Category: Russian interference
The co-founder of the firm that paid for the creation of the infamous ‘Trump dossier’ said Friday that he would not be fulfilling a request to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and would be asserting his fifth amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.
Glenn Simpson’s lawyer released a statement Friday saying that the co-founder of Fusion GPS is on vacation and won’t be able to attend the hearing being held next week.
Simpson also protested that “partisan agendas” had resulted in the expansion of the investigation, saying through his lawyer that they were “profoundly disturbed.”
According to Reuters, the letter asked that Simpson be excused from appearing before the committee since, according to Simpson, the charge that he failed to register as a foreign agent was false.
But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa.) instead slapped him with a subpoena Friday. Simpson responded by saying he would invoke his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination.
“FUSION GPS head Glenn Simpson won’t testify before Senate Judiciary next week, his rep attacks ‘partisan’ hearing and vows to plead Fifth,” reported CNN’s Manu Raju.
FUSION GPS head Glenn Simpson won’t testify before Senate Judiciary next week, his rep attacks “partisan” hearing and vows to plead Fifth
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 21, 2017
“This hearing’s purported focus on FARA [the Foreign Agents Registration Act] is pretext for an exploration of Fusion GPS’ reported work, on behalf of other clients, to investigate the ties of Donald J. Trump, his campaign and their associates to Russia,” the letter from Simpson’s lawyer said.
The “Trump dossier” was central to claims made by U.S. intelligence agencies that the Russian government had damaging information on the president that could be used against him. Buzzfeed was later excoriated for their lack of journalistic standards when they published the dossier. U.S. intelligence agencies, however, said that while some aspects of the document were dubious, other claims had been corroborated through their investigation.
Former Trump campaign official Carter Page has referred to the document as the “dodgy dossier,” in apparent reference to it’s dubious source and questionable claims.
Posted in Chuck Grassley, Donald Trump, Fusion GPS, Politics, President Donald Trump, Russian interference, Russian investigation, Trump, Trump Dossier
According to a Washington Post report published Friday evening, U.S. officials are in possession of intercepts that included a Russian ambassador saying that he spoke with Jeff Sessions before the election about then-candidate Trump’s campaign policies.
The intercepts were reportedly gained by U.S. intelligence agencies who monitor Russian officials’ interactions communications in the United States and abroad.
One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he has no recollection of an April encounter — has provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.” A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.
Sessions’ meetings with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were the cause of his infamous recusal from the investigations into Russian election meddling and alleged campaign collusion. Although he later said he never discussed any campaign policies in the meeting, he neglected to mention it to a confirmation committee.
The intercept of Kislyak’s alleged comments would contradict his statement and seriously damage the reputation of the attorney general at a time when his place in the administration is already being questioned.
On Wednesday President Trump publicly scolded Sessions for his past decision to recuse himself. He appeared to be upset that the recusal, in his mind, led to the naming of Special Counsel Robert Mueller over the Russian investigations.
Sarah Isgur Flores, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, said they would decline to comment on the story. “Obviously I cannot comment on the reliability of what anonymous sources describe in a wholly uncorroborated intelligence intercept that the Washington Post has not seen and that has not been provided to me,” she said, adding that Sessions did not discuss election interference in the meeting.
Some Trump critics questioned whether the story was planted by the administration itself in order to provide a reason and cover for forcing Jeff Sessions out. “Sessions story is suspicious,” tweeted former White House Ethics Lawyer Richard Painter. “Trump wants him fired for not recusing on Russia. Sonebody [sic] leaked intel to get him fired.”
“Irresistible question,” asked MSNBC host Joy Reid, “could Trump team have leaked the [K]islyak intercepts to push Sessions out after he failed to resign yesterday?” She referred to a report that White House officials were shocked that Sessions hadn’t resigned after being berated by Trump in public.
Posted in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, Politics, Russian interference, Russian investigation, Trump
Tucker Carlson implored of President Trump that he stop attacking his own attorney general after an interview with the New York Times quoted the president absolutely berating Jeff Sessions for recusing himself. He made the comments on his show on Fox News Thursday.
“Well its been overshadowed by news of war heroes and retired tailbacks, but the president has been in the news today too, as he often is,” Carlson began.
“Last night he went after his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, saying he was angry that Sessions had recused himself from the Russia investigation,” he added. “If he had to do it over again the president said, he would have hired somebody else to be the AG.”
“Stinging words, but this morning, Sessions seemed to brush them off,” he explained, and played clips of Sessions batting away the criticism from the president.
“We love this job, we love this department,” Sessions said, “and I plan to continue to do so, as long as that is appropriate.”
“I’m totally confident that we can continue to run this office in an effective way,” Sessions told the media.
“Now take a step back and you can kinda see how this all happened,” Carlson said. “The president is a 71-year-old political novice, and all of a sudden he’s the subject of a vague, open-ended investigation, whose goal may be to imprison him or his family.”
“Ask anyone who’s had an independent counsel on his case, and there are a lot of them here in Washington, what that’s like – it’s terrifying,” he added. “The pressure is soul-distorting. You can wind up lashing out at the people around you, even maybe especially, the ones trying to help you the most.”
