Republican Russian Election Interference Report is misleading and unsupported by the facts

“Misleading and Unsupported By the Facts”: House Intelligence Democrats Slam Republican Russia Report

“The Majority subverted this investigation.”

On Friday, Democrats on the House intelligence committee released a fiery, 98-page rejoinder to the report on Russian election interference issued by their Republican colleagues that “found no evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Accusing the Republicans of “sophistry” and subverting the committee’s investigation for political reasons, the Democrats’ report excoriates their GOP colleagues for prematurely ending the Russia probe, failing to follow investigative leads, and distorting the facts.

“A majority of the report’s findings are misleading and unsupported by the facts and the investigative record,” the minority’s report states. “They have been crafted to advance a political narrative that exonerates the Trump, downplays Russia’s preference and support for then-candidate Trump, explains away repeated contacts by Trump associates with Russia-aligned actors, and seeks to shift suspicion towards President Trump’s political opponents and the prior administration.”

The Democrats’ report seeks to show where their Republican colleagues’ investigation fell short, with a significant focus on the process of how the committee’s investigation was carried out. One allegation is that the Republicans hobbled the investigation by limiting its the committee’s document requests.

“Despite repeated entreaties, the Majority refused follow-up document requests informed by new information and leads,” the report explains. “For instance, the Committee has not received from the Trump campaign and transition all correspondence to and from George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, and other key persons of interest, thereby making it impossible to determine whether the Committee has reviewed the complete universe of relevant correspondence.”

Another area of contention on the committee is over the impact of the Russians’ social media-based propaganda campaign. The Republicans’ report acknowledges the Russian disinformation campaign, but Democrats allege that the GOP report downplays the effect of Russian propaganda in helping the Trump campaign.

In a final effort to obscure Russia’s social media operation in support of Trump, the Majority report argues that “Russian malign influence activities on Facebook were significant but they were not well-funded or large-scale operations relative to the overall scope of election-related activity on these platforms.”30 In its February 16, 2018 indictment, the Special Counsel revealed that the IRA’s operation was, in fact, well-funded and organized. The Committee, moreover, was unable to fully investigate and determine the financial backing, scope, and reach of Russia’s covert effort.

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/04/misleading-and-unsupported-by-the-facts-house-intelligence-democrats-slam-gop-russia-report

 

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Trump completely wimps out again and throws US Ambassador Nikki Haley under the bus

Thanks sir, I’ll have another!

On Sunday, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, announced that the Treasury Department would be rolling out tough new sanctions against Russia on Monday as punishment for its continued support of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

But not 24 hours later, the White House threw Haley under the bus with a clear, contradictory message: Not so fast.

“We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.

Sources familiar with the sanctions rollout process described a chaotic back-and-forth as lawmakers and staffers were struggling to figure out what Haley was exactly referring to. It was unlikely that Haley, who has been lauded by lawmakers from both parties for her tough anti-Kremlin positions, would have misspoken so egregiously if a sanctions regime was not already in the works.

Trump on Monday has now reneged on the preliminary plan to impose additional economic sanctions on Russia, walking back a Sunday announcement by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that the Kremlin had swiftly denounced as “international economic raiding.”

Preparations to punish Russia anew for its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government over an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria caused consternation at the White House. Haley had said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” that sanctions on Russian companies behind the equipment related to Assad’s alleged chemical weapons attack would be announced Monday by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

After this announcement, Trump conferred with his national security advisers later Sunday and told them he was upset the sanctions were being officially rolled out because he was not yet comfortable executing them, according to several people familiar with the plan.

Administration officials said Monday it was highly unlikely Trump would approve any additional sanctions without at least another triggering event by Russia.

Sometime after Haley’s comments on CBS, the Trump administration notified the Russian Embassy in Washington that the sanctions were not in fact coming, a Russian Foreign Ministry official said Monday.

The Trump team decided to publicly characterize Haley’s announcement as a misstatement but White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Monday: “We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future.”

An official at White House tried to spin the news as Haley got ahead of herself and made “an error that needs to be mopped up.”

But other administration officials expressed serious skepticism that Haley had merely misspoken. They said Haley is one of the most disciplined and cautious members of the Cabinet, especially when it comes to her public appearances. She regularly checks in with Trump personally to go over her planned statements before she sits for television interviews.

Haley issued no clarifying statement on Sunday after news organizations, including The Washington Post, reported prominently that the new sanctions would be announced Monday based on her comments to CBS.

Asked Monday morning why it had taken 24 hours for the administration to walk back Haley’s comments, one White House official said only that there had been confusion internally about what the plan was.

