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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It’s Worse Than Watergate

SURVEILLANCE - Nixon v. Obama

by Diane Rufino, Feb. 4, 2018

The Nunes Memo highlights just how easy it is to spy on an American citizen, and even a candidate for the highest office of the land, when the administration in DC is politicized enough and when it becomes corrupted by political ambition. This should scare everyone.

I. WATERGATE –

Richard Nixon won the presidency in 1968 in a tight contest with Democratic nominee, Hubert H. Humphrey. During that election, he ran as a moderate candidate, pledging to end the war in Vietnam with honor and to make a clean break from the controversial administration of Lyndon Johnson, his predecessor. By 1972, Nixon remained popular with most Americans and was expected to defeat his opponent, Senator George McGovern.

On June 17, 1972, two police officers responded to a report of a break-in at the Watergate, a hotel and office complex in Washington, D.C. where many political professionals lived and worked. That year, it was also the home of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). When the police arrived and entered the fifth-floor offices of the DNC, they surprised five men carrying surveillance devices they were trying to attach to the office phones. One of the men was James McCord, a former employee of the CIA and a Republican Party aide. In the address books of two of the burglars, police found the name H. Howard Hunt, a former CIA employee who, at the time, was associated with the White House. Over time, it became clear that Hunt was part of a group nicknamed the ‘Plumbers,’ because they stopped political leaks and who’d been conducting a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign against the Democrats for over a year. Their activities included canceling Democratic rallies, spying on candidates, and stealing confidential files.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened in the greatest presidential scandal in U.S. history:

• On June 17, 1972, McCord and four other men working for the Committee to Re-Elect the President (or CREEP — really) broke into the Democratic Party’s headquarters in the Watergate, a hotel-office building in Washington, D.C. They got caught going through files and trying to plant listening devices. Five days later, Nixon denied any knowledge of it or that his administration played any role in it.
• The burglars went to trial in 1973 and either pled guilty or were convicted. Before sentencing, McCord wrote a letter to Judge John Sirica, contending that high Republican and White House officials knew about the break-in and had paid the defendants to keep quiet or lie during the trial
• Investigation of McCord’s charges spread to a special Senate committee. John Dean, a White House lawyer, told the committee McCord was telling the truth and that Nixon had known of the effort to cover up White House involvement.
• Eventually, all sorts of damaging stuff began to surface, including evidence that key documents linking Nixon to the cover-up of the break-in had been destroyed, that the Nixon reelection committee had run a “dirty tricks” campaign against the Democrats, and that the administration had illegally wiretapped the phones of “enemies,” such as journalists who had been critical of Nixon.
• In March 1974, former Attorney. General John Mitchell and six top Nixon aides were indicted by a federal grand jury for trying to block the investigation. They were eventually convicted.
• While Nixon continued to deny any involvement, it was revealed he routinely made secret tapes of conversations in his office. Nixon refused to turn over the tapes at first, and when he did agree (after firing a special prosecutor he had appointed to look into the mess and seeing his new attorney general resign in protest), it turned out some of them were missing or had been destroyed. (They were also full of profanity, which greatly surprised people who had an entirely different perception of Nixon.)
• In the summer of 1974, the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment against the president for obstructing justice.

The Watergate scandal hinged on a pivotal question posed by U.S. Senator Howard Baker during a senate hearing: ‘What did the President know, and when did he know it? While it has never been proven that Nixon knew about the planning of the break-in or even of the break-in itself when it happened, it was his part in the cover-up that sealed his fate. The tapes clearly showed Nixon had been part of the cover-up. On August 8, 1974, he submitted a one-sentence letter of resignation, and then went on television and said, “I have always tried to do what is best for the nation.” He was the first and, so far, only U.S. president to quit the job.”

II. THE SURVEILLANCE (FISA) ABUSES UNDER THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION –

SURVEILLANCE - FBI Spying (under Obama)

In a nutshell, the surveillance abuses under the Obama administration arose and played out as follows:

Timeline of Events:

January 2013: At an energy conference in New York, Carter Page, who founded an investment company in New York called Global Energy Capital, attended an energy conference (in New York), where he meet Victor Pobodnyy, later determined to be a Russian intelligence agent. Page provided documents to Pobodnyy about his energy business, thinking he was a businessman who could help with brokering deals in Russia. This was according to court documents. The two exchange contact information and have several more meetings discussing energy policy.

[A brief history of Carter Page: After growing up in New York and spending a few years in the navy in the late 1990’s, Page completed a few graduate degrees in International Relations and in Business. Then for most of the 2000’s, he worked at the investment banking firm Merrill Lynch, where he focused on investments related to Russia and Eastern Europe. His work led him to move to Moscow from 2004 – 2007, and it entailed advising Gazprom, the majority Russia state-owned oil firm, on deals. Soon afterwards, he moved back to the US, left Merrill, and went into business for himself, advising investors on Russia-related projects.]

June 2013: Learning about the documents given to Pobodnyy at the conference, the FBI decides to interview Page. But they decide that Page didn’t know Pobodnyy was a spy, and so they don’t charge him with anything. Page is dismissed as being a person of interest. (So why did the FBI later decide to target him again? There is no good answer for this. Refer to the entry below and the entry of July 2016)

Summer 2014: The FBI begins monitoring Page’s communications under a FISA warrant, owing to his 2013 contacts with Pobodnyy.

January 2015: Nunes, a six-term Congressman, becomes chairman of House Intelligence Committee.

