Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

FBI investigating ties between Russia and Trump campaign

March 20, 2017

AFP and The Associated Press

© Nicholas Kamm, AFP | FBI Director James Comey (pictured left) and NSA Director Mike Rogers on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on March 20, 2017

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-03-20

FBI Director James Comey confirmed Monday that the bureau is investigating possible links and coordination between Russia and associates of President Donald Trump as part of a probe of Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.

The extraordinary revelation came at the outset of Comey’s opening statement in a congressional hearing examining Russian meddling and possible connections between Moscow and Trump‘s campaign. He acknowledged that the FBI does not ordinarily discuss ongoing investigations, but said he’d been authorized to do so given the extreme public interest in this case.

“This work is very complex, and there is no way for me to give you a timetable for when it will be done,” Comey told the House Intelligence Committee.

Earlier in the hearing, the chairman of the committee contradicted an assertion from Trump by saying that there had been no wiretap of Trump Tower. But Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican whose committee is one of several investigating, said that other forms of surveillance of Trump and his associates have not been ruled out.

Comey was testifying at Monday’s hearing along with National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers.

Trump, who recently accused President Barack Obama of wiretapping his New York skyscraper during the campaign, took to Twitter before the hearing began, accusing Democrats of making up allegations about his campaign associates’ contact with Russia during the election. He said Congress and the FBI should be going after media leaks and maybe even Hillary Clinton instead.

“The real story that Congress, the FBI and others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!” Trump tweeted early Monday as news coverage on the Russia allegations dominated the morning’s cable news.

Trump also suggested, without evidence, that Clinton’s campaign was in contact with Russia and had possibly thwarted a federal investigation. U.S. intelligence officials have not publicly raised the possibility of contacts between the Clintons and Moscow. Officials investigating the matter have said they believe Moscow had hacked into Democrats’ computers in a bid to help Trump’s election bid.

The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!

Monday’s hearing, one of several by congressional panels probing allegations of Russian meddling, could allow for the greatest public accounting to date of investigations that have shadowed the Trump administration in its first two months.

The top two lawmakers on the committee said Sunday that documents the Justice Department and FBI delivered late last week offered no evidence that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower, the president’s New York City headquarters. But the panel’s ranking Democrat said the material offered circumstantial evidence that American citizens colluded with Russians in Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the presidential election.

“There was circumstantial evidence of collusion; there is direct evidence, I think, of deception,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” ”There’s certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation.”

The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!

Nunes said: “For the first time the American people, and all the political parties now, are paying attention to the threat that Russia poses.”

“We know that the Russians were trying to get involved in our campaign, like they have for many decades. They’re also trying to get involved in campaigns around the globe and over in Europe,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee has scheduled a similar hearing for later in the month.

It is not clear how much new information will emerge Monday, and the hearing’s open setting unquestionably puts Comey in a difficult situation if he’s asked to discuss an ongoing investigation tied to the campaign of the president.

At a hearing in January, Comey refused to confirm or deny the existence of any investigation exploring possible connections between Trump associates and Russia, consistent with the FBI’s longstanding policy of not publicly discussing its work. His appearances on Capitol Hill since then have occurred in classified settings, often with small groups of lawmakers, and he has made no public statements connected to the Trump campaign or Russia.

Any lack of detail from Comey on Monday would likely be contrasted with public comments he made last year when closing out an investigation into Clinton’s email practices and then, shortly before Election Day, announcing that the probe would be revived following the discovery of additional emails.

(AP)

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FBI Director Comey: Justice Dept. has no information that supports President Trump’s tweets alleging he was wiretapped by Obama

March 20, 2017

James Comey. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images (File Photo)

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The Washington Post
March 20 at 11:27 AM
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FBI Director James B. Comey acknowledged on Monday the existence of a counterintelligence investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, and said that probe extends to the nature of any links between Trump campaign associates and the Russian government.
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Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, Comey said the investigation is also exploring whether there was any coordination between the campaign and the Kremlin, and “whether any crimes were committed.”
.The acknowledgment was an unusual move, given that the FBI’s practice is not to confirm the existence of ongoing investigations. “But in unusual circumstances, where it is in the public interest,” Comey said, “it may be appropriate to do so.”

Comey said he had been authorized by the Justice Department to confirm the wide-ranging probe’s existence.

He spoke at the first intelligence committee public hearing on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, along with National Security Agency head Michael S. Rogers.

Comey: No information to support Trump’s wiretapping tweets

FBI Director James B. Comey said at a House Intelligence Committee hearing that he has no information that Trump Tower was wiretapped by former president Barack Obama. (Reuters)

The hearing comes amid the controversy fired up by President Trump two weeks ago when he tweeted, without providing evidence, that President Barack Obama ordered his phones tapped at Trump Tower.