“So that’s probably what’s going on,” he explained. “And yet attacking Jeff Sessions was still a useless, self-destructive act.”
“The first rule in politics, as in war, as in life, don’t shoot the friendlies,” Carlson advised.
“Sessions is the closest ally Trump has in this administration,” he added. “One of the very few who even understands why the president won in the first place.”
.@TuckerCarlson: “The first rule in politics – as in war, as in life – don’t shoot the friendlies. Sessions is the closest ally Trump has.” pic.twitter.com/ONM8ooKsgr
— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 21, 2017
“Unlike most political appointees,” Carlson continued, “Sessions made big sacrifices to work in this administration. A year ago he was one of the most popular people in the state of Alabama.”
“Many on his staff didn’t want him to endorse Donald Trump but he did anyway,” Carlson said, “purely because he felt it was important. Sessions was worried about an unsecured border and what mass immigration would do to America, even though the biggest effects from those wouldn’t be seen until decades after he was long gone from this Earth.”
“He’s likely the most effective member of the Trump cabinet,” Carlson continued. “In return, the president attacked him in the failing New York Times.”
“That’s not just criticism, it’s an insult,” he said. “It’s also a worrisome sign that the president may be forgetting who is on his side. Goldman Sachs did not elect Donald Trump – America’s middle class did.”
“For God’s sakes, lay off Jeff Sessions,” he implored of Trump, “he is your friend, one of the very few you have in Washington.”
Donald Trump criticized Sessions while speaking to the New York Times for recusing himself in the Russian investigations into collusion and meddling in the U.S. election. The president seemed to think that it was the recusal that lead to the naming of Special Counsel Mueller.
Posted in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump, Politics, Robert Mueller, Russian interference, Russian investigation, Trump, Tucker Carlson
Right-wing firebrand Ann Coulter indicated that she thought President Trump was wrong to blame Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the naming of Special Counsel Mueller in the investigations into Russian election meddling and alleged collusion with the Trump campaign.
“Who’s going to tell Trump?” she tweeted Thursday. “It wasn’t Sessions’ recusal that led to Special Counsel; It was Trump’s own boasting to Lester Holt 2 [months] later.”
Who’s going to tell Trump? It wasn’t Sessions’ recusal that led to Special Counsel; It was Trump’s own boasting to Lester Holt 2 mos later.
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) July 20, 2017
Coulter was referring to the astounding public criticism that Trump made of his own attorney general in an interview with the New York Times Wednesday.
“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” he said to the New York Times.
“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president,” he added.
“How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair,” he continued,” and that’s a mild word — to the president.”
But Coulter points out that the naming of Mueller as special counsel came after Trump himself admitted to Lester Hold in an interview in May that he fired FBI Director James Comey over his handling of the Russian investigation.
“But are you angry with Mr. Comey because of his Russia investigation?” Holt asked the president.
“I just want somebody that’s competent,” Trump replied. “I am a big fan of the FBI. I love the FBI. I love the people of the FBI.”
“But were you a fan of him taking up the investigation?” Holt pressed.
“Look, look, let me tell you,” Trump said, “as far as I’m concerned I want that thing to be absolutely done properly. When I did this now, I said, I probably maybe will confuse people, maybe I’ll expand that, y’know I’ll lengthen the time. Because it should be over with, in my opinion it should have been over a long time ago. Because all it is, is an excuse. But I said to myself, I might even lengthen out the investigation.”
Special Counsel Mueller expanded his investigation into Russian meddling and collusion into the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump campaign officials with Russians in the run-up to the 2016 election. Some Trump allies, like Fox News’ Sean Hannity, have called for an investigation into Mueller’s supposed conflicts of interest, which he says includes a friendship with former FBI Director James Comey.
Posted in Ann Coulter, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Politics, Robert Mueller, Russian interference, Russian investigation
President Trump publicly bad-mouthed his Attorney General to the New York Times Wednesday, saying that had he known he was going to recuse himself that the president would have chosen a different person.
Trump appeared angry as he openly discussed the decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the investigations into Russian meddling in the U.S. election, and alleged collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” he told the New York Times.
“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president,” he continued.
“How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair,” he concluded,” and that’s a mild word — to the president.”
The outburst appeared to corroborate a report in June that the president was still angry over Sessions’ recusal.
Trump/Sessions rift is real. I’m told Sessions even offered to resign. Asked about that, his spokesperson declined to comment
— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) June 6, 2017
That report from ABC News’ Jon Karl added that Sessions only notified the president that he intended to recuse himself minutes before making the announcement. According to Karl, Trump was subsequently so angry that Sessions’ offered to resign over the matter, as the president was constantly bringing up his actions.
Later when Karl asked White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer if Trump had confidence in the attorney general, he had a vague response.
Wow — @PressSec cannot say whether the president has confidence in his Attorney General.
— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) June 6, 2017
“I said I have not had a discussion with him on the question. I don’t, if I haven’t had a discussion with him about a subject, I tend not to speak about it,” Spicer eventually answered when pressed.
