Posts Tagged ‘Devin Nunes’

Bannon Stays Mostly Mum in House Hearing, Prompting Bipartisan Ire — Committee weighing whether to hold Bannon in contempt

February 16, 2018

Continued refusal to provide full testimony comes amid Trump administration concerns of privacy and executive privilege

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WASHINGTON—Former White House adviser Steve Bannon drew bipartisan ire on Capitol Hill Thursday by refusing to answer a range of questions from the House Intelligence Committee, with lawmakers vowing to take more drastic steps to compel his testimony.

Mr. Bannon, a onetime confidant of President Donald Trump who has since become estranged from him, appeared under subpoena before the committee as part of its continuing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/bannon-tells-house-panel-he-will-answer-limited-pre-written-questions-1518721094

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Bannon stonewalls House panel after WH advised him to invoke executive privilege

(CNN) — Steve Bannon told the House Intelligence Committee that he had been instructed by the White House to invoke executive privilege on behalf of President Donald Trump, declining to answer a wide array of key questions pertinent to the Russia investigation and prompting lawmakers to consider holding him in contempt.

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GOP Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas and Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California said Thursday that the only questions Bannon would answer were 25 authorized by the White House. The President’s former chief strategist answered “no” to all of them, they said.
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The committee is weighing whether to hold Bannon in contempt. Conaway said he hasn’t spoken to House Speaker Paul Ryan yet but will meet with him about the next steps.
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The questions Bannon avoided covered a range of topics about what happened after the 2016 campaign season, prompting pushback from lawmakers from both parties.
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“The breadth of that claim of executive privilege is breathtaking and insupportable and indeed, at times, it was laughable,” Schiff, the top Democrat on the panel, told reporters Thursday.
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Bannon would not discuss matters after the campaign, his time at the White House or even conversations he had with certain individuals after he left the administration last August, the lawmakers said.
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The move comes as the White House has taken extraordinary steps to limit Bannon’s testimony to Congress, taking a far more aggressive posture toward the President’s former close confidant than any other witness who has come before Congress.
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After the meeting, which lasted less than three hours, Conaway said he would discuss how to proceed with Ryan and House lawyers about the scope of executive privilege sought by the White House. He declined to say whether Bannon should be held in contempt of Congress, a process that could lead to months of legal wrangling.
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“I think he should answer our questions,” Conaway, who runs the panel’s Russia investigation, said Thursday.
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The White House sent a letter to Capitol Hill late Wednesday laying out its explanation for why Trump’s transition period falls under its authority to assert executive privilege, a move intended to shield Bannon from answering questions about that time period, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
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In the letter, the White House argued to the Hill that because “some of the same factors are implicated in terms of the President needing to have candid advice of others during the transition that a privilege that has never been held to apply during the transition should be held to apply,” according to Schiff.
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The dispute now is for the White House and House panel to resolve, a person close to Bannon said Thursday.
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House members from both parties have so far rejected that broad interpretation of executive privilege, raising the stakes for Bannon’s standoff with Congress.
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Bannon took a similar tack in his first appearance before the panel last month, infuriating lawmakers in a contentious and marathon session where he engaged in testy exchanges with both sides and refused to answer questions about matters after the 2016 campaign. The panel issued a subpoena to compel him to answer questions, but that did little to convince him to talk. Instead, he pushed back his return to the committee on three separate occasions until his Thursday appearance, and committee members were uncertain he’d appear until he arrived just minutes before the hearing began.
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Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican and member of House Intelligence Committee who led his side’s questioning, said Thursday that “I’m not OK with” Bannon refusing to answer questions about topics during the transition period.
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Bannon is one of several key Trump associates whose testimony has been delayed before the House panel. The others include White House communications director Hope Hicks as well as Corey Lewandowski, the President’s former campaign manager, who told the panel in his testimony last month that he wasn’t prepared to answer questions about matters after he was dismissed from the campaign in June 2016. While Democrats have demanded Lewandowski be hit with a subpoena to reappear before the panel to answer more questions, Republicans have resisted.
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“I don’t think he needs to be subpoenaed,” Florida’s GOP Rep. Tom Rooney, a key member of the panel, said of Lewandowski. “I think he came in and answered eight hours’ worth of questions based on the letter we sent him and his employment with the Trump Organization and Trump campaign. … We did not ask him to come in to answer questions about his time as a private citizen — so I think that’s clearly a difference between him and Steve Bannon.”
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Indeed, Republicans — who have long detested Bannon over the attacks he’s waged against them over the years — have joined Democrats in expressing anger over his refusal to answer questions.
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Bannon’s decision not to talk about those periods with Congress has come as his team has indicated his willingness to answer any questions that special counsel Robert Mueller may have, a stance that has further annoyed lawmakers in both parties.
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But Democrats charge that Conaway and House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California, haven’t shown a willingness yet to hold Bannon accountable for flouting Congress if he ignores the subpoena. Conaway said, however, that Nunes has no role in determining next steps on the Bannon matter.
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“If they don’t force him to answer legitimate questions, they will be ceding Congress’ authority, and we’ll be setting a very, very dangerous precedent that people can just tell Congress what they will and will not answer, and will show no resolve to use our subpoena power to get to the bottom of what’s going on,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat.
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Christopher Wray, Mike Pompeo, Dan Coats testify on worldwide threats, national security, cyber, terrorism, etc.

February 13, 2018

The Senate Intelligence Committee hears from the FBI director, CIA director, Director of National Intelligence, and other intelligence heads as they testify on worldwide threats facing the U.S. and allies, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Senators aren’t required to confine their questioning to the topic of the hearing — they can ask the intelligence chiefs about other issues. Among the topics that might come up — the Russia investigation.

Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, testified during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday. Credit Eric Thayer for The New York Times

In prepared remarks, Sen. Mark Warner says “certain questions remain with respect to the true extent of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and we’ll work through those as our investigation continues.”

He says despite those questions, there is ” broad bipartisan consensus” in the Committee on the fact that Russia did engage in a “coordinated attack to undermine our democracy” that targeted state and local election systems and that Russia utilized social media to push and spread disinformation “at an unprecedented scale.”

“We’ve had more than a year to get our act together and address the threat posed by Russia and implement a strategy to deter future attacks.  But we still do not have a plan,” Warner says in his remarks.

He added, “What we are seeing is a continuous assault by Russia to target and undermine our democratic institutions, and they are going to keep coming at us”, and points to China as being a potential country that is looking to gain access to “sensitive technologies and intellectual property”

Cybersecurity

In his opening remarks, Coats said that the U.S. is “under attack” by “entities using cyber to penetrate virtually every major action that takes place in the U.S.”

He said that from the  business world to local governments, the U.S. is “threatened by cyber attacks every day” by using elections as an opportunity to “sow discord and undermine our values.”