Comey says there is “no information’’ that supports Trump’s claims that his predecessor Barack Obama ordered surveillance of Trump Tower during the election campaign.

“I have no information that supports those tweets,’’ said Comey. “We have looked carefully inside the FBI,’’ and agents found nothing to support those claims, he said. He added the Justice Department had asked him to also tell the committee that that agency has no such information, either.

Under questioning from the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif,), Comey said no president could order such surveillance.

Committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said in his opening statement, “The fact that Russia hacked U.S. election-related databases comes as no shock to this committee. We have been closely monitoring Russia’s aggressions for years…However, while the indications of Russian measures targeting the U.S. presidential election are deeply troubling, one benefit is already clear – it has focused wide attention on the pressing threats posed by the Russian autocrat. In recent years, Committee members have issued repeated and forceful pleas for stronger action against Russian belligerence. But the Obama administration was committed to the notion, against all evidence, that we could ‘reset’ relations with Putin, and it routinely ignored our warnings.”

Nunes said he hoped the hearing would focus on several key questions, including what actions Russia undertook against the United States during the 2016 election and did anyone from a political campaign conspire in these activities? He also wants to know if the communications of any campaign officials or associates were subject to any improper surveillance.

“Let me be clear,” he said. “We know there was not a wiretap on Trump Tower. However, it’s still possible that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.”

Finally, Nunes said he is focused on leaks of classified information to the media. “We aim to determine who has leaked or facilitated leaks of classified information so these individuals can be brought to justice,” he said.

In his opening statement, Schiff said, “We will never know whether the Russian intervention was determinative in such a close election. Indeed it is unknowable in a campaign in which so many small changes could have dictated a different result. More importantly, and for the purposes of our investigation, it simply does not matter. What does matter is this: the Russians successfully meddled in our democracy, and our intelligence agencies have concluded that they will do so again.”

He added: “Most important, we do not yet know whether the Russians had the help of U.S. citizens, including people associated with the Trump campaign. Many of Trump’s campaign personnel, including the president himself, have ties to Russia and Russian interests. This is, of course, no crime. On the other hand, if the Trump campaign, or anybody associated with it, aided or abetted the Russians, it would not only be a serious crime, it would also represent one of the most shocking betrayals of our democracy in history.”

Just hours before the start of the hearing, Trump posted a series of tweets claiming Democrats “made up” the allegations of Russian contacts in an attempt to discredit the GOP during the presidential campaign. Trump also urged federal investigators to shift their focus to probe disclosures of classified material.

“The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information,” Trump wrote early Monday. “Must find leaker now!”

Republican members pressed hard on the subject of leaks to the media that resulted in news stories about contacts between Russian officials and the Trump campaign or administration officials. Nunes sought an admission from the officials that the leaks were illegal under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court act, the law that governs foreign intelligence-gathering on U.S. soil or of U.S. persons overseas.

“Yes,” Comey answered. “In addition to being a breach of our trust with the FISA court.”

One story in particular that apparently upset the Republicans was a Feb. 9 story by The Washington Post reporting that Trump’s national security advisor, Michael Flynn, discussed the subject of sanctions with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in the month before Trump took office. The Post reported that the discussions were monitored under routine, court-approved monitoring of Kislyak’s calls.

Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) pressed Rogers to clarify under what circumstances it would be legitimate for Americans caught on tape speaking with people under surveillance to have their identities disclosed publicly, and whether leaking those identities would “hurt or help” intelligence collection.

“Hurt,” Rogers noted.

Rogers stressed that the identities of U.S. persons picked up through “incidental collection” – that being the way intelligence officials picked up on Flynn’s phone calls with Kislyak – are disclosed only on a “valid, need to know” basis, and usually only when there is a criminal activity or potential threat to the United States at play.

Rogers added that there are a total of 20 people in the NSA he has delegated to make decisions about when someone’s identity can be unmasked.

The FBI probe combines an investigation into hacking operations by Russian spy agencies with efforts to understand how the Kremlin sought to manipulate public opinion and influence the election’s outcome.

In January, the intelligence community released a report concluding that Russian President Vladi­mir Putin wanted to not only undermine the legitimacy of the election process but also harm the campaign of Hillary Clinton and boost Trump’s chances of winning.

Hackers working for Russian spy agencies penetrated the computers of the Democratic National Committee in 2015 and 2016 as well as the email accounts of Democratic officials, intelligence official said in the report. The material was relayed to WikiLeaks, the officials said, and the anti-secrecy group began a series of damaging email releases just before the Democratic National Convention that continued through the fall.

