Wednesday’s best TV – Army: Behind the New Frontlines; Trump and Russia: Sex, Spies and Scandal
Trump and Russia: Sex, Spies and Scandal
… wonder whether special counsel Robert Mueller will get the goods on Trump before the latter’s trigger finger gets unbearably itchy. Matt Frei’s documentary offers a progress report on the investigation into Trump’s Russian dealings. It could be a …
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|Wednesday’s best TV Army: Behind the New Frontlines; Trump and Russia: Sex, Spies and Scandal – The Guardian|
|LGBT-pro nonprofit accuses former FBI agent of stealing more tha – Hawaii News Now|
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -A former high-ranking FBI official in Honolulu is under fire after a local nonprofit accused him of stealing more than $33,000.
In a police statement filed last month, the nonprofit Hawaii LGBT Legacy Foundation said that between November 2016 and August 2017, 56-year-old Robert Kauffman wrote improper checks and made several unauthorized withdrawals from the foundation’s bank account.
Kauffman is a former assistant special agent-in-charge of the FBI’s Honolulu field office, and served with the bureau for more than 20 years where he investigated organized crime and espionage cases. He also served as the foundation’s treasurer.
“Several of these checks and bank account withdrawals were in excess of $3,000, which requires the approval of two board members,” attorney and foundation director David Brustein wrote.
“Robert did not have signatures or board approval,” Brustein added.
But Kauffman’s attorney, Myles Breiner, said his client is “innocent of any embezzlement,” and was safeguarding the money from being misspent.
He said Kauffman returned the money with a cashier’s check even before the foundation went to the police.
“Mr. Kauffman is innocent of any embezzlement. We believe that there was a disagreement over the handling of funds by the Legacy Foundation,” said Breiner.
“(He) was concerned about some of the decision being made about the costs and financing of various projects the foundation was endorsing.”
Kauffman is currently chief investigator for the state Judiciary’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which oversees attorney conduct.
He’s also listed as the CEO of The Wellness Group LLC, which unsuccessfully applied for a medical marijuana dispensary license. Among the Wellness Groups’ investors included foundation board members Brustein and Dr. David McEwan.
Brustein said Kauffman’s role at the two organizations are unrelated.
The Hawaii LGBT Legacy Foundation is a tax-exempt organization that supports causes for the gay, lesbian and transgendered people and is a big organizer of the Honolulu Pride festival happened throughout October.
The $33,000 is nearly half of the foundation’s annual revenues. Legal experts said allegations of theft or mismanagement can be financially exhausting for a nonprofit.
“It is more damaging, not only to the organization but the people who the organization was set up to assist,” said Hawaii Pacific University assistant professor Randal Lee, a retired Circuit Judge who has investigated hundreds of white-collar crime cases as a Honolulu deputy prosecutor.
Honolulu police are investigating and have turned over the case to its white-collar division. Kauffman plans to fight the allegations.
Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.
|Data Firm Says Secret Sauce Aided Trump; Many Scoff|
But a dozen Republican consultants and former Trump campaign aides, along with current and former Cambridge employees, say the company’s ability to exploit personality profiles — “our secret sauce,” Mr. Nix once called it — is exaggerated.
Cambridge executives now concede that the company never used psychographics in the Trump campaign. The technology — prominently featured in the firm’s sales materials and in media reportsthat cast Cambridge as a master of the dark campaign arts — remains unproved, according to former employees and Republicans familiar with the firm’s work.
“They’ve got a lot of really smart people,” said Brent Seaborn, managing partner of TargetPoint, a rival business that also provided voter data to the Trump campaign. “But it’s not as easy as it looks to transition from being excellent at one thing and bringing it into politics. I think there’s a big question about whether we think psychographic profiling even works.”
At stake are not merely bragging rights, but also an emerging science that many believe could reshape American politics and commerce. Big data companies already know your age, income, favorite cereal and when you last voted. But the company that can perfect psychological targeting could offer far more potent tools: the ability to manipulate behavior by understanding how someone thinks and what he or she fears.
A voter deemed neurotic might be shown a gun-rights commercial featuring burglars breaking into a home, rather than a defense of the Second Amendment; political ads warning of the dangers posed by the Islamic State could be targeted directly at voters prone to anxiety, rather than wasted on those identified as optimistic.
“You can do things that you would not have dreamt of before,” said Alexander Polonsky, chief data scientist at Bloom, a consulting firm that offers “emotion analysis” of social networks and has worked with the center-right Republican Party in France.
“It goes beyond sharing information,” he added. “It’s sharing the thinking and the feeling behind this information, and that’s extremely powerful.”
Both conservatives and liberals are eager to harness that power. In Washington, some Democratic operatives are scrambling to develop personality-profiling capabilities of their own. But even as Cambridge seeks to expand its business among conservative groups, questions about its performance have soured many Republicans in Mr. Trump’s orbit.
Cambridge is no longer in contention to work for Mr. Trump at the Republican National Committee, a company spokesman confirmed, nor is it working for America First Policies, a new nonprofit formed to help advance the president’s agenda.
In recent months, the value of Cambridge’s technology has been debated by technology experts and in some media accounts. But Cambridge officials, in recent interviews, defended the company’s record during the 2016 election, saying its data analysis helped Mr. Trump energize critical support in the Rust Belt. Mr. Nix said the firm had conducted tens of thousands of polls for Mr. Trump, helping guide his message and identify issues that mattered to voters.
But when asked to name a single race where the firm’s flagship product had been critical to victory, Mr. Nix declined.
“We bake a cake, it’s got 10 ingredients in it. Psychographics is one of them,” he said. “It’s very difficult to isolate exactly what the impact of that ingredient is.”
DRAWN TO AMERICA
Cambridge’s parent company, the London-based Strategic Communication Laboratories Group, has a long record of trying to understand and influence behavior. Founded in 1993 by a former British adman, the firm has worked for companies and candidates around the world, as well as for government and military clients. SCL has studied Pakistani jihadists for the British government and provided intelligence assessments for American defense contractors in Iran, Libya and Syria, according to company documents obtained by The New York Times.
“Their approach was seen as serious and focused,” said Mark Laity, chief of strategic communications at NATO’s military headquarters in Europe, who has taken part in NATO-affiliated conferences where SCL has made presentations.
In recent years, the company has moved to exploit the revolution in big data to predict human behavior more precisely, working with scientists from the Cambridge University Psychometrics Center. The United States represented a critical new market. Europe has strict privacy protections that limit the use of personal information, but America is more lightly regulated, allowing the sale of huge troves of consumer data to any company or candidate who can afford them.
In 2013, Cambridge Analytica was created as SCL’s American operation, and the two companies today share many of their roughly 200 employees, several top executives, and offices in New York and Washington.
To develop its profiling system, Cambridge conducts detailed psychological surveys — by phone and online — of tens of thousands of people, differentiating them by five traits, a model widely used by behavioral researchers.
Uniquely, the company claims to be able to extrapolate those findings to millions of other people it has not surveyed, assigning them one of 32 distinct personality types. Cambridge then blends those profiles with commercial data and voting histories, revealing “hidden voter trends and behavioral triggers,” according to a 2016 company brochure.
Those profiles, in turn, would allow campaigns to customize advertising, direct-mail slogans and door-knocking scripts, each calibrated to prod the targeted voter toward — or away from — a candidate.
The promise of psychometrics appealed to Mr. Mercer, a computer scientist who made a fortune helping to lead Renaissance Technologies, a Long Island-based hedge fund. Mr. Mercer and his daughter Rebekah presided over a growing political empire that included millions of dollars in contributions to conservative groups and a stake in Breitbart, whose nationalist and racially antagonistic content prefigured Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.
Mr. Mercer became Cambridge’s principal investor, according to two former employees. (Like several others interviewed for this article, they spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing nondisclosure agreements and the threat of lawsuits.) Mr. Bannon, the family’s political guru, also advised the company and served as vice president of its board, according to Delaware public records.
Mr. Mercer has never spoken publicly about his policy views in depth, but his giving is eclectic: He has financed anti-Clinton documentaries, right-wing media watchdogs, libertarian think tanks and both Senator Ted Cruz, a religious conservative, and Mr. Trump, a thrice-married nationalist.
“The genius here is Bob, and the billionaire in this is Bob, and the person with the extreme views of how the world should be is Bob,” said David Magerman, a Renaissance research scientist who was recently suspended after criticizing his boss’s support for Mr. Trump.
