Where Was the Senate Foreign Relations Committee When Obama Promised Putin He Would Have “More Flexibility” to Negotiate with Russia After His Re-election?

TRUMP - cyberhacking was under Obama and his administration did nothing

by Diane Rufino, July 27, 2018

Republican and Democratic Senators questioned Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, on Wednesday regarding President Trump’s foreign policy. On its face, it appears that our legislators are concerned as to what exactly is Trump’s policy – particularly with Russia.  But the more likely explanation is that they just want to embarrass and frustrate him in his role as president of the United States, and to plant the seed in the minds of the American people and maybe even the world audience that he doesn’t know what he is doing.

Secretary Pompeo testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where lawmakers eager and hungry to learn more about what Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked about in their two-hour private meeting last week in Helsinki, grilled him. It’s killing them that they don’t know exactly how Donald Trump’s brain works and how he continues to find success after success in his agenda and diplomacy.

As the Hill reported a day earlier: “Members of the Foreign Relations panel will ask whether Trump agreed to make any changes to international security agreements or if he gave any commitments about the future of the U.S. military presence in Syria. They will ask whether Trump pressed Putin on Russian violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty or on easing its nuclear posture toward U.S. allies in Europe. [And they will also ask] whether the president discussed relaxing sanctions approved by Congress last year that Trump reluctantly signed into law. (Although the Foreign Relations and Banking committees are considering additional penalties on Russia).”

Some Senators commented that the hearing would not only focus on the Helsinki summit, but also on North Korea (what is the status of diplomatic talks?), Trump’s decision in May to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal (and what will his next moves be), Trump’s trade deals (the scope of those trade deals; will American farming be harmed?; will there likely be a trade war?), and his boldness in criticizing our European allies (which they fear will erode trust within NATO).

But most believe the true target of the hearing was Trump’s private meeting with Putin. They are still angry: (1) first, that Trump chose to go ahead and meet with Putin even though Congress warned him not to go, and (2) second, that he was unable to profess complete confidence and trust, while the country and the world watched, in the American Intelligence Community as it relates to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Let us go back and look at the reason President Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It was not to scold him for meddling in our election, it was not to capitalize on an opportunity to threaten Russia about future attempts at meddling, and it was not to establish a relationship between the two administrations based on mistrust, disrespect, or skepticism. It was not a pissing contest, a chance to beat their chests, or a game of showmanship. The meeting was about establishing a relationship between the two world leaders and opening a respectable and productive dialogue between the two administrations for the sake of world peace and stability. It was about re-establishing a relationship that had chilled and drifted for many years. Some believe the relationship between the US and Russia was at an all-time low. President Trump was not about to accept that. In his mind and in his judgement, the meeting would concentrate on the positive and on achieving mutual benefits. “Constructive dialog between the United States and Russia affords us the opportunity to open pathways towards peace and stability in our world….”  These were the words he used in Helsinki.

He also made very clear his diplomatic mission when he told reporters, with Putin at his side:  “I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics. As president, I will always put first what is best for American and what is best for the American people.”

And so, at the press conference in Helsinki, President Trump chose not to make Russian meddling in our election (which, by every single account was minor – misleading political ads on Facebook and other social media – and which had absolutely no impact on the outcome of the election) a source of major contention or even a sore spot in what he hoped would be a new start for bilateral relations between the two great superpowers – the two countries that together, control over 90% of all the world’s nuclear weapons.

As Liz Peeks of FOX News commented: “Did anyone really expect him [Trump] to declare the Russian leader a liar on global TV? What would have been the point of traveling to Helsinki and arranging a summit between the world’s two biggest nuclear powers, only to scuttle the chance at a new and improved relationship? It wasn’t going to happen, and in fact Trump hinted at that beforehand, when he told reporters not to expect “a Perry Mason” moment.

He was also not going to give the duplicitous and scheming Democrats the “bone” that they wanted – a statement of confidence in the handling of the Russian interference investigation by the US Intelligence agencies. He knows how Democrats weasel around the truth; he knows that they would someone bring it up, purportedly as fact, that “Trump admitted that he has confidence in the findings of the FBI and DOJ that there was collusion between the Russians and his campaign during the 2016 election.”  The truth is that he has absolutely no reason to be confident in that investigation or in the affairs nefariously initiated within the intelligence agencies against him and his campaign.

That is why, at that moment in Helsinki, when asked by a reporter whether he holds Putin liable for any complicity in the 2016 US presidential election, President Trump was unable to make the statement that those at home hoped he would. He chose not to be confrontational. He chose not to be adversarial.

Jeff Mason, of Reuters asked President Trump:  “Mr. President, you tweeted this morning that it’s US Foolishness, stupidity and the Mueller probe that is responsible for the decline in US Relations with Russia. Do you hold Russia at all accountable for anything in particular? If so, what would you consider them that they are responsible for?”

Trump responded:

Yes, I do. I hold both countries responsibility. I think the United States has been foolish. I think we have all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time frankly before I got to office. I think we’re all to blame. I think that the United States now has stepped forward along with Russia. We’re getting together and we have a chance to do some great things, whether it’s nuclear proliferation in terms of stopping, we have to do it — ultimately, that’s probably the most important thing that we can be working on.

I do feel that we have both made some mistakes. I think that the probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart. It’s kept us separated. There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it. People are being brought out to the fore. So far that I know, virtually, none of it related to the campaign. They will have to try really hard to find something that did relate to the campaign. That was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily and, frankly, we beat her. And I’m not even saying from the standpoint – we won that race.  It’s a shame there could be a cloud over it. People know that. People understand it. The main thing — and we discussed this also — is zero collusion. It has had a negative impact upon the relationship of the two largest nuclear powers in the world. We have 90 percent of nuclear power between our two countries. It’s ridiculous what’s going on with the probe. It’s ridiculous.

The line “I think we’re all to blame” is the statement that immediately stood out to everyone during the press conference. According to CNN, of course, Trump’s statements amounted to an unprecedented refusal by a US president to believe his own intelligence agencies over the word of a foreign adversary and drew swift condemnation from across the partisan divide. Disgraced former FBI head, John Brennan, moronically characterized Trump’s comments as “high crimes and misdemeanors” and accused Trump of treason. And Congressional Democrats, as well as some Congressional Republicans, and advisers and commentators from both sides, have accused Trump of making a colossal diplomatic blunder by not using the opportunity at Helsinki to scold Putin.

Jonathan Lemire, a reporter with AP, asked Trump: “Just now President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every US intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. My first question for you, sir, is who do you believe? My second question is would you now with the whole world watching tell President Putin — Would you denounce what happened in 2016 and would you warn him to never do it again?’

Trump answered in these words:

So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the democratic national committee? I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server and what is the server saying? With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others and said they think it’s Russia.

I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server. But I have confidence in both parties. I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC? Where are those servers? They’re missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? 33,000 emails gone — just gone. I think in Russia they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails. So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that president Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. And what he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators, with respect to the 12 people. That’s an incredible offer. Thank you.

Putin asked to comment:

I’d like to add something to this. After all, I was an intelligence officer myself. And I do know how dossiers are made up. Just a second. That’s the first thing. Not the second thing. I believe that Russia is a democratic state and I hope you’re not denying this right to your own country, you’re not denying that United States is democracy. Do you believe the United States is a democracy? And if so, if it is a democratic state, then the final conclusion in this kind of dispute can only be delivered by a trial, by the court. Not by the executive, by the law enforcement.

