‘National security concerns’: Trump returns ‘sensitive’ memo to House Democrats for revision

‘National security concerns’: Trump returns ‘sensitive’ memo to House Democrats for revision
US President Donald Trump has declined to make public a memo written by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, saying that it requires additional revisions to remove sensitive and classified information.

The 10-page document, authored by Representative Adam Schiff (D-California), contains “numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages,” says a letter from the White House counsel Don McGahn, sent to the committee on Friday evening.

Trump is “inclined” to declassify the memo, but is “unable to do so at this time,” says the letter, adding that the committee should work with the Department of Justice to revise the memo to mitigate the risks to US law enforcement and intelligence.

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: The President and the White House Counsel have decided NOT to release the Democrat memo at this time… @OANN 👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻

The DoJ and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence have identified passages that would create “significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests,” says the letter.

However, the White House has instructed the DoJ to provide personnel that could assist the committee if they wish to revise the document, “given the public interest in transparency.”

Schiff’s memo was written in response to a four-page document compiled by the committee chair, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California) and published last Friday. Democrats on the committee have accused Nunes of misrepresenting and cherry-picking information in order to accuse the FBI and the Justice Department of abusing the rules to obtain and renew a FISA surveillance warrant against a Trump campaign adviser.

Nunes’s memo, published last Friday, accused the FBI and the DoJ of not informing the FISA court that the so-called “Steele dossier” on which the warrant was almost exclusively based was in fact opposition research paid for by the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

The dossier was authored by former British spy Christopher Steele, who was working for the Washington DC-based firm Fusion GPS. It later emerged the company’s effort was entirely funded by the Clinton campaign, through the DNC law firm Perkins Coie.

Courtesy: RT

The Daily 202: More memos are coming. Here are six questions about ‘Phase Two’ of the Nunes investigation

PowerPost

 February 5 at 8:16 AM 

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.

THE BIG IDEA: The memo published Friday may have been the most overhyped dud since Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone’s empty vault in 1986. But House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, whose Republican staffers prepared the partisan document, promises that it was just the beginning.

He boasted on Friday that he now plans to train his fire on other targets. “We are in the middle of what I call ‘Phase Two’ of our investigation, which involves other departments, specifically the State Department and some of the involvement that they had in this,” the California congressman told Fox News.

“Republicans close to Nunes say there could be as many as five additional memos or reports of ‘wrongdoing,’” Axios reported Sunday night. “A Republican source briefed on Nunes’s investigation” told the site that one of the Democrats he plans to go after next is longtime Bill and Hillary Clinton associate Sid Blumenthal, who has been fending off inquiries from congressional investigators for more than two decades.

Nunes — who stands accused of carrying water for President Trump — told the Weekly Standard on Friday that he doesn’t plan to use the same declassification process to put out future memos, which requires the formal approval of his members. This suggests that the material won’t be particularly sensitive but merely the aggregation of already available information.

The potency of the future releases depends on the answers to the following six questions:

 2:00
Key takeaways from the Nunes memo

President Trump approved the release of a controversial and classified congressional memo on Feb. 2. Here are some of its main claims. 

1. How many more Republican lawmakers distance themselves from Nunes?

The main takeaway from the Sunday shows was the degree to which prominent Republicans, including four members of the House Intelligence Committee, dismissed the idea that the memo exonerated Trump or undermined special counsel Robert Mueller’s work.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.), a former CIA officer who sits on the Intelligence committee and represents a district that Hillary Clinton won handily, was asked on ABC’s “This Week” whether he thinks the memo “totally vindicates” Trump, as the president tweeted Saturday.

“I don’t,” Hurd said. “I don’t agree with some of my colleagues . . . always using the words ‘explosive’ to describe the document. … I want to stress: Bob Mueller should be allowed to turn over every rock, pursue every lead so that we can have trust in knowing what actually the Russians did or did not do. … I don’t believe this is an attack on Bob Mueller. I don’t believe this is an attack on the men and women in the FBI. I’ve served shoulder-to-shoulder with them, and they are hard-working folks that keep us safe.”

“I actually don’t think it has any impact on the Russia probe,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who helped draft the memo, on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He added that Trump should not fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) said the two are “very separate” issues and Mueller should be allowed to finish his work. “This memo, frankly, has nothing at all to do with the special counsel,” he told “Fox News Sunday.”

Asked if he agrees that Trump’s been “vindicated,” Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) said on CNN: “I think this is a separate issue. In my opinion, what we’re dealing with is a situation within our FISA court and how we process within our government agencies, and I don’t think it really has anything to do with that.”

Nunes was noticeably absent from the Sunday show circuit.

Some of the Republican Party’s most respected elder statesmen see what Nunes is doing as an embarrassment. “The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests — no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statementFriday after the release of the memo.

He’d need to spend a little political capital, but Speaker Paul Ryan could muzzle Nunes if he wants to. “The memo was a disaster not only for the Trump-Nunes strategy but also for the country,” conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin argues on Right Turn. “The only questions that remain are how long [Ryan] is going to let this humiliating spectacle go on and how much damage he will permit to be done to the oversight process so Nunes can flail about trying to protect Trump and ruin public servants’ reputations.”

 2:09
Lawmakers react to release of GOP memo

Lawmakers from both parties weighed in on the Feb. 2 release of a disputed GOP memo alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI. 

2. Will Republicans allow the release of the Democratic rebuttal?

Many who have seen the intelligence say that the GOP memo cherry picked intelligence to paint a misleading and incomplete picture. The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), is still pushing to release a 10-page rebuttal to the memo. This was rejected on a party-line vote last week, but Schiff will offer a motion to force another vote on declassifying their response during a committee meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday. If it passes, then it would go to the Justice Department and Trump would have days to block it.

Nunes has claimed that he is willing to release the Democratic memo after it’s scrubbed of classified information. A White House official told CBS on Sunday that their position is: “If [it’s] voted out, we’ll consider it.”

“I believe it is a matter of fundamental fairness that the American people be allowed to see both sides of the argument and make their own judgments,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in an open letter to the president on Sunday. “A refusal to release the Schiff memo … will confirm the American people’s worst fears that the release of Chairman Nunes’ memo was only intended to undermine Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation.”

The GOP memo claims that the Justice Department did not disclose key facts about former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele in the secret application to carry out surveillance on former Trump adviser Carter Page. Steele wrote the infamous dossier alleging ties between Trump and Russian officials. His research was initially funded by anti-Trump Republicans and later paid for by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Republicans say the application would never have been approved without the information from the dossier and if a judge had known of its partisan origins.

Government officials are adamant that this central allegation in the memo is baseless. “The court that approved surveillance … was aware that some of the information underpinning the warrant request was paid for by a political entity, although the application did not specifically name the [DNC or Clinton],” two U.S. officials familiar with the matter told Ellen Nakashima on Friday. The Justice Department made “ample disclosure of relevant, material facts” to the court that revealed “the research was being paid for by a political entity,” said one official. “No thinking person who read any of these applications would come to any other conclusion but that” the work was being undertaken “at the behest of people with a partisan aim and that it was being done in opposition to Trump.”

