Posts Tagged ‘Adam Schiff’

Senate Judiciary Committee withdraws subpoena for Manafort — Removes Donald Trump Jr. from the list of witnesses scheduled for Wednesday’s public hearing

July 26, 2017

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman will not be testifying Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, as originally scheduled, after the committee rescinded its subpoena.

The committee withdrew its subpoena for Paul Manafort late Tuesday after Manafort agreed to turn over documents and to continue negotiating about setting up an interview with the panel, according to Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Judiciary Committee chairman. The committee also removed Donald Trump Jr. from the list of witnesses scheduled for Wednesday’s public hearing.

The panel has sought to talk with Manafort about a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting in New York with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, among other issues including his foreign political work on behalf of Ukrainian interests.

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Paul Manafort

On Tuesday Manafort met with Senate Intelligence Committee staff, providing his recollection of the Veselnitskaya meeting and agreeing to turn over contemporaneous notes of the gathering last year, according to people familiar with the closed-door interview. Manafort “answered their questions fully,” said his spokesman, Jason Maloni.

Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner was also on Capitol Hill Tuesday for a second day of private meetings, this time for a conversation with lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee.

Both Manafort and Kushner have been cooperating with the committees which, along with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, are probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with Trump associates.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner at an event with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington on June 22.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner at an event with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington on June 22.PHOTO: EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The two men have faced particular scrutiny about attending the Trump Tower meeting because it was flatly described in emails to Donald Trump Jr. as being part of a Russian government effort to aid Trump’s presidential campaign.

Manafort’s discussion with committee staff was limited to his recollection of the June 2016 meeting, according to two people familiar with the interview. Both demanded anonymity to discuss details because the interview occurred behind closed doors. Manafort had previously disclosed the meeting in documents he turned over to the committee. He has now provided the committee with notes he took at the time, one of the people said.

The other person said Manafort has also said he will participate in additional interviews with the Senate Intelligence Committee staff on other topics if necessary. Those meetings haven’t yet been scheduled.

Kushner spent about three hours behind closed doors Tuesday with the House intelligence panel. Republican Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, who is leading the committee’s Russia probe, said he found Kushner to be “straightforward, forthcoming, wanted to answer every question we had.” He said Kushner was willing to follow up with the committee if it has additional questions.

The committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, said the questions touched on “a range of issues the committee had been concerned about.”

“We appreciate his voluntary willingness to come and testify today,” Schiff added.

On Monday, Kushner answered questions from staff on the Senate’s Intelligence Committee, acknowledging four meetings with Russians during and after Trump’s victorious White House bid and insisting he had “nothing to hide.”

Emails released this month show that Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, accepted a June 2016 meeting with Veselnitskaya with the understanding that he would receive damaging information on Democrat Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help Trump’s campaign. But, in his statement for the two intelligence committees, Kushner said he hadn’t read those emails until being recently shown them by his lawyers.

Kushner’s statement was the first detailed defense from a campaign insider responding to the controversy that has all but consumed the first six months of Trump’s presidency.

Kushner called the meeting with Veselnitskaya such a “waste of time” that he asked his assistant to call him out of the gathering.

“No part of the meeting I attended included anything about the campaign; there was no follow-up to the meeting that I am aware of; I do not recall how many people were there (or their names), and I have no knowledge of any documents being offered or accepted,” he said.

Kushner on Monday confirmed earlier media reports that he had suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities to set up secure communications between Trump adviser Michael Flynn, who would become national security adviser, and Russian officials. But he disputed that it was an effort to establish a “secret back channel.”

His statement describes a December meeting with Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in which Kushner and Kislyak discussed establishing a secure line for the Trump transition team and Moscow to communicate about policy in Syria.

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Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak
Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak PHOTO: CAROLYN KASTER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Republicans Blast Trump Idea for Cyber Security Unit With Russia — “It’s not the dumbest idea I have ever heard but it’s pretty close.”

July 9, 2017

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WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he and Russia’s president had discussed forming a cyber security unit, an idea harshly criticized by Republicans who said Moscow could not be trusted after its alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

Tweeting after his first meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Friday, Trump said now was the time to work constructively with Moscow, pointing to a ceasefire deal in southwest Syria that came into effect on Sunday.

“Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded and safe,” he said following their talks at a summit of the Group of 20 nations in Hamburg, Germany.

Republican Senators Lindsey Graham, an influential South Carolina Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Marco Rubio of Florida, who opposed Trump for their party’s presidential nomination, blasted the idea.

“It’s not the dumbest idea I have ever heard but it’s pretty close,” Graham told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program, saying that Trump’s apparent willingness to “forgive and forget” stiffened his resolve to pass legislation imposing sanctions on Russia.

Rubio, on Twitter, said: “While reality & pragmatism requires that we engage Vladimir Putin, he will never be a trusted ally or a reliable constructive partner.

“Partnering with Putin on a ‘Cyber Security Unit’ is akin to partnering with (Syrian President Bashar al) Assad on a ‘Chemical Weapons Unit’,” he added.

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President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit at the G20 Summit, Friday, July 7, 2017, in Hamburg. (AP Photo by Evan Vucci)

Trump argued for rapprochement with Moscow in his campaign but has been unable to deliver because his administration has been dogged by investigations into the allegations of Russian interference in the election and ties with his campaign.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the matter, including whether there may have been any collusion on the part of Trump campaign officials, as are congressional committees including both the House and Senate intelligence panels.

Those probes are focused almost exclusively on Moscow’s actions, lawmakers and intelligence officials say, and no evidence has surfaced publicly implicating other countries despite Trump’s suggestion that others could have been involved.

Moscow has denied any interference, and Trump says his campaign did not collude with Russia.

“I don’t think we can expect the Russians to be any kind of a credible partner in some kind of cyber security unit,”

Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN’s “State of the Union” program.

“If that’s our best election defense. We might as well just mail our ballot boxes to Moscow,” Schiff added.

Separately, U.S. government officials said that a recent hack into business systems of U.S. nuclear power and other energy companies was carried out by Russian government hackers, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

The post said government officials and U.S. industry officials confirmed this was the first time Russian hackers were known to have breached U.S. nuclear power company networks.

Trump said he had raised allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election with Putin.

