|The James Comey memo is an existential threat to Donald Trump’s presidency – CNN|
|Why the Comey memo could be so explosive for Trump – Los Angeles Times|
|‘A major scandal and abuse of power’: Bombshell Comey memo could lead to a major escalation in the Trump-FBI saga – Business Insider|
|Comey memo says Trump asked him to drop FBI investigation of Michael Flynn – Los Angeles Times|
|Trump vs. Comey: Who will America trust? – CNN|
|Israeli intelligence ‘boiling mad’ over Trump disclosure: report – The Hill|
|Trump’s disclosure endangered spy placed inside ISIS by Israel, officials say – ABC News|
|Trump’s sharing with Russia chills Israeli intelligence – USA TODAY|
|Israel was source for some of the information shared with Russian officials – CNN|
|Trump disclosure of classified intel may have endangered spy: report – The Hill|
|Israel says ties with US unaffected after Trump-Lavrov accusations – BBC News|
|Trump Defends His Sharing of Intel with Russia|
President Donald Trump Tuesday tweeted that he had the “absolute right” to share sensitive counterterrorism intelligence with top Russian officials. We get an update on the story from the Wall Street Journal’s Shane Harris.Download audio: http://feeds.wsjonline.com/~r/wsj/podcast_wall_street_journal_whats_news/~5/gD7NVWWch8A/WSJ9819274425.mp3
|Home Sales at Highest Level in a Decade|
The housing market has been on fire, with used home sales at a 10-year high and home prices up seven percent from a year ago. But Laura Kusisto of the Wall Street Journal says affordability could be a growing problem if prices and mortgage rates keep rising.Download audio: http://feeds.wsjonline.com/~r/wsj/podcast_wall_street_journal_whats_news/~5/4du4Pu7TOLE/WSJ1206329320.mp3
|NPR News: 05-17-2017 7AM ET|
NPR News: 05-17-2017 7AM ETDownload audio: https://play.podtrac.com/npr-500005/npr.mc.tritondigital.com/NPR_500005/media/anon.npr-mp3/npr/newscasts/2017/05/17/newscast070624.mp3?orgId=1&d=300&p=500005&story=528745526&t=podcast&e=528745526&ft=pod&f=500005
|International Edition 2330 EDT – May 16, 2017|
The White House was in crisis mode yet again Tuesday. Turkish leaders smooth over tensions with the U.S. in a visit the White House. A civil rights group issues a travel warning within the United States. Lady Gaga…is not just making music.Download audio: https://av.voanews.com/clips/VEN/2017/05/17/20170517-033000-VEN060-program_hq.mp3
|Trump to Make Historic Visit to Western Wall in Jerusalem – NBCNews.com|
|Israel Said to Be Source of Secret Intelligence Trump Gave to Russians – New York Times|
|What is ‘wholly appropriate’ to the White House? Pretty much whatever Trump says. – Washington Post|
|GOP Lawmakers Call for Inside Information on Trump Disclosure – The Atlantic|
|President Donald Trump is dangerously incompetent – Chicago Tribune|
|Focus Turns to North Korea Sleeper Cells as Possible Culprits in Cyberattack|
Since the 1980s, North Korea has been known to train cadres of digital soldiers to engage in electronic warfare. Now this force is under scrutiny.
|There’s almost nothing Congress can do to stop Trump from giving out secrets – Washington Post|
|‘Pay Trump Bribes Here’ Projected on Trump Hotel in Washington – New York Times|
|Trump’s overseas trip must be canceled. The risks are too great. – Washington Post (blog)|
|The White House Is in Full Crisis Mode This Week, Again – TIME|
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The advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the new FBI director would have little job security and heightened scrutiny by political observers following President DonaldTrump’s abrupt firing of James Comey on May 9. Garland and Cornyn …and more »
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Exasperated Republicans in the House and Senate are growing tired of having to defend President Trump. Daily dramas from the White House are increasingly frustrating Republicans on Capitol Hill and threatening to derail the party’s agenda heading into …
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There should be little doubt that the extraordinary days that followed his original testimony — most notably, almost exactly 24 hours later, President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey — began in some measure because of his understated but highly damning testimony.
Now, as he voluntarily makes the media circuit since the firing, Clapper sees the consequences of Trump’s actions as so threatening to our democracy that he is not likely to recede soon.
Let’s go back to last week; yes, it was only last week. All eyes were on former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates as she testified about what she told the White House regarding former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his potentially compromising ties to foreign governments.