“Only very select parts of what Christopher Steele reported related to Carter Page were included within the application, and some of those things were already subject to corroboration,” Schiff said.

Republicans also claim that then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testified before the committee during a private hearing in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISA court without the information in the dossier. But the memo does not directly quote McCabe saying this. It paraphrases him. And Democrats on the committee say that McCabe’s comment have been taken out of context.

So there are also calls for the release of the hearing transcript, or at least that section. “There really doesn’t seem to be any reason to paraphrase what McCabe said but not be able to quote him,” writes The Fix’s Aaron Blake. “If the quote comes out and it turns out the paraphrase was misleading, the entire memo will be undermined. If the paraphrase is accurate, it bolsters the GOP’s argument.”

3. Will Republicans continue rallying to the defense of Carter Page?

It’s baffling that the former Trump adviser has become a cause celebre on the right. Beyond the dossier, the feds seem to have had a litany of legitimate reasons to surveil him.

“Far from demonstrating that the FBI was out to get Trump, the memo suggests that the Trump campaign could have had an active Russian spy working as a foreign policy adviser,” writes former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa, now a senior lecturer at Yale.

“I used to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants, so I’m familiar with the procedures Nunes implies the FBI abused in this case,” she explains. “To initiate surveillance on [Page] … the government would have had to demonstrate that Page was ‘knowingly engaging in clandestine intelligence gathering activities for or on behalf of’ Russia. It takes months and even years to obtain enough relevant evidence for a FISA application, which can include details from physical surveillance, phone and financial records, items recovered from the target’s trash and intelligence obtained from other sources. So the FISA application would probably have outlined the bureau’s efforts going all the way back to 2013, when Page was approached by the FBI, which warned him, based on recordings of Russian intelligence officers, that he was being targeted for recruitment as a Russian spy.

“Nunes’s memo also discloses that the government obtained three renewals of the FISA warrant, which occurred every 90 days after the initial authorization. In order for a judge to allow the surveillance to continue, the government has to demonstrate that the intercepted communications are, in fact, providing foreign intelligence,” she continues. “Even worse for Nunes, he managed to showcase concrete proof that the FBI was looking into Trump’s Russian connections before they heard from [Christopher] Steele. The memo confirms that Australian intelligence was aware of possible ties between George Papadopoulos, another Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, and Russian intelligence, and that the Australians were alarmed enough to alert the FBI, which opened an investigation in July 2016.”

Moreover, the surveillance on Page was not authorized until October 2016 — a month after he left the Trump campaign.

Time reported this weekend that Page bragged in a 2013 letter to a publisher that he was an adviser to the Kremlin. Page, who denies wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime, told the magazine that he was offering the Russians “really plain-vanilla stuff.”

 2:33
Former CIA director: Nunes ‘abused’ his position on intelligence panel

Former CIA director John Brennan and lawmakers from both parties on Feb. 4 commented on the release of a GOP memo alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI. 

4. How forcefully will the national security community push back on future memos?

Former CIA director John Brennan declared on NBC’s “Meet the Press”that Nunes has “abused the chairmanship.” “It’s just appalling and clearly underscores how partisan Mr. Nunes has been,” said Brennan, who led the agency during the investigation into Russian interference.

He said the FBI was “very forthcoming” to the FISA court about what it knew and added it knew much more than what was in the dossier. He said the FBI had its own sources of information, and that the intelligence community was gathering material “on multiple fronts.”

Trump and House Republicans chose to release the document despite the FBI publicly expressing “grave concerns” and intense private lobbying that this would set a bad precedent.

“Bureau officials say the accusations in the document produced by House Republicans are inaccurate and — more damaging in the long term — corrode the agency’s ability to remain independent and do its job,” Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky reported on the front page of Sunday’s newspaper. “One law enforcement official summed it up bluntly: ‘There’s a lot of anger. The irony is it’s a conservative-leaning organization, and it’s being trashed by conservatives. At first it was just perplexing. Now there’s anger, because it’s not going away.’”

Ousted director James Comey reacted this way on Friday:

That’s it? Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen. For what? DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs.

Former FBI special agent Josh Campbell, who worked for Comey, said he has turned in his badge so that he can speak out against the GOP attacks on the bureau. “FBI agents are dogged people who do not care about the direction of political winds,” Campbell wrote in an op-ed for the Times. “But to succeed in their work, they need public backing. Scorched-earth attacks from politicians with partisan goals now threaten that support, raising corrosive doubts about the integrity of the FBI that could last for generations.”

 2:13
Opinion | The Nunes memo is no smoking gun

Post deputy editorial page editor Ruth Marcus says what’s really interesting about the Nunes memo is how it’ll be used. 

5. Will the attorney general continue to look the other way as the president attacks the Justice Department?

John Ashcroft stood up to George W. Bush when DOJ lawyers concluded that a warrantless surveillance program was unconstitutional.

Sessions has shown that he approaches the job more in the mold of Alberto Gonzales, Ashcroft’s successor, who proved far more pliant to White House pressure (and eventually resigned in disgrace over his role in the firings of U.S. attorneys for political reasons.)

“Sessions has been largely quiet and even yielding as the president leads the most public and prolonged political attack on the department in history, a silence that breaks with a long tradition of attorneys general protecting the institution from such interference,” Katie Benner writes in today’s New York Times. “Current and former prosecutors say Mr. Sessions’s tepid response reflects efforts to appease Mr. Trump, even at the expense of morale among the department’s employees, and has raised fears that prosecutors cannot depend on protection from political interference.”

“I have great confidence in the men and women of this department. … But no department is perfect,” Sessions said in a short statement after the memo was released Friday.

Last month in Virginia, Sessions said during a speech that the “vast majority” of Justice Department employees are patriotic and hard-working. But he welcomed congressional scrutiny.

Here are three notable quotes from DOJ alums in today’s Times:

“What is unusual is the F.B.I. and the Justice Department being attacked, the president leading the charge and the attorney general missing in action,” said Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor who headed the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under Bush. “Why isn’t he sticking up for the department?”

“Attorneys general swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not the president,” said Matthew Axelrod, a partner at Linklaters and a former Justice Department official who began as a federal prosecutor under Bush. “Institutions like the DOJ rely on their leaders to be a voice that defends them. It’s critically important to this institution that its leadership have its back.”

“Prosecutors and agents are extremely vulnerable if they’re not properly supported by leadership, especially when it comes to investigations and attacks launched on the political side,” said Daniel Petalas, a former prosecutor in the department’s public integrity section and the United States attorney’s office in Washington.

 1:23
Fox News’s role in the ‘Release the Memo’ campaign

Fox News hosts and contributors played a pivotal role promoting the Republican campaign to release the confidential Nunes memo. 

6. Will Trump try to move against Rosenstein or Mueller?

Touting the memo on Fox News Saturday night, Donald Trump Jr. said: “There is a little bit of sweet revenge in it for me and certainly probably the family in a sense that if they wouldn’t have done this, this stuff would be going on.”

