Pence is up to his eyeballs in this treason: a timeline

The Trump White House has produced what appear to be at least three cover-ups. They relate to:

1) former-national security advisers questionable activities relating to Turkey;

2) Flynn’s role in the Trump/Russia controversy; and

3) the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

Each is a piece of the larger picture depicted in our overall Trump-Russia timeline. But the complexity of the entire situation can render even the summary timeline overwhelming.

So as we continue to update our overall Trump-Russia timeline, we’re also putting together timelines that track key players and events. Our timeline of the Comey firing is the first example. By isolating the pertinent portions of relevant entries that share a common thread, important players have fewer places to hide. Facts, truth, and clarity are Trump’s adversaries.

This Pence edition of the timeline focuses on the vice president: What did he know, when did he know it, and at what points did his public statements diverge from what he knew or reasonably should have known? (The final phrase creates legal responsibility for presumed knowledge, even if the speaker in question denies it.)

Ultimately, the facts will produce answers, and we’ll be updating the Pence timeline, too.

Pre-Pence Primer on Flynn

Late summer 2015: A member of Trump’s campaign staff calls retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn to ask if he’s willing to meet with Trump. Flynn agrees.

Dec. 10, 2015: At the 10th anniversary gala of Russia’s state-owned television propaganda network, RT, Flynn sits at Putin’s table. For his appearance on the network, he nets $33,500 of the $45,000 paid to his speakers’ bureau. For all of 2015, Flynn receives more than $65,000 from companies linked to Russia.

Mid-January 2016: Flynn applies for a five-year renewal of his security clearance. [Added May 25, 2017]

Feb. 11, 2016: According to a May 22, 2017 letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), investigators meet with Flynn to discuss his security clearance application. When asked about his Moscow appearance, Flynn reportedly says, “I didn’t take any money from Russia, if that’s what you’re asking me.” [Added May 25, 2017]

March 14, 2016: Investigators issue a report on Flynn’s security clearance application. According to the summary in Rep. Cummings’ May 22 letter, Flynn told investigators he was paid by “US companies” when he traveled to Moscow in December 2015. The report also says that Flynn told investigators he had not received any benefit from a foreign country

 

Cover-up #1: Pence, Flynn, and Turkey

July 15, 2016: Trump tweets:  @realDonaldTrump

I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate. News conference tomorrow at 11:00 A.M.
7:50 AM – 15 Jul 2016

August 2016: The consulting firm headed by Trump’s national security adviser Mike Flynn begins to perform lobbying work for a company owned by a close adviser to Turkey’s President Erdogan.

Nov. 8, 2016: Trump and Pence win the election.

Nov. 10, 2016: During their first meeting after the election, President Obama warns Trump about appointing Mike Flynn to a top national security post. In 2014, Obama had removed Flynn as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Nov. 11, 2016: Vice President-elect Pence replaces Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) as chair of Trump’s transition team.

Nov. 14, 2016: Reporters ask Mike Flynn’s business associate Robert Kelley if Turkish interests had retained their consulting firm from August through Election Day because of Flynn’s close relationship with Trump. “I hope so,” Kelley says. The subject of Flynn’s lobbying activities for Turkey comes up again periodically in news reports throughout November and December.

Nov. 18, 2016: Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sends Trump transition team chair (and Vice President-elect) Mike Pence a letter expressing concerns about national security adviser-designate Mike Flynn’s conflicts of interest. Specifically, Cummings worries about Flynn’s work for an entity affiliated with the government of Turkey, as well as a paid trip to Moscow in December 2015 during which Flynn was “highly critical of the United States.”

Nov. 28, 2016: Trump’s transition team acknowledges receipt of Cummings’ Nov. 18 letter regarding Mike Flynn.

Jan. 4, 2017: National security adviser-designate Mike Flynn tells the transition team’s chief counsel Donald F. McGahn II that he is under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey. Flynn’s lawyer followed up, but did not get a call back until Jan. 6.

Jan. 10, 2017: President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, informs Trump of the military plan to retake the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa with the help of Syrian Kurdish forces. Obama’s team informed Trump because execution of the plan would not occur until after the inauguration. Turkey has long opposed US forces partnering with Kurdish forces in the region. Trump national security adviser-designate Flynn tells Rice to hold off on approving the mission.

March 7, 2017: Former national security adviser Mike Flynn files registration documents confirming that between August 2016 and Election Day, he’d earned $530,000 for lobbying work on behalf of a company owned by a Turkish businessman. Flynn acknowledges that his work as a foreign agent could have benefitted the Turkish government.

March 9, 2017: Responding to questions about Mike Flynn’s lobbying activities for Turkish interests during the campaign and thereafter, Vice President Mike Pence tells Fox News’ Bret Baier twice that he’d just learned of it: “Well, let me say, hearing that story today was the first I’d heard of it. And I fully support the decision that President Trump made to ask for Gen. Flynn’s resignation.” BAIER: “You’re disappointed by the story?” PENCE: “The first I heard of it, and I think it is, uh, it is an affirmation of the president’s decision to ask Gen. Flynn to resign.” Asked whether Trump knew about Flynn’s activities on behalf of Turkish interests, Sean Spicer says, “I don’t believe that that was known.”

