GOP Operative Sought Clinton Emails From Hackers, Implied a Connection to Flynn

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Czer, Jun 30, 2017.

  1. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    WASHINGTON—Before the 2016 presidential election, a longtime Republican opposition researcher mounted an independent campaign to obtain emails he believed were stolen from Hillary Clinton’s private server, likely by Russian hackers.

    In conversations with members of his circle and with others he tried to recruit to help him, the GOP operative, Peter W. Smith, implied he was working with retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, at the time a senior adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump.

    “He said, ‘I’m talking to Michael Flynn about this—if you find anything, can you let me know?’” said Eric York, a computer-security expert from Atlanta who searched hacker forums on Mr. Smith’s behalf for people who might have access to the emails.

    Emails written by Mr. Smith and one of his associates show that his small group considered Mr. Flynn and his consulting company, Flynn Intel Group, to be allies in their quest.

    What role, if any, Mr. Flynn may have played in Mr. Smith’s project is unclear. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Smith said he knew Mr. Flynn, but he never stated that Mr. Flynn was involved.

    Mr. Flynn didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    A Trump campaign official said that Mr. Smith didn’t work for the campaign, and that if Mr. Flynn coordinated with him in any way, it would have been in his capacity as a private individual. The White House declined to comment.

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russian attempts to sway the U.S. election and whether there was collusion between Russians and the Trump campaign. President Trump has denied any collusion and called the investigation a “witch hunt.” The Russian government has denied it interfered in the election.

    Mr. Smith died at age 81 on May 14, which was about 10 days after the Journal interviewed him. His account of the email search is believed to be his only public comment on it.

    The operation Mr. Smith described is consistent with information that has been examined by U.S. investigators probing Russian interference in the elections.

    Those investigators have examined reports from intelligence agencies that describe Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from Mrs. Clinton’s server and then transmit them to Mr. Flynn via an intermediary, according to U.S. officials with knowledge of the intelligence.

    It isn’t clear who that intermediary might have been or whether Mr. Smith’s operation was the one allegedly under discussion by the Russian hackers. The reports were compiled during the same period when Mr. Smith’s group was operating, according to the officials.

    Mr. Smith said he worked independently and wasn’t part of the Trump campaign.

    His project began over Labor Day weekend 2016 when Mr. Smith, a private-equity executive from Chicago active in Republican politics, said he assembled a group of technology experts, lawyers and a Russian-speaking investigator based in Europe to acquire emails the group theorized might have been stolen from the private server Mrs. Clinton used as secretary of state.

    Mr. Smith’s focus was some 33,000 emails Mrs. Clinton said were deleted because they were deemed personal. Mr. Smith said he believed that the emails might have been obtained by hackers and that they actually concerned official matters Mrs. Clinton wanted to conceal—two notions for which he offered no evidence. Mrs. Clinton gave the State Department tens of thousands of emails related to official business.

    Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey said in July 2016 there was no evidence the private server had been hacked but held out the possibility it could have been.

    In the interview with the Journal, Mr. Smith said he and his colleagues found five groups of hackers who claimed to possess Mrs. Clinton’s deleted emails, including two groups he determined were Russians.

    “We knew the people who had these were probably around the Russian government,” Mr. Smith said.

    U.S. intelligence agencies have accused the Russians of stealing emails from the Democratic National Committee and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, and providing them to WikiLeaks last summer as part of a multifaceted operation to interfere with the election and help Mr. Trump’s campaign. Mr. Trump on July 27 publicly encouraged Russia to go further and find the Clinton “emails that are missing.” Asked about that on Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Mr. Trump was joking.

    Mr. Smith said after vetting batches of emails offered to him by hacker groups last fall, he couldn’t be sure enough of their authenticity to leak them himself. “We told all the groups to give them to WikiLeaks,” he said. WikiLeaks has never published those emails or claimed to have them.

    Mr. Smith and one of his associates said they had a line of communication with Mr. Flynn and his consulting company.

    In one Smith email reviewed by the Journal, intended to entice outside experts to join his work, he offered to make introductions to Mr. Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, who worked as chief of staff in his father’s company. Mr. Smith’s email mentioned the son among a small number of other people he said were helping.

    Michael G. Flynn didn’t respond to a request for comment.

    In another recruiting email seen by the Journal, Jonathan Safron, a law student Mr. Smith described as a close colleague, included links to the websites and LinkedIn profiles of people purportedly working with the Smith team. At the top of the list was the name and website of Flynn Intel, which Mr. Flynn set up after his 2014 firing as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

    Mr. Safron declined to comment on his email or Mr. Smith’s project.

    In phone conversations, Mr. Smith told a computer expert he was in direct contact with Mr. Flynn and his son, according to this expert. The person said an anti-Clinton research document prepared by Mr. Smith’s group identified the younger Mr. Flynn as someone associated with the effort. The expert said that based on his conversations with Mr. Smith, he understood the elder Mr. Flynn to be coordinating with Mr. Smith’s group in his capacity as a Trump campaign adviser.