Sessions recused himself in March from the investigations into Russian election interference and alleged collusion after it was discovered that he neglected to mention a meeting with a Russian ambassador during a confirmation hearing.
Sessions later said that he had not included the meeting because he attended under his office as a U.S. senator, and not as a member of the Trump transition team.
Posted in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, Politics, President Donald Trump, Russian interference, Russian investigation, Trump, Vladimir Putin
The Senate Judiciary Committee said Wednesday that Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort will be testifying for their investigation into Russian meddling and alleged collusion. They indicated that the public testimony would take place the following Wednesday.
The president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who also attended the meeting, is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee Monday, two days before Trump Jr. and Manafort’s testimony.
Trump Jr. has been at the center of a political firestorm around a June 2016 meeting days after his father, then-candidate Trump, clinched the Republican nomination. In a series of stories by the New York Times, it was revealed that Trump Jr. attended the meeting in hopes of obtaining damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
Later he released emails about the meeting showing that he was told the information would be a part of the Russian government’s effort to help Trump win the election.
“This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” wrote a publicist organizing the meeting in an email to Trump.
“If it what’s you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. replied. Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer said these were the “fatal words” that provided evidence of campaign officials seeking to collude with the Russian government.
Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer that met with Trump Jr., told RT News that she was ready and eager to testify before Congress as well.
“If the Senate wants to hear the real, true story, I, with great readiness, will tell them everything I wanted to tell Mr. Trump (Jr.) and what I wanted to say in Congress last year,” she said.
“Absolutely everything I know about in what ways huge millions of money came into my country, Russia, and returned as billions.” she added, “And there were no taxes paid.”
The president has recently been batting down more accusations about meetings with Russians. It was reported that after a formal dinner at the G20 economic summit, President Trump sought out Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin and had a brief, “nearly hour long” meeting with him. Trump called the reporting of the meeting “sick” and “dishonest.”
Posted in Donald Trump Jr., Politics, Russian interference, Russian investigation, Trump Jr Russia, Trump Jr. emails, Trump Jr. meeting with Russians
President Trump took to his Twitter account Tuesday to slam the account being reported by mainstream media that there was a previously undisclosed second meeting between the president and Russian Federation President Vladimir Trump.
“Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is “sick.” All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany,” the president tweeted. “Press knew!”
Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is “sick.” All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2017
He added in a second tweet, “The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!”
CNN reported that a White House official confirmed the meeting, saying it was nearly an hour-long meeting and came after a dinner hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 economic summit on July 7.
They also indicated that there was only a Russian translator present, a fact which raised eyebrows among critics of the president.
A statement from the White House defended the meeting, saying it was not outside of common practice. “It is not merely perfectly normal, it is part of a president’s duties, to interact with world leaders,” the statement read.
The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2017
The president’s agenda has faced some stumbling blocks as Democrats and other Trump critics have accused his campaign officials of colluding with the Russian government before the election.
Prior to the New York Times reporting that Donald Trump Jr. and other officials met with Russians while seeking to obtain damaging information on Hillary Clinton, there was no real evidence of a willingness to collude with foreign governments.
Posted in Donald Trump, Politics, President Donald Trump, Russian interference, Russian investigation, Trump, Trump Putin G20, Vladimir Putin, Vladimir Putin Trump G20
Shepard Smith blew up at the Trump administration during his show when another revelation about the Russian meeting in June 2016 broke into the headlines, apparently contradicting Donald Trump Jr.’s that the whole story was out. He made the comments Friday on Fox News while speaking with Chris Wallace.
“The emails, well in fact, this was supposed to be,” Wallace said, “and what the Trump folks took the meeting to accomplish was the Russian government trying to give information about Hillary Clinton as part of an effort to swing the election to Donald Trump. So, you know you’re exactly right, we’ve been told a variety of stories. We’ve gotten – and who knows if we’ve even gotten to the end of the story, we’ve only got to the end of the story with the emails.”
“I know that we haven’t,” Smith said, “I know that we haven’t because there’s news breaking at this moment, Chris.”
“Fox News can now confirm,” Smith said dramatically turning to the camera. “New, more, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, the lawyer from Russia, the interpreter, this new guy we found about today, and a mystery person. John Roberts confirms there was an eighth person in that meeting.”
“We don’t know there may have been more but there was an eighth,” he added.
“Jared Kushner filled out his form, I think it’s an F-86,” Smith explained, “saying who he had met with and what he’d done. Very important stuff, you can go to prison for messing it up, y’know, intentionally.”
“He went back and added one hundred names and places,” he continued. “None of these people made it. They – we’re still not clean on this, Chris, if there’s nothing there, and that’s what they tell us, they tell us there’s nothing to this, nothing came of it, there’s a nothing-burger, it wasn’t memorable, didn’t write it down, didn’t tell ya about it because it wasn’t anything so I didn’t even remember it!”
“With a Russian interpreter in the room at Trump Tower,” he added sarcastically.
