Posts Tagged ‘Russian interference’

Juan Williams: Putin wins as GOP spins

July 16, 2018

On Monday, President Trump will meet one-on-one with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

The big question is: Why is Trump meeting with Putin at all?

On Friday, 12 Russian intelligence operatives were indicted by a U.S. grand jury for a conspiracy to interfere with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign while helping Trump win the White House.

By Juan Williams
The Hill
July 16, 2018

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US President Donald Trump meets with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Right now, the Russians are already busy hacking into the 2018 midterms. 

“With the U.S. midterms approaching, Russian trolls found ways to remain active on Twitter well into 2018, trying to rile up the American electorate with tweets on everything from Roseanne Barr’s firing to Donald Trump Jr.’s divorce,” the Wall Street Journal reported last week.

Senate Intelligence Committee member Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) recently explained the Russian interference as an ongoing successful propaganda effort intended to “create instability and doubt in governments, because they believe they benefit from the chaos and loss of confidence in U.S. institutions.”

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James Langford

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, a former Republican senator, said on Friday that “the warning lights are blinking red again” when it comes to the danger from Russian cyberattacks.

But President Trump doesn’t see a problem. “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election,” the president tweeted June 28.

And a Gallup survey released last week found Trump’s view is leading his fellow Republicans to embrace Russia. “The percentage of Republicans calling Russia a friend or ally is up sharply since 2014, from 22 percent to 40 percent,” the pollsters reported.

Last week in London, Trump was pushed to say he will bring up Russian interference in U.S. politics but he predicted little would come of it.

“I don’t think you’ll have any ‘Gee, I did it, I did it, you got me,’” Trump said downplaying Russian interference. “There won’t be a Perry Mason here…But I will absolutely firmly ask the question. And hopefully we’ll have a very good relationship with Russia.”

Democrats are pointed in explaining why Trump sees no problem.

Putin “supported President Trump over Hillary Clinton,” said Eliot Engel (D- N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in May.

Image result for Eliot Engel, photos

Eliot Engel

Engel added: “If we allow foreign interference in our elections so long as it supports our political objectives, then we’ve put party before country and put our democracy in crisis.”

That did not stop a delegation of seven Republican senators and a congresswoman from going to Russia recently on what looked like a water carrying mission for Trump’s alternative reality.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R- Wis.), the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, came back to Capitol Hill to say that Russian interference in U.S. elections, while not acceptable, is “not the greatest threat to our democracy,” and “we’ve blown it way out of proportion.”

He later said the Republican visitors had warned the Russians about interference.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who led the delegation to Russia over the Independence Day break, offered a Trump-like view of U.S.-Russian relations:

“The United States does not want, nor does it need, to resume a Cold War posture with Russia, and our delegation trip was a small step towards trying to ensure that does not happen,” he said.

That led Sen. Ben Cardin (D- Md.) to say the delegation’s trip made it clear “there are members of the Senate who are either naïve or they don’t recognize the real risk factors that Russia imposes on our system of government.”

Image result for Ben Cardin , photos

Ben Cardin

And last week the president appeared to distance himself from U.S. allies as if pursuing a Russian agenda.

A translated clip from Russian state-run television has gone viral in progressive media circles showing a Russian commentator marveling at Trump’s trashing of NATO.

“I never thought I’d live to see this!” the Russian commentator exclaims. “Neither the USSR nor Russia, who tried many times to drive the wedge between transatlantic allies, but the main player, Washington, and President Trump himself is doing everything to break down the foundations of transatlantic alliance and unity.”

In fact, Trump falsely claimed that Germany was a “captive” to Putin because “60 to 70 percent of their energy comes from Russia.”

The insulting mischaracterization drew a sharp rebuke from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“I myself experienced a part of Germany that was controlled by the Soviet Union, and I am very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany,” Merkel said. “We decide our own policies and make our own decisions, and that’s very good.”

By contrast, Trump never misses an opportunity to say nice things about Vladimir Putin.

As a candidate, he said Putin was “a leader far more than our President (Obama)” and a “strong leader.”

And despite pleas from his aides, Trump congratulated Putin on his election victory earlier this year — legitimizing what many international observers believe to be a sham election.

Meanwhile, Trump’s former campaign manager awaits trial for illicit ties to Russia and his former National Security Adviser stands a felon for lying about his contacts with Russia.

Trump is banking on Soviet-style propaganda in the U.S. to make Russian interference, along with the Mueller investigation, into a partisan issue.

The winner in all of this madness is Putin. He is dividing Americans against themselves and America against her allies.

Only the American voters can stop it.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

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http://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/397140-juan-williams-putin-wins-as-gop-spins
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Sen. Rand Paul: Asking for Russian hackers’ extradition a ‘moot point’—https://wsvn.com/news/politics/sen-rand-paul-asking-for-russian-hackers-extradition-a-moot-point/

Did Hillary’s email security negligence as U.S. Secretary of State invite Russian cyber meddling?

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Controversial FBI official Peter Strzok denies bias against Trump affected his work

July 12, 2018
Peter Strzok, the veteran FBI counterintelligence official who became a White House punching bag for sending critical texts about Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, pushed back angrily against Republican accusations Thursday that he was biased in his work, insisting that he never let his political views affect his investigations.

“Let me be clear, unequivocally and under oath: Not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took,” Strzok told the House Judiciary and Oversight committees in a joint hearing marked by harsh partisan sparring and sometimes fiery exchanges.

 
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Strzok added that during the 2016 campaign, he had information that “had the potential to derail and quite possibly defeat Mr. Trump. But the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind.” He did not reveal the material.

In his first public testimony since his anti-Trump texts were disclosed last year, the FBI agent sat stiffly, held his chin high and struck a defiant tone at times, even suggesting the Republican pummeling of him lent tacit support to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to undermine U.S. democracy.

“Today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart,” he said.

Strzok played a leading role in the FBI’s investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race and Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of State. Last year, he was reassigned from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team after it emerged he had exchanged private texts critical of Trump with Lisa Page, a former FBI attorney, during the campaign.

Rep. Bob W. Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, questioned Strzok’s ability to remain neutral in the investigations given the tenor of his texts with Page.

“We don’t want to read text message after text message dripping with bias against one of the two presidential candidates,” Goodlatte said in his opening statement.

He added that the congressional inquiry “goes to the very heart of our system of justice,” which he said Strzok and others from the FBI and the Justice Department have turned “on its head.”

Strzok calmly countered accusations that his text messages revealed bias, arguing that although every person has political beliefs, FBI agents are trained to leave such beliefs at the door.

Pressed with specific questions about the FBI investigation, Strzok refused to answer. When Goodlatte threatened to hold him in contempt, Strzok replied that the FBI counsel had instructed him not to speak about the probe.

Reading several of Strzok’s text messages back to him, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) accused Strzok of having an “unusual and largely self-serving” definition of bias.

“He thinks promising to stop someone he is supposed to be fairly investigating from ever becoming president isn’t bias,” he said.

“Strzok even talked about impeachment the day the special counsel was appointed,” he add. “That is prejudging guilt, prejudging punishment, and that is textbook bias.”

