Congress shows growing concern over Trump controversies

Share this article
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Image result for trump investigation centipede

trump investigation centipede – Google Search

“On Tuesday night, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) compared the current situation to the Watergate scandal while speaking at an International Republican Institute dinner.

“We’ve seen this movie before. I think it’s reaching the point where it’s of Watergate size and scale and a couple of other scandals that you and I have seen,” McCain told Bob Schieffer of CBS News. “It’s a centipede and the shoe continues to drop.”

Asked Wednesday whether the current imbroglio could lead to impeachment, McCain responded: “I have no idea on that — come on.”

Centipedes are arthropods belonging to the class Chilopoda of the subphylum Myriapoda. They are elongated metameric creatures with one pair of legs per body segment. Centipedes are known to be highly venomous, and often inject paralyzing venom. Wikipedia

Congress shows growing concern over Trump controversies

Congress shows growing concern over Trump controversies

1 Share

Congressional Republicans are increasing pressure on the Trump administration to produce documents related to the latest string of controversies involving President Trump, amid flagging confidence in the White House and a growing sense that scandal is overtaking the presidency.

As the White House sought to contain the damage from two major scandals, leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked the FBI for documents related to former Director James B. Comey, who was leading an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election before Trump fired him last week.

The panel’s chairman and ranking Democrat asked the FBI to hand over Comey’s notes about his communications with White House and senior Justice Department officials related to the Russia investigation. In a separate letter, they also asked Comey to testify before the committee in both open and closed sessions.

The requests came after news reports revealed Trump’s disclosure of highly classified material to Russian officials and an alleged attempt to shut down an investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

On Wednesday, some members of the GOP began predicting that the party will rally behind some sort of independent investigative body to probe the two issues.

Here’s what happened after the Post revealed Trump’s disclosure to the Russians

The White House defends President Trump’s disclosure of classified information to Russian officials while Democrats demand to see transcripts of the meeting. The White House on May 16 defended President Trump’s disclosure of classified information to Russian officials while Democrats demanded to see transcripts of the May 10 meeting. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde,Jayne Orenstein,Dalton Bennett,Alice Li,Whitney Leaming/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

(Bastien Inzaurralde,Jayne Orenstein,Dalton Bennett,Alice Li,Whitney Leaming/The Washington Post)

[How Key Washington players are reacting: Complete live coverage]

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), co-chairman of the moderate Tuesday Group, said Wednesday that the collective political fallout from the past week “will make it difficult” for Republicans to resist a change in approach.

Dent said he does not like investigations by independent prosecutors because they “tend to take on a life of their own” and instead preferred an independent commission of outside experts.

“We may have to move in that direction,” Dent said Wednesday at a forum moderated by Center Forward, a moderate Democratic organization.

The collision of the two stories Tuesday night left Republicans reeling, with a senior GOP senator comparing the situation to Watergate, and Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) directing the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to immediately seek records from the FBI.

Ryan was careful to strike an evenhanded tone Wednesday, saying congressional committees would continue to conduct oversight “regardless of what party is in the White House” but seeming to dismiss some concerns that arose in the wake of news about a memo by Comey suggesting that Trump had pressured him to drop the Flynn investigation.

“There’s clearly a lot of politics being played here,” Ryan said.

Cummings blasts House Republicans for not investigating Trump

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) blasted House Republicans for not taking action to investigate the Trump administration on May 17. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) blasted House Republicans for not taking action to investigate the Trump administration’s ties to Russia during a press conference on May 17. (Reuters)

(Reuters)

He noted FBI acting director Andrew McCabe’s recent comment that there has been “no effort to impede our investigation.” McCabe made the remark in a congressional hearing when asked whether the firing Comey had affected the bureau’s work.

Ryan also sounded a skeptical note about Comey’s actions following the meeting in which Trump asked him to “let this go,” referring to the Flynn probe.

“If this happened as he described, why didn’t [Comey] take action at the time?” Ryan said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has not directly commented on allegations that Trump tried to pressure Comey. He did not mention the president or the controversies facing the White House during his morning remarks on the Senate floor and ignored questions from congressional reporters in the halls of the Capitol.

As they pleaded for more information from the White House, lawmakers from both parties rejected Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s unusual offer Wednesday morning to provide a record of the meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump shared classified information.

“The idea that we would accept any evidence from President Putin is absurd,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said in an interview with CNN.

“I don’t talk to murderous dictators like Vladimir Putin, so Putin’s word to me doesn’t mean a whole lot,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a member of Republican leadership, told the same network.

“Probably the last person the president needs to vouch for him right now is Vladimir Putin,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview with CBS News. “Its credibility would be less than zero.”

The chairman of the House Oversight Committee had asked the FBI to produce records of communications between Trump and Comey. The request came after reports disclosed the existence of a memo in which Comey described his meeting with Trump.

“I simply want to see the documentation,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who has said he will issue a subpoena if necessary, told The Post Tuesday night. “We will let the evidence take us where it does.”

[Republicans’ difficult fork in the road: To take Trump at his word … or not, and see where it leads]

Concerns are clearly growing among Republican lawmakers.

On Tuesday night, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) compared the current situation to the Watergate scandal while speaking at an International Republican Institute dinner.

“We’ve seen this movie before. I think it’s reaching the point where it’s of Watergate size and scale and a couple of other scandals that you and I have seen,” McCain told Bob Schieffer of CBS News. “It’s a centipede and the shoe continues to drop.”

Asked Wednesday whether the current imbroglio could lead to impeachment, McCain responded: “I have no idea on that — come on.”

The senator’s spokeswoman, Julie Tarallo, said the comparison was “simply meant to convey that the constant revelations of events surrounding Russia’s interference in the 2016 election are reminiscent of past scandals, are not good for America, and require further scrutiny.”

When asked what he’d say to Trump, McCain replied: “Get it all out. It’s not going to be over until every aspect of it is thoroughly examined and the American people have made a judgment. And the longer you delay, the longer it’s going to last.”

Other Republican senators, while saying they need to review documents before making a final judgment, voiced growing doubts about Trump.

“There’s a lot here that’s really scary,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said Wednesday morning in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “It’s obviously inappropriate for any president to be trying to interfere with an investigation.”

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) is now calling for a Democrat to replace Comey as head of the FBI. Toomey believes “changes are needed at the White House,” spokesman Steve Kelly told The Post in an email Wednesday.

And one of two House Republicans to endorse an independent investigation of the Comey matter said that if the details reported this week are true, it could be grounds for impeaching Trump. “Yes,” replied Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.), a member of the Oversight Committee, when posed the question by a reporter.

The White House has been largely silent since the New York Times first reported Trump’s effort to end the Flynn investigation by pressuring Comey. Trump aides have not directly commented on the story and were absent from television shows starting Tuesday night, a notable difference from last week when they blanketed the networks to defend Comey’s firing.

Before the Times story broke, Trump aides had sought to tamp down the controversy over Trump sharing classified information with Russian officials. National security adviser H.R. McMaster called the action “wholly appropriate” to the conversation that took place in the Oval Office.

Both Republicans and Democrats have called on Trump, who has suggested that he records his conversations, to provide a transcript of the meeting to congressional intelligence committees so they can assess what took place.

White House aides have neither confirmed nor denied the possibility that Trump keeps tapes of his meetings.

Democrats blasted House Republicans Wednesday for doing little so far to probe Trump’s potential ties to Russia.

“They do as little as humanly possible just to claim that they’re doing something,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee.

“Our committee should already be conducting robust and transparent investigations,” said Cummings, who joined 32 other Democrats Tuesday night in calling for his panel to partner with the Judiciary Committee on a new probe of Trump’s White House.

“Speaker Ryan has shown he has zero — zero, zero — appetite,” he said.

Democrats’ priority is advancing a bill from Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) creating a bipartisan congressional commission to investigate Russia’s cyber intrusions, how the intelligence community handled the matter and the president’s potential involvement.

The Democrats are hoping to file a discharge petition — which requires the signatures of a majority of all House members — to compel GOP leaders to schedule a vote on the proposal. But they could have trouble gathering enough support: as of Wednesday, The Washington Post found only five GOP senators and 10 House Republicans open to an independent investigation.

powerpost

false

endOfArticle

true

The Health 202 newsletter

Your daily guide to the health-care debate.

While several Democrats have called for Trump to be impeached over the Comey firing, the party’s leaders reiterated that their priority was a special investigation.

Schiff cautioned that hasty talk of impeachment would distract from the need for a bipartisan probe — and mire the investigation in partisanship.

“It cannot be perceived as an effort to nullify the election by other means,” he said.

Karoun Demirjian, Carol Leonnig, Ed O’Keefe, Amber Phillips, Kelsey Snell and David Weigel contributed to this story.

Read more at PowerPost

Read the whole story
· · · · · · · ·

Trump under pressure over Comey memo claims


Share this article
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Why FBI Can’t Tell All on Trump, Russia: "Acting FBI Director McCabe was deeply involved in investigating the Russian mob while Felix Sater was both cooperating with the FBI and working with Donald Trump. This unreported aspect of McCabe’s career gives him firsthand knowledge of potential ties between the president, his business, and organized crime — and highlights…"

Share this article
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Donald Trump, Tevfik Arif, Felix SaterDonald Trump, Bayrock partner Tevfik Arif, and Felix Sater attend the Trump Soho Launch Party on September 19, 2007 in New York. – Photo credit: Mark Von Holden / WireImage

“Acting FBI Director McCabe was deeply involved in investigating the Russian mob while Felix Sater was both cooperating with the FBI and working with Donald Trump. This unreported aspect of McCabe’s career gives him firsthand knowledge of potential ties between the president, his business, and organized crime — and highlights…”

Why FBI Can’t Tell All on Trump, Russia

1 Share

As much as President Donald Trump would like to make the various investigations into Russia’s interference in the US election go away, it is still the biggest story of the year. WhoWhatWhy has done its part in advancing it by publishing several exclusives on the issue.

The biggest one was undoubtedly our bombshell article on whether the FBI’s Russia investigation was compromised because it could interfere with the Bureau’s objective of fighting organized crime originating in the former Soviet Union. Part of that story details Trump’s various ties to organized crime and contacts associated with mobsters.

A lot has happened since we published it 7 weeks ago, not the least of which was the firing of James Comey. Another recent development was the airing of an engaging Dutch documentary by the program Zembla, which highlights some of Trump’s most dubious connections (Part 1 & Part 2). Although there are some errors of fact, including miscasting a plaintiff’s attorney as a state prosecutor, it’s still worth watching.

And you’ll definitely want to brush up on our original article (reprinted below) and our deep-digging followups, which we linked to above. Because this story isn’t going away. It’s just going to get bigger.


 The Federal Bureau of Investigation cannot tell us what we need to know about Donald Trump’s contacts with Russia. Why? Because doing so would jeopardize a long-running, ultra-sensitive operation targeting mobsters tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin — and to Trump.

But the Feds’ stonewalling risks something far more dangerous: Failing to resolve a crisis of trust in America’s president. WhoWhatWhy provides the details of a two-month investigation in this 6,500-word exposé.

The FBI apparently knew, directly or indirectly, based upon available facts, that prior to Election Day, Trump and his campaign had personal and business dealings with certain individuals and entities linked to criminal elements — including reputed Russian gangsters — connected to Putin.

The same facts suggest that the FBI knew or should have known enough prior to the election to justify informing the public about its ongoing investigation of potentially compromising relationships between Trump, Putin, and Russian mobsters — even if it meant losing or exposing a valued informant.