March 22, 2017: In a joint letter to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, the chairman and ranking member of the House Oversight Committee request information and documents relating to payments that former national security adviser Mike Flynn received from entities affiliated with foreign governments, including Russia and Turkey.

May 9, 2017: Over Turkey’s objections, the Pentagon announces that the US will partner with Kurds to retake the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. On Jan. 10, the Obama administration had presented President-elect Trump with a plan to partner with the Kurds against ISIS, but his then-national security adviser-designate Mike Flynn had killed it.

Cover-up #2: Pence, Flynn and Russia

April through November 2016: Mike Flynn and other advisers to the Trump campaign have at least 18 phone calls and emails with Russian officials, including six contacts involving Russian ambassador

Late November 2016: In a meeting that includes senior Trump transition national security team members, national security adviser-designate Mike Flynn reveals he has scheduled a conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. In attendance is Marshall Billingslea, a member of the team who had been a senior Pentagon official for President George W. Bush. He warns Flynn that any such communications carry risks because US intelligence agencies are almost certainly monitoring Kislyak’s conversations. After the meeting, Billingsea asks national security officials in the Obama White House for a copy of the classified CIA profile of Kislyak.

Dec. 29, 2016: On the same day President Obama announces sanctions against Russian in retaliation for its interference in the 2016 election, national security adviser-designate Flynn places five phone calls to the Russian ambassador.

Dec. 30, 2016: After Putin makes a surprise announcement that Russia would not retaliate for the new sanctions, Trump tweets:

Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2016

Jan. 15, 2017: Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation, Vice President Pence says Flynn’s call to the Russian ambassador on the same day President Obama announced new sanctions was “strictly coincidental,” explaining: “They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure on Russia…. What I can confirm, having to spoken with [Flynn] about it, is that those conversations that happened to occur around the time that the United States took action to expel diplomats had nothing whatsoever to do with those sanctions.”

Also on Jan. 15, 2017: On Fox News Sunday, Pence denies contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign. Responding to Chris Wallace, Pence says, “All the contact by the Trump campaign and associates were with the American people.” On a third try, Wallace asks if Pence had ever asked Donald Trump if there were any contacts in the campaign between Trump or his associates and Russians, Pence answers, “Of course not.”

Jan. 20, 2017: Trump and Pence are inaugurated.

Jan. 22, 2017: Flynn is sworn in as national security adviser, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.

Jan. 23, 2017: At Sean Spicer’s first press briefing, Spicer says none of Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador touched on the Dec. 29 sanctions. That got the attention of FBI Director James Comey. According to The Wall Street Journal, Comey convinced acting Attorney General Sally Yates to delay informing the White House immediately about the discrepancy between Spicer’s characterization of Flynn’s calls and US intelligence intercepts showing that the two had, in fact, discussed sanctions. Comey reportedly asked Yates to wait a bit longer so that the FBI could develop more information and speak with Flynn himself. The FBI interviews Flynn shortly thereafter.

Jan. 26, 2017: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates informs White House Counsel Don McGahn that, based on recent public statements of White House officials including Vice President Mike Pence, Flynn had lied to Pence and others about his late-December conversations with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. According to Sean Spicer, Trump and a small group of White House advisers were “immediately informed of the situation.”

Jan. 27, 2017: McGahn asks Yates to return to the White House for another discussion about Flynn. He asks Yates, “Why does it matter to the Department of Justice if one White House official lies to another?” Yates explains that Flynn’s lies make him vulnerable to Russian blackmail because the Russians know that Flynn lied and could probably prove it.

Feb. 8, 2017: Flynn tells reporters at The Washington Post he did not discuss US sanctions in his December conversation with the Russian ambassador.

Feb. 9, 2017: Through a spokesman, Flynn changes his position: “While [Flynn] had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”

Feb. 10, 2017: Trump tells reporters he was unaware of reports surrounding Flynn’s December conversations with the Russian ambassador.

Feb. 13, 2017: The Washington Post breaks another story: Then-Acting Attorney General had warned the White House in late January that Flynn had mischaracterized his December conversation with the Russian ambassador, and that it made him vulnerable to Russian blackmail. Later that evening, Flynn resigns.

Feb. 19, 2017: NBC’s Chuck Todd questions Reince Priebus about Flynn’s firing. The White House line was that Trump had fired Flynn because he’d lied to Vice President Pence about his conversations with the Russians about US sanctions. But that left an awkward gap of more than two weeks during which Trump apparently knew about Flynn’s deception before firing him. “Why did more than a week go by before the vice president was informed of this issue?” Todd asks. “Well, I think he was always aware of the issue as to whether or not he talked about sanctions,” Priebus answers. Later, Todd asks about the more than two-week delay between Yates’ disclosure of Flynn’s deception and Trump’s decision to fire him. “Waiting that long, do you regret that it looks like that the vice president is essentially not in the loop?” Todd asks. “No,” Priebus replies, “the vice president’s in the loop on everything, Chuck.”