January 26, 2015: Pobodnyy and two other Russians are charged with working as agents for Russian intelligence in New York. Court records include a transcript of a recorded conversation in which Pobodnyy talked about trying to recruit someone identified as “Male – 1,” which is later revealed to be Page. But Pobodnyy admits “I think he’s an idiot” in the transcript. Russian intelligence’s interest in Page goes no further.

December 2015: Feeling that the Trump campaign aligns with his ideas on Russia, Page asks Ed Cox, chairman of the NY Republican Party, to recommend him as an adviser. He is brought on right away. “Anyone with a pulse, a resume, and who seemed legit would be welcomed,” a campaign official admitted. Put another way, the only reason the Trump team took Page on was because “they were taking anyone with a pulse.”

March 21, 2016: Trump meets with the editorial board of the Washington Post. Asked about his foreign policy team, he names, among others, Page and George Papadopoulos.

March 2016: In March of 2016, Papadopoulos communicates with a London professor, Joseph Mifsud, who has ties to Russia. Mifsud reportedly tells Papadopoulos that Russia has “dirt” on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and then works with him to try to arrange a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. [In October, Papadopoulos will plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his attempts to contact Russian officials].

May 2016: In May of 2016, Papadopoulos converses over drinks at a British pub with a top Australian diplomat named Alexander Downer. He tells Downer that he knows that Russia has “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Two months later, Australia passed this information on to American intelligence officials.

JULY 2016 –

Page joins a group dinner of Trump campaign National Security advisors, including then Senator Jeff Sessions, at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington. He later testifies that he casually told Sessions about an upcoming trip to Russia during dinner. [The trip was tentatively approved by Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowki, on the condition that he NOT act as an official representative of the campaign while in Moscow].

Page spends 2 days (July 6-7) in Moscow, where he gives a talk at the New Economic School that is critical of American policy towards Russia and favorable towards Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Receiving the tip from Australian diplomats that George Papadopoulos had bragged about the fact that he knew Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton, the FBI initiates an investigation into Trump associates’ ties to Russia.

After learning of Page’s trip to Moscow, on July 19, 2016, former British intelligence (M-16) agent Christopher Steele files a report for what become known as his “dossier”; it focused on Page’s Russia trip. This would be the information he uncovered while doing opposition research on behalf of the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign. Citing Russian sources (not corroborated), he includes in his dossier:
• That Page had met with Igor Sechin, the CEO of Rosneft, the majority Russian government-owned oil company, and discussed lifting US sanctions
• That Page had also met with Igor Diveykin, a Russian intelligence official, and discussed Russian “kompromat” on Clinton (and Trump)

Around this time, Steele, who has admitted being extremely politicized against Donald Trump and would do anything to prevent him from being president, approaches an FBI agent with this information (more correctly, “rumors”) that he has “uncovered.”

In a later report, dated October 18, 2016, Steele makes an even more astonishing claim: That when Page allegedly met with Sechin, the oil executive had offered Page and Trump’s associates “the brokerage of up to a 19 per cent (privatized) stake in Rosneft in return” for lifting sanctions, and that Page “expressed interest” and confirmed that Trump would lift sanctions if he won.

But, note – and this is VERY IMPORTANT — that in the year and a half since, no one has yet managed to confirm or corroborate any of the claims in Steele’s dossier about Page’s trip. FURTHERMORE, Page has furiously denied the claims, saying that he’s never met either Sechin or Diveykin and disparaging what he calls the “dodgy dossier” both in media appearances and under oath. He continues to deny these claims today.]

*** In fact, Carter Page has filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, demanding to know what information the FBI and Justice Department compiled on him and what information they used to request the FISA warrants in order to surveille him. He has not received anything yet.

Back to the Timeline —

August 15, 2016: Just one month into the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign regarding ties to Russia, and only two weeks after the FBI had been given a copy of Steele’s anti-Trump dossier, one of the FBI’s top Russian counter-intelligence experts, Peter Strzok spoke of an “insurance policy” in the event that then-candidate Donald Trump was elected president. Strzok sent a text message to his lover, Lisa Paige, a senior FBI attorney, which read: “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that there’s no way he gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

August 29, 2016: Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid writes a letter to then–FBI Director James Comey calling for an investigation into evidence suggesting that Russia may try to manipulate the results of the 2016 election. In the letter, he cites Page’s trip to Moscow and writes that “questions have been raised” about whether Page met with “high-ranking sanctioned individuals” during the trip. Also in the letter, he indirectly refers to Page’s speech in Moscow criticizing U.S. sanctions policy toward Russia.

Late Summer 2016: The FBI obtains another secret court order from a FISA Court judge to monitor Page’s communications, after convincing the judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power. The FBI waited until the Trump campaign had parted ways with Page to begin surveilling him. [Apparently. the bureau’s renewed interest in him in 2016 is sparked by concerns that Russian intelligence may be continuing to target him for possible use as an asset. Note that since 2013, the FBI had found no evidence that Page was actually being recruited, or that any credible attempts to recruit him were made; the fact is that it was clear to the FBI that Page was not even open to such a relationship. But apparently, Page continued to be a target they could continue to spy on, even if it was for the purposes of gaining information on others]

September 23, 2016: Michael Isikoff writes an article in Yahoo News reporting that the government was/is investigation Page’s ties to the Kremlin. The source of the information for this article was Christopher Steele. Amazingly, Steele then used this article in his dossier to support the “information” he collected on Page. (Can you believe this??)

September 23, 2016: In an article published in Politico magazine on Sept. 23, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks is quoted by a reporter working on a profile of Page saying that “he has no formal role in the campaign.”