“If all of that, why all these lies?” Smith demanded. “Why is it lie after lie after lie? If you’re clean, come on clean! Y’know?”
“My grandmother used to say, ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,’” he said, paraphrasing a Shakespeare verse.
“The deception, Chris, is mind-boggling!” He exclaimed. “And there are still people out there who believe we’re making it up. And one day they’re gonna realize we’re not, and look around and go, where are we and why are we getting told all these lies.”
“You know, I don’t know what to say,” Wallace responded, almost speechless. I think there’s a lot of truth to everything that you’ve said.”
On Friday it was discovered that the meeting in June 2016 with Trump Jr. and other Trump associates with a Russian lawyer also included a Russian-born lobbyist who is said to have had counter-intelligence experience in Russia, and two unidentified persons. Critics have taken this to show that Trump Jr. had not being completely upfront about all the details of the controversial meeting.
President Trump said that he was proud of the transparency of his son for divulging the emails about the meeting.
Posted in Chris Wallace, Donald Trump Jr., Fox News, Politics, Russian interference, Russian investigation, Shepard Smith, Trump Jr Russia, Trump Jr. emails
In yet another surprise development in the ongoing saga over a meeting with a Russian lawyer in June during the election, it appears as if there at least eight persons present that has not been identified yet.
A report Friday afternoon revealed two more people attended than were known previously.
This is in addition to the revelation Friday morning that in attendance was also a lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, who emigrated to the U.S. from Russia. He previously served as a Soviet counter-intelligence officer served in the Soviet military and was accused of hacking into the files of a Russian mining company in 2015. He denied those allegations in court.
This means that the meeting was attended by at least eight people: Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, publicist Rob Goldstone, lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, a representative for the Agalarov family, and a translator.
This doesn’t contradict what Donald Trump Jr. said about the meeting, but adds more elements that he seems to have omitted, even as he says he was being completely transparent about the controversial event.
Trump Jr. and his allies say that the meeting was so unimportant that he simply didn’t think it was worth mentioning after it was completed. “It was such a nothing, I literally wouldn’t have remembered it,” he told Sean Hannity on Fox News Tuesday.
He claimed that that nothing came of the meeting, no information was exchanged, and that the story was completely out.
“This is everything,” Trump Jr. said, “this is everything.”
People in June 6, 2016 Trump Tower meeting. https://t.co/i9s177eYb7 pic.twitter.com/lT0V70Qqzk
— Fox News (@FoxNews) July 14, 2017
Critics of the president have used the previously-undisclosed meeting as evidence of the theory that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to tilt the election to President Trump and away from Hillary Clinton.
Others like conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer called the meeting unethical and problematic for the Trump administration, even if it was not strictly illegal.
Posted in Donald Trump Jr., Politics, Russian interference, Russian investigation, Sean Hannity Trump Jr, Trump Jr Russia, Trump Jr. emails
Natalia Veselnitskaya is at the center of the political firestorm around the meeting in 2016 that Democrats are claiming as proof of collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. The Russian lawyer was characterized as an agent of the Russian government’s effort to defeat Hillary, though she denies the connection.
Now questions are arising about how she was in the country in the first place to get that meeting.
According to a report from the Daily Beast, Veselnitskaya didn’t appear to have visa authorization to enter the country when she did in 2016.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York said that Veselnitskaya had been granted an “immigration parole” in 2015, but it expired in early 2016 and wasn’t renewed.
The State Department would not confirm or deny whether Veselnitskaya applied again for a visa in 2016, let alone if a visa was granted. A spokesperson told The Daily Beast the State Department could not comment due to privacy considerations. Veselnitskaya also did not respond to requests for comment.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Grassley (R-Iowa) is demanding answers from the State Department on the issue. In a letter sent to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he wrote, “It is unclear how [Veselnitskaya] was still in the country for that meeting despite being denied a visa beforehand and her parole purportedly expiring on January 7, 2016.”
“This raises serious questions about whether the Obama administration authorized her to remain in the country, and if so, why?” he asked.
Some have speculated that the Obama administration had something to do with allowing her in the country, fueling a conspiracy theory that the entire meeting was orchestrated to set up Donald Trump Jr.
Posted in Donald Trump Jr., Politics, Russian interference, Russian investigation, Trump Jr Russia, Trump Jr. emails
Fox News’ Shepard Smith registered his astonishment with how some people are defending what appears to be meddling by the Russians in our elections. He made the comments on his show Wednesday.
“The [New York] Times reports that the president’s son was told the paper is going to print these things,” he explained, “we’re going to print the emails. And he tweeted copies of the emails instead of replying to requests for content.”
“This was not being transparent,” Smith claimed, “this was the New York Times is gonna publish this, I’m gonna publish it instead.”
“Then there’s the president’s claim that the Russia investigation is a ‘witch hunt.’ Fox News can confirm it is not,” he said. “Current and former U.S. officials say there is absolutely no doubt that Russia interfered in our election, put its thumbs on the scales of Democracy.”
“And that Vladimir Putin ordered the thumbs!” he exclaimed. “And all the meddling, lots if different kinds of meddling!”
