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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    Graham blocks resolution calling for Mueller report to be made public

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday blocked a resolution calling for special counsel Robert Mueller's report to be made public after it passed the House unanimously.

    Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked for unanimous consent for the nonbinding resolution, which cleared the House 420-0, to be passed by the Senate before they leave town for a weeklong recess.

    "There is no good reason, no good reason that the special counsel's report should not be made public. The American people are overwhelmingly for the report being made public. They have a right to see it. No one should stand in the way of that," Schumer said from the Senate floor.

    But Graham, a close ally of Trump's who chairs the Judiciary Committee, objected after Schumer refused to amend the House-passed resolution to include a provision calling on the Justice Department (DOJ) to appoint a special counsel to investigate DOJ misconduct in the handling of the investigation into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's email use and the Carter Page Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications.

    Graham stressed that he supported Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and predicted that it would wrap up shortly. But he added that he had been "trying to find balance" by also supporting an investigation into Clinton-related scandals.

    "Was there two systems of justice in 2016? One for the Democratic candidate and one for the Republican candidate?" Graham asked.

    Under Senate rules, any one senator can try to pass or set up a vote on a bill, resolution or nomination. But, in turn, any one senator can block their request.

    Schumer fired back that Graham appeared to be using a "pretext" for trying to block the Mueller resolution.

    "I have absolutely no idea why a member of this body would object to this basic level of transparency whatever their concern or other issues," he said.

    The House-passed resolution argues there is “overwhelming public interest” in the government releasing the contents of the high-profile report. The resolution calls on the DOJ to fully release the report to Congress and to release it to the public “except to the extent the public disclosure of any portion thereof is expressly prohibited by law.”

    Attorney General William Barr was asked about releasing Mueller's report during his confirmation hearings.

    Barr said he would release as much of Mueller’s findings as possible, but was careful not to commit to releasing the report in full — something that rankled Democrats who argue that the high public interest surrounding the investigation demands its release.

    Under current regulations, Mueller is required to submit a final, confidential report explaining his prosecutorial decisions to the DOJ. It will be up to Barr whether to release part or any of Mueller’s findings.
  2. Czer

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

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    New Docs Reveal Trey Gowdy’s F-Bomb Filled Grilling of Fired FBI Agent Peter Strzok
    March 14th, 2019

    A transcript of fired FBI agent Peter Strzok‘s behind-closed-doors testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in June 2018 was released on Thursday. The back-and-forth between Strzok and then-Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) regarding the meaning of the F-word (and other anti-Trump texts Strzok sent to fired FBI lawyer Lisa Page) immediately caught attention. The testimony is more than 300 pages long, and the Gowdy-Strzok fireworks began around page 206.

    Why did you use the I-word?

    Gowdy began his grilling of Strzok by probing him about why he was calling Trump a “fucking idiot” over text message.

    “Agent Strzok, when we left, we were in October of 2016, and you were responding to a text where you wrote: I’m riled up. Trump is a fucking idiot, is unable to provide a coherent answer. And if I remember correctly, that was in response to your watching the debate. In October of 2016, were you still working on the Russia probe.”

    “I was?” Strzok asked.

    “How about in November of 2016, were you still working on the Russia probe then?” Gowdy asked again.

    “Yes,” Strzok said.

    Eventually, Gowdy shifted his attention to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Strzok’s texts from the day after it happened. Strzok was infamously removed from working on the investigation and fired due to inflammatory and anti-Trump texts like the ones we are about to review once again.

    “May the 18th [2017]. Anything important happen around May the 17th or 18th that you can recall?” Gowdy asked.

    “Yeah. So, at that time, it was right around the time that Special Counsel Mueller was appointed, I believe,” Strzok said.

    “Now when you say ‘right around the time,’ how about the day after,” Gowdy replied.

    “Okay,” Strzok said.

    Strzok said that his concerns about Trump were “independent of any party or any candidate,” but Gowdy didn’t buy it.

    “My concern, my desire to work on this wouldn’t matter if it was candidate Trump or candidate Clinton or candidate Sanders or candidate whoever,” Strzok said. “My drive, my interest in doing this, as a national security professional, was from the perspective of protecting the United States.”

    Gowdy said that was “interesting” because Strzok sent a text on May 18th (day after Mueller appointment) saying, “Who gives a fuck. One more AD versus an investigation leading to impeachment.” The lawmaker said this suggested to him that Strzok had already made up his mind about Trump impeachment.

    Strzok said, “that’s not true.”

    Gowdy then pressed Strzok on why he was talking about “impeachment” four days after Special Counsel Mueller‘s Russia investigation was announced.

    “This is 4 days after Special Counsel Mueller’s probe has been announced. The day it was announced you referenced impeachment. Four days later, you referenced impeachment,” Gowdy said. “It sounds, I guess, to someone who might be a little bit cynical that you had already made up your mind how you wanted it to end. Is that true?”

    “I had absolutely not,” Strzok replied. Gowdy asked, again, “why bring up impeachment?”

    Strzok offered a lengthy explanation of his thinking: “That was one of the possible and the most severe outcome of the investigation. And when you read it in the context of what was going on, President Trump firing Director [James] Comey and on the one hand saying it had to do with the Clinton investigation” — which Strzok also worked on — “and then telling a Russian diplomat that a great pressure had been lifted on the Russia investigations of him, when in the context of that footnote you’ll see was news reporting that President Trump had asked intelligence community chiefs to take certain actions, my concern and thought was [impeachment] was certainly possible. But in no way had I prejudged or decided that nay investigative outcome was going to happen.”

    We’ll come back to this because Strzok gives a slightly different answer later on.

    What did you mean by “fucking terrifying,” and what does OMG mean?

    Here’s where the F-bombs really started dropping.

    Gowdy asked Strzok about his response to a New York Times article, headlined “Victory for Mr. Trump Remains Possible.” Strzok had texted “OMG, this is fucking terrifying.”

    “What does ‘OMG’ stand for?” Gowdy asked. “Oh, my God,” Strzok said.

    “Oh, my God, this is fucking terrifying. What was terrifying about a victory by Trump?” he asked. “Did you share her concern [Page’s?] that you were scared for the organization of the FBI if the New York Times probability numbers continued to drop?”

    “I wouldn’t say I was scared I think I thought there might be a severe test of the rule of law in the FBI,” Strzok answered.

    Gowdy wanted to know what Strzok meant by “fucking terrifying” in that text. Strzok admitted that he was referring to the “prospect that candidate Trump might be elected President.”

    “And just so I’m right in my mind, this is why you were also dispassionately, objectively investigating whether or not he colluded/coordinated with a foreign actor to interfere with the election?” Gowdy asked.

    “No,” Strzok said, “Those are independent things, Congressman.”

    What do you mean by ‘F’ing’?