September 25, 2016: Page sends a letter to then-FBI director James Comey, stating: “For the record, I have not met this year with any sanctioned official in Russia despite the fact that there are no restrictions on U.S. persons speaking with such individuals.” He also writes that he has sold his “de minimis” stake in Russian energy giant Gazprom at a loss. Bloomberg News reported on Page’s “deep ties” to Gazprom in March, but a Politico account in September suggested Page exaggerated his contacts with Gazprom.

September 26, 2016: In his first public comments about accusations that he met with Russian officials, Page tells the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin: “All of these accusations are just complete garbage.” He adds: “All the ones that are mentioned in the various articles, I didn’t meet with any of those guys. … It’s completely false and inconceivable that someone would even accuse me of that.” Page admits, however, that he did briefly meet and shake hands with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, a fellow speaker at the New Economic School commencement address. Page also tells Rogin that he will take a leave of absence from the Trump campaign: “This is another distraction that’s been created here. … There’s so little time between now and the election, this is in the best interests of the candidate. It’s so ridiculous I want to have it behind us.”

October 2016: The FBI and the Justice Department obtain a FISA warrant (warrant under the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act) to monitor Page’s communications after “convincing” a FISA court judge that there is probably cause to believe that Page is acting as an agent of a foreign power – namely, Russia. It is renewed three times, as required by statute, every 90 days. What is not clear is whether new evidence to support probable cause was presented each time, as required to continue surveillance.

December 2016: Partly in response to the Yahoo News article, Trump attorney Don McGahn, writes Page to “immediately cease” saying he is a Trump advisor. “You were merely one of the many people named to a foreign policy committee in March 2016 – a committee that met one time (and which you did not even attend),” McGahn writes. “You never met Mr. Trump, nor did you even ‘advise’ Mr. Trump about anything. Thus you are not an ‘advisor’ for Mr. Trump in any sense of the word.”

January 10, 2017 –

In sworn testimony at his confirmation hearing, Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions testifies that he is “not aware of any communications” between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the campaign.

BuzzFeed News publishes the full unsubstantiated dossier detailing President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia and claiming the Russian government may be blackmailing him. Christopher Steele leaked the dossier. Again, the dossier was created by Steele, who was extremely politicized against Trump and confessed he would do anything to prevent Donald Trump from being president. Steele’s dossier “alleges” that former campaign manager Paul Manafort used Page as an intermediary with the Russian government and that Page attended a secret meeting at the Kremlin in July of 2016. [Contents of the Steele Dossier: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3259984-Trump-Intelligence-Allegations.html ]

January 25, 2017: Nunes and ranking member Adam Schiff announce they’re investigating Russian election meddling, including possible communications between Russia and “political campaigns.”

January 12, 2017: At President-elect Trump’s first news conference, incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer denies that Trump knows who Page is: “Carter Page is an individual whom the president-elect does not know and was put on notice months ago by the campaign.”

January or February 2017: The FBI applies for more surveillance on Page.

February 12, 2017: In an 8-page letter to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Page calls the Russia investigations “frivolous” and says that are “among the most extreme examples of human rights violations during any election in US History since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was similarly targeted for his anti-war views.”

February 15, 2017: In an interview with PBS News Hour’s Judy Woodruff, Page says he had no meetings with Russian officials in 2016: “I had no meetings, no meetings. … I might have said hello to a few people as they were walking by me at my graduation—the graduation speech that I gave in July, but no meetings.” (He would later re-assert that same statement – that he may have “met” someone from Russia, such as the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who was at the Republican National Convention, but he had no “meetings.”)

March 2, 2017: Amid concerns about his January testimony and newly-revealed meetings with the Russian ambassador, Sessions announces that he will recuse himself from any investigation related to the Trump campaign.

March 4, 2017: Trump accuses Barack Obama of having Trump Tower “wiretapped”.

March 15, 2017: After initially defending Trump, Nunes says he does not believe Trump Tower was bugged. But he adds a caveat: Trump campaign communications could have been incidentally collected as part of wider surveillance efforts.

March 20, 2017: FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Intel Committee, and refutes Trump’s claims. Nunes reiterates that there was no “physical” wiretap, but repeats the possibility of incidental collection.

March 21, 2017: Nunes travels to White House grounds to review evidence of potential surveillance of Trump associates. The visit is not initially made public.

March 22, 2017: Nunes holds unexpected press conference and says an unnamed individual (or individuals) showed him intelligence reports indicating the Obama administration captured communications involving Trump and/or his associates. He said it appeared to be legal, incidental collection but nonetheless seemed “inappropriate” and troubling. Nunes briefs Trump before Schiff, despite Trump being a potential subject of the committee’s investigation. (Trump says he feels “somewhat” vindicated). The following day, Nunes expresses regret for failing to brief Intel committee before White House.

March 27, 2017: News of Nunes’ White House visit emerges. He says he needed to visit the White House in order to access to secure system, an explanation that is immediately challenged. Schiff calls on Nunes to recuse himself from Russia investigation.

April 11, 2017: The Washington Post first reports on the existence of the FISA warrant on Page from the summer of 2016. In an interview, Page again compares the surveillance to the FBI’s eavesdropping on Dr. King. “This confirms all of my suspicions about unjustified, politically-motivated government surveillance,” he says.

Late April or Early May 2017: The FBI applies for more surveillance on Page. (This application is approved by newly sworn-in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein)

May 7, 2017: In an angry nine-page letter to the Senate intelligence committee, Carter says he had only “brief interactions” with Pobodnyy in 2013 and calls requests for more information a “show trial” based on “the corrupt lies of the Clinton/Obama regime.”

