Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

After year of investigation, Trump can rightly claim some vindication (No Wonder Hillary Is Bitter — The CIA and FBI Let Her Down)

May 21, 2018


Former Secretary of State and former Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holds up a Russian fur hat, an ushanka, with a Soviet era hammer and sickle emblem, to the Yale College class of 2018 during her Class Day address at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., Sunday, May 20, 2018. As a tradition, Yale students and faculty wear humorous and playful hats during a Senior Class Day ceremony. (Peter Hvizdak/New Haven Register via AP) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

It was called “Crossfire Hurricane,” the FBI counterintelligence operation that targeted Trump figures as part of the investigation into possible campaign ties to Russia. It was a poignant choice of a Rolling Stones song, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” that describes a man “born in a crossfire hurricane” who “howled at the morning driving rain.”

By Jonathan Turley
The Hill

It could be an apt description of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. After a year of media denials of his claims of surveillance targeting his campaign, Trump can legitimately claim some vindication. Indeed, with his rising poll numbers, the president must feel, in the words of the song, like “it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas.”The New York Times this week disclosed that the FBI made a conscious effort to use secret counterintelligence powers to investigate Trump officials and may have had a confidential informant who was used in connection with key Trump figures long before the November 2016 election. (Officials stated anonymously that this was a longstanding source who worked with both the FBI and CIA for years.)

In early 2017, President Trump was widely ridiculed for alleging that the Obama administration placed his campaign under surveillance. The response from experts on CNN and other sites was open mockery. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper came forward to assure the media that he could categorically deny the allegation and stated, “There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign.” The range of media analysis seemed to run from whether Trump was a clinical paranoid or a delusional demagogue.
We now know there was, indeed, surveillance ordered repeatedly on Trump campaign figures before and after the election. Rather than acknowledge the troubling implications of an administration investigating the opposing party’s leading candidate for president, the media shifted to saying that there was ample reason to order the surveillance.That remains to be seen but much of the coverage brushes over the fact that no charges were brought against the principal target, Carter Page, or that the secret warrants for surveillance were based in part on a dossier paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, a fact known but not fully disclosed by the FBI to the secret FISA court. The documented Russian interference, thus far, has been largely a Russian operation out of St. Petersburg that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has said was carried out without the knowledge of Trump campaign officials.Now the plot has thickened even further with the added disclosure of not just national security letters to gather documents related to Trump figures but also at least one confidential informant who met with campaign figures like Page and George Papadopoulos to gather information. In response to the New York Times report, Trump declared that the FBI planted “at least one” spy in his campaign to frame him. Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani ratcheted up the rhetoric and said, if the story is true, that former FBI Director James Comey should be prosecuted.The record does not currently support such a criminal conspiracy. However, if Trump and his counsel can be accused of overplaying the known facts, the media can be equally accused of ignoring the implications of the known facts. It should be a serious concern that the Obama administration used secret counterintelligence powers to target officials in the campaign of the opposing party. That is a practice we have widely criticized in other countries from Turkey to Russia to Iran.

Worse yet, the New York Times wrote that the decision was made to use the secret FISA court and counterintelligence personnel to conceal the operation for political purposes. According to the report, FBI officials consciously decided not to seek conventional criminal warrants or pursue a criminal investigation because it might be discovered and raised by Trump during the campaign. Thus, as Trump campaigned against the “deep state,” FBI officials hid their investigation deeper inside the state. FISA was not designed as a convenient alternative for the FBI and the Justice Department to avoid political costs or scrutiny.

The added problem with using a counterintelligence operation is that it is easier to launch and conceal than a criminal investigation. While there is a “probable cause” requirement under FISA, it is not the same as the one contained in the Fourth Amendment. Virtually every FISA application ever filed by the Justice Department has been granted, with a couple of exceptions. The FISA investigation was based on loose claims of foreign influence and a little cognizable evidence of actual crimes.

For his part, Page continues to maintain that he accepted standard contracts to work with the Russians, as have hundreds of people in Washington. Clearly, the FBI should investigate any serious criminal conduct linked to Trump figures or the campaign. However, the publicly released FISA material describes interactions with Russians that could have applied easily to myriad other “Beltway bandits” who regularly cash in on foreign contracts, including leading figures of both parties. The still unresolved question is why these particular allegations of foreign contacts merited the extraordinary decision to target an opposing party’s campaign or campaign figures before a major election.

