Posts Tagged ‘national security’

The Memo and the Mueller Probe

February 5, 2018

If the investigation arose from partisan opposition research, what specific crime is he looking into?

Special counsel Robert Mueller leaves a Capitol Hill meeting, June 21, 2017.
Special counsel Robert Mueller leaves a Capitol Hill meeting, June 21, 2017. PHOTO: J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The memo released Friday by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence was the product of necessity, not choice. Even before its release, the debate over its provenance, motive and effect was obscuring the crucial point that it is the underlying facts the memo alleges that present the real issues.

The committee’s memo says that yet another memo, which goes by the cloak-and-dagger title “Steele dossier,” provided at least part of the basis for a wiretap of Carter Page, a U.S. citizen who had volunteered as a foreign policy-consultant to the Trump campaign. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court granted the wiretap application from the FBI and Justice Department two weeks before the 2016 election. In order to obtain the warrant, the government had to show probable cause that Mr. Page was acting as the agent of a foreign power and that in so doing he had committed a crime.

The Steele dossier is 35 pages of opposition research on Donald Trump, described by former FBI Director James Comey as “salacious and unverified.” It was paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent who had a luminous dislike for Mr. Trump and was also an informant for the FBI.

The House memo reports that the FBI and Justice Department did not advise the FISA court that the dossier was funded by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. It also reports that the government’s cited support for the accuracy of contentions in the wiretap application—statements in a news article—had originated in a leak from Mr. Steele himself. Mr. Steele was fired by the FBI for a later unauthorized disclosure to the press, a cardinal offense by an informant. But the FBI continued to receive information from him through a Justice Department employee whose wife worked for the opposition-research firm that employed Mr. Steele and was paid by the DNC and Clinton campaign through a law firm, which acted as a cutout to conceal the source of the payments.

All that and more was known by the FBI and the Justice Department, according to the House memo, but not disclosed to the FISA court. That is certainly scandalous, but how consequential it is would seem to depend at least in part on what role the Steele dossier played in the application for the warrant.

According to the House memo, the FBI’s then deputy director testified in December that there would have been no application for the warrant but for the dossier. The committee’s Democrats deny he said that. In any case, it appears the Steele dossier played some role in the FISA application. The dossier, thanks to a long-ago leak, is publicly available; if you’d enjoy a swan dive into a cesspool, go read it. The FISA application is not available. How come?

Such applications are at the highest level of classification. They often contain sensitive intelligence information that can betray confidential sources and methods; disclosure can severely damage national security. But notice that the FBI’s only objection to the House memo at the time of its release was that it was incomplete, not that it disclosed sources and methods. Thus it is possible to summarize parts of a classified document to disclose information relevant to a public issue without disclosing secrets.

It is also possible to redact a classified document to the same end. It should be possible to disclose the parts of the FISA application that are alleged to come from the Steele dossier to see if there is any there there. That was not done because the FBI and the Justice Department resisted, and the committee had to make do with a summary. That is why the memo was a product of necessity, not choice.

Those critical of its release say it is intended to damage special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. How does possible misconduct by senior FBI officials, which is certainly bad enough, intersect with the Mueller investigation? As follows: The Justice Department regulation that authorizes the appointment of special counsels requires a determination that a “criminal investigation” is warranted, and that there is a conflict or other good reason that prevents ordinary Justice Department staff from conducting it.

The regulation that governs the jurisdiction of the special counsel requires that he be “provided with a specific statement of the matter to be investigated.” The letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointing Mr. Mueller says he is to “conduct the investigation confirmed by then-Director James Comey before the House Intelligence Committee on March 20, 2017,” which covers “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” and any matters that may arise “directly” from that investigation.

But the investigation then disclosed by Mr. Comey was not a criminal investigation; it was a national-security investigation. Possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election is certainly a worthy subject for a national-security investigation, but “links” or “coordination”—or “collusion,” a word that does not appear in the letter of appointment but has been used as a synonym for coordination—does not define or constitute a crime. The information, and misinformation, in the Steele dossier relates to that subject.

If partisan opposition research was used to fuel a national-security investigation that has morphed into a series of criminal investigations, and the special counsel has no tether that identifies a specific crime, or “a specific statement of the matter” he is to investigate, that is at least unsettling. By contrast, the Watergate, Iran-Contra and Whitewater investigations, whatever you think of how they were conducted, identified specific crimes. The public knew what was being investigated.

Here, none of the charges Mr. Mueller has brought thus far involved “coordination” or “collusion” with the Russians. Mike Flynn and George Papadopoulos both pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, the latter over the timing of conversations with Russians in which he was allegedly offered but never received “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton, including her emails. He also attempted to set up a meeting between the Russians and Mr. Trump, but the campaign blew off that effort. Notably, Mr. Papadopoulos did not plead guilty to participating in any plot that involved “coordination.” The Paul Manafort and Rick Gates indictments charge fraud on the government through receipt of and failure to disclose payments from a pro-Russian Ukraine politician.

What to do? I believe that at a minimum, the public should get access to a carefully redacted copy of the FISA application and renewals, so we can see whether officials behaved unlawfully by misleading a court; and Mr. Mueller’s mandate should be defined in a way that conforms with the legal standard of his office. Both would go a long way toward assuring that we do more than talk about a “government of laws.”

Mr. Mukasey served as U.S. attorney general (2007-09) and a U.S. district judge (1988-2006).

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-memo-and-the-mueller-probe-1517777842
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What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State

February 4, 2018
By James A. Millward
The New York Times
February 3, 2018
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Image may contain: one or more people
Art by Brian Stauffer

Imagine that this is your daily life: While on your way to work or on an errand, every 100 meters you pass a police blockhouse. Video cameras on street corners and lamp posts recognize your face and track your movements. At multiple checkpoints, police officers scan your ID card, your irises and the contents of your phone. At the supermarket or the bank, you are scanned again, your bags are X-rayed and an officer runs a wand over your body — at least if you are from the wrong ethnic group. Members of the main group are usually waved through.