“Attempting to change our Democracy from Moscow!” he continued. “And some people seem to think it’s OK.”
“It’s astounding!” he concluded.
Smith was referring to the recent reports from the New York Times detailing a meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner with a Russian lawyer just after then-candidate Trump won the Republican nomination. Trump Jr. revealed emails that showed he was receptive to receiving damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government.
Shep Smith: “it’s astounding” that anyone is trying to argue Russian meddling in American elections isn’t a massive deal pic.twitter.com/Cu5ofjEEYZ
— Leanne Naramore (@LeanneNaramore) July 12, 2017
Posted in Donald Trump Jr., Politics, Russian interference, Russian investigation, Shepard Smith, Trump Jr Russia, Trump Jr. emails
Sean Hannity interviewed Donald Trump Jr. during the political firestorm over his recently revealed meeting with a Russian lawyer in search of damaging information on Hillary Clinton before the election. Trump Jr. implied that he regretted his actions.
Hannity appeared on Martha MacCallum’s show to preview his exclusive Tuesday.
“In retrospect, I probably would have done things a little differently,” he told Hannity.
“Again, and this is before the Russian mania,” he continued, “this is before they were building it up in the press.”
“For me this was opposition research,” Trump Jr. said, “they had something maybe concrete evidence to all the stories I’d been hearing about but they were probably underreported for years, not just during the campaign.”
“So I think I wanted to hear it out,” he explained, “but really it went no where and it was apparent that wasn’t what the meeting was actually about.”
Hannity blamed the media for exaggerating the scandal, saying that America is in the biggest “informational crisis” in its history.
Hannity told MacCallum that he actually ran out of questions for the son of the president during their meeting as a way of showing how unimportant the story was.
Trump Jr. released the emails he received from a publicist about the controversial meeting before the New York Times could report that he believed he would obtain damaging information on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. Tuesday it was reported that Special Counsel Mueller would expand his investigation into the meeting and the emails Trump Jr. revealed.
Posted in Politics, Russian interference, Russian investigation, Sean Hannity, Trump Jr Russia, Trump Jr. emails
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said that he was disturbed by the details in the emails disclosed by Donald Trump Jr., and not so much about what actually happened at the meeting. He made the comments to Martha MacCallum on Fox News Tuesday.
“So in terms of this Donald Trump Jr. story that’s out there today, are you troubled by any of it,” asked MacCallum.
“Yeah I’m troubled on three levels,” Gowdy replied. “Number one, the legal level, but I think that’s Bob Mueller’s lane. The political level, Martha, here we are beginning another week, this one in July with a new revelation about Russia.”
“And the third, which is more of a medical issue,” he joked, “is the amnesia of the people that are in the Trump orbit.”
“Someone close to the president needs to get everyone connected with that campaign in a room and say from the time you saw Doctor Zhivago until the moment you drank vodka with a guy named Boris,” he exclaimed, “you list every single one of those and we’re gonna turn them over to the special counsel.”
“Because this drip drip drip is undermining the credibility of this administration,” he concluded.
“Well, you may be right about that,” MacCallum answered. “In terms of the Magnitsky Act, which is basically is a U.S. act that went through Congress, that limits friends of Vladimir Putin, close associates, from things they like to do, like travelling to the United States, travelling throughout other areas in the world, because it’s a slap on the wrist for human rights violations.”
“Selective, in terms of who it impacts,” she explained, “it also, so their punishment, the Russian government’s punishment was to say we’re gonna end all these adoptions that are happening to the United States, and a few other things that they did.”
“Are you concerned that there was an effort to influence this campaign with regard to changing that,” she asked, “or to find a sympathetic ear on that?”
“I’m not nearly as concerned with that,” Gowdy responded, “I’m much more concerned with the purported reason of the meeting as opposed to the real reason. The purported reason was for an agent of a foreign power to try to influence our election. That concerns me more than someone trying to sit down with a member of perhaps an incoming administation to lobby for a policy change.”
“I’m much more concerned with the words of the actual email than the real reason she wanted to meet,” he said.
“Which words in the email disturb you?” MacCallum asked.
“Russian governments’ efforts to help the Trump campaign, official documents,” he answered.
The bombshell stories in the New York Times led to Donald Trump Jr. disclosing emails he had received that indicated he could obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government before the election.
Posted in Donald Trump Jr., Politics, Russian interference, Trey Gowdy, Trump Jr Russia, Trump Jr. emails
Critics of President Trump and his administration spread an anonymously sourced New York Times report Monday that claimed Donald Trump Jr. was told the damaging information he was seeking on Hillary Clinton was from the Russian government.
MSNBC host Chris L. Hayes responded to the story, “This is smoking gun evidence of collusion, right?”
This is smoking gun evidence of collusion, right? https://t.co/KraYNekLyb
— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) July 11, 2017
“Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton,” the New York Times report read, “Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.”
The email was from publicist Rob Goldstone, according to the report, and made it clear that the information would be from an effort from the Russian government to aid Trump’s campaign to defeat Hillary Clinton.