    The senior Mr. Flynn was fired as national-security adviser in February after misleading administration officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador concerning sanctions. Those conversations put Mr. Flynn under scrutiny by the FBI and then the special counsel, according to U.S. officials.

    Mr. Smith said in the interview he supported Mr. Flynn’s efforts during the presidential transition to establish relations with Russian officials.

    Mr. Smith said he didn’t intend to pay for any emails found by hackers.

    He said he understood the risk in publishing the emails himself. If, under public scrutiny, they proved not to be genuine, “people would say we made them up,” he said, and the whole project would be dismissed as a Republican hit job on the Clinton campaign. In the early 1990s, Mr. Smith helped publicize Arkansas state troopers’ claims that then-Gov. Bill Clinton had enlisted them to arrange trysts with women, an unproven allegation denied by the Clinton White House.

    Mr. Smith’s views on Russian hacking were complex. While he said he believed Russians were likely among those who tried to steal Mrs. Clinton’s emails, he dismissed intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia’s government meddled in the election to discredit Mrs. Clinton and to help Mr. Trump.

    Mr. Smith was himself once a hacking victim. Emails he wrote about the 2015 contest to fill former House Speaker John Boehner’s seat were stolen from the Illinois Republican Party and then made public, in a campaign U.S. intelligence officials attributed to Russian actors. Mr. Smith didn’t dispute that Russia might have been to blame. He said he was unconcerned about his messages being exposed.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2017
  2. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    In the midst of the 2016 campaign, a veteran GOP opposition researcher who said he had ties to ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn contacted hackers hoping to obtain emails that he believed Russian operatives had hacked from Hillary Clinton’s personal server, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

    Peter W. Smith reached out to computer security experts in the hopes of gaining access to the email trove and explicitly outlined his connection with Flynn in his recruiting emails, according to the report.

    Smith, who died at the age of 81 just 10 days after the Journal interviewed him, told the newspaper that he never explicitly said that Flynn was involved with the project. Flynn and the White House did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment, and a Trump campaign representative said Smith had no involvement in the campaign.

    In one recruiting email reviewed by the newspaper, Smith said Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, was helping with the effort. In another, Jonathan Safron, a law student who worked for Smith, included Flynn’s consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, at the top of a list of websites of people working with the team.

    “He said, ‘I’m talking to Michael Flynn about this—if you find anything, can you let me know?’” Eric York, one computer security expert who said he searched hacker forums on Smith’s behalf to try to dig up the emails, told the Journal.

    What Smith hoped to unearth were the 33,000 emails that Clinton has said she deleted from her private email server because they were personal in nature, and which Trump infamously urged Russia to find and release during a July 2016 campaign rally.

    Trump and his defenders in the media and his administration have referred to the federal investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election as a “witch hunt” intended to hurt his presidency. They insist there is no evidence of collusion between Russian operatives and Trump campaign associates.

    Smith acknowledged that the emails, if they existed, would likely have been hacked by Russian operatives. He ultimately received some emails from hacker groups prior to the election, he told the Journal, but urged those groups to pass the emails along to WikiLeaks so he would not have to personally vouch for their authenticity. Those emails have never surfaced, according to the report.

    Though the bulk of the 2016 cyberhacking efforts focused on Democratic targets, some Republicans, including Smith himself, were apparently hacked as well.

    Smith told the New York Times last December that he was unaware his emails had been hacked and published on the website until the newspaper’s reporter informed him.

    “I’m not upset at all,” he said in a phone call with the Times. “I try in my communications, quite frankly, not to say anything that would be embarrassing if made public.”

    Smith, a Chicago investment banker, has had his hand in previous messy political dealings involving the Clintons. During the 1990s, he helped subsidize a large-scale effort led by conservative donors to procure and publish damaging information about then-President Bill Clinton.

    The Texas Observer reported at the time that Smith spent “$80,000 on private detectives and to subsidize American Spectator reporters in a hunt for the black baby that Clinton was rumored to have sired.”

    He was a collaborator on what came to be known as the “Arkansas Project,” in addition to multimillionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, its main funder, and David Brock, then a reporter for the Spectator. Brock has since become one of the Clintons’ most ardent public defenders.
  3. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Manafort registers as foreign agent

    The firm headed by Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, made more than $17 million working as a foreign agent of a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party, according to newly filed disclosure reports.

    Trump forced Manafort to step down from his campaign last year after The Associated Press reported that Manafort and another Trump campaign official, Rick Gates, had secretly helped the Ukrainian Party of Regions steer money to two Washington lobbying firms through a nonprofit.

    Neither Manafort nor the lobbying firms registered with the Justice Department as foreign agents working on behalf of the party at the time. The lobbying firms, Mercury and the Podesta Group, belatedly filed reports in April that detailed their lobbying on behalf of the nonprofit, the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, back in 2012. A Manafort spokesman said at the time that Manafort planned to file similar paperwork.