Coats pointed to Russia, China and Iran as posting the greatest threat to the nation’s cybersecurity posture, saying that Russia is a likely to pursue “more agressive attacks with intent to degrade Democratic values” as well as our global alliances.

Asked by Sen. Warner on the chain of command when it comes to the intelligence community’s response to cyber threats, Coats said no single agency is in charge but find many federal agencies are working together to keep the U.S. response moving and prevent further attacks from happening.

Coats said the intelligence community is also gaining more support from the private sector. “We can’t as a government direct them what to do, but we’re spending every effort to work with them to provide answers,” added Coats.

Wray echoed the Director, saying the team effort on the part of the intelligence community in its effort to combat cyber attacks is more apparent than the last time he was a government role.

Wray noted, however, that the federal government “can’t fully police social media” so the intelligence community needs to work with tech companies to better prepare for future attacks. He commended the intelligence community’s use of “defensive briefings” with U.S. telecommunication companies and members of the tech industry to help them “recognize the threats that are coming their way”

He said he’s been “gratified”  by the response he’s received from companies when trying to educate them, but noted the bigger challenge is innovation — smaller start up companies with less sophisticated measures to prevent cyber attacks.

As it pertains to China, Wray said they are turning to more “creative avenues” by using “non-traditional collectors”, an aspect Wray said the intelligence community recognizes but the private sector “isn’t used to spotting.”

North Korea

Meanwhile, Coats said that North Korea continues to pose more than ever as an “increasing threat to the U.S.” He said that the regime has stated it does not “intend to negotiate nuclear weapons away” which they deem critical to its security. Coats said that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un sees nuclear ICBM’s as leverage to end the alliance between South Korea and the U.S. in its efforts to “dominate the peninsula.”

He said that the nation can expect to see North Korea press ahead with additional nuclear tests, including an atmospheric nuclear test over the pacific.

Pompeo echoed Coats’ assessment of Kim, saying he continues to remain intent on staying power. He said that U.S. intelligence officials see that as the North Koreans ratchet up their nuclear capability it makes a response much more difficult and North Korea’s capacity to do harm in the region also increases.

Pompeo also addressed the Winter Olympic Games which has been a moment for diplomacy between the North and South. He said that Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong, who led the regime’s delegation to the Olympics, is the “head of propaganda and agitation department” and there has been “no indication” of a strategic shift for the North Koreans and its nuclear containment.

He said that those around Kim “aren’t suggesting to him the tenuous nature of his position” as leader of the regime and the consequences of his actions in the peninsula.

Russia

Coats says that Russia utilized social media as a relatively “cheap and low risk” opportunity to sow dissension in the U.S.  He said in the eyes of Russia, it “offers plausible deniability and is proven to be effective at sowing division.”

He said that Russia will “continue using propaganda, social media, false flag personas and sympathetic spokesmen to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political issues in the U.S.”

Coats noted that Russia perceived its past influence as “successful” and aims to use the 2018 midterm elections as a potential target.

Director Pompeo added that intelligence officials have yet to sees a “significant decrease” in Russian activity as it pertains their influence in U.S. elections and social and political issues.

Rob Porter Clearance

Wray was asked by Sen. Ron Wyden about his knowledge of allegations of domestic abuse carried out by former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, creating security clearance issues at the White House. Wray said that while there was a limit to what he can say about the content of Porter’s background investigation, he said he was confident the FBI followed “established protocols” when conducting the background investigation.

Wray provided a brief timeline of when the FBI submitted its reports on the investigation as part of Porter’s clearance process, saying that the investigation was completed in late July. He said the FBI soon thereafter received a request for a follow up inquiry which was provided in November. The file was then closed in January but said earlier this month, the FBI received “additional information” and passed that along to the proper agencies.

Nunes Memo

Wray said he did have interactions with the White House as it pertains to the since-declassified memo penned by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes. He said, however that the FBI “had then and continues to have now grave concerns about the accuracy of the memo because of omissions.” He added, “we provided thousands of documents that were very sensitive” as well as “lots”  of briefings so it’s “very hard for anybody to distill that down to 3 and a half pages.”

The hearing was still ongoing when this was posted:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/christopher-wray-mike-pompeo-dan-coats-testify-on-worldwide-threats-live-stream/

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FBI director defends the bureau’s handling of security clearance for White House aide accused of spousal abuse

 February 13 at 11:39 AM
Washington Post
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FBI Director Christopher A. Wray on Tuesday defended the bureau’s handling of a security clearance investigation into a senior White House aide accused of spousal abuse.“The FBI process involves a fairly elaborate set of standards, protocols,” he said at a Congressional hearing. “I am quite confident that in this instance, the FBI followed established protocols.”His remarks come as the White House is seeking to deflect criticism over its handling of a security clearance for senior aide, Rob Porter, who stepped down last week, saying it relies on law enforcement and intelligence agencies to run the process.Speaking before the Senate Intelligence Committee for its annual worldwide threat hearing, Wray said the FBI submitted a partial report on the Porter clearance in March last year, and then a report on the completed investigation in July. Soon after, the FBI received a request for a follow-up, which the bureau completed and provided in November. The FBI closed the file in January and then earlier this month, Wray said, the bureau received additional information and “we passed that on as well.”

Daniel Coats, the director of national intelligence, declined to comment on Porter’s case or those of other White House officials, including Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who have temporary security clearance but still have access to classified information.

But in general, Coats said, people with temporary clearance should have limited access to classified information.

At the hearing, which ranged over a host of topics, the U.S. government’s top intelligence official also said he expects Russia to continue using propaganda, false personas and other tactics to undermine the upcoming elections.

“There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts” to disrupt the 2016 presidential campaign “as a success,” and it “views the 2018 midterm elections” as another opportunity to conduct an attack, said Coats.

His assessment was echoed by all five other intelligence agency heads present at the hearing, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who two weeks ago stated publicly he had “every expectation” that Russia will try to influence the coming elections.

The committee’s Democratic vice chairman faulted the Trump administration for not preparing for potential Russian interference in the 2018 elections.

“Make no mistake: This threat did not begin in 2016, and it certainly didn’t end with the election,” said Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.). “What we are seeing is a continuous assault by Russia to target and undermine our democratic institutions, and they are going to keep coming at us.”

“Despite all of this, the president inconceivably continues to deny the threat posed by Russia,” Warner continued. “He didn’t increase sanctions on Russia when he had a chance to do so. He hasn’t even tweeted a single concern. This threat demands a whole-of-government response, and that needs to start with leadership at the top.”

The intelligence chiefs also said that North Korea’s presence at the Olympics in South Korea, which saw an historic visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, had not changed the intelligence community’s assessment that the regime is trying to build nuclear weapons to threaten its neighbors and the United States.

“The decision time is becoming ever closer in terms of how we respond” to North Korea’s weapons development, Coats said.

Pompeo said his agency has completed an analysis of how North Korea would respond to a U.S. military strike, as well as what it would take to bring the regime to the negotiating table. He offered to describe that analysis only in a closed, classified session.