It will take an agency independent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to expose Donald Trump’s true relationship with Moscow and the role Russia may have played in getting him elected.

Director James Comey recently revealed in a congressional hearing for the first time that the FBI “is 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.”

However, a two-month WhoWhatWhy investigation has revealed an important reason the Bureau may be facing undisclosed obstacles to revealing what it knows to the public or to lawmakers.

Our investigation also may explain why the FBI, which was very public about its probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails, never disclosed its investigation of the Trump campaign prior to the election, even though we now know that it commenced last July.

Such publicity could have exposed a high-value, long-running FBI operation against an organized crime network headquartered in the former Soviet Union. That operation depended on a convicted criminal who for years was closely connected with Trump, working with him in Trump Tower — while constantly informing for the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and being legally protected by them.

Some federal officials were so involved in protecting this source — despite his massive fraud and deep connections to organized crime — that they became his defense counsel after they left the government.

In secret court proceedings that were later unsealed, both current and former government attorneys argued for extreme leniency toward the man when he was finally sentenced. An FBI agent who expressed his support for the informant later joined Trump’s private security force.

In this way, the FBI’s dilemma about revealing valuable sources, assets and equities in its ongoing investigation of links between the Trump administration and Russian criminal elements harkens back to the embarrassing, now infamous Whitey Bulger episode. In that case, the Feds protected Bulger, a dangerous Boston-based mobster serving as their highly valued informant, even as the serial criminal continued to participate in heinous crimes. The FBI now apparently finds itself confronted with similar issues: Is its investigation of the mob so crucial to national security that it outweighs the public’s right to know about their president?

Jack Blum, a former senior Senate investigator and one of America’s foremost experts on white-collar financial crime, sums up the complexity — and the urgency — of the situation:

“What makes this investigation especially difficult is that it will lead into the complex relations between the counterintelligence operations of the FBI and its criminal investigative work,” says Blum.

“Further, it is likely other elements of the intelligence community are involved and that they have ‘equities’  to protect. Much of the evidence, justifiably, will be highly classified to protect sources and methods and in particular to protect individuals who have helped one or another of the agencies involved.”

FBI, New York OfficePhoto credit: FBI

“I Can’t Go into Those Details Here”

.

In his March 20 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, FBI Director James Comey said that he could not go into detail about its probe into the Trump administration’s Russian connection.

If he had, we might have learned that, for more than three decades the FBI has had Trump Tower in its sights. Many of its occupants have been targets of major investigations, others have been surveilled, and yet others have served as informants. One thing many of them have in common is deep ties to organized crime — including the Russian mafia.

Felix Sater fits all of these categories. A convicted felon, Sater worked in Trump Tower, made business deals with Donald Trump through Sater’s real estate firm, Bayrock, cooperated with the FBI and CIA and was subsequently protected by the DOJ from paying for his crimes. And the Moscow-born immigrant remains deeply linked to Russia and Ukraine.

Based on documents examined by WhoWhatWhy, it is possible to draw certain conclusions that help connect the dots between Trump, the FBI, Russia and the mob.

The resulting picture is not a pretty one for Donald Trump. However, because of its efforts to neutralize the organization of perhaps the world’s most powerful mobster — a man considered a serious national security threat — the Bureau might just have compromised its own ability to provide to Congress or inform the American public about all of the ties that exist between Trump, his presidential campaign and the regime of Vladimir Putin.

Further, Trump’s business association with Sater and Bayrock may have put the president’s financial interests at substantial risk, including possibly millions of dollars in fines, penalties, or other damages, should civil or criminal misconduct be proven in court or otherwise resolved if claims were triggered. Anyone who knew of Trump’s jeopardy in this matter would have enormous leverage over the Trump operation.

The government’s kid-glove treatment of Sater is partially explained in those long-suppressed legal documents, which reveal that the mobbed-up businessman was perceived by the authorities to be extraordinarily cooperative and useful. Legal filings on Sater’s behalf state that he “reported daily” to the FBI for many years.

Sater agreed to assist the US government on issues of national security and organized crime. His activities were first revealed in a lawsuit brought by a former employee of Sater’s real estate firm, Bayrock. While working with Trump, Sater’s name became “Satter” publicly — presumably with the knowledge if not the encouragement of the FBI. This distanced Satter the businessman, and his partners, from Sater the criminal.

Attorneys representing the plaintiff spent years untangling the financial machinations of Bayrock — which they allege involve hundred of millions of dollars in claims arising from, among other things, money laundering and fraud.

They also sought to expose the government’s awareness of — even complicity in — Sater’s activities.

Their efforts to unseal court documents, including Sater’s legal history, have been met with a concerted pushback by DOJ lawyers, mischaracterizations of the case record, and even — according to the attorneys — anonymous death threats.

Felix Sater could not be reached for comment.*(See Editor’s Note at bottom for update)

A Stunning Discovery

.

The story of Donald Trump’s business dealings with a Russian mobster might never have come out were it not for a Bayrock employee stumbling upon Sater’s cooperation agreement with the FBI, among other sensitive information, that had inadvertently been left accessible.

That employee sought out attorney Fred Oberlander, who combed through the documents. Over time, Oberlander — who was instructing undergraduates at Yale University in computational physics and computer science from age 18 — began to deconstruct the byzantine financial structure that was Bayrock, which allegedly hid a range of crimes, including massive-scale money laundering from sources in the former Soviet Union.

On February 10, 2010, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Manhattan, instructed Oberlander, in a secret order, not to inform the legislative branch of the United States government what he knew about Felix Sater. (That order remains under seal, but a federal judge has unsealed a redacted version.)

Apparently, the appellate court was persuaded that the unusually broad order was justified on the merits, but the lawyers opposing Sater found the imposed remedy extraordinary.

“Our being ordered to not tell Congress what we know may well be the first and only hyper-injunction in American history,” asserts Oberlander’s own attorney, Richard Lerner. “If there are others who have been scared silent by judges who wish to nullify Congressional and public oversight, we may never know. That is frightening.”

Hyper-injunctionsPhoto credit: WhoWhatWhy

Characters Out of a James Bond Movie

.

Preventing the Russian mafia from expanding its foothold in the United States has been one of the Bureau’s top priorities. In fact, it might be the FBI’s most important function apart from its role in the fight against terrorism.

The Russian mob has a breathtaking and underappreciated reach. It is so powerful that FBI Agent Peter Kowenhoven told CNN in 2009 that Semion Mogilevich, its “boss of bosses,” is a strategic threat, and a man who “can, with a telephone call or order, affect the global economy.”

US authorities came to see Mogilevich, who is described as close with Putin, as not only a danger to the financial system but a potential threat to world peace. He had access to stockpiles of military weapons and even fissionable material, snapped up as the Soviet Union fell apart.

His rumored ability to deliver the makings of weapons of mass destruction to the highest bidder — as well as his experience in smuggling opium from Afghanistan — would take on the very highest importance after 9/11, when European intelligence sources reported that al-Qaeda representatives had contacted Mogilevich in search of nuclear material.

The Russian mob should also not be confused with a mere crime syndicate. It is an organization comprised of state actors, oligarchs, and specific groups of individuals working collectively with the authority of the Russian government — a “mafia state.” At times, it is difficult to tell where the mob ends and the government begins.

To some, the Russian mob brings to mind the globalized villains of a James Bond movie, who want everything and will stop at nothing.

Robert I. Friedman, a former colleague of the authors of this article at The Village Voice, drew the ire of Mogilevich for his reporting on the Russian mafia. The “boss of bosses” put a $100,000 price on Friedman’s head soon after the publication of one of his fearless exposés of Mogilevich, and the FBI suggested that he stop reporting on the topic. (Friedman died in 2002, at the age of 51, of a rare blood disease he was said to have contracted on a trip to India.)

Enter Trump

.

Right from the earliest days of Trump Tower, in 1983, some of the choicest condominiums, including those in the 10 floors immediately below the future president’s own triplex apartment, went to a rogues gallery of criminals and their associates.

Granted, the construction and gambling industries have long been bedeviled by connections to organized crime. It may have been impossible for Trump to have avoided those ties altogether. Nevertheless, according to many news stories and public records, Trump has repeatedly been linked to organized crime figures and their associates.

Donald Trump, Roy CohnDonald Trump and Roy Cohn, October 18, 1984.
Photo credit: Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

To be sure, nouveaux riches of all stripes were attracted to the Trump “glamour” and might well have had difficulty gaining approval of traditional condo or coop boards. Nonetheless, Trump must have known that many of his occupants were problematic — and likely to draw the attention of law enforcement.

Tower occupants have included:

 Verina Hixon, a close friend of John A. Cody, New York’s concrete union boss, living in six units just below Trump’s triplex. Cody, with ties to the Gambino crime family, was later sentenced to five years in prison for racketeering. Trump and Cody reportedly helped Hixon with a loan so she could pay for the units.

 Robert Hopkins, who was arrested in his suite for ordering a mob murder of a gambling competitor. Hopkins would eventually be convicted of running a massive gambling ring, partly from Trump Tower, an operation that occasioned what was perhaps the first of many wiretaps in the building. Trump appeared in person at the closing on the apartment, where, according to our Village Voice colleague Wayne Barrett’s 1991 Trump biography, Hopkins sat at the end of a conference table counting out $200,000 in cash. (It was mob lawyer Roy Cohn who introduced Hopkins to Trump.)

–  Sheldon and Jay Weinberg, an enterprising father-son duo: The father was masterminding the biggest Medicaid fraud known at the time; the son was later indicted on grand larceny and insurance fraud. The Weinbergs rented directly from Trump three condominiums he had kept for himself.

 David Bogatin purchased five apartments on the 62nd floor while running a massive tax avoidance scandal involving commercial gasoline sales. Bogatin had ties with Italian and Russian mobsters. He would later flee to Poland and set up a highly successful chain of banks there before being extradited to the US, where he ended up in the maximum-security state prison in Attica, NY.

 Joseph Weichselbaum, Trump’s helicopter pilot, convicted of drug trafficking on three occasions.

–  Glamorous international art dealer Helly Nahmad, then 34, who lived in a sprawling apartment in Trump Tower (and according to some accounts owned the entire 51st floor), was later convicted and served five months of a one-year sentence for running an illegal gambling operation. He helped orchestrate super-high-stakes card games that sometimes were played in Trump Tower and “catered to billionaires, Russian oligarchs, Hollywood stars, and pro athletes,” including Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Tobey Maguire, and Ben Affleck. Also convicted were Vadim Trincher and his sons Eugene and Ilya; the Trinchers had apartments in Trump Tower too.

Of course, living in Trump Tower by no means suggests any sort of criminality or association between or among the residents. Still, the list is impressive.

But even in this company, one man stands out. Not surprisingly, he is from the former Soviet Union.

Spying on Trump Tower — Since 1983

.

When the Soviet Union was breaking up in the early 1990s, Mogilevich (AKA “The Boss of Bosses,” AKA “The Brainy Don”) suborned a Russian judge to spring a ruthless and canny lifetime criminal from a Siberian prison. His name was Vyacheslav “Yaponchik” Ivankov.

Ivankov_Mogilevich_1088x725.jpgVyacheslav Ivankov and Semion Mogilevich (inset)
Photo credit: Alchetron (public domain) and FBI / Wikimedia

Four months later, in March 1992, Ivankov arrived in the United States to organize a new criminal network. He would take the disparate elements of already-established Russian-speaking criminals and use them to create a sophisticated, well-managed operation that could launder funds and generate cash flow as part of a transnational network. But authorities had no idea where he was.