For instance, the concord company that is brought up is being accused, it’s being accused of interference, but this company does not constitute the Russian state. It does not represent the Russian state. And I brought several examples before.

Well, you have a lot of individuals in the United States — take George Soros, for instance, with multibillion capitals, but it doesn’t make him — his position, his posture the posture of the United States. No, it does not. It’s the same case. There is the issue of trying a case in the court and the final say is for the court to deliver.

We are now talking about the individuals and not about particular states. And as far as the most recent allegations is concerned about the Russian intelligence officers, we do have an intergovernmental treaty. Please do send us the request. We will analyze it properly and we’ll send a formal response. As I said, we can extend this cooperation, but we should do it on a reciprocal basis. Because we would wait our Russian counterparts to provide us access to the persons of interests for us who we believe can have something to do with intelligence service.

Let’s discuss the specific issues and not use the Russia and US Relationship as a loose change for this internal political struggle.

Given what Trump has been subjected to since he has been a candidate for president, and especially being told that the FBI has a file on him colluding with Russia in the days leading up to his inaugural, the never-ending witch-hunt by Special Counsel Mueller, the raiding of offices and prosecutorial coercion of anyone related to him, and his own experience of being set up, framed, and relentlessly persecuted by the fatally-flawed entirely politically-biased American “intelligence community,” is it any wonder that given the choice, at the press conference, of which side to have greater trust and confidence in – a choice between ex-KGB agent Vladimir Putin and the rogue American intelligence agencies – that he preferred a more diplomatic answer?  As Sidney Powell of The Daily Caller wrote: “At that moment in Helsinki, Trump must have felt like the choice between Scylla and Charybdis. Either would destroy him, and no matter what he said, the Left would shriek the sky is falling yet again.”

Anyway, on board Air Force One, returning to Washington, President Trump sought to clarify his position at the summit, which he understood was not well-presented. He tweeted: “As I said today and many times before, “I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.” However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past — as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along!”

In assessing the success or lack of success of the summit, from a diplomatic point of view, taking into consideration the overall goal Trump sought to achieve, we would have to conclude that it indeed was a success. Paraphrasing what Ms. Connie Hanna wrote in her July 24 article, “Trump Report Card,” …..  What we saw from President Trump at the Helsinki summit was a successful example of American diplomacy, by a skilled and gracious national leader. The thawing of relations, as we were fortunate to witness, is certainly preferable to tension and conflict any day of the week!!

Nevertheless, with yesterday’s hearing, the Senate was clearly letting the American know that it has little confidence in Trump’s ability to conduct foreign policy, while at the same time throwing a collective hissy fit that he isn’t sharing details with them.

So, what ended up happening at Wednesday’s hearing?

Basically, Secretary clashed with Senators, from both sides, who really wanted to accuse President Trump of not knowing what he is doing and in particular, as they believe the Helsinki summit proved, of being soft on Putin. Luckily, the man who actually knows and who is privy to Trump’s policy agenda, firmly and strongly stood up for the president.

For example, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn), characterized Trump’s approach to diplomacy as a “ready, fire, aim” approach – as if he “wakes up every morning and makes it up as he goes.”  Pompeo responded that “this administration has been tougher than previous administrations” on Putin and that Trump plays a direct role in taking aggressive actions against Russia.

At one point he wanted to know why President Obama was never interrogated over his whispered message to Putin: “I’ll have more flexibility after the election.” [Of course, comparison to Obama only enraged the Committee].

In giving examples of how Trump and the White House are tough on Russia, Pompeo outlined a variety of measures taken by the Trump administration against Russia, including making lethal defensive weapons available to Ukraine (a move, by the way, that was resisted by the Obama administration), and the expulsion of dozens of Russian operatives from the US following the poisoning of a former agent. He also explained that the US condemns Russia’s annexation of Crimea and will never recognize the legitimacy of that annexation. In fact, as he said, there will be no relief of Crimea-related sanctions by the Trump administration until Russia returns control of the Crimean peninsula to the Ukraine.

Pompeo told the Committee that Trump threatened “severe consequences” for any future Russian meddling in America’s elections, even though his posture and words at Helsinki may not have reflected that position. And he reminded its members of President Trump’s very public opposition during the NATO talks to the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany, which he says poses national security risks to European countries by increasing their dependence on Russia.

Secretary Pompeo wasn’t going to be bullied by Sen. Corker, or the Committee: “Senator, I just disagree with most of what you have said. Somehow there is this idea that this administration is free-floating. This is President Trump’s administration. Make no mistake who’s fully in charge of this, and directing each of these activities that is causing Vladimir Putin to be in a very difficult place today.”

Pompeo was also asked a few questions regarding the status of negotiations with North Korea and the status of plans for denuclearization of the North Korean peninsula.  He answered: “We are engaged in patient diplomacy, but we will not let this drag out.”  And he also admitted, or confirmed, that North Korea continues to produce “fissile material” (needed for nuclear weapons) but would not confirm publicly whether or not Kim Jong Un has decided to continue to advance his country’s nuclear program.

All in all, Secretary Mike Pompeo stood his ground, took on the Senators, strongly defended President Trump and his administration’s policies abroad, and emphasized that Trump knows exactly what he is doing and that his approaches have been and continue to be successful for the good of the United States and for the world.

Now, the question that many are asking is this: Where was that same concern when President Obama was caught, luckily for the American people. on an open microphone, delivering a secret message to Putin – that he would have “more flexibility after the (2012) election” to negotiate with Russia?  Where was the grilling on Capitol Hill?  Where were the accusations of being soft on Russia?

We all remember this incident.

On March 27, 2012, while President Obama was taking part in a global nuclear security summit in South Korea, and he was caught on tape (open mic) asking Russian President (at the time) Dmitry Medvedev for “space.”  He was leaning over to Medvedev, and appearing to speak more secretly to him, said: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” He wanted this message to be conveyed to Vladimir Putin, which Medvedev assured he would do. His response was: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”

Last year, Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) was asked by Katy Tur of MSNBC if he thought Trump would be strong enough to stand up to Russia.  He said he was and then attempted to remind her of the “open mic” incident. She said she had no idea what he was talking about. He brought her up to speed.  As he said to Tur, in his opinion, the message President Obama was conveying was this: “Tell Putin I’ll have more flexibility to give him what he wants after the re-election.” Roomey further commented: “No one really ever pushed the president on what he meant like that, but I can only imagine for a thug like Putin, that it would embolden him.”

What did President Obama mean when he said “more flexibility”? Was he referring to his ability to deal with missile defense issues?  Did he intend to hint that he could negotiate more leniently or favorably to Russia without having to worry about the consequences at election time??

The language “more flexibility (when election consequences aren’t a concern)” should have peaked intense interest with our lawmakers.  More than anything Trump said, these words by Obama, to any reasonable person, would imply that he was willing to ignore or surrender US interests.

Here is a video of President Obama whispering to Medvedev over an open mic:   https://youtu.be/XsFR8DbSRQE

Where was the concern when President Obama broke with protocol and bowed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in 2009 at the G2 Summit?  Diplomatic protocol indeed decrees that presidents bow to no one, as it is a sign of weakness. Bowing is forbidden. In fact, there was great concern at the time of this outrageous “break in protocol,” particularly as rumors circled of his leanings toward Islam and his including Islamic groups as advisers in his administration. Even The Washington Times wrote that Obama’s greeting “belittled the power and independence of the United States” because he was “bending over to show greater respect to Islam.”