I have been highly critical of Trump’s attacks on the media. However, that does not mean his objections are wholly unfounded, and this seems one such example. There may have been legitimate reasons to investigate Russian influence before the election. Yet, very serious concerns are raised by the targeting of an opposing party in the midst of a heated election. These concerns will be magnified by the use of a confidential source to elicit information from Trump campaign associates, though officials deny that the FBI actually had an informant inside the campaign.

Just as it is too early to support allegations of a conspiracy to frame Trump, it is too early to dismiss allegations of bias against Trump. As shown by many of the emails and later criminal referrals and disciplinary actions at the FBI, an open hostility to Trump existed among some bureau figures. Moreover, the extensive unmasking of Trump figures and false statements from FBI officials cannot be dismissed as irrelevant.

As a nation committed to the rule of law, we need a full and transparent investigation of these allegations. All of the allegations. That includes both the investigation of special counsel Mueller and the investigation of these latest allegations involving the FBI. For many Trump supporters, this new information deepens suspicions of the role of the “deep state.” If we ever hope to come out of these poisonous times as a unified nation, the public must be allowed to see the full record on both sides.

Until then, many Americans across the country will continue to believe that, like “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” Trump was greeted after his election by being “crowned with a spike” right through his head.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.



Cambridge Analytica ‘under investigation by FBI and Justice Department’

May 16, 2018

No automatic alt text available.

Political consulting firm at the centre of a data privacy scandal worked for Trump presidential campaign and has been tied to Brexit vote

By Jeremy B White San Francisco

The Independent US

Federal investigators are reportedly investigating Cambridge Analytica, the political firm implicated in a data privacy scandal.

The Justice Department and the FBI have opened an inquiry into the now-defunct company, according to the New York Times, speaking to former employees and banks that worked with the company.

Cambridge Analytica obtained Facebook profile information encompassing as many as 87 million users, a transfer that was not revealed until after the company had gone on to work for the Trump presidential campaign.

An ensuing uproar has since led the company to cease operations amid an exodus of customers. But the data transfer’s aftermath is continuing to unfold.

How the company came into possession of and then used personal information is of particular interest investigators, who were said to have reached out to Facebook.

A survey app developed by Aleksandr Kogan harvested the data of both users and their friends, Facebook has said, which was then passed to Cambridge Analytica. The company failed to delete the data despite certifying it had, Facebook said (Cambridge Analytica disputes this).

While Cambridge Analytica has said the information gathered by Mr Kogan was not used in service of the Trump campaign, the consulting firm’s potential role in both Donald Trump’s election and the Brexit vote has attracted intense interest.

In the runup to the presidential election, Cambridge Analytica touted its ability to appeal to distinct segments of the electorate with what it called “psychographic” profiling – an approach that dovetailed with the Trump campaign’s embrace of Facebook’s tools to precisely target advertisements to certain groups.

Mark Zuckerberg admits ‘my mistake’ as 87m Facebook users could have seen data accessed by Cambridge Analytica


A prominent backer of the company, Robert Mercer, and his daughter have used their wealth to gain substantial clout in Republican politics – including by supporting the far-right news website Breitbart, whose chairman Steve Breitbart who initially was one of Mr Trump’s closest counselors.

In the UK, members of Parliament have uncovered evidence of what they call linkages between Cambridge Analytica and the Brexit campaign.

The UK’s information commissioner earlier this month ordered the company to turn over all the data it had collected on an American professor.

John Bolton: New York Times Story Is ‘Utter Nonsense’

May 4, 2018

National security advisor John Bolton beat back a Thursday New York Times story claiming that President Donald Trump ordered the Pentagon to plan a reduced troop presence on the Korean peninsula.

“The New York Times story is utter nonsense.  The President has not asked the Pentagon to provide options for reducing American forces stationed in South Korea,” Bolton declared strongly in an official statement from The White House.

Image result for John Bolton, Photos

TheNYT reported Thursday evening that “President Trump has ordered the Pentagon to prepare options for drawing down American troops in South Korea, just weeks before he holds a landmark meeting with North Korea’s leader,” adding that “Reduced troop levels are not intended to be a bargaining chip in Mr. Trump’s talks with Mr. Kim about his weapons program.”

The NYT report came days after NBCNews reported that White House chief of staff John Kelly had to dissuade Trump from ordering troops off the Korean peninsula before the February Winter Olympic Games.


Trump orders Pentagon to consider reducing U.S. troops in South Korea: New York Times

May 4, 2018

President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to prepare options for reducing the number of U.S. troops in South Korea, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing several people briefed on the deliberations.

Reduced U.S. troop levels are not intended to be a bargaining chip in Trump’s planned summit in late May or early June with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un about Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, the Times said.