“And then,” recounted a former FBI agent in Robert I. Friedman’s book Red Mafiya, “we found out he was living in a luxury condo in Trump Tower.”

The moment the Feds spotted him, he vanished again, only to resurface later in an Atlantic City casino:  Trump’s Taj Mahal.

 Thus, by the early 1990s, both the arrival of Russian organized crime in the US and the strange attraction of Trump properties for Russian mobsters were on the Bureau’s radar.

FBI activity in Trump Tower dates back to soon after it was built, in 1983. Around that time, the Bureau put electronic surveillance in the building with a tap on the phone of the above-mentioned Trump Tower resident Robert Hopkins, a Lucchese crime family associate, who was eventually arrested in the Tower for ordering a murder.

FBI interest in Trump Tower continued through the 1990s, when the Bureau, working closely with US prosecutors at the Eastern District (which includes Brooklyn), began to focus on the business operations of a man with ties to Mogilevich: the aforementioned Felix Sater.

At about the same time, Trump found himself in a bind with his commercial lenders, who kept his public mystique alive while in essence secretly stripping him of control of his casinos and putting him on an “allowance,” as they tried to salvage what they could from the wreckage of his disastrous business decisions. They retained the Trump name on his most iconic properties, based on the cold calculation that his “brand” might still help draw customers.

Трамп и его деньги (Trump and his Money)

.

As Trump lost access to traditional lines of credit, his desperate need for financing led to sources that are murky, at best, including monies traceable back to the former Soviet Union — a circumstance that may explain Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns.

According to two pages of Trump’s 2005 tax returns, purportedly sent anonymously to reporter David Cay Johnston, Trump appeared to make an enormous amount of money that year — earning more than $153 million, which put him into a tiny class of super-rich Americans, probably numbering in the dozens.

Trump’s windfall seems to have developed around the same time that investors from countries of the former Soviet Union started opening the cash spigot.

James Comey, Loretta Lynch, Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch with FBI Director James Comey (left), and US Attorney Preet Bharara at a press conference on March 24, 2016. Photo credit: FBI

A 2013 indictment of the illegal high-stakes card games’ organizers, brought by US Attorney Preet Bharara, alleged not only high-stakes illegal gambling and the laundering of approximately $100 million dollars, but also extortion, as ring members used threats and force to strip ”money and property” from clients.

One of the operation’s leaders, Alimzhan “Taiwanchik” Tokhtakhounov, an alleged international crime boss and admitted friend of top Mogilevich lieutenant Vyacheslav “Yaponchik” Ivankov (who, as noted, was found living in Trump Tower at one point), managed the ring from afar; he could not legally enter the US as he was already wanted on charges of trying to bribe ice-skating judges at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Tokhtakhounov has often been tied to Boss of Bosses Semion Mogilevich.

Bharara, whom Trump recently fired — after accepting the resignations of other US attorneys left over from the Obama administration — is not the only big name who was involved in investigating the goings-on in Trump Tower. Former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch also played a part. Lynch, first a prosecutor and then the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, would have had knowledge of an FBI operation that involved Sater, the Russian mobster-turned-cooperating-witness.

“If he (Sater) were sitting in a room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.” – Donald Trump, 2013 deposition

While Sater has recently been the subject of some news coverage — his name came up during the March 20 House Intelligence Committee’s public hearing on Russia, when Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) asked FBI Director James Comey about him — no thorough exploration of the Bureau’s dealings with this key informant has been published.

Until now.

The information below is based on an extensive exploration of those dealings, and of previously unexamined and unpublished legal documents, which the government has sought to suppress.

The picture that emerges goes to the heart of the many questions raised about Trump’s relationship to Putin’s Russia in the weeks before and after the presidential election.

Efforts to try to get this information to the public appear to have been aggressively blocked by the DOJ because it would potentially expose their own operations — both those that have been effective and others that have not.


Felix Sater had been on the Bureau’s radar since the mid-1990s, when they were investigating Russian mob–affiliated financial scams.

Very soon after Semion Mogilevich associate “Yaponchik” Ivankov arrived in the US, in 1993, Sater, together with an Italian mob associate named Salvatore Lauria, and others, had taken over a firm called White Rock and created a criminal brokerage whose only purpose was to fleece investors and launder money.

It excelled at “pump and dump” scams, a practice in which stock prices are artificially inflated, then sold to unsuspecting investors — especially targeting elderly and unsophisticated buyers with high-pressure cold-calling tactics. White Rock included members and associates of four of the five major New York City organized crime families, including the nephew of mobster Carmine “the Snake” Persico and the brother-in-law of Gambino hit man Sammy “the Bull” Gravano, as well as Russian criminal elements.

The Art of the (Double) Deal

.

Although shuttering Sater’s operation was considered a great success, authorities soon decided they could leverage it to get even bigger fish. Thus, they cut a deal with Sater, seemingly to help them go after the Russian-speaking mob, and its “Brainy Don,” Semion Mogilevich.

 Instead of serving jail time, Sater became a highly valued FBI informant. Using unnamed connections, Sater arranged to locate some Stinger missiles that Osama bin Laden had supposedly placed on the market — an older model that could be used to shoot down commercial airliners.

Immediately after September 11, 2001, Sater received a call from the chief of a new section in the FBI who wanted to talk to him about Stingers, according to Salvatore Lauria in The Scorpion and the Frog, co-authored with journalist David S. Barry. Months later, Sater joined Bayrock — the real estate development company with offices in Trump Tower — and he was soon partnering in business deals with Donald Trump himself. This raises some interesting questions: Did Sater take the job at Bayrock at the FBI’s direction? Indeed, was Sater’s business relationship with Trump at the FBI’s behest?

One thing is certain: Bayrock became one of the most important links between Trump and big-money sources from the former Soviet Union.

Donald Trump, Tevfik Arif, Felix SaterDonald Trump, Bayrock partner Tevfik Arif, and Felix Sater attend the Trump Soho Launch Party on September 19, 2007 in New York.
Photo credit: Mark Von Holden / WireImage

The firm was founded by Tevfik Arif, a former Communist Party functionary in the Soviet republic of what is now Kazakhstan. Arif had formed another entity called Bayrock in Moscow in 1989, during the very last years of the Soviet Union.

Many Soviet functionaries transitioned to successful careers in market capitalism with the help of friends in high places: those with access to resources could make enormous profits by pilfering the moribund Soviet state, and such funds were best laundered and moved abroad for safekeeping and investment. Real estate was generally seen as a stable investment.

During the five years Sater worked at Bayrock, he traveled throughout the former Soviet Union, ostensibly looking for real estate sites to develop with the Trump Organization — while also allegedly laundering hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit funds from mysterious sources in the former Soviet Union. And all the while he was working as an informant for the FBI.

Soon after joining Bayrock (about late 2001 to early 2002), he effectively took control of it — while of necessity hiding that fact from its lenders and clients. Sater was the firm’s Chief Operating Officer, and according to assertions in a lawsuit filed by a former Bayrock employee, by 2006 he owned more than 63% of the firm.

Sater’s dominant role came despite the fact that he was a felon. Because of the services he was providing to the US government, this information was withheld from banks and others with whom Bayrock signed contracts, including condominium buyers.

 The Trump organization lent its name to Bayrock projects in Toronto, Florida, Arizona, and in New York City, in the chic SoHo neighborhood; the SoHo project was the only Bayrock development into which the Trump Organization actually put up any equity. Most of the Bayrock-affiliated projects failed, though, leaving a trail of angry investors as well as a string of lawsuits and countersuits. According to legal depositions, most of the projects that Sater worked to develop overseas — necessitating trips to Russia, Poland, and Ukraine (including numerous trips to Crimea) — never seemed to get off the drawing board.

Sater and Trump sometimes traveled together. In September 2005, Trump and apparently Sater flew along with his wife Melania to Colorado, where Sater talked to a local reporter about possible Trump-Bayrock development projects in Denver.

The real estate tycoon and the undercover mobster were close enough that, according to his deposition testimony, Sater could simply walk up a flight of stairs to Trump’s office and stop in for an impromptu chat. Indeed, Sater and the Trump clan grew so close that in February 2006, at the personal request of Donald Trump, the mobster joined his children Ivanka, Donald Jr., and his son’s wife Vanessa in Moscow to show them around, according to his deposition testimony. While he was in Moscow he emailed a journalist about possible Trump-Bayrock developments in Denver, in which he indicated he was with Don Jr.; a few days later Sater is alleged to have called one of the partners at the Arizona project and threatened to have him “tortured and killed,” according to later court filings.

Sater’s tenure at Bayrock might have lasted longer, had The New York Times not “outed” his criminal past in 2007.

Yet a few years later, after Sater had left Bayrock, he could still be found in Trump Tower. But now he was apparently working directly for Trump himself, with an office, business cards, phone number and email address all provided by the Trump Organization. The cards identified him as a “Senior Advisor to Donald Trump.”

Today, Trump claims to have trouble remembering Sater.

“Trump was asked about Sater in depositions related to other cases in 2011 and 2013. In the first, Trump acknowledged that he used to speak with Sater ‘for a period of time.’ Yet in the second, Trump said, ‘if he were sitting in a room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like,’” Mother Jones reported.

In early December 2015, Trump still seemed unclear when asked by an Associated Press reporter about Sater. “Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it,” he said. “I’m not that familiar with him.” Ivanka and Don Jr. also later said that they had no memory of being with him in Moscow.

FBI agent Leo Taddeo definitely did not “have to think about it.” Taddeo had worked in the Italian and Russian organized crimes sections of the New York FBI office and had directly witnessed the ramifications of the arrival of “Yaponchik” Ivankov in 1992 — and the influence of Mogilevich — in the Russian-speaking community, New York financial markets, and beyond. He rose to be the head of the Russian organized crime section — and was one of Sater’s FBI handlers. Taddeo testified on Sater’s behalf at his sentencing, praising his “extraordinary” cooperation and stressing how “capable,” “important,” and “effective” he was.

During the years when Trump and Bayrock pursued their joint projects, the Trump SoHo was planned, designed and funded, and ground was broken for it.

So Bayrock, of which Sater came to own a majority, and the Trump Organization, headed by the future president himself, did several high-profile deals together and had offices close by each other in Trump Tower, and yet the current president claims that he is “not that familiar with him.”

There are a number of possible reasons why Trump has had to tread lightly around the issue of Sater. Aside from what Trump might have known about Sater’s back-channel connections to the Russian government or organized crime, their joint projects also pose enormous financial risk to Trump.

If he or anyone around him — such as other Trump Organization executives, accountants and lawyers — had knowledge of Sater’s criminal past and yet entered into contracts with him and Bayrock, Trump and his company would then be liable for hundreds of millions of dollars — and possible jail time.

Why?

Because parties to bank loans and investment contracts must confirm that no owner or manager has been convicted of fraud, and if that confirmation is false, anyone who knew of the fraud is potentially liable. The same would be true even if someone learned about Sater’s criminal status after signing the contract but continued with it.

Thus, if Trump knew Sater was a convicted felon but did business with him anyway, he, the Trump Organization, and anyone within the company who knew of it could face substantial penalties or fines. This might especially be true for the Trump-Bayrock projects, as so many of them ended terribly, with multiple lawsuits across many states.

However, the information of Sater’s past financial criminality was officially hidden because his legal docket in the White Rock/State Street case was kept secret (owing to his continuing “cooperating witness” status). For this reason, even after performing due diligence, someone entering business agreements with Sater would find no evidence of his criminal past.