House Democrats accused Goodlatte of using his investigation of Strzok to interfere with Mueller’s investigation.

Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the senior Democrat on the committee, said the committees’ focus on the “internal workings of the special counsel’s investigation” distracted from critical questions of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and determining how to protect future U.S. elections from foreign influence.

“In the majority’s view, we do not have time to conduct oversight on almost any national security issue — but we have hours on end to discuss Mr. Strzok’s extramarital affair,” Nadler said.

Strzok testified on June 27 before the House Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in a closed-door session that lasted over 11 hours. Last week, the Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to bring him in for a second round of questioning, this time in a public hearing.

Strzok and Page allegedly were involved in an extramarital affair during the presidential race. Page also worked on the FBI’s investigations of Russian election interference and Clinton’s emails.

At one point, Page texted Strzok, “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Strzok replied, “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.” The text surfaced in a Justice Department inspector general report that was sharply critical of Strzok.

In a fiery exchange during the hearing, Gowdy interrogated Strzok about the meaning of that text and the reason for his removal from the special counsel investigation.

“It is not my understanding he kicked me off because of any bias. It was based on the appearance,” Strzok said. “If you want to represent what you said accurately, I’m happy to answer that question. I don’t appreciate what was originally said being changed.”

“I don’t give a damn what you appreciate,” Gowdy shot back.

Strzok said that the text was sent “late at night, off the cuff,” and he attempted to provide context over Gowdy’s repeated interruptions.

The message, Strzok said, was “a response to a series of events that included then-candidate Trump insulting the immigrant family of a fallen war hero and my presumption, based on that horrible, disgusting behavior, that the American population would not elect someone demonstrating that behavior to be the president of the United States.”

He added that it in “no way” suggested that he or the FBI would interfere with the electoral process for any candidate. His comments were met with applause from House Democrats.

Page resigned from the FBI in May. An FBI spokesperson would not comment on Strzok’s employment status.

In the months since their text messages were disclosed, Strzok and Page have become targets of House Republicans and President Trump, who have sought to portray the Mueller investigation as irreparably biased against the president.

On Tuesday, Trump took aim at Strzok and Page as he flew to a NATO conference in Brussels, tweeting that he had heard “reports that the FBI lovers … are getting cold feet on testifying about the Rigged Witch Hunt.”

Strzok’s attorney, Aitan Goelman, says Republican lawmakers have misled the public about Strzok’s role for partisan purposes.

“Members of Congress have made this as difficult as possible — first demanding a secretive hearing and then selectively leaking and misrepresenting his words — but Pete will continue to play by the rules and act with integrity,” Goelman said in a statement.

Goelman and House Democrats have repeatedly called for the release of Strzok’s closed-door testimony and have accused House Republicans of not giving Strzok a fair hearing.

The two House committees also sought to interview Page, but she defied a congressional subpoena, declining to appear for a closed-door interview Wednesday.

Page’s attorney, Amy Jeffress, said Page had volunteered to testify later this month but needs more information on the scope of the hearing and access to certain documents in order to prepare. Jeffress said the Justice Department didn’t grant Page’s request to review the “relevant documents” until 11 p.m. Tuesday.

The committees’ “bullying tactics here are unnecessary,” Jeffress said. “We expect them to agree to another date so that Lisa can appear before the committees in the near future.”

Page’s decision to defy the subpoena generated outrage from House Republicans.

“It appears that Lisa Page has something to hide,” Goodlatte said in a statement Wednesday. He said the committee would use “all tools at our disposal” to obtain Page’s testimony.

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Times staff writer Chris Megerian contributed to this report.

Congress – FBI Sandoff: Trey Gowdy Says Congress Ready To Use “Full Arsenal of Constitutional Weapons” To Make FBI/DOJ Comply With Document Requests

June 18, 2018

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy said on ‘FOX News Sunday’ that House Republicans would hold top FBI and Justice Department officials in contempt of Congress if they fail to comply with subpoenas for sensitive documents championed by Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunes.

Gowdy, Nunes, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte met on Friday with FBI and DOJ officials and “went item by item” through the outstanding subpoenas, Gowdy said.

“And Paul Ryan made it very clear: There’s going to be action on the floor of the House this week if the FBI and DOJ do not comply with our subpoena requests,” Gowdy said. House Republicans will use their “full arsenal of constitutional weapons to gain compliance.”

“Including contempt of Congress?” host Chris Wallace asked.

“That would be among them, yes sir,” Gowdy replied. “I don’t want the drama. I want the documents. There is no ambiguity, the Speaker of the House was really clear: you’re going to comply or there’s going to be floor action, and I think they got the message.”

He also said that the Justice Department’s inspector general report on the handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe helps President Trump.

FoxNewsSunday

@FoxNewsSunday

On how the DOJ’s IG Report impacts @realDonaldTrump, @TGowdySC tells Chris: “It certainly helps him”
Watch the full interview at 2PM & 7PM ET @FoxNews

Asked by anchor Chris Wallace if the report exonerates Trump, Gowdy said, “it certainly helps him.”

Gowdy said the report proved that the same agents involved in the Clinton email investigation later went on to bias investigations into Trump.

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“The same people, the same players that were involved in the Clinton probe later moved to the Russian probe. [Former CIA Director] John Brennan, who said he should be in the dustpan of history, [former FBI Director] Jim Comey, who said impeachment was too good of a remedy, [former Attorney General] Loretta Lynch, who wanted Hillary Clinton to win,” Gowdy said.

https://video.foxnews.com/v/video-embed.html?video_id=5797742928001&loc=realclearpolitics.com&ref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.realclearpolitics.com%2Fvideo%2F2018%2F06%2F17%2Fgowdy_house_gop_will_hit_fbidoj_with_full_arsenal_of_constitutional_weapons_if_they_dont_comply_with_requests.html&_xcf=

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https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/06/17/gowdy_house_gop_will_hit_fbidoj_with_full_arsenal_of_constitutional_weapons_if_they_dont_comply_with_requests.html

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Full interview:

From Fox News Sunday:

Full Gowdy Interview

Related:

Open Up the Horowitz Secret Appendix — We Need to Know More About The I.G. Report on the FBI, Justice Department Findings

June 17, 2018

The public needs to know the history of the Russian info that had a big effect on Mr. Comey’s decisions.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Washington, D.C., July 26, 2017.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Washington, D.C., July 26, 2017.PHOTO: ZACH GIBSON/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report points to multiple irregularities in FBI chief James Comey’s actions in the 2016 election campaign, sees no evidence of political bias, but never really gets to the bottom of why Mr. Comey played the role he did.

Mr. Comey may have been worried that a Justice Department decision not to prosecute Mrs. Clinton would lack credibility, but it was in no sense his obligation to solve this problem. It simply was not the FBI chief’s job to relieve the Obama administration of the need to sell its decision to the electorate. This is why we have elections. It’s what political accountability is all about.

This is where Russia enters in. It is highly absurd at this point to keep this information secret, as Mr. Horowitz does in a classified appendix.

