Posts Tagged ‘Hillary Clinton’

Trump Weekend Tweetstorm Responds to Mueller Indictment

February 18, 2018

Tweets minimize the effects of Russian actions on the election and deny his campaign colluded

President Donald Trump’s volley of a dozen Russia-related tweets Saturday and Sunday came after Mr. Mueller’s blockbuster indictment Friday.
President Donald Trump’s volley of a dozen Russia-related tweets Saturday and Sunday came after Mr. Mueller’s blockbuster indictment Friday. PHOTO: ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump used Twitter over the weekend to respond to the latest moves by special counsel Robert Mueller, repeating that his campaign didn’t collude with Russia. He also played down the impact that Russian actions had on the election.

Mr. Trump’s volley of a dozen Russia-related tweets Saturday and Sunday came after Mr. Mueller’s blockbuster indictment Friday of three Russian companies and 13 Russian nationals for engaging in a widespread effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Russia’s concentrated social media effort attacked Democrat Hillary Clinton, promoted Mr. Trump, and aimed to sow divisions among Americans, the indictment charges.

Mr. Trump is spending the three-day weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in South Florida, not far from the school where a teenager shot and killed 17 people last week. Mr. Trump and first lady Melania Trump stopped to visit victims and first responders as they landed in Florida on Friday night. Mr. Trump made no public appearances Saturday or early Sunday but made calls to local officials offering the nation’s support as the community reels from the deadly assault, according to White House officials.

Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!

One of Mr. Trump’s tweets Sunday morning knit together the two major developments. “Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

Asked on CNN Sunday about Mr. Trump’s tweet, Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich called it “an absurd statement.” Mr. Kasich, who unsuccessfully challenged Mr. Trump for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination said “we need leadership out of the executive,” and prodded Mr. Trump to embrace some tightening of gun laws, a step that the president has so far declined to take.

In several Sunday morning tweets, Mr. Trump praised his own candidacy, saying Democrats continue to use the Russia interference plot as an “excuse” for why Mrs. Clinton lost.

Mr. Trump pointed to comments that Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, made over the weekend that former President Barack Obama should have imposed more severe penalties on North Korea for a 2014 cyberattack of Sony —inaction that, Mr. Schiff argued, encouraged Russian election interference two years later.

“I think that others around the world watched that and determined that cyber is a cost-free intervention,” Mr. Schiff told NBC.

Now that Adam Schiff is starting to blame President Obama for Russian meddling in the election, he is probably doing so as yet another excuse that the Democrats, lead by their fearless leader, Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election. But wasn’t I a great candidate?

Mr. Trump’s take: “Now that Adam Schiff is starting to blame President Obama for Russian meddling in the election, he is probably doing so as yet another excuse that the Democrats, lead by their fearless leader, Crooked Hillary Clinton, lost the 2016 election. But wasn’t I a great candidate?” In a tweet moments earlier, Mr. Trump called Mr. Schiff, “Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control.”

In another tweet, Mr. Trump wrote that he “never said Russia didn’t meddle in the election” only that it was a “‘hoax … that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!”

Asked on CNN Sunday if the intelligence he surveyed supported that claim that there was no collusion, Mr. Schiff said, “No, of course not. This is a president who claims vindication anytime someone sneezes.”

Mr. Schiff said he did believe that the Obama administration should have done more in response to intelligence about Russian interference in the elections before 2016, but he said that “they were very wary of appearing to put their hand on the scale” of the election.

Mr. Schiff added: “None of that is an excuse for this president to sit on his hands,” rather than imposing sanctions on Russia.

While Mr. Trump wrote that he hasn’t denied Russian meddling, he hasn’t forcefully condemned Russia for what the intelligence community concluded a year ago—and the Friday indictment reiterated—was an interference campaign directed by Moscow. In July and November interviews, Mr. Trump said Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted there was no meddling. While repeating Mr. Putin’s denials, Mr. Trump did say that “something happened” and that should be investigated.

Mr. Trump also wrote Sunday on Twitter that if Russia succeeded in its efforts to disrupt U.S. politics, that is evidenced not by the 2016 election results, but by the continuing investigations into whether the Trump campaign played a role with Russia’s campaign.

If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!

“If it was the GOAL of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then, with all of the Committee Hearings, Investigations and Party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart America!”

Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster, responded to Mr. Trump by tweeting: “A decent president would take this Sunday morning to warn our adversaries not to interfere with our elections or to remember the tragic loss of young lives in another mass shooting.”

