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

Donny has so lowered our expectations that he is given effusive credit if he ever performs a routine function even adequately.

Albert Hunt: The Age of Trump Is ‘Defining Deviancy Down’

When the president seems inept or corrupt, we shrug. If he ever fumbles through adequately, he is praised.

Pat Moynihan, the great politician-intellectual, warned about the dangers of “defining deviancy down,” in which worse and

Albert Hunt

worse behavior comes to be accepted as the norm.

The late New York senator’s essay, almost a quarter century ago, was about crime and family structure. Today it applies to the Trump presidency: the danger that chronic lying, ignorance of history and policy, petty invective, racial demagoguery and personal greed fall within the realm of the norm.

If President Donald Trump gives a speech that is reasonably coherent or takes a sensible action, suddenly even some critics treat it as a momentous occurrence. But wait a moment. That’s actually what presidents are supposed to do.

When he commits one of his especially egregious acts, the news media world too often fall into one flawed approach or another. Either they downshift into partisan mode — in which those who constantly attack him continue to do so, and those who critique his critics continue their barrage — or they pursue a misbegotten mission for “balance.”

The sudden firing of the FBI director, James Comey, last week gave us a perfect example. The move was shocking because Comey was leading the investigation into whether any Trump operatives colluded with the Kremlin to affect the American presidential election.

Virtually everything the White House said for two days was untrue: that the action had nothing to do with the Russian probe; that the president fired Comey only because of the recommendation of the attorney general, who supposedly was recusing himself from the matter, and the deputy attorney general; that the president was shocked at “atrocities” Comey committed in an earlier investigation of Hillary Clinton; and that morale was terrible at the FBI. It isn’t clear whether White House aides, and Vice President Mike Pence, lied or whether they were lied to by the president.

It gets worse. Roger Stone, a longtime dirty trickster who has been close to Trump starting three decades ago courtesy of the nefarious Roy Cohn, boasted that he advised the president to fire Comey. Stone, who last year predicted it “soon will be (John) Podesta’s time in the barrel” seven weeks before the Russian-spawned leak of the Clinton chairman’s emails, is a prime suspect in the investigation.

There is one clear truth: Trump fired Comey to stifle the Russia investigation. One reason the bureau considers it a “significant investigation” is a pattern of Trump associates caught in lies about their Russian connections: foreign policy adviser Carter Page, the administration’s initial national security adviser Michael Flynn and the attorney general Jeff Sessions.

Duplicity is the norm for Trump. As a candidate he repeatedly lied. As president he has persistently peddled fiction like the crazed charge that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower and baseless claims of widespread illegal voting.

But it is not the president alone who is defining deviancy down. It’s also how people react to his actions.

When Trump fired missiles at a Syrian airbase, the usually sensible Fareed Zakaria declared “He became President of the United States” with that action. To be president is to have a coherent policy and to pursue it. Can this administration articulate a policy on Syria or North Korea or Russia?

Clear thinking from leading voices in business, economics, politics, foreign affairs, culture, and more.

After Trump’s first address to Congress, the liberal commentator Van Jones gushed over his honoring the widow of a Navy Seal, calling it “one of the most extraordinary moments” in American politics. It was a nice touch, but not as memorable Ronald Reagan honoring the doomed Challenger space crew, or George W. Bush with a bullhorn at Ground Zero after 9/11 or Barack Obama singing “Amazing Grace” at a Charleston church after a white supremacist killed nine African-Americans at a Bible study.

(Actually one of the few memorable lines that evening was Trump’s call that “the time for trivial fights is over.” What a thought. In a tweet a few days ago, the president of the United States renewed his bickering with Rosie O’Donnell.)

This president has so lowered our expectations that he is given effusive credit if he ever performs a routine function even adequately.

James M. Perry, a great Wall Street Journal political reporter, used to worry about any would-be president who didn’t know much about history. Trump keeps demonstrating that he knows almost no history. On ethics, he and his family seems to view 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as a no-risk hedge fund to enrich themselves.

