Nel's New Day

February 2, 2018

Memo Day Arrives

Filed under: Russia — trp2011 @ 10:40 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Memo is out! For weeks, Fox’s Sean Hannity has been calling on Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to release a document that would destroy the Robert Mueller investigation into the Russia’s collusion to win the presidential election for DDT. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who got his spin for the memo from the White House, pushed the release of misleading, inaccurate information to protect DDT with the vote of his GOP members of the Intelligence Committee, who also unanimously denied the Democrats to release any information. After the memo was approved, Nunes changed the memo because he gave it to DDT, and the White House could then make more changes, also not approved by the committee, before permitting its release.

Both DDT’s FBI director, Christopher Wray, and National Intelligence director, Dan Coats, warned DDT that the memo’s information was inaccurate and compromised classified information. DDT didn’t even read the document before he agreed to its release.

The memo accuses the FBI and DOJ of abusing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act when he it obtained a warrant to surveil an adviser for DDT’s campaign because the reason was misleading. The FBI and DOJ first applied for a warrant on October 21, 2016 to surveil Carter Page. A renewal was required every 90 days. Three signers of a warrant—James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and Sally Yates—have been fired; two, Dana Boente and Rod Rosenstein, remain in the government. Rod Rosenstein may be fired because he might not be willing to fire Robert Mueller.

Nunes claimed that Christopher Steele, paid to prepare a dossier on DDT, told a senior DOJ official that he wanted to be sure that DDT didn’t get elected with no evidence of any bias against Page, the subject of the warrant. The memo also claims that no warrant would have been obtained without the Steele dossier, but there is no evidence about this except private testimony that others claim has been “mischaracterized.” The FBI had considered Page might be a target of Russian intelligence long before he became involved with DDT after Page met a Russian spy in 2013.

The document’s conclusion concentrates on the text messages between two FBI employees that, according to the memo, illustrated “a clear bias against Trump and in favor of [Hillary] Clinton, whom Strzok had also investigated.” Yet other Peter Strzok text messages are equally critical of Clinton, and he co-drafted the letter about publicizing the text messages related to Clinton 11 days before the election, an action that may have elected DDT. With no evidence, Nunes’ memo blames the employees for leaking information to the media.

The released document had only one surprise, that George Papadopoulos was responsible for initiating the FBI investigation after he bragged to an Australian diplomat over drinks in London that the Russians have dirt on Hillary Clinton before the hack on the DNC emails became public. Concerned about the Russian involvement, the diplomat warned the FBI. Papadopoulos is testifying to Robert Mueller.

In the past, Nunes demonstrated strong support for greater surveillance, voting for the expansion of the National Security Agency’s warrantless program and helping block others who wanted to restrict the agency from spying on U.S. citizens. He also rejected a suggestion to release the FBI/DOJ request for the warrant, redacted for classified information and privacy, to show what information was used in the court affidavit.

From his ranch in Arizona, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) issued a statement about Nunes’ release of the memo:

“In 2016, the Russian government engaged in an elaborate plot to interfere in an American election and undermine our democracy. Russia employed the same tactics it has used to influence elections around the world, from France and Germany to Ukraine, Montenegro and beyond. The latest attacks against the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests ― no party’s, no President’s, only Putin’s. The American people deserve to know all the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the lens of politics and manufacturing political sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”

Nunes apparently jobbed out the writing of his memo. His aides wrote the document, and he didn’t even see the warrant. Only one Democrat and one Republican, plus staff, are permitted to see these warrants. Nunes assigned the task to Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC). Therefore, Nunes cannot know whether his own document is accurate. The day after Nunes announced the release of the memo, Gowdy abruptly announced that he would not be running for re-election. Swept in with the 2010 Tea Party epidemic, Gowdy became famous with his incessant grilling of Hillary Clinton over four deaths at a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi (Libya) in 2012.  One of the almost dozen “interviews” lasted about eleven hours and revealed no new information. By 2016, Gowdy admitted that Clinton was not responsible. Gowdy’s other persecution of Clinton was her private email server although he himself used private email instead of a government server. He said he wants to return to the justice system, and the 4th Circuit Court has a vacancy. may have his eye on an appointment for the 4th Circuit Court. Over 40 House GOP members of the 115th Congress are already not running in this year’s election.

Nunes has used his power to cover for DDT by refusing to investigate Russian interference. He is controlling the Republicans in the House: even House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) won’t disagree with his unethical actions and claims “malfeasance” in the FBI. Nunes also announced his release of the memo when DDT said that he would not follow a law by Congress requiring new sanctions on Russia when DDT’s CIA director, Mike Pompeo, has “every expectation that they will continue” trying to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections.