    Gowdy asked what Strzok meant by “F’ing,” in the context of text criticism of former Green Party candidate Jill Stein and former Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

    “Well, on November the 3rd, you did text: Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are F’ing everything up too. What did ‘F’ing’ stand for?” Gowdy asked.

    Strzok had a blunt answer.

    “Fucking,” he said.

    “So Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are fucking everything up too. What did you mean by that?”

    “My sense was, again, from a personal perspective, looking at the race, the Presidential race, that a variety of actors were causing debates and shifts and movement in a way that was causing core messaging or just general sentiment to be moved and shifted,” Strzok answered.

    “Well, whose chances did you think Stein and Johnson were hurting, Clinton’s or Trump’s?” Gowdy asked.

    “No, I believe Clinton’s,” Strzok replied.

    “Well, I could almost take from reading this text that you wanted her to win,” Gowdy said.

    “Congressman, I had — like many agents, I have, you know, certainly strongly held political opinions that are personal. And I have – there have been Presidents that I’ve liked that have been elected; there have been Presidents that I didn’t particularly care for that were elected.”

    “So it’s fair to say you were a Clinton supporter?”

    “Congressman, I think that’s clear from the reading of the text, certainly, that I wasn’t a Trump fan,” Strzok said.

    Strzok declines to go into detail about why he thought impeachment was possible

    “So, in November, when you said it would be fucking terrifying for him to become the President, you were investigating whether or not [Trump] had colluded/coordinated/otherwise conspired with a foreign actor to interfere with the election,” Gowdy said.

    “No, I don’t think that’s accurate. The allegations that have been made public are that — allegations that members of his campaign may have been doing that,” Strzok said.

    The conversation then shifted back to impeachment.

    “Well, then why in the world would be talking about impeachment if you didn’t think he’d done anything wrong?” Gowdy asked.

    “Because, without getting into details here that are either classified or in the context of an ongoing investigation, my concern, based on the credible allegations that members of his campaign, numbers and coordination unknown, were actively colluding with the Government of Russia struck me as an extraordinary threat to America,” Strzok said.

    This is an interesting exchange. Strzok said that there have been no public allegations that Trump himself colluded, but declined to get into classified details.
  3. Czer

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

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    US bars entry of International Criminal Court investigators

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States will revoke or deny visas to International Criminal Court personnel who attempt to investigate or prosecute alleged abuses committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere and may do the same with those who try to take action against Israel, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday.

    Pompeo, making good on a threat delivered last September by national security adviser John Bolton, said the U.S. had already moved against some employees of The Hague-based court, but declined to say how many or what cases they may have been investigating.

    “We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation,” Pompeo said.

    He said any wrongdoing committed by American personnel would be dealt with in U.S. military and criminal courts.

    The visa restrictions would apply to any court employee who takes or has taken action “to request or further such an investigation,” Pompeo said.

    “These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies’ consent,” he said.

    The ICC prosecutor has a pending request to look into possible war crimes in Afghanistan that may involve Americans. The Palestinians have also asked the court to bring cases against Israel.

    Speaking directly to ICC employees, Pompeo said: “If you are responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of U.S. personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan, you should not assume that you still have or will get a visa or will be permitted to enter the United States.”

    That comment suggested that action may have already been taken against the ICC prosecutor who asked last year to formally open an investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by Afghan national security forces, Taliban and Haqqani network militants, as well as U.S. forces and intelligence officials in Afghanistan since May 2003.

    The United States has never been a member of the ICC. The Clinton administration in 2000 signed the Rome Statute that created the ICC but had reservations about the scope of the court’s jurisdiction and never submitted it for ratification to the Senate, where there was broad bipartisan opposition to what lawmakers saw as a threat to U.S. sovereignty.

    When George W. Bush took office in 2001, his administration promoted and passed the American Service Members Protection Act, which sought to immunize U.S. troops from potential prosecution by the ICC. In 2002, Bolton, then a State Department official, traveled to New York to ceremonially “unsign” the Rome Statute at the United Nations.

    In September, Bolton said the ICC was a direct threat to U.S. national security interests and threatened its personnel with both visa revocations and financial sanctions should it try to move against Americans. Pompeo said Friday that more measures may come.

    “We are prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions, if the ICC does not change its course,” he said, adding: “The first and highest obligation of our government is to protect its citizens and this administration will carry out that duty.”

    The ICC did not immediately respond to Pompeo’s announcement, but said last year it was “undeterred” by Bolton’s threat. At the time it noted that it had been established by a treaty supported by 123 countries and said it prosecutes cases only when those countries failed to do so or did not do so “genuinely.” Afghanistan is a signatory.

    Supporters of the court, the first global tribunal for war crimes, slammed Pompeo’s announcement.

    Human Rights Watch called it “a thuggish attempt to penalize investigators” at the International Criminal Court.

    “The Trump administration is trying an end run around accountability,” it said. “Taking action against those who work for the ICC sends a clear message to torturers and murderers alike: Their crimes may continue unchecked.”

    Since its creation, the court has filed charges against dozens of suspects including former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was killed by rebels before he could be arrested, and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is accused of charges including genocide in Darfur. Al-Bashir remains at large, as does Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, who was among the first rebels charged by the court in 2005. The court has convicted just eight defendants.

    The court has been hobbled by refusal of the U.S., Russia, China and other major nations to join. Others have quit, including Burundi and the Philippines.
  4. Czer

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

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    Mueller, in U.S. court filing, says multiple probes continue

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Special Counsel’s Office on Friday asked a court to delay sentencing for U.S. President Donald Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates, amid “ongoing investigations” stemming from the Russia investigation.

    In a filing with the U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller cited Gates’ continued cooperation with multiple probes and asked permission to update the judge on the case again by May 14.

    “Gates continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations, and accordingly the parties do not believe it is appropriate to commence the sentencing process at this time,” Mueller’s team said in the court filing.

    Gates is one of several Trump advisers who have been charged or pleaded guilty to crimes stemming from the federal investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign.

    Gates was the longtime business partner of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who faces more than seven years in prison for financial and conspiracy crimes after sentencing this week in a separate case in federal court in Washington.

    Unlike Manafort, who stood trial and was found guilty in one case in Virginia before pleading guilty in another case in Washington, Gates agreed early on to cooperate with Mueller’s team and took the stand to testify against his former business partner.

    Gates pleaded guilty in February 2018 to conspiracy against the United States and lying to investigators.

    Russia has denied meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. Trump has said there was no collusion between his campaign and Moscow, and has characterized the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt.”
  5. Czer

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

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    War crime investigators will be barred from entering US, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says
    ICC staff probing Israel may also face restrictions

    War crimes investigators working for the International Criminal Court (ICC) will be barred from entering America if they probe the actions of the country's soldiers in Afghanistan and other locations, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said

    Suggesting they would not be granted visas, he said: "We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation."