Imagine what Pat Moynihan would say.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-05-14/the-age-of-trump-is-defining-deviancy-down

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.

 

 

 

 

 

The nefarious plan to kill affordable health care without even having a vote in Congress

Trump reportedly plans to sabotage Obamacare by cutting off low-income subsidies

The move would make it harder for millions of people to buy health coverage.

Donald Trump has frequently suggested that Obamacare is “collapsing” and predicted that statewide marketplaces will soon cease to function. But if the health care law doesn’t fall off a cliff on its own, he appears more than willing to give it a push.

On Friday —amid a storm of Russia-related leaks and news of the president’s imminent departure for Saudi Arabia — Politico reported that Trump has quietly decided to end approximately $7 billion annually in cost-sharing subsidies for low-income people who purchase their health care on the Obamacare exchanges. Each year, these payments help reduce the co-payments and deductibles of approximately 7 million low-income people who get their insurance on the marketplaces.

Ending these payments wouldn’t just hurt those 7 million people. Without those subsidies to keep their lower deductible plans afloat, some insurance companies would likely exit the Obamacare marketplaces — or hike their premiums to compensate for the shortfall. The result could be a devastating ripple effect through the entire private marketplace system.

Trump has threatened to kill off the cost-sharing subsidies before, but seemed to back down after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Democrats would be willing to shut down the government if continued payments weren’t guaranteed.

On Friday, eight concerned parties — including the American Medical Association, BlueCross BlueShield, the Federation of American Hospitals, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — sent a joint letter to the Senate leadership of both parties, urging them to pass legislation that would ensure the cost-sharing payments continue.

“The individual market is their only option for getting coverage. Unless CSRs [cost sharing reductions] are funded, a tremendous number of Americans will simply go without coverage and move to the ranks of the uninsured,” they wrote. “This threatens not just their own health and financial stability, but also the economic stability of their communities.”
https://thinkprogress.org/trump-plans-to-sabotage-obamacare-de692395121e

 

Trump reportedly wants to kill critical Obamacare subsidies, despite warnings health insurance premiums would spike: CNBC

President Donald Trump now reportedly wants to pull the plug on a big pot of Obamacare money — which could send insurance prices soaring for millions of Americans.

Trump told advisers Tuesday he wants to stop reimbursing health insurers for important Obamacare subsidies, which could spark political blowback for him and other Republicans as premiums rise, Politico.com reported.

A White House official told CNBC on Friday, “The White House has told Congress that it will make” payments to the insurers for May, “but has not made any commitment on further payments.”

“No final decisions have been made at this time, and all options are on the table,” the official said.

Insurers are obligated by the Affordable Care Act to grant the subsidies, known as cost-sharing reductions, to eligible customers.

Politico posted the story before a group including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the American Medical Association sent the Senate a letter urging Congress to take action to guarantee a steady stream of cost-sharing reduction funding through 2018.

“Such action would represent a strong, positive step for all consumers who buy their own insurance by eliminating the single most destabilizing factor causing double-digit premium increases for 2018,” the letter said.

The subsidies reduce the out-of-pocket charges — such as co-payments, deductibles, and coinsurance — that people have to pay when they receive health treatment, prescription medication and other medical services.

The federal government, in turn, is supposed to reimburse insurers for their cost — estimated at $7 billion this year.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has challenged the legality of the federal reimbursements in court, claiming the Obama administration was paying insurers without congressional appropriation.

A federal judge agreed with the House but stayed her ruling as the Obama administration appealed.

On Thursday, 16 Democratic state attorneys general sought to intervene in the appeal, with the goal of keeping the funding for insurers in place. Their filings said Trump is using decisions that could affect health insurance for millions of people “as little more than political bargaining chips,” according to their court filing.