White House officials said Trump has been impressed with Haley lately, particularly her remarks about Syria over the past week, and stressed Monday that the president holds her in high regard.

In the absence of a permanent secretary of state, Haley has been the face of American diplomacy, playing an especially prominent role over the past week as the Trump administration responded to the attack in Syria.

Haley said Sunday on CBS: “You will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down. Secretary Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday if he hasn’t already. And they will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons used. And so I think everyone is going to feel it at this point. I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message, and our hope is that they listen to it.”

The Russians were listening. After Haley’s comments, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow that the sanctions were a U.S. ploy to oust Russia from international markets and constituted “undisguised attempts of unfair competition.”

Sources: Daily Beast and Washington Post

Trump’s house of lies, lies and more lies

Blackwater founder Erik Prince got caught lying

Special counsel Robert Mueller has obtained evidence that suggests Blackwater founder Erik Prince lied to Congress about his meeting in Seychelles with a Russian financier close to Vladimir Putin.

Prince, a campaign adviser to Donald Trump and brother of education secretary Betsy DeVos, told lawmakers that he ran into Russian sovereign wealth fund CEO Kirill Dmitriev by chance at a bar, but Mueller now has evidence that calls that into question, reported ABC News.

According to his congressional testimony, Prince says he was introduced to Dmitriev by a brother of United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed al-Nayhan, who said the Russian financier was also involved in oil, gas and mineral exploration.

“So, as I recall, I met him, this same guy I talked about, Kirill Dmitriev,” Prince testified. “Met him down in the bar after dinner, and we talked for 30 minutes over a beer, and that was it.”

However, Lebanese-American businessman George Nader told Mueller a different story after the special counsel granted him limited immunity.

Nader, who has been arrested twice in the U.S. and convicted once for possession of child pornography, has been interviewed seven times by prosecutors in the Russia probe on a wide variety of subjects, ABC reported.

The naturalized U.S. citizen told investigators he set up the Seychelles meeting between Prince and Dmitriev, and he told the Trump associate that the Russian financier had been appointed by president Vladimir Putin to oversee the state-run sovereign wealth fund.

Nader, who worked at the time for the UAE leader, said he personally facilitated and attended the meeting between Prince and Dmitriev at a resort owned by the crown prince.

He told Mueller that one of the primary goals of the meeting was to set up a line of communication between the Kremlin and the incoming Trump administration, sources told ABC News.

Prince did not mention Nader, who once represented Blackwater in Iraq, to congressional investigators — even after he was asked to list anyone present at his meeting with the Russian financier.

He told lawmakers no one had been present but him, Dmitriev and Dmitriev’s wife, who he said left after a few minutes while they discussed terrorism and oil prices.

https://www.rawstory.com/2018/04/mueller-evidence-blackwater-founder-erik-prince-lied-congress-secret-meeting-russian-banker-report/

Trump is a subject of Mueller’s ongoing criminal investigation

Mueller’s assurances that Trump is not a ‘target’ don’t mean much

Some in the administration are worried this is a trick to lure Trump into doing an interview with the Mueller team.


Headed for an orange jumpsuit?

The office of special counsel Robert Mueller appears to be trying to entice Trump into an interview by assuring him last month that he is not a “target” of its investigation and is only a “subject” of the probe, at least for now, a source familiar with the discussions told POLITICO.

The recent assurance that Trump is not officially a target — first reported by The Washington Post — may not be worth much, since offering what prosecutors consider to be a false statement can easily tip someone over into the target category after an interview, lawyers said.

More significant, some said, is Mueller’s intention to write a report on his findings about Trump’s potential obstruction of justice in the probe, according to the Post. Mueller has no obligation to submit a written report on any of his findings, and it had not previously been known that he intends to write one. There is no assurance that such a report would be provided to Congress or become public.

When it comes to an interview, some formal and informal advisers to Trump have been urging him not to sit for an interview because of the legal peril it could create. Several of the guilty pleas Mueller has already netted in his investigation are for false statements made in interviews with FBI agents working for his office.

“As a practical matter, federal prosecutors typically don’t decide until late in an investigation whether they will charge a person who is under investigation,” former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “Usually prosecutors don’t make that judgement [sic] until they’ve interviewed witnesses and reviewed the relevant documents. … All today’s news tells us is that Mueller hasn’t decided to indict Trump at this time. If Trump’s lawyers know what they’re doing, they’ll tell him he’s still under great risk.”

In Trump’s case, Mueller’s reported concession that Trump isn’t a target of the investigation may mean even less than in a more typical probe. That’s because Justice Department legal opinions issued in 1973 and 2000 say a sitting president cannot be indicted criminally while in office.