Asked in the Oval Office on Friday if he’s going to fire Rosenstein, who oversees the Russia investigation because Sessions recused himself, the elder Trump told reporters: “You figure that one out.”

In addition to Republicans saying Mueller should be allowed to finish his work, a chorus of Democrats said on the Sunday shows that firing either man would lead to “a constitutional crisis.”

But none of that may be enough to deter Trump if he thinks the special counsel is an existential threat to his presidency and he can get away with it.

E.J. Dionne argues in a column for today’s paper that “Nunes is paving Trump’s road to autocracy”:

“In her classic 1951 book, ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism,’ the philosopher Hannah Arendt offered two observations that help us understand the assumptions and purposes behind the memo,” he writes. “The totalitarian method of the 1920s and 1930s, she noted, was to ‘dissolve every statement of fact into a declaration of purpose.’ She also said this: ‘Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow.’

“Bear Arendt’s warnings in mind in pondering the Nunes screed whose sole purpose is to discredit an investigation that appears to be getting closer and closer to Trump,” E.J. concludes. “The cynicism of a significant part of the public, particularly Trump’s supporters, leads them to believe that everybody in every institution lies. The Nunes talking points toss out distorted and disconnected facts, not to advance the truth but to cloud it in confusion.”

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

 1:49
Eagles stun the Patriots for their first Super Bowl win

The Philadelphia Eagles upset the New England Patriots for their first Super Bowl title with a 41-33 victory on Feb. 4. 

— The Eagles defeated the Patriots 41-33, bringing home their first Super Bowl title. Mark Maske reports: “A backup quarterback playing like a Hall of Famer and a fearless coach digging deep into his bag of gadget-play tricks put a major, Super Bowl-size dent into the greatest dynasty in NFL history Sunday evening. Tom Brady was at his legendary best for the New England Patriots. But it was the Philadelphia Eagles who emerged as the champions of a wildly entertaining Super Bowl LII, riding the passing of fill-in quarterback Nick Foles and the daring of Coach Doug Pederson to a pulsating 41-33 triumph at U.S. Bank Stadium.”

— “[H]eadlining a hyper-hyped Super Bowl halftime show, Justin Timberlake sounds needier than ever before,” writes Chris Richards. “By the time he lurches into ‘Cry Me a River,’ it’s clear Timberlake is not going to truly inhabit his music, at least not tonight, or maybe ever again. Surely, great pop music expresses things that can’t be expressed any other way, but for the past decade, Timberlake seems to have preferred expressing himself through voice-acting in Hollywood cartoons and doing half-funny skits with Jimmy Fallon. Suddenly, out on the gridiron, Timberlake’s falsetto sounds like little more than a tool[.]”

— Maura Judkis and Sonia Rao selected the five best Super Bowl ads … and the five worst

— The Eagles’ victory created joyous chaos on the streets of Philadelphia:

 0:52
Celebration and chaos in Philadelphia after Eagles Super Bowl win

The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots to win Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4.

— Wintry weather will cause delays at some of the region’s schools. Check the full list here.

— Washingtonians will see sunny weather and cold temperatures today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Watch out for a few slick spots early this morning from any refreezing of wet surfaces, especially in our colder areas. The big story today is the cold and wind. Highs range from only 30 to 35, and it feels like the 20s factoring in the wind[.]”

 1:09
What we know about Amtrak’s deadly South Carolina collision

An Amtrak train collided with a freight train near Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 4, killing 2 and injuring more than 100 in Amtrak’s second fatal crash in a week. 

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. An Amtrak collision in South Carolina that killed two people looks to have been caused by a mispositioned railway switch. The switch sent the Miami-bound train crashing into an empty freight train, injuring another 116 people aboard. (Lori Aratani and Faiz Siddiqui)
  2. A chemistry professor in Kansas was arrested by ICE outside his home as he went to take his daughter to school. The arrest of “beloved Lawrence family man, scientist and community leader” Syed Ahmed Jamal has shaken the community and serves as an example of the Trump administration targeting noncitizens with no arrest record (it appears that Jamal was in the country on a temporary work permit at the time of his arrest). (Amy B Wang)
  3. Oil fires set by ISIS as it retreated in Iraq may have permanently altered the landscape and the lives of some residents. The fires have led to chronic breathing problems in children and the elderly, as well as patches of land where crops can no longer be grown. (Tamer El-Ghobashy and Joby Warrick)
  4. Trump responded to a 7-year-old girl who wrote him a letter asking to “please keep kids safe from guns.” Ava Olsen lost her best friend Jacob Hall in a school shooting. “It is very brave of you to share your story with me,” Trump wrote in his letter. “Mrs. Trump and I are so sorry to hear of the loss of your friend, Jacob.” (John Woodrow Cox)
  5. The U.S. Olympic Committee wants to work on being less white. The USOC is sending its most diverse team ever to South Korea for the Winter Games, but Team USA still does not accurately reflect the demographics of the United States. (Rick Maese)
  6. Indianapolis Colts player Edwin Jackson was struck and killed by a suspected drunk driver. An Uber driver was also killed. (Indianapolis Star)
  7. Two Massachusetts women were charged with assault for performing voodoo rituals that left a 5-year-old-girl permanently disfigured. The women bound the girl’s feet together and blew flames over her face. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
  8. A systematic review of studies on coffee’s health benefits show the caffeinated beverage has a “probable” association with a decreased risk for certain cancers. Whether coffee affects health has been debated in countless studies. (Kendall Powell)

TRUMP’S AGENDA:

— A bipartisan pair of senators will introduce an immigration bill calling for bolstered border security and protections for “dreamers,” aiming to avert another government shutdown on Friday. Ed O’Keefe reports: “Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) plan to formally introduce a bill that would grant permanent legal status to immigrant ‘dreamers’ and start bolstering security along the U.S.-Mexico border. But the measure would not call for spending the $30 billion President Trump is seeking to fortify the border with new wall and fence construction. And the McCain-Coons plan would grant legal status to dreamers who have been in the country since 2013 — a larger pool of immigrants than the 1.8 million Trump supports legalizing.”

Whether the McCain-Coons bill could emerge from the Senate as the chamber’s immigration plan is unclear — but it is a nearly identical copy of legislation that was introduced in the House and has wide support.”

— Congress could also pass a year-long extension of DACA protections in exchange for less border security money. Politico’s Seung Min Kim reports: “Some senators are already deriding a year-long patch as ‘misguided,’ a ‘Plan Z’ and a proposal that would keep immigrants ‘in fear.’ But lawmakers have only until March 5 to save [DACA.] … And in a Congress that has routinely struggled to keep the lights on, at least some lawmakers say a temporary fix for Dreamers might be all but inevitable.”

— The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is pulling back from a probe into Equifax after the credit reporting agency exposed the personal data of hundreds of millions of consumers, raising questions about how Director Mick Mulvaney will monitor the influential industry. (Reuters’s Patrick Rucker)

— The White House withdrew its controversial nominee to lead the Council on Environmental Quality. Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report: “The administration released a statement Sunday in which [Kathleen] Hartnett White asked that her name be pulled from further consideration, effective immediately. … Hartnett White, who once headed the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and now serves as a fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, has stirred controversy because of her statements on climate change. Testifying in the fall before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, she said that while humans probably contribute to current warming, ‘the extent to which, I think, is very uncertain.’”