March 30, 2017: The Wall Street Journal reports that Mike Flynn is seeking immunity from prosecution in return for testifying before congressional intelligence committees. The next day, his lawyer confirms, “Gen. Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should circumstances permit.”

March 31, 2017: Trump tweets: @realDonaldTrump

Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!
4:04 AM – 31 Mar 2017

April 19, 2017: The White House refuses the March 22 bipartisan request from the House Oversight Committee for more information and documents relating to payments that former national security adviser Mike Flynn received from entities affiliated with the Russian and .

April 25, 2017: Flynn reportedly receives a message from Trump to “stay strong.” When the story appears on May 18, the White House does not respond to a request for comment.

April 28, 2017: The chair and vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee send letters to several former Trump campaign advisers, including Carter Page, Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. Among other requests, the letters ask for a “list of all meetings between you and any Russian official or representative of Russian business interests which took place between June 16, 2015 and Jan. 20, 2017.” The letters also request information about any such meetings of which they are aware, as well as all documents relating to Trump campaign communications with Russian officials or business representatives. The committee also seeks information about any financial and real estate transactions related to Russia from June 15, 2015 through Trump’s inauguration.

May 11, 2017: The Senate Intelligence Committee sends Mike Flynn a subpoena for documents that he’d refused to produce voluntarily in response to the committee’s April 28 letter request.

May 19, 2017: Vice President Pence faces added scrutiny on what he knew about Flynn’s connections to Turkey and Russia — and when he knew it. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee post a Nov. 18, 2016 letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) to Pence, who at the time was vice president-elect and chair of the presidential transition team. The letter expressed concerns about national security adviser-designate Flynn’s ties to those countries. In response to the posting, Pence’s spokesperson states, “The vice president stands by his comments in March upon first hearing the news regarding Gen. Flynn’s ties to Turkey and fully supports the President’s decision to ask for General Flynn’s resignation.” A White House aide adds, “I’m not sure we saw the letter.” Democrats on the House Oversight Committee then post the formal Nov. 28, 2016 transition team message acknowledging receipt of Cummings’ letter.

May 22, 2017: Rather than produce documents in response to a subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mike Flynn invokes his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Cover-up #3: The Firing

May 8, 2017: Trump tells a few close aides, including Vice President Pence and White House counsel Don McGahn, that Comey has to go. According to ABC News, Pence, McGahn, chief of staff Reince Priebus and senior adviser Jared Kushner are members of a small group that begins to prepare talking points about Comey’s firing. Trump summons Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein to the White House, where he instructs them provide a written justification for removing Comey. Before Rosenstein prepares the requested memo, he knows that Trump intends to fire Comey.

May 9, 2017: Citing the May 9 recommendations of Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, Trump fires FBI Director Comey, ostensibly because of his inappropriate statements about the Clinton email investigation prior to the 2016 election. Trump, Sessions and Rosenstein write that terminating Comey is necessary to restore trust, confidence and integrity in the FBI. In his termination letter to Comey, Trump also says he “greatly appreciates you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.”

May 10, 2017: Pence says repeatedly that Comey’s firing occurred because Sessions and Rosenstein recommended it: The deputy attorney general “came to work, sat down and made the recommendation for the FBI to be able to do its job that it would need new leadership. He brought that recommendation to the president. The attorney general concurred with that recommendation.”

Also on May 10, 2017: Deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump had been thinking about firing Comey “since the day he was elected,” but reiterates Pence’s position that Sessions and Rosenstein were “absolutely” the impetus for the firing.

Also on May 10, 2017: The Washington Post and The New York Times report that Trump had been the impetus for Comey’s firing, not Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.

Also on May 10, 2017: Rod Rosenstein speaks by phone with White House counsel Don McGahn. According to The Wall Street Journal, Rosenstein insists that the White House correct the misimpression that Rosenstein initiated the process leading to Comey’s firing. He suggests that he can’t work in an environment where facts aren’t reported accurately.

Also on May 10, 2017: The White House releases a new timeline of the events relating to Comey’s firing. It recites that the impetus for removing Comey had come from Trump, not the deputy attorney general. But the White House acknowledges that Trump met with Sessions and Rosenstein on May 8 to discuss “reasons for removing the director” and that the attorney general and his deputy sent their written recommendations to Trump on May 9.

Also on May 10, 2017: House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) asks the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate Comey’s firing.

Also on May 10, 2017: During an Oval Office meeting with Russia’s Ambassador Kislyak, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and their aides, Trump discusses the Comey firing. “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Trump says. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” Then he adds, “I’m not under investigation.”

May 11, 2017: Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies that James Comey enjoyed “broad support within the FBI and still does to this day…. The majority, the vast majority of FBI employees enjoyed a deep, positive connection to Director Comey.”