In the run-up to the 2014 elections, Breitbart, under Mr. Bannon, set up a London office and made common cause with populist conservatives in Europe. But back in the United States, Cambridge was at first slow to land big accounts. It was rebuffed by the political network overseen by the billionaire conservative brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch, to which the Mercers were major donors. Federal Election Commission records show that the firm had nine clients in House and Senate races that year, among them three “super PACs” partly financed by Mr. Mercer.
As the 2016 presidential campaign began, however, Cambridge landed a marquee political client: Mr. Cruz, the Texas senator. Mr. Mercer seeded a super PAC with $11 million to support him.
Cambridge had a talented salesman in Mr. Nix, an Eton-educated SCL director chosen to lead the American effort. Among colleagues, his skills at cajoling clients are legendary. At an office party at a London dog track in the summer of 2015, one young employee offered an affectionate toast.
“He is so smooth he’ll rub shoulders with politicians and their campaigns,” the employee joked, according to a video of the event posted on YouTube, “and, in their face, tell them he’s going to rip them off.”
‘NOT ABOUT TRICKING PEOPLE’
But Cambridge’s psychographic models proved unreliable in the Cruz presidential campaign, according to Rick Tyler, a former Cruz aide, and another consultant involved in the campaign. In one early test, more than half the Oklahoma voters whom Cambridge had identified as Cruz supporters actually favored other candidates. The campaign stopped using Cambridge’s data entirely after the South Carolina primary.
“When they were hired, from the outset it didn’t strike me that they had a wide breadth of experience in the American political landscape,” Mr. Tyler said.
Ms. Mercer and Mr. Bannon were aggressive advocates for Cambridge. When the campaign disputed a $2.5 million invoice, they lit into Mr. Cruz’s senior campaign team during a conference call, according to the consultant. Cambridge Analytica, Ms. Mercer and Mr. Bannon claimed, was the only thing keeping Mr. Cruz afloat. (The company declined to comment on the exchange, as did a personal spokeswoman for Mr. Bannon and the Mercers.)
After the Cruz campaign flamed out, Mr. Nix persuaded Mr. Trump’s digital director, Brad Parscale, to try out the firm. Its data products were considered for Mr. Trump’s critical get-out-the-vote operation. But tests showed Cambridge’s data and models were slightly less effective than the existing Republican National Committee system, according to three former Trump campaign aides.
Mr. Bannon at one point agreed to expand the company’s role, according to the aides, authorizing Cambridge to oversee a $5 million purchase of television ads. But after some of them appeared on cable channels in Washington, D.C. — hardly an election battleground — Cambridge’s involvement in television targeting ended.
In postelection conversations with potential clients, Cambridge has promoted itself as the brains behind Mr. Trump’s upset victory. One brochure circulated to clients this year, which details Cambridge’s expertise in behavioral targeting, also calls the company’s “pivotal role” in electing Mr. Trump its “biggest success politically in the United States.”
Trump aides, though, said Cambridge had played a relatively modest role, providing personnel who worked alongside other analytics vendors on some early digital advertising and using conventional microtargeting techniques. Later in the campaign, Cambridge also helped set up Mr. Trump’s polling operation and build turnout models used to guide the candidate’s spending and travel schedule. None of those efforts involved psychographics.
In some recent public settings, Cambridge executives have acknowledged that. “I don’t want to break your heart; we actually didn’t do any psychographics with the Trump campaign,” Matt Oczkowski, Cambridge’s head of product, said at a postelection panel hosted by Google in December.
The firm’s claims about its client base have also shifted. As recently as October, the firm said it had 50 clients in the 2016 elections. But a company spokesman said federal elections records showing just a dozen were correct.
The spokesman also said neither Cambridge nor SCL had done any work, paid or unpaid, with the pro-“Brexit” Leave.eu campaign last year, although Mr. Nix once claimed that Cambridge had helped “supercharge” Leave.eu’s social media campaign. British authorities are now investigating the company’s exact role with Leave.eu and whether Cambridge’s techniques violated British and European privacy laws.
At a conference in Munich last month, Alexander Tayler, Cambridge’s chief data officer, dodged a question about whether Cambridge would work with far-right parties in European elections this year. He also played down the role of psychological profiling in the company’s work, much of which, Mr. Tayler suggested, is still based on traditional data analytics and marketing.
“It’s not about being sinister,” Mr. Tayler said. “It’s not about tricking people into voting for a candidate who they wouldn’t otherwise support. It’s just about making marketing more efficient.”
LOOKING TO EXPAND
Even before the election, according to one former employee, Cambridge employees attended sessions about soliciting government business in the United States — where Mr. Trump now oversees the federal bureaucracy and Mr. Bannon is arguably the White House’s most powerful staff member. According to documents obtained by The Times, SCL is pursuing work for at least a dozen federal agencies, including the Commerce Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Mr. Bannon’s spokeswoman said he stepped down from the Cambridge board in August, when he joined the Trump campaign, and “has no financial involvement” with the firm currently. She declined to say whether Mr. Bannon previously held equity in the firm.
Late last month, SCL executives met with Pentagon officials who advise the Joint Chiefs of Staff on information warfare. A reference document submitted in advance of that meeting indicates that the company has worked as a subcontractor on roughly a dozen Pentagon projects, many of them “counter-radicalization” assessments in Pakistan and Yemen.
Such intelligence work is the bread and butter of SCL’s government contracting in other countries. And the firm’s experience in trying to influence Muslim sentiment abroad dovetails with Mr. Trump and Mr. Bannon’s focus on combating the Islamic State.
The Washington Post reported last month that SCL had secured a contract for a similar program at the State Department and was seeking military and Homeland Security work.
In an email, a Joint Chiefs spokesman confirmed that the Pentagon meeting, first reported by BuzzFeed, had occurred, but said he could not elaborate on the discussions “in order to avoid any undue influence or unintended consequences.”
The New York Times would like to hear from readers who want to share messages and materials with our journalists.
At the moment, according to former employees, Cambridge has relatively few well-known corporate clients in the United States. Among them are ECI New York, a clothing company, and Goldline, which sells gold coins and markets heavily to listeners of conservative talk radio.
A spokesman for MasterCard declined to say if it would do business with Cambridge. The Yankees did not sign on.
But Mr. Nix appears to have bigger ambitions. “I think were are on the cusp of something enormous,” he said.
Data science is about to reshape marketing, Mr. Nix maintained, and the big advertising conglomerates would survive only by developing their own targeting technology — or acquiring companies like Cambridge.
“Those agencies that don’t adapt will die,” Mr. Nix said.
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|manipulation of voters psychology – Google Search|
|Cambridge Analytica – Google Search|
Vox–7 hours ago
Cambridge Analytica specializes in what’s called “psychographic” profiling, meaning they use data collected online to create personality …
Business Insider–Oct 14, 2017
An intern at the Trump campaign data firm, Cambridge Analytica, appears to have left sensitive voter targeting tools online for nearly a year.
Daily Beast–Oct 11, 2017
They were once Steve Bannon’s favorite analytics shop. Now investigators want to know if the Kremlin had a thing for Cambridge Analytica, too.
Congress Is Investigating Trump Campaign’s Voter Targeting Firm …
Blog–Slate Magazine (blog)–Oct 11, 2017
Slate Magazine (blog)–Oct 6, 2017
And Trump’s campaign was masterful at it, in large part thanks to Cambridge Analytica, the data-targeting team that worked to make sure Trump …
|Trump addresses strategy on Iran nuclear deal (full speech)|
President Trump unveils the United States’ new strategy on the Iran nuclear deal.
|Tillerson responds to Corker’s ‘castration’ remark|
After Sen. Bob Corker criticized President Donald Trump for his “castration” of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the secretary responded by saying he is “fully intact.”
|12:36 PM 10/16/2017 Surveillance Reform: The Fourth Amendments Long, Slow, Goodbye|
Trump Investigations Report | Latest Posts Trump Investigations Report from mikenova (18 sites) FBI News Review: 12:12 PM 10/16/2017 FBI: Oh, by the way, we just found 30 pages of information about the Clinton/Lynch tarmac meeting Canada Free Press (blog) FBI: Oh, by the way, we just found 30 pages of information about the Clinton/Lynch tarmac meeting Canada Free … Continue reading“12:36 PM 10/16/2017 – Surveillance Reform: The Fourth Amendments Long, Slow, Goodbye”
|Donald Trump and WikiLeaks arent even trying to hide their collusion anymore|
Investigators are still piecing together how the Donald Trump campaign and international cyberterrorist group WikiLeaks were communicating and coordinating their efforts during the course of the 2016 election. Although Trump’s longtime friend Roger Stone bragged that he was using backchannels to coordinate with WikiLeaks, the rest of the effort was a secret one. However, at this point, Trump and WikiLeaks are no longer even trying to hide it.