    The filing makes Manafort the second Trump campaign official to retroactively disclose foreign lobbying. Michael Flynn, Trump’s ousted former national security adviser, filed paperwork earlier this year admitting that he had done lobbying that benefited the Turkish government while advising Trump’s campaign.

    Jason Maloni, a Manafort spokesman, suggested that what Flynn did was worse. “Paul’s work ended well before he joined Candidate Trump’s campaign,” Maloni said in a statement. “Unlike Flynn, Paul was not simultaneously working as a foreign agent while he was working for Trump.”

    Investigators are said to be looking at both Manafort and Flynn as part of the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, led by Robert Mueller.

    Maloni did not say directly why Manafort didn’t disclose his activities at the time. Willfully failing to report under the Foreign Agent Registration Act is a felony, but the Justice Department rarely prosecutes violations.

    Manafort “started this process in concert with FARA's unit in September,” Maloni said, shortly after the AP revealed his role “and well before any formal investigation of election interference began.”

    “Paul's primary focus was always directed at domestic Ukrainian political campaign work, and that is reflected in today's filing,” he added
  4. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    I'm assuming Flynn flipped to protect his family not himself, and Manafort wants to and was told you're flat out screwed either way, register now.

    Pence is screwed, anyone close to the admin. flynn, manafort, page, stone, kushner, trump, his kids, pence, mercer, erik prince, giuliani, the fbi agents working with the trump campaign, ryan if he is involved or even hiding knowledge, sessions definitely.

    Being an unwitting agent is also a severe crime.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2017
  5. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Kushner told 'Morning Joe' hosts to apologize to Trump or tabloid story would run: report

    President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, told "Morning Joe" hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski they would need to apologize to Trump in order to avoid the National Enquirer publishing a story about their relationship, New York Magazine reported Friday.

    The magazine reports that Kushner texted with Scarborough about the tabloid story before it ran in mid-April. Kushner said the story could be stopped if Scarborough and his co-host, who are engaged to be married, apologized to Trump for their negative coverage of his first months in the White House.

    After Scarborough refused, the National Enquirer ran a story on June 5 titled "Joe & Mika: TV Couple’s Sleazy Cheating Scandal."

    The incident was originally revealed in a joint op-ed by Scarborough and Brzezinski in The Washington Post on Friday titled "Donald Trump is not well."
    In the article, the two write that Trump's "unhealthy obsession with 'Morning Joe' does not serve the best interests of either his mental state or the country he runs."

    "We believe it would be better for America and the rest of the world if he would keep his 60-inch-plus flat-screen TV tuned to “Fox and Friends,” they added.

    The two also ripped Trump for his "schoolyard insults," referring to Trump attacking Brzezinski in a pair of tweets Thursday morning.

    Trump called Brzezinski unintelligent and crazy and said "she was bleeding badly from a face-lift" during a visit to Mar-a-Lago in an attack that drew rebuke from both Democrats and Republicans.

    In a new tweet Friday, Trump said he refused to stop the Enquirer story.
  6. Utumno

    Utumno Administrator Staff Member

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    Good to know what a piece of shit Kushner is too.
  7. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    The Time I Got Recruited to Collude with the Russians

    I read the Wall Street Journal’s article yesterday on attempts by a GOP operative to recover missing Hillary Clinton emails with more than usual interest. I was involved in the events that reporter Shane Harris described, and I was an unnamed source for the initial story. What’s more, I was named in, and provided the documents to Harris that formed the basis of, this evening’s follow-up story, which reported that “A longtime Republican activist who led an operation hoping to obtain Hillary Clinton emails from hackers listed senior members of the Trump campaign, including some who now serve as top aides in the White House, in a recruitment document for his effort”:

    Officials identified in the document include Steve Bannon, now chief strategist for President Donald Trump; Kellyanne Conway, former campaign manager and now White House counselor; Sam Clovis, a policy adviser to the Trump campaign and now a senior adviser at the Agriculture Department; and retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, who was a campaign adviser and briefly was national security adviser in the Trump administration.

    I’m writing this piece in the spirit of Benjamin Wittes’s account of his interactions with James Comey immediately following the New York Times story for which he acted as a source. The goal is to provide a fuller accounting of experiences which were thoroughly bizarre and which I did not fully understand until I read the Journal’s account of the episode yesterday. Indeed, I still do not fully understand the events I am going to describe, both what they reflected then or what they mean in retrospect. But I can lay out what happened, facts from which readers and investigators can draw their own conclusions.

    For the purpose of what follows, I will assume readers are already familiar with the Wall Street Journal’s reporting on this matter.

