A bomb has dropped on the Trump Russia story. Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin https://t.co/pb9txA858U – Washington Post (@washingtonpost) May 26, 2017 CHRIS HAYES: We once again have breaking news tonight about the Trump campaign and Russia, and it is a doozy. “The Washington Post” citing US Officials briefed… Continue Reading →
Former NSA analyst John Schindler writes about an unusual townhall held by director Mike Rogers this week:
This week’s town hall event, which was broadcast to agency facilities worldwide, was therefore met with surprise and anticipation by the NSA workforce, and Rogers did not disappoint. I have spoken with several NSA officials who witnessed the director’s talk and I’m reporting their firsthand accounts, which corroborate each other, on condition of anonymity.
In his town hall talk, Rogers reportedly admitted that President Trump asked him to discredit the FBI and James Comey, which the admiral flatly refused to do. As Rogers explained, he informed the commander in chief, “I know you won’t like it, but I have to tell what I have seen”—a probable reference to specific intelligence establishing collusion between the Kremlin and Team Trump.
Rogers then added that such SIGINT exists, and it is damning. He stated, “There is no question that we [meaning NSA] have evidence of election involvement and questionable contacts with the Russians.” Although Rogers did not cite the specific intelligence he was referring to, agency officials with direct knowledge have informed me that DIRNSA was obviously referring to a series of SIGINT reports from 2016 based on intercepts of communications between known Russian intelligence officials and key members of Trump’s campaign, in which they discussed methods of damaging Hillary Clinton.
NSA employees walked out of the town hall impressed by the director’s forthright discussion of his interactions with the Trump administration, particularly with how Rogers insisted that he had no desire to “politicize” the situation beyond what the president has already done. America’s spies are unaccustomed to playing partisan politics as Trump has apparently asked them to do, and it appears that the White House’s ham-fisted effort to get NSA to attack the FBI and its credibility was a serious mistake.
It’s therefore high time for the House and Senate intelligence committees to invite Admiral Rogers to talk to them about what transpired with the White House. It’s evident that DIRNSA has something important to say. Since Mike Rogers is said to have kept notes of the president’s effort to enlist him in Trump’s personal war with the FBI, as any seasoned Beltway bureaucrat would do, his account ought to be impressively detailed.
I have no way of knowing or vouching for any of the rumors swirling around. But I know enough about how the feds operate to think they plan to use Kushner against Trump, and the likely point of leverage is the assumption that Trump will want to keep his daughter out of jail. (Yes, I assume she’s as crooked and arrogant as he is.)
- Also: Many rumors that NY Attorney General Eric Scheiderman’s investigation into Trump’s finances will lead to RICO indictments of Trump and his circle. Of all these rumors, I’d say this one seems to be most likely to be based in reality. RICO is an often-abused statute that’s used to decimate people, and in this case, it would be appropriate. (Oh, and the state can seize assets gained by the criminal activity, which could be everything.)
- Did Trump receive a target letter from the feds before he went on his trip? Well, it’s likely that he gets one at some point, and he did seem shakier than usual this week. Stay tuned.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu gives a great speech about the removal of Confederate memorials:
The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered.
As a community, we must recognize the significance of removing New Orleans’ Confederate monuments. It is our acknowledgment that now is the time to take stock of, and then move past, a painful part of our history. Anything less would render generations of courageous struggle and soul-searching a truly lost cause.
Lincoln should have crushed the South after the war. Maybe they’d think twice about their un-American nonsense.
This is quite the little surprise:
Former FBI Director James Comey’s controversial decision to detail the FBI’s findings in the Hillary Clinton email case without Justice Department input was influenced by a dubious Russian document that the FBI now considers to be bad intelligence, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The secret document, which purported to be a piece of Russian intelligence, claimed that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch had privately assured someone in the Clinton campaign that the investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified information would go nowhere.
But according to people familiar with the matter, by August the FBI had come to believe the document was unreliable — and in fact may have been planted as a fake to confuse the FBI.
Comey made his announcement in July.
The document reportedly described an email supposedly written by then-Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and sent to Leonard Benardo, who is an official with the George Soros organization Open Society Foundations.
According to the document, Wasserman Schultz claimed Lynch had assured senior Clinton campaign staffer Amanda Renteria that the investigation would not go too far.
Supporters of Comey claim that the document gave him good reason to take the microphone in July, without consulting with Lynch, to announce the close of the Clinton probe — in great detail.
Although they ruled empires 4,600 miles apart, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin shared a vision. Trump, the billionaire New York real estate mogul and reality television star, wanted even more power and money, while Putin, the autocratic Russian president, wanted even more power and influence. Trump fantasized about becoming president of the United States while Putin… Continue Reading →
Turns out Obama didn’t want to piss off the Russians, so he didn’t want to make it an issue. And Trump’s administration simply isn’t staffed to handle it if they want to:
In the messy aftermath of our last presidential election, Congress finally had enough of Obama’s egregious passivity, and with bipartisan support it placed a mandate to push back against “state propaganda” in the end-of-2016 National Defense Authorization Act. Although the NDAA didn’t use the word Russia, there’s no doubt who was the intended target of this belated effort at counter-propaganda.