We already know from press reporting last year that the FBI was in possession of some kind of Russian intercept of a purported Democratic email that referred to an alleged conversation between Clinton aide Amanda Renteria and Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Mr. Horowitz says Mr. Comey did not find the information credible, didn’t investigate it, and didn’t tell his Justice Department superiors about it.

Except that as recently as a few weeks ago in a TV interview Mr. Comey indicated the information might not be false. Hmm.

One more thing we learn: The same classified source reported an allegation that Mr. Comey himself would seek to delay the Hillary investigation to aid Republicans.

So the information wasn’t credible, wasn’t investigated, and wasn’t shared with his superiors. We also don’t know which agency it came from or what discussions about its relevance took place. And yet it was hugely consequential. Mr. Comey himself tells us in his memoir that this classified information was pivotal to his decision to intervene. He feared it would leak and be used to discredit any DOJ decision to clear Mrs. Clinton.

Let’s pause here. Readers may have noticed a slight elision in my May 30 column on these matters. Mr. Comey’s second intervention, the one reopening the Hillary investigation shortly before the election, was one intervention that was not based on Russian intelligence.

It was also the one intervention decidedly not urged on Mr. Comey or favored by his Obama administration colleagues.

But consider: Mr. Comey by this point could not have failed to notice that all the FBI’s interventions were tending to benefit Mrs. Clinton. He could not have failed to notice that the intelligence basis for his actions (e.g., the Steele dossier) was disconcertingly thin.

He would have been lacking in shrewdness not to wonder if Obama spy masters were playing him for a sap. When the Anthony Weiner laptop surfaced, he would have had every reason to be eager to re-establish his bona fides with his GOP congressional overseers as somebody who in retrospect would be seen to have played an evenhanded role in the election.

Voilà. Yet this line of inquiry has not been so much neglected as dropped by the media. Virtually no press accounts this week even mention Mr. Horowitz’s classified appendix.

This is not exactly surprising. Democrats and Mr. Trump’s press critics ecstatically embraced the Russian interference theme but, unfortunately for them, the Russian interference theme also gives coherence and motive to the story they wish to ignore. This story concerns a consistent pattern of meddling in the race by our own intelligence agencies, using Russian intelligence as an excuse.

Indeed, a fact becomes clearer than ever, especially from the poorly self-serving babblings of former Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper : The now-defunct theory that Mr. Trump was Russia’s cat’s-paw had been widely adopted at the highest echelons of the Obama administration. It inspired many of the administration’s actions.

It almost goes without saying that Russia at first would have looked on Mr. Trump’s candidacy as the U.S. establishment did, as a joke, discrediting our democracy.

That Russian trolls were keen to promote the Trump phenomenon seemed obvious to this columnist from August 2015, as I’ve pointed out.

But this does not delegitimize Mr. Trump or the message his voters were trying to send by electing him. The Kremlin was no less blinkered and smug than our own establishment, a k a Mr. Comey, in its understanding of the Trump phenomenon and contempt for democratic outcomes.

Mr. Comey’s actions unfurl more as a comedy of arrogance rather than a conspiracy, though conspiratorial elements certainly came to be involved, especially in promoting leakage of the Steele dossier and various innuendo against the incoming Trump administration.

Not for the first time, we wonder how the Trump presidency might have been different, and how much opportunity the country might not now be squandering, if Democrats had decided to understand his election as an interesting, antipartisan, possibly providential anomaly rather than inventing conspiracy theories about it.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/open-up-the-horowitz-secret-appendix-1529096831

President Trump Asserts ‘Absolute Right’ to Pardon Himself

June 4, 2018

In a Twitter message, the president also says: ‘but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?’

President Trump at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington last week.
President Trump at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington last week. PHOTO: PATRICK KELLEY/ZUMA PRESS

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump on Monday asserted he had the “absolute right” to pardon himself, citing “numerous legal scholars,” should the special counsel investigation implicate him in wrongdoing.

On Twitter , the president added, “but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?”

In the same Twitter message, Mr. Trump again referred to the special counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential obstruction of justice on the part of the president as a “never ending Witch Hunt.” He also repeated an assertion from last week that the probe was being led by Democrats as a way to influence the November elections, even though the special counsel, Robert Mueller, is a Republican.

The president also said the appointment of Mr. Mueller in May 2017 by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was unconstitutional.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!

“The appointment of the Special Councel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

In appointing Mr. Mueller, Mr. Rosenstein cited the need for Americans “to have full confidence in the outcome” of the investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling and also any potential coordination between Russia’s efforts and the Trump campaign. The special counsel’s probe has resulted in several guilty pleas and indictments of Trump associates on charges arising from his investigation.

A number of Trump campaign associates have been cooperating with Mr. Mueller’s team, including former Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn and former foreign-policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who have pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal agents. Mr. Mueller also filed a case against a former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, on tax, financial, and bank-fraud charges. Mr. Manafort has pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Trump himself has not been charged or accused of any crimes since the investigation began a year ago.

The U.S. Constitution gives the president power to pardon people for federal crimes. While there is disagreement among legal experts on whether the president could pardon himself, any such move would likely kick off a political crisis.

On Sunday, Mr. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the president legally could pardon himself.

“There’s nothing that limits the presidential power of pardon from a federal crime,” he said, adding: “The president of the United States pardoning himself would just be unthinkable and it would lead to probably an immediate impeachment.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) responded to Mr. Trump’s messages in his own tweet Monday: “Mr. President — you are 0 for 2 on the Constitution this morning.”

Mr. Trump in his first two years in office has made extensive use of his pardon power, on Thursday pardoning conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza for campaign-finance violations and saying he might commute the corruption sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, and had considered pardoning lifestyle guru and businesswoman Martha Stewart.

Write to Daniel Nasaw at daniel.nasaw@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-asserts-absolute-right-to-pardon-himself-1528116580

Comey Memos Reveal Trump’s Early Doubts About Flynn

April 20, 2018

Documents provide ex-FBI director’s account of meetings with new president and staff at a time when he faced uncertainty over whether he would be retained

Former FBI Director James Comey testified about Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill on June 8.
Former FBI Director James Comey testified about Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill on June 8. PHOTO: JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

WASHINGTON—Former FBI Director James Comey revealed in a series of private memos that President Donald Trump and his then-chief of staff had doubts within days of taking office about national security adviser Mike Flynn, who subsequently left the administration after misleading officials about his contacts with Russia and later pleaded guilty to lying to law enforcement.

Mr. Comey’s previously unreported account of their take on Mr. Flynn was part of seven memos spanning 15 pages that were authored by Mr. Comey over a four-month period in 2017 and shared with Federal Bureau of Investigation leadership.

The memos were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday after being handed over to several congressional committees by the Justice Department.

Much of the material in the memos has been previously disclosed. Mr. Comey has previously said he documented several encounters with the president in contemporaneous written memos. He also testified in Congress that he eventually provided several of them to reporters through an intermediary.

Together, the memos provide Mr. Comey’s account of several meetings with the new president and his staff at a time when the FBI director faced uncertainty over whether he would be retained in his job by Mr. Trump.