On Friday, the Justice Department delivered documents to the committee in response to a request for copies of intelligence and criminal wiretap orders and applications. Nunes, speaking Sunday, said the material provided “no evidence of collusion” to sway the election toward Trump and repeated previous statements that there is no credible proof of any active coordination.

But Schiff, also speaking Sunday, said there was “circumstantial evidence of collusion” at the outset of the congressional investigations into purported Russian election meddling, as well as “direct evidence” that Trump campaign figures sought to deceive the public about their interactions with Russian figures.

The concerns about Moscow’s meddling are also being felt in Europe, where France and Germany hold elections this year. “Our allies,” Schiff said, “are facing the same Russian onslaught.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-director-to-testify-on-russian-interference-in-the-presidential-election/2017/03/20/cdea86ca-0ce2-11e7-9d5a-a83e627dc120_story.html?utm_term=.2b44421224ec

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The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – FBI Director James Comey confirmed Monday that the bureau is investigating possible links and coordination between Russia and associates of President Donald Trump as part of a broader probe of Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.

The extraordinary revelation came at the outset of Comey’s opening statement in a congressional hearing examining Russian meddling and possible connections between Moscow and Trump’s campaign. He acknowledged that the FBI does not ordinarily discuss ongoing investigations, but said he’d been authorized to do so given the extreme public interest in this case.

“This work is very complex, and there is no way for me to give you a timetable for when it will be done,” Comey told the House Intelligence Committee.

Earlier in the hearing, the chairman of the committee contradicted an assertion from Trump by saying that there had been no wiretap of Trump Tower. But Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican whose committee is one of several investigating, said that other forms of surveillance of Trump and his associates have not been ruled out.

Comey was testifying at Monday’s hearing along with National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers.

Trump, who recently accused President Barack Obama of wiretapping his New York skyscraper during the campaign, took to Twitter before the hearing began, accusing Democrats of making up allegations about his campaign associates’ contact with Russia during the election. He said Congress and the FBI should be going after media leaks and maybe even Hillary Clinton instead.

“The real story that Congress, the FBI and others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!” Trump tweeted early Monday as news coverage on the Russia allegations dominated the morning’s cable news.

Trump also suggested, without evidence, that Clinton’s campaign was in contact with Russia and had possibly thwarted a federal investigation. U.S. intelligence officials have not publicly raised the possibility of contacts between the Clintons and Moscow. Officials investigating the matter have said they believe Moscow had hacked into Democrats’ computers in a bid to help Trump’s election bid.

Monday’s hearing, one of several by congressional panels probing allegations of Russian meddling, could allow for the greatest public accounting to date of investigations that have shadowed the Trump administration in its first two months.

The top two lawmakers on the committee said Sunday that documents the Justice Department and FBI delivered late last week offered no evidence that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower, the president’s New York City headquarters. But the panel’s ranking Democrat said the material offered circumstantial evidence that American citizens colluded with Russians in Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the presidential election.

“There was circumstantial evidence of collusion; there is direct evidence, I think, of deception,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” `’There’s certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation.”

Nunes said: “For the first time the American people, and all the political parties now, are paying attention to the threat that Russia poses.”

“We know that the Russians were trying to get involved in our campaign, like they have for many decades. They’re also trying to get involved in campaigns around the globe and over in Europe,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee has scheduled a similar hearing for later in the month.

It is not clear how much new information will emerge Monday, and the hearing’s open setting unquestionably puts Comey in a difficult situation if he’s asked to discuss an ongoing investigation tied to the campaign of the president.

At a hearing in January, Comey refused to confirm or deny the existence of any investigation exploring possible connections between Trump associates and Russia, consistent with the FBI’s longstanding policy of not publicly discussing its work. His appearances on Capitol Hill since then have occurred in classified settings, often with small groups of lawmakers, and he has made no public statements connected to the Trump campaign or Russia.

Any lack of detail from Comey on Monday would likely be contrasted with public comments he made last year when closing out an investigation into Clinton’s email practices and then, shortly before Election Day, announcing that the probe would be revived following the discovery of additional emails.


PUBLISHED: MARCH 20, 2017, 8:01 A.M. 

Claims GCHQ wiretapped Trump ‘nonsense’ — U.S. National Security Agency source says

March 18, 2017

BBC News

People sit at computers in the 24 hour Operations Room inside GCHQ, Cheltenham on 17 November, 2015.
GCHQ, a British intelligence agency, wholly denies it helped wiretap Donald Trump

The claim that GCHQ carried out surveillance on Donald Trump during the election campaign is “arrant nonsense”, Rick Ledgett, the number two at the US National Security Agency (NSA) has told the BBC in an exclusive interview.