Mueller appears to have little option but to follow that legal guidance since he is generally bound to obey Justice Department policies.

A more intriguing possibility mentioned by the Post is that Mueller has indicated he plans to draft a report on his investigation and wants Trump’s account for that purpose.

“The key isn’t that Trump is not (yet) a ‘target’ but that he IS a SUBJECT of Mueller’s investigation & that Mueller will write a REPORT on what Trump did, why, and what it adds up to. That is HUGE,” Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe wrote on Twitter.

Such a report could be significant because it could serve as a trigger to impeachment proceedings, particularly if the House falls into Democratic control in November.

A private lawyer for Trump, Jay Sekulow, declined to say Tuesday whether Mueller’s office has raised the possibility of a report or offered an assurance about Trump’s status in the ongoing probe.

“We do not discuss real or alleged conversations between our legal team and the Office of Special Counsel,” Sekulow said. White House attorney Ty Cobb also declined to comment.

However, a source informed about the discussions said Mueller’s office had offered the assurance that Trump is not a target of the probe and solely a subject. The source could not immediately confirm that prosecutors had revealed plans for a report that could be made public.

A spokesman for Mueller’s office declined to comment on the reports of discussions with Trump’s legal team.

Legal experts have been divided in recent months over the feasibility of Mueller issuing a report on his findings about alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. While the laws used to appoint independent counsels in the 1980s and 1990s allowed for release of a report with the approval of a judicial panel, the statute expired in 1999.

Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last May under little-used Justice Department regulations that seem to limit the possibility of a far-ranging report on the special counsel’s findings. The rules do require reporting to Congress in the event that Rosenstein were to block a proposed prosecution by Mueller, but without such a disagreement it’s unclear that lawmakers would be automatically notified.

Congress might try to subpoena whatever written summary Mueller’s team gives to Rosenstein, but the regulations suggest that would only come at the end of the special counsel’s probe, which seems certain to continue until the end of this year and perhaps well into 2019. Indeed, the rules Mueller was appointed under appear to have been animated by the criticism of lengthy reports drafted by Whitewater independent counsel Ken Starr and others appointed under the old law.

“We think that the best reading of the special counsel regulations in their historical context rules out a Starr-like report to Congress that lays out hundreds of pages of factual allegations as well as legal analysis and conclusions,” Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith and student Maddie McMahon wrote on Lawfare last month. “The drafters of the regulations criticized that approach and took steps to preclude it, and on the whole, the regulations achieve that goal.”

However, a former Justice Department attorney who drafted the regulations, Neal Katyal, said the rules do allow for more detailed reports. Whether and how they could be made public is a more complicated question.

“The regs only discuss the mandatory final report, and yes, it is contemplated to be brief due to privacy and other interests. But interim reports to the AG could be very detailed (and in order for them to be effective), likely would be,” Katyal told POLITICO on Tuesday night.

One of the biggest obstacles to the Justice Department making public findings about the investigation is that Rosenstein has repeatedly said publicly that prosecutors should not discuss their reasons for not filing charges in a specific case, particularly when individuals are involved.

Indeed, the memo Rosenstein prepared last year that the White House initially seized upon to justify the firing of FBI Director James Comey sharply faulted him for publicly revealing and assessing the evidence found in the course of the probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account while secretary of state.

“Derogatory information sometimes is disclosed in the course of criminal investigations and prosecutions, but we never release it gratuitously,” Rosenstein wrote. “The Director laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without a trial. It is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.”

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/03/trump-mueller-russia-probe-500128

A another female victim of Trump bullying fights back and we love it

Another example what a despicable bully Trump is

Jill McCabe speaks out:

Jill McCabe, an emergency room pediatrician, is married to former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.

I am an emergency room pediatrician and an accidental politician — someone who never thought much about politics until I was recruited to run for state office after making a statement about the importance of expanding Medicaid. That decision — plus some twisted reporting and presidential tweets — ended up costing my husband, Andrew, his job and our family a significant portion of his pension my husband had worked hard for over 21 years of federal service. For the past year and a half of this nightmare, I have not been free to speak out about what happened. Now that Andrew has been fired, I am.

Andrew and I met as sophomores in college, at Duke University. He was interested in law (eventually law enforcement), I in medicine (eventually pediatrics). Andrew’s a reliable Republican; I have voted, over time, for both Republicans and Democrats.

