a white homeland in America.
                            THE DAILY BEAST Spencer Ackerman 02.20.19 6:21 PM ET

                            A white supremacist Coast Guard lieutenant is accused of stockpiling weapons, compiling a hit list of Democratic senators and left-leaning journalists, and preparing for a massacre.

                            Prosecutors in Maryland called Christopher Paul Hasson a domestic terrorist in a Tuesday court filing, first reported by George Washington Universitys Seamus Hughes, that argued for Hassons detention ahead of trial on firearms and controlled substance charges.

                            What law enforcement discovered during a Feb. 15 arrest and search led prosecutors to tell a federal court that Hasson intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country. They included references to an anti-abortion bomber; a white supremacist Islamophobic mass murderer in Norway; his stated desire to kill almost every last person on the earth through biological weapons; and the discovery of 15 guns in his Silver Spring, Maryland basement.

                            Specific journalists and others appear in Hassons search history, the filing claims, including: MSNBC hosts Chris Hayes, Joe Scarborough, and Ari Melber; Sens. Richard Blumenthalor blumen jew, in Hassons writingTim Kaine, Chuck Schumer, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker; Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Maxine Waters, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Ilhan Omar; CNNs Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo, and Van Jones; as well as prominent Democrats Beto ORourke and John Podesta, and the Democratic Socialists of America.

                            Hassons searches also included what if trump illegally impeached, civil war if trump impeached and best place in dc to see congress people.

                            Hassons arrest is likely to spark additional questions to the military about the rigor with which it screens out people with white supremacist affiliations. While statistically infinitesimal, Hasson is the latest high-profile case to involve a Marine Corps veteran with white supremacist connections, such as Patriot Fronts Erik Sailors; American Vanguards Dillon Ulysses Hopper; neo-confederates Michael Chesny and Joseph Manning; and Atomwaffens Vasillios Pistolis. ProPublica and Frontline, which reported on Atomwaffen last year, identified three members or associates of the violent white supremacist group who are currently employed by the Army or Navy, as well as another three affiliated military veterans.

                            The filing called the middle-aged Hasson an acquisitions officer in the Coast Guards national headquarters, a stint following service in the Marine Corps from 1988 to 1993 and then the Army National Guard. Deleted emails recovered by law enforcement showed Hasson quoting lines from Eric Rudolph, the anti-abortion murderer who bombed a clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, and other targets.

                            Liberalist/globalist ideology is destroying traditional peoples esp white. No way to counteract without violence. It should push for more crack down bringing more people to our side. Much blood will have to be spilled to get whitey off the couch, the filing quoted Hasson writing.

                            Hasson mused about unwitting sponsorship from another power/country, though the filing shows no evidence that the Coast Guardsman made any effort at contact. Looking to Russia with hopeful eyes, or any land that despises the wests liberalism. Excluding of course the muslim scum, he wrote.

                            Inspired by tactics used during Ukrainian civil war, Hasson wrote about exacerbating tensions with authorities during protests, particularly those by Black Lives Matter. When (people) start to loot steal protest dress as cop and shoot them. Burn down Apt complex, bar the doors first. Thermite on gas station tank, Hasson wrote. He signed his message, to unspecified friends, with his rank and Coast Guard affiliation.

                            Shortly after the Charlottesville white supremacist riot in August 2017, Hasson allegedly wrote to a known American neo-Nazi leader whom the filing did not identify. In a long email, Hasson declared himself a former skinhead who sees the need for a white homeland in the Pacific northwest.

                            I never saw a reason for mass protest or wearing uniforms marching around provoking people with swastikas etc., Hasson wrote. I was and am a man of action you cannot change minds protesting like that. However you can make change with a little focused violence.

                            Hasson, prosecutors say, had a focus for his intended violence, inspired by Norwegian child-murderer Anders Breiviks manifesto on targeting individual cultural Marxist/multiculturalist traitors. (Cultural Marxism is an amorphous term of derogation on the far right, referencing an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.) His search history showed terms suggesting his targets: most liberal senators, where do senators live in dc, do senators have [secret service] protection, are supreme court justices protected.

                            To fuel violence, Breivik urged followers to take drugs, including narcotics and steroids, for the dubious result of turn[ing] you into a superhuman one-man-army for 2 hours! Law enforcement found over 30 bottles labeled as HGH, human growth hormone, and records indicating purchases of at least 4,200 100mg-pills of the opioid Tramadol, acquired from Tijuana. He also bought synthetic urine, presumably to pass military-required drug tests.

                            The Coast Guard did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
                            additional reporting by Will Sommer

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                            • Congress
                              Risch tries to calm Republicans furious with Trump
                              GOP senators were enraged over the Trump administration's refusal to send a report to Congress determining who killed Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
                              POLITICO ANDREW DESIDERIO 02/22/2019 05:04 AM EST

                              Sen. Jim Risch was on the verge of facing down an insurgency from his GOP colleagues.

                              Top Senate Republicans were fuming at the Trump administration last week for ignoring congressional demands to further investigate the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.But Risch, the newly minted chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wasnt eager to preside over an intraparty fight. And so he quickly began working to calm GOP senators even giving potentially misleading information.