Last night Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks and a wanted fugitive who’s spent years hiding out in a basement closet, had an unhinged meltdown about Hillary Clinton. Assange posted a series of deranged tweets about Clinton’s “menacing glares” and far worse. It raised the question of whether perhaps Assange should be taken to a mental institution instead of a prison once he’s eventually apprehended. It was also one more reminder that WikiLeaks, the Russian government, and the Donald Trump campaign treasonously conspired to rig the election in in favor of Trump and against Clinton.
So how did Donald Trump handle Assange’s meltdown about Clinton? By joining in. Trump hadn’t tweeted about her in quite some time. Yet this morning he couldn’t wait to tweet “I was recently asked if Crooked Hillary Clinton is going to run in 2020? My answer was, ‘I hope so!’” It’s not a coincidence that Assange and Trump suddenly have the same message: they’re colluding as we speak to create a media distraction. They must know that a bombshell story is about to surface which helps expose their election rigging scheme, and they’re trying to force that bombshell to share some headline space with the Hillary controversy they’re manufacturing.
During the course of the 2016 election, Russian government hackers stole personal information from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party. It then gave that information to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, which often altered that information to appear scandalous. WikiLeaks coordinated with the Donald Trump campaign to release that (dis)information at the most opportune time for Trump. Everyone knows this. All that’s left is to prove it, so everyone involved can face charges.
The post Donald Trump and WikiLeaks aren’t even trying to hide their collusion anymore appeared first on Palmer Report.
|12:28 PM 10/16/2017 Timeline of Trump and Obstruction of Justice: Key Dates and Events|
Trump Investigations Report | Latest Posts Trump Investigations Report from mikenova (18 sites) FBI News Review: 12:12 PM 10/16/2017 FBI: Oh, by the way, we just found 30 pages of information about the Clinton/Lynch tarmac meeting Canada Free Press (blog) FBI: Oh, by the way, we just found 30 pages of information about the Clinton/Lynch tarmac meeting Canada Free … Continue reading“12:28 PM 10/16/2017 – Timeline of Trump and Obstruction of Justice: Key Dates and Events”
|Today’s Headlines and Commentary|
Iraqi forces seized key positions in the disputed city of Kirkuk, pushing out Kurdish forces, Reuters reported. The U.S.-trained counterterrorism force took up positions outside the provincial government headquarters on Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after Iraqi forces moved in to the city area. Kurdish fighters largely withdrew peacefully, the New York Times reported. One faction within the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) agreed to not contest the citys seizure while fighters aligned with the KRGs president continued to fight. The U.S. embassy called for an end to the fighting.
The Supreme Court will hear a case on government access to email data stored overseas, the Washington Post reported. The justices agreed to consider the Justice Departments appeal in U.S. v. Microsoft. The case asks whether the Justice Department could use a warrant to access emails that Microsoft stored on a server in Ireland.
Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier who endured five years of Taliban captivity, plead guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, according to the Times. Army prosecutors argued that Bergdahls sudden departure from his base in Afghanistan endangered the troops that then searched for him.
A grand jury found Ahmad Khan Rahimi guilty of carrying out a plot to set off explosives in New Yorks Chelsea neighborhood and New Jersey last year, the Times reported. In the case, the FBI presented evidence that Rahimi set up nine different bombs in and around New York City, only two of which exploded.
The death toll from a pair of truck bombings in Mogadishu, Somalia rose past 300 on Monday, the Post reported. The bombings nearly totally destroyed a city block. Somalias government blamed the attacks on al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda linked extremist group. Al Shabab has not yet issued any statement, according to the Times. Counterterrorism experts suggested that the militant organization may have received help from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has expertise in bomb-making.
European foreign ministers condemned President Trumps decision to decertify Irans compliance with the nuclear deal, the Wall Street Journal reported. At a European Union meeting in Luxembourg, they pledged to honor the agreement and urged U.S. lawmakers not to reimpose sanctions that would effectively terminate the deal. Also at the meeting, the EU adopted new sanctions to put a blanket ban on business with North Korea and to totally ban oil exports to Pyongyang, Reuters reported.
Spains prime minister demanded that Catalonias leader cease his move to declare independence by Thursday, the Journal reported. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Catalan President Carlos Puigdemont had not clarified whether he had declared independence from Spain in an address last week. Rajoy threatened to invoke a provision of the Spanish constitution that would strip away some of Catalonias autonomy if Puigdemont does not withdraw his bid for independence by Thursday.
Philippine forces killed a terrorist on the FBIs most wanted terrorists list in an operation to retake the city of Marawi from militant control, the Journal reported. The Philippine military said it found the body of Isnilon Hapilon, a Justice Department-wanted terrorist who was involved in several kidnappings in the early 2000s, in a city block captured by advancing military units.
Israeli warplanes attacked a Syrian missile launcher site after being fired on while patrolling in Lebanese airspace, the Guardian reported. The Israeli military said the battery fired a surface-to-air missile at Israeli jets flying close to the Syrian border.
Researchers discovered a flaw in the WPA2 security protocol, making Wi-Fi vulnerable to hacking, Reuters reported. The Department of Homeland Security issued a security warning after researchers at KU Leuven in Belgium found a bug in WPA2 that could allow hackers to read transmitted information or infect devices with malware.
British intelligence blamed Iran for a hack that targeted 9,000 email accounts associated with the British parliament this summer, the Guardian reported. The attackers used a brute-force technique to try to gain access to members of parliaments emails, including the accounts of Prime Minister Theresa May and other cabinet members.
Hillary Clinton called Julian Assange a tool of Russian intelligence, Politico reported. Clinton spoke out against Assanges Wikileaks organization, which played a key role in spreading leaked information about her 2016 campaign, in an interview on Monday.
NATO began its annual nuclear exercises in Germany, demonstrating its nuclear deterrent capabilities, according to the Journal. The drill will take place at U.S. bases in Belgium and Germany, where the U.S. stores its Europe-based nuclear arsenal.
Writing for the Post, Philip Carter argued that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster should implement the lessons he drew from his past writing on the failures of national security policymaking at the White House.
The Times David Sanger, David Kirkpatrick and Nicole Perlroth detailed how North Korea has turned its hacking operations into a global threat.
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation published a new report on reforming counterintelligence outreach to industry.
ICYMI: This weekend, on Lawfare
In the Foreign Policy Essay, Katerina Papatheodorou argued that the U.S. should implement better online countering violent extremism efforts by learning from guerilla marketing techniques.
Vanessa Sauter shared the Lawfare Podcast, featuring an interview with Shadi Hamid and William McCants on their new book Rethinking Political Islam.
Eliot Kim posted this weeks Water Wars, covering the U.S.s latest freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) and Britains FONOP policy revisions.
Elena Chachko analyzed the limited scope of the actual action items from President Trumps much-hyped Iran strategy announcement.
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.
|Surveillance Reform: The Fourth Amendments Long, Slow, Goodbye|
Over 16 years after the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent repeated passage or renewal of draconian temporary but emergency domestic surveillance laws in response, its fair to ask: Have we officially abandoned the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights?
With the expiration of Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) less than three months away, now is a good time to review the effects of these surveillance laws in the seemingly endless War on Terror. But first, a quick recap of Americas embrace of mass surveillance in the post-9/11 era.
Within six weeks of the terrorist attacks in 2001, and with virtually no serious debate, Congress passed the behemoth PATRIOT Act. The law created vast new government surveillance powers that abandoned the Fourth Amendments across-the-board probable cause warrant requirement. In an October 11, 2001 speech discussing the Senate version of the legislation, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) assured terrified civil libertarians that the PATRIOT Acts five-year sunset clause governing 15 of the bills provisions would serve as a valuable check on the potential abuse of the new powers granted in the bill.
Unbeknownst to the public and most members of Congress, the Bush administration allowed key authorities of the PATRIOT Act to be abused, a fact only brought to light in 2013 by Edward Snowdens revelations of mass telephone surveillance conducted under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.
Section 215 is one of the 15 temporary provisions that has been renewed repeatedly since 2001, making a mockery of Feinsteins assurance that the sunset provision would act as a check on any abuse of the law. Today, 12 of those 15 temporary and emergency surveillance measures are permanent law.