A commentator on Fox News had claimed that GCHQ had carried out the activity on America’s behalf, but Mr Ledgett said the claim showed “a complete lack of understanding in how the relationship works”.

Each side, he said, was prohibited from asking the other partner to carry out acts that they were prohibited from doing.

He also said the huge risks to the UK in carrying out such an act would completely outweigh any benefits.

“Of course they wouldn’t do it. It would be epically stupid,” he told me.

GCHQ had also dismissed the allegation as nonsense.

Mr Ledgett’s comments came in a wide-ranging – and long-scheduled – interview in his office at NSA headquarters at Fort Meade. He acknowledged that these were unusual times when it came to the political maelstrom surrounding America’s intelligence agencies and their relationship with the new administration.

“Our job in the intelligence community is to be apolitical. Our job is to speak truth to power,” he emphasised.

The origins of much of the tension lie in the assessment by the US intelligence community that Russia interfered in the presidential election, and the subsequent reaction from Donald Trump.

Mr Ledgett said the evidence of Russian involvement was “extraordinarily strong” and “irrefutable” and that the NSA had played a key role in establishing the case.

Mr Ledgett said he was “dead solid 100% confident” that the Russian state was behind the attempts – although he said it was not for the intelligence community to evaluate the actual impact of those attempts on the vote itself.

Russian President Vladimir Putin pictured on 16 March, 2017.
President Vladimir Putin insists that Russia did not interfere in the US election. AP photo

There has been speculation that Russia will interfere in upcoming European elections, but the NSA deputy director said it was hard for him to talk about any evidence supporting that.

There has been a shift towards more aggressive action in cyberspace in recent years – from Russia but also other states – with some commentators claiming that “cyber war” is breaking out.

Low-intensity conflict rather than war is a better description, Mr Ledgett said.

“Cyber war is going to look very different – you are going to see massive failures of key infrastructure systems in the countries that are being targeted in a way we have not seen yet.”

The problems in attributing attacks and the lower barriers for entry mean that this trend may well continue, though.

The US last week indicted a group of Russian hackers as part of a broader strategy of trying to develop layered deterrence. Chinese and Iranian hackers have been indicted in the past.

“Our assessment is that it does cause actors to pause,” Mr Ledgett said, while acknowledging it did not provide absolute deterrence.

The spread of internet-connected devices in the home is another concern.

“It’s a truism that the more things you connect to a network, the more vulnerabilities you introduce,” Mr Ledgett argued, adding that he did not have what are called “Internet of Things” devices in his own home.

Last week there were claims that the CIA – along with Britain’s MI5 – had found vulnerabilities in some “smart” TV sets which allowed them to be turned into bugging devices.

CIA logo
It has been claimed that the CIA devised a spyware attack for Samsung TVs. Getty Images

Mr Ledgett emphasised that the mission of the NSA was to focus on foreign intelligence and not domestic.

He said that 90% of vulnerabilities in systems that the NSA spotted were reported to companies so they could fix them. And any vulnerabilities that the agency sought to leave in place to exploit for intelligence gathering needed to be approved by other government agencies.

“There’s a fringe narrative out there that the US and UK and all these other governments are willy-nilly just exploiting every vulnerability in every device they can in order to gather information into a big pile and then root through it for interesting things. That’s not what we do at all.”

He acknowledged that the debate around the NSA’s power was healthy, but said the way it came about was bad, referring to the Edward Snowden revelations.

He said that while he would not point to specific terrorist attacks or deaths as a result of disclosures, the NSA had seen one thousand “entities” (such as terrorist groups or foreign military units) which had tried to change behaviour to avoid surveillance.

An aerial view shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Ft. Meade, Maryland, US on 29 January, 2010.
Mr Ledgett spoke to the BBC at the NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade. Reuters photo

Mr Ledgett is due to step down in the coming months after a 40-year career in national security. Twenty-nine of those years were spent at the NSA, where he ended up as its most senior civilian.

He acknowledged that the current environment – with the intelligence agencies drawn into political debate – was unprecedented.

“It is an uncomfortable place to be,” he said. “Intelligence needs to not be politicised to be at its best.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39312176

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Trump Doesn’t Budge on Wiretapping Claims

March 18, 2017

President tells Germany’s Merkel, ‘At least we have something in common’

 Video:
White House spokesperson Sean Spicer, in explaining President Donald Trump’s wiretapping tweets, set off a new controversy with the U.K. He repeated a commentator’s claim that British spies helped bug Trump Tower. How is Spicer defending his boss? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer. Photo: Getty

President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking during a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking during a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday. PHOTO: JIM LO SCALZO/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
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Updated March 17, 2017 8:20 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump on Friday stuck to his unsubstantiated claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor and brushed off tensions his White House ignited with the U.K. by citing a media report alleging British intelligence was involved.