Pompeo also responded to reporting last week by The New York Times and The Intercept about an intelligence operation to retrieve classified National Security Agency information believed to have been stolen by Russia. The Times reported that U.S. spies had been bilked out of $100,000, paid to a shadowy Russian who claimed to be able to deliver the secrets, as well as compromising information about President Trump.

Pompeo categorically denied that the intelligence agency had paid any money, directly or indirectly. He claimed that the newspaper had been duped by the same person trying to sell the U.S. government information that turned out to be bogus.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-director-to-face-questions-on-security-clearances-and-agents-independence/2018/02/13/f3e4c706-105f-11e8-9570-29c9830535e5_story.html?utm_term=.0884034fcd03

See also

The New York Times:

Russia Sees Midterm Elections as Chance to Sow Fresh Discord, Intelligence Chiefs Warn

Nyt:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/13/us/politics/russia-sees-midterm-elections-as-chance-to-sow-fresh-discord-intelligence-chiefs-warn.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

How Not to Fix the FBI

February 13, 2018

A second special prosecutor would undermine the good work of Congress.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions appears at the National Sheriffs Association Winter Conference in Washington, Feb. 12.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions appears at the National Sheriffs Association Winter Conference in Washington, Feb. 12. PHOTO: YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS

Rep. Devin Nunes has rendered the public an extraordinary service. Almost single-handedly, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has pried loose from an obstructionist Justice Department documents revealing how the Federal Bureau of Investigation used Clinton campaign research to justify a warrant to spy on Carter Page, a onetime Trump campaign associate. So why are Republicans now threatening to undermine all this good work by calling for a special counsel?

In the past few days, the calls for a special counsel to look into the FBI and Justice Department have grown louder. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham want one. So do Reps. Bob Goodlatte, Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan and others. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is thinking about it. Meanwhile, President Trump’s deputy press secretary has told reporters that the president’s lawyers want one too.

It’s a tempting proposition. Republicans are plagued by a special counsel whose mere existence calls into question the legitimacy of the last election. Why shouldn’t they inflict the same menace on Mr. Trump’s opponents? The answer is that a special counsel is not only unnecessary but counterproductive.

Right now, two big questions hang over our public life: how the Russians interfered in the 2016 presidential elections, and whether the Justice Department and FBI let Hillary Clinton off the hook in the investigation into her private email server even as they politicized counterintelligence operations to undermine team Trump.

Republicans who think a special counsel is the right way to pursue answers ought to take a hard look at the Robert Mueller investigation. Mr. Mueller has indicted a few folks since being named special counsel last May. But he’s produced scant evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and no one knows what he’s really found because it’s all secret.

What makes anyone think a new special counsel would be any different? Once appointed, the curtain would drop. Congress would be asked to stand down, on the grounds that it must not do anything that might interfere with a criminal investigation.

This prosecutorial approach turns the Constitution on its head. In our system of self-government, the American people, acting through their elected representatives, are given oversight of what their politicians and government have been up to. For the most part, accountability is meant to come via the ballot box—not a grand jury.

A better way forward would be for Mr. Sessions to appoint a U.S. attorney to investigate abuses of power within the Justice Department and FBI. Rather than destroying these organizations, the goal of the investigation would be to restore their credibility by identifying any abuses of power and removing the responsible individuals. Although the threat of a grand jury would likely be necessary to concentrate the minds of certain officials who might not be inclined to cooperate, the goal would be to hold individuals accountable, not to tar whole institutions.

Andrew McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, says that such an investigation would require the unequivocal support of three principal players: President Trump, Attorney General Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray. Each would have to show a commitment that has so far been lacking.

Image result for Christopher Wray, photos

Christopher Wray

Mr. Trump would need to overcome his administration’s reluctance to use its declassification powers to make public crucial material. Mr. Sessions would have to provide the designated U.S. attorney not only with support but clear parameters and a time frame to ensure the effort did not drag on and on. Mr. Wray, for his part, would have to show cooperation that doesn’t require the threat of a congressional contempt citation.

The man or woman appointed to lead the investigation, Mr. McCarthy says, “has to be someone who is looking to hold people accountable while preserving Justice and the FBI as the essential institutions they are, and who is looking to have this wrapped up in short order, not an empire builder à la Mueller.”

Mr. McCarthy believes that although there are other possible investigators, it would be best to use FBI agents. Of course, these agents would have to lack any connection to the subjects of their investigation, and they would need a guarantee that their careers would not suffer. But using FBI agents to root out the bad apples, says Mr. McCarthy, could elicit more cooperation from a bureau that might otherwise see itself as under siege from people who wanted the institution destroyed.

 

If handled properly, such an investigation could bring many benefits. The public would get a full accounting of the dossier saga. Those responsible for any abuses would be removed. And the American people would see that our system of government is capable of identifying abuse and correcting it—without resorting to the constitutional aberration known as the special counsel.

Write to mcgurn@wsj.com.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-not-to-fix-the-fbi-1518478919

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Hillary Clinton Needs to Move On

February 12, 2018

Why is one of the most qualified leaders in the world continuing to let Trump define her, when she could be changing the subject?

 By JOANNA WEISS

February 11, 2018

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It’s tough to lose an election for student council, let alone for president. So it made sense that, after November 2016, Hillary Clinton would have spent some time wallowing in the past, howling at the universe with a side of Chardonnay. That’s the frame of mind she described in What Happened, her post-campaign memoir that came out in September, which was more of an angry play-by-play of how she was wronged than a clear-headed self-assessment of the race. Now, five months after the book came out, 15 months after the election, Clinton’s been spotted promoting family friend Lanny Davis’ new book, The Unmaking of the President 2016: How FBI Director James Comey Cost Hillary Clinton the Presidency.

We just passed Groundhog Day on the calendar, but it feels like we’re still living it; we can’t break free from the gnashing and rehashing of the 2016 election. It’s not just the Mueller probe and legitimate questions about Russian influence. It’s the emotional notes of triumph and defeat. President Donald Trump hasn’t dropped the subject, which is as perplexing as anything else Trump has done. But Clinton hasn’t dropped it, either. And at this point, she should.

I feel little nervous saying that, knowing what backlash will come: Clinton won the popular vote, she made history, she’s double-ultra-accomplished, and suggesting that she sing a different tune is really just trying to silence her. Her fans are highly sensitive about critiques, and their fury reached a crescendo in December, when Vanity Fair posted a snarky video suggesting New Year’s resolutions for Clinton—including “put away your James Comey voodoo doll” and take up knitting—and then, after a Twitter frenzy, sort of apologized.