Thanks to another document made public by Snowden, we know that three days after the 9/11 attacks, then-NSA Director Michael Hayden initiated a secret warrantless surveillance program encompassing Americans in contact with anyone in Afghanistan. Over the ensuing weeks, it would become a multi-pronged warrantless spying effort code-named STELLAR WIND. After the New York Times revealed this unconstitutional surveillance in December 2005, thanks to the help of a whistleblower at the Justice Department, the Congress and the Bush administration spent the next two years trying to make the illegal surveillance legal. Their final product, passed in 2008, was the FAArenewed with little debate in 2012 and now, because of a sunset provision, is set to expire on December 31.
The key provision of the FAA that is the primary focus of debate is Section 702, which allows the government to target the communications of foreign entities even if the government knows it will likely sweep up the emails, text messages, and phone calls of innocent Americans in the process.
Have FAAs authorities been used to subvert the Fourth Amendment and the constitutional rights of Americans, just as the PATRIOT Act has? Yes. Repeatedly.
In September, the politically progressive group Demand Progress issued a scathing report on documented abuses of the FAA, drawing directly from partially declassified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) records. The findings showed that aspects of the governments Section 702 information collection, revealed in 2011, acquired “non-targeted, entirely domestic communications,” violating the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, the FISC found that the NSA engaged for 12 years in types of surveillance that FISC would eventually deem unlawful, with NSA only ceasing the violations under repeatedbut ultimately emptythreats of criminal sanctions.
This report was preceded earlier this year by the publication of Stanford law professor (and Just Security editor) Jennifer Granicks excellent book American Spies, which chronicles in detail the rights violations and false claims of effectiveness of the PATRIOT Act and the FAA by NSA and FBI officials.
Sixteen years after creating the biggest unconstitutional mass surveillance dragnet in American history, we have documentary evidencefrom the federal governments own recordsof repeated, systemic abuses of these authorities. We also know theyre costing taxpayers, whose digital communications are swept up by these programs, tens of millions of dollars annually. What we dont have is any public evidence that these surveillance practices have made us safer.
Whats the response of Congress? Its proposing to reauthorize the same Section 702 program, which has led to these abuses.
On Oct. 6, on a bipartisan basis, the House Judiciary Committee introduced the ill-named USA Liberty Act (HR 3989). In my initial analysis of the bill, I noted that the proposed legislation ignored every major problem highlighted in the Demand Progress report. The bills authors also ignored an even longer list of Section 702 reform proposals put forward by nearly 60 civil society groups.
Meanwhile, the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers, and FBI Director Christopher Wray have mounted a public campaign to renew Section 702 unchanged. At a meeting with reporters on Sept. 25, Coats and his colleagues argued that 702 is a vital surveillance authority that has helped thwart numerous terrorist plots. On background, I asked one of the reporters who attended that meeting whether Coats, Rogers, or Wray offered a single example of 702 stopping an attack on the United States. They did notwhich tracks with Granicks findings in American Spies.
Despite the lack of public, independently confirmed evidence that 702 has prevented terrorist attacks on America, Coats, Rogers, and Wray are winning the argument that 702 should remain the law of the land.
If you think about it, the indifference of the House Judiciary Committee leadership to these proposals is not terribly surprising. The overwhelming majority of the groups calling for changes to a surveillance law that should never have existed have no political power.
Unlike the National Rifle Association, they operate no political action committee or similar electoral vehicle that could be used to strike fear into House or Senate members who dare to put forward such proposals. Thus, House and Senate members know that they can safely ignore these groups, no matter how many press releases, Facebook posts, or completely fact-based reports about surveillance abuses they churn out–just as they have ignored these same groups for nearly 20 years as Congress has passed or reauthorized laws that, bit by bit, have eviscerated the Fourth Amendment.
My prediction: Absent another Snowden-like revelation, Section 702 of the FAA will be reauthorized largely without change, and any changes will be cosmetic, and almost certainly abused. Whether it has a sunset provision or not is now politically and practically meaningless.
After this latest assault on the Bill of Rights has been signed into law by President Donald Trump later this year or early next, opponents will have one moreand probably finalchance to roll back the damage already done when the three remaining PATRIOT Act provisions subject to sunset come due at the end of 2019. Unless the privacy and civil liberties community revamps its entire approach and structure for advocacy on these issues, the long, slow goodbye to the Fourth Amendment will come to an end just before Christmas in 2019.
Image: The NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland/Getty Read on Just Security »
|Russia tried to use Pokemon Go to stoke racial tensions in the US – Fox News|
|Timeline of Trump and Obstruction of Justice: Key Dates and Events|
Did President Donald Trump or other U.S. officials engage in an obstruction of justice with respect to the Russia investigation? There are three scenarios which raise that question. Its important to keep each of them in mind as one thinks about incriminating and exculpatory information, and patterns of related behavior.
Before setting out each scenario and then the Timeline, it may bear reminding that under U.S. federal criminal law, the definition of obstruction of justice includes anyone who corruptly or by any threatening letter or communication endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede a criminal investigation. According to the U.S. Attorneys Manual, even a mere attempt to pursue those ends is enough for obstruction, regardless of whether the attempt succeeds. The criminal standard matters if prosecutors were ever to consider pressing charges while Trump is President (a period in which he may be immune from indictment) or after he leaves office. The federal definition could also serve as a background for impeachment proceedings, although Congress would not be tied to the strict definitions of existing criminal law. Finally, there is always the court of public opinion.
What are the three scenarios that prosecutors, members of Congress, and the public could consider under the heading of obstruction of justice?
First, any attempts to unlawfully have FBI Director James Comey drop the investigation of Michael Flynn Second, any attempts to unlawfully interfere with FBI or congressional investigations into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 election Third, any attempts to unlawfully interfere with the FBI or congressional investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election (having nothing to do with any alleged collusion)It is also important to keep in mind that one form of obstruction may be in getting officials to drop an investigation (which is very difficult to ever pick back up) and another form may be in firing officials with authority over the investigation.
The following is a Timeline of events that could be relevant to considerations of the obstruction of justice. It adheres as much as possible to the most directly relevant information, but also includes some other evidence that may be relevant to investigators who are looking for patterns of behavior (for example, Trumps treatment of Preet Bharara).
Late July 2016 According to the New York Times and later confirmed by former FBI Director James Comey, the FBI begins investigating the Russian governments attempts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election. The investigation includes examining whether Donald Trumps presidential campaign was connected to those efforts. The catalyst for the FBI investigation includes Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Pages trip to Moscow to deliver a pro-Russia foreign policy speech at a prestigious Russian institute that same month.
Dec. 29, 2016 In retaliation for Russian interference in the election, the Obama administration ordersthe expulsion of Russian intelligence agents and imposes new sanctions on Russian state agencies and individuals suspected of hacking U.S. computer systems. The CIA and FBI had previously concluded that Russia had interfered in the election multiple times including leaking damaging information to assist the Trump campaign.
Jan. 6, 2017 According to Senate testimony by James Comey, he first meets Trump at Trump Tower on this date as part of an Intelligence Community assessment briefing on Russian election interference. After the meeting ends, Comey meets with Trump privately and assures Trump he is not beingpersonally investigated. He writes a memo about the meeting after he returns to his car. Later testifying to Congress Comey says, I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document.
Jan. 6, 2017 The New York Times reports that the IC concluded in its assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 election, initially seeking to weaken Hillary Clinton, but later developing a clear preference for Trump. The Times reports that at the IC assessment meeting earlier that morning, Trump responded by acknowledging, for the first time, that Russia had sought to hack into the Democratic National Committees computer systems,but asserted that these activities did not influence the elections outcome, and he did not address the IC conclusion that Putin had favored his campaign.
Jan. 19, 2017 The New York Times first reports that U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies are conducting a counterintelligence investigation into links between Russian officials and Trump associates. The investigation centers partly on past business dealings between Trump advisers and Russia. The FBI is leading the investigation, alongside the CIA, NSA, and the Treasury Departments financial crimes unit. The associates under investigation include former campaign manager Paul Manafort and advisers Carter Page and Roger Stone.
Jan. 27, 2017 According to Comeys testimony, Trump invites Comey to what he believes will be a group dinner at the White House, but which turns out to be a private dinner meeting with the then-FBI Director. Trump asks whether Comey wants to remain FBI Director, and Comey responds affirmatively. During the dinner, Trump repeatedly tells Comey that he needs loyalty, and Comey responds, You will always get honesty from me. Trump responds, Thats what I want, honest loyalty. Comey responds, You will get that from me, hoping to end the conversation. Comey later testifies to Congress that, given the one-on-one nature of the meeting and the substance of their talk, Comey believed the dinner was in part an effort to create a patronage relationship.