    A spokesperson for the ICC said that it was an independent and impartial institution and would continue its work "undeterred" by Washington's actions.

    A prosecutor currently has a pending request to investigate actions of US troops in Afghanistan.

    The Trump administration said restrictions may also be placed on investigators examining alleged war crimes involving Israel.

    The visa restrictions will apply to any ICC employee who takes or has taken action "to request or further such an investigation" into allegations against US forces and their allies in Afghanistan that include forced disappearances and torture, Mr Pompeo said.

    The new policy is designed to deter the investigators, he added.

    "These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies' consent," he said. "If you are responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of US personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan, you should not assume that you still have or will get a visa or will be permitted to enter the United States."

    The US is not and has never been an ICC signatory but Afghanistan is one of the 123 countries which signed the treaty founding the international court.

    "We are prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions, if the ICC does not change its course," Mr Pompeo said, adding: "The first and highest obligation of our government is to protect its citizens and this administration will carry out that duty. The ICC, as a court of law, will continue to do its independent work, undeterred, in accordance with its mandate and the overarching principle of the rule of law."

    Mr Pompeo's announcement was criticised by Human Rights Watch, which called it "a thuggish attempt to penalize investigators" at the ICC.

    "The Trump administration is trying an end run around accountability," the organisation said. "Taking action against those who work for the ICC sends a clear message to torturers and murderers alike: Their crimes may continue unchecked."
  6. Czer

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

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    Italy probes mystery death of Berlusconi sex trial witness

    Italy is investigating the mysterious death of a former model and witness at Silvio Berlusconi's sex trial, with a newspaper suggesting on Saturday she may have been poisoned with a radioactive substance.

    Milan prosecutor Francesco Greco said an investigation had been opened following the death on March 1 of Moroccan-born Imane Fadil at one of the city's hospitals.

    The 33-year-old had been brought to the hospital on January 29 with unexplained stomach pains.

    Fadil was one of the witnesses who testified at the trial of the former Italian premier and media mogul on charges of having sex with an underage prostitute at one of his notoriously hedonistic bunga-bunga parties.

    According to Italy's Corriere della Sera daily, the hospital had run a battery of tests to determine the cause of her failing health, but finding nothing, had sent off samples to a specialised laboratory in the northern town of Pavia.

    The results came back on March 6, five days after her death, suggesting the presence of "a mixture of radioactive substances which are not normally available for purchase", the paper said, citing unnamed sources.

    Fadil's lawyer, Paolo Sevesi, said she had spoken to him about "her fear of having been poisoned," the AGI news agency reported.

    The former model first hit the headlines in 2012 when she gave detailed testimony about the goings on at Berlusconi's orgiastic parties at his villa in Arcore near Milan.

    She testified that the first time she went to a party, she saw two young women in nun costumes stripping in front of the then prime minister. Later, she said he himself handed her 2,000 euros ($2,600) in cash, telling her: "Don't be offended."

    Berlusconi has faced a string of charges over the so-called Rubygate scandal linked to his parties and the underaged prostitute Karima El-Mahroug, also known as "Ruby the heart-stealer".

    Now 82, the billionaire businessman is currently on trial for paying a witness to give false testimony about his parties.

    Berlusconi is already being investigated or prosecuted for witness tampering in Milan, Sienna, Rome and Turin, each time for allegedly paying people to keep quiet about his bunga-bunga parties.
  7. Czer

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

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  8. AgelessDrifter

    AgelessDrifter TZT Neckbeard Lord

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  9. Czer

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

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    Yeah, they obviously did it for that reason in 2002 under George W Bush

    it wasn't needed until that point I guess
  10. AgelessDrifter

    AgelessDrifter TZT Neckbeard Lord

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    in fairness to me I was at peak St Pattrick's Day drunk when I made that post and had barely read the screenshot
  11. Czer

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

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    Bharara: 'Doesn't seem' Mueller's investigation 'ending any time soon'

    Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Sunday that it doesn't appear that special counsel Robert Mueller is preparing to conclude his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    "I’m an outsider now, and I don't still run the Southern District of New York, and I’m not aware of what’s going on with various investigations that sometimes intersect with the special counsel’s investigation," Bharara said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

    "But I think people should view with some skepticism the notion that gets breathlessly reported every week that the Mueller investigation is coming to an end."

    Bharara, who was fired by President Trump shortly after the president took office, acknowledged that the departure of a top prosecutor in the probe, Andrew Weissmann, could mean things are drawing to a close.

    However, he pointed to Mueller's request that a federal judge further postpone sentencing for Rick Gates on account of cooperation in “several ongoing investigations," as a sign that the investigation still has legs.

    Gates, who served as Trump's deputy campaign chairman and is an ex-business partner of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI last year and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel's investigation.

    "It doesn’t seem to me based on that, although I don't know, that the work of the special counsel is ending any time soon," Bharara said. "Unless it’s the case… that the cases in which Rick Gates is cooperating are being parceled out to other U.S. attorney offices."

    Mueller's investigation has thus far implicated six former Trump associates and more than 20 Russians. Manafort was sentenced last week to additional prison time as part of the probe, bringing his total sentence to 7.5 years.
  12. Czer

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

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    Colleagues Defend Tucker Carlson’s ‘Ideas'—That Iraqis Are ‘Monkeys,’ Child Rape Is ‘Commitment to Love’
    For champions of so-called "civility," the problem for public discourse is not the sort of statements Carlson made, but any suggestion that the public could be better served
    March 17, 2019

    A tweet (3/12/19) from New York Times columnist Bret Stephens approvingly quoted—calling it “astute as usual”—a statement from the National Review's David French (3/11/19): “Our nation cannot maintain its culture of free speech if we continue to reward those who seek to destroy careers rather than rebut ideas.”

    Were French and Stephens defending Ilhan Omar? Julian Assange? Ha ha, of course not; they were speaking in support of Fox host Tucker Carlson, who is facing some pressure from advertisers after the group Media Matters released audio of him on shock radio from a few years back, saying things like Iraq is a “crappy place filled with a bunch of, you know, semiliterate primitive monkeys.”

    For champions of civility like Stephens, the problem for public discourse is not this sort of statement, but any suggestion that the public could be better served. As Arizona activist Imraan Siddiqi put it in a response tweet to Stephens:

    Ilhan quoted a Diddy lyric and you wrote 10 articles about it. Tucker called Iraqis monkeys—and those are “ideas,” to be “rebutted.”

    The Times isn’t the only one engaged in Carlson rehabilitation. The Washington Post,having already gifted readers with a Kathleen Parker column (3/12/19) headed “Tucker Carlson, Don’t Bow to the Mob,” published a March 13 news report that explained, “In one set of recordings, Carlson made controversial statements about child rape and comments that could be construed as misogynistic.” Which was followed immediately by Carlson’s quote:

    If you’re talking to a feminist and she’s giving you, ‘Well, you know men really need to be more sensitive,’ no actually, men don’t need to be more sensitive. You just need to be quiet and do what you’re told.”