No look, it wasn’t intended as that. Im just being objective. You made a good point but that doesn’t take away from the core of the argument (which Im not endorsing, not that my endorsements means anything anyway. Just joining the convo since I know more about it than most)

Thanks for the proof read. If only One could edit ones tweet. As to the substance: the Russian campaign was certainly in favor of Trump. The point is that the misinformation campaign is ongoing and must be addressed. Today, we saw Russian pro gun tweets re: Florida shooting.

On Saturday, President Trump cited in support of his arguments weekend tweets from Facebook Inc. vice president Rob Goldman, who wrote that “swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal” of the Russian ads, and that “the majority of the Russian ad spend happened AFTER the election.” Mr. Goldman added that “we shared that fact, but very few outlets have covered it because it doesn’t align with the main media narrative of Tump (sic) and the election.”

Mr. Goldman later made another post in response to people accusing him of obscuring the intent of the Russians accused in the indictment.

“As to the substance: the Russian campaign was certainly in favor of Mr. Trump,” he wrote.

In other tweets, Mr. Trump cited a recent poll showing Republicans are gaining traction on a generic party ballot ahead of the midterm elections this fall and called cable channel CNN “the Fake News of big ratings loser.” He attached a tweet with a cartoon mocking CNN’s Wolf Blitzer by a Twitter user calling himself “Ivan Trumpovic.”

In his Twitter biography, the user says he has been kicked off the site six times.

Write to Julie Bykowicz at and Janet Hook at

Trump Rebukes McMaster for Not Defending 2016 Election Result

February 18, 2018


By Joshua Gallu

  • National security adviser spoke about meddling on Saturday
  • President made several tweets saying Russia didn’t impact vote
H.R. McMaster

Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

President Donald Trump rebuked his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, on Saturday, saying in a tweet that his aide had neglected to defend his 2016 victory when discussing U.S. claims that Russia meddled in the election.

“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems,” Trump tweeted, using a derogatory epithet for Hillary Clinton.

McMaster on Saturday told an audience at the Munich Security Conference that Russia engaged in a “sophisticated form of espionage” against the U.S. in a futile attempt at disruption. He referred to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s charges this week against 13 Russian nationals and a St. Petersburg-based “troll farm,” accused of seeking to interfere in the U.S. presidential election in 2016.

“The evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain, whereas in the past it was difficult to attribute,” McMaster said on a panel Saturday. Russian attempts to influence politics in the U.S. and elsewhere are “just not working,” McMaster said.

Earlier Saturday, Trump referenced posts by Rob Goldman, Facebook vice president of ad sales, that said the goal of the sophisticated Russian influence operation was to divide Americans and sow fear and hatred. Facebook verified the authenticity of Goldman’s posts.

Among the evidence Goldman pointed to in a series of posts was that 56 percent of the Facebook ads bought by the indicted Russians were displayed after the Nov. 8 election, while users still considering who to vote for would have seen only about 44 percent.

In a follow-up tweet, Goldman attempted to soften his earlier comments by saying that “the Russian campaign was certainly in favor of Trump. The point is that the misinformation campaign is ongoing and must be addressed.”

Trump also suggested that the FBI overlooked a warning about the Feb. 14 shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people because the bureau was too busy investigating him.

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud,” Trump tweeted.

— With assistance by Shannon Pettypiece, and Patrick Donahue

Trump: FBI too busy with Russia probe to prevent Florida shooting — “Spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.”

February 18, 2018

US president says it’s ‘not acceptable’ that agency failed to follow up on tip about troubled teen who murdered 17

US President Donald Trump (R) speaks with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel (L) while visiting first responders at Broward County Sheriff's Office in Pompano Beach, Florida, on February 16, 2018, three days after a mass shooting that claimed 17 lives at a nearby high school. ( AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON)

US President Donald Trump (R) speaks with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel (L) while visiting first responders at Broward County Sheriff’s Office in Pompano Beach, Florida, on February 16, 2018, three days after a mass shooting that claimed 17 lives at a nearby high school. ( AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON)

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (AP) — US President Donald Trump lashed out at the FBI Saturday night, saying the agency “missed all of the many signals” sent by the suspect in the Florida school shooting and arguing they are “spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.”