— Trump’s pick to become director general of the U.N. International Organization for Migration disparaged Islam in social media posts and dubbed Christians the top priority. Aaron C. Davis and Jack Gillum report: “In tweets, social media posts and radio appearances reviewed by The Washington Post, Ken Isaacs, a vice president of the Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, made disparaging remarks about Muslims and denied climate change . . . In a series of tweets criticizing Obama’s position on Syrian refugee relief in the fall of 2015, [Isaacs] wrote: ‘Refugees are 2 grps. Some may go back and some can’t return. Christians can never return. They must be 1st priority.’ Later that day, Isaacs wrote in another tweet: ‘If Islam is a religion of peace, let’s see 2 million Muslims in National Mall marching against jihad & stand for America! I haven’t seen it!’”

— Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is working with Ivanka Trump on a paid family leave bill that may lure conservative support. Politico’s Seung Min Kim reports: “Rubio is trying to marshal Republicans behind a plan that would neither impose a mandate on employers nor raise taxes to pay for it — two hurdles that have long halted the GOP from embracing paid family leave. … Rubio has barely started crafting a paid leave bill, much less a broader legislative strategy. But he envisions an idea that has recently gained traction in conservative circles: allowing people to draw Social Security benefits when they want to take time off for a new baby or other family-related matters, and then delay their checks when they hit retirement age.”

THE ROAD TO NOVEMBER:

— Democrats in California have a simple strategy for winning office in November: Go Left. Scott Wilson reports from Sacramento: “Here in the self-labeled ‘state of resistance,’ the political debate is being pushed further left without any sign of a Republican renaissance to serve as a check on spending and social policy ambitions. Even some Republicans are concerned about the departure of Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who proved to be fiscally cautious after inheriting a state seven years ago in deep recession. … In an off-presidential election year, California will serve as a campaign lab for many national issues, including taxes, immigration, health care, climate change, rural-urban income disparities and sexual harassment. The campaigns will test for national Democrats the most useful positions on issues important to the party’s base and will provide a preview for national Republicans of the popularity of those stands.”

— Meanwhile, in neighboring Arizona, loyalty to Trump has become the ultimate GOP test. David Weigel reports: “The battle to replace Trent Franks, who resigned last year after urging a female staff member to become a surrogate mother for his child, has turned less on any traditional conservative issue than on who would best defend the president and enact his agenda. … At a recent party meeting in Phoenix, candidates down the ballot introduced themselves as Trump allies, and activists gathered petition signatures … to put the party on record in favor of releasing [the Nunes memo.] … Trump’s policies are untouchable, even if — as on [DACA] — they change from week to week.”

— Republican candidates in marquee races are struggling to fundraise as much as their Democratic opponents. The National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar writes: “In several high-profile races, GOP candidates’ lackluster fundraising in the final three months of 2017 raises questions about their political viability. At the same time, Democratic officeholders and first-time candidates alike are benefiting from the surge in partisan activism, with numerous senators surpassing the $2 million mark in quarterly fundraising and over three-dozen Democratic challengers outraising Republican members of Congress. Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, the most vulnerable Republican senator, raised just $821,000 in the last three months of 2017 . . . His Democratic challenger, Rep. Jacky Rosen, raised nearly double his haul, with over $1.5 raised in the fourth quarter.”

— A handful of states will likely hold their elections this year based on congressional maps declared unconstitutional by federal courts. Robert Barnes reports: “Federal courts in Texas, North Carolina and Wisconsin found that either politics or intentional discrimination played an unacceptable role in drawing electoral lines and ordered new districts in place for the 2018 elections. But the Supreme Court stopped them all. … [T]he justices have routinely told states found to be offenders that they do not have to immediately redraw the maps, which almost surely means they won’t be in place for the 2018 elections.”

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

— The “maximum pressure” campaign against North Korea is having the undesired effect of strangling the country’s nascent markets. Anna Fifield reports: “This will make it harder for money to flow within the private economy, and as markets contract, it will also make it harder for isolated North Koreans to get information from the outside world, said [one regular visitor to Pyongyang.] … The sanctions have not — or at least, not yet — had the desired effect of inflicting so much pain on Kim [Jong Un] that he would be prepared to talk about his nuclear weapons program. In fact, they have made him only more defiant and given him a convenient excuse for the country’s economic woes.”

— A group of Senate Democrats is expected to send a letter to Trump questioning his “legal authority” for preemptive ‘bloody nose’ strike on Korea. David Nakamura reports: “[The Democrats] emphasized that it is an ‘enormous gamble’ to believe that such an action, even if it were modest in scope, would not provoke an escalation from dictator Kim … Congressional aides said the letter was prompted by the circumstances surrounding the sudden derailment of the White House’s original choice for ambassador to South Korea, a post that has remained vacant since Trump took office.”

— The father of Otto Warmbier, the U-Va. student who died last year after being held in North Korea, will accompany Mike Pence on his Olympics trip. The vice president leaves today for a five-day trip culminating in a visit to the Winter Games in South Korea. (Ashley Parker and Anna Fifield)

— Tensions with Russia have set off “a new kind of nuclear arms race,” report the New York Times’s David E. Sanger and William J. Broad. “This one is based less on numbers of weapons and more on novel tactics and technologies, meant to outwit and outmaneuver the other side. The Pentagon envisions a new age in which nuclear weapons are back in a big way — its strategy bristles with plans for new low-yield nuclear weapons that advocates say are needed to match Russian advances and critics warn will be too tempting for a president to use. The result is that the nuclear-arms limits that go into effect on Monday now look more like the final stop after three decades of reductions than a way station to further cuts.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Trump went after Democrats on health care:

The Democrats are pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U system is going broke and not working. Dems want to greatly raise taxes for really bad and non-personal medical care. No thanks!

He also lambasted the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee:

Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper! Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!

A former secretary of state mocked the Nunes memo:

It’s a good thing Devin Nunes is not taking my course on national security decision making. I expect my students’ written work to be compelling, accurate, and unbiased. By those standards, I would have to give him an F. Let’s hope his constituents do the same in November.

Paul Ryan caught flak for bragging about a school secretary getting an extra $1.50 per week from the tax bill:

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Paul Ryan deleted his embarrassing tweet of a blatant admission because he and Republicans don’t want you to know the truth: the is a gift to corporate America and the top 1% at your expense.

He also doesn’t want you to know he got $500.000.00 from the Koch family.

A House Democrat added this:

Meanwhile the wealthiest 0.1% of Americans receive an extra ~ $3,000 per week.

A parody account flipped Ryan’s tweet on its head:

Charles, a Koch brother in Wichita, said he was pleasantly surprised that his pay went up $26,923,076 a week… he said [that] will more than cover the cost of buying several more Paul Ryans.