    I reckon that could be construed as misogynistic, as could, just possibly, if one were inclined, Carlson’s comment that “I love women, but they’re extremely primitive, they’re basic, they’re not that hard to understand.” (The Post later edited the story to give it a different dodge, referring to “comments that some have called misogynistic.”)

    As for his statements on child rape, they’re only “controversial” if one imagines a substantial block of folks that share his view that Warren Jeffs should be free. The former head of the breakaway Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Jeffs is serving a life sentence for assault and accomplice to rape for, for example, “arranging” a “marriage” between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin. Jeffs himself had a “wife” who was 12 years old, but that’s not really rape, Carlson explained: “The rapist, in this case, has made a lifelong commitment to love and take care of the person, so it is a little different.” Jeffs, Carlson maintains, was only persecuted for being “unpopular,” with a “different lifestyle.”

    Carlson says he won’t apologize for being “caught saying something naughty…more than a decade ago.” Media Matters is clear that the tapes are relevant to the views of a host who just a couple months ago was saying immigrants make the US “poorer and dirtier and more divided.” Says the group’s president Angelo Carusone, “We were actually helping people better understand just how vile your current Fox News show is by showing what that worldview really looks like.”
  13. Czer

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

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    The US Death Of Putin’s Media Czar Was Murder, Trump Dossier Author Christopher Steele Tells The FBI
    The author of the famous Trump dossier provided a secret report to the FBI asserting that RT founder Mikhail Lesin was bludgeoned to death by thugs hired by an oligarch close to Putin. Three other sources independently told the FBI the same basic story, contradicting the government’s finding that Lesin’s death was accidental.
    March 27, 2018

    The FBI possesses a secret report asserting that Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was beaten to death by hired thugs in Washington, DC — directly contradicting the US government’s official finding that Mikhail Lesin died by accident.

    The report, according to four sources who have read all or parts of it, was written by the former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who also wrote the famous dossier alleging that Russia had been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Donald Trump. The bureau received his report while it was helping the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department investigate the Russian media baron’s death, the sources said.

    Christopher Steele

    FBI spokesperson Andrew Ames declined to confirm or deny the existence of the report and would not comment for this story. Steele's business partner, Chris Burrows, declined to comment on behalf of Steele and their company, Orbis Business Intelligence.

    The new revelations come as concerns about Russia’s meddling in the West have intensified to a pitch not seen since the Cold War. Both the UK and the US have blamed the Kremlin for poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England this month, using a rare nerve agent that endangered bystanders. (Russia has denied it was behind the poisoning.) In the wake of that attack, the British government has opened a review of all 14 suspicious deaths linked to Russia that a BuzzFeed News investigation exposed last year.

    The BuzzFeed News series also revealed new details about Lesin — including that he died on the eve of a scheduled meeting with US Justice Department officials. They had planned to interview Lesin about the inner workings of RT, the Kremlin-funded network that he founded.

    Now BuzzFeed News has established:
    • Steele’s report says that Lesin was bludgeoned to death by enforcers working for an oligarch close to Putin, the four sources said.

    • The thugs had been instructed to beat Lesin, not kill him, but they went too far, the sources said Steele wrote.

    • Three of the sources said that the report described the killers as Russian state security agents moonlighting for the oligarch.

    • The Steele report is not the FBI's only source for this account of Lesin's death: Three other people, acting independently from Steele, said they also told the FBI that Lesin had been bludgeoned to death by enforcers working for the same oligarch named by Steele.
    Lesin’s corpse was found in a Washington, DC, hotel room on the morning of Nov. 5, 2015. The coroner determined that he had died from blunt force injuries to the head and had also sustained blunt force injuries to his neck, torso, upper extremities, and lower extremities. After an 11-month investigation, a federal prosecutor announced in late 2016 that Lesin died alone in his room due to a series of drunken falls “after days of excessive consumption of alcohol.” His death was ruled an “accident,” with the coroner adding acute alcohol intoxication as a contributing cause of death, and prosecutors closed the case.

    But Steele’s report — the existence of which has never before been made public — adds to a mounting body of evidence that casts doubt on the official finding on Lesin’s death. “What I can tell you is that there isn’t a single person inside the bureau who believes this guy got drunk, fell down, and died,” an FBI agent told BuzzFeed News last year. “Everyone thinks he was whacked and that Putin or the Kremlin were behind it.”

    In December, DC police released 58 pages of its case file on Lesin’s death. While many parts are blacked out, what was released says nothing about the blunt force injuries that killed Lesin — or even about him falling down, which is how he is supposed to have died.

    Now BuzzFeed News has learned that federal prosecutors called witnesses before a grand jury during 2016 to compel them to testify under penalty of perjury about Lesin’s death, and they amassed more than 150 pages of material from the proceedings. The use of a grand jury, not previously reported, was discovered in documents released after BuzzFeed News launched a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to compel the Justice Department, the FBI, and other agencies to turn over records related to the Lesin investigation. That lawsuit is ongoing.

    Citing grand jury secrecy, two law enforcement officials with direct knowledge of the case declined to say what witnesses were called or describe their testimony. They said that prosecutors used a sitting grand jury, rather than empanelling one specifically for the Lesin case, and that they were investigating the media baron’s death as a homicide.

    During the investigation, FBI agents reviewing hotel surveillance footage of Lesin were asked to pay particular attention to the back of his head, documents obtained through the FOIA lawsuit show. As with the police files, the FBI documents that have been released say nothing about how Lesin sustained the head injuries that killed him. But, according to those documents, the bureau found no evidence of foul play.

    “It’s really hard to imagine that it was an innocent death,” said former CIA intelligence officer John Sipher, who worked for years on Russia matters. “Everybody I know who’s a professional and dealt with Russia — the immediate assumption is that he was murdered.”

    Details about Steele’s Lesin report are based on interviews with 11 sources, almost all of whom are current or former FBI agents or US intelligence officials. Two sources said they had read the whole report, while two other sources each said they read about half of it. Seven others said they heard about it from colleagues or had been briefed on it.

    It’s not surprising that Steele provided his Lesin report to the FBI. The former head of the Russia desk for Britain’s foreign intelligence service served as a longtime source for the FBI and was occasionally paid for his information, some of which has been used in federal criminal cases, according to memos released earlier this year by Democrats and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee. He also provided more than 100 reports, mostly on Russian affairs, to the State Department, according to a former assistant secretary of state, Jonathan Winer.

    For his report to the FBI about Lesin, Steele gathered intelligence from high-level sources in Moscow, according to the two sources who read the whole report.

