Posts Tagged ‘FBI’

Ex-Trump campaign chief Manafort’s home raided in Russia probe

August 9, 2017

AFP

© GETTY/AFP/File | Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, is under scrutiny in a federal probe into possible collusion between the Republican’s campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 US election
WASHINGTON (AFP) – FBI agents seized documents in a raid on a home of former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort last month as the explosive probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election gains pace.

A Manafort spokesman confirmed the raid, which the Washington Post described as a pre-dawn search of Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia home just outside of Washington on July 28.

The Post said federal agents took away “documents and other materials” acting on a search warrant from independent special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s election campaign and Russia.

“FBI agents executed a search warrant at one of Mr Manafort’s residences. Mr Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well,” said Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort.

The New York Times, citing a person briefed on the matter, said the agents took away tax documents and foreign banking records.

Manafort managed Trump’s campaign until he was forced to resign in August amid reports that he was under investigation over millions of dollars he was allegedly paid by the pro-Russia former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

Manafort’s private consulting business on behalf of Moscow-linked billionaire oligarchs have fueled concerns about possible collusion, and also questions about how he handled payments for his services.

He also took part in the June 9, 2016 meeting last year between Trump campaign officials, including son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer on the promise of damaging information about Trump’s election rival Hillary Clinton.

While the White House has downplayed the meeting as insignificant and said nothing came of it, critics said it indicated the campaign?s willingness to consider cooperating with Russia.

US intelligence agencies say President Vladimir Putin ordered a covert effort to hurt Clinton’s presidential effort last year and boost Trump’s chances of winning.

Trump official Gorka derided for US mosque attack claim

August 9, 2017

Trump remains silent but adviser Sebastian Gorka suggests Minnesota attack could have been staged.

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No one was hurt in the attack on a mosque near Minneapolis, Minnesota [AP Photo]

A senior White House official’s suggestion that the bomb attack on a mosque in the US state of Minnesota could have been staged has sparked derision on social media.

Sebastian Gorka, a senior adviser to US President Donald Trump, told MSNBC on Tuesday that some recent hate crimes were fake.

He failed to give examples to back his allegations.

The comments led to criticism of the official, who has ties to far-right activists in Hungary and was sacked from a consultancy role by the FBI over his anti-Islam rhetoric, according to US outlet, the Daily Beast.

When asked by anchors whether the White House would be commenting on the Minnesota bombing that took place in the early hours on Saturday, Gorka said it would but only after an investigation into who was behind the attack.

“There’s a great rule, all initial reports are false, you have to check them, you have to find out who the perpetrators are,” said Gorka.

“We’ve had a series of crimes committed, alleged hate crimes by right-wing individuals, in the last six months, which turned out to be actually propagated by the left.”

Sebastian Gorka has ties to a Hungarian far-right order historically linked to the Nazis [Susan Walsh/AP]

“People fake hate crimes in the last six months with some regularity. I think it’s wise to find out what exactly is going on before you make statements,” he added.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre, which documents hate crimes, noted 1,863 incidents between Trump’s election in November 2016 and April 2017.

In May, two men were killed by a white supremacist in Oregon when they tried to stop him abusing two Muslim girls on a bus.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) noted a 91 percent rise in anti-Muslim hate crime since the start of the year.

The comments by the Trump official on MSNBC prompted criticism online.

FBI investigation

No one was hurt when the explosion happened during morning prayers at the mosque in Bloomington, a suburb of Minneapolis.

The mosque affected has received more than $100,000 in donations after the attack.

The FBI is trying to determine who was behind the explosion and Minnesota’s Governor Mark Dayton has labelled the incident a “terrorist attack”.

Trump has not spoken about the attack on the place of worship but has posted 26 tweets on topics as varied as “fake news”, the “failing” New York Times, a senator he described as a “con artist”, the ongoing tensions with North Korea, and new job figures.

The US president was criticised on social media after the attack for his silence and his lack of response to other attacks when the perpetrators do not appear to be Muslim.

Far-right links

In April the online magazine Forward published a piece detailing Gorka’s ties to a Hungarian far-right groups that stretched back decades.

Vitezi Rend has historic links to the Nazis during their occupation of Hungary, but Gorka said he “never swore allegiance formally”.