July or August 2017: The FBI applies for more surveillance on Page. (This application is also approved by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein appointed Special Counsel Bob Mueller to investigate the Trump campaign for any ties to Russia. Therefore Rosenstein is Mueller’s boss and has the power to oversee the investigation of Donald Trump – to set limits, to define the scope of, etc)

October 18, 2017: During five hours of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions is grilled about his contacts with Russians during the campaign. When asked if any surrogates from the Trump campaign had contact with the Russians, he responds: “I did not — and I’m not aware of anyone else that did. I don’t believe that it happened.”

October 30, 2017: In wide-ranging interview MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Page discusses Papadaopoulos’ guilty plea, admitting that he was on campaign email chains with Papadopoulos about Russia. “I genuinely hope, Carter, that you are innocent of everything, because you are doing a lot of talking,” Hayes says.

November 2, 2017: During six hours of closed-door testimony with the House intelligence committee, Page testifies that he told Sessions about his trip to Russia ahead of time. During the testimony, Page invokes the Fifth Amendment when asked to produce documents that could potentially be relevant to the investigation.

November 3, 2017: In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Page says that the fact he told Sessions about his upcoming trip to Russia was a “nothing event” made “totally in passing.” He adds that Sessions was not the only one on the campaign that he told before he took the trip. “I mentioned it to a few other people,” he says.

January 29, 2018: The House Intelligence Committee votes along party lines to publicly release a classified memo overseen by Republican Rep. Devin Nunes which criticizes the FBI’s handling of a FISA warrant on Page, alleging that relied too heavily on information in the Steele dossier. In a rare public statement, the FBI says it has “grave concerns” about the memo.

The Memo Reveals the Following:

• The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.
(a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.
(b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of—and paid by—the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.

• The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News. The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News. Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News—and several other outlets—in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie was aware of Steele’s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington D.C. in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.
(a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations—an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David Corn. Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September—before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October—but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.
(b) Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling—maintaining confidentiality—and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.

• Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. Shortly after the election, the FBI began interviewing Ohr, documenting his communications with Steele. For example, in September 2016, Steele admitted to Ohr his feelings against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” This clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files—but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications. Furthermore, during this same time period, Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC.

• According to the head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its “infancy” at the time of the initial Page FISA application. After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele’s reporting as only minimally corroborated. Yet, in early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a summary of the Steele dossier, even though it was—according to his June 2017 testimony—“salacious and unverified.” While the FISA application relied on Steele’s past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.

• The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok. Strzok was reassigned by the Special Counsel’s Office to FBI Human Resources for improper text messages with his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page (no known relation to Carter Page), where they both demonstrated a clear bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton, whom Strzok had also investigated. The Strzok/Lisa Page texts also reflect extensive discussions about the investigation, orchestrating leaks to the media, and include a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an “insurance” policy against President Trump’s election.

III. FISA and FISA COURTS

What is the History of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) ?

In 1978, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and President Carter signed it into law. That law established essentially five things: (1) First, that non-criminal electronic surveillances within the United States were only permissible for the purpose of collecting foreign intelligence and/or foreign counterintelligence. (2) Second, it identified foreign powers and agents of foreign powers as the entities and persons that could be targeted for electronic surveillance. (3) Third, it articulated a probable cause standard that had to be met before an electronic surveillance was permissible. (4) Fourth, the Act established the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts (FISC), one at the district court level for initial review of surveillance applications, and one at the appellate level should the government appeal a district level denial of an application. (5) Finally, the Act established the only circumstances under which an electronic surveillance could lawfully be conducted in the United States for the purpose of collecting foreign intelligence or foreign counterintelligence.

The FISA Court is a secret court that operates in secrecy. It was designed to address abuses uncovered in the 1970s by congressional investigations. Prior to FISA, presidents claimed authority to engage in electronic surveillance for national security reasons without any court oversight. That led to uncontrolled domestic spying by the National Security Agency, the CIA and the FBI. FISA was passed by Congress, therefore, to bring law to a lawless area. The FISA court, it was hoped, would stop those abuses by only approving legitimate surveillance requests, and without tipping off terrorists and spies. To do that, everything about the court has to remain secret; its proceedings are not revealed to the public, and if they are revealed to Congress, they’re revealed in a classified setting. The secret nature of the FISA court, and in fact the entire FISA system, makes it difficult even for members of Congress to raise question and also to get answers. The FISA system is so secret that victims of FISA warrants almost never find out they were bugged.

What Must the Government Show to Get a Warrant for a Wiretap?

It is very hard to get a FISA surveillance warrant. The statute requires a high standard of proof and a rigorous procedure for the precise reason that government officials not abuse the civil rights of the American people – specifically, the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures. Citizens have the rightful expectation that their government will not spy on them. In order to obtain a FISA warrant from the secret court that oversees them, the following steps are required:

First, the bureau does a “threat assessment” to determine whether a suspect might be working with foreign intelligence. If so, an investigation is opened and agents gather initial material for a warrant, such as information gathered from other methods like human sources, physical surveillance, bank transactions or even documents found in the target’s trash. Evidence that a suspect spoke with a foreign government is not enough to get a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The FBI still needs to demonstrate that the suspect knew he or she was helping the foreign government, and not just chatting innocuously. There has to be evidence of some action.