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President Obama also bowed later that year to Japanese Emperor Akhito and his wife. Dick Cheney, then the recently ex-Vice President, weighed in, in an interview with Politico: “There is no reason for an American president to bow to anyone. Our friends and allies don’t expect it, and our enemies see it as a sign of weakness.”

If there was such a significant and noteworthy break in diplomatic protocol, particularly to the leader of a Muslim country and to the leader of a country that once waged relentless and inhumane war against the United States, why didn’t the Senate Foreign Relations Committee follow up with questioning?

Also, where is the concern over the revelation, by Putin himself, that an operative (one Putin believes was arranged by the US) was sent to Russia to secretly donate to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Putin revealed this information in response to a question by Jeff Mason, a Reuters reporter. Mason asked:  “Why should Americans and why should President Trump believe your statement that Russia did not intervene in the 2016 election given the evidence that US Intelligence agencies have provided?  Will you consider extraditing the 12 Russian officials that were indicted last week by a US Grand jury?”

This was Putin’s response:

As to who is to be believed, who is not to be believed: you can trust no one. Where did you get this idea that President Trump trusts me or I trust him? He defends the interests of the United States of America and I do defend the interests of the Russian Federation. We do have interests that are common. We are looking for points of contact.

There are issues where our postures diverge and we are looking for ways to reconcile our differences, how to make our effort more meaningful. We should not proceed from the immediate political interests that guide certain political powers in our countries. We should be guided by facts. Could you name a single fact that would definitively prove the collusion? This is utter nonsense — just like the president recently mentioned. Yes, the public at large in the United States had a certain perceived opinion of the candidates during the campaign. But there’s nothing particularly extraordinary about it. That’s usual thing.

President Trump, when he was a candidate, he mentioned the need to restore the Russia/US relationship and it’s clear that certain parts of American society felt sympathetic about it and different people could express their sympathy in different ways. Isn’t that natural? Isn’t it natural to be sympathetic towards a person who is willing to restore the relationship with our country, who wants to work with us?

We heard the accusations about it. As far as I know, this company hired American lawyers and the accusations doesn’t have a fighting chance in the American courts. There’s no evidence when it comes to the actual facts. So we have to be guided by facts, not by rumors.

Now, let’s get back to the issue of this 12 alleged intelligence officers of Russia. I don’t know the full extent of the situation. But President Trump mentioned this issue. I will look into it.

So far, I can say the following. Things that are off the top of my head. We have an existing agreement between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, an existing treaty that dates back to 1999. The mutual assistance on criminal cases. This treaty is in full effect. It works quite efficiently. On average, we initiate about 100, 150 criminal cases upon request from foreign states.

For instance, the last year, there was one extradition case upon the request sent by the United States. This treaty has specific legal procedures we can offer. The appropriate commission headed by Special Attorney Mueller, he can use this treaty as a solid foundation and send a formal, official request to us so that we could interrogate, hold questioning of these individuals who he believes are privy to some crimes. Our enforcement are perfectly able to do this questioning and send the appropriate materials to the United States. Moreover, we can meet you halfway. We can make another step. We can actually permit representatives of the United States, including the members of this very commission headed by Mr. Mueller, we can let them into the country. They can be present at the questioning.

In this case, there’s another condition. This kind of effort should be mutual one. Then we would expect that the Americans would reciprocate. They would question officials, including the officers of law enforcement and intelligence services of the United States whom we believe have something to do with illegal actions on the territory of Russia. And we have to request the presence of our law enforcement.

For instance, we can bring up Mr. Browder in this particular case. Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned over $1.5 billion in Russia. They never paid any taxes. Neither in Russia nor in the United States. Yet, the money escapes the country. They were transferred to the United States. They sent huge amount of money, $400 million as a contribution to the campaign of Hillary Clinton. Well, that’s their personal case. It might have been legal, the contribution itself. But the way the money was earned was illegal. We have solid reason to believe that some intelligence officers, guided these transactions. So we have an interest of questioning them. That could be a first step. We can extend also it. Options abound. They all can be found in an appropriate legal framework.

Donald Trump, in everything he has done, with every act as president, with every one of his campaign promises and initiatives, and with every word he speaks as president, seeks to put American first as well as its businesses, its people, and its safety and to Make America Great Again.  Obama, clearly was a different president. He often apologized for America, apologized for its people, apologized for our history, undermined our interests, and made enemies out of ordinary American citizens over radical Islamists and other terrorist organizations.

Yet Congressional leaders refuse to accept his sincerity of purpose and his mastery in getting the job done. Always seeing the glass half empty, they continue to treat him like a school child, a bumbling buffoon.

Oh, the double standard.

Trump needs to fail before he earns their approval. He needs to fail before members of Congress will be willing to work with him rather than spend every waking moment resisting him.

To be fair to this story and to President Trump (after all, no one else is), and for the record, here is a refresher on some of the abuses of the Intelligence agencies under President Obama, Trump’s history with the American Intelligence Community and the Deep State entrenched there, and his experience of being set up, framed, and relentlessly persecuted by those who refuse to acknowledge his rightful election to the presidency:  [The following is taken from The Daily Caller article written by Sidney Powell, “Trump Has Been Set Up-Framed and Relentlessly Persecuted by the American Intelligence Community,” dated July 19, 2018]