“I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion…..”

He added: “We negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria which will save lives. Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!”

The United States, Russia and Jordan reached a ceasefire and “de-escalation agreement” for southwestern Syria on Friday, as Trump’s administration made its first attempt at peacemaking in the country’s six-year-old civil war.

The ceasefire was holding hours after it took effect on Sunday, a monitor and two rebel officials said.

(Writing by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by James Dalgleish)

All eyes on Trump and Putin’s first face-to-face meeting at G20

July 7, 2017

AFP and Reuters

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© Kirill Kudryavtsev, AFP | Picture shows traditional Russian wooden nesting dolls depicting US President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin at a gift shop in Moscow in July 2017

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-07-07

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are set to size each other up in person for the first time on Friday in what promises to be the most highly-anticipated meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

Trump has said he wants to find ways to work with Putin, a goal made more difficult by sharp differences over Russia’s actions in Syria and Ukraine, and allegations Moscow meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

That means every facial expression and physical gesture will be analyzed as much as any words the two leaders utter as the world tries to read how well Trump, a real estate magnate and former reality television star, gets along with Putin, a former spy.

The fear is that the Republican president, a political novice whose team is still developing its Russia policy, will be less prepared than Putin, who has dealt with the past two U.S. presidents and scores of other world leaders.

“There’s nothing … the Kremlin would like to see more than a (U.S.) president who will settle for a grip and a grin and walk away saying that he had this fabulous meeting with the Kremlin autocrat,” Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee, said in an interview on MSNBC.

As investigations at home continue into whether there was any collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia the U.S. president has come under pressure to take a hard line against the Kremlin.

Moscow has denied any interference and Trump says his campaign did not collude with Russia.

On Thursday, Trump won praise from at least one Republican hawk in the U.S. Congress after his speech in Warsaw in which he urged Russia to stop its “destabilizing activities” and end its support for Syria and Iran.

‘NOT MUCH TO AGREE ON’

“This is a great start to an important week of American foreign policy,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who has often been critical of Trump on security issues.

But earlier in the day, Trump declined to say definitively whether he believed U.S. intelligence officials who have said that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

“I think it was Russia but I think it was probably other people and/or countries, and I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows. Nobody really knows for sure,” Trump said at a news conference, before slamming Democratic former President Barack Obama for not doing more to stop hacking.

Senators’ concerns

Ahead of Trump’s meeting with Putin, three U.S. senators wrote to Trump to express “deep concern” about reports that his administration planned to discuss the return to Russia of diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York that were seized by the Obama administration last year in response to alleged Russian election meddling.

Republican Senators Johnny Isakson and Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen said returning the facilities would “embolden” Putin and encourage further efforts by Russia to interfere in Western elections. All three are on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The White House declined to offer details on what Trump would request of Putin and what he might offer in exchange for cooperation.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump wanted to talk about how the two countries can work together to stabilize war-ravaged Syria.

“The United States is prepared to explore the possibility of establishing with Russia joint mechanisms for ensuring stability, including no-fly zones, on-the-ground ceasefire observers, and coordinated delivery of humanitarian assistance,” Tillerson said before leaving the United States to join Trump in Germany.

Trump was also grappling with a response to North Korea’s successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which analysts say had a long enough range to reach Alaska.

Tillerson—has known Putin since the 90s—will join Trump-Putin meeting

Comey was fired within a month of Tillerson’s last huddle with Putin

Curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions has been Trump’s most pressing foreign policy priority, and he met with leaders from Japan and South Korea on Thursday evening to discuss it. He is also slated to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20.

“I’d like to see the president figure out how to engage Russia on North Korea,” said Representative Francis Rooney, a Republican from Florida who is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“What I suggested to the president here a while back was that since we have all these conflicting issues about Russia right now and we’re still reeling from the fact that they took Crimea, maybe this is an opportunity to reset the Russia relationship in a positive manner,” Rooney said in an interview.

(REUTERS)

 

Trump Denies Obstructing FBI Probe, Says Has No Tapes of Talks With Comey

June 23, 2017

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he had not obstructed the FBI’s probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and had not recorded his conversations with former FBI chief James Comey.

Comey was leading the investigation into allegations Russia tried to sway the election towards Trump and the possibility Trump associates colluded with Moscow when the president fired him on May 9, sparking a political firestorm.

“Look there has been no obstruction, there has been no collusion,” Trump told Fox News Channel in an interview set to air on Friday. Fox released a partial transcript of the interview on Thursday.

The former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation testified before a Senate committee that Trump had asked him to drop a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s alleged ties to Russia.

Earlier on Thursday, Trump said he did not make and does not possess any tapes of his conversations with Comey, after suggesting last month he might have recordings that could undercut Comey’s description of events.

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Then FBI Director James Comey, March 20, 2017

“I have no idea whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Lawmakers investigating allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election had asked the White House for any such recordings.

Shortly after dismissing Comey, Trump mentioned the possibility of tapes in a Twitter post.

“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Trump tweeted on May 12.

Allegations of ties to Russia have cast a shadow over Trump’s first five months in office, distracting from attempts by his fellow Republicans in Congress to overhaul the U.S. healthcare and tax systems.

Trump has privately told aides that the threat of the existence of tapes forced Comey to tell the truth in his recent testimony, a source familiar with the situation said.

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said Trump still had questions to answer about possible tapes.

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Adam Schiff

“If the president had no tapes, why did he suggest otherwise? Did he seek to mislead the public? Was he trying to intimidate or silence James Comey? And if so, did he take other steps to discourage potential witnesses from speaking out?” Schiff said in a statement.

CNN reported on Thursday that two top U.S. intelligence officials told investigators Trump suggested they publicly deny any collusion between his campaign and Russia, but that they did not feel he had ordered them to do so.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Admiral Mike Rogers met separately last week with investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to CNN.

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Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats

The two officials said they were surprised at Trump’s suggestion and found their interactions with him odd and uncomfortable, but they did not act on the president’s requests, CNN reported, citing sources familiar with their accounts.

Reuters was unable to verify the CNN report.

In his interview with Fox, Trump expressed concern about what he described as the close relationship between Comey and Mueller, who was appointed to take over the investigation after Comey was fired.