Mr. Trump, asked about the citation in a news conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, quipped: “As far as wiretapping by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps.”

His comment was a reference to reports of U.S. surveillance of Ms. Merkel’s phone, which was disclosed in 2013. He also dismissed the U.K.’s fury over White House press secretary Sean Spicer reading from the podium on Thursday a Fox News commentator’s report alleging the British intelligence agency GCHQ was involved in wiretapping Trump Tower, the New York building where the president lived and worked before moving to the White House.

“We said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television,” Mr. Trump said.

In a statement, GCHQ, which rarely comments on media reports, said any claim that the agency was asked to conduct surveillance on Mr. Trump is “utterly ridiculous.”

White House spokesperson Sean Spicer, in explaining President Donald Trump’s wiretapping tweets, set off a new controversy with the U.K. He repeated a commentator’s claim that British spies helped bug Trump Tower. How is Spicer defending his boss? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer. Photo: Getty
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A spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said Friday that the White House had assured U.K. officials that it won’t repeat the allegations.

“We’ve made clear to the administration that these claims are ridiculous and they should be ignored, and we’ve received assurances that these allegations will not be repeated,” the prime minister’s spokesman said.

A White House official said Mr. Spicer spoke with the U.K. ambassador to the U.S., Kim Darroch, on Thursday at a St. Patrick’s Day event and gave an explanation similar to the one Mr. Trump offered on Friday. The official said Mr. Spicer didn’t apologize or promise not to repeat the allegation.

Another White House official said U.K. national security adviser Mark Lyall Grant expressed his concerns to Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster in a telephone conversation Thursday night. That official said Gen. McMaster also told Mr. Grant that Mr. Spicer was pointing to public reports, not endorsing them.

Mr. Spicer told reporters after the news conference that the White House has no regrets about citing the Fox News report. He said he and other officials “just reiterated the fact that we were just simply reading media accounts.”

“That’s it,” he said. “I don’t think we regret anything. We literally listed a litany of media reports that are in the public domain.”

In response to a request for comment, Fox News referred to an on-air statement made Friday afternoon by anchor Shepard Smith, which read: “Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary. Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-president of the United States was surveilled at any time, in any way, full stop.”

The wiretapping drama began a couple of weeks ago, when Mr. Trump publicly accused former President Barack Obama of ordering the wiretapping of Trump Tower. “This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on March 4.

Mr. Obama forcefully denied the charge through a spokesperson.

The White House has ever since been trying to explain his comments and tried to justify the charge without putting forward any evidence to back it up, despite growing pressure to do so.

Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have increasingly distanced themselves from Mr. Trump’s claim, with the leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees and House Speaker Paul Ryan saying this week that they have seen no evidence backing up the accusation.

Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican and a member of the House GOP leadership, said Friday that Mr. Trump should put forward compelling evidence of his claim that he was wiretapped or apologize to Mr. Obama.

“Frankly, unless you can provide some pretty compelling proof, then I think the president, President Obama, is owed an apology,” Mr. Cole said.

Dominic Grieve, the chairman of British Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, said Friday the GCHQ’s public denial indicates the strong feelings about the issue.

“First, I should make clear that the president of the United States is not able to task GCHQ to intercept an individual’s communications,” Mr. Grieve said in a statement. “Second, longstanding agreements between the Five Eyes countries means that the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand cannot ask each other to target each other’s citizens or individuals that they cannot themselves target, or in any other way seek to circumvent their own or each other’s legal and policy obligations.”

Mr. Grieve added that GCHQ can only legally target an individual with a signoff by a cabinet minister who deems it necessary and proportional for a valid national-security purpose, and that it is “inconceivable” that these legal requirements could have been met in these circumstances.

Write to Carol E. Lee at carol.lee@wsj.com and Peter Nicholas at peter.nicholas@wsj.com

Appeared in the Mar. 18, 2017, print edition as ‘Trump Stands By Wiretap Claim; No U.K. Apology.’

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Trump repeats charge that Obama ordered wiretaps against him

March 18, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Paul HANDLEY | US President Donald Trump has accused president Barack Obama of ordering wiretaps at his Trump Tower in New York, but has not delivered any evidence

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Donald Trump repeated his charge that predecessor Barack Obama had ordered a wiretap against him, rejecting rising calls from Republicans and Democrats to withdraw the charge and apologize.

Speaking at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump answered a question on the wiretap allegation by referring to the US National Security Agency’s reported tapping of Merkel’s phone several years ago.

“As far as wiretapping, I guess, by this past administration, at least we have something in common perhaps,” Trump said.