Knitting was a little much—I’m not suggesting Clinton retreat from public life to a domestic one, unless that’s what she wants. But let’s put the video in context: The media are often unkind to losing candidates of every gender. In March 2013, four months after he lost to Barack Obama, the Atlantic ran a snarky piece about the “Bizarre Post-Election Life” of Mitt Romney, caught in such shocking acts as pumping his own gas, ordering McDonald’s and going to Costco. Around that time, Romney did his first major post-election interview on “Fox News Sunday”; a Washington Post story about it began, “One hundred seventeen days later, Mitt Romney still isn’t over it.” Ever since his gut-piercing loss in 2000, writers have pop-psychologized over Al Gore’s weight gain and post-election facial hair. “It is the beard of the hermit,” one Guardian columnist wrote, “a former warrior sorely done by and meditating in his manly cave until the people realise their folly.”

What Gore and Romney have managed to do, though, is move on—or at least make it look like they have—and reinvent. Romney has made his way back to the arena, after finding a new state in which to run for office and distinguishing himself as a rare Republican politician who criticized Trump flat out (with a brief interlude when he tried to position himself to be Trump’s secretary of state). Gore turned the 2000 race into a throwaway punch line and embarked on a second act as an investor, climate-change Cassandra and Nobel laureate. This is what many of Clinton’s critics want for her: Not to be silent, but to say something different. She’s missing an opportunity to define herself beyond being the candidate who—fairly, unfairly, or both—lost a seemingly winnable election to Trump.

Self-definition, reinvention, self-improvement; those ideas sound like the stuff of Oprah, the potentially-though-probably-not-but-hell-who-knows 2020 presidential candidate. In fact, the internet is clogged with advice about what to do after a painful defeat. A 2016 piece of aggregated wisdom in Business News Daily, “How Successful Leaders Recover from Failure,” wraps it up in bullet points: “Apologize quickly and own up,” “Analyze what went wrong,” and “Move on.” The job search website Ladders recently posted a list of “10 things smart people never say,” from “It’s not my fault” to “It’s not fair” to “He’s lazy/incompetent/a jerk.”

How is it that Clinton, who is successful and smart, hasn’t followed the most basic, Goop-like advice? For one thing, self-reflection isn’t easy or natural, which is why there are so many of these lists in the first place. Plus, it’s harder to let go when a mob of people—from inner-circle loyalists like Lanny Davis to the internet hordes—are egging you on while rending their garments over Trump.

But the irony is that Clinton has done it right before, handling past adversity in ways that were productive and inspired. In one of the feminist triumphs of modern politics, she refused to lock herself into the “wronged wife” story line, launched an ambitious bid for U.S. Senate from New York, and began a soaring political career. In 2008, after a tight loss to Obama in the Democratic primary, she graciously accepted his offer to be secretary of state, where she oversaw Washington’s “reset” with Moscow, managed sanctions in Iran and crises in Pakistan, and launched the Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative.

Perhaps Clinton was able to bounce back so quickly because she knew the presidency was still within reach. Now that goal is off the table, and she has yet to fully embrace a cause or future that can separate her from her loss. Finding the right path, among many possible options, is surely a challenge. But if she does commit herself to reinvention, Clinton will find that she is better-positioned than ever to make a difference. She’ll be free from the daily trench warfare of Washington. Her every move will still attract attention. And her experiences as senator and secretary of state have prepared her for roll-up-your-sleeves work on policy issues, from the child-welfare matters that started her career to the status of women worldwide. Clinton has taken baby steps in that direction: Last week, at a Georgetown University event, she spoke about how climate change will disproportionately affect women.

She could dive into the private sector, creating a market solution for any number of problems. She could follow Gore’s path and take on a single cause as a public advocate. Naysayers be damned, she could run for office again. She’s the same age as Romney—and younger than Joe Biden.

The point is to drop any public grumbling about the past, or calling out of Trump in outraged tweets, or stirring up partisan fury by mocking Trump in public. (Though at least her cameo at the Grammys, reading a passage from “Fire and Fury,” redeemed itself with a self-deprecating joke: “The Grammy’s in the bag?”) There are plenty of people willing and able to analyze the 2016 race and point out the absurdities of Trump. Clinton doesn’t need to be a voice in that mix. She has the chance to go down in history as much more than the almost-first-woman-president. It starts with changing the subject.

Top Intel Committee Democrat Adam Schiff says Trump’s hypocrisy on the memos ‘reaches out and grabs you by the throat’ — But Polls show Republicans winning

February 12, 2018

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  • Kellyanne Conway said President Donald Trump refused to release the Democratic memo responding to Rep. Devin Nunes controversial Russia investigation memo because it contained improper information about confidential “sources and methods” that need to be redacted.
  • Trump had previously authorized the Nunes memo, against the warnings of intelligence agencies, reportedly without even reading it.
  • Ranking Democrat on the committee Rep. Adam Schiff criticized Trump’s apparent double standard, saying “the hypocrisy of this just kind of reaches out and grabs you by the throat.”
  • Trump had previously attacked Schiff on Twitter, saying he need to be “stopped.”

Counselor Kellyanne Conway defended President Donald Trump’s refusal on Friday to release a Democratic rebuttal to the controversial memo on the Russia investigation, authored by House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, despite Trump’s decision to release Nunes’ memo last week.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week”, Conway told host George Stephanopoulos that the Democratic memo includes classified information that needs to be redacted.

“The Democratic memo is much longer,” she said. “It’s much more involved. And those who are in a position to know national security and lawyers have said that it contains sources and methods that could be very compromising. So they want to make sure that that is cured before it is released to the public.”

The week before, Trump authorized the release of the the Nunes memo that details alleged misconduct on the part of the FBI and Justice Department in the Russia investigation. The FBI had released a rare public statement urging against its release, cautioning that it could reveal intelligence methods.

The first memo claims that the FBI and DOJ misled a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court in order to obtain and renew a so-called FISA warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, and that they used the largely uncorroborated Trump-Russia dossier as the primary source of evidence in their application.

The Democratic rebuttal memo pushes back against the Nunes memo’s claims, in particular criticizing its assertion that the dossier was the sole basis for the Page FISA application, two sources on the House Intelligence Committee told Business Insider.

Trump declined to declassify the Democratic memo, and sent it back to the committe for revisions.

The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, had some harsh words on the White House’s measured response to the Democratic memo. Speaking on CBS’s Face the Nation, he accused Trump of putting “his own personal interest above the national security interest of the country.”

“The hypocrisy of this just kind of reaches out and grabs you by the throat,” Schiff said. “Here the Republicans write a memo the FBI quite accurately describes as misleading and omitting material facts, the Department of Justice says it would be ‘extraordinary reckless’ to release this. And what does the president do? He says ‘I’m going to release it, before I even read it, 100% I’m going to release it.'”

Despite Trump’s initial refusal to release Schiff and the Democrats’ memo, Conway said he was open to doing so once the appropriate redactions were made.

“This is serious business,” she said, “and if it takes a little bit of extra time to get the transparency and accountability out there, we should all respect that. The president is inclined to declassify as he did the other memo.”