Source: Al Jazeera News

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/trump-official-gorka-derided-mosque-attack-claim-170809071507801.html

Related:

Minnesota mosque explosion: FBI says it is investigating possible hate crime

August 7, 2017

Investigators are looking for suspects in the early-morning attack

By Emily Shugerman New York

The Independent 

The FBI is looking for suspects in an explosion at a Minnesota mosque where worshippers had assembled for morning prayers. Officials are investigating whether the explosion was a hate crime.

The blast went off early Saturday morning at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, according to Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts. A room in the mosque was damaged, but no people were harmed.

Richard Thornton, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis Division, said the blast appeared to have been caused by an improvised explosive device. The FBI recovered pieces of the device from the scene.

The agency is now looking for the person responsible for the explosion, and seeking to determine whether it was a hate crime.

“At this point, our focus is to determine who and why,” Mr Thornton said at a press conference. “Is it a hate crime? Is it an act of terror?”

They FBI have so far interviewed witnesses, sent evidence to labs, and collected video and cellphone data for analysis.

The Bloomington Police thanked the FBI and the community as a whole for their help, tweeting: “Thank you Bloomington community for your kind words & support today. We will always be here for you & will serve to the best of our ability.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke is also aware of the situation, and is in contact with federal and local authorities.

“The Department of Homeland Security fully supports the rights of all to freely and safely worship the faith of their choosing and we vigorously condemn such attacks on any religious institution,” the DHS said in a statement. “We are thankful that there were no injuries, but that does not diminish the serious nature of this act.”

Police, federal authorities investigating early morning explosion at Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington. Report came in at 5:05 AM

Neighbours in the sleepy suburb reported waking up to a loud bang on Saturday morning. Windows in the imam’s office at the mosque were shattered, and smoke poured through the building. Asad Zaman, director of the local Muslim American Society, described the attack as a “firebombing”.

Mohamed Omar, the centre’s executive director, said one member saw a pickup truck speeding away from the scene shortly after the explosion. He added that the mosque has received threatening phone calls and emails in the past.

The number of anti-Muslim hate crimes has almost doubled this year compared to the same time period in 2016, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The Council documented 35 attacks on mosques in the first three months of this year.

One regular worshipper at Dar Al-Farooq condemned Saturday’s attacks in an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“We came to this country for the same reason everyone else came here — freedom to worship,” said Yasir Abdalrahman. “And that freedom is under threat. Every other American should be insulted by this.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-russia-must-deal-with-conflict-tillerson-says-1502093045?mod=e2fb

FBI: IED caused explosion at Bloomington mosque

August 6, 2017

 

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The FBI says an improvised explosive device is to blame for an explosion at an Islamic center Saturday.

No one was injured in the blast at Dar Al-farooq Islamic Center at about 5:05 a.m.

Bloomington police have handed the investigation over to the FBI Minneapolis Field Office, which held a press conference Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick Thornton says now that the device has been identified, the investigation is focused on who and why. He says they cannot answer the question of whether it is a hate crime at this time.

The explosion went off inside an office just before first prayer, according to Bloomington police. Members of the center say there were people inside the building at the time.

Police say there is some damage to the building, including a broken window on the outside. They say it’s not clear whether the explosive was thrown through the window, or the explosion caused the window to break.

There are currently no suspects in custody, and anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI, using option #1.

Bloomington police say the FBI will continue to work closely with them, as well as with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and other partners.

Several people from other local faith groups spoke at a press conference Saturday at noon to show their support for Dar Al-farooq.

“An attack on a mosque is an attack on a synagogue is an attack on a church,” said Curtiss Deyoung, CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches. “It’s an attack on all faith communities. And so we stand with you, a million Protestants in Minnesota.”

Hamdy El-Sawaf, president of the Islamic Community Center of Minnesota board, also gave a message of unity among religious groups.

“We gather together today hands in hands and shoulder to shoulder to give a very clear and precise message,” he said. “We’re not only the Muslims who do have this message, but it is Muslims, Christians, Jews, people of faith all over, we believe that the values of our religion (are) totally, absolutely against what happened today.”

Dar Al-farooq’s executive director, Mohamed Omar, said a congregation member witnessed a truck fleeing at a high speed immediately after the blast.