But Trump also said he did not endorse a Fox News claim that Britain’s GCHQ spy agency did the wiretapping for Obama — an allegation repeated by Trump’s spokesman Thursday, sparking a sharp rebuke from London.

“We said nothing” about the GCHQ claim, Trump told journalists.

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and suit

“That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox. And so you shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox,” he said.

Fox News said it could not confirm the allegations.

“Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now president of the United States was surveilled at any time in any way, full stop,” anchor Shepard Smith said, reading an official statement on-air.

– Waiting for evidence –

Trump has accused Obama of ordering wiretaps at his Trump Tower in New York, but two weeks after the extraordinary claim, he has not delivered any evidence.

The claim has led to investigations in Congress and by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but so far no one has provided any evidence to substantiate it.

Top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate Intelligence Committee have all said they have seen no evidence.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has remained quiet, however.

On Friday, the Justice Department said it had complied with requests from the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees in both houses of Congress for information related to surveillance during the 2016 election.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes confirmed Friday evening that the DOJ had “fully complied” with his panel’s request for information regarding potential surveillance of Trump or his circle during the presidential race. He did not elaborate on the details of the information.

The National Security Agency had partially met the committee’s request with plans to fully comply by end of next week, Nunes said, but “the committee still has not received information requested from the CIA and FBI… that is necessary to determine whether information collected on US persons was mishandled and leaked.”

On Monday, FBI Director James Comey is to testify before lawmakers on that and other issues relating to what US intelligence says was Russian interference in the election.

Trump first made the wiretapping accusation on March 4.

“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” he tweeted.

“Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” he continued, accusing Obama of crimes comparable to those of Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal.

Obama flatly rejected it, but the White House refusal to back down has kept the issue alive.

On Thursday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer defended his boss, citing news stories alleging wiretapping including the Fox News report.

That sparked a rebuke from GCHQ and calls from British officials.

The White House said Friday that Spicer “was simply pointing to public reports, not endorsing any specific story.”

by Paul HANDLEY
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Breitbart: New York Times Trashes Its Own Reporting on Obama Admin Wiretapping

March 6, 2017

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People walk past an electronic board displaying an advertisement by the New York Times, in New York on February 27, 2017. 
 / AFP / Jewel SAMAD        (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

 The New York Times has inadvertently attacked the credibility of its own reporting on the Obama Administration’s investigation of Russia and now-President Donald Trump.

Times reporters Michael Schmidt and Michael Shear write that Trump believes the “deep state” intelligence community, staffed with holdovers from the Obama Administration, wiretapped several of his campaign associates because of a spurious article from Breitbart News:

On Sunday, the president demanded a congressional inquiry into whether Mr. Obama had abused the power of federal law enforcement agencies before the 2016 presidential election. In a statement from his spokesman, Mr. Trump called “reports” about the wiretapping “very troubling” and said that Congress should examine them as part of its investigations into Russia’s meddling in the election.

Mr. Trump’s demand for a congressional investigation appears to be based, at least in part, on unproved claims by Breitbart News and conservative talk radio hosts that secret warrants were issued authorizing the tapping of the phones of Mr. Trump and his aides at Trump Tower in New York.

The Breitbart article in question (which Schmidt and Shear do not link to) cites the Times’ own reporting on the intelligence community. Their January 19th article, “Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry Into Trump Associates,” also bore Schmidt’s byline.

An editorial note at this link reveals that the print version of this article was headlined: “Wiretapped Data Used in Inquiry of Trump Aides.”

It quotes an anonymous source who says that “wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House” as part of an investigation into “the business dealings that some of the president-elect’s past and present advisers have had with Russia.”

At the end of the article, the Times‘ reporters fret that then-Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions would “for a time be the only person in the government authorized to seek foreign intelligence wiretaps on American soil.”

http://www.breitbart.com/big-journalism/2017/03/05/new-york-times-trashes-its-own-reporting-on-obama-admin-wiretapping/

Obama launched cyberwar to sabotage NKorea missile program: report

March 4, 2017

AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Former US president Barack Obama in 2014 launched a cyberwar against North Korea’s missile program but it has failed to make significant gains, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The United States still cannot effectively counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, the newspaper said following a months-long investigation, based on interviews with officials in the Obama and Donald Trump administrations as well as “a review of extensive but obscure public records.”

North Korea’s threats remain so dangerous that when Obama left office he warned Trump that this would likely be the most urgent problem he’d face, the Times said.

Three years ago Obama ordered the Pentagon to increase cyber and electronic attacks against North Korea to try to sabotage its missiles before launch or just as they lift off, the report said.