She told Stephanopoulos that Schiff is complying with the redaction process.

Trump throws his weight behind Nunes, against Schiff

Donald TrumpPresident Donald Trump. AP

Trump attacked Schiff on Twitter Monday.

“Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper!” Trump tweeted. “Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!”

Trump has stated that the Nunes memo “totally vindicates” him in the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s potential collusion in the Kremlin’s efforts.

But Rep. Trey Gowdy, a Republican on the House Intelligence Committee who helped author the Nunes memo, pushed back against this claim.

“I’m sure the president is frustrated,” Gowdy said after Trump released the first memo. “So I’m sure that that instructs some of what he said. I actually don’t think it has any impact on the Russia probe for this reason.”

The Nunes memo fell short of expectations

devin nunesRep. Devin Nunes . Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The memo itself, which Nunes had promised would be a bombshell, proved largely underwhelming after its release.

Blasting the memo in a tweet the day the memo was released, former FBI director James Comey wrote, “That’s it?”

Critics of the Nunes memo have pointed out that it does not even come close to answering the key question it was supposed to address — whether the warrant application was obtained illegally — because it does not include any other supporting information that investigators presented to the court.

In addition, the memo seemed to undercut the idea that Nunes insisted it casts doubt on the validity of the Russia investigation as a whole.

The application to surveil Page was filed in October 2016. But the memo notes the FBI opened its  investigation into links between Trump and Russia in July 2016, on account of “Papadopoulos information.”

This is a reference of former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who reportedly told an Australian ambassador that Russia had “dirt” on 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during a night out in London in May 2016.

In addition to his first memo, Nunes is looking to possible release as many as five more memos. These memos reportedly allege misconduct at the State Department.

Intelligence experts warned against the precedent that releasing memos could set.

“Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen,” Comey said. “For what? DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs.”

http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-memos-hypocrisy-schiff-kellyanne-defense-2018-2

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Peeling back the layers of Hillary Clinton’s deceit

February 11, 2018

By Michael Goodwin
New York Post

February 10, 2018

Image may contain: 1 person

For law enforcement, Congress and even journalists, exposing misdeeds is like peeling an onion. Each layer you remove gets you closer to the truth.

So it is with the scandalous behavior of the FBI during its probe into whether President Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia in 2016. One layer at a time, we’re learning how flawed and dirty that probe was.

A top layer involves the texts between FBI lawyer Lisa Page and her married lover, Peter Strzok, the lead agent on the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe. They casually mention an “insurance policy” in the event Trump won the election and a plan for Strzok to go easy on Clinton because she probably would be their next boss.

Those exchanges, seen in the light of subsequent events, lead to a reasonable conclusion that the fix was in among then-Director James Comey’s team to hurt Trump and help Clinton.

Another layer involves the declassified House memo, which indicates the FBI and Justice Department depended heavily on the unverified Russian dossier about Trump to get a warrant to spy on Carter Page, an American citizen and briefly a Trump adviser.

The House memo also reveals that Comey and others withheld from the secret surveillance court key partisan facts that would have cast doubt on the dossier. Officials never revealed to the judges that the document was paid for by Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee or that Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier, said he was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected.”

A third layer of the onion involves the revelations in the letter GOP Sens. Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham wrote to the Justice Department. They urge a criminal investigation into whether Steele lied to the FBI about how much and when he fed the dossier to the anti-Trump media.

The letter is compelling in showing that Steele said one thing under oath to a British court and something different to the FBI. The contradictions matter because the agency relied on Steele’s credibility in both the FISA applications and its actual investigation. Strangely, even after it fired him for breaking its rule forbidding media contact, the FBI continued to praise his credibility in court.

If that were all the senators’ letter accomplished, it would be enough. But it does much more.

It also reveals that two former journalists linked to Clinton, separately identified as the odious Sidney Blumenthal   and a man named Cody Shearer, created and gave a State Department official additional unverified allegations against Trump.

The official passed those documents to Steele, who passed them to the FBI, which reportedly saw them as further evidence that Trump worked with Russians. But as Grassley, head of the Judiciary Committee, and Graham write, “It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.”

The State Department official involved in the episode, Jonathan Winer, wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post Friday in which he confessed to the senators’ chronology while offering a benign description of his motives. Winer also admitted he shared all the unverified allegations from the Clinton hitmen with other State Department officials.There are many more layers of the onion to peel, but here’s where we are now: It increasingly appears that the Clinton machine was the secret, original source of virtually all the allegations about Trump and Russia that led to the FBI investigation.

In addition, the campaign and its associates, including Steele, were behind the explosion of anonymously sourced media reports during the fall of 2016 about that investigation.

Thus, the Democratic nominee paid for and created allegations against her Republican opponent, gave them to law enforcement, then tipped friendly media to the investigation. And it is almost certain FBI agents supporting Clinton were among the anonymous sources.

In fact, the Clinton connections are so fundamental that there probably would not have been an FBI investigation without her involvement.

That makes hers a brazen work of political genius — and perhaps the dirtiest dirty trick ever played in presidential history. Following her manipulation of the party operation to thwart Bernie Sanders in the primary, Clinton is revealed as relentlessly ruthless in her quest to be president.

The only thing that went wrong is that she lost the election. And based on what we know now, her claims about Trump were false.

Of the charges against four men brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, none involves helping Russia interfere with the election.

And neither the FBI nor Mueller has vouched for the truthfulness of the Blumenthal and Shearer claims or the Steele dossier. ­Instead, the dossier faces defamation lawsuits in the US and England from several people named in it.

In fairness, one person besides Steele has been cited as justification for the FBI probe. George Papadopoulos, a bit but ambitious player in the Trump orbit, met with a professor in Europe early in 2016 who told him the Kremlin had Clinton’s private e-mails.

In May 2016, Papadopoulos told the story to an Australian diplomat and two months later, in July, the Australian government alerted the FBI.

However, a full timeline convincingly points to Steele as the initial spark. He was hired by a Clinton contractor in June of 2016, and filed his first allegations against Trump on June 20. Two weeks later, on July 5, he met with an FBI agent in London, The Washington Post reported, and filed three more allegations that month, including one about Carter Page.

At any rate, it is certain that Steele and other Clinton operators provided all the allegations about Trump himself that the FBI started with and that Mueller inherited.

For Clinton, creating a cloud over Trump’s presidency and helping to put the nation through continuing turmoil is a victory of sorts. America is fortunate it’s her only victory.

 

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https://nypost.com/2018/02/10/peeling-back-the-layers-of-hillary-clintons-deceit/
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Trump Calls Democratic Memo `Political’ After Blocking Release

February 10, 2018

Bloomberg

By Billy House and  Justin Sink

 Updated on 
  • President says House committee can revise memo and resubmit it
  • Justice Department cited sensitive portions, White House says
President Donald Trump at the White House on Feb. 9.Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg

President Donald Trump defended his decision not to release the Democratic rebuttal of a Republican memo that alleged bias and misconduct by the FBI and Justice Department early in their investigation of Russian election interference, saying on Twitter that the document was “very political.”