Ukraine: The Big Prize

.

The FBI’s failure to fully expose Trump’s Russian connection before the election seemingly emboldened the entire Trump team — from the president to his former campaign manager to his “bulldog” personal lawyer — along with Sater, to take actions that can be seen to have benefited Putin. Nowhere is this more true than with Ukraine.

This former Soviet republic is central to Putin’s dream of restoring Russia to its Cold War-era greatness and protecting its borders. Annexing Crimea from Ukraine was a huge victory for him. Holding on to that strategically important region and maintaining access to it by controlling eastern sections of Ukraine itself are vital to Putin’s ambitions.

Other crucial strategic issues concerning Ukraine include its desire to join NATO, seen by Russia as a huge threat. There is also the matter of a pipeline that brings natural gas from Russia through Ukraine into fuel-hungry Europe, importantly Germany. Mogilevich was later named as the secret majority owner of the Ukrainian stake in a mysterious intermediary company, half-owned by Russian energy giant Gazprom. (Mogilevich, as well as Sater’s father, who has been identified as part of the Mogilevich organization in a Supreme Court petition, both hail from Ukraine. Mogilevich’s lawyer denied that his client had any connection to the company.) While questions swirled about the deal, Sater, then serving as an FBI informant, traveled to Ukraine and Russia — ostensibly searching for properties to develop with the Trump Organization. (For a post-publication response from Felix Sater on these points, see Editor’s Note at bottom.)

 For his part, candidate Trump didn’t even acknowledge that Russia had annexed Crimea or engaged its military in Eastern Ukraine, when the issue came up early in the presidential campaign.

“Just so you understand. [Putin] is not going to go into Ukraine, all right?” Trump said in an interview shortly after he was nominated — before being corrected on the facts.

Trump’s platform chairman J. D. Gordon reportedly had met with the Russian ambassador during the convention. In an interview with CNN’s Jim Acosta, Gordon said he had advocated the softening of the GOP platform language on Ukraine — a softening that Trump himself had advocated earlier in the year at a meeting with Gordon. Gordon’s later comments seem to walk that assertion back, but the GOP platform was changed.

At that time, Trump Tower resident Paul Manafort was still running the campaign — until he was forced out because of his ties to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and other powerful forces sympathetic to Russia. But Manafort’s connections to Russia ran even deeper than suspected back then.

On March 22, the Associated Press reported that Manafort had been paid the astonishing sum of more than $10 million a year in the 2000s by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally, to implement a plan that would “greatly benefit the Putin Government.”

Stranger still, just last month, Trump associates Sater and Michael D. Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, lobbied then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn with a scheme to lift sanctions on Russia, imposed after it seized Crimea. They delivered a proposed “peace plan” for Ukraine that infuriated the country’s current prime minister. The proposal would have advanced the ambitions of a pro-Russian politician whose movement Manafort helped shape

It turns out that, like so many other figures in this story, Cohen has his own substantial Ukrainian ties. After graduating from what is considered by many to be a third-tier law school, Cohen became a personal injury lawyer. He married a woman whose parents are Ukrainian, and his brother, also a lawyer, married a woman whose father rose from humble Ukrainian roots to become a billionaire.

Much Less Than Six Degrees of Separation

.

While all this high-stakes maneuvering between the US and Russia over Ukraine was unfolding, the DOJ and FBI were hard at work to prevent the Sater-Trump story from becoming widely known.

 WhoWhatWhy has learned that a number of key law-enforcement figures associated with Sater’s role as a government informant have continued protecting him — which has inevitably helped to keep under wraps the criminal goings-on in Trump Tower. One of these figures even went on to work for Trump.

FBI Special Agent Gary Uher not only investigated (alongside fellow Agent Leo Taddeo) the early “pump and dump” case that originally snared Sater, he also apparently served as one of Sater’s handlers. After Uher retired from the Bureau’s New York office in 2011, he went into the private security business with another former FBI agent, in a firm named XMark — which became one of a small army of private security firms that guarded Trump during the presidential campaign. (Neither Uher nor Taddeo responded to requests for comment.)

In fact, both XMark and Uher personally began receiving payments from the campaign as soon as Trump announced, in June 2015. Uher’s name surfaced in the press a handful of times, sometimes in allegations that he roughly handled protestors at Trump rallies. Yet until now, no one has pointed out that before he went to work for Trump, Uher ran Sater.

It is not clear how Trump and Uher would have even known each other were it not for the man both knew in common — the man Trump was consistently vague about during the campaign — Felix Sater.

As for Taddeo, in July 2016, as talk of possible efforts by the Kremlin to help Trump’s campaign continued to pick up steam, the Washington Post  ran a story that downplayed the possibility and quoted the ex-agent, now in the private sector: “This is not Putin trying to help Trump,’’ he said. The article identified Taddeo as “a former FBI special agent in charge of cyber and special operations in New York”.; it did not tell readers he had been  Sater’s former FBI handler when Sater worked with Trump.

Gary Uher, Donald TrumpLeft to right: XMark partners Ed Deck and Gary Uher accompany Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump with his private security director, longtime Trump Organization employee Keith Schiller, after delivering an address in Birch Run, Michigan, August 11, 2015.
Photo credit: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

The paths of other central characters in the case are also curious.

Two of Loretta Lynch’s colleagues at the Eastern District US Attorney’s office, Leslie Caldwell and Kelly Anne Moore, left government service to join the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, and both represented Sater at his 2009 sentencing hearing. Caldwell returned to government work in late 2013 when she was tapped to serve as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division — the number three position at the Justice Department.

Moore is still at Morgan Lewis. That firm was hired post-election by Trump to sort out ethical issues concerning possible conflicts of interest — which considering this history takes on a whole new meaning. (Neither Caldwell nor Moore responded to requests for comment.)

Trump’s announcement that he had retained Morgan Lewis as ethics counsel was clearly meant to blunt calls for disinvestment or use of a blind trust for the oversight of his businesses. Curiously, on the same day that Trump made the announcement, the Moscow office of Morgan Lewis was named “Russia Law Firm of the Year” for 2016 by an industry association.

By entrusting Morgan Lewis with addressing his conflicts — and presumably demanding confidentiality agreements in the process, as is his practice — was Trump insulating himself from the release of information that would reveal the true nature of his financial relationship with Sater, Bayrock, and others?

Such revelations — which could have exposed Sater’s criminal history, his interactions with Trump, the full scope of Bayrock’s financial arrangements with the Trump Organization, and perhaps the true source of Bayrock’s financing — all would be covered by attorney-client privilege.

With so many players and so many layers of involvement, getting to the bottom of Trump’s Russian connection is a Herculean task. And there is one further complication.

The Trump-Sater-Mogilevich-Putin saga, with its intertwining domestic and international threads, is almost certainly a battleground for powerful elements in the US intelligence complex. Even unravelling one thread — the FBI’s “running” of Felix Sater as an informant — is a challenge at every level. The FBI historically has been riven by internal battles over priorities and strategies — and the Bureau has waged fierce turf wars with other intelligence agencies, notably the CIA.

Why We Need an Independent Investigation

.

To sum up, WhoWhatWhy’s investigation suggests that the FBI, in using an informant with a strong connection to Trump and alleged ties to Russian mobsters — including one deemed a national security threat by the US — has seemingly tied its own hands in investigating the president.

This makes it difficult for the Bureau to pursue the president’s long-running proximity to mobsters, including gangsters from the former Soviet Union, and to those with close connections to the Russian president and oligarchic elite.

This in part could explain the FBI’s odd behavior and the confusing back and forth on what the government knows about Russia’s interventions in the 2016 election.

In this complex tale, it is sometimes hard to keep focused on the most important connections. The FBI used Sater in high-value projects; perhaps to help take down the Brainy Don Mogilevich, who takes us straight to Putin. That connection is so sensitive as to be deadly. Indeed after Ivankov, Mogilevich’s lieutenant and Trump Tower resident, publicly discussed Mogilevich’s close ties to Putin, he was gunned down by a sniper on a Moscow street.

 At the end of 2015, the Justice Department’s criminal division, headed by Leslie Caldwell — the former Eastern District prosecutor and later Sater’s attorney — removed Mogilevich from the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, an extremely rare occurrence. Suspects are usually removed from the list for only two reasons: arrest or death.

Donald Trump has been a big Putin fan for years. This has been a subject of speculation and derision, but it has not gone further than that.

Given how close Trump was with Sater, and Sater with the FBI, and the fact that the FBI was working to thwart Mogilevich (who was close to Putin), the big question is this: Why is this president’s unusual enthusiasm for the Russian leader, and Russia in general, not already a formal topic of urgent inquiry?

Something doesn’t add up.

Whatever it is, we need to know. And, as this article demonstrates, the FBI, for a variety of reasons, is not likely to tell us the whole story.

And, it should be pointed out, what is vitally important to the public interest is not always what the Bureau considers a crime. That is why the role of independent investigators, including, notably, journalists, is so vital. Jack Blum, the former senior Senate investigator and leading expert on white-collar financial crime, stresses the gravity and urgency of the situation:

“However complicated an investigation might become, it goes to the heart of our democracy and it must go forward. This time, unlike other investigations, including the Kennedy assassination, CIA-Chile, and Iran-Contra, it has to go to the heart of the matter no matter how long it takes and no matter how shocking the conclusions.”

Our Comment Policy

Keep it civilized, keep it relevant, keep it clear, keep it short. Please do not post links or promotional material. We reserve the right to edit and to delete comments where necessary.

Related

WWW Exclusive: Felix Sater Links Trump to Comey’s Replacement

WWW Exclusive: Felix Sater Links Trump to Comey’s Replacement

Acting FBI Director McCabe was deeply involved in investigating the Russian mob while Felix Sater was both cooperating with the FBI and working with Donald Trump. This unreported aspect of McCabe’s career gives him firsthand knowledge of potential ties between the president, his business, and organized crime — and highlights…

May 15, 2017

In “Politics”

Behind-the-Scenes Interview on Exclusive Trump-Russia-FBI Story

Behind-the-Scenes Interview on Exclusive Trump-Russia-FBI Story

WhoWhatWhy’s investigation of how the FBI may not be in a position to reveal all it knows about Donald Trump’s Russia connections caused quite a splash. Find out why it matters and get a behind-the-scenes look in this interview with two of the story’s authors.

March 28, 2017

In “Podcast”

Why FBI Can’t Tell All on Trump, Russia

Why FBI Can’t Tell All on Trump, Russia

The FBI cannot tell us what we need to know about Trump’s contacts with Russia. Why? Because doing so would jeopardize a long-running, ultra-sensitive operation targeting mobsters tied to Putin — and to Trump. But the Feds’ stonewalling risks something far more dangerous: Failing to resolve a crisis of trust…

March 27, 2017

In “Politics”

Related

Read the whole story
· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

Washington Post: Breaking News, World, US, DC News & Analysis

1 Share
Play VideoLIVE

President Trump addresses the graduating class of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy at New London, Conn.

Listen

LIVE

promo

President Trump addresses the graduating class of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy at New London, Conn.

Listen

President Trump addresses the graduating class of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy at New London, Conn.

promo

President Trump addresses the graduating class of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy at New London, Conn.