    All four of the people who read Steele’s report said it pins Lesin’s murder on a professional relationship gone lethally awry. According to the report, they said, Lesin fell out with a powerful oligarch close to Putin. Wanting to intimidate Lesin, the oligarch then contracted with Russian state security agents to beat up Lesin, the report states, according to three of the sources. The goal was not to kill Lesin, all four sources said Steele wrote, but Lesin died from the attack.

    The sources could not recall what, if anything, the report said about whether Putin knew of or sanctioned the attack.

    Three other individuals, including a business associate of Lesin and two intelligence officials, told BuzzFeed News that they had independently given the FBI similar information: that Lesin had been bludgeoned to death by thugs operating on orders from the same oligarch Steele named.

    A fourth person, who is another business associate close to Lesin, told BuzzFeed News that Lesin had a falling out with the oligarch but did not know if the oligarch had any involvement in Lesin’s death.

    In the UK, BuzzFeed News exposed 14 suspicious deaths linked to Russia. In each of those cases, US intelligence officials suspected the dead might have been rubbed out by Russia’s security services or mafia groups — two forces that sometimes work in tandem — and they had shared intelligence with their British counterparts “in the context of assassinations.” In at least one case, that of Alexander Perepilichnyy, the US had determined he was likely killed on orders of Putin or his close associates.

    Yet despite that and other evidence, British authorities stuck by their position that the deaths were due to natural causes, accidents, or suicides, and they refused to reopen the cases — until the poisoning this month of Skripal, the former Russian spy. The attempted murder, using a rare nerve agent produced in Russia, caused an outcry throughout Britain. In response to widespread calls for a full inquiry into all 14 deaths from members of parliament who cited the BuzzFeed News investigation, the government agreed to review each of the cases with the help of Britain’s security service and the police.

    US intelligence officials told BuzzFeed News they had been watching the pattern of suspected assassinations across the Atlantic with increasing alarm, and Lesin’s death intensified those fears. “It is not inconceivable that the Kremlin could use its security services in the United States as it has elsewhere,” read a report released in January by Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The trail of mysterious deaths, all of which happened to people who possessed information that the Kremlin did not want made public, should not be ignored by Western countries on the assumption that they are safe from these extreme measures.”

    The FBI declined to answer any questions for this story, including whether it would reopen the investigation into Lesin’s death. The DC Metropolitan Police pointed to an earlier statement that said, “We will certainly reinvestigate should additional evidence be brought to light.”

    The son of a military construction worker, Lesin rose to become one of Russia’s most powerful and influential media officials. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, he ran a wildly successful advertising agency and developed the ad campaign that helped Boris Yeltsin win reelection to the presidency in 1996. Lesin went on to serve as Yeltsin’s press minister. Vladimir Putin kept him on during his first term as president, and Lesin muzzled anti-Putin critics by helping the Kremlin consolidate control over the country’s mass media. The move earned Lesin, a stocky man with a large head, a nickname: “The Bulldozer.”

    In 2005, he founded Russia Today, which he once described as a news channel to counter Western perspectives put out by the likes of CNN and the BBC. Later renamed RT, the state-funded media channel broadcasts in the US on cable and via the internet. Lesin also served as a presidential adviser.

    “Lesin was not a very nice guy,” one of his business associates said. “He was very smart, and he was a big player in the media. Whatever you wanted to do in the media, you had to go through him.” He was also difficult to work with. “He was a binge alcoholic,” another person who knew him said. “He would go off the rails for a week and you couldn’t find him.” The police files, first reported by the Washington Post, show that Lesin was drinking huge amounts of alcohol for almost three days before his body was found.

    Lesin’s role in government ended in 2009, but he continued to spend lavishly. “He bought a huge boat and filled it with girls, and his drinking got worse, and all that sort of stuff,” said an associate.

    Lesin’s yacht Serenity, which he purchased in 2011, was reportedly valued at $40 million. He spent more and more time in the United States, and he was dating a Siberian model at the time of his death. Property records show that companies he was associated with spent at least $28 million on luxury real estate, purchasing sprawling estates in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and Brentwood for himself; his daughter, Ekaterina Lesina, an RT bureau chief; and his son, Anton Lessine, a Hollywood producer.
  14. Czer

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

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    Mnuchin says he'll protect Trump privacy if taxes requested
    A rarely used nearly 100-year-old law allows a few congressional officials to seek individual tax returns from the Treasury Secretary.
    March 14, 2019

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrives to testify on "The President's FY2020 Budget Proposal" before the House Ways and Means Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 14, 2019.

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested Thursday he will protect President Donald Trump's privacy if he receives a request from House Democrats for Trump's tax returns.

    At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Mnuchin was asked whether he would meet a request for Trump's past tax returns. Chairman Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., is expected to formally ask for those as Democrats seek to shed light on Trump's financial dealings and potential conflicts of interest.

    "We will examine the request and we will follow the law ... and we will protect the president as we would protect any taxpayer" regarding their right to privacy, Mnuchin said.

    Neal is one of only three congressional officials authorized under a rarely used 1924 law to make a written request for anyone's tax returns to the Treasury secretary. The law says the Treasury chief "shall furnish" the requested material to members of the committee for them to examine behind closed doors. But Mnuchin did not specifically say he would turn them over.

    The unprecedented move likely would set off a huge legal battle between Trump's administration and Democrats controlling the House. The fight could take years to resolve, possibly stretching beyond the 2020 presidential election.

    Neal could move in coming weeks to ask for the documents. "It's happening and it's coming, so be prepared," Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., told Mnuchin at the hearing.

    Democrats say that seeking Trump's tax documents falls within their mandate of congressional oversight; Republicans accuse the Democrats of using powers in the tax law to mount a political witch hunt. Republican lawmakers have invoked privacy concerns and the confidentiality of all tax documents, suggesting that the Democrats would leak Trump's returns so they would become public.

    Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani has suggested the Democrats could have a hard time proving their demand was intended for pursuing legitimate congressional oversight and was not a political scavenger hunt.

    Mnuchin was asked whether Trump had intervened in some way or asked him to ignore the expected request for the tax returns. "He has not," Mnuchin responded. He said he hasn't discussed the issue with anyone in the White House or with Trump's attorneys.

    Trump broke with decades of tradition for presidential candidates by refusing to release his income tax filings during his 2016 campaign. He has said he won't release them because he is being audited, even though IRS officials have said taxpayers under audit are free to release their returns. Trump claimed at a news conference following the November elections that the filings are too complex for people to understand.

    Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, during his detailed testimony to a House committee last month, said he asked Trump for paperwork for the audit to prepare Trump's response to reporters about the issue, but never received any documentation. Cohen said that led him to presume that Trump isn't being audited.

    Getting Trump's returns has been high on the Democrats' list of priorities since they won control of the House in November's midterm elections. The Democrats tried and failed several times as the minority party in Congress to obtain Trump's returns.