Yates made an impression, but it was Clapper who drew the
His testimony threw a wrench into a narrative that the White House had long used. According to that narrative, while serving as director of the national intelligence, Clapper said there was no proof of collusion between the White House and Russia. But Clapper admitted last Monday that he was unaware of the ongoing FBI investigation, so he wouldn’t have been in a position to know if there had been any evidence of collusion. In other words, the White House could no longer use him as a validator.
The next day, Trump fired Comey. And the White House scrambled to justify the decision. Then, in a series of tweets on Friday morning, Trump lashed out at Comey and suggested there may be tapes of their conversations. But don’t get distracted by the “tapes.” In that flurry of stream of consciousness and self-incrimination, Trump
: “When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?”
He shouldn’t have focused on Clapper. Because, of course, that tweet amounted to a lie. Clapper had said something much more nuanced. Clearly, there was something about Clapper’s testimony that spooked the White House, and something that required the President to reclaim Clapper as a defender.
I suspect there are very few things that would have brought Clapper back to the media, including a sit down with Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” but the President telling tales about him may be one of them.
Clapper, though, isn’t back just to defend himself. He has now raised the stakes for the White House. It turns out that Comey
of his own discomfort with an invitation to dinner he received from Trump just a day after Yates told the White House about Flynn’s potential compromise.
And he is again, as he did as a long-serving intelligence operative, defending America. He is on the news circuit, speaking of his concern about how the institutions of our governance are being undermined and assaulted. There is a stress on our checks and balances that has seen no equivalent in our democracy, he warned. America is under threat “externally and internally,” Clapper noted. “Internally from the President?” Tapper asked. “Exactly,” Clapper replied.
There should be little doubt now that President Trump fired Comey to hinder the investigation of the Russia links; any suggestion it had to do with Comey’s conduct regarding the Clinton campaign has been debunked. Little doubt, indeed, because Trump admitted it himself when he
he had to put an end to the “Russia thing.” There may be plenty of evidence to question Trump’s veracity. But, in this, he is telling the truth. The President wants this investigation to end.
It is that assault on our norms, processes and constitutional order that make the week we just had so historic. How extraordinary? Clapper began that week testifying the enemy was Russia. He ended it, unwittingly it seemed, by telling us that the enemy was also within.
The smoking gun might just have appeared.
There is now a credible report that President Donald Trump may have attempted to obstruct justice in his dealings with then FBI Director James Comey.
On Tuesday evening, the New York Times reported that Trump, in a February Oval Office meeting, asked the FBI director to shut down the bureau’s investigation into Michael Flynn, who had resigned the day before as national security adviser. Flynn’s resignation came after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top administration officials about the extent of his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak.
The Trump administration has denied the Times account — as it has denied any number of other reports that have turned out to be true — saying that Trump never asked Comey to shut any investigation down. But the Times story is based on a source close to Comey who read parts of the memo to the Times. And the story has now been confirmed by CNN and the Washington Post.
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“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump allegedly said to Comey. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Add to that the fact that Trump, by his own admission, was thinking about the Russia investigation and his annoyance over it when he later fired Comey. What we appear to have, then, is a president who tried to prevail on an FBI director to shut down an ongoing investigation and then, when he wouldn’t, fired him.
Let that sink in for a moment.
To date, the Republicans who control Congress have shown little interest in having a special counsel appointed to look into the Trump team’s ties to and interactions with Russian operatives. But this is potentially criminal behavior by the president himself.
An independent counsel can’t be avoided any longer. That’s not to say that Trump should be impeached. That’s a huge step for a nation to take, and a judgment there is premature until all the facts are known.
But the American people need to know all those facts. Even as Congress continues its own probes, which should include public testimony by Comey and the examination of his memo(s), Congressional leaders must acknowledge that an independent counsel is required to oversee the FBI investigation, given the president’s clear desire to shut it down.
And Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who let himself be made complicit in Comey’s firing, needs to appoint such a special counsel — or resign his office.
This is too important for any part of Washington to ignore. Our republic depends on leaders with the courage to rise to the occasion.
Mr. Putin has long sought such cooperation. In part, he owes his 17 years leading Russia as either president or prime minister to the fact that he defeated a domestic insurgency in Chechnya and the Northern Caucasus by branding it as part of the global war on terrorism and flattening the place. Although Al Qaeda was almost certainly active in Chechnya, no one outside Russia paid much attention to Mr. Putin’s warnings about extremism there — until after the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
His antiterrorism campaign is central to his grand overall strategy of restoring Russia to the superpower status it enjoyed in Soviet times.