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Then FBI Director Robert Mueller in a 2013 file photo by
J. Scott Applewhite AP

“Well he’s very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome,” Trump said, according to the Fox transcript.

The Kremlin has denied U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Moscow tried to tilt the election in Trump’s favor, using such means as hacking into the emails of senior Democrats.

Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion.

(Additional reporting by Tim Ahmann, Steve Holland, Patricia Zengerle and Susan Heavey; Writing by Alistair Bell and Tim Ahmann; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Peter Cooney and Paul Tait)

Mueller’s Expanding Probe Raises Stakes for Trump Presidency

June 16, 2017

By Chris Strohm and Steven T. Dennis
Bloomberg

June 14, 2017, 8:36 PM EDT June 15, 2017, 8:55 PM EDT
  • Trump decries ‘witch hunt’ led by ‘bad and conflicted people’
  • Senate Intelligence panel hosts DNI Coats behind closed doors
Mueller’s Expanded Probe Eyes Trump on Flynn

Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, 2013.

Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, 2013. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s move to investigate whether Donald Trump sought to get the FBI to back off from a probe of his former national security adviser has angered the president and raised the stakes in the inquiry of Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

“They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice,” Trump said on Twitter Thursday morning. He decried a “witch hunt” that he said is being “led by some very bad and conflicted people!”

Although White House officials tried earlier this week to tamp down speculation that Trump might try to fire Mueller, the escalating conflict led members of Congress of both parties to warn Trump Thursday against the temptation to do so.

“It would be a catastrophic mistake, but he doesn’t have the authority to do it,” Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine told reporters. She noted that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, told senators this week that only he could dismiss the special counsel.

‘Confidence’ in Mueller

Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who met with the special counsel a day earlier, said, “I have a lot of confidence in Mueller.”

Rosenstein named Mueller as special counsel last month to lead the inquiry into Russia’s meddling in last year’s U.S. presidential campaign and whether anyone close to Trump colluded in that effort. Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last month, citing the Russia investigation as the reason.

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Former FBI Director James Comey

Tensions escalated with Mueller’s latest moves. He is planning to interview two top U.S. intelligence officials about whether Trump sought their help to get the FBI to back off a related probe of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, according to three people familiar with the inquiry.

That suggests Mueller is examining the president’s own conduct, which may include whether Trump tried to obstruct justice.

The Washington Post late Thursday reported that Mueller also is looking into the finances and business dealings of Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner as part of the Russian investigation. The paper cited unidentified officials familiar with the matter.

“We do not know what this report refers to,” Kushner’s lawyer Jamie Gorelick said in a statement provided by Kushner’s office. “It would be standard practice for the Special Counsel to examine financial records to look for anything related to Russia. Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about Russia-related matters. He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry.”

Trump has hired one of his longtime lawyers, Marc Kasowitz, to represent him in the multiple inquiries. Vice President Mike Pence, who has mostly been on the sidelines of the investigations, has hired his own outside legal counsel, veteran Washington lawyer Richard Cullen, his spokesman said Thursday.

Mueller wants to interview Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers, according to the people, who asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Separately, Coats testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed session Thursday that lasted for three-and-a-half hours.

Burr said they discussed questions that Coats told lawmakers he couldn’t answer in public last week at a hearing, as well as the budget for intelligence for the next fiscal year.

“We worked through all of that,” Burr told reporters.

Avoiding Conflicts

The special counsel is also set to meet with a leading Republican and the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee as Mueller and lawmakers seek to avoid conflicts over their parallel investigations.

“We’ll be meeting with him in the next few days. It will be a closed hearing,” Adam Schiff of California, the panel’s top Democrat, told reporters.

A spokesman for Trump’s outside lawyer reacted angrily to the reports of an expanding probe by Mueller, accusing the Federal Bureau of Investigation of breaking the law by disclosing the information.

“The FBI leak of information regarding the President is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal,” Mark Corallo, the spokesman for Trump’s legal team, said in an email on Wednesday.

Corallo didn’t elaborate on why he singled out the FBI as the source of information. Mueller’s decision to talk with the two officials was reported earlier by the Washington Post.

“Current and former leaders in the intelligence community have repeatedly said there’s been no effort to impede the investigation in any way,” Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, said in a statement. “The continued illegal leaks are the only crime here.”

Refusing to Say

At a hearing last week of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Coats and Rogers refused to say whether they were asked by Trump to help impede an FBI investigation and suggested any response in a closed hearing would require consultations with White House lawyers on whether executive privilege should be invoked.

“To the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate,” Rogers said at the hearing, without answering whether he was asked — but not directed — to back off.

Mueller’s plans emerged just a week after Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Trump pressed him in February to ease up on an investigation into Flynn. Flynn was forced to resign for misleading administration officials about his contacts with Russia’s U.S. ambassador.

Comey also said Trump repeatedly sought assurances that he wasn’t a target of the Russia investigation. Comey said he told the president on three occasions that he wasn’t personally under investigation.

But Comey suggested he expected Mueller would look into whether Trump’s efforts to intervene in the FBI inquiry amounted to obstruction of justice.

Read more: Why ‘Obstruction of Justice’ Is Echoing in D.C.

Trump’s spokesman said when he dismissed Comey on May 9 that the reason was the former FBI chief’s handling of the investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. He cited the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from the Russia inquiry, and his deputy Rosenstein.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions

But days later, Trump said in an NBC interview that he had decided to fire Comey before getting their input and he was thinking of “this Russia thing” when he did it.

“Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it,” Trump told Lester Holt of NBC News in an interview broadcast May 11. “And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”

Comey told senators on June 8 that Trump’s shifting explanations for dismissing him were “lies, plain and simple.” Trump and the White House disputed Comey’s description of the events.

Mueller has been building a team of investigators for a wide-ranging inquiry into Russia’s meddling.

Includes videos:

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-06-15/mueller-said-to-examine-whether-trump-sought-to-slow-flynn-probe

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Putin ‘ready to provide recording’ of Lavrov-Trump exchange — But he’s not helping the U.S. with North Korea, Increases trade

May 17, 2017

AFP

© POOL/AFP / by Yuri KADOBNOV with Maria ANTONOVA in Moscow | Vladimir Putin joked that Lavrov hadn’t passed on the information

SOCHI (RUSSIA) (AFP) – 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Moscow could provide a recording of a controversial exchange between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US President Donald Trump that has plunged the White House into turmoil.