As we have raised our children, I tried to vote more regularly and pay more attention to the issues that affect our community. And with my work in a hospital emergency room in Virginia, I saw the impact of how government decisions hurt my patients, especially when the state decided not to accept the federal government’s funding to expand Medicaid.

I was providing care in the most expensive setting — the emergency room — and only once a patient’s condition became more serious, because he or she had no other options. In addition, our state’s decision was increasing the cost of health care for everyone, ultimately raising prices, premiums, and taxes, while thousands of patients suffered. The whole thing just made no sense.

One day in 2014, an entourage of politicians came through the ER, and a reporter pulled me aside to ask how Medicaid expansion would affect my patients. I did not think any more of it until a year later when I received a voicemail asking whether I might be interested in running for the state Senate.

I was stunned — I went home and told Andrew, and we laughed about how crazy that idea was. A few days later, I got another call: Clark Mercer, chief of staff to then-Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, asking me to at least speak to Ralph, who is a pediatric neurologist. I was moved by Ralph’s story about how he had used his medical background to advocate for the needs of the children he serves.

I started to become more interested, thinking, “Here’s a way I can really try to help people on a bigger scale than what I do every day.” While I was considering the possibility, Andrew and I went to Richmond to meet with various politicians, including then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The subject of Hillary Clinton never came up — the story about her emails had not even broken when I was first approached by Northam. All the governor asked of me was that I support Medicaid expansion.

Still, in thinking about running, one of my first concerns was Andrew and his job at the FBI, where he was the assistant director in charge of the Washington field office. I said to Andrew, “If you think this is going to be a problem for you professionally, even if it’s allowed, I won’t do it.”

He consulted with the ethics experts at the FBI and committed to follow their advice. We tried to go even beyond what the rules required — Andrew kept himself separate from my campaign. When the kids and I went door-knocking, he did not participate; he wouldn’t even drive us. He could have attended one of my fundraisers but never did. One day he put on a campaign T-shirt so we could take a family picture and share it with my proud parents. You may have seen it — it seems to have taken on a weird life of its own — but that was it, just a family picture at a swim meet.

Meanwhile, my campaign received funding from the state Democratic Party and the governor’s PAC — on par with what other candidates in competitive races on both sides of the aisle received. All those contributions were publicly reported. And of course, again, Clinton’s emails never came up — if they had, I would have found that alarming, immediately reported it and likely pulled out of the campaign. I know enough from being married to Andrew for 20 years to know what is right and what is wrong.

I lost my race in November 2015. It was disappointing and particularly hard for me because I have always been the kind of person who gives everything her all. But I felt good about my effort and enjoyed returning to normal life.

Almost a year later, everything changed. A reporter called my cell phone on a Sunday in October 2016, asking questions about contributions to my campaign and whether there had been any influence on Andrew’s decisions at the FBI.

This could not be further from the truth. In fact, it makes no sense. Andrew’s involvement in the Clinton investigation came not only after the contributions were made to my campaign but also after the race was over. Since that news report, there have been thousands more, repeating the false allegation that there was some connection between my campaign and my husband’s role at the FBI.

After the 2016 election, I thought for a while that it was all over — at least now that President-elect Trump won, he would stop coming after us. How naive that was. After then-FBI Director James B. Comey was fired, we knew that Andrew could be the next target of the president’s wrath.

Then the president started tweeting about how the contributions to my campaign made it clear that Andrew (and all the senior leadership at the FBI) were corrupt and that he should be removed. It went one step further in the days before Christmas when the president made threats related to my husband’s retirement.

To have my personal reputation and integrity and those of my family attacked this way is beyond horrible. It feels awful every day. It keeps me up nights. I made the decision to run for office because I was trying to help people. Instead, it turned into something that was used to attack our family, my husband’s career and the entire FBI.

Nothing can prepare you for what happens when your life is turned upside down by current events. Nothing prepares you for conversations you have to have with your teenage children. Nothing prepares you for the news crews staking out your house, your backyard, your place of business. Nothing prepares you for the fear you feel every time you receive a package from a stranger.

I have spent countless hours trying to understand how the president and so many others can share such destructive lies about me. Ultimately I believe it somehow never occurred to them that I could be a serious, independent-minded physician who wanted to run for office for legitimate reasons. They rapidly jumped to the conclusion that I must be corrupt, as part of what I believe to be an effort to vilify us to suit their needs.

Throughout this experience, my work has been a sanctuary. I walk into the hospital, and everybody there knows me as a professional. The patients know me as a doctor and not a news story. It is not easy, but I have to put all of our challenges aside to focus on the patients and families I treat.

Now that I can speak on my own behalf, I want people to know that the whole story that everything is based on is just false and utterly absurd.