On Monday, the Trump administration is scheduled to tell the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia how, or if, it will resolve the House’s lawsuit. However, as Politico noted, the administration and the House could ask Monday for the case to be put on hold for 90 days.

A staunch critic of Obamacare, Trump could order an end to the payments even as that appeal, now being handled by his administration, remains pending. But until this week it was not clear that he actually wanted to do so.

Politico reported that “many senior administration officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, are leery of ending the payments, however, because it could immediately unravel the Obamacare insurance markets and strongly discourage insurers from participating next year.”

Health analysts say insurers would be forced to hike their premium prices for individual health plans sharply to make up for the lost federal funding, while still being required to offer reduced out-of-pocket costs for lower-income customers.

In a letter Wednesday to Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and The Center for Insurance Policy and Research said that “the one concern” that insurers “consistently raise as they consider whether to participate” in Obamacare markets in 2018 is uncertainty over the subsidies.

And even if they do participate, insurers have told state regulators “the uncertainty of this funding could add a 15-20% load to” premium rates “or even more.”

The letter, a version of which was also sent to leaders in the Senate, urged “the Administration to continue full funding for the cost-sharing reduction payments for 2017 and make a commitment that such payments will continue, unless the law is changed.”

Andy Slavitt, who oversaw Obamacare for the Obama administration, told CNBC, “The insurance commissioners know, politics aside, ordinary Americans are going to be hurt by these policies.”

“The Trump Administration can only try to break the ACA and [flout] the law for so long before everyone begins to squeal,” said Slavitt, who had been acting administrator for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

People whose household incomes are less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for the subsidies, which are different from the financial aid most Obamacare customers receive to lower their monthly premiums. To get the cost-sharing reductions, eligible customers must sign up for a so-called silver plan on government-run Obamacare exchanges.

Silver plans cover 70 percent of their customers’ health expenses, with customers being responsible for the balance out-of-pocket, if they are not eligible for cost-sharing assistance.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported that a top Trump administration health official, Seema Verma, in April, suggested that insurers could receive the cost-sharing reduction funds from the government if insurers backed Trump’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Verma, who is administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “stunned insurance industry officials by suggesting a bargain: The administration would fund the CSRs if insurers supported the House Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act,” the LA Times reported.

The Times quoted CMS spokeswoman Jane Norris, after being asked about that claim, as denying Verma made any such quid pro quo suggestion.

“What she said at the … meeting in April was that no decisions had been made about CSRs,” Norris said.

On Friday, Norris told CNBC in an emailed statement, “The LA Times story is completely false. The assertion that Administrator Verma offered to fund the CSR in exchange for support for legislation is preposterous.”

Noam Levey, the Times reporter for that article, said, “I appreciate CMS’ comments, which we were happy to include in the article when they were provided. Others that we spoke to in the course of extensively researching the article had a different sense of that meeting. We felt it was important to report that.”

Homeless numbers down 43% (wtf?) and more locally spun “alternative facts”

In 2015 we posted a number of stories about the attempts to down play the seriousness of the homeless crisis in Eureka. Particularly, we tried to emphasize “who benefits from the systematic under count of homeless/houseless”.
Check out what we said back then and read today’s story in the Times-Standard and other sources we included.
Despite what you can see with your own eyes, you’re supposed to believe that homelessness is dramatically down in Humboldt?
Shake your head laughable!

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/who-benefits-from-the-systematic-under-count-of-the-houseless/

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/eureka-declares-victory-over-homelessness/

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/housing-plan-will-never-amount-to-more-than-a-piss-into-the-ocean/

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/crime-the-homeless-and-the-andrew-mills-conundrum/

 

Times-Standard story: Homeless survey scrutinized

County, organizations state lack of volunteers, housing efforts led to lower count

Humboldt County has seen a large reduction in its homeless population, according to preliminary data released this week, with county officials attributing the drop to collaborative rehousing efforts, but also a reduction in volunteers who participated in the survey.