Yet given the whims of Mr. Trump, Mr. Trudolyubov and others said, it remains unclear that such cooperation will endure. The unexpected manner in which the information was shared makes it difficult to assess whether it represents a permanent shift in course.
“It is not something that Russia can rely on, because Trump changes like the weather,” Mr. Trudolyubov said. “It’s the kind of victory that you do not really want if you want orderly policy cooperation.”
Throughout his campaign, Mr. Trump said repeatedly that he would work more closely with Russia, and this latest episode could indicate that he is following through.
Previously, mistrust of Russian motives always seemed to eventually outweigh any advantage from an alliance, prompting bitter frustration in Moscow. There has been little cooperation on Syria, for example, because most Western capitals see Russian intervention as more about shoring up President Bashar al-Assad as the Kremlin’s main Arab ally rather than fighting the Islamic State.
Although Moscow asserted that chasing Islamist militants from the ancient ruins of Palmyra — twice — proved that it was defending civilized Western values, Russian firepower has largely been focused against the uprising confronting Mr. Assad.
Outside the Islamic State, a shared definition of who constitutes a terrorist in Syria does not exist, and the Pentagon has been leery about cooperation.
“The problem is that both Russia and the U.S. mean different things when they talk about the fight against terrorism in Syria,” said Ivan Kurilla, an expert on Russian-American relations at the European University at St. Petersburg. “The question is whether they will try to bridge the gap in their understanding.”
In addition, it is taken as a given in Russia that whatever Mr. Trump wants, the real establishment in Washington will put a stop to it if it clashes with its interests. “It is not a question of whether Trump wants to or not, it is a question of whether Trump can or not,” said Sergei A. Markov, a political analyst close to the Kremlin.
Still, disparaging asides about Mr. Trump that had been creeping into official newscasts will most likely vanish.
“I would expect the Russians will now stop criticizing Mr. Trump as they have done during the last month or so,” Vladislav L. Inozemtsev, the director of the Center for Postindustrial Studies in Moscow, wrote in an email.
Even if the Kremlin has reason to be pleased with the latest episode, Mr. Putin and the Russian government prefer that policy changes happen in an orderly, choreographed manner.
If the United States and Russia are to forge genuine new cooperation on terrorism, analysts said, Russia would prefer that it emerge from a meeting between the two presidents — scheduled for July — not parsed out via Twitter and confusing, contradictory denials in Washington.
In any case, the Oval Office episode was not big news in Russia, where the main headline of the day focused on Ukraine shutting down key Russian social media and information sites including Vkontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook, and Yandex, Russia’s version of Google.
Dmitri S. Peskov, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, dismissed the reports from the White House. “For us this is not a subject,” he told reporters. “This is the latest nonsense.”
Maria V. Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, called the reports “fake news” and suggested that people should stop reading American newspapers. “They can be used in various ways, but there’s no need to read them — lately, this is not only harmful, but dangerous,” she wrote on Facebook.
On another note, few here accept the idea, at least publicly, that Russia helped Mr. Trump by stealing emails from the Democratic National Committee, even if Russia has clearly stated that conducting hybrid information warfare is important to achieving its strategic goals.
One of those goals is undermining the Western institutions that oppose it. Whether anyone accepts that idea or not, there is glee in some quarters in Moscow at the confusion in the American capital.
“Of course, from Moscow we look at this chaos with a bit of a smile,” Mr. Markov said. “So many Americans used to look at the chaos in Russia that way. It is a kind of psychological revenge.”
American officials preoccupied with domestic problems will also have less time to meddle in Russian affairs, he added.
Most Russians expect that the United States will endure given the strength of its institutions, its economy and its overall resources. Some wonder, however, if the dysfunction at the White House might descend to the level that had previously paralyzed the Kremlin to the worst, last days of the Soviet Union, or even to that of pre-Putin Russia.
There were sarcastic remarks regarding the White House in a commentary on Channel One, a state-run television station, during a news program on Sunday.
“The new action-packed series, tentatively titled ‘Secrets of Trump’s Oval Office,’ becomes more fascinating every day,” said a commentator named Evgeny Baranov. “Russia’s footprint, that is in one way or another present in each new episode, only enhances the intrigues of this bold plotline.”
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“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey that Mr. Flynn had done nothing wrong, according to the memo.
Mr. Comey did not say anything to Mr. Trump about curtailing the investigation, only replying: “I agree he is a good guy.”
In a statement, the White House denied the version of events in the memo.
“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the statement said. “The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”
In testimony to the Senate last week, the acting F.B.I. director, Andrew G. McCabe, said, “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.”
A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment.