  • Former CIA Director John Brennan, appointed by President Obama in 2013, had the CIA spying on members of Congress, and indeed, the entire Senate Intelligence Committee. One wonders if the mentality of J. Edgar Hoover has become firmly entrenched in the FBI, where American Intelligence gathers “information” on members of Congress and even the president and his family, to use as a means of coercion to get those members to conform to what the government expects. Chuck Schumer once described our intelligence community this way: “Cross our intelligence community and they have six ways from Sunday to pay you back.” That’s not an endorsement of trust, but rather of fear. (Perhaps Schumer knows more about that than he lets on). Brennan, by the way, is – and has been – an intense Trump-hater.
  • Then there’s Director of National Intelligence (DNI), James Clapper, the second Trump-hater, who recently departed from his position at the top of our national intelligence community. Clapper is the guy who had the NSA collecting all possible data on all Americans and then lied to Congress about it. Spying on Americans, and collecting their personal and private information is the most egregious use of our intelligence agencies. Mr. Powell refers to these agents as “petty men” who “peep about to find [themselves] dishonorable graves.”
  • Even more important, according to Mr. Comey’s own memos, which were leaked to the New York Times, combined with Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s “note to self” within minutes of Trump’s inauguration, we know that Brennan, Clapper, Obama, Comey, Rice, counter-terrorism advisor Lisa Monaco, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and Vice President Biden, met in the Oval Office just before Comey went to brief the president-elect. Not only did they decide to limit information about Russia to be shared with the incoming team, they dispatched Comey to set up Mr. Trump for the media explosion of the entire false narrative and Steele dossier.
  • On January 6, 2017, on instructions from Clapper, Comey met one-on-one with Mr. Trump in Trump Tower. Comey “executed the session just as [he] had planned.” He dropped the bombshell of only the “salacious” details of the Steele dossier. He ran to his car to write down the details of the conversation, then he reported to Clapper and possibly Brennan, one of whom leaked it to CNN. Comey’s briefing provided the very “news hook” they all knew the media wanted to run with the existence of the unverified, Clinton-bought-and-paid-for dossier.
  • That remarkable setup, by the highest members of our “intelligence community” and Obama himself, sparked the media firestorm of the Trump-Russia-collusion lie that has besieged the Trump presidency to this day. Indeed, that was its purpose, if not to trap Trump into action that Democrats could label as “obstruction of justice” and then use that as grounds for impeachment.
  • Don’t forget Peter Strzok — the FBI’s lead investigator for the “intelligence community”— hardly the epitome of trustworthiness. Strzok is the self-avowed despiser of Trump and any possible Trump supporter. Strzok is the epicenter of the Clinton email “investigation,” the Russia narrative, and the Mueller team until last July. Discoveries of his innumerable venomous expressions of hatred for the president “clouded” the Clinton email investigation and compelled his removal from the Special counsel team. Even more egregious conduct compelled his physical removal from the FBI.
  • And then there is this: James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, and Sally Yates, aided by others in the “intelligence community” more recently including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, obtained multiple FISA warrants to spy on members of the Trump team. All those applications were based primarily on the Clinton-bought-and-paid-for Steele dossier of lies.
  • We can’t forget Susan Rice. Susan Rice, Obama’s national security advisor, who tripled the unmaskings of Americans during 2016 — grossly abusing the government’s surveillance apparatus to target the political opposition.
  • Sally Yates, of course, used those unmaskings to set up General Michael Flynn who was simply doing his job. She got him fired from his new position as President Trump’s national security advisor, had FBI Agent Strzok ambush Flynn in an interview, and McCabe may have helped tee him up with false allegations for Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
  • And there’s more. As the chief judge of the super-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court found in an opinion heavily redacted but unclassified last year, the Obama/Comey/FBI’s rank abuses of raw surveillance data of Americans extend back to 2015 (when Trump announced—if not further). The court found egregious Fourth Amendment violations by the FBI and that it had given private contractors (probably Fusion GPS—Steele dossier creators—and Clinton-connected CrowdStrike) wrongful unlimited and unsupervised access to that data. The court so distrusted the FBI itself that it took access away from it, and NSA Director Admiral Rogers proceeded to eliminate the use of “about queries” completely.

Again, consider the position President Trump found himself, when asked by journalists whether he has complete confidence in our intelligence agencies. And in that reflection, ask yourselves if his response was worthy of the rebuke he got from Congress and worthy of the treacherous comments from potentially true traitors like John Brennan.

- 2018 (condo, July) (3)

References:

Alexander Bolton, “Pompeo Faces GOP Grilling on Russia, North Korea ,” The Hill, July 24, 2018. Referenced at:  http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/398703-pompeo-faces-gop-grilling-on-russia-north-korea

VIDEO:  Obama open mic slip: “After my election I have more flexibility.”  Referenced at:  https://youtu.be/XsFR8DbSRQE

Tim Harris, “MSNBC Host Can’t Remember When Obama Promised Putin Flexibility,” Real Clear Politics, February 20, 2017.  Referenced at:  https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/02/20/msnbc_host_cant_remember_when_obama_promised_putin_flexibility.html

Greg Re, “Pompeo Fights Back After GOP Sen. Corker Hits Trump for ‘Purposeful’ sowing of ‘Doubt and Distrust’,” FOX News, July 25, 2018.  Referenced at:  http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/07/25/pompeo-says-us-wont-recognize-russias-crimea-annexation.html

Sidney Powell, ”Trump Has Been Set Up-Framed and Relentlessly Persecuted by the American Intelligence Community,” The Daily Caller, July 19, 2018.  Referenced at: http://dailycaller.com/2018/07/19/trump-has-been-set-up-framed-and-relentlessly-persecuted-by-the-american-intelligence-community/    [Sidney Powell is a former federal prosecutor]

Liz Peeks, “Outrage over Trump, Putin Helsinki meeting – Did We Expect President to Call Putin a Liar on Global TV?,” FOX News, July 17, 2018.  Referenced at:  http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/07/17/liz-peek-trump-critics-predictably-melt-down-over-helsinki-summit.html

Staff, “What Trump and Putin Actually Said in Helsinki (TRANSCRIPT),” Foreign Policy News (FP News), July 16, 2018.  Referenced at:  https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/07/18/heres-what-trump-and-putin-actually-said-in-helsinki/

Jennie Neufeld, “Read the Full Transcript of the Helsinki Press Conference,” Vox, July 17, 2018.  Referenced at:  https://www.vox.com/2018/7/16/17576956/transcript-putin-trump-russia-helsinki-press-conference

Kenneth Rapoza, “What Reporters in Helsinki Asked Trump and Putin,” Forbes, July 16, 2018.  Referenced at:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2018/07/16/what-reporters-in-helsinki-asked-trump-and-putin/#65ce0d093e25

Jeremey Diamond, “Trump Sides with Putin Over US Intelligence,” CNN, July 16, 2018.  Referenced at:  https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/16/politics/donald-trump-putin-helsinki-summit/index.html

Constance Hanna, “Trump Report Card,” The Daily Compass, July 24, 2018. [Connie Hanna does a weekly update on President Trump in The Daily Compass]

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House Intelligence Committee Votes to Release Nunes’ Memo

DEVIN NUNES

by Diane Rufino, Jan. 30, 2018

“One of the worst things a government can do is to use law enforcement as a political weapon, our Founding Fathers about that exact situation.” – Tucker Carlson

This article reviews the origin of the Nunes’ Memo and the decision of the House Intelligence Committee to allow it to be made public.

The infamous Nunes’ Memo is a 4-page memorandum written by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairman of the US House Intelligence Committee, outlining a series of Obama-era abuses of the executive branch’s surveillance authorities, including on ordinary American citizens, under federal law by the Justice Department, specifically the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The memorandum is the culmination of an investigation undertaken by the Committee, as announced on January 25, 2017, to investigate the unmasking of classified government information, as well as Russian meddling and any connections to political campaigns. The US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), created in 1977, is a committee of the House of Representatives, essentially tasked with the oversight of the entire Justice Department and more. It is officially charged with oversight of the United States Intelligence Community, which includes the intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the following seventeen elements of the executive branch of the US government and the Military Intelligence Program – including Homeland Security, FBI, CIA, Director of National Intelligence, State Department, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency, DEA, Treasury Department, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corp.

Last evening, the House Intelligence Committee voted to release the Nunes’ Memo. Currently, the memo is sitting with President Trump. Although the president now has five working days to review the 4-page memo and voice any objections to its release, it seems most likely that he will give his blessing. Republicans who have read the memo have described its severity as “Watergate on steroids” and “earth-shattering.” Tucker Carlson tweeted: “Several Republicans who have seen the memo say it exposes massive and terrifying abuses of our civil liberties, presumably committed for political gain.”

Unless and until we read the document, or otherwise find out what revelations it contains, what we do know is that there is definitely enough for at least one criminal conviction.

What we have learned so far, as Carlson explained on his show last evening, is that Andrew McCabe, who coincidently announced his resignation yesterday as well, is the subject of at least one internal DOJ investigation potentially linking him to politically-motivated abuses of power. DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz has been in investigating politically-motivated conduct at the Bureau during the 2016 presidential election. Is the investigation the reason McCabe resigned? Is there something in the memo that prompted it?