    My role in these events began last spring, when I spent a great deal of time studying the series of Freedom of Information disclosures by the State Department of Hillary Clinton’s emails, and posting the parts I found most interesting—especially those relevant to computer security—on my public Twitter account. I was doing this not because I am some particular foe of Clinton’s—I’m not—but because like everyone else, I assumed she was likely to become the next President of the United States, and I believed her emails might provide some insight into key cybersecurity and national security issues once she was elected in November.

    A while later, on June 14, the Washington Post reported on a hack of the DNC ostensibly by Russian intelligence. When material from this hack began appearing online, courtesy of the “Guccifer 2” online persona, I turned my attention to looking at these stolen documents. This time, my purpose was to try and understand who broke into the DNC, and why.

    A few weeks later, right around the time the DNC emails were dumped by Wikileaks—and curiously, around the same time Trump called for the Russians to get Hillary Clinton’s missing emails—I was contacted out the blue by a man named Peter Smith, who had seen my work going through these emails. Smith implied that he was a well-connected Republican political operative.

    Initially, I assumed the query must have been about my work on the DNC hack; after all, few people followed my account prior to the DNC breach, whereas my analysis of the break-in at the DNC had received considerably more coverage. I assumed his query about the “Clinton emails” was therefore a mistake and that he meant instead to talk to me about the emails stolen from the DNC. So I agreed to talk to him, thinking that, whatever my views on then-candidate Trump, if a national campaign wanted an independent non-partisan view on the facts surrounding the case, I should provide it to the best of my ability.

    Yet Smith had not contacted me about the DNC hack, but rather about his conviction that Clinton’s private email server had been hacked—in his view almost certainly both by the Russian government and likely by multiple other hackers too—and his desire to ensure that the fruits of those hacks were exposed prior to the election. Over the course of a long phone call, he mentioned that he had been contacted by someone on the “Dark Web” who claimed to have a copy of emails from Secretary Clinton’s private server, and this was why he had contacted me; he wanted me to help validate whether or not the emails were genuine.

    Under other circumstances, I would have gone no further. After all, this was occurring in the final stretch of a U.S. presidential election, and I did not feel comfortable, and had no interest in, providing material help to either of the campaigns beyond merely answering questions on my already public analysis of Clinton’s emails, or of the DNC hack. (I’m not a U.S. citizen or resident, after all.) In any case, my suspicion then and now was that Hillary Clinton’s email server was likely never breached by Russia, and moreover that if Russia had a copy of Clinton’s emails, they would not waste them in the run-up to an election she was likely to win. I thus thought Smith’s search for her emails was in vain.

    But following the DNC hack and watching the Russian influence campaign surrounding it unfold in near real-time, Smith’s comment about having been contacted by someone from the “Dark Web” claiming to have Clinton’s personal emails struck me as critically important. I wanted to find out whether this person was merely some fraudster wanting to take Smith for a ride or something more sinister: that is, whether Smith had been contacted by a Russian intelligence front with intent to use Smith as part of their scheme by laundering real or forged documents.

    I never found out who Smith’s contact on the “Dark Web” was. It was never clear to me whether this person was merely someone trying to dupe Smith out of his money, or a Russian front, and it was never clear to me how they represented their own credentials to Smith.

    Over the course of our conversations, one thing struck me as particularly disturbing. Smith and I talked several times about the DNC hack, and I expressed my view that the hack had likely been orchestrated by Russia and that the Kremlin was using the stolen documents as part of an influence campaign against the United States. I explained that if someone had contacted him via the “Dark Web” with Clinton’s personal emails, he should take very seriously the possibility that this may have been part of a wider Russian campaign against the United States. And I said he need not take my word for it, pointing to a number of occasions where US officials had made it clear that this was the view of the U.S. intelligence community as well.

    Smith, however, didn’t seem to care. From his perspective it didn’t matter who had taken the emails, or their motives for doing so. He never expressed to me any discomfort with the possibility that the emails he was seeking were potentially from a Russian front, a likelihood he was happy to acknowledge. If they were genuine, they would hurt Clinton’s chances, and therefore help Trump.

    When he first contacted me, I did not know who Smith was, but his legitimate connections within the Republican party were apparent. My motive for initially speaking to him was that I wondered if the campaign was trying to urgently establish whether the claims that Russia had hacked the DNC was merely “spin” from the Clinton campaign, or instead something they would need to address before Trump went too far down the road of denying it. My guess was that maybe they wanted to contact someone who could provide them with impartial advice to understand whether the claims were real or just rhetoric.

    Although it wasn’t initially clear to me how independent Smith’s operation was from Flynn or the Trump campaign, it was immediately apparent that Smith was both well connected within the top echelons of the campaign and he seemed to know both Lt. Gen. Flynn and his son well. Smith routinely talked about the goings on at the top of the Trump team, offering deep insights into the bizarre world at the top of the Trump campaign. Smith told of Flynn’s deep dislike of DNI Clapper, whom Flynn blamed for his dismissal by President Obama. Smith told of Flynn’s moves to position himself to become CIA Director under Trump, but also that Flynn had been persuaded that the Senate confirmation process would be prohibitively difficult. He would instead therefore become National Security Advisor should Trump win the election, Smith said. He also told of a deep sense of angst even among Trump loyalists in the campaign, saying “Trump often just repeats whatever he’s heard from the last person who spoke to him,” and expressing the view that this was especially dangerous when Trump was away.