No matter what the path ahead, I have faith that our family will get through this. Despite everything, we are closer than ever. Andrew and I have amazing children and a support network that knows who we truly are. We will not allow ourselves to be defined by a false narrative.

While I have no intention of running for office again, I believe in what my campaign stood for, and I still hope we can see our way to Medicaid expansion in Virginia. The patients who inspired me to run continue to come to the ER every day, and they need our help.

By Jill McCabe for the Washington Post  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jill-mccabe-the-president-attacked-my-reputation-its-time-to-set-the-record-straight/2018/04/02

The latest news on Trumps crime family and their contacts with GRU – Russian Military intelligence

Former Trump campaign aide was in contact with a person who the FBI believed had ties to Russian intelligence during the run-up to the 2016 election, according to new court documents filed Wednesday by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The contact, identified in court documents as “Person A,” and Gates were “directly communicating” in September and October prior to the election, prosecutors asserted in court documents.

Gates has since pleaded guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI and has promised to assist Mueller’s continuing probe into Russia’s interference in the election.

The contacts were disclosed in court documents filed in a related case involving the sentencing of a Dutch attorney who pleaded guilty last month to lying to the FBI about his work for Gates and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Prosecutors claim that the attorney, Alex Van Der Zwaan, knew about the person’s ties to Russian intelligence.

Outstanding question: Was Manafort working directly for the Russian Government on assignment to the Trump campaign?

“Gates told him ‘Person A’ was a former Russian intelligence officer with the GRU (the intelligence arm of the Russian military),” the court documents state.

Pardon talk for crime family members

 

The New York Times reported that President Trump’s former lead attorney, John Dowd, last summer engaged in discussions about possible pardons for Manafort and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn as Mueller’s prosecutors were building criminal cases against the two.

Manafort was indicted along with Gates on conspiracy and money laundering charges in Washington, D.C. He faces related bank fraud charges in an Alexandria, Va., federal court. Both cases were brought by Mueller’s prosecutors and Manafort has pleaded not guilty.

Flynn, meanwhile, pleaded guilty in December to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the weeks before Trump took office. And he is also cooperating with Mueller’s continuing investigation.

Dowd, who resigned as Trump’s lead attorney last week, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said pardons had not been discussed, referring to deputy White House counsel Ty Cobb’s statement: “I have only been asked about pardons by the press.”

Jay Sekulow, the president’s current lead attorney, said he did not take part in any such discussions.

“Never during the course of my representation of the president have I had any discussions of pardons of any individuals involved in this inquiry,” Sekulow said in a statement.

Rob Kelner, Flynn’s attorney, declined comment Wednesday. Reginald Brown, who represented Manafort last summer, was traveling Wednesday and not immediately available for comment.

Last July, when initial reports surfaced that the president and advisers were exploring Trump’s authority to grant pardons, Dowd flatly denied the account then reported by the Washington Post.

At the time, the report indicated that president and advisers were specifically researching Trump’s authority to pardon members of his family, and possibly himself, related to the Russia inquiry.

original story from –  https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/03/28/robert-mueller-trump-campaign-deputy-rick-gates-contacted-russian-intelligence-source

Dumbass award this week (and it seems like every week) goes to……..

What an idiot

Trump complains that no one read the massive spending bill when clearly he hadn’t either

“Donny dealmaker” the subject of the book the “Art of the Deal” seems to have no clue how to make any deal.

Trump did not sound happy last week when he signed a bipartisan omnibus spending package into law, and the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reports that he now hates the bill even more than before based on bogus information he’s received from Fox News.

“Per two senior administration officials, Trump continued to rail privately about the omnibus bill, and has become convinced of things that aren’t true about it,” Haberman reports. “Trump has been watching Fox, which had Coulter on Jeanine Pirro slamming Trump over the wall funding. That type of thing — as well as his conviction it includes Planned Parenthood funding — are animating him.”

Maggie Haberman ✔@maggieNYT

Per two senior administration officials, Trump continued to rail privately about the omnibus bill and has become convinced of things that aren’t true about it.

Maggie Haberman✔@maggieNYT

 Trump has been watching Fox, which had Coulter on Jeanine Pirro slamming Trump over the wall funding. That type of thing – as well as his conviction it includes Planned Parenthood funding – are animating him.

During the bill signing on Friday, Trump complained that no one had supposedly read the massive, 2,000-plus page spending bill that had passed both houses of Congress. Many conservatives, including the ones normally most loyal to him, bashed him for grudgingly signing it during appearances on Fox News over the weekend.

from raw story