“The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more), would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency,” Trump said in a tweet. “Told them to re-do and send back in proper form!”

Read the full letter here.

Late Friday, White House counsel Donald McGahn said Trump was unable to release the memo because it contains “numerous properly classified and sensitive passages. In a letter to Republican Representative Devin Nunes of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, McGahn said the Justice Department concluded that portions of the memo were highly sensitive.

Trump would consider releasing the document if changes were made “to mitigate the risks” determined by the Department of National Intelligence and Justice Department of releasing those sensitive parts, McGahn wrote.

‘Double Standard’

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, blasted Trump’s decision.

“The president’s double standard when it comes to transparency is appalling,” he said in a statement late Friday. “The rationale for releasing the Nunes memo, transparency, vanishes when it could show information that’s harmful to him.”

Adam Schiff of California, the panel’s top Democrat who wrote the memo, which is about 10 pages long, said that Trump was treating it differently from the four-page Republican version commissioned by Nunes that was released last week. He said the committee would review the concerns expressed by the FBI and Justice Department.

“After ignoring urging of FBI & DOJ not to release misleading Nunes memo because it omits material facts, @POTUS now expresses concerns over sharing precisely those facts with public and seeks to send it back to the same Majority that produced the flawed Nunes memo to begin with,” Schiff tweeted late Friday.

Nunes said in a statement that “Intelligence Committee Republicans encourage the minority to accept the DOJ’s recommendations and make the appropriate technical changes and redactions so that no sources and methods are disclosed and their memo can be declassified as soon as possible.”

Political Gamble

The decision to block the Democratic memo is a political risk for Trump, who claimed the Republican-authored version vindicated his claims of unfair political influence in investigations at the Justice Department. He approved the release of the GOP memo over the objections of FBI Director Christopher Wray, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Schiff had submitted the memo to the FBI and Justice Department so they could vet it for sensitive information.

The White House released a letter from Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that said they have given details to the intelligence panel about which portions of the Democratic memo are too sensitive to release.

The decision to completely block the memo’s release — rather than redact particular excerpts objected to by law enforcement and intelligence agencies — could give further ammunition to critics who say the president is politicizing the process.

Fact-Checking the Disputed Republican Memo on the Russia Probe

Already, the White House was grappling with the sense the original Republican document had done little to change the narrative on the Russia investigation, which has proven a chronic issue during Trump’s first year in office. In a Quinnipiac University poll released this week, 56 percent of Americans said they saw Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian involvement in the 2016 election as fair — down just 3 points from the previous month.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have several options. They could accept Trump’s offer for help from the Justice Department to scrub the memo of sensitive information. Under the obscure rule the panel is using to release both memos, known as Rule X, they could also call for a vote on releasing it over the objections of the president. But that would require the support of Republicans on the panel.

Origin Stories

The dueling memos both examine the origins of the Russia inquiry, including how the FBI obtained a surveillance warrant for Carter Page, a low-level Trump campaign adviser. Much of the underlying evidence, including the warrant application, remain classified.

Schiff’s memo challenges a Republican assertion that the FBI based its surveillance application almost entirely on an unverified dossier paid for by Trump’s political opponents, including Hillary Clinton, and that it kept the dossier’s origins from the court that approved the warrant. Democrats say the court was informed that a former British spy, Christopher Steele, who assembled the dossier, was politically motivated.

The Democratic memo also says that the FBI had other legitimate evidence that prompted the investigation into possible links between Trump associates and Russia.

The rebuttal was the latest Democratic volley against a Republican assault on the legitimacy of the government’s Russia investigation. Schiff and other Democrats say the Republicans are trying to undermine the Mueller inquiry.

‘Politically Smart’

House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy, an Intelligence Committee member who wrote the Republican memo, said earlier this week on Fox News that Democrats may have purposely included classified or sensitive information in their rebuttal.

“I think the Democrats are politically smart enough to put things in the memo that require either the bureau or the Department of Justice to say it needs to be redacted. Therefore, it creates this belief that there’s something being hidden from the American people,” Gowdy said.

In response, Schiff told Bloomberg News, “That’s their spin,” referring to Republicans. He said of his memo, “It sets the context. And there’s a lot we left out.”

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeup

Adam Schiff. File photo by AP

“So, I’m not surprised they would like to see some omitted from our response,” he added.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-10/trump-blocks-release-of-democratic-rebuttal-to-gop-probe-memo

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The FBI Was Desperate for Somebody to Spy On

February 10, 2018

The Steele dossier served up an improbable tale about Carter Page, but it would have to do.

Now we have it ostensibly from then-FBI Director James Comey as well as former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe that there might have been no surveillance of Carter Page without the Steele dossier. If so, that’s probably because the dossier provided the one thing the FBI lacked and was unlikely to find (because it didn’t exist): a reason to believe Mr. Page was important.

In the dossier accumulated by former British spy Christopher Steele, Mr. Page is a player. He meets secretly with Vladimir Putin’s No. 1 capo, Igor Sechin. Dangled in front of him is a gobsmacking bribe—a brokerage fee on the forthcoming privatization of a 19.5% stake in the giant Russian state oil firm Rosneft. All he has to do is arrange the lifting of U.S. sanctions, as if this were in the power of the elfin Mr. Page to deliver.

The story is implausible. Mr. Page has denied it under oath. Nothing has emerged to suggest the FBI confirmed it. Only Luke Harding, a British journalist who has written a book alleging Trump -Russia collusion, finds it inherently self-crediting. Why? Because Mr. Steele’s Russian “mole” apparently correctly anticipated the Rosneft deal that would finally be consummated in the closing hours of 2016. Even the Russian cabinet and Rosneft’s own board, Mr. Harding wrote last week at Politico.com, “only discovered the deal on December 7, hours after Sechin had already recorded his TV meeting with Putin revealing it.”

This nonsense actually points to why somebody might pluck out of the pending Rosneft deal and attach Mr. Page’s name to it. The partial sale, aimed at reducing the Russian government’s stake to 50% plus one share, had actually been conspicuously on the agenda for years. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree in 2014, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov started touting the expected proceeds in 2015, and Mr. Putin formally included them in the state budget in February 2016.

In other words, the deal was a topic of fervent press speculation for more than a year by the time Mr. Steele or his sources put it at the center of their story about Mr. Page.

That the FBI was buying is the puzzling part. One possibility is that the agency was under strong pressure from fellow Obama administration officials to surveil somebody, anybody associated with the Trump campaign. Recall that the effervescent Mr. Page, by this time, was already known to the FBI and U.S. intelligence for several years, after he’d fallen afoul of a goofy Russian spy recruitment attempt in 2013.