    Over the course of a few phone calls, initially with Smith and later with Smith and one of his associates—a man named John Szobocsan—I was asked about my observations on technical details buried in the State Department’s release of Secretary Clinton’s emails (such as noting a hack attempt in 2011, or how Clinton’s emails might have been intercepted by Russia due to lack of encryption). I was also asked about aspects of the DNC hack, such as why I thought the “Guccifer 2” persona really was in all likelihood operated by the Russian government, and how it wasn’t necessary to rely on CrowdStrike’s attribution as blind faith; noting that I had come to the same conclusion independently based on entirely public evidence, having been initially doubtful of CrowdStrike’s conclusions.

    Towards the end of one of our conversations, Smith made his pitch. He said that his team had been contacted by someone on the “dark web”; that this person had the emails from Hillary Clinton’s private email server (which she had subsequently deleted), and that Smith wanted to establish if the emails were genuine. If so, he wanted to ensure that they became public prior to the election. What he wanted from me was to determine if the emails were genuine or not.

    It is no overstatement to say that my conversations with Smith shocked me. Given the amount of media attention given at the time to the likely involvement of the Russian government in the DNC hack, it seemed mind-boggling for the Trump campaign—or for this offshoot of it—to be actively seeking those emails. To me this felt really wrong.

    In my conversations with Smith and his colleague, I tried to stress this point: if this dark web contact is a front for the Russian government, you really don’t want to play this game. But they were not discouraged. They appeared to be convinced of the need to obtain Clinton’s private emails and make them public, and they had a reckless lack of interest in whether the emails came from a Russian cut-out. Indeed, they made it quite clear to me that it made no difference to them who hacked the emails or why they did so, only that the emails be found and made public before the election.

    In the end, I never saw the actual materials they’d been given, and to this day, I don’t know whether there were genuine emails, or whether Smith and his associates were deluding themselves.

    By the middle of September, all contact between us ended. By this time, I had grown extremely uncomfortable with the situation, so when Smith and his colleague asked me to sign a non-disclosure agreement, I declined to do so. My suspicion was that the real purpose of the non-disclosure agreement was to retrospectively apply confidentiality to the conversations we had already had before that point. I refused to sign the non-disclosure and we went our separate ways.

    As I mentioned above, Smith and his associates’ knowledge of the inner workings of the campaign were insightful beyond what could be obtained by merely attending Republican events or watching large amounts of news coverage. But one thing I could not place, at least initially, was whether Smith was working on behalf of the campaign, or whether he was acting independently to help the campaign in his personal capacity.

    Then, a few weeks into my interactions with Smith, he sent me a document, ostensibly a cover page for a dossier of opposition research to be compiled by Smith’s group, and which purported to clear up who was involved. The document was entitled “A Demonstrative Pedagogical Summary to be Developed and Released Prior to November 8, 2016,” and dated September 7. It detailed a company Smith and his colleagues had set up as a vehicle to conduct the research: “KLS Research”, set up as a Delaware LLC “to avoid campaign reporting,” and listing four groups who were involved in one way or another.

    The first group, entitled “Trump Campaign (in coordination to the extent permitted as an independent expenditure)” listed a number of senior campaign officials: Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Sam Clovis, Lt. Gen. Flynn and Lisa Nelson.

    The largest group named a number of “independent groups / organizations / individuals / resources to be deployed.” My name appears on this list. At the time, I didn’t recognize most of the others; however, several made headlines in the weeks immediately prior to the election.

    My perception then was that the inclusion of Trump campaign officials on this document was not merely a name-dropping exercise. This document was about establishing a company to conduct opposition research on behalf of the campaign, but operating at a distance so as to avoid campaign reporting. Indeed, the document says as much in black and white.

    The combination of Smith’s deep knowledge of the inner workings of the campaign, this document naming him in the “Trump campaign” group, and the multiple references to needing to avoid campaign reporting suggested to me that the group was formed with the blessing of the Trump campaign. In the Journal’s story this evening, several of the individuals named in the document denied any connection to Smith, and it’s certainly possible that he was a big name-dropper and never really represented anyone other than himself. If that’s the case, Smith talked a very good game.

    I’m sure readers are wondering: why did I keep quiet at the time? Actually, I didn’t. In the fall, prior to the election, I discussed the events of the story first with a friend, and secondly with a journalist. The trouble was that neither I nor the reporter in question knew what to make of the whole operation. It was certainly clear that the events were bizarre, and deeply unsettling. But it wasn’t reportable.