The GOP promised that Nunes’ memo would be “worse than Watergate.” Watchers of Sean Hannity and Fox will have an entirely different perspective of the memo than the rest of the world. And DDT will be delighted because he gets all his advice from Fox. He told friends that the release of the memo would allow him to argue FBI prejudice against him. Most people, however, as saying, “That’s it?” The memo.

Russia This Week:

DDT backed off on his guarantee because lawyers are afraid that he’ll lie to them. Seventy-one percent of people in the U.S. agree that he should agree to an interview with Mueller, and 82 percent of them want it under oath—93 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans.

Mark Corallo, DDT’s legal team spokesman who resigned last summer from concern that he might be exposed to obstruction, agreed to meet with Robert Mueller. His testimony involves Hope Hicks, communications director, who loves DDT “like a father,” who said in front of DDT with no lawyer present that the emails written by Donald Trump Jr. leading up to the Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer “will never get out.” Corallo notified the legal team about the conversation and took notes as well as sharing his concerns with Steve Bannon. DDT had insisted that the statement maintain that Jr.’s meeting was about Russian adoptions. Jr. insisted on the addition of the word “primarily” about the meeting subject.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein asked DDT for help before his testimony at the House Judiciary Committee to keep Rep. Devin Nunes from getting “sensitive documents.” In this December visit, DDT asked about the direction of the investigation and whether Rosenstein was “on my team,” similar to questions he posed to James Comey before he fired him and then Andrew McCabe who is also gone. DDT also proposed questions to the committee for Rod Rosenstein, including whether Rosenstein picked Mueller as investigator because Mueller wasn’t chosen for FBI director.

No Sanctions against Russia:

  • July 2017: Congress imposed new sanctions on Russia for election meddling with a deadline. Senate passed the bill by 98-2. DDT signed the bill with a note of protest and an angry tweet. He then missed all the deadlines.
  • October 2017: DDT disbanded the sanctions office.
  • January 29, 2018: Deadline for sanctions. Otherwise, DDT will flout Congress and violate the law. DDT announced he won’t be following the law.  At the same time, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats met with two top Russian spy chiefs. Reuters found out by reading Russian media.

Andrew McCabe was “removed” from the FBI.

This week DDT gave his State of the Union speech, Nunes released his memo, Nunes’ opponent for the House raised $100,000 in one day, and the Dow Jones dropped over 1,000 points.

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May 12, 2017

DDT: Week Sixteen, Moving into Paranoia

The week began with all eyes on testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee from former Attorney General Sally Yates, but attention rapidly segued to Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) firing of James Comey, the FBI director who refused to stop investigation his involvement with Russia. The third senior Justice Department officials investigating DDT who was fired in less than four months, he follows DDT’s victims Sally Yates and Preet Bharara. Less media attention, however, was paid to DDT’s hosting Russian officials in the White House the day after Comey’s unorthodox firing. U.S. journalists were banned from the event, and the only visuals of the meeting with Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were photographed by the Russian state-owned news agency. The Washington Post raised questions about a security breach, citing issues about listening devices or other surveillance equipment being brought into the Oval Office. Intelligence officials noted that standard screenings might not identify an espionage device. The White House claimed that they were told the photographer worked for Lavrov, not that he worked for the Russian agency. A White House official, “They tricked us.” Either it’s true, which is scary. Or it wasn’t true, which is scary. A White House spokesman explained that DDT hosted the meeting “because Putin asked him to.” Again, scary.

Melissa McCarthy has already started preparing a Saturday Night Live sketch imitating Press Secretary Sean Spicer hiding in the bushes from reporters. A group of journalists caught him after he finished up a short interview with the friendly Fox business folks and met with his staff behind a tall hedge, but a groups of journalists wanted to ask him about Comey’s firing. He came out of the shrubbery and shouted, “Just turn the lights off. Turn the lights off…. Can you just turn that light off?” Since WaPo issued the following correction about its story:

“Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to more precisely describe White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s location late Tuesday night in the minutes before he briefed reporters. Spicer huddled with his staff among bushes near television sets on the White House grounds, not ‘in the bushes,’ as the story originally stated.”

How many FBI officials does DDT need to fire for control?  Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the FBI had not lost faith in Comey, contradicting a DDT reason for Comey’s firing. He added that it was the “greatest privilege” of his professional career to work with Comey. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to quit because DDT presented him as the architect of the firing. And DDT now contradicts everything that his White House officials and VP Mike Pence have presented to the media. In an interview with Lester Holt, DDT said, “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself … this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.” Firing someone to deliberately block an investigation is an impeachable offense. After the Holt interview, in which DDT called Comey a “grandstander” and “showboat,” the FBI disinvited DDT to FBI Headquarters, saying that “the optics would not be good.”