We also know that one subject of the FISA warrants by the Justice Department was Carter Page, affiliated with the Trump campaign as a foreign policy adviser. The Obama DOJ argued before a FISA judge that Page was “an active agent of a hostile foreign government (Russia)” – that is, a Russia spy or operative. As we know now, that claim was ridiculous and fabricated. No evidence has ever surfaced to even suggest it might be true. Besides, if he were a real suspect, why wasn’t he investigated or arrested? Instead, he is a frequent guest on MSNBC. Yet on the basis of that fraudulent, fabricated claim, the Justice Department was able to surveille the Trump campaign and Page. And then when the Obama administration to expand its surveillance, again centering on Page, it relied on information contained in the now-discredited Russian dossier, requested and paid-for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC (of which she had final control of its finances, per a contract agreement), and maybe even the federal government.

There are extremely good reasons for Nunes and his staff to create a summary of abuses, including: (1) There has been a severe erosion in public confidence in the US Department of Justice, a department that has historically been considered the most impartial, objection, effective law enforcement agency in the world; (2) There has been the overwhelming appearance that the Justice Department had become politically-motivated and intent on protecting Democratic political elites over ordinary Americans, and (3) The American people believe they are entitled to, and deserve, to know when their government is abusing its powers (they want transparency!).

The main questions that We the People need answered are:

•    Were associates of President Trump, members of his campaign, or even Trump himself, subjected to foreign-intelligence surveillance (i.e., do the FISA applications name them as either targets or persons whose communications and activities would likely be monitored)? Loading ad Was information from the Steele dossier used in FISA applications?

•    If Steele-dossier information was so used, was it so central that FISA warrants would not have been granted without it?

•    If Steele-dossier information was so used, was it corroborated by independent FBI investigation?

•    If the dossier’s information was so used, was the source accurately conveyed to the court so that credibility and potential bias could be weighed (i.e., was the court told that the information came from an opposition-research project sponsored by the Clinton presidential campaign)?

•    The FBI has said that significant efforts were made to corroborate Steele’s sensational claims, yet former director James Comey has acknowledged (in June 2017 Senate testimony) that the dossier was “unverified.” If the dossier was used in FISA applications in 2016, has the Justice Department — consistent with its continuing duty of candor in dealings with the tribunal — alerted the court that it did not succeed in verifying Steele’s hearsay reporting based on anonymous sources?

[This list of questions comes from: Andrew C. McCarthy, “The Clamor Over the Nunes’ FISA-Abuse Memo,” Washington Review]

Why was the Memo created?

First of all, we must remember the reason for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) – to find out if hostile foreign governments are spying on, trying to influence our institutions, or otherwise seeking to do harm to our country. FISA was expanded after 9/11 to help in the war on terrorism. FISA proceedings are classified, and applications for surveillance warrants from the FISA court typically include information from classified sources – informants who spy at great risk to themselves, intelligence techniques (e.g., covert surveillance), etc. Disclosing such applications and/or the underlying intelligence reporting on which they are based could thus jeopardize lives, national security, and other important American interests. Thus, the problem: How do we convey important information without imperiling the sources and methods through which it was obtained?

Congress addressed that problem by prescribing a process for dealing with such potentially classified information by passing the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA). There are various remedies: Sometimes the classified information can be declassified and disclosed without causing danger; sometimes the classified information can be redacted without either jeopardizing sources or compromising our ability to grasp the significance of what is disclosed. When neither of those solutions is practical, the preferred disclosure method is to prepare a declassified summary that answers the relevant questions without risking exposure of critical intelligence secrets and sources. (See CIPA section 4 — Title 18, U.S. Code, Appendix.)

The preparation of a summary (ie, Memorandum) is a routine and sensible way of handling the complicated tension between the need for information and accountability, on the one hand, and the imperative of protecting intelligence, on the other. Conforming to House rules, Chairman Nunes has taken pains to make his memo available to all members of Congress before proceeding with the steps necessary to seek its disclosure. Interesting, outside the Committee, 190 Republican members of Congress have read the memo while only a dozen Democrats have bothered to read. Yet every Democrat, to the man, has expressed opposition to its release. Without reading it, they contend that it is misleading and partisan, and a stunt designed to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, or at least distract attention from its subject matter – Russian interference in the 2016 election. They demanded that a memo drafted by the Democrat members of the House Intelligence Committee be made public. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) led that effort, but the Committee voted it down.

Congressman Nunes is a smart guy, and he clearly knows he will look very foolish if he plays fast and loose with the facts. It is in his interest not to do that, and the careful way he has gone about complying with the rules, rather than leaking classified information, as Trump’s opponents have been, wont to do suggests that his memo will prove to be a fair representation of the underlying information. On that last point, it would be hard to imagine a more one-sided partisan screed than the Steele dossier. Democrats seem to have had no hesitation about using it as a summary of purported Trump collusion with Russia. The Justice Department and the FBI are reportedly angry that, after they complied with the Intelligence Committee’s demand that they make classified and investigative materials available for inspection, Nunes will not permit the FBI to inspect his memo summarizing that information before moving to disclose it. The irony here is rich. These executive-branch agencies did not cooperatively comply with congressional investigators; they stonewalled for five months. To this day they are stonewalling: Just this past weekend, they belatedly fessed up that the FBI had failed to preserve five months’ worth of text messages (including between key characters Peter Strzok and Lisa Page), something they had to have known for months. An American who impeded a federal investigation the way federal investigators are impeding congressional investigations would swiftly find himself in legal jeopardy – obstruction of justice.

Moreover, it is not like the Justice Department and FBI did Nunes a favor and are thus in a position to impose conditions; Congress is entitled to the information it has sought in its oversight capacity. There is no Justice Department or FBI in the Constitution; rather, these agencies are part of the executive branch, created by statute. Congress created them, they are dependent on Congress for funding, and Congress has a constitutional obligation to perform oversight to ensure that the mission they are carrying out – with taxpayer support and under statutory restrictions – is being carried out appropriately. Republicans tend to be favorably disposed toward law enforcement’s preferences. They would surely have preferred to have non-confrontational interactions with vital executive agencies led by Republican appointees of a Republican president. Indeed, most Republicans are puzzled by the lack of cooperation – by the failure of the White House to direct the president’s subordinates to comply with congressional requests for information about potential abuses of power carried out under the prior, Democratic administration. This is a reciprocal business. If the Justice Department and FBI want accommodations, they have to exhibit cooperation – they have do the little things, like maybe remember that congressional subpoenas are lawful demands, not suggestions or pleas. On the record thus far, the committee has every reason to believe that submitting the Nunes memo for review by the Justice Department and FBI will result in more delay and foot-dragging. Clearly, there is a strategy to slow-walk compliance in hopes that events – such as, say, a midterm-election victory that returns the House to Democratic control – will abort congressional investigations of the investigators. Nunes is wise not to play into that strategy. As he knows, if the House ultimately moves to declassify and publicize information, the chamber’s rules require giving the president five days’ notice. (See Congressional Research Service, “The Protection of Classified Information: The Legal Framework” page 3 and note 23.) Thus, the Justice Department and FBI will have an opportunity to both review the memo and try to persuade the president to oppose disclosure. There’s no reason to hold up the works at this point. [This paragraph comes in most part from Andrew C. McCarthy’s article, “The Clamor Over the Nunes’ FISA-Abuse Memo”]

As Tucker Carlson said: “One of the worst things a government can do is to use law enforcement as a political weapon.” But perhaps the worst thing it can do is to collude – that is, to use its greatest resources – in order to influence a political election and assure a certain outcome. That would deny We the People of our most precious guarantee: “a government of the people, by the people, for the people” (or as the Declaration of Independence promises: “government among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..”). A government that can influence elections destroys our constitutional republic and creates a government established by a political party for political elites who never have to live under the laws it passes.