Also on May 11, 2017: Trump tells NBC’s Lester Holt that he had already decided to fire Comey before his meeting with Sessions and Rosenstein: “Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. And in fact, when I decided to do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story….” Trump also says that on three different occasions — once in person and twice over the phone — he’d asked Comey if he was under investigation for alleged ties to Russia, and Comey told him he wasn’t.

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/05/is-pence-next-a-timeline-of-the-vice-presidents-role-in-trumps-russia-related-mess-provides-some-clues/

Vladdy has last laugh

The Putin Puppet embarrasses us all and makes Vladdy so proud

Watch as the puppet and arrogant son of bitch Trump shoves Montenegro’s foreign minister out of his way.
Oh ya, Montenegro just joined NATO over the angry protests of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, coincidence?

Trump’s first visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels didn’t look like a picnic. There were the awkward greetings with other leaders; there was the pushing aside of Montenegro’s foreign minister at a photo op; there were the seeming smirks of his counterparts during his speech; and there was the conspicuous absence of public (and normally routine) promises to commit to the alliance’s all-important mutual defense pledge. The day seemed like a low point in Trump’s inaugural foreign trip.
“NATO leaders had hoped to hear President Trump offer a ringing and explicit commitment to the alliance’s basic principle that an attack on one nation is an attack on all. Instead, what they got was a full-on blast of campaign-style nationalism as he castigated them for failing to live up to NATO spending pledges.
“It was a harsh message at a meeting intended to demonstrate unity. The raised eyebrows of Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel during Trump’s speech may have spoken for more than one leader.    from The Primer:Washington Post

Trump’s behavior at NATO is a national embarrassment

Poor NATO. After all of the hoops summit organizers reportedly jumped through to accommodate President Trump and his anemic attention span, he definitely was not on his best behavior. Trump was the party guest whom no one really wants to deal with but has to — because he has more money than anyone else. The party guest who shows up and berates the hosts for not paying for their fair share of the defense spending cake. To borrow from NFL player Marshawn Lynch, Trump acted as though he was there just so he wouldn’t get fined.
The NATO summit isn’t over yet, but so far, it’s So Trump. According to early press pool reports, Trump literally gave NATO allies the cold shoulder:

Speaking of shoulders, the U.S. president basically shoved the prime minister of Montenegro, the newest member of NATO, to get to the front of the group, because AMERICA FIRST:

After Trump called NATO obsolete (then proceeded to walk that back), Europe was looking for public support of Article 5, which affirms that NATO members will come to the mutual defense of any member that is under attack. But alas, Trump could not even bring himself to utter explicitly that the U.S. supports Article 5 in his remarks at Brussels, which every single U.S. president has done since Harry Truman in 1949. If NATO allies were nervous about the United States’ commitment to Europe’s security before, they must be fuming now. The NATO summit comes as reports surface that British police are withholding intelligence from the United States after leaks to U.S. media about the Manchester bombing investigation, and weeks after Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russians about operations against the Islamic State. For all of Trump’s fire and fury about the United States getting the raw end of the deal from NATO, from an optics standpoint, it is the United States that is looking like the irresponsible partner.

NATO members being insulted by Puppet Trump and no US commitment to Article 5

Perhaps in Trump’s eyes, the Saudis threw a much better shindig — spending $68 million to host Trump. Well, really, it was a $110 billion dollar fete, considering the price tag for the historic weapons deal that the United States signed with Saudi Arabia. Trump appeared to be much more friendly and relaxed among Saudi Arabian and other Gulf leaders than with our European allies. Obviously, Trump was bedazzled by the kingdom’s hospitality, but none of the Saudi opulence and money can whitewash Saudi Arabia’s terrible record of fueling Wahhabi terrorism, carrying out record numbers of public beheadings, contributing to famine in Yemen, and withholding many basic rights for Saudi women and girls. Days after one of the worst terrorist attacks in British history, Trump is visibly more comfortable praising autocrats and extremist governments who help to fuel violence and conflict. That should be a slap in the face to our liberal allies in Europe.
Maybe next time, NATO should serve chocolate cake, give out gold medals, impress Trump with glowing orbs, and throw in a sword dance or two. Oh, and $100 billion.
But in all seriousness, for anyone who cares about the America’s global leadership and the future of Europe, Trump’s behavior at the NATO summit has been embarrassing.
opinions from Karen Attiah The Washington Post’s Global Opinions Editor

Despite ISIS and Trump, even more collusion and treason news comes out

Former CIA director Brennan warned FSB chief that Moscow’s election interference would backfire.

Former CIA director John Brennan said Tuesday that he personally warned the head of Russia’s intelligence service last year that Moscow’s interference in the U.S. election would backfire and cause severe damage to the country’s relationship with the United States.

Describing a previously undisclosed high-level discussion between Washington and Moscow, Brennan said in a phone conversation with the head of Russia’s domestic security service, the FSB, that “American voters would be outraged by any Russian attempt to interfere in the election.”