Listen

test

test

Signed in as mikenova

Share this story on NewsBlur

Shared stories are on their way…

Read the whole story
· · · ·

Puerto Rico militant freed from custody after 36 years

1 Share

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico nationalist Oscar Lopez Rivera was freed from house arrest Wednesday after decades in custody in a case that transformed him into a martyr for supporters but outraged those who lost loved ones in a string of bombings.

Wearing black jeans and a shirt decorated with a Puerto Rican flag pin, the 74-year-old grinned and waved to cheering supporters through a fence at his daughter’s San Juan home before getting into a jeep.

Escorted by the mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital and other backers, he was scheduled to stop at a federal building to return electronic tags that monitored his movements during his home confinement.

Roughly 50 people congregated in the streets outside the apartment building in San Juan’s Santurce district holding flowers, some embracing in tears and chanting: “Free at last!” A group of singers from University of Puerto Rico’s choir harmonized as Lopez drove past. A street celebration was expected to draw thousands of supporters later in the day.

Through a fence, Lopez told El Vocero newspaper: “If we love this country, we have an obligation to defend it.”

Lopez was considered a top leader of the Armed Forces of National Liberation, or FALN, an ultranationalist Puerto Rican group that claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings at government buildings, department stores, banks and restaurants in New York, Chicago, Washington and Puerto Rico during the 1970s and early 1980s. The FBI classified the Marxist-Leninist group as a terrorist organization.

The most famous bombing was the still-unsolved 1975 explosion that killed four people and wounded 60 at Fraunces Tavern, a landmark restaurant in New York’s financial district.

Lopez, a Vietnam War veteran who moved from Puerto Rico to Chicago as a child, wasn’t convicted of any role in the bombings that killed six people and injured scores, but those who lost loved ones hold him responsible.

“This guy was convicted of leading the FALN that murdered people,” said Joseph Connor, whose father, Frank, was killed in the Fraunces Tavern attack.

While many Puerto Ricans supported Lopez as a sort of patriot and political prisoner, those seeking independence remain a small group. The option garnered less than 6 percent of the vote in four referendums that Puerto Rico has held on its political status.

Puerto Rico has been under U.S. jurisdiction since 1898, and its people have been U.S. citizens since 1917. The island is home to numerous military veterans, yet Puerto Ricans can’t vote for president, and their representative in Congress can’t vote either. They pay Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes but not federal income tax.

A campaign to free the Puerto Rican independence figure over the years has drawn support from Pope Francis, former President Jimmy Carter and “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“He has his champions and his critics, but this much is true: He served a lifetime in prison, including 12 years in solitary confinement. Don Oscar will spend his twilight years on the island for which he sought independence, and this feels fitting,” Miranda said in an email, referring to Lopez with the Spanish honorific of “don.”

Lopez is expected to be feted in Chicago later this week. Supporters also plan to honor him at the June 11 Puerto Rican Day parade along New York’s Fifth Avenue.

Lopez was sentenced to 55 years in prison in 1981 after he was found guilty of seditious conspiracy, armed robbery, a weapons violation and four counts of interstate transportation of stolen vehicles. A federal judge termed him an “unreconstructed revolutionary” and Lopez said Puerto Ricans should fight for their island’s independence “by any means necessary.”

He later faced an additional 15 years in jail after he was convicted of conspiring to escape from prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.

In 1999, President Bill Clinton offered Lopez clemency but the inmate rejected the offer because it excluded two associates who have since been released. Then in 2011, the U.S. Parole Commission denied his request for an early release.

President Barack Obama commuted his sentence in his final days in office, along with clemency for others including Chelsea Manning, the transgender Army intelligence analyst who leaked more than 700,000 U.S. documents.

Lopez was released from prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, and arrived in Puerto Rico in February to serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest. He had been staying with his daughter at her home in the capital of San Juan.

He has said that upon returning to Puerto Rico he wanted to spend time with family and create a think tank to work on issues including climate change, the economy and the island’s political status.

The June New York parade comes on the same day as the latest referendum on Puerto Rico’s status, which is to include three options: statehood, territoriality or independence.

world

the_americas

Dallas shooting updates

News and analysis on the deadliest day for police since 9/11.

post_newsletter353

follow-dallas

true

endOfArticle

false

Today’s WorldView

What’s most important from where the world meets Washington

The island’s previous referendums resulted in no action from U.S. Congress, which has final say on any changes in the island’s political status. In the last one, held in 2012, 54 percent said they wanted a change in status. Sixty-one percent who answered a second question said they favored statehood, but nearly 500,000 left that question blank, leading many to question the results.

___

Associated Press correspondent Carlos Rivera Giusti reported this story in San Juan and AP writer David McFadden reported from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. AP writer Colleen Long in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read the whole story
· · · · ·

Chelsea Manning Leaves Prison, Closing an Extraordinary Leak Case


Share this article
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

The Fat Lady did sing, somewhat off-key, and now the slim boys play the music…

Share this article
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

The Fat Lady did sing, somewhat off-key, and now the slim boys play the music… – M.N.

Washington Post: Breaking News, World, US, DC News & Analysis

1 Share
Play VideoLIVE

President Trump addresses the graduating class of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy at New London, Conn.

Listen

LIVE


Share this article
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

"I was Man-ning, and now I am Chelsea, and I am FREE!!!"

Share this article
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

  1. Chelsea Manning Leaves Prison, Closing an Extraordinary Leak Case

  2. “I was Man-ning, and now I am Chelsea, and I am FREE!!!”

Chelsea Manning Leaves Prison, Closing an Extraordinary Leak Case

1 Share

“I look forward to working with her in the coming days and weeks to provide her with the support and stability she wants and needs to heal and plan out the next stages of her life,” said Chase Strangio, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who helped represent Ms. Manning in a suit over her medical treatment in prison. “The traumas of the past few years will not simply evaporate when she walks out of the prison.”

A member of her support network said that her legal team — which also includes Nancy Hollander, who worked on her appeal — intended to put out an announcement when she was safely resettled on Wednesday, and that it was possible Ms. Manning would choose to say something on her Twitter account, @xychelsea, which has been operated until now by a friend in telephone contact with her.

But Ms. Manning was not expected to give interviews or make broader public statements for at least several weeks, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Ms. Manning was known as Pvt. Bradley Manning in 2010 when she was arrested on suspicion of having copied hundreds of thousands of secret military and diplomatic files from a classified computer network, to which she had access as a low-level intelligence analyst at a forward operating base in Iraq. After her conviction, she announced that she was a transgender woman and changed her name to Chelsea.

Hoping to inspire “worldwide discussion, debates and reforms,” as she wrote at the time, Ms. Manning had uploaded the files to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks. It published them in batches, working with traditional news organizations, including The New York Times.

Ms. Manning’s act had broad consequences. It inaugurated a new kind of leak: the bulk copying and dissemination of many files about many disparate topics, foreshadowing the 2013 leaks of National Security Agency files by the intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden.

Her leaks brought to light numerous hidden facts, including previously unknown civilian bystander killings in the Iraq war, back-room diplomatic dealings and discussion of local corruption around the world, and intelligence assessments about Guantánamo Bay detainees.

They also vaulted WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, to global prominence and put them at odds with the Obama administration, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. That mutual enmity set the stage for WikiLeaks’ role, six years later, in disseminating campaign-related emails the government says were hacked by Russia to undermine Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign and help Donald J. Trump’s.

In the meantime, Ms. Manning’s own story had several twists. Her pretrial treatment — the military held her apart from other prisoners and kept her under austere prevention-of-injury conditions, even after a prison psychologist said it was no longer necessary — prompted protests. She became an icon to antiwar and anti-secrecy activists, who viewed her as a historic whistle-blower, even as prosecutors portrayed her as a traitor.

And in another unprecedented move, the military charged her with “aiding the enemy” — the equivalent of treason — on the theory that providing information to the public meant adversaries like Al Qaeda would learn from it, too. That charge alarmed First Amendment advocates, who saw it as a milestone in the Obama administration’s criminal crackdown on leakers. A military judge acquitted her of aiding the enemy, but Ms. Manning was convicted of numerous violations of the Espionage Act.

After her 2013 conviction, Ms. Manning was taken to Fort Leavenworth to serve her sentence. There, she experienced a bleak existence as she struggled to transition to life as a woman in a male military prison. Twice last year, she tried to commit suicide.

Mr. Strangio said Ms. Manning had “to contend with and heal from the lasting effects” of her seven years in prison, but added, “There is no question in my mind that as she navigates the future, she will remain and emerge as an even stronger advocate for trans justice, government transparency and the core principles of democracy.”

Continue reading the main story


Share this article
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

The [orange] Moor has done his duty, the Moor can go: "Now, that we almost completely de-Obamanized America, it's time to get rid of the De-Obamanizer-In-Chief" – from the secret FBI recording of the Fat Cats Cafe. – M.N.

Share this article
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Not only Trump, his campaign, connections, and his “trumpeteers” should be thoroughly investigated, but the whole issue of the Russian interference in American politics and political life for the last half a century, which is nothing new but just became evident and even obvious because of Putin’s brazenness and aggressive, malevolent, vindictive rage. This is the issue of the great omission and the dysfunctionality of the FBI, whose direct duty it is to deal with these problems. Thus, quite naturally, it should turn into the Congressional investigation of the FBI itself, its structure and moda operandi. If the FBI deficiencies and the long- standing historical dysfunctionality is not addressed and corrected, these problems, in one way, shape, form, or another, will persist inevitably and very dangerously. If the state’s and the country’s immune system – the FBI, is sick, then they become defenseless and helpless in the face of continuing, intensifying and difficult to foresee threats.

M.N. 

Charlie did it! Just one smart little push left for the little smarty pushover.

News Reviews and Opinions: Trumpik, fire that guy Putin, its long overdue! (For not supporting the Clinton campaign…) And zis iz my honest opinion… – M.N.

1 Share
Trumpik, fire that guy Putin, its long overdue! (For not supporting the Clinton campaign…) And zis iz my honest opinion… – M.N. 

“The “I” word – impeachment” has a lot of “peaches” in it, and a lot of big red radishes with long tails, too. – M.N. 

“I offer you my own videotape”, said Vovchick Khan. “And I will make you an offer you can’t refuse”, replied Charlie. – M.N.

Image result for trump fat cat


“Now, that we almost completely de-Obamanized America, it’s time to get rid of the De-Obamanizer-In-Chief” – from the secret FBI recording of the Fat Cats Cafe. – M.N. 

trump fat cat – Google Search

1 Share
Image result for trump fat cat

Trump-Russia row: Putin offers to release records of meeting

1 Share

Vladimir Putin has offered to release a record of Russian officials’ meeting with Donald Trump, who is alleged to have passed them sensitive information.

US media say Mr Trump passed on classified information last week, but Russia says this is not the case.

Mr Putin said Russian government records could be handed over to the US Congress if a request is made for them.

The news comes amid reports Mr Trump tried to influence an investigation into his team’s links with Russia.

US media have quoted a memo by former FBI director James Comey that reportedly says Mr Trump asked him to drop an inquiry into links between his ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia.

Issue one: The Russian meeting

Mr Trump met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at the White House last Wednesday.

The meeting came amid an ongoing FBI inquiry and congressional hearings into possible Russian influence in the 2016 US election.

It also came a day after Mr Trump dismissed Mr Comey from his post.

On Monday, the Washington Post, followed by a number of other US outlets, said Mr Trump gave the Russian officials information relating to the Islamic State group (IS) that could have endangered the source of the information.

The information was reportedly deemed so sensitive it had not been shared with key US partners, let alone Russia, which is allied to US opponents in Syria.