In the coming week, or perhaps even next week, the 4-page Nunes memo should be read into the Congressional Record for all to hear and all to access. We already know the allegations and crimes are far more troubling than the underlying crimes committed in the Watergate scandal. The questions will be: How will the Democrats react to its wrong-doing and complicity in the constitutional crisis of our time? How will Congress respond to the wrongdoing and how will it attempt to repair the reputation of the US Department of Justice? How will the liberal media treat the accusations and crimes? And perhaps most importantly: How will voters react in the mid-term elections this November?

Timeline of Events Leading up to the Nunes’ Memo: [From: Philip Bump, “A Complete Timeline of the Events Behind the Memo That Threatens to rip D.C. in Two,” The Washington Post]

Sep. 11-12, 2012. Terrorists attack two American facilities in Benghazi, Libya, killing four people including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

Feb. 1, 2013. Hillary Clinton steps down as secretary of state. During her tenure, she used a private email address for department business, hosted on a server located at her home in Chappaqua, N.Y.

June. Carter Page, an energy industry consultant, is interviewed by the FBI after it records a Russian agent, Victor Podobnyy, discussing a plan to hopefully leverage a relationship with Page to get information. “It’s obvious that he wants to earn lots of money,” Podobnyy allegedly said of Page. [No evidence and no information obtained by the FBI investigation was able to show that such a plan really existed or was ever discussed personally with Page]

July 29. James B. Comey becomes director of the FBI, replacing Robert S. Mueller III.

May 8, 2014. The House votes to establish a select committee to investigate the attacks at Benghazi and any failures of Clinton‘s State Department to prevent them.

2015

March 2. The New York Times reports that Clinton used a private email account during her time as secretary of state. The revelation came after the Benghazi committee requested records of communications between Clinton and her staff.

March 11. Jill McCabe, wife of FBI then-associate deputy director Andrew McCabe, announces her candidacy for the Virginia state Senate. McCabe begins the process of resolving any conflicts within the FBI that day. April 12. Clinton announces her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination.

June 16. Donald Trump announces his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.

Summer. Hackers believed to be linked to the Russian Federal Security Service access the servers of the Democratic National Committee. This is one of the first overt acts the Russians take as part of what American intelligence officials come to believe is an attempt to influence the results of the 2016 election.

July. The State Department inspector general alerts the FBI’s counterintelligence office that classified information was being stored on Clinton‘s private server. The FBI initiates an investigation. Among those involved in the investigation is an agent named Peter Strzok.

Autumn. The conservative website Free Beacon hires a firm called Fusion GPS to investigate Republican candidates for the presidency, including Trump.

October. A PAC called Common Good VA, tied to Terry McAuliffe, then Virginia’s governor, makes several large donations to Jill McCabe’s campaign, as it does to other Democrats seeking office.

Nov. 3. McCabe loses her bid for the state Senate.

2016

Feb. 1. Andrew McCabe is promoted to the position of deputy director. In that role, he assumes responsibility for the Clinton email server investigation.

March 4. FBI agent Strzok texts with an FBI attorney named Lisa Page (not related to Carter), with whom he’s involved in an extramarital affair. Among the texts are a series, following a Republican primary debate, in which Strzok calls Trump “an idiot” and says that Clinton should win “100,000,000 – 0.” (He later jokes that he may vote for Trump because “he was pretty much calling for death for Snowden.” He adds: “I’m a single-issue voter…. Espionage Machine Party.”)

The texts continue for the duration of the campaign and include disparagement of Trump by Strzok as a “f—ing idiot.”

March 21. During a conversation with The Post, Trump announces his foreign-policy team, including Page and an energy consultant named George Papadopoulos.

April. With Trump‘s nomination all but inevitable, Fusion GPS approaches the Clinton campaign and the DNC about continuing its research into Trump. Marc Elias, a lawyer representing the two organizations, hires the firm.

April 26. Papadopoulos is told by a contact with connections to the Russian government that it has “dirt” on Clinton in the form of emails. The next month, Papadopoulos mentions this during a conversation with an Australian diplomat.

May 26. Trump clinches the Republican nomination.

June 6. Clinton secures the Democratic nomination.

June 15. The first documents stolen from the DNC are released, including a party opposition research file on Trump.

June 20. Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer hired by Fusion GPS, files the first of 17 reports that, together, will come to be known as the “dossier.” The first report focuses on what Steele describes as Russian efforts to “cultivate” Trump and suggests that the Russians have dirt on both presidential candidates.

Early July. Steele, after consulting with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson, reaches out to the FBI about what he has heard.

July 2. Clinton is interviewed by the FBI.

July 5. Comey announces that the FBI has completed its investigation and that he would not recommend charges against Clinton, despite “evidence of potential violations.”

July 7. Page travels to Moscow with the campaign’s approval to give a speech.

July 19. Steele writes a report alleging that Page met with high-ranking Russians during his trip to Moscow. At some point in this period, Steele writes an undated memo outlining allegations from an “ethnic Russian close associate” of Trump that the campaign is conspiring with Moscow.

July 22. Shortly before the Democratic convention begins, WikiLeaks starts releasing more emails stolen from the DNC.

July. After receiving a tip from the Australian diplomat apparently spurred by WikiLeaks’ release of material stolen from the DNC, the FBI begins a counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling, including any connections between the Trump campaign and Russian agents.

Summer. At some point, without information or evidence to support the claim (the FBI interview/ investigation yielded nothing), the FBI obtains a warrant to surveil Page. The secret warrant is authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

Sep. 21. Former New York congressman Anthony Weiner, husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, is accused of sexually explicit online interactions with a minor.

Late September or early October. Steele again meets with an FBI contact in Rome.

Early October. FBI agents investigating the Weiner allegations find emails on one of Weiner’s computers that were sent using Clinton‘s private server to and from Huma Abedin.

Oct. 7. The government issues an unusual warning about attempts by Russian actors to influence the election.

That same day, WikiLeaks begins releasing emails stolen from the email account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Oct. 23. Trump tweets out a Wall Street Journal article about the contributions that McCabe‘s wife received.

McCabe becomes a fixture in Trump‘s stump speeches about the corruption of Washington.

Oct. 28. Comey informs Congress about the discovery of the new emails and indicates that they are being assessed to determine if they include classified information or are otherwise pertinent to the email server investigation.

Oct. 31. The New York Times reports that the FBI doesn’t see a clear link to Russia. According to later testimony from Fusion GPS‘s Simpson, this alarms Steele and prompts him to cut off contact with the Bureau. There had reportedly been some discussion about the FBI paying Steele for his research, which didn’t come to fruition, though the Bureau did reimburse Steele for some of his expenses.