The program appeared to be successful, as several of the North’s rockets and missiles failed soon after launch.

Advocates of the US program claimed success, believing that they had delayed for years North Korea’s ability to mount a nuclear weapon on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and threaten a US city.

Skeptics however said the failures could have resulted from shoddy manufacturing, disgruntled insiders and simple incompetence.

Kim Jong-Un’s isolated regime has continued to thumb its nose at the world with a series of missile launches over the years.

It has conducted three successful medium-range rocket launches in the past eight months and two nuclear tests in 2016 in its quest to build an ICBM that could reach the United States.

North Korea is barred under UN resolutions from any use of ballistic missile technology.

The UN Security Council has imposed six sets of sanctions since Pyongyang first tested an atomic device in 2006.

Kim boasted in January that Pyongyang was in the “final stages” of developing an ICBM in an apparent attempt to pressure the incoming US president. Trump shot back on Twitter, saying, “It won’t happen.”

On February 12 North Korea fired what appeared to be a modified intermediate-range Musudan missile, which landed in the ocean.

The Musudan has a range of 2,500-4,000 kilometers (1,550-2,485 miles), meaning it could threaten both Japan and US bases on Guam.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the test “absolutely intolerable.”

Days later, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pledged that Washington would use the full range of its arsenal, including nuclear weapons, to defend allies Japan and South Korea against North Korea.

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Trump Inherits a Secret Cyberwar Against North Korean Missiles

WASHINGTON — Three years ago, President Barack Obama ordered Pentagon officials to step up their cyber and electronic strikes against North Korea’s missile program in hopes of sabotaging test launches in their opening seconds.

Soon a large number of the North’s military rockets began to explode, veer off course, disintegrate in midair and plunge into the sea. Advocates of such efforts say they believe that targeted attacks have given American antimissile defenses a new edge and delayed by several years the day when North Korea will be able to threaten American cities with nuclear weapons launched atop intercontinental ballistic missiles.

But other experts have grown increasingly skeptical of the new approach, arguing that manufacturing errors, disgruntled insiders and sheer incompetence can also send missiles awry. Over the past eight months, they note, the North has managed to successfully launch three medium-range rockets. And Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, now claims his country is in “the final stage in preparations” for the inaugural test of his intercontinental missiles — perhaps a bluff, perhaps not.

An examination of the Pentagon’s disruption effort, based on interviews with officials of the Obama and Trump administrations as well as a review of extensive but obscure public records, found that the United States still does not have the ability to effectively counter the North Korean nuclear and missile programs. Those threats are far more resilient than many experts thought, The New York Times’s reporting found, and pose such a danger that Mr. Obama, as he left office, warned President Trump they were likely to be the most urgent problem he would confront.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/04/world/asia/north-korea-missile-program-sabotage.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=span-ab-top-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Trump accuses Obama of wiretapping him before election

March 4, 2017

By 
USA Today

Published 7:42 a.m. ET March 4, 2017

President Trump, in a Saturday morning tweetstorm, responded to the mounting questions over his ties to Russia by accusing Obama of wiretapping him at Trump Tower just before the November election.

The outburst follows several days of stories raising questions about meetings between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials, particularly two previously undisclosed meetings between now Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

“How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process,” he writes. “This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!

Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!

I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!

How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!

In making the charges, Trump did not elaborate on any evidence backing up the explosive accusation.

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The tweet blasts began at 6:26 a.m. from the Winter White House at Mar-a-Lago in Florida when Trump raised the Sessions issue by noting the first meeting between the senator from Alabama and the Russian ambassador was set up by the Obama administration as part of an education program.

Eight minutes later, he raised the charge of illegal surveillance by the Obama administration: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

Then: “Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!”

And: “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”

Sessions recused himself from any Trump-Russia investigation after the Justice Department acknowledged he spoke twice with the Russian ambassador last year and failed to disclose the contacts during his Senate confirmation process.

Sessions said he did not tried to mislead anyone but could have been more careful in his answers. He planned to file amended testimony Monday, a Justice Department spokesman said.

The president responded to the Sessions issue obliquely Friday by taking a swing at Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, noting the New York senator previously met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a tweet, Trump posted a photo of Schumer with Putin during the Russian leader’s visit to New York in 2003. He demanded an investigation of “close ties” between Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Russia and “lying about it.”

He called Schumer, who has demanded Sessions’ resignation, a “total hypocrite.”

We should start an immediate investigation into @SenSchumer and his ties to Russia and Putin. A total hypocrite!

Trump’s Saturday morning tweets come less than a day after radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh accused Obama of executing a “silent coup” to unseat Trump and render him “effectively immaterial” as president.