His comments were the first since Trump was hit with accusations that he shared secrets while meeting Lavrov in Washington, the latest crisis to hit the White house amid existing investigations into whether Trump’s aides colluded with Moscow during the campaign.

Putin said he was pleased with Lavrov’s visit to Washington last week but mocked the idea that Trump had shared secrets during the meeting, calling the allegations “political schizophrenia” and saying people spreading them are either “dumb” or “corrupt.”

“We can see that political schizophrenia is developing in the United States,” Putin told reporters after talks with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in the southern Russian city of Sochi.

“I cannot otherwise explain the accusations of the president that he handed Lavrov some sort of secrets,” Putin added.

“If the US administration finds it possible, we are ready to provide a recording of the conversation between Lavrov and Trump to the US Congress and Senate,” Putin said.

Although Putin used the Russian word for audio recording at the press conference, his foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov said that “audio is not made” at such meetings.

“There is a recording kept by a special person present at conversations,” Ushakov clarified to Russian news agencies.

Citing unnamed sources, the Washington Post reported that Trump had shared intelligence with Lavrov regarding an Islamic State group terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on airplanes.

According to sources cited in the report, that intelligence came from a US ally who had not authorised Washington to pass it on to Moscow.

– ‘Simply dumb’ –

The fresh US crisis sank the dollar early Wednesday as well as Hong Kong stocks amid worries that Trump’s economy-boosting and tax-cutting agenda could be derailed, with some experts mentioning possible impeachment.

As news emerged that Israel was the initial source of the intel, it attempted to contain the fallout from the scandal, with Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying security ties would continue to be “unprecedented” in scope.

A US administration official confirmed to AFP on condition of anonymity that the original intelligence came from Israel, which was initially reported by the New York Times.

British PM Theresa May meanwhile said Trump is free to decide what to discuss with White House visitors, while stressing that London’s relationship with Washington was “the most important defence and security relationship” around the world.

Putin mocked the idea that Trump went off-script to share secrets with the Russians, saying he could issue a “reprimand” to Lavrov since the minister hadn’t passed on the information.

“(Lavrov) didn’t share these secrets with us — neither with me nor with the representatives of the Russian security services. That is very bad of him,” Putin said to sniggers from the audience including Lavrov himself.

– ‘Absolute right’ –

The visit had already generated its share of scandal after Moscow released pictures of the closed-door Oval Office meeting showing Trump and Lavrov grinning after White House officials presumed they would not be made public.

Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster denied the president caused any security lapses while Trump himself insisted he had the “absolute right” to share “facts pertaining… to terrorism and airline flight safety” with Russia.

Adding to the confusion, Russian senator Alexei Pushkov on Wednesday tweeted that “US media were hysterical with Trump because he told us about IS plans to detonate our passenger plane.”

Putin on Wednesday also slammed critics who spread allegations about Trump’s ties with Russia.

“What else will the people generating such drivel and nonsense think of next?” he said. “They are shaking up their internal politics while using anti-Russian slogans.”

“They either don’t understand that they are hurting their own country, and then they are simply dumb, or they understand everything and then they are dangerous and corrupt people,” Putin added.

by Yuri KADOBNOV with Maria ANTONOVA in Moscow
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Putin ‘ready to provide recording’ of Lavrov-Trump exchange in White House

May 17, 2017

AFP

© RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY/AFP/File | US President Donald J. Trump (left) poses with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting at the White House in Washington, DC on May 10, 2017

SOCHI (RUSSIA) (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Moscow could provide a recording of the exchange between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US President Donald Trump, who is accused of sharing classified intelligence.

“If the US administration finds it possible, we are ready to provide a recording of the conversation between Lavrov and Trump to the US Congress and Senate,” Putin said during a press conference.

He mocked the idea that Trump went off-script to share secrets with the Russians, saying he could issue a “reprimand” to Lavrov since he hasn’t passed on the information.

Putin said on Wednesday that  Trump had not passed any secrets onto Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting in Washington last week and that he could prove it

Putin said on Wednesday that Trump had not passed any secrets onto Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a meeting in Washington last week and that he could prove it

It isn’t at all clear that the Russians would be able to produce a document that would disprove a bombshell Washington Post report that said President Trump passed on highly classified information to Lavrov during the meeting.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4514632/Vladimir-Putin-says-prove-Trump-did-not-pass-Russia-secrets.html#ixzz4hLYiBZL4
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“(Lavrov) didn’t share these secrets with us — neither with me nor with the representatives of the Russian security services. That is very bad of him,” Putin said to sniggers from the audience as he answered questions after talks with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in the southern Russian city of Sochi.

Citing unnamed sources, The Washington Post reported that Trump had shared intelligence with Lavrov regarding an Islamic State group terror threat related to the use of laptop computers on airplanes.

According to sources cited in the report, that intelligence came from a US ally who had not authorised Washington to pass it on to Moscow.

Putin slammed critics who spread allegations about Trump’s ties with Russia.

“What else will the people generating such drivel and nonsense think of next?” he said. “They are shaking up their internal politics while using anti-Russian slogans.”

“They either don’t understand that they are hurting their own country, and then they are simply dumb, or they understand everything and then they are dangerous and corrupt,” Putin added.

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Republicans reject Putin’s offer to share transcripts of Trump’s meeting with Russian officials

Both Republicans and Democrats have dismissed Putin’s offer to help US politicians  ascertain whether Mr Trump did share highly classified intelligence with Moscow.

“The idea that we would accept any evidence from President Putin is absurd,”  Susan Collins a Republican senator from Maine told CNN.

“Its credibility would be less than zero,” Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CBS.

Adam Kinzinger, a Republican congressman was even more passionate:  “I don’t talk to murderous dictators,” he said on CBS.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/17/vladimir-putin-ready-provide-record-donald-trumps-meeting-russian/

Senators describe ‘long and detailed’ White House briefing on North Korea

April 27, 2017

Apr 26, 2017, 5:53 PM ET

By MEGHAN KENEALLY and ALEXANDER MALLIN
ABC News

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un uses a pair of binoculars to look towards the South at a look-out post 

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Several Senate Republicans described the full Senate briefing on North Korea at the White House Wednesday as a thorough accounting of the administration’s diplomatic and military options when it comes to dealing with Kim Jong Un.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called it “a long and detailed briefing.”