They also provide a look at how the new president and administration grappled with a series of surprises, such as the leak of transcripts of Mr. Trump’s phone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia and salacious claims made in an unverified dossier that Mr. Comey brought to the president’s attention.

The documents are also part of the wide-ranging probe being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well into whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice when he fired Mr. Comey last year, which Mr. Trump denies. Russia has denied interfering in the election.

Mr. Trump late Thursday tweeted, “James Comey Memos just out and show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION. Also, he leaked classified information. WOW! Will the Witch Hunt continue?’

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

James Comey Memos just out and show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION. Also, he leaked classified information. WOW! Will the Witch Hunt continue?

The memos reveal that Mr. Trump expressed concerns about Mr. Flynn’s judgment just eight days after becoming president. Mr. Comey recounts a Jan. 2017 dinner with the president during which Mr. Trump said about Mr. Flynn: “The guy has serious judgment issues.” At issue was the fact that Mr. Flynn hadn’t told the president about a phone call from an unspecified foreign leader.

People familiar with the matter say that the call was from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was the first foreign leader to call the White House to congratulate Mr. Trump after his inauguration. The call wasn’t brought to Mr. Trump’s attention until he was in the middle of a lunch with British Prime Minister Theresa May and was thanking her for being the first to call him.

Mr. Flynn piped up and explained that it was Mr. Putin, not Ms. May, who the first to call and that Mr. Trump was expected to return Mr. Putin’s call soon, the people said. According to the memo, Mr. Trump was furious “because six days was not an appropriate period of time to return a call.”

Another memo documents Mr. Comey’s meeting with then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus on Feb. 8, 2017. In that meeting, Mr. Priebus asked if Mr. Flynn was being surveilled under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Surveillance under that law is reserved for suspected agents of a foreign government. Mr. Comey’s answer is redacted.

An attorney for Mr. Flynn declined to comment. Mr. Priebus didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Comey testified for several hours last year in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee shortly after he was fired, telling lawmakers that he believed he was receiving an order when Mr. Trump said he “hoped” he would be able to end the FBI’s inquiry into Mr. Flynn.

“It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Mr. Comey said.

Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty in December to lying about calls he had with Moscow’s ambassador a month before Mr. Trump’s inauguration. In a court hearing, Mr. Flynn admitted he misled FBI agents about a series of calls he had last December with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in which they discussed sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration and a United Nations resolution critical of Israel.

Mr. Flynn resigned in February 2017, acknowledging that he hadn’t been truthful about his contacts with Mr. Kislyak.

The memos also give Mr. Comey’s account of what he saw as Mr. Trump’s fixation on salacious and unverified rumors that he had engaged prostitutes in a Moscow hotel in 2013. A dossier compiled by an ex-British spy alleges that Mr. Trump watched as Russian prostitutes urinated on a bed where former President Barack Obama and his wife had slept.

Mr. Comey’s memos recall a February encounter in which Mr. Trump “brought up the ‘Golden Showers thing’ and said it really bothered him if his wife had any doubt about it.” Mr. Comey added: “The president said ‘the hookers thing’ is nonsense,” but also that Mr. Putin had told him that Russia had “some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.”

Capitol Hill Republicans—who had been pushing for the memos to be released publicly—said that the memos vindicated Mr. Trump, who has long argued that there was no collusion with Russia and that he didn’t obstruct justice in firing his FBI director.

“Former Director Comey’s memos show the president made clear he wanted allegations of collusion, coordination, and conspiracy between his campaign and Russia fully investigated,” Reps. Trey Gowdy, Bob Goodlatte and Devin Nunes said in a joint statement. The three Republicans chair the House Oversight, Judiciary and Intelligence committees, respectively.

Four of the memos were deemed to have classified information, while three are unclassified. Mr. Comey testified to Congress that they were his “unclassified memorialization” of conversations with the president. They were released to Congress with the classified information redacted. Unredacted versions will be available to members of Congress in a secure facility, according to the Justice Department.

Mr. Comey himself appeared to recognize that one of his memos contained information that was potentially classified. The memo, which was written in email form to three other FBI officials, contained a passage from Mr. Comey where he wrote: “I am not sure the proper classification here so I have chosen SECRET. Please let me know [if] it should be higher or lower than that.”

Mr. Comey is in the middle of a book tour for his memoir “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” which is deeply critical of Mr. Trump.

In a series of tweets over the weekend, Mr. Trump accused Mr. Comey of telling lies in a “badly reviewed” book.

Write to Byron Tau at byron.tau@wsj.com and Michael C. Bender at Mike.Bender@wsj.com

Appeared in the April 20, 2018, print edition as ‘Comey Memos Reveal Flynn Doubts.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/justice-department-to-give-congress-access-to-comey-memos-1524178710

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In Comey memos, Trump fixates on ‘hookers,’ frets over Flynn

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a series of startlingly candid conversations, President Donald Trump told former FBI Director James Comey that he had serious concerns about the judgment of a top adviser, asked about the possibility of jailing journalists and described a boast from Vladimir Putin about Russian prostitutes, according to Comey’s notes of the talks obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday night.

The 15 pages of documents contain new details about a series of interactions with Trump that Comey found so unnerving that he chose to document them in writing. Those seven encounters in the weeks and months before Comey’s May 2017 firing include a Trump Tower discussion about allegations involving Trump and prostitutes in Moscow; a White House dinner at which Comey says Trump asked him for his loyalty; and a private Oval Office discussion where the ex-FBI head says the president asked him to end an investigation into Michael Flynn, the former White House national security adviser.

The documents had been eagerly anticipated since their existence was first revealed last year, especially since Comey’s interactions with Trump are a critical part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the president sought to obstruct justice. Late Thursday night, Trump tweeted that the memos “show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION.”

The president also accused Comey of leaking classified information. The memos obtained by the AP were unclassified, though some portions were blacked out as classified. Details from Comey’s memos reported in news stories last year appear to come from the unclassified portions.

In explaining the purpose of creating the memos, which have been provided to Mueller, Comey has said he “knew there might come a day when I would need a record of what had happened” to defend not only himself but the FBI as well.

The memos cover the first three months of the Trump administration, a period of upheaval marked by staff turnover, a cascade of damaging headlines and revelations of an FBI investigation into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The documents reflect Trump’s uneasiness about that investigation, though not always in ways that Comey seemed to anticipate.

In a February 2017 conversation, for instance, Trump told Comey how Putin told him, “we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world” even as the president adamantly, and repeatedly, distanced himself from a salacious allegation concerning him and prostitutes in Moscow, according to one memo.

In another memo, Comey recounts how Trump at a private White House dinner pointed his fingers at his head and complained that Flynn, his embattled national security adviser, “has serious judgment issues.” The president blamed Flynn for failing to alert him promptly to a congratulatory call from a world leader, causing a delay for Trump in returning a message to an official whose name is redacted in the documents.

“I did not comment at any point during this topic and there was no mention or acknowledgment of any FBI interest in or contact with General Flynn,” Comey wrote.

By that point, the FBI had already interviewed Flynn about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, and the Justice Department had already warned White House officials that they were concerned Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail.