The officials said, however, that a peace treaty between the two Koreas could diminish the need for the 23,500 U.S. soldiers currently stationed on the peninsula, the newspaper said.

 Related image

A full withdrawal of U.S. troops was unlikely, the officials said, according to the paper.

But a U.S. National Security Council official told a visiting South Korean official in Washington via telephone the report was false, the South Korean presidential office said in a statement.

The White House and Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Trump has said the United States should consider reducing the number of troops in South Korea unless South Korea shoulders more of the cost.

Then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo, before taking office as U.S. secretary of state, met Kim last month and reported the North Korean leader was not demanding the withdrawal of all U.S. forces as a precondition for a summit with Trump.

South Korea said on Wednesday the issue of U.S. troops stationed in the South was unrelated to any future peace treaty with North Korea and that American forces should stay even if such an agreement is signed.

Reporting by Eric Beech and Phil Stewart; Additional reporting by Christine Kim in SEOUL; Editing by Peter Cooney, Robert Birsel


See also:

Trump Orders Pentagon to Consider Reducing U.S. Forces in South Korea


Feds wiretapped Cohen’s calls to the White House

May 3, 2018

The feds wiretapped phones used by President Trump’s personal attorney and intercepted at least one call with the White House, according to a new report Thursday.

It’s unclear how long lawyer Michael Cohen’s phones were tapped, but investigators were monitoring his conversations during the weeks leading up to the FBI’s April 9 raids on his offices, home and hotel room, NBC News reported.


US commandos help Saudis against Yemen rebels: report

May 3, 2018

A team of elite US Green Beret commandos deployed to the Saudi border of Yemen last year to help find and destroy Huthi rebel missile caches, the New York Times reported Thursday.

© Anssarullah Media Center/AFP/File | An image grab taken from a video handed out by Yemen’s Huthi rebels shows what appears to be Huthi military forces launching a ballistic missile


Since Yemen’s brutal conflict erupted three years ago, Huthi rebels have fired multiple ballistic missiles toward Riyadh and other Saudi cities.

According to the Times, which cited US officials and European diplomats, the Army special operations soldiers arrived in December to help Saudi counterparts locate launch sites and destroy the Huthis’ missile supplies.

The unannounced move shows a deepening US involvement in Yemen’s war that has seen the country spiral toward famine and claimed almost 10,000 lives.

Citing operational security, the Pentagon said it could not comment on the makeup of forward-deployed forces.

The Pentagon’s “limited non-combat support, such as intelligence sharing, focuses on assisting our partners in securing their borders from cross-border attacks from the Huthis,” military spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said.

The Times said there was no indication the commandos had crossed into Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has since March 2015 led a US-backed coalition of Arab states fighting to roll back the Huthis in Yemen and restore its neighbor’s internationally recognized government to power.

Officials told the Times the US troops are training Saudi forces to secure the border.

The Saudi troops are also working closely with US intelligence experts in the southern Saudi city of Najran, the Times said.

The Huthis, who hail from northern Yemen, control Sanaa and much of the country’s north — which borders Saudi Arabia — and the key Hodeida port on the Red Sea coast.

US lawmakers have sounded growing alarm about America’s support for the Saudis in Yemen, while President Donald Trump has bolstered ties with Riyadh and fostered a close relationship with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Separately from Yemen’s civil war, the Pentagon is bombing Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and has sent in ground troops to conduct raids against the jihadists.

The campaign against AQAP, which has taken advantage of the war to expand its presence in several areas to the south and east, has intensified under Trump.

Hillary went on’f–k laced’ rant against ‘disgusting’ Trump

April 26, 2018

Tell-All book documents toxic Clinton campaign environment — Never figured out  how to deal with Trump — Constant talk of how Bill Clinton treated women

Comey Said He Leaked memos Via “A Good Friend” — Failed to mention he gave this friend “Special FBI Employee Status” — Curiouser and curiouser

April 25, 2018

The “friend” whom Former FBI Director James Comey used in order to leak classified information to The New York Times also worked as a “special government employee” (SGE) for Comey’s FBI.

Curiouser and curiouser

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

The friend, Columbia Univesity law professor Daniel Richman, confirmed to Fox News that he worked for the FBI on an unpaid basis. Richman had a security clearance, a badge to access the FBI building, and worked on “special projects” for the agency, according to sources familiar with his status at the FBI.

“I did indeed have SGE status with the Bureau (for no pay),” Richman wrote in an email to Fox.

A spokesperson for the FBI said that the agency has employed a number of “special government employees.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told Fox that Richman’s special status was revealed during closed-door testimony by Comey’s former chief of staff James Rybicki.