In congressional testimony, Brennan said that such meddling “would destroy any near-term prospect of improvement” in relations between the United States and Russia. Brennan said that the FSB chief, Alexander Bortnikov, twice denied that Russia was waging such a campaign, but said he would carry Brennan’s message to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.

“I believe I was the first U.S. official to brace Russia on this matter,” Brennan said. His remarks came at the start of his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee as part of that panel’s ongoing investigation of a Russian influence campaign in the 2016 presidential election, as well as whether there was collusion or coordination between Moscow and members of the Trump campaign.

Brennan led the CIA during a critical period last year when U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia was not only attempting to disrupt the election but was actively seeking to defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and help elect Trump.

Brennan was among the top officials who briefed then-President-elect Trump on that conclusion — which represented the consensus view of the CIA, the FBI and the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Brennan became so alarmed by the Russian intervention last fall that he held classified meetings with top congressional officials to impress upon them the unprecedented nature of Moscow’s interference.

Brennan testified that he was disturbed by intelligence that surfaced last year showing a pattern of contacts between Russian agents or representatives and individuals with links to the Trump campaign. “I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind,” Brennan said. He emphasized that the information he saw did not amount to proof of collusion or cooperation between Trump associates and Russia, but said that it “served as the basis for the FBI investigation.”

With that remark, Brennan appeared to identify the point of origin of the FBI investigation that began last July – the first time that a U.S. official has provided insight into what prompted the bureau probe.

He said that the targets of those Russian approaches may not even have been aware of the nature of the contacts, because Russian services often disguise their efforts by using intermediaries. “Many times [U.S. individuals] do not know that the individual they are interacting with is a Russian,” Brennan said.

The former CIA chief is the latest in a series of senior Obama administration officials to appear publicly before Congress in hearings that have often produced damaging headlines for Trump.

Earlier this month, former acting attorney general Sally Yates testified that she expected White House officials to “take action” after warning that then-national security adviser Michael T. Flynn had misled administration officials about his contacts with Russia.

At that same hearing, former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said that Moscow’s leaders “must be congratulating themselves for having exceeded their wildest expectations with a minimal expenditure of resource,” a reference not only to the outcome of the 2016 race, but the chaos that has characterized the early months of the Trump administration.

Brennan has feuded publicly with Trump over the president’s treatment of intelligence agencies. In January, he lashed out at Trump for comparing U.S. spy agencies to Nazi secret police.

Brennan was particularly offended by Trump’s remarks during a speech at CIA headquarters on the day he was inaugurated. Trump used the CIA’s Wall of Honor — a collection of engraved stars marking lives of agency operatives killed in the line of duty — to launch a rambling speech in which he bragged about his election victory.

Brennan called the appearance “despicable” and said that Trump should be “ashamed.”

Greg Miller for The Washington Post.

 

The president reportedly attempted to enlist the head of the NSA and director of national intelligence to defend against the Russia inquiry.

Rogers NSA

Donald Trump reportedly tried, unsuccessfully, to enlist Admiral Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, and Daniel Coats, the director of national intelligence, to publicly refute the possibility of collusion after former FBI Director James Comey announced in March that the bureau is investigating potential links between Trump campaign associates and the Russian government, according to The Washington Post on Monday.

DNI Coats

Citing unnamed government officials, the Post’s Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima report that Trump asked Coats and Rogers “to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.” But, according to the report, the intelligence officials turned down the ask, “which they both deemed to be inappropriate.” The White House told the Post that it would not confirm or deny the allegations.

The news follows a series of potentially damaging reports centered on Trump and the former FBI director. Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that Trump asked Comey to halt a federal investigation into his former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who was ousted from the administration after making false claims about his contact with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and that Trump had unsuccessfully attempted to persuade Comey to pledge loyalty prior to abruptly firing him on May 9th. The White House disputes both reports.

Former FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed by the Justice Department to serve as a special counsel in the Russia investigation earlier this month. CNN reported on Monday that Mueller has already been briefed on memos drafted by Comey detailing his interactions with Trump. Monday’s Post report suggests there may be an even more extensive paper trail that could come under scrutiny as part of the investigation.

According to the Post:

Trump’s conversation with Rogers was documented contemporaneously in an internal memo written by a senior NSA official, according to the officials. It is unclear if a similar memo was prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to document Trump’s conversation with Coats. Officials said such memos could be made available to both the special counsel now overseeing the Russia investigation and congressional investigators, who might explore whether Trump sought to impede the FBI’s work.

Congressional Democrats have accused Trump of obstructing justice following reports that he attempted to intervene in the Flynn investigation and another Times report that Trump told Russian officials that he felt relieved of pressure caused by the Russia inquiry after firing Comey.

The Post’s report on Monday also contends that White House officials “sounded out top intelligence officials about the possibility of intervening directly with Comey to encourage the FBI to drop its probe of Michael Flynn.”

When Trump fired Comey, he originally cited a memo criticizing the FBI chief’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server. He later openly acknowledged in an interview with NBC News that “this Russia thing” was on his mind  when he made the decision to fire Comey, who at the time had been serving as the head of the bureau probing ties between Trump associates and the Russian government.