You have had to complete a survey about your ethnicity, your religious practices and your “cultural level”; about whether you have a passport, relatives or acquaintances abroad, and whether you know anyone who has ever been arrested or is a member of what the state calls a “special population.”

This personal information, along with your biometric data, resides in a database tied to your ID number. The system crunches all of this into a composite score that ranks you as “safe,” “normal” or “unsafe.”Based on those categories, you may or may not be allowed to visit a museum, pass through certain neighborhoods, go to the mall, check into a hotel, rent an apartment, apply for a job or buy a train ticket. Or you may be detained to undergo re-education, like many thousands of other people.

A science-fiction dystopia? No. This is life in northwestern China today if you are Uighur.

Armed paramilitary policemen stand on duty in downtown Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region, August 24, 2009. China is likely to begin trials this week over deadly riots in the restive far-west region of Xinjiang last month, with hundreds facing murder, arson and other charges, the official China Daily said. Picture taken August 24, 2009. REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA POLITICS CRIME LAW SOCIETY) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA - RTR2730D

(Reuters/China Daily)

 

China may no longer be the bleak land of Mao suits, self-criticism sessions and loudspeakers blaring communist slogans. It boasts gleaming bullet trains, luxury malls and cellphone-facilitated consumer life. But when it comes to indigenous Uighurs in the vast western region of Xinjiang, the Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.) has updated its old totalitarian methods with cutting-edge technology.

The party considers Uighurs, the Turkic-speaking ethnic group native to the nominally autonomous region of Xinjiang, to be dangerous separatists. The Qing Empire conquered Xinjiang in the 18th century. The territory then slipped from Beijing’s control, until the Communists reoccupied it with Soviet help in 1949. Today, several Central Asian peoples, including Uighurs, Kazakhs and Kyrghyz, make up about half of the region’s population; the remainder are Han and Hui, who arrived from eastern China starting in the mid-20th century.

Over the past several years, small numbers of Uighurs have violently challenged the authorities, notably during riots in 2009, or committed terrorist acts. But the C.C.P. has since subjected the entire Uighur population of some 11 million to arbitrary arrest, draconian surveillance or systemic discrimination. Uighurs are culturally Muslim, and the government often cites the threat of foreign Islamist ideology to justify its security policies.

I have researched Xinjiang for three decades. Ethnic tensions have been common during all those years, and soon after 9/11, Chinese authorities started invoking the specter of “the three evil forces of separatism, extremism and terrorism” as a pretense to crack down on Uighurs. But state repression in Xinjiang has never been as severe as it has become since early 2017, when Chen Quanguo, the C.C.P.’s new leader in the region, began an intensive securitization program.

Mr. Chen has brought to Xinjiang the grid system of checkpoints, police stations, armored vehicles and constant patrols that he perfected while in his previous post in Tibet. The C.C.P. credits him with having quieted there a restive ethnic group unhappy with its rule. In his first year governing Xinjiang, Mr. Chen has already recruited tens of thousands of new security personnel.

As multiple news outlets have reported, he has also deployed high-tech tools in the service of creating a better police state. Uighurs’ DNA is collected during state-run medical checkups. Local authorities now install a GPS tracking system in all vehicles. Government spy apps must be loaded on mobile phones. All communication software is banned except WeChat, which grants the police access to users’ calls, texts and other shared content. When Uighurs buy a kitchen knife, their ID data is etched on the blade as a QR code.

This digitized surveillance is a modern take on conventional controls reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and ’70s. Some Uighurs report getting a knock on their door from security agents soon after receiving a call from overseas. Last autumn one Uighur told me that following several such intimidating visits over the summer, his elderly parents had texted him, “The phone screen is bad for our old eyes, so we’re not using it anymore.” He had not heard from them since.

Read the rest:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/03/opinion/sunday/china-surveillance-state-uighurs.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

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House Intel votes to release controversial surveillance memo — Said to show government abuse of surveillance procedures — Dems say memo release risks compromising intelligence gathering

January 30, 2018

The House Intelligence Committee on Monday evening voted to release a classified memo circulating in Congress that purportedly reveals government surveillance abuses.

The vote was announced to reporters by California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, who called it a “very sad day, I think, in the history of this committee.” The motion passed on a party-line basis, he said.

President Trump now has five days to decide whether he has any objections before the memo can be publicly released.

GOP LAWMAKERS DEMAND THAT ‘ALARMING’ MEMO ON FISA ABUSES BE MADE PUBLIC

Last week, a top Justice Department official urged House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes not to release the memo, saying it would be “extraordinarily reckless” and could harm national security and ongoing investigations.

The four-page memo has being described by GOP lawmakers as “shocking,” “troubling” and “alarming,” with one congressman likening the details to KGB activity in Russia.

Those who have seen the document suggest it reveals what role the unverified anti-Trump “dossier” played in the application for a surveillance warrant on at least one Trump associate.

Schiff said the GOP-majority committee also voted against releasing a counter memo written by Democrats.

“Today this committee voted to put the president’s personal interests, perhaps their own political interests, above the national interests,” the Democrat said.

Another Democratic member, Mike Quiqley of Illinois, described the GOP memo as “a book report by a high school kid at 1 a.m. on two Red Bulls who hasn’t read the book.”

Tea Party Patriots CEO Jenny Beth Martin provides insight on 'Fox & Friends First.'

“It’s a contravention of the facts,” he added. “Today was a demonstration that there are no more rules.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement that the committee’s Republicans had “crossed from dangerous irresponsibility and disregard for our national security into the realm of cover up” and “disregarded the warnings of the Justice Department and the FBI.”

“Chairman Nunes’ memo contains significant inaccuracies and omissions that misrepresent the underlying intelligence and jeopardize the effectiveness of our intelligence and law enforcement communities,” Pelosi added.

The vote came the same day that it was reported that FBI official Andrew McCabe has left his post as deputy director.

The White House seems to favor the memo’s release, but wouldn’t explicitly say whether the president will back the effort.

“We want full transparency,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday. “That’s what we have said all along.”

