Thursday July 20th, 2017 at 12:07 PM – Trump Investigations: Trump Links and News: Deutsche Bank expects subpoenas | AP Top News at 3:58 p.m. EDT: Russian-American at Trump Jr. meeting is ex-military officer by By ERIC TUCKER and STEPHEN BRAUN Friday July 14th, 2017 at 5:29 PM

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7:12 AM 7/20/2017 – Trump Links and News: Deutsche Bank expects subpoenas over Trump-Russia investigation | Business | The Guardian | Big German Bank, Key to Trump’s Finances, Faces New Scrutiny – The New York Times 

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Trump – 7.20.17 6:18 AM 7/20/2017 – Trump warns Mueller against investigating his family’s finances beyond Russia probe – The Hill |  Trump Is His Own Worst Enemy – New York Times |  Trump says Comey tried to ‘leverage’ dossier: report – The Hill |  Excerpts From The Times’s Interview With Trump – New York … Continue reading “7:12 AM 7/20/2017 – Trump Links and News: Deutsche Bank expects subpoenas over Trump-Russia investigation | Business | The Guardian | Big German Bank, Key to Trump’s Finances, Faces New Scrutiny – The New York Times”

6:18 AM 7/20/2017 – Trump warns Mueller against investigating his family’s finances beyond Russia probe – The Hill |  Trump Is His Own Worst Enemy – New York Times |  Trump says Comey tried to ‘leverage’ dossier: report – The Hill |  Excerpts From The Times’s Interview With Trump – New York Times |  Attorney General Jeff Sessions is on resignation watch |  Trump rages at Sessions in New York Times interview – ABC News 

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Trump warns Mueller against investigating his family’s finances beyond Russia probe – The Hill |  Trump says Comey tried to ‘leverage’ dossier: report – The Hill |  Excerpts From The Times’s Interview With Trump – New York Times |  Attorney General Jeff Sessions is on resignation watch |  Trump rages at Sessions in New York … Continue reading “6:18 AM 7/20/2017 – Trump warns Mueller against investigating his family’s finances beyond Russia probe – The Hill |  Trump Is His Own Worst Enemy – New York Times |  Trump says Comey tried to ‘leverage’ dossier: report – The Hill |  Excerpts From The Times’s Interview With Trump – New York Times |  Attorney General Jeff Sessions is on resignation watch |  Trump rages at Sessions in New York Times interview – ABC News”

Former intelligence chief Clapper: Trump Jr. meeting was ‘classic, textbook Soviet and now Russian statecraft’ | TheHill

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Ike Kaveladze – Google Search

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Story image for Ike Kaveladze from Newsweek

Ike Kaveladze, Who Attended Donald Trump Jr. Meeting, Once …

Newsweek20 hours ago
Almost three decades before he participated in the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer, among …

Michael Flynn Cooperating With FBI Russia Investigation, Senator Claims

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Senator Sheldon Whitehouse says he believes former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is cooperating with the FBI’s Russia investigation. Jim Bourg/Reuters

Evidence indicates President Donald Trump’s fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is cooperating with FBI investigators, said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse Monday.

“All the signals are suggesting he is already cooperating with the FBI, and may have been for some time,” the Rhode Island Democrat, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

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“That’s a conclusion from all of the evidence and some experience in dealing with this,” Whitehouse added.

Whitehouse spoke soon after the ranking Democrats from two House committees probing potential collusion by the Trump campaign with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election expanded their investigation. In a joint letter, Representatives Elijah E. Cummings and Eliot L. Engel, the ranking Democrats on the House Government Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, requested documents from Flynn’s consulting firm concerning a trip he made to Saudi Arabia in 2015. Flynn didn’t report the trip when renewing his security clearance when he joined the Trump administration.

Flynn was fired byTrump on February 13 after just 24 days on the job. His termination came after it was revealed he misled Vice President Mike Pence about contacts he had with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.

Read more: Michael Flynn, Trump’s ex-National Security Adviser, is target of new House inquiry related to his dealings in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East

Flynn also lied to the FBI about his contacts with Russia’s Kislyak and the FBI “had him dead to rights on a felony false statement,” said Whitehouse.

Whitehouse laid out his reasoning why he thinks Flynn is cooperating with the FBI. Former FBI Director James Comey “reported that one of the things the FBI does with cooperators is get them to go back and clean up areas of non-compliance,” Whitehouse said “Flynn, who will never be hired by a foreign government again, went back and cleaned up his foreign agent filings.”

In March, Flynn registered as a foreign agent, revealing that his consulting firm Flynn Intel Group Inc. received $530,000 to lobby the U.S. government on behalf of the Turkish government during the later months of the 2016 election. He also reported $45,000 he received for speaking at a 2015 event for Russian government news network RT.

Flynn is “the hole in a donut of subpoenas,” Whitehouse said, referring to several subpoenas sent by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, Virginia, in May to businesses that worked on contracts with Flynn after 2014.

Whitehouse also noted that Flynn was once “one of the most talkative people in Trumpland” and has now “gone absolutely silent.”

“That is exactly what a prosecutor would strongly encourage a cooperating witness to do in order to avoid lengthy imprisonment,” he said.

Whitehouse added that if Flynn is cooperating with the FBI “it could be a huge deal, because who knows what Trump has said to him? Both during the campaign and during the early days of the presidency.”

Trump has also apparently been in touch with Flynn after he was fired “to tell him to ‘Stay strong,’” Whitehouse said, “which in some circumstances could be looked at as manipulation of a witness, or obstruction of justice.”

Trump tweeted last week that he is being investigated for obstruction of justice for firing former FBI Director Comey for continuing to pursue an investigation into Flynn and his foreign connections. The president’s lawyers disputed Trump’s tweet, saying he was merely repeating what had been reported in The Washington Post.

Flynn’s lawyer Robert Kelner did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation about whether Flynn is cooperating with the FBI.

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Jared Kushner Keeps Making the Russia Scandal So Much Worse

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In the first few months of the Trump administration, both the president and his political opponents placed much hope on Jared Kushner, a 36-year-old real-estate heir with no experience relevant to the job of senior White House adviser. The left hoped that Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, would act as voices of reason, fighting against climate change, attacks on LGBT rights, and Steve Bannon’s general inclination to “blow things up.” Meanwhile, President Trump tasked his son-in-law with just about every thorny issue facing his administration, from rewriting U.S. trade agreements to solving the opioid epidemic to brokering peace in the Middle East.

Kushner has had a few successes (like possibly saving NAFTA) and several major failures (such as failing to prevent Trump from ditching the Paris climate accords and bungling a trip to Jerusalem). But for the Trump administration, he’s proven to be a disastrous hire largely due to his inept handling of the Russia scandal.

Back in May, Kushner was reportedly among those urging President Trump to fire FBI director James Comey. That sparked a massive, days-long crisis that culminated in the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Russia’s election meddling and the Trump camp’s potential involvement. The New York Times reported that while White House staffers ultimately decided to respond with a statement saying they welcomed the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Kushner “was one of the few dissenting voices, urging the president to counterattack.”

Later that month, Kushner was at the center of another episode in the ongoing Russia scandal when reports emerged that he tried to establish a secret backchannel between the Trump team and the Russian government in December. Several weeks later, the Washington Post reported that Mueller was looking into Kushner’s “finances and business dealings.”

At this point, Kushner can’t do much about his meetings with Russians during the campaign, or his potentially shady business dealings. However, he’s consistently tackled Russia-related issues in a manner that’s created unnecessary problems for his family members and fellow White House staffers.

While Donald Trump Jr. is currently at the eye of the “Category 5 hurricane” surrounding the White House, his emails about a meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer, which Kushner attended, are apparently coming to light now because of his brother-in-law.

When Kushner initially filed his application for a security clearance in January, the foreign contacts section was blank. His lawyers said this was an accident and in May they filed a revised form listing more than 100 meetings with officials from over 20 countries — but not the meeting with the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya. The Times reported that the emails from Don Jr. “were discovered in recent weeks by Mr. Kushner’s legal team as it reviewed documents.” The SF-86 form Kushner filed with the FBI was then updated for a third time to disclose the meeting.

CNN fleshed out the timeline on Thursday, reporting that Kushner’s lawyers provided the amended SF-86 on June 21. A few days later, Kushner’s team ignored a reporter’s question about the filing:

On June 26, CNN asked a White House spokesman assigned to Kushner about the additional meeting on the amended security clearance form, including that it was organized by Donald Trump Jr.

But Kushner’s team did not respond. On June 28, Jamie Gorelick, Kushner’s lawyer handling the issue, sent a letter to the FBI to complain about what she believed was an improper leak, according to a person close to the matter.

A source close to Kushner said his team discussed whether they should just go public with the information, but Kushner “told his lawyers he planned to sit down with the president to discuss the meeting and the email that had been discovered.” So, if true, Kushner’s instinct was to get the president more deeply involved in the handling of evidence that may be construed as proof that his campaign colluded with Russia.

The Times reported that Trump’s attorney for Russia-related matters, Marc Kasowitz, is so fed up with Kushner’s behavior that he’s considered resigning, and that sounds like the kind of thing he’s talking about:

Mr. Kasowitz and his colleagues have complained that Mr. Kushner has been whispering in the president’s ear about the Russia investigations and stories while keeping the lawyers out of the loop, according to another person familiar with the legal team. The president’s lawyers view Mr. Kushner as an obstacle and freelancer more concerned about protecting himself than his father-in-law, the person said.

It’s not clear if Kushner actually had a chat with his father-in-law about the meeting, but if so, the president has been lying about it. Trump has repeatedly said he only learned of the emails and the meeting “a couple of days ago.”

Yahoo reported on Thursday that attorneys representing the president and the Trump Organization were informed of the emails right after they were discovered by Kushner’s legal team. It’s possible that the attorneys didn’t update the president, but Richard Painter, the former chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, said he found that idea “weird” and “unbelievable.” “You have a professional obligation to inform the client about information that he needs to make informed decisions,” he said.

Even if Trump wasn’t personally informed, Kushner and a number of other people in his orbit were aware of the issue for weeks — yet the White House appeared caught off guard when the Times broke the story on July 8. Trump Jr.’s initial response, which required multiple follow-ups, was reportedly drafted by top Trump advisers on Air Force One as they returned from a trip to Europe.

White House staffers who didn’t inherit billions have been hesitant to get involved in Russia-related matters because they can’t afford to hire a high-priced lawyer should they be pulled into the Mueller probe. But CNN noted on Thursday that those aides may have exposed themselves to special counsel scrutiny when they scrambled to craft Trump Jr.’s response.

Nevertheless, Kushner is reportedly pushing White House staffers to get even more involved and mount a more vigorous defense. According to Politico, his argument is that the meeting impacts Trump’s presidency, so the White House should deal with it. But some people on the communication team, including Press Secretary Sean Spicer, say the issue should be left to the lawyers who were hired to handle the scandal.

Sources said Kushner was angry that the White House communications team wasn’t immediately putting surrogates on TV, issuing talking points, and calling up cable news outlets to complain about their chyrons.

“Jared wanted to get surrogates, he wanted an op-ed in the [Wall Street] Journal and the [New York] Times, and we said, ‘Wait, we have to talk through how that will play out. Who is going to say it, who is going to put their name on the op-ed and what baggage do they have?’” said an outside adviser.

Some of the turmoil, CNN reports, stems from the feeling among White House aides that the PR strategy is designed to protect Kushner, the only person mentioned in the emails who works in the White House. “Who do you have to protect? You have to protect the guy who filled out the form saying I never took this meeting,” one source said.

But according to Axios, Kushner’s view is that the Trump administration can squash the whole controversy over Trump Jr.’s emails with a bit of good PR — and peace in the Middle East.

The view in Kushner’s orbit is that the brutal new revelations are more P.R. problems than legal problems. And if he makes progress with his Middle East peace efforts, perceptions would be very different.

So far he’s been wrong about firing Comey, ignoring legal advice, failing to prepare a coherent response, and creating new questions about who knew what, and when they knew it. But hey, he’s Jared Kushner. If he can’t make this Russia scandal blow over, nobody can.

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Jared Kushner security clearance targeted by Debbie Wasserman Schultz

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Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida introduced a pair of amendments aimed at stripping White House senior adviser Jared Kushner of his security clearance into a 2018 appropriations bill that were voted down Thursday.

The amendments came as Kushner found himself under renewed scrutiny after his participation in a June 2016 meeting that involved Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower was revealed.

Wasserman Schultz’s amendments, which did not make it through the Republican-controlled Appropriations Committee, received 22 yes votes and 30 no tallies. The text of the amendments was provided to Business Insider prior to their introduction.

“None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to issue, renew, or maintain a security clearance for any individual in a position in the Executive Office of the President who is under a criminal investigation by a federal law enforcement agency for aiding a foreign government,” read the first amendment from Wasserman Schultz, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee.

“None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to issue, renew, or maintain a security clearance for any individual in a position in the Executive Office of the President who deliberately fails, as determined by the issuing department or agency, to disclose in the Standard Form 86 [the security clearance form] of such individual a meeting with a foreign national if such disclosure is required for such form,” read the second.

While discussing the second amendment, Wasserman Schultz pointed to Kushner having had to make multiple revisions to his security clearance form.

“Mr. Kushner didn’t only leave out a couple of meetings, he’s had to amend his form three times, with over 100 meetings with foreign nationals,” Wasserman Schultz said, adding that some of those individuals “were with the state of Russia, an enemy state. Specifically designed to aid his father-in-law’s campaign and assist him in being elected president of the United States.”

Republican Rep. John Culberson of Texas called the amendments “utterly unnecessary” and a “political stunt” after they were introduced.

“We have to leave these decisions in the hands of security professionals, who make these decisions on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “There are guidelines in place that make it clear that an individual is ineligible for a security clearance if they meet any one of 13 guidelines. These are used by all federal agencies already, including the FBI, which does security clearances for everyone in the government, including the White House.”

A handful of Democrats spoke up to push for the Wasserman Schultz amendments.

Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California said the amendments were especially pertinent after the Trump Tower meeting was revealed.

“At a minimum, White House staff who are under investigation should not have access to classified information,” she said.

Wasserman Schultz introduced the amendments to the 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Financial Services Appropriations Bills.

Kushner is the only current White House staffer who was present for the meeting with the Kremlin-connected lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya. Emails released Tuesday showed Trump Jr. was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton that he claimed was never actually presented.

Trump Jr. posted emails that were forwarded to Kushner and Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul Manafort, setting up that meeting. Democrats and Republicans have subsequently questioned why Kushner still has a security clearance.

The deputy White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders,did not tell reporters at Wednesday’s off-camera briefing whether Kushner still held that clearance, saying Democrats “are trying to play political games” by calling for it to be revoked.

Jared KushnerJared Kushner.Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

It’s not the first time Kushner’s security clearance has come under question.

Kushner had to revise his security clearance form after he failed to disclose meetings with the Russian ambassador to the US and a Russian banker, which led to The New York Times‘ discovery of the Trump Tower meeting involving Trump Jr., Kushner, Manafort, and the Russian lawyer. Additionally, the House and Senate intelligence committees and Department of Justice investigators are looking into whether the Kushner-led Trump campaign digital operation assisted Russia’s attacks on Clinton during the 2016 election cycle.

Though Veselnitskaya told NBC News that Kushner “left the meeting after seven to 10 minutes of the 20- to 30-minute meeting,” these incidents — with the Trump Jr. meeting now at center stage — have led to calls for Kushner to be stripped of the clearance.

Trump Jr.’s “preemptive release of the emails that led to the meeting with the Russian operative puts Jared Kushner in legal peril,” Rick Tyler, the communications director for Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign who is now an MSNBC contributor, told Business Insider in an email. “He has consistently failed to make mandatory discloses of meetings with foreign nationals including this one which is a felony.”

“Jared should, at a minimum, have his clearances rescinded making his utility as an advisor, which itself is suspect, impractical,” he continued.

The email disclosure revealed that Kushner was copied on Trump Jr.’s email chain with Rob Goldstone, a British music publicist who represented a Russian pop star with ties to President Donald Trump and was tasked with arranging the June meeting. The email chain was titled “Russia — Clinton — private and confidential” and said a Russian official had “offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to” Trump.

Goldstone described the information as being “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” something that prompted Trump Jr. to respond, “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

The fact that Kushner had the email chain available to him seemed to contradict an earlier statement from Trump Jr., who said over the weekend that Kushner and Manafort were told “nothing of the substance” of the meeting when he asked them to attend.

“Mr. Kushner’s decision to take this meeting raises significant questions about his judgment and his respect for the very principles that our democracy was founded on — that our elections should be sacred and free of interference from a foreign adversary,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democratic member of the House oversight committee, told Business Insider in an email.

He added: “His reported failure to disclose this meeting — and numerous others with Russians — when he submitted his security clearance application compounds the problem and is deeply concerning.”

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The Daily 202: Trump shows disdain for rule of law with new attacks on Sessions, Rosenstein, Mueller

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Donald Trump listens during a roundtable at the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

THE BIG IDEA: President Trump laced into the attorney general, deputy attorney general, acting FBI director, former FBI director and the special counsel in an interview yesterday with the New York Times that, even by Trump standards, is remarkable.

The transcript of the 50-minute session in the Oval Office oozes with brooding grievance and reflects the degree to which he has adopted a bunker mentality. It also underscores how much Robert Mueller’s escalating investigation bothers and preoccupies the president six months into his term.

Perhaps most importantly, Trump’s comments raise a host of new questions about his respect for the independence of the Justice Department, FBI and special counsel.

The president asserted his prerogative to order an FBI director to end any investigation for any reason at any time. He denied telling James Comey that he “hoped” the FBI could lay off its investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. “I didn’t say anything,” Trump said. “But … even if I did, that’s not — other people go a step further. I could have ended that whole thing just by saying — they say it can’t be obstruction because you can say: ‘It’s ended. It’s over. Period.’” (He didn’t specify who he meant by “they.”)

“Nothing was changed other than Richard Nixon came along,” Trump added. “Out of courtesy, the FBI started reporting to the Department of Justice. But there was nothing official. There was nothing from Congress. There was nothing — anything. But the FBI person really reports directly to the president of the United States, which is interesting. … And I think we’re going to have a great new F.B.I. director.”

This fits with a pattern of the president caring little about norms, precedents and traditions — all important guardrails in a constitutional republic that depends on a president putting the national interest above self-interest.

What you need to know about the Jeff Sessions recusal

The Washington Post’s Karoun Demirjian brings us up to speed on Jeff Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from all investigations into the 2016 presidential campaign. The Washington Post’s Karoun Demirjian brings us up to speed on Jeff Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from all investigations into the 2016 presidential campaign. (Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post)

— The headline out of the interview is Trump saying he never would have appointed Jeff Sessions to be AG if he had known ahead of time that he’d recuse himself from the Russia investigation. He blames the recusal, not his own decision to fire Comey, for the appointment of Mueller.

Trump called it “very unfair to the president” for Sessions to hand off control of the Russia investigation to Rod Rosenstein, who it must be noted the president had appointed to be No. 2 at DOJ. But in Trump’s own telling, he had not given any thought to Rosenstein’s selection until after Sessions stepped aside. Then he was irritated to learn that he came from Baltimore. “There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any,” Trump said. (Couldn’t the same thing be said of New York City?)

“A special counsel should never have been appointed in this case,” Trump grumbled. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else. … It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president.”

— This is a fresh example of Trump not being loyal to people who have sacrificed their personal reputations for his benefit. Few people have been more devoted to Trump than Sessions, and like so many others he’s gotten burned for it. He no longer has the confidence of the president, and it’s hard to see how he can survive for very long or be that effective in this job without it. He gave up a safe Senate, but his tenure has been marked by scandal and allegations that he perjured himself.

— Trump’s attacks on Rosenstein are notable because the deputy AG has actually gone out of his way to publicly demonstrate loyalty to the president. His legacy will forever be clouded by his assent to Trump’s request that he write up a memo coming up with a pretext to fire Comey. Just yesterday, Rosenstein gave an interview to Fox News that seemed almost exclusively intended to ingratiate himself with his boss. In it, he chided Comey for orchestrating the leak of memos about his conversations with the president. “We take confidentiality seriously, so when we have memoranda about our ongoing matters, we have an obligation to keep that confidential,” Rosenstein said. “I think it is quite clear. It’s what we were taught, all of us as prosecutors and agents.”

Robert Mueller departs Capitol Hill after meeting with senators last month. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

— Trump also said he doesn’t want Mueller to investigate his family’s finances. He said this would cross a red line, but he would not say what he would do about it. “I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia,” the president told Peter Baker, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman.

— There is irony that Trump complained at length to the Times that Sessions recused himself because of conflicts of interest, but then in the very next breath he accused Mueller of being unable to run an impartial investigation because he has conflicts of interest. The president noted that he interviewed Mueller to replace Comey as FBI director shortly before he was named special counsel, and that members of the team he’s assembled have previously contributed to Democrats. “He was up here and he wanted the job,” Trump said of Mueller, a former FBI director. After he was named special counsel, “I said, ‘What the hell is this all about?’ Talk about conflicts. … There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point.”

— He expressed no regrets about firing Comey: “I did a great thing for the American people,” Trump said multiple times. He accused Comey of giving him a heads up before the inauguration about an unsubstantiated dossier of derogatory information about him in order to get leverage. “In retrospect,” the president said. “In my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there.”

— Trump also attacked acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, noting that his wife’s 2015 campaign for Virginia state Senate received half a million bucks from Terry McAuliffe’s PAC.

— Spokespeople for the Justice Department and the special counsel are declining to comment on the Times story. Comey also declined to comment when the Times asked for reaction to Trump’s latest claims.

— Many prominent people, including conservative lawyers and DOJ veterans, were aghast at the audacity of Trump’s comments to the Times. Here’s a taste of the reaction online overnight:

From the former chief ethics lawyer in George W. Bush’s White House (and now a law professor at the University of Minnesota):

From a conservative fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who has advised several GOP presidential campaigns:

From the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who got fired by Trump under suspicious circumstances after being asked to stay on:

From a Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has oversight of DOJ and FBI:

From a former official in Obama’s Justice Department:

From a highly respected professor of constitutional law at Harvard:

From The New Yorker’s Washington correspondent:

From the Capitol bureau chief for Politico:

From a senior editor at NBC News:

An important point by one of The Post’s DOJ beat reporters:

From a WaPo investigative reporter who covered Maryland in her early years at the paper:

A lot of liberals made jokes about Trump’s comment that Mueller shouldn’t look into his personal finances:

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

McCain diagnosed with brain tumor

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. (Victoria Walker/The Washington Post)

— John McCain’s office announced last night that the Arizona senator has been diagnosed with brain cancer. Sean Sullivan, Karoun Demirjian and Paul Kane report: “The Mayo Clinic said doctors diagnosed a tumor called a glioblastoma after surgery to remove a blood clot above McCain’s left eye last week. The senator and his family are considering treatment options, including a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, according to the hospital. McCain, 80, has been away from the Senate this week, recovering from the surgery and undergoing tests. His office issued a statement describing him ‘in good spirits’ and noting that his doctors say his underlying health is excellent — but not indicating when he will return to the Senate. Glioblastoma is an aggressive type of brain cancer, and the prognosis for this kind of cancer is generally poor. … McCain’s significance inside Congress is hard to overstate — and his absence, however long, will reverberate across the Capitol.”

— Laurie McGinley, Lena H. Sun and Lenny Bernstein have answers to five critical questions about McCain’s type of cancer: “Glioblastoma … is a highly lethal malignancy that killed Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Beau Biden, the son of former vice president Joseph Biden. … Glioblastoma is an aggressive cancer that is the most common of all malignant brain tumors. … Depending on the location of the tumor, a patient can have seizures, headaches, blurred vision and confusion. … Often, patients and their families recognize symptoms only in retrospect. … Indeed, looking back, McCain’s tangled questioning last month of former FBI director James B. Comey … seems to hold more potent meaning. … The median survival time following treatment is about 12 to 16 months, experts said. But that varies considerably[.] … Up to 30 percent of patients live past the two-year mark, and 10 percent live more than five years.” (Kennedy died less than 15 months after his glioblastoma was discovered.)

Donald Trump greets workers during a December visit to the Carrier Corp. factory in Indianapolis, where major layoffs are happening today. (Evan Vucci/AP)

— Carrier Corp. will eliminate more than 330 jobs at its Indianapolis furnace factory today — coinciding, to the day, with Trump’s six-month mark in office. The Indianapolis Star reports: “An agreement brokered after the election by Trump … resulted in a commitment from Carrier to keep the plant open for 10 years. Despite the agreement, Carrier is still moving its fan coil production from Indianapolis to Mexico. … Although Trump and Pence have been credited with saving Carrier’s Indianapolis factory … employees don’t feel much security.” (“Made in America Week” is going just swimmingly …)

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Missouri Republicans are coalescing around the state’s Attorney General Josh Hawley to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill next year. Hawley is considered a conservative up-and-comer, having just been elected Missouri’s AG last year. (AP)
  2. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray reportedly plans to run for governor of Ohio next year. Congressional Republicans, who have loudly complained about Cordray’s role on the CFPB, would welcome his departure. (Politico)
  3. Trump has declined an invitation to speak at the NAACP’s annual convention. The NAACP only found out about his decision after it was announced by his deputy press secretary. (AP)
  4. The Justice Department announced a new federal policy to help state and local police take cash and property from people suspected of a crime even without a criminal charge, reversing an Obama administration rule prompted by past police abuse. (Sari Horwitz)
  5. The House Transportation Committee’s top Democrat is asking the Coast Guard to reverse a policy of kicking boaters off the Potomac River when President Trump is at his Virginia golf course. (Peter Jamison)
  6. Rep. Greg Gianforte, the Montana Republican who pleaded guilty to assaulting a reporter on the eve of his electionis resisting a court order to get fingerprinted and photographed at a local jail. (HuffPost)
  7. A Republican state senator in Iowa called on his GOP colleague, Bill Dix, to resign as majority leader following a sexual harassment case that awarded $2.2 million in damages to a former caucus staff member. (Des Moines Register)
  8. For the first time in almost seven years, pay increases for the lowest-income Americans outpaced all other groups. Weekly earnings for the group rose 3.4 percent compared to last year. (Wall Street Journal)
  9. Felicity Jones is slated to portray Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a forthcoming biopic. The news puts to rest the longtime rumor that the Supreme Court justice would be portrayed by Natalie Portman. (Forbes)
  10. A 21-year-old woman became the youngest patient ever to receive a full facial transplant. During the 31-hour procedure, which is among the rarest operations in the world, surgeons transplanted 100 percent of a donor’s facial tissue — including eyelids, facial nerves and muscle. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
  11. A significant portion of people being treated for Alzheimer’s may not actually have the disease. Researchers in California used PET scans to test thousands of patients for the presence of amyloid plaques — one of two hallmarks of the disease — and found that just 54 percent of people with mild cognitive impairment and 71 percent of dementia patients had the plaques. Their findings could change the way doctors diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s. (Tara Bahrampour)
  12. A family of five said it was kicked off a JetBlue flight last month, without explanation, after their toddler began kicking another passenger’s seatBut the parents said they quickly apologized to the other passenger — who allegedly responded with a derogatory slur, and suggested they “tie [the] baby’s feet down.” (Lindsey Bever)
  13. The University of Central Florida suspended a student for tweeting out his ex’s apology letter. Nick Lutz had taken a red pen to the letter to correct spelling and grammar mistakes and gave it a grade of D-. The image of the letter went viral, and Lutz’s lawyer now says that UCF violated his freedom of speech by suspending him over it. (Katie Mettler)

Trump is shutting down a secret CIA program in Syria

In a move that reflects his interest in working with Russia, President Trump has decided to end a covert CIA program supporting Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad. In a move that Russia is likely to welcome, President Trump has decided to end a covert CIA program supporting Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad. (The Washington Post)

“PUTIN WINS IN SYRIA:”

— “Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, a move long sought by Russia,” Greg Jaffe and Adam Entous scoop. “Officials said the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia, which saw the anti-Assad program as an assault on its interests. The shuttering of the program is also an acknowledgment of Washington’s limited leverage and desire to remove Assad from power. … After the Trump-(Vladimir) Putin meeting, the United States and Russia announced an agreement to back a new cease-fire in southwest Syria, along the Jordanian border, where many of the CIA-backed rebels have long operated.”

  • “This is a momentous decision,” said a current official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a covert program. “Putin won in Syria.”
  • “We are falling into a Russian trap,” said Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, who focuses on the Syrian resistance. “We are making the moderate resistance more and more vulnerable. … We are really cutting them off at the neck.”

“Toward the end of the Obama administration, some officials advocated ending the CIA program, arguing that the rebels would be ineffective without a major escalation in U.S. support. But the program still had the support of a majority of top Obama advisers, who argued that the United States couldn’t abandon its allies on the ground and give up on the moderate opposition because of the damage that it would do to U.S. standing in the region. Even those who were skeptical about the program’s long-term value, viewed it as a key bargaining chip that could be used to wring concessions from Moscow in negotiations over Syria’s future. ‘People began thinking about ending the program, but it was not something you’d do for free,’ said a former White House official. ‘To give [the program] away without getting anything in return would be foolish.’

— Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu revealed on a hot mic that Israel has struck Iran-backed fighters in Syria “dozens” of times. The Israeli leader’s comment was picked up on a hot mic during a closed-door meeting with Eastern European leaders in Budapest. (Adam Taylor)

What’s at stake for Kushner, Trump Jr. and Manafort in their upcoming Senate hearings

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort are scheduled to appear before Senate committees next week. Here’s what’s at stake for them. Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort are scheduled to appear before Senate committees next week. Here’s what’s at stake for them. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

THERE IS A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

— Jared Kushner will speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee next Monday during a closed door session. Karoun Demirjian and Ashley Parker report: “The interview comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee also announced its intention to have former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. testify in open session July 26.  Kushner, Manafort and Trump Jr. are expected to be asked about several reported contacts they and other Trump surrogates had with Russian officials during the campaign and transition period. In particular, they are expected to be grilled about their participation in the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer[.]”

— Trump’s two-decades-long relationship with Deutsche Bank is coming under increasing scrutiny. The New York Times’ Ben Protess, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Jesse Drucker report: “Banking regulators are reviewing hundreds of millions of dollars in loans made to Mr. Trump’s businesses through Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management unit, which caters to an ultrarich clientele[.] … The regulators want to know if the loans might expose the bank to heightened risks. Separately, Deutsche Bank has been in contact with federal investigators about the Trump accounts[.] … And the bank is expecting to eventually have to provide information to [Mueller], the special counsel overseeing the federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. It was not clear what information the bank might ultimately provide. Generally, the bank is seen as central to understanding Mr. Trump’s finances since it is the only major financial institution that continues to conduct sizable business with him.