However, the New York Times admits in their report that the email does not refer to the hacking of the DNC, which many believe was orchestrated by covert Russian government agents.
“There is no evidence to suggest that the promised damaging information was related to Russian government computer hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails,” it read.
In response to the first New York Times report published Saturday, Trump Jr. released a statement saying that they had spoken about adoption during the meeting. Then later, he admitted in a longer statement that he had gone to the meeting in hopes of receiving damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
“I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign,” Trump Jr. said. “I was not told her name prior to the meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to attend, but told them nothing of the substance.”
‘We had a meeting in June 2016,” he continued. “After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered.”
“It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information,” he continued. “She then changed subjects and began discussing the adoption of Russian children and mentioned the Magnitsky Act. It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting.”
Trump Jr. said Monday that he would be willing to be questioned about the matter by the Senate Intelligence Committee after Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) called for the committee to interview him.
Happy to work with the committee to pass on what I know. https://t.co/tL47NOoteM
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 10, 2017
Posted in Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., New York Times, Politics, Russian collusion, Russian interference, The New York Times, Trump
Former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly said there didn’t seem to be much to the story detailing a meeting between a Russian lawyer and members of the Trump campaign before the election, but said that Trump Jr. should have revealed the meeting sooner.
“So the story is that Donald Trump Jr. and his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort who for a short
time managed the trump campaign,” O’Reilly explained in a video at his website, “met with a Russian attorney who knows people in the Kremlin shortly after the Indiana primary, which pretty much sewed everything up for Trump as the Republican nominee.”
“Now the story is interesting,” he added. “It’s interesting, is it any more than that? No, not at this point.”
“But if you look at CNN and MSNBC,” he said, mocking the liberal channels, “Oh Russian collusion! All of that. OK fine.”
“You knew they were gonna do it,” he continued, apparently addressing Donald Trump Jr. “You knew the reason the New York Times dropped it when Trump came back was thinking of another news cycle here, they could resume the Russian collusion narrative. That’s what’s in play. Keep it going, keep it alive.”
“Now, I don’t know what happened,” O’Reilly added. “Trump Jr. says he met with the woman because she had, she said she had some kind of dirt on Hillary Clinton. And so they met with her, and she didn’t have anything and they talked Russian adoption for 20 minutes, and everybody split.”
“OK, did that happen?” he asked rhetorically. “Is that true? I have no blankin’ idea. That’s what Trump Jr. says.”
“He shoulda said it three months ago!” he loudly exclaimed. “You know, get it all out! Any Russian restaurant. Any Russian movie. Anything! Get it out!!”
The New York Times story exposing the meeting was published Sunday, with some Trump critics responding by accusing Trump Jr. of committing treason. Trump Jr. has since hired additional legal counsel to defend himself, and denied all the accusations, saying he was merely looking into opposition research, something many campaigns do.
Obviously I’m the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent… went nowhere but had to listen. https://t.co/ccUjL1KDEa
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 10, 2017
The meeting was revealed when Kushner revised his declarations on a form to obtain security clearance. He had previously not disclosed the meeting with the Russian lawyer, in addition to other meetings he added in the revision.
Posted in Bill O'Reilly, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Politics, Russia Collusion, Russian interference, Russian investigation
Three journalists at CNN resigned Monday over a story that the network says was improperly vetted and should not have been published.
The story claimed that Trump transition team member Anthony Scaramucci had met with a chief executive from a Russian investment bank a few days before Trump’s inauguration. It further said that Congressional officials were investigating whether Scaramucci spoke to Dmitriev, the bank official, about possibly relieving U.S. sanctions on the Russian Federation.
But by Friday the story was scrubbed by CNN’s website. A note left in its place online explained that the story didn’t meet CNN’s journalistic standards.
“On June 22, 2017, CNN.com published a story connecting Anthony Scaramucci with investigations into the Russian Direct Investment Fund,” the note read. “That story did not meet CNN’s editorial standards and has been retracted. Links to the story have been disabled. CNN apologizes to Mr. Scaramucci.”
CNN announced on Monday that three journalists responsible for the story had resigned.
The story only cited one source, and CNN said it had not been published with their normal editorial processes.
CNN’s Brian Stelter lauded the reputations of the men who resigned.
[Thomas] Frank worked for USA Today and Newsday for three decades, pursuing investigations and covering the Iraq war as an embedded reporter, before coming to work at CNN.
He was part of an ambitious new investigative unit that was created last winter, bringing together existing teams from within the company and new hires like [Eric] Lichtblau.
A veteran of The New York Times who won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2006, Lichtblau joined CNN just three months ago.
[Lex] Haris, who was named the executive editor of CNN Investigates in January, was previously the executive editor of CNNMoney.
Scaramucci had accepted their apology on Saturday, saying, “CNN did the right thing. Classy move. Apology accepted.”
.@CNN did the right thing. Classy move. Apology accepted. Everyone makes mistakes. Moving on. https://t.co/lyVajCKNHx
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) June 24, 2017
“Fake news” has been a contentious issue since the election, as Democrats have blamed the ubiquity of false stories for driving down Hillary Clinton’s favorability, while President Trump and his allies now decry the many leaks from the “deep state” that undermine his agenda.