Mr. Comey created similar memos — including some that are classified — about every phone call and meeting he had with the president, the two people said. It is unclear whether Mr. Comey told the Justice Department about the conversation or his memos.
Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey last week. Trump administration officials have provided multiple, conflicting accounts of the reasoning behind Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Mr. Trump said in a television interview that one of the reasons was because he believed “this Russia thing” was a “made-up story.”
The Feb. 14 meeting took place just a day after Mr. Flynn was forced out of his job after it was revealed he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of phone conversations he had had with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
Despite the conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Comey, the investigation of Mr. Flynn has proceeded. In Virginia, a federal grand jury has issued subpoenas in recent weeks for records related to Mr. Flynn. Part of the Flynn investigation is centered on his financial ties to Russia and Turkey.
Mr. Comey had been in the Oval Office that day with other senior national security officials for a terrorism threat briefing. When the meeting ended, Mr. Trump told those present — including Mr. Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — to leave the room except for Mr. Comey.
Alone in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.
The Trump administration has offered conflicting answers about how and why the F.B.I. director, James Comey, was fired.
Mr. Trump then turned the discussion to Mr. Flynn.
After writing up a memo that outlined the meeting, Mr. Comey shared it with senior F.B.I. officials. Mr. Comey and his aides perceived Mr. Trump’s comments as an effort to influence the investigation, but they decided that they would try to keep the conversation secret — even from the F.B.I. agents working on the Russia investigation — so the details of the conversation would not affect the investigation.
Mr. Comey was known among his closest advisers to document conversations that he believed would later be called into question, according to two former confidants, who said Mr. Comey was uncomfortable at times with his relationship with Mr. Trump.
Mr. Comey’s recollection has been bolstered in the past by F.B.I. notes. In 2007, he told Congress about a now-famous showdown with senior White House officials over the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. The White House disputed Mr. Comey’s account, but the F.B.I. director at the time, Robert S. Mueller III, kept notes that backed up Mr. Comey’s story.
The White House has repeatedly crossed lines that other administrations have been reluctant to cross when discussing politically charged criminal investigations. Mr. Trump has disparaged the ongoing F.B.I. investigation as a hoax and called for an investigation into his political rivals. His representatives have taken the unusual step of declaring no need for a special prosecutor to investigate the president’s associates.
The Oval Office meeting occurred a little more than two weeks after Mr. Trump summoned Mr. Comey to the White House for a lengthy, one-on-one dinner in the residence. At that dinner, on Jan. 27, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey at least two times for a pledge of loyalty — which Mr. Comey declined, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.
After the meeting, Mr. Comey’s associates did not believe there was any way to corroborate Mr. Trump’s statements. But Mr. Trump’s suggestion last week that he was keeping tapes has made them wonder whether there are tapes that back up Mr. Comey’s account.
The Jan. 27 dinner came a day after White House officials learned that Mr. Flynn had been interviewed by F.B.I. agents about his phone calls with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak. On Jan. 26, Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates told the White House counsel about the interview, and said Mr. Flynn could be subject to blackmail by the Russians because they knew he had lied about the content of the calls.
Statehood, Mr. Rosselló and his allies argue, would mean more investment in infrastructure, which would attract more businesses and create a more stable economy. Mr. Rosselló has also criticized Puerto Rico’s current relationship with the mainland as a “colonial status” that deprives its 3.4 million residents “of the right to political, social and economic equality under the U.S. flag.”
But Mr. Rosselló must not simply convince a wary Congress, which, by law, holds the key to Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States. On the island, the “status” issue, as it is typically called, has for decades been the defining — and most divisive — question at the heart of Puerto Rican politics.
The three main political parties are not really divided along ideological lines; rather, Puerto Ricans know them as the party of statehood, the party of independence and the party that supports some improved version of the status quo. Voters in the June 11 referendum will be asked to choose among those three visions, and Mr. Rosselló’s allies are making a big push.
“Treasure your American citizenship,” read signs posted around the capital. “Guarantee it. Vote for statehood.”
But resistance runs deep. Jose Falu, 63, a black Puerto Rican who served in the Army from 1978 to 1984, was visiting the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in San Juan last week. He said he would like to see the commonwealth receive the same treatment as states — but not become a state. “I’ve lived in the United States during my period in the Army,” he said, “and they don’t treat the Puerto Ricans the same way as the Americans.”
Such is the swirl of complex feelings toward the mainland in Puerto Rico, obtained by the United States in 1898 as a spoil of the Spanish-American War. Its mash-up Caribbean culture has long encompassed strains of ardent American patriotism and concerns about the dilution of a unique Hispanic heritage, and its compatibility with the broader American project. In San Juan, the Capitol is adorned on the inside with paintings of Puerto Ricans who served with particular distinction and bravery in the American military. Abraham Lincoln’s famous quotation — “government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth” — graces the exterior.