The White House has insisted that there is no evidence of collusion. And Trump flatly denied the possibility at a press conference last week, saying “there was no collusion” with Russia. In the letter the president sent to Comey telling him he had been fired, Trump wrote that he had “greatly appreciate[d]” the FBI director “informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.”

Despite Mueller’s appointment as special counsel, Democrats have continued to urge the formation of an independent commission to further probe the extent of Russian involvement in the election. Those calls, and the pressure on Congress to support such a move, may grow louder now.

 

 

 

 

 

Stonewalling and Follow the money $$$

Follow the money $$$

A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has a history of accidental truth telling, like when he revealed the Benghazi hearings were designed to take down Hillary Clinton  

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kevin-mccarthys-truthful-gaffe/2015/09/30/f12a9fac-67a8-11e5-8325-a42b5a459b1e_story.html?utm_term=.a6a68a940692

The Washington Post has a great interactive chart on Trump & Russian connections, see it here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/trump-russia/?utm_term=.55288fbf2ced

 

Stonewalling

Former national security advisor Michael Flynn is not cooperating with the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian election interference, Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said Thursday.

Burr initially said Flynn was not complying with a subpoena issued by the committee before quickly walking back his remarks to reporters.

While Flynn “is not cooperating” so far, Burr said, he hasn’t gotten a “definitive” answer from Flynn’s lawyers.

“I may have been premature,” Burr said. “There may be a day or two left.”

Flynn’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment or confirmation.

The demand is for documents related to the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election.

Flynn — the former intelligence officer who was fired in February for misleading Vice President Pence and other White House officials about the contents of a December phone call with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak — has been under scrutiny for accepting payments from Russia and Turkey and allegedly misleading the government about them.

Flynn had previously offered to testify before the Senate and House intelligence committees — which are both investigating Russian interference in the election — in exchange for immunity, but it does not appear that either committee has accepted the offer.

In April, the committee sent a series of requests to several former Trump associates asking for records on any dealings with Russians — a request Flynn’s lawyers declined to cooperate with through counsel, sparking the subpoena.

Trump’s former foreign policy advisor Carter Page, informal adviser Roger Stone and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort were also asked to provide documents. As of last week, the committee had received two responses, according to Burr. One of these, Page, is publicly known. Burr declined to reveal the second.

The letters asked for the men to list any meetings they might have had with Russian officials between June 16, 2015 — the day Trump formally launched his campaign — and Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, as well as records of any communications during the period.

The senators also want details on any financial assets or real estate holding tied to Russia, and a broader list of meetings between any Trump campaign aides and Russians.

In December 2015, Flynn was paid $45,000 to speak at an event hosted in Moscow by the Kremlin-backed network RT, during which he was seated with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also received payments for additional speeches to Russian firms Kaspersky and Volga Dnepr.

As a retired military officer, Flynn is prohibited under the emoluments clause of the Constitution from accepting payment from a foreign government without advance permission from both the secretary of State and the secretary of the Army.

According to documents released by House Oversight Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Flynn did not disclose the RT payment when he applied to renew his security clearance in January 2016, just a month after he traveled to Moscow.

Flynn’s lawyer has claimed that he briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency “extensively” both before and after the 2015 trip.

Putin “The Puppet Master” comes to his puppet’s defense

Please play this video, you have see it to believe it.

Take note of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and is buddies yucking it up!

-Putin says he has transcript that PROVES Trump did not pass Russia any secrets, calling the claim ‘rubbish’ as he bashes ‘stupid’ US politicians he says want to undermine the President

-Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia was ready to hand a transcript of Trump’s meeting with Russia’s foreign minister over to U.S. lawmakers if that would help

-He said Moscow initially found debates about Russia meddling in U.S. politics as ‘funny’ but said Moscow is now ‘concerned’

-Putin dismissed the U.S. politicians who came up with the ‘nonsense’ as either being ‘stupid’ or ‘dangerous and unscrupulous’

-Inveighs against ‘political schizophrenia’ in Washington

-Putin implied that someone is hampering Trump’s efforts at being President

-Complains Trump isn’t being allowed to work ‘at full capacity’

-‘It’s hard to imagine what else can these people who generate such nonsense and rubbish can dream up next’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4514632/Vladimir-Putin-says-prove-Trump-did-not-pass-Russia-secrets.html#ixzz4hLjB7sXt

Don’t worry Donny boy I’ll take care of those pesky reporters

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump had not passed any secrets onto Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting in Washington last week and that he could prove it.

Speaking at a news conference alongside Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Putin quipped that Lavrov had not passed what he said were the non-existent secrets onto him either.

The Russian strongman complained about what he said were signs of ‘political schizophrenia’ in the United States. Backing up Trump, Putin said the U.S. president wasn’t being allowed to do his job properly.

‘It’s hard to imagine what else can these people who generate such nonsense and rubbish can dream up next,’ Putin complained.