                              The Idaho Republican told several of his GOP colleagues that President Donald Trump had complied with the Magnitsky Act by sending Congress a report determining who was responsible for the Saudi journalists murder even though the administration had already publicly declared that it was going to ignore lawmakers demand.

                              Asked about the administrations refusal, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) one of the many Republicans who was livid with the White House said Risch told him the opposite had happened.

                              It sounds like there is confusion about what exactly did or didnt come from the administration, said Gardner, who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. Risch just informed me that the administration has complied with the law. So you might want to clarify with Sen. Risch.

                              In the days that followed, Risch also composed a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asking for a classified briefing on the administration's efforts to hold the Saudi government accountable. Republican aides said it represented an effort by Risch to dampen GOP anger and unite the party.

                              The episode underscores Rischs desire to quell any revolt within the GOP rank and file and avoid picking public fights with the president. And it suggests the committee is likely to be a major site of internal GOP conflict over Trump in the new Congress.

                              Suzanne Wrasse, a spokeswoman for Risch, acknowledged the senators efforts to unite the GOP side of the committee, which included the previously unreported one-on-one meetings with Gardner and other Republican senators.

                              As someone with decades of public service and leadership experience, Chairman Risch knows that a good leader is a good listener who looks for areas where there is consensus, Wrasse said. After hearing from some members with additional questions for the administration about Khashoggis murder, he communicated directly with each Republican member of the committee and ultimately led a letter inviting the administration to brief him and his colleagues.

                              Gardner wasnt the only Republican member Risch apparently tried to placate. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio who similarly rebuked Trump also talked with the chairman. He said Risch told him the Trump administration followed the law.

                              When asked about his interactions with Gardner and Rubio, Risch confirmed that he told the senators that the Trump administration complied with the Magnitsky Act.

                              Yeah, sure, they did, Risch said, despite the administrations stonewalling. Theyve been very forthcoming. Theyve given us, I think, everything that theyve had. So theyre doing well.

                              Rischs letter to Pompeo also largely masked the divisions within his party. He secured signatures from every GOP member of the committee except Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

                              Romney's office declined to comment and Paul's spokesperson said he was never asked to sign the letter.

                              That effort, however, was initially intended to be bipartisan, aides and senators said. Rischs letter praised Pompeo for the administrations ongoing efforts to work with Congress on the issue, but it did not reference the administrations stated refusal to comply with the Magnitsky Act.

                              According to a draft of the letter obtained by POLITICO and rejected by Risch, Democrats attempted to insert language stating that the administration is not in compliance with the law, which is of grave concern to members of this committee. That draft was never sent.

                              Toward the end of his tenure as chairman, Rischs predecessor, former Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), often used the committee to directly and publicly question and push back against Trumps foreign policy. That included regularly speaking out against Trump and holding hearings where senators could grill senior administration officials. Risch, on the other hand, has said he would air his disagreements with the president in private.

                              Democrats say theyre concerned that Risch is turning the Foreign Relations Committee which has a history of pushing back on presidents of both parties, regardless of the chairmans party into a rubber-stamp for Trump.

                              If we let him get away with this I mean, we might as well repeal the Magnitsky Act if were willing to endorse a president refusing a certification like this, said Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. I think its really unfortunate if the Foreign Relations Committee takes the position that the president is complying with the law when he clearly is not.

                              Many Republicans agree. In a brief interview, Rubio said it is clear that the Trump administrations policy is that they refuse to follow the law with regard to Magnitsky. But he said Congress and the Foreign Relations Committee in particular has no tools at its disposal to force the Trump administration to send lawmakers a full report on Khashoggis murder.

                              The congressional branch has the ability to stop things from happening, but it doesnt have a lot of power to make the president do anything, Rubio said. So obviously, you could take action on unrelated matters to force an administration to do something, but ultimately theres no law we can pass that makes them answer a question if they refuse to comply.

                              A senior administration official said that Trump maintains his discretion to decline to act on congressional committee requests when appropriate indicating that the president has no intention of complying with the law, despite Rischs public statements to the contrary.

                              I dont know what hes talking about, Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said in response to Rischs comments. Theres no confusion that, from my perspective, the president did not comply with the law. And so saying what theyve said which is a reiteration of the past is not a response to the specific request under Magnitsky.

                              Rubio, Gardner and others count themselves among a majority of senators who, after receiving a classified briefing on Khashoggis October murder inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was complicit in the killing.

                              Trump himself has been reluctant to ascribe any blame for Khashoggis murder to the crown prince, citing the need to maintain a close relationship with Riyadh in the name of counterterrorism and security cooperation.

                              You dont send 17 people that close to the government overseas to kill someone in a consulate and the crown prince does not know about it, at a minimum, or direct it, Rubio said.

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                              • Mueller report summary doesnt deny Russian interference in 2016 election
                                STOPFAKE.ORG March 28, 2019 - 02:50

                                On Sunday., March 25, U.S. Attorney General William Barr released a lettersummarizing the findings of Special Counsel Robert Muellers investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

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