Once evidence is gathered, a warrant application is written by lawyers in an FBI field office before getting sent to headquarters in Washington DC for more approvals. After that, there is one more check. Lawyers from inside the FBI’s National Security Division must undertake certain procedures to further ensure the veracity of the information in the application; these procedures are known as the “Woods Procedures.” Specifically, the goal of these procedures is to ensure accuracy with regard to: 1) the facts supporting probable cause; 2) the existence and nature of any related criminal investigations or prosecutions involving the subject of the FISA; 3) the existence and nature of any prior or ongoing asset relationship between the subject and the FBI. Only after all that does a senior Senate-confirmed Department of Justice official sign off on the application. And then, the warrant request package is finally sent to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

How Was the FBI Able to Get a FISA Warrant to Spy on an American Citizen?

50 U.S. Code Sect. 1801 identifies two categories of potential targets for surveillance under FISA. The first is a foreign power and the second is an agent of a foreign power. So, to be targeted for secret surveillance under the FISA law, the FBI had to provide proof that Carter Page was an “agent of a foreign power.”

The renewal FISA warrant applications submitted to the FISA court by the FBI and DOJ under President Obama accused Carter Page (without much actual evidence; mostly based on “rumor” and salacious and unverified claims) of acting as a Russian agent.

According to the statute, including the intent of Congress in enacting the statute, in order to obtain the warrant involving Mr. Page, the government needed to show probable cause that he was acting as an agent of Russia. It does not mean that the government had to prove that he, himself, was a spy (spying on the US). An American may be targeted if he knowingly aids or abets someone involved in clandestine intelligence gathering that may involve a violation of criminal statutes. The “definitions” section of the 1978 FISA Act, Section of Sect. 1801, reads:

(A) knowingly engages in clandestine intelligence gathering activities for or on behalf of a foreign power, which activities involve or may involve a violation of the criminal statutes of the United States;
(B) pursuant to the direction of an intelligence service or network of a foreign power, knowingly engages in any other clandestine intelligence activities for or on behalf of such foreign power, which activities involve or are about to involve a violation of the criminal statutes of the United States;’
(E) knowingly aids or abets any person in the conduct of activities described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) or knowingly conspires with any person to engage in activities described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C).

In applying for the warrant and using the Steele dossier as the substance to support probable cause, the Obama FBI and DOJ did not meet the standards set by the FISA statute. As the Nunes memo points out, the FBI and DOJ have an obligation of candor and honesty to the court, which they ignored. The dossier knowingly contained unverifiable and unverified information (such as the Yahoo News article written by Michael Isikoff , as noted in the Memo and in the Timeline section]. It also was prepared and pursued by highly politicized officials and investigators (Steele), some of whom disclosed how strongly they would work to prevent a Trump presidency. The agents who presented the application to the secret court withheld material and relevant information concerning the original of the dossier and the purposes it was created. Such information goes to the likely credibility of the information.

IV. WATERGATE versus FISA ABUSES: WHICH WAS WORSE?

We can see similarities and differences between Watergate and the FISA abuse. Both occurred in the midst of a presidential election campaign and for the purpose of gaining a political advantage (by discrediting the opponent), and both involved the Executive branch. Both used illegal means to wiretap, and both involved paying ex-spies (ex-CIA agent E. Howard Hunt, for instance, in the case of Watergate and Christopher Steele in the case of the Obama FBI) to dig up information.

As for the differences, the FISA abuse was perpetrated by government agencies (and hence represented State Action) while the Watergate break-in was the handiwork of the president’s campaign operatives. One could possibly speculate if Nixon had FISA at his disposal would he have abused that power as the Obama’s FBI and DOJ did?

The key difference is that government agents, perhaps with knowledge and with the blessing of President Obama, weaponized the government against an American citizen in order to build a sham of a case against candidate Donald Trump and now to somehow finagle Trump into obstructing the sham investigation so Democrats can claim obstruction of justice. In Nixon’s case, there was a real crime. It was undeniable because the Plumbers were caught in the act. And because it was a real crime and because he took extreme and questionable measures to interfere with the investigation by Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, it was a legitimate case of obstruction of justice. Neither is the case for Donald Trump. In Trump’s case, there is a fabricated case of Russian collusion based on a fabricated dossier as evidence. Does he dare try to interfere with the witch hunt?

Rogue elements within the Obama administration, using all their intelligence and counter-intelligence training and tools, created the illusion that Donald Trump, through members of his campaign, colluded with the Russian government to rig the election in his favor. The investigation continues to try to dig up any evidence, even manufactured evidence, to show that the president is lying and covering up his crimes. In criminal law, if the warrant is faulty, then any evidence collected in pursuance of that warrant is inadmissible and must be thrown out as “fruits of the poisonous tree.” (The Exclusionary Rule)

But the Democrats don’t care about the Rule of Law or even lawlessness; they thrive on it. Forty-five years ago, the Watergate scandal forced a president out of office. In 1974, Nixon resigned from office not because he had any complicity in the actions that precipitated the scandal (the break-in at the Watergate Hotel) but rather, because he tried to keep it quiet and cover it up after he found out. He resigned because he obstructed the investigation; he obstructed justice. It’s most likely that Democrats expect they can do the same with Donald Trump. Is it any wonder we keep hearing allegations that “Trump is obstructing justice,” as in the case of the Nunes memo and President Trump’s decision to declassify it and allow it to be released. Is it any wonder that Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats have threatened Trump that should he attempt to remove Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein from office (even though there is plenty of good reasons for him to do so) would be seen as an attempt to obstruct justice (in the Mueller investigation)? Democrats know what they are doing.