— Ian Bremmer, who first reported the news of Trump’s second, undisclosed meeting with Putin, lays out five big issues with it in a Time Magazine column“That second meeting took place between Trump, Putin, and a Russian interpreter. … [Which] is a breach of protocol, though Trump could clearly care less. Much more concerning is the fact that the entire conversation between the two heads of state is predicated on the trustworthiness and abilities of the Russian translator — a translator who owes his allegiance to Putin and Putin alone. For all we know, Trump may have been having a completely different conversation than the one he thought he was having …

“This meeting doesn’t officially matter, which makes it matter more[:] We’ve already gotten conflicting accounts of what happened in the first, official meeting … [and the readout] was relatively light … But there have been interesting developments since then. The U.S. and Russia have been in talks about the possible return of two Russian properties suspected of being used in surveillance activities … Just this week, the Russian foreign ministry insisted on the ‘unconditional return’ of these properties. That’s a particularly bold demand. It makes one wonder if more details of the exchange were discussed in a pull-aside or this second meeting. While the world has been focused on discovering the contents of the first meeting, it’s the second meeting that may be most revealing, precisely because it wasn’t supposed to matter at all. And the lack of information about the second meeting makes information on the first meeting largely irrelevant.”

— Some of Trump’s top national security advisers are running out of patience with the president’s embrace of Russia. AP’s Vivian Salama reports: “[Trump] has pushed for cooperation between Moscow and Washington on various matters including the raging conflict in Syria. But some top aides, including National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster, have been warning that Putin is not to be trusted. … The three foreign officials who have spoken with top Trump advisers described a disconnect, or ‘mixed signals,’ between Trump and his team over Russia, highlighting a lack of a clear policy. … [During the Putin meeting,] foreign and U.S. officials said the Russians recommended that a note taker be present in the bare-bones official bilateral meeting. But Trump, who has repeatedly expressed concern over leaks, refused[.]

— A top aide to Russia-friendly Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has been ousted for his role in a trip to Moscow last year. The Atlantic’s Rosie Gray reports: Paul “Behrends accompanied Rohrabacher on a 2016 trip to Moscow in which Rohrabacher said he received anti-Magnitsky Act materials from prosecutors. … Rohrabacher’s meeting in Moscow was an object of concern for embassy officials, who had warned the delegation about [Russian security] presence in Moscow—warnings Rohrabacher brushed off. … Behrends is a controversial figure on the Hill, where he is seen by some who have worked with or around him as egging on Rohrabacher’s pro-Russia instincts.”

Trump and GOP senators try to revive health-care push

President Trump hosted Senate Republicans at the White House, July 19, to renew efforts to revamp the Affordable Care Act following failed attempts. President Trump hosted Senate Republicans at the White House, July 19, to renew efforts to revamp the Affordable Care Act following failed attempts.(Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

HEALTH-CARE ROLLER COASTER CONTINUES:

— The president implored Republican senators to resurrect their collapsed negotiations. Sean Sullivan, Kelsey Snell and David Nakamura report: “Trump’s remarks, at a lunch with 49 Republican senators, prompted some of them to reopen the possibility of trying to vote on the sweeping legislation they abandoned earlier this week. But there was no new evidence that the bill could pass. At the lunch, the president also threatened electoral consequences for senators who oppose him, suggesting that Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) could lose his reelection bid next year if he does not back the effort. The president also invited conservative opposition against anyone else who stands in the way. … Trump’s remarks introduced a new level of chaos into the GOP, potentially setting up Senate Republicans to take the blame from angry conservatives for failing to fulfill a long-standing GOP vow …

“Vice President Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services director Seema Verma met with roughly two dozen GOP senators for nearly three hours on Capitol Hill on Wednesday evening. The meeting was arranged by the White House to help persuade wavering senators to back the repeal-and-replace bill … Following the meeting, several senators described the talks as productive, but none would name specific areas of progress or new agreement that resulted from the gathering.”

The conventional wisdom on the Hill remains that, despite the venting session, they’re still nowhere close to getting 50 GOP senators to vote for something.

— Further complicating the effort, the Congressional Budget Office said last night that the amendment Mitch McConnell has pledged to bring up for a floor vote next week to fully repeal Obamacare would leave 32 million additional Americans uninsured if it got enacted. Amy Goldstein reports: “That would bring the total number of people without coverage to 59 million. The analysis also estimates that premiums for individual policies would rise by 25 percent next year if the number of people buying such policies plummets and concentrates sicker people in that insurance pool. The forecast by Congress’s nonpartisan budget scorekeepers is similar, though not identical, to updated estimates from January that they issued of the repeal-only legislation that passed the House and the Senate in late 2015 before being vetoed by then-President Barack Obama.”

— But on the House side, the Freedom Caucus is agitating for a repeal-only vote to pressure congressional leadership. Politico’s Kyle Cheney and Rachael Bade report: “Their effort is unlikely to result in a bill landing on Trump’s desk … But if the group garners enough signatures to trigger the floor vote, it would force many mainstream and moderate Republican lawmakers into the uncomfortable position of rejecting a repeal measure they backed just two years ago.”

— Meanwhile, HHS gave a very favorable review of Ted Cruz’s amendment — but to the utter bafflement of many health-care experts, who think the administration is fudging the numbers. Axios’s David Nather reports: “[An HHS analysis] says [Cruz’s] insurance deregulation provision in the Senate health care bill would lower premiums, both for people in traditional Affordable Care Act plans and in less regulated plans that wouldn’t meet its standards. But that’s almost the exact opposite of what most experts, as well as actuaries and the main health insurance trade groups, say would happen. Health care analysts and economists are criticizing the HHS report for being secretive about its assumptions, which are usually disclosed so outside experts can see how they arrived at their conclusions. They also note that HHS assumes huge premium increases under the current ACA, without explaining why.”

Protesters against the Republican health-care proposal sit outside Mitch McConnell’s office yesterday. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

— Protesters continue to flock to Capitol Hill to oppose any repeal of Obamacare. At least 155 demonstrators were arrested at Senate office buildings yesterday for “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding.” (Clarence Williams)

— Meanwhile, activists on the other end of the political spectrum are imploring Republican senators to vote for the health-care overhaul for the sake of Trump. David Weigel reports: “From Tuesday night through the announcement of yet another Republican meeting on their repeal bills, pundits and outside groups cast senators as ‘traitors’ if they did not deliver a victory for the president. … On the right, the final repeal push has been framed as a rematch of Trump’s 2016 victory — a chance for Republicans to go with their president, or reveal themselves as sellouts. Coverage of the health-care fight on Fox News, which had occasionally vanished from prime time, returned Tuesday night in the form of attacks on congressional failure. … Trump’s Wednesday speech at the White House was portrayed as the president trying to save Republicans from themselves.”

— A new Fox News poll shows that, if McConnell’s efforts fall short, 74 percent of voters want him to work with Democrats to reach a compromise. That includes 59 percent of Republicans. (Fox News’s Dana Blanton)

What you need to know about the House GOP budget plan

The House GOP budget draft paves the way for a potential $203 billion rollback of financial industry regulations, federal employee benefits, welfare spending and more. Here’s what you need to know about the plan. The House GOP budget draft paves the way for a potential $203 billion rollback of financial industry regulations, federal employee benefits, welfare spending and more. Here’s what you need to know about the plan. (Elyse Samuels, Monica Akhtar, Osman Malik/The Washington Post)

— Meanwhile, Republican House leaders have downsized their hopes of passing appropriations bills before the August recess. Mike DeBonis reports: “Republican leaders announced Tuesday that they plan to bring a package of 2018 spending bills to a vote next week. It would probably be the last item passed in the chamber before members depart for a five-week summer recess. But in the latest instance in which the House GOP has flinched from the basic responsibilities of governing, that package is set to include only four of the 12 yearly appropriations bills. That has exposed tensions inside the GOP over how its leaders have approached the annual spending cycle.”

— When it comes to the budget, it looks like congressional Republicans (once again) just don’t have the votes. Politico’s Rachael Bade and Sarah Ferris report: “After weeks of delays and false starts, House Republicans were expected to advance their fiscal blueprint through committee on Wednesday night. But they’re far from the 218 votes needed to pass it on the floor, according to multiple GOP aides and lawmakers. With only one week until the House leaves for the August recess, it looks increasingly likely that Republicans will punt once again on the most fundamental task of governing: passing a budget.Missing that deadline will leave the GOP exposed to criticism at home and undermines its chances of moving on to another key agenda item. ‘This is the tax reform budget,’ said Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas).”

The many trials and tweets of Trump’s travel ban

President Trump’s travel ban has been challenged in court at every turn. Now the Supreme Court is allowing a limited version to take effect, but with an expanded list of familial exemptions. The Supreme Court is allowing a limited version of President Trump’s travel ban to take effect as it gears up to hear the case in the fall. (Video: Jenny Starrs/Photo: Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

IMMIGRATION BATTLES CONTINUE:

— “The Supreme Court on Wednesday once again compromised on [Trump’s] travel ban, saying the government may enforce tightened restrictions on refugees for now but also must allow into the country more travelers from six mostly Muslim countries who have family members already here,” Robert Barnes reports. “The short order from the court means that the administration must continue to accept those with grandparents, aunts and uncles and other relatives in the United States. The court’s action on Wednesday had two parts. In one, it said it will not disturb a lower court’s decision that expanded the definition of close family ties. … But in another, it granted the government’s request to put on hold a part of the decision that would have made it easier for more refugees to enter the country. The unsigned, one-paragraph order gave no reasoning for either decision. Three justices — [Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch] — said they would have granted the administration’s request to put the entire order on hold.”

— Airline passengers flying to the United States from Mexico will now be subject to additional security checks for electronic devices larger than a cellphone. The newly implemented security measures were first announced by DHS secretary John Kelly last month. (CNN)

— “Critics often dismiss Trump as a chief executive uninterested in the policy process, unwilling to delve into minutiae and impatient with the pace of governing. … But on immigration … the 45th president has been heavily engaged in the administration’s roiling debate,” Ashley Parker, David Nakamura and Philip Rucker report in a deep dive. “Officials credit him for being relentless in framing illegal immigration as a threat to public safety and to the economic security of American workers, and for turning a border wall into a populist rallying cry. This portrait of Trump as a policymaker at the six-month mark of his presidency … shows a president driven by gut feelings, happy to mostly skim the surface but occasionally engrossed in details. Advisers said the president has strong, instinctual opinions on broad issues but is open to persuasion on details …

“Trump is torn over how to address the status of the younger immigrants, who were brought to the country illegally by their parents … [but] by contrast, [he] is far more certain about the wall. The structure could change in design or function — he vowed to build a much longer and higher wall during the campaign — but his security argument for it has remained constant.”

Trump: ‘We have to protect the integrity of the vote’

President Trump made remarks on July 19 at the first meeting of his commission investigating his allegations of voter fraud during the 2016 election. President Trump made remarks on July 19 at the first meeting of his commission investigating his allegations of voter fraud during the 2016 election.(Reuters)

ABOUT THAT PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY COMMISSION ON ELECTION INTEGRITY:

— “Trump, who has repeatedly asserted without evidence that illegally cast ballots cost him the popular vote against Hillary Clinton, told his election integrity commission Wednesday to proceed with ‘a very open mind and with no conclusions already drawn,’” John Wagner and Mark Berman report. “Trump stopped short of asking the 12-member panel to prove his claim about widespread vote fraud in the 2016 election — a fact that the panel’s vice chairman and driving force, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), told reporters was telling. … Kobach later told MSNBC that ‘we may never know’ whether Clinton actually won the popular vote. He said the commission will try to determine the extent of fraudulent voting last year but has no way to know whether illegally cast ballots helped Clinton or Trump more.”

Trump attacked the states that are not turning over data: “If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they are worried about. And I ask the vice president, I ask the commission, what are they worried about? There’s something, there always is.” (I wrote earlier this month that many of those who are refusing to comply are principled conservatives who genuinely believe in federalism.)

— The commission’s request for states’ voter data led to a small number of Americans canceling their voter registration, alarming liberal activists. Politico’s Diamond Naga Siu reports: “Colorado got a burst of publicity after more than 3,700 residents canceled voter registrations, according to media reports. And while that’s a tiny percentage of total voters in the state, activists said it’s the wrong response to the federal government’s request for state voter information. ‘We don’t want people to be afraid of registering — not to do so is to play into the hands of the voter suppressors,’ said Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Colorado. ‘To the thousands of people who have deregistered: go reregister and bring two others.’”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Jared Kushner take their seats during a US and China comprehensive Economic Dialogue. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

THE TRUMP AGENDA:

— “U.S. officials fell short of securing ambitious gains in trade with China in a meeting Wednesday and news conferences planned to cap off the event were canceled as the two countries wrapped up 100 days of trade talks,” Ana Swanson reports. “The United States unsuccessfully pressed China to make a substantial commitment to cut its steel production, according to people with knowledge of the matter[.] … U.S. officials also asked China to do more to reduce its trade surplus with the United States and open its market for agriculture, financial services and data flows, the people said. In a terse statement released after the talks, the Treasury Department said that China had ‘acknowledged our shared objective to reduce the trade deficit which both sides will work cooperatively to achieve.’”

— The U.S., Canada and Mexico have agreed to move quickly on a NAFTA renegotiation, hoping to be done by early 2018 before Mexico’s presidential elections. Reuters’ Anthony Esposito and David Ljunggren report: “The plan is to hold seven rounds of talks at three-week intervals, according to two Mexican officials …  Negotiators fear the renegotiation process could become a political punching bag in Mexico due to President Donald Trump’s repeated swipes at Mexico.”

— The administration is trying to accelerate its plans to cut hundreds of government regulations, which have gotten off to a slow start. Damian Paletta reports: “On Thursday, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget is planning to release a list of rules it plans to weaken or eliminate. The list will note that 469 proposals that were in the works during the Obama administration have been scrapped, and another 391 have been slowed. The administration is not releasing a full list of which regulations it’s targeting until Thursday, but they will run the gamut from significant policy measures to minor procedural measures.”

— “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is moving rapidly to promote American production of coal, oil and gas — a critical piece of President Trump’s vision for ‘making America great again,’” Juliet Eilperin reports. “In the past few weeks alone, Zinke has lowered the price companies must pay the government for offshore drilling; acted to accelerate approval for onshore drilling permits; approved exploratory drilling in the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea; and scheduled lease sales on Western lands the Obama administration had deemed off limits. And Zinke’s moves have immediate impact. While Trump’s ambitious plans to overhaul the tax code and renegotiate international trade pacts remain far off, and his campaign to roll back environmental regulations will take months to produce results for industry, Zinke is taking concrete action to deliver on one of Trump’s most important campaign promises.”

Callista Gingrich testifies to be U.S. ambassador to the Vatican

Callista Gingrich, wife of former House speaker Newt Gingrich, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee July 18, as President Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. Callista Gingrich, Trump’s pick for ambassador to the Vatican, gets a nomination hearing. (Senate Foreign Relations Committee)

PERSONNEL IS POLICY:

— Callista Gingrich, Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, had her Senate confirmation hearing yesterday. Post columnist Dana Milbank writes that Gingrich’s nomination “stinks to high heaven:” “Sen. Ron Johnson introduced [Gingrich] by noting that she was valedictorian of her high school class. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who succeeded Newt [Gingrich, Callista’s husband] in the House before moving to the Senate, declared that ‘one of her great, great persuasive talents is to not only convince Newt to marry her, but convert him to Catholicism.’ …  All presidents reward supporters with patronage. New York Jets owner Woody Johnson will be our man in London. On Gingrich’s panel Tuesday was George Glass, a big Trump donor, tapped to be ambassador to Portugal though he doesn’t speak Portuguese. But the choice of Callista Gingrich is another category of cronyism for an administration populated by friends and relations rather than appointees of merit … yet Republicans in Congress have been unwilling to say that this is unacceptable.”

— Senate Republicans are slated to vote today to confirm a blogger who has compared abortion to slavery to an appellate court. HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery reports: “That’s just one of the questionable comments that John Bush, [Trump’s] nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, made on a blog he maintained for years under a pseudonym, G. Morris. He also called for gagging then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi … applauded critics of same-sex marriage, mocked climate change and celebrated ‘the witch is dead’ when he thought the Affordable Care Act might not be enacted.”

— Trump has nominated a talk radio host and climate change skeptic to the Agriculture Department’s top scientific post. Juliet Eilperin and Chris Mooney report: “[Sam] Clovis, whose expected nomination has been previously reported by The Washington Post and several other outlets, is a former economics professor at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, who served as one of Trump’s first campaign policy advisers. In a 2014 interview with Iowa Public Radio, he said he was ‘extremely skeptical’ about climate change and added that ‘a lot of the science is junk science.’ … Furthermore, the Agriculture Department’s chief scientist is also tasked with administering its policies to ensure ‘scientific integrity’ in the department, which means examining whether any abuses or misuses of science may have occurred in the agency.”

— Joel Clement, who served as the Interior Department’s director of the Office of Policy Analysis until last week, wrote a buzzy op-ed for The Post about working under this administration: “I am not a member of the deep state. I am not big government. I am a scientist, a policy expert, a civil servant and a worried citizen. Reluctantly, as of today, I am also a whistleblower on an administration that chooses silence over science.”

— The president is also expected to nominate Mark Esper as secretary of the Army. Washington Examiner’s Jamie McIntyre reports: “Esper is a West Point graduate, former aide to Sens. Chuck Hagel and Bill Frist, and a Raytheon executive. His pending nomination follows the withdrawal of two previous nominees to be the Army’s top civilian: billionaire Vincent Viola and Tennessee State Sen. Mark Green. Pentagon officials privately expressed confidence that Esper, with his military, Pentagon and Capitol Hill experience, will win quick Senate confirmation. He serves as Raytheon’s vice president of government relations.”

  • From The Hill’s Rebecca Kheel: “Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) has expressed concern at the number of defense contractor executives being chosen by the Trump administration. He raised the issue in [deputy Defense Secretary Patrick] Shanahan’s confirmation hearing and later told reporters he does not want Trump to nominate anyone else from the top five defense contractors.” (Raytheon is one of those top five firms.)

— But some of the administration’s picks are balking at the financial and time commitments required to receive confirmation for top posts. Politico’s Andrew Restuccia reports: “At least a dozen people in line for top jobs in the Trump administration have dropped out, with many expressing irritation at requirements that they give up valuable assets to resolve perceived conflicts, according to lawyers and people closely tracking the nominations process.”

President Trump’s top 5 misleading claims, so far

Six months into President Trump’s term, he has made 836 misleading claims, averaging 4.6 per day.Six months into President Trump’s term, he has made 836 misleading claims, averaging 4.6 per day.(Video: Meg Kelly/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

HAS IT ONLY BEEN SIX MONTHS?

— The Post’s fact checking team calculates that, as of this morning, Trump has made at least 830 demonstrably false or misleading claims since he took office. That’s an average of about five per day, including weekends. “As president, Trump has already earned 20 Four-Pinocchio ratings — and a total of 152 Pinocchios,” Glenn Kessler, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Meg Kelly report. (Check out The Trump Promise Tracker here.)

— “6 months in, Trump’s presidency is teetering on the brink of disaster,” by CNN’s Chris Cillizza: “The collapse of health care reform in the Senate on Monday night is a fitting coda to President Donald Trump’s first six months in office, a tenure that has lurched from controversy to controversy and now appears to be on the verge of tilting directly into the political abyss.”

— “It’s Been Six Months With Trump. Are You Tired of Winning Yet?” by the Daily Beast’s Matt Lewis: “He hasn’t passed any legislation — and his first six months have been drama-filled and controversial. But despite the hand-wringing and worry his tenure has spawned among the chattering classes, the world hasn’t ended. That might sound like the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations.’ But in this day and age, I’ll take it.”

— “[Trump’s] ascendancy has reverberated across a workforce of 2.1 million civil servants, upending their sense of mission or empowering it, depending on where they sit,” Lisa Rein reports. “Where Trump is putting resources and priorities, many employees describe a sense of validation and optimism. Where he is dismissive of their mission and their value as public servants, they are anxious, discouraged and sometimes hostile. And in offices where the White House envisions severe budget cuts and has set in motion buyouts, early-retirement offers and possible layoffs, civil servants are ill at ease, their futures uncertain. After just six months, it is too early to gauge the impact of the Trump administration’s zeal to shrink the size and reach of government. … But this much seems clear: Across the far flung bureaucracy, employees are either on edge or waiting with high expectations for the change Trump promised, with few, it seems, weighing in at neutral.”

— “Trump’s Presidency Fuels Conservatism’s Decline,” by National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar: “Despite holding Democratic majorities in Congress, (Jimmy Carter) clashed with his party’s leaders on Capitol Hill and failed to accomplish much. He left office giving way to the Reagan revolution. His presidency is now seen as a small Democratic blip in a sea of conservative victories. So far, Trump’s administration is mixing the corruption of Richard Nixon with the incompetence of Carter. That may be all liberalism needs to launch a comeback.”

— “It Has Only Been Six Months Since Trump Became President. Feels Like an Eternity,” by the Resurgent’s Erick Erickson“It has only been six months since President Trump became President. It feels like an eternity of bickering, never ending fighting, media retracting stories, the Trump team screwing up stories, and the President waging constant battles on Twitter. I do this for a living and I am exhausted by it. … I can only imagine what non-political people feel. … My suspicion is that more and more Americans are tuning out of the political process right now. They will probably re-engage when the election season rolls around.”

TRUMP VS. THE FOURTH ESTATE:

— “Pro-Trump TV pundit’s firm took undisclosed payments from Trump campaign,” by Paul Farhi and Matea Gold: “For months, Mark Serrano has been one of [Trump’s] fiercest defenders and most enthusiastic supporters on TV. In semiregular appearances on the Fox Business Network, the veteran Republican operative has praised Trump’s leadership and bashed news media coverage of him. Fox News and Fox Business have described Serrano variously as a Republican strategist, a crisis-management expert and a former adviser to President George H.W. Bush … But Serrano has had another role this spring, one that wasn’t disclosed to viewers as he was touting Trump: His firm was a paid consultant to the president’s 2020 reelection campaign. Federal disclosure forms filed by the Trump committee Saturday show that it paid Serrano’s firm, ProActive Communications, a total of $30,000 for ‘communications consulting.’ TV news organizations, including Fox, typically screen would-be pundits and panelists for any financial connection to campaigns …”

— Vanity Fair, “Has Trump turned CNN into a house of existential dread?” by Sarah Ellison: “After relentless attacks from Trump and his allies, a series of journalistic problems, and in the shadow of a possible merger, the network’s C.E.O., Jeff Zucker, is feeling the heat. ‘I think there’s a real chance that Zucker is being forced out,’ said one employee. ‘That’s going to blow up this organization like nothing in the history of CNN.’”

— A member of the White House press corps used Periscope to broadcast an off-camera news briefing live. Ksenija Pavlovic, a former political science teaching fellow at Yale who founded a news site called Pavlovic Today, used the app to stream audio of Wednesday’s briefing. Though her recordings did not exactly go viral — each garnered a few dozen viewers, at most — the act of rebellion marks a significant development in increasingly strained White House-media relations. (Callum Borchers)

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

John McCain arrives for a recent Senate meeting on health care. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Washington sent messages of sympathy to Sen. John McCain after he announced his diagnosis of brain cancer:

From McCain’s daughter:

From Rep. Steve Scalise, who is still recovering himself from last month’s shooting in Alexandria, Va.:

From a New York Magazine writer:

Sen. Lindsey Graham responded to The Post’s story that the Trump administration would no longer arm anti-Assad forces in Syria:

Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings lashed out against Trump’s voter fraud commission:

On Kris Kobach’s claim that we may never know whether Hillary Clinton won the popular vote because of voter fraud:

The chairman of the Senate Intel Committee drew a line in the sand:

From a Democratic House member:

New Jersey’s Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno speaks to the press during the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service in Union Beach, N.J. (Tanya Breen/Asbury Park Press via AP)

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— “Criticize Trump at your peril, Republican candidates. Just ask Kim Guadagno,” by the Star Ledger’s Matt Arco and Claude Brodesser-Akner“Already trailing badly in the polls, Republican New Jersey governor candidate Kim Guadagno has been hit with another devastating 1-2 punch: She’s lost the confidence of a pair of deep-pocketed GOP groups that spend big on governor’s races … The [RNC], which is controlled by [Trump], views the lieutenant governor as someone who hasn’t been loyal to the president and officials there see her race as a losing cause … [And] the Republican Governors Association … has invested minimally in New Jersey and currently has no plans to change course, sources say. The other hit for Guadagno comes right here in New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie’s top fundraisers privately say they are sitting out the race because, in part, she’s been deemed disloyal to the governor after criticizing him on several issues, including his stay at the governor’s beach house during the state shutdown.”

— New York Magazine, “The Fake News That Provoked a Crisis in the Middle East,” by Jonah Shepp:“For Arab potentates looking for reasons to pick a fight with Qatar the unbelievable statements planted in the Qatari press were too good to be true, so it came as little surprise when a report emerged this week citing U.S. intelligence officials as saying the U.A.E. had orchestrated the hacking. … [This] is not the first time in recent years that fake news reports have led to diplomatic crises in the Persian Gulf, but this time, the consequences were more than usually severe. That’s why the deployment of ‘fake news’ in the Arab world’s media war is so chilling. The use of misinformation to start diplomatic crises and wars is of course as old as diplomacy and war, and the Middle East has its own rich history of governments and non-state actors planting stories in the press to lie, mislead, and fabricate. What’s different now is that … [in] our clickbait-driven, post-truth media environment, a lie can travel around the world several times before the truth has had a chance to check its Twitter feed.”

— Politico Magazine, “Is Michigan Ready for a Governor Named Abdul?” by Daniel Strauss: “He is standing in front of two campaign aides in a room decorated with nothing more than a couple of ‘Abdul for Michigan’ posters: He needs to learn how to get his message across to large crowds, specifically large crowds of people who he knows are more likely to vote for Donald Trump than a progressive Democrat, and a Muslim one at that. … There’s an earnest but youthful naiveté to this practice session—and really to [Abdul] El-Sayed’s entire campaign. … But this session does speak to a certain self-awareness—that, in a state that surprisingly embraced Trump’s nationalist, anti-immigrant message, being an observant Muslim might present challenges that most candidates don’t have to deal with.”

— The Atlantic, “What Congressional Republicans Really Think About Trump and Russia,” by McKay Coppins:  “Even as alarm has reached fever pitch among Democrats, most in the GOP see the reaction as little more than partisan noise.”

HOT ON THE LEFT

“With Speeches And Bright Dresses, Quinceañeras Protest Texas Sanctuary City Ban,” from NPR“The colorful scene melded two time-honored Texas traditions: political protest and the quinceañera. With skirts flouncing, 15 young women ascended the steps of the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Wednesday morning to a traditional Mexican birthday song played in a mariachi style. But there was no birthday to celebrate. Instead, the girls had gathered to protest a controversial immigration enforcement law that goes into effect September 1. ‘We are here to take a stand against Senate Bill 4, the most discriminatory and hateful law in recent history,’ declared Magdalena Juarez, 17, wearing a bright red gown.”

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Postal Service broke law in pushing time off for workers to campaign for Clinton, investigation finds,” from Lisa Rein: “The U.S. Postal Service engaged in widespread violations of federal law by pressuring managers to approve letter carriers’ taking time off last fall to campaign for Hillary Clinton and other union-backed Democrats, investigators said Wednesday. High-level postal officials had for years granted employees’ requests for unpaid leave, leading last year to an ‘institutional bias’ in favor of Clinton and other Democrats endorsed by … one of the largest postal unions. … The investigation found that 97 letter carriers took time off, sometimes weeks, to take part in the union’s Labor 2016 program, canvassing, making phone calls and working on other get-out-the-vote efforts to help elect Clinton and other pro-labor candidates”

DAYBOOK:

Trump and Pence will participate in a pol-mil session at the Pentagon in the morning. Trump will then make an announcement on “a pharmaceutical glass packaging initiative” while Pence does Fox News interviews.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

Trump to Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, the only Republican up for reelection next year in a state Hillary Clinton won, on Heller’s hesitation to overhaul Obamacare: “Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he? … Okay, and I think the people of your state, which I know very well, I think they’re going to appreciate what you hopefully will do.”

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

— The heat in D.C. today will be nearly unbearable. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “The day starts off clear and muggy and goes downhill from there. Highs reach the mid-to-upper 90s with 100 not out of the question. Heat indices are likely to reach 100-105. Northwest breezes are too light to take an edge off the swelter. Isolated storms (10-20 percent chance) are not likely to offer much cooling relief either, except in the immediate area of the showers.”

— The Nationals lost to the Angels 7-0. (Chelsea Janes)

— Former congresswoman Donna Edwards is reportedly considering a run for Prince George’s county executive. Arelis R. Hernández reports: “Speaking to a friendly crowd at a union hall in Landover, Edwards touched on all the flash points that are emerging as issues for voters in the 2018 race, including the embattled school system, economic development and responsive governance. … Upon seeing a reporter in the crowd, Edwards told her audience that she would not have anything to say Wednesday about her political future.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Late night hosts made jokes at Mitch McConnell’s expense after the most recent Obamacare repeal bill failed:

Late-night laughs: Trumpcare fails again

The Senate’s health-care bill is effectively dead and late-night comedians had a lot to say about it. The Senate’s health-care bill is effectively dead and late-night comedians had a lot to say about it. (The Washington Post)

Samantha Bee picked apart Trump’s voting commission:

Nevada police are looking for this man in connection to the break-in at Sen. Dean Heller’s office:

Police looking for this man for break-in at senator’s Las Vegas office

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police are looking for this person of interest in the case of a break-in at the office of Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) on July 15. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police are looking for this person of interest in the case of a break-in at the office of Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.). (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police)

The Post’s Amber Phillips explains how three Republican women sank the latest Senate attempt to overhaul health care:

How Senate Republican women stopped the latest attempt at ACA repeal

Three Republican women sunk a last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Three Republican women sunk a last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. (Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)

A member of the House asked NASA about civilizations on Mars during a hearing this week:

Lawmaker asks NASA about civilizations on Mars

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) asked about civilizations on Mars during a July 18 House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee hearing. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) asked about civilizations on Mars during a July 18 U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee hearing. (House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology)

In light of Jeff Flake’s consoling tweet to his Democratic challenger, who has been receiving Islamophobic comments, The Post compiled five examples of politics getting nice:

5 times politics got nice

In a tweet, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) defended Democratic challenger Deedra Abboud from hateful attacks online. Abboud is a Muslim-American candidate running for U.S. Senate against Flake. Here are five times politics got nice. In a tweet, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) defended Democratic challenger Deedra Abboud from hateful attacks online. (Victoria Walker/The Washington Post)

A 16-year-old boy who disappeared from Minnesota over 40 years ago was identified as one of serial killer John Wayne Gacy’s victims:

Victim of 1970s serial killer Gacy identified as Minnesota teen

A 16-year-old boy who went missing more than 40 years ago from his home in Minnesota was identified by Chicago authorities on Wednesday as a victim of the serial killer John Wayne Gacy. A 16-year-old boy who went missing more than 40 years ago from his home in Minnesota was identified by Chicago authorities on Wednesday as a victim of the serial killer John Wayne Gacy. (Reuters)

A public defender’s office argued that this video shows Baltimore police officers planting drugs during a January arrest:

Public defender’s office says this video shows a Baltimore police officer planting drugs

Baltimore’s public defender’s office released body camera footage it says shows a Baltimore police officer planting drugs during a January arrest. Police say officers may have been reconstructing drug find to record it on video. Baltimore’s public defender’s office released body camera footage it says shows a Baltimore police officer planting drugs during a January arrest. Police say of (Office of the Public Defender, Baltimore)

Two men in New York fought each other with unconventional weapons: a machete and a trash can:

Man with a machete fights man with trash can in New York

Two men fought with unconventional weapons, and their fists, early on the morning of July 19 in New York. Two men fought with unconventional weapons, and their fists, early on the morning of July 19 in New York. (Paul Tena/Twitter)

And “Despacito” became the most streamed song of all time:

‘Despacito’ now most-streamed global track

The hit song “Despacito” has set a record as the most streamed music track of all time, record company Universal Music said July 19. The song is the first Spanish-language song since “La Macarena” to top Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. “Despacito” sets record as most streamed music track of all time. (Reuters)

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trump deutsche bank – Google Search

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Story image for trump deutsche bank from The Guardian

Deutsche Bank expects subpoenas over Trump-Russia investigation

The Guardian10 hours ago
Deutsche’s relationship with Trump and questions about hundreds in millions of loans have dogged the German bank and the White House for …
Story image for trump deutsche bank from New York Times

Big German Bank, Key to Trump’s Finances, Faces New Scrutiny

New York Times10 hours ago
During the presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump pointed to his relationship with Deutsche Bank to counter reports that big banks were …
Story image for trump deutsche bank from New York Times

Morning Agenda: Deutsche Bank’s Ties to Trump Under Scrutiny

New York Times1 hour ago
Regulators are reviewing hundreds of millions of dollars in loans made to Mr. Trump’s businesses through Deutsche Bank’s private wealth …
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deutsche bank – Google Search

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Story image for deutsche bank from The Guardian

Deutsche Bank expects subpoenas over Trump-Russia investigation

The Guardian10 hours ago
Deutsche’s relationship with Trump and questions about hundreds in millions of loans have dogged the German bank and the White House for …

<a href=”https://twitter.com/search/deutsche+bank” rel=”nofollow”>https://twitter.com/search/deutsche+bank</a>
Story image for deutsche bank from New York Times

Morning Agenda: Deutsche Bank’s Ties to Trump Under Scrutiny

New York Times1 hour ago
Regulators are reviewing hundreds of millions of dollars in loans made to Mr. Trump’s businesses through Deutsche Bank’s private wealth …
Story image for deutsche bank from Hindu Business Line

Hindu Business Line

ECB Eyes Review of Deutsche Bank Shareholders: Source

New York Times18 hours ago
FRANKFURT — Europe’s top banking regulator, the European Central Bank (ECB), is considering carrying out a review of Deutsche Bank’s two …
Story image for deutsche bank from New York Times

Big German Bank, Key to Trump’s Finances, Faces New Scrutiny

New York Times10 hours ago
Separately, Deutsche Bank has been in contact with federal investigators about the Trump accounts, according to two people briefed on the …
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Did Comey try to blackmail Trump with dossier? – Google Search

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Story image for Did Comey try to blackmail Trump with dossier? from Mother Jones

Trump: Jeff Sessions Should Have Muzzled the FBI

Mother Jones10 hours ago
Trump: Jeff Sessions Should Have Muzzled the FBI … In the interview, Mr. Trump said he believes Mr. Comey told him about the dossier to implicitly make clear he had something to … Does Trump have any idea what he’s admitting here? And, in restrospect, he now thinks Comey was trying to blackmailhim.
Story image for Did Comey try to blackmail Trump with dossier? from New York Post

Sketchy firm behind Trump dossier is stalling investigators

New York PostJun 24, 2017
Sketchy firm behind Trump dossier is stalling investigators … on Donald Trump is stonewalling congressional investigators trying to … Before joining Fusion GPS, Simpson did opposition research for a former Clinton White House operative. … recorded the pee party in case they needed to blackmail Trump.
Story image for Did Comey try to blackmail Trump with dossier? from Washington Examiner

BuzzFeed subpoenas intelligence agencies for details of Trump …

Washington ExaminerJun 30, 2017
The dossier, among other things, says that Russian officials tried to influence Trump by preparing to blackmail him with sex tapes and bribe him …
Story image for Did Comey try to blackmail Trump with dossier? from Vox

The blackmail factor: Trumpworld’s Russia lies are a major risk to …

VoxJul 12, 2017
The Trump team’s habit of lying in public about its contacts with … McGahn did nothing about Yates’s concerns. … She knew it when Donald Trump Sr. stood before the cameras and openly asked Russian hackers to try to find Clinton’s missing emails. … She knew it the morning after James Comey was fired.
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Big German Bank, Key to Trump’s Finances, Faces New Scrutiny

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It was not clear what information the bank might ultimately provide. Generally, the bank is seen as central to understanding Mr. Trump’s finances since it is the only major financial institution that continues to conduct sizable business with him. Deutsche Bank has also lent money to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and to his family real estate business.

Although Deutsche Bank recently landed in legal trouble for laundering money for Russian entities — paying more than $600 million in penalties to New York and British regulators — there is no indication of a Russian connection to Mr. Trump’s loans or accounts at Deutsche Bank, people briefed on the matter said. The bank, which declined to comment, scrutinizes its accounts for problematic ties as part of so-called “know your customer” banking rules and other requirements.

And with one of its most famous clients headed to the White House, the bank designed a plan for overseeing the accounts of Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner and presented it to regulators at the New York State Department of Financial Services early this year. The plan essentially called for monitoring the accounts for red flags such as exceptionally favorable loan terms or unusual partners.

Additionally, the New York regulators recently requested information related to the hundreds of millions in loans Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management division provided Mr. Trump, one of the people said, paying particular attention to personal guarantees he made to obtain the loans. Those guarantees have declined as the loans were paid down and the property values increased, but it remains a source of interest to the regulators.

While there is no formal investigation of the bank — and personal guarantees are often required when people receive big loans from their wealth managers — the New York regulators have questioned whether the guarantee could create problems for Deutsche Bank should Mr. Trump fail to pay his debts. To collect, the bank would either have to sue the president, or risk being seen as cutting him a special deal.

It is not a hypothetical concern: Mr. Trump sued the bank in 2008 to delay paying back an earlier loan.

Mr. Trump has had a complicated relationship with the bank over the past 20 years, which has included more than $4 billion in loan commitments and potential bond offerings, a majority of which were completed, according to a New York Times review of securities filings and interviews with people with knowledge of the deals. Despite all the risk-taking — and a brief loan default that spurred the 2008 litigation — Mr. Trump’s business has made the bank money, the people said.

A spokesman for the New York regulators declined to comment, and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.

A few years after Mr. Trump sued the bank in 2008, he moved his business from the bank’s commercial real estate lending division to its private wealth division, where executives were more willing to deal with him, according to the people briefed on the matter.

In the past six years, the private wealth unit helped finance three of Mr. Trump’s properties, including a golf course near Miami and a hotel in Washington, according to Mr. Trump’s most recent financial disclosures and the people with knowledge of the loans.

The size of the loans — totaling about $300 million — is somewhat unusual by Wall Street standards, according to former and current Deutsche Bank executives and wealth managers at other Wall Street firms.

While it is not unheard-of for real estate developers to obtain large wealth management loans for projects deemed too risky for an investment bank, it differs from bank to bank, and those that do issue loans of that size typically do so for top clients known to pay their bills.

Mr. Trump’s wealth manager at Deutsche Bank, Rosemary Vrablic, has specialized in real estate lending and is known for taking risks on clients, two of the executives and wealth managers said. And her relationship with Mr. Trump is close enough that Ms. Vrablic attended Mr. Trump’s inauguration, according to a person who attended.

Mr. Kushner has established his own relationship with the bank. He and his mother have an unsecured line of credit from Deutsche Bank, valued at up to $25 million, and the family business he ran until January, Kushner Companies, received a $285 million loan from Deutsche Bank last year.

Mr. Kushner’s dealings at the bank have included Ms. Vrablic. In 2013, he ordered up a glowing profile of her in the real estate magazine he owned, The Mortgage Observer, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The piece concluded with a disclaimer that her “past clients” included Mr. Kushner.

In an interview with The Times last year, Mr. Trump suggested reporters speak with Ms. Vrablic about his banking relationships.

“Why don’t you call the head of Deutsche Bank? Her name is Rosemary Vrablic,” he said. “She is the boss.”

A Relationship Is Born

It was 1998, and Mike Offit, fresh off the trading floor of Goldman Sachs for a new job at Deutsche Bank, was hired to put Deutsche Bank’s real estate lending business on the map. To do that, Mr. Offit knew he had to snag big name developers.

That moment arrived when Rob Horowitz, with the real estate firm Cooper-Horowitz, approached him with an idea: Would he work with Mr. Trump, who at the time had a tarnished reputation after several of his casinos landed in bankruptcy?

“My reaction was, why wouldn’t I?” Mr. Offit recalled in a recent interview.

To Mr. Offit, there was little downside to hearing Mr. Trump’s pitch. A short time later, Mr. Trump came by Mr. Offit’s Midtown Manhattan office to discuss a loan for renovations at his 40 Wall Street building. Unlike other developers who arrived with their entourages, Mr. Trump showed up alone, Mr. Offit said, and despite a reputation for bluster, he knew the financials of the deal cold.

“There was some resistance from management because of Donald’s reputation, but I told them that our loan would be wildly overly collateralized even in the worst-case scenario,” Mr. Offit said.

More deals followed. Later in the year, Mr. Trump needed $300 million to build Trump World Tower near the United Nations. But he required a construction loan, which, at the time, Deutsche did not have the right staff to manage. Determined to get the deal nonetheless, Mr. Offit found another German bank to make the loan with the commitment that Deutsche Bank would take possession once the building was constructed.

But as the deal was being finalized, the other German bank had second thoughts because of worries of a labor strike. Just as the deal seemed to be falling apart, Mr. Trump produced a signed commitment from all the major construction unions promising not to strike.

“We were all amazed he managed to get that,” said Mr. Offit, who retired from the bank in 1999.

In the mid 2000s, Mr. Trump was in need of another construction loan. But this time, the loan — up to $640 million to build Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago — did not go as well.

A few years after the project began, the 2008 financial crisis upended the global economy and Mr. Trump fell behind on loan payments. According to a person briefed on the deal, Deutsche Bank was discussing a possible extension, when Mr. Trump sued it to avoid paying $40 million that he had personally guaranteed.

His argument, as detailed in a letter to the bank, was novel: “Deutsche Bank is one of the banks primarily responsible for the economic dysfunction we are currently facing,” Mr. Trump wrote.

With the help of a lawyer — Steven Schlesinger of Garden City, N.Y. — Mr. Trump argued that the financial crisis allowed him to invoke the extraordinary event clause in his contract with the bank. Mr. Trump argued Deutsche Bank should pay him $3 billion in damages.

The bank filed its own action against Mr. Trump, demanding he make good on the loan. In a legal filing, Deutsche Bank, which had distributed the loan to a number of other banks, called the lawsuit “classic Trump.”

The standoff culminated with a meeting in Trump Tower, Mr. Schlesinger said.

At the meeting, Mr. Trump threatened to remove his name from the building if he did not get more time to pay. That move, Mr. Trump suggested, would reduce the value of the building.

Ultimately, the bank granted Mr. Trump additional time to repay. And when he did, it was through the Wall Street equivalent of borrowing from one parent to repay the other.

Mr. Trump received a loan from Deutsche Bank’s wealth management unit to pay off the debt he owed the bank’s real estate lending division, according to two people briefed on the transaction. The wealth management unit later issued another loan for the Chicago project that is valued at $25 million to $50 million.

A Personal Banker

Ms. Vrablic, who helped facilitate the wealth management unit’s loans to Mr. Trump, has built a career lending to the rich and famous.

She got her start on Wall Street at Citibank’s private bank in the late 1980s and later worked at Bank of America before joining Deutsche Bank in 2006.

Ms. Vrablic, who declined to be interviewed for this article, has a reputation for being an aggressive advocate for her clients, according to two executives familiar with her work and profiles written in The American Banker and The Mortgage Observer.

In a 2013 Mortgage Observer article, one of her clients, Herbert Simon, owner of the Indiana Pacers, remarked that “when she came into the picture, it was a tough time to get money, and she was able to be very creative and get us what we needed.”

In a 1999 American Banker article, Ms. Vrablic described her clients as having “many homes, ex-wives, and many children.”

Mr. Trump fit that mold, but he was far from her only client in the rarefied world of New York real estate. Others included Stephen Ross, the chairman and founder of the Related Companies in New York.

Mr. Ross extolled Ms. Vrablic’s ability to make deals happen. “She brings knowledge — and the fact is that if she tells you something, you know it’s going to get done,” he told The Mortgage Observer.

Ms. Vrablic was quoted in the same article as saying that real estate is her “deep dive.”

While Mr. Kushner has never disclosed the exact nature of his business with Ms. Vrablic, his financial disclosure shows a line of credit worth between $5 million and $25 million. And according to securities filings, Deutsche Bank provided a $285 million mortgage to Kushner Companies to help it refinance the loan it used to purchase several floors of retail space in the former New York Times building on 43rd Street in Manhattan.

Mr. Kushner’s company bought the space from Africa Israel Investments, a company owned by Lev Leviev, which has a sizable real estate portfolio in Russia.

Deutsche Bank, other securities filings show, is also involved in loans the Kushner Companies received for the Puck Building in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood and a property on Maiden Lane near Wall Street. The bank was responsible for either pooling those loans into mortgage-backed securities that were sold to investors, according to Trepp, a data and analytics firm, or distributing payments to the investors.

In the autumn of 2014, Ms. Vrablic and Mr. Kushner attended the Frick Collection’s dinner, a black-tie event where patrons dined among famous works of art by Manet, El Greco and Turner.

A picture of the pair appeared in the New York Social Diary. Mr. Kushner, dressed in a tuxedo, had his arm around Ms. Vrablic.

The Russia Question

There is no indication that federal investigators suspect a Russian connection to Mr. Trump’s dealings with Deutsche Bank, according to people briefed on the matter.

Mr. Horowitz, of the real estate firm Cooper-Horowitz, also saw no Russian ties in his many years of working with Mr. Trump.

“I’ve arranged financing for the majority of Mr. Trump’s transactions, and I’ve never once seen any money coming to him from Russia,” he said. Mr. Horowitz was not involved in any of the private wealth management loans from Ms. Vrablic.

But separate from Mr. Trump, the German bank has a host of Russian connections.

Soon after Mr. Trump took office, the bank settled allegations that it helped Russian investors launder as much as $10 billion through its branches in Moscow, London and New York. In May, the Federal Reserve reached its own settlement with the bank over the money laundering violations.

Deutsche Bank also had a “cooperation agreement” with the Russian state-owned development bank, Vnesheconombank, which has been swept up in the investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election. And it had ties to VTB Bank, a far larger Russian bank facing sanctions in the United States and the European Union. The Russian firm’s investment banking arm, VTB Capital, was created by hiring dozens of bankers from Deutsche Bank’s Moscow office.

Some ties are less direct. Josef Ackermann, Deutsche Bank’s former chief executive, is now chairman of the board at the Bank of Cyprus. A large shareholder of that bank was Dmitry Rybolovlev, the Russian oligarch who purchased Mr. Trump’s estate in Florida.

And in May, federal prosecutors settled a case with a Cyprus investment vehicle owned by a Russian businessman with close family connections to the Kremlin.

The firm, Prevezon Holdings, was represented by Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who was among the people who met during the presidential campaign with Donald Trump Jr. about Hillary Clinton.

Federal prosecutors in the United States claimed Prevezon, which admitted no wrongdoing, laundered the proceeds of an alleged Russian tax fraud through real estate. Prevezon and its partner relied in part on $90 million in financing from a big European financial institution, court records show.

It was Deutsche Bank.

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Big German Bank, Key to Trump’s Finances, Faces New Scrutiny – New York Times

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New York Times
Big German Bank, Key to Trump’s Finances, Faces New Scrutiny
New York Times
Deutsche Bank expects it must eventually provide information to Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Credit Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. Mr. Trump 

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Excerpts From The Times’s Interview With Trump – New York Times

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Excerpts From The Times’s Interview With Trump
New York Times
President Trump spoke on Wednesday with three New York Times reporters — Peter Baker, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman — in an exclusive interview in the Oval Office. Also in attendance was Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman. At one …
At six month mark, here are six of Donald Trump’s most controversial tweetsUSA TODAY

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Excerpts From The Times’s Interview With Trump

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I mean, you think of Hillary Clinton, and you look, she went eight years — very capable — went eight years as the first lady, and could not get health care. So this is not an easy crack. The one thing I’ll say about myself, so, Obama was in there for eight years and got Obamacare. Hillary Clinton was in there eight years and they never got Hillarycare, whatever they called it at the time. I am not in here six months, and they’ll say, “Trump hasn’t fulfilled his agenda.” I say to myself, wait a minute, I’m only here a very short period of time compared to Obama. How long did it take to get Obamacare?

BAKER: March, March 2010.

TRUMP: So he was there for more than a year.

HABERMAN: Fourteen months.

TRUMP: And I’m here less than six months, so, ah, you know. Something to think about.

BAKER: We wrote the same stories, though, in August of 2009. “Obama can’t get it.”

SCHMIDT: It died several times.

HABERMAN: Several times.

TRUMP: Well, it was a tough one. That was a very tough one.

BAKER: He lost that election [the 2010 midterms].

TRUMP: Nothing changes. Nothing changes. Once you get something for pre-existing conditions, etc., etc. Once you get something, it’s awfully tough to take it away.

HABERMAN: That’s been the thing for four years. When you win an entitlement, you can’t take it back.

TRUMP: But what it does, Maggie, it means it gets tougher and tougher. As they get something, it gets tougher. Because politically, you can’t give it away. So pre-existing conditions are a tough deal. Because you are basically saying from the moment the insurance, you’re 21 years old, you start working and you’re paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you’re 70, you get a nice plan. Here’s something where you walk up and say, “I want my insurance.” It’s a very tough deal, but it is something that we’re doing a good job of.

HABERMAN: Am I wrong in thinking — I’ve talked to you a bunch of times about this over the last couple years, but you are generally of the view that people should have health care, right? I mean, I think that you come at it from the view of …

TRUMP: Yes, yes. [garbled]

_________

TRUMP: So I told them today, I don’t want to do that. I want to either get it done or not get it done. If we don’t get it done, we are going to watch Obamacare go down the tubes, and we’ll blame the Democrats. And at some point, they are going to come and say, “You’ve got to help us.”

BAKER: Did the senators want to try again?

TRUMP: I think so. We had a great meeting. Was I late?

[crosstalk]

TRUMP: It was a great meeting. We had 51 show up, other than John.

BAKER: Senator McCain.

TRUMP: That’s a lot. Normally when they call for a meeting, you have like 20.

HABERMAN: How about the last one in June? Do you guys remember how many came?

TRUMP: Ah, 49. It was actually 48, but John McCain was there. But I guess we had 51 today, so that counts. That shows the spirit.

BAKER: Who is the key guy?

TRUMP: Well, they are all key. The problem is we have 52 votes. Don’t forget, you look at Obama, he had 60. That’s a big difference. So, we have 52 votes. Now, I guess we lose Susan Collins. I guess we lose Rand Paul. Then we can’t lose any votes. That is a very tough standard. Statistically, you want to bet on that all day long. With that being said, I think we had a great meeting. I think we had a great meeting.

HABERMAN: Where does it go from here, do you think?

TRUMP: Well, I say, let’s not vote on repeal. Let’s just vote on this. So first, they vote on the vote. And that happens sometime Friday?

HABERMAN: Next week.

TRUMP: Or Monday? Monday. And then they’ll vote on this, and we’ll see. We have some meetings scheduled today. I think we have six people who are really sort of O.K. They are all good people. We don’t have bad people. I know the bad people. Believe me, do I know bad people.

And we have a very good group of people, and I think they want to get there. So we’ll see what happens. But it’s tough.

SCHMIDT: How’s [Mitch] McConnell to work with?

TRUMP: I like him. I mean, he’s good. He’s good. It’s been a tough process for him.

HABERMAN: He’s taken on some water.

TRUMP: Yeah. It’s been a tough process for him. This health care is a tough deal. I said it from the beginning. No. 1, you know, a lot of the papers were saying — actually, these guys couldn’t believe it, how much I know about it. I know a lot about health care. [garbled] This is a very tough time for him, in a sense, because of the importance. And I believe we get there.

This is a very tough time for them, in a sense, because of the importance. And I believe that it’s [garbled], that makes it a lot easier. It’s a mess. One of the things you get out of this, you get major tax cuts, and reform. And if you add what the people are going to save in the middle income brackets, if you add that to what they’re saving with health care, this is like a windfall for the country, for the people. So, I don’t know, I thought it was a great meeting. I bet the number’s — I bet the real number’s four. But let’s say six or eight. And everyone’s [garbled], so statistically, that’s a little dangerous, right?

BAKER: Pretty tight.

TRUMP: I hope we don’t have any grandstanders. I don’t think we do.

[garbled]

TRUMP: I think it will be pretty bad for them if they did. I don’t think we have any — I think it would be very bad for — I think this is something the people want. They’ve been promised it.

_________

HABERMAN: [In Paris], I don’t think I’ve seen you look like you were enjoying yourself that much since the convention, really.

TRUMP: I have had the best reviews on foreign land. So I go to Poland and make a speech. Enemies of mine in the media, enemies of mine are saying it was the greatest speech ever made on foreign soil by a president. I’m saying, man, they cover [garbled]. You saw the reviews I got on that speech. Poland was beautiful and wonderful, and the reception was incredible.

And then, went to France the following week, because it was the 100th year. [inaudible] The Paris Accord — I wasn’t going to get along with France for a little while, because people forget, because it is a very unfair agreement to us. China doesn’t get [garbled] until 2030. Russia goes back to 1994 as a standard — a much, much lower standard. India has things that are [garbled]. I want to do the same thing as everyone else. We can’t do that? We can’t do that? That’s O.K. Let me get out. Frankly, the people that like me, love that I got out.

After that, it was fairly surprising. He [President Emmanuel Macron of France] called me and said, “I’d love to have you there and honor you in France,” having to do with Bastille Day. Plus, it’s the 100th year of the First World War. That’s big. And I said yes. I mean, I have a great relationship with him. He’s a great guy.

HABERMAN: He was very deferential to you. Very.

TRUMP: He’s a great guy. Smart. Strong. Loves holding my hand.

HABERMAN: I’ve noticed.

TRUMP: People don’t realize he loves holding my hand. And that’s good, as far as that goes.

_________

TRUMP: I mean, really. He’s a very good person. And a tough guy, but look, he has to be. I think he is going to be a terrific president of France. But he does love holding my hand.

[crosstalk]

TRUMP: At that note, the cameras are gone. I was standing there with him, with probably hundreds of thousands of people.

HABERMAN: It was a very crowded [garbled].

TRUMP: And it was one of the most beautiful parades I have ever seen. And in fact, we should do one one day down Pennsylvania Ave.

HABERMAN: I wondered if you were going to say that.

TRUMP: I’ve always thought of that.

HABERMAN: Really?

TRUMP: I’ve always thought of that. I’ve thought of it long before.

TRUMP: But the Bastille Day parade was — now that was a super-duper — O.K. I mean, that was very much more than normal. They must have had 200 planes over our heads. Normally you have the planes and that’s it, like the Super Bowl parade. And everyone goes crazy, and that’s it. That happened for — and you know what else that was nice? It was limited. You know, it was two hours, and the parade ended. It didn’t go a whole day. They didn’t go crazy. You don’t want to leave, but you have to. Or you want to leave, really.

These things are going on all day. It was a two-hour parade. They had so many different zones. Maybe 100,000 different uniforms, different divisions, different bands. Then we had the retired, the older, the ones who were badly injured. The whole thing, it was an incredible thing.

HABERMAN: It was beautiful.

TRUMP: And you are looking at the Arc [de Triomphe]. So we are standing in the most beautiful buildings, and we are looking down the road, and like three miles in, and then you had the Arc. And then you have these soldiers. Everyone was so proud. Honestly, it was a beautiful thing. I was glad I did it.

People were surprised because I’d just come back from Hamburg. So I was back for three days, and then I had to go out again. But when he [Mr. Macron] invited me, he and I have a very good relationship. I have a very good relationship with Merkel [Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany]. Do you know what happened with Merkel? So I am sitting in the chair. We’d been sitting there for two hours. So it’s not like, “Nice to see ya.” So the press comes in. So I guess someone screamed out, “Shake her hand, shake her hand!” I didn’t even hear. So I didn’t shake her hand, because I’d been with her for so long. I’d been with her for a long period of time. So I didn’t shake her — the next day, “Trump refused to shake…” [garbled]

_________

TRUMP: She actually called me, and she said, um, “You know, I think we get along very well.” I said we do, we really do. I said, “You gotta put more money into NATO,” No. 1. And No. 2 is like, our trade imbalance is ridiculous. You know, it’s a money machine.

_________

TRUMP: It’s been a long time. Nothing changes. Wait till you see what we’re going to do on trade.

HABERMAN: Sounds like it’s going to be very interesting.

TRUMP: Much more interesting than anybody would understand.

HABERMAN: O.K.

_________

BAKER: Will you go to Britain? Are you going to make a state visit to Britain? Are you going to be able to do that?

TRUMP: As to Britain?

BAKER: Yeah.

HABERMAN: Will you go there?

[crosstalk]

TRUMP: Ah, they’ve asked me. What was interesting — so, when Macron asked, I said: “Do you think it’s a good thing for me to go to Paris? I just ended the Paris Accord last week. Is this a good thing?” He said, “They love you in France.” I said, “O.K., I just don’t want to hurt you.”

_________

TRUMP: We had dinner at the Eiffel Tower, and the bottom of the Eiffel Tower looked like they could have never had a bigger celebration ever in the history of the Eiffel Tower. I mean, there were thousands and thousands of people, ’cause they heard we were having dinner.

[crosstalk/garbled]

HABERMAN: You must have been so tired at, by that point.

TRUMP: Yeah. It was beautiful. We toured the museum, we went to Napoleon’s tomb …

[crosstalk]

TRUMP: Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president, so what about Napoleon? He said: “No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.” [garbled] The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death. How many times has Russia been saved by the weather? [garbled]

[crosstalk/unintelligible]

TRUMP: Same thing happened to Hitler. Not for that reason, though. Hitler wanted to consolidate. He was all set to walk in. But he wanted to consolidate, and it went and dropped to 35 degrees below zero, and that was the end of that army.

[crosstalk]

But the Russians have great fighters in the cold. They use the cold to their advantage. I mean, they’ve won five wars where the armies that went against them froze to death. [crosstalk] It’s pretty amazing.

So, we’re having a good time. The economy is doing great.

SCHMIDT: The markets are doing great.

TRUMP: They’re going to really go up if we do what we’re doing. I mean, cut regulations tremendously. Sometimes — you know, one thing they hadn’t thought about at The Times, where they said I didn’t really cut regulations as much. I heard that because I said — it could have been a little slip-up in terms of what I said — I meant, for the time in office, five months and couple of weeks, I think I’ve done more than anyone else. They may have taken it as more than anyone else, period.

[crosstalk]

But I’m talking about for my time. I heard that Harry Truman was first, and then we beat him. These are approved by Congress. These are not just executive orders. On the executive orders, we cut regulations tremendously. By the way, I want regulations, but, you know, some of the — you have to get nine different regulations, and you could never do anything. I’ve given the farmers back their farms. I’ve given the builders back their land to build houses and to build other things.

The energy stuff is going really well. We’re going to be an exporter — we already are an exporter of energy. We’re doing well. I mean, the banks, you look at rules and regulations, you look at Dodd-Frank, Dodd-Frank is going to be, you know, modified, and again, I want rules and regulations. But you don’t want to choke, right? People can’t get loans to buy a pizza parlor, to buy a — you know, I saw out on the trail — people say, Mr. Trump, we’ve dealt with banks, my own bank, and they can’t loan me anymore. I’ve never had a bad day with a bank. You know? So we’ll put — yeah, because of statutory [garbled], they can’t loan to that kind of a business. And they’re good businesses to loan to. So I think we’ve — I think we’re set to really go [garbled].

_________

BAKER: As long as we’re on the record, a lot of people are curious about your conversation with President [Vladimir V.] Putin at dinner. Not surprising. But what did you all talk about, and——

TRUMP: So, that dinner was a very long time planned dinner. And what it was was an evening at the opera. It was a final night goodbye from Germany and from Chancellor Merkel. It was her dinner. It was, you know, everybody knew about it. It was well-known.

_________

TRUMP: So when we got there, it was with spouses, and when we got there, there were a thousand media. You guys know, were you guys there?

BAKER: No, it was Julie [Hirschfeld Davis] and Glenn Thrush.

TRUMP: So, it was tremendous media. And we took a picture of everybody, the wives and the leaders, and then the leaders, and, you know, numerous pictures outside on the river. Then everybody walked in to see the opera. Then the opera ended. Then we walked into a big room where they had dinner for not only the leaders — Lagarde [Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund] was there, who I think is terrific, and various others. You had the E.U. people there, people other than just the leaders, but quite a few people. I would say you have 20 times two, so you had 40, and then you probably had another 10 or 15 people, you had Christine Lagarde, you had some others also.

So, I was seated next to the wife of Prime Minister Abe [Shinzo Abe of Japan], who I think is a terrific guy, and she’s a terrific woman, but doesn’t speak English.

HABERMAN: Like, nothing, right? Like zero?

TRUMP: Like, not “hello.”

HABERMAN: That must make for an awkward seating.

TRUMP: Well, it’s hard, because you know, you’re sitting there for——

HABERMAN: Hours.

TRUMP: So the dinner was probably an hour and 45 minutes.

_________

TRUMP: You had an opera, and then you had a cocktail party for the people at the opera, and then you had the leaders with the spouses, and other leaders in Europe and maybe other places, go in. We sat at this really long table, which held, has to be at least 60, 65 people with room. O.K., it’s a very big table, big room. But there was nothing secretive about it.

It was like, that’s where we’re going. And I think it even said on the list, at the request of the German chancellor and Germany, it’s going to be the opera, it’s going to be cocktails, it’s going to be dinner. I think the crowd thinned out for the dinner — you know, it was the leaders, primarily. But the leaders and Lagarde. And [inaudible].

O.K., so we’re sitting at this massive table. And the wives are separated from their husbands, which sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. But they did. It’s always easier when they don’t do it, because you always have somebody to talk to, right? And I was sitting next to the president of Argentina — his wife — [Mauricio] Macri — nice woman, who speaks English. And the prime minister of Japan’s wife, Prime Minister Abe. Great relationships. So I’m sitting there. There was one interpreter for Japanese, ’cause otherwise it would have been even tougher. But I enjoyed the evening with her, and she’s really a lovely woman, and I enjoyed — the whole thing was good.

And now Melania was sitting on the other side of the table, way down on the other end, very far away. She was sitting next to Putin and somebody else, I don’t know. She was sitting next to Putin.

HABERMAN: She had been the whole time?

TRUMP: Yes. She was sitting next to Putin.

BAKER: Does she speak Russian at all?

TRUMP: No. She speaks other languages.

TRUMP: She was sitting next to Putin and somebody else, and that’s the way it is. So the meal was going, and toward dessert I went down just to say hello to Melania, and while I was there I said hello to Putin. Really, pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long conversation, but it was, you know, could be 15 minutes. Just talked about — things. Actually, it was very interesting, we talked about adoption.

HABERMAN: You did?

TRUMP: We talked about Russian adoption. Yeah. I always found that interesting. Because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don [Jr., Mr. Trump’s son] had in that meeting. As I’ve said — most other people, you know, when they call up and say, “By the way, we have information on your opponent,” I think most politicians — I was just with a lot of people, they said [inaudible], “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?” They just said——

HABERMAN: The senators downstairs?

TRUMP: A lot of them. They said, “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?”

BAKER: You asked them about it at lunch?

TRUMP: Nah, a couple of them. They — now, that was before Russia was hot, don’t forget. You know, Russia wasn’t hot then. That was almost a year and a half ago. It wasn’t like it is, like it is radioactive, then. Russia was Russia.

HABERMAN: Then can I ask you——

BAKER: Sorry to interrupt. The email, though, said something I thought was really interesting, and I wonder what you thought of it. It said this “is part of Russia and its government’s support of Mr. Trump.” So whatever actually happened at the meeting——

TRUMP: Well, I never saw the email. I never saw the email until, you know——

BAKER: Right, but now you have. So, what do you interpret that to mean, now that you have seen it?

_________

TRUMP: Well, Hillary did the reset. Somebody was saying today, and then I read, where Hillary Clinton was dying to get back with Russia. Her husband made a speech, got half a million bucks while she was secretary of state. She did the uranium deal, which is a horrible thing, while she was secretary of state, and got a lot of money.

_________

TRUMP: She was opposing sanctions. She was totally opposed to any sanctions for Russia.

BAKER: When was that?

HABERMAN: Do you remember when that was? I don’t remember that.

_________

TRUMP: I just saw it. I just saw it. She was opposed to sanctions, strongly opposed to sanctions on Russia.

HABERMAN: This is post-Crimea, I’m assuming? Is that what we would be talking about?

TRUMP: I don’t really know. … But in that time. And don’t forget, Crimea was given away during Obama. Not during Trump. In fact, I was on one of the shows, I said they’re exactly right, they didn’t have it as it exactly. But he was — this — Crimea was gone during the Obama administration, and he gave, he allowed it to get away. You know, he can talk tough all he wants, in the meantime he talked tough to North Korea. And he didn’t actually. He didn’t talk tough to North Korea. You know, we have a big problem with North Korea. Big. Big, big. You look at all of the things, you look at the line in the sand. The red line in the sand in Syria. He didn’t do the shot. I did the shot. Had he done that shot, he wouldn’t have had — had he done something dramatic, because if you remember, they had a tremendous gas attack after he made that statement. Much bigger than the one they had with me.

HABERMAN: It was sarin as well?

TRUMP: Sarin. And, and tremendous numbers of people were killed, young people, children. And he didn’t do anything. That was a famous weekend where they were all asking him to do it, do it, do it. They thought they had it, and then he — not easy to do, I will say this, ’cause when I had to make that decision, I was with the president of China, and General Mattis [Defense Secretary Jim Mattis] said, “We’re locked and loaded, sir,” and I’m saying [mumbles], you know. [mumbles] Look, you’re killing people.

HABERMAN: Yes.

TRUMP: You hate it, it’s tough. Obama — you know, I can understand it in a way, but some things you have to do. But it’s, it’s a tough, it’s a tough decision to make.

BAKER: I do want to come out, on the email, now that you have seen that email that said Russia’s government — I mean, how did you — did you interpret it that way?

TRUMP: Well, I thought originally it might have had to do something with the payment by Russia of the D.N.C. Somewhere I heard that. Like, it was an illegal act done by the D.N.C., or the Democrats. That’s what I had heard. Now, I don’t know where I heard it, but I had heard that it had to do something with illegal acts with respect to the D.N.C. Now, you know, when you look at the kind of stuff that came out, that was, that was some pretty horrific things came out of that. But that’s what I had heard. But I don’t know what it means. All I know is this: When somebody calls up and they say, “We have infor—” Look what they did to me with Russia, and it was totally phony stuff.

HABERMAN: Which, which one?

SCHMIDT: The dossier.

TRUMP: The dossier.

HABERMAN: The dossier. Oh, yes.

_________

TRUMP: Now, that was totally made-up stuff, and in fact, that guy’s being sued by somebody. … And he’s dying with the lawsuit. I know a lot about those guys, they’re phony guys. They make up whatever they want. Just not my thing — plus, I have witnesses, because I went there with a group of people. You know, I went there with Phil Ruffin——

HABERMAN: Oh, I didn’t know that.

_________

TRUMP: I had a group of bodyguards, including Keith [Schiller] —

HABERMAN: Keith was there, right?

TRUMP: Keith was there. He said, “What kind of crap is this?” I went there for one day for the Miss Universe contest, I turned around, I went back. It was so disgraceful. It was so disgraceful.

_________

TRUMP: When he [James B. Comey] brought it [the dossier] to me, I said this is really made-up junk. I didn’t think about anything. I just thought about, man, this is such a phony deal.

HABERMAN: You said that to him?

TRUMP: Yeah, don’t forget——

_________

TRUMP: I said, this is — honestly, it was so wrong, and they didn’t know I was just there for a very short period of time. It was so wrong, and I was with groups of people. It was so wrong that I really didn’t, I didn’t think about motive. I didn’t know what to think other than, this is really phony stuff.

SCHMIDT: Why do you think — why do you think he shared it?

TRUMP: I think he shared it so that I would — because the other three people left, and he showed it to me.

_________

TRUMP: So anyway, in my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there.

SCHMIDT: As leverage?

TRUMP: Yeah, I think so. In retrospect. In retrospect. You know, when he wrote me the letter, he said, “You have every right to fire me,” blah blah blah. Right? He said, “You have every right to fire me.” I said, that’s a very strange — you know, over the years, I’ve hired a lot of people, I’ve fired a lot of people. Nobody has ever written me a letter back that you have every right to fire me.

[crosstalk]

BAKER: Do you think in hindsight, because of what’s happened since then——

TRUMP: Comey wrote a letter.

HABERMAN: Which letter?

SCHMIDT: To you? To the F.B.I. staff or to you?

TRUMP: I thought it was to me, right?

BAKER: I think he wrote it to the staff, saying——

TRUMP: It might have been——

BAKER: That “the president has every right to fire me.”

TRUMP: It might have been. It was just a very strange letter to say that.

BAKER: But do you think in hindsight, given that——

TRUMP: What was the purpose in repeating that?

BAKER: Do you think what’s given that——

TRUMP: Do you understand what I mean? Why would somebody say, “He has every right to fire me,” bah bah bah. Why wouldn’t you just say, “Hey, I’ve retired …”

[crosstalk]

TRUMP: It was very — a lot of people have commented that.

BAKER: Given what’s happened since then, though, was it a political mistake to have fired him, given what’s happened?

TRUMP: I think I did a great thing for the American people.

_________

SCHMIDT: But look at the headache it’s caused, you know?

TRUMP: It’s okay. I have headaches, that’s what I have, I have headaches. … But you know what, I think I did a great thing for the American people.

HABERMAN: Do you wish you had done it on Day 1? When you got in? Because I honestly had assumed that you, if you were going to do it, that’s when you would do it.

TRUMP: Well, it could’ve been. It could’ve been. I feel like it was very dishonest when he wouldn’t say what he knew he said to the public. I thought that was very honest. And I thought that he did that for the reason I just said.

_________

SCHMIDT: What do you understand to be the four corners of what Mueller [Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel in the Russia investigation] can look at, if he steps—— [crosstalk]

TRUMP: I don’t know. Nobody has contacted me about anything.

_________

TRUMP: Because I have done nothing wrong. A special counsel should never have been appointed in this case.

BAKER: Can we put that on the record?

TRUMP: Because so far, the only — yeah, you can put it down.

SCHMIDT: Was that [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions’s mistake or [Deputy Attorney General Rod J.] Rosenstein’s mistake?

________

TRUMP: Look, Sessions gets the job. Right after he gets the job, he recuses himself.

BAKER: Was that a mistake?

TRUMP: Well, Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.

HABERMAN: He gave you no heads up at all, in any sense?

TRUMP: Zero. So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.” It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.

HABERMAN: Rosenstein.

TRUMP: Who is he? And Jeff hardly knew. He’s from Baltimore.

________

TRUMP: Yeah, what Jeff Sessions did was he recused himself right after, right after he became attorney general. And I said, “Why didn’t you tell me this before?” I would have — then I said, “Who’s your deputy?” So his deputy he hardly knew, and that’s Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore. There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he’s from Baltimore. Now, he, we went through a lot of things. We were interviewing replacements at the F.B.I. Did you know Mueller was one of the people that was being interviewed?

HABERMAN: I did, actually.

TRUMP: He was sitting in that chair. We had a wonderful meeting.

HABERMAN: Day before, right?

SCHMIDT: Did he want the job?

TRUMP: The day before! Of course, he was up here, and he wanted the job.

HABERMAN: And he made that clear to you? He would have——

________

TRUMP: So, now what happens is, he leaves the office. Rosenstein leaves the office. The next day, he is appointed special counsel. I said, what the hell is this all about? Talk about conflicts? But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point. So Jeff Sessions, Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers.

HABERMAN: You mean at the hearing?

TRUMP: Yeah, he gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren’t. He then becomes attorney general, and he then announces he’s going to recuse himself. Why wouldn’t he have told me that before?

HABERMAN: Why do you think it was? What do you think it was?

TRUMP: I don’t know.

BAKER: What would cause you — what would be the line beyond which if Mueller went, you would say, “That’s too far, we would need to dismiss him”?

TRUMP: Look, there are so many conflicts that everybody has. Then Rosenstein becomes extremely angry because of Comey’s Wednesday press conference, where he said that he would do the same thing he did a year ago with Hillary Clinton, and Rosenstein became extremely angry at that because, as a prosecutor, he knows that Comey did the wrong thing. Totally wrong thing. And he gives me a letter, O.K., he gives me a letter about Comey. And by the way, that was a tough letter, O.K. Now, perhaps I would have fired Comey anyway, and it certainly didn’t hurt to have the letter, O.K. But he gives me a very strong letter, and now he’s involved in the case. Well, that’s a conflict of interest. Do you know how many conflicts of interests there are? But then, then Comey also says that he did something in order to get the special prose— special counsel. He leaked. The reason he leaked. So, he illegally leaked.

________

TRUMP: So think of this. Mike. He illegally leaks, and everyone thinks it is illegal, and by the way, it looks like it’s classified and all that stuff. So he got — not a smart guy — he got tricked into that, because they didn’t even ask him that question. They asked him another question, O.K.?
________

TRUMP: He said I said “hope” — “I hope you can treat Flynn good” or something like that. I didn’t say anything.

But even if he did — like I said at the news conference on the, you know, Rose Garden — even if I did, that’s not — other people go a step further. I could have ended that whole thing just by saying — they say it can’t be obstruction because you can say: “It’s ended. It’s over. Period.”

________

TRUMP: And nothing was changed other than Richard Nixon came along. And when Nixon came along [inaudible] was pretty brutal, and out of courtesy, the F.B.I. started reporting to the Department of Justice. But there was nothing official, there was nothing from Congress. There was nothing — anything. But the F.B.I. person really reports directly to the president of the United States, which is interesting. You know, which is interesting. And I think we’re going to have a great new F.B.I. director.

HABERMAN: Chris Wray.

TRUMP: He’s highly thought of by everybody. I think I did the country a great service with respect to Comey.

BAKER: Did you shoo other people out of the room when you talked to Comey?

TRUMP: No, no.

BAKER: That time [inaudible] [Michael T.] Flynn —

TRUMP: No. That was the other thing. I told people to get out of the room. Why would I do that?

SCHMIDT: Did you actually have a one-on-one with Comey then?

TRUMP: Not much. Not even that I remember. He was sitting, and I don’t remember even talking to him about any of this stuff. He said I asked people to go. Look, you look at his testimony. His testimony is loaded up with lies, O.K.? But people didn’t — we had a couple people that said — Hi baby, how are you?

ARABELLA KUSHNER: [enters room] Hi, Grandpa.

TRUMP: My granddaughter Arabella, who speaks — say hello to them in Chinese.

KUSHNER: Ni hao.

[laughter]

TRUMP: This is Ivanka. You know Ivanka.

IVANKA TRUMP: [from doorway] Hi, how are you? See you later, just wanted to come say hi.

TRUMP: She’s great. She speaks fluent Chinese. She’s amazing.

BAKER: That’s very impressive.

TRUMP: She spoke with President Xi [Jinping of China]. Honey? Can you say a few words in Chinese? Say, like, “I love you, Grandpa” —

KUSHNER: Wo ai ni, Grandpa.

BAKER: That’s great.

TRUMP: She’s unbelievable, huh?

[crosstalk]

TRUMP: Good, smart genes.

[laughter]

TRUMP: So the bottom line is this. The country’s doing well. We are, we are moving forward with a lot of great things. The unemployment is the lowest it’s been in 16 years. The stock market is the highest it’s ever been. It’s up almost 20 percent since I took office. And we’re working hard on health care. Um, the Russian investigation — it’s not an investigation, it’s not on me — you know, they’re looking at a lot of things.

HABERMAN: It’s a broad —

TRUMP: They’re looking at a big picture.

BAKER: This is why I want to come back to that email, because, like — does it concern you? Let’s say that the election didn’t change because of anything Russia did, which has been your point, right? You point —

TRUMP: By the way, it’s everybody.

BAKER: Right, your point is that Democrats are trying to use this as an excuse, fine. But did that email concern you, that the Russian government was trying something to compromise——

TRUMP: You know, Peter, I didn’t look into it very closely, to be honest with you.

BAKER: O.K.

TRUMP: I just heard there was an email requesting a meeting or something — yeah, requesting a meeting. That they have information on Hillary Clinton, and I said — I mean, this was standard political stuff.

SCHMIDT: Did you know at the time that they had the meeting?

TRUMP: No, I didn’t know anything about the meeting.

SCHMIDT: But you didn’t——

TRUMP: It must have been a very important — must have been a very unimportant meeting, because I never even heard about it.

HABERMAN: No one told you a word, nothing? I know we talked about this on the plane a little bit.

TRUMP: No, nobody told me. I didn’t know noth—— It’s a very unimportant — sounded like a very unimportant meeting.

BAKER: But on the date you clinched the nominations with New Jersey and California and the primaries, when you give the speech that night, saying you’re going to give a speech about Hillary Clinton’s corrupt dealings with Russia and other countries, and that comes just three hours after Don Jr. —

TRUMP: Number one, remember, I made many of those speeches.

BAKER: People wondered about the timing.

TRUMP: Many of those speeches. I’d go after her all the time.

BAKER: Yeah, I know, but——

TRUMP: But there was something about the book, “Clinton Cash,” came out.

BAKER: Yeah, a year earlier, though. But you were talking about——

TRUMP: But we were developing a whole thing. There was something about “Clinton Cash.”

________

TRUMP: Peter, that’s all I did, was make those speeches about her. … I don’t think I added anything much different than I had been doing. … I’ve made some very strong speeches about the corrupt emails. The 33,000 emails being deleted and bleached, and all of the things she was doing. I would make those speeches routinely. … There wasn’t much I could say about Hillary Clinton that was worse than what I was already saying.

HABERMAN: [laughs] I’m sorry.

TRUMP: I mean, I was talking about, she deleted and bleached, which nobody does because of the cost. How she got away with that one, I have no idea. 33,000 emails. I talked about the back of the plane, I talked about the uranium deal, I talked about the speech that Russia gave Clinton — $500,000 while she was secretary of state — the husband. I talked about the back of the plane — honestly, Peter, I mean, unless somebody said that she shot somebody in the back, there wasn’t much I could add to my repertoire.

HABERMAN: On Fifth Avenue——

TRUMP: I mean, look at what we have now. We have a director of the F.B.I., acting, who received $700,000, whose wife received $700,000 from, essentially, Hillary Clinton. ’Cause it was through Terry. Which is Hillary Clinton.

HABERMAN: This is [Andrew] McCabe’s wife, you mean?

TRUMP: McCabe’s wife. She got $700,000, and he’s at the F.B.I. I mean, how do you think that? But when you say that — and think about this for a second. I don’t think — you could give me a whole string of new information. I don’t think I could really have — there’s only so much. You know, you can only say many things. After that it gets boring, O.K.? How can it be better than deleting emails after you get a subpoena from the United States Congress? Guys go to jail for that, when they delete an email from a civil case. Here, she gets an email from the United States Congress —

________

BAKER: Should she be prosecuted now?

TRUMP: What?

BAKER: Should she be prosecuted now? Why, then, should she not be prosecuted now——

TRUMP: I don’t want to say that. I mean, I don’t want to say.

SCHMIDT: Last thing.

TRUMP: You understand what I mean, Peter.

BAKER: I know.

TRUMP: I mean, supposing they were able to give me additional — it wouldn’t have helped me. I had so much stuff——

SCHMIDT: Last thing, if Mueller——

TRUMP: And I couldn’t have been better than the stuff I had. Obviously, because I won.

SCHMIDT: Last thing, if Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia — is that a red line?

HABERMAN: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?

TRUMP: I would say yeah. I would say yes. By the way, I would say, I don’t — I don’t — I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don’t make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter saying that I don’t make — from one of the most highly respected law firms, accounting firms. I don’t have buildings in Russia. They said I own buildings in Russia. I don’t. They said I made money from Russia. I don’t. It’s not my thing. I don’t, I don’t do that. Over the years, I’ve looked at maybe doing a deal in Russia, but I never did one. Other than I held the Miss Universe pageant there eight, nine years [crosstalk].

SCHMIDT: But if he was outside that lane, would that mean he’d have to go?

[crosstalk]

HABERMAN: Would you consider——

TRUMP: No, I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia. So I think if he wants to go, my finances are extremely good, my company is an unbelievably successful company. And actually, when I do my filings, peoples say, “Man.” People have no idea how successful this is. It’s a great company. But I don’t even think about the company anymore. I think about this. ’Cause one thing, when you do this, companies seem very trivial. O.K.? I really mean that. They seem very trivial. But I have no income from Russia. I don’t do business with Russia. The gentleman that you mentioned, with his son, two nice people. But basically, they brought the Miss Universe pageant to Russia to open up, you know, one of their jobs. Perhaps the convention center where it was held. It was a nice evening, and I left. I left, you know, I left Moscow. It wasn’t Moscow, it was outside of Moscow.

HABERMAN: Would you fire Mueller if he went outside of certain parameters of what his charge is? [crosstalk]

SCHMIDT: What would you do?

[crosstalk]

TRUMP: I can’t, I can’t answer that question because I don’t think it’s going to happen.

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· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

Why Not Call It Treason?

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Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

When treason became a Washington buzzword, the pushback came fast and furious.

Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian government attorney, a Russian government lobbyist and others to obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton does not qualify as treason, the Washington Post explained, because of the language of the Constitution.

“Treason is a little extreme for this,” said law professor Richard Briffault. “[Russia] may not be our friend, but it is not clear they are our enemy. We are not at war.”

The very allegation is a sign of the “licentiousness of the press,” sniffed the Washington Times.

Team Trump has possibly violated 52 U.S. Code Section 30121, said the experts at Slate. And even on that petty charge, scholars dispute whether a foreign government’s opposition research constitutes a “thing of value.”

Such are the pedantic ways of commentators stuck in the pre-post-modern world where (they believe) their facts are inherently superior to “alternative facts” and legalisms will (one day) prevail over right-wing rhetoric, if only liberals play nice. It’s an attractive sentiment refuted only by reality.

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The dismissal of the treason charge, wittingly or unwittingly, abets the White House strategy of improvising a new legal defense as law enforcement closes in on the perpetrators.

The claim that the Trump campaign had no contact with the Russians and that the charge of collusion was “disgusting” has morphed into the claim that collusion with a foreign power is just “politics,” and doesn’t meet the legal definition of treason.

The goal of this strategy is to exculpate Team Trump from criminal charges as new facts emerge. There’s no reason why Trump’s critics need to play along.

The commonsense definition of treason is “betrayal of country,” the standard that Team Trump has interpreted broadly for its own purposes.

In 2016, New Hampshire State Rep. Al Baldasaro said Hillary Clinton “should be shot for treason.” Last month Baldasaro was invited to the White House.

Team Trump has no grounds for criticizing anyone for a loose definition of treason. For the White House, “treason” is a useful stick to bludgeon its opposition.

‘Effecting By Force’

Trump’s critics have a higher standard: treason is a plausible, if not yet proven, interpretation of the acknowledged facts.

Contrary to Professor Briffault, treason as defined in the U.S. Constitution and the law does not require that the enemy be “at war” with the United States. Article 3 of the U.S. Constitution states, “treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

The legal meaning of “levying war” is not synonymous with “at war,” nor does it require a formal declaration of war.

The definition of levying war is:

“the assembling of a body of men for the purpose of effecting by force a treasonable object, and all who perform any part however minute, or however remote from the scene of action, and who are leagued in the general conspiracy, are considered as engaged in levying war, within the meaning of the Constitution.”

The question is: Did Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort assemble with assorted Russian government representatives on June 9, 2016, for the “purpose of effecting by force a treasonable object?”

The question cannot be answered because we have not yet heard Kushner and Manafort’s account of the meeting. We don’t know what they hoped to effect. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is making inquiries.

What we do know is that the Trump White House’s account of the meeting is fraudulent (no, it wasn’t about adoption as the Trumps originally claimed) and that fraud can be a form of force.

In other words, the assertion of treason may be premature, but the accusation is not. The possibility of treason cannot be excluded based on the available evidence, as Senator Tim Kaine noted.

“Nothing is proven yet,” Kaine told CNN. “But we’re now beyond obstruction of justice in terms of what’s being investigated. This is moving into perjury, false statements and even into potentially treason.”

The available evidence shows that the actions of Team Trump are potentially treasonous. The buzzword, properly modified, is precise, if not prescient.

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet’s Washington correspondent. He is the author of the forthcoming biography The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin’s Press, October 2017) and the 2016 Kindle ebook CIA and JFK: The Secret Assassination Files.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

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In Interview, Trump Expresses Anger at Sessions and Comey, and Warns Mueller

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“I don’t think we’re under investigation,” he said. “I’m not under investigation. For what? I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Describing a newly disclosed informal conversation he had with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia during a dinner of world leaders in Germany earlier this month, Mr. Trump said they talked for about 15 minutes, mostly about “pleasantries.” But Mr. Trump did say that they talked “about adoptions.” Mr. Putin banned American adoptions of Russian children in 2012 after the United States enacted sanctions on Russians accused of human rights abuses, an issue that remains a sore point in relations with Moscow.

Mr. Trump acknowledged that it was “interesting” that adoptions came up since his son, Donald Trump Jr., said that was the topic of a meeting he had with several Russians with ties to the Kremlin during last year’s campaign. Even though emails show that the session had been set up to pass along incriminating information about Hillary Clinton, the president said he did not need such material from Russia about Mrs. Clinton last year because he already had more than enough.

The interview came as the White House was trying to move beyond the Russia story and regain momentum following the collapse of health care legislation in the Senate. Relaxed and engaged, the president sat at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, with only one aide, Hope Hicks, sitting in on the interview. The session was sandwiched between a White House lunch with Republican senators and an event promoting “Made in America” week.

Over the course of 50 minutes, the often-fiery Mr. Trump demonstrated his more amiable side, joking about holding hands with the president of France and musing about having a military parade down a main avenue in Washington. He took satisfaction that unemployment has fallen and stock markets have risen to record highs on his watch.

At one point, his daughter, Ivanka, arrived at the doorway with her daughter Arabella, who ran to her grandfather and gave him a kiss. He greeted the six-year-old girl as “baby,” then urged her to show the reporters her ability to speak Chinese. She obliged.

But Mr. Trump left little doubt during the interview that the Russia investigation remained a sore point. His pique at Mr. Sessions, in particular, seemed fresh even months after the attorney general’s recusal. Mr. Sessions was the first senator to endorse Mr. Trump’s candidacy and was rewarded with a key Cabinet slot, but has been more distant from the president lately.

“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president,” he added. “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”

Mr. Trump also faulted Mr. Sessions for his testimony during Senate confirmation hearings when Mr. Sessions said he had not met with any Russians even though he had met at least twice with Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak. “Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers,” the president said. “He gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren’t.”

A spokesman for Mr. Sessions declined to comment on Wednesday.

The president added a new allegation against Mr. Comey, whose dismissal has become a central issue for critics who said it amounts to an attempt to obstruct the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election and any possible collusion with Mr. Trump’s team.

Mr. Trump recalled that a little more than two weeks before his inauguration, Mr. Comey and other intelligence officials briefed him at Trump Tower on Russian meddling. Mr. Comey afterward pulled Mr. Trump aside and told him about a dossier that had been assembled by a former British spy filled with salacious allegations against the incoming president, including supposed sexual escapades in Moscow. The F.B.I. has not corroborated the most sensational assertions in the dossier.

In the interview, Mr. Trump said he believes Mr. Comey told him about the dossier to implicitly make clear he had something to hold over the president. “In my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there,” Mr. Trump said. As leverage? “Yeah, I think so,’’ Mr. Trump said. “In retrospect.”

The president dismissed the assertions in the dossier: “When he brought it to me, I said this is really, made-up junk. I didn’t think about any of it. I just thought about man, this is such a phony deal.”

Mr. Comey declined to comment on Wednesday.

But Mr. Comey and other intelligence officials decided it was best for him to raise the subject with Mr. Trump alone because he was going to remain as F.B.I. director. Mr. Comey testified before Congress that he disclosed the details of the dossier to Mr. Trump because he thought that the media would soon be publishing details from it and that Mr. Trump had a right to know what information was out there about him.

Mr. Trump refuted Mr. Comey’s claim that in a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office on Feb. 14, the president asked him to end the investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Comey testified before Congress that Mr. Trump kicked the vice president, attorney general and several other senior administration officials out of the room before having the discussion with Mr. Comey.

“I don’t remember even talking to him about any of this stuff,” Mr. Trump said. “He said I asked people to go. Look, you look at his testimony. His testimony is loaded up with lies, O.K.?”

Mr. Trump was also critical of Mr. Mueller, a longtime former F.B.I. director, reprising some of his past complaints that lawyers in his office contributed money to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. He noted that he actually interviewed Mr. Mueller to replace Mr. Comey just before his appointment as special counsel.

“He was up here and he wanted the job,” Mr. Trump said. After he was named special counsel, “I said, ‘What the hell is this all about?’ Talk about conflicts. But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point.”

Asked if Mr. Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line if it expands to look at his family’s finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Mr. Trump said, “I would say yes.” He would not say what he would do about it. “I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.”

The president also expressed discontent with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, a former federal prosecutor from Baltimore. When Mr. Sessions recused himself, the president said he was irritated to learn where his deputy was from. “There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any,” he said of the predominately Democratic city.

He complained that Mr. Rosenstein had in effect been on both sides when it came to Mr. Comey. The deputy attorney general recommended Mr. Comey be fired but then appointed Mr. Mueller, who may be investigating whether the dismissal was an obstruction of justice. “Well, that’s a conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said. “Do you know how many conflicts of interests there are?”

As for Andrew G. McCabe, the acting F.B.I. director, the president suggested that he too had a conflict. Mr. McCabe’s wife, Jill McCabe, received nearly $500,000 in 2015 during a losing campaign for the Virginia state Senate from a political action committee affiliated with Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of Hillary and Bill Clinton.

In his first description of his dinnertime conversation with Mr. Putin at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany, Mr. Trump downplayed its significance. He said his wife, Melania, was seated next to Mr. Putin at the other end of a table filled with world leaders.

“The meal was going toward dessert,’’ he said. “I went down just to say hello to Melania, and while I was there I said hello to Putin. Really, pleasantries more than anything else. It was not a long conversation, but it was, you know, could be 15 minutes. Just talked about things. Actually, it was very interesting, we talked about adoption.”

He noted the adoption issue came up in the June 2016 meeting between his son and Russian visitors. “I actually talked about Russian adoption with him,’’ he said, meaning Mr. Putin. “Which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don had in that meeting.”

But the president repeated that he did not know about his son’s meeting at the time and added that he did not need the Russians to provide damaging information about Mrs. Clinton.

“There wasn’t much I could say about Hillary Clinton that was worse than what I was already saying,” he said. “Unless somebody said that she shot somebody in the back, there wasn’t much I could add to my repertoire.”

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The Russia Probe Is Now Focusing On Trump’s Digital Campaign – Newsy

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Newsy
The Russia Probe Is Now Focusing On Trump’s Digital Campaign
Newsy
The Trump campaign’s digital strategy was overseen by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, now a senior adviser to the president. McClatchy reports investigators are looking at whether Trump’sdigital team collaborated with Russian operatives to target swing …

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Deputy attorney general suggests he did not agree with Comey’s engineering leak – Washington Post

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Washington Post
Deputy attorney general suggests he did not agree with Comey’s engineering leak
Washington Post
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein suggested he did not approve of former FBI director James B. Comey engineering a leak of information about a request from the president to shut down the bureau’s probe into former national security adviser …
Fox News Exclusive: Rosenstein says internal memos should stay ‘confidential,’ after ComeyleakFox News
Deputy AG: FBI agents have ‘obligation’ to keep memos confidentialThe Hill
Rod Rosenstein: Comey broke FBI policy by leaking memos to pressWashington Examiner
Mediaite –Breitbart News
all 10 news articles »

Trump Quietly Gives Putin What He Wants | commentary

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Quid pro quo?

 

Until now, the notion that Donald Trump was providing Russia and Vladimir Putin with concessions at the expense of U.S. interests was poorly supported. That all changed on Wednesday afternoon when the Washington Post revealed that Donald Trump ordered his national security advisor and CIA director to scrap a program that provided covert aid to anti-Assad rebels in Syria.

The president made that decision on July 7, within 24 hours of his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The sources who spoke to the Washington Post accurately characterize it as a reflection of “Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia.” That is a fool’s errand but, more important, this move demonstrates that the United States is willing to cede ground to adversaries and bad actors as long as they are persistent enough.

I endeavored to demonstrate as thoroughly as I could why American interests in Syria and those of Russia not only do not align but often conflict violently. The president appears convinced, like his predecessor, that his personal political interests are better served by allowing Moscow to be the power broker in Syria—even if that makes America and its allies less safe.

Moscow has made it a priority to execute airstrikes on American and British covert facilities in Syria, and Donald Trump has just rewarded those air strikes on U.S. targets. Trump has sacrificed the goodwill he garnered from Sunni-dominated Middle Eastern governments when he executed strikes on Assad’s assets and, as recently as June, the U.S. downed a Syrian warplane for attacking anti-ISIS rebels laying siege to the Islamic State capital of Raqqa.

America will continue to provide support to indigenous anti-ISIS rebels, despite the fact that those forces are often under assault from both Russian and Syrian forces.  It should be noted, however, that the CIA suspended aid to Free Syrian Army elements when it came under attack from Islamist in February. The agency said it didn’t want cash and weapons falling into Islamist hands, but this move exposes that claim as a mere pretext.

This concession to Russia is significant not just because it removes some pressure on Moscow’s vassal in Damascus. It sends a series of signals to the world’s bad actors, who will inevitably react.

The phasing out of aid for anti-Assad rebels (presumably the indigenous Sunni-dominated factions) gives Russia and Syria the only thing they’ve ever wanted: the ability to frame the conflict in Syria as one between the regime and a handful of radicals and pariahs. A cessation of aid will squeeze the remaining moderate, secular rebel factions in Syria and compel them to seek whatever assistance they can—even at the risk of augmenting the ranks of Islamist insurgents. How that advances America’s interests is entirely unclear.

This move will only further embolden not just Russia and Syria but their mutual ally, the Islamic Republic of Iran. It will convince the region’s Sunni actors that the United States is not on their side—a matter of increasing urgency in Iraq. The insurgency in Syria is unlikely to end so long as regional fighters have a means of getting into the country. America will simply sacrifice its leverage over those groups.

This move will confirm, finally, that the use of weapons of mass destruction in the battlefield is survivable. A truly resolute American administration might fire off a handful of Tomahawk missiles at an abandoned airfield, but regime change is not in the offing. That will only beget other bad actors who will test the parameters of America’s willingness to defend the international norms prohibiting the use of WMDs. Because American servicemen and women are stationed around the world in unstable theaters, the likelihood that they will one day be fighting on chemical battlefields just became a lot more likely.

American covert involvement in Syria also filled a vacuum that the Obama administration allowed to expand in 2011 and 2012. “One big potential risk of shutting down the CIA program is that the United States may lose its ability to block other countries, such as Turkey and Persian Gulf allies, from funneling more sophisticated weapons—including man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS—to anti-Assad rebels, including more radical groups,” the Washington Post speculated. Ironically, American withdrawal from the anti-Assad effort could actually fuel the fire, but in a way that we can neither control nor effectively influence. We’ve seen that movie before. We know how it ends.

And all of this is for what? To garner goodwill with the bloody regime in Damascus? To court Moscow or Tehran? There is nothing to gain from cozying up to these regimes that is not offset by the sacrifice of American national interests and moral authority associated with rapprochement. For all of the Trump administration’s criticisms of Barack Obama’s policy with regard to those regimes, this decision suggests he’s willing to double down on Obama’s mistakes.

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Trump Quietly Gives Putin What He Wants – Commentary Magazine

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Commentary Magazine
Trump Quietly Gives Putin What He Wants
Commentary Magazine
Until now, the notion that Donald Trump was providing Russia and Vladimir Putin with concessions at the expense of U.S. interests was poorly supported. That all changed on Wednesday afternoon when the Washington Post revealed that Donald Trump …

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Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow

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Trump is shutting down a secret CIA program in Syria

In a move that reflects his interest in working with Russia, President Trump has decided to end a covert CIA program supporting Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad. In a move that Russia is likely to welcome, President Trump has decided to end a covert CIA program supporting Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad. (The Washington Post)

(The Washington Post)

President Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, a move long sought by Russia, according to U.S. officials.

The program was a central plank of a policy begun by the Obama administration in 2013 to put pressure on Assad to step aside, but even its backers have questioned its efficacy since Russia deployed forces in Syria two years later.

Officials said the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia, which saw the anti-Assad program as an assault on its interests. The shuttering of the program is also an acknowledgment of Washington’s limited leverage and desire to remove Assad from power.

Just three months ago, after the United States accused Assad of using chemical weapons, Trump launched retaliatory airstrikes against a Syrian air base. At the time, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, said that “in no way do we see peace in that area with Assad at the head of the Syrian government.”

Officials said Trump made the decision to scrap the CIA program nearly a month ago, after an Oval Office meeting with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and national security adviser H.R. McMaster ahead of a July 7 meeting in Germany with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

How Trump is changing America’s foreign policy

Spokesmen for the National Security Council and the CIA declined to comment.

After the Trump-Putin meeting, the United States and Russia announced an agreement to back a new cease-fire in southwest Syria, along the Jordanian border, where many of the CIA-backed rebels have long operated. Trump described the limited cease-fire deal as one of the benefits of a constructive working relationship with Moscow.

The move to end the secret program to arm the anti-Assad rebels was not a condition of the cease-fire negotiations, which were already well underway, said U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the secret program.

Trump’s dealings with Russia have been under heavy scrutiny because of the investigations into the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election. The decision on the CIA-backed rebels will be welcomed by Moscow, which focused its firepower on those fighters after it intervened in Syria in 2015.

Some current and former officials who support the program cast the move as a major concession.

“This is a momentous decision,” said a current official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a covert program. “Putin won in Syria.”

The decision will not affect a separate Pentagon-led effort to work with U.S.-backed Syrian rebels fighting the Islamic State. And the CIA-backed rebels were part of the larger moderate opposition.

 Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks to the Associated Press at the presidential palace in Damascus in 2016. The Trump administration is ending a CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels. (Syrian presidency via AP, File) (AP/AP)

Some analysts said the decision was likely to empower more radical groups inside Syria and damage the credibility of the United States.

“We are falling into a Russian trap,” said Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, who focuses on the Syrian resistance. “We are making the moderate resistance more and more vulnerable. . . . We are really cutting them off at the neck.”

Others said it was recognition of Assad’s entrenched position in Syria.

“It’s probably a nod to reality,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a former Obama administration official and director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

U.S. intelligence officials say battlefield gains by rebels in 2015 prompted Russia’s direct military intervention on the side of the Assad regime. Some U.S. officials and their allies in the region urged President Barack Obama to respond by providing the rebels with advanced anti­aircraft weapons so they could better defend themselves. But Obama balked, citing concerns about the United States getting pulled into a conflict with Russia.

Senior U.S. officials said that the covert program would be phased out over a period of months. It is also possible that some of the support could be redirected to other missions, such as fighting the Islamic State or making sure that the rebels can still defend themselves from attacks.

“This is a force that we can’t afford to completely abandon,” Goldenberg said. “If they are ending the aid to the rebels altogether, then that is a huge strategic mistake.”

U.S. officials said the decision had the backing of Jordan, where some of the rebels were trained, and appeared to be part of a larger Trump administration strategy to focus on negotiating limited cease-fire deals with the Russians.

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Earlier this month, five days into the first cease-fire in southwest Syria, Trump indicated that another agreement was under discussion with Moscow. “We are working on the second cease-fire in a very rough part of Syria,” Trump said. “If we get that and a few more, all of a sudden we are going to have no bullets being fired in Syria.”

One big potential risk of shutting down the CIA program is that the United States may lose its ability to block other countries, such as Turkey and Persian Gulf allies, from funneling more sophisticated weapons — including man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS — to anti-Assad rebels, including more radical groups.

Toward the end of the Obama administration, some officials advocated ending the CIA program, arguing that the rebels would be ineffective without a major escalation in U.S. support. But the program still had the support of a majority of top Obama advisers, who argued that the United States couldn’t abandon its allies on the ground and give up on the moderate opposition because of the damage that it would do to U.S. standing in the region.

Even those who were skeptical about the program’s long-term value, viewed it as a key bargaining chip that could be used to wring concessions from Moscow in negotiations over Syria’s future.

“People began thinking about ending the program, but it was not something you’d do for free,” said a former White House official. “To give [the program] away without getting anything in return would be foolish.”

Read the whole story
· · · · · ·

Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow – Washington Post

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Washington Post
Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow
Washington Post
President Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, a move long sought by Russia, according to U.S. officials. The program was a central plank of a policy begun …

and more »

Today’s Headlines and Commentary 

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President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a second, previously undisclosed conversation at the G20 summit earlier this month, The New York Times reports. The interaction, which may have lasted as long as an hour, occurred on July 7 during a banquet for G20 leaders and their spouses. Sources said that Trump walked over to Putin about halfway through the dinner and began the conversation. The pair relied exclusively on Russia’s translator, meaning no official U.S. government record of what they discussed exists. Sean Spicer said the President described the interaction as small talk and pleasantries and as lasting much less than an hour. Trump criticized coverage of the meeting in two tweets posted Tuesday evening calling it “sick.” Trump and Putin had met earlier that day on the sidelines of the summit in a closely scrutinized face-to-face meeting where they discussed topics that included Russian interference in the 2016 elections and a ceasefire in southwestern Syria.

The Supreme Court ordered that the Trump administration must expand the family relationships that qualify for exemptions from its travel ban, but said the administration could enforce tight restrictions on refugees, The Washington Post reports. The court partially denied the government’s request to stay the order from Hawaii’s federal district court that expanded the government’s definition of “close” family relationship to include grandparents, among others. But it did stay the part of the district court ruling that forced the administration to grant an exception to refugees with offers from refugee resettlement agencies. The government had asked the court to clarify the language in its initial June 26 ruling, but the court said that the litigation should proceed through normal channels, making the next stage in this case the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Trump has ended the covert CIA program that armed anti-Assad rebels in Syria, the Post reports. The program began under the Obama administration in 2013 to pressure the Assad regime, but some believed that Russia’s deployment of forces in 2015 undercut its effectiveness. Russia actively sought an end to the program, and critics of the move said it was a major concession to the Kremlin. Others have noted that it better reflects the reality of Assad’s entrenched position. The move could result in an influx of sophisticated weapons from Turkey and Persian Gulf allies flowing to rebel groups, including radical factions.

In the District of Columbia, warrantless requests for citizens’ cellphone location records or internet activity grew sevenfold in three years, the Post reports. In response to an open-records lawsuit, a federal judge released the information on requests made in cases handled by the Department of Justice or the District of Columbia U.S. Attorney’s Office between 2008 and 2016. The standard for obtaining the records is lower than that to obtain a search warrant.The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 2014 that a warrant is required to search the contents of cellphones, and this fall it will address whether a warrant should be required to track a suspect’s location based on cell tower data. Experts believe the information revealed in the D.C. case could influence that ruling.

Mohammed bin Salman, now Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and next in line for the throne, plotted the ouster of rival Mohammed bin Nayef, the Times reports. Although the media depicted the shift as a relatively seamless transition, former U.S. officials and associates of the Saudi royal family said that it involved an all-night meeting in which officials pressured Nayef to step aside and told senior princes he was unfit to serve as king due to a drug problem. Reports have said that Nayef is now confined to his palace. The Wall Street Journal provided a detailed timeline of events and revealed that the Trump administration was tipped off about the power grab a week before it took place.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will decide whether the government of a single nation can force Google to remove search results anywhere in the world, The Wall Street Journal reports. The question stems from a dispute between French privacy regulators and Google over the E.U.’s “right to be forgotten” policy. In that ECJ decision, the court ruled that Europeans have a right to ask search engines to remove links from searches for their name if the links are old, irrelevant, or infringe on their privacy. While Google applied the policy to its websites within Europe, it resisted expanding it to other versions of its search engine, including Google.com. Regulators argue that individuals can easily mask their true location and thus access the information published on the other versions of the search engine. Several weeks ago, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that Google had to remove links to certain content that violated intellectual property rights from all versions of its site, not only the Canadian version.

Yesterday the State, Justice, and Treasury Departments imposed new sanctions against 18 individuals and organizations they said support Iranian weapons procurement, missile development, and software theft, the Times reports. The announcement came less than a day after the Trump administration certified that Iran has been upholding its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a certification the administration must make every 90 days. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced Wednesday that Iran will “stand up” to the U.S. if it imposes new sanctions and said that Iran will have an “appropriate answer” and that parliament will take action, though he did not provide specifics.

The Trump administration officially nominated former Utah governor Jon Huntsman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Politico reports. Huntsman has also served as ambassador in both Singapore and China and as the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, among other government and private sector positions. Huntsman initially endorsed Trump’s candidacy but called for him to withdraw from the race following the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Herb Lin argued that avoiding “getting caught” when conducting a cyber attack does matter at the point of insertion and anytime after.

J. Dana Stuster posted the Middle East Ticker, which covered the ongoing diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, Israel’s rejection of the ceasefire in southwestern Syria, and the U.S.’s caveated reaffirmation of Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA.

Paul Rosenzweig noted that the SF-86 form required for a security clearance, which Jared Kushner has been criticized for twice failing to file correctly, is quite complex.

Andrew Kent responded to Robert Litt’s critique of his article regarding increasing the FBI director’s independence from the President through statutory for-cause limits on his removal.

Michel Paradis posted an excerpt of his Lawfare@FP piece exploring whether Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, or Paul Manafort could be charged under the Espionage Act.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

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Trump and Russia – Google News: Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow – Washington Post

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Washington Post
Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow
Washington Post
President Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, a move long sought by Russia, according to U.S. officials. The program was a central plank of a policy begun …

and more »

 Trump and Russia – Google News

putin won US 2016 election – Google News: Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow – Washington Post

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Washington Post
Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow
Washington Post
President Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, a move long sought by Russia, according toU.S. officials. The program was a central plank of a policy begun …

and more »

 putin won US 2016 election – Google News

Trump – Google News: Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow – Washington Post

1 Share

Washington Post
Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow
Washington Post
President Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, a move long sought by Russia, according to U.S. officials. The program was a central plank of a policy begun …

and more »

 Trump – Google News

Clint Watts’ Testimony: Russia’s Info War on the U.S. Started in 2014 

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Clint Watts is testifying Thursday morning before the Senate’s intelligence committee on Russia’s interference in U.S. politics. Here’s what he told the senators.

Source: Clint Watts’ Testimony: Russia’s Info War on the U.S. Started in 2014

10:22 AM 7/19/2017 – Russia’s Info War on the U.S.: Over the past three years, Russia has implemented and run the most effective and efficient influence campaign in world history. – Russia’s Info War on the U.S. Started in 2014 

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Russia’s Info War on the U.S. Russia’s Info War on the U.S. Started in 2014 Over the past three years, Russia has implemented and run the most effective and efficient influence campaign in world history. Russian propaganda and social-media manipulation has not stopped since the election in November and continues fomenting chaos amongst the American populace. American … Continue reading “10:22 AM 7/19/2017 – Russia’s Info War on the U.S.: Over the past three years, Russia has implemented and run the most effective and efficient influence campaign in world history. – Russia’s Info War on the U.S. Started in 2014”

11:16 AM 7/19/2017 – Stop the “fake news” of all sorts and kinds and Russia’s Info War on the U.S.: Introduce the Information Consumer Protection Bill. They say, that the truth is a daylight or the disinfectant: everyone benefits from it

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Image result for Stop the

Stop the “fake news” of all sorts and kinds and Russia’s Info War on the U.S.: Introduce the Information Consumer Protection Bill. They say, that the truth is a daylight or the disinfectant: everyone benefits from it.

A tough choice, a tall order, Donald, ain’t it?

The Freedom of Information Protection Agency, a hypothetical bipartisan body, should ideally fill out many voids and strengthen the democracies.

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Stop the “fake news” of all sorts and kinds and Russia’s Info War on the U.S. webworldtimes.com/blog/2017/07/1… … pic.twitter.com/OjGveE5wOy 

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Stop the “fake news” of all sorts and kinds and Russia’s Info War on the U.S. webworldtimes.com/blog/2017/07/1… … pic.twitter.com/OjGveE5wOy



Posted by  mikenov on Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 3:57pm

12:09 PM 7/19/2017 – Lt. Gen. Stewart spoke to students at the National Student Leadership Conference. Watch the video on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DIA 

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1. News in Photos from mikenova (4 sites)
WSJ.com: World News: Qatar’s Critics Scale Back Demands in Diplomatic Bid

Four Arab nations locked in a dispute with Qatar said they have revised and curtailed their list of demands for Doha, in an overture aimed at moving toward a solution to the standoff.

WSJ.com: World News

 

Saved Stories – None
Lt. Gen. Stewart spoke to students at the National Student Leadership Conference. Watch the video on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DIA
No weapons system or concepts on how to fight should be designed today without context to how intel on foreign adversaries fits into it.
DIA and @CIA are the only intel agencies with HUMINT (overt) and clandestine capabilities
DIA, @CIA and @StateDept are the only agencies who use all-sources of intelligence
Almost all our adversaries are going underground- building facilities, tunnels. We need to understand what they’re doing underground.
“DIA has a presence in 140+ countries around the world” http://www.dia.mil/Careers/
What causes radical ideology to flourish? Click to 19:55 on video http://www.facebook.com/DIA
pic.twitter.com/ppK7f7iWof
Stop the fake news of all sorts and kinds and Russias Info War on the U.S. webworldtimes.com/blog/2017/07/1
Trump cannot make America govern itself again
Trump Slaps New Sanctions On Iran After Certifying Its Compliance With Nuclear Deal
20 members of Congress demand FBI investigation into Ivanka Trump’s security clearance – ThinkProgress
Reluctant Trump recertifies Iran deal – The Hindu
Lebanon preparing for military operation near Syria border
Russia demands US return properties as talks reach no deal
Dem Rep: We Are Far Past Collusion With Respect to Trump and Russia
Terrorism threat posed by ISIS isnt going away
US Court Rules FBI Can Continue to Surveil Your Data in Secret – iDrop News
Meeting with a Russian isnt smart, but its not a crime
Trump seeking new ideas on Afghanistan from servicemembers
Chechnya becoming major player in rebuilding war-torn Syria
Questions surround nuclear plants’ cybersecurity amid hacks
D.C. Begins Implementing Assisted Suicide, GOP Congress Likely to Oppose
US restoring asset seizures with safeguards
Lawyer: Russian developer’s staffer also at Trump Tower meet

 

Saved Stories – None
Lt. Gen. Stewart spoke to students at the National Student Leadership Conference. Watch the video on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DIA

Lt. Gen. Stewart spoke to students at the National Student Leadership Conference. Watch the video on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DIA 

No weapons system or concepts on how to fight should be designed today without context to how intel on foreign adversaries fits into it.

No weapons system or concepts on how to fight should be designed today without context to how intel on foreign adversaries fits into it.

DIA and @CIA are the only intel agencies with HUMINT (overt) and clandestine capabilities

DIA and  are the only intel agencies with HUMINT (overt) and clandestine capabilities

DIA, @CIA and @StateDept are the only agencies who use all-sources of intelligence

DIA,  and  are the only agencies who use all-sources of intelligence

Almost all our adversaries are going underground- building facilities, tunnels. We need to understand what they’re doing underground.

Almost all our adversaries are going underground- building facilities, tunnels. We need to understand what they’re doing underground.

“DIA has a presence in 140+ countries around the world” http://www.dia.mil/Careers/

“DIA has a presence in 140+ countries around the world” http://www.dia.mil/Careers/ 

What causes radical ideology to flourish? Click to 19:55 on video http://www.facebook.com/DIA

What causes radical ideology to flourish? Click to 19:55 on video http://www.facebook.com/DIA 

pic.twitter.com/ppK7f7iWof

Stop the fake news of all sorts and kinds and Russias Info War on the U.S. webworldtimes.com/blog/2017/07/1

Stop the fake news of all sorts and kinds and Russias Info War on the U.S. webworldtimes.com/blog/2017/07/1


Posted by mikenov on Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 3:18pm
Trump cannot make America govern itself again

Washington gridlock has become a Republican habit
Trump Slaps New Sanctions On Iran After Certifying Its Compliance With Nuclear Deal

The U.S. said Iran’s ballistic missile program and Tehrans malign activities in the Middle East undercut any positive contributions from the 2015 deal.
20 members of Congress demand FBI investigation into Ivanka Trump’s security clearance – ThinkProgress


ThinkProgress
20 members of Congress demand FBI investigation into Ivanka Trump’s security clearance
ThinkProgress
Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) offered a resolution of inquiry to the House Judiciary Committee for the Department of Justice to release Trump documents or records involving the firing of former F.B.I Director James Comey and the extent of Attorney General 
Ty Cobb, Donald Trump’s newest Russia lawyer, adds legal muscle as investigations widenUSA TODAY
Three Dem senators call for ‘immediate review’ of Kushner’s security clearanceThe Hillall 136 news articles »

Reluctant Trump recertifies Iran deal – The Hindu


The Hindu
Reluctant Trump recertifies Iran deal
The Hindu
U.S. President Donald Trump agreed on Monday to certify again that Iran is complying with an international nuclear agreement that he has strongly criticised, but only after hours of arguing with his top national security advisers, briefly upending a 
US Interference Represents Real Threat to Security in Middle EastSputnik International
Trump Must Withdraw From the Iran Nuclear Deal NowAlgemeiner
US slaps new sanctions on Iran, after certifying its compliance with nuclear dealWashington Post
Gatestone Institute –The Hill
all 571 news articles »
Lebanon preparing for military operation near Syria border

Lebanon is preparing a military operation to secure a lawless section of the border with Syria, Prime Minister Saad Hariri told parliament on Tuesday.

Russia demands US return properties as talks reach no deal

Russia stepped up pressure on the U.S. to return seized diplomatic compounds after talks ended without a deal, in a dispute that’s become a test of whether Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin can convert the personal rapport of their initial meeting into improved relations.

Dem Rep: We Are Far Past Collusion With Respect to Trump and Russia

Rep. Denny Heck (D., Wash.) told CNN host Kate Bolduan on Tuesday that the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russia has now gone “far past collusion,” and called on the Trump administration to come clean.
Read the whole story
· · · · · · · · ·

Lt. Gen. Stewart spoke to students – webwt.com/blog/2017/07/1… pic.twitter.com/KQ4pEVvqZT

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Lt. Gen. Stewart spoke to students – webwt.com/blog/2017/07/1… pic.twitter.com/KQ4pEVvqZT



Posted by  mikenov on Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 4:11pm

» Stop the “fake news” of all sorts and kinds and Russia’s Info War on the U.S. webworldtimes.com/blog/2017/07/1… 19/07/17 11:59 from Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks mikenova shared this story from mikenov on Twitter. Stop the “fake news” of all sorts and kinds and Russia’s Info War on the U.S. webworldtimes.com/blog/2017/07/1… Posted by mikenov on Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 3:18pm 

1 Share
» Stop the “fake news” of all sorts and kinds and Russia’s Info War on the U.S. webworldtimes.com/blog/2017/07/1… 19/07/17 11:59 from Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks mikenova shared this story from mikenov on Twitter. Stop the “fake news” of all sorts and kinds and Russia’s Info War on the U.S. webworldtimes.com/blog/2017/07/1… Posted by mikenov on Wednesday, July 19th, … Continue reading “» Stop the “fake news” of all sorts and kinds and Russia’s Info War on the U.S. webworldtimes.com/blog/2017/07/1… 19/07/17 11:59 from Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks mikenova shared this story from mikenov on Twitter. Stop the “fake news” of all sorts and kinds and Russia’s Info War on the U.S. webworldtimes.com/blog/2017/07/1… Posted by mikenov on Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 3:18pm”

The Russian Hope Eternal… 

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Image result for The Russian Hope Eternal for a messiah

The Russian Hope Eternal for a messiah or at least for an archetypal “good landlord”, and also for land, stables, and stability (русская надежда на Хорошего Барина); in this case Mr. Trump.

The problems with this logic and expectations are that these “good landlords” historically, never really, deliver. How sad, Donald!

The Russian Hope Eternal for a messiah – Google Search

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Stop the “fake news” of all sorts and kinds and Russia’s Info War on the U.S. webworldtimes.com/blog/2017/07/1…

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Stop the “fake news” of all sorts and kinds and Russia’s Info War on the U.S. webworldtimes.com/blog/2017/07/1…


Posted by  mikenov on Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 3:18pm

Stop the “fake news” – Google Search

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500 × 500 – endfakenews.com

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600 × 369 – chicksontheright.com

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534 × 357 – firstdraftnews.com

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178 × 178 – spreadshirt.com

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300 × 400 – blogs.uww.edu

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1024 × 381 – dailyurbanista.com

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650 × 415 – tech24hours.com

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678 × 381 – modernliberals.com

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300 × 200 – securingtomorrow.mcafee.com

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1300 × 1390 – dreamstime.com

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3150 × 4200 – blogs.ifla.org

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650 × 650 – ardrossanherald.com

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900 × 500 – fossbytes.com

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1024 × 576 – money.cnn.com

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900 × 505 – madmikesamerica.com

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720 × 378 – huffingtonpost.com

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800 × 445 – kievreporter.com

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570 × 320 – huffingtonpost.com

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781 × 347 – blog.rbutr.com

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1024 × 768 – dailyurbanista.com

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780 × 439 – money.cnn.com

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1920 × 1080 – marketingland.com

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900 × 505 – firstdraftnews.com

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1300 × 957 – dreamstime.com

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620 × 485 – techrepublic.com

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300 × 171 – oaklandlibrary.org

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575 × 751 – awesomelyluvvie.com

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488 × 487 – firstdraftnews.com

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678 × 381 – techbakbak.com

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450 × 315 – shutterstock.com

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1280 × 641 – eastbayexpress.com

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600 × 800 – rosepetalpinkhair.blogspot.com

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350 × 280 – hoax-slayer.com

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1096 × 616 – news.sky.com

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600 × 600 – blog.rbutr.com

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696 × 407 – thesouthafrican.com

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646 × 803 – thepioneerwjhs.com

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{“clt”:”n”,”id”:”RR3UuO20AKR9tM:”,”isu”:”socpedia.com”,”itg”:0,”ity”:”jpg”,”oh”:457,”ou”:”https://www.socpedia.com/wp-content/uploads/why-is-it-difficult-to-stop-fake-news-from-online-communication-system.jpg”,”ow”:979,”pt”:”Why is it difficult to stop fake news from online communication …”,”rid”:”SMifCKpgUTQtlM”,”rmt”:0,”rt”:0,”ru”:”https://www.socpedia.com/why-is-it-difficult-to-stop-fake-news-from-online-communication-system”,”s”:”Why is it difficult to stop fake news from online communication system?”,”sc”:1,”st”:”Socpedia”,”th”:153,”tu”:”https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q\u003dtbn:ANd9GcS3rWcsn2gqdl-5pP3EMsxlXDlCVpuuM3mQbsh-XjE_6L2N_SiT”,”tw”:329}

811 × 899 – firstdraftnews.com

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{“cb”:3,”cl”:15,”clt”:”n”,”cr”:15,”ct”:3,”id”:”PTpnpq7nUEWlPM:”,”isu”:”bozar.be”,”itg”:0,”ity”:”jpg”,”oh”:384,”ou”:”http://www.bozar.be/image/23201/gallery/can-laws-stop-fake-news.jpg”,”ow”:384,”pt”:”Can Laws Stop Fake News ? | BOZAR”,”rid”:”k8A3jY_U5gnMkM”,”rmt”:0,”rt”:0,”ru”:”http://www.bozar.be/en/activities/127444-can-laws-stop-fake-news”,”s”:”Can Laws Stop Fake News ?”,”sc”:1,”st”:”bozar”,”th”:225,”tu”:”https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q\u003dtbn:ANd9GcQ5BMQUvj9C9U7JjH_QfqAHlKHGwRxwIUDnqPxsthpBb-rsqGlbrQ”,”tw”:225}

950 × 527 – womenadvancenc.org

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1600 × 800 – thenextweb.com

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1200 × 627 – louderwithcrowder.com

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{“cb”:9,”cl”:12,”clt”:”n”,”cr”:9,”id”:”DM-U_SN2yINyxM:”,”isu”:”linkedin.com”,”itg”:0,”ity”:”jpg”,”oh”:333,”ou”:”https://media.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/AAEAAQAAAAAAAApAAAAAJGM2YzI4NWM2LTliZWMtNGI3OC05M2Y0LWJkYzRiZTBhYTIzNA.jpg”,”ow”:620,”pt”:”Google and Facebook in Joint Effort to Stop Fake News | TAIWO …”,”rid”:”DDDjQxGYhiB5yM”,”rmt”:0,”rt”:0,”ru”:”https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/google-facebook-joint-effort-stop-fake-news-taiwo-oluboyede”,”s”:”Google and Facebook in Joint Effort to Stop Fake News | TAIWO OLUBOYEDE | Pulse | LinkedIn”,”st”:”LinkedIn”,”th”:164,”tu”:”https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q\u003dtbn:ANd9GcQKL_f1FxgLJ0MqOg9XP6BGwDoI3AvgkcYTJMIz-XloDuIycQF6rQ”,”tw”:307}

652 × 1570 – guides.library.harvard.edu

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{“cl”:12,”clt”:”n”,”cr”:9,”id”:”UAVstmDNFXpIBM:”,”isu”:”cnn.com”,”itg”:0,”ity”:”jpg”,”oh”:438,”ou”:”http://i2.cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/161117163426-fake-news-exlarge-169.jpg”,”ow”:780,”pt”:”How to outsmart fake news in your Facebook feed – CNN.com”,”rid”:”3ZR_Aa-Er1ejRM”,”rmt”:0,”rt”:0,”ru”:”http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/18/tech/how-to-spot-fake-misleading-news-trnd/index.html”,”s”:”Fake news stories thriving on social media”,”st”:”CNN.com”,”th”:168,”tu”:”https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q\u003dtbn:ANd9GcRis9NDuNnhhpRELksWEA1I-Q5I9CE25f9VcZa2_OD6a_Uab55bPw”,”tw”:300}

{“clt”:”n”,”id”:”7qtTyO0KJ_N2mM:”,”isu”:”eavi.eu”,”itg”:0,”ity”:”gif”,”oh”:389,”ou”:”http://www.eavi.eu/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/eight_col_01-header-truth-and-lies.gif”,”ow”:620,”pt”:”Facebook\u0027s Fake News Problem and What You Can Do to Stop It | EAVI”,”rid”:”b6u345gW-HG5LM”,”rmt”:0,”rt”:0,”ru”:”https://www.eavi.eu/facebooks-fake-news-problem-can-stop/”,”s”:”Facebook\u0027s Fake News Problem and What You Can Do to Stop It”,”sc”:1,”st”:”EAVI”,”th”:178,”tu”:”https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q\u003dtbn:ANd9GcQa7ji_i46ktq5ees3TCMe1LxpQ9a1QuXA3pYqgAf4lf9AQsccu1w”,”tw”:284}

640 × 640 – pinterest.com

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{“clt”:”n”,”id”:”gQezeMYIbe6YmM:”,”isu”:”youtube.com”,”itg”:0,”ity”:”jpg”,”oh”:720,”ou”:”https://i.ytimg.com/vi/kG89u_NmDu0/maxresdefault.jpg”,”ow”:1280,”pt”:”Stop spreading fake news on whatsapp(HINDI) – Why you need to …”,”rid”:”HnUAZFw_hX7GUM”,”rmt”:0,”rt”:0,”ru”:”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v\u003dkG89u_NmDu0″,”s”:”Stop spreading fake news on whatsapp(HINDI) – Why you need to share this video”,”sc”:1,”st”:”YouTube”,”th”:168,”tu”:”https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q\u003dtbn:ANd9GcRMLPgk-Zh2qH86LH0BownOhoZ5dikLhZvsirVFfW8Dh4-Lmoh-Iw”,”tw”:300}

650 × 412 – menshealth.com

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1608 × 905 – frontpagemag.com

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{“clt”:”n”,”id”:”z5LMsby1HKiiPM:”,”isu”:”cruxnow.com”,”itg”:0,”ity”:”jpeg”,”oh”:427,”ou”:”https://cruxnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Alternative_facts_fake_news_newspaper_Credit_docstockmedia_Shutterstock_CNA.jpeg”,”ow”:640,”pt”:”Stop sharing fake news, Filipino bishops implore”,”rid”:”ygb9Jg-Bn3um2M”,”rmt”:0,”rt”:0,”ru”:”https://cruxnow.com/global-church/2017/06/24/stop-sharing-fake-news-filipino-bishops-implore/”,”s”:””,”sc”:1,”st”:”Crux Now”,”th”:183,”tu”:”https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q\u003dtbn:ANd9GcRcTyxyH7dRlx15d_4dvWgsULjeoXNwDAMTqQFyszT9SIYFcotikw”,”tw”:275}

420 × 290 – globaltruth.net

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500 × 282 – newsfakes.com

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900 × 600 – catholicworldreport.com

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586 × 276 – us.blastingnews.com

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653 × 533 – marketingland.com

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{“clt”:”n”,”id”:”ogb9g3CxE009eM:”,”isu”:”slate.com”,”itg”:0,”ity”:”jpg”,”oh”:842,”ou”:”http://www.slate.com/content/dam/slate/articles/technology/technology/2016/12/161212_TECH_ThisIsFake-screenshot.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2.jpg”,”ow”:1180,”pt”:”Introducing This Is Fake, Slate\u0027s tool for stopping fake news on …”,”rid”:”SMuwypMqPnVUXM”,”rmt”:0,”rt”:0,”ru”:”http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2016/12/introducing_this_is_fake_slate_s_tool_for_stopping_fake_news_on_facebook.html”,”s”:”161212_TECH_ThisIsFake-screenshot”,”sc”:1,”th”:190,”tu”:”https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q\u003dtbn:ANd9GcRWlmelGlK4HDOEbli1H2A9w-wEDHr7t4_Z_j4PrSL1LbPn_lcO”,”tw”:266}

733 × 500 – concrete-online.co.uk

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750 × 490 – austrianaddict.com

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Russia’s Info War on the U.S. – Google Search

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Russia’s Info War on the U.S. Started in 2014

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On 26 October 2015, I authored a post at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) entitled “Russia Returns as al Qaeda and the Islamic State’s Far Enemy” noting:

“The Russians have used social media-driven information campaigns to discredit the U.S. for years. Facebook and Twitter remain littered with pro-Russian, Western-looking accounts and supporting automated bots designed to undermine the credibility of the U.S. government.”

Just a few weeks later in November 2015, the FBI visited FPRI, notifying their leadership that I had been targeted by a cyberattack. The FBI didn’t say who exactly had targeted me, but I had a good idea who it might be.

In the 18 months prior to the above quote and in the three years leading up to today, two colleagues and I watched and tracked the rise of Russia’s social-media influence operations witnessing their update of an old Soviet playbook known as Active Measures.

For me, I began watching these influence operations in January 2014 after I co-authored an article in Foreign Affairs entitled “The Good and The Bad of Ahrar al Sham.” Hecklers appearing to be English-speaking Europeans and Americans trolled me for my stance on Syrian President Bashar Assad. But these social-media accounts, they didn’t look right—their aggression, persistence, biographies, speech patterns and synchronization were unnatural. I wasn’t the only one who noticed this pattern. Andrew Weisburd and J.M. Berger, the two best social-media analysts I’d worked with in counterterrorism, noticed similar patterns around the troll discussions of Syria, Assad, al Qaeda, and the Islamic State.

Shortly after, in April 2014, we noticed a petition on the WhiteHouse.gov website. “Alaska Back to Russia” appeared as a public campaign to give America’s largest state back to the nation from which it was purchased. Satirical or nonsensical petitions appearing on the White House website are not out of the norm. This petition was different though, having gained more than 39,000 online signatures in a short time period. Our examination of those signing and posting on this petition revealed an odd pattern—the accounts varied considerably from other petitions and appeared to be the work of automated bots. These bots tied in closely with other social-media campaigns we had observed pushing Russian propaganda.

Through the summer and fall of 2014, we studied these pro-Russia accounts and automated bots. Hackers proliferated the networks and could be spotted amongst recent data breaches and website defacements. Closely circling them were honeypot accounts, attractive-looking women or passionate political partisans, which appeared to be befriending certain audience members through social engineering. Above all, we observed hecklers, synchronized trolling accounts that would attack political targets using similar talking points and follower patterns. These accounts, some of which overtly supported the Kremlin, promoted Russian foreign-policy positions targeting key English-speaking audiences throughout Europe and North America. From this pattern, we realized we were observing a deliberate, well-organized, well-resourced, well-funded, wide-ranging effort commanded by only one possible adversary—Russia.

Active Measures: Everything Old Is New Again

Soviet Active Measures strategy and tactics have been reborn and updated for the modern Russian regime and the digital age. Today, Russia seeks to win the second Cold War through “the force of politics as opposed to the politics of force.” As compared to the analog information wars of the first Cold War, the Internet and social media provide Russia cheap, efficient, and highly effective access to foreign audiences with plausible deniability of their influence.

Russia’s new and improved online Active Measures shifted aggressively toward U.S. audiences in late 2014 and throughout 2015. They launched divisive messages on nearly any disaffected U.S. audience. Whether it be claims of the U.S. military declaring martial law during the Jade Helm exercise, chaos amongst Black Lives matter protests, or tensions in the Bundy Ranch standoff in Oregon, Russia’s state-sponsored outlets of RT and Sputnik News, characterized as “white” influence efforts in information warfare, churned out manipulated truths, false news stories, and conspiracies. Four general themes outlined these propaganda messages:

· Political Messages—Designed to tarnish democratic leaders and undermine democratic institutions· Financial Propaganda—Created to weaken confidence in financial markets, capitalist economies and Western companies· Social Unrest—Crafted to amplify divisions amongst democratic populaces to undermine citizen trust and the fabric of society· Global Calamity—Pushed to incite fear of global demise such as nuclear war or catastrophic climate change

From these overt Russian propaganda outlets, a wide range of English-language conspiratorial websites (“gray” outlets), some of which mysteriously operate from Eastern Europe and are curiously led by pro-Russian editors of unknown financing, sensationalize conspiracies and fake news published by white outlets further amplifying their reach in U.S. audiences. American-looking social-media accounts, the hecklers, honeypots, and hackers described above, working alongside automated bots further amplify and disseminate Russian propaganda amongst unwitting Westerners. These covert, “black” operations influence target-audience opinions with regards to Russia and undermine confidence in Western elected leaders, public officials, mainstream-media personalities, academic experts, and democracy itself.

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Through the end of 2015 and start of 2016, the Russian influence system outlined above began pushing themes and messages seeking to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. Russia’s overt media outlets and covert trolls sought to sideline opponents on both sides of the political spectrum with adversarial views toward the Kremlin. The final months leading up to the election have been the predominate focus of Russian-influence discussions to date. However, Russian Active Measures were in full swing during both the Republican and Democratic primary season and may have helped sink the hopes of candidates more hostile to Russian interests long before the field narrowed.

The final piece of Russia’s modern Active Measures surfaced in the summer of 2016 as hacked materials from previous months were strategically leaked. On July 22, WikiLeaks released troves of stolen communications from the Democratic National Committee and later batches of campaign emails. Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks revealed hacked information from a host of former U.S. government officials throughout July and August 2016. For the remainder of the campaign season, this compromising material powered the influence system Russia successfully constructed in the previous two years.

On the evening of July 30, my colleagues and I watched as RT and Sputnik News simultaneously launched false stories of the U.S. airbase at Incirlik being overrun by terrorists. Within minutes, pro-Russian social-media aggregators and automated bots amplified this false news story and expanded conspiracies asserting American nuclear missiles at the base would be lost to extremists. More than 4,000 tweets in the first 78 minutes after launching of this false story linked back to the Active Measures accounts we’d tracked in the previous two years. These previously identified accounts, almost simultaneously appearing from different geographic locations and communities, amplified this fake news story in unison. The hashtags incrementally pushed by these automated accounts were #Nuclear, #Media, #Trump and #Benghazi. The most common words found in English-speaking Twitter user profiles were: God, Military, Trump, Family, Country, Conservative, Christian, America, and Constitution. These accounts and their messages clearly sought to convince Americans a U.S. military base was being overrun in a terrorist attack like the 2012 assault on the U.S. consulate in Libya. In reality, a small protest gathered outside the Incirlik gate and the increased security at the airbase sought to secure the arrival of the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff the following day.

This pattern of Russian falsehoods and social-media manipulation of the American electorate continued through Election Day and persists today. Many of the accounts we watched push the false Incirlik story in July now focus their efforts on shaping the upcoming European elections, promoting fears of immigration or false claims of refugee criminality. They’ve not forgotten about the United States either. This past week, we observed social-media campaigns targeting Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, hoping to foment further unrest amongst U.S. democratic institutions, their leaders and their constituents.

As we noted two days before the presidential election in our article describing Russian influence operations, Russia certainly seeks to promote Western candidates sympathetic to their worldview and foreign-policy objectives. But winning a single election is not their end goal. Russian Active Measures hope to topple democracies through the pursuit of five complementary objectives:

· Undermine citizen confidence in democratic governance· Foment and exacerbate divisive political fractures· Erode trust between citizens and elected officials and democratic institutions· Popularize Russian policy agendas within foreign populations· Create general distrust or confusion over information sources by blurring the lines between fact and fiction

From these objectives, the Kremlin can crumble democracies from the inside out creating political divisions resulting in two key milestones: 1) the dissolution of the European Union and 2) the breakup of the North American Treaty Organization (NATO). Achieving these two victories against the West will allow Russia to reassert its power globally and pursue its foreign-policy objectives bilaterally through military, diplomatic, and economic aggression. Russia’s undeterred annexation of Crimea, conflict in Ukraine, and military deployment in Syria provide recent examples.

Why did Soviet Active Measures fail during the Cold War but succeed for Russia today?

Russia’s Active Measures today work far better than that of their Soviet forefathers. During the Cold War, the KGB had to infiltrate the West, recruit agents, and promote communist parties and their propaganda while under watch by Western counterintelligence efforts. Should they be too aggressive, Soviet spies conducting Active Measures amongst U.S. domestic groups could potentially trigger armed conflict or would be detained and deported.

Social media provides Russia’s new Active Measures access to U.S. audiences without setting foot in the country, and the Kremlin smartly uses these platforms in seven ways to win Western elections. First, Russia chooses close democratic contests where a slight nudge can usher in their preferred candidate or desired outcome. Second, Russia targets specific audiences inside electorates amenable to their messages and resulting influence—in particular, alt-right audiences incensed over immigration, refugees, and economic hardship. Third, Russia plans and implements their strategy long before an election, allowing sufficient time for cultivating an amenable audience ripe for manipulation. Fourth, their early entry into electoral debates allows them to test many messages and then reinforce those messages that resonate and bring about a measurable, preferred shift in public opinion. Fifth, Russia brilliantly uses hacking to compromise adversaries and power their influence messaging—a tactic most countries would not take. Sixth, their employment of social-media automation saturates their intended audience with narratives that drown out opposing viewpoints. Finally, Russia plays either side should the contest change—backing an individual candidate or party so long as they support a Kremlin policy position and then turning against the same party should their position shift against Russia.

The implications of Russia’s new Active Measures model will be twofold. The first is what the world is witnessing today—a Russian challenge to democracies throughout the West. Russian influence surfaced in Eastern Europe elections and the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote before the U.S. presidential election, helped bolster a losing far-right candidate recently in the Netherlands, and right now works diligently to shape the upcoming 2017 elections in France and Germany. Over the horizon, Russia has provided any authoritarian dictator or predatory elite equipped with hackers and disrespectful of civil liberties a playbook to dismantle their enemies through information warfare. Fledgling democracies and countries rife with ethnic and social divisions will be particularly vulnerable to larger authoritarian regimes with the time, resources and patience to foment chaos in smaller republics.

The U.S. Can Counter Russia’s Modern Active Measures

America can defuse Russia’s Active Measures online by undertaking a coordinated and broad range of actions across the U.S. government. Currently, the U.S. ignores, to its own detriment, falsehoods and manipulated truths generated and promoted by Russia’s state-sponsored media and their associated conspiratorial websites. While many Active Measures claims seem ridiculous, a non-response by the U.S. government introduces doubt and fuels social-media conspiracies. The U.S. should generate immediate public refutations to false Russian claims by creating two official government webpages acting as a U.S. government “Snopes” for disarming falsehoods. The U.S. State Department would host a website responding to false claims regarding U.S. policy and operations outside U.S. borders. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security would host a parallel website responding to any and all false claims regarding U.S. policy and operations domestically—a particularly important function in times of emergency where Russian Active Measures have been observed inciting panic.

Criminal investigations bringing hackers to justice will continue to be vital. However, the FBI must take a more proactive role during investigations to analyze what information has been stolen by Russia and then help officials publicly disclose the breach in short order. Anticipating rather than reacting to emerging Russian data dumps through public-affairs messaging will help U.S. officials and other American targets of kompromat prepare themselves for future discrediting campaigns.

Russian propaganda sometime peddles false financial stories, causing rapid shifts in U.S. company stock prices that hurt consumer and investor confidence and open the way for predatory market manipulation and short selling. At times, U.S. business employees unwittingly engage with Russian social-media hecklers and honeypots putting themselves and their companies at risk. The Departments of Treasury and Commerce should immediately undertake an education campaign for U.S. businesses to help them thwart damaging, false claims and train their employees in spotting nefarious social-media operations that might compromise their information.

The Department of Homeland Security must continue to improve existing public-private partnerships and expand sharing of cybertrends and technical signatures. This information will be critical in helping citizens and companies prevent the hacking techniques propelling Russian kompromat. Finally, U.S. intelligence agencies have a large role to play in countering Russian Active Measures in the future, but my recommendations in this regard are not well suited for open discussion.

The most important actions to diffuse Russia’s modern Active Measures actually come from outside the U.S. government—the private sector and civil society. Russia’s social-media influence campaigns achieve great success because mainstream media outlets amplify the salacious claims coming from stolen information. If forewarned by law enforcement of a Russian compromise (as noted above), the world’s largest newspapers, cable-news channels and social-media companies could join in a pact vowing not to report on stolen information that amplified Russia’s influence campaigns. While they would stand to lose audience in the near term to fringe outlets, Russia’s Active Measures would be far less effective at discrediting their adversaries and shaping polities if they lacked access to mainstream media outlets. Mainstream media outlets unifying and choosing not to be Kremlin pawns would also be a counter to Russia’s suppression of free speech and harsh treatment of journalists and the press.

Social-media companies have played an outsized role in recent elections as they increasingly act as the primary news provider for their users. Tailored news feeds from social-media platforms have created information bubbles where voters see only stories and opinions suiting their preferences and biases—ripe conditions for Russian disinformation campaigns. In the leadup to the 2016 election, fake news stories were consumed at higher rates than true stories. As a result, Facebook initiated a noble effort to tag fake news stories for their readers. But Facebook’s push must be expanded and joined by other social-media companies or they will be overwhelmed by the volume of stories needing evaluation and will find difficulty protecting freedom of speech and the freedom of the press.

Social-media companies should band together in the creation of an Information Consumer Reports. This non-governmental agency would evaluate all media organizations, mainstream and otherwise, across a range of variables producing news ratings representative of the outlet’s accuracy and orientation. The score would appear next to each outlet’s content in web searches and social-media streams providing the equivalent of a nutrition label for information. Consumers would not be restricted from viewing fake news outlets and their erroneous information, but would know the risks of their consumption. The rating, over time, would reduce consumption of Russian disinformation specifically and misinformation collectively, while also placing a check on mainstream media outlets that have all too often regurgitated false stories.

Over the past three years, Russia has implemented and run the most effective and efficient influence campaign in world history. Russian propaganda and social-media manipulation has not stopped since the election in November and continues fomenting chaos amongst the American populace. American allies in Europe today suffer from an onslaught of hacks and manipulation, which threaten alliances that brought U.S. victory in the Cold War. The U.S., in failing to respond to Russia’s Active Measures, will surrender its position as the world’s leader, forgo its role as chief promoter and defender of democracy, and give up on over 70 years of collective action to preserve freedom and civil liberties around the world.

Our nation’s democratic principles and ideals are under attack by a kleptocratic Russian regime sowing divisions amongst the American public and Western society through information warfare. Russia’s strategic motto is “divided we stand, divided we fall”. It’s time the United States remind the world, that despite our day-to-day policy debates and political squabbles, we stand united, alongside our allies, in defending our democratic system of government from the meddling of power-hungry tyrants and repressive authoritarians that prey on their people and suppress humanity.

Clint Watts has been a fellow on national security and the Middle East at the Foreign Policy Research Institute since 2011, and is a senior fellow at the Center For Cyber and Homeland Security at The George Washington University. He is co-author of the recently published, “Trolling for Trump: How Russia Is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy.”

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US plans to beef up Cyber Command, separate cyberwar operations from NSA 

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For many decades, the National Security Agency has been in charge of protecting America’s cyber network and combating online threats. That, however, is about to change, according to reports.

The Seven Circles of Donald Trump’s Russia Inferno

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Back in May, Lawfare’s Jane Chong began compiling an annotated set of links to the known facts in the Donald Trump-Russia affair. At the same time, one of us co-authored a piece detailing seven possible theories that could explain the available evidence, ordered from least to most sinister. The first three theories included:

  • Theory #1: This is all a series of coincidences and disconnected events. Yes, Trump held positions favorable to Russia, which may have attracted supporters with Russian business interests. But that interest was unrelated to Trump himself, and each element is unconnected from every other element.
  • Theory #2: Trump attracted Russophiles. A variant of Theory #1, by this read, Trump’s many unsavory tendencies, including his solicitude for Vladimir Putin, meant the only people willing to work for him held similarly fringe views on the subject or had shady business ties to the Russians. The Russian hacking operation thus coexisted with a “largely unconnected incentive for people with untoward Russian business connections to attach themselves to Trump. The latter incentive may have resulted in individuals doing unsavory or even illegal things or acting on behalf of Russian interests, but it did not involve any Russian infiltration of the Trump campaign as such, much less Russian corruption of Trump himself.”
  • Theory #3: The Russian operation was not about helping Trump but instead about harming the more probable winner, Hillary Clinton.

With last week’s revelations regarding the meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and multiple individuals they believed were connected to the Russian government, these theories seem less plausible. Those emails, after all, demonstrate that at least some central figures in the Trump campaign were, in fact, specifically informed — with almost comical explicitness — of the Russian government’s effort to interfere in the election. They were also informed that the Russian motivation was to assist Trump. And the Trump campaign welcomed and, at a minimum, attempted to participate in that effort.

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John Sullivan may have already won over Foggy Bottom, but Congress is another matter.

So what’s left? Well, back in May, the remaining possibilities included:

  • Theory #4: Russian intelligence actively penetrated the Trump campaign, but Trump was not aware.
  • Theory #5: Russian intelligence actively penetrated the Trump campaign, and Trump did know or should have known.
  • Theory #6: There really is some kind of kompromat, or compromising material, and Trump’s uncharacteristic consistency in praising and supporting Putin was motivated by the fear that Russia would release negative information about him.
  • Theory #7: While implausible, the final theory that accounted for all known facts was that the president of the United States is a Russian agent.

Note that merely six months into Trump’s presidency, the likely explanations for his conduct now reside on the decidedly more sinister end of the spectrum. Or, at least, if you’re inclined to favor the less sinister side of the spectrum, you now have to account for the known actions of individuals at the center of the campaign that seem more consistent with the theories at the more sinister end of it.

To be sure, there is no more evidence today than there was before to support the very worst possibilities: the theory that the Russians have kompromat on Trump or that he is a true Manchurian candidate. There is, however, substantially more information to support the theory that Russian intelligence endeavored to, and in fact managed to, infiltrate the Trump campaign and that Trump knew or should have known it was happening. And there’s at least some evidence that the purpose of that infiltration was to help the campaign by giving it dirt on Trump’s opponent.

Remember that this is actually not the first story in which people associated with Team Trump got — or sought — help from Moscow. Before the New York Times broke the news on Don Jr., the Wall Street Journal reported that now deceased Republican operative Peter W. Smith sought to obtain emailspurportedly hacked from Clinton’s private server, including from groups he suspected were linked to Russian intelligence. Smith claimed to have support from high-level Trump campaign staffers, including then future and now former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. The story leaves ambiguous the extent of actual involvement or knowledge on the part of the Trump campaign of Smith’s activities, as well as whether Smith was in contact with real Russian intelligence operatives or merely imposters looking to take him for a ride.

But the Trump Jr. meeting leaves no such ambiguities. The participants were the tightest of Trump’s inner circle — his campaign manager, son, and son-in-law — and the disclosed emails spell out in black and white an account of the Russian government’s intent and its ambitions to assist the Trump campaign. If the younger Trump was surprised to learn of this, he did not demonstrate it with his response: “If it’s what you say I love it.” And if he had anxieties about guiding that involvement, he suppressed them when he suggested a specific time frame — later in the summer — for the disclosure of material.

The White House insists that Donald Trump was unaware of this meeting — held by his close family one floor beneath his office in Trump Tower while he was on the premises — though it appears the president himself has wavered on this particular talking point. He told the press pool on Air Force One that “in fact, maybe it was mentioned at some point,” though he said he was unaware that it was about possible derogatory information about Clinton.

Those looking to the behavior of the Trump campaign to tie together Smith’s efforts and Trump Jr.’s meetings in some sort of broader conspiracy may be looking in the wrong place. These revelations may well be further indication of “systemic, sustained, furtive” coordination not by the Trump team itself but by the Russians. As Moscow’s intelligence operatives sought to make inroads, they may have found receptivity in probing in different places at different times — from the inner circle to more tangential figures.

Think of the coordination then not as some grand conspiracy on the part of the Trump camp but as a pervasive rot among those tied to Trump that created opportunities for the Russians to exploit.

Think of the coordination then not as some grand conspiracy on the part of the Trump camp but as a pervasive rot among those tied to Trump that created opportunities for the Russians to exploit. The unifying characteristic may not be some grand plan to “collude” but rather a lack of commitment to resisting intervention from hostile foreign adversaries in free and fair elections — a lack of resistance that gave a foreign adversary multiple opportunities to take advantage over time.These newer revelations also raise more possible scenarios and theories that were not part of the original seven. One that has gotten a lot of attention is the speech Trump gave the same day his son first received the email, in which he promised to give a future speech revealing damaging information on Clinton. This suggests that the fundamental relationship between the Trump campaign and Russia may have been the opposite of espionage; typically, espionage is about exfiltrating information from a campaign, but this sought to inject information into it.

The public record actually has some other suggestive indications of a relationship along these lines. The very public elements of Trump’s tacit cooperation with the Russians have been widely noted. He welcomed the Russian release of Clinton’s emails; he proclaimed to love WikiLeaks; he denied Russian involvement in the whole affair; he enthusiastically used the fruits of Russia’s illicit efforts to attack his opponent; and he had a monthslong bromance with the Russian dictator, after all. There is, however, another part of the Russian operation that Trump publicly supported that has gotten far less attention — and now looks at least somewhat more sinister.

The U.S. intelligence community’s assessment of 2016 election interference noted that the Russian operation comprised two distinct elements. One part was helping Trump, but there was another part, too:

When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the presidency the Russian influence campaign focused more on undercutting Secretary Clinton’s legitimacy and crippling her presidency from its start, including by impugning the fairness of the election.

Before the election, Russian diplomats had publicly denounced the US electoral process and were prepared to publicly call into question the validity of the results. Pro-Kremlin bloggers had prepared a Twitter campaign, #DemocracyRIP, on election night in anticipation of Secretary Clinton’s victory, judging from their social media activity.

The identifiable efforts to discredit a possible Clinton victory were twofold: promoting the idea that the Democratic primary was “rigged” against Clinton’s opponent, Bernie Sanders, and creating uncertainty regarding the legitimacy of the election outcome. Trump heavily abetted both of these goals.

NPR notes that on March 4, 2016, a Russian political analyst with deep ties to the Kremlin posted a YouTube video that, among other charges, impugned the legitimacy of the U.S. electoral system. Alexander Dugin called American vote counting “stupid and fake” and claimed (falsely) that while “the majority votes for Sanders,” Clinton won by “bribing the electors.” Between the time of the Dugin video and the inauguration, Donald Trump tweeted about a “rigged” election at least 29 times. At least eight of these tweets (12345678) specifically alleged that the Democratic primary was rigged against Sanders — which is to say that it closely hewed to the Kremlin’s talking point.

Trump had similar critiques of the Republican primary and of the U.S. election in general. At a campaign rally in August 2016 in Columbus, Ohio, he said, “I’m afraid the election’s going to be rigged. I have to be honest.” In a Fox News interview a day later, he claimed, “People are going to walk in. They’re going to vote 10 times, maybe.” That same month, his campaign website encouraged people to become “Trump Election Observer[s]” to “Help … Stop Crooked Hillary From Rigging This Election!”

Furthermore, when it appeared overwhelmingly likely that Clinton would win the presidency,

Trump openly and repeatedly floated the possibility that he would refuse to concede the election.

Trump openly and repeatedly floated the possibility that he would refuse to concede the election. When asked about doing so, he told the New York Times, “We’re going to have to see. We’re going to see what happens. We’re going to have to see.” He refused to offer a direct answer when asked at the third debate, saying, “I will look at it at the time. I will keep you in suspense.” Later, he pledged to accept the election results only “if I win.”The relationship between Trump’s talking points over time and those pushed by the Kremlin does not mean that Trump was receiving secret, covert messaging help from Russian spies. The Russians were, after all, running RT and Sputnik and had a giant influence operation as part of their active measures campaign — an influence campaign that may have influenced the election, as well as some voters. Trump’s claims of a rigged outcome may have been preemptive attempts to balm his legendarily fragile ego in the event of defeat, attempts that may have dovetailed nicely with what Russia was putting out for reasons of its own. And the fact that Trump was, once again, directly mirroring the Kremlin’s talking points could well be just a coincidence — or it could be that the Kremlin was mirroring his talking points, though the Russian government does appear to have gotten there first.

But the degree of message compatibility here is worth noting if for no other reason than that the pattern thus far is that, as one bombshell revelation follows another, the more innocent explanations do seem to slip out of the realm of the plausible.

Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

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The Early Edition: July 19, 2017 

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Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.

SECRET TRUMP-PUTIN MEETING

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for a second time on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg earlier this month, a meeting that was previously undisclosed and which took place on the same day that the two leaders met for two hours, Rebecca Ballhaus reporting at the Wall Street Journalthat the White House only disclosed the subsequent meeting after it was reported by the president of political risk advisory group Eurasia Group Ian Bremmer who discussed it in the company’s newsletter and discussed it in a television interview yesterday.

President Trump left his seat at a dinner with world leaders on July 7 to engage in an hour-long conversation with Putin with the aid of a single translator, a White House official insisting yesterday that there was nothing unusual about the meeting, while Trump himself focused on news reports of the meeting he said were “Fake News” and “sick” via Twitter last night, Julie Hirschfeld Davis reports at the New York Times.

“There was no “second meeting” between President Trump and President Putin, just a brief conversation,” The White House statement said yesterday, adding that the insinuation that it has tried to hide a second meeting is “false, malicious and absurd,” Karen De Young and Philip Rucker report at the Washington Post.

The meeting was “very animated and very friendly,” with Putin’s translator translating, Bremmer revealed during his interview yesterday, David Smith at the Guardian pointing out that the absence of Trump’s own translator during the conversation may be a breach of national security protocol, an oversight the White House said was down to the fact that the translator the president took with him to the dinner spoke Japanese, not Russian.

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnikskaya is prepared to testify to Congress to dispel what she calls the “mass hysteria” in response to reports of her meeting with Donald Trump Jr. last June, she said today, Reuters reports.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has been cleared to publicly interview Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort over their recently-disclosed meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya last June by special counsel Robert Mueller, the panel’s top Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) confirmed yesterday, though it comes down to whether the two men will accept the invitation, the Hill’s Katie Bo Williams reports.

The eighth person present at the Donald Trump Jr.-Natalia Veselnitskaya meeting last June was Ike Kaveladze, a senior vice president at the company founded by Azerbaijani-Russian businessperson Aras Agalarov who initiated the meeting, Pamela Brown reports at CNN.

Kaveladze started at Crocus – Aras Agalrov’s Russian-based development company – as its U.S. associate, moving to the former Soviet republic of Georgia in 1991 where Federal investigators say he immediately began laundering money for Russians. Kelly Weill and Katie Zavadski examine Kaveladze’s known history at The Daily Beast.

An interview with Kaveladze was requested by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller last weekend as part of Mueller’s probe into possible Trump-Russia collusion, Kaveladze’s presence at the meeting last year adding to concerns about Trump campaign officials’ apparent failure to vet participants’ backgrounds. Sharon LaFraniere and Adam Goldman discuss the meeting at the New York Times.

IRAN

Additional sanctions against Iran were announced by the Trump administration shortly after it certified Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal yesterday targeting Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (I.R.G.C.) and its ballistic missile program as part of the administration’s objective of clamping down on Iran’s “malign activity,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explained. Felicia Schwartz reporting at the Wall Street Journal.

“These sanctions target procurement of advanced military hardware, such as fast attack boats and unmanned aerial vehicles,” Mnuchin said yesterday, Demetri Sevastopulo reporting at the FT.

“[We] will stand up to the United States” for any new sanctions against Iran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said today, adding that the Iranian parliament would also act, the AP reports.

Iran’s parliament responded to the U.S. sanctions by approving extra funding for its missile program and its military foreign operations wing, the Quds force, Al Jazeera reports.  

“It is not clear what the administration is trying to do,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said yesterday, hours after the U.S. Treasury Secretary announced the additional sanctions, Zarif adding that Iran has no intention of renegotiating the nuclear deal. David E. Sanger and Rick Gladstone report at the New York Times.

The Trump administration’s additional sanctions were an attempt to “poison the international atmosphere,” Zarif also said yesterday, calling the new sanctions illegal, the AP reports.

The U.S. and Iran are on a collision course, Trump’s seeming desire to see the nuclear deal unravel, and his administration’s rhetoric, antagonizing the regime in Tehran and exposing differences with European allies, Ishaan Tharoor writes at the Washington Post.

The arrest of Chinese-American student Xiyue Wang for “spying” reveals broader issues within Iran’s internal politics involving a power struggle between the branches of the state controlled by President Hassan Rouhani and those controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the U.S. must convince the Iranian regime that “hostage-taking carries an unbearable price,” Reuel Marc Gerecht writes at the New York Times.

The detention of Chinese-American student Xiyue Wang and the arrest of the Iranian President’s brother were seemingly timed to embarrass Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for criticizing the hard-line judiciary and the security forces, Eric Cunningham writes at the Washington Post.

SYRIA

The locations of 10 U.S. military bases and outposts in northern Syria were leaked by Turkey’s state Anadolu news agency, which disclosed the number of U.S. troops in several locations, Roy Gutman at The Daily Beast suggesting that the leaks demonstrate Turkey’s anger towards the U.S. policy of supporting Kurdish militia to combat Islamic State militants.

More than a dozen Syrian rebels were killed yesterday in hit-and-run attacks in Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria near the border with Turkey, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Al Jazeera reports.

Fighting has broken out between rival Islamist groups in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province today, according to U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Reuters reporting.

Unclassified portions of Trump’s strategy to defeat the Islamic State reveal few changes from Obama’s approach with a continued emphasis on working with local allies, while the Trump strategy is also primarily concerned with militants in Syria, neglecting the broader conditions in Syria, and excluding combating other Islamic State affiliates in North Africa and the Middle East. Spencer Ackerman writes at The Daily Beast.

Bilateral ceasefire agreements in Syria between U.S. and Russia have sidelined Iran and have the potential to backfire as they do not guarantee Iran’s compliance and throw doubt on the effectiveness of the Astana peace talks. Alexey Khlebnikov writes at Al Jazeera.

GULF-ARAB DISPUTE

Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Egypt and Bahrain have revised their list of 13 demands for Qatar before diplomatic ties can be restored, releasing six generalized principles that dropped requests to shut down the Doha-based Al Jazeera network and to expel individuals, instead focusing on broader calls on Qatar to refrain from regional interference and to increase efforts to tackle terrorism, Farnaz Fassihi reports at the Wall Street Journal.

“[Of] course we can compromise — but no compromise on the six principles,” Saudi Arabia’s U.N. ambassador Abdullah bin Yahya Almouallimi said yesterday, commenting that the aim of the four Arab nations “is to reach a diplomatic solution.” Rick Gladstone reports at the New York Times.

Monitoring and implementation of the six principles must be “essential components” and talk about the “tactics” and “tools” for implementation are open to discussion, Almouallimi said yesterday, the U.A.E.’s Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem Al Hashimy adding that the U.S. has a “very constructive and very important role to play” in the resolution of the crisis. Edith M. Lederer reports at the AP.

Qatar was the target of another fake news story a week after the May hack and was part of a campaign to undermine Qatar’s reputation, U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News, Robert Windrem and William M. Arkin reporting.

Qatar has contracted a specialized legal team to consider compensation claims against four Arab nations for losses incurred due to the blockade, Al Jazeera reports.

IRAQ

Human rights violations committed by Iraqi forces were “individual acts” for which the perpetrators would be punished, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said yesterday, responding to video footage of Iraqi soldiers carrying out extrajudicial killings and abusing suspected Islamic State militants. Sinan Salaheddin reports at the AP.

Members of Iraqi forces have openly admitted to extrajudicial killings of Islamic State militants in Mosul out of a desire for vengeance, arguing that the ordinary rules of law should not apply due to the particularly brutal nature of fighting in the city, causing concerns among rights groups that such actions would only perpetuate violence and be used as a recruitment tactic by extremists. Susannah George reports at the AP.

Hundreds of suspected Islamic State militants are being detained in a prison outside the city of Mosulin cramped conditions, an Iraqi officer stating that infection is rife among the prisoners, Bram Jannsen and Salar Salim report at the AP.

Representatives of Iraqi Kurdistan’s Regional Government have lobbied the U.S. government to support their independence bid and have attempted to encourage the U.S. to be a broker in a separation with Baghdad. Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian writes at Foreign Policy.

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out 25 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on July 17. Separately, partner forces conducted four strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

RUSSIA

Russia’s Foreign Ministry again reserved the right to retaliate against the U.S. if it fails to return two diplomatic compounds seized from Russia by the former administration yesterday after a second round of talks failed to resolve the issue, Andrew E. Kramer reports at the New York Times.

Doubts that Russia sanctions legislation will be done before lawmakers leave Washington for Augustwere expressed by the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y) yesterday, the Hill’s Cristina Marcos reports.

Is Russia a resurgent superpower? Mansur Mirovalev examines the evidence at Al Jazeera.

SAUDI ARABIA

A Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a village in southern Yemen killed at least 20 civilians yesterday,Yemeni government and Houthi officials said today, the U.N. confirming that the victims were internally displaced people. Reuters reports.

New crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman plotted the ouster of his predecessor Mohammed bin Nayef, emerging details suggest, and the transition – billed as seamless by his supporters – was rockier than suggested, according to former U.S. officials and associates of the House of Saud, Ben Hubbard, Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt report at the New York Times.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY

President Tump’s call to Venezuela to halt plans to rewrite its constitution to consolidate the power of its government was rejected by Venezuela yesterday, which said it was reviewing its relations with the U.S. in response to the threat of sanctions, Michael Weissenstein and Fabiola Sanchez report at the AP.

Trump will visit the Pentagon to receive a briefing from his national security team tomorrow, White House press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed yesterday, adding that the meeting will touch on the fight against the Islamic State among other topics. Jordan Fabian reports at the Hill.

The TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman will be nominated as the U.S. ambassador to Russia, the White House said yesterday, after months of delay in formalizing the appointment, Abby Phillip and Lisa Rein report at the Washington Post.

President Trump’s pick for deputy Defense secretary former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan was easily confirmed by the Senate yesterday, Ellen Mitchell reports at the Hill.

President Trump’s nominees for Defense Department deputy chief management officer, John Gibson, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, Ellen Lord, Air Force undersecretary Matthew Donavan and assistant secretary for energy, installations, and environment Lucian Niemeyer, all appeared to receive the backing of the Senate Armed Services committee during their confirmation hearings yesterday, the Hill’s Ellen Mitchell reports.

CYBERSECURITY, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY

Defending Digital Democracy (D.D.D.). A new bipartisan project to develop strategies and find “concrete solutions” to address the threat of a foreign entity hacking election infrastructure of political organizations is being spearheaded by Robby Mook and Matt Rhoades, top officials from the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, respectively, Harvard Kennedy Schoolannounced yesterday.

Nation-state hackers likely targeted and probably compromised the U.K. energy sector, a memo from Britain’s National Cybersecurity Centre – a subsidiary of G.C.H.Q. – confirms, Alex Hern reports at the Guardian.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

North Korea has developed missiles capable of reaching the U.S, its most recent test demonstrates, though it has yet to achieve the guidance technology needed to ensure any attempted strike would be accurate, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Paul Selva said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday, Courtney Kube and Adam Edelman reporting at NBC News.

Lawmakers were warned against equipping the U.S. military with autonomous weapons systems that humans could lose control of by Gen. Selva yesterday, arguing that it was unreasonable to “put robots in charge of whether or not we take a human life,” John Bowden reports at the Hill.

Hundreds in southern Jordan protested the conviction of a local solder for the deaths of three U.S. military trainers yesterday, saying that he had been scapegoated and that the deaths had occurred during a clash between U.S. troops and the Syrian rebels they were training, the AP reports.

The new country Ukrainian separatists claimed to have founded yesterday is called “Malorossiya,”meaning “Little Russia,” and is intended to replace Ukraine, the leader of the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic Alexander Zakharchenko declaring that they were offering Ukrainian citizens “a peaceful way out of a difficult situation, without the war” as a “last offer” that appears to undermine the Minsk peace agreement between Russian-backed rebels and the Kiev government, Adam Taylor explains at the Washington Post.

Islamic State-linked militants in the Philippine city of Marawi asked the leader of the country’s largest Muslim rebel group Al Haj Murad Ebrahim to broker their possible withdrawal from the city during the recent military offensive against them but he refused to intervene, telling the AP’s Jim Gomez that it would have been hard for him to do so because President Duterte had declared that his government would not negotiate with terrorists.

Improved relations particularly in relation to security and technology between Israel and the E.U. were called for by the leaders of Israel and Hungary today, supported by the prime ministers of Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia, all of whom were present at a news conference in Budapest today, Reuters reports.

The Taliban-linked Haqqani Network is center stage in the now-16-year Afghan war and its elusive whereabouts the main basis for calls for the Trump administration to punish long-time ally Pakistan, yet by rights the Haqqanis should be barely standing after years of being a high-priority target for U.S. and Afghan forces that has left most of leader Jalaluddin Haqqani’s – himself believed dead – sons and senior commanders either dead or imprisoned. Haq Nawaz Khan and Pamela Constable write at the Washington Post.

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Trump Investigations: 7:21 PM 7/18/2017 – Trump News Daily

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Trump News Daily 7.18.17 If Bannon and Trump are “honey badgers”, what is “honey”: the American people? Wake up, Honey!  – Michael Novakhov – In My Opinion 6:57 PM 7/18/2017 – Trump Jr., ex-campaign head given nod to testify in Congress: Senator – Reuters – Trump Investigations How Steve Bannon and Donald Trump Rode the … Continue reading “7:21 PM 7/18/2017 – Trump News Daily”

 Trump Investigations

Afghan soldiers are using boys as sex slaves, and the U.S. is looking the other way

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By Anuj Chopra By Anuj Chopra July 18 at 4:05 PM

Anuj Chopra is the outgoing Kabul bureau chief of Agence France-Presse (AFP). His next posting for AFP will be Riyadh. He tweets at @AnujChopra.

KABUL – Last summer, an Afghan police commander invited me to his post for tea — and to view his “beautiful” boy sex slave.

I stumbled through a farm of chest-high opium poppy stocks to reach his mud-and-wattle outpost on the outskirts of Tarin Kot, the capital of southern Uruzgan province that is teetering in the face of a Taliban upsurge. On its open roof, a slight teenager sat next to his hulking captor, stealing sad glances at me as he quietly filled our tea glasses. A shock of auburn curls jutted out of his embroidered pillbox hat and his milky eyes were lined with kohl. The commander flaunted him the way a ringmaster exhibits an exotic animal. “See my beautiful bacha (boy slave),” he said, blithe and casual, a gun dangling at his side.

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The commander, an ally of the United States in the war against the Taliban, is not an anomaly. Hundreds of such outposts of the Afghan Local Police (ALP), a front-line force armed and funded with U.S. taxpayer dollars, and other pro-government militias are believed to have enslaved young boys for dancing and sexual companionship, many of them kidnapped.

Freedom from the Taliban’s puritanical regime in 2001 also brought freedom to do “bacha bazi,” the cultural practice of sexual slavery and abuse of boys who are often dressed effeminately and whose possession is seen by Afghan strongmen as a marker of power and masculinity.

As the United States sinks deeper into the Afghan quagmire, preparing to send additional troops into a seemingly endless war, it is glossing over this hidden but pervasive abuse of children by its local allies. U.S. tolerance of this egregious inhumanity sends out the message that it is acceptable for U.S.-backed forces to keep child sex slaves.

It also has strong security implications. I reported last year how the Taliban are exploiting entrenched bacha bazi to infiltrate Afghan security ranks, effectively using child sex slaves — many of them brutally abused and hungry for revenge — as Trojan Horses to mount deadly insider attacks.

Institutionalized bacha bazi, described as culturally sanctioned male rape, is likely to continue unabated in the absence of any real deterrent. The United Nations has called on Afghanistan to urgently adopt legislation to criminalize bacha bazi and swiftly prosecute state officials guilty of the practice.

One senior official in Uruzgan described bacha bazi as an addiction worse than opium, saying commanders compete — and sometimes battle — one another to snatch pretty boys. Many prowl neighborhoods for boys “who have not seen the sun for years,” a cultural euphemism for unblemished beauty.

Last year when I unearthed a kidnapping epidemic of boys,  it was disturbing to see local authorities pussyfooting around the issue and using security to rationalize their inaction. On the surface, President Ashraf Ghani has vowed zero tolerance for bacha bazi in security forces. But multiple officials in southern Afghanistan told me that any action against guilty commanders  — a bulwark against insurgents — would anger them and cause them to abandon their posts with their loyalists, paving the way for the Taliban. There is therefore no desire to recover or rescue the innocent victims whose lives have been upended by this practice.

To completely understand this perverse logic, imagine an American sheriff with pedophilic proclivities openly snatching children — and instead of rescuing the victims and bringing the sheriff to justice, the administration pandered to his criminal behavior and justified letting him keep his job.

This heartless apathy explains why the commander I met was so shockingly blasé about keeping a sex slave. No senior official has ever been prosecuted for bacha bazi;  the commander probably knows that he, too, will escape punishment.

Afghanistan has also become a living tapestry of institutionalized abuse on Washington’s watch. As the conflict unspooled over 16 years, abusive strongmen were propped up to fight insurgents — from unruly militiamen sowing tyranny in their fiefdoms to torturers in military uniforms.

Buttressing abusive allies is a strategy best described as fighting fire with fire, which is pushing Afghanistan deeper into instability and chaos.

Security is a legitimate concern, but turning a blind eye to crimes such as bacha bazi amounts to a serious contravention of America’s Leahy amendment, which bans U.S. assistance or training to foreign military units that fail to honor basic human rights.

The United States needs to deploy the leverages at its disposal in a country heavily dependent on it for aid to end this overriding culture of impunity. Additional troops and financial assistance must be contingent upon urgent reform and prosecution of abusers.

To win in Afghanistan, America cannot afford to lose its humanity.

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Andrew McCabe – Google News: White House taps Loudoun resident, a former Navy SEAL, for top security post – Loudoun Times-Mirror

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White House taps Loudoun resident, a former Navy SEAL, for top security post
Loudoun Times-Mirror
President Donald Trump (R) has nominated former Navy SEAL Joseph Kernan to be under secretary of defense for intelligence. While The White House lists Kernan as hailing from Florida, the Navy vice admiral also has a farm in between Leesburg and …

 Andrew McCabe – Google News

Putin Is Helping Trump Because He Wants to Protect His Secret Stash of Money, Businessman Claims

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An investor who claims his life has been threatened by the Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin has a clear motive for backing a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Moscow lawyer. And that motive is millions of dollars of Putin’s personal cash.

Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya urged the U.S. president’s eldest son to help drop U.S. sanctions during the meeting. Putin’s money, said investor Bill Browder during an interview Tuesday on CBS This Morning, is vulnerable to those sanctions under the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 American anti-corruption law that has frozen the assets of 44 Russians.

During the interview, Browder said that he fears “for my life.” He said he has been threatened personally “by agents of the Russian government” and current Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin watches a display during the MAKS 2017 air show in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, July 18. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via Reuters

Browder will testify Wednesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian foreign agents working in the U.S. His testimony is connected to Trump Jr.’s meeting and is part of the Senate’s Russia investigation into whether the Trump campaign worked to help Russia interfere in the U.S. election.

Browder’s testimony follows Trump Jr.’s publication last week of several emails organizing a meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya June 2016, during the election campaign. In those emails, Trump Jr. is told Veselnitskaya has dirt on his father’s election opponent Hillary Clinton and that this information is part of a Kremlin plot to support his father’s run for president.

In return, Veselnitskaya asked Trump Jr. for his father’s help to lift the sanctions of the Magnitsky Act.

An unnamed representative of Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov and former Russian military officer turned anti-Magnitsky Act lobbyist, Rinat Akhmetshin, were also in the meeting, alongside the Trump campaign’s chairman, Paul Manafort, and President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Related: Should Trump give Putin back his U.S. spy compounds?

The Magnitsky Act is named after Browder’s former employee, a lawyer named Sergei Magnitsky who uncovered a $232 million fraud by Russian officials to siphon from the state treasury.

At the time of the fraud, Browder’s investment firm Hermitage Capital Management was one of the largest foreign investors in Russia. Browder soon learned through Magnitsky that people conducting the fraud were siphoning from the taxes paid by his companies in Russia. Magnitsky was arrested and died in a Russian jail in 2009.

“We’ve been able to trace from the crime that Sergei Magnitsky exposed—a $232 million tax rebate fraud—and we’ve been able to trace some of that money from the fraud to a man named Sergei Roldugin who was exposed in the Panama Papers as Putin’s trustee or nominee—this is the famous $2 billion cellist,” Browder said.

Roldugin, a cellist, is a close friend of Putin’s. Despite his work as a musician, he has gathered a fortune of hundreds of millions and is a representative of offshore companies with cash flows of up to $2 billion. Putin said that all the money his friend has earned is through “acquiring musical instruments from abroad and bringing them to Russia.” The billions have been traced to Putin.

Through his friend Roldugin, “Putin has gotten some of the money” that was taken in the fraud, said Browder. “And because Putin has gotten some of the money, that means that all of Putin’s money in the West is potentially exposed and could be frozen” under the Magnitsky Act, he added.

Lifting the sanctions on Russians imposed by the anti-corruption law, Browder said, “is just a very venal, personal thing for Vladimir Putin that he doesn’t want his money frozen.”

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Watch ‘The Resistance’ with Keith Olbermann

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Chris Buck

Donald Trump is our next president, which means Keith’s not going anywhere. Catch every episode of his new GQ show, The Resistance, and then come join the fight.

EP. 97

A Timeline of Treason

EP. 96

Have We Got Enough to Impeach Trump Already?

EP. 95

The True Evil of Russia’s Cyber War on America

EP. 94

Two Trumps Confess to Conspiracy

EP. 93

Guess What Else Happened on 6/19/16

EP. 92

Trump Will Not Be Cleared

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Trump Investigations – Google Search

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Trump Investigations – Google Search

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Trump and Putin Held a Second, Undisclosed, Private Conversation – The New York Times – Web World Times – wwtimes.com

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Trump to nominate Huntsman as Russia ambassador: White House

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July 18, 2017 / 5:30 PM / 38 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump will nominate Jon Huntsman, an envoy to China under former Democratic President Barack Obama, as U.S. ambassador to Russia, the White House said on Tuesday.

The job, all the more high-profile because of allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

If confirmed, Huntsman, who has long been expected to be Trump’s pick for the job, will head to Moscow as the U.S. Congress and a special counsel investigate Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and allegations that Trump’s campaign had ties to Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the interference, and Trump has said there was no collusion with Moscow.

Huntsman, a former Utah governor, was U.S. ambassador to China from 2009 to 2011. He has served in the administrations of five U.S. presidents and was a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Trump has said he wants to improve relations with Russia.

The Republican president met with Putin in Germany at the gathering of G20 leaders there earlier this month and officials said he raised the issue of Russian meddling in the election before moving on to other issues such as the war in Syria.

Reports in March that Huntsman would get the Moscow envoy post were greeted with mixed reviews in Moscow, with one politician saying he was “not a dove” and the Kremlin saying it would welcome anyone who was a “convinced proponent” of establishing a dialogue with Russia.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason; Editing by Peter Cooney and Sandra Maler

July 18, 2017 / 1:34 PM / 7 hours ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s eldest son and former campaign chairman can testify publicly before U.S. Senate committees, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein told CNN on Tuesday.

Feinstein said Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, has said Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort were free to testify.

Feinstein is the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is among the congressional panels pursuing Russia investigations.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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Trumps Selling A Russia Story, But Most Americans Arent Buying It 

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Elton John – I’m Still Standing https://t.co/QrJ2Ha0fDa via @YouTube — Mike Nova (@mikenov) July 18, 2017 Trumps Selling A Russia Story, But Most Americans Arent Buying It Six months of near daily falsehoods are making it tough for the White House to get people to believe what it says.

6:57 PM 7/18/2017 – Trump Jr., ex-campaign head given nod to testify in Congress: Senator – Reuters 

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Saved Stories – None Trump Jr., ex-campaign head given nod to testify in Congress: Senator – Reuters After Low-Key Lobbying Effort, Trump Says He Was ‘Let Down’ By Senators – NPR Eighth Participant In Meeting With Trump Jr. Once Linked to Russian Money Laundering – Mother Jones In Michigan: Who wins, who loses if GOP … Continue reading “6:57 PM 7/18/2017 – Trump Jr., ex-campaign head given nod to testify in Congress: Senator – Reuters”
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» Trump set out to uproot Obama’s legacy; so far, that’s failed – Los Angeles Times 18/07/17 18:47 from Saved Stories – None Los Angeles Times Trump set out to uproot Obama’s legacy; so far, that’s failed Los Angeles Times Rarely has a president taken office so focused on undoing his predecessor’s works as Donald Trump . Six months in, he has little to show. M…

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» Trump set out to uproot Obama’s legacy; so far, that’s failed – Los Angeles Times 18/07/17 18:47 from Saved Stories – None Los Angeles Times Trump set out to uproot Obama’s legacy; so far, that’s failed Los Angeles Times Rarely has a president taken office so focused on undoing his predecessor’s works as Donald Trump . … Continue reading “» Trump set out to uproot Obama’s legacy; so far, that’s failed – Los Angeles Times 18/07/17 18:47 from Saved Stories – None Los Angeles Times Trump set out to uproot Obama’s legacy; so far, that’s failed Los Angeles Times Rarely has a president taken office so focused on undoing his predecessor’s works as Donald Trump . Six months in, he has little to show. M…”

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION The Early Edition: July 18, 2017 by Zoë Chapman 

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TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION The Early Edition: July 18, 2017 by Zoë Chapman Tuesday July 18th, 2017 at 7:05 PM An unnamed eight person was at the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya last June, according to Trump Jr.’s attorney Alan Futerfas, who told CNN’s Pamela Brown that the individual, an American citizen who was not employed by … Continue reading “TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION The Early Edition: July 18, 2017 by Zoë Chapman”

Ike Kaveladze, an employee of Russian developers Emin and Aras Agalarov, attended as the Agalarov’s representative the June 2016 meeting between Trump Jr. and Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, The Washington Post reports. – Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices 

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Today’s Headlines and Commentary by Alex Potcovaru Tuesday July 18th, 2017 at 7:12 PM Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices 1 Share Ike Kaveladze, an employee of Russian developers Emin and Aras Agalarov, attended as the Agalarov’s representative the June 2016 meeting between Trump Jr. and Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, The Washington Post reports. That revelation brings the known number … Continue reading “Ike Kaveladze, an employee of Russian developers Emin and Aras Agalarov, attended as the Agalarov’s representative the June 2016 meeting between Trump Jr. and Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, The Washington Post reports. – Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices”

7:21 PM 7/18/2017 – Trump News Daily 

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Trump News Daily 7.18.17 If Bannon and Trump are “honey badgers”, what is “honey”: the American people? Wake up, Honey!  – Michael Novakhov – In My Opinion 6:57 PM 7/18/2017 – Trump Jr., ex-campaign head given nod to testify in Congress: Senator – Reuters – Trump Investigations How Steve Bannon and Donald Trump Rode the … Continue reading “7:21 PM 7/18/2017 – Trump News Daily”

Today’s Headlines and Commentary 

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Ike Kaveladze, an employee of Russian developers Emin and Aras Agalarov, attended as the Agalarov’s representative the June 2016 meeting between Trump Jr. and Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, The Washington Post reports. That revelation brings the known number of individuals at the meeting to eight. Scott Balber, an attorney for the Agalarovs, said that Kaveladze is a U.S. citizen and a vice president with the Agalarov’s Crocus Group. Balber said Kaveladze thought he would serve as a translator, but it was unnecessary when Veselnitskaya brought her own. Kaveladze agreed to an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team in the first public indication that Mueller’s is looking into the meeting as a part of its inquiry into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) says that Mueller has “no problem” with Trump Jr. or former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who also attended the June 2016 meeting, being called to testify publicly before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The growing cast of high-profile, high-price private lawyers representing clients in Russia-investigation matters misalign their goals and interests, the AP reports. Given the interconnected nature of the investigation and attorneys’ goal to protect their client, jostling and conflict are expected that may leave lower-level aides exposed and struggling to afford growing legal fees.

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine declared the creation of a new state called Malorossiya that they say will eventually encompass all Ukrainian territory, the AP reports. The announcement, just a day before another round of peace talks was scheduled to begin, risks scuttling the negotiations. Separatists took control of territory in the eastern region of the country that borders Russia in April 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. A 2015 ceasefire agreement helped reduce violence but has yet to resolve to the broader conflict.

U.S. officials report that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will close the Office of Global Criminal Justice, the division responsible for coordinating the U.S. response to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, Foreign Policy reports. The Office’s special coordinator allegedly received word that he would be reassigned to a different office. Critics have said the move would send the wrong signals to the world and would damage the U.S.’s ability to hold war criminals accountable. Beth Van Shaack atJust Security broke the story, writing that it is part of a reorganization of the Under-Secretariat for Civilian Security, Democracy & Human Rights. This development is not the first time the status of the office has been in limbo—the Obama administration also considered downgrading the office and folding it into a different division. The State Department has not confirmed the closure, and one official said that it was “pure speculation.”

Tillerson has hired consultants at Deloitte and Insigniam to help restructure the State Department, The New York Times reports. Five committees will evaluate the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development and provide recommendations for improvement. A survey of employees conducted by Insigniam found frustration with the structure of the State Department, a lack of accountability, and poor employee treatment. Improvements in the department’s information technology is also under consideration.

A leaked memo attributed to Britain’s National Cybersecurity Centre says that nation-state hackers targeted and likely compromised the U.K. energy sector, The Guardian reports. The memo implied direct connections originating at the hackers’ control centers to computers related to the energy sector. Concerns over infrastructure vulnerabilities continue to grow: Russia-backed hackers attacked Ireland’s power grid just several days ago.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the FBI can secretly issue surveillance orders to communications companies for customer data, Reuters reports. The three-judge panel said that the gag orders that accompany the FBI national security letters (NSLs) do not violate the First Amendment rights of the companies that receive the request. Two companies sued the government to be able to notify their customers of five NSLs they received between 2011 and 2013. The Ninth Circuit ruling upheld the lower court’s decision.

The Trump administration is entrenching anti-Muslim immigration policies through bureaucratic means that have largely gone under the radar, Farhana Khera and Jonathan J. Smith argue in a Times op-ed. The authors detail increasing administrative hurdles and the strengthening of restrictions that are not subject to court review. They say these barriers will firmly establish a bias against Muslims in the immigration process.

Trump threatened Venezuela with “strong and swift economic actions” if controversial president Nicolas Maduro installs his new “Constituent Assembly” that will have the power to rewrite the constitution, CNN reports. The National Assembly is the current legislative body and is controlled by Maduro’s opponents. About 7.2 million people cast their votes in a nonbinding referendum on Sunday, with 98% voting against the new Constituent Assembly, calling for new elections before Maduro’s term expires in early 2019, and voting for the armed forces to defend the current constitution. Venezuela finds itself in the midst of an economic crisis and popular protests against the Maduro administration.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Jimmy Chalk and Sarah Grant reviewed the Arbitral Tribunal ruling one year later in this week’s Water Wars.

Robert Litt argued against an expansion of the FBI Director’s independence.

John Villasenor discussed the mathematical impossibility of the Australian Parliament’s planned legislation that will require companies to break into end-to-end encrypted messages.

Herb Lin argued that it’s not always a bad idea to cooperate with bad actors in cyberspace, countering Paul Rosenzweig’s piece from last week.

Rosenzweig urged members of the Intelligence Community to stop leaking.

Bob Bauer questioned which ethical standard Donald Trump was defending when he argued that most politicians would have taken the Russian attorney meeting at Trump Tower.

Matthew Kahn posted The Week That Will Be.

Wyatt Hoffman and Ariel E. Levite examined the benefits and drawbacks to corporate active cyber defense.

Benjamin Wittes predicted that a civil suit filed against the Trump campaign and Roger Stone will produce a trove of information if it reaches the discovery phase.

Stewart Baker posted the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast, in which the group discusses federal IT procurement, NotPetya, the Chinese cyber crackdown, and much more.

Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck published the National Security Law Podcast, in which they did a deep dive on the 2001 AUMF.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

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The Early Edition: July 18, 2017 

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Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.

IRAN

Iran is complying with the nuclear deal, the Trump administration certified to Congress last night, following reports from international monitors and other signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (J.C.P.O.A.) that Iran is meeting the terms of the agreement. Karen De Young reports at the Washington Post.

“Iran is unquestionably in default of the spirit of the J.C.P.O.A.,” a senior administration official stated yesterday after the re-certification, which was grudgingly given, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif saying before the certification that the Trump administration’s contradictory messages were difficult for Iran to interpret. Felicia Schwartz reports at the Wall Street Journal.

The Trump administration plans additional sanctions to combat Iran’s other “malign activities,” a senior administration official stated yesterday, adding that the administration would take measures against Tehran for its support for terrorism, abuse of human rights, backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and its anti-Israel stance. Mallory Shelbourne reports at the Hill.

Trump administration officials also cited Iran’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles as a reason for further sanctions, Al Jazeera reports.

European allies want to work with the U.S. to “interpret” the J.C.P.O.A. “more strictly,” three senior U.S. administration officials said in a call with reporters yesterday, Jeremy Diamond reporting at CNN.

Putting the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (I.R.G.C.) on the U.S. terrorist list “can be very costly to the United States and its military bases and forces in the region.” The Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Services Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri threatened to target American bases and forces in the region if the U.S. went ahead with classifying the I.R.G.C. as terrorists yesterday, Saleh Hamid reporting at Al Arabiya.

Two Iranian nationals have been charged by U.S. authorities in an alleged scheme to steal and re-sell software to Iran, which included hacking into a Vermont technology firm, Joe Uchill at the Hill reporting that a third member of the criminal enterprise has already pleaded guilty to the charges.

The third member of the alleged scheme to re-sell computer software will not be punished, despite admitting guilt, due to a pardon granted by President Obama last year as part of the nuclear deal, Josh Gerstein reports at POLITICO.

Chinese-American student Xiyue Wang detained in Iran is “innocent” of all charges against him, his professor at Princeton has said, the student having been charged for “infiltrating” Iran and passing confidential information about Iran to the U.S. State Department. Adam Schreck reports at the AP.

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

An unnamed eight person was at the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya last June, according to Trump Jr.’s attorney Alan Futerfas, who told CNN’s Pamela Brown that the individual, an American citizen who was not employed by the Russian government, was there on behalf of the Agalarovs who had requested the meeting be set up.

“That’s politics!” President Trump described the Trump Jr.-Veselnitskaya meeting last year as routine via Twitter yesterday, an assertion subsequently repeated by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Maggie Haberman reports at the New York Times.

There was nothing that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for “a discussion about adoption and the Magnitsky Act” during the meeting last year, Spicer insisted yesterday, Matthew Nussbaum reports at POLITICO.

The lawyer hired by the White House to handle the Russia probe did not sign off on Trump’s tweetdefending the meeting his son held during his campaign, Spicer confirmed yesterday, Jordan Fabian reports at the Hill.

“Don’t you get it, guys?” The Trumps need to realize that anything potentially damaging to them will come out in the Trump-Russia investigations being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller and the House and Senate intelligence committees and denouncing leaks as “fake news” will not succeed as a counter-strategy. The Wall Street Journal editorial board urges the president to change tactics to a strategy of “radical transparency.”

The master of “kompromat” – the Russian tactic of spreading damaging information to discredit a rival or an enemy – Yuri Y. Chaika is widely considered to have been the source of the incriminating information on Hillary Clinton that Donald Trump Jr. was offered at the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya last year, which makes it strange that – by the accounts of those present at that meeting – the information fell flat, writes Andrew E. Kramer at the New York Times.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has filed three updates to his national security questionnaire since he submitted it in mid-January – significant because submitting false information is a federal crime and, through the lens of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of potential Trump-Russia collusion, could be viewed as attempts to cover up meetings with Russian officials, explains Matt Zapotosky at the Washington Post.

RUSSIA

Russia reserves the right to retaliate against the U.S. for its “illegal seizure” of two Russian diplomatic compounds last year, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement today after a meeting in Washington yesterday ended without resolution on the issue, NBC News reports.

“We think that the diplomatic property must be returned without any conditions and talks,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told CNN’s Mary Ilyushina and Hilary Clarke yesterday, while White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer referred reporters to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who he claimed had been “having discussions” when asked to comment on yesterday’s meeting.

President Putin seems never to miss an opportunity to expand Russia’s presence in the Middle East,and President Trump is handing him opportunity after opportunity, from taking to Twitter to help Saudi Arabia split a Sunni Muslim alliance that was supposed to fight the Islamic State, prompting Qatar and Turkey to move closer together and become open to cooperation with Russia and Iran, to agreeing to a cease-fire in Syria that assumed the lasting presence of Russian influence in the Syrian war during his meeting with Putin in Germany two weeks back, writes Vali R. Nasr at the New York Times.

SYRIA

The U.S.-led coalition conducted airstrikes on western Raqqa yesterday, supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (S.D.F.) advancing on the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria where approximately 50,000 civilians remain trapped, Al Jazeera reports.

The battle for Raqqa has intensified as the S.D.F. combat militants in the center of the city, the S.D.F. claiming that they have taken positions near Raqqa’s Old Mosque, the AP reports.

A suicide bomb killed four people at a Kurdish-controlled checkpoint in northeastern Syria today, approximately 19 miles from the Syria-Turkish border, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Reuters reports.

There is “no information one way or the other about Baghdadi’s whereabouts or his status,” Pentagon spokesperson Jeff Davis told reporters yesterday, responding to comments from a top Kurdish counterterrorism official that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is not dead. Ellen Mitchell reports at the Hill.

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out 22 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on July 16. Separately, partner forces conducted nine strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

GULF-ARAB DISPUTE

The U.A.E.’s hacking of Qatar’s government news site was “unfortunate” and represented a “clear violation and breach of international law,” the head of Qatar’s government communications office Sheikh Saif bin Ahmad Al Thani said yesterday, responding to Sunday’s Washington Post story that the U.A.E. orchestrated the hack, the AP reports.

The Saudi and Emirati-led blockade of Qatar is failing, forcing Qatar closer to Turkey and Iran rather than succeeding in bringing Qatar to heel, and the four Arab nations neglected to consider what would happen if Qatar refused to acquiesce to their demands, Ishaan Tharoor writes at the Washington Post.

Egypt insisted that it would maintain measures against Qatar until the demands made by four Arab nations have been met, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said yesterday in a meeting with his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah, Al Jazeera reports.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to visit Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar next weekto discuss the ongoing crisis, according to Erdoğan’s office. Al Jazeera reports in rolling coverage.

Egypt announced the end of visa-free entry for Qatari citizens yesterday, Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid stating that “[it] does not make sense to keep making exceptions for Qatar and giving it privileges in light of its current positions,” Al Jazeera reports.

AFGHANISTAN

The Trump administration’s forthcoming Afghanistan strategy will include a Pakistan angle, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters yesterday, adding that the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has a key role to play in formulating the strategy, Anwar Iqbal reporting at DAWN.

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul are almost twice as high as in the war-torn Helmand province due to a rise in large-scale militant attacks, according to the U.N. Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (U.N.A.M.A.), Jessica Donati reporting at the Wall Street Journal.

The KOREAN PENINSULA

Now is the time for increased pressure on North Korea, not dialogue with it, in response to the “new level” of threat it presents following its launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4, Japan said yesterday, Edith M. Lederer reporting at the AP.

Russia is not very worried about North Korean missiles despite U.S. efforts to involve Russia in the search for a solution to the North Korea crisis, one reason for this being self-interest – there are a “surprising” number of economic ties between Russian and North Korea –  another being that Moscow’s view of North Korea is far more sanguine than the U.S.’, and another being the fact that the Kremlin – like Beijing – has no interest in seeing the North Korean government replaced by a unified Korea allied with America, writes Chris Miller at Foreign Policy.

There is no deal to strike with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Daniel Blumenthal and Derek Scissors writing at the Wall Street Journal argue that the only solution to the North Korea crisis is to remove Kim, the only question being how: war would be costly, and the best approach would be to put serious pressure on China to cut off its trade with North Korea.

The STATE DEPARTMENT

The U.S. campaign against mass atrocities is being downgraded by Secretary of State Rex Tillersonwho is shuttering the Foggy Bottom office that has worked for the past two decades to hold war criminals accountable, several former U.S. officials have disclosed, a State Department spokesperson neither confirming nor denying the office was being shuttered, but a senior State Department official claiming that it was “pure speculation” that the war crimes office was closing, reports Colum Lynch at Foreign Policy.

Tillerson’s plans to restructure his department involve five committees that will analyze different aspects of the department, including one committee dedicated to ensuring that foreign assistance programs are aligned with national priorities, with Tillerson enlisting the help of two consulting groups, according to a cable issued to embassies around the world, Gardiner Harris reports at the New York Times.

A letter urging Tillerson not to eliminate the State Department office that deals with refugees, arguing that a decision to transfer responsibility to other agencies would undercut U.S. diplomatic leverage in dealing with foreign crises was sent to the secretary of state by former U.S. diplomats and national security officials yesterday, Reuters reports.

The MUSLIM BAN

Grandparents of U.S. citizens are now eligible to receive U.S. visas under the Trump administration’s revised travel ban restricting entry to the U.S. by citizens of six Muslim-majority countries, according to a State Department memo reflecting the latest court ruling on the executive order seen by Reuters’ Arshad Mohammed and Yeganeh Torbati.

The Trump administration has already begun imposing its travel ban through deceptively boring alternative means that have been obscured amid the furore over the ban and the impending showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court: increasing administrative hurdles and cementing or expanding existing travel restrictions that are not currently being reviewed by the courts, the collective impact of which will be that “a permanent Muslim ban is enshrined into American immigration policy,” write Farhana Khera and Johnathan J. Smith, president and executive director and legal director respectively of civil rights legal organization Muslim Advocates writing at the New York Times.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

President Trump joined other world leaders in calling for Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro to discard plans for a “constituent assembly” that could dissolve parliament, rewrite the country’s constitution and cement Maduro’s grip on power yesterday, Trump issuing his strongest statement yet on the issue in which he said that if Mauro pressed ahead the U.S. would “take strong and swift economic sanctions,” Gideon Long reports at the Financial Times.

Turkey’s relationship with the U.S. “requires” U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen to be “immediately arrested,” Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said yesterday, stating that Güllen, who is accused of being behind last year’s failed coup in Turkey, continues to pose a threat. Hürriyet Daily News reports.

Jordanian soldier First Sgt. Ma-arik al-Tawayha was convicted of the murder of three U.S. soldiers,whom he shot at an air base in November, and sentenced to live in prison yesterday following a trial which lasted over a month and which failed to establish a motive for the killings. Rana F. Sweis reports at the New York Times.

Gag order issues with warrant-like national security letters do not violate the First Amendment, the Federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday, Joe Uchill reports at the Hill.

A new state was announced by separatists in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine today,casting further doubt on the 2015 cease-fire deal that was intended to stop fighting and bring the areas concerns back into Kiev’s fold, Nataliya Vasilyeva reports at the AP.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte asked the Philippine Congress to extend martial law on the southern island of Mindanao until the end of next year to give him time to subdue an Islamic State-inspired rebel movement today, Reuters’ Martin Perry reports.

The U.N. expressed concerns that people taken prisoner by members of the Libyan National Army (L.N.A.) after recent fighting in Benghazi may be “at imminent risk of torture and even summary execution” and called for the L.N.A., which is fighting for control of central and southern Libya with forces linked to the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli and others, to investigate. Reuters reports.

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Guest List at Trump Jr.’s Meeting With Russian Expands Again – New York Times

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Washington Post
Guest List at Trump Jr.’s Meeting With Russian Expands Again
New York Times
… real estate company, was contacted last weekend by a representative of special prosecutor Robert S. Mueller. He will cooperate fully with the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the election and possible obstruction of justice, Mr 
Today’s big takeaway: Robert Mueller is now investigating Donald Trump Jr.’s Russia meetingWashington Post
The Latest: Senate Panel Investigating Trump Tower MeetingU.S. News & World Report
After Trump Jr. Emails, Republicans Still Don’t Think Russia Interfered in ElectionNewsweek
NPR –Bloomberg –New York Times –NBCNews.com
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Trump, Putin Had Second, Previously Undisclosed Meeting At G-20 Summit – NBCNews.com

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NBCNews.com
Trump, Putin Had Second, Previously Undisclosed Meeting At G-20 Summit
NBCNews.com
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin a second time during the G-20 summit earlier this month, a White House official confirmed to NBC News Tuesday. Trump spoke to Putin at the end of a couples-only social …
Trump reportedly had second talk with Putin at G-20WCVB Boston

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Donald Trump Had A Second Meeting With Vladimir Putin At G-20 Summit

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The meeting was previously undisclosed.

Robert Mueller Confirmed to Be Investigating Donald Jr.’s Russia Meeting: Report – Newsweek

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Newsweek
Robert Mueller Confirmed to Be Investigating Donald Jr.’s Russia Meeting: Report
Newsweek
The scope and range of former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s investigation into allegations of collusion between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and Russia had been mostly unknown to those outside of his team since he was appointed special …
Robert Mueller is now investigating the Donald Trump Jr. Russia meetingMic
What to expect — and not — in Russia investigations this weekCNN
Guest List at Trump Jr.’s Meeting With Russian Expands AgainNew York Times
Voice of America –Vox –Daily Signal
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Putin Trump – Google News: Putin Is Helping Trump Because He Wants to Protect His Secret Stash of Money, Businessman Claims – Newsweek

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Newsweek
Putin Is Helping Trump Because He Wants to Protect His Secret Stash of Money, Businessman Claims
Newsweek
An investor who claims his life has been threatened by the Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin has a clear motive for backing a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Moscow lawyer. And that motive is millions of dollars of Putin’s personal cash.
“Set aside Putin and follow the money”: a Russia expert’s theory of the Trump scandalVox
How the GOP Became the Party of PutinPOLITICO Magazine
Reverence for Putin on the Right Buys Trump CoverNew York Times
The Conversation UK –New York Magazine
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 Putin Trump – Google News

Donald Trump Jr. Met Russian Accused of Laundering $1.4 Billion – Daily Beast

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Daily Beast
Donald Trump Jr. Met Russian Accused of Laundering $1.4 Billion
Daily Beast
“He also told us that Euro-American is currently being liquidated due in part to concerns about money-laundering issues that were raised in 1999 when the media reported allegations thatRussian organized crime had laundered billions of dollars through 
Russian lawyer at Trump Tower meeting drew US scrutinyABC News
Trump Jr.’s Russian “Translator” Allegedly Laundered Billions Through US BanksVanity Fair
Mysterious 8th person at Trump Jr. meeting allegedly ran massive Russian money-laundering schemeThinkProgress

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The Agalarovs, Who Set Up the Trump-Russia Meeting, Are Selling Their Jersey Mansions – Mother Jones

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Aras Agalarov’s Alpine, N.J. home was listed in June for $6,988,000.Zillow

The billionaire Russian real estate magnate and his pop singer son who helped arrange the June 2016 meeting where Trump campaign officials hoped to receive dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Kremlin are looking to get out of the United States—or, at least, out of New Jersey.

Aras Agalarov, who in 2013 received an Order of Honor award from Vladimir Putin for his construction work in Russia, last month listed a seven-bedroom, 10 bathroom, French-manor style home he owns in Alpine, New Jersey, fully-furnished. People involved in the sale said a buyer signed a contract to purchase the home last week, for just under the $6,900,000 asking price, though the sale is still pending. That’s a whopping discount from the $9.3 million Agalarov paid in 2005 for what Sotheby’s touted as a “stunning private oasis.”

Aras Agalarov’s Alpine, New Jersey-home comes fully furnished. Drapes included.

The “one of kind French manor estate” sits on 2.5 acres of land and includes a fountain.

Agalarov’s son Emin, meanwhile, has spent two-plus years attempting to unload a slightly more modest six bed, eight bath “stunning brick colonial” he owns in nearby Demarest. Emin, who was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, attended high school for two years in Tenafly, New Jersey.

After putting the property on the market in April 2015 for $3.3 million, the younger Agalarov is now offering the manse for $2.9 million, just shy of the $3 million his family spent on the home in 2008.

Emin Agalarov’s multi-million-dollar home.

The home features a “spectacular great room” with French doors.

According to emails released by Trump Jr.—after he learned the New York Times was on this story—the Agalorovs helped set up the Trump Tower meeting where Donald Trump Jr., President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and then-Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, expected to receive negative material on Clinton from a Kremlin-connected attorney.

Aras Agalarov’s home went on the market on June 15—about three weeks before the Times, in a series of reports, broke the news of the meeting. Sometime in June, the Trump camp learned that the Agalarov-brokered meeting would probably become public as a result of Kushner filing an amended security clearance form that listed the meeting. (Probably that same month, Trump Jr. hired a lawyer. A lawyer for Trump Jr. received an initial payment from the Trump campaign on June 27.)

Aras Agalarov’s home boasts a double bridal staircase.

The wet bar includes a built-in aquarium.

The buyer will find out where a spiral staircase from the master bedroom goes.

The Trump and Agalarov families formed a relationship in 2013, when they partnered to hold the 2013 Miss Universe contest at a Moscow-area concert pavilion, Crocus City Hall, which Aras Agalarov owns. Emin Agalarov performed at the event. Trump Sr. later appeared in one of the singer’s videos. Aras Agalarov made his fortune building shopping malls in Russia, but won Putin’s favor by building important national projects, such as two stadiums for the 2018 World Cup.

Like many before them, the Agalarovs, say they moved to New Jersey for the schools. Emin told <a href=”http://NJ.com” rel=”nofollow”>NJ.com</a> in 2014 that his father, while living in Manhattan, bought the Alpine home so that Emin could attend Tenafly High School for his junior and senior years. Emin then went to college in the United States at Marymount Manhattan before returning to Russia in 2001. The singer kept his home and still “considers himself something of a Jersey guy,” <a href=”http://NJ.com” rel=”nofollow”>NJ.com</a> reported.

The listing agent on both the Agalarov homes is Sheila Agalarova, who is Aras Agalarov’s daughter and Emin’s sister.

The front hall of Emin Agalarov’s home.

The fully furnished basement includes a home theater.

Emin Agalarov’s home is just a few blocks from a property owned by senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and her husband George. They paid $6 million for the property in 2007. In 2011, Forbes ranked the 07620 zip code belonging to Alpine as the most expensive in the country, with a median home value of about $4.3 million.

While it might seem odd that a family that made billions in Russian real estate is posed to take a drubbing in the New York suburbs, James Collins, who represented the sellers of the Demarest property in 2008, said the performer’s difficulty finding a buyer reflects the state of “the whole Tri-State market,” where high-priced homes are often remaining on the market for long stretches, even years.

But the agent involved in the sale said that Aras Agalarov had offered his home for a low enough price to unload it fast. “At a more realistic price they sell quicker,” the agent said.

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There is more evidence Russia interfered in the election. Fewer Trump supporters believe it.

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The evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election has only grown since Donald Trump took office. Yet a whopping 72 percent of Trump voters believe the whole story is “fake news.” A mere 14 percent believe there’s anything to the Russia story.

That’s according to an astonishing new survey from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling. Here some additional highlights:

  • Fewer than half of Trump voters (45 percent) believe Donald Trump Jr. met with Russians about information that might be harmful to Hillary Clinton; 32 percent don’t believe the meeting even took place; 24 percent are unsure.
  • 13 percent of Trump voters think there was knowing collusion — as in, that Trump’s team actively worked with the Russians — to gain an advantage in the election, whereas 81 percent say it didn’t happen at all.

A July 15 ABC/Washington Post poll found a similarly disturbing trend: Only 9 percent of Republicans polled said they believe Russia tried to influence the election, which was down — yes, down — from 18 percent in April.

This is all despite the fact that:

  • The US intelligence community has unanimously stated that Russia tried to influence the election to help Trump win.
  • Donald Trump Jr. personally tweeted out a series of emails in which he explicitly states that he would “love” to set up the meeting as long as the Russian lawyer had incriminating information on Clinton.
  • He has since admitted that he did, in fact, attend said meeting.
  • The president himself basically admitted that the meeting happened.

This is staggering. It means that even when Trump and his team openly admit to doing something — regardless of whether they believe that thing is bad or illegal — some Trump supporters will still refuse to believe it.

Trump supporters just don’t want to believe the Russia story

A quick look at the crosstabs of the poll show there is a clear partisan split when it comes to what people think about Russia’s involvement in the election. Those who voted for Trump are a lot less likely to believe the story than those who voted for Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, or Jill Stein.

Public Policy PollingAnecdotal evidence also seems to support this finding. When my colleague Lindsay Maizland traveled to her home state of Michigan — a state Trump won in the election — in July, she found that people there overwhelmingly believe the whole Russia story is “fake news.”

People told her that they feel ignored by the Washington establishment, hate the “liberal media,” and couldn’t care less about the Russia investigation. They saw it as a distraction from what America should be focusing on: the return of jobs to areas that have been neglected by Washington for years.

Still, that real, verifiable facts that come directly from the Trump family themselves don’t seem to be able to change opinions about the veracity of at least some aspects of the Russia story is troubling. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that people don’t like learning information they are predisposed to disagree with, as my colleague Brian Resnick discovered. Clearly the Russia story is something Trump supporters just don’t want to face.

That’s going to be a problem, though, as the evidence piles up that Russia did a lot more to influence the election than the president wants to admit. Worse, it may mean that some Americans might not even care that Russia orchestrated one of the greatest attacks on US democracy in our country’s history.

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Senate intel panel wants to interview everyone at Trump Jr.’s Russia meeting

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July 18, 2017 / 5:26 PM / an hour ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The leaders of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee said on Tuesday that wanted to interview President Donald Trump’s son, campaign chairman and everyone else who was at a meeting last year with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower.

“Sure, sure,” the committee’s Republican chairman, Senator Richard Burr, told reporters when asked if he wanted the committee to call in the attendees.

Senator Mark Warner, the panel’s Democratic vice chairman, also said the committee wanted to see everyone who had been at the meeting.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Eric Beech

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Ty Cobb, Donald Trump’s newest Russia lawyer, adds legal muscle as investigations widen

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Paul Pierce signs with Boston to retire as…

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Paul Pierce signed a contract with the Boston Celtics on Monday so he can retire as a member of the organization, the team announced.Time_Sports

Ty Cobb, a partner in the investigations practice of the law firm Hogan Lovells, was appointed as White House special counsel by President Donald Trump on July 15, 2017.(Photo: Hogan Lovells)

WASHINGTON — President Trump has for months decried the investigations into his campaign’s ties to Russia as the greatest “witch hunt” in American political history. But Trump’s quiet appointment of prominent Washington criminal attorney Ty Cobb as White House special counsel shows just how seriously he’s taking them.

Trump’s outside legal team is already sprawling. Marc Kasowitz, his longtime corporate lawyer, is leading a team of four attorneys to shield him from potential peril of three congressional committees and a special Justice Department counsel investigating possible collusion with Russians who sought to influence the election by hacking Democrats.

Yet by tapping former federal prosecutor Cobb as White House point man for the Russia probes, Trump is sending a clear signal that an internal legal bulwark is equally necessary to keep the administration from being consumed by the growing storm of questions about his campaign’s ties to Russian-linked operatives.

“He brings to the White House a lot of experience the president has not had,’’ said John Dowd, a prominent member of Trump’s outside legal team who recommended Cobb for the job.

Cobb will come to the White House at a particularly tense time, after revelations the president’s son, son-in-law, and former campaign chief took a highly controversial meeting in June 2016 in the hopes of obtaining damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. And it’s increasingly clear the current White House staff lacks the bandwidth to defend a president facing a criminal investigation.

Related: 

“Ty’s easily one of the best lawyers in Washington, if not the country,’’ Dowd said. “Given the load they have (at the White House), they need someone like him.’’

Cobb, who has built a formidable reputation as a criminal lawyer and crisis manager, is meant to be a counterpoint to White House Counsel Donald McGahn, an expert in election law and former chairman of the Federal Elections Commission.

The addition of Cobb to the White House post also equips Trump with a seasoned criminal lawyer available to advise at any time.

He will also serve as a conduit to Trump’s hard-charging chief outside legal counsel Kasowitz, who does not possess Cobb’s criminal law expertise. Kasowitz, who has also been under scrutiny lately for firing off profanity-laden emails to a stranger, also must commute from his New York offices for occasional meetings with his client.

A former federal prosecutor in Baltimore, Cobb headed the office’s criminal division and organized crime task force. In private practice, he represented a far-flung roster of clients in bribery and corruption cases in 44 states and 35 countries, according to his firm Hogan Lovells.

Among his clients: former Democratic Party fundraiser John Huang, who emerged as a target of the Justice Department’s Campaign Finance Task Force during the Clinton administration. Huang pleaded guilty in 1999 for violating federal election law. The same year, Cobb successfully defended Hudson Foods related to a Justice investigation into a massive recall of beef contaminated by E. coli.

As a special White House counsel, Cobb will serve as the primary White House contact with the congressional investigating committees (the Senate and House Intelligence panels and the Senate Judiciary Committee), and special counsel Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who is conducting the Justice Department’s wide-ranging criminal inquiry into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Cobb’s appointment also is expected to help relieve mounting pressure on chief White House counsel McGahn, who has been helping to direct both the White House response on Russia matters in addition to providing legal guidance on myriad policy issues confronting the administration.

“Within the counsel’s office, there are various attorneys that have different portfolios,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said. “And while we have outside counsel (handling Russia-related matters), a lot of times the requests that we get…require us to go to counsel and say, ‘Can we answer that question? What can we say or can’t we say?”

In fact, the White House is seeking to model its Russia legal response effort in part off the one that President Clinton put together in the midst of the various Whitewater investigations during the 1990s into the real estate investments of the Clintons and their associates.

One difference: The Clintons assembled a unit of lawyers and other professionals within the administration; so far, Cobb is the only lawyer to be brought onto the White House staff with the specific portfolio to handle investigations.

Lanny Davis, among those who served as a special White House counsel during the Clinton administration, said lawyers recruited for such jobs need to come with an understanding of the complex intersection of the law, media and politics.

“Working in a White House under attack is like working in the midst of a political campaign,” Davis said. “The first rule is to get the bad news out. There can’t be any B.S. Building a support group for what (Cobb) will have to do is not going to be easy.”

Even with Cobb’s broad experience and formidable reputation, Davis said he will need something more than his own acumen: the support of the president.

“You can’t do the job without the backing of the president,” said Davis, cofounder of the crisis management firm Trident DMG.

Cobb’s friends and former associates said colorful lawyer, who bears the name of a distant relative and baseball great known for his relentless competitiveness on the field, is up for the challenges of the task – and Trump.

“He is not a fixer, he is not a political operative,” said Robert Weber, a longtime friend and former general counsel at IBM. “He is a pure lawyer. He understands the client. He knows there are no shortcuts, and that success depends on on hard work. He’s fearless.”

James Ulwick, a fellow former prosecutor in the Baltimore, described Cobb as “the guy on everybody’s short list when you need help.”

“He likes being the center of attention, he revels in that role,” Ulwick said. “Some people would shrink from that, not him.”

Ulwick said Cobb is a natural storyteller – a lover of literature and history – who possesses a keen sense of humor that have all worked in his favor countless times both in court and out. “He is used to the challenge of persuading large groups of people,” Ulwick said.

Cobb also brings another potentially valuable commodity to the job: a long-standing friendship with Mueller.

“He’s known (Mueller) for years,’’ Dowd said. “They are both professional acquaintances and good friends. They have great respect for one another.’’

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8th Person Identified at Trump Son’s Russia Meeting – Voice of America

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Voice of America
8th Person Identified at Trump Son’s Russia Meeting
Voice of America
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is now heading a criminal investigation. He is probing contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russian interests and whether Trump obstructed justice by firing 

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Eighth person at Trump Jr meeting was accused of money laundering 

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Irakly ‘Ike’ Kaveladze, who once accused of laundering more than $1.4bn, was a participant in the notorious get-together at Trump Tower in June 2016

A Russian American businessman once accused of laundering more than $1.4bn into the US from eastern Europe attended the meeting where Donald Trump’s son expected to receive secret information from Moscow.

Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze was the eighth participant in the notorious get-together at Trump Tower in Manhattan on 9 June 2016, his attorney Scott Balber confirmed to the Guardian on Tuesday. Kaveladze’s attendance was first reported by CNN.

Related: Trials of Donald Jr turn Russia scandal into another Trump family affair

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If Bannon and Trump are “honey badgers”, what is “honey”: the American people? Wake up, Honey! 

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If Bannon and Trump are “honey badgers”, what is “honey”: the American people? Wake up, Honey! 

 

Trump Investigation: What did the FBI know, when did they know it, and what did they do about it, including with the use of this information? 

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Trump Investigation: What did the FBI know, when did they know it, and what did they do about it, including with the use of this information?

 

How Steve Bannon and Donald Trump Rode the Honey Badger Into the White House

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Green reminds us that it wasn’t long ago that both men were looked at as political jokes, and not even bad ones. When Ivanka Trump told Rupert Murdoch over lunch that her father intended to run for president, the media baron replied, without even looking up from his soup: “He’s not running for president.”

As for Bannon, when Green first met him in 2011 he came across as a “political grifter seeking to profit from the latest trend.” Later, as Bannon took the reins of the Trump campaign, he was seen by Beltway Republicans as “an Internet-era update of the Slim Pickens character in ‘Dr. Strangelove’ who rides the bomb like a rodeo bull, whoopin’ and hollerin’ all the way to nuclear annihilation.”

But whatever the pair lacked in conventional political experience, they made up for with other gifts. Both understood showmanship: slogans, narrative, put-downs and especially conflict. They knew the value of rage and outrage alike — the first as fuel for a movement; the second as the indispensable foil for that movement.

They also grasped that much that was supposed to matter in politics no longer did — detailed policy papers, for instance, or personal decorum. Trump, Green writes, “figured out that the norms forbidding such behavior were not inviolable rules that carried a harsh penalty but rather sentiments of a nobler, bygone era, gossamer-thin and needlessly adhered to by politicians who lacked his willingness to defy them.”

That’s why Trump’s birtherism — the support he gave to the lie that Barack Obama was born abroad — never disqualified his candidacy, even as it helped him “forge a powerful connection with party activists.” It’s a tactic he would repeat straight through the end of the campaign, when he took to denouncing “international banks” in terms that shaded into anti-Semitism.

“Darkness is good,” was Bannon’s advice for dealing with criticism from groups such as the Anti-Def