Tag Archives: FBI

The March Madness of King Donald

The “Friday night news dump” of things the White House wants to delay media scrutiny of until the following week has been raised to an art form in the Trump administration. It has become a Friday night “wheel of fortune” to see which member of the administration is being fired or replaced this Friday.

Prior to Friday night, the breaking news story was retired four-star Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey slamming President Donald Trump as a “serious threat to U.S. national security” for his failure to protect the nation from “active Russian attacks.” McCaffrey accused Trump in a tweet Friday of being “under the sway” of Russian President Vladimir Putin” for some “unknown reason.”

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That lede got buried when Confederate Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who is supposed to be recused from anything to do with the Russia investigation, fired former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe only 48 hours before he was set to retire, something President Trump had foreshadowed he would do out of spite back in December.

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Deputy Director McCabe was in charge of the FBI’s Russia investigation for a period of time, and he is a key fact witness in the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the obstruction of justice portion of the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Sessions has clearly violated his recusal, signaling his willingness to do it again for others at the request of “Dear Leader.”

Sessions short-circuited the normal review process in federal personnel matters in order to carry out the petty vindictiveness of “Dear Leader.” He relied on an Inspector General report and a FBI report that have not yet been made public. Andrew McCabe, a Target of Trump’s F.B.I. Scorn, Is Fired Over Candor Questions:

Andrew G. McCabe, the former F.B.I. deputy director and a frequent target of President Trump’s scorn, was fired Friday after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rejected an appeal that would have let him retire this weekend.

Mr. McCabe is accused in a yet-to-be-released internal report of failing to be forthcoming about a conversation he authorized between F.B.I. officials and a journalist.

In a statement released late Friday, Mr. Sessions said that Mr. McCabe had shown a lack of candor under oath on multiple occasions.

“The F.B.I. expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity and accountability,” he said. “I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately.”

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Disgraceful House Intelligence Committee whitewash of Russia investigation ends (Updated)

Putin’s fifth column of fellow travelers on the House Intelligence Committee, led by “Midnight Run” Devin Nunes, has completed its whitewash investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. It’s cover-up and obstruction of justice is now complete. I truly hope that Rep. Nunes, at a minimum, will be charged as an accessory to obstruction of justice.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is nearly done with his investigation into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice but may wait to publicize his findings until he has completed other parts of the Russia probe, Bloomberg News reported on Monday.

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post reports, The Republican coverup for Trump just got much worse:

House Republicans may have the power to prevent important facts about President Trump and Russia from coming to public light. But here’s what they don’t have the power to do: prevent important facts about their own conduct on Trump’s behalf from coming to public light.

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have announced that they are shutting down their investigation into Russian efforts to sabotage our democracy and into Trump campaign collusion with those efforts. Shockingly, they have reached conclusions that are entirely vindicating for Trump: There was no “collusion,” and while Russia did try to interfere, it didn’t do so in order to help Trump.

In an interview with me this morning, Rep. Adam B. Schiff — the ranking Democrat on the Intel Committee — confirmed that Democrats will issue a minority report that will seek to rebut the GOP conclusions.

But here’s the real point to understand about this minority report: It will detail all the investigative avenues that House Republicans declined to take — the interviews that they didn’t conduct, and the leads that they didn’t try to chase down and verify. And Schiff confirmed that the report will include new facts — ones that have not been made public yet — that Republicans didn’t permit to influence their conclusions.

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Jane Mayer’s in-depth report on Christopher Steele

Jane Mayer at the New Yorker has an in-depth lengthy narrative report on Christopher Steele, the former M.I.6 spy and Russia specialist. This is the most concise narrative report I have seen on this subject. Christopher Steele, the Man Behind the Trump Dossier (ecerpts):

Christopher Steele had spent more than twenty years in M.I.6, most of it focussing on Russia. For three years, in the nineties, he spied in Moscow under diplomatic cover. Between 2006 and 2009, he ran the service’s Russia desk, at its headquarters, in London. He was fluent in Russian, and widely considered to be an expert on the country. He’d also advised on nation-building in Iraq.

* * *

Steele worked out of the British Embassy for M.I.6, under diplomatic cover. His years in Moscow, 1990 to 1993, were among the most dramatic in Russian history, a period that included the collapse of the Communist Party; nationalist uprisings in Ukraine, the Caucasus, and the Baltic states; and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Boris Yeltsin gained ultimate power in Russia, and a moment of democratic promise faded as the K.G.B.—now called the F.S.B.—reasserted its influence, oligarchs snapped up state assets, and nationalist political forces began to emerge. Vladimir Putin, a K.G.B. operative returning from East Germany, reinvented himself in the shadowy world of St. Petersburg politics. By the time Steele left the country, optimism was souring, and a politics of resentment—against the oligarchs, against an increasing gap between rich and poor, and against the West—was taking hold.

After leaving Moscow, Steele was assigned an undercover posting with the British Embassy in Paris, but he and a hundred and sixteen other British spies had their cover blown by an anonymously published list. Steele came in from the cold and returned to London, and in 2006 he began running its Russia desk, growing increasingly pessimistic about the direction of the Russian Federation.