“The real Russian scandal is the collusion between Barack Obama and his administration and the Russians,” Limbaugh said. “Obama’s team used the pretext of Russian interference in the election to justify wiretaps and illegal leaks of the Trump team, including a U.S. senator and now attorney general.”

By late morning, Trump had — at least temporarily — moved on, saying Arnold Schwarzenegger, his replacement on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” did not voluntarily leave the show but “was fired by his bad (pathetic) ratings, not by me.” He called it a “Sad end to a great show.”

The movie star and former California governor announced Friday he was leaving the show after one season. He told Empire magazine that he would decline to return, even if asked. Trump, who has remained executive producer of the show, has mocked the show’s sagging ratings.

“With Trump being involved in the show, people have a bad taste and don’t want to participate as a spectator or sponsor or in any other way support the show,” Schwarzenegger said. “It’s a very divisive period right now and I think the show got caught up in all that division.”

Related:

Former Obama White House Gang Involved in “Silent Coup” Against President Donald Trump — Trump cites ‘Nixon/Watergate’ plot to wire tap Trump Tower — Washington Post, Breitbart, NYT put the story together — Anything there?

March 4, 2017

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Breitbart

Friday on his nationally syndicated radio show, conservative talker Rush Limbaugh argued there was a “silent coup” underway against President Donald Trump.

Limbaugh accused former President Barack Obama of putting it in place before leaving office and said that it is currently being executed. He pointed to the ginned-up controversy of Attorney General Jeff Sessions associations with the Russian government and U.S. Senate Democrats slow-walking Trump’s cabinet appointees.

“I’m not taking anything away from what I said yesterday,” he said. “I’m adding to it. We’re watching a silent coup that was put in place by Obama and the Democrats during the transition and before and after the election.”

“I think what is happening here is a full-fledged effort here to deny Trump the actual control of governing and the government by leaving so many Obama career people appointed, by going so slowly on confirming Trump’s cabinet appointees and other lesser bureaucratic position that remain open and haven’t been filled,” Limbaugh said later in the segment. “And that’s why it appears the Democrats are still running the show.”

Limbaugh went to add if you wanted to know the real saboteurs are, then look for a link between Obama and the Russian government.

“I’m telling you — if you want to find out who is really working together to sabotage the United States, you find the link between Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, and the Russian government. That’s the story.”

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor

Includes video:

http://www.breitbart.com/video/2017/03/03/limbaugh-watching-silent-coup-put-place-obama-democrats/

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Trump cites ‘Nixon/Watergate’ plot to wire tap Trump Tower

The Washington Post
March 4 at 8:36 AM

President Trump on Saturday angrily accused former president Barack Obama of orchestrating a “Nixon/Watergate” plot to tap the phones at his Trump Tower headquarters last fall in the run-up to the election.Citing no evidence to support his explosive allegation, Trump said in a series of five tweets sent Saturday morning that Obama was “wire tapping” his New York offices before the election in a move he compared to McCarthyism. “Bad (or sick) guy!” he said of his predecessor, adding that the surveillance resulted in “nothing found.”Trump offered no citations nor did he point to any credible news report to back up his accusation, but he may have been referring to commentary on Breitbart and conservative talk radio suggesting that Obama and his administration used “police state” tactics last fall to monitor the Trump team. The Breitbart story, published Friday, has been circulating among White House officials, according to an administration official.A spokesman for Obama did not immediately reply to a request for comment.Trump has been feuding with the intelligence community since before he took office, convinced that career officers as well as holdovers from the Obama administration have been trying to sabotage his presidency. He has ordered internal inquiries to find who leaked sensitive information regarding communications during the campaign between Russian officials and his campaign associates and allies, including ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.Trump sent the tweets from Palm Beach, Fla., where he is vacationing this weekend at his private Mar-a-Lago estate. It has long been his practice to stir up new controversies to deflect attention from a damaging news cycle, such as the one in recent days about Sessions and Russia.

Here are Trump’s tweets, in the order they were sent:

Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!

Just out: The same Russian Ambassador that met Jeff Sessions visited the Obama White House 22 times, and 4 times last year alone.

Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!

I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!

How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!

Trump did not stop tweeting there. About an hour later, the president revived one of his favorite feuds, this one with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The movie star-turned-California governor has been hosting “The New Celebrity Apprentice,” the NBC reality franchise that Trump helped found.

Schwarzenegger announced Friday that he would not return to the show for another season because, he said, the show had too much “baggage.” But Trump insisted on Twitter that there is more to the story than that.

Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t voluntarily leaving the Apprentice, he was fired by his bad (pathetic) ratings, not by me. Sad end to great show

Robert Costa contributed to this report.

Ex-Labor Secretary Tom Perez elected DNC chairman

February 26, 2017