“The military is obviously planning for a number of options, as they should — minimal military action to more significant action,” Cruz said. “It’s of course the hope of the administration and Congress that military action isn’t necessary. If there’s a clear and imminent threat to the U.S., our military needs to be prepared to act and I believe they are prepared to act to keep our country safe.”

The senators were invited at the personal invitation of President Donald Trump after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, requested a briefing. The president stopped by the briefing at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds.

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, said that one takeaway from the meeting was that “we are a long ways away from exercising all of our options on the diplomatic side.”

“There were great questions within the briefing from both sides of the aisles,” Gardner said. “It shows how important this issue is, to have that team assembled to talk about this and make sure North Korea knows they won’t get away with this.”

Separately, a senior administration official told ABC News that part of the current concern about North Korea comes from China’s view of North Korea as a threat.

“I think what’s different about how China is viewing the problem in North Korea today is that China is viewing that problem as the threat not only to U.S. interests and security or South Korean or Japanese interests and security, but also a threat to Chinese interests and security and so I think that is a big shift in and of itself,” the senior administration official told ABC News.

White House officials say the South Auditorium would be turned into a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or “SCIF,” and the briefing will be led by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats.

When asked about the bus ride to the White House ground for the meeting, Gardner said it was “a unique approach to a classified briefing.”

Using the White House grounds for a full briefing with the Senate is a rare move, but administration officials told ABC News that too much shouldn’t be read into the choice of location.

Officials said that after hearing of McConnell’s request, the president suggested nonchalantly that the senators should come to the White House because he’s a “gracious host.” Trump has cultivated a reputation in his meetings at the White House for relishing the opportunity to show off his historic digs.

ABC News’ Ali Rogin and Katherine Faulders contributed to this report.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/president-trump-invites-full-senate-white-house-special/story?id=47026601

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WASHINGTON — President Trump summoned all 100 members of the Senate for a briefing by his war cabinet on the mounting tensions with North Korea. An American submarine loaded with Tomahawk missiles surfaced in a port in South Korea. Gas stations in the North shut down amid rumors that the government was stockpiling fuel.

Americans could be forgiven for thinking that war is about to break out. But it is not.

The drumbeat of bellicose threats and military muscle-flexing on both sides overstates the danger of a clash between the United States and North Korea, senior Trump administration officials and experts who have followed the Korean crisis for decades said. While Mr. Trump regards the rogue government in the North as his most pressing international problem, he told the senators he was pursuing a strategy that relied heavily on using China’s economic leverage to curb its neighbor’s provocative behavior.

Recent American military moves — like deploying the submarine Michigan and the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson to the waters off the Korean Peninsula — were aimed less at preparing for a pre-emptive strike, officials said, than at discouraging the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, from conducting further nuclear or ballistic missile tests.

“In confronting the reckless North Korean regime, it’s critical that we’re guided by a strong sense of resolve, both privately and publicly, both diplomatically and militarily,” Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., the Pentagon’s top commander in the Pacific, told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

Source:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/26/world/asia/trump-administration-north-korea.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Read the rest:

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Senators Leave White House Briefing On North Korea Unsure About Why It Took Place

“I’m not quite sure why we went all the way down to the White House.”

Wednesday afternoon, the entire U.S. Senate took a bus ride to the auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, ostensibly to receive a high-level briefing from White House officials on North Korea, which has embarked on one of its regular displays of belligerence against its South Korean neighbors and the U.S. With the meeting concluded, those same senators have been released into the wild ― and based on their reactions, it’s not clear the meeting had any real purpose.

The meeting, which took place amid ratcheting tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, was billed as a classified briefing. Sen. Ben Cardin, the Democrats’ ranking member of the Senate foreign relations committee, told reporters earlier in the day, “I have heard nothing [from the White House].” He added that in his “congressional career, there’s never been a similar type of meeting held at the White House.”

According to reports, while the meeting was originally scheduled to take place in a secure room at the U.S. Capitol, President Donald Trump requested that the Senate briefing be moved to the White House facility. The auditorium was to be temporarily transformed into what is known as a “sensitive compartmented information facility,” so that top secret information could be securely shared.

That announcement was initially greeted with a dose of suspicion: Did it truly presage military engagement with the rogue nation, or was it merely a publicity stunt staged on the fly as Trump’s “100 day” deadline loomed? By the end of the day, such skepticism did not look entirely unfounded. After dragging the Senate to the White House to gather with officials, those same officials then made a trip of their own ― back up to Capitol Hill to meet with members of the House.

But as lawmakers emerged from the Senate briefing, a common sentiment emerged: confusion about the point of it all.

When I asked Chairman Corker if the North Korea briefing trip to the White House was worthwhile, he told me “I’m not sure”

.@ChrisMurphyCT tells me “no revelation” in WH briefing, more a “chance to convey they’re serious”

GOP senator on N. Korea briefing: Briefing lacked “even straight answers on what the policy is regarding N. Korea and its testing of ICBMs”

“There was very little, if anything new,” @SenBlumenthal tells me about N Korea meeting.

Blumenthal: “I remain mystified about why the entire Senate had to be taken over to the White House rather than conducting it here.” (2/2)

On CNN, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) sounded a similar refrain. “I learned nothing new at this briefing,” he said. “I’m not quite sure why we went all the way down to the White House.”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said the briefing only “confirmed my deep concerns about this administration’s lack of a comprehensive strategy toward North Korea.”

According to Democratic Senate aides, the White House had pre-selected which members of the Senate could raise questions during the briefing, mostly limiting the privilege to committee chairs. This gave rise to speculation that the venue was actually changed so that White House officials could maintain control of the rules and format of the meeting. President Donald Trump made a short appearance at the briefing and delivered remarks that some members in attendance said sounded pre-scripted.

The White House added to the confusion over the trip by what it did next.

Vice President Mike Pence ― along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford ― went to Capitol Hill to brief all the members of the House.