The Senate has subpoenaed fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to appear at a hearing about Russian interference in the recent election. The joint chairs of the Intelligence Committee had requested materials from him on April 28, but he refused. Flynn had previously offered to testify before the Senate and House intelligence committees in exchange for immunity, but he didn’t find any takers. Among Flynn’s problems are his taking payments from Russia and Turkey while giving them information. The committee has received only two responses in requests for documents from DDT associates.

In DDT’s attempt to find those three million voters who voted for Hillary Clinton last year and gave her a majority, he signed an executive order for a commission to review fraud and voter suppression in the nation’s election system with the possible intent of rigging the 2018 elections. If he were sincere, he could find almost zero of the first and a massive amount of the second—mostly through state legislation. After the election, ABC contacted officials in all 50 states and found that voter fraud was “very” or “extremely” rare. DDT’s leader, however, is Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who is extremely successful in finding voter fraud everywhere in places where it doesn’t exist for the sole purpose of voter suppression.

In another action, DDT broke a century-long tradition requiring senators to approve judicial nominees who sit on federal courts in their states. To ensure a right-wing court system, he has nominated ten unvetted lawyers for lifetime judges on federal courts without consulting any senators.

A few days after DDT defunded members of the Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), claiming it was “unconstitutional,” Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was booed when she gave the graduation address at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach (FL). DeVos has her own issues with HBCUs, referring them as a sort of pilot program for schools of choice while ignoring the fact that people went there not out of choice but because they weren’t permitted into white schools. In the speech, the billionaire who forced legislation to move many Michigan students into failing religious schools funded by taxpayers said:

“We must first listen and then speak with humility to genuinely hear the perspectives of those with whom we don’t immediately or instinctively agree.”

Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index lost half the gains it made since DDT’s election, going from +16 to +3. Fewer Americans last week said the economy was “getting better” (45%) than said it was “getting worse” (49%), leaving the economic outlook component at -4, its worst score since Nov. 7-13, when it measured -5. The rating is almost 20 points below its recent high of +15 set in early March. DDT is down to a 36 percent approval, and that was before he fired Comey. The percentages for his characteristics are also very low.

No matter the intention behind Comey’s firing—distraction, avoidance, shock, chaos—scholars on authoritarianism agree that DDT’s goal is to “uproot the system,” according to Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Professor of History and Italian Studies at NYU. We’ve watched his obsession with issuing executive orders, his aggressive opposition toward the media, and his love for “alternative facts” while GOP politicians enable him for their own personal advantage. In a recent event, a reporter was arrested for asking Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price whether or not domestic violence survivors would have difficulty getting insurance under Trumpcare.

Ben-Ghiat said, “Democracy is threatened in drips.” She draws parallels between DDT and authoritarian leaders of Turkey and Hungary who undermine society by chipping at democratic institutions while greatly expanding their power. The people of the United States, however, may be developing a bit more savvy about DDT’s techniques after 16 weeks: 54 percent of the people think that the firing was inappropriate, and only 24 percent think that the reason was Hillary Clinton’s emails, DDT’s original stated reason.

Progressives had one win this week. After a spate of successful bills overturning President Obama’s regulations, the Senate voted against a resolution to nullify a clean air regulation the last day before the GOP could do this without a filibuster. In the 51-49 vote, Sens. John McCain (AZ), Susan Collins (ME), and Lindsey Graham (SC)  joined the Democrats. The Congressional Review Act, successfully used only once before DDT allows repeal of regulations within 60 days of being submitted to Congress, has been used in he past 100 days to reverse 15 regulations from President Obama.

The regulation that stayed updates 30-year-old regulations about venting, flaring, and leaks of natural gas on public and Native American lands to help stop waste of natural resources. It helps protect the climate while saving taxpayers $330 million a year. Colorado, one of the two states that already have this regulation, have seen an overwhelmingly positive response from the residents, including Republicans, and increased both job production and natural gas production, a contradiction to arguments from the conservative opposition.

DDT didn’t wait until this weekend to issue crazy tweets. First he threatened to stop press briefings from the White House after the media pointed out all the inconsistencies regarding DDT’s method and reasoning for firing Comey. He ratcheted up his paranoid almost to the level of former President Richard Nixon when he threatened Comey:

“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

DDT has not denied that he taped meetings or records conversations in the Oval Office. Witness intimidation is a crime, and DDT threatened former Attorney General Sally Yates before she testified last Monday to a Senate hearing:

“Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Council [sic].”

DDT also violated the Presidential Records Act by attempting to scrub the tweet with the misspelled tweet and replacing it with the corrected version. All his tweets must be kept as official records of his public remarks. DDT may still not know that all his tweets belong to the people of the United States.

Hard to believe that these are the actions of a man supposed to be the leader of the “free world.”

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