Nov. 6. Comey announces that the new emails don’t change the FBI’s position on charges against Clinton.

Nov. 8. Trump wins the presidential election.

Dec. 13. Steele writes the last of the dossier’s reports, dealing with an alleged trip to Prague by Trump Organization lawyer Michael Cohen to contact Russian actors. Cohen denies that he took such a trip.

2017

Jan. 6. Comey, along with other intelligence officials, travel to Trump Tower to brief Trump on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Comey briefs Trump on the dossier.

Jan. 20. Trump is inaugurated as president.

Jan. 24. National security adviser Michael Flynn is interviewed by the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador the previous month.

Jan. 25. The House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), announces its intent to investigate Russian meddling and any connections to political campaigns.

Jan. 26. The Trump White House learns that Flynn provided information to the FBI that conflicts with what Vice President Pence was saying publicly.

Jan. 27. Trump invites Comey to dinner at the White House. Comey later testifies under oath that Trump asked him for his loyalty during that meeting.

Feb. 8. Jeff Sessions is confirmed as attorney general.

Feb. 14. At another meeting in the White House, Trump indirectly asks Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn, who had resigned the previous day.

March 2. After it is revealed that he had provided inaccurate information about his contacts with Russian officials during his confirmation hearing, Sessions recuses himself from anything involving the Russia investigation.

March 4. Trump, spurred by a Breitbart report, alleges on Twitter that the administration of Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower prior to the election.

March 20. The House Intelligence Committee holds a hearing in which it takes testimony from Comey and the head of the National Security Agency. It is at this hearing that Comey publicly reveals the existence of the investigation into meddling and Trump’s campaign. During the hearing, Comey also denies that Trump was the focus of wiretapping.

March 21. Nunes is invited to the White House complex to view information about surveillance of people associated with Trump‘s campaign. At least some of the intelligence was collected by surveilling foreign agents, which would normally mean that Americans whose communications were “incidentally” collected — meaning they were not the targets of the surveillance — would not be identified. (There are restrictions on surveillance of American citizens that do not apply to foreign individuals.) Nunes is shown “unmasked” intelligence — meaning that this anonymity has been removed. Some of the intelligence appears to involve Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador. *** Nunes‘s visit is not revealed until several days later.

March 22. Nunes holds a news conference accusing the Obama administration of unmasking the names of Trump transition team members even though the intelligence is not related to the Russia investigation. He does not indicate how he learned about this unmasking — a term that becomes central to Trump‘s defense of his tweets about having been wiretapped.

April 6. Nunes recuses himself from the Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation after the House Ethics Committee announces that it is investigating whether he made an unauthorized disclosure of classified information.

April 25. Rod J. Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney for Maryland since his appointment under George W. Bush, is confirmed as deputy attorney general following a nomination from Trump. With Sessions’ recusal, this effectively puts Rosenstein in charge of the FBI’s Russia investigation.

May 9. Trump fires Comey, citing as his rationale a report from Rosenstein criticizing Comey‘s handling of the investigation into Clinton‘s email server. (Trump later tells NBC’s Lester Holt that he was thinking about “this Russia thing” as he contemplated axing Comey.) With Comey out, McCabe becomes the acting director of the FBI.

May 10. Trump reportedly calls McCabe to chastise him for allowing Comey to return to D.C. on an FBI-owned plane after being fired.

May 12. Apparently responding to a Times story detailing Trump‘s request for loyalty from Comey, Trump tweets out a threat. This inspires Comey to ask a friend to leak information to the Times about Trump‘s request to let the Flynn investigation go. That story, implying an attempt to obstruct the investigation, runs on May 16. (Trump later accuses Comey of leaking classified information, an allegation that is not supported by the available evidence.)

May 17. Rosenstein, as acting lead on Russia following Sessions’ recusal, appoints Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russian meddling and any links to the Trump campaign. Strzok and Lisa Page are both included on Mueller‘s team.

July. Mueller learns about the Strzok-Page texts. Page has already left his team; Strzok is reassigned.

Aug. 1. Christopher A. Wray is confirmed as director of the FBI.

Aug. 22. Fusion GPS‘s Simpson testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sep. 1. Nunes, despite his recusal, sends a letter on behalf of the House Intelligence Committee to Sessions claiming that the Department of Justice has been slow to respond to subpoena requests.

Oct. 24. The Post reports that the Steele dossier was funded by the DNC and the Clinton campaign.

Oct. 30. Mueller‘s team charges Trump‘s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, with conspiracy and money laundering. The team also reveals that Papadopoulos has admitted lying to the FBI and has apparently been cooperating with the investigation.

Dec. 1. In documents released by Mueller‘s team, Flynn admits lying to the FBI.

Dec. 2. The Strzok-Page texts are reported by The Post.

Dec. 7. Nunes is cleared of wrongdoing by the Ethics Committee on charges that he revealed classified information. This was the predicate for his recusal from the Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation.

2018

Jan. 4. In a letter to Rosenstein, Nunes suggests that his committee is expanding its investigation to include the Department of Justice’s handling of the Russia investigation itself.

Jan. 9. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) releases the transcript of Simpson’s Senate testimony.

Mid-January. Staffers for Nunes compile a four-page document summarizing classified information to argue that the FBI abused its power in its investigation of Trump‘s campaign. While the document is not public, it appears to argue that the FISA warrant issued for Page relied on information compiled by Steele, implying that the warrant should not have been issued and, apparently, that the process for requesting it was tainted by politics.

Jan. 18. Republicans and their allies — particularly in the media — rally around the memo, arguing that it should be released to the public.

Jan. 23. Axios reports that Sessions, at Trump‘s behest, had been pressuring FBI Director Wray to fire McCabe. In response, Wray reportedly threatened to quit.

Jan. 24. The Justice Department, which was not allowed to view the memo, warns the House Intelligence Committee that releasing it without allowing the FBI and Justice to review its contents would be “extraordinarily reckless,” risking the sources and methods used to collect the information underlying the information it contains.

Jan. 28. Wray is allowed to review the memo. Politico reports that Wray was told he could flag any concerns. Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) tells the outlet that Wray informed him that his concerns about the release of the memo were not entirely addressed.

Jan. 29. McCabe leaves his position as deputy director of the FBI effective immediately. Wray suggests that McCabe‘s early departure (he was scheduled to retire later this year) was in part a function of an upcoming inspector general’s report about the Clinton email investigation. The Times reports that Trump’s interest in the memo may stem in part from his belief that it casts Rosenstein in a negative light, since Rosenstein approved a request to renew the Page warrant after taking office last year. Rosenstein, as lead on the Russia investigation, is the only person directly authorized to fire Mueller.

Jan. 29, evening. The House Intelligence Committee votes, along party lines, to release the memo.