Image result for Daniel Richman, photos

Columbia Univesity law professor Daniel Richman

“It’s certainly interesting that Director Comey would offer a special job and give full access to his friend when there are 35,000 employees at the FBI,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C) told Fox News in a statement. “And it isn’t just that he gave these memos to a friend—he gave them to another FBI employee he had hand-picked to act as a ‘special government employee’ of the FBI. The question becomes: how many other people did he give these memos to?”

A special government employee is “an officer or employee who is retained, designated, appointed, or employed to perform temporary duties, with or without compensation, for not more than 130 days during any period of 365 consecutive days,” according to the Office of Government Ethics.

Comey leaked memos he drafted about conversations he’d had with President Donald Trump. Comey is now under criminal investigation by the Inspector General at the Justice Department because the memos contained classified information, sources familiar with the investigation told Fox News and The Wall Street Journal.

At least two of the memos Comey leaked contained classified information. Comey redacted parts of one memo before he handed it to his friend. The other memo was classified “confidential” after Comey was fired from the FBI.

The notes were released to the public last week. The memos show that President Donald Trump directed Comey to thoroughly investigate if anyone in his campaign colluded with Russia to influence the election. That revelation shatters the narrative that Trump tried to obstruct Comey’s Russia-collusion investigation. The FBI and New York Times had the memos for almost a year.

According to Fox’s sources, as a special employee, Richman was also sent talking points about the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s potentially felonious use of a private email server for sensitive government communications.

Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, was also a “special government employee.” Her special status enabled her to work at the State Department and private entities.

Democrats are getting desperate as Mueller stalls

April 22, 2018

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Threaten Israel: ‘Finger’s on the Trigger, Missiles Ready for Launch’ — “The United States has been defeated.”

April 21, 2018

Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami says ‘Israel is surrounded and you have nowhere to escape to except to fall into the sea’

.Iran's President Hassan Rohani reviews a military parade during the 37th anniversary of Iraq's 1980 invasion of Iran, September 22, 2017.
Iran’s President Hassan Rohani reviews a military parade during the 37th anniversary of Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran, September 22, 2017.Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

A senior commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guardsthreatened Israel with destruction on Friday. “The finger is on the trigger and the missiles are ready at any given moment that the enemy conducts something against us, and we will launch them,” said Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, before Friday prayers in Tehran.

Image may contain: 1 person

Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami,

As for the American presence in Syria, “We have learned the formula of how to overcome the enemy and can harm his strategic interests anywhere,” added Salami. “The United States has been defeated in Syria because the Americans did not have a clear strategy and policy, and every action they take makes them look ridiculous, like the operation they did a few days ago, because they have no strategy. Today we are much stronger than ever before in all areas.”

>> Why Israel needs to escalate its threats against Iran – right now | Opinion >>

Concerning Israel, Salami added: “We know you very well, you are exposed to great harm because you have no depth, you are surrounded from every direction and you have nowhere to flee except to fall into the sea. Don’t put faith in your military bases because they are in firing range and we can attack them and prevent them [from operating].”

“You are living from the mouth of the snake and the resistance today is much stronger that what it was in the past. Don’t think that the new wars will be like the Second Lebanon War. You saw what the axis of resistance did to the heretic groups [in Syria] and how we succeeded in uprooting them. Don’t place you hope in the United States and Britain, when they arrive you will already have disappeared and so don’t make incorrect calculations,” said Salami.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to the treats from Iran saying, “We are certain of our capabilities to protect ourselves with our own power.” Netanyahu made his remarks at a special cabinet meeting held in honor of Israel’s 70th anniversary at Independence Hall in Tel Aviv.

“Israel’s soldiers are prepared for any development and we will fight anyone who tries to harm us,” said Netanyahu. “We will not be deterred by the price, and those who want to kill us will pay the price. The IDF is ready for its mission, and the people will rise up to it.”

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel targeted an advanced Iranian air-defense system at the T4 base in Syria the week before in addition to attack drone deployment. Haaretz previously reported that the strike apparently targeted armaments aside from the drones, which could have reduced the Israel Air Force’s freedom of operation in Syrian airspace.

Earlier in the week, a senior Israeli military official admitted to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that Israel targeted T4, adding that “it was the first time we attacked live Iranian targets – both facilities and people.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Iran began bolstering air defenses following an escalation triggered by Iran sending an armed drone into Israeli airspace. Israel shot down the drone and retaliated with strikes in Syria, during which an Israeli F-16 war plane was downed.

The Israeli official told the New York Times that the incident “opened a new period,” adding that “this is the first time we saw Iran do something against Israel – not by proxy.”