Sanders said they were letting the process play out before officially weighing in.

FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR ANDREW MCCABE ‘REMOVED’ FROM THE BUREAU

On Sunday, FBI Director Christopher Wray went to the Capitol on Sunday to view the four-page memo, sources told Fox News.

According to one source, Wray was asked to point out inaccuracies or other issues with the wording — and said he would need “his people to take a look at it.” The source said the review is ongoing.

South Carolina GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy, who helped write the four-page memo, said Sunday he wants it made public.

He also suggested the memo indeed addresses whether the FBI relied at least in part on the dossier — paid for partially by Democrats and the Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential election — to apply to a secret federal court to get a surveillance warrant, purportedly on then-Trump adviser Carter Page.

“If you … want to know whether or not the dossier was used in court proceedings, whether or not it was vetted before it was used. … If you are interested in who paid for the dossier … then, yes, you’ll want the memo to come out,” Gowdy told “Fox News Sunday.”

The dossier was compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and contained opposition research on Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. Steele was hired by the U.S. firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the research with funding from the Democratic National Committee and the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. At the same time, the firm was allegedly doing work to help the Russian government fight sanctions.

Requests for surveillance warrants are made through the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, also known as the FISA court, and target suspected foreign spies inside the United States.

Responding to reports the U.S. extended surveillance on him last spring, Carter Page told Fox News that U.S.-Russia relations have been “dominated by misunderstandings throughout much of the past 70 years, since the original McCarthy era. I harbor no ill will towards anyone for past xenophobic biases and only hope that justice is eventually served.”

Fox News’ Pamela K. Browne, Joseph Weber and Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.

Alex Pappas is a politics reporter at FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexPappas.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/01/29/house-intel-votes-to-release-controversial-surveillance-memo-to-public.html

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Representative Adam B. Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on Monday that it has been a “sad day” for the committee and that Republicans had voted “to politicize the intelligence process.” Credit Al Drago for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, disregarding Justice Department warnings that their actions would be “extraordinarily reckless,” voted Monday evening to release a contentious secret memorandum said to accuse the department and the F.B.I. of misusing their authority to obtain a secret surveillance order on a former Trump campaign associate.

The vote, made along party lines, threw fuel on an already fiery partisan conflict over the investigations into Russia’s brazen meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Republicans invoked a power never before used by the secretive committee to effectively declassify the memo that they had compiled. It was an extraordinary maneuver, cheered on by President Trump, who has repeatedly dismissed the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt” and a sham.

Committee Republicans said the memo’s release would shed useful light on potential political bias that may have warped the early stages of the Russia investigation without compromising intelligence gathering. Representative K. Michael Conaway of Texas, a senior Republican on the committee, said on Monday that he was confident the Republican memo itself would not present a national security risk and was complete and fair as written.

Democrats called the three-and-a-half-page document a dangerous effort to build a narrative to undercut the department’s continuing Russia investigation, using cherry-picked facts assembled with little or no context. Speaking to reporters after the closed-door vote, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the committee’s top Democrat, said Republicans had voted “to politicize the intelligence process.”

“Sadly, we expect that the president of the United States will not put the national interest over his own personal interest,” Mr. Schiff said. “But it is a sad day indeed when that is also true of our own committee.”

Mr. Schiff said the committee had opened new avenues to investigate the Justice Department and F.B.I., a characterization disputed by Mr. Conaway.

What comes next was less clear. Under the obscure House rule invoked by the committee, Mr. Trump now has five days to review the document and decide whether to try to block it from going public. The White House has repeatedly indicated that it wants the memo out, but Mr. Trump’s Justice Department had been working to slow or block its release.

Shortly after Monday’s vote, the memo was taken to the White House, where it was being reviewed by White House lawyers, according to a person familiar with the review.

Voting as a bloc, Democrats tried to advance a series of motions on Monday that they said would help put the Republican memo in context. All but one of those motions failed along party lines. The committee did make a Democratic memo rebutting the Republican version available to the full House, but Republicans said they wanted time for members to review the document before considering its public release.

The Republican memo, which was made available to all members of the House, is said to contend that officials from the two agencies were not forthcoming to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge. Republicans accuse the agencies of not properly disclosing that the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign helped finance research that was used to obtain a warrant for surveillance of Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser. The research presented to the judge was assembled by a former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele.

NYT:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/29/us/politics/release-the-memo-vote-house-intelligence-republicans.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

Donald Trump’s State of the Union: Will his speech reflect reality?

January 28, 2018
The 5 topics Trump will cover in his SOTU speech
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump will give his next State of the Union speech on Jan. 30 and this year’s theme is “building a safe, strong, and proud America,” according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters about the speech.

  • It will focus on 5 topics: Jobs/the economy, infrastructure, trade, immigration and national security. The administration official also said Trump will make the case for more bipartisanship in Congress.
  • Trump’s guests will reflect these topics, including people who benefited from tax reform and someone who can put “a face to the opioid crisis,” per the official.

https://www.axios.com/trumps-state-of-the-union-speech-2018-8a0693ec-b10a-47cd-acd9-1abbf549bd58.html

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The Independent

Donald Trump’s State of the Union: When is it, what will he say and does it reflect the true state of America?

The President is expected to talk about the economy and investment – if he sticks to the teleprompter

By Alexandra WiltsAndrew Buncombe Washington DC

When President Donald Trump delivered his first address to US Congress – it was technically not termed a State of the Union speech because he had only been on the job for five weeks.

He largely stuck to the script, claimed his election victory had been a “rebellion” of the people and outraged many by announcing the establishment of a body to help alleged victims of immigrant crime – the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement. “We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests,” he said.

Eleven long months later, Mr Trump has been President for a year, believes he has delivered on many of his electoral promises, and considers himself to be a victim of “fake” media coverage and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s “witch hunt” into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

Heading back from a very exciting two days in Davos, Switzerland. Speech on America’s economic revival was well received. Many of the people I met will be investing in the U.S.A.!

A senior administration official told reporters that when Mr Trump speaks at 9pm EST on Tuesday night, laying out future plans and reflecting on his first year in office, he will be “speaking from the heart”.