Flynn was fired Feb. 13, 2017, after White House officials said he had misled them about his Russian contacts during the transition period by saying that he had not discussed sanctions. The following day, according to a separate memo, Comey says Trump cleared the Oval Office of other officials, encouraged him to let go of the investigation into Flynn and called him a good guy. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is now cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

The memos reveal that days before Flynn’s firing, then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asked Comey if Flynn’s communications were being monitored under a secret surveillance warrant.

“Do you have a FISA order on Mike Flynn?” Priebus asked Comey, according to the memos, referring to an order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Comey said he “paused for a few seconds and then said that I would answer here, but that this illustrated the kind of question that had to be asked and answered through established channels.”

Comey’s response is redacted on the unclassified memos.

The memos also show Trump’s continued distress at a dossier of allegations — compiled by an ex-British spy whose work was funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign — examining potential ties between him and his aides and the Kremlin. Comey writes how Trump repeatedly denied to him having been involved in an encounter with Russian prostitutes in a Moscow hotel.

“The President said ‘the hookers thing’ is nonsense,” Comey writes, noting that Trump then related the conversation with Putin about the “most beautiful hookers.” Comey says Trump did not say when Putin had made the comment.

The documents also include the president’s musings about pursuing leakers and imprisoning journalists. They also provide insight into Comey’s personal and professional opinions. He judges the administration’s travel ban to be legally valid, and he takes a swipe at former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, calling her predecessor, Eric Holder, “smarter and more sophisticated and smoother.”

The memos were provided to Congress earlier Thursday as House Republicans escalated criticism of the Justice Department, threatening to subpoena the documents and questioning officials.

In a letter sent to three Republican House committee chairmen Thursday evening, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote that the department was sending a classified version of the memos and an unclassified version. The department released Boyd’s letter publicly but did not release the memos. The chairmen issued a statement late Thursday saying the memos show that Comey clearly never felt threatened, and Trump didn’t obstruct justice.

Justice officials had allowed some lawmakers to view the memos but had never provided copies to Congress. Boyd wrote that the department had also provided the memos to several Senate committees.

Boyd wrote in the letter that the department “consulted the relevant parties” and concluded that releasing the memos would not adversely affect any ongoing investigations. Mueller is investigating potential ties between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign as well as possible obstruction of justice by the president.

Comey is on a publicity tour to promote his new book, “A Higher Loyalty.” He revealed last year that he had written the memos after conversations with Trump.

He said in an interview Thursday with CNN that he’s “fine” with the Justice Department turning his memos over to Congress.

“I think what folks will see if they get to see the memos is I’ve been consistent since the very beginning, right after my encounters with President Trump, and I’m consistent in the book and tried to be transparent in the book as well,” he said.

https://apnews.com/e29d5563fc0c45caa4faa6b3749405a6/Comey-memo:-Trump-complained-about-Flynn’s-‘judgment-issues

 

DOJ gives House Intel original document that prompted Russia investigation

April 12, 2018

The Hill

BY KATIE BO WILLIAMS AND OLIVIA BEAVERS – 

The Justice Department has provided House lawmakers with access to a two-page document that the FBI used as the basis for initiating its original counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

All members of the House Intelligence Committee received access to the document, a Justice Department official confirmed to The Hill on Wednesday.

Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) had requested access to the unredacted document, complaining that previous “heavily” redacted versions were not adequate for committee Republicans’ investigation into alleged abuses at the Justice Department.

Image result for Trey Gowdy, photos

Trey Gowdy

According to Nunes, he and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday afternoon—one day after Nunes threatened to hold both Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt and initiate impeachment proceedings against them if they did not comply with the request for the unredacted document.
“During the meeting, we were finally given access to a version of the [Electronic Communication] that contained the information necessary to advance the Committee’s ongoing investigation of the Department of Justice and FBI,” Nunes said in a statement.

“Although the subpoenas issued by this Committee in August 2017 remain in effect, I’d like to thank Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein for his cooperation today,” he added.

According to a Justice Department official, the remaining redactions in the document are “narrowly tailored to protect the name of a foreign country and the name of a foreign agent.” Specifics have been replaced with identifiers like “foreign official” and “foreign government,” the official said.

“These words must remain redacted after determining that revealing the words could harm the national security of the American people by undermining the trust we have with this foreign nation,” the official continued, adding that they appear “only a limited number of times, and do not obstruct the underlying meaning of the document.”

A handful of conservatives are investigating what they say is evidence that the department’s decisionmaking during the 2016 election was riddled with bias—allegations that Democrats see as a transparent effort to muddy the waters around Mueller, or provide a pretext to shut him down.

“We’re not going to just hold in contempt. We will have a plan to hold in contempt and impeach,” Nunes said of the two Trump-appointed officials on Fox News on Tuesday.

Nunes told Fox’s Laura Ingraham that the document will confirm why the FBI opened its original investigation into the Trump campaign.

The New York Times reported in December that the federal probe—now in the hands of special counsel Robert Mueller—was initiated after the FBI received a tip that Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos had claimed to an Australian diplomat that he had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

A memo authored by staff for Nunes that was declassified in February affirmed that the bureau opened the probe after receiving the tip regarding Papadopoulos.

But on Tuesday, Nunes appeared to cast doubt on that narrative.

“We haven’t been able to see the EC to confirm that,” Nunes told Fox, referring to the two-page document that he viewed Wednesday.

The revelation about Papadopoulos’ role ran counter to claims by some Republicans that the FBI used information from an unverified dossier of opposition research into Trump that was partially funded by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee to open the probe.

That document—known as a the “Steele” dossier after its principle author, former MI6 agent Christopher Steele—made a series of allegations about the business mogul’s ties to Moscow. President Trump, who has repeatedly blasted the Russia probe as a “witch hunt,” has also described the dossier as fiction and its role in the federal investigation has become a flashpoint on the right.

While Rosenstein’s willingness to let Nunes view the document appears to have succeeded in keeping the peace for now, Republican lawmakers on a separate committee are also fuming at what they say is an department foot-dragging on many of their attempts to obtain and review records.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a House Judiciary Committee member, said if his panel does not receive the documents they’ve requested as part of his panel’s investigation into FBI decision-making during the election, then all options are on the table.

“Our patience has run out because the American people’s patience have run out so I think if they don’t change things in a dramatic fashion in a short period of time — I’m talking days, not weeks or months — then I think everything is on the table,” Jordan told The Hill on Wednesday.

He said this includes contempt and impeachment proceedings as well as calling for resignations.

Image result for Adam Schiff, photos

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, defended the two officials after Nunes publicly voiced his impeachment threat.

“Both Rosenstein and Wray have already made available to the Intelligence Committee scores of highly sensitive documents related to ongoing investigations — including Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications — the details of which the majority proceeded to disclose in a deliberately misleading manner which the department rightly called ‘extraordinarily reckless,’” Schiff said in a statement.

“The chairman’s rhetoric is a shocking and irresponsible escalation of the GOP’s attacks on the FBI and DOJ,” he added, claiming it is intended to undermine Mueller’s probe.