Some Puerto Ricans believe that the best expression of that sentiment would be a declaration of independence from the United States, but their numbers are small: The Puerto Rican Independence Party has never won the governorship.
“I don’t feel optimistic at all” about achieving independence, said Humberto Rodríguez Ortiz, 29, an artist and bartender. “I just hope for it like a little kid.”
During the Cold War era, the F.B.I. tried to undermine the independence movement here, but it has also been weakened by the perks of commonwealth status. Though Puerto Ricans residing on the island do not vote for president, and their sole representative in Congress cannot cast a vote, they are United States citizens and may move to the mainland as they please.
It is an option Puerto Ricans have increasingly taken advantage of in their effort to escape the economic malaise on the island, where 46 percent of the people are in poverty and the unemployment rate was 11.5 percent in March. More than 400,000 have moved to the mainland in the past decade. As of 2013, there were 5.1 million Puerto Ricans living on the mainland, according to the Pew Research Center, while the number of residents in the commonwealth is expected to dip below 3 million by 2050.
The middle ground has long been occupied by the Popular Democratic Party. Its leaders do not want to abandon the autonomy that the current status provides, but they argue that serious changes are needed if the island’s economy is to be saved.
In an interview on Tuesday, Héctor Ferrer, the party president, argued, among other things, that Congress should modify the Jones Act of 1920, which prohibits non-American ships from carrying goods between the island and the mainland, an exclusion that he said pushes up the prices of consumer goods and gasoline.
But he also criticized the referendum language, and warned of the cultural losses that would come with statehood. “We will lose our autonomy,” he said. “We will lose our culture. We will lose our language.”
At their conventions last year, Democrats and Republicans expressed support for the ability of Puerto Rico to choose its status. But skeptics on the island wonder how seriously statehood would be taken in Congress, given that it would mean billions more in outlays for federal programs in Puerto Rico; and in the Trump administration, where the White House has taken down the Spanish-language page of its website and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has supported efforts to make English the official language. During a debate, Mr. Trump criticized Jeb Bush for speaking Spanish on the campaign trail, saying, “This is a country where we speak English.”
Mr. Rosselló’s New Progressive Party controls both houses of the legislature, but his critics note that he was elected in November with only 42 percent of the vote, and the two main opposition parties have pledged to boycott the referendum.
The crisis has driven some Puerto Ricans into Mr. Rosselló’s camp. Erick Storer, 36, became a convert to the statehood movement when he was laid off three months ago from his job in the pharmaceutical industry. The sector had thrived here thanks to generous corporate tax breaks created by Congress in 1976.
But Congress began phasing out the breaks in 1996, and they disappeared in 2006 — one reason, experts say, the economy has taken such a hit. With no representation in Congress, residents like Mr. Storer have been left feeling as if they have little say in policy making.
“We’re part of it, and we’re not part of it, and I don’t like that,” said Mr. Storer, who drives for Uber to make ends meet.
Others warn that statehood will not be a panacea. Among other things, Puerto Ricans would have to give up their current exemption from federal income tax for income earned in the commonwealth.
For some statehood supporters, the slim chance of convincing Congress of their cause is not as important as sending Washington a strong message. “It’s just so they can hear our voice,” said Marcos Díaz, 46, the owner of a moving company.
But there is also fear that the effort and attention being lavished on the referendum will be just one more distraction from the issues the island needs to address, among them corruption, nepotism and the need for a cleareyed economic plan. The last time a status referendum was held, in 2012, 61 percent of voters chose statehood, but the Popular Democratic Party instructed its followers to leave ballots blank, and argued that the end result had little merit.
“I personally think it’s a waste of time,” said Gretchen Sierra-Zorita, a consultant who works with a number of Puerto Rico organizations in Washington. “Puerto Rico puts so much emphasis on electing parties and party leaders that represent a status option as opposed to a good-governance option.”
Some of that sentiment was echoed last Tuesday afternoon at Yordy’s Mini-Market. A testament to Puerto Ricans’ enduring knack for industry and improvisation, it is part hardware store and part bar, with drinks mixed next to a key-duplicating machine during happy hour.
“Neither Republicans nor Democrats want us,” Roberto Reyes Villegas, 50, a carpenter who works for San Juan’s municipal government, said as he drank a Medalla Light beer.