That official, who declined to be named, said the President will discuss jobs and the economy, infrastructure, immigration, trade and national security.

Experts say that with a booming stock market and low unemployment rate that he inherited from his predecessor – and following a recent corporate tax cut that has resulted in a number of firms announcing new hirings, new projects and bonuses – Mr Trump will start by claiming victory for the resilience of the US economy.

“It’s the economy, stupid. He’s got a story to tell,” said Larry Sabato, professor of politics at the University of Virginia, referring to the now legendary advice strategist James Carville offered Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992 as he challenged President George HW Bush.

“Most people have no idea how much a president influences the economy, but Trump will take 100 per cent of the credit for the good news – of that we can be sure. It’s all due to business confidence in him, and his tax-cutting, and his regulation-busting.”

He added: “Yes, those are a part of the story, but the economy was in great shape during Obama’s final year. Trump will never admit that. He’ll create a reality that his base will swallow hook, line, and sinker. Trump is ‘making America great again’.”

When Mr Trump spoke a year ago, many of his opponents and Hillary Clinton supporters, still licking their wounds from her surprise defeat, may have doubted he would make it this far. While Mr Trump had not yet fired FBI Director James Comey – a decision that would ultimately lead to the appointment of Mr Mueller – he had got rid of his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, after learning he had lied about contact with Russian officials.

Furthermore, questions were already being asked about his campaign advisers’ possible links to Russia, about his refusal to speak out against Vladimir Putin, and the “unpresidential” nature of much of his discourse and actions. In short, many believed it would only be a short time before Republicans turned against him and the House of Representatives started impeachment proceedings.

Yet a year after he took office, Mr Trump appears to be in a much stronger position. While his approval ratings remain at a historic low, his support among his base and Republicans more generally remains solid.

Following his success in getting conservative judge Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court, cracking down on immigration and signing into law the biggest tax-cut for three decades, many Republicans believe he has delivered on a lot of their wishes.

“According to his supporters he’s had several major accomplishments,” said Jeanne Zaino, a political scientist at New York’s Iona College.

“The Supreme Court nomination, the tax reform bill, booming economy/Wall St and jobs numbers, and the little discussed but critical roll back of Obama era regulations to an extent that no one expected.”

Officials said that during his speech – which will be shown on major television and cable networks, as well as the White House’s own website – Mr Trump will refer to what he sees as the benefits of reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 per cent to 21 per cent.

Mr Trump will also reiterate his commitment to fair and reciprocal trade deals. Just this past week, the President for the first time reopened the door to the possibility of the US rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership – almost exactly a year after he withdrew the country from the landmark 12-nation trade pact.

The administration is also currently negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), which Mr Trump has made clear that he can still rip up if the US does not reach what he considers to be a better deal with Canada and Mexico.

The speech, which will get a formal Democratic response from congressman Joe Kennedy, will come a day after the White House is due to deliver its “legislative framework” for an immigration bill to Congress.

It is reported that the plan proposes a path to citizenship for up to 1.8m immigrants who were brought to the US illegally as children – so-called “Dreamers” – while also calling for restrictions on immigration and $25bn (£18bn) for border security. The proposal is likely to face a large amount of opposition from Democrats, some of whom are expected to boycott Mr Trump’s address.

If Mr Trump sticks to the teleprompter, or the speech his aides have hammered out for him, the nation may get few headlines on Tuesday night. But after a year in which racism, immigration, sexual abuse of women and gender inequality have made up much of the public conversation, will Mr Trump dare dive into any of these areas?

Two weeks ago, Mr Trump triggered global outcry when it emerged he had referred to Haiti and African nations as “s***hole” countries.

“If I could have one wish, it would be for him to say he will open the path for immigration, without the need for a wall and without using the Dreamers as political pawns,” said Veronica Arreola, an Illinois-based academic and gender expert.

From health care to economic justice to civil rights, the Democratic agenda stands in powerful contrast to President Trump’s broken promises to American families. Deeply honored to be chosen to deliver the response to the State of the Union next week. Stay tuned for updates!

Professor Terri Givens, an academic focusing on politics and immigration at California’s Menlo College, said she was certain Mr Trump would tout the economy and claim success for it. She said she doubted he would dive into cultural issues.

Yet she said she hoped the President, fresh from his speech in Davos, would say something reassuring to America’s traditional allies, many of which have been left uncertain and anxious by his past remarks – his attacks on Nato, his strident “America First” position and his decision to unilaterally withdraw the US from the Paris accord on climate change.

Another issue many will be watching for is whether Mr Trump will refer to the ongoing probe into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia. This week it was reported the President last summer had sought to fire Mr Mueller, only to be talked out of it by a White House lawyer.

Mr Trump has dismissed the report as “fake news”. And there remains the possibility that he could use Tuesday night’s speech to take a dig at either the investigation or the media, or both.

In 1974, President Richard Nixon was almost at the end of his State of the Union address when he asked to offer “a personal word” about “the so-called Watergate affair”.

“I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to an end,” the Republican said, referring to House and Senate investigations into his conduct. “One year of Watergate is enough.”

He declared that he had “no intention whatever of ever walking away from the job that the people elected me to do.”  Mr Nixon resigned seven months later.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-state-of-the-union-2018-address-when-time-america-speech-obama-comparison-reality-life-a8181146.html

China Warns U.S. on Trade — U.S. claims China uses market access restrictions or other tools to compel foreign companies to hand over technology

January 11, 2018

By JOE McDONALD, AP Business Writer

BEIJING (AP) — China warned Washington on Thursday it will “resolutely safeguard” its interests ahead of a possible decision in an investigation into whether Beijing improperly pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

The United States is disrupting the international trading order by carrying out the “Section 301” investigation under its own laws instead of through the World Trade Organization, said Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng.

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Trump ordered U.S. trade officials in August to investigate whether Beijing uses market access restrictions or other tools to compel foreign companies to hand over technology. A decision is expected as early as this month, though American officials have set no date.