Obviously, the membership of the lower house could not have fit in any of the White House’s meeting facilities ― that’s why it’s been common practice for White House officials to simply travel to Capitol Hill whenever legislators need to be met with in this fashion. When the Obama administration was working to get congressional support for the Iran nuclear deal, top officials traveled to the Capitol to give classified briefings to both chambers of Congress.

House members emerged from their briefing considerably less annoyed than their Senate colleagues. Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), the ranking Democrat on the House foreign affairs committee, told reporters he’s been to several briefings where he has left feeling like he didn’t learn much ― but that Wednesday’s briefing was not one of them.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House intelligence committee, echoed Engel’s praise. “I thought it was a good briefing. I thought they addressed the questions members had in a thoughtful way.”

House armed services committee chair Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) enthused about how the White House demonstrated some basic competence. “There’s tremendous confidence in the administration officials in key positions,” he said. “They knew what they were talking about, they were coordinated and did a great job.”

Unlike in the Senate briefing, members of the House were free to approach the microphones and ask questions, several members told reporters.

But Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, wasn’t as impressed. He told reporters Pence asked members to convey to the public and contacts in foreign governments the level of “resolve that the administration has.”

“I’m doing that right now by telling you that level of resolve is very weak,” said Sherman. “They’re unwilling to do anything that would put real pressure on China, or use our ability to impose tariffs, because these are things that Wall Street would reject.”

Ahead of Wednesday’s briefing, observers speculated that the Trump administration could be preparing to announce an aggressive new strategy against North Korea, possibly including a pre-emptive military strike. But the strategy laid out in the two briefings appeared to echo the previous administration’s approach: lean on China to put more pressure on North Korea and look for ways to squeeze North Korea’s struggling economy with additional sanctions. Engel said briefers did not bring up a pre-emptive military strike during the House briefing.

Between the two briefings, the White House released a joint statement from Tillerson, Mattis and Coats:

Past efforts have failed to halt North Korea’s unlawful weapons programs and nuclear and ballistic missile tests. With each provocation, North Korea jeopardizes stability in Northeast Asia and poses a growing threat to our allies and the U.S. homeland.

North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority. Upon assuming office, President Trump ordered a thorough review of U.S. policy pertaining to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Today, along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford, we briefed members of Congress on that review. The president’s approach aims to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with allies and regional partners.

We are engaging responsible members of the international community to increase pressure on the DPRK in order to convince the regime to de-escalate and return to the path of dialogue. We will maintain our close coordination and cooperation with our allies, especially the Republic of Korea and Japan, as we work together to preserve stability and prosperity in the region.

The United States seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We remain open to negotiations toward that goal. However, we are prepared to defend ourselves and our allies.

If that statement is indicative of the tone and content of the meeting ― essentially re-asserting the status quo approach to North Korea ― then it’s unclear why the Senate had to travel to the White House to receive this information. As one Democratic Senate aide told HuffPost, the Senate “could have gotten the same briefing from the newspapers.”

Susan Rice wasn’t the only White House official looking to ‘unmask’ Trump team figures – and Mike Flynn wasn’t the only one exposed

April 5, 2017
Former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice asked intelligence agencies dozens of times to 'unmask' the names of Donald Trump associates that were redacted from raw intelligence reports – and she wasn't the only one

Former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice asked intelligence agencies dozens of times to ‘unmask’ the names of Donald Trump associates that were redacted from raw intelligence reports – and she wasn’t the only one

  • Obama national security advisor Susan Rice is accused of repeatedly asking U.S. agencies to ‘unmask’ Trumpworld names from raw intelligence reports
  • A new report says Rice wasn’t the only one in the Obama White House to do this  
  • It’s not unusual for a high-ranking national security official to ask for the names of people ‘incidentally’ surveilled, in order to understand a report’s context
  • But the name of Rice’s successor Mike Flynn was subsequently leaked to the press – which constitutes a felony
  • The new report also says Flynn was just one of at least two Trump officials whose names were left exposed 

Former national security advisor Susan Rice wasn’t the only Obama administration official to request the ‘unmasking’ of members of President Donald Trump’s transition team – and her successor Mike Flynn was just one of at least two who were left exposed.

Flynn was forced out of his job after a transcript of an intercepted phone call was leaked to The Washington Post, detailing a conversation he had last year with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. – a discussion that reportedly included mention of rolling back U.S. sanctions on Moscow.

It’s not known who the second Trump transition official is, but The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday night that there were two – based on information from a Republican linked to the House Intelligence Committee.

‘The official said Ms. Rice had requested the unmasking of at least one transition official—not Mr. Flynn—who was part of multiple foreign conversations that weren’t related to Russia,’ the Journal reported.

And ‘Rice wasn’t the administration official who instigated Mr. Flynn’s unmasking.’ That puts at least one other Obama White House official in the picture.

Retired Gen. Mike Flynn (left), who served briefly as National Security Advisor before being forced out, wasn't the only Trump transition official whose name was 'unmasked' 

Retired Gen. Mike Flynn (left), who served briefly as National Security Advisor before being forced out, wasn’t the only Trump transition official whose name was ‘unmasked’

Rice forcefully denied on Tuesday that she purposely collected classified intelligence information about anyone associated with the Trump campaign or transition, and said any suspicion that she leaked names to the press was ridiculous.

‘The allegations that somehow Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes, that’s absolutely false,’ she said.

She used the same words – ‘absolutely false’ – to deny a report in The Daily Caller that she had requested intelligence information on Trump associates and compiled it into a spreadsheet.

‘No spreadsheet, no nothing of the sort,’ Rice said.

she blasted Trump’s tweeted claims on March 4 that Obama had authorized surveillance of him and his team before and after the November election.

‘There was no such collection, surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals … and by that I mean directed by the White House or targeted at Trump individuals,’ she said.

Rice forcefully denied on Tuesday that she or anyone in the White House ever went out of their way to 'unmask' the identities of Trump or his associates, but The Wall Street Journal says at least two White House officials – and two from Trumpworld – are in the picture

Rice forcefully denied on Tuesday that she or anyone in the White House ever went out of their way to ‘unmask’ the identities of Trump or his associates, but The Wall Street Journal says at least two White House officials – and two from Trumpworld – are in the picture

White House officials, including any president, Rice added, ‘do not have the ability to order such collection.’