A former White House adviser blocked a former U.S. attorney on Twitter:

Joe and Jill Biden attended the Super Bowl:

As did a CNN anchor and rabid Eagles fan:

Philadelphia’s hometown paper celebrated the win:

So did Pennsylvania’s senators:

What a game! Congratulations to the entire @Eagles organization and birds fans everywhere. The wait is finally over!

Even New York was joyous:

STOP THE PRESSES!!!! … We have a new front!

FOR THE BIRDS! http://nydn.us/2GMjz9C 
Hated @Eagles win first but, HOORAY! Evil @Patriots blow it!

The Eagles quarterback’s daughter stole the show:

Nick Foles’ daughter, Lily, is stealing her dad’s spotlight tonight. 😍

A New York Times reporter gave Bostonians this helpful warning:

Attention Boston. All Dunkin Donuts locations are now Wawas. You will welcome your new overlords as liberators. I repeat, all Dunkin Donuts locations are now Wawas.

An NBC managing editor pointed this out about the president’s viewing of the game:

Looks like Trump missed national anthem. Pink started at 6:19:52, finished at 6:21:45…Trump was still greeting the cheerleaders at 6:21pm. https://twitter.com/NBCNews/status/960295091263897600 

The White House press secretary tweeted a photo of her viewing party:

Only thing better than being at the game is watching at home with these three (Already in pjs and ready for bed!)

A Senate Democrat offered fashion advice to Justin Timberlake:

A lot of folks are criticizing @jtimberlake’s halftime outfit, and I agree… It definitely needed a jean jacket.

A writer for The Atlantic summed up Timberlake’s halftime look:

he looks like a bitcoin millionaire who just bought his way into westworld

A Wall Street Journal columnist and former Reagan speechwriter critiqued Timberlake’s performance:

Justin Timberlake is a real artist — gifted, disciplined. But his fat ego gets in the way of his litheness, quickness, shrewdness. That was just so surprisingly eh.

A Post columnist commented on the Superbowl ads:

The arc of the advertising universe is long, but it bends towards bad taste.

And a former member of Congress called out one ad:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— Politico, “Massive Pentagon agency lost track of hundreds of millions of dollars,” by Bryan Bender: “Ernst & Young found that the Defense Logistics Agency failed to properly document more than $800 million in construction projects, just one of a series of examples where it lacks a paper trail for millions of dollars in property and equipment. Across the board, its financial management is so weak that its leaders and oversight bodies have no reliable way to track the huge sums it’s responsible for, the firm warned in its initial audit of the massive Pentagon purchasing agent.”

— Detroit Free Press, “In a strange land: Deported from Michigan, Jorge Garcia feels lost in Mexico,” by Niraj Warikoo: “Two weeks earlier, Garcia was deported from Michigan to Mexico after living in the U.S. for 30 years, forced to leave behind his family, friends, and a solid job in landscaping.  Now, the married father of two finds himself alone in an unfamiliar country, with an uncertain future. … He misses his Michigan block, his dog, his steady, content life in an American suburb. Most of all, he misses his wife, Cindy, and two children, Jorge Jr., 12, and Soleil, 15. ‘I used to tell them, good night, every night,’ Garcia says. ‘And now, if I can get a signal, I’ll call them, but it’s not the same. I’m not actually there.’”

— New Orleans Times-Picayune, “The search for Jackie Wallace,” by Ted Jackson: “His bed was overlaid with cardboard and tucked into a cleft of piers and brush. He was covered in a sheet of thick, clear plastic. His head rested on a wadded yellow jacket, also wrapped in plastic. Alongside the bed lay two discarded automotive floor mats, a five-gallon bucket for bathing, a pair of neatly arranged sneakers, a clean set of clothes, a jug of water and a carefully folded copy of The Times-Picayune. He slept in the fetal position in only his briefs and undershirt. I climbed the pier with my camera and made a few frames of the scene, then climbed down and woke him. … We talked for a minute or two, about my editor’s idea and journalism in general. After a brief pause, he said, ‘You ought to do a story about me.’ … ‘And why would I want to do that?’ I said. ‘Because,’ he said, ‘I’ve played in three Super Bowls.’”

HOT ON THE LEFT

“Holocaust denier running for Congress has no opponents in Republican primary,” from Amy B Wang:“Like most candidates running for Congress, Arthur Jones has a campaign website. It outlines the Republican candidate’s education background, his stance on issues and how to donate to his campaign to represent the Illinois’s 3rd Congressional District. It also lays out Jones’s unapologetically racist and anti-Semitic views. In a section called ‘Holocaust?’ Jones describes the atrocities as a ‘racket’ and ‘the biggest, blackest, lie in history.’ Under another tab titled ‘Flags of Conflict,’ he lists the Confederate flag first and describes it as ‘a symbol of White pride and White resistance’ and ‘the flag of a White counter revolution.’ … Despite his views, Jones is all but certain to become the GOP nominee for one of Illinois’s most prominent congressional districts[.]”

HOT ON THE RIGHT

“He bought a gun to protect his family. Then he saw someone beating up a cop,” from Cleve R. Wootson Jr.:“Authorities say a good Samaritan with a handgun thwarted a savage attack on a police officer in Utah. Derek Meyer told Salt Lake City Fox affiliate KSTU-TV that he was driving on Main Street in Springville, about 50 miles from Salt Lake City, when he spotted police lights — and a man walloping a police officer. … ‘I carry a gun to protect me and those around me, but primarily I carry a gun to protect my family first and foremost,’ Meyer told KSTU. Police said Meyer had a permit to carry a concealed weapon. ‘Outside of that, if I were to use my gun to protect anyone, it would be law enforcement or military personnel.’ He did a U-turn and got out of his car with his gun. He aimed at the man assaulting the officer and ordered him to stop.”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump has a morning meeting with Pence. He will then travel with his wife to Ohio — where the first lady will participate in a briefing on opioids at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the president will deliver a speech on the tax bill to the Sheffer Corp., a manufacturer of hydraulic cylinders.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“My wife hates it when I say this, but I was a pretty good prosecutor, I think. But I’ve been a pretty lousy politician,” retiring Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said. “So I’ve done it for seven years. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to do it, but it’s time for me to — whatever time I’ve got left — I want to spend it in the justice system because that’s where my heart is.” (The Hill)

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

— The Capitals lost to the Golden Knights 4-3. (Jesse Dougherty)

— A young candidate in a Montgomery County Council race is challenging an incumbent who was first elected to office 10 years before he was born. Rachel Siegel reports: “That incumbent, Sidney Katz (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville) says his long experience in politics and government is invaluable — especially in Maryland’s largest jurisdiction, which will elect a new county executive and fill four open county council seats this fall. But [Ben] Shnider is pushing back against that claim, piling up campaign cash and endorsements and aggressively knocking on voters’ doors to make the case that new, more progressive blood is needed[.]”