“If the United States insists on unilateral and protectionist practices that will undermine the interests of China, we will take all necessary measures and resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of China,” Gao said at a regular briefing.

If the investigation concludes Beijing acted improperly, Washington could seek remedies either through the WTO or outside of it.

Gao gave no indication of how Beijing might respond but Chinese law gives regulators broad discretion over what foreign companies can do in China.

Gao also criticized the United States for using “so-called national security” as a reason to block a Chinese billionaire’s acquisition of money transfer service MoneyGram.

The proposed purchase by e-commerce tycoon Jack Ma’s Ant Financial Group was a “normal commercial investment,” said Gao.

Jack Ma

The deal was called off last week after failing to win approval from a U.S. government panel that reviews proposed acquisitions of American companies for possible threats to national security.

“We regret to note that normal commercial investment and mergers and acquisitions conducted by Chinese enterprises in the United States are once again hindered by so-called ‘national security’,” said Gao.

Gao said Beijing has no objection to a “normal security review” but worries other governments use them as an excuse to set up barriers to unfairly stop unwanted activity.

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U.S. Homeland Security To Follow China’s Lead: Scan Faces, Create Extensive Biometric Data Bases

December 31, 2017

While biometrics only at certain major airports right now, full implementation of these scanners could cost Americans up to $1 billion, says study

Both Congress and the Department of Homeland Security have never justified the biometric scanners at airports that could cost Americans $1 billion in 2018.As TSA agents continue to prove their incompetence in the “War on Terror,” the Department of Homeland Security is now allocating $1 billion in taxpayer funding to create a facial recognition program that will illegally scan Americans’ faces.A study conducted by Georgetown Law’s Center for Privacy and Technology looked at the biometric scanners that are creating an inventory of the faces of individuals leaving the country at airports across the United States. While they are only at certain major airports right now, the full implementation of these scanners could cost Americans up to $1 billion.

The study noted that while the “9/11 Response and Biometric Exit Account” created by Congress has the funds for the program, “neither Congress nor DHS has ever justified the need for the program.”

In addition to the fact that Congress has never provided a reason why the system is needed in the U.S., the study claimed that DHS has “repeatedly questioned ‘the additional value biometric air exit would provide’ compared with the status quo and the ‘overall value and cost of a biometric air exit capability,’ even as it has worked to build it.”

Not only is a government agency pouring $1 billion into a program to increase the country’s security measures even though it lacks full confidence, and has no evidence that the program it is implementing will do so, there is also the fact that the program requires Americans to give up their civil liberties, and it has never been explicitly authorized by the government. As the researchers from Georgetown Law noted:

“DHS’ biometric exit program also stands on shaky legal ground. Congress has repeatedly ordered the collection of biometrics from foreign nationals at the border, but has never clearly authorized the border collection of biometrics from American citizens using face recognition technology.

Without explicit authorization, DHS should not be scanning the faces of Americans as they depart on international flights—but DHS is doing it anyway. DHS also is failing to comply with a federal law requiring it to conduct a rulemaking process to implement the airport face scanning program—a process that DHS has not even started.”

The study also found that the biometric scanners used by DHS are not reliable, and often make mistakes. In fact, “according to DHS’ own data, DHS’ face recognition systems erroneously reject as many as 1 in 25 travelers using valid credentials.” This means that at the country’s busiest airports, more than 1,500 travelers could be wrongfully denied boarding in a single day.

As The Free Thought Project has reported, while the biometric scanners are currently located at the major airports in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, New York City and the District of Columbia, DHS has made it clear that they plan to roll this program out nationwide by January 2018.

Sens. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, criticized the privacy implications, and called for Homeland Security to halt the facial recognition scanning program in a letter to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielson:

“We request that DHS stop the expansion of this program, and provide Congress with its explicit statutory authority to use and expand a biometric exit program on U.S. citizens.

If there is no specific authorization, then we request an explanation for why DHS believes it has the authority to proceed without congressional approval. Additionally, we ask that you address a number of our privacy concerns with the program.”

Markey told The Hill that DHS should never have started testing and implementing the biometric scanners without first receiving congressional approval, and the United States Congress should take the time to weigh the implications of the program before handing the department a blank check.

“When American citizens travel by air internationally, they should not have to choose between privacy and security,” Markey said. “The implementation of the Department of Homeland Security’s facial recognition scanning program for passengers leaving the country raises a number of concerns around accuracy, transparency and basic necessity.”

https://www.infowars.com/dhs-announces-program-to-illegally-scan-american-faces/

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Trump’s New National Security Doctrine: Israel Is Not the Cause of the Middle East’s Problems

December 18, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with reporters on the White House lawn, December 16, 2017.

In new outline of national security strategy, Trump doctrine to declare that ‘states have increasingly found common interests with in Israel’ in confronting threats such as Iran and radical jihadist terrorist organizations

The Associated Press Dec 18, 2017 3:01 PM (In Jerusalem)

Prioritizing national sovereignty over alliances, U.S. President Donald Trump is poised to outline a new national security strategy that envisions nations in a perpetual state of competition, reverses Obama-era warnings on climate change, and de-emphasizes multinational agreements that have dominated the United States’ foreign policy since the Cold War.

The Republican president, who ran on a platform of “America First,” will detail his plan Monday, one that if fully implemented could sharply alter the United States’ relationships with the rest of the world. The plan, according to senior administration officials who offered a preview Sunday, is to focus on four main themes: protecting the homeland and way of life; promoting American prosperity; demonstrating peace through strength; and advancing American influence in an ever-competitive world.

Trump’s doctrine holds that nation states are in perpetual competition and that the U.S. must fight on all fronts to protect and defend its sovereignty from friend and foe alike. While the administration often says that “America First” does not mean “America Alone,” the national security strategy to be presented by Trump will make clear that the United States will stand up for itself even if that means acting unilaterally or alienating others on issues like trade, climate change and immigration, according to people familiar with the strategy.