Feb. 13, 2017 National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigns after revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials about a conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December 2017 about U.S. sanctions against Russia.
Feb. 14, 2017 According to Comeys Senate testimony, Comey and other IC leaders deliver a counter-terrorism briefing at the Oval Office. Trump signals the end of the briefing by thanking everyone and saying he wanted to meet with Comey privately. Trump tells Comey, I want to talk about Mike Flynn, adding that Flynn had not done anything wrong, but had to resign because he misled Pence. Trump then tells Comey, I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go. Comey later testifies that he had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December.
Immediately after the meeting, Comey prepared a memo of the communication and presented the issue to FBI senior leadership. Comey interpreted Trumps communication as a direction to drop the FBI investigation as it related to Flynns alleged false statements about his meetings with the Russian Ambassador in December 2016.
The FBI leadership team and Comey believed that it was important not to infect the investigative team with Trumps request, and decided to refuse the directive. The team concluded it would not have made sense to disclose Trumps request to Sessions, who had recused himself from the Russia investigation, or the Deputy AG, who was soon to be replaced. They believed it was best to keep the communication closely held, although they might decide to disclose it to other officials as the investigation progressed.
Shortly thereafter, Comey also met with Sessions and told him that what had just happened him being asked to leave while the FBI Director, who reports to the AG, remained behind was inappropriate and should never happen. He said he implored Sessions to ensure that no further private communications occur between Trump and himself. Nevertheless, he did not disclose the content of Trumps request regarding dropping the Flynn investigation.
In his written statement for the Senate, Comey said the Attorney General did not reply and then told Senators in open session that Sessions was just kind of looking at me and his body language gave me a sense like, What am I going to do?
In his own testimony before the Senate, Sessions said Comeys account was incorrect and said, I did affirm the long-standing written policies of the Department of Justice concerning communications with the White House.
Mar. 2, 2017 Sessions announces that he is recusing himself from any investigations into charges that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. Acting Deputy AG Dana Boente takes over the Russia investigation following Sessions recusal.
Mar. 9, 2017 Trumps assistant calls U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bhararas office and leaves a message asking Bharara to call Trump back. Trumps direct communication request violates protocols governing presidential contact with federal prosecutors. Bharara notifies an adviser to AG Sessions of the presidential contact, and tells him he will not respond because of the protocol violation. Bharara then calls Trumps assistant to say that he cannot speak with the president directly because of the protocol violation.
Mar. 10, 2017 Trump orders Bharara and 46 other U.S. Attorneys appointed by Barack Obama to resign. The request surprises Bhararas office because in November, he had met with Trump and advisers including Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner at Trump Tower, and Trump had personally asked him to stay in the position. Bharara publicly refuses to resign.
Mar. 11, 2017 Acting Deputy AG Dana Boente calls Bharara and tells him that he is one of the 46 U.S. Attorneys being asked to resign. Bharara tells him that he is interpreting that as being fired, and Boente repeats that he is being asked to resign.
Bharara tweets that afternoon that he has just been fired by Trump:
I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life.
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) March 11, 2017
Because Bharara served as U.S. attorney of the S.D.N.Y., his jurisdiction included Trump Tower, and he would likely have known whether Trump Tower had been wiretapped by federal investigators as Trump claimed, as well as other Tower-related information potentially relevant to the Russia investigation, or to any other investigations involving the finances or other activities of Trump and his companies.
Mar. 20, 2017 In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Comey confirms that the FBI is investigating whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. He also dismisses Trumps claims that President Obama wiretapped him during the presidential campaign.
Mar. 22, 2017 The Washington Post reports that Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and other senior officials participate in an Oval Office briefing, after which Trump asks Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo to stay for a private meeting. Trump complains to them about Comeys handling of the Russia investigation and asks them to intervene with Comey to get the FBI to stop investigating Flynn.
After the meeting, Coats discusses Trumps request with other officials and decides that against Trumps requests to issue a public statement and to intervene with Comey regarding Flynn, believing both would be inappropriate.
A day or two after Mar. 22, 2017 Shortly after the Mar. 22 meeting, Trump reportedly makes separate telephone calls to both Coats and NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers and requests that they issue public statements denying the existence of any evidence of collusion between Trump officials and the Russian government. Both officials view the requests as inappropriate and refuse.
Then Deputy Director of the NSA Richard Ledgett writes an internal NSA memo documenting Trumps conversation with Rogers. During the call, Trump questions the accuracy of the IC Assessment that Russia had interfered with the election, in addition to trying to convince Rogers to issue a public statement.
In addition to Trumps requests, senior White House officials separately requested that top intelligence officials consider the possibility of intervening with Comey directly to have the FBI withdraw its probe of Flynn. Their lines of questioning included: Can we ask him to shut down the investigation? Are you able to assist in this matter?
Mar. 30, 2017 According to Comeys Senate testimony, on this date, Trump calls Comey at his office and tells Comey that the Russia investigation is a cloud inhibiting his ability to act as President. Trump assures Comey that he has had nothing to do with Russia and asks Comey what he can do to lift the cloud. Comey responds that the FBI is investigating the matter as quickly as it can, and that a full investigation is in Trumps best interests.
Trump then asks about why Comey had confirmed the FBI investigation into coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign at a Congressional hearing, and Comey explains that he was responding to Congressional leaders demands. Comey explains that he has briefed those leaders on who exactly the FBI is investigating and informed them that Trump is not personally under investigation. Trump repeatedly urges Comey to get the fact that he himself is not under investigation out to the public.
Comey later testifies to the Senate that the FBI and DOJ were reluctant to make a public statement that they did not have an open case on Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.
Mar. 30, 2017 The Wall Street Journal reports that Mike Flynn has informed the FBI and congressional officials of his willingness to be interviewed by House and Senate investigators as part of the investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia, in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Flynns lawyer released a statement confirming only that discussions with Congressional investigators were taking place, though it concluded: no reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch-hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution. The New York Times reports that congressional officials are unwilling to make a deal with Flynn until they are further along in their inquiries and have a better idea of the information Flynn might offer.
Mar. 31, 2017 Trump applauds Flynns request for immunity, tweeting:
Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 31, 2017
Apr. 11, 2017 According to Comeys testimony, Trump calls Comey again and asks what he has done about Trumps request to publicize the fact that he is not personally under investigation. Comey tells Trump that he relayed Trumps request to Acting Deputy AG Dana Boente but that he has not heard back. Trump reiterates that the cloud is interfering with his ability to act as President, and asks whether he should have his staff contact Boente. Comey advises Trump of the traditional channel, which is for White House Counsel to contact DOJ leadership to make such requests. Trump says he will do so and tells Comey, Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.Comey responds by reiterating that the proper channel for Trumps request is for Trump to follow the DOJ chain of command. Trump agrees and ends the call.
Comey testifies that in light of Trumps requests, Our our absolute primary concern was, we cant infect the investigative team. We dont want the agents and analysts working on this to know the president of the United States has has asked and when it comes from the president, I took it as a direction to get rid of this investigation, because were not going to follow that that request.
Apr. 25, 2017 Rod Rosenstein is confirmed as Deputy AG by the Senate and will serve as the official overseeing the Russia investigation in light of Sessions recusal. Rosenstein told Senators he would handle it the way I would handle any investigation, adding: I dont know the details of what, if any, investigation is ongoing, but I can certainly assure you if its America against Russia, or America against any other country, I think everyone in this room knows which side Im on.
May 8, 2017 According to the New York Times, Trump summons VP Pence, his chief of staff, top lawyers, and other senior advisors to the Oval Office and informs them that he plans to get rid of Comey, showing them an at least four-page letter, singe-spaced consisting of a long-running series of thoughts on why Comey should be fired that Trump dictated to aide Stephen Miller. The draft criticizes Comey for failing to publicly disclose that Trump was not personally under investigation and for his handling of both the Russia and Clinton email investigations.
White House Counsel Donald McGahn opposes the letter as problematic in multiple ways. His objections include the letters angry tone and its references to private conversations between Trump and Comey. He successfully convinces Trump not to use the draft. Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein then composes his own letter, which becomes a central part of the administrations public rationale for the removal. The New York Times reports that Mr. Sessions had been charged with coming up with reasons to fire him, according to administration officials.
May 8, 2017 Trump implicitly accuses former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates of leaking classified information in a tweet. Because Yates was scheduled to testify on the Flynn investigation before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee later in May, and because she had previously warned the White House that Flynn might have been compromised, this tweet could provide supporting evidence for an attempt to intimidate a witness in the Flynn investigation.
Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Counsel.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2017
May 9, 2017 Trump fires Comey from his post as FBI Director, removing the nations top law enforcement official while he was leading a criminal investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to influence the 2016 election as well as an investigation into former NSA Adviser Michael Flynn for potentially making a false statement to the FBI. The firing raised questions about political interference in an ongoing criminal investigation that could implicate Trump and his top advisers.
In the official announcement, Trump cites letters written by AG Sessions and DAG Rosenstein that recommend [Comeys] dismissal, adding that he has accepted their recommendation and therefore is terminating Comey. The letters largely deal with the Clinton email investigation, and Trump also publicly cites Comeys handling of the Clinton investigation in announcing the change. However, Trumps letter also references the Russia investigation and Comeys actions toward Trump personally: While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.
Of the two letters Trump cites, Sessions brief letter does recommend Comeys dismissal, and cites the reasoning in Rosensteins letter. Rosensteins letter, however, does not explicitly recommend dismissal; instead, it only outlines Comeys serious mistakes in handling the Clinton e-mail investigation. It concludes that the FBI will be unlikely to regain public trust until a new Director is put in place. White House officials say that Sessions and Rosenstein pushed for Comeys removal, but observers in Washington, including veteran former FBI agents, view the letters as pretextual.
May 9, 2017 ABC News reports that Rosenstein was so upset that he was on the verge of resigning because of Trumps public statements, and statements by White House officials, that Trump was acting on Rosensteins recommendation in firing Comey. Rosenstein tells the Sinclair Broadcast Group: No, I’m not quitting.
May 9, 2017 Late that night, the White House announces that Trump will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov in the Oval Office the next day.
May 10, 2017 Trump meets with Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak in the Oval Office and speaks to them about the Russia investigation and Comeys firing. He reportedly tells the senior Russian officials: I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut jobI faced great pressure because of Russia. Thats taken offIm not under investigation.
According to the Times, Press Secretary Sean Spicer did not dispute the account. Instead, he claimed in a statement that: By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russias actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia. Spicer adds, The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.
May 11, 2017 In an interview with NBC Newss Lester Holt, Trump admits that even before he consulted Rosenstein, I was going to fire Comey. Theres no good time to do it, by the way. Holt mentions that in Trumps letter outlining the reasons for Comeys firing, he cited Rosensteins letter, and Trump responds, Oh, I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.
Then, while addressing how he would have fired Comey regardless, he adds: And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have wonThis was an excuse for having lost an election.
When Holt asks him about whether he was angry with Comey because of the FBIs Russia investigation, Trumps responds that he never tried to pressure Comey to drop it. He adds: Maybe I’ll expand that, you know, lengthen the time (of the Russia probe) because it should be over with, in my opinion, should have been over with a long time ago. ‘Cause all it is, is an excuse but I said to myself, I might even lengthen out the investigation, but I have to do the right thing for the American people. He added, I want that to be so strong and so good. And I want it to happen.”
May 12, 2017 Trump tweets, James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations, suggesting Trump may have recorded such tapes, and may decide to release them. The tweet follows a New York Times report the day prior describing the dinner between Trump and Comey at which Trump asked Comey for a pledge of loyalty.
James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
The Times reports that both the president and his spokesman refused to confirm or deny whether Trump tapes his conversations with visitors. When asked about whether such tapes existed by a Fox News host later that day, Trump reiterated: That I cant talk about. I wont talk about itAll I want is for Comey to be honest. Spokesman Sean Spicer, when asked, would not give a definitive response, saying only, The president has nothing further to add on that. Spicer further denied that Trump was threatening Comey, saying Thats not a threatHe simply stated a fact. The tweet speaks for itself. Im moving on.
May 17, 2017 Rosenstein appoints former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to serve as the DOJs Special Counsel to investigate Russian interference in the election and possible coordination between Trump associates and Russia.
Trump responds by saying, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly. In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.
However, Trump decries the decision on Twitter:
This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017
With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special counsel appointed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017
With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel appointed!; This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!
May 2017 The New York Times reports that Trump berated Sessions in an Oval Office meeting and told him he should resign, shortly after learning of the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate links between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump accuses Sessions of disloyalty and then launches into a series of insults against Sessions. Sessions became emotional and told Trump he would quit, and then drafted and sent a resignation letter to the White House. The Times reports that Sessions would later tell colleagues that Trumps dressing down was the most humiliating experience he had ever had in public life.
Trump eventually rejects the resignation in May after senior administration officials argue that it would only create more problems for him. But the Times also reports that he wished to remove Sessions again in July, though he did not act on it at that time. The Times reports that Trump believes the moment Sessions recused himself is the moment Trump lost control over the Russia investigation.
This dressing down represents the low point in the relationship between Trump and Sessions, a Senator who broke ranks with fellow Senators to become one of Trumps first supporters. The Timesreports that their relationship would marginally improve over time, partly because of Sessions taking a strong public stance against leakers later on.
May 18, 2017 Rosenstein testifies before a closed-door Senate briefing that he knew Trump wanted to fire Comey before he wrote his letter justifying Comeys removal. Rosenstein adds that Trump asked him to write the letter. He tells Senators that on May 8 he knew that Trump was planning to fire Comey.
June 6, 2017 Washington Post reporter Robert Costa reports on NBC News that The President is expected to be Tweeting on Thursday in response to Comey not to stay quiet during the testimony because he himself wants to be the one driving the process.
Costa later tweets:
I’m told by two WH sources that Pres. Trump does not plan to put down Twitter on Thursday. May live tweet if he feels the need to respond.
— Robert Costa (@costareports) June 6, 2017
June 7, 2017 DNI Coats and NSA Director Rogers both refuse to testify about their personal interactions with Trump and whether Trump asked them to intervene in the Russia investigation at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.
Coats tells the Committee, I dont believe its appropriate for me to address that in a public session, when asked about whether Trump requested he intervene in the Russia investigation. Coats adds, however: But I am more than willing to sit before this committee during its investigative process in a closed session and answer your questions. Roger says, I am not going to discuss the specifics of interactions that I may or may have not had with the President.
Both men deny being pressured to intervene. Coats says, I have never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way and shape — with shaping intelligence, in a political way or in relationship to an ongoing investigation. Rogers tells the Committee, To the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate.
June 8, 2017 Trumps personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz responds to Comeys testimony claiming Comey admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the President.
However, legal experts say that the executive privilege could not have been implicated by Comeys memos, because executive privilege functions as a shield against compelled rather than voluntary disclosure, and in any case, the leaks did not disclose any classified information or break any laws, since they dealt solely with private interactions with the President (the kind of internal communications of which many insider books are written).
June 16, 2017 Trump attacks Deputy AG Rosenstein on Twitter:
I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
June 22, 2017 The New York Times reports that Trump officially announces that he does not have taped recordings of his conversations with James Comey, citing Trumps tweet:
With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017
…whether there are “tapes” or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017
The Times report notes that Trumps tweet leaves open the possibility that others may have recorded their conversations, potentially without permission, such as the Intelligence Community generally or FBI in particular.
The Times report notes that legal experts have said Trumps initial tweet threatening that tapes existed could serve as part of a potential obstruction of justice case, because the tweet could be construed as pressuring Comey not to reveal details about his and Trumps conversations relating to the Russia investigation to federal investigators. Others say the threat of existence of tapes suggest Trump was trying to keep Comey honest.
June 16, 2017 Trump attacks Rosenstein and the expanding Russia probe in a series of tweets:
I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
June 23, 2017 In a Fox television interview, in response to a Fox interviewer suggesting that the possibility of recordings of Comeys conversations with Trump may have ensured Comeys honesty in his Senate testimony, Trump says: Well, it wasnt very stupid, I can tell you that. He added that in response to the possibility of Comeys conversations being recorded, I think his story may have changed.
July 8, 2017 The New York Times reports that Donald Trump Jr. arranged a meeting at Trump Tower with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer in June 2016, shortly after his father won the Republican nomination. Campaign manager Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner also attended. Though Trump Jr. initially releases a statement saying the meeting was primarily about an adoption program, emailsreleased later show meeting occurred because Trump Jr. was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton by the Russian lawyer.
Trump personally dictates a statement for Trump Jr., stating that he and the Russian lawyer primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children, and that the subject of the meeting was not a campaign issue at the time. These claims are later proven to be false. Before the revelation of the presidents involvement in these deliberations, Trumps lawyer repeatedly denied Trump was involved in drafting them. Eventually, the White House confirms that Trump weighed in on the drafting of the misleading statement.