Then he mocked the uproar that has thrown the White House into a tailspin.  “I spoke to him (Lavrov) today,” said Putin, smiling. “I’ll be forced to issue him with a reprimand because he did not share these secrets with us. Not with me, nor with representatives of Russia’s intelligence services. It was very bad of him.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4514632/Vladimir-Putin-says-prove-Trump-did-not-pass-Russia-secrets.html#ixzz4hLiwnNjK

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FBI Agents fear Trump will successfully scuttle the Russian Investigation

FBI Agents Worry White House Will Kneecap Russia Probe

The acting FBI director may promise that the investigation into Trump-Russia connections will continue. Many agents aren’t buying it.

On Tuesday night, after James Comey got fired, FBI agents tasked with thwarting Russian intelligence operations started drinking.

Two well-connected former FBI employees told The Daily Beast that counterintelligence agents working on the Russian counterintelligence program out of FBI headquarters in downtown Washington met for drinks in the hours after their boss’s firing and shared their concerns: that they would be reassigned elsewhere, and their work on the Russian-Trump associate’s investigation would come to a grinding halt.

“We do not have any comment,” an FBI spokeswoman said in an email to The Daily Beast Friday morning.

These are worries that have spread through the bureau in the days since Comey was fired: that the new administration will find ways to stymie investigations that could create political problems—especially on Russia. It’s a concern the president himself exacerbated in an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt that aired Thursday evening.

“And in fact when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won,’” the president said, discussing his reasoning for firing Comey.

Among current and former agents who worked on Russian counterintelligence, concern about political meddling is palpable.

“It’s complete bananas,” said one FBI source. “Management in counterintelligence are insanely concerned, worried about the overreaching obstruction and political influence from the White House.”

And a former high-ranking FBI official who worked on aspects of the case said there’s “no doubt the investigation can be damaged.”

“This particular case is within HQ with pieces in other field offices,” the source continued. “Hard to stop, but definitely subvert.”

The pace of the FBI’s Russian counterintelligence investigation dramatically picked in recent weeks when the probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn expanded to include his company’s work for the Turkish government, and a round of subpoenas were issued by a Virginia grand jury for related business and financial records. This stems from reports out of Turkey that Flynn had at some point attempted to return money he was paid for work he didn’t end up doing. That gave investigators a money trail to follow. Flynn reportedly failed to disclose this income when he was employed by the White House.

Two sources suggested that aspects of the larger investigation are focused on whether foreign influence was or is currently being exerted at the White House. It is unclear if this is specifically related to Flynn, or other aspects or targets of the case.

“It is not just a historical investigation,” said one former intelligence official who worked aspects of the early stages of the investigation.

Andrew McCabe, the bureau’s interim director, told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning that nothing would stop the investigation. But his confidence didn’t calm many nerves, in large part because there’s a broad consensus in Washington that his days at the bureau are numbered. In that same hearing, McCabe praised Comey and directly contradicted a White House spokesperson’s assertion that the FBI rank-and-file had turned on their former boss.

“Literally who cares, nothing he said matters. He’ll be gone,” said one congressional staffer.

McCabe isn’t the only top FBI official who could be in trouble.

Several administration sources said Associate Deputy Director David Bowdich could also be in the crosshairs. Sources said he has played an integral role in the investigation that led to the resignation of Flynn. That investigation is ongoing. The FBI website says Bowdich oversees the management of all FBI personnel and budgeting. So if he’s replaced, that could have a significant effect on the resources available to agents working on the Russia investigation.

The FBI declined to comment.

And it’s not just Bowdich. As FBI director, Robert Mueller changed the structure of the bureau’s leadership, adding outside non-agent, non-bureau personnel into the FBI at the rank of assistant director. These became mostly administrative positions, though some had joint oversight of counterintelligence operations. Comey continued this tradition. Sources said Trump could replace people in those positions with his loyalists, who could could slow the investigation.

The larger temporary task force investigating Russian influence investigation could soon be gone, according to a former FBI official.

They could “dismantle it, transfer the agents out, minimally staff it, have DOJ refuse to prosecute,” that official said.

“They could slow down the investigations to a crawl, prevent charges from moving forward to DOJ for prosecution, or any other number of ways the White House could subvert these investigations,” said a former FBI official who worked on Russian investigations.

“You have to remember, these agents have families they need to support,” said a former high ranking FBI official who worked closely with the Counterintelligence division. “The threat of being fired for doing their job is real here.”

And Comey’s firing could have already had an impact, according to Carrie Cordero, a former attorney in the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

“On a really major, highly sensitive, big big big-time case, it does matter the level of the director’s personal involvement,” she said. “It just does.”

And Comey’s support mattered.

“He gave the agents, the investigators, cover politically,” she said. “He said, ‘You go where the facts take you and I will handle the politics of it, I’ll go brief the Hill, I’ll hold off the White House.’ He’s the lineman in football, keeping everybody away from the guys that are trying to run or make the pass. He provided a cover for them to do what they needed to get done.”