The last such strategy document, prepared by then-President Barack Obama in 2015, declared climate change an “urgent and growing threat to our national security.” A senior official said the Trump plan removes that determination — following the administration’s threat to pull out of the Paris climate accord — but will mention the importance of environmental stewardship.

 

Despite the risk of potential isolation presented by Trump’s strategy, its fundamentals are not a surprise. The Associated Press last week reviewed excerpts of a late draft of the roughly 70-page document and spoke to two people familiar with it. The draft emphasizes that U.S. economic security is national security and that economic security must be ensured with military might. And they said it would stress the U.S. is interested only in relationships with other countries, including alliances like NATO, that are fair and reciprocal.

Trump, according to the senior officials, is also expected to discuss threats he’ll deem as “rogue regimes,” like North Korea, and “revisionist powers,” like Russia and China, who aim to change the status quo, such as Moscow and its actions with Ukraine and Georgia, and Beijing in the South China Sea. Trump is also planning to renew his call for the member states in the United Nations and NATO to spend more on defense, saying that the United States will insist on its alliances being fair and reciprocal.

The senior officials said the document refers to China as a “strategic competitor,” rather than the stronger accusation of “economic aggression” previewed last week by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

Despite international challenges, the document cites emerging opportunities to advance American interests in the Middle East. “Some of our partners are working together to reject radical ideologies and key leaders are calling for a rejection of Islamist extremism and violence,” it says. “Encouraging political stability and sustainable prosperity would contribute to dampening the conditions that fuel sectarian grievances.”

The strategy document asserts that “for generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region. Today, the threats from radical jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats.”

The president is also set to make the case that U.S. economic security is national security and that economic security must be ensured with military might.

The criticism of Russia will come as a break from recent warm words between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The leaders have spoken twice in four days, with Trump calling Putin to thank him for kind words about the U.S. stock market and Putin reaching out to Trump to thank the CIA for help in stopping a terror plot in St. Petersburg.

The strategy document will not make explicit reference to Russian attempts to meddle in the U.S. political system, but an official said it would highlight the importance of ensuring the resilience of U.S. democratic institutions.

The early draft of the strategy reviewed by the AP lamented that America had put itself at a disadvantage by entering into multinational agreements, such as those aimed at combating climate change, and introducing domestic policies to implement them.

The senior officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan before the president’s remarks.

The Associated Press

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read more: https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.829692

Photo at the top: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with reporters on the White House lawn, December 16, 2017. Susan Walsh / AP

NeverTrump New York Times Columnist: Trump’s Foreign Policy Is Winning — (He endorsed Hillary Clinton, OMG!) — Where’s the rest of the media?

December 18, 2017

NY Times columnist praises Trump for winning against ISIS, hits media for not giving credit

A conservative New York Times columnist on Sunday wrote a piece on President Trump’s successful approach at taking on the Islamic State and how his strategy has gone unnoticed by the media.

Ross Douthat, who previously endorsed Hillary Clinton, wrote that the Trump administration surprised him in foreign policy, namely in the war on ISIS that Trump has won.

“If you had told me in late 2016 that almost a year into the Trump era the caliphate would be all-but-beaten without something far worse happening in the Middle East, I would have been surprised and gratified,” Douthat wrote in an column titled “A War Trump Won.”

Douthat wrote that Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq – which he calls “the defining foreign policy calamity of Barack Obama’s second term” – were effectively routed by Trump without the need of a massive ground troop invasion and without getting into a war with Russia or Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Douthat wrote that it is a “press failure” for succumbing to “the narrative of Trumpian disaster” and ignoring the story.

“But this is also a press failure, a case where the media is not adequately reporting an important success because it does not fit into the narrative of Trumpian disaster in which our journalistic entities are all invested,” he wrote.

Earlier this month, Iraq declared its war against the Islamic State was over after more than three years of combat operations drove extremist fighters from all of the territories they once held.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced Iraqi forces were in full control of the country’s border with Syria during remarks at a conference in Baghdad, and his spokesman said the development marked the end of the military fight against ISIS.

“Trump has avoided the temptation often afflicting Republican uber-hawks, in which we’re supposed to fight all bad actors on 16 fronts at once. Instead he’s slow-walked his hawkish instincts on Iran, tolerated Assad and avoided dialing up tensions with Russia,” Douthat wrote.

Lastly, Douthat gives credit for Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – a move condemned by multiple countries across the globe – as recognizing that the Middle East has changed its priorities since the 1990s.

He wrote: “And the Trump strategy on Israel and the Palestinians, the butt of many Jared Kushner jokes, seems … not crazy?”

“The relatively mild reaction to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital may be a case study in expert consensus falling behind the facts; the Arab world has different concerns than it did in 1995, and Trump’s move has helped clarify that change.”

Douthat ended the article: “So very provisionally, credit belongs where it’s due — to our soldiers and diplomats, yes, but to our president as well.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/12/18/ny-times-columnist-praises-trump-for-winning-against-isis-hits-media-for-not-giving-credit.html

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New York Times resident conservative columnist Ross Douthat, who was a “NeverTrump” pundit during the 2016 election, has acknowledged President Donald Trump’s success in defeating the so-called “Islamic State” — and says Trump deserves credit for his foreign policy overall.

In a column titled “The War Trump Won,” Douthat writes that “if you had told me in late 2016 that almost a year into the Trump era the caliphate would be all-but-beaten without something far worse happening in the Middle East, I would have been surprised and gratified.”

Last October, with Election Day looming, Douthat had written that “the risks of Trump are so distinctive as to throw the perils of a Clinton presidency into relative eclipse.” He warned of the possibility of “a rapid escalation of risk in every geopolitical theater.”

A year later, Douthat is surprised — and impressed — by Trump’s performance: “[F]or now, the Trump administration’s approach to the Middle East has been moderately successful, and indeed close to what I would have hoped for from a normal Republican president following a realist-internationalist course.”

Douthat faults the press — including himself — for ignoring the victory over ISIS and “not adequately reporting an important success because it does not fit into the narrative of Trumpian disaster in which our journalistic entities are all invested.”