Posted in Brian Stelter, CNN, Journalism, Media Bias, Politics, Russia, Russian interference, Russian investigation
A former senior Obama official reportedly told the Washington Post that the previous administration did know that Russia was meddling in the election, but they “sort of choked” in response. The Post published the report Friday.
“It is the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend,” the official said. “I feel like we sort of choked.”
The report says that the Obama administration knew that Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin himself had ordered the alleged cyberattacks in order to trip up Democrat Hillary Clinton and aid Republican Donald Trump.
CIA Director John Brennan first notified the president, and their assessment was verified by the other intelligence agencies in the subsequent weeks.
The Post says former President Obama considered many different retaliatory measures against Putin, even to the point of releasing damaging information gathered by the CIA to embarrass Putin, and imposing sanctions to derail the Russian economy.
But in the end, he ordered very modest measures against the Russian Federation.
In December the government shut down known Russian spy compounds on American soil and imposed light sanctions targeted against specific Russian government officials and operatives. The Post reported in May that the Trump administration was considering returning the compounds to the Russian government.
Obama had also told the press in December that he had personally told Putin to “cut it out” on the meddling in the election.
“What I was concerned about in particular was making sure [the DNC hack] wasn’t compounded by potential hacking that could hamper vote counting, affect the actual election process itself,” the president said at a press conference. “So in early September when I saw president Putin in China, I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that didn’t happen was to talk to him directly and tell him to cut it out and there were going to be serious consequences if he didn’t. And in fact we did not see further tampering of the election process.”
Obama’s former deputy national security adviser, Tony Blinken, acknowledged that warning from Obama to Putin, saying that they believed they deterred him from further meddling, but that the “damage was done.”
“We made massive efforts so they couldn’t do that,” Blinken said to CNN’s Kate Bolduan. “This led to two things: President Obama issued a very stark warning to President Putin in September at the G-20 conference in China. What we saw, or thought we saw, after that, it looked like the Russians stopped their efforts. But the damage was already done.”
Posted in Obama, Politics, President Barack Obama, Russia, Russia investigation, Russian Hackers, Russian interference, Vladimir Putin
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) angrily decried the leaks that came from a closed briefing of the House Intelligence Committee with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. He made the comments to Erin Burnett on CNN Thursday.
“What I found out, Erin,” Gowdy said, “is that about eight hours ago Adam Schiff and I look at Dan Coates in the eye and we assured him that there would be no selective leaking of his testimony to us.”
“And I’ll be damned if eight hours later,” he said angrily, “there aren’t three different leaks with what he told us.”
“So if anyone is questioning why congressional investigations aren’t taken seriously and are viewed as political exercises,” he continued, “you need look no further than the fact that we looked one of our intelligence officials in the eyes and promised him there would be no selective leaking, and here I am being asked about it not even eight hours later.”
“So congressman, who leaked it?” Burnett asked. “Was it Coates, was it Schiff? Was there anyone else in the room than the three of you?”
“I can tell you who it was not,” he responded. “Oh no. There were eight people in the room. I can tell you who it was not. It was not me, and I do not believe it was Adam Schiff. He’s a former federal prosecutor who knows that leaks undercut the efficacy and integrity of investigations.”
“I can’t tell you who it was,” he concluded, “but I can tell you this – you’re going to have a chilling effect on other witnesses who want to share classified, sensitive information when it makes its way to the headlines before the transcripts even dry!”
One of the major leaks out of the briefing came to CNN from congressional sources who said that DNI Coats testified that the president asked him to publicly refute accusations of collusion with the Russians. Another leaked report said simply that Coats thought Trump was obsessed with the Russian probe.
Trump has consistently denied the allegations of Russian collusion in public and on his Twitter account.
Posted in House Intelligence Committee, Politics, Russian interference, Trey Gowdy
Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager John Podesta is scheduled to go before Congress and testify about his role in the alleged meddling in the U.S. election by the Russian government, it was reported Thursday.
The House Intelligence Committee will hear his testimony as they continue their investigation into the alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign before the election.
Podesta was a central figure in the election more for his emails that were leaked to WikiLeaks than he was for his managing of Hillary’s campaign. The thousands of emails were an embarrassment to the Hillary Clinton campaign, as her top aides’ candid thoughts were used as fodder to slam the candidate.
The email leak came as a result from Podesta’s misunderstanding with a campaign official who told him to reset his password after receiving a “phishing” email scam. The leak was also the source of the “PizzaGate” conspiracy theory that claimed Podesta and Clinton were a part of a secret Washington D.C. pedophilia ring.
Podesta himself implied during an interview in February that there was a conspiracy among members in the FBI to bring down Clinton in the election.
“There are at least forces within the FBI that wanted her to lose,” he told Bloomberg Politics editor John Heilemann “I’m not sure they really understood the alternative, but they wanted her to lose. I think that’s one possibility.”