The Muslim American Society of Minnesota is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

Gov. Mark Dayton issued a statement Saturday, saying in part:

“Every place of worship, for all Minnesotans of every faith and culture, must be sacred and safe. My prayers are with the children, families, and faith leaders of the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center today.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar also responded in a statement, saying:

“This is a time for Minnesotans to stand together in opposition to hate. It saddens beyond words to know that someone in our state would set an explosion in a place where children gather every day to learn and play.”

My statement after an early morning explosion was discovered at Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington today:

 

© 2017 KARE-TV

http://www.kare11.com/news/explosion-at-bloomington-islamic-center-under-investigation/462157254

Researcher Who Stopped WannaCry Ransomware Detained in US After Def Con

August 3, 2017
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Image: Lisa Brewster/Flickr

Marcus Hutchins, AKA MalwareTech, previously registered a specific domain included in the ransomware’s code, which stopped the malware from spreading

On Wednesday, US authorities detained a researcher who goes by the handle MalwareTech, best known for stopping the spread of the WannaCry ransomware virus.

In May, WannaCry infected hospitals in the UK, a Spanish telecommunications company, and other targets in Russia, Turkey, Germany, Vietnam, and more. Marcus Hutchins, a researcher from cybersecurity firm Kryptos Logic, inadvertently stopped WannaCry in its tracks by registering a specific website domain included in the malware’s code.

At the time of writing it is not clear what charges, if any, Hutchins may face.

Motherboard verified that a detainee called Marcus Hutchins, 23, was being held at the Henderson Detention Center in Nevada early on Thursday. A few hours after, Hutchins was moved to another facility, according to a close personal friend.

The friend told Motherboard they “tried to visit him as soon as the detention centre opened but he had already been transferred out.” Motherboard granted the source anonymity due to privacy concerns.

“I’ve spoken to the US Marshals again and they say they have no record of Marcus being in the system. At this point we’ve been trying to get in contact with Marcus for 18 hours and nobody knows where he’s been taken,” the person added. “We still don’t know why Marcus has been arrested and now we have no idea where in the US he’s been taken to and we’re extremely concerned for his welfare.”

A US Marshals spokesperson told Motherboard in an email, “my colleague in Las Vegas says this was an FBI arrest. Mr. Hutchins is not in U.S. Marshals custody.”

The FBI acknowledged a request for comment but did not provide one in time for publication.

Shortly before his arrest, Hutchins was in Las Vegas during Black Hat and Def Con, two annual hacking conferences.

“We are aware a UK national has been arrested but it’s a matter for the authorities in the US,” a spokesperson for the UK’s National Crime Agency told Motherboard in an email.

A spokesperson from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre told Motherboard in an email, “We are aware of the situation. This is a law enforcement matter and it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

This story is developing…

Related:

Marcus Hutchins, pictured, prevented more than 100,000 computers across the globe from being infected by registering a website domain name that unexpectedly stopped the spread of the virus

Marcus Hutchins, pictured, prevented more than 100,000 computers across the globe from being infected by registering a website domain name that unexpectedly stopped the spread of the virus

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4505692/Pizza-loving-surfer-Marcus-Hutchins-beat-global-virus.html#ixzz4h8RdofeS
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Self-taught Marcus Hutchins stopped virus wreaking havoc on Britain’s hospitals by triggering £8.29 ‘kill switch’

A recent ransomware attack that some analysts attribute to Russia and that may have been aimed at Ukraine resulted in computer-system shutdowns at businesses around the world. Russia has denied involvement in the attack. Shown, an infected laptop displays a ransomware message on June 27.
A recent ransomware attack that some analysts attribute to Russia and that may have been aimed at Ukraine resulted in computer-system shutdowns at businesses around the world. Russia has denied involvement in the attack. Shown, an infected laptop displays a ransomware message on June 27. PHOTO: ROB ENGELAAR/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
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Ten Years of Russian Cyber Attacks on Other Nations

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hacking-in-america/timeline-ten-years-russian-cyber-attacks-other-nations-n697111

President Barack Obama announced the lifting of economic sanctions on Iran, a prisoner swap and the $1.7 billion settlement with Iran in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Jan. 17.
President Barack Obama  PHOTO: JIM LO SCALZO/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

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John Emerson, Washington's man in Berlin, to meet with Guido Westerwelle, German foreign minister, over claims Angela Merkel's phone was tapped by US