— A local leader in the Mormon Church died of carbon monoxide poisoning in his home. (Martin Weil)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

SNL parodied “Fox and Friends”:

Melania Trump was offered advice by other first ladies on SNL:

Gubernatorial candidate and Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) encouraged people to stand for the national anthem during the Super Bowl:

The NFL rejected an ad from American Veterans asking players and fans at to for our national anthem. Watch our ad that will air right before the Super Bowl:

This classic halftime performance was reshared:

Let’s take a moment to watch the greatest Super Bowl halftime performance of all time:

Prince’s Purple Rain in a Miami downpour

A C-SPAN caller accused former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka of being a traitor:

 0:28
‘An impending dictatorship’: C-SPAN caller challenges Gorka

A caller to C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on Feb. 4 challenged former White House aide Sebastian Gorka’s views and expressed concerns over President Trump. 

And snowboarding prodigy Chloe Kim will make her Olympic debut this month:

 1:21
Snowboarding prodigy Chloe Kim heads to her first Olympics

(Read Rick Maese’s full piece on Kim here.)

Newt Gingrich: Hillary Clinton’s been getting away with unethical, illegal behavior for 40 years

The never-ending saga of Clinton corruption continues to unfold, with the latest chapter being written by former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile.

In an excerpt from her new book, Brazile finally begins to reveal to the American people what actually happened behind closed doors during the 2016 Clinton presidential campaign and uncovers new details about even more collusive activity.

Brazile describes how the Clintons covertly took over operations at the Democratic National Committee four months after Hillary announced her presidential candidacy, nearly a year before she became the party’s 2016 nominee.

According to Brazile, Hillary exploited the cash-strapped party. She agreed to pay off financial debts left by Obama’s 2012 campaign, but the cash came with a catch.

Brazile wrote that a fundraising agreement signed in August 2015 dictated that “in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan weighed in on the significance of this latest Clinton scandal on Fox News Sunday, remarking, “We’ve all said that the Clintons thought they lived above the rules, but this takes the cake. I mean, this is pretty amazing. For them to basically be running the DNC in a primary – to see such a deck stacked is really pretty jaw-dropping to me. No wonder the Democrats are ticked off, I would be too.”

Of course, Speaker Ryan is correct that this degree of clear corruption on behalf of the Clintons is ethically wrong and always on the edge of breaking the law. However, having watched the Clintons for nearly their entire political careers, the Brazile revelations did not surprise me. Hillary Clinton has been getting away with unethical, and often illegal, behavior since she first entered public life.

I was a freshman member of Congress when Hillary began her career of breaking the rules for personal enrichment and power. When the Clintons ran for President in 1992 all this began to come out.

Hillary Clinton’s first major act of corruption dates back almost 40 years, when she miraculously turned $1,000 into nearly $100,000 in 10 months during her first attempt at trading commodities – mainly cattle futures.

A month before Bill Clinton was elected governor of Arkansas in November 1978, Hillary Clinton decided to try her hand at commodities trading, which is an incredibly volatile market. As a total novice, on October 11, 1978, she opened an account with $1,000, made a short sale of 10 live-cattle contracts, then bought them back the next day – pocketing an extra $5,300.

Throughout her stint as an untrained commodities trading savant, a slew of regulatory rules were apparently ignored (or violated) on her behalf. She made a “mockery of the profession” and cashed in after earning a net profit of nearly 10,000 percent in less than a year.

This level of success is nearly unheard of, even for expert commodities traders. Typically, 80 to 95 percent of commodities traders lose money. In fact, in 1994, the Journal of Economics and Finance published a study by economists from Auburn University and the University of North Florida which concluded the odds for Hillary’s level of success during the period she was trading “were – at best – 1 in 31 trillion.”

Let’s be blunt – there’s no way Hillary could have achieved that level of success in commodities trading without breaking the law. But she got away with it – like the Clintons always do.

The history of this corrupt, illegal behavior explains a lot of Hillary’s contempt for free enterprise. When she invested, it was a rigged game she was guaranteed to win. She equates her corrupt behavior with all free enterprise.

Of course, cattle futures were just the beginning. Getting away with one act of corruption led to many more: the Whitewater land deal, Benghazi, Hillary’s illegal private email server, the Uranium One sale, and now the DNC-Clinton collusion scandal.

So, the next time a Clinton scandal breaks (and there will be a next time), we should certainly be outraged, but we shouldn’t be surprised. We should also demand that the Congress and the Justice Department hold them accountable.

Newt Gingrich is a Fox News contributor. A Republican, he was speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. Follow him on Twitter @NewtGingrich. His latest book is “Understanding Trump.”

Courtesy: Fox News

DNC gave Clinton control over campaign well before it was supposed to: docs

The 2015 deal between Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee in which the group effectively ceded immediate control to the Clinton campaign was supposed to take effect only if Clinton won the primary process – but in effect, they gave her control well before that, according to a copy of the agreement published this weekend.

The publishing of the agreement this weekend follows former DNC interim Chairwoman Donna Brazile’s bombshell accusation Thursday that the party’s 2016 presidential primary contest between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders was rigged by the DNC to hand the nomination to Clinton.

Brazile, also a onetime Clinton confidante and CNN commentator, made the claims in an  article in Politico while touting a new book.

The agreement, in the form of a memo obtained by NBC News, shows the DNC gave the Clinton campaign input on hiring and spending decisions in exchange for money to help the cash-strapped group, including an initial $1.2 million payment.

Hillary for America “personnel will be consulted and have joint authority over strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures, and general election related communications, data, technology, analytics, and research,” the Aug. 26, 2015, memorandum from campaign manager Robby Mook to DNC chief executive Amy Dacey states in part. “This does not include any communications related to primary debates — which will exclusively be controlled by the DNC.”

Clinton didn’t effectively secure the party nomination until July 2016, after an unexpectedly strong challenge from Sanders, an Independent who temporarily joined the Democratic Party to run for the White House.

The memorandum also attempts to argue that nothing in the joint-fundraising agreement “shall be construed to violate the DNC’s obligation of impartiality and neutrality through the nominating process” and acknowledges the group “may enter into similar agreements with other candidates.”

President Trump and other Republicans immediately seized on the book excerpts to validate their belief that Clinton had stolen the election from Sanders. In addition, Trump has suggested the FBI and Justice Department look into the matter.

“I know Donald Trump and Republicans would like to use Hillary Clinton as a whipping boy,” Liz Smith, who was a spokeswoman for Martin O’Malley, another 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, on Saturday told Fox News’ “America’s News Headquarters.” But she’s in our past. We are moving beyond her.”

Smith also said new DNC Chairman Tom Perez has acknowledged problems with the 2016 campaign and has vowed to fix them.

Trump tweeted Friday: “The real story on Collusion is in Donna B’s new book. Crooked Hillary bought the DNC & then stole the Democratic Primary from Crazy Bernie!,” “I always felt I would be running and winning against Bernie Sanders, not Crooked H, without cheating, I was right.”

Brazile fired back on Twitter.

“Today’s lesson: Being quoted by Donald Trump means being MIS-quoted by Donald Trump. Stop trolling me,” she tweeted with the hashtag #NeverSaidHillaryRiggedElection:

She also tweeted: “Mr President, please — go back to attacking me. It’s better than having my own words scrambled and spewed out by you.”