He explains further:

In particular, Trump has avoided the temptation often afflicting Republican uber-hawks, in which we’re supposed to fight all bad actors on 16 fronts at once. Instead he’s slow-walked his hawkish instincts on Iran, tolerated Assad and avoided dialing up tensions with Russia. The last issue is of course entangled with the great collusion debate — but it’s still a good thing that our mini-cold war has remained relatively cool and we aren’t strafing each other over Syria.

And the Trump strategy on Israel and the Palestinians, the butt of many Jared Kushner jokes, seems … not crazy? The relatively mild reaction to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital may be a case study in expert consensus falling behind the facts; the Arab world has different concerns than it did in 1995, and Trump’s move has helped clarify that change.

He concludes: So very provisionally, credit belongs where it’s due — to our soldiers and diplomats, yes, but to our president as well.

Read Douthat’s full column here.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Exodus: Jews Flee Paris Suburbs over Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism — Germans also see more anti-semitism

December 15, 2017

Breitbart

Members of French Jewish community walk in a street of Paris, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. If far-right candidate Marine Le Pen wins the upcoming presidential election, she plans to ban religious symbols from French streets, which would impact on Jews who would no longer be allowed to wear their kippa head-coverings, and Muslims who would no longer be allowed to wear headscarfs in public which may dramatically alter the country's urban landscape. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Schaeffer)

The Paris commuter newspaper 20 Minutes documents an “internal exodus” during 2017 of Jews from the Seine-Saint-Denis department, saying it is emblematic of broader concerns that French Jews, like their brothers and sisters across Europe, are finding it increasingly difficult to reconcile their faith with the changing demographics of the continent.

The paper reports that Jews are leaving their homes on the northeastern fringe of Paris to escape the open hostility that French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Sunday condemned as “well-rooted.” The newspaper reports:

This ‘internal exodus’ is difficult to quantify, but it is clear that many synagogues of Seine-Saint-Denis have closed, for lack of people. In Pierrefitte, the rabbi has recorded a 50 percent decline in the congregations since his arrival thirteen years ago. A similar story is told in (nearby) Bondy, where attendance on Yom Kippur (the holiest day of the Jewish calendar) has fallen from about 800 to 400 in the last decade.

The Bondy synagogue president saw a “deteriorating climate” of the last 15 years as driving the exodus, “It’s hard to explain, it’s provocations, it’s looks,” he lamented. “There are places where we do not feel welcome.”

His observations mimic those made 12 months before in nearby Raincy, where local Rabbi Moshe Lewin said he feared he could be one of the last Jewish leaders in Seine-Saint-Denis.

“What upsets me is that in some areas of France, Jews can no longer live peacefully, and that just five minutes from my home, some are forced to hide their kippas (skullcaps) or their Star of David,” he said.

The sensation of “not feeling welcome” is nothing new to French Jews. In 2015, journalist Zvika Klein recorded the reaction to his taking to the streets of Paris wearing a traditional kippa. See the result for yourself below:

Klein later points out the irony that Paris today is a city “where keffiyeh-wearing men and veiled women speak Arabic on every street corner” but where “soldiers are walking every street that houses a Jewish institution.”

Sammy Ghozlan, the president of the Jewish communal security organization BNCVA, told 20 Minutes that it was vital “not to underestimate the antisemitism we experience on a daily basis.”

“For a long time, Jews were targeted through their symbols — today, people themselves are targeted directly,” Ghozlan said.

As Breitbart Jerusalem has reported, the experience of Jews in Paris is much the same across the rest of the country. More and more are feeling so unsafe that they now feel they have no other choice but to move to Israel for safety.

They are continuing a trend that has seen tens of thousands of Jews quit the country in the past decade.

More than 5,000 departures were recorded in 2016 on top of the record 7,900 who left in 2015 and 7,231 in 2014. In total, 40,000 French Jews have emigrated since 2006, according to figures cited by AFP.

On the evidence, that number will not be falling anytime soon.

Follow Simon Kent on Twitter:  or e-mail to: skent@breitbart.com

http://www.breitbart.com/jerusalem/2017/12/15/exodus-french-jews-forced-islamists-anti-semitism-rises-across-europe/

From earlier today:

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Demonstrators wave Palestinian, Turkish and Syrian flags in front of the Brandenburg Gate, next to the US embassy in Berlin on December 8, 2017, (AFP PHOTO / John MACDOUGALL)

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Mueller Investigation, Michael Flynn and Alan Dershowitz — Mueller’s look into Russian election meddling has all kinds of twists and turns

November 30, 2017
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Michael Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner
High praise for Michael Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, from Alan Dershowitz on Fox News, Thursday, November 30, 2017, in the 1:30 PM time block.Dershowitz said Flynn’s lawyer “knows how to play the game” and is among the best players in the Mueller investigations.

Without mentioning Mr. Kelner’s name, Dershowitz said “he’s got a big sign around Flynn’s neck that says ‘testimony for sale .””

Then he quickly added, “Or for rent.”

Dershowitz seemed to say that Flynn’s lawyer was trying to entice the Mueller team to make a deal for Flynn’s testimony. But Dershowitz also said thet Flynn is a known liar and would never be considered a capable and truthful witness by the Mueller team…

 

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Alan Dershowitz: Mike Flynn ‘will say anything’ to get a deal from Robert Mueller

Harvard law school professor Alan Dershowitz speculated Tuesday that former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn “will say anything” to get a deal from special counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation.“It’s not clear that Flynn has anything to offer,” Dershowitz told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham. “He’s trying to save his son. He’s trying to save himself. He’ll say anything. He’ll not only sing, he’ll compose and create evidence if he has to do that in order to get a deal.”

Dershowitz called Flynn’s credibility “worthless” because he’s been accused of perjury for denying to the FBI that he discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

The New York Times reported Thursday that Flynn’s lawyers told Trump’s lawyers they will no longer share information about the special counsel’s investigation, signaling that Flynn may be cooperating with Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Trump’s lawyers believe Flynn may try to negotiate a deal because Flynn has indicated he’s worried charges might be brought against his son, Michael G. Flynn, who was chief of staff to his father.