    They want to explore numerous aspects of Trump's complex financial dealings and corporate empire. Among them: whether there are conflicts of interest between Trump's companies and his presidential actions, whether he's properly paid taxes and whether he personally benefited from the sweeping Republican-written tax law enacted in late 2017.
  15. Czer

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

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  16. Czer

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

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    The Apprentice Meets the Master as Bolsonaro Visits Trump
    March 16, 2019

    (Bloomberg) -- One of the world’s most enthusiastic students of President Donald Trump’s turbulent, Twitter-based style of government will finally meet the master on Tuesday when Brazil’s new head of state visits the White House.

    For Jair Bolsonaro, who revels in the “Trump of the Tropics’’ moniker, the trip offers him the opportunity to both drum up business for Brazil and to relaunch his image on the global stage after an underwhelming debut at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The U.S. leader, on the other hand, will relish the attention of an unabashed fan and ally in his combative approach toward China.

    Few -- if any -- Latin American presidents have embraced their U.S. counterparts with as much fervor as Bolsonaro, whose lawmaker son Eduardo recently addressed a Trump rally in Florida, urging the crowd to “build that wall.” Eduardo Bolsonaro is now president of the lower house’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. But while the affection appears mutual, the Trump administration has yet to offer the Brazilian government much more than supportive tweets. There’s been no U.S. ambassador in Brasilia since the middle of 2018.

    “Brazil only stands to gain from a closer relationship with the U.S.,” Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo said in an interview. “In the past there were limits to the relationship with the U.S. on the pretext of avoiding subservience, but that’s a great fallacy.”

    Two deals appear close to fruition. One would pave the way for U.S. companies to explore Brazil for uranium and invest in new nuclear power plants. The other involves commercial use of the Alcantara rocket launch site. While the U.S. has long been eager to use the base, Brazil has been reluctant to lease sovereign land to a foreign power without oversight of the sensitive technology involved.

    One of Brazil’s main hopes for this trip is that the U.S. will formally endorse its bid to join the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development and declare the country a major non-Nato ally. In return, Brazil could unilaterally scrap the visa requirements for visiting U.S. citizens.

    Preliminary talks on potential future trade deals are also likely to feature, but for the Brazilians the trip is at least as much about the optics as the substance. For Bolsonaro it should also some respite after a difficult week, unless awkward questions about the alleged killers of left-wing politician Marielle Franco follow him to Washington.

    Common Concerns

    For the U.S., talks between the two leaders will focus on defense co-operation, measures to combat transnational crime, as well as Venezuela, according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.

    While the crisis in Venezuela is also a priority for Brazil, a military intervention is not on the cards, according to Brazil’s ambassador to Washington Sergio Amaral. Instead, the two countries will discuss ways to increase the pressure on President Nicolas Maduro. China is also a common concern for both leaders. While Bolsonaro has dialed down much of his anti-Beijing rhetoric, he remains deeply wary of Chinese interests in Latin America.

    “From the perspective of the United States, we see this as a historic opportunity for Brazil and the United States to work together across a whole host of areas, economics, security and a range of others,” National Security Adviser John Bolton said.

    Playing Both Sides

    Much of Bolsonaro’s trip is aimed at showcasing Brazil’s new foreign policy to a domestic audience, breaking with a decades-long tradition of multilateralism to embrace the U.S. and Israel.

    Alongside meetings with investors from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Brazilian president is also due to meet with leaders from evangelical churches, who may wish to press him on his pre-election commitment to move Brazil’s Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

    His itinerary in Washington reveals an attempt to play to both sides of his base that, in many respects, are in opposition to one another, according to Matias Spektor, an international relations professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation who authored two books about meetings between U.S. and Brazilian presidents.

    Seeking concessions from Trump on trade and support for OECD membership will please those who espouse liberal macroeconomics, while cozying up to former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon at an embassy dinner will play to social conservatives who decry the spread of so-called “cultural Marxism.”

    Yet Trump had a deep falling-out with Bannon, partly because of criticisms that the former adviser vented to Michael Wolff for the 2018 book “Fire and Fury.”

    “If there is a single risk to the visit, I think it’s precisely Bolsonaro’s attachment to Bannon getting in the way of all the other things Bolsonaro wants to achieve while he’s in town,” Spektor said.
  17. Czer

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

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    Puzzling number of men tied to Ferguson protests have died
    Mar 17, 2019

    FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) - Two young men were found dead inside torched cars. Three others died of apparent suicides. Another collapsed on a bus, his death ruled an overdose.

    Six deaths, all involving men with connections to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, drew attention on social media and speculation in the activist community that something sinister was at play.

    Police say there is no evidence the deaths have anything to do with the protests stemming from a white police officer's fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, and that only two were homicides with no known link to the protests.

    But some activists say their concerns about a possible connection arise out of a culture of fear that persists in Ferguson 4 ½ years after Brown's death, citing threats - mostly anonymous - that protest leaders continue to receive.

    The Rev. Darryl Gray said he found a box inside his car. When the bomb squad arrived, no explosives were found but a 6-foot (1.8-meter) python was inside.

    "Everybody is on pins and needles," Gray said of his fellow activists.

    No arrests have been made in the two homicides. St. Louis County police spokesman Shawn McGuire said witnesses have simply refused to come forward, leaving detectives with no answers for why the men were targeted.

    "We don't believe either one was connected to each other," McGuire said, but adding, "It's tough to come up with a motive without a suspect."

    Ferguson erupted in protests in August 2014 after officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Brown during a street confrontation. Brown was unarmed, but Wilson said he fired in self-defense when the black teenager came at him menacingly.

    A grand jury declined to charge Wilson in November 2014, prompting one of the most violent nights of demonstrations, and one of the first activist deaths.

    Deandre Joshua's body was found inside a burned car blocks from the protest. The 20-year-old was shot in the head before the car was torched.

    Darren Seals, shown on video comforting Brown's mother that same night, met an almost identical fate two years later. The 29-year-old's bullet-riddled body was found inside a burning car in September 2016.

    Four others also died, three of them ruled suicides.

    - MarShawn McCarrel of Columbus, Ohio, shot himself in February 2016 outside the front door of the Ohio Statehouse, police said. He had been active in Ferguson.

    - Edward Crawford Jr., 27, fatally shot himself in May 2017 after telling acquaintances he had been distraught over personal issues, police said. A photo of Crawford firing a tear gas canister back at police during a Ferguson protest was part of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage.

    - In October, 24-year-old Danye Jones was found hanging from a tree in the yard of his north St. Louis County home. His mother, Melissa McKinnies, was active in Ferguson and posted on Facebook after her son's death, "They lynched my baby." But the death was ruled a suicide.

    - Bassem Masri, a 31-year-old Palestinian American who frequently livestreamed video of Ferguson demonstrations, was found unresponsive on a bus in November and couldn't be revived. Toxicology results released in February showed he died of an overdose of fentanyl.