Mr. Reyes described himself as a regular voter who was not loyal to any party. But he said he refused to participate in the referendum. It was little more than a distraction, he said, cooked up by what he called the “legisladrones,” or thieving lawmakers, who, he said, have been “sucking millions out of Puerto Rico.”
Mr. Reyes said the austerity plans had not touched his salary or benefits yet. And at age 50, he is taking a philosophical view of what comes next, paraphrasing Einstein’s contention that the distinction between past, present and future was a “stubbornly persistent illusion.”
He knows that the future is a more concrete and perhaps frightening proposition for his 18-year-old son. But his son, Mr. Reyes said, is smart and bilingual. If things get worse, he said, his son would probably just move away.
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Vladimir Putin has ordered his leading US-based intelligence operatives to rush to Greg Norman outfitters’ outlets and to make permanent reservations at the Mar-a-Lago restaurant in Florida.
“Forget all the skulking and working confidential sources and organising dead-drops and writing in invisible ink and playing Mata Hari,” Putin commanded. “We’ll never have to pay another ruble to traitors.
Trump reveals secrets to Russia: Officials
President Donald Trump disclosed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister during their meeting last week, two US officials with knowledge of the situation say.
“All we have to do is get tight with glupyy* Donald.
“Golf, glitz and gluttony are the key.
“Flatter him, tell him his tee-shot is the best, and when you’re dining at his Lago place, catch his eye, tell him his daughter really has the tightest glutes and whisper a suggestion about what might happen to Alex Baldwin if he tried his rubbish on Moscow’s Saturday night TV. Make it graphic. Entrails.
“He’ll be all over you like a special escort at the Hotel Ritz Carlton at Red Square.”
Mr Putin’s order to drop old-style fieldcraft in favour of recreational socialising at the top follows the revelation that Donald Trump merrily revealed highly classified information, including jeopardising a critical source relating to ISIS, during a meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister and the Russian Ambassador.
“Imagine,” said Putin, setting down a 200 kilogram barbell he’d been using for bicep curls. “He just invited them into the White House and spilled the corn.”
“Beans, your Fabulousness,” offered a nervous aide.
“Thank you. Now remove yourself to the cellar at the Lubyanka, you weeping sore,” snapped Putin.
“All that effort by our cyber patriots, our hacker army, our friends in WikiLeaks. Our extremely special services at the Ritz. Our infiltrations and helpful business deals with friends of friends.
“We never needed any of it.
“That Hollywood fraud Reagan said he’d won the Cold War. Such vanity. Such typical Yankee Running Dog hastiness.
“We’ve emerged victorious! We needed only wait for the duraki*. The kretin*. Our friend. Donald!
“The man who’ll hand us all the secrets and think he’s doing great.
“Get our teams to the golfing clinics. Grease the waiters at Mar-a-Lago. Make extra appointments for our diplomats at the White House.
“But hurry! Make all haste. Before his idioty* supporters finally understand what they’ve got to do.
“Now, hand me the the Kalashnikov. There are bear to hunt.”
*Russian words all roughly meaning “moron”.
The right-wing media teaches us how to downplay a scandal.
US President Donald Trump handed over secret data to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian ambassador to the US Sergei Kislyak during the visit of the Russian delegation to Washington, reports The Washington Post.
The information concerned Islamic State (ISIL) terrorist organisation (banned in Russia). Thus, President Trump jeopardised the source in the United States that had provided information to the US administration about the terrorists.
The US administration obtained the information through a secret data exchange mechanism. Messages in the mechanism are only available to a limited number of people in US power structures, not to mention the fact that the US does not disclose any information from the source to its allies. However, Trump has decided to break the tradition, without receiving permission from the source.
It was reported that US officials took urgent measures to curb the damage by contacting the CIA and the National Security Agency.
Later, however, the US refuted the transfer of secret information to Lavrov. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that President Trump discussed only the nature of specific threats with Lavrov.
During his visit to Washington, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov conveyed a message from Russian President Putin to US President Trump. The Kremlin confirmed the information adding that the contacts between the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the US president were carried out during the conversation that took place between the leaders of the two states. No further details were revealed.
UPDATE: Officials spokesperson for the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova, said that the above-mentioned article in The Washington Post about the exchange of secret information between Putin and Trump was fake news that deserves no attention.
Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
Which business Putin and Trump contrive
This handout photo released by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, shows President Donald Trump meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. The Washington Post is reporting that Trump revealed highly classified information about Islamic State militants to Russian officials during a meeting at the White House last week. The newspaper cites current and former U.S. officials who say Trump jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on IS in his conversations with the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador to the U.S. They say Trump offered details about an IS terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft.(Russian Foreign Ministry via AP)
President Donald Trump is spilling secrets big league.