Chancellor Merkel called President Obama demanding answers after reports emerged that the US may have been monitoring her phone Photo: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS
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James Clapper talking to a group of people
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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power speaks at the Center for American Progress’ 2014 Making Progress Policy Conference in Washington November 19, 2014.  Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama at a joint news conference in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 25.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama at a joint news conference in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 25. Photo: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg News
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Aspen Security Forum: Former CIA Head Says If Trump Fires Mueller, U.S. Government Officials Should Refuse to Follow the President’s Orders

July 25, 2017

In the most vocal opposition to president Donald Trump yet, former CIA Director John Brennan said that if the White House tries to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, government officials should refuse to follow the president orders, as they would be – in his view – “inconsistent” with the duties of the executive branch.

“I think it’s the obligation of some executive branch officials to refuse to carry that out. I would just hope that this is not going to be a partisan issue. That Republicans, Democrats are going to see that the future of this government is at stake and something needs to be done for the good of the future,” Brennan told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer at the Aspen Security Forum, effectively calling for a coup against the president should Trump give the order to fire Mueller.

The exchange is 43 minutes into the clip below:

(Full transcript here)

Brennan appeared alongside his former colleague, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and both men who served in the Obama administration, told Blitzer they have total confidence in Mueller. “Absolutely. It was an inspired choice- they don’t come any better, ” Brennan said adding that “If Mueller is fired, I hope our elected reps will stand up and say enough is enough.” Some have responded with questions where Brennan’s devotion to the Constitution was in the aftermath of the events in Benghazi.

Image result for john brennan, photos

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

Falling back on his neocon roots, James Clapper, who has waged a long-running vendetta with Trump, once again warned about Russian interference in US affairs. When asked about the June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort with a Russian lawyer and others, he responded: “I’m an old school, Cold War warrior and all that – so I have, there’s truth in advertising, great suspicions about the Russians and what they do. A lot of this to me had kind of the standard textbook tradecraft long deployed by Russians. It would have been a really good idea maybe to have vetted whoever they were meeting with.”

Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses and closeup

Then Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies before a Senate (Select) Intelligence hearing on “World Wide Threats” on Capitol Hill in Washington January 31, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Clapper was also asked about Trump’s comparison of the intelligence community to Nazi Germany. Clapper said he called the President-elect nine days before he left the Obama administration saying he “couldn’t let that reference pass” and it was an insult to him, CIA Director John Brennan and the workforce. “That was a terrible, insulting affront, not just to me or John, we get paid the big bucks, but I’m talking about the rank and file, men and women, patriots and intelligence community — that was completely inappropriate and over the top – I had to do something about it.”

And so he did: on the call Clapper said Trump asked him to “to put out a statement rebutting the contents of the dossier which I couldn’t and wouldn’t do. It was kind of transactional” referring to a dossier that alleged ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. It was not clear if he wouldn’t and couldn’t do it because the contents were legitimate, in his view, or because the dossier is what started the whole “Russian collusion” narrative in the first place. Curiously, Clapper saw it as a favor to Trump not to issue a statement: Clapper was asked by Blitzer why he didn’t put out a statement replying: “The whole point of the dossier by the way was we felt an obligation to warn him to alert him to the fact it was out there. That was the whole point.”

It was not clear if James Comey, whose subsequent leak to the NYT led to the appointment of Mueller, would have applied the same reasoning when asked by Trump to rebut the dossier’s contents.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-24/former-cia-director-calls-coup-if-trump-fires-mueller

See also:

Angry Former Spy Chiefs, Anxiety, and Discord Over Trump at a Security Forum

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/angry-former-spy-chiefs-anxiety-and-discord-at-a-security-forum-over-trump

Qatar crisis: UAE denies hacking news agency

July 17, 2017

BBC News

The UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, denies it hacked Qatar’s news agency.

The United Arab Emirates has denied it was behind the alleged hacking of Qatar’s state news agency in May.

The Washington Post cited US intelligence officials as saying the UAE had orchestrated the posting of incendiary quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir that he insisted were fabricated.

The incident helped spark a diplomatic rift between Qatar and its neighbours.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told the BBC on Monday the Post’s report was “untrue”.