‘That can only come from the Justice Department through an established process. It never originates in the White House. So not only did it not occur, it didn’t occur and it could not have occurred – directed by the White House.’

WHAT IS UNMASKING? 

When U.S. intelligence services conduct surveillance of foreign targets, it’s possible that American citizens can be swept up in recorded conversations, intercepted emails or other surveillance.

That can happen when Americans who are not targets of an investigation are ‘incidentally’ captured talking to a target. it can also occur when targets merely mention them during a conversation or in a document.

When this happens, intelligence analysts routinely delete the Americans’ names and replace them with vague identifiers like ‘U.S. Person Number One’ or ‘Person A’ – masking their identity from other government officials who may look at reports.

Senior intelligence officials can request the ‘unmasking’ of those names under certain circumstances, but that creates a risk that the names will be leaked.

Rice said she was ‘surprised’ and ‘shocked’ by Trump’s accusation, saying ‘it had no basis in fact.’

‘And it wasn’t typical of the way presidents treat their predecessors, she said on MSNBC.

Host Andrea Mitchell asked her whether she ever intentionally ‘unmasked’ Trump-related names ‘in order to spy on them and expose them.

‘Absolutely not for any political purposes, to spy, expose, anything,’ Rice responded.

She also flatly denied leaking the name of Gen. Michael Flynn, her successor, to reporters.

‘I leaked nothing to nobody, and never have and never would,’ Rice insisted.

Tuesday on CNN, Rep. Adam Schiff – the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee – defended Rice and said she has been ‘a perennial target for the hard right.’

Schiff said there is ‘a strong desire by the White House that we lose our focus, that we not pursue the investigation of Russia, particularly as it might impact the Trump campaign.’

He also said continuing Rice-bashing ‘is appealing to the Breitbart crowd.’

Rice explained Tuesday that it isn’t uncommon for White House or cabinet officials to request the unmasking of names of U.S. citizens when they are incidentally snared in a spying net.

‘There were occasions when I would receive a report in which a U.S. person was referred to. Name not provided, just “U.S. person”,’ she recalled.

‘And sometimes in that context, in order to understand the importance of the report, and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out, or request the information as to who that U.S. official was.’

Rice said intelligence officials ‘can’t be passive consumers’ of information.

But ‘there’s no equivalence between so-called unmasking and leaking,’ she insisted.

There is not necessarily anything illegal or unusual about a national security adviser seeking to unmask names in raw reports, in order to fully understand the meaning of intercepted conversations.

But in this case those identities – including the name of then-National Security Advisor Mike Flynn – were subsequently leaked and made public. That is a federal felony.

Rice sat down with MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell for a noontime interview that the network hastily began promoting at 11:30 a.m.

Rice sat down with MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell for a noontime interview that the network hastily began promoting at 11:30 a.m.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said a half-hour before Rice's interview that some news outlets defending Rice have 'an invested angle and narrative'

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said a half-hour before Rice’s interview that some news outlets defending Rice have ‘an invested angle and narrative’

House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff said Susan Rice is 'a perennial target for the hard right'

House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff said Susan Rice is ‘a perennial target for the hard right’

President Trump retweeted a message from Internet newsman Matt Drudge on Tuesday, pointing to an article that claimed Rice ordered intelligence agencies to spy on him

President Trump retweeted a message from Internet newsman Matt Drudge on Tuesday, pointing to an article that claimed Rice ordered intelligence agencies to spy on him

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul appeared on Morning and demanded that Rice testify under oath before Congress

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul appeared on Morning and demanded that Rice testify under oath before Congress

Rice is being blamed for requesting that members of President Trump's teams names were unmasked in intelligence reports

Rice is being blamed for requesting that members of President Trump’s teams names were unmasked in intelligence reports

Rice, shown in the White House situation room (at left) listening to former president Barack Obama, is now at the center of the firestorm over whether they snooped on Trump during the 2016 election season

Rice, shown in the White House situation room (at left) listening to former president Barack Obama, is now at the center of the firestorm over whether they snooped on Trump during the 2016 election season

President Donald Trump claimed in a series of March 4 tweets that Obama had 'wiretapped' him before the November election; he later clarified that he was talking broadly about secret surveillance

President Donald Trump claimed in a series of March 4 tweets that Obama had ‘wiretapped’ him before the November election; he later clarified that he was talking broadly about secret surveillance

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes got a sneak peek last week at intelligence reports at the White House which are now believed to be security logs showing how often Rice asked to know which Trump officials were identified 'incidentally' in court-approved foreign snooping

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes got a sneak peek last week at intelligence reports at the White House which are now believed to be security logs showing how often Rice asked to know which Trump officials were identified ‘incidentally’ in court-approved foreign snooping

White House Press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that unspecified documents seen by Nunes were uncovered 'in the normal course of business'

White House Press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that unspecified documents seen by Nunes were uncovered ‘in the normal course of business’

Trump hasn't stopped tweeting about reports that support his March claims that he was surveilled for political purposes

Trump hasn’t stopped tweeting about reports that support his March claims that he was surveilled for political purposes

Susan Rice: ‘I leaked nothing to nobody’

April 5, 2017

 

Image result for susan rice, photos

Susan Rice denies she unmasked Trump-related names ‘for political purposes’ — But does anyone belive her?

  • Obama national security adviser Susan Rice was accused Tuesday of asking U.S. agencies dozens of times to ‘unmask’ Trumpworld names from raw intelligence reports
  • It’s not unusual for a high-ranking national security official to ask for the names of people ‘incidentally’ surveilled, in order to understand a report’s context
  • But some names, including Rice’s successor Mike Flynn, were subsequently leaked to the press – which constitutes a felony 
  • Rice forcefully denied everything during a Tuesday interview on MSNBC 
  • Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called Rice ‘a perennial target for the hard right’

Former national security advisor Susan Rice forcefully denied on Tuesday that she purposely collected classified intelligence information about Americans associated with the Trump campaign, and said any suspicion that she leaked names to the press were ridiculous.

‘The allegations that somehow Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes, that’s absolutely false,’ she said.