    The Ferguson protests added momentum to the national Black Lives Matter movement, but they also generated resentment from people angered by TV footage of protesters hurling rocks and insults at police. Amid lingering anger, activists and observers say that while they see no clear connection between the deaths and the protests, they can't help but wonder about the thoroughness of the investigations.

    "These protesters and their deaths may not be a high priority for (police) since there is this antagonistic relationship," Washington University sociologist Odis Johnson said. "I think there is a need for them to have a greater sense of urgency."

    Activists say that in the years since the protests, they have been targeted in dangerous ways.

    "Something is happening," said Cori Bush, a frequent leader of the Ferguson protests. "I've been vocal about the things that I've experienced and still experience - the harassment, the intimidation, the death threats, the death attempts."

    Bush said her car has been run off the road, her home has been vandalized, and in 2014 someone shot a bullet into her car, narrowly missing her daughter, who was 13 at the time.

    She suspects white supremacists or police sympathizers. Living under constant threat is exhausting, she said, but she won't give in.

    "They shut us up and they win," Bush said.

    It's unclear if residual stress from the protests or harassment contributed to the suicides, but Johnson said many activists feel a sense of hopelessness.

    "This has to have a big impact on their mental health," Johnson said. "For many, law enforcement is not a recourse. Many times law enforcement is not on their side."

    Experts say the deaths also are indicative of a concern at the core of the protests - the underlying difficulty of life for young people of color. Five of the men who died were blacks in their 20s.

    Black St. Louis County residents are three times more likely than whites to be poor, often meaning they lack adequate health insurance that could allow them to better address not only physical ailments but mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

    They also tend to live in areas with higher crime rates. The 2010 U.S. census showed that while people who live in wealthy and mostly white western St. Louis County can expect to live well into their 80s, life expectancy in parts of mostly black north St. Louis County reaches only into the 60s. Life expectancy in Kinloch, a few miles from Ferguson, is 56.

    Forty-five of the county's 60 homicide victims last year were black in a county where less than a quarter of the population is black, according to police statistics.

    "Here in St. Louis, unfortunately, we have allowed the culture of crime and violence to morph into dimensions that anybody's at risk any day, any time," said James Clark of the nonprofit Better Family Life.
  18. Vlaara

    Vlaara Maaruk the Mighty

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    hmm iirc suicide rates for black men are pretty low.
  19. Czer

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

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    Democrats ask FBI for criminal, counterintelligence investigations into Li "Cindy" Yang
    MARCH 18, 2019

    The four top Democrats from the House and Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees have called on the FBI to open both criminal and counterintelligence investigations into Li "Cindy" Yang, the founder of a chain of massage parlors in Florida. Yang also reportedly ran a business that claimed to sell access to President Trump and his associates.

    The Miami Herald and Mother Jones magazine have both reported that Yang created a business called "GY US Investments" whose website, since taken down, offered clients "the opportunity to interact with the President, the [American] Minister of Commerce and other political figures." The company said it could arrange photo ops with the president and arrange "White House and Capitol Hill" dinners.

    "If true, these allegations raise serious counterintelligence concerns," the lawmakers wrote in a letter, obtained by CBS News, that was sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and Director of the U.S. Secret Service Randolph Alles last Friday. "China has frequently used non-traditional intelligence collectors and businesspersons to compromise targets."

    At the annual Worldwide Threats hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee in January, Wray called the counterintelligence threat from China "more deep, more diverse, more vexing, more challenging, more comprehensive and more concerning than any counterintelligence threat that I can think of."

    Yang was previously the owner of the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, a massage parlor in Jupiter, Florida, where Patriots owner Bob Kraft allegedly solicited prostitution and which was one of several parlors suspected of involvement in human trafficking. Kraft has denied the allegation, and Yang was not charged or implicated in that matter. She denied breaking the law in an interview with the Herald.

    In their letter, the lawmakers asked the FBI to "conduct criminal and counterintelligence investigations into credible allegations of potential human trafficking, as well as unlawful foreign lobbying, campaign finance and other activities by Ms. Yang."

    "[A]lthough Ms. Yang's activities may only be those of an unscrupulous actor allegedly selling access to politicians for profit," the lawmakers wrote, "her activities also could permit adversary governments or their agents access to these same politicians to acquire potential material for blackmail or other even more nefarious purposes."

    They also asked whether any law enforcement or intelligence community officials were "aware" of Yang's activities prior to public press reports, and requested that the FBI provide "an assessment of any counterintelligence risks or related concerns associated with any interactions between President Donald Trump and Ms. Yang" by Thursday, March 21.

    The letter was signed by Sens. Mark Warner and Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrats on the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees, respectively, as well as Reps. Adam Schiff and Jerrold Nadler, the two chairmen of the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees.
  20. Czer

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

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    US government uses several clandestine shelters to detain immigrant children
    March 18, 2019

    The federal government is relying on secret shelters to hold unaccompanied minors, in possible violation of the long-standing rules for the care of immigrant children, a Reveal investigation has found.

    The Office of Refugee Resettlement, the government agency that cares for unaccompanied minors, has never has made the shelters’ existence public or even disclosed them to the minors’ own attorneys in a landmark class-action case.

    It remains unclear how many total sites are under operation, but there are at least five in Arkansas, Florida, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia, holding at least 16 boys and girls for the refugee agency, some as young as 9 years old.

    Minors being held at the clandestine facilities initially were placed at known shelters around the country but later were transferred to these off-the-books facilities that specialize in providing for youth with mental health and behavioral challenges.

    The refugee agency’s standards for transferring youth in its care state that the agency “makes every effort to place children and youth within the ORR funded care provider network,” but makes room for out-of-network transfers, adding that “there may be instances when ORR determines there is no care provider available within the network to provide specialized services needed for special needs cases. In those cases, ORR will consider an alternative placement.”

    Under the Flores Settlement Agreement, a 1997 pact that sets the standards for how unaccompanied minors are treated while detained and calls for their swift release, the federal government is supposed to provide attorneys representing detained children with a regular and detailed census of each minor in the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s custody. The practice appears to violate the long-held agreement.

    Holly Cooper, who represents the class of unaccompanied minors in the agency’s care, says the government failed in its obligation to report every minor’s location – and believes the refugee agency still is withholding information about other locations, even after being pressed to do so.

    “Detained unaccompanied children with mental health issues are some of the most vulnerable children, and when the government does not provide access to their whereabouts, it calls into question the basic underpinnings of our democratic institutions,” Cooper said.

    Cooper learned about one of the facilities months ago. After requesting information about additional sites, she learned about several others. Now, she told Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, she’s still getting credible information that the list the government provided to her is incomplete.

    The Office of Refugee Resettlement acknowledged a request for comment but hadn’t yet responded to specific questions by the time this story was published.