Ron Hosko, assistant director of the bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division before his retirement, said the agency could also hit snags at the Justice Department, where the White House’s political appointees will have more sway.

“There are often frustrations in sensitive, important investigations that you end up with prosecutors—either too few, who are unwilling to move forward at the desired pace, or too many and you turn every simple decision into a debate club—and it slows progress,” Hosko said. “Here, I think that is the pulse that you in the media and others ought to be keeping close to: What’s the pace? Are the investigators getting the prosecutors’ support that they need?”

Attorneys in the DOJ’s National Security Division are responsible for securing subpoenas and court orders for the FBI agents working the Russia investigation. Hosko said agents sometimes suspect politics is to blame when Justice Department lawyers don’t move as fast as they would like.

“Prosecutors will sometimes start to debate and question every word in a subpoena and it tends to slow progress,” Hosko said. “And then you start to ask questions about—is this because of something political?”

Hosko also said he believes Dana Boente, the acting head of the DOJ’s National Security Division, has “impeccable integrity,” and wouldn’t let political concerns slow an investigation.

But those reassurances are unlikely to quell the fears of veteran FBI agents investigating the president’s associates.

“The Orange blob in the WH doesn’t care about anyone or anything he can’t control,” said the former high-ranking official. “He’s made that abundantly clear.”

 

Daily Beast   Jana Winter and Betsy Wooddruff

Trump not welcome at FBI Headquarters

President Donald Trump has reportedly backed out of a planned visit to FBI headquarters this week. According to NBC News, Trump was told “it was not likely he would be warmly welcomed” after he fired the agency’s director, James Comey, on Tuesday. “My sense is most FBI employees feel a loyalty to Comey,” an FBI employee told NBC News. “And whether they agree or disagree with the way he handled the email case, like and respect him… Trump would not be well-received at the headquarters.” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday that Comey had lost the support of the FBI’s rank-and-file, but Acting Director Andrew McCabe pushed back on that account at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday, telling lawmakers Comey was well-respected and liked.

TASS, the Russian state-owned news agency, “punks” Trump’s White House

We sure screwed the Democrats didn’t we, yuck yuck!

Wednesday, the Russian government posted photos of President Donald Trump meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on its official Twitter accounts.

This drew immediate criticism because the White House seemed to have allowed Russian state media to take photos of the meeting while excluding any American media outlets from doing the same.

Thanks for all your help defeating Clinton

Now a White House official tells CNN’s Jim Acosta that the Trump administration is “furious” at the Russians for posting the photos, as they claimed they were not told beforehand that any pictures would be posted on state-run social media accounts.

“They tricked us,” one official told Acosta about the Russians. “They lie.”

The official also said that the White House “did not anticipate” that the photos would ever be used by the Russians for propaganda purposes. That said, the official also slammed critics who called the meeting with Kislyak inappropriate because it came just one day after Trump fired the person overseeing the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference with the 2016 election.

This guy got my National Security Advisor Fired

At a time of strain between the White House and the media over coverage of the new administration, reporters raised questions Wednesday as to why a photographer from the Russian media, but not the U.S. press, was apparently allowed into an Oval Office meeting between President Trump and Russian officials.

The issue surfaced after photos of the meeting, including Trump shaking hands with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and controversial Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak, appeared in the Russian media.

The issue was further inflamed by the presence of Kislyak, who has been at the center of several controversies involving administration officials, including now fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The Russian embassy even tweeted a photograph of Trump smiling broadly as he put his arm around the diplomat while shaking his hand in the Oval Office.

Don’t worry we’ll lift the sanctions very soon

The photos were taken by TASS photographer Alexander Shcherbak and credited to him by the agency, which included a copyright symbol in photo captions in its own news reports of the meeting. The photos were also distributed by the Associated Press, which credits the Russian Foreign Ministry as the source, and Getty Images, which credits TASS.

After the photos began circulating, members of the White House press corps inquired whether the Russian media had been allowed into the closed meetings.

The White House responded, according to a White House pool report, by saying, “On background, our official photographer and their official photographer were present, that’s it.”

“Apparently the TASS person was admitted at the request of the Russian Foreign Ministry as the official photographer for the Russian side,” Sitov told TPM in a later email. “He is permanently assigned to cover FM Lavrov. His pictures from the meeting are available at the Russian FM’s Flickr. I was not even aware of this.”

Frequently the White House press pool is allowed in the room at the start of an official meetings to take photograph and, if possible, to ask the participants questions.

In addition to the photos, TASS provided comments by Lavrov on the Oval Office meeting with Trump, wHich had followed bilateral talks between him and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Lavrov told TASS that in the meeting with Trump, “(we) discussed, first and foremost, our cooperation on the international stage.”

“At present, our dialogue is not as politicized as it used to be during Obama’s presidency,” Lavrov said. “The Trump administration, including the president himself and the secretary of state, are people of action who are willing to negotiate.”

YOU’VE BEEN PUNKED!