She used the same words – ‘absolutely false’ – to deny a report in The Daily Caller that she had requested intelligence information on Trump associates and compiled it into a spreadsheet.

‘No spreadsheet, no nothing of the sort,’ Rice said.

Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice forcefully denied on Tuesday that she or anyone in the White House ever went out of their way to 'unmask' the identities of Donald turmp or his associates from raw intelligence reports

Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice forcefully denied on Tuesday that she or anyone in the White House ever went out of their way to ‘unmask’ the identities of Donald turmp or his associates from raw intelligence reports

Rice sat down with MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell for a noontime interview that the network hastily began promoting at 11:30 a.m.

Rice sat down with MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell for a noontime interview that the network hastily began promoting at 11:30 a.m.

.

She has been the subject of numerous news reports in the past three days, alleging that she was at the top of a plot to snoop on people in Trump’s inner circle.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters late Tuesday morning that it was suspicious to see news reports denying Rice’s involvement by citing anonymous sources.

‘You would assume that if you stood by the comments that you made several weeks ago, that you wouldn’t need someone who was close to you … to defend it,’ he said.

Spicer singled out CNN for labeling the Rice saga a diversion.

‘I get that at some point they have an invested angle and narrative in this,’ he said, but ‘the more we find out about this, the more you learn that there was clearly something there.’

A half-hour later, Rice blasted President Donald Trump’s tweeted claims a month ago that Obama had authorized surveillance of him and his team before and after the November election.

‘There was no such collection, surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals … and by that I mean directed by the White House or targeted at Trump individuals,’ she said.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said a half-hour before Rice's interview that some news outlets defending Rice have 'an invested angle and narrative'

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said a half-hour before Rice’s interview that some news outlets defending Rice have ‘an invested angle and narrative’

House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff said Susan Rice is 'a perennial target for the hard right'

House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff said Susan Rice is ‘a perennial target for the hard right’

White House officials, including any president, Rice added, ‘do not have the ability to order such collection.’

‘That can only come from the Justice Department through an established process. It never originates in the White House. So not only did it not occur, it didn’t occur and it could not have occurred – directed by the White House.’

Rice said she was ‘surprised’ and ‘shocked’ by Trump’s accusation, saying ‘it had no basis in fact.’

‘And it wasn’t typical of the way presidents treat their predecessors.’

Rice was interviewed on MSNBC in an appearance that the network hurriedly announced a half-hour before airtime.

President Trump retweeted a message from Internet newsman Matt Drudge on Tuesday, pointing to an article that claimed Rice ordered intelligence agencies to spy on him

President Trump retweeted a message from Internet newsman Matt Drudge on Tuesday, pointing to an article that claimed Rice ordered intelligence agencies to spy on him

Host Andrea Mitchell asked her whether she ever intentionally ‘unmasked’ Trump-related names ‘in order to spy on them and expose them.

‘Absolutely not for any political purposes, to spy, expose, anything,’ Rice responded.

WHAT IS UNMASKING? 

When U.S. intelligence services conduct surveillance of foreign targets, it’s possible that American citizens can be swept up in recorded conversations, intercepted emails or other surveillance.

That can happen when Americans who are not targets of an investigation are ‘incidentally’ captured talking to a target. it can also occur when targets merely mention them during a conversation or in a document.

When this happens, intelligence analysts routinely delete the Americans’ names and replace them with vague identifiers like ‘U.S. Person Number One’ or ‘Person A’ – masking their identity from other government officials who may look at reports.

Senior intelligence officials can request the ‘unmasking’ of those names under certain circumstances, but that creates a risk that the names will be leaked.

She also flatly denied leaking the name of Gen. Michael Flynn, her successor, to reporters.

‘I leaked nothing to nobody, and never have and never would,’ Rice insisted.

Flynn was forced out of the national security advisor position after a transcript of an intercepted phone call was leaked to The Washington Post, detailing a conversation he had last year with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. – a discussion that reportedly included mention of rolling back U.S. sanctions on Moscow.

Tuesday afternoon on CNN, Rep. Adam Schiff – the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee – defended Rice and said she has been ‘a perennial target for the hard right.’

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul appeared on Morning and demanded that Rice testify under oath before Congress

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul appeared on Morning and demanded that Rice testify under oath before Congress

Rice is being blamed for requesting that members of President Trump's teams names were unmasked in intelligence reports

Rice is being blamed for requesting that members of President Trump’s teams names were unmasked in intelligence reports

Former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice asked intelligence agencies dozens of times to 'unmask' the names of Donald Trump associates that were redacted from raw intelligence reports, it has emerged

Former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice asked intelligence agencies dozens of times to ‘unmask’ the names of Donald Trump associates that were redacted from raw intelligence reports, it has emerged

Rice, shown in the White House situation room (at left) listening to former president Barack Obama, is now at the center of the firestorm over whether they snooped on Trump during the 2016 election season

Rice, shown in the White House situation room (at left) listening to former president Barack Obama, is now at the center of the firestorm over whether they snooped on Trump during the 2016 election season

President Donald Trump claimed in a series of March 4 tweets that Obama had 'wiretapped' him before the November election; he later clarified that he was talking broadly about secret surveillance

President Donald Trump claimed in a series of March 4 tweets that Obama had ‘wiretapped’ him before the November election; he later clarified that he was talking broadly about secret surveillance

.

That routine inquiry apparently uncovered a pattern of Rice’s requests.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes got a sneak peek last week at intelligence reports at the White House which are now believed to be security logs showing how often Rice asked to know which Trump officials were identified 'incidentally' in court-approved foreign snooping

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes got a sneak peek last week at intelligence reports at the White House which are now believed to be security logs showing how often Rice asked to know which Trump officials were identified ‘incidentally’ in court-approved foreign snooping

.

White House Press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that unspecified documents seen by Nunes were uncovered 'in the normal course of business'

White House Press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that unspecified documents seen by Nunes were uncovered ‘in the normal course of business’

.

Trump hasn't stopped tweeting about reports that support his March claims that he was surveilled for political purposes

Trump hasn’t stopped tweeting about reports that support his March claims that he was surveilled for political purposes

 

.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4379956/Susan-Rice-accusations-against-absolutely-false.html#ixzz4dMzpdGy2
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