    After all, Clinton’s private emails never materialized. We couldn’t show that Smith had been in contact with actual Russians. And while I believed—as I still do—that he was operating with some degree of coordination with the campaign, that was at least a little murky too. The story just didn’t make much sense—that is, until the Journalyesterday published the critical fact that U.S. intelligence has reported that Russian hackers were looking to get emails to Flynn through a cut-out during the Summer of 2016, and this was no idle speculation on my part.

    Suddenly, my story seemed important—and ominous.
  8. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Tillerson had second 'tense' meeting with White House aide: report

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had a tense meeting with a White House aide after blowing up at different Trump administration official, Politico reported.

    Tillerson reportedly clashed with senior White House aide Stephen Miller last week over immigration issues, a topic Miller has been heading for the White House.

    Miller was pushing Tillerson to enact tougher policies on immigration and change State Department policies on the issue, but Tillerson made it "quite clear" that he wanted power over his own department, sources familiar with the meeting told the news outlet.

    Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly was also at the meeting, Politico reported.

    Miller championed President Trump’s original travel ban, which covered seven majority-Muslim countries. The Supreme Court approved last week most of a revised version of the travel ban that blocks travelers from six countries with predominantly Muslim

    Tillerson reportedly blew up at White House aide Johnny DeStefano last month over delays to appointments at the State Department and reports that Trump administration members were leaking negative information about the secretary of State to the media.
  9. Agrul

    Agrul TZT Neckbeard Lord

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    i dont have time to read this right now can i get a tldr
  10. Utumno

    Utumno Administrator Staff Member

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    Stephen Miller is awful and Trump is awful
  11. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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  12. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Justice Department's Corporate Crime Watchdog Resigns, Saying Trump Makes It Impossible To Do Job

    One of the Justice Department’s top corporate crime watchdogs has resigned, declaring that she cannot enforce ethics laws against companies while, she asserts, her own bosses in the Trump administration have been engaging in conduct that she said she would never tolerate in corporations.

    Hui Chen -- a former Pfizer and Microsoft lawyer who also was a federal prosecutor -- had been the department’s compliance counsel. She left the department in June and broke her silence about her move in a recent LinkedIn post that sounded an alarm about the Trump administration’s behavior.

    “Trying to hold companies to standards that our current administration is not living up to was creating a cognitive dissonance that I could not overcome," Chen wrote. “To sit across the table from companies and question how committed they were to ethics and compliance felt not only hypocritical, but very much like shuffling the deck chair on the Titanic. Even as I engaged in those questioning and evaluations, on my mind were the numerous lawsuits pending against the President of the United States for everything from violations of the Constitution to conflict of interest, the ongoing investigations of potentially treasonous conducts, and the investigators and prosecutors fired for their pursuits of principles and facts. Those are conducts I would not tolerate seeing in a company, yet I worked under an administration that engaged in exactly those conduct. I wanted no more part in it.”

    Chen came to the Justice Department in 2015, after officials there created a compliance counsel position to help guide the agency’s enforcement of criminal laws against corporations.

    A department announcement at the time said Chen would guide the fraud section of the Criminal Division in “the prosecution of business entities, including the existence and effectiveness of any compliance program that a company had in place at the time of the conduct giving rise to the prospect of criminal charges, and whether the corporation has taken meaningful remedial action.” The release also said Chen would help the department make sure that corporations who had negotiated agreements with prosecutors were following through on their commitments to stop violating laws.

    In recent months, Chen had attracted attention for tweets she posted that were seen as critical of the Trump administration. Chen tweetedher LinkedIn post slamming the Trump administration. In that post, Chen also asserted that she had been muzzled by Justice Department officials.

    “My ability to do good at a more micro-level, by exchanging ideas with the compliance community on ways to assess the effectiveness of compliance programs, was severely limited,” she wrote. “The management of the Criminal Division, of which the Fraud Section is a part, has persistently prohibited me from public speaking.”

    Chen was recently interviewed about her LinkedIn post by Matt Kelly of Radical Compliance, which covers compliance laws and policy and which has been reporting on Chen’s battle with Trump officials.
  13. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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  14. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Netanyahu currently faces two major investigations.

    In Case 1000, he is being investigated for allegedly improperly receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts of expensive cigars and champagne from wealthy businessmen.

    In Case 2000, he is being investigated for an alleged media bribery scheme to help Yediot Ahronot against its competitor Yisrael Hayom using influence he had with Yisrael Hayom owner Sheldon Adelson.