But the Nunes Memo (and the countless documents and hours of testimony that it was based on) makes clear that said rogue elements within the FBI and the Justice Department abused and broke the law. They deceived the judges of the FISA court by assuring them, through the signatures on the application, and by allowing them to conclude that Steele was reliable and without bias and motivation in his assembly of evidence against Carter Page. They had a statutory obligation and a duty of candor, that comes with any pleading to a court, to the FISA judges to present all relevant and material information. Fraud includes offering false and misleading information, as well as making false and misleading comments. It equally includes the omission of material and relevant information. In the case of the FBI and DOJ, the agents willfully and knowingly omitted relevant and material information.

Looking at the totality of the circumstances surrounding the FISA warrants and all the actors involved, it is quite evident that these rogue elements abused and broke the law in an attempt to use the surveillance and police power of the United States government first to throw the election to Hillary Clinton and then to destroy the presidency of Donald Trump.

Secret courts have great power, as I have pointed out in an earlier section. But with great power comes the tendency or temptation for abuse of that power. And in the case of the 2016 election, that is exactly what we have seen.

We must remember and recognize the reason that procedural safeguards are put in place in our court systems. They are there to protect the precious liberties of the people who can be arbitrarily hurled in front of the courts. We should learn from history of such abuses of the safeguards. In particular, we should look back to some history that actually influenced the rights protected in our Bill of Rights – the Star Chamber of England.

In medieval England, the Star Chamber was a secret court named for the decorative stars emblazoned on the ceiling of the wood-paneled room in which its judges deliberated. The Star Chamber oversaw the proceedings of the local courts; it was also able to decide matters involving wealthy and powerful people whose influence made them immune to the decisions of lower judicial bodies. Over the centuries, the Star Chamber was often used to break up the power of England’s land-owning elites. Although the court could order torture, prison and fines, it did not have the power to impose the death sentence. Under the Tudors, Star Chamber sessions were public. Under the Stuarts, the power of the Star Chamber increased greatly.

By the 17th century, under Charles I, it had become a vehicle for prosecuting political dissent. The Chamber was comprised of judges friendly and loyal to the king and would basically do his bidding. Charles famously, or infamously, used the court to examine cases of sedition – rebellion or even opposition to the king’s policies. Court sessions were held in secret, with no witnesses, no juries, and no right of appeal. Evidence was presented in writing and those dragged before its bench often had no idea what the charges were against them before punishment was handed down. This made it exceedingly easy for King Charles to allege false crimes, which he often did to get rid of political enemies and opponents.

Over the tenure of his reign (1615-1649), the Star Court evolved into an effective political weapon. Interestingly, the Star Chamber was used to punish religious dissent, such as that posed by the Puritans and Pilgrims. This persecution of Puritans ultimately drove the Puritans to seek refuge in the New World (America). Due to its excesses, the Star Chamber was abolished by Parliament in 1641, with the Habeas Corpus Act.

I look at the abuse of the secret Start Chamber and I look at the abuse of the secret FISA court. The actions of King Obama – I mean, the rogue FBI and DOJ agents under Obama’s reign – come frightfully close to the abuses of King Charles I.

In Charles’ case, his abuses inspired our protections for the criminally accused. In Obama’s case, he simply ignored them.

V. WHAT WE KNOW AND WHAT WE STILL DON’T KNOW

The FISA Abuse Memo is out and now we know why the Democrats were desperate to keep its contents hidden from the public: it confirms the worst fears not just of President Trump’s supporters but of everyone concerned about the abuse of police power, government corruption, and the sanctity of our elections. It outlines in very clear and concise form how rogue officials in the FBI and DOJ put partisan politics above the Rule of Law and Duty and Fidelity to the Constitution.

The memo shows that there was calculated interference in the 2016 presidential election by hostile elements within a United States intelligence agency. It wasn’t the Russians we had to worry about—it was rogue actors at the highest levels of the FBI and Department of Justice. Left unanswered is to what extent the West Wing knew about or was complicit in this gross abuse of power.

What we know:

1. The FBI’s case to the FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Court was based almost entirely upon a partisan hit-job bought and paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. Christopher Steele, the source of the dossier, had “financial and ideological motivations” to undermine Donald Trump according to the Nunes memo. In fact, the FBI’s file records that Steele told Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr that “he was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.”

2. Ohr’s wife was one of just seven employees at FusionGPS, the firm that was paying Christopher Steele. The personal financial relationship between the Ohrs and the dossier was concealed from the court.

3. The FBI could not corroborate the information in the Steele dossier, calling it only “minimally corroborated” but did not disclose this fact to the FISA Court thus leading it to believe that the information in the dossier was either FBI work-product or that it had been independently corroborated by the FBI. Neither was true.

4. The FBI did not disclose that the source of the information which formed the basis of their FISA application was a paid political operative of the Clinton campaign and the DNC.

5. The FBI and the Department of Justice intentionally misled the FISA court in their applications to obtain authority to spy on Trump campaign advisor Carter Page. They did this not once, but on four separate occasions over the course of a year, including after Donald Trump was in office. The misleading applications were signed off by James Comey (three times), Andrew McCabe, Sally Yates, Dana Boente, and Rosenstein. This certainly casts the actions of each of them in a much different light. Recall that Yates was briefly the acting attorney general under Trump before the president fired her when she refused to defend the administration’s travel moratorium in court. At the time she was lionized in the media and claimed that she had to defend “this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.” Likewise, Rosenstein’s nearly yearlong failure to fulfill his legal obligation to produce a lawful charter as a predicate for the Mueller investigation which now appears, in context, to be nothing more than the continuation of the Democrat’s campaign against Trump using the FBI as willing collaborators.