He also reiterated that the UAE and five other Arab nations had not written to Fifa to demand that Qatar be stripped of the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

Swiss news network The Local said a fake news story quoting Fifa president Gianni Infantino had been posted on a copycat website on Saturday.

The Washington Post’s story cited unnamed US intelligence officials as saying newly-analysed information confirmed that on 23 May senior members of the UAE government had discussed a plan to hack Qatari state media sites.

Screengrabs showing the allegedly fake news story were posted on TwitterQNA/INSTAGRAM
Screengrabs showing the allegedly fake news story were posted on Instagram

Later that day, the official Qatar News Agency quoted Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani as criticising US “hostility” towards Iran, describing it as an “Islamic power that cannot be ignored”, and calling Hamas the “legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”.

Qatari officials said the agency had been hacked by an “unknown entity” and that the story had “no basis whatsoever”. However, the remarks were reported across the region and caused a stir.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt responded by blocking Qatari media.

Two weeks later, the four countries cut all links with Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism and relations with Iran. The boycott has caused turmoil in the oil- and gas-rich emirate, which is dependent on imports by land and sea for the basic needs of its population of 2.7 million.

The US intelligence officials told the Washington Post it was unclear whether the UAE authorities had hacked the Qatar News Agency itself or paid a third party to do it.

The Guardian reported last month that an investigation by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had concluded that freelance Russian hackers were responsible.

US intelligence agencies declined to comment on the Post’s article, but the UAE’s ambassador insisted that it “had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking”.

“What is true is Qatar’s behaviour. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Gaddafi. Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbours,” Yousef al-Otaiba wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

Map

Qatar has acknowledged providing assistance to Islamist groups designated as terrorist organisations by some of its neighbours, notably the Muslim Brotherhood. But it has denied aiding jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda or so-called Islamic State (IS).

Mr Gargash told the BBC that Qatar’s denial had been contradicted by its agreement to review a list of 59 individuals and 12 organisations who the UAE has accused of supporting terrorism and wants arrested or expelled.

“What we know now is that Qatar is admitting that the list is worthy, that the list needs to be looked at, and that they need to change some of their laws to ensure that there is a proper process to cover this list,” he said.

Mr Gargash said Qatar’s neighbours were prepared to continue the boycott for months if it did not comply with the list of demands it was handed last month and agreed to international monitoring.

“I understand the concern of our allies,” he added. “But the issue is that we are being hurt, and the world is being hurt, by a state that has $300bn (£230bn) and is the main sponsor of this jihadist agenda.”

But, he added, the four states would not escalate the boycott by asking companies to choose between doing business with them or with Qatar.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-40630602

Related:

Americans Feel Good About the Economy, Not So Good About Trump

July 17, 2017

By John McCormick
Bloomberg

July 17, 2017, 4:00 AM EDT
  • Just 40 percent approve of president’s performance in office
  • Narrow majority expect stock market to be higher by year’s end
Traders pass in front of an American flag displayed outside of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York.

 Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

Almost six months into Donald Trump’s presidency, Americans are feeling fairly optimistic about their jobs, the strength of the U.S. economy, and their own fortunes. That should be welcome news for the president, except for one thing: The public’s confidence largely appears to be in spite of Trump, not because of him.

The latest Bloomberg National Poll shows 58 percent of Americans believe they’re moving closer to realizing their own career and financial aspirations, tied for the highest recorded in the poll since the question was first asked in February 2013.

A majority expect the U.S. stock market to be higher by the end of this year, while 30 percent anticipate a decline. Yet they don’t necessarily think Trump deserves credit for rising markets and falling unemployment.

Just 40 percent of Americans approve of the job he is doing in the White House, and 55 percent now view him unfavorably, up 12 points since December. Sixty-one percent say the nation is headed down the wrong path, also up 12 points since December.

Trump scored his best numbers on his handling of the economy, but even there the news for him isn’t great. Less than half of Americans — 46 percent — approve of Trump’s performance on the economy; 44 percent disapprove. He gets slightly better marks for job creation, with 47 percent approving.

“If you take the president’s scores out of this poll, you see a nation increasingly happy about the economy,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the survey. “When Trump’s name is mentioned, the clouds gather.”

In nearly every measure of his performance, the poll indicates that Trump’s tumultuous presidency is not wearing well with the public. A 56 percent majority say they’re more pessimistic about Trump because of his statements and actions since the election. That’s a huge swing since December when 55 percent said his statements and actions made them more optimistic about him.

Read the poll questions and methodology here.

The public has grown more skeptical that Trump will deliver on some of his most ambitious campaign promises. Two-thirds don’t think he’ll succeed in building a wall along the Mexican border during his first term. More than half say he won’t be able to revive the coal industry.

A majority — 54 percent — believe Trump will manage to create trade deals more beneficial to the U.S., but that’s down from 66 percent in December. There’s division on whether he’ll be able to bring a substantial number of jobs back to America, or significantly reform the tax code.

And despite his assurances that he and congressional Republicans will repeal Obamacare and replace it with a “beautiful” new health care bill, 64 percent of Americans say they disapprove of his handling of the issue. That’s especially significant because health care topped unemployment, terrorism and immigration as the issue poll respondents chose as the most important challenge facing the nation right now.

There are at least two areas where Americans say they believe Trump will deliver: Almost two-thirds say he will make significant cuts in government regulation, though it’s not clear whether most think that’s a good or bad thing. Likewise, 53 percent believe he will succeed in deporting millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

The public is also skeptical about Trump’s abilities as a world leader, with 58 percent saying they disapprove of the way he handles relations with other countries and 46 percent disappointed in his actions on trade agreements.

Americans are more pessimistic about foreign policy than they were in December. Fifty-five percent now say they expect dealings with Germany to get worse during the next four years, up 22 points. The share of poll respondents who anticipate worsening relations with the U.K., Mexico, Cuba and Russia also increased by double digits.

The public is also wary of Trump’s motives in his negotiations with other countries. Just 24 percent said they were “very confident” that Trump puts the nation’s interests ahead of his businesses or family when dealing with foreign leaders.

Americans have plenty of other worries about the world. Majorities believe it’s realistic that terrorists will launch a major attack on U.S. soil (68 percent) and that North Korea will launch a nuclear weapon aimed at the U.S. (55 percent).

Trump has called the expanding investigations into possible connections between his presidential campaign and Russia a “witch hunt.” But the public isn’t necessarily taking his side. Since the president’s decision to oust former FBI Director James Comey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s standing has improved. It’s now viewed favorably by 68 percent, up 10 points since December. Comey is viewed positively by 43 percent, while 36 percent see him negatively.

Meanwhile, most Americans don’t share the president’s apparent soft spot for Vladimir Putin: 65 percent view the Russian president negatively — and 53 percent say it’s realistic to think Russian hacking will disrupt future U.S. elections.

There is one notable bright spot for Trump. Though views of the White House as an institution are at the lowest level ever recorded by the poll — with 48 percent now viewing it unfavorably, up 21 points since December — Trump’s voters are still sticking with him. Among those who cast ballots for him, 89 percent still say he’s doing a good job.

The telephone poll of 1,001 American adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, higher among subgroups. It was conducted July 8-12 by Iowa-based Selzer & Co.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-17/americans-feel-good-about-the-economy-not-so-good-about-trump-j57v0var

UAE planted fake news story to trigger Qatar crisis, US report claims — Who funds Iran, Hamas, Taliban, Muslim Brotherhood?

July 17, 2017

AFP

© Bandar Al-Jaloud, Saudi Royal Palace / AFP | A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on December 5, 2016 shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (L) listening to UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (C).

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2017-07-17

The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of a Qatari government news site in May, planting a false story that was used as a pretext for the current Gulf diplomatic crisis, according to a Sunday report by The Washington Post.

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, had been falsely quoted in May as praising Hamas and saying that Iran was an “Islamic power,” the Washington Post reported. In response, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Qatar said in late May that hackers had posted fake remarks by the emir, an explanation rejected by Gulf states.

The Washington Post reported that US intelligence officials learned last week of newly analysed information that showed that top UAE government officials discussed the planned hacks on May 23, the day before they occurred.

The officials said it was unclear if the UAE hacked the websites or paid for them to be carried out, the newspaper reported. The Washington Post did not identify the intelligence officials it spoke to for the report.

UAE Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba denied the report in a statement, saying it was “false,” the Washington Post said.