July 10, 2017 Trump tweets that Comey illegally leaked classified information to the media:
James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017
July 19, 2017 In an interview with the New York Times, Trump says that had he known Sessions was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, he would not have nominated him to be Attorney General:
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.
Trump repeats that he relied on the Rosenstein letter in deciding to fire Comey:
TRUMP:  Rosenstein becomes extremely angry because of Comeys 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 didnt hurt to have the letter, O.K.
Trump asserts again that Comey leaked confidential information in his Senate testimony, and oddly suggests that, in their initial meeting, Comey told Trump to treat Flynn good (when Comey testified that Trump had asked him to let go of the Flynn investigation):
TRUMP: 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. [NYT reporter] Mike [L. Schmidt]. He illegally leaks, and everyone thinks it is illegal, and by the way, it looks like its classified and all that stuff. So he got not a smart guy he got tricked into that, because they didnt 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 didnt say anything.
Later in the interview, Trump contends that Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe has a conflict of interest involving Hillary Clinton. Days later, he repeats his claim on Twitter:
Problem is that the acting head of the FBI & the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from H for wife!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
…big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
Jill McCabe, McCabes wife, received nearly $500,000 in 2015 campaign donations from a political action committee associated with Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe during an unsuccessful Virginia Senate run. McAuliffe is close with both Bill and Hillary Clinton.
July 24, 2017 The New York Times reports that Trump aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner meet with Senate investigators looking into the Russia investigation on the Senate Intelligence Committee. After meeting with investigators behind closed doors, Kushner released a statement to news media: All of my actions were proper and occurred in the normal course of events of a very unique campaignI did not collude with Russians, nor do I know of anyone in the campaign who did. He is the first member of the Trump inner circle to confer with congressional investigators.
July 2425, 2017 In a series of early morning tweets, Trump renews his attacks against Sessions.
So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign – “quietly working to boost Clinton.” So where is the investigation A.G. @seanhannity
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
He also repeated his claims regarding McCabe having a conflict of interest with respect to the Clintons:
Problem is that the acting head of the FBI & the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from H for wife!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
Aug. 1, 2017 In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump again berates Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation:
WSJ: Hes the Russian guy. So Sessions has recused himself, but is Bob Muellers job safe? There is speculation
TRUMP: No, were going to see. I mean, I have no comment yet, because its too early. But well see. Were going to see. Heres the good news: I was never involved with Russia. There was nobody in the campaign. Ive got 200 people that will say that theyve never seen anybody on the campaign. Heres another he was involved early. Theres nobody on the campaign that saw anybody from Russia. We had nothing to do with Russia. They lost an election and they came up with this as an excuse. And the only ones that are laughing are the Democrats and the Russians. Theyre the only ones that are laughing. And if Jeff Sessions didnt recuse himself, we wouldnt even be talking about this subject.
And Trump further suggests that Sessions early campaign endorsement was not a sign of loyalty:
WSJ: Just on Sessions, just one thing. Would you like to see him step aside? Would you like to see him resign? Would it be in the countrys best interest just
TRUMP: Im just very disappointed in him. Im disappointed in, you know, a number of categories. I told you, the leakers. He should have he should be after them. So many people say to me: Why are they going after you on nothing and they leave Hillary Clinton alone on, you know, really major things? And it is so Im disappointed in him. And dont forget, when they say he endorsed me, I went to Alabama. I had 40,000 people, you may have been there, remember, in Mobile?
WSJ: I remember.
TRUMP: I had 40,000 people. He was the senator from Alabama. I won the state by a lot, massive numbers. A lot of the states I won by massive numbers. But he was a senator. He looks at 40,000 people and he probably says, what do I have to lose, and he endorsed me. So its not like a great, loyal thing about the endorsement. But Im very disappointed in Jeff Sessions.
Aug. 3, 2017 Vox reports that, in late May, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told several people in high-level FBI management that they should consider themselves potential witnesses in any potential obstruction of justice investigation involving Trump. He told colleagues that he could also be a potential witness himself.
Aug. 26, 2017 The Washington Post reports that sometime this past spring, Trump approached AG Sessions and asked whether the DOJ could possibly drop its case against former Maricopa County, Arizona Sherriff Joe Arpaio, whom Trump has long respected. Sessions advised him that it would have been inappropriate to drop the case, after which Trump decided to let the case go to trial and subsequently grant a pardon. Legal experts believe that Trumps handling of the Arpaio case may be relevant to determining his intent in speaking to Comey about the FBIs Michael Flynn investigation (I hope you can let this go) in an obstruction of justice probe.
Aug. 31, 2017 The Wall Street Journal reports that Trumps lawyers have met with Mueller several times in recent months and have submitted several memos to him contending that Trump didnt obstruct justice by firing Comey and questioning Comeys reliability as a potential witness.
Sept. 19, 2017 The Wall Street Journal reports that Muellers office interviewed DAG Rosenstein in June or July 2017 about Trumps removal of Comey. A source told CNN that Rosenstein has no current plans to recuse himself from the investigation, suggesting he does not view himself as a key witness in the obstruction of justice investigation. DOJ Spokesperson Ian Prior released a statement saying, As the deputy attorney general has said numerous times, if there comes a time when he needs to recuse, he will. However, nothing has changed.
[Editor’s Note: For more analysis, readers may be interested in: “A Round-Up of Just Securitys Obstruction of Justice Coverage”]
|Opinion: We must stop politicizing tragedy – The Ledger|
|11:55 AM 10/16/2017 TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION from The Early Edition: October 16, 2017|
SYRIA The U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (S.D.F.) began their final push to oust Islamic State militants from Raqqa yesterday, marking the last phase to combat the militants in their de facto capital in Syria and after a significant number of militants surrendered as part of a locally brokered deal. John Davison and Ellen Francis report … Continue reading“11:55 AM 10/16/2017 – TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION – from The Early Edition: October 16, 2017”
|12:03 PM 10/16/2017 How history readied Putin to disrupt the US election Axios|
Trump Investigations Report | Latest Posts Trump Investigations Report from mikenova (18 sites) Trump – Google News: Trump dares ‘crooked’ Hillary to run again after she blames loss on Comey ‘shiv’ – Fox News Fox News Trump dares ‘crooked’ Hillary to run again after she blames loss on Comey ‘shiv’ Fox News President Trump tweeted Monday that he hopes Crooked … Continue reading“12:03 PM 10/16/2017 – How history readied Putin to disrupt the US election – Axios”
|Trump allies worry that losing the House means impeachment – CNN|
|Russia Funding Taliban in War Against NATO Troops – TOLOnews|
|How history readied Putin to disrupt the US election – Axios|
|How history readied Putin to disrupt the US election – Axios|
|Manafort Got $60 Million from Russian Oligarch – Patheos (blog)|
|7:22 AM 10/16/2017 The Method To The Morons Madness » Donald Trump: Further reading FT | » Donald Trump | The Guardian: How Fallon fell: why is the late-night host floundering in Trumps America?|
Donald Trump “reelection campaign” funds may be going to Trumps personal secretary Trump’s supposed 2020 reelection effort may be even more fraudulent than previously known » 10:59 AM 10/15/2017 The Method To The Morons Madness » Palmer Report » Donald Trump: Further reading 16/10/17 01:12 from 1. Trump from mikenova (5 sites) Donald Trump Donald Trump further … Continue reading“7:22 AM 10/16/2017 The Method To The Morons Madness » Donald Trump: Further reading – FT | » Donald Trump | The Guardian: How Fallon fell: why is the late-night host floundering in Trump’s America?”
|The Early Edition: October 16, 2017|
Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Heres todays news.
More than 300 have been killed in a double explosion in Somalias capital of Mogadishu on Saturday and the death toll is likely to rise, marking one of the deadliest attacks in the country since the Islamist insurgency started in 2007. Nicholas Bariyo reports at the Wall Street Journal.
The attack came after President Trump renewed efforts to rid Somalia of al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants, some analysts stating that the bombing may have been in retaliation for al-Shababs loss of territory and in response to the U.S. increased drone attacks. Hussein Mohamed, Eric Schmitt and Mohamed Ibrahim report at the New York Times.
The U.N. Secretary-General condemned the attack and urged all Somalis to unite in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, in a statement by the Secretary-Generals spokesperson yesterday. The UN News Centre reports.
The Mogadishu attack may prompt the U.S. to step up its involvement in Somalia and to counter al-Shabab, who were almost certainly behind the attack. Jason Burke provides an analysis at the Guardian.
We stand committed to the J.C.P.O.A. and its full implementation by all sides, a joint statement by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday, using the acronym for the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The leaders made the statement following President Trumps decertification of Irans compliance with the accord and urged the Trump administration and Congress to consider the implications to the security of the U.S. and its allies before taking any steps to undermine the agreement. Laurence Norman reports at Wall Street Journal.
We will continue to stick to the deal and to cooperate with the [International Atomic Energy Agency] within the framework of international law, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Friday in response to Trumps decision to decertify Irans compliance, adding that the U.S. is more isolated than ever as a consequence of the presidents actions. Erin Cunningham reports at the Washington Post.
What were saying now with Iran is dont let it become the next North Korea, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said yesterday, defending Trumps decision to decertify Irans compliance and arguing that the aim is to improve the situation and see how to make the nuclear agreement better. Eli Watkins reports at CNN.
If its not broke, dont fix it, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russias TASS news agency yesterday, responding to the Trumps decision to decertify Irans compliance, noting that the Trump administration has a habit of calling for improvements and amendments to already successful agreements. Olivia Beavers reports at the Hill.
Saudi Arabias King Salman praised President Trump for visionary new Iran strategy, the White House said yesterday in a read out of Saturdays call between Trump and King Salman. Mallory Shelbourne reports at the Hill.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump for his brave decision on the Iran deal in an interview yesterday, adding that we cannot allow this rogue regime 30 times the size of North Koreas economy to have a nuclear arsenal. Mallory Shelbourne reports at the Hill.
The U.S. is no longer not just unpredictable but unreliable, Irans Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said yesterday, stating that the strength of the agreement was that it was based on mutual mistrust but that Trump is widening the mistrust between Iran and the U.S. and between the U.S. and the international community. Rebecca Savransky reports at the Hill.
Syrias Foreign Ministry condemned the Trump administration yesterday for its decision on the Iran deal, Reuters reports.
The various reactions of global leaders to Trumps Iran strategy is provided by the BBC.
The Iran deal cannot be fixed because it is intrinsically misconceived, Iran cannot be trusted to comply with the agreement and the deal will breathe its last shortly. The former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton writes at the Wall Street Journal.
Trumps Iran strategy foreshadows yet another crisis over the deal and perhaps a U.S. withdrawal in just three months time as the presidents decision to decertify Irans compliance has left Congress to deal with the mess he has created. Josh Rogin writes at the Washington Post.
The president has sent mixed messages to Congress about his intentions, which does not bode well for the future of the deal as Congress lacks the tools to make effective foreign policy decisions. Daniel B. Shapiro writes at POLITICO Magazine.
Iran carried out a cyberattack on the U.K. parliament and hacked 9,000 email accounts in June, including the account of Prime Minister Theresa May, according to a secret intelligence assessment. Francis Elliot and Fiona Hamilton report at the Times.
Iraqi forces and Kurdish troops have clashed in the northern oil-rich Iraqi province of Kirkuk today, amid a three-day standoff when Iraqi forces advanced into the disputed province which was included in last months controversial Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum, where the Kurds voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence. Loveday Morris and Mustafa Salim report at the Washington Post.
The Iraqi forces were sent by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to impose security in the area and marks the first use of military force since the referendum vote, undermining the U.S.-backed efforts of the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces to combat Islamic State militants. David Zucchino reports at the New York Times.
The Iraqi central government accused the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (K.R.G.) of bringing Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (P.K.K.) fighters to Kirkuk, labeling the move a declaration of war a K.R.G. official denying the claim as false and that there are only Peshmerga in Kirkuk. Reuters reports.
The Pentagon urged dialogue as the best option to defuse ongoing tensions and warned against destabilizing actions that distract from the fight against Islamic State militants and that would further undermine Iraqs stability. Reuters reports.
The Iraqi forces operation has allegedly caused lots of casualties, according to a Peshmerga commander, adding that the Iraqi forces burnt lots of houses and killed many people, the claims could not be independently verified. Al Jazeera reports.
Iraqi forces have captured territory in Kirkuk today, including key several positions, the Iraqi military saying in a statement that they are continuing to advance. Reuters reports.
Iran shut its border crossings with Iraqi Kurdistan yesterday at the request of the Iraqi government, the Iraqi foreign ministry said in a statement. Reuters reports.
Diplomatic efforts with North Korea will continue until the first bomb drops, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in an interview yesterday, adding that the President has also made clear to me that he wants this solved diplomatically. Eli Watkins reports at CNN.
The U.S. and South Korea will begin five-day joint military exercises off the Korean Peninsula today, an exercise that was described by North Korea on Saturday as a reckless act of war and there has been speculation that the drills would prompt North Korea to launch a provocation, with one South Korean government source saying that Pyongyang is preparing to launch a missile. Eun-Young Jeong reports at the Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. military will conduct noncombatant evacuation exercises next week to prepare U.S. service members and their families in the event of war and other emergencies. Choe Sang-Hun reports at the New York Times.
North Korea and South Korea will not hold direct talks in Russia today, despite attending the same event and despite encouragement by Moscow to use the opportunity to talk. Reuters reports.
North Koreas ability to carry out cyberattacks poses a serious threat to the West and has achieved much more than many analysts expected, including targeting key state infrastructure, stealing hundreds of millions of dollars, and hacking into South Koreas military networks. David E. Sanger, David D. Kirkpatrick and Nicole Perlroth explain at the New York Times.
The U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (S.D.F.) began their final push to oust Islamic State militants from Raqqa yesterday, marking the last phase to combat the militants in their de facto capital in Syria and after a significant number of militants surrendered as part of a locally brokered deal. John Davison and Ellen Francis report at Reuters.
The locally brokered deal was arranged to minimize civilian casualties and purportedly excludes foreign Islamic State fighters, the U.S.-led coalition said in a statement, emphasizing that the coalition was not involved in the discussions for the deal. Louisa Loveluck reports at the Washington Post.
A senior Turkish official rejected Syrias call for Turkish troops to withdraw from the rebel-held Idlib province at the weekend, emphasizing that the Turkish forces are there in close cooperation with Russian forces and in order to establish a de-escalation zone. Umut Uras reports at Al Jazeera.
Trumps former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has around $60m worth of business dealings with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties to the Kremlin. Aggelos Petropoulos and Richard Engel report at NBC News.
Democrats and Republicans are stepping up efforts to secure the integrity of voting systems ahead of next years mid-term elections and in response to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Michael Wines reports at the New York Times.
The America public deserve to know about the connections between the Democrats, opposition research firm Fusion GPS, former British Intelligence officer Christopher Steele and the F.B.I., and the medias focus on Trump-Russia has meant they have failed to pick up on stories that reveal wider Russian influence. The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes.
Two leaders of Islamic State-linked militants in the southern Philippine city of Marawi were killed by Philippine forces, a government spokesperson saying in a statement today that the bodies of the leaders one of whom was on the U.S. Department of Justice list of most-wanted terrorists world-wide were recovered today. Jake Maxwell Watts reports at the Wall Street Journal.
Around 30 militants remain in Marawi, the Philippines military chief said today, as the forces stage an operation to retake the city. The AP reports.
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson defended his role in the Trump administration yesterday amid reports that he has a poor relationship with the president, Julia Manchester reports at the Hill.
The reports of a poor relationship between U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley and Tillerson are so ridiculous, Haley said in an interview yesterday, stating that she shares a great relationship with the Secretary of State. Jacqueline Klimas reports at POLITICO.
White House chief of staff John Kelly has been taking action to fill positions in the administration. Nancy Cook explains his efforts at POLITICO.
The entire civilian legal team defending the alleged mastermind of the 2000 U.S.S. Cole bombing has quit due to a secret ethical conflict, throwing into doubt the future of the case. Carol Rosenberg reports at the Miami Herald.
The Pentagon has not yet said if it would extend the duty of the chief war crimes prosecutor Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, who is set to retire next month but has said would extend his service if asked to. Carol Rosenberg reports at the Miami Herald.
An al-Qaeda terrorist turned government informant was sentenced to 13 years in prison on Friday. Carol Rosenberg provides an overview of Ahmed al Darbis circumstances at the Miami Herald.
The Islamic State today claimed responsibility for firing two rockets yesterday from Egypts Sinai Peninsula into Egypt, Reuters reports.
The crisis in South Sudan has caused deep concern in the U.S., however the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has dismissed the Trump administrations comments and shows no sign of changing his behavior. Kevin Sieff reports at the Washington Post.
Islamist militants carried out a daytime attack today in Egypts Sinai Peninsula today, killing seven according to officials. Ashraf Sweilam reports at the AP, also providing the context for the recent increased violence perpetrated by militants in Egypt.