Mr Trump later defended his right to share the information, and his national security adviser HR McMaster said the president’s actions were “wholly appropriate”.

On Wednesday, Mr Putin joked that the meeting did not unfold as had been portrayed.

“I spoke to him [Lavrov] today,” he said. “I’ll be forced to issue him with a reprimand because he did not share these secrets with us.”

Issue two: The Comey memo

What does it say?

While in charge at the FBI, Mr Comey was heading an investigation into possible Russian influence on the US election.

The Russia story has already claimed one victim – Mr Trump’s first national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired after misleading the government over his meetings with Mr Kislyak.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Mr Comey wrote a memo following a meeting with the president on 14 February, revealing that Mr Trump had asked him to close an investigation into Mr Flynn’s actions.

He reportedly shared the memo with top FBI associates.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” the president told Mr Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy.”

Mr Comey did not respond to his request, according to the memo, but replied: “I agree he is a good guy.”

The FBI chief was later fired by Mr Trump. The official reason was over his handling of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while at the state department.

But Mr Trump said in an interview last week that “this Russian thing” was on his mind as he made the decision.

The official response

The White House denied the allegation that Mr Trump had tried to influence Mr Comey.

“The president has never asked Mr Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” it said.

In response to the New York Times report, a White House official pointed out that acting FBI director Andrew McCabe had testified last week that there had been “no effort to impede our investigation to date”.

The fallout

A senior Republican congressman has called on the FBI to hand over Mr Comey’s records of his contacts with Mr Trump.

House Oversight Committee chair Jason Chaffetz demanded that all correspondence be presented by 24 May.

In a letter to Mr McCabe, Mr Chaffetz said the memo, along with others made by Mr Comey from his meetings with the president, “raise questions as to whether the president attempted to influence or impede the FBI’s investigation”.

Has Trump obstructed justice?

Adam Schiff, the highest-ranked Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said this intervention by Mr Trump, if correct, amounted to “interference or obstruction of the investigation”.

The key legal statute is 18 US Code Section 1512, which contains a broad definition allowing charges to be brought against someone who “obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so”.

It has been pointed out that Mr Trump did have the legal authority to fire Mr Comey, but there is a legal precedent for otherwise lawful acts to be considered an obstruction of justice if done with corrupt intentions, the New York Times says.

Legal experts have told the Washington Post that that is not clear in this case as intent is difficult to prove.

However, former federal prosecutor Samuel Buell told the Times: “The evidence of improper purpose has gotten much stronger since the day of Comey’s firing.

“Trump has made admissions about that. And we now have evidence that he may have indicated an improper purpose previously in his communications with Comey about the Russia investigation.”


The I-word surfaces – Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

The “I” word – impeachment – has already been broached by politicians as moderate as independent Senator Angus King of Maine. If this were a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, articles of impeachment would likely be in the drafting process.

Republicans still call the shots in Congress, however, and it’s a significant leap to get them to abandon the Trump presidency and any hope of advancing their agenda for the foreseeable future.

But some, like Senator John McCain – who said this has become a scandal of “Watergate size and scale” – are clearly wavering.

The former Republican presidential nominee is a bit of a wild card, of course.

For the rank-and-file to turn on the president will require them to admit their complicity in a failed presidency.

Read the whole story
· · · · ·

Following advice, potential FBI chiefs steer clear of job under Trump – Reuters

1 Share

Reuters
Following advice, potential FBI chiefs steer clear of job under Trump
Reuters
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 »

GOP nears total exasperation with Trump – The Hill

1 Share

The Hill
GOP nears total exasperation with Trump
The Hill
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 …
It’s Chicken or FishNew York Times
Trump’s legislative agenda slows to crawl in CongressWashington Post
Exhausted Republicans Are Starting To Get Fed Up With The Chaos Coming From The White HouseBuzzFeed News
ABC News –New York Times
all 155 news articles »

James Clapper: Defending democracy from Trump (opinion)


Share this article
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

8:29 AM 5/17/2017 – The James Comey memo is an existential threat to Donald Trump's presidency – CNN | Following advice, potential FBI chiefs steer clear of job under Trump – Reuters

Share this article
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

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
Home Sales at Highest Level in a Decade
NPR News: 05-17-2017 7AM ET
International Edition 2330 EDT – May 16, 2017
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
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
The James Comey memo is an existential threat to Donald Trump’s presidency – CNN
 


CNN
The James Comey memo is an existential threat to Donald Trump’s presidency
CNN
(CNN) The reporting coming out of The New York Times and CNN is explosive: Deposed FBI Director James Comey wrote a memo following a February 14 meeting with Donald Trump in which he says the President told him “I hope you can let this go” in …and more »
Why the Comey memo could be so explosive for Trump – Los Angeles Times
 


Los Angeles Times
Why the Comey memo could be so explosive for Trump
Los Angeles Times
A memo in which former FBI Director James B. Comey says PresidentTrump asked him to shut down a criminal investigation of former national security advisor Michael Flynn is likely to emerge as a key piece of evidence in the case, legal experts say.and more »
‘A major scandal and abuse of power’: Bombshell Comey memo could lead to a major escalation in the Trump-FBI saga – Business Insider
 


Business Insider
‘A major scandal and abuse of power’: Bombshell Comey memo could lead to a major escalation in the Trump-FBI saga
Business Insider
Several legal experts said Tuesday that President Donald Trump could be subject to an obstruction of justice charge, after The New York Times reported on a memo in which former FBI Director James Comey wrote thatTrump asked him to drop an …and more »
Comey memo says Trump asked him to drop FBI investigation of Michael Flynn – Los Angeles Times
 


Los Angeles Times
Comey memo says Trump asked him to drop FBI investigation of Michael Flynn
Los Angeles Times
The White House on Tuesday confronted what could be the most serious allegation to date against President Trump reports that in February he asked the FBI director, James B. Comey, to drop an investigation of the president’s former national security …and more »
Trump vs. Comey: Who will America trust? – CNN
 


CNN
Trump vs. Comey: Who will America trust?
CNN
Furthermore, in a sensational development, sources told The New York Times and then CNN on Tuesday night that Comey wrote down his account of Trump’s request over the probe in a memo that is about to become one of Washington’s most famed artifacts.and more »
Israeli intelligence ‘boiling mad’ over Trump disclosure: report – The Hill
 


The Hill
Israeli intelligence ‘boiling mad’ over Trump disclosure: report
The Hill
Israeli intelligence officers are boiling mad and demanding answers after President Trump reportedly shared classified information from Israel with Russia, according to a new report. Two Israeli intelligence officers confirmed to BuzzFeed Tuesday and more »
Trump’s disclosure endangered spy placed inside ISIS by Israel, officials say – ABC News
 

Trump’s disclosure endangered spy placed inside ISIS by Israel, officials say
ABC News
The life of a spy placed by Israel inside ISIS is at risk tonight, according to current and former U.S. officials, after President Donald Trump reportedly disclosed classified information in a meeting with Russian officials last week. The spy provided and more »
Trump’s sharing with Russia chills Israeli intelligence – USA TODAY
 


USA TODAY
Trump’s sharing with Russia chills Israeli intelligence
USA TODAY
JERUSALEM Reports that Israel was the source of highly classified information that President Trump shared with Russian officials last week left a chill among current and former intelligence officials here. Israeliintelligence officers are taking and more »
Israel was source for some of the information shared with Russian officials – CNN
 


CNN
Israel was source for some of the information shared with Russian officials
CNN
Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump,” Dermer said. On Monday, reports emerged that Trump shared highly …and more »
Trump disclosure of classified intel may have endangered spy: report – The Hill
 


The Hill
Trump disclosure of classified intel may have endangered spy: report
The Hill
President Trump’s reported disclosure of classified information may have put an Israeli spy’s life at risk, according to current and former U.S. officials. The spy, who was placed by Israel inside ISIS, provided intelligence on an active ISIS plot to and more »
Israel says ties with US unaffected after Trump-Lavrov accusations – BBC News
 


BBC News
Israel says ties with US unaffected after Trump-Lavrov accusations
BBC News
Israel says ties with the US have not been damaged by claims President Donald Trump gave Russia sensitive information provided by Israeliintelligence. “Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and more »
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
 


NBCNews.com
Trump to Make Historic Visit to Western Wall in Jerusalem
NBCNews.com
President Donald Trump heads to Israel next week where he is poised to make history by becoming the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall one of the holiest sites in Judaism. Trump “will say a prayer at the Western Wall,” National
Before Trump’s Visit to Israel, Small Issues Prove ThorniestNew York Times
McMaster won’t clarify Trump’s position on Western WallPolitico
all 183 all 173 news articles »
Israel Said to Be Source of Secret Intelligence Trump Gave to Russians – New York Times
 


New York Times
Israel Said to Be Source of Secret Intelligence Trump Gave to Russians
New York Times
WASHINGTON The classified intelligence that President Trump disclosed in a meeting last week with Russian officials at the White House was provided by Israel, according to a current and a former American official familiar with how the United States …
As Trump’s woes mount, congressional Republicans arrive at a moment of reckoningWashington Post
Trump Says He Has ‘Absolute Right’ To Share Intelligence With RussiaNPR
Did HR McMaster just make Donald Trump’s Russia problems worse?CNN
Slate Magazine –NBCNews.com –CNBC –Washington Post
all 1,821 news articles »
What is ‘wholly appropriate’ to the White House? Pretty much whatever Trump says. – Washington Post
 


Washington Post
What is ‘wholly appropriate’ to the White House? Pretty much whatever Trump says.
Washington Post
McMaster tempered his earlier denial of a Washington Post report that President Trump had shared highly classified information with Russia, arguing instead that its “premise” that Trump jeopardized a key intelligence source was false. He said no fewer
Trump Says He Has ‘Absolute Right’ To Share Intelligence With RussiaNPR
How dangerous are classified secrets claims for Trump?BBC News
National Security Adviser McMaster: Trump’s Revelations to Russians ‘Wholly Appropriate’NBCNews.com
New York Times –Reuters –CNBC –Washington Post
all 1,703 news articles »
GOP Lawmakers Call for Inside Information on Trump Disclosure – The Atlantic
 


The Atlantic
GOP Lawmakers Call for Inside Information on Trump Disclosure
The Atlantic
On Monday, The Washington Post reported that Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures …and more »
President Donald Trump is dangerously incompetent – Chicago Tribune
 


Chicago Tribune
President Donald Trump is dangerously incompetent
Chicago Tribune
A file handout photo made available by the Russian Foreign Ministry shows US President Donald J. Trump (C) speaking with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak during their meeting in the White …
Impeachment may be a real possibility for Donald TrumpSalon
The Donald Trump Impeachment Clock Is TickingThe Nation.
Democratic Congressman Says Donald Trump Has Committed An ‘Impeachable Act’BuzzFeed News
The Guardian –The Independent
all 127 news articles »
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
 


Washington Post
There’s almost nothing Congress can do to stop Trump from giving out secrets
Washington Post
Republicans in Congress may be totally dismayed that President Trump shared highly classified information with the Russians. Almost no one on Capitol Hill is helping to defend the president on this. But unless Republicans want to get seriously …and more »
‘Pay Trump Bribes Here’ Projected on Trump Hotel in Washington – New York Times
 