    Robert Carey, who directed the agency during the final two years of the Obama administration, said that as far as he knew, no such arrangements were in place before Donald Trump became president.

    “If that was happening, it was something that I was not aware of,” he said.

    Some facilities, he said, occasionally would subcontract specialized medical or educational services. But Carey said he wasn’t aware of children being housed outside of publicly disclosed shelters.

    “We had pretty exhaustive oversight procedures and monitoring procedures,” he said. “If any of those standards are being lessened or compromised, that would obviously be cause for concern. These systems are in place for a reason. There’s an inherent vulnerability in the care for children.”

    One of the care providers, Millcreek Behavioral Health in Fordyce, Arkansas, operates as a residential treatment center and is holding at least eight children in the refugee agency’s custody, according to information obtained by Reveal. Inspection reports obtained by Reveal do not suggest any serious state violations; 911 service call records to the facility were requested by Reveal in December, but the local office of emergency management hasn’t decided whether to release the documents.

    Another provider, Rolling Hills Hospital in Ada, Oklahoma, is a facility for children and adults that is holding at least one minor in the refugee agency’s custody. An investigation by The Oklahoman published earlier this year revealed that patients complained of broken bones, along with “allegations of sexual harassment and physical abuse” at the hospital. A 2017 inspection report reviewed by Reveal describes multiple violations, including employees who said the hospital failed to provide staff orientation, patient records that indicated registered nurses had not provided necessary assessments, and a facility where patient deaths went unreported to the governing body for oversight.

    Officials with the care facilities either declined to comment or did not respond to emails and phone messages from Reveal.

    “I don’t have anybody that needs to comment,” said Pam Burford, an administrator at Millcreek Behavioral Health.

    Néstor Dubón, a sponsor for an asylum-seeking cousin who’s being held at Millcreek, hasn’t visited the site but describes it as a better alternative to the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center, a shelter whose federal contract came to and end in 2018, where Dubón’s cousin previously was held. Dubón was told that his cousin would be transferred to Arkansas but was unaware that the facility’s use as a shelter wasn’t public. No matter where his cousin is being held, Dubón’s chief concern is his cousin’s release. He said he’s met all the requirements asked of him by the Office of Refugee Resettlement to gain his cousin’s freedom.

    “I’ve given my fingerprints three times – three times!” Dubón said. “I’ve obtained and shared birth certificates and powers of attorney from Honduras and for what? He’s still there.”

    Dubón’s 16-year-old cousin has been in the agency’s custody since he first entered the United States more than two years ago.

    Both Millcreek and Rolling Hills are owned and operated by Acadia Healthcare. Reveal has determined that 50 of Acadia’s facilities – operating in 23 states and Puerto Rico – provide residential care for minors, but it’s unclear how many of those facilities serve youth in the refugee agency’s custody.

    Acadia has been publicly traded on the NASDAQ for nearly a decade. With hundreds of facilities and a capacity of over 18,000 beds, it is one of the largest treatment networks in the country. Its services include care for behavioral health and addiction.

    In November, a critical investor detailed a litany of abuse allegations at Acadia-run facilities, including Rolling Hills. A December 2017 lawsuit accused Acadia and Rolling Hills of permitting ongoing sexual abuse inside a facility for children, destroying video evidence and refusing access to a state investigator.

    Former Acadia CEO Joey Jacobs has acknowledged that regulatory problems led some states to temporarily stop referring people to Acadia facilities. But Jacobs announced those problems had been resolved, at least in a call with investors in November 2018.

    “We’re a large company with a large number of facilities,” he said. “So at any time, we can have an inspection go bad or an incident occur or an investigation be instigated.”

    Jacobs left the company in December. Acadia has accumulated $3.2 billion indebt from buying up local care centers, prompting critical attention from investors who doubt that it can be paid off.

    Acadia Healthcare did not return a call for comment for this story.

    The Office of Refugee Resettlement also hasn’t disclosed that it houses children at Devereux, a nonprofit behavioral health organization based in Pennsylvania that operates in multiple states, Reveal has confirmed. One of its facilities in Florida is holding at least five minors for the federal agency. The previously undisclosed care network also includes residential treatment centers operated by KidsPeace and Youth For Tomorrow. These two organizations already contract with the government as shelter providers, offering general care. But they don’t have public agreements to provide the more intensive behavioral and mental health care of a residential treatment center.

    KidsPeace communications director Bob Martin told Reveal that there were “a very small number of cases” in which his organization has accepted children from other refugee agency shelters for placement in its residential treatment center. In those cases, he said, no new contracts were signed, beyond what he called a “letter of agreement” with the agency.

    “It’s been an extremely rare occurrence,” Martin said.

    Martin said any questions about government oversight in those cases should be answered by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

    Courtney Gaskins, director of program services for Youth For Tomorrow, confirmed that the refugee agency has requested that her organization take children in its residential treatment wing.

    “We’ve gotten requests for those,” she said. But Gaskins declined to say whether her organization has ever agreed to do so. “I wouldn’t comment if we did,” she said.

    Reveal reviewed federal contract and grant awards to Youth For Tomorrow and KidsPeace but found no mention of residential treatment center services.

    Some of the nonprofit organizations involved in this network are well-monied and hold powerful connections in the media and government. Devereux’s board includes James H. Schwab, who, according to his LinkedIn profile, was the president of Vice Media until December and remains a board member and senior adviser at Vice. Oliver North and Fox News analyst Brit Hume sit on the Youth For Tomorrow board of directors.

    In a statement to Reveal, Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, called the arrangement “incredibly disturbing.”

    “Imagine being a child in a strange country, hundreds or thousands of miles from where you grew up, surrounded by people who may not speak your language. You would be incredibly vulnerable – which is exactly why ORR is supposed to follow strict regulations governing where these children can be held and what child welfare standards must be met.”

    Merkley has introduced a bill that would require shelter operators to grant access to members of Congress.

    “ORR needs to provide answers immediately about where they are holding asylum-seeking children, and what, if any, child welfare regulations those facilities are meeting,” he said.

    The lack of disclosure of facilities where unaccompanied minors are held leaves a vacuum of public oversight. It’s unclear how the refugee agency regulates and inspects these facilities. For its publicly listed shelters, the agency sets a minimum staff-to-children ratio and training requirements and conducts announced and unannounced inspections. One possibility is that shelter providers are subcontracting the care of certain children to another care provider.

    According to cooperative agreements between the refugee agency and residential care providers, which Reveal acquired after filing a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act, shelters may subcontract services to other entities. In those cases, the federal agency holds the shelter responsible for ensuring that “sub-recipients” maintain the same standards of care required by law.

    Reveal filed FOIA requests in the fall for information about any subcontracts or out-of-network care contracts to care for unaccompanied children. The government has yet to respond.