    That real familiar feeling.
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    Copying another summary

    From the notes about the team:

    • Dreeben is a Justice Department Deputy Solicitor General who has argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court. Federal records show he has made no political donations, though one by a man with the same name has been confused as having come from him.
    • Weissmann served as the chief of the Justice Department’s fraud section, where he oversaw corruption investigations, including the probe into cheating by Volkswagen on diesel emissions tests. Weissmann donated $2,300 to the Obama Victory Fund in 2008, $2,000 to the DNC in 2006 and at least $2,300 to the Clinton campaign in 2007. Records seem to indicate a duplicate donation on the same day, though Carr said Weissmann could confirm only one and would have to review records to assess whether the other might have been a recording error.
    • Quarles worked as an assistant special prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. He came with Mueller from the law firm WilmerHale. He donated more than $30,000 to various Democratic campaigns, including $2,700 to Hillary Clinton’s in 2016, though his giving dates back two decades. Quarles also gave in $2,500 in 2015 to Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and $250 to then-Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) in 2005.
    • Rhee is a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel and assistant U.S. Attorney in D.C.. She also came from WilmerHale. Rhee donated a total of $5,400 to Clinton’s campaign in 2015 and 2016, and a total of $4,800 to the Obama Victory Fund in 2008 and 2011. She also made smaller donations totaling $1,750 to the DNC and to various Democrats running for the Senate.
    • Zebley is a former assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia and served as Mueller’s chief of staff when Mueller was FBI director. He came with Mueller from the law firm WilmerHale. Federal records show he has made no political donations.
    • Van Grack is a Justice Department national security division prosecutor. He donated donated $286.77 to Obama’s campaign in 2008.
    • Atkinson is a trial attorney in the Justice Department's fraud section. He donated $200 to Clinton’s campaign in 2016.
    • Goldstein headed the public corruption unit in the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District New York. He had worked there under Preet Bharara, who President Trump fired as U.S. Attorney after he refused to resign when asked. Goldstein donated $3,300 to Obama's campaigns in 2008 and 2012.
    • Ahmad is an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York who specializes in counter-terrorism cases. She was recently profiled in The New Yorker, which reported she had successfully prosecuted 13 terrorism cases since 2009 without a single loss. Federal records show she had made no political donations.”
    • Prelogar is a lawyer in the Solicitor General’s office. She donated $250 each to Clinton’s campaign and the Obama Victory Fund 2016 and 2012.

    Ethics experts said the giving should not preclude anyone’s participation. Justice Department policies and federal law actually prohibit discriminating based on political affiliation when it comes to hiring for nonpolitical positions — meaning Mueller might feel he cannot consider donation history when he makes hires.
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    Trump has agreed to hold a full-fledged bilateral meeting with Putin on Friday, White House says

    President Trump will sit down for an extended meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday on the sidelines of a major economic conference in Germany, a White House official said Tuesday.

    Trump’s first face-to-face interaction with Putin will be a "normal bilateral meeting" during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in a statement Tuesday.

    The label implies a longer and more formal meeting than the brief conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Trump also has on his schedule for Friday, as well as other "pull aside" meetings with the leaders of Mexico, Japan and several other countries that day.

    The session will be the first formal conversation between Putin and a U.S. president in nearly two years, after the U.S. moved to isolate Moscow following the Russian annexation of Ukrainian territory.

    It comes amid tension over Moscow's efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and its support for the Syrian government. A special counsel is directing an FBI investigation into whether people associated with Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to hurt Hillary Clinton's chances of being elected.

    Trump campaigned on a promise to “get along” with Putin and forge a more cooperative relationship between the two countries. At times, he has called the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia interfered with the election a "hoax."

    Friday's meeting will be the first major test of Trump's promise of better relations. Lawmakers from both parties want Trump to use the opportunity to tell Putin to not interfere in future U.S. elections. The White House has refused to say what will be discussed.

    "There's no specific agenda," Trump's national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, told reporters Thursday. "It's really going to be whatever the president wants to talk about."

    Putin is expected to look for ways to further undermine the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and exploit divisions within NATO such as the tension between Trump and Merkel.
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    White House Warns CNN That Critical Coverage Could Cost Time Warner Its Merger

    It’s quite possible that Donald Trump would never have become president were it not for CNN. The network nurtured the reality star’s campaign in its infancy, broadcasting entire stump speeches, uninterrupted by correction or commentary. And it is likely that the president would be little more than a cultural artifact — a walking reminder of 1980s nihilism — were it not for the network’s president Jeffrey Zucker, who reintroduced Trump to the American public as a no-nonsense businessman in NBC’s The Apprentice.

    But CNN is a journalistic enterprise. Or, at least, it plays one on TV. And so when a politician spews vicious, obvious lies on a near-daily basis — and directs a good portion of that venom at the free press itself — CNN’s anchors and reporters feel compelled to correct and condemn such mendacity. And that makes the president feel “betrayed.”

    So, now, his administration is openly threatening to punish the network by sending the Justice Department after its parent company. As the New York Times reports:

    Mr. Trump’s allies argue that it is CNN’s conduct that is unbecoming. Starting on last year’s campaign trail, the president and his aides have accused the network of bias and arrogance, an offensive that heated up again in January after CNN reported on the existence of a secret dossier detailing a series of lurid accusations against Mr. Trump. The network’s reporters now routinely joust with Mr. Trump’s press aides, and Jim Acosta, a White House correspondent, recently denounced the administration’s use of off-camera briefings as an affront to American values.