President Trump revealed highly classified information to two Russian diplomats in the Oval office last week.
The report implied it happened as he was bragging about how great our intel is.
Now, it may turn out to have been a carefully calculated, highly strategic move that will enhance our national security like you’ve never seen.
But whatever he disclosed, it has left even some Republicans worried that our allies and even the CIA itself are just not going to send sensitive information to the White House anymore.
There’s only one solution: Someone has to yank his security clearance.
You say, Dave, who is going to yank the president’s security clearance?
President Trump should.
“Why are these people with great knowledge of the inner workings of our country and security, why are they giving Hillary Clinton briefings?” he said July 27, 2016.
He understands the importance of keeping your mouth shut.
“I know, at some point, they’re going to be calling and they’re going to want to brief me, but I’m not a talker about this stuff,” he explained.
Trump was determined to save us from someone who simply stored a secret improperly.
“I don’t think it’s safe to have Hillary Clinton be briefed on national security because the word will get out.”
Trump must now yank his own security clearance for 90 days until he can undergo extreme vetting.
But Dave, you say, that’s silly! Just impeach him!
Sorry. The standard for impeachment in America is lying about sex under oath. Say what you want, this president has been more than candid when it comes to sex.
WASHINGTON (AP) — For months, U.S. allies have anxiously wondered if President Donald Trump could be trusted with some of the world’s most sensitive national security secrets.
Now, just a few days before Trump’s debut on the international stage, he’s giving allies new reasons to worry. A U.S. official said Trump revealed highly classified information about an Islamic State plot to senior Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting last week. The information had been obtained by a U.S. partner and shared with Washington, according to the official.
“If it proves to be true that the American president passed on internal intelligence matters, that would be highly worrying,” Burkhard Lischka, a senior German lawmaker, said in a statement to The Associated Press.
A second European official told the AP that their country might stop sharing intelligence with the United States as a result of Trump’s disclosure to Russia.
The revelations — which Trump appeared to verify in a pair of tweets Tuesday morning — are sure to shadow the president as he embarks Friday on his first overseas trip as president. After high-stakes visits to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican, he’ll meet some of Washington’s strongest European partners at a NATO summit in Brussels and the Group of 7 meeting in Sicily. Some of the leaders he’ll meet come from countries the U.S. has intelligence-sharing agreements with.
Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, said Trump actions send “a troubling signal to America’s allies and partners around the world and may impair their willingness to share intelligence with us in the future.”
Trump has a contentious relationship with American spy agencies. He’s questioned the competence of intelligence officials, challenged their assessment that Russia meddled in last year’s election to help him win, and accused them of leaking information about him and his associates.
The leaks have only continued to flow.
According to the U.S. official, Trump shared details with top Russian officials about an Islamic State terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft. The Washington Post first reported the disclosure.
White House officials disputed the report, saying Trump did not disclose intelligence sources or methods with the Russians, though they did not deny that classified information was disclosed in the May 10 meeting. And by Tuesday morning, Trump was justifying his actions, writing on Twitter that he had an “absolute right” to share the information about “terrorism and airline flight safety” with Russia.”
The U.S. and Western officials spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss sensitive information.
The White House has looked to Trump’s trip abroad as a moment to draw the president out of Washington’s hyper-partisan hothouse and put him in a more statesman-like setting. He’s expected to be warmly received by Arab allies in Saudi Arabia, who welcomed his decision to launch missiles against a Syrian air base following a chemical weapons attack, and in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu views Trump as more favorable to his interests than former President Barack Obama.
But some of the European partners Trump will meet later in his trip have been more skeptical about his policies, including a controversial travel and immigration ban that’s been blocked by U.S. courts. Western allies, including Britain and Germany, have also been wary of Trump’s warmness toward Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was kicked out of the summit of leading economic powers after Moscow’s annexation of territory from Ukraine.
The White House’s botched handling of Trump’s firing last week of FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing the bureau’s Russia probe, and the president’s own volatile statements about his actions are also likely to raise questions among allies about the U.S. leader’s standing.
Anthony Cordesman, a national security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said allies will be trying to size up Trump’s “actual political strength relative to the divisions with Congress, the problems within his own party.”
“Can he move forward with his own agenda? That will certainly be a question as he visits any country overseas,” Cordesman said.