Trump said on Twitter: “This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

The FBI received a tip last month that the suspect in the Florida school shooting had a “desire to kill” and access to guns and could be plotting an attack. But the agency said Friday that agents failed to investigate.

The FBI’s acknowledgment that it mishandled the tip prompted a sharp rebuke from its boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and a call from Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a Trump ally, for FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign.

Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!

Trump and other Republicans have heavily criticized the FBI. They are still dissatisfied with its decision not to charge Hillary Clinton with crimes related to her use of a private email server, and they see signs of bias in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia.



The Russian Indictments — Where were James Clapper and John Brennan and the American intelligence community when the Kremlin was meddling?

February 17, 2018


Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Jan. 29.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Jan. 29. PHOTO: ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Justice Department on Friday indicted three Russian companies and 13 individuals for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the man who should be most upset is Donald J. Trump. The 37-page indictment contains no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, but it does show a systematic effort to discredit the result of the 2016 election. On the evidence so far, President Trump has been the biggest victim of that effort, and he ought to be furious at Vladimir Putin.

The indictment documents a broad social-media and propaganda campaign operating out of Russia and involving hundreds of people starting in 2014 that “had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system.” It certainly succeeded on that score, as Democrats and the media have claimed that Mr. Trump’s election is illegitimate because he conspired with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton. The charge has roiled American politics and made governing more difficult.

The good news for Mr. Trump is that the indictment reveals no evidence of collusion. The Russians “posted derogatory information about a number of candidates,” the indictment says, and by 2016 “included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump” and “disparaging Hillary Clinton.” But it adds that the Russians “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign,” and it offers no claims of a conspiracy.

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Readers of the indictment will be amused at the comic opera details. In or around June 2016, for example, Russians posing online as Americans “communicated with a real U.S. person affiliated with a Texas-based grassroots organization.” This “real U.S. person” vouchsafed the deep political secret that the Russians “should focus their activities on ‘purple states like Colorado, Virginia & Florida.’” Sure enough, the Russians thereafter referred to targeting “purple states.” Someone actually paid Russians to collect this insight.

The indictment also contains no evidence that Russia’s meddling changed the electoral results. A U.S. presidential campaign is a maelstrom of information, charges and counter-charges, media reports and social-media chatter. The Russian Twitter bursts became part of this din and sought to reinforce existing biases more than they sought to change minds. Their Twitter hashtags included “#Hillary4Prison,” for example, which you could find at the souvenir desk at the GOP convention.

Yet none of this should let Twitter, Facebook or Google off the hook for being facilitators of this disinformation. The social-media sites and search engines clearly did far too little to police their content for malicious trolls and in the process misled millions of Americans. They need to do more to take responsibility for the content they midwife.

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James Clapper

The indictment also makes us wonder what the Obama Administration was doing amid all of this. Where were top Obama spooks James Clapper and John Brennan ? Their outrage became public only after their candidate lost the election. If they didn’t know what was going on, why not? And if they did, why didn’t they let Americans in on the secret? President Obama sanctioned Russia for its meddling only after the election.

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

The indictment’s details underscore Russia’s malicious anti-American purposes. An authoritarian regime spent tens of millions of dollars to erode public trust in American democracy. As Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) put it Friday, “Putin’s shadow war is aimed at undermining Americans’ trust in our institutions. We know Russia is coming back in 2018 and 2020—we have to take the threat seriously.”

All of which makes the White House reaction on Friday strangely muted. Its statement understandably focused on the lack of collusion evidence and made one reference to “the agendas of bad actors, like Russia.” But given how much Russia’s meddling has damaged his first year in office, Mr. Trump should publicly declare his outrage at Russia on behalf of the American people. The Kremlin has weakened his Presidency. He should make Russia pay a price that Mr. Obama never did.


FBI Director James Comey and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch attend a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas 

FBI Director James Comey and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch attend a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas


Dems: Bill Clinton too toxic to campaign in midterms

February 14, 2018

One of the party’s top surrogates has been effectively sidelined by the #metoo movement.

Bill Clinton is pictured. | AP Photo
And in this political environment, Bill Clinton campaigning anywhere would amount to him campaigning everywhere, forcing Democrats around the country to answer for what they think of colleagues appearing with him. | Patrick Semansky/AP Photo

Democrats are looking to embrace the #MeToo moment and rally women to push back on President Donald Trump in the midterms—and they don’t want Bill Clinton anywhere near it.