Steele’s already dim view of the Kremlin darkened in November, 2006, when Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian K.G.B. officer and a Putin critic who had been recruited by M.I.6, suffered an agonizing death in a London hospital, after drinking a cup of tea poisoned with radioactive polonium-210. Moscow had evidently sanctioned a brazen murder in his own country. Steele was put in charge of M.I.6’s investigation. Authorities initially planned to indict one suspect in the murder, but Steele’s investigative work persuaded them to indict a second suspect as well. Nine years later, the U.K.’s official inquiry report was finally released, and it confirmed Steele’s view: the murder was an operation by the F.S.B., and it was “probably approved” by Vladimir Putin.

Steele has never commented on the case, or on any other aspect of his intelligence work, but Richard Dearlove, who led M.I.6 from 1999 to 2004, has described his reputation as “superb.” A former senior officer recalls him as “a Russia-area expert whose knowledge I and others respected—he was very careful, and very savvy.” Another former M.I.6 officer described him as having a “Marmite” personality—a reference to the salty British spread, which people either love or hate. He suggested that Steele didn’t appear to be “going places in the service,” noting that, after the Cold War, Russia had become a backwater at M.I.6. But he acknowledged that Steele “knew Russia well,” and that running the Russia desk was “a proper job that you don’t give to an idiot.”

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The Special Counsel focuses on the heart of the Russia investigation (updated)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is beginning to ask direct questions about whether Donald Trump knew about the stolen Democratic emails from the 2016 presidential election before their theft became public knowledge — as well as whether he was in any way involved in how they were released during the campaign. Mueller asking if Trump knew about hacked Democratic emails before release:

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is asking witnesses pointed questions about whether Donald Trump was aware that Democratic emails had been stolen before that was publicly known, and whether he was involved in their strategic release, according to multiple people familiar with the probe.

Mueller’s investigators have asked witnesses whether Trump was aware of plans for WikiLeaks to publish the emails. They have also asked about the relationship between GOP operative Roger Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and why Trump took policy positions favorable to Russia.

The line of questioning suggests the special counsel, who is tasked with examining whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, is looking into possible coordination between WikiLeaks and Trump associates in disseminating the emails, which U.S. intelligence officials say were stolen by Russia.

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Trump again improperly attempts to influence Department of Justice

Last summer we witnessed one of the more truly bizarre incidents in American history, President Donald Trump belittling and berating his Confederate Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III — his earliest and most loyal supporter — for having recused himself from the Russia investigation by the Department of Justice and the FBI because of his undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador during the campaign, leading to Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointing Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

For some reason, Trump appears to believe that the Department of Justice is his personal law firm, and that the Attorney General is his consigliere whose duty it is to protect the president from any legal investigations, and to pursue his political opponents with retaliatory prosecutions. This is what authoritarian tin horn dictators from banana republics do.

This is America: the independence of federal law enforcement from interference by the office of the president is sacrosanct.

Trump’s goal was to make life so miserable for Jeff Sessions that he would feel compelled to resign, since it would not look good to fire him after having fired FBI Director James Comey.  Sessions did offer his resignation, but Trump refused his resignation. Sessions offered to resign before Trump’s trip abroad:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions offered his resignation to President Donald Trump amid Trump’s rising frustration with the series of events that culminated in the appointment of a special counsel to investigate his campaign’s contacts with Russian officials during last year’s election.

Trump ultimately refused Sessions’ offer, which came just before Trump embarked on his first international trip in late May, according to a person who regularly speaks with Sessions.

Trump later demanded Sessions’ resignation, but he decided not to accept it at the urging of White House advisers.

Sessions has sought to get back in the president’s good graces by pursuing policies he favors, and the Twitter-troll-in-chief quieted down his bizarre belittling and berating of his Attorney General on Twitter.

But after a busy week last week for the Special Counsel racking up plea deals and filing criminal indictments against multiple persons in the Russia investigation, Trump is now in a panic.

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Little ‘white lies’ leads to loss of Hope

Donald Trump treats his White House Communications Director Hope Hicks like a daughter (he affectionately calls her “Hopey”). There is no one Trump trusts more.  Hicks is his longest-serving aid whom he brought with him from his company. Pundits commenting on Hicks’ loyalty to Trump joked that she would be there to “turn the lights out when the Trump administration ends.”

Earlier this week, “White House communications director Hope Hicks refused to answer questions about the Trump administration that House investigators posed Tuesday as part of their probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.” In Russia probe, Hope Hicks refuses to answer questions about Trump administration:

But under pressure from lawmakers, she began to offer some details about the transition period Tuesday afternoon, according to House Intelligence Committee members of both parties, who said Hicks and her attorneys agreed to address topics broached with the Senate Intelligence Committee in an earlier private interview.

Democrats and Republicans emerging from the House Intelligence Committee’s interview with Hicks on Tuesday noted that, at first, she categorically resisted answering any questions about events and conversations that had occurred since President Trump won the election, even though Trump has not formally invoked executive privilege with the panel.

“No one’s asserting privilege; they’re following the orders of the White House not to answer certain questions,” said Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), a committee member, after the interview had been going for about four hours.

“There’s no hope to get all our answers,” he added, noting the pun and adding: “Tip your servers.”

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