Specifically, thanks to a strong push by Sen. John McCain, who has urged Washington to get serious about Russian threats for many years, the NDAA gave the State Department not less than $60 million in 2017 to engage in counter-propaganda work—in other words, debunking Fake News aimed at undermining Western democracies. According to the NDAA, the Pentagon is supposed to transfer the funds to Foggy Bottom, which is perennially short of cash; for the Defense Department, $60 million barely constitutes a rounding error. When Congress passed and President Obama signed the NDAA on December 23 of last year, it became law.
However, five months have passed and nothing has happened in Washington that’s worth mentioning in the fight against Kremlin disinformation. The State Department has established a tiny office inside its Global Engagement Center, which is charged with pushing back against jihadist propaganda; the effort against Russian lies is supposed to be an add-on for the GEC. However, to date nobody has been hired, and the State Department has only a small handful of experts in Russian disinformation on the payroll, nowhere near enough to implement the law.
There’s plenty of blame to go around here, though none of it belongs to the overworked GEC. The Trump White House’s hiring freeze has made it impossible to bring qualified personnel into the State Department. Neither does it help matters that the Trump administration has decided it doesn’t need its own officials to implement its policies. To date, of the 557 jobs that require Senate approval, President Trump has nominated 49, announced the nomination of 19, while only 29 people have been confirmed; 460 jobs have no nominees at all. No previous White House has ever been this slow to get its own people into top positions in Washington.
The impact of this on implementing the NDAA—and countless other laws—is cancerous. Most of the staff work that goes into making the Federal bureaucracy function is approved at the level of assistant secretaries and their deputies. And those critical jobs are almost entirely unfilled at both the State Department and the Pentagon. When closely examined, there’s really no mystery why the will of Congress regarding Russian Fake News isn’t being followed: there’s nobody to make decisions, sign paperwork, transfer funds, and hire staff.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t explain why Congress isn’t asking questions. Several of its senior members have been passionate about getting our government in the fight against Putin’s noxious lie machine. While it’s no surprise that Team Trump isn’t excited about pushing back against Russian propaganda, why patriots on Capitol Hill don’t have pointed questions about the law not being followed is something of mystery. Until senators and representatives start asking what’s going on here, the struggle against Kremlin Active Measures will be fought by our European allies on our behalf.
Well, here we go. Trump’s new budget will be announced today, and it features massive cuts to Social Security disability. They are selling this to the media as “disability, not real Social Security,” and it’s up to us to stop them:
We pointed out back in March that Trump budget direct Mick Mulvaney displayed an alarming ignorance about Social Security disability benefits during an appearance on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”
Now it turns out that there was method to his muttering. In effect, Mulvaney was telegraphing that the Trump White House was planning to cut disability benefits sharply. Axios reported Sunday that the Trump budget due out Tuesday will include $1.7 trillion in cuts to major social insurance and assistance programs, including food stamps, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Social Security disability.
Any cut to disability would be a major violation of Trump’s oft-repeated campaign pledge not to cut Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare. Trump also broke that promise, by the way, by endorsing the American Health Care Act, the House Republican Obamacare repeal plan that incorporates a stunning $880 billion in Medicaid cuts.
It turns out that Mulvaney was setting up a flagrant deception during that “Face the Nation” appearance. He asked moderator John Dickerson, “Do you really think that Social Security disability insurance is part of what people think of when they think of Social Security? I don’t think so.”
Dickerson let the remark, which we described then as “a drive-by shooting” aimed at some of the nation’s neediest and most defenseless people, slide without comment.
But Mulvaney was tapping into a knowledge vacuum that appears to extend more deeply into the Washington press corps. Politico, which reports that the budget document will “avoid revamping Social Security and Medicare,” and the Associated Press, which says the budget “won’t touch Social Security or Medicare,” get snowed by the implication that a cut in disability isn’t a cut to Social Security.
No wonder he asked for loyalty oaths! We are so very shocked, right?
President Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials.
Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.
Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president.
Trump sought the assistance of Coats and Rogers after FBI Director James B. Comey told the House Intelligence Committee on March 20 that the FBI was investigating “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”
Trump’s conversation with Rogers was documented contemporaneously in an internal memo written by a senior NSA official, according to the officials. It is unclear if a similar memo was prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to document Trump’s conversation with Coats. Officials said such memos could be made available to both the special counsel now overseeing the Russia investigation and congressional investigators, who might explore whether Trump sought to impede the FBI’s work.
Very sad. The arena was filled with young teens and children:
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 23, 2017