Posts Tagged ‘Special Counsel Robert Mueller’

Will Donald Trump Meet Kim Jong Un and Start Meaningful Negotiations? The Odds Just Got Lower as John Bolton Heads to The White House

March 23, 2018

Peace and Freedom

Donald Trump’s new National Security Advisor is a hawk who plays hard ball. He has a history of claiming that North Korea will never give up its quest for nuclear weapons and will never negotiate in good faith.

This joke has been attributed to Bolton:

 “Question: How do you know that the North Korean regime is lying? Answer: Their lips are moving.”

See also:

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The return of John Bolton, a hawk on North Korea and Iran, sparks concerns

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/south-korea-worries-about-the-return-of-john-bolton-and-his-hawkish-views/2018/03/23/4adc68aa-2e6c-11e8-911f-ca7f68bff0fc_story.html?utm_term=.9a2315e1008b

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CNN

(CNN) John Bolton said on Thursday that his past policy statements are “behind me” and that, after taking over next month as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, “The important thing is what the President says and the advice I give him.”

But Bolton’s history of provocative, often bellicose pronouncements, typically in the form of calls to bomb countries like Iran and North Korea — along with his unwavering support, before and after, for the 2003 invasion of Iraq — are impossible to pass off, especially as Trump considers tearing up the Iran nuclear deal and prepares for talks with Pyongyang.
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What follows is a small sampling of Bolton’s rhetoric, dating back to the post-9/11 period. Back then, while working in the Bush administration, Bolton made the case at home and abroad that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and that the US role in the aftermath of regime change in Iraq would be “fairly minimal.” Trump, by the way, has pointed to his own opposition to the Iraq war as evidence of his smarts.
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Bolton also publicly accused Cuba of providing “dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states.” Years later, after leaving his post as ambassador to the UN, he pushed to expand the Iraq War into Iran. More recently, he’s pushed for unilateral strikes in Iran and North Korea, while casting doubt on Russia’s role in 2016 election-related hacking.
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He made the case last month for striking North Korea ‘first’

Citing preemptive strikes by Israel on Syrian (2007) and Iraqi (1981) reactor sites, Bolton in February of this year — less than four weeks ago — made a case in the Wall Street Journal for a potential US attack on North Korea:
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“Pre-emption opponents argue that action is not justified because Pyongyang does not constitute an ‘imminent threat.’ They are wrong. The threat is imminent, and the case against pre-emption rests on the misinterpretation of a standard that derives from prenuclear, pre-ballistic-missile times. Given the gaps in U.S. intelligence about North Korea, we should not wait until the very last minute. That would risk striking after the North has deliverable nuclear weapons, a much more dangerous situation.”
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He suggested election hacking was a ‘false flag operation’ designed to frame the Russians

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In December 2016, Bolton said he wasn’t convinced the Russian had a role in pre-election hacking.
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“It’s not at all clear to me just viewing this from the outside that this hacking into the DNC and the RNC computers was not a false flag operation. The question that has to be asked is, why did the Russians run their smart intelligence service against Hillary’s server but their dumb intelligence services against the election?”
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He seems to have changed his mind; is now advocating heavy retaliation

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In an opinion piece filed after special counsel Robert Mueller returned indictments alleging conspiracy to defraud the US against a group of Russian nationals, Bolton wrote:
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“One way to (deter Russia) is to engage in a retaliatory cyber campaign against Russia. This effort should not be proportional to what we have just experienced. It should be decidedly disproportionate. The lesson we want Russia (or anyone else) to learn is that the costs to them from future cyberattacks against the United States will be so high that they will simply consign all their cyberwarfare plans to their computer memories to gather electronic dust.”
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He said a diplomatic option for dealing with North Korea was to ‘end the regime’

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Asked by a Fox News host if there were any “diplomatic options” remaining in the nuclear standoff with North Korea, Bolton suggested this:
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Bolton: “I think the only diplomatic option left is to end the regime in North Korea by effectively having the South take it over. You’ve got to argue with China–“
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Fox News host Trish Regan: “That’s not really diplomatic! (Laughing) As far as they’re concerned.”
Bolton: “Well, that’s their problem, not ours. Anybody who thinks that more diplomacy with North Korea, more sanctions, whether against North Korea, or an effort to apply sanctions against China, is just giving North Korea more time to increase its nuclear arsenal…”
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He compared — to laughter and cheers — former President Barack Obama to a ‘Muslim king’

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In a speech to the American Freedom Alliance conference in August 2016, Bolton drew applause when he said this of Obama at the beginning of a speech on Muslim countries and their politics:
“King Abdullah of Jordan, who is not simply the Muslim king of a Muslim country, unlike our president… (laughter and cheers) … King Abdullah and other political leaders in the Middle East have said this is a civil war within Islam.”
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He desperately wants to scuttle the Iran nuclear deal

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In Janaury of this year, again in the Wall Street Journal, he argued that the administration take more forceful steps to break the terms of the pact:
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“Spending the next 120 days negotiating with ourselves will leave the West mired in stasis. Mr. Trump correctly sees Mr. Obama’s deal as a massive strategic blunder, but his advisers have inexplicably persuaded him not to withdraw. Last fall, deciding whether to reimpose sanctions and decertify the deal under the Corker-Cardin legislation, the administration also opted to keep the door open to ‘fixes’ — a punt on third down. Let’s hope Friday’s decision is not another punt.”
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He also touched on a common theme in his writing, going back at least to former President George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech, that connects Iran and North Korea:
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“Little is known, at least publicly, about longstanding Iranian-North Korean cooperation on nuclear and ballistic-missile technology. It is foolish to play down Tehran’s threat because of Pyongyang’s provocations. They are two sides of the same coin.”
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He took — and seems to take — the ‘Axis of Evil’ line literally

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Rewind to August 2002 and remarks made during talks between the North and South Koreans, when Bolton defended the expression and insisted “it was factually correct.” This is from the New York Times report:
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“In a strongly worded speech, the official, John R. Bolton, the under secretary of state for arms control, cited what he said was ‘a hard connection between these regimes — an “axis” along which flow dangerous weapons and dangerous technology.'”
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He argued in favor of Brexit, touting the UK’s strong negotiating hand

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Ahead of the Brexit vote in 2016, Bolton wrote in the New York Daily News that the UK would enter potential EU exit negotiations with the upper hand. (Things have been somewhat more difficult than he figured.):
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“EU stalwarts like German Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble have tried to scare Britain by proposing obnoxious exit terms. The rhetoric is hollow bluster. The advantages of free trade and easy movement of goods and financial resources between Europe and Britain, whether or not the latter remains part of the former, will dictate that Britain and the EU negotiate Brexit terms that are mutually advantageous. … There is an inherent economic risk in abandoning arrangements and institutions built up over time. But in the sweep of European history, the EU is a newcomer. It makes sense for Britain exit now rather than wait until disaster strikes.”
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Before the deal was done, he wrote an op-ed calling on the US to bomb Iran

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Shortly before the framework of the Iran nuclear deal was set in place, Bolton wrote a piece headlined, “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” He even considered outsourcing the job to Israel:
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“Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed. … An attack need not destroy all of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but by breaking key links in the nuclear-fuel cycle, it could set back its program by three to five years. The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.”
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He (still) believes leaving Iraq was a worse decision than invading it

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Bolton became Bush’s under secretary of state for arms control and international security in May of 2001 and remained in the job for about four years, during which time the US invaded Iraq under false pretenses, before taking over as ambassador the United Nations via recess appointment. Asked in 2015 about the decision to go to war, here’s what he told the Washington Examiner:
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“I still think the decision to overthrow Saddam was correct. I think decisions made after that decision were wrong, although I think the worst decision made after that was the 2011 decision to withdraw U.S. and coalition forces. The people who say, oh things would have been much better if you didn’t overthrow Saddam miss the point that today’s Middle East does not flow totally and unchangeably from the decision to overthrow Saddam alone.”
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He wanted to bomb Iran during the Iraq war

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In 2008, Bolton called for strikes inside Iran as part of a bid to cut off Tehran’s aid to insurgents in Iraq. Asked by a Fox News host what he thought would “happen next” if the US attacked, he downplayed the potential for widening the war:
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“I think the Iranians need to look very carefully at what risk they would run if they were to escalate. The idea here is not to have much larger hostilities, but to stop the Iranians from engaging in the hostilities that they’re already doing against us inside Iraq. And they’re doing much the same by aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan. So this is not provocative or preemptive, this is entirely responsive on our part.”
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He downplayed the short- and long-term dangers of war in Iraq

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In the run-up to the Iraq invasion he made the case for regime change to the BBC. Here’s one of his arguments in favor:
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“I think the Iraqi people would be unique in history if they didn’t welcome the overthrow of this dictatorial regime. And Iraqi opposition leaders of a variety of positions and views are discussing now what will happen after Saddam Hussein. I expect that the American role actually will be fairly minimal. I think we’ll have an important security role. I think concluding the destruction of the weapons of mass destruction themselves will be important. But I think fundamentally the recreation of a hopefully democratic Iraqi government — that must rest with the Iraqis.”
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The return of John Bolton, a hawk on North Korea and Iran, sparks concerns
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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

House Intelligence Committee: former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper misled Congress on possible collusion — U.S. Intel “did not employ proper analytic tradecraft” on Russian election meddling

March 23, 2018

James Clapper

James Clapper / Getty Images

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A House Intelligence Committee investigation of Russian election meddling has concluded that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper misled Congress about disclosing information to CNN.

The committee’s final report on the investigation was approved on Thursday and now awaits an intelligence agency review.

Despite 472 days of investigation and thousands of witnesses, the committee stated in its list of final conclusions and recommendations that it found no evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump, his campaign aides, and Russia.

“The committee found no evidence that meetings between Trump associates—including Jeff Sessions—and official representatives of the Russian government—including Ambassador Kislyak—reflected collusion, coordination, or conspiracy with the Russian government,” the list states.

The report also said former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI regarding conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak “even though the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents did not detect any deception during Flynn’s interview.”

The finding suggests the FBI improperly charged Flynn.

The Obama administration also failed to notify the Trump campaign that members of the campaign were assessed to be counterintelligence concerns, the report said.

The committee said opposition to Trump from the U.S. national security establishment prompted the campaign to hire unqualified aides such as George Papadopoulous and Carter Page.

Trump advisers had contacts with the pro-Russian Wikileaks, but none were involved in the theft or publication of Clinton campaign emails, the report said.

On the former DNI, the report says that Clapper, now a contributor to CNN as a national security analyst “provided inconsistent testimony to the committee about his contacts with the media, including CNN.”

A CNN spokeswoman did not return an email seeking comment. Clapper could not be reached for comment.

The report also states that leaks of classified information about Russian intentions to sow discord in the U.S. presidential election began prior to Election Day. The disclosures of U.S. secrets alleging Russia was working to help elect Trump “increased dramatically” after the Nov. 8, 2016 election.

The panel suggested that the leaks “correlate to specific language” in a U.S. intelligence community assessment of Russian election meddling.

The finding suggests that leaks of classified information were politically motivated to undermine Trump after he won the election.

The findings also say the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign funded the anti-Trump dossier produced by former British intelligence officers Christopher Steele.

Steele “claims to have obtained his dossier information second- and third-hand from purported high-placed Russian sources, such as government officials with links to the Kremlin and intelligence services,” the report says.

“Christopher Steele’s information from Russian sources was provided directly to Fusion GPS and Perkins Cole and indirectly to the Clinton campaign,” the report said.

The report suggests that the research group Fusion GPS was used by Russia for disinformation. “Prior to conducting opposition research targeting candidate Trump’s business dealings, Fusion GPS conducted research benefitting Russian interests,” the report said.

The Washington Free Beacon hired Fusion GPS early in the 2016 election campaign but had no role in the Steele dossier.

The report also concluded that Russia intelligence used social media to sow political discord and undermine the election.

The FBI was criticized by the committee for not providing victims information about Russian hacking operations.

Also, U.S. intelligence community judgments regarding Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s strategic intentions “did not employ proper analytic tradecraft,” the report said.

The report said Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted former Trump campaign aide Paul Manafort on charges unrelated to collusion, coordination, and conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/house-probe-accuses-clapper-misleading-congress/

John Dowd Resigns as Trump’s Lead Lawyer in Mueller Probe

March 22, 2018

Bloomberg

By Shannon Pettypiece

  • Departure comes after Trump adds probe critic DiGenova to team
  • Changes could signal more confrontational approach to Mueller

John Dowd resigned as President Donald Trump’s lead attorney countering Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe as the inquiry into possible collusion in the 2016 election intensifies.

“I love the president and wish him well,”’ Dowd said.

John Dowd

Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg

His decision came after Trump decided to add a new high-profile lawyer, Joseph diGenova, to his legal team. A frequent guest on Fox News, diGenova has publicly attacked Mueller’s investigation and the FBI, saying he believes Trump was framed by Justice Department officials on a political vendetta.

Dowd and Trump’s other lawyers had been pursuing a strategy of cooperation with Mueller’s probe and had been negotiating for weeks over the terms under which Mueller would interview Trump. DiGenova’s hiring suggested that Trump may pursue a more confrontational approach.

DiGenova has advocated a much more confrontational approach, including the idea that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller’s work, to be removed and appointed as a judge.

For Newest Lawyer, Trump Picks Fierce Critic of Mueller’s Probe

Until recently, Dowd and another Trump lawyer, Ty Cobb, have been instrumental in persuading Trump to back off personal attacks on Mueller, according to the people, who asked not to be identified describing private discussions. But Trump’s frustration has been growing and he attacked Mueller publicly last weekend for the first time.

Dowd too expressed his desire for Mueller to wrap things up. “I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” Dowd said in a March 17 statement.

Jay Sekulow, another Trump lawyer, said the legal team will continue its work defending the president.

“We will continue our ongoing representation of the President and our cooperation with the Office of Special Counsel,” he said in a statement.

Since becoming Trump’s primary outside lawyer last summer, Dowd has bristled at attempts to diminish his authority, according to a person familiar with the matter. At one point last summer, when Trump’s advisers discussed top-tier Washington lawyers who could be added to the president’s legal team, Dowd groused that he didn’t want to end up being the caboose on the train, the person said.

Can Trump Dismiss the Special Counsel? Not Exactly: QuickTake

Dowd and Cobb were originally recruited with full awareness of the long history they share with Mueller. Cobb has had a friendly working relationship with Mueller for more than three decades, and Dowd shares a common bond over their time as prosecutors and as Marines who served in Vietnam.

Dowd was handpicked by longtime Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz over the summer, when it became clear Mueller’s investigation could last months, if not years, and questions were raised about whether Trump had obstructed justice.

Early in his career, Dowd worked at the Justice Department where he focused on racketeering, corruption and tax-evasion cases.

Dowd comes from a family of Marines and has stayed involved in the Corps, providing pro bono legal work to Marines. He is known for his combative style, talking in military terms when discussing a case and viewing himself as at war, ferociously battling his opponents.

— With assistance by Greg Farrell

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-22/john-dowd-resigns-as-trump-s-lead-lawyer-in-mueller-probe

John Dowd, President Donald Trump’s lead lawyer, steps down

March 22, 2018

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John Dowd

John Dowd, President Donald Trump’s lead lawyer for the special counsel’s Russia investigation, is resigning, according to the New York Times and Washington Post.

This news comes after the president added lawyer Joseph diGenova to his team.

The New York Times reports Dowd felt Trump was increasingly ignoring his advice. Dowd felt it was a poor idea for the president to meet with Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

http://www.kcra.com/article/body-cam-video-officers-save-choking-infant-while-standing-in-traffic/19557874

(Donald Trump doesn’t always take direction…)

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John Dowd outside of Manhattan Federal Court in 2011. CreditBrendan Mcdermid/Reuters

WASHINGTON — The president’s lead lawyer for the special counsel investigation, John Dowd, resigned on Thursday, according to two people briefed on the matter, days after the president called for an end to the inquiry.

Mr. Dowd, who took over the president’s legal team last summer, had considered leaving several times in recent months and ultimately concluded that Mr. Trump was increasingly ignoring his advice, one of the people said. Under Mr. Dowd’s leadership, Mr. Trump’s lawyers had advised him to cooperate with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating Russia’s election interference and possible ties to Trump associates as well as whether the president obstructed the inquiry.

The president has instead in recent days begun publicly assailing Mr. Mueller, a shift in tone that appears to be born of the president’s concern that the investigation is bearing down on him more directly. He has also privately insisted he should sit for an interview with the special counsel’s office, even though Mr. Dowd believed it was a bad idea.

Mr. Dowd’s departure marks the most prominent shake-up for the president’s legal team since he took over from the president’s longtime personal lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz.

It is not clear who will run the team in his place. Mr. Trump’s other personal lawyer for the investigation, Jay Sekulow, is liked by the president and recently brought on one of his longtime friends, Joseph E. diGenova, to join the team.

Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer for the investigation, came aboard around the same time as Mr. Dowd and Mr. Sekulow and advocated on behalf of cooperating with the special counsel. But the president has discussed with close associates in recent days whether to fire Mr. Cobb, while reassuring Mr. Cobb that he had no plans to do so.

Andrew McCabe Kept Notes About Conversations With Trump, Gave Them to Mueller — All started with Hillary Clinton’s email

March 18, 2018

John Dowd, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, called for Mueller probe to end ‘on the merits in light of recent revelations’

Andrew McCabe, former deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who was fired Friday night, at a July 2017 press conference with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Andrew McCabe, former deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who was fired Friday night, at a July 2017 press conference with Attorney General Jeff Sessions. PHOTO: JIM WATSON/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe wrote memos describing his conversations with President Donald Trump and other events and has turned them over to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a person close to Mr. McCabe said Saturday.

The memos, written soon after the events they describe, cover Mr. McCabe’s dealings with the White House and what former FBI Director James Comey told Mr. McCabe about his interactions, according to the person.

That revelation came amid increasingly contentious exchanges Saturday between President Trump and some of the country’s most senior former law-enforcement and national security officials, sparked by Mr. McCabe’s dismissal late Friday.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions terminated Mr. McCabe two days before his scheduled retirement, saying internal investigators found Mr. McCabe made an unauthorized disclosure to the media and “lacked candor” on multiple occasions.

The Fake News is beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife’s campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M, who was also under investigation? How many lies? How many leaks? Comey knew it all, and much more!

Mr. Trump, in his third tweet on the subject since Friday night, said Saturday afternoon that Mr. McCabe was “caught, called out and fired.” “How many lies? How many leaks?” Mr. Trump said, adding that former FBI Director James Comey “knew it all, and much more!”

Nine minutes later, Mr. Comey responded on Twitter saying, “the American people will hear my story very soon.” He has a book scheduled to be released next month. “They can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not,” Mr. Comey said.

Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.

Mr. Comey himself was fired last May, in an episode that is now under investigation by Mr. Mueller. Mr. Comey testified last year he kept memos of his interactions with Mr. Trump and that he felt Mr. Trump had pressured him to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The volleys Saturday began when Mr. Trump’s personal legal team called for the Justice Department to end the special counsel’s investigation into possible ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia, after the department fired a senior official who at one time had been involved in looking at that and other politically charged matters.

The lawyer, John Dowd, said he wasn’t calling on the department to fire Mr. Mueller, but rather to end the investigation “on the merits in light of recent revelations.”

Mr. McCabe’s termination immediately spurred furious debate over whether the firing was merited or was an attempt to undermine the Mueller investigation, possibly by casting doubt on the credibility of Mr. McCabe, a potential witness. Mr. McCabe, who was deputy to Mr. Comey, had been removed from his deputy post in January and was due to retire on Sunday.

Mr. Sessions said Friday night that he had terminated Mr. McCabe’s employment “effective immediately” after an “extensive and fair investigation.” Mr. Sessions said both the inspector general and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that Mr. McCabe made an unauthorized disclosure and lacked candor when he spoke under oath on “multiple occasions.”

Mr. McCabe on Friday night said he was fired and his pension threatened because he could corroborate Mr. Comey’s account of interactions with the president.

Mr. Trump said on Twitter Friday night that the action against Mr. McCabe marked a “great day for Democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!”

Others saw Mr. Sessions’s firing of Mr. McCabe as aimed at the Mueller investigation. “Every member of Congress, Republican and Democrat, needs to speak up in defense of the Special Counsel,’’ Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.), top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote on Twitter.

When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you. https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/974859881827258369 

In scathing remarks, John Brennan, director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama and an official in the George W. Bush administration, said on Twitter that Mr. Trump would be seen as a “disgraced demagogue,’’ adding, “You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America.”

Mr. McCabe, in a lengthy statement, strongly disputed the allegations, saying that he had the authority to share the information with a reporter and that he “answered questions truthfully and as accurately” as he could “amidst the chaos that surrounded” him. His lawyer said the disciplinary process was rushed and completed “in a little over a week.”

Mr. Dowd, the president’s lawyer, on Saturday called for the Justice Department to follow Mr. Sessions’s “brilliant and courageous example” in firing Mr. McCabe and “bring an end to alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss, James Comey.”

Mr. Dowd directed his call to end the Russia investigation at Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who appointed Mr. Mueller last year after Mr. Sessions recused himself from the matter.

Mr. Dowd said he was speaking for himself, not the president. Earlier Saturday, he had told the Daily Beast he was issuing the statement on the president’s behalf.

Mr. Trump has been eager to see the investigation wrap up as quickly as possible, describing it as a distraction that is hurting the country. His lawyers have repeatedly laid out public time lines by which they expected the investigation to end, with expected end points that have come and gone.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers are seeking to negotiate a deal with Mr. Mueller that uses an interview with the president as leverage to spur a conclusion to the Russia investigation, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

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Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd. Reuters Photo

Tensions will be on further display in coming weeks.

The Justice Department’s inspector general, or in-house watchdog, is expected to issue a report by the end of April that examines the bureau’s handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email arrangement that is likely to be critical of the FBI and some of its officials. Meanwhile, a book by James Comey, the former FBI director fired by Mr. Trump, is due out on April 17, and it is expected to take sharp aim at the president and his conduct.

The findings into Mr. McCabe’s alleged misconduct deal with an Oct. 30, 2016, report in The Wall Street Journal about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation, the Journal previously reported.

Write to Aruna Viswanatha at Aruna.Viswanatha@wsj.com, Rebecca Ballhaus at Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com and Del Quentin Wilber at del.wilber@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-lawyer-citing-mccabes-firing-calls-for-end-to-mueller-probe-1521309707

See also:

Trump Lawyer Says Special Counsel Inquiry Should Be Ended

NYT:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/17/us/politics/trump-mueller-dowd.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Mueller Weighs Putting Off Trump Obstruction Decision

March 12, 2018

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Bloomberg

By Chris Strohm and  Shannon Pettypiece

  • Delay would let him wrap up less explosive parts of inquiry
  • Obstruction decision might undercut probe, one way or another

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice is said to be close to completion, but he may set it aside while he finishes other key parts of his probe, such as possible collusion and the hacking of Democrats, according to current and former U.S. officials.

That’s because Mueller may calculate that if he tries to bring charges in the obstruction case — the part that may hit closest to Trump personally — witnesses may become less cooperative in other parts of the probe, or the president may move to shut it down altogether.

The revelation is a peek into Muller’s calculations as he proceeds with his many-headed probe, while pressure builds from the president’s advisers and other Republicans to show progress or wrap it up.

The obstruction portion of the probe could likely be completed after several key outstanding interviews, including with the president and his son, Donald Trump Jr. The president’s lawyers have been negotiating with Mueller’s team over such an encounter since late last year. But even if Trump testifies in the coming weeks, Mueller may make a strategic calculation to keep his findings on obstruction secret, according to the current and former U.S. officials, who discussed the strategy on condition of anonymity.

Any clear outcome of the obstruction inquiry could be used against Mueller: Filing charges against Trump or his family could prompt the president to take action to fire him. Publicly clearing Trump of obstruction charges — as the president’s lawyers have requested — could be used by his allies to build pressure for the broader investigation to be shut down.

A QuickTake Q&A: Your Guide to Understanding the Trump-Russia Saga

Other key matters under investigation by Mueller’s team, with its 17 career prosecutors, include whether Trump or any of his associates helped Russia meddle in the 2016 campaign. Mueller is also expected to indict some of those responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee before the election and publicly leaking stolen material in an effort to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The timing for whether — and when — to interview Trump or his family members is one of the most sensitive decisions Mueller faces at this stage of his investigation. The special counsel’s office declined to comment for this story.

Trump, who has branded the probe a “witch hunt,” is growing increasingly frustrated as Mueller’s work continues, and the president’s lawyers have signaled that they expect the investigation to wrap up quickly.

Expansive, Aggressive

Recent reports provide a glimpse into how expansive and aggressive Mueller’s investigation is. The New York Times and Washington Post, for example, suggest Mueller’s team recently began probing efforts by the United Arab Emirates to influence the Trump team, including a meeting the Gulf kingdom apparently helped organize in the Seychelles where an informal Trump adviser also met with a Russian banker.

The Post also reported that Mueller has been asking about several Russia-related incidents involving longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, including his role in trying to help the Trump Organization build a tower in Moscow in 2015.

When it comes to the obstruction portion of the investigation, Mueller is said to be focused on three main episodes: Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey last May; the drafting of a misleading statement about the purpose of a June 2016 meeting between Don Jr., Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and a group of Russians at Trump Tower; and the disclosure that Trump considered firing Mueller last June.

Mueller’s team of FBI agents and prosecutors has already interviewed people who could provide firsthand knowledge of possible obstruction of justice, including Comey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers.

Millions of PagesMueller also has turned Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, into a cooperating witness. He has interviewed more than four dozen White House and campaign aides and requested more than 1.4 million pages of documents, according to Trump’s lawyers.

Kushner spoke to Mueller early on in the investigation for a limited interview, while Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter who’s also an adviser, have yet to be interviewed, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

There is also no indication that Mueller has yet interviewed Trump’s former bodyguard Keith Schiller, who was at Trump’s side on a trip to Moscow and during each day of the campaign and his presidency until he resigned over the summer. When Trump moved to fire Comey, Schiller hand-delivered the note to the FBI.

Here are three of the main episodes Mueller is investigating on a potential obstruction of justice:

Weekend in Bedminster

One focus for Mueller is a rainy weekend that Trump and top aides spent holed up at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, shortly before Comey was fired. Trump stayed out of public view the entire weekend. While the White House released little information about his activities except to say he had “meetings and calls,” it’s clear Trump and his advisers were discussing Comey’s fate.

Traveling with Trump that weekend was then-Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland, a Flynn ally; senior adviser Stephen Miller; then-White House communications director Hope Hicks, social media director Dan Scavino; Kushner; and Ivanka Trump.

That Sunday morning in Bedminster, Trump publicly aired his frustrations on the Russia probe, tweeting: “Why did the Obama Administration start an investigation into the Trump Campaign (with zero proof of wrongdoing) long before the Election in November? Wanted to discredit so Crooked H would win. Unprecedented. Bigger than Watergate! Plus, Obama did NOTHING about Russian meddling.”

Late that day, Trump flew back to Washington with staff and his daughter and son-in-law. After landing at Andrews Air Force Base, he spent more than 40 minutes on the tarmac before deplaning, an unusually long time. When he did exit Air Force One, Kushner told reporters “everything is good, he was working on something.”

Less than 12 hours later, Trump woke the next morning and began venting again about the investigation. He wrote six Twitter posts attacking the probe, three of them aimed at former acting Attorney General Sally Yates. “The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end?” one of them read. Trump fired Comey the next day.

Don Jr.’s Statement

Mueller also has been prodding witnesses about the crafting of the misleading statement by Trump Jr. to the New York Times concerning the meeting with Russians at Trump Tower in Manhattan. Mueller interviewed the former spokesman for Trump’s legal team, Mark Corallo, after the release of author Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury,” which said Corallo believed the crafting of the statement could amount to obstruction of justice.

The statement — crafted aboard Air Force One by Trump, Hicks and Kushner spokesman Josh Raffel and relayed to Trump Jr. — portrayed the meeting as being mostly about Russian adoptions. Emails later released by Trump Jr. showed an organizer told him the Russians would produce damaging information on Clinton. The White House has said of the statement that Trump “weighed in, as any father would, based on the limited information that he had,” while on a return trip from Germany.

Corallo told investigators that in a phone call with Hicks and Trump raising concern about the statement Hicks insisted the emails would “never get out,” which Corallo found deeply naive, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

Firing Mueller

The third main area Mueller is probing for potential obstruction involves Trump’s desire to fire Mueller. Trump became enraged with Sessions when he recused himself from anything to do with the Russia investigation, a decision that continues to rankle the president. After Trump fired Comey, Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel.

Trump wanted to fire Mueller in June, three people familiar with the matter said, raising concern among his top aides and closest supporters that Trump would put himself in legal jeopardy. Trump ultimately relented after White House Counsel Don McGahn refused to carry out the order and made clear he’d resign rather than acquiesce.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-12/mueller-is-said-to-weigh-putting-off-trump-obstruction-decision

Trump Lawyers Seek Deal With Mueller to Speed End of Russia Probe — Sit-down interview then wrap it up

March 10, 2018

Legal team aims to use interview with president as leverage in negotiations

President Donald Trump’s legal team is considering telling special counsel Robert Mueller, right, that Mr. Trump would agree to a sit-down interview based on multiple considerations.
President Donald Trump’s legal team is considering telling special counsel Robert Mueller, right, that Mr. Trump would agree to a sit-down interview based on multiple considerations. PHOTO: SAUL LOEB/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump’s lawyers are seeking to negotiate a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller that uses an interview with the president as leverage to spur a conclusion to the Russia investigation, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

The president’s legal team is considering telling Mr. Mueller that Mr. Trump would agree to a sit-down interview based on multiple considerations, including that the special counsel commit to a date for concluding at least the Trump-related portion of the investigation. One idea is to suggest a deadline of 60 days from the date of the interview, the person said.

Another consideration for the legal team is reaching an agreement with Mr. Mueller on the scope of his questioning of the president, which they expect to focus largely on his decision to fire former national security adviser Mike Flynn and former FBI director James Comey, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Flynn, who was forced out of the White House after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his Russian contacts, pleaded guilty in December to lying to investigators about his contacts. Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey as he was investigating whether Trump associates colluded with Russia in interfering in the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Mueller was appointed to carry on that probe after Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Mr. Mueller is also investigating whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice when he fired Mr. Comey.

The president denies any collusion with the Kremlin and denies obstructing the Russia investigation, which he has called a “witch hunt.” Moscow has said it didn’t meddle in the campaign.

​The president’s legal team is under pressure from Mr. Trump to bring about an end to the probe. Mr. Trump has been eager to see the investigation wrap up as quickly as possible, describing it as a distraction that is hurting the country. His lawyers have repeatedly laid out public timelines by which they expected the investigation to end. Those deadlines have come and gone.

Tweeting in January, Mr. Trump said of the investigation: “On and on it goes. Russia & the world is laughing at the stupidity they are witnessing.”

A person familiar with the Trump legal team’s process said that conversations with Mr. Mueller over a possible Trump interview are in the earliest stages.

John Dowd, the lead outside attorney for Mr. Trump, said in an email Friday: “We never discuss our communications with OSC (Office of Special Counsel).”

The special counsel’s office declined to comment.

Legal experts said they were skeptical that the special counsel would be open to the Trump legal team’s requests.

WSJ’s Shelby Holliday looks at whether “executive privilege” can protect Trump allies from speaking to Congress and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Photo Illustration: Drew Evans/The Wall Street Journal.

“You can’t put a timeline on these things,” said Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor and an expert in government investigations. “Someone could walk in the door on the day before their proposed deadline and say, ‘I’ve got some information that’s going to blow your minds.’ … Mueller’s going to say, ‘Oh, too bad, the deadline’s tomorrow?’ ”

The special counsel has interviewed dozens of top White House officials and campaign aides, including the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and former chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Lawyers for Mr. Trump hold different views on whether he should testify and under what conditions. One member of the Trump legal team said last month that Mr. Trump’s testimony could set a bad precedent for future presidents, eroding their powers.

If Mr. Trump were to face detailed questions involving dates and times, his legal team may be reluctant to have him participate. As an example, general questions about what the president was thinking when he ordered the firing of Mr. Comey might be acceptable, as opposed to what action he took on a specific date and time.

Lawyers for Mr. Trump have studied federal court rulings that could be the basis for delaying or limiting the scope of an interview, or perhaps avoiding one altogether.

Appeared in the March 10, 2018, print edition as ‘Russia Probe Deal Sought.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-lawyers-seek-deal-with-mueller-to-speed-end-of-russia-probe-1520625944

Is That Russia Troll Farm an Act of War? In Russia, U.S. Fixation on Russian Meddling is a Laughing Matter

February 21, 2018

Russia Insider

  
According to the indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Russian trolls, operating out of St. Petersburg, took American identities on social media and became players in our 2016 election.

 

On divisive racial and religious issues, the trolls took both sides. In the presidential election, the trolls favored Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein and Donald Trump, and almost never Hillary Clinton.

One imaginative Russian troll urged Trumpsters to dress up a female volunteer in an orange prison jump suit, put her in a cage on a flatbed truck, then append the slogan, “Lock Her Up!”

How grave a matter is this?This Russian troll farm is “the equivalent (of) Pearl Harbor,” says Cong. Jerrold Nadler, who would head up the House Judiciary Committee, handling any impeachment, if Democrats retake the House.

When MSNBC’s Chris Hayes pressed, Nadler doubled down: The Russians “are destroying our democratic process.” While the Russian trolling may not equal Pearl Harbor in its violence, said Nadler, in its “seriousness, it is very much on a par” with Japan’s surprise attack.

Trump’s reaction to the hysteria that broke out after the Russian indictments: “They are laughing their (expletives) off in Moscow.”

According to Sunday’s Washington Post, the troll story is old news in Russia, where reporters uncovered it last year and it was no big deal.

While Mueller’s indictments confirm that Russians meddled in the U.S. election, what explains the shock and the fear for “our democracy”?Is the Great Republic about to fall because a bunch of trolls tweeted in our election? Is this generation ignorant of its own history?

Before and after World War II, we had Stalinists and Soviet spies at the highest levels of American culture and government.

The Hollywood Ten, who went to prison for contempt of Congress, were secret members of a Communist Party that, directed from Moscow, controlled the Progressive Party in Philadelphia in 1948 that nominated former Vice President Henry Wallace to run against Harry Truman.

Soviet spies infiltrated the U.S. atom bomb project and shortened the time Stalin needed to explode a Soviet bomb in 1949.

As for Russian trolling in our election, do we really have clean hands when it comes to meddling in elections and the internal politics of regimes we dislike?Sen. John McCain and Victoria Nuland of State egged on the Maidan Square crowds in Kiev that overthrew the elected government of Ukraine. When the democratically elected regime of Mohammed Morsi was overthrown, the U.S. readily accepted the coup as a victory for our side and continued aid to Egypt as tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members were imprisoned.

Are the CIA and National Endowment for Democracy under orders not to try to influence the outcome of elections in nations in whose ruling regimes we believe we have a stake?

“Have we ever tried to meddle in other countries’ elections?” Laura Ingraham asked former CIA Director James Woolsey this weekend.

With a grin, Woolsey replied, “Oh, probably.”

“We don’t do that anymore though?” Ingraham interrupted. “We don’t mess around in other people’s elections, Jim?”“Well,” Woolsey said with a smile. “Only for a very good cause.”

Indeed, what is the National Endowment for Democracy all about, if not aiding the pro-American side in foreign nations and their elections?

Did America have no active role in the “color-coded revolutions” that have changed regimes from Serbia to Ukraine to Georgia?

When Republicans discuss Iran on Capitol Hill, the phrase “regime change” is frequently heard. When the “Green Revolution” took to the streets of Tehran to protest massively the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, Republicans denounced President Obama for not intervening more energetically to alter the outcome.

When China, Russia and Egypt expel NGOs, are their suspicions that some have been seeded with U.S. agents merely marks of paranoia?The U.S. role in the overthrow of Premier Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, and of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, and of President Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon in 1963 are established facts.

When the democratically elected Marxist Salvador Allende was overthrown in Chile in 1973, and committed suicide with an AK-47 given to him by Fidel Castro, the Nixon White House may have had no direct role. But the White House welcomed the ascendancy of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

What do these indictments of Russians tell us? After 18 months, the James Comey-Robert Mueller FBI investigation into the hacking of the DNC and John Podesta emails has yet to produce evidence of collusion.

Yet we do have evidence that a senior British spy and Trump hater, Christopher Steele, paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign and DNC to dig up dirt on Trump, colluded with Kremlin agents to produce a dossier of scurrilous and unsubstantiated charges, to destroy the candidacy of Donald Trump. And the FBI used this disinformation to get FISA Court warrants to surveil and wiretap the Trump campaign.

Why is this conspiracy and collusion with Russians less worthy of Mueller’s attention than a troll farm in St. Petersburg?

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See also:
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Ex-CIA director: US meddles in foreign elections for a ‘very good cause’

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/374372-ex-cia-director-us-meddles-in-foreign-elections-for-a-good

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

February 17, 2018

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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James Clapper

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

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

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

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

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-russian-indictments-1518825574

Related:

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

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

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