6. Comey lied to the president about the investigation while he was FBI director.

7. FBI agent Peter Strozk and his mistress FBI attorney Lisa Page met with Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to discuss an “insurance policy” against Trump being elected president. We don’t yet know the names of all of those who attended the meeting.

8. The texts between Peter Strozk and Lisa Page contain, “extensive discussions about the investigation, orchestrating leaks to the media, and include a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an ‘insurance policy’ against Trump’s election.”

9. The Nunes memo is just the beginning. There is more to come.

What We Still Don’t Know:

1. What role did Hillary Clinton play?

2. Was Attorney General Loretta Lynch involved with these efforts to surveil associates of the Trump campaign and, if so, to what extent?

3. We know that Susan Rice and Samantha Power were both involved in unmasking the names of U.S. citizens who were being targeted in this surveillance. Were they coordinating with elements within the FBI and/or the Justice Department? Were they coordinating with the DNC and Clinton campaign to give Hillary an electoral advantage?

4. What did Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton really discuss during their tarmac meeting in Phoenix on June 27, 2016.

5. Did Barack Obama know about and/or participate in a conspiracy to use the police and surveillance powers of the federal government to undermine Donald Trump and rig the presidential election? Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) wants to see Obama and Clinton’s emails.

6. Who else was at the meeting attended by McCabe, Strozk, and Page where they discussed an “insurance policy” against Trump’s election? How often did they meet, where did they meet, and what did they discuss?

7. Why couldn’t the FBI, which touts its forensic expertise, locate the Strozk-Page texts but the Inspector General did it in two days?

8. What is the “insurance policy” Strozk and Page discussed? Is that a reference to the conspiracy itself?

9. To whom in the media did the FBI leak information about their Trump spying? How long and how extensive was this disinformation campaign.

10. What discussions took place among Justice Department resisters about refusing to obey Trump’s direction as president?

We now know that almost every accusation leveled against the president with regard to so-called Russian collusion” actually reflects the actions of what amounts to a cabal of Democratic Party operatives working with FBI and Justice Department fellow-travelers.

Among other things, it has become clear that Rod Rosenstein must resign. He was either complicit in the conspiracy to mislead the FISA Court or he was too dumb to see what was happening. Either way, he’s demonstrated criminality, incompetence, or both and needs to go.

The picture painted by the Nunes memo is one of federal law enforcement officials who believe they are a wholly independent power, accountable to no one but themselves, and able to pick winners and losers in elections.

Based on what we know now, the conspiracy to undermine candidate Trump and later to destroy President Trump may have been limited to the Justice Department and FBI. But looking at the totality of the plan to influence the 2016 election, it seems hard to believe that Obama had no knowledge of what was going on.

VI. CONCLUDING REMARKS:

How bad are the revelations in the Nunes’ memo? It’s very bad. As the title of the article states, it is worse than the underlying crimes in the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon. Greg Gutfield put it best when he said: “Using an unvetted dossier to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on an American citizen is like using Monopoly money to buy a Porsche.”

If the conduct of the Obama administration FBI and DOJ is OK, then Donald Trump should do the same thing in the 2020 presidential election season. He should hire someone like Christopher Steele, have a dossier concocted on his opponents, and then present that information (without disclosing anything explaining how that information originated, was collected, or even why it was collected) to a FISA judge to get a surveillance warrant to spy on those opponents.

References:
The Steele Dossier (contents) – https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3259984-Trump-Intelligence-Allegations.html

Chris Buskirk, “Worse Than Watergate,” American Greatness, Feb. 2, 2018. Referenced at: https://amgreatness.com/2018/02/02/worse-than-watergate/ [The Entire Section V is reproduced from this excellent article]

Text of Nunes Memo – https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/read-the-full-text-of-the-nunes-memo/552191/

Watergate – https://study.com/academy/lesson/the-watergate-scandal-summary-facts-timeline.html

Watergate – http://www.dummies.com/education/history/american-history/president-richard-nixon-and-the-watergate-scandal/

Charlie Savage, “How to Get a Wiretap to Spy on Americans, and Why That Matters Now,” NY Times, January 29, 2018. Referenced at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/29/us/politics/fisa-surveillance-applications-how-they-work.html

Dave Lawler, “Timeline: Davin Nunes and Trump Surveillance Claims,” AXIOS, March 30, 2017. Referenced at: https://www.axios.com/timeline-devin-nunes-and-trump-surveillance-claims-1513301236-c0c83abe-26be-4651-96b7-3dc84bbd203a.html

Ryan Teague Beckwith and Alana Abramson, “Who is Carter Page? Meet the Donald Trump Advisor at the Center of the GOP Memo,” TIME, Feb. 2, 2018. Referenced at: http://time.com/5128614/carter-page-gop-memo-fisa-warrant/

Andrew Prokop, “Carter Page, Star of the Nunes Memo, Explained,” VOX, February 2, 2017. Referenced at: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/2/16956014/nunes-memo-carter-page

Zachary Fryer Biggs, “Republican ‘Release the Memo” Conspiracy Ignores How Difficult it is to Get a FISA Warrant,” Newsweek, February 1, 2018. Referenced at: http://www.newsweek.com/how-get-fisa-warrant-797323

Artin Afkhami, “A Timeline of Carter Page’s Contacts with Russia,” Slate, November 7, 2017. Referenced at: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2017/11/a_timeline_of_carter_page_s_contacts_with_russia.html

“Carter Page Did Not Need to be a Spy to Be Targeted Under FISA,” EmptyWheel, January 29, 2018. Referenced at: https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/01/29/carter-page-did-not-need-to-be-a-spy-to-be-targeted-under-fisa

Larry Abrahmson, “The History Behind America’s Most Secret Court,” NPR Morning Edition, June 7, 2013. Referenced at: https://www.npr.org/2013/06/07/189430580/the-history-behind-americas-most-secretive-court

James G. McAdams III, Legal Division, “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA): An Overview.” Referenced at: https://www.fletc.gov/sites/default/files/imported_files/training/programs/legal-division/downloads-articles-and-faqs/research-by-subject/miscellaneous/ForeignIntelligenceSurveillanceAct.pdf

APPENDIX: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), of 1978

(1) pursuant to an order issued by the FISC; or (2) in emergency circumstances, pursuant to Attorney General approval, so long as an application is thereafter made to the FISC within 24 hours.