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Michael Flynn’s lawyer meets with members of special counsel’s team, raising specter of plea deal

Trump’s legal team confirmed late last week that Flynn’s attorney Robert Kelner alerted the team that he could no longer engage in privileged discussions about defense strategy in the case — a sign Flynn is preparing to negotiate with prosecutors over a deal that could include his testimony against the president or senior White House officials.

That process would typically include a series of off-the-record discussions in which prosecutors lay out in detail for Flynn and his lawyers the fruits of their investigation into his activities. Prosecutors would also provide Flynn an opportunity to offer what’s called a proffer, detailing what information, if any, he has that could implicate others in wrongdoing.

When reached Monday, Kelner declined to comment on the nature of his morning visit to Mueller’s offices in Washington, D.C.

Sources familiar with the discussions between Flynn’s legal team and Trump’s attorneys told ABC News that while there was never a formal, signed joint defense agreement between Flynn’s defense counsel and other targets of the Mueller probe, the lawyers had engaged in privileged discussions for months.

Jay Sekulow, a member of Trump’s legal team, told ABC News last week that the break was “not entirely unexpected.”

“No one should draw the conclusion that this means anything about Gen. Flynn cooperating against the president,” Sekulow said.

The New York Times broke the news, calling it an indication that Flynn may be cooperating with prosecutors.

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Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP via Getty Images
Michael Flynn Jr. is seen behind his father, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, as they arrive at Trump Tower in New York on Nov. 17, 2016.

Sources familiar with the Flynn investigation have told ABC News the retired lieutenant general has felt increased pressure since prosecutors began focusing attention on his son, Michael G. Flynn, who worked as part of the Flynn Intel Group, the consulting firm founded by the elder Flynn, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Michael G. Flynn also traveled with his father to Russia in 2015 for his now famous appearance at a Moscow dinner where he sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Democrats in Congress have told ABC News they forwarded information to the Mueller team alleging that Michael T. Flynn illegally concealed more than a dozen foreign contacts and overseas trips during the process of renewing his security clearances.

“It appears that General Flynn violated federal law by omitting this trip and these foreign contacts from his security clearance renewal application in 2016 and concealing them from security clearance investigators who interviewed him as part of the background check process,” Reps. Elijah Cummings and Eliot L. Engel, both Democrats, wrote in a letter to Flynn’s attorney.

The letter highlights information House investigators collected from executives at three private companies advised by Flynn in 2015 and 2016. The companies were pursuing a joint venture with Russia to bring nuclear power to several Middle Eastern countries and secure the resulting nuclear fuel before Flynn joined then-candidate Trump on the campaign trail.

Flynn is a decorated military officer who served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 until his retirement in 2014. He was out of the spotlight only briefly. He joined the Trump campaign as an adviser in 2016, and Trump later named Flynn as his first national security adviser. He was forced to resign, however, after just 24 days on the job, when it was revealed that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian officials during the presidential transition.

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Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
Robert Mueller, special counsel on the Russian investigation, leaves the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., June 21, 2017.

Cummings told ABC News that Flynn’s foreign contacts — which involved high-ranking foreign officials and business executives — were so numerous they could not have been inadvertent omissions or incidental contacts.

“He has, over and over again, omitted information that he should have disclosed,” Cummings said. “It’s not an aberration, and that’s clear.

Flynn’s lawyer has declined to comment on the letter, and when ABC News tracked down Flynn this summer at a beach in Newport, Rhode Island — his hometown — he didn’t say much more.

“I’m just having a great time with the family here,” Flynn said. “I’m doing good, [but] I’m not going to make any comments.”

The alleged omissions could be a serious matter — and not just for Flynn. While Cummings said intentionally omitting foreign contacts when applying for security clearance can carry a five-year prison term, he acknowledged that penalties are rarely so severe. The leverage the alleged transgressions provide, however, could prove useful to prosecutors seeking to use the threat of prosecution to compel Flynn’s assistance in the broader investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Former FBI Director James Comey provided a window into that strategy during his three hours of testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this year.

“There is always a possibility if you have a criminal case against someone and you bring them in, squeeze them, flip them, [that] they give you information about something else,” Comey said.

The alleged omissions are just the latest to make trouble for Flynn. He failed to declare a December 2015 trip to Russia, where he sat next to Putin and for which was paid $33,000. In March 2017, Flynn submitted a late filing with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, revealing that the Flynn Intel Group was paid $530,000 for three months of work on behalf of a Dutch firm owned by a Turkish businessman with close ties to the Turkish government.

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Susan Walsh/AP Photo, FILE
President Donald Trump walks in front of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, left, and after arriving at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., Feb. 6, 2017.more +

Flynn’s work for Turkey remains the subject of additional scrutiny. Of interest to federal agents, according to people interviewed by the FBI, is his alleged role in a bizarre, unrealized proposal first reported by The Wall Street Journal to kidnap Turkish dissident cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is living in exile in rural Pennsylvania and is suspected of involvement in a failed coup attempt.

Gulen, who has denied involvement in the coup attempt, has lived legally in the Pocono Mountains since 1999, and the Turkish government has been financing efforts to persuade the U.S. government to return him to Turkey for years.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey confirmed for ABC News he was at a meeting in which Flynn allegedly raised the idea.

“It became clear to me that they were seriously considering a kidnapping operation for Gulen, and I told them then that it was a bad idea, it was illegal,” Woolsey said. “I won’t say that they had firmly decided to do that. But they were seriously considering it.”

Kelner, Flynn’s lawyer, took the rare step of publicly refuting those assertions, saying there was no such discussion and calling them categorically “false.” In mid-July at a press conference, the Turkish ambassador to the U.S. also denied the notion of a kidnapping plot.

“There’s no truth to that,” he said, adding that the Turkish government was following “traditional” procedures to have Gulen extradited “through the legal channels.”

ABC News’ John Santucci contributed to this report.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/michael-flynns-lawyer-meets-members-special-counsels-team/story?id=51412187