In a year when the party is deploying all their other big guns and trying to appeal to precisely the kind of voters Clinton has consistently won over, an array of Democrats told POLITICO they’re keeping him on the bench. They don’t want to be seen anywhere near a man with a history of harassment allegations, as guilty as their party loyalty to him makes them feel about it.

“I think it’s pretty tough,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), vice chair of the House Progressive Caucus and one of the leading voices in Congress demanding changes in Washington’s approach to sexual harassment. His presence “just brings up a lot of issues that will be very tough for Democrats. And I think we all have to be clear about what the #MeToo movement was.”

After booting Sen. Al Franken precisely because they wanted to draw a clear contrast with Trump, Democrats across the party’s ideological and geographical spectrum acknowledged the political trouble that any appearance with Clinton would cause.

“I value the assets of what the Clintons can bring. He did a lot for Georgia when he was president,” added Georgia Democratic Chair DuBose Porter, treading delicately. “He carried Georgia. The personal side that is now being highlighted, we’ll have to measure.”

Privately, many Democratic politicians and strategists are harsher and firmer: Don’t come to their states, and don’t say anything about their campaigns. They are still worried about saying it out loud, but they don’t want him now, or maybe ever. They know Republicans would react by calling them — with good reason — hypocrites.

And in this political environment, Clinton campaigning anywhere would amount to him campaigning everywhere, forcing Democrats around the country to answer what they think of colleagues appearing with him, and whether they would do so themselves.

It’s a huge change from eight years ago, when Clinton made over 100 appearances for Democrats during the 2010 midterms as the most in-demand presence on the campaign trail. In his reelection campaign two years later, former President Barack Obama anointed Clinton his “explainer-in-chief.”

Clinton’s likely absence on the stump this year comes amid major demand for high-profile surrogates this year — from Obama, who’s expected make select appearances, to Joe Biden and the full crop of 2020 prospects, who are likely to be all over the place in the thick of election season. Even Hillary Clinton will do some targeted campaigning.

All this reluctance about him would be a surprise to Clinton himself, who, according to a person familiar with his plans, has already received a number of preliminary requests from campaigns for advice and events. He’s had a few conversations with candidates, but hasn’t initiated the calls, the person said. Clinton, the source said, is for now focused on his foundation work that included a tour last week of hurricane damage in the Virgin Islands and Dominica, and getting ready for the spring rollout of a mystery novel he wrote with James Patterson.

Anyway, Clinton wouldn’t even start to evaluate political stops until much closer to the election, the person said.

“President Clinton has been diligently working on his book. He’s also been focused on the work of his foundation,” the Clinton source said. “So beyond a few requests for support and advice from a few candidates, he hasn’t spent much time on the midterms.”

“People call me all the time [to ask] if I can talk to him, put [their] requests in,” said James Carville, the former Clinton strategist who remains close with him.

Carville said he believes the former president will do some campaigning, but given Clinton’s age — 71 — and other factors, “it can’t be like it used to.”

But “there are people who want him, I promise you,” Carville said.

Several Democratic campaigns have already polled Clinton’s popularity in their races, weighing whether to take the risk of inviting him out. Others say they’d love to see him chip in, so long as he sticks to New York, at closed-door fundraisers for them where no photographs of them together are taken.

“People are crass about it and will look to see where his numbers are,” admitted one Democratic member of Congress who is in a tough race and is anxious about going public embracing or trashing Clinton. “He’s still Bill Clinton, and he’s still a draw to certain segments of the party.”

“Depending on the audience, there will definitely be people … [who] will be uncomfortable,” said Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.). But there will also “definitely be people who want to see him.”

A Gallup poll in December had Clinton’s national approval rating at 45 percent, down 5 points since the end of the 2016 campaign, and a 52 percent disapproval. Those were his lowest numbers recorded by Gallup since he left office in 2001.

A variety of congressional Democrats were visibly uncomfortable about discussing Clinton. When approached, some of them asked nervously whether he was actually considering campaigning in the midterms.

Democratic operatives ducked the question, while several close allies of Clinton declined interview requests on the topic.

In an interview earlier this year on the party’s strategy for the midterms, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez — who has not been in touch with Clinton the way he has with Obama and other top Democrats — took a diplomatic approach.

“Bill Clinton’s a former president of the United States, and in his administration, we took an economy that was in the tank and built an economic engine that had been unparalleled. Did he make significant mistakes? Of course he did,” Perez said. “People will make judgments race by race about who are the best surrogates to come down and advocate.”