References:
Andrew C. McCarthy, “The Clamor Over the Nunes’ FISA-Abuse Memo,” Washington Review, January 25, 2018. Referenced at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/455757/release-the-memo-lets-see-in-it

Zack Beauchamp, “The Real Reason the Nunes Memo Matters,” VOX, January 30. 2018. Referenced at: https://www.vox.com/world/2018/1/30/16950782/numes-memo-release

Tucker Carlson, FOX News, January 29, 2018. Referenced at YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBpZ2wLcOfw

Philip Bump, “A Complete Timeline of the Events Behind the Memo That Threatens to rip D.C. in Two,” The Washington Post, January 30, 2018. Referenced at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2018/01/30/a-complete-timeline-of-the-events-behind-the-memo-that-threatens-to-rip-d-c-in-two/?utm_term=.05c6da3df6e6

Give Trump a Chance

- at school (Feb. 28, 2017)

By Diane Rufino, March 18, 2017

I’m tired of the insane talking points and reactions to everything President Trump is doing. I’m tired of the messages and texts from people who accuse me of being some horrible person for supporting the election of Trump and his policies of tax reform, healthcare reform, trade deal reform, job creation, immigration enforcement and increased homeland security. Everyone who voted for Trump saw the necessity for these policies. And guess what, most of America (through the electoral system) agreed with him and rejected the decaying policies of the Democratic party and it spokesperson, the deeply-flawed Hillary Clinton. It indeed was a revolution of sorts, accomplished by a momentous turn-out at the ballot box and a major shift in ideology by a good chunk of the American people. Government wasn’t working for them.

The dishonest news better get on board and start paying allegiance to the ones it was granted first amendment protection in the first place – the American people….. not a political party and not the federal government. They need to start reporting objectively and accurately and start recognizing the legitimate concerns of the people and not the goals of the Democratic Party or the progressive movement. Otherwise, let them organize as a PAC. Progressive judges need to read the Constitution, understand it, and stop trying to be a branch of government that they are not. People need to show respect for the results of 2016 election because that was the voice of their fellow citizens. The election was extremely significant in what it stood for. All anyone needs to do is to take a look at a breakdown of the election county-by-county across the 50 states. Again, it was a grassroots revolution…. a unified message that government is corrupt, bloated, antagonistic to the interests of business and taxpayers alike, unfit to protect the American people and manage who comes across our borders, and incapable of putting the interests of American citizens before the interests of other groups.

Give President Trump a chance. Sit back and enjoy the increase in jobs. People who have jobs can support themselves and their families and can live productive lives with dignity and self-respect. Sit back and enjoy the lower taxes you’ll have to pay (if you are, in fact, one of the ones who pay). Sit back and watch how greater homeland security will make you feel safer. Sit back and watch how a common-sense immigration policy will reduce the burden on our social services, provide jobs for citizens, and reduce the violence in our communities. Sit back and enjoy the lower healthcare insurance premiums that you will have to pay. Sit back and enjoy decreased federal regulations that used to strangle small businesses, burden agriculture, increase costs of energy, lower the efficiency of public education, and lessen the personal use and enjoyment of our real property. Give him a chance. Maybe you’ll see that, in fact, the good and decent people of the United States got it right and that the people’s revolution was a good thing after all.

Let’s not forget the words of President John F. Kennedy: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

TRUMP - thumbs up

If Only We Could Silence the Dishonest Liberal Media

media-dishonest   by Diane Rufino, October 8, 2016

The liberal media makes me sick. Eleven years ago, Donald Trump engaged in some locker room talk about women. Eleven years ago!! And all the liberal media could talk about last night and today is about how unqualified this makes him to serve as president and he should bow out of the race. Is this a bunch of bullshit or what? By what perceived authority does it dare make this suggestion? How does it have the audacity to pass judgement on Trump when it has allowed every scandal, every allegation, and every accusation roll off of Hillary Clinton as if she was made of teflon? The dishonest liberal media is not only off its rocker but it has clearly overstepped its bounds. The roots of the corruption in government are grounded in the dishonest media.

Sixteen years ago, Hillary Clinton called women who had sexually assaulted by her husband, been forced to make acquaintance with his little willy, and been demeaned by his unwanted advances, kisses, touches, etc all kinds of horrible names — trailer trash, bimbos, looney tunes, and more. She threatened, smeared, and targeted all the women who came forward to bolster the accusation of Paula Jones that her husband had a tendency to sexually harass and violate women. Bill Clinton – President Clinton – treated woman as mere sex objects. These women who came forward had been harmed, demeaned, intimidated by a man and then again by a woman – a woman with great political and government power. Linda Tripp, a woman who came forward with evidence to support Monica Lewinsky’s involvement with President Clinton was hit especially hard. She was ridiculed so badly by Bill and Hillary as being an unattractive woman that her face became a laughing stock by the media. It was deplorable how she was treated and how badly she suffered for coming forward. She ended up going under the knife to change her appearance.

Where is the liberal media on this? I mean, eleven years isn’t much different from sixteen years. Unlike Donald Trump, Hillary’s conduct sunk so much deeper after those years rescuing her husband from the likes of “bimbos.” Her ethics, morality, integrity, trustworthiness, candor, duty to country, her finances, her ability to follow the laws duly enacted by the government, and her ability to discern right from wrong have eroded year after year until she has become what she is today — a serial liar, a compulsive opportunist, and a career criminal who has been lucky enough to elude prosecution only because of her political connections.

Donald Trump should turn the tables on the liberal media. He should insist that the media cease its reporting until after the election because of its serious violations of journalistic integrity and its abuse of the First Amendment protections it is afforded. The liberal media is sickening. It continues to PRETEND it is the custodian of “serious journalism” while it constantly erodes any modicum of standards that the people once had believed it held themselves to. The days of honest and respectful journalism are gone. The important role the media once held in society – to investigate and report the news in an even-handed and unbiased fashion in order that the American people can use their own minds to form an opinion and a position – is gone. Now, the liberal media merely spews the poison from the progressive elites in government and from the Democratic party. It so badly wants to go from being an outlet of information to the voice of indoctrination. There once was a time when it was assumed that the American people had the good sense to think for themselves. Today’s liberal media thinks otherwise. It knows that most Americans don’t want to think for themselves, at this point are incapable of it, and are content enough just to hear talking points.

The day Americans want to think for themselves… the day they want a better existence than they’ve been used to these past several years… the day they want to live a dignified and honorable life by working an honest job to support themselves and raise their families… the day they believe that government has no rightful position or right to dictate and mandate the details of their lives, their businesses, and their property…. and the day they put personal interests aside for the greater good of the country and the future of their children in order that they can live safe, prosperous, and without the unfair inheritance of a national debt they didn’t help create will be the day that the United States begins to heal itself and gets back on the path of good health and prosperity.

And so the issue isn’t the locker-room antics of a hormonal man eleven years earlier. The greater issue is the compulsive and relentless bias of the liberal media who cares more about a political agenda than the well-being of the American people. If only the media did, in fact, cease its indoctrination and its relentless shenanigans to assure a Crooked Hillary victory on election day, every voter might actually “snap out of” the spell that they’ve been under and once and for all take stock of their lives, their status, their hopes, their unrealized dreams, and their sufferings and dare to look at this presidential election for what it is REALLY all about – about the chance to change course in the United States and return the country to the people. It is the first chance in a very very long time when the power to exercise our God-given rights to live secure and free can be wrangled from government. It is NOT about the flaws of a very mortal man.

My fellow Americans, USE YOUR HEADS. Love your country. Love your children. They both deserve better than Hillary Clinton. We should all be afraid of her designs for government, the back-door promises she has made donors to her campaign (including to the Clinton Foundation), her appointments to the Supreme Court, and her control over our lives and destiny. She may have avoided consequences of her actions but as president she’ll make sure that we don’t.

flag-sweater

Diane Rufino