Updated at 9:51 p.m.
TAGS GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS HILLARY CLINTON ROD ROSENSTEIN ROBERT MUELLER DONALD TRUMP DEVIN NUNES ADAM SCHIFF TREY GOWDY JIM JORDAN RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE IN THE 2016 UNITED STATES ELECTIONS UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION FBI BIAS

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/382764-doj-gives-house-intel-original-document-that-prompted-russia

The Zuckerberg Collusion — Plus How Facebook Stole Your Psychological Profile

April 12, 2018

Was it Facebook’s job to tell voters Russian bots were working for Trump’s election?

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, waits to begin a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., April 11.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, waits to begin a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., April 11. PHOTO: ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG
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Somehow in our time all the problems of human existence have boiled down to one cause: Russian collusion.

What is the main reason Mark Zuckerberg was hauled in front of three committees of Congress? It is because the media connected a long series of dots to suggest the possibility that Russian bots exploited the personal Facebook data obtained by a firm named Cambridge Analytica to . . . put Donald Trump in the White House. Without the link to collusion—an infinitely elastic phrase with no legal meaning—Mr. Zuckerberg never would have had to leave Menlo Park.

The live Zuckerberg testimony was torture, forcing anyone interested to hear innumerable senators and House members share their thoughts on technology. Lowering the bar on Senate discourse below swamp level, Louisiana Republican John Kennedy said the Facebook user agreement “sucks.”

Despite the legislators’ thunderings about regulation, the likelihood of the House and Senate enacting rules for the web is more remote than Halley’s Comet, due back in 43 years. Congress has failed for years to bring royalty payments for creators of music into the digital age.

It’s sport now to mock Mark Zuckerberg, but taking an idea from your dorm room to a market cap of more than $400 billion proves he’s no dope. What Mark Zuckerberg thinks about what he did deserves attention.

Mr. Zuckerberg divided his prepared testimony between two subjects. The first, headlined “Cambridge Analytica,” was a proxy for the personal-privacy issue; the other was “Russian Election Interference,” a proxy for the collusion obsession.

The Facebook founder describes “Russian interference” as if it is so ubiquitous in his world that it has become an everyday term, like server farms. But Mr. Zuckerberg’s testimony offered insight into how the dailiness of Russian interference morphed into the firestorm of “Russian collusion.”

He said Facebook was aware of “traditional” Russian cyberthreats “for years,” including a group called APT28, which he noted our intelligence services had linked to the Russians.

This time frame revives a relevant question: Why didn’t the Obama administration alert the American people in 2015 or earlier to the threat of Russian political subversion? Protecting us from Russian bots wasn’t Mark Zuckerberg’s responsibility.

We’ll push that further. The “Russian collusion” narrative began in January 2017, coincident with the release of a report by Mr. Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, whose headline finding was, “Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

Buried beneath the subsequent stampede toward “collusion” was the report’s extensive description of U.S. intelligence’s longstanding, pre-Trump concerns about a Russian “network of quasi-government trolls.” This network was suspected of running cyber-based propaganda campaigns against a range of targets—European governments, the Olympics, the World Anti-Doping Agency, and “since early 2014,” multiple state and local electoral boards. But somehow all this suspected Russian interference wasn’t worth putting in front of American voters until after they elected Donald Trump.

Some 15 months later, the Russian-collusion grand opera has degraded into an FBI smash-and-grab operation against Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to find payoffs to porn stars. It’s little wonder nearly half the Senate showed up to discuss privacy for a day with the $70 billion man.

Privacy on the web matters, but the odds are overwhelming that before Congress gets to it, another technology—probably blockchain—will mitigate the problem. Of more pressing concern are Mr. Zuckerberg’s thoughts on what he keeps calling the values of the Facebook “community.” Meaning what?

A primary criticism of social-media platforms like Facebook is that they expose users to content that encourages “hate” or is “hurtful.”

Facebook’s answer to this perceived problem has been to hire some 15,000 people dedicated to “community operations and review,” with more monitors on the way.

During his pre-Congress apology tour, Mr. Zuckerberg elaborated on this subject to Vox:

“Over the long term, what I’d really like to get to is an independent appeal. So maybe folks at Facebook make the first decision based on the community standards that are outlined, and then people can get a second opinion.

“You can imagine some sort of structure, almost like a Supreme Court, that is made up of independent folks who don’t work for Facebook, who ultimately make the final judgment call on what should be acceptable speech in a community that reflects the social norms and values of people all around the world.”

Up to now, there has been no such thing in the United States as “acceptable speech” defined by the norms and values of people all around the world. Because of his status, Mr. Zuckerberg is a thought leader, and so this idea is not far-fetched.

The bedrock idea of free speech is under pressure in the U.S. now. But if I had to guess which will arrive first—federal regulation of individual privacy or a speech panel of “independent folks” defining what is acceptable—on current course, I think I know which one it will be.

Write henninger@wsj.com.

As revelations continue to unfold in the latest Facebook scandal,  we now know that millions of its users have unwittingly participated in research revealing details about their friends, their shopping habits, and their psychological profile, otherwise known as “psychographics,” or profiling of personality.

According to one New York Times report (link is external), Facebook users opted in to complete a personality test using Qualtrics, software widely adopted by social science researchers to gather legitimate data in a convenient online manner. University researchers in the U.S. who use Qualtrics must undergo review by their institutions regarding the protection of study participants. Those review panels require that each Qualtrics survey begins with a statement of the rights of the participants, including confidentiality, anonymity (in most cases), the right to withdraw, risks and benefits, and a clear statement of what the participant can expect to have happen with the data. After completing the questionnaire, the researcher provides participants with a “debriefing” form that reveals the real purpose of the study along with contact information of the investigator.

It appears that these protections weren’t taken when Alaksandr Kogan, a University of Cambridge (England) psychologist who worked for Cambridge Analytica, partnered with Facebook to provide a means of profiling users (who had to opt-in) with a personality test assessing the Five Factor Model.  This is a test that is widely used in legitimate research on everything from narcissism to psychopathology and every other personality constellation in between. There are short and long versions; this article(link is external) will lead you to some of these free versions.

It is true that those who gave their most intimate personality data to Kogan had to agree to participate, and then click on the link that took them to Qualtrics. However, what they didn’t realize was that the answers they provided would then provide Cambridge Analytica with profiles that could influence their Facebook feed. Other data about users also got drawn into the profile, which in turn gave even more personal information.

As part of the expose now coming to light, one study, in particular, has not received a great deal of attention, but in some ways is even more ominous than the Cambridge Analytica story alone. In 2015, Kogan published a scientific article(link is external) with collaborators from well-respected academic institutions as well as his company, and Facebook researchers, in which the claim was made that people of higher social status have fewer international friends. The underlying theory was that people with greater wealth and power don’t need to affiliate with people who aren’t like them; i.e., people from other nations. The authors didn’t seem to think that using data from millions of Facebook data, without their awareness, would constitute an ethical violation. See what you think after reading the details of this paper.

You can begin by considering the source of the paper. Published in the journal “Personality and Individual Differences,” which sounds reasonably legitimate (not exactly a grocery store tabloid), the article’s authors are listed as including an “Aleksandr Spectre.” This was Kogan in disguise, using his married surname. It would be impossible to make the connection between him and the Cambridge Analytica psychologist unless you knew to read the study’s footnote to this effect. Second, the journal itself is “Open Access.” This means that you can read the article yourself without requiring an institutional subscription, such as the very expensive university online databases. Sounds great, until you realize that the business model for Open Access journals involves having authors pay substantial sums to see their work reach the scientific community and popular press. In the case of this particular journal, the publisher (Elsevier) lists the fees as approximately $2350 USD(link is external) per article. In return for this fee, you’re guaranteed review by academic readers, so you can’t just publish anything.

The articles that the Open Access journal publishes may very well be as high quality as those published in non-open journals, but there is this important distinction to consider. Those considered to have met the highest standards for Open Access journals are listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals. These are the journals that must exercise rigorous peer review and editorial control. Personality and Individual Differences is not listed in this directory.

Now let’s turn to the article itself and how the authors stepped over the line in their use of Facebook data. They note that the population of Facebook users is highly appropriate for research on this topic: “Several aspects of the Facebook platform allow us to overcome certain classic challenges in social sciences. First, Facebook’s user base is massive, spanning over 1.3 billion users; thus, in our second study, our findings provide insights based on data from every corner of the earth and most walks of life” (p. 225). Kogan and his collaborators clearly believe that overcoming the “challenges” of having to recruit participants who deliberately agree to be in a research study justifies their use of data obtained without permission.

There were two studies published in the Yearwood et al. article. In the first, participants agreed through the normal route of providing consent to complete an online survey. As the authors point out, “no deception was used” (p. 225). All participants had at least one Facebook friend. When they agreed to be in the study, they agreed to authorize Facebook to gather information from their profiles automatically which may or may not have been in the “fine print” of the consent form. This agreement, though, meant they would now provide information that could be used to find out their total number of friends and where their friends were currently located.  The total number of friends whose locations and contact information was obtained, totaling 287,739 Facebook users. In other words, over a quarter of a million people had their Facebook data accessed without their knowledge, and all through the pushing of a “yes” button by the actual study participants.

The results of this first, survey-based, study showed a small but significant relationship between people’s social status and the number of international friends. The findings, the authors claimed to support the “restricting social class hypothesis” that wealth narrows your friendships to those in your own country. With this as their starting point, the Yearwood et al. team moved on to the next study using all the Facebook data in the world with, of course, the help of Facebook. As the authors stated, “Facebook provided data on every friendship formed in 2011 in every country in the world at the national aggregate level. These datasets included a total of 57,457,192,520 friendships. From these data, we knew how many friendships were made within each country (domestic friendships) and also how many friendships were made between every country pair (international friendships)” (p. 226). Although these were aggregated data (i.e. no data from individuals), profile and contact data of individuals clearly had to be fed into the analyses in some form.

To be sure, the Facebook data used in this second study was nation-, not individual-based. At this national level of analysis, the authors concluded that people from “high status” countries had fewer international friends than people from “low status” countries, a determination based on Gross Domestic Product of the user’s home country. The effect, though significant, was relatively small, with people from low-status countries having 35% international friendships and those from high-status having 28% of their friends located in other countries.

With these numbers in mind, the authors conclude that people of higher status (or at least those living in high GDP countries), are more likely to have outgroup biases, greater anxiety about people from groups other than their own, and higher levels of prejudice. People with greater wealth, in other words, “tend to think and act in ways that reinforce their social class” (p. 228), despite their greater opportunities to travel and conduct work at an international level.

This paper was only one of the studies, published or not, that Cambridge Analytica performed on Facebook users without their explicit consent. It fails to conform to the ethical standards that psychologists must adopt, as well as the standards that academic journals require before they will publish a study. Additionally, funding for this study was provided by a U.K. research grant as well as by a grant from St. Petersburg State University, in addition to the personnel and resources made available from Facebook. In the U.S., funding by the National Institutes of Health or National Science Foundation will not be provided to a researcher without clear identification of the methods used to recruit participants.

Psychology research can provide you with information that can enhance your life and make it that much more fulfilling. The Facebook studies were an anomaly. The next time you read a study, or consent to be in one yourself, this Facebook teaches you that it may be worth reading the fine print before you push that “agree” button.

References

Yearwood, M. H., Cuddy, A., Lamba, N., Youyou, W., van der Lowe, I., Piff, P. K., & … Spectre, A. (2015). On wealth and the diversity of friendships: High social class people around the world have fewer international friends. Personality and Individual Differences, 87224-229. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2015.07.040

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201804/how-facebook-stole-your-psychological-profile

Trump Make a Snap Decision To Replace McMaster With John Bolton

March 23, 2018

Bloomberg

By Jennifer Jacobs and Margaret Talev

  • McMaster Ousted Days After His Briefing to Trump on Putin Call
  • Trump names ex-U.S. envoy Bolton as national security adviser

Video: H.R.Mcmaster out, John Bolton to come in…

 https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-23/trump-makes-snap-move-to-oust-mcmaster-as-russia-decision-looms
 Image result for John Bolton, photos
Trump Continues to Shake Up the Administration

President Donald Trump made a snap decision to oust H.R. McMaster as national security adviser, moving as the administration weighs tough actions against Russia and acting far sooner than many White House aides expected.

McMaster’s departure had been the subject of intense speculation in recent days, yet most administration officials thought it wouldn’t come for weeks. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said just a week ago that the two men had a great working relationship.

Trump and McMaster

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

But Trump changed all that on Thursday evening, abruptly replacing McMaster with John Bolton, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and proponent of the 2003 Iraq War best known for his hawkish views.

The move was announced by Trump on Twitter so quickly on Thursday afternoon that many of the president’s top aides didn’t know it was coming.

Even by the standards of Trump, it was a turbulent day that left staff frustrated and demoralized. Earlier, the president rattled markets by imposing tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports, saw one of his top lawyers in the Russia probe quit in frustration and watched Congress struggle to try to avoid a government shutdown.

Read more: This is John Bolton’s view of the world

The ride isn’t over: Sunday brings a “60 Minutes” interview with porn actress Stormy Daniels, who is expected to say she slept with Trump just months after his wife Melania gave birth to their son in 2006.

North Korea

The McMaster move also means Trump is heading into talks with North Korea with a new national security team, having also just sacked his top diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Trump’s tariffs meanwhile risk alienating one of the most important countries to the success of those talks, China — which retaliated early Friday with $3 billion in levies on imports from the U.S.

McMaster’s exit also comes as Trump faces tough decisions on whether to punish Russia for the attempted assassination of a former spy in the U.K. His security advisers discussed on Wednesday a list of options to present to the president, including fresh sanctions, closing consulates and expelling Russians from the U.S., according to two people familiar with the matter. Trump has been asking aides what allies — including France and Germany — are doing in response to the attack, conducted with what the U.K. says was a Soviet Union-designed nerve agent.

Earlier this week, McMaster briefed Trump for a call with Vladimir Putin and didn’t warn against offering congratulations on the Russian leader’s election win, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Written guidance prepared for the president by White House advisers ahead of Tuesday’s phone call explicitly cautioned against complimenting Putin. But in a verbal briefing he personally delivered to Trump before the call, McMaster didn’t emphasize what not to say about the election, said the people, who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity.

Trump likely didn’t read the written guidance before speaking with his Russian counterpart, and he ended up offering good wishes to Putin on his re-election. That congratulatory message — uttered as the U.S. considers a tougher stance toward Moscow — prompted sharp criticism from senior Republican lawmakers and intensified tensions among White House aides involved in Russia matters.

McMaster’s omission may not have made much difference. By the time the call was set up at Trump’s request, two of the people said, most of the president’s advisers widely believed their boss wanted to congratulate Putin and would have ignored any advice to the contrary.

The administration’s stance toward Russian President Vladimir Putin had been the source of friction between McMaster and Trump. Last month, McMaster echoed the sentiments of top U.S. intelligence officials who told Congress that Russians are targeting the 2018 elections with potential cyber attacks and efforts to sow political division.

Trump Conflict

“The evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain, whereas in the past it was difficult to attribute,” McMaster said on Feb. 17, after Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted a Russian “troll farm” and its operators for an alleged covert social media campaign to influence the election.

McMaster called the Russian actions as described in the indictment a “sophisticated form of espionage.”

Trump rebuked him on Twitter, saying McMaster “forgot” to say that the results of the election weren’t changed by the Russian meddling — something the indictment didn’t address — and that the only collusion was between the Russians, Clinton and Democrats.

During his 30-minute call with Putin Trump didn’t mention such sensitive issues as the U.K. poisoning or ongoing concerns over Russian interference in U.S. elections. He conducted the conversation while alone in the White House residence, though some Trump aides were on the line. There has been some second-guessing in the White House that Trump was left without the proper staffing support at his side for this call.

Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, assailed Trump’s outreach to the Russian leader.

“An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” McCain said in a statement Tuesday. “And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country’s future.”

Later, the Washington Post reported that written guidance for Trump had advised him not to congratulate Putin.

McMaster, an Army lieutenant general, had been the focus of recent speculation that he would soon leave as Trump reshaped his foreign policy team. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was said to be in consultations with Pentagon officials about finding a command that would have allowed McMaster to obtain a fourth star. In a statement released by the White House after his departure was announced, McMaster said he would retire from the military this summer.

Later Thursday night, after Trump announced his replacement, McMaster attended a dinner for visiting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Washington and received a standing ovation after former Florida Governor Jeb Bush pointed him out in the crowd from the stage.

— With assistance by Nick Wadhams

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-23/trump-makes-snap-move-to-oust-mcmaster-as-russia-decision-looms

What’s genius for Obama is scandal when it comes to Trump — They both used Facebook and Cambridge Analytica methods

March 21, 2018

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeup

BY BEN SHAPIRO, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR —
03/20/18 09:15 AM EDT
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL

On Sunday, The Guardian reported on the supposedly nefarious workings of President Trump’s data-gathering team at Cambridge Analytica. The report suggested that Cambridge Analytica had essentially issued questionnaires through a third party; those questionnaires, which were personality quizzes, requested that you use your Facebook login. Cambridge Analytica then compiled data regarding those who completed the quiz and cross-referenced that data with political preferences in order to target potential voters.

This isn’t particularly shocking. In 2012, The Guardian reported that President Obama’s reelection team was “building a vast digital data operation that for the first time combines a unified database on millions of Americans with the power of Facebook to target individual voters to a degree never achieved before.”

What, exactly, would Obama be doing? According to The Guardian, Obama’s new database would be gathered by asking individual volunteers to log into Obama’s reelection site using their Facebook credentials. “Consciously or otherwise,” The Guardian states, “the individual volunteer will be injecting all the information they store publicly on their Facebook page — home location, date of birth, interests and, crucially, network of friends — directly into the central Obama database.” 

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Facebook had no problem with such activity then. They do now. There’s a reason for that. The former Obama director of integration and media analytics stated that, during the 2012 campaign, Facebook allowed the Obama team to “suck out the whole social graph”; Facebook “was surprised we were able to suck out the whole social graph, but they didn’t stop us once they realized that was what we were doing.” She added, “They came to [the] office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.”

Not so with Trump. As soon as Facebook realized that Cambridge Analytica had pursued a similar strategy, they suspended the firm.

Again, this isn’t surprising. Since Trump’s election, Democrats — in search of a rationale for their favored candidate’s defeat — have blamed a bevy of social media outlets. Senate Democrats trotted out pathetic Russian-created memes on Facebook, viewed by a handful of human beings, as an excuse for Hillary’s loss; Democrats claimed — without evidence — that “fake news” had swamped Facebook and thus led to Trump’s victory. Democrats have also insisted that Facebook be regulated. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) raged, “You’ve created these platforms, and now they’re being misused, and you have to be the ones to do something about it. Or we will.” Facebook’s former privacy manager called for the government to step into an oversight role regarding Facebook.

In February, Wired magazine ran a cover story specifically dealing with Facebook’s role in the election of 2016, and their subsequent attempts to “fix” the problem. After the election, Mark Zuckerberg even met with Barack Obama, apparently in an attempt to convince Obama that he was serious about stopping the “misuse” of the platform. And in February, Zuckerberg said he wanted to re-jigger the algorithms on his platform to benefit content that Facebook deems “trustworthy, informative, and local.” Wired celebrated: “You can’t make the world more open and connected if you’re breaking it apart.”

The result of Facebook’s algorithmic changes: conservatives have been slammed. And that’s the point. A study from The Western Journal found that conservative sites have lost an average of 14 percent of their Facebook traffic; leftist sites saw a minor increase. Even major publications saw that effect: The New York Daily News saw a bump of 24.18 percent, while the New York Post dropped 11.44 percent.

And that’s the goal in covering Cambridge Analytica, and Russian interference on Twitter, and all the rest — even without any serious information suggesting that such interference shifted votes, the left can rest assured that its Silicon Valley allies will act to de-platform Republicans and conservatives. There’s a reason Twitter has suspended alt-right racists but continued to recommend that others follow Louis Farrakhan; there’s a reason YouTube is being sued by Prager University; there’s a reason Google used automatic fact-checking on right-wing sites but did no such thing for left-wing sites.

We’re in the midst of a radical reshifting in social media. Ironically, the people who have stumped against regulation — conservatives — are those being targeted by social media companies. If companies like Facebook, YouTube, Google and Twitter don’t start acting like platforms again rather than like motivated left-wing outlets, Republicans likely won’t let principle outweigh practicality for long.

Ben Shapiro (@BenShapiro), a lawyer and conservative commentator, is founder and editor in chief of The Daily Wire. The author of seven books, he hosts a daily political podcast, “The Ben Shapiro Show.”

http://thehill.com/opinion/technology/379245-whats-genius-for-obama-is-scandal-when-it-comes-to-trump#.WrFUV_mwDZU.facebook