The Washington Post reported Saturday that Brazile also says in her upcoming book that she considered replacing Clinton with then-Vice President Joe Biden when Clinton fainted during a 9/11 memorial service in New York City.

Courtesy: Fox News

Trump: DOJ must do ‘what is right and proper’ and investigate Hillary Clinton

President Trump opened up on Democrats with both Twitter barrels from high in the sky Friday, exploiting fractures in the rival party after top operative Donna Brazile revealed insiders plotted to steal last year’s presidential primary from Bernie Sanders.

“Bernie Sanders supporters have every right to be apoplectic of the complete theft of the Dem primary by Crooked Hillary!” Trump tweeted from Air Force One, as he headed off on a 13-day tour of Asian nations.

It was part of a mid-morning Twitter barrage in which Trump called for his own Justice Department to probe a range of scandals involving the Democratic Party and his vanquished 2016 presidential rival, Hillary Clinton.

“Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems,” Trump tweeted early Friday. “New Donna B book says she paid for and stole the Dem Primary. What about the deleted E-mails, Uranium, Podesta, the Server, plus, plus…”

In excerpts released Thursday from an upcoming book, Brazile, a longtime party stalwart and Clinton confidante, confirmed longstanding suspicions that the Democratic National Committee she once headed worked with Clinton to ensure she won the party’s presidential primary over Sanders, the Vermont senator who built a huge following with his blend of Democrat politics and socialism.

“I always felt I would be running and winning against Bernie Sanders, not Crooked H, without cheating, I was right,” Trump tweeted.

Brazile’s explosive charge has sent shockwaves through the party.

“I had promised Bernie when I took the helm of the Democratic National Committee after the convention that I would get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team had rigged the nomination process, as a cache of emails stolen by Russian hackers and posted online had suggested,” Brazile wrote in a book excerpt first published in Politico Magazine. “By Sept. 7, the day I called Bernie, I had found my proof and it broke my heart.”

The proof, according to Brazile, was a joint fundraising agreement document between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund and Hillary for America. It had been signed in August 2015, four months after Clinton announced her candidacy and a year before she officially secured the nomination over Sanders.

“The agreement –signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC and Robby Mook, with a copy to Marc Elias—specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised,” Brazile wrote. “Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decision on all the other staff.”

DONNA BRAZILE: I FOUND ‘PROOF’ THE DNC RIGGED THE NOMINATION FOR HILLARY CLINTON

Even before Friday morning’s tweetstorm, Trump reacted to the allegations against Clinton on Thursday night on “The Ingraham Angle.”

“It’s illegal, number one, and it’s really unfair to Bernie Sanders,” Trump said. “I’m not a Bernie Sanders fan, although I must say I got a lot of his votes when he was thrown out. Many of those people voted for me because of trade because I agreed with him on trade…But that was, I thought that was terrible.”

“Pocahontas just stated that the Democrats, lead by the legendary Crooked Hillary Clinton, rigged the Primaries! Lets go FBI & Justice Dept.,” Trump tweeted again. ‘Pocahontas,’ when used by the president, is typically in reference to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

In an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN Thursday, Warren, D-Mass., was asked whether she believed the DNC was rigged, to which the senator simply responded, “Yes.”

But on Friday, Trump took the opportunity to add the Brazile bombshell to a list of allegations and situations that he wants his Justice Department to investigate, including her “deleted E-mails” and “the Server,” pointing back to the months-long Clinton email investigation.

Trump also referred to “Uranium,” alluding to the controversial Obama-era Uranium One deal. The 2010 deal concerns the sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to Russia’s Rosatom nuclear company. The U.S. was involved because the sale gave the Russians control of part of the uranium supply in the U.S. Clinton, at the time, was secretary of state.

TRUMP CALLS DNC PRIMARY-RIGGING ‘ILLEGAL,’ SLAMS ‘FAKE’ DOSSIER IN FOX NEWS INTERVIEW

Trump also referred to “Podesta,” though it is unclear if he was referring to Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta, or his brother, Clinton’s longtime confidante and 2016 campaign manager John Podesta.

This week, Tony Podesta stepped down from his lobbying firm, which was co-founded with his brother John, in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe expanding to question Podesta’s Foreign Agent Registration (FARA) filings, and whether he was in violation of that law.

A spokesperson for Podesta told Fox News that they were compliant with their FARA filings and were “fully” cooperating with Mueller’s team.

The president tweeted again, moments later, underscoring the need for a federal probe.

“….People are angry. At some point the Justice Department, and the FBI, must do what is right and proper. The American public deserves it!” Trump tweeted.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Courtesy: Fox News

Fusion GPS fallout: DNC, Clinton, FBI take heat after bombshell that Dems funded Trump dossier

The bombshell revelation that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund the controversial anti-Trump dossier last year has lawmakers and the media asking tough questions about how the dubious document was used by the highest levels of U.S. law enforcement – and why Democrats “lied” about its origins.

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In the midst of a court case that threatened to reveal the dossier’s funding, it emerged overnight that political consulting firm Fusion GPS was retained last year by Marc E. Elias, an attorney representing the DNC and the Clinton campaign. The firm then hired former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to write the now-infamous dossier.

The Washington Post first reported on the connections, which were confirmed by Fox News.

Not only did the Clinton campaign and DNC fund the firm through the end of October 2016, but the FBI reportedly arranged to pay Steele to proceed with intelligence gathering on Donald Trump and Russia after Trump’s election. That deal was later nixed after the former intelligence officer was identified in news reports.

CLINTON CAMP, DNC HELPED FUND RESEARCH THAT LED TO TRUMP DOSSIER

House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said Wednesday that his biggest questions concern to what extent the FBI relied on that document to launch its Russia probe.

“My focus has always been whether or not the Department of Justice and the FBI relied upon an unsourced CI document to launch a counterintelligence investigation,” he told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.” “I want to know whether the nation’s premier law enforcement agency relied on a document that looks like the National Enquirer prepared it. … And if they relied upon an unsourced, un-vetted document to launch a really important investigation … then I think our country is big enough to handle that truth.”

He noted that representatives with Fusion GPS pleaded the Fifth in a Capitol Hill appearance last week.

“Usually people plead the Fifth when they think the answer’s going to get them in trouble,” he said.

Hillary Clinton holds her book "It Takes A Village" as she sits on stage at the Warner Theatre in Washington, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, during a book tour event for her new book "What Happened" hosted by the Politics and Prose Bookstore. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Hillary Clinton’s campaign helped fund the company behind the Trump dossier.  (AP)

Further, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said at a Washington, D.C., event on Wednesday that the FBI has been “stonewalling” Congress’ request for documents, voicing frustration about learning this information through the media.

“The FBI needs to comply with the documents request that Congress has on their desk right now and they need to do it immediately,” Ryan said.

The controversial dossier contained unverified and lurid allegations about dirt the Russians had on Trump and his campaign’s possible connections to Moscow.

Perkins Coie was paid $5.6 million in legal fees by the Clinton campaign in a time period ranging from June 2015 to December 2016, The Post reported, citing campaign finance records. The DNC also paid the firm $3.6 million for “legal and compliance consulting” going back to November 2015.