New York Times
‘Pay Trump Bribes Here’ Projected on Trump Hotel in Washington
New York Times
Large blue letters projected over the entrance to the Trump International Hotel in Washington on Monday night read Pay Trump Bribes Here, an allusion to questions about President Trump’s business affairs with foreign governments. Two other images
‘Pay Trump bribes here’ sign projected onto Trump’s DC hotelCNN
Meet Robin Bell, the artist who projected protest messages onto Trump’sDC hotel last nightLos Angeles Timesall 56 53 news articles »
Trump’s overseas trip must be canceled. The risks are too great. – Washington Post (blog)
 


Washington Post (blog)
Trump’s overseas trip must be canceled. The risks are too great.
Washington Post (blog)
President Trump is scheduled to depart Friday on his first international trip as president, with scheduled visits in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the West Bank, and the Vatican, followed by attendance at meetings of NATO in Brussels and the G7 alliance in and more »
The White House Is in Full Crisis Mode This Week, Again – TIME
 


TIME
The White House Is in Full Crisis Mode This Week, Again
TIME
For the second time in a week President Trump and his White House are in full crisis mode. The bombshell revelation that Trump revealed classified information to Russian diplomats in the Oval Office last week has the West Wing struggling to do damage …and more »

Shared NewsLinks Review
Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Following advice, potential FBI chiefs steer clear of job under Trump – Reuters
GOP nears total exasperation with Trump – The Hill
James Clapper: Defending democracy from Trump (opinion)
Trump may have obstructed justice
Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to…
Trump May Have Shifted U.S. Intelligence Policy on Russia. Or Maybe Not.
trump and comey – Google Search
Israel Said to Be Source of Secret…
trump and israel – Google Search
What is ‘wholly appropriate’ to the…
Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation
Amid Puerto Ricos Fiscal Ruins, a New Push for Statehood
Israel Said to Be Source of Secret Intelligence Trump Gave to Russians
Donald Trump is his administration’s…
Erick Erickson: Trump’s Russia Leak…
trump cartoons – Google Search
How lawmakers are reacting to report…
‘Golf, glitz and gluttony are the key’
“Maybe the Russians were the leakers! Fox News offered a master class on spin Monday night. – Vox
Trump Says He Has ‘Absolute Right’ To…
Trump and Putin exchange top secret information through Russian FM Lavrov
Someone has to yank President Trump’s security clearance
Russia denies Trump shared classified information
Analysis: Trump intel sharing risks damaging US alliances
European official to AP: Country might stop sharing intel with U.S.

Following advice, potential FBI chiefs steer clear of job under Trump – Reuters

1 Share

Reuters
Following advice, potential FBI chiefs steer clear of job under Trump
Reuters
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 »

GOP nears total exasperation with Trump – The Hill

1 Share

The Hill
GOP nears total exasperation with Trump
The Hill
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 …
It’s Chicken or FishNew York Times
Trump’s legislative agenda slows to crawl in CongressWashington Post
Exhausted Republicans Are Starting To Get Fed Up With The Chaos Coming From The White HouseBuzzFeed News
ABC News –New York Times
all 155 news articles »

James Clapper: Defending democracy from Trump (opinion)

1 Share

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

real spotlight

.

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

wrote this

: “When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?”

Clapper: Comey firing has hurt FBI morale

MUST WATCH

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

told Clapper

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

told Lester Holt

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.

Read the whole story
· · · ·

Trump may have obstructed justice

1 Share

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.

Advertisement

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.

Get Arguable with Jeff Jacoby in your inbox:

Our conservative columnist offers a weekly take on everything from politics to pet peeves.

“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.

Advertisement

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.

Scot Lehigh can be reached at lehigh@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GlobeScotLehigh.

Continue Reading

Read the whole story
· ·

Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to…

1 Share

Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation

New York Times – ‎2 hours ago‎
James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing this month. Credit Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times. WASHINGTON — President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal …

Notes made by former FBI director Comey say Trump pressured him to end Flynn probe

Washington Post – ‎1 hour ago‎
President Trump asked the FBI to drop its probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and urged former FBI director James B. Comey instead to pursue reporters in leak cases, according to associates of Comey who have seen private notes he …

Trump’s careening toward an inevitable showdown with an undeniable truth

Washington Post – ‎1 hour ago‎
Ten days ago, Donald Trump’s rocky presidency was in relatively calm waters. He’d helped push a health-care bill through the House and was spending the weekend at his Trump-brand property in Bedminster, N.J. After that, the deluge: Sally Yates’s …

White House rocked by allegation Trump tried to shut down FBI’s Flynn probe

Politico – ‎1 hour ago‎
President Donald Trump’s White House was rocked on Tuesday night by allegations that Trump tried to shut down an FBI investigation into one of his former aides, as the administration struggled to manage a growing list of scandals. Former FBI Director …

Legal analysts: Trump might have obstructed justice, if Comey’s allegation is true

Washington Post – ‎22 minutes ago‎
Former FBI director James B. Comey’s allegation that President Trump pressed him to shut down the bureau’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn provides the strongest support yet for a criminal obstruction-of-justice case
Read the whole story
· ·

Trump May Have Shifted U.S. Intelligence Policy on Russia. Or Maybe Not.

1 Share

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.”

Continue reading the main story

Read the whole story
· · · ·
Next Page of Stories
Loading…
Page 2

trump and comey – Google Search

1 Share

Story image for trump and comey from Fox News

Report says Trump asked Comey to end Flynn probe; White House …

Fox News33 minutes ago
The White House pushed back late Tuesday on a report that a memo from James Comey claimed President Trump once asked the ex-FBI …
Comey Wrote Memo Saying Trump Urged Him to Drop Flynn …
Featured<a href=”http://NBCNews.com” rel=”nofollow”>NBCNews.com</a>45 minutes ago
Memo alleges Donald Trump tried to shut down investigation
InternationalNEWS.com.au47 minutes ago
Trump reportedly asked Comey to drop Flynn investigation
BlogDallas News (blog)1 hour ago

Media image for trump and comey from Business Insider

Business Insider

Media image for trump and comey from Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune

Media image for trump and comey from NBCNews.com

NBCNews.com

Media image for trump and comey from Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times

Media image for trump and comey from The Seattle Times

The Seattle Times

Media image for trump and comey from Dallas News (blog)

Dallas News (blog)
Read the whole story
· · ·

Israel Said to Be Source of Secret…

1 Share

Israel Said to Be Source of Secret Intelligence Trump Gave to Russians

New York Times – ‎5 hours ago‎
WASHINGTON — The classified intelligence that President Trump disclosed in a meeting last week with Russian officials at the White House was provided by Israel, according to a current and a former American official familiar with how the United States …

Israeli intelligence ‘boiling mad’ over Trump disclosure: report

The Hill – ‎2 hours ago‎
Israeli intelligence officers are “boiling mad and demanding answers” after President Trump reportedly shared classified information from Israel with Russia, according to a new report. Two Israeli intelligence officers confirmed to BuzzFeed Tuesday

Information Trump shared with Russians came from Israel, official says

ABC News – ‎2 hours ago‎
Israel was the source of the information that President Donald Trump disclosed to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador in a meeting last week, an official briefed on the matter told ABC News. News of Trump’s disclosure, first reported by The

Israel was the source of secret intelligence that Trump gave to Russians, NBC News confirms

CNBC – ‎4 hours ago‎
McMaster maintained that Trump did not do anything that would compromise national security, He also said that the president was not briefed on the intelligence source and that Trump did not reveal the sources or collection methods. The Post and other …

Israel provided intelligence Trump shared with Russia: report

The Hill – ‎4 hours ago‎
In a statement to the Times, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer said Israel “has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump.”.
Read the whole story
· ·

trump and israel – Google Search

1 Share

Story image for trump and israel from ABC News

Information Trump shared with Russians came from Israel, official says

ABC News2 hours ago
Israel was the source of the information that President Donald Trump disclosed to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador in a meeting last …
Israel Said to Be Source of Secret Intelligence Trump Gave to …
Highly CitedNew York Times5 hours ago

Media image for trump and israel from The Hill

The Hill

Media image for trump and israel from Politico

Politico

Media image for trump and israel from New York Times

New York Times

Media image for trump and israel from CBS News

CBS News

Media image for trump and israel from CNBC

CNBC

Media image for trump and israel from The Atlantic

The Atlantic
Read the whole story
· · ·

What is ‘wholly appropriate’ to the…

1 Share

What is ‘wholly appropriate’ to the White House? Pretty much whatever Trump says.

Washington Post – ‎2 hours ago‎
If there were two words the White House wanted you to take away from national security adviser H.R. McMaster’s press briefing Tuesday, they were these: “wholly appropriate.” McMaster tempered his earlier denial of a Washington Post report that

How dangerous are classified secrets claims for Trump?

BBC News – ‎3 hours ago‎
The Trump White House has now settled on its defence of the president’s meeting with the Russian delegation, in which he reportedly revealed classified information to his guests. In a series of tweets on Tuesday morning the president framed any

Trump Says He Has ‘Absolute Right’ To Share Intelligence With Russia

NPR – ‎6 hours ago‎
Updated at 4:36 p.m. ET. President Trump is responding to the backlash against the allegations that he shared “highly classified” information with the Russians by saying he had “the absolute right to do” so. He tweeted Tuesday morning: As President I

The Latest: Report says Israel provided intelligence on IS

New York Daily News – ‎32 minutes ago‎
White House press secretary Sean Spicer, left, calls on a reporter as National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster listens at right during a briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 16, 2017. President Donald Trump claimed the authority to

There’s almost nothing Congress can do to stop Trump from giving out secrets

Washington Post – ‎2 hours ago‎
Republicans in Congress may be totally dismayed that President Trump shared highly classified information with the Russians. Almost no one on Capitol Hill is helping to defend the president on this. But unless Republicans want to get seriously …
Read the whole story
· · ·

Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation

1 Share

“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.

In a Twitter posting on Friday, Mr. Trump said that “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

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.

Continue reading the main story

Read the whole story
· · · · ·

Amid Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Ruins, a New Push for Statehood

1 Share

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.

Continue reading the main story

Read the whole story
· · · · ·
Next Page of Stories
Loading…
Page 3

Israel Said to Be Source of Secret Intelligence Trump Gave to Russians

1 Share
<a href=”http://NYTimes.com” rel=”nofollow”>NYTimes.com</a> no longer supports Internet Explorer 9 or earlier. Please upgrade your browser. LEARN MORE »

Verified Commenters

can leave comments on <a href=”http://NYTimes.com” rel=”nofollow”>NYTimes.com</a> without initial moderation. Verified status is earned based on a history of quality comments.