Uranium One Is a Curious Case

February 14, 2018



By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.
The Wall Street Journal
Feb. 13, 2018 6:26 p.m. ET

President Obama sought better relations with Russia, in keeping with the policy of presidents at least since FDR.

He acceded in 2010 to a Russian government desire to acquire a company whose assets included a Nevada uranium mine on the widely accepted grounds that economic interdependence helps relations stay on a productive path. And, by the way, Russia cannot cart a uranium mine in Nevada back to Russia. If its national security were ever jeopardized, the U.S. could always seize the mine. So that’s not an issue.

Would it have been embarrassing for the Obama policy if it were known that the uranium assets the Russian government sought to buy had been accumulated by Canadian entrepreneurs working closely with Bill Clinton ? That the Clinton Foundation received $145 million in pledged contributions from people associated with these transactions? That Mr. Clinton had been paid $500,000 for a speech in Moscow?

Yes. It would have raised political difficulties for Mr. Obama’s Russia policy. It would have harmed the reputation of his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. How would such knowledge have flavored a multiagency review in charge of approving the mine deal, inevitably tinged by Obama political interests? Hard to say.

The scandal would likely have remained a political one, not a legal one. But who knows? The Watergate truism that it’s not the crime, it’s the coverup should really be modified. Once any kind of investigation is launched on any pretext, a crime can always be found. That’s a given. Not to relitigate Mrs. Clinton’s emails, but if the FBI didn’t find a basis to charge her aides with obstruction and evidence tampering, it’s only because it didn’t want to. Or take Donald Trump : Any prosecutor should hang up his spurs who can’t find something in Mr. Trump’s checkered business history, starting with federal Title 16, Chapter 1, Subchapter b, Part 23, Section 23.3: “Misuse of the terms ‘hand-made,’ ‘hand-polished,’ etc.”

A slight nuance, of course, is that the Clintons ’ conflict-of-interest baggage was born of exploiting their politically-earned celebrity, and not the other way around. Whether he meant it or not, Mr. Trump recognized and met expectations when he said, on taking office, he no longer would concern himself with the businesses he left behind. He had a much bigger job now. Though Mrs. Clinton would certainly have been expected to say something similar if she were elected president, she would also have been semi-obliged to insist that the Clinton Foundation was but an extension of her lifelong devotion to public service, which she would be continuing in the White House.

As history records, of course, Uranium One is the scandal that didn’t happen, or is happening only belatedly. The Clinton Foundation connection did not become known. Its dealings did not become fodder for partisan opposition to President Obama or his Russia policy. Only recently have we become aware of a new and piquant fact. What if it had been known that the FBI was sitting on a case involving demonstrable malfeasance (bribery and kickbacks) by the Russian company’s U.S. arm? What if an eyewitness who had helped crack the case told the FBI (as he now claims he did) that Russian uranium executives had spoken openly of currying favor with the Clinton Foundation to advance their U.S. business?

The Nevada mine transfer would have been a lot more politically controversial at the time than it was. The Obama Russia rapprochement might have run aground earlier than it eventually did when Russia in 2014 seized Crimea. Mr. Obama might have come to see his secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton, as a political liability.

Which makes it interesting that the FBI, under its then-chief Robert Mueller, appears to have sat on the case—only getting around quietly to announcing a plea deal with the Russian executive five years later, in 2015. It is not necessarily wrong for the FBI to consider the impact on national-security policy of any criminal case that it intends nevertheless to pursue to conviction. But the fact remains: The FBI handled the Uranium One matter in a manner that avoided making immediate trouble for the policy and political interests of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Which means, if a few thousand voters in the upper Midwest had woken up on a different side of the bed in November 2016, the agency’s treatment of Uranium One might be one more subject of investigation by a GOP congress of President Hillary Clinton. Along with: the Steele dossier; the Steele dossier’s role in an FBI application to spy on Trump associate Carter Page ; the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email case; the FBI’s investigation (still under way) of a questionable mixing of government and Clinton Foundation business at Mrs. Clinton’s State Department.

In other words, a Clinton presidency would likely be swallowed up in investigative chaos no less than the Trump presidency. There was an awful lot of baggage to go around among the headliners of the 2016 presidential race.

Why the Center-Left Became Immoderate — Democracy dies when one side loses respect for electoral outcomes

February 13, 2018

In polarized times, those without a clear guiding ideology become the most vicious partisans.

Why the Center-Left Became Immoderate

Democracy dies when one side loses respect for electoral outcomes and comes to consider the other illegitimate. Recent U.S. presidents, at least since Bill Clinton, have faced a degree of implacable opposition from the further reaches of the opposing party. But of late the problem seems to have intensified—and disrespect for democratic outcomes has become particularly acute on the center-left.

That may sound odd. We generally assume the political “middle” to be more reasonable and rational—and less partisan. Ideologues are the ones less amenable to compromise. But although centrists are by definition skeptical of ideology, that does not make them any less prone to partisanship.

In polarized times, political competition comes to resemble tribal warfare. Everyone is under pressure to close ranks and boost morale. Lacking an animating vision beyond expert-led incrementalism, center-left politicians and pundits have few options to rally the Democratic base other than by attacking adversaries and heightening partisan divides. The other option—laying out an alternative that differs from what Hillary Clinton or even President Obama offered—requires ideological conviction.

That would explain why Rep. Adam Schiff —previously “known as a milquetoast moderate,” according to the New Yorker—has emerged as one of the most outspoken figures in the Russian collusion investigation. Before being appointed to succeed Mrs. Clinton in the Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand was an upstate New York representative who belonged to the Blue Dog Coalition. Her 2013 New Yorker profile was titled “Strong Vanilla”—and she now boasts the upper chamber’s most anti- Trump voting record.

Many Democrats are unwilling to accept that Mrs. Clinton actually lost to Donald Trump. Those who find her standard center-left technocratic worldview congenial are disinclined to accept ideological explanations, so they look for scapegoats: Russia, James Comey, even the voters who supported Donald Trump. Mrs. Clinton herself pre-emptively offered the last explanation in September 2016, when she consigned half of Trump supporters to “the basket of deplorables”—“they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.” As 2020 approaches, Democrats run the risk of repeating that mistake, taking for granted, as Mrs. Clinton did, that Mr. Trump’s unique flaws will be sufficient to ensure his defeat.

Contrast the centrists with leftist standard-bearers like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. They’re no fans of Mr. Trump, but they haven’t been at the forefront of calls for impeachment or intensifying the Russia investigation. Instead, they have focused their efforts on broadening the Democratic Party’s base with a more inclusive populism that takes seriously the systemic causes of inequality. Both have resisted the urge to write off Mr. Trump’s supporters, and Mr. Sanders in particular has made outreach to Republicans a major part of his postelection message. Mr. Sanders seems instinctively uncomfortable with identity politics, a Democratic preference that makes it harder to reach out to Trump voters since identities are more fixed than interests or ideas.

The mainstream media generally share a center-left worldview. Most reporters aren’t Marxists or even Sandernistas, and anti-Trump alarmism—what some scholars have called “tyrannophobia”—has become a consistent theme. The idea of a Trump dictatorship may be compelling, but that doesn’t make it right, particularly when it distorts how one perceives actual tyranny. Consider the weekend’s fawning Olympic coverage of Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. “Despite Mike Pence’s sabotage, North Korea’s ‘charm offensive’ appears to be working,” reads a Sunday tweet from ThinkProgress—an affiliate of the Center for American Progress, founded by Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager.

People want something to believe in, but in the absence of a strong ideological sensibility among Democrats, partisanship and alarmism offer ready recourse. Having an enemy is a powerful motivator, and hating Mr. Trump is entertaining to boot. Politics might otherwise return to boring discussions on how to improve health care or education, why we need more experts, or why facts are important.

The relationship between partisanship and ideology may be changing in unexpected ways. Yesterday’s centrists have become some of today’s most intense partisans. There’s nothing wrong with partisanship per se, but it’s a problem when the parties view each other as enemies and existential threats. Centrism may seem an obvious solution, but too little ideology can be as dangerous as too much.

Does this mean we need more ideologues? The word sounds like an insult, connoting inflexibility and narrow-mindedness. But politicians who are committed to a set of ideas also tend to have less to prove. They don’t need to play to the base; they can lead the base. Congress—and the country—could use more of them.

Mr. Hamid is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of “Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam is Reshaping the World.”

Appeared in the February 13, 2018, print edition.

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?


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.”



Peeling back the layers of Hillary Clinton’s deceit

February 11, 2018

By Michael Goodwin
New York Post

February 10, 2018

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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.