Sources told The Post that neither the Clinton campaign nor the DNC specifically directed Steele’s work, labeling the intelligence officer simply as a Fusion GPS subcontractor.

But after the Post story broke, reporters with The New York Times blasted Elias and others on Twitter, accusing them of denying the connection for months.

“When I tried to report this story, Clinton campaign lawyer @marceelias pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong,’” New York Times reporter Kenneth Vogel tweeted.

“Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year,” Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted.

Former Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon boasted on Twitter that, while he didn’t know about Steele’s hiring before the election, “If I had, I would have volunteered to go to Europe and try to help him.”

He added, “I have no idea what Fusion or Steele were paid but if even a shred of that dossier ends up helping Mueller, it will prove money well spent.”

But he defended Elias on the issue of whether he denied the funding connection, tweeting: “Dont know what Elias may have said but if he was coy, he was prob just being a good lawyer honoring confidentiality.”

Haberman countered: “’coy’ is not responding at all. ‘Your sources are wrong’ is a bit different.”

The Democratic National Committee, meanwhile, stressed that the current leadership was not involved in the arrangement.

“Tom Perez and the new leadership of the DNC were not involved in any decision-making regarding Fusion GPS, nor were they aware that Perkins Coie was working with the organization,” DNC Communications Director Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement. “But let’s be clear, there is a serious federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, and the American public deserves to know what happened.”

A spokesman for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who led the DNC at the time, told Fox News on Wednesday that, “She did not have any knowledge of this arrangement.”

Fox News’ Judson Berger and Brooke Singman contributed to this report. 

Courtesy: Fox News

White House tries to shift discussion amid FBI director’s testimony

Hunter Walker

National Correspondent
Yahoo NewsMarch 20, 2017
Joaquin Castro defends questioning James Comey on Russian dossier
Joaquin Castro defends questioning James Comey on Russian dossier
Yahoo News Video

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WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Sean Spicer, reacting to news from the first day of House Intelligence Committee hearings into the 2016 election, tried to steer reporters away from questions about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials — and onto the administration’s preferred topic, news media leaks about intercepted conversations involving fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Spicer’s customary daily press briefing took place in the afternoon as FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency head Mike Rogers were still testifying. Earlier in the day, Comey said he had “no information” to support Trump’s claim that his predecessor, President Obama, wiretapped his campaign — a widely anticipated statement that did not lead to a retraction by the White House.

Trump’s press secretary minimized reports of contact between Russian officials and Trump campaign figures, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was described by Spicer as having played “a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.”

Spicer began the briefing with a statement noting Comey’s confirmation that the FBI is investigating Russia’s role in the presidential election. The U.S. intelligence community has alleged that Russia interfered in the race in an effort to boost Trump’s campaign. Spicer said the president “is happy that they’re pursuing the facts on this” and pointed out that no official has said there is evidence Trump’s campaign was part of these efforts.

“Following this testimony, it’s clear that nothing has changed. Senior Obama intelligence officials have gone on record to confirm that there is no evidence of a Trump-Russia collusion,” Spicer said.

Spicer added that there was “new information that came from the hearing that we believe is newsworthy,” referring to “the unmasking of Americans identified in intelligence reports and the illegal leak of such unmasked individuals.” He described this as a “federal crime.”

The issue concerns leaks of information to the Washington Post and other media outlets about the substance of conversations between Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition. Flynn misled administration officials about the contacts, which led to his resignation after only a few weeks in office.

American surveillance of foreign officials such as Kislyak is routine, but the identities of U.S. citizens who are monitored as part of those efforts are supposed to remain classified, or “masked.” Spicer noted that Comey said “certain political appointees in the Obama administration had access to the names of unmasked U.S. citizens.”

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White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington on March 20, 2017. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)
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“Before President Obama left office, Michael Flynn was unmasked, and then, illegally, his identity was leaked to media outlets,” Spicer said.

The Trump administration has repeatedly suggested that officials from the Obama administration may be attempting to undermine Trump. The issue of the leaks, however, is unrelated to Trump’s allegation that Obama wiretapped offices in Trump Tower.

The first question Spicer faced came from ABC’s Jon Karl, who turned the focus back to the president’s unsupported wiretapping claim. Karl pointed out that Comey said there he had no information that backed up that accusation, and he asked Spicer whether Trump is prepared to “withdraw that allegation and apologize” to Obama.

“No,” Spicer said flatly.

Spicer went on to note that the hearings are still “ongoing” and suggested further information might emerge. Trump has also claimed that additional revelations will support his allegation.

Karl continued by pointing out that Comey said the FBI is investigating potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“I don’t think that’s what he said,” Spicer declared.

Comey did, indeed, say the FBI is probing whether there was “cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Spicer noted that “investigating it and having proof of it are two different things.” He cited numerous officials who have said they have seen no evidence that such collusion occurred.

“There’s a point at which you continue to search for something that everybody who’s been briefed hasn’t seen or found — I think it’s fine to look into it, but at the end of the day, they’re going to come to the same conclusion that everybody else has had,” said Spicer. “So, you can continue to look for something, but continuing to look for something that doesn’t exist doesn’t matter.”

Spicer also dismissed reports that have emerged about Trump associates who did have connections with Russia. He suggested these were all people who did not have a real connection to the campaign.

“There is a discussion, I heard some names thrown around before that were hangers-on or on the campaign,” Spicer said. He added, “Some of those names, the greatest amount of interaction that they’ve had is cease-and-desist letters sent to them.”

In response to another question by Karl, Spicer acknowledged that he was referring to Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant and early adviser who left the campaign in August 2015, and Carter Page, who was for a time a foreign policy adviser to the campaign. Spicer also noted that former campaign chairman Paul Manafort had ties to Russia, but he minimized Manafort’s role in the campaign.

“Obviously, there’s been discussion of Paul Manafort, who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time,” Spicer said.

“Paul Manafort didn’t play a limited role!” Karl interjected incredulously.

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Donald Trump gave a thumbs-up at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July 2016 as his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and daughter, Ivanka, looked on. (Photo: Rick Wilking/Reuters)
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In fact, Manafort was involved with the Trump campaign for about five months, including about two as the campaign’s top official. Manafort eventually quit Trump’s campaign last August as Trump’s poll numbers were falling and amid growing controversy about his links to Russia.

Yahoo News texted Manafort to ask whether he agreed with Spicer’s characterization of his “very limited role.” Manafort did not respond, but he later released a statement reading, in part:

“I had no role or involvement in the cyberattack on the DNC or the subsequent release of information gained from the attack, and I have never spoken with any Russian Government officials or anyone who claimed to have been involved in the attack. … Despite the constant scrutiny and innuendo, there are no facts or evidence supporting these allegations, nor will there be.”

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What we learned from the testimony of FBI Director James Comey

On Monday, March 20, 2017, Yahoo News an Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga talks with Yahoo News Chief Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff regarding the testimony of FBI Director James Comey before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. Comey was questioned regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election but touched on several other subjects as well.

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