Signed in as mikenova

Share this story on NewsBlur

Shared stories are on their way…

Donald Trump is his administration’s…

1 Share

Donald Trump is his administration’s own worst enemy

Washington Post – ‎40 minutes ago‎
Eight months after he was sworn in, George W. Bush faced the most significant crisis posed to any president since World War II. After the tumultuous 2000 election, Bush’s first few months in office were quieter — not without drama and tension. A spy

Trump Defends Sharing Information on ISIS Threat With Russia

New York Times – ‎1 hour ago‎
WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday defended his decision to share sensitive information about an Islamic State threat with Russian officials as the White House once again struggled to reconcile seemingly conflicting accounts of the president’s …

US allies taken aback by intel sharing revelation

CNN – ‎18 minutes ago‎
Washington (CNN) The revelation that President Donald Trump reportedly disclosed highly sensitive information to Russian officials is raising questions among some allied intelligence agencies about the security of details they share with their US …

White House shifts to vigorously defending Trump’s Russia meeting

Politico – ‎2 hours ago‎
President Donald Trump and his aides shifted their damage control strategy on Tuesday, defending Trump’s conversation with Russian officials about allegedly classified information as “wholly appropriate” — while stoking the theory that disloyal

National Security Adviser McMaster: Trump’s Revelations to Russians ‘Wholly Appropriate’

<a href=”http://NBCNews.com” rel=”nofollow”>NBCNews.com</a> – ‎41 minutes ago‎
WASHINGTON — National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster defended President Donald Trump’s decision to share sensitive intelligence with Russian officials during last week’s visit as “wholly appropriate” amid a firestorm of criticism Tuesday. The White …
Read the whole story
· · ·

Erick Erickson: Trump’s Russia Leak…

1 Share

Erick Erickson: Trump’s Russia Leak Is ‘Far Worse’ Than Reported

HuffPost – ‎2 hours ago‎
The conservative pundit says he knows who leaked the news about the president giving confidential intel to Russia. By Ryan Grenoble. Conservative pundit Erick Erickson is vouching for the reliability of a least one source who revealed to Washington

Erick Erickson says he knows who leaked on Donald Trump’s meeting with Russia

Salon – ‎4 hours ago‎
Following the shocking report that President Trump had revealed highly classified information last week during his Oval Office meeting with Russian officials, some pundits were quick to question the original reporting by the Washington Post, but one …

How the partisan media covered Trump’s Russia leak

Axios – ‎5 hours ago‎
In two recent stories — Trump firing James Comey last week and the Washington Post’s bombshell report claiming the president shared sensitive info with a Russian diplomat — left-leaning media has been quick to cry “collusion,” while right-leaning

Erick Erickson says at least one source in the Washington Post story is pro-Trump

Washington Examiner – ‎5 hours ago‎
—œI am told that what the president did is actually far worse than what is being reported,—� Erickson wrote. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez). Recommended for You. Rumors of Supreme Court vacancy spark liberal panic · Byron York: What Grassley and

Erick Erickson: ‘I Know One of the Sources’ of WaPo Story — It’s Even Worse Than Reported

Mediaite – ‎4 hours ago‎
Conservative commentator Erick Erickson said he knows — and trusts — one of the sources of the Washington Post story alleging President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian officials. In a blog post on Erickson’s website The …
Read the whole story
· · ·

trump cartoons – Google Search

1 Share
Image result for trump cartoons

How lawmakers are reacting to report…

1 Share

How lawmakers are reacting to report of Trump sharing classified intel with Russian officials

PBS NewsHour – ‎12 hours ago‎
Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn. speaks to reporters May 10 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters. Congressional Republicans and Democrats expressed concern Monday night over reports that President Donald Trump …

Trump revealed intelligence secrets to Russians in Oval Office: officials

Reuters – ‎15 hours ago‎
WASHINGTON President Donald Trump disclosed highly classified information to Russia’s foreign minister about a planned Islamic State operation, two U.S. officials said on Monday, plunging the White House into another controversy just months into Trump

Donald Trump campaign rhetoric has not changed in office

Washington Times – ‎14 hours ago‎
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 …

OnPolitics Today: Who needs spies when the president might tell you himself?

USA TODAY – ‎15 hours ago‎
It was shaping up to be a quiet Monday, OnPolitics peeps. And then this happened: The Washington Post broke a major story about President Trump reportedly revealing CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the RUSSIANS. The White House, of course, is denying …

Trump will have to navigate diplomatic land mines abroad. Here’s how he’s preparing.

Washington Post – ‎16 hours ago‎
As the White House was engulfed by a crisis of its own making — the abrupt firing of the FBI director — President Trump received an unlikely visitor: Henry Kissinger, the Republican Party’s leading elder statesman, who came to deliver a tutorial on
Read the whole story
· · ·

‘Golf, glitz and gluttony are the key’

1 Share

SATIRE

Vladmir Putin, in quest of easy secrets, sets his golfers and flatterers on to Donald Trump

Tony Wright

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.

null
null
null
null
null
null

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.”

Advertisement

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”.

Read the whole story
· · · · ·
Next Page of Stories
Loading…
Page 4

“Maybe the Russians were the leakers!” Fox News offered a master class on spin Monday night. – Vox

1 Share

The right-wing media teaches us how to downplay a scandal.

Read the whole story
· · · · ·

Trump Says He Has ‘Absolute Right’ To…

1 Share

Trump Says He Has ‘Absolute Right’ To Share Intelligence With Russia

NPR – ‎40 minutes ago‎
President Trump is responding to the backlash against the allegations that he shared “highly classified” information with the Russians by saying he had “the absolute right to do” so. He tweeted this morning: As President I wanted to share with Russia

Can President Donald Trump share top secret information?

BBC News – ‎4 hours ago‎
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

Trump confirms he shared information with Russia

Business Insider – ‎3 hours ago‎
Donald Trump Jeff Sessions President Donald Trump before speaking at the 36th Annual National Peace Officers’ memorial service Monday in Washington. AP Photo/Evan Vucci. President Donald Trump has appeared to confirm a Washington Post report …

Trump claims he has ‘absolute right’ to share intelligence with the Russians

Politico – ‎2 hours ago‎
President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning claimed he has “the absolute right” to share intelligence with the Russian government, while doing little to deny that he allegedly divulged highly classified information to a foreign adversary during an Oval

“Maybe the Russians were the leakers!” Fox News offered a master class on spin Monday night.

Vox – ‎43 minutes ago‎
Just after 5 pm on Monday, the Washington Post released a bombshell report alleging that President Donald Trump shared an ally’s “highly classified” information with Russian officials at the White House last week. By 6 pm, Fox News had assembled an …
Read the whole story
· · ·

Trump and Putin exchange top secret information through Russian FM Lavrov

1 Share

Trump and Putin exchanged top secret information through Russian FM Lavrov. 60482.jpegAP photo

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.

Pravda.Ru

Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru

Which business Putin and Trump contrive

Read the whole story
· · ·

Someone has to yank President Trump’s security clearance

1 Share

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.

RELATED: Sorry, folks, this is not Watergate — yet

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.

More from Dave Ross

Read the whole story
· · ·

Russia denies Trump shared classified information

1 Share

48

TheHill.com

The Hill 1625 K Street, NW Suite 900 Washington DC 20006 | 202-628-8500 tel | 202-628-8503 fax

The contents of this site are ©2017 Capitol Hill Publishing Corp., a subsidiary of News Communications, Inc.

Signed in as mikenova

Share this story on NewsBlur

Shared stories are on their way…

Analysis: Trump intel sharing risks damaging US alliances

1 Share

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

Read the whole story
· · ·
Next Page of Stories
Loading…
Page 5

European official to AP: Country might stop sharing intel with U.S.

1 Share

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.

Trump Says He Has ‘Absolute Right’ To…

1 Share

Trump Says He Has ‘Absolute Right’ To Share Intelligence With Russia

NPR – ‎19 minutes ago‎
President Trump is responding to the backlash against the allegations that he shared “highly classified” information with the Russians by saying he had “the absolute right to do” so. He tweeted this morning: As President I wanted to share with Russia

Trump defends ‘absolute right’ to share ‘facts’ with Russia

BBC News – ‎3 hours ago‎
US President Donald Trump has defended his “absolute right” to share information with Russia, following a row over classified material. Mr Trump tweeted that he had shared “facts pertaining to terrorism and airline safety” and wanted Russia to do more …

Can President Donald Trump share top secret information?

BBC News – ‎3 hours ago‎
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

Trump confirms he shared information with Russia

Business Insider – ‎3 hours ago‎
Donald Trump Jeff Sessions President Donald Trump before speaking at the 36th Annual National Peace Officers’ memorial service Monday in Washington. AP Photo/Evan Vucci. President Donald Trump has appeared to confirm a Washington Post report …

Trump says he has “absolute right” to share facts with Russians

Reuters – ‎49 minutes ago‎
WASHINGTON U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended having disclosed information to senior Russian officials last week, saying he had an “absolute right” to do so and had shared facts to get Moscow to step up its fight against the Islamic State …
Read the whole story
· · ·

laptops airplanes – Google Search

1 Share

Story image for laptops airplanes from Los Angeles Times

A laptop ban on planes will make flying even more like going to prison

Los Angeles TimesMay 11, 2017
Just when you thought flying on commercial airliners couldn’t get any more miserable, consider this: you may be banned from bringing your …

Media image for laptops airplanes from Mashable

Mashable

Media image for laptops airplanes from Forbes

Forbes

Media image for laptops airplanes from Daily Mail

Daily Mail

Media image for laptops airplanes from BGR

BGR

Media image for laptops airplanes from USA TODAY

USA TODAY
Read the whole story
· ·

US, UK ban laptops, tablets on airplanes: What’s the threat? – Times of India

1 Share

Can President Donald Trump share top…

1 Share

Can President Donald Trump share top secret information?

BBC News – ‎2 hours ago‎
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

Trump confirms he shared information with Russia

Business Insider – ‎2 hours ago‎
Donald Trump Jeff Sessions President Donald Trump before speaking at the 36th Annual National Peace Officers’ memorial service Monday in Washington. AP Photo/Evan Vucci. President Donald Trump has appeared to confirm a Washington Post report …

Trump claims ‘absolute right’ to share info with Russia

<a href=”http://WRAL.com” rel=”nofollow”>WRAL.com</a> – ‎33 minutes ago‎
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday claimed the authority to share “facts pertaining to terrorism” and airline safety with Russia, saying in a pair of tweets he has “an absolute right” as president to do so. Trump’s tweets did not say

Trump claims he has ‘absolute right’ to share intelligence with the Russians

Politico – ‎1 hour ago‎
President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning claimed he has “the absolute right” to share intelligence with the Russian government, while doing little to deny that he allegedly divulged highly classified information to a foreign adversary during an Oval

Russian Foreign Ministry: no classified information from Trump

Fox5NY – ‎2 hours ago‎
WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia’s foreign ministry spokesman has denied reports that President Donald Trump revealed classified information to senior officials during the Russian minister’s visit to the Oval Office last week. Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for …
Read the whole story
· ·

Can President Donald Trump share top…

1 Share

Can President Donald Trump share top secret information?

BBC News – ‎2 hours ago‎
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

Trump confirms he shared information with Russia

Business Insider – ‎1 hour ago‎
Donald Trump Jeff Sessions President Donald Trump before speaking at the 36th Annual National Peace Officers’ memorial service Monday in Washington. AP Photo/Evan Vucci. President Donald Trump has appeared to confirm a Washington Post report …

Trump defends sharing terrorism ‘facts’ with Russians

<a href=”http://WRAL.com” rel=”nofollow”>WRAL.com</a> – ‎12 minutes ago‎
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday claimed the authority to share “facts pertaining to terrorism” and airline safety with Russia, saying in a pair of tweets he has “an absolute right” as president to do so. Trump’s tweets did not say

Trump claims he has ‘absolute right’ to share intelligence with the Russians

Politico – ‎51 minutes ago‎
President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning claimed he has “the absolute right” to share intelligence with the Russian government, while doing little to deny that he allegedly divulged highly classified information to a foreign adversary during an Oval

Russian Foreign Ministry: no classified information from Trump

Fox5NY – ‎2 hours ago‎
WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia’s foreign ministry spokesman has denied reports that President Donald Trump revealed classified information to senior officials during the Russian minister’s visit to the Oval Office last week. Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for …
Read the whole story
· ·
Next Page of Stories
Loading…
Page 6

Can President Donald Trump share top secret information?

1 Share

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.


Share this article
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •