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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    Pompeo Praises Rising Sea Levels: Hey, It’s Good For Trade!
    May 6, 2019

    Scientists and humanity in general might see global warming as a life-threatening disaster, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sees a trade opportunity.

    During a speech on Monday at the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland, Pompeo took a moment to extol the benefits of rapidly melting ice caps.

    “Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade,” Pompeo said. “This could potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as 20 days.”

    The bizarre quote highlights how the secretary of state’s speech largely focused on trade competition rather than the Council’s mission of environmental protection.

    Read the full transcript of Pompeo’s remarks here.


    Mike Pompeo claims rapidly melting Arctic sea ice could actually be a good thing, as it will create 'new opportunities for trade'
    May 7, 2019

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday claimed that melting sea ice — which scientists warn is a sign of potentially catastrophic climate change — is set to open up new "opportunities for trade" by shortening the length of sea voyages from Asia to the West by as much as three weeks.

    Speaking at a meeting of the Arctic Council in Rovaniemi, Finland on Monday, Pompeo described the Arctic as the "forefront of opportunity and abundance."

    "Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade," he continued. "This could potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as 20 days," he said.

    "Arctic sea lanes could become the 21st century Suez and Panama Canals," Pompeo said.

    As well as shortening journey times, Pompeo stressed the "abundance" of natural resources in the region which are yet to be fully exploited. "The Arctic is at the forefront of opportunity and abundance," he said.

    "It houses 13% of the world's undiscovered oil, 30% of its undiscovered gas, an abundance of uranium, rare earth minerals, gold, diamonds, and millions of square miles of untapped resources, fisheries galore."

    Pompeo made the remarks Monday at a meeting of the Arctic Council, which comprises nations with territory in the Arctic Circle: The United States, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. He warned Russia and China against attempting to exert control over the region.

    "Do we want the Arctic Ocean to transform into a new South China Sea, fraught with militarization and competing territorial claims? Do we want the fragile Arctic environment exposed to the same ecological devastation caused by China's fishing fleet in the seas off its coast, or unregulated industrial activity in its own country? I think the answers are pretty clear," he said.

    Pompeo's upbeat remarks on the economic opportunities offered by melting sea ice come as federal government agencies report that the amount of sea ice in the Arctic region is rapidly shrinking.

    Last week, the National Snow and Ice Data Center said in its monthly report that in April, Arctic sea ice levels reached a record low for that time of year. The sea ice contracted by 479,000 square miles from its average extent between 1981 and 2010 to 5.19 million square miles, the center said.

    In its December annual assessment of the Arctic, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned that warming air and ocean temperatures were "pushing the Arctic into uncharted territory."

    It said that rising temperatures in the Arctic were impacting the jet stream, which has been linked to extreme weather events, including a series of severe storms that battered the east coast of the United States late last year.

    In a study published in the scientific journal Nature last year, scientists said that not only were coastal communities threatened by rising sea levels caused by melting ice, but shrinking ice sheets could accelerate climate change, causing extreme weather and disrupting ocean currents.

    Pompeo's remarks come on the same day that the United Nations in a report warned that climate change caused by humans had played a a role in placing one million animal plant and animal species at risk of extinction in the next decade.
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Canada’s claim to Northwest Passage is ‘illegitimate’: Mike Pompeo
    May 7, 2019

    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling Canada’s claim over the Northwest Passage “illegitimate” in a major speech that is being criticized for being provocative and inaccurate.

    A leading international-security expert says Pompeo’s branding of a longtime disagreement on Arctic policy between the Canada and the U.S. is a “stunning rebuke” of the 1988 Arctic Co-operation agreement between the two countries.

    Fen Hampson of Carleton University in Ottawa says Pompeo’s remark upends a gentleman’s agreement between Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan that allows the U.S. to designate the Northwest Passage an international waterway while Canada claims it as sovereign territory.

    Pompeo offered that characterization during a wide-ranging speech in Finland today in which he also warned against China’s increased Arctic presence, saying it threatens North American security and could be harmful to the environment.

    Michael Byers, an Arctic expert at the University of British Columbia, says Pompeo is not only off-base about the threat posed by China, his argument is based on a false statement that the People’s Republic is trying to build infrastructure in the Canadian Far North.

    Byers says the federal government should be worried that the top diplomat from one of its key Arctic allies got his facts so wrong.
  3. Czer

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

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    Robert Mueller 'is going to testify': Rep. Adam Schiff
    May 12, 2019

    As House Democrats weigh imposing fines on members of the Trump administration figures to try to force officials to obey subpoenas, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., stressed the importance of having special counsel Robert Mueller testify before Congress.

    "The American people have a right to hear what the man who did the investigation has to say and we now know we certainly can't rely on the attorney general who misrepresented his conclusions," Schiff said on "This Week" Sunday. "So he is going to testify."

    Schiff also defended potential contempt charges against members of the administration, which he acknowledged would lead to a battle in the courts.

    "We're are going have to use that device if necessary, we’re going to have to use the power of the purse if necessary," he said. "We're going to have to enforce our ability to do oversight."

    Speaking later on the show with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said that the investigations have all been "politically motivated."

    "One of the things that Adam Schiff and the other partisans don’t understand is that if you’re accused of a crime by a grand jury and they don’t indict you, the prosecutor doesn’t go all over town saying we thought he did this, we thought he did this, this is all the evidence," he said.

    Paul went on to say that he thinks "most Americans would disagree," with the hundreds of federal prosecutors who say that President Donald Trump would be prosecuted if he weren’t president. "People are horrified by the idea that you could put someone in jail for obstructing justice on something where you didn’t commit the crime."

    Days after Trump asserted executive privilege over the Mueller report, both Schiff and Paul were asked to defend past comments on former President Barack Obama’s use of executive privilege.

    "There are categorical differences," Schiff said. "So, first, the Obama administration made dozens of witnesses available to the Congress, provided numerous thousands of documents. ... But here, the Trump administration has decided to say a blanket no; no to any kind of oversight whatsoever, no witnesses, no documents, no nothing, claiming executive privilege over things that it knows there is no basis for."

    Paul was asked to reconcile past comments calling Obama "a king" for asserting executive privilege with his support of Trump’s move.

    "I opposed the president when he unconstitutionally -- Obama tried to make DACA or immigration law without Congress, I also opposed President Trump when he tried to spend money that wasn't appropriated," he said. "So I think I’m entirely consistent in saying no president should be king, that includes my president."
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    I’m the Longest-Serving Republican in the Iowa Legislature, and I’m Switching Parties
    There are times when you have to follow the dictates of your conscience. For me, that time has come.

    I was first elected to the Iowa legislature in 1978, when I was still in my late 20s. I served for seven terms in the House and another three terms in the Senate. I worked on passing nonpartisan redistricting legislation, creating REAP (a program enhancing and protecting Iowa’s natural resources), developing sentencing-reform legislation, protecting the elderly from abuse, and floor-managing one of the toughest drunk-driving laws in the nation.

    While my emphasis was on bipartisan legislative undertakings, I was comfortable with my party’s priorities and felt at home in the Republican caucus. Governor Robert Ray, a Republican, was in office when I first served and was a wonderful mentor. I continue to believe that he epitomizes what is best about public service—integrity, compassion, moderation, and a spirit of rational inquiry.

    But after 24 years in the legislature, I made the decision to return to Jones County to serve as a county supervisor. My four children were in or approaching their teenage years, and I felt I was needed at home. I had missed some important moments in my children’s lives—school concerts, parent-teacher conferences, sport events—and wished to make up for the time I had lost. And with college expenses on the horizon, I also needed to put more time into my law practice.

    Fifteen years later, after my kids were grown and I retired from my law practice, I decided to return to the state capitol. I wasn’t quite ready for retirement and felt that I had more to contribute. What I found, however, was very different from the legislative body I had once served in.

    The legislature is considerably more partisan and regimented than it used to be. I believe the increased partisanship often stands in the way of good legislation, and I’m also deeply concerned by the growing influence that big money exerts on the legislative process.

    I also found a very changed Republican caucus. While I have great respect and personal regard for my Republican colleagues, I found myself more and more uncomfortable with the stance of my party on the majority of high-profile issues, such as gutting Iowa’s collective-bargaining law and politicizing our method of selecting judges. I worked for changes to improve legislation that I had concerns about, but also voted against many of these priorities.

    I might have limped along—attempting to work within my caucus for what I felt was best for the people I represent—if it hadn’t been for another factor. With the 2020 presidential election looming on the horizon, I felt, as a Republican, that I needed to be able to support the standard-bearer of the party. Unfortunately, that is something I’m unable to do.

    I believe that it is just a matter of time before our country pays a heavy price for President Donald Trump’s reckless spending and shortsighted financial policies; his erratic, destabilizing foreign policy; and his disdain and disregard for environmental concerns.

    Furthermore, he sets a poor example for the nation and our children. He delivers personal insults, often in a crude and juvenile fashion, to those who disagree with him, and is a bully at a time when we’re attempting to discourage bullying, on- and offline.

    In addition, he frequently disregards the truth and displays a willingness to ridicule or marginalize people for their appearance, ethnicity, and disability.

    I believe that his actions have coarsened political discourse, contributing to unprecedented polarization and creating a breeding ground for hateful rhetoric and actions.

    Some would excuse this behavior, claiming Trump is just telling it like it is—and that this is the new normal. If this is the new normal, I want no part of it. Unacceptable behavior should be called out for what it is—and Americans of all parties should insist on something far better from the man holding the highest office in the land.

    All of which is to say that my decision to switch political parties has been a very difficult decision for me and has only come after considerable reflection, much prayer, and many restless nights. I had been a registered Republican for close to half a century, a Republican officeholder for 35 years, and the longest-serving Republican currently in the Iowa legislature. I am proud of many good things that the Republican Party has accomplished over the years.

    I am all too aware that my decision is a disappointment to many friends and colleagues who have supported me over the years. However, the time comes when you have to be true to yourself and follow the dictates of your conscience. For me, that time is now.

    I want the people I represent in Jones, Jackson, and Dubuque Counties to know that I’m still the same Andy McKean today that they knew yesterday. We still share the same basic values, are proud of our families and our communities, and want to make Iowa an even better place. I’ll continue to work for the same goals and priorities that I always have during my years in public service.

    I look forward to continuing my service in the Iowa House and bringing people together to improve the quality of life for all Iowans.
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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

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    Pompeo to Meet Putin as Trump Seeks Better Russia Ties Again
    May 11, 2019

    U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo leaves for Moscow on Sunday night, with President Donald Trump again calling for improved ties now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finished his investigation.

    Pompeo will meet U.S. diplomats at the American Embassy in Moscow on Monday before flying to Sochi for talks with President Vladimir Putin and other officials. The secretary has 48 hours -- the entire length of the trip -- to cram in discussions of disputes between the two nations, involving Ukraine, Venezuela and Syria and other issues, along with continued accusations of election interference.

    With the Mueller inquiry wrapped up, Trump has returned to signaling his interest in improving U.S.-Russia ties, speaking with Putin for more than an hour earlier this month and tweeting that there is “tremendous potential for a good/great relationship with Russia.” The two leaders had kept their distance as Mueller’s probe into the 2016 U.S. election and allegations of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia heated up.

    “Clearly since the Mueller report came out, Trump is feeling unconstrained about what he’s wanted all along -- a new relationship with Moscow where all the bad issues get swept aside and the two leaders ‘get down to business,”’ said Andrew Weiss, the former director for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs on the National Security Council who’s now a vice president at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

    “What that means in practice is really fuzzy because the agenda largely consists of issues where the U.S. and Russia are at loggerheads,” Weiss said.

    Schumer Letter
    Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer wrote to Pompeo ahead of the trip, insisting the secretary make it clear to Putin that “any action to interfere in our elections will be met with an immediate and robust response.”

    “President Trump’s approach to dealing with President Putin, especially on this vital issue, must change,” Schumer wrote on Sunday. He posted the letter on Twitter.

    Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates also said Trump hasn’t reacted strongly enough to Putin and Russia for interference not just in the 2016 U.S. election but the Brexit vote in the U.K. and in elections in France.

    “He should’ve said, ‘We’ve had this discussion, the evidence is in, and don’t ever do this again or there will be consequences, ”’ Gates said of Trump in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation. “He very much should have raised it with him.”

    Trump spoke with Putin briefly on the sidelines of a Group of 20 meeting in Argentina in December. That meeting rekindled criticism of their summitlast July in Helsinki, where the American president appeared to take Putin’s side over the conclusions of his own intelligence agencies when asked about evidence Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

    Earlier: Trump Spoke With Putin About Mueller Report, Sanders Says

    Pompeo could use his trip to start laying the groundwork for a meeting between Trump and Putin on the sidelines of a Group of 20 forum in Japan set for late June. Such an encounter would still be fraught, especially since Trump has appeared reluctant to confront Putin on the meddling accusations, which the Mueller report reaffirmed.

    “The Mueller report confirmed accusations of Russian meddling,” said Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, a Kremlin-founded think tank. “The report to some extent rehabilitates Trump but doesn’t rehabilitate Moscow at all. For Russia, nothing has really changed.”

    A senior State Department official, speaking to reporters on Friday, said Pompeo would raise a range of topics, including continuing concerns about Russian election meddling, Moscow’s role in propping up Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the American desire for more sweeping arms control agreements that include countries like China, not just Russia and the U.S.

    Aggressive Acts
    The official argued that U.S. policy is to seek a better relationship with Moscow while also acknowledging that Russia has been responsible for several acts of aggression on the world stage.

    One challenge, as it’s been throughout Trump’s presidency, is that while he may want better ties with Russia, relations between the two countries have seldom been worse and show little prospect of improving.

    The president’s latest tweet on Russia also highlighted the dissonant tone the Trump administration has struck toward the country. While Pompeo blamed Russia for Maduro’s refusal to leave power despite pressure from the U.S., Trump said after his call with Putin that the Russian leader wasn’t looking to “get involved” in the crisis in Venezuela.

    Trump’s calls will find a receptive audience. After the Mueller report came out, Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachyov urged the president to “take the risk” and seize the opportunity to reset relations.

    “Putin has always bet personally on Trump, with whom he has a way of bonding to the point of manipulation,” said Vladimir Frolov, a former Russian diplomat and foreign policy analyst in Moscow. “Putin knows Trump likes him, while his administration does not. In Trump he trusts.”
  7. Czer

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

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    This kind of blackmail makes me think what's going to happen to groups like scientologists/mormons... so many governments and groups must have so much in their pocket.

    I wonder if this is how they are making them all cooperate, out of fear.

  8. Czer

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

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    Rosenstein criticizes Jim Comey as ‘partisan pundit,’ defends handling of Mueller probe
    May 13

    Former deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein on Monday defended his role in the firing of James B. Comey from the FBI and criticized the bureau’s former director as a “partisan pundit” — offering one of his most detailed public accounts of the hectic events that led to the appointment of Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel.

    Speaking to the Greater Baltimore Committee just days after stepping down as the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, Rosenstein fired back at criticism that he acted inappropriately for President Trump and sought to present his legacy as one of an official who was thrust into a political maelstrom and did what he thought was right.

    At Trump’s request, Rosenstein wrote a memo supporting Comey’s dismissal in May 2017 and came under intense public criticism for doing so. Critics viewed the move as a way of obstructing the inquiry into Trump’s campaign.

    In prepared remarks, Rosenstein seemed to minimize the effect Comey’s firing could have had on the inquiry. He said that when a White House lawyer first told him Trump had decided to fire Comey, “Nobody said that the removal was intended to influence the course of my Russia investigation.”

    “I would never have allowed anyone to interfere with the investigation,” he asserted, though he conceded later that he “recognized that the unusual circumstances of the firing and the ensuing developments would give reasonable people cause to speculate about the credibility of the investigation.”

    After Comey’s firing, the FBI began investigating whether Trump had sought to obstruct justice, and Rosenstein ultimately appointed Mueller to oversee that. Mueller asserted in his final report that Trump told Rosenstein to mention in his memo that Comey had told the president three times he was not personally under investigation in the Russia case. Rosenstein did not do so.

    Some legal analysts have said Rosenstein should have recused himself from the case, though a Justice Department spokeswoman said he was cleared to supervise it by career ethics officials.

    In his prepared remarks, Rosenstein said that Trump “did not tell me what reasons to put in my memo,” but noted what the special counsel report had said. He said he did not include what Trump wanted because it was not relevant, and he did not have personal knowledge of what Comey had told Trump.

    Rosenstein said he “did not dislike” Comey but that Comey took steps that were “not within the range of reasonable decisions” during the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Rosenstein suggested that if he — rather than Trump — had been in charge, “the removal would have been handled very differently, with far more respect and far less drama.”

    “If I had been asked to make a recommendation before the removal decision was made, I would have included a more balanced analysis of the pros and cons,” he said. “But my brief memo to the attorney general is correct, and it was reasonable under the circumstances.”

    Rosenstein made clear, too, that he has been distressed by Comey’s recent commentary about him. He referred to a New York Times op-ed in which Comey suggested that Rosenstein and Attorney General William P. Barr had allowed their souls to be consumed by Trump.

    “But now the former director is a partisan pundit, selling books and earning speaking fees while speculating about the strength of my character and the fate of my immortal soul,” Rosenstein said. “That is disappointing. Speculating about souls is not a job for police and prosecutors.”

    Rosenstein, who said he generally disfavors special counsels, also defended his appointment of Mueller. He said there was “overwhelming evidence” of Russian hacking and efforts on social media to influence the 2016 presidential election, and that the investigation was “justified.”

    “I determined that I needed a special counsel to help resolve the election interference investigation in a way that would best protect America from foreign adversaries and preserve public confidence in the long run,” he said. “I knew that some people would not be happy about it. I knew that it would be unpleasant for me and my family.”

    Rosenstein said he felt he had “made the right decision.”

    “My soul and character are pretty much the same today as they were two years ago,” he said. “I took a few hits and made some enemies during my time in the arena, but I held my ground and made a lot of friends.”
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: Attorney General Barr, has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?

    WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I wouldn't – I wouldn't –

    HARRIS: Yes or no?

    BARR: Could you – could you repeat that question?

    HARRIS: I will repeat it.

    BARR: Yes.

    HARRIS: Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? Yes or no, please, sir.

    BARR: The president or anybody else.

    HARRIS: Seems you would remember something like that and be able to tell us.

    BARR: Yes, but I`m trying to grapple with the word suggest. I mean, there have been discussions of matters out there that they have not asked me to open an investigation. But –

    HARRIS: Perhaps they've suggested?

    BARR: I don't know. I wouldn't say suggest.

    HARRIS: Hinted?

    BARR: I don`t know.

    Barr Assigns U.S. Attorney in Connecticut to Review Origins of Russia Inquiry

    May 13, 2019

    WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr has assigned the top federal prosecutor in Connecticut to examine the origins of the Russia investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter, a move that President Trump has long called for but that could anger law enforcement officials who insist that scrutiny of the Trump campaign was lawful.

    John H. Durham, the United States attorney in Connecticut, has a history of serving as a special prosecutor investigating potential wrongdoing among national security officials, including the F.B.I.’s ties to a crime boss in Boston and accusations of C.I.A. abuses of detainees.

    His inquiry is the third known investigation focused on the opening of an F.B.I. counterintelligence investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign into possible ties between Russia’s election interference and Trump associates.

    The department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, is separately examining investigators’ use of wiretap applications and informants and whether any political bias against Mr. Trump influenced investigative decisions. And John W. Huber, the United States attorney in Utah, has been reviewing aspects of the Russia investigation. His findings have not been announced.

    Additionally on Capitol Hill, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said he, too, intends to review aspects of law enforcement’s work in the coming months. And Republicans conducted their own inquiries when they controlled the House, including publicizing details of the F.B.I.’s wiretap use.

    Thomas Carson, a spokesman for Mr. Durham’s office, declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for the Justice Department. “I do have people in the department helping me review the activities over the summer of 2016,” Mr. Barr said in congressional testimony on May 1, without elaborating.

    Mr. Durham, who was nominated by Mr. Trump in 2017 and has been a Justice Department lawyer since 1982, has conducted special investigations under administrations of both parties. Attorney General Janet Reno asked Mr. Durham in 1999 to investigate the F.B.I.’s handling of a notorious informant: the organized crime leader James (Whitey) Bulger.

    In 2008, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey assigned Mr. Durham to investigate the C.I.A.’s destruction of videotapes in 2005 showing the torture of terrorism suspects. A year later, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. expanded Mr. Durham’s mandate to also examine whether the agency broke any laws in its abuses of detainees in its custody.

    Mr. Barr has signaled his concerns about the Russia investigation during congressional testimony, particularly the surveillance of Trump associates. “I think spying did occur,” he said. “The question is whether it was adequately predicated. And I’m not suggesting that it wasn’t adequately predicated. But I need to explore that.”

    His use of the term “spying” to describe court-authorized surveillance aimed at understanding a foreign government’s interference in the election touched off criticism that he was echoing politically charged accusations by Mr. Trump and his Republican allies that the F.B.I. unfairly targeted the Trump campaign.

    Last week, the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, defended the bureau, saying he was unaware of any illegal surveillance and refused to call agents’ work “spying.” Former F.B.I. and Justice Department officials have defended the genesis of the investigation, saying it was properly predicated.

    Yet Mr. Durham’s role — essentially giving him a special assignment but no special powers — also appeared aimed at sidestepping the rare appointment of another special counsel like Robert S. Mueller III, a role that allows greater day-to-day independence.

    Mr. Trump and House Republicans have long pushed senior Justice Department officials to appoint one to investigate the president’s perceived political enemies and why Mr. Trump’s associates were under surveillance.

    Mr. Trump’s calls to investigate the investigators have grown after the findings from Mr. Mueller were revealed last month. Mr. Mueller’s investigators cited “insufficient evidence” to determine that the president or his advisers engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia.

    The Mueller report reaffirmed that the F.B.I. opened its investigation based on legitimate factors, including revelations that a Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, had told a diplomat from Australia, a close American ally, that he was informed that the Russians had stolen Democratic emails.

    “It would have been highly, highly inappropriate for us not to pursue it — and pursue it aggressively,” James Baker, who was the F.B.I.’s general counsel in 2016, said in an interview on Friday with the Lawfare podcast.

    As part of the early Russia inquiry, the F.B.I. investigated four Trump associates: Mr. Papadopoulos; Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman; Michael T. Flynn, the president’s first national security adviser; and Carter Page, another campaign foreign policy adviser.

    Mr. Flynn and Mr. Papadopoulos later pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. as part of the inquiry; Mr. Manafort was also convicted of tax fraud and other charges brought by the special counsel, who took over the investigation in May 2017, and pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

    F.B.I. agents and federal prosecutors also obtained approval from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to wiretap Mr. Page after he left the campaign. Mr. Trump’s allies have pointed to the warrant as major evidence that law enforcement officials were abusing their authority, but the investigation was opened based on separate information and the warrant was one small aspect in a sprawling inquiry that grew to include more than 2,800 subpoenas, nearly 500 search warrants and about 500 witness interviews.

    Law enforcement officials have also drawn intense criticism for using an informant — a typical investigative step — to secretly report on Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos after they left the campaign and for relying on Democrat-funded opposition research compiled into a dossier by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who was also an F.B.I. informant.

    Investigators cited the dossier in a lengthy footnote in its application for permission to wiretap Mr. Page, alerting the court that the person who commissioned Mr. Steele’s research was “likely looking for information to discredit” the Trump campaign.

    The inspector general is said to be examining whether law enforcement officials intentionally misled the intelligence court, which also approved three renewals of the warrant. The last application in June 2017 was signed by Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who defended the decision last month in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

    Mr. Horowitz is also said to be scrutinizing how the F.B.I. handled Mr. Steele and another informant, Stefan A. Halper, an American academic who taught in Britain. Agents asked Mr. Halper to determine whether Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos were in contact with Russians. Mr. Barr has said the inspector general could finish his inquiry in May or June.

    Mr. Durham is also investigating whether Mr. Baker made unauthorized disclosures to the news media, according to two House Republicans closely allied with Mr. Trump, Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who disclosed in a letter to Mr. Durham in January that they had learned of that inquiry.

    While they implied that it was related to the Russia investigation, another witness in Mr. Durham’s inquiry into Mr. Baker, Robert Litt, the former general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, came forward to say that he had been interviewed and that the investigation has nothing to do with Russia. Mr. Baker said last week that he was confident he had done nothing wrong and would be exonerated.
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Rick Gates Still Cooperating, Not Ready for Sentencing, Prosecutors Say
    May 13, 2019

    Rick Gates, who worked on President Donald Trump's campaign and inauguration, is still cooperating with the government and shouldn't be sentenced yet for his guilty plea to conspiracy, federal prosecutors said in a court filing.

    The government referenced two scheduled trials, those of former Skadden partner Gregory Craig and sometime Trump adviser Roger Stone, in the filing although it didn't say whether Gates would be required to testify in them.
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Trump Jr. reaches deal to comply with congressional subpoena
    MAY 14, 2019

    Donald Trump Jr. has reached a deal to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee sometime in mid-June, according to a source familiar with the matter. Trump Jr. was subpoenaed by the GOP-led committee last week to answer questions about his previous Russia-related testimony before the committee.

    The source said Trump Jr. will testify before the committee for a limited amount of time — two to four hours — in mid-June. The New York Times first reported a deal had been reached for his testimony. As was the case in 2017, Trump Jr. will be questioned behind closed doors.

    Allies of President Trump have expressed irritation with Sen. Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the committee, for issuing a subpoena to the president's son as the GOP tries to move on from the report by special counsel Robert Mueller. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the question of whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to affect the 2016 election was "case closed."

    Mueller's report detailed 10 possible instances of obstruction of justice and extensive Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election.

    Trump Jr. was a key figure in the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer. And, according to former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, Trump Jr. was involved in discussions about the possibility of building a Trump Tower in Moscow.

    Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told CBS News' Major Garrett he was not told by the committee that the president's son would be subpoenaed. On "The Takeout" podcast, Mulvaney was critical of the GOP-led committee for not informing the White House.

    For the Senate Intelligence Committee to subpoena Mr. Trump's son and "not at least get a heads-up, I thought was — let's say bad form," he said. He said he did not know whether the president was also caught by surprise.

    Republicans have accused the investigation of being politically motivated. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a staunch supporter of Mr. Trump, told reporters Tuesday that if he were Trump Jr.'s lawyer, "I wouldn't put him back in this circus."

    "Mueller to me is the final word on all things Trump and Russia. The family, I think, cooperated extensively, along with the Trump campaign," Graham said. "I admire Richard Burr. But here's what we've got to realize as oversight chairmen: there's criminal liability exposure to people who voluntarily submitted themselves to multiple investigations."

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declined to speak out against the subpoena, saying on Tuesday, "none of us tell Chairman Burr how to run his committee."

    "He's indicated publicly he believes they will find no collusion, and we are hoping that we will get a report on that subject sometime soon," McConnell said about Burr.

    A spokesperson for the committee told CBS News last week, "We do not discuss the details of witness engagements with the committee. Throughout the investigation, the committee has reserved the right to recall witnesses for additional testimony as needed, as every witness and witness counsel has been made aware."
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Beijing calls for a 'people's war' against the US as Trump threatens tariffs on another $300 billion of Chinese goods in all-out trade battle
    May 14, 2019
    • The US-China trade war has dramatically escalated over the past few days, with both sides announcing tariff increases on billions of dollars' worth of each other's goods.
    • Chinese state media — which functions as a Communist Party mouthpiece — issued a series of rabble-rousing statements on Monday accusing the US of "greed and arrogance" and calling for a "people's war" against it.
    • President Donald Trump's administration on Monday night threatened to impose tariffs of up to 25% on another $300 billion worth of Chinese goods.
    • If such tariffs were to be imposed, almost all Chinese imports to the US would be subject to tariffs.
    • Trump tweeted on Tuesday that his "respect and friendship" with Chinese President Xi Jinping was "unlimited" but that "this must be a great deal for the United States or it just doesn't make any sense."
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
    The US-China trade war continues to heat up, with Beijing calling for a "people's war" against Washington and President Donald Trump threatening to impose tariffs on another $300 billion worth of Chinese goods.

    In a series of editorials and op-ed articles published Monday, Chinese state media slammed what it labeled the Trump administration's "greed and arrogance" and called for a "people's war" against it. Beijing's state-run media effectively serves as a mouthpiece for the Communist Party.

    "The most important thing is that in the China-US trade war, the US side fights for greed and arrogance ... and morale will break at any point. The Chinese side is fighting back to protect its legitimate interests," the nationalistic Global Times tabloid wrote in a Chinese-language editorial carried by Xinhua News Agency.

    "The trade war in the US is the creation of one person and one administration, but it affects that country's entire population. In China, the entire country and all its people are being threatened. For us, this is a real 'people's war.'"

    The rabble-rousing statements come amid an intense escalation of the trade war over the past week. Here's what happened:
    • On Friday, Trump increased tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China, to 25% from 10%. Here are all the affected Chinese products.
    • On Monday, China retaliated by saying it would raise duties on $60 billion worth of American goods starting June 1, resulting in duties of 5% to 25%. Here are the affected American goods.
    • Later Monday, the US Trade Representative's Office published a list of about $300 billion worth of Chinese imports, noting that it proposed slapping tariffs of up to 25% on those products. Those goods include live purebred breeding horses, meat, condensed milk, tobacco, canoe paddles, and articles of clothing.
    If the Trump administration were to impose the new tariffs on $300 billion of additional goods, it would mean that $500 billion worth of Chinese goods coming into the US would be subject to tariffs.

    That figure represents nearly all Chinese imports to the US. The US imported $540 billion worth of goods from China in 2018, according to Census Bureau data.

    The Global Times' Monday editorial also effectively accused the Trump administration of misleading Americans about the victims of US tariffs.

    It singled out an interview that Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economics adviser, gave to "Fox News Sunday" in which he said that US consumers would also suffer from the trade war, contradicting Trump's claim that China would single-handedly foot the bill.

    During prime time on Monday night, the state broadcaster CCTV also aired a statement saying that China would "fight for a new world."

    "As President Xi Jinping pointed out, the Chinese economy is a sea, not a small pond," the anchor Kang Hui said on his 7 p.m. news show, as cited by CNN. "A rainstorm can destroy a small pond, but it cannot harm the sea. After numerous storms, the sea is still there." That clip went viral on Chinese social media, CNN reported.

    In an English-language version of its Monday editorial, the tabloid also said: "The US tariff moves are very much like spraying bullets. They will cause a lot of self-inflicted harm and are hard to sustain in the long term."

    "China, on the other hand, is going to aim with precision, trying to avoid hurting itself," it said.

    Trump tweeted on Tuesday that his "respect and friendship" with Chinese President Xi Jinping was "unlimited" but that "this must be a great deal for the United States or it just doesn't make any sense."

    He added on Monday that he would meet Xi next month at the G20 summit. "That'll be, I think, probably a very fruitful meeting," he said.
  13. Red

    Red TZT Neckbeard

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    Art of the deal yawl take that china
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Joe Biden's Tuesday remarks that he thought Republicans would work with Democrats toward a consensus after President Donald Trump left office swiftly prompted incredulity, with commentators questioning whether the former vice president had forgotten the GOP's conduct during Barack Obama's tenure.

    Bloomberg News reporter Sahil Kapur tweeted that "in New Hampshire, Joe Biden predicts that once President Trump is out of office, Republicans will have 'an epiphany' and work with Democrats toward consensus."

    The tweet about Biden's comments quickly drew derision. Journalist and activist Shaun King wrote that "Joe Biden is outrageously out of touch." Rolling Stone senior writer Jamil Smith wrote, "Joe Biden is living in Wonderland. That he is asking us to join him there is rather astonishing." Washington Post senior political reporter Aaron Blake tweeted: "Because they paid such a heavy price for obstruction from 2010-2016?"

    CNN Politics reporter David Wright later released the 76-year-old's full comments. "I think there is not a middle ground. I wish I had been known as a moderate, middle guy when I was running in Delaware all those times. And you know, anyway—but I just think, there is a way—and the thing that will fundamentally change things is with Donald Trump out of the White House. Not a joke. You will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends. And it's already beginning—in the House now," Biden said. "You are seeing the talk, even the dialogue is changing. So look, let me put it another way. If we can't change, we're in trouble. This nation cannot function without generating consensus."

    Republicans were notoriously obstinate during Obama's time in the White House. John Boehner, who was the House Minority Leader at the time, said in 2010 Republicans would "do everything—and I mean everything we can do—to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can" regarding Obama's ACA health care reform ambitions, a signature legislative achievement.

    In 2011, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also touted GOP efforts to impede Obama's agenda. "We worked very hard to keep our fingerprints off of these proposals," he said. "Because we thought—correctly, I think—that the only way the American people would know that a great debate was going on was if the measures were not bipartisan."

    Republicans fought fiercely to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They refused to hold a vote on Merrick Garland, Obama's Supreme Court nominee. And, among other efforts to impede Obama's agenda, they fought the president on spending priorities, only to pass legislation under Trump, like alterations to the tax code, that significantly increased the national debt.

    Responding to Biden's comments, Huffington Post polling editor Ariel Edwards-Levy posted Gallup data noting that, on average, 13 percent of Republicans approved of Obama, while 83 percent of Democrats did. On average, 8 percent of Democrats approve of Trump, while 85 percent of Republicans do. The data show a widening gap over time between approval rating provided by voters from each party.

    Biden's remarks and policy statements have generated backlash from left-leaning Democrats, who consider his views too centrist.

    A 2015 video, which showed the former vice president praising his predecessor by saying "I really like Dick Cheney," surfaced earlier this month, renewing criticism. More recently, some have questioned Biden's statements on climate change. Reuters reported last week that Biden was seeking a "middle ground" policy on climate change to appeal to blue-collar voters and environmentalists. The characterization prompted backlash from progressives including Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    "I've never been middle of the road on the environment," Biden said on Tuesday. "Tell her to check the statements that I made, and look at my record and she'll find that nobody has been more consistent about taking on the environment and a Green Revolution then I have."
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    The House has the power to arrest people who defy its orders
    May 15

    The House Ways and Means Committee has subpoenaed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to surrender President Trump’s tax returns to the committee by Friday. The odds are that Mnuchin will ignore the demand, although the law is clear that he must comply. What then?

    Most of the proposed remedies contemplate appealing to courts. But that process will move too slowly to resolve the crisis.

    Imagine instead that the House draws inspiration from a parallel clash in the 1920s, during the scandal-ridden administration of Warren G. Harding. As the Teapot Dome affair unfolded, members of Congress suspected that Attorney General Harry Daugherty was personally corrupt and was shielding other members of the administration from justice.

    A Senate committee subpoenaed the attorney general’s brother, Mally Daugherty, to testify and to surrender documents from an Ohio bank that he controlled — but he refused. At that point, the Senate dispatched the sergeant at arms of the Senate to Cincinnati, where he placed Mally Daugherty under arrest and held him in custody.

    A federal district court freed him on a writ of habeas corpus. But in the 1927 case McGrain v. Daugherty, the Supreme Court reversed that decision and confirmed the power of the Senate to directly arrest Daugherty and bring him against his will to Washington to testify. (He never did so, because by the time the case was decided, three years after it was argued, the Senate had moved on.)

    McGrain v. Daugherty made clear that the Constitution grants each chamber of Congress inherent power to hold hearings and to launch investigations as it conducts its legislative and oversight business — and also that Congress can compel compliance with its subpoenas through direct arrest and detention. The court wrote: “Experience has taught that mere requests for such information often are unavailing, and also that information which is volunteered is not always accurate or complete; so some means of compulsion are essential to obtain that which is needed.” This power comes on top of any recourse that Congress might have to pursue contempt charges in court.

    This wasn’t the only time during the Harding administration that the Senate played this brand of hardball. In February 1928, when Robert Stewart, chairman of the board of Standard Oil Co. of Indiana, refused to answer questions at a hearing, the Senate issued a warrant for his detention until he agreed to testify. The deputy sergeant at arms executed the warrant that same night, holding Stewart overnight in custody in a room in the Willard Hotel.

    What’s changed since 1927? Not the law — no subsequent case has limited Congress’s authority. What’s changed is Congress’s standing in the public eye, and among the three branches of government.

    Admittedly, the two chambers of Congress have rarely made use of their power to directly arrest and detain contumacious witnesses. (The official record of the House parliamentarian records the last such case as occurring in 1935. We have found one instance where the Senate detained several gamblers in 1951, to compel them to testify.) This does not necessarily mean that the inherent power of each chamber has withered from disuse; rather, in the past Congress was sufficiently feared (whether because of its direct powers or because it could make criminal referrals) that individuals simply didn’t think ignoring a committee’s request was permissible.

    During the Watergate hearings, Sam Ervin, chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee, threatened to lock up members of the Nixon administration who defied congressional subpoenas. On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” he declared: “I’d recommend to the Senate they send the sergeant at arms of the Senate to arrest a White House aide or any other witness who refuses to appear.” (While it didn’t involve direct detention, Richard Kleindienst, the former attorney general, pleaded guilty to one count of refusing to testify before Congress, and a House committee petitioned the D.C. District Court to compel Gordon Liddy to testify.)

    But in the last quarter-century, Congress has systematically undercut its own relevance. As Congress decided to shirk its most important responsibilities, ranging from war powers to passing timely budgets, Congress gradually lost the respect of the executive branch.

    It’s not merely a Democratic revenge fantasy to think that the House of Representatives might direct its sergeant at arms to arrest and detain Mnuchin or Attorney General William P. Barr, who has refused to provide the full Mueller report. In each case, as was true of Mally Daugherty, the individuals have spurned lawful demands directly relevant to the business of Congress. The House can arrest and detain them until they agree to comply. (We appreciate that there might be tension between either man’s Secret Service detail and the sergeant at arms, but we would hope that neither would compound his troubles by provoking a scuffle.)

    It’s fun to imagine the House jail as a converted broom closet in the bottom of the Rayburn House Office Building, but it’s probably more feasible to hold an uncooperative member of the administration under guard in a hotel room near the Capitol. As when someone is jailed for refusing to comply with a court order, the prisoner holds the keys to the jailhouse door in his own pocket: Comply with the valid subpoena, and the detention ends.

    If all this seems laughably far-fetched, that just shows how significantly the powers of Congress, and our respect for that institution, have eroded in the last few decades.

    Our proposal puts the legal burdens back where they belong. To expect Congress humbly to ask a court to enforce congressional subpoenas only perpetuates Congress’s cession of its power. If Trump administration officials choose to thumb their noses at Congress, they should begin the legal process from inside a jail cell.

    And their constitutional rights remain secure. They can, for example, petition for a writ of habeas corpus (which is just what the attorney general’s brother did in the 1927 case). The procedures are not the difficulty here — it’s the lack of congressional will.
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    No ‘do-over’ on Mueller probe, White House lawyer tells House panel, saying demands for records, staff testimony will be refused
    May 15

    The White House’s top lawyer told the House Judiciary Committee chairman Wednesday that Congress has no right to a “do-over” of the special counsel’s investigation of President Trump and refused a broad demand for records and testimony from dozens of current and former White House staffers.

    White House counsel Pat Cipollone’s letter to Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) constitutes a sweeping rejection — not just of Nadler’s request for White House records but of Congress’s standing to investigate Trump for possible obstruction of justice. In his letter, Cipollone repeated a claim the White House and Trump’s business have begun making — that Congress is not a law enforcement body and does not have a legitimate purpose to investigate the questions it is pursuing.

    But Cipollone stopped short of asserting executive privilege. Instead, he told Nadler he would consider a narrowed request if the chairman spelled out the legislative purpose and legal support for the information he is seeking.

    “Congressional investigations are intended to obtain information to aid in evaluating potential legislation, not to harass political opponents or to pursue an unauthorized ‘do-over’ of exhaustive law enforcement investigations conducted by the Department of Justice,” Cipollone wrote.

    In an interview, Nadler called the White House argument “preposterous.”

    “The White House is making the outrageous claim that a president cannot be held accountable in any way to the American people,” he said, adding: “This is ridiculous, it would make the president above the law, and of course we totally reject it. We will subpoena whoever we have to subpoena.”

    Cipollone said the release of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report now makes Congress’s questions moot. He stressed that the probe was “exhaustive” — the product of 2,800 subpoenas, 500 executed search warrants and 500 witness interviews — and that the president supported the report’s full release “in the interest of transparency.”

    “The appropriate course is for the Committee to discontinue the inquiry,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, it appears that you have already decided to press ahead with a duplicative investigation, including by issuing subpoenas, to replow the same ground the Special Counsel has already covered.”

    The White House’s firm stand represents yet another escalation in the bitter standoff between the White House and House Democrats. Trump and his allies are working to block more than 20 separate investigations into his actions as president, his personal finances and his administration’s policies, according to a Washington Post analysis.

    Nadler in early March requested documents from 81 Trump allies or Trump-related entities as part of a broad investigation into whether Trump abused his power, obstructed justice and engaged in public corruption. The letters went to current and former official and campaign staffers, as well as top Trump Organization officials and Trump family members.

    White House-connected people who received requests from the committee include former White House counsel Donald McGahn, former adviser Stephen K. Bannon, former communications chief Hope Hicks, former chief of staff Reince Priebus and current adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.

    Joshua Geltzer, a former Justice Department official who now heads a constitutional advocacy group, said the White House’s assertion that Congress does not have a right to the information a “mind-blowing” claim.

    “These aren’t peripheral interests of the U.S. Congress,” he said. “They’re core oversight responsibilities — at the heart of our legislative branch checking our executive branch and even just understanding it.”

    In the Wednesday letter, Cipollone argued that the request for testimony and records from 81 individuals and agencies is intrusive and seeks to pull back the covers on reams of confidential discussions and sensitive law enforcement material that is normally shielded by executive privilege.

    But the White House is only directly responding to Nadler’s letter to the White House. The White House counsel’s office said its objection applies to current and former officials whose information it argues is technically the property of the White House.

    At least two of the 81 people who received requests for information from the committee said Wednesday they were not going to provide any documents or information while the White House objects to such cooperation. They said they fear getting on the wrong side of Trump — and the professional damage it could cause.

    “What choice do you have?” said one of these people, a former senior White House official who requested anonymity to describe the strategy toward handling the congressional demand.

    Cipollone said Nadler’s committee has been eager to try to publicly tar the White House as uncooperative, pushing to hold officials in contempt while ignoring the legal flaws in its demands.

    “The Committee rushed to vote on contempt for failing to provide 100% and immediate compliance with a subpoena that seeks millions of pages of documents from a prosecutor’s files,” he wrote. “Moreover, the Committee — for the first time in American history — has voted to recommend that the Attorney General be held in contempt because he refused to violate the law by turning over grand-jury materials that he may not lawfully disclose.”
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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

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    Barr asks Pelosi outside the Capitol, ‘Madam Speaker, did you bring your handcuffs?’
    May 15

    If Attorney General William P. Barr is worried about being held in contempt of Congress, he didn’t show it Wednesday.

    At an event outside the West Front of the Capitol honoring slain law enforcement officers, Barr approached House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who last week joked about locking up members of the Trump administration in “a jail down in the basement of the Capitol.”

    According to a person who witnessed the exchange, Barr shook Pelosi’s hand and said loudly, “Madam Speaker, did you bring your handcuffs?”

    Pelosi smiled and responded that the House sergeant at arms was present should it be necessary to arrest anyone, the person said, adding that Barr “chuckled and walked away.”

    A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

    The exchange comes amid escalating tensions between the Trump administration and Democratic lawmakers over investigations on issues that include Russian election interference, the president’s financial records and his family separation policy. Democrats have accused the Trump administration of stonewalling their requests.

    Last week, the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to provide the full, unredacted report from special counsel Robert S. Muller III on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

    House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said Wednesday that the House is likely to vote on that citation next month. If the chamber votes in favor, then lawmakers will have to decide whether to try to compel Barr with fines, the courts or the prospect of jail time.

    At a Washington Post Live event last week, Pelosi joked about locking up administration officials for failing to comply with subpoenas — even though no jail or detention area has existed on the Capitol grounds since 1877.

    “Let me just say that we do have a jail down in the basement of the Capitol,” Pelosi said to laughter. “But if we were arresting all of the people in the administration, we would have an overcrowded jail situation, and I’m not for that.”
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    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Trump, frustrated by advisers, is not convinced the time is right to attack Iran
    May 15

    The Trump administration has been on high alert in response to what military and intelligence officials have deemed specific and credible threats from Iran against U.S. personnel in the Middle East.

    But President Trump is frustrated with some of his top advisers, who he thinks could rush the United States into a military confrontation with Iran and shatter his long-standing pledge to withdraw from costly foreign wars, according to several U.S. officials. Trump prefers a diplomatic approach to resolving tensions and wants to speak directly with Iran’s leaders.

    Disagreements over assessing and responding to the recent intelligence — which includes a directive from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that some American officials interpret as a threat to U.S. personnel in the Middle East — are also fraying alliances with foreign allies, according to multiple officials in the United States and Europe.

    Trump grew angry last week and over the weekend about what he sees as warlike planning that is getting ahead of his own thinking, said a senior administration official with knowledge of conversations Trump had regarding national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

    “They are getting way out ahead of themselves, and Trump is annoyed,” the official said. “There was a scramble for Bolton and Pompeo and others to get on the same page.”

    Bolton, who advocated regime change in Iran before joining the White House last year, is “just in a different place” from Trump, although the president has been a fierce critic of Iran since long before he hired Bolton. Trump “wants to talk to the Iranians; he wants a deal” and is open to negotiation with the Iranian government, the official said.

    “He is not comfortable with all this ‘regime change’ talk,” which to his ears echoes the discussion of removing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein before the 2003 U.S. invasion, said the official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations.

    When asked about the accounts of Trump’s frustration with Bolton, National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said, “This reporting doesn’t accurately reflect reality.”

    Trump is not inclined to respond forcefully unless there is a “big move” from the Iranians, a senior White House official said. Still, the president is willing to respond forcefully if there are American deaths or a dramatic escalation, the official said.

    While Trump grumbles about Bolton somewhat regularly, his discontent with his national security adviser is not near the levels it reached with Rex Tillerson when he served as Trump’s secretary of state, the official added.

    Trump denied any “infighting” related to his Middle East policies in a tweet on Wednesday. “There is no infighting whatsoever,” Trump said. “Different opinions are expressed and I make a decisive and final decision — it is a very simple process. All sides, views, and policies are covered. I’m sure that Iran will want to talk soon.”

    On Wednesday morning, the president attended a Situation Room briefing on Iran, a person familiar with the meeting said.

    Pentagon and intelligence officials said that three distinct Iranian actions have triggered alarms: information suggesting an Iranian threat against U.S. diplomatic facilities in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Irbil; U.S. concerns that Iran may be preparing to mount rocket or missile launchers on small ships in the Persian Gulf; and a directive from Khamenei to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and regular Iranian military units that some U.S. officials have interpreted as a potential threat to U.S. military and diplomatic personnel. On Wednesday, the State Department ordered nonessential personnel to leave the U.S. missions in Baghdad and Irbil.

    In Tokyo on Thursday, visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran was exercising “maximum restraint.”

    “We believe that escalation by the United States is unacceptable and uncalled for,” Zarif told his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono.

    U.S. and European officials said there are disagreements about Iran’s ultimate intentions and whether the new intelligence merits a more forceful response than previous Iranian actions.

    Some worry that the renewed saber-rattling could create a miscalculation on the ground, said two Western officials familiar with the matter. And Iran’s use of proxy forces, the officials said, means it does not have absolute control over militias, which could attack U.S. personnel and provoke a devastating U.S. response that in turn prompts a counter-escalation.

    Bolton warned in a statement last week that “any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”

    Military officials have described themselves as torn between their desire to avoid open confrontation with Iran and their concern about the recent intelligence, which led the commander of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., to request a host of additional military assets, including an aircraft carrier and strategic bombers.

    Multiple officials said uniformed officers from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led by its chairman, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., have been among the leading voices articulating the costs of war with Iran.

    Other officials said the view that deterrence rather than conflict was required was “monolithic” across the Pentagon and was shared by civilian officials led by acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan, whom Trump nominated last week to remain in the job but who has not yet been confirmed by the Senate. As the tensions have intensified, Shanahan has been in touch multiple times a day with other senior leaders, including Bolton, Pompeo and Dunford, officials said.

    Some defense officials have described Bolton’s more aggressive approach as troubling.

    Defense officials said that they are considering whether they will field additional weaponry or personnel to the Persian Gulf region to strengthen their deterrent against possible action by Iran or proxy groups, but that they hope additional deployments will prevent rather than fuel attacks.

    Trump’s fears of entangling the United States in another war have been a powerful counterweight to the more bellicose positions of some of his advisers.

    Trump has called the Iraq War a massive and avoidable blunder, and his political support was built in part on the idea that he would not repeat such a costly expenditure of American blood and treasure.

    A new deal with Iran, which Trump has said he could one day envision, would be a replacement for the international nuclear compact he left last year that was forged by the Obama administration. Trump’s early policy on Iran, which predated Bolton’s arrival, was aimed at neutralizing the pact and clearing the way for an agreement he thought would more strictly keep Iran in check.

    Trump’s administration has been frustrated, however, that Iran and the rest of the signatories to the nuclear agreement have kept it in force.

    Trump’s anger over what he considered a more warlike footing than he wanted was a main driver in Pompeo’s decision last weekend to suddenly cancel a stop in Moscow and on short notice fly instead to Brussels, where he sought meetings on Monday with the European nations that are parties to the Iran nuclear deal, two officials said. Pompeo was not accorded the symbolic welcome of joining their joint Iran-focused meeting. Instead, he met with foreign ministers one by one.

    Pompeo’s visit was meant to convey both U.S. alarm over the recent intelligence on Iran and Washington’s desire for diplomacy, not war, two officials said.

    But European leaders, who have been watching the febrile atmosphere in Washington with alarm, have not been convinced, according to conversations with 10 European diplomats and officials from seven countries, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive assessments of Washington and Tehran.

    Pompeo “didn’t show us any evidence” about his reasons Washington is so concerned about potential Iranian aggression, said one senior European official who took part in one of Pompeo’s meetings. The official’s delegation left the meeting unconvinced of the American case and puzzled about why Pompeo had come at all.

    Many officials in European capitals said they fear that conflict with Iran could have a cascading effect on their relations with Washington, ripping open divisions on unrelated issues.

    They distrust Trump’s Iran policy, fearing that key White House advisers are ginning up rationales for war. And leaders need to win reelection from citizens who hold Trump in low regard and would punish them for fighting alongside Americans on the Iran issue.

    Democratic members of Congress, while traditionally strong supporters of pressuring Iran, have also raised questions about the intelligence and the administration’s apparent flirtation with combat. In a statement on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, demanded “answers from this administration about Iran . . . and about what intelligence this administration has.” So far, he said, the administration has ignored those demands and refused to provide briefings.

    “We cannot, and we will not, be led into dangerous military adventurism,” he said.

    Anxieties over the heightened threat environment spilled over into Capitol Hill on Wednesday during a classified briefing. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) argued that the intelligence warranted an escalation against Iran, said one person with knowledge of the briefing. In response, Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton (Mass.) accused her of exaggerating the threat in what the person described as a “very heated exchange.”

    A representative for Moulton declined to comment. A spokesman for Cheney said the congresswoman “will never comment on classified briefings and believes that any member or staffer who does puts the security of the nation at risk.”
  20. Red

    Red TZT Neckbeard

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    What a timeline we are in. Donald doesn't want to invade and just wants to use his amazing diplomatic skills. Witness the art of the deal you libcucks.