FISA identifies two categories of potential targets for surveillance under FISA. The first category is foreign powers. A foreign power is –

(1) a foreign government, (2) a diplomat, other representative or employee of a foreign government, (3) a faction of a foreign nation that is not substantially composed of U.S. persons, (4) an entity openly acknowledged by a foreign government to be directed and controlled by it, or (5) a group engaged in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefore.

A second category of FISA targets are agents of foreign powers. An agent of a foreign power is –

(1) anyone, other than a U.S. person, who acts in the United States as an officer or employee of a foreign power, or (2) anyone who acts as part of or in support of a foreign power’s efforts to engage in clandestine intelligence gathering activities in the U.S.

An agent of a foreign power is also anyone, including a U.S. person, who –

(1) knowingly engages in clandestine intelligence gathering activities for a foreign power which activities constitute a violation of U.S. criminal statutes; (2) knowingly engages in sabotage or international terrorism, or activities in reparation therefore, on behalf of a foreign power.

For purposes of the Act, a U.S. person is defined as any of the following:

(1) a citizen of the U.S.; (2) an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence; (3) an unincorporated association a substantial number of which are U.S. citizens or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence; or (4) a U.S. corporation. Under the Act, international terrorism is defined as:

(1) activities that involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the U.S. or of any state, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or any State; (2) acts that appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping; and

(3) activities that occur totally outside the U.S., or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to coerce or intimidate, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum.

The House of Cards Falls: What Will the Despicable Media Do?

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by Diane Rufino, Oct. 29, 2016

A month ago, the despicable media demanded that Donald Trump step down over a private audio that was leaked from 13 years ago. Hillary Clinton has done terrible things; criminal things. James Comey of the FBI acknowledged publicly that she acted recklessly, dangerously, and with terrible judgement. While he would not recommend that she be indicted, he in fact characterized her actions as being a criminal violation of federal law. Now, new evidence has surfaced, from a different source and a separate investigation, showing that Clinton’s use of her private server was even more reckless than imagined. It was the use of the private server that makes her actions illegal, but it was her reasons for doing so that makes her a special kind of criminal. She used her private email server in order to hide her activities while acting as Secretary of State from the watchful eyes of government (her employer) and the American people. Emails on a private server can be deleted. They by-pass the system. Records generated by our public officials are public records belonging to the American people. We have the right to request them, to look at them, to know what our officials are doing and whether they are doing their job honestly and competently. Hillary Clinton destroyed her emails, yes, but she also destroyed public property in those communications.

With this new evidence, the FBI has decided to re-open the investigation of Clinton and her email scheme. The decision was released yesterday; Clinton and her campaign were not notified in advance. To put things in perspective, there are 11 days until we decide the next president of the United States and this bombshell has the potential to fatally undermine her chances with voters. The FBI, under Director James Comey, must have already concluded that the evidence is damning and indictable in order to make its decision at this particular juncture. Comey knows that he could potentially face an investigation himself on ethical charges of engaging in a conflict of interest (to the Clinton Foundation, the President, or to the Clintons themselves) and also if he did not consider this new evidence against her. The bottom line is that Hillary Clinton knowingly and willingly broke federal law, she did it to hide details of her personal dealings while as Secretary of State, he willingly and intentionally destroyed evidence (and most audaciously AFTER the government issued her a subpoena to turn them over), she lied repeatedly under oath (and to the American people), she committed obstruction of justice, she had the media look the other way and refuse to report on her nefarious activities, and after getting away with all of that, she had enriched herself and her husband beyond imagination, she sold OUR uranium to Russia, she left many Americans to die in Benghazi (thank God Glen Doherty and Ty Woods were made of the metal that they were or otherwise all would have perished), she destabilized the violent Middle East, she allowed ISIS to form, take root, and slaughter thousands, and she became the front-runner in the election for the highest office in the land.

It’s about time the House of Cards falls.

In light of the FBI’s decision yesterday, the question I would like to ask now is whether the despicable media will use the same energy and zeal to ask Hillary Clinton to step down.

A month ago, the Democratic Party urged that Trump step down for the same reason the media gave — the leaked audio from 2005….. for daring to talk crudely of women in private with a male buddy of his. My question is whether the Democratic Party will urge Hillary Clinton to step down and have the idiot Tim Kaine run in her place.

Clearly, the best thing would be for Democrats to ask her to step down now. It would be the most responsible thing to do, if, of course, the nation were more important to them than power.

And that’s the real question, right?

Republicans, for the most part, have put the country first. The great majority will tell you that Mr. Trump was not their first or preferred candidate. But they have embraced him and his ideas and have rallied around him because they love their country and their children and grandchildren more than some notion of what “being a Republican” is supposed to be about, which we all now know is about being able to concentrate political power.

So let’s see……. What will the despicable media do? How will they handle this surprise turn of events?

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