Editor’s Note: Julie Pace has covered the White House and politics for The Associated Press since 2007. Follow her at <a href=”http://twitter.com/jpaceDC” rel=”nofollow”>http://twitter.com/jpaceDC</a>
An AP News Analysis
President Donald Trump was informed that he had broken protocol. | Getty
By Associated Press
A senior European intelligence official told the Associated Press that his country might stop sharing information with the United States if it confirms that President Donald Trump shared classified details with Russian officials.
Such sharing “could be a risk for our sources,” the official said.
Story Continued Below
The official spoke only on condition that neither he nor his country be identified, because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
At the White House, Trump said in his tweets, “I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining … to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”
Trump shared details about an Islamic State terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, a senior U.S official told AP. The classified information had been shared with the president by an ally, violating the confidentiality of an intelligence-sharing agreement with that country, the official said.
Trump later was informed that he had broken protocol and White House officials placed calls to the National Security Agency and the CIA looking to minimize any damage.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly, would not say which country’s intelligence was divulged.
The disclosure put a source of intelligence on the Islamic State at risk, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the disclosure on Monday.
The CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence have declined to comment.
Mashable–May 12, 2017
Forbes–May 10, 2017
Daily Mail–May 10, 2017
BGR–May 10, 2017
Donald Trump has once again found himself at the centre of a storm – this time for reportedly sharing “codeword classified” information with the Russian ambassador.
The information, which related to the use of laptops on aircraft, is understood to have been passed to the Americans by an ally who had apparently chosen not to share it with Moscow.
It was marked “codeword classified”, and was highly sensitive.
Mr Trump has now said he “had the absolute right” to tell the Russians “acts pertaining to terrorism and airline safety”.
So what are the rules around confidential information, and does he really have the right?
What is classification?
According to an executive order signed by Barack Obama in 2009, something is considered classified if “the national defence has required that certain information be maintained in confidence in order to protect our citizens, our democratic institutions, our homeland security, and our interactions with foreign nations”.
Once it is classified, the sharing of that material could lead to prosecution. However, there is no law against it.
What do the different levels of classification mean?
There are three different levels of classification
- Top secret is the highest level, and is information the government believes could “reasonably… be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security”. According to The Economist, about 1.4 million people have access to these documents.
- Secret is for information which could “reasonably… be expected to cause serious damage”.
- Confidential applies to information which could simply “cause damage to the national security”. Most military personnel have this level of clearance.
However, there is also a way to add a second level of clearance to top secret. It is administered by the CIA, and allows only those with the codeword access to the information. The material discussed by Mr Trump with the Russians was under a codeword, sources told the Washington Post.
These classifications are given by either the US president, vice-president, but more usually the heads of the various intelligence agencies.
How do things get ‘declassified’?
When the classification is set, a timescale for declassification is set. In some cases, it may be an event which will signal that the information can now be made public, in others an actual date. If neither of these things are obvious, it will be automatically set for 10 years’ time. However, it could also be kept classified for 25 years.
Importantly, no information should be classified indefinitely.
Is there a presidential loophole?
In short, yes.
Declassification before the agreed time – or even just downgrading its classification level – is a decision for the person who originally gave the information that level of security, their successor or supervisor. The Director of National Intelligence can downgrade or declassify an item, after consultation with the relevant heads of department.
However, the rules for classification are considered part of the president’s constitutional powers – so if he wants to declassify something, he can, according to the New York Times.
Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy specialist with the Federation of American Scientists, explained to the newspaper: “It is an expression of presidential authority, and that means that the president and his designees decide what is classified, and they have the essentially unlimited authority to declassify at will.
“The president defines the terms of the security clearance system and the parameters that determine who may be given access to classified information.”
What would happen if anyone else shared confidential information?
In theory, they would lose their security clearance, or even end up in prison, prosecuted under the espionage laws. Edward Snowden leaked top secret information, and ended up seeking asylum in Russia in order to avoid prosecution.
But it seems there is no hard and fast rule: American news site The Hill pointed out last year that the punishments seemed to vary based on who you were, not the information you leaked.
What does this mean for intelligence sharing in the future?
If Mr Trump has shared highly sensitive information, he has broken a “golden rule”, the BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner has said.
“There is a golden rule in the world of espionage that when one government supplies intelligence to another it must not be passed on to a third party without permission of the original supplier,” he said.
“The reason is simple: it could put the lives of their human informants at risk.”
But will this make US allies think twice about sharing information with their American counterparts?
Potentially not. Some in the international community have already sought to play down the implications of what Mr Trump may or may not have done.
New Zealand’s foreign affairs minister Gerry Brownlee said Russia and the US needed to work closely together, and cited the Trump administration’s denial of the story.