“What is true is Qatar’s behavior. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Gaddafi. Inciting violence, encouraging radicalisation, and undermining the stability of its neighbours,” the statement said.

The US State Department declined comment in response to a Reuters query. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was previously known to be working with Qatar to probe the hacking.

The ongoing crisis has threatened to complicate the US-led coalition’s fight against the Islamic State (IS) group as all participants are US. allies and members of the anti-IS group coalition. Qatar is home to more than 10,000 US troops and the regional headquarters of the US Central Command while Bahrain is the home of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.

President Donald Trump has sided strongly with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the dispute, publicly backing their contention that Doha is a supporter of Islamic militant groups and a destabilising force in the Middle East. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently concluded several days of shuttle diplomacy in the Gulf, but he departed the region without any public signs of a resolution.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

Related:

US officials claim the UAE is behind the hacking of Qatar's news agency in May which sparked a diplomatic crisis. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Doha last week to try to resolve the crisis with Qatar's Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani (above together on July 11) 

US officials claim the UAE is behind the hacking of Qatar’s news agency in May which sparked a diplomatic crisis. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Doha last week to try to resolve the crisis with Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani (above together on July 11)

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4702232/UAE-hacking-Qatari-government-news-sites.html#ixzz4n4ogUZlX
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Nancy Pelosi calls on White House to revoke Jared Kushner’s security clearance amid Russian email scandal

July 15, 2017

The House Minority Leader calls news of Mr Kushner’s meeting with a Russian lawyer ‘deeply disturbing’

By Emily Shugerman New York

The Independent 

The top Democrat in Congress has called upon the White House to revoke senior presidential adviser Jared Kushner’s security clearance, in the wake of startling revelations about his contact with a Kremlin-connected lawyer.

“The revelation that the Trump Campaign eagerly intended to possibly collude with Russia is deeply disturbing,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Twitter. “Jared Kushner’s security clearance must be immediately revoked.”

The statement echoes the sentiments of several members of Congress. Politicians in both parties have been increasingly suspicious of Mr Kushner in recent days, after it was revealed that he took part in a meeting with a Russian lawyer during the Trump campaign.

Donald Trump’s son, Donald Jr, admitted earlier this week to organising a meeting with a woman described to him as a “Russian government lawyer,” who claimed to have “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and her dealings with Russia”.

Mr Kushner and Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort also attended the June 2016 meeting, though Mr Trump Jr maintains Mr Kushner left after only a few minutes.

The meeting came to light only after Mr Kushner submitted his updated security clearance form, which includes a list of all foreign contacts. Mr Kushner has revised the form three separate times, adding 100 previously undisclosed contacts, The New York Timesreports.

Several members of Congress are now calling for Mr Kushner’s resignation.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy suggested Mr Kushner should lose his position for leading the President to falsely claim that no one in the Trump campaign had made contact with Russian officials.

“You don’t think the Republicans would be calling for the resignation of an Obama official who allowed the president and vice president to openly lie about a major national security issue?” Mr Murphy asked reporters. “He watched his father-in-law on TV say no one in [Trump’s] campaign talked to the Russian government.”

Senator Brian Schatz and Representative Don Beyer have also called for Mr Kushner’s resignation.

Obama-era ethics expert Norm Eisen told the Guardian that news of the meeting “puts [Mr Kushner] on the hook for false statements liability, possibly”.

“The pattern of omission by Mr Kushner and others in Donald Trump’s circle of their Russia connections increasingly points to a consciousness of guilt,” he added.

The senior adviser’s contacts with Russian officials have been a topic of concern since May, when Reuters reported that he had omitted at least three contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak from his security form.

At one of these meetings, according to The Washington Post, Mr Kushner and Mr Kislyak discussed setting up a private back channel between the White House and the Kremlin.

Mr Kushner has reportedly been under scrutiny by the FBI since these meetings were revealed. According to The New York Time she is now a more prominent figure in the Senate investigation into Russian meddling in the US election as well.

Mr Kushner is expected to cooperate with the Senate and House Intelligence Committees in their investigations over the next several weeks.

In the meantime, colleagues tell The Times, Mr Kushner has kept up his regular work schedule, meeting with the President’s Middle East envoy and planning for high-level economic talks with China.

The White House has declined to say whether Mr Kushner’s security clearance is active.