OK, the press obviously needs our help. Reporters, it’s time to employ the kind of intelligent imagination that good novelists and historians bring to their work. The Trump-Russia story is not the layered drama of your dreams, but a black comedy. When the movie version is made, it won’t be the 2006 version of “Casino Royale.” It will be the 1967 version.

First, the run-up to the Nunes memo reminds us that claims about protecting government secrets are often cover for bureaucratic privilege and avoiding accountability. Hillary Clinton was wrong to ignore information-security rules imposed on lesser government-unemployed mortals, but the value of government secrets is grossly exaggerated.

Former Clinton pollster Mark Penn, in a piece in the Hill newspaper last week, properly mocked the mainstream press, usually so eager to traffic in leaked government secrets, for suddenly developing a fondness for prior restraint in the case of Mr. Nunes’s duly vetted memo.

Also in need of mocking is the media’s self-fulfilling overreliance on the trope of the “dueling partisan narratives.” Listen closely to what responsible partisans on either side say and it isn’t nearly as over-the-top as the press generalizations about what they say (Republicans declare war on the FBI!).

The easiest column to write, alas, is the one that treats the most hyperbolic, unnuanced claims by one side or the other (or Mr. Trump ) as representative for the purpose of knocking them down. Such columns, we hasten to add, are as much products of creative desperation as they are of partisan water-carrying. And they only spawn more of the same. Peter Thiel last week wisely suggested that pundits should try focusing on the “steel man” rather than the straw man versions of their opponent’s arguments.

The most important takeaway from the Nunes memo is this: Worries about “sources and methods” (often exaggerated) should not be a deterrent to clearing the air when something as important as the up-and-upness of a U.S. presidential election is in question.

Whatever his complaints, Mr. Trump managed to win. Hillary Clinton is the one publicly contending that improper FBI actions cost her the election. Her friend Lanny Davis has published a plausible book on the subject. Mrs. Clinton and her fellow Democrats should be insisting most loudly on a comprehensive and unflinching examination of the FBI’s role in the 2016 race.

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-fbi-was-desperate-for-somebody-to-spy-on-1518216629

Trump Blocks Release of Democratic Rebuttal to GOP Probe Memo — Democrats may have purposely included classified or sensitive information in their rebuttal

February 10, 2018

Bloomberg

By Billy House and  Justin Sink

 Updated on 
  • President says House committee can revise memo and resubmit it
  • Justice Department cited sensitive portions, White House says
President Donald Trump at the White House on Feb. 9.

Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg

President Donald Trump on Friday declined to release a House Democratic rebuttal of a Republican memo alleging bias and misconduct by the FBI and Justice Department early in their investigation of Russian election interference.

Trump is unable to do so because it contains “numerous properly classified and sensitive passages,” White House counsel Donald McGahn wrote in a letter to the House Intelligence chairman, Republican Representative Devin Nunes of California. McGahn said the Justice Department concluded that portions of the memo were highly sensitive.

Read the full letter here.

The president would consider releasing the document if changes were made “to mitigate the risks” determined by the Department of National Intelligence and Justice Department of releasing those sensitive parts,” McGahn wrote.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, blasted Trump’s decision.

“The president’s double standard when it comes to transparency is appalling,” he said in a statement late Friday. “The rationale for releasing the Nunes memo, transparency, vanishes when it could show information that’s harmful to him.”

Adam Schiff of California, the panel’s top Democrat who wrote the memo, which is about 10 pages long, said that Trump was treating it differently from the four-page Republican version commissioned by Nunes that was released last week. He said the committee would review the concerns expressed by the FBI and Justice Department.

“After ignoring urging of FBI & DOJ not to release misleading Nunes memo because it omits material facts, @POTUS now expresses concerns over sharing precisely those facts with public and seeks to send it back to the same Majority that produced the flawed Nunes memo to begin with,” Schiff tweeted late Friday.

Nunes said in a statement that “Intelligence Committee Republicans encourage the minority to accept the DOJ’s recommendations and make the appropriate technical changes and redactions so that no sources and methods are disclosed and their memo can be declassified as soon as possible.”

Political Gamble

The decision to block the Democratic memo is a political risk for Trump, who claimed the Republican-authored version vindicated his claims of unfair political influence in investigations at the Justice Department. He approved the release of the GOP memo over the objections of FBI Director Christopher Wray, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Schiff had submitted the memo to the FBI and Justice Department so they could vet it for sensitive information.

The White House released a letter from Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that said they have given details to the Intelligence Committee about which portions of the Democratic memo are too sensitive to release.

The decision to completely block the memo’s release — rather than redact particular excerpts objected to by law enforcement and intelligence agencies — could give further ammunition to critics who say the president is politicizing the process.

Fact-Checking the Disputed Republican Memo on the Russia Probe

Already, the White House was grappling with the sense the original Republican document had done little to change the narrative on the Russia investigation, which has proven a chronic issue during Trump’s first year in office. In a Quinnipiac University poll released this week, 56 percent of Americans said they saw Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian involvement in the 2016 election as fair — down just 3 points from the previous month.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have several options. They could accept Trump’s offer for help from the Justice Department to scrub the memo of sensitive information. Under the obscure rule the panel is using to release both memos, known as Rule X, they could also call for a vote on releasing it over the objections of the president. But that would require the support of Republicans on the panel.

Origin Stories

The dueling memos both examine the origins of the Russia inquiry, including how the FBI obtained a surveillance warrant for Carter Page, a low-level Trump campaign adviser. Much of the underlying evidence, including the warrant application, remain classified.

Schiff’s memo challenges a GOP assertion that the FBI based its surveillance application almost entirely on an unverified dossier paid for by Trump’s political opponents, including Hillary Clinton, and that it kept the dossier’s origins from the court that approved the warrant. Democrats say the court was informed that a former British spy, Christopher Steele, who assembled the dossier, was politically motivated.

The Democratic memo also says that the FBI had other legitimate evidence that prompted the investigation into possible links between Trump associates and Russia.

The rebuttal was the latest Democratic volley against a Republican assault on the legitimacy of the government’s Russia investigation. Schiff and other Democrats say the Republicans are trying to undermine the Mueller inquiry.

House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy, an Intelligence Committee member who wrote the GOP memo, said earlier this week on Fox News that Democrats may have purposely included classified or sensitive information in their rebuttal.

“I think the Democrats are politically smart enough to put things in the memo that require either the bureau or the Department of Justice to say it needs to be redacted. Therefore, it creates this belief that there’s something being hidden from the American people,” Gowdy had said.

In response, Schiff told Bloomberg News, “That’s their spin,” referring to Republicans. He said of his memo, ”It sets the context. And there’s a lot we left out.”