    White House advisers have discussed a potential point of leverage over their adversary, a senior administration official said: a pending merger between CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, and AT&T. Mr. Trump’s Justice Department will decide whether to approve the merger, and while analysts say there is little to stop the deal from moving forward, the president’s animus toward CNN remains a wild card. [my emphasis]

    This detail is buried 12 paragraphs into a feature on CNN’s combative relationship with Trump. Which is bizarre, given that it’s an open confession of corruption by a senior White House official. It hardly matters whether the administration follows through on its threat: The White House is extorting a news network in the pages of the New York Times. The fact that this didn’t strike the paper as headline material is a testament to how thoroughly Trump has already succeeded in eroding our expectations for good governance.

    Shortly after the mogul’s election, Vox’s Matt Yglesias posited politically motivated interference in the Time Warner–AT&T merger as a frightening hypothetical — a development that would signal America’s descent into kleptocracy.

    Trump is not going to crush the free media in one fell swoop. But big corporate media does face enough regulatory matters that even a single exemplary case would suffice to induce large-scale self-censorship. AT&T, for example, is currently seeking permission from antitrust authorities to buy Time Warner — permission that Time Warner executives might plausibly fear is contingent on Trump believing that CNN has covered him “fairly.”

    It’s worth noting that CNN has already allowed the desire to appease Trump (and his voters) to undermine its journalistic integrity. The network literally pays Trump associates Corey Lewandowski and Jeffrey Lord to lie to its audience on the president’s behalf — even as it cut ties with Reza Aslan for profanely criticizing the president on social media.

    While this is the first time the administration has publicly declared its interest in using the Justice Department as a tool for stifling dissent, Trump has been encouraging Time Warner to discipline its news network for months now. In February, the Wall Street Journal reported that senior White House adviser (and Trump son-in-law) Jared Kushner “complained to Gary Ginsberg, executive vice-president of corporate marketing and communications at CNN’s parent Time Warner, about what Mr. Kushner feels is unfair coverage slanted against the president.”

    On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to block Time Warner’s desired merger “because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”

    If that sentiment were genuine, it would be worth applauding. There’s considerable evidence that corporate consolidation in general — and media concentration, in particular — has been bad for our economy and our democracy. But the Trump administration has signaled an appreciation for the virtues of monopolies, appointing a former lobbyist with an affinity for big business as the Justice Department’s head of antitrust enforcement.

    And the White House is perfectly comfortable with media consolidation — when such mergers increase the bandwidth of pro-Trump outlets. Earlier this year, the FCC relaxed rules on how many local stations a single owner can control. Shortly thereafter, Sinclair Broadcast Group purchased Tribune Media — thereby gaining ownership of enough local television stations to reach 70 percent of American households. Sinclair is run by a big-dollar GOP donor, and forced its local affiliates to skew their coverage in Trump’s favor throughout the 2016 campaign.

    If the White House blocks the Time Warner–AT&T deal, it will not be out of a desire to enhance competition, but to limit free speech.

    To be sure, there’s reason to doubt that Trump will make good on that threat — this White House’s bark tends to be louder than its bite. In an interview with the Times, Zucker claims that the merger is not something he thinks about and that Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes has never brought that subject to his attention.

    But when a president with an ardent, white-nationalist following barks, it’s reasonable to fear that someone else might use their teeth. While Zucker isn’t worried about antitrust enforcement, he told the Times that he isworried for his staff’s personal safety:

    The level of threats against CNN employees, he said, has spiked this year. Mr. Trump, he said, “has caused us to have to take steps that you wouldn’t think would be necessary because of the actions of the president of the United States.”

    Over the weekend, Trump tweeted a GIF that portrayed him battering a wrestling figure with the CNN logo for a head. The creator of that clip turned out to be a neo-Nazi Reddit user who had posted a list of all the Jews that work at CNN. The network’s Andrew Kaczynski tracked down that user and extracted an apology. Kaczynski declined to reveal the figure’s identity, but suggested that he retained the right to do so, if the shit-poster resumed his “ugly behavior on social media.”

    That threat did not sit well with the alt-right, who saw it as an attempt to restrict free speech through intimidation. Thus, some Trumpists decided to express their principled opposition to such intimidation, by threatening to kill Kaczynski and his family. As BuzzFeed reports:

    For now, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, Kaczynski and his family are the subject of an ongoing harassment campaign that includes the publication of personal information and death threats. And earlier today, the pro-Trump social media personality Michael Cernovich announced a protest outside Kaczynski’s New York home.

    The White House is openly threatening to punish a (barely) adversarial outlet through selective regulatory enforcement. White nationalist Trump supporters are threatening to kill investigative reporters and assembling outside their homes.

    Donald Trump has been president for less than six months.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
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    Everything is fine you guys

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