“We know this isn’t a scientifically accurate count of every homeless person in the county. It’s never been intended to be,” Humboldt County Housing Coalition co-Chairwoman and county Department of Health and Human Services Senior Program Manager Sally Hewitt said Friday. “It gives us a brief picture of a point in time with what is going on in our homeless population.”

This year’s Point-in-Time survey counted 668 homeless individuals on Feb. 28 compared to the 1,180 in the last count in 2015 and the 864 in 2013. The survey is conducted on a single day every two years and is a requirement to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Hewitt said part of the reduction is due to 217 chronically homeless individuals having found permanent housing since Eureka and the county began implementing a Housing First approach to homelessness in early 2016 with the help of local landlords. Hewitt said the preliminary data also showed the number of homeless families have continued to decline as they had in the previous three counts.

However, this year’s count did not include any of the homeless population in the Garberville area after a group of regular survey volunteers refused to participate based on concerns that the funding was not helping the southern Humboldt County homeless population.

Debra Carey, vice president of Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives, or AHHA, said she had been one of the volunteers who coordinated the Garberville-area county for several years. But this year, Carey said she felt that the county lacked the necessary preparation. She said she and many of the homeless individuals she had spoken to had become disgruntled that the government funding that these counts were supposed to generate were not reaching their community.

“What is this count all about if it’s not about getting the numbers to get the funds to assist this group of people?” Carey said.

Hewitt said the Department of Housing and Urban Development requires counties to deliver their counts in order to access funding available through Continuums of Care, like the county’s housing coalition. The coalition formed in 2004 and is composed of local government agencies and other entities that seek to reduce homelessness.

The amount of federal funding a community receives is not determined by the number of homeless individuals counted, but rather by “an extremely complicated process” involving reviewing data of available jobs and population sizes, according to Hewitt. However, Hewitt said the Point-in-Time count can be used by organizations to try and leverage funding from the state.

As to why southern Humboldt County communities are not receiving the federal funding, Hewitt said that the funding is only available for ongoing programs such as Redwood Community Action Agency, Arcata House Partnership, the county and Humboldt Bay Housing. The majority of the federal funding must be used for subsidizing rent and only a small portion can be used for administrative costs, which Hewitt said can be a limiting factor for small grassroots organizations.

“If there was a group in some of the outlying areas that had the infrastructure to handle the amount of funding, it would be wonderful for them to apply,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt said that county volunteers did attempt to survey Garberville homeless residents, but said that none were willing to be surveyed.

AHHA President Nezzie Wade did participate in this year’s count in Eureka, but said she did so not in her capacity with her organization. Like Carey, Wade said she felt that the federal funds were only being used to help a small number of people in the homeless communities. She and Carey also expressed concerns about the size of the survey and the lack of planning by the coalition for this year’s count, which is why AHHA did not associate itself with it.

“The month before it was supposed to happen, they started talking about it,” Wade said of the count. “… We talked about it and said this is not an organized effort. This is not something we would not want to subscribe to.” Hewitt said that AHHA’s concerns were valid, but that they did not tell the full story.

She said they had been planning this count a year earlier and were planning to use a new approach. Rather than having every homeless individual take surveys in order to be counted, Hewitt said they were planning on doing a head count and then scientifically selecting a sample of the homeless population to take the survey. They would then apply that data to entire homeless population. The coalition was proceeding with this plan until the last two months of 2016 when the Housing and Urban Development Department told them that they could not use that method, Hewitt said.

The department gave them the options of doing the count as they had in years past or doing an observation count. The latter option would take place from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. in January and would involve volunteers counting homeless individuals as they sleep.

“Well, in a city where they tend to sleep out in the open, it’s relatively easy to count people,” Hewitt said. “If you’re talking about going into the woods in Humboldt County in the dark and wandering around with a flashlight and trying to get homeless people awake enough to see how many there are in their tent or having to open their tent flaps to count them, it just got more and more ridiculous.”