He also blamed former FBI Director James Comey for the loss of election as a result of the announcement he made a week before voting day that they were reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
“[Comey] made a bad judgment, and I think virtually anybody who has opined on the topic … have said it was a terrible mistake of judgment,” he told Heilemann. “And I think it did terrible damage to us. If you look at the polling at that period time, that’s when the race began to tighten in that week.”
Posted in 2016 election, FBI Director James Comey, Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, Politics, Russia, Russian interference, Russian investigation
Retired U.S. Navy Officer and MSNBC terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance made a pretty serious charge against President Trump’s senior aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner, depending on whether a report from the Washington Post was true or not. He made the accusations Friday on MSNBC to Chis L. Hayes.
“You also said that you thought under the Espionage Act,” Hayes asked, referring to the previous panelist saying it sounded like Kushner committed a felony, “what do you mean by that, Malcolm?”
“Right now there’s just take it from the perspective of every intelligence watch officer in the world who is watching the program right now,” he responded. “There are thousands of people who are out there who are on duty who are watching this, who have top secret SCI, special access program clearance, knowing that in one instance, even a fraction of this, would lose their clearances, will have to ask themselves the question they would have to ask in any counter-intelligence environment and that is simply this: Why?”
“What is the motiviational device that Jared Kushner,” he said forcefully, “should this story be true, because we don’t know if it’s entirely true. We don’t even know what the source of this was. The Russians themselves could have leaked this story to create chaos.”
“But why would he want to hide, covert,” he continued, “his communications from the U.S. government, believing that he would want to be able to use a facility, obviously that would have more secure communications to create a back channel that U.S. cryptologic collection couldn’t get.”
“That right there along is covert communications,” Nance said.
“That is indicative of espionage activity of an American citizen that is working in league with a hostile government,” he concluded. “And right now there is no FBI counterintelligence officer in the world right now that does not believe that if this story is true.”
.@MalcolmNance: If the Kushner story is true, it’s “indicative of espionage activity” #inners https://t.co/BWFybFRcqs
— All In w/Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) May 27, 2017
The Washington Post reported Friday that Kushner floated the idea of beginning a back channel of communications between the Trump transition team and the Russian government in order to escape monitoring by U.S. authorities. Their anonymous sources indicated that he made this offer to Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak when they met at Trump Tower in December.
Nance supplemented his comments on MSNBC with a few tweets on this account:
1.Did I sound a little panicked on @chrislhayes over Kushner-Rubsecret comms report. I am. What did he intend to pass? The PDB? Nuke codes?
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) May 27, 2017
2. If that meeting happened-content aside-Kushner & all who work for him need clearances pulled now! Is this a real Cardinal of the Kremlin?
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) May 27, 2017
Nance has been a vehement critic of the Trump administration, and at one point cracked a crude joke that his Trump Towers in Istanbul would be his nominee for the first ISIS suicide bombing. Nance, a combat veteran, was also very critical of Trump’s supporters attacking the father of a fallen Muslim soldier during the presidential election.
The White House has declined to comment on the story.
Posted in Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, Politics, Russian interference, Russian investigation, Sergey Kislyak, Trump
In yet another report based on anonymous sources, the Washington Post reported Friday that Jared Kushner, President Trump’s top aide and son-in-law, was attempting to secure a secret channel of communication between the Russian government and the Trump transition team.
Exclusive: Russian ambassador told Moscow that Jared Kushner wanted secret communications channel with the Kremlin https://t.co/kp7Z9eZwux
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) May 26, 2017
Trump and his supporters have long criticized reports based on anonymous sources as either completely made up by reporters, or illegal leaks from the “deep state” of government employees actively working against the president and his agenda.
According to the report, U.S. officials intercepted communications of Russian operatives discussing Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak telling superiors that Kushner asked him about the possibility of such a secret communications channel during a meeting in December at Trump Tower.
Michael Flynn was also in attendance at the meeting, according to WaPo. Officials made it clear that it was communications of the Russians that were being monitored and not that of Jared Kushner or other Trump associates directly at Trump Tower. That would have confirmed the accusation from Trump that Trump Towers was surveilled by former President Obama.
The report says Kushner wanted the back channel to avoid monitoring of their communications, and that Kislyak was “taken back” by the suggestion that included the possibility of arranging a meeting in a third country.
The Washington Posts’ Adam Entous acknowledged the possibility that Kislyak was inserting false information, or exaggerating, in order to manipulate and complicate reporting in the West.
Per @washingtonpost, @jaredkushner proposed a secret channel for comms. w Russia. @adamentous, on his reporting https://t.co/ZrgE0idihS
— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) May 27, 2017
He related that the Washington Post had received a letter detailing the meeting on December 12th, but didn’t publish it because they were uneasy about the source. He tells CNN that they ran with the story after hearing the same details from U.S. officials.
Kushner is currently under investigation by the FBI for his role in alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government before the election.
[Ed. Note: This post has been edited to clarify that the WaPo report is about a meeting before the inauguration, not the election.]
Posted in Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, Politics, President Donald Trump, Russia, Russian interference, Russian investigation, Trump, Washington Post