“So, I’m not surprised they would like to see some omitted from our response,” he added.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-10/trump-blocks-release-of-democratic-rebuttal-to-gop-probe-memo

House Panel Agrees to Release Democratic Memo on Surveillance of Trump Associate

February 6, 2018

White House now has five days to decide whether document should be released

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Adam Schiff
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WASHINGTON—The House Intelligence Committee on Monday voted unanimously to release a classified Democratic memo that defends the federal investigation into a Trump campaign associate, a move that gives the White House five days to allow or reject its disclosure.

Democrats wrote the 10-page memo as a response to a Republican document released last week that details how the federal government got a warrant to conduct surveillance on Carter Page, a foreign-policy adviser to the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-panel-agrees-to-release-democratic-memo-on-surveillance-of-trump-associate-1517872696

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House panel clears release of Democrats’ rebuttal to GOP memo, forcing showdown with Trump

House Intelligence Committee votes to release Democratic memo

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) on Feb. 5 said the House Intelligence Committee voted to release Democrats’ response to a GOP memo alleging surveillance abuses.

 February 5 at 7:51 PM
The Washington Post
The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously Monday to release a Democratic rebuttal to GOP accusations that the FBI misled a secret surveillance court. President Trump now has five days to decide whether the information will become public.The vote means the political rancor roiling Congress is likely to continue. Each party has accused the other of misrepresenting sensitive intelligence surrounding the ongoing probe into whether any Trump associates coordinated with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

The panel’s senior Democrat, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), announced the vote results, saying Republican attacks on the Justice Department and the FBI show desperation on the part of the president’s defenders.

“We think this will help inform the public of the many distortions and inaccuracies” in the GOP memo released last week, Schiff told reporters after Monday’s vote, adding that he was concerned the Trump administration could still try to stymie the Democrats’ response.

“We want to make sure that the White House does not redact our memo for political purposes,” Schiff said. “There is a rising sense of panic, clearly, within the White House and as well on the Hill.”

From left, Reps. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee; Jim Himes (D-Conn.); and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) exit a secure facility in the Capitol last month. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Schiff said that he gave copies of the Democrats’ memo to the FBI and the Justice Department days ago and that he expected it to go to the White House on Monday night for review.

In announcing the vote, Schiff blasted the Intelligence Committee’s Republican chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), for his handling of Russia-related intelligence issues. He said Nunes had blocked efforts to obtain testimony from key witnesses and refused to answer repeated questions about whether he had coordinated with the White House in preparing the GOP memo.

Nunes did not address the media after Monday’s vote.

One Republican on the panel, Rep. K. Michael Conaway (Tex.), said he was not aware of any coordination between Nunes and the White House. “I just can’t imagine Devin would be involved in that,” Conaway said.

In an interview Friday with Fox News, Nunes blasted Democratic critics, saying they were trying to conceal abuses of surveillance powers by the FBI and the Justice Department. “These guys tell so many lies, you can’t keep track of them,’’ Nunes said.

Even with the committee voting to make the Democrats’ memo public, Trump could decide to keep it secret. Under congressional rules, the president has five days to consider whether to block the memo’s release. If he blocks it, Nunes could then ask the full House to override the president’s decision.

Former CIA director John Brennan and lawmakers from both parties on Feb. 4 commented on the release of a GOP memo alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI.

A White House spokesman said the Democratic memo would undergo the same review as the GOP memo before it.

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John Brennan. Photo by J. Scott Applewhite, The Associated Press — FILE Photo

Before Monday’s vote, Trump charged in a tweet that Schiff “leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information” and “must be stopped” — suggesting that the president may decide not to allow the Democrats’ assertions to be made public.

And during a speech about tax cuts Monday in Ohio, Trump went off script to talk about the Nunes memo.

“Oh, but did we catch them in the act or what?” he asked his audience. “You know what I’m talking about. Oh, did we catch them in the act. They are very embarrassed. They never thought they were going to get caught. We caught them. Hey, we caught them. It’s so much fun — we’re like the great sleuth.”

In the same speech, Trump ratcheted up his rhetoric against congressional Democrats, suggesting they were “treasonous” for not applauding during his State of the Union address last week.

Nunes has indicated to other committee members that the president might make significant redactions before allowing the Demo­crats’ memo to be released, according to one person familiar with the discussion, though accounts differed.

Rep. Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.) said that he did not think the president would block the memo’s release but that Trump should redact information about sources and methods of intelligence collection. Such details do not represent the bulk of the Democrats’ memo, he added, calling it an inaccurate representation of what’s contained in underlying intelligence documents.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said last week that he supports the rebuttal’s public release once it goes through the same process the Republican memo was put through. The GOP memo was available to House members to read in a secure facility for 11 days before the panel voted to make it public. On Jan. 29, the House Intelligence Committee voted to make the Democrats’ memo available to all members to peruse in a secure facility as well.

The four-page GOP document released Friday accuses the FBI and the Justice Department of misusing information from a British ex-spy during the 2016 election to help justify their warrant application to surveil a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.

The Democrats’ 10-page rebuttal, written by Schiff and staffers, suggests that the Republicans’ memo is misleading and relies on cherry-picked information intended to discredit the ongoing probe into possible links between Russian agents and the Trump campaign.

In his Monday tweet, the president accused “Little Adam Schiff” of being “one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington,” along with former FBI director James B. Comey; Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee; former CIA director John Brennan; and former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. All had spoken out against releasing the GOP memo.

The committee is scheduled to interview former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon on Tuesday — the third time it has scheduled him for a return trip to Capitol Hill after he refused to answer the panel’s questions related to the Trump transition team.

But lawmakers were unsure Monday evening if Bannon was going to show and indicated that they were starting to lose patience. Rooney warned that if Bannon did not comply with the committee’s subpoena, it could prompt talk about “contempt of Congress,” which could trigger a showdown between the legislative and executive branches.

A person familiar with Bannon’s plans said he would not appear Tuesday because the White House and the House counsel have not come to an agreement about whether Bannon is covered by executive privilege, as the White House insists. This person said, however, that Bannon will meet with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III before the middle of the month and will answer his questions with no restrictions.

In the Senate on Monday, Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) released a heavily redacted version of their memo urging the Justice Department to investigate whether the British ex-spy, Christopher Steele, lied to the FBI. Steele authored a now-famous dossier alleging ties between Trump associates and the Kremlin, a document at the center of Republicans’ complaints about the bureau.

The two senators also made clear that they are probing whether officials at the State Department may have helped Steele. Nunes has indicated that he is investigating this as well

The document made public by Grassley on Monday indicates that the Senate Judiciary Committee launched its inquiry in response to reports published by The Washington Post about Steele and the firm that hired him, Fusion GPS. It accuses Steele of misleading the FBI about his contact with reporters during the campaign.

Steele declined to comment. A lawyer for Fusion GPS did not immediately comment on the document.

John Wagner contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-attacks-schiff-ahead-of-vote-on-democrats-russia-probe-memo/2018/02/05/abf388fc-0a8c-11e8-8b0d-891602206fb7_story.html?utm_term=.fd292cba40d0