After back and forth disputes, Hewitt said the coalition decided in January to perform the count as they had done since 2009.

“We were scrambling and we were looking for every volunteer we could,” Hewitt said. “I’m glad some of [the AHHA members] decided to participate because we count on them.”

Hewitt said more than 100 volunteers participated, with about 80 acting as surveyors.

Wade also stated that police enforcement on homeless individuals may have led to reduced numbers in this year’s report. Wade said she had contacted many of the homeless individuals living along Broadway in Eureka and nearby cross streets to let them know about the count. But Wade said these streets were near empty by the time they surveyed the area on Feb. 28, and said that many of the homeless were told by police that they could not stay there for the next three days.

“That was quite a coincidence,” Wade said.

Eureka Police Department Public Information Officer Brittany Powell said that Chief Andrew Mills had heard from the county that there was a rumor that a law enforcement agency — but not the EPD — had cleared out the homeless individuals.(sounds like a Mills tactic to the Examiner)

“We have not heard anything more about this and there is nothing to substantiate the allegation,” Powell wrote in an email to the Times-Standard. “EPD and the (Mobile Intervention & Services Team) assisted in the Point-in-Time count prior to the actual count by providing training, resources, and identifying locations to check.”

http://www.times-standard.com/general-news/20170519/humboldt-county-homeless-survey-scrutinized

more local spin:

https://www.northcoastjournal.com/NewsBlog/archives/2017/05/19/no-homeless-people-in-southern-humboldt

http://kiem-tv.com/video/annual-homeless-count-decreases

https://lostcoastoutpost.com/2017/may/18/humboldts-homeless-numbers-down-43-percent-two-yea/

 

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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Dutch TV documentary links Traitor Trump to criminal racketeering

There is a Dutch TV documentary alleges that Donald Trump has extensive connections to Russia’s ruling oligarchs and a history of illegal racketeering.

No wonder why he won’t release his taxes or financial information

“Donald Trump’s business partners have included Russian oligarchs and convicted mobsters, which could make the president guilty of criminal racketeering charges,” wrote Steven Rosenfeld at AlterNet on Friday.

He continued, “That’s only one of the eyebrow-raising takeaways from a 45-minute Dutch documentary that first aired last week, ‘The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump, Part 1: The Russians.’”

The 45-minute documentary was produced by Zembla TV (an investigative series from the VARA Broadcasting Association, is a Dutch public broadcasting association that operates within the framework of the Netherlands Public Broadcasting system) They examine Trump’s alleged relationship with Russian mobster Felix Sater — which Trump reportedly took pains to hide from regulators.

It also looks at Trump’s arrangements with wealthy Russians that apparently allow them to move their money outside Russia and details the elaborate financial networks these families use as a “pyramid scheme for money laundering,” Rosenfeld said. “The financial trail exposed raises questions about whether Trump fired FBI Director James Comey because the FBI’s investigation of his campaign’s collusion with Russia was encroaching into Trump’s world of dark money and dubious business partners.”

Zembla promoted the documentary by saying, “For months, the FBI have been investigating Russian interference in the American presidential elections. ZEMBLA is investigating another explosive dossier concerning Trump’s involvement with the Russians: Trump’s business and personal ties to oligarchs from the former Soviet Union. Powerful billionaires suspected of money laundering and fraud, and of having contacts in Moscow and with the mafia. What do these relationships say about Trump and why does he deny them? How compromising are these dubious business relationships for the 45th president of the United States? And are there connections with the Netherlands? ZEMBLA meets with one of Trump’s controversial cronies and speaks with a former CIA agent, fraud investigators, attorneys, and an American senator among others.”

Zembla has also released Part Two of the series, “The King of Diamonds,” which explores Trump’s relationship with Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, who is suspected of trading in blood diamonds.

Watch the English language version of “The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump,” embedded below: