Posts Tagged ‘Steele dossier’

Trump shares quote ripping Brennan: ‘This guy is the genesis of this whole debacle’

May 21, 2018

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President Donald Trump on Monday shared a quote from a former Secret Service agent and conservative commentator, Dan Bongino, who slammed former CIA director John Brennan.

By MALLORY SHELBOURNE
The Hill

“’John Brennan is panicking. He has disgraced himself, he has disgraced the Country, he has disgraced the entire Intelligence Community. He is the one man who is largely responsible for the destruction of American’s faith in the Intelligence Community and in some people at the……..top of the FBI.” Trump wrote on Twitter.“Brennan started this entire debacle about President Trump. We now know that Brennan had detailed knowledge of the (phony) Dossier…he knows about the Dossier, he denies knowledge of the Dossier, he briefs the Gang of 8 on the Hill about the Dossier, which…….they then used to start an investigation about Trump,” the president added.

While Trump was using Bongino’s comments, he added in his own commentary by labeling the controversial dossier as “phony.”

“It is that simple. This guy is the genesis of this whole Debacle. This was a Political hit job, this was not an Intelligence Investigation. Brennan has disgraced himself, he’s worried about staying out of Jail.’ Dan Bongino,” Trump said.

The president appeared to be loosely quoting Bongino from an appearance he made early Monday on “Fox & Friends.”

Bongino hosts his own podcast, called “The Dan Bongino Show,” and has unsuccessfully run for the House and Senate several times. He is also a host for NRATV.

Brennan, who served as the CIA chief during former President Barack Obama’s second term, has publicly criticized Trump.

“Mr. Trump: Your hypocrisy knows no bounds. Jim Clapper is a man of integrity, honesty, ethics, & morality. You are not,” Brennan wrote on Twitter late last month, referring to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

“Jim Clapper served his country for over a half century, including in Vietnam. You did not. By your words & behavior, you diminish the Office of the Presidency.”

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http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/388586-trump-shares-quote-ripping-brennan-this-guy-is-the-genesis-of-this
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Don’t blame Trump for running out of patience with Mueller

May 20, 2018

Breaking News: President Trump is a patient man. That may sound shocking, but consider the evidence.

Nearly 15 months have passed since Trump dropped a bomb on law enforcement and the intelligence agencies. Early in the morning of March 4, 2017, he tweeted, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is ­McCarthyism!”

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By Michael Goodwin
New York Post
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He was immediately denounced as a crackpot paranoid and the media Praetorian Guard defenders of Barack Obama demanded that Trump apologize to their Dear Leader.

No apology was forthcoming, ­although the White House suggested the quotation marks around “wires tapped” gave the president wiggle room on what exactly he meant. That turned out to be an important distinction amid mounting evidence that something very dirty took place, although the precise details of what, when and how remain maddeningly murky to this day.

The drip-drip-drip of evidence included reports that Paul Manafort, briefly Trump’s campaign boss, was wiretapped by the FBI. It also included the fact that Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, was picked up on wiretaps aimed at a Russian ambassador.

There is also the tale of Carter Page, a distant star in the Trump galaxy whose phone calls and ­e-mails were intercepted under an order of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court.

Along the way, we learned of the extreme bias against Trump by top members of the FBI and CIA during the Obama years, including reference to an “insurance plan” in the event he won the election. Suspicions of a “deep state” were bolstered by a torrent of insider leaks and the unmasking of the names of innocent Americans picked up by foreign surveillance, patterns that revealed members of the “resistance” movement held key jobs in the government even after Trump fired James Comey as head of the FBI.

As shocking as these developments were, they are being eclipsed by new reports. In recent days, credible evidence emerged showing there was another level of surveillance on the Trump campaign that involved either an insider talking to the FBI or a paid spy trying to entrap aides into committing wrongdoing.

The Washington Post and The New York Times, the conduit of nearly all anti-Trump law-enforcement leaks, are spinning the story as something other than what it obviously is: proof that members of the Obama administration targeted the Trump campaign in one of the dirtiest political tricks in American history.

As for the claim that Trump is a patient man, it is true the president uses Twitter to express anger at these developments and to complain that much of the media is trying to hide the facts instead of reveal them.

But other than using the bully pulpit and his First Amendment rights, the president has not used the considerable power he has to reveal the truth. He could declassify nearly all the government documents showing what the FBI, the CIA and others did in the early days of the investigation into his campaign, before special counsel Robert Mueller picked
it up a year ago.

Trump could, for instance, order the release of the documents used to obtain the surveillance warrant on Page. That would resolve the issue of the role played by the Russian dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and whether the FBI told the court that Hillary Clinton’s campaign financed Steele’s work.

Trump could also order the release of documents detailing whether the FBI paid Steele, and what role, if any, the supposed drunken chatter of former aide George Papadopoulos had in launching the probe in the first place.

That the president hasn’t dropped any of these bombs is all the more remarkable when you consider the arrogant obfuscation taking place at the Department of Justice. Congressional subpoenas and Freedom of Information requests aimed at getting the material are routinely slapped down as top officials at DOJ and the FBI take the astonishing position that the legislative branch’s constitutional oversight role is limited by their simple say-so.

Many documents that were released were so heavily redacted that the only reasonable conclusion is that officials are hiding facts so as not to embarrass themselves and their institutions.

Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who created Mueller, even attacked members of Congress who threatened to impeach him for his stonewalling stance.

Those people, Rosenstein told reporters, “should understand by now, the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.”

His defense of secret police powers is a defense of a secret police force operating outside political accountability. And it’s all happening at a cabinet department run by Trump’s own attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

As I argued long ago, Sessions’ appointment was Trump’s most costly mistake. Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from anything having to do with the 2016 campaign, despite Trump’s order not to do so, set in motion Rosenstein’s appointment of Mueller and gave oxygen to the partisan attempt to undermine and even upend the presidency.

That Sessions and Rosenstein still have their jobs is another example of Trump’s patience. Although the president has considered firing both, as well as Mueller, he hasn’t done it, perhaps because he has been warned he would pay a heavy political price and that many Republicans in Congress would abandon him.

Nonetheless, I believe the president is running out of patience. Like Kilauea, the Hawaiian volcano that smoked and belched before erupting, Trump gives signs he is gearing up for a war to save his presidency.

His new tone toward Mueller, voiced most frequently by Rudy Giuliani after joining the president’s legal team, is a prime example. Giuliani is focused on the many conflicts of interest involving Mueller, who headed the FBI under Obama, and the members of his prosecuting team who ­donated to Hillary Clinton or ­supported Democrats.

The former New York City mayor has disputed Mueller’s powers to indict or subpoena a sitting president and refuses to commit the president to the interview Mueller requested.

Although Giuliani has looked rusty and unprepared at times, Trump likes his bruising style and can point to polls showing declining public support for Mueller.

I also believe Trump will overrule Sessions and Rosenstein on the document issues. He has publicly berated them and urged them to speed up the release, but they haven’t given much ground. Unless they act, he must so the public can learn to what extent the Obama team corrupted the government in a bid to stop Trump and hand the White House to Clinton.

As for the timing of any Trump actions, reports of a spy in his campaign could speed up events. In a recent tweet, the president cited the reports before adding: “If so, this is bigger than Watergate.”

Tick tock, tick tock.

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WSJ: The FBI Hid A Mole In The Trump Campaign

May 11, 2018

On Wednesday we reported on an intense battle playing out between House Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (D-CA), the Department of Justice, and the Mueller investigation concerning a cache of intelligence that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein refuses to hand over – a request he equated to “extortion.”

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On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that Nunes was denied access to the information on the grounds that it “could risk lives by potentially exposing the source, a U.S. citizen who has provided intelligence to the CIA and FBI.

After the White House caved to Rosenstein and Nunes was barred from seeing the documents, it also emerged that this same intelligence had already been shared with Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 US election.

On Wednesday afternoon, however, news emerged that Nunes and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) would receive a classified Thursday briefing at the DOJ on the documents. This is, to put it lightly, incredibly significant.

Why? Because it appears that the FBI may have had a mole embedded in the Trump campaign.

In a bombshell op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Kimberly Strassel shares a few key insights about recent developments. Perhaps we should start with the ending and let you take it from there. Needless to say Strassel’s claims, if true, would have wide ranging implications for the CIA, FBI, DOJ and former Obama administration officials.

Strassel concludes: 

“I believe I know the name of the informant, but my intelligence sources did not provide it to me and refuse to confirm it. It would therefore be irresponsible to publish it.”

Authored by Kimberley Strassel, op-ed via The Wall Street Journal,

About That FBI ‘Source’

Did the bureau engage in outright spying against the 2016 Trump campaign?

The Department of Justice lost its latest battle with Congress Thursday when it allowed House Intelligence Committee members to view classified documents about a top-secret intelligence source that was part of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. Even without official confirmation of that source’s name, the news so far holds some stunning implications.

Among them is that the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation outright hid critical information from a congressional investigation. In a Thursday press conference, Speaker Paul Ryan bluntly noted that Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’s request for details on this secret source was “wholly appropriate,” “completely within the scope” of the committee’s long-running FBI investigation, and “something that probably should have been answered a while ago.” Translation: The department knew full well it should have turned this material over to congressional investigators last year, but instead deliberately concealed it.

House investigators nonetheless sniffed out a name, and Mr. Nunes in recent weeks issued a letter and a subpoena demanding more details. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s response was to double down—accusing the House of “extortion” and delivering a speech in which he claimed that “declining to open the FBI’s files to review” is a constitutional “duty.” Justice asked the White House to back its stonewall. And it even began spinning that daddy of all superspook arguments—that revealing any detail about this particular asset could result in “loss of human lives.”

This is desperation, and it strongly suggests that whatever is in these files is going to prove very uncomfortable to the FBI.

The bureau already has some explaining to do. Thanks to the Washington Post’s unnamed law-enforcement leakers, we know Mr. Nunes’s request deals with a “top secret intelligence source” of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. When government agencies refer to sources, they mean people who appear to be average citizens but use their profession or contacts to spy for the agency. Ergo, we might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.

This would amount to spying, and it is hugely disconcerting. It would also be a major escalation from the electronic surveillance we already knew about, which was bad enough. Obama political appointees rampantly “unmasked” Trump campaign officials to monitor their conversations, while the FBI played dirty with its surveillance warrant against Carter Page, failing to tell the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that its supporting information came from the Hillary Clinton campaign. Now we find it may have also been rolling out human intelligence, John Le Carré style, to infiltrate the Trump campaign.

Which would lead to another big question for the FBI: When? The bureau has been doggedly sticking with its story that a tip in July 2016 about the drunken ramblings of George Papadopoulos launched its counterintelligence probe. Still, the players in this affair—the FBI, former Director Jim Comey, the Steele dossier authors—have been suspiciously vague on the key moments leading up to that launch date. When precisely was the Steele dossier delivered to the FBI? When precisely did the Papadopoulos information come in?
And to the point, when precisely was this human source operating? Because if it was prior to that infamous Papadopoulos tip, then the FBI isn’t being straight. It would mean the bureau was spying on the Trump campaign prior to that moment. And that in turn would mean that the FBI had been spurred to act on the basis of something other than a junior campaign aide’s loose lips.

We also know that among the Justice Department’s stated reasons for not complying with the Nunes subpoena was its worry that to do so might damage international relationships. This suggests the “source” may be overseas, have ties to foreign intelligence, or both. That’s notable, given the highly suspicious role foreigners have played in this escapade. It was an Australian diplomat who reported the Papadopoulos conversation. Dossier author Christopher Steele is British, used to work for MI6, and retains ties to that spy agency as well as to a network of former spooks. It was a former British diplomat who tipped off Sen. John McCain to the dossier. How this “top secret” source fits into this puzzle could matter deeply.

I believe I know the name of the informant, but my intelligence sources did not provide it to me and refuse to confirm it. It would therefore be irresponsible to publish it. But what is clear is that we’ve barely scratched the surface of the FBI’s 2016 behavior, and the country will never get the straight story until President Trump moves to declassify everything possible. It’s time to rip off the Band-Aid.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-05-10/wsj-fbi-hid-mole-trump-campaign

Related:

Related (Wall Street Journal):

Was the FBI Outright Spying On The Trump Campaign?

May 11, 2018

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There’s no doubt that the “swamp” in Washington was stunned, enraged and even left fearful by the 2016 election of Donald Trump to the Oval Office. And individuals reacted in their shock.

 

Examples are galore.

Take, for instance, fired FBI Director James Comey, who took documents from private meetings with the president and gave them to a friend to give to a reporter so they would be publicized – and, he hoped, trigger a special counsel investigation.

And it’s known now that one of the main documents used by the government to give to a court as evidence so that they could start spying on the Trump campaign was a hired political hit piece done by a contractor for a company paid off by Hillary Clinton.

Now talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh is suggesting that, based on the evidence that’s become available, the Deep State may have had a spy infiltrate the Trump campaign.

“These swamp people are so in the vapors with all of this – I think they’re so shocked and stunned over everything that’s happened – that they have long since abandoned any rationality whatsoever,” he said.

“I actually believe the FBI planted an informant in the Trump campaign – before Mueller was appointed, obviously,” he said

He cited three recent publications in coming to his conclusion.

The first was a column by Kimberley Strassel, of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, which made the point “that the Trump legal team is narrowly focused, that they’re focused on defending and protecting Trump and what they need to be focused on is defending and protecting the Constitution and the presidency and the executive branch – and in doing so, they will take care of Trump.”

Her theory, he explained, is that the attack being sustained by Trump critics isn’t an attack on him, “it’s an attack on the Constitution.”

“It is an attempt to say that any president exercising his constitutional duties is obstructing justice! He can’t fire Comey, that’s obstructing justice? That’s bogus! Her point is, the Constitution permits him control of the executive branch! He can do with anybody in the executive branch what he wants! He can declassify any file that he wants! He could make sure that we all could see the FISA warrant application. He could release everything; nobody could stop him. Her point is actually very good, that any president exercising his constitutional duties cannot be guilty of obstruction.”

Second, for Limbaugh, was a Washington Post report that Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., is seeking information from the Justice Department about “an individual who people close to the matter say is a sensitive, longtime intelligence source for the CIA and FBI.”

Justice has refused to provide any information on the “U.S. citizen who has aided the special counsel investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign.”

Third was a Wall Street Journal report that commented on that very source.

“I would not be surprised if, in fact, the FBI planted an informant in the Trump campaign in order to try to prove this Russia collusion business,” Limbaugh said Thursday.

He noted Nunes’ demands for documents and information – and the Justice Department’s refusal.

He explained that one of the reports suggests that reporters already know who the “top secret” source is.

He noted the description as a “U.S. citizen,” who has been an informant for both “the CIA and FBI,” and has provided information that was given to Mueller.

“So the Journal editorial claims the Post already knows who this source is – and if they do, why can’t Nunes? Well, Nunes learning somehow would violate national security,” he said.

The claims include that outing the source could “damage relationships with other countries,” but Limbaugh said “only if the source is a foreign citizen, but we know now the source isn’t.”

“The source is a U.S. citizen, so outing the source would not damage relationships with other countries unless this source has also been involved in screwing other countries. But it suggests that the source has worked overseas. If they’re gonna claim that a U.S. citizen cannot be outed here because it might damage relationships other countries, it means he has worked overseas. Suggests it, anyway,” he continued.

Further, Limbaugh added, “And the story says the ‘role of the intelligence source’ could further provoke Republicans who have accused Justice and the FBI of engaging in ‘misuse of their surveillance power,” and, here we go, ‘hinting that the government may have used the source to snoop on the Trump campaign’”

“There it is. So it’s a pretty safe bet that the FBI planted an informant in the Trump campaign. Nunes wants to know who it is; the DOJ says, ‘No way, Jose!’” he said.

“If they had an informant in that campaign who was supposed to find the collusion and they still don’t have it? I mean, look at what we’re learning. They had an informant in the campaign, and they still don’t have any evidence!”

Further, he pointed out that Glenn Simpson, of Fusion GPS, which hired Christopher Steele to create the so-called dossier allegedly about Trump, testified in 2017 that “the FBI had a source in the Trump campaign.”

“Simpson claimed it was ‘a voluntary source,’ meaning it wasn’t a plant, meaning somebody on the Trump team decided to become an informant against Trump,” Limbaugh said.

His conclusion?

“This is the FBI more than likely planting an informant inside the campaign. Just remember, if they had somebody that nobody knew was there looking for this collusion and still didn’t find it, then what the hell is going on with this investigation?”

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2018/05/rush-did-fbi-plant-spy-in-trump-campaign/#ptRzvem2GOqhfCmO.99

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Related (Wall Street Journal):

About That FBI ‘Source’

May 11, 2018

Did the bureau engage in outright spying against the 2016 Trump campaign?

The Department of Justice lost its latest battle with Congress Thursday when it allowed House Intelligence Committee members to view classified documents about a top-secret intelligence source that was part of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. Even without official confirmation of that source’s name, the news so far holds some stunning implications.

Among them is that the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation outright hid critical information from a congressional investigation. In a Thursday press conference, Speaker Paul Ryan bluntly noted that Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’s request for details on this secret source was “wholly appropriate,” “completely within the scope” of the committee’s long-running FBI investigation, and “something that probably should have been answered a while ago.” Translation: The department knew full well it should have turned this material over to congressional investigators last year, but instead deliberately concealed it.

House investigators nonetheless sniffed out a name, and Mr. Nunes in recent weeks issued a letter and a subpoena demanding more details. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s response was to double down—accusing the House of “extortion” and delivering a speech in which he claimed that “declining to open the FBI’s files to review” is a constitutional “duty.” Justice asked the White House to back its stonewall. And it even began spinning that daddy of all superspook arguments—that revealing any detail about this particular asset could result in “loss of human lives.”

 

This is desperation, and it strongly suggests that whatever is in these files is going to prove very uncomfortable to the FBI.

The bureau already has some explaining to do. Thanks to the Washington Post’s unnamed law-enforcement leakers, we know Mr. Nunes’s request deals with a “top secret intelligence source” of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. When government agencies refer to sources, they mean people who appear to be average citizens but use their profession or contacts to spy for the agency. Ergo, we might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.

This would amount to spying, and it is hugely disconcerting. It would also be a major escalation from the electronic surveillance we already knew about, which was bad enough. Obama political appointees rampantly “unmasked” Trump campaign officials to monitor their conversations, while the FBI played dirty with its surveillance warrant against Carter Page, failing to tell the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that its supporting information came from the Hillary Clinton campaign. Now we find it may have also been rolling out human intelligence, John Le Carré style, to infiltrate the Trump campaign.

Which would lead to another big question for the FBI: When? The bureau has been doggedly sticking with its story that a tip in July 2016 about the drunken ramblings of George Papadopoulos launched its counterintelligence probe. Still, the players in this affair—the FBI, former Director Jim Comey, the Steele dossier authors—have been suspiciously vague on the key moments leading up to that launch date. When precisely was the Steele dossier delivered to the FBI? When precisely did the Papadopoulos information come in?

 

Image result for George Papadopoulos, photos

George Papadopoulos

And to the point, when precisely was this human source operating? Because if it was prior to that infamous Papadopoulos tip, then the FBI isn’t being straight. It would mean the bureau was spying on the Trump campaign prior to that moment. And that in turn would mean that the FBI had been spurred to act on the basis of something other than a junior campaign aide’s loose lips…

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And to the point, when precisely was this human source operating? Because if it was prior to that infamous Papadopoulos tip, then the FBI isn’t being straight. It would mean the bureau was spying on the Trump campaign prior to that moment. And that in turn would mean that the FBI had been spurred to act on the basis of something other than a junior campaign aide’s loose lips.

We also know that among the Justice Department’s stated reasons for not complying with the Nunes subpoena was its worry that to do so might damage international relationships. This suggests the “source” may be overseas, have ties to foreign intelligence, or both. That’s notable, given the highly suspicious role foreigners have played in this escapade. It was an Australian diplomat who reported the Papadopoulos conversation. Dossier author Christopher Steele is British, used to work for MI6, and retains ties to that spy agency as well as to a network of former spooks. It was a former British diplomat who tipped off Sen. John McCain to the dossier. How this “top secret” source fits into this puzzle could matter deeply.

I believe I know the name of the informant, but my intelligence sources did not provide it to me and refuse to confirm it. It would therefore be irresponsible to publish it. But what is clear is that we’ve barely scratched the surface of the FBI’s 2016 behavior, and the country will never get the straight story until President Trump moves to declassify everything possible. It’s time to rip off the Band-Aid.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/about-that-fbi-source-1525992611

Lisa Page resigns — FBI agent who bashed Trump in texts, and damaged the FBI’s reputation

May 6, 2018

Lisa Page, who was implicated in the Department of Justice Inspector General’s probe into official misconduct during the Clinton and Trump investigations, stepped down on Friday. She’d been reassigned to a less powerful position in recent months.

The DNC Wants A Refund From Hillary Clinton

May 2, 2018

The Democrats want a refund from Hillary Clinton — and they want her to go away, too.

Apparently, Clinton is still cashing in off her failed 2016 campaign.

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Instead of just donating her campaign email list to the Democratic National Committee, her organization Onward Together is charging the DNC $1.6 Million for access to it. Even Barack Obama gave his email list to the DNC as an in-kind contribution back in 2015, and his list was valued at $1.9 million!

Does Clinton not realize the DNC is “dead broke,” like $6 million in the red? The DNC recently took out another $2 million dollar loan just to to keep its operation running as usual.

Keeping the DNC in debt says a lot about the Clinton organization. The Democrats are desperate for funds for the 2018 midterm elections, yet the Clintons won’t step in and help their own party.
It’s the least they could do, considering the DNC rigged the primary for Hillary.

Follow Stephanie Hamill on Twitter

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http://dailycaller.com/2018/05/01/dnc-refund-hillary-clinton/

Trump slams former intel chief Clapper: ‘Lying machine’

April 29, 2018

Former FBI Director on Steele Dossier “It was funded first by Republicans.” — Funded by the DNC? — “I still don’t know that for a fact.” (Drug Addicts are told this is “denial”)

April 27, 2018

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Former FBI Director James Comey asserted Thursday evening that he did not know beyond news reports that Hillary Clinton‘s campaign had paid for research that led to a dossier of unverified allegations about President Trump‘s ties to Russia.

.@BretBaier: “When did you learn that the DNC and @HillaryClintonhad funded Christopher Steele’s work?”@Comey: “I still don’t know that for a fact.”#SpecialReport pic.twitter.com/LxK4MSO045

— Fox News (@FoxNews) April 26, 2018

“When did you learn that the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign had funded Christopher Steele’s work?” Fox News anchor Brett Baier asked Comey on “Special Report,” referring to the dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

“I still don’t know that for a fact,” Comey responded. “I’ve only seen it in the media. I never knew exactly which Democrats had funded. I knew it was funded first by Republicans.”

“That’s not true,” Baier interjected, referring to funding by Republicans.

“My understanding is that his work started…as oppo research funded by Republicans,” Comey maintained, adding the activity was “then picked up by Democrats opposed to Donald Trump.”

The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative publication, confirmed to the House Intelligence Committee in October that it originally funded the Trump project through the opposition research firm Fusion GPS.

The project until that point had focused on researching multiple Republican presidential candidates and was not looking at collusion with Russia, the Free Beacon said.

The Free Beacon maintained that none of the work product it received from Fusion GPS appeared in the dossier and the publication said it did not pay for any work performed by Steele, suggesting he became involved after the publication stopped funding the project.

The unverified dossier compiled by Steele contains salacious details about Trump’s 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant.

Democrats argue the dossier provides a framework into Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, while Republicans say the document is politically motivated.

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http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/385112-comey-asserts-republicans-first-paid-for-steele-dossier

How Trump Takes On Obstruction — Time to reset the Russia dynamic — The real threat is to the Constitution—to this presidency and every future one

April 27, 2018

Focus on the threat to the powers of the presidency, not the president personally.

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at the White House, April 24.
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at the White House, April 24. PHOTO: POOL/GETTY IMAGES
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President Trump vociferously protests his innocence as Robert Mueller finishes the first year of his Russia investigation. Still, the endless Tweet bleats of “PHONY” and “WITCH HUNT” are doing little to help his cause.

The question is why this high-energy president seems to have fallen for the media claim that his only proactive course is to fire Mr. Mueller. It isn’t. There are two very bold actions the Trump White House could take to .

Both would aid Mr. Trump’s presidency and serve the executive branch and the public in the longer term.

The first is an abrupt overhaul of the president’s legal team and strategy. Mr. Trump has talented lawyers, but not ones skilled at confronting the threat at hand. They continue to fret over his personal liability, when the real threat is to the Constitution—to this presidency and every future one. Mr. Mueller is by all accounts now focused on obstruction of justice. Mr. Trump needs constitutional powerhouses who can swiftly take that issue off the table.

Constitutional lawyer David Rivkin in December argued on these pages that a president’s exercise of the powers of his office cannot legitimately be construed as obstruction of justice. Among those powers are the right to direct law enforcement and to fire executive-branch appointees at will. Whether or not Mr. Trump’s conversations with former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, or his firing of Mr. Comey, were wise, Mr. Trump was exercising rightful powers. If Congress believes he abused his office, it has the power to impeach. If Congress had the authority to criminalize the exercise of presidential power, or the judiciary to question a president’s motives, the separation of powers would be severely threatened.

Already we are seeing the obstruction narrative threaten other core powers. We are now told it is obstructionist for a president to use his pardon power, as Mr. Trump did with Joe Arpaio and Scooter Libby. We are told that Mr. Trump is obstructing justice by ordering the attorney general to cooperate with congressional document demands. And Team Trump needs to understand that the mere specter is enough to constrain the presidency; Mr. Mueller doesn’t need to bring a charge.

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Which is why the president needs a team that focuses on the Constitution, decoupling its defense of Mr. Trump’s presidential powers from his personal legal risk. Example: The president’s lawyers are currently resisting a Mueller interview for fear the president might perjure himself. The correct grounds for refusing should be that the president will not parlay with any special prosecutor engaged in an unconstitutional obstruction probe. He needs a team that immediately goes to federal court to obtain a declaratory judgment that presidents cannot obstruct justice while exercising core powers. This legal clarification is crucial, to pre-empt any Mueller charge or even report. It’s also necessary to make clear that should the House impeach on obstruction, it will not be doing so on grounds that the president violated criminal law.

Simultaneous to legal overhaul, the White House should immediately order the declassification (with redactions for sources and methods) of every underlying document in the Justice Department and FBI counterintelligence probe, including any paper at the State Department, Central Intelligence Agency and any other agencies that were involved. Everything. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants. Emails. Texts. The interviews with dossier author Christopher Steele. The story of how exactly the FBI came into possession of info about Trump aide George Papadopoulos. Details of any as yet undisclosed FBI spying on the Trump campaign.

Mr. Trump’s advisers have warned him off this transparency, on the grounds—yet again—that such a release might be construed as obstructing the Mueller probe. To repeat: The president has ultimate authority over classification, and no exercise of that constitutional power can be obstruction. Even the few documents the public has seen—the Comey memos, the Peter Strzok-Lisa Page texts, a glimpse of one FISA warrant—have created a compelling case that the FBI and Justice Department in 2016 abused their power.

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Yes, there are risks of a worrisome declassification precedent. But they are outweighed by the gravity of the threat to the executive branch and the potential loss of faith in law enforcement. The nation has the right to the full story now—to understand better how we ever got to a special counsel, and to put Mr. Mueller’s ultimate findings in context.

The media and anti-Trump elites have created a false choice: that Mr. Trump must either sit back and take it, or go on a firing rampage. He has better options. He can define the terms of this debate and defend the executive branch. And he can enlighten the country. But his time for doing so productively is growing very short.

Write to kim@wsj.com.

Appeared in the April 27, 2018, print edition.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-trump-takes-on-obstruction-1524784790

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