Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
|Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks|
|Trump’s behavior raises questions of competency – CNN|
|White House Plans Tillerson Ouster From State Dept., to Be Replaced by Pompeo, Within Weeks – New York Times|
|White House has plan to oust Tillerson, replace with Pompeo|
From: Washington Post
The White House has a plan to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, after months of rockiness between Tillerson and President Trump. Subscribe to The Washington Post on YouTube: http://bit.ly/2qiJ4dy
|Michael Flynn, Trump’s ex-National Security Adviser, focus of Russia investigation: What to know|
Michael Flynn was a topic of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team’s recent questioning of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.
The Associated Press reported that the questioning was aimed in establishing if Kushner had any information on Flynn that could be exculpatory.
The confirmation of Kushner’s interview came as prosecutors working for Mueller postponed grand jury testimony related to Flynn’s private business dealings.
Flynn’s lawyers also said they will no longer communicate with the White House legal team – a move that could signal his cooperation with the special counsel’s investigation or negotiate a deal for himself.
Here’s a look at how Flynn – who was one of the more polarizing characters in Trump’s administration – is involved in the Russian investigation.
Why did Flynn leave the White House?
Flynn resigned as Trump’s national security adviser in February over revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his communications with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
How is he connected to the Russia investigation?
Despite earlier statements to the contrary, Flynn discussed sanctions former President Barack Obama imposed on Russia with Kislyak, Sally Yates, then the deputy attorney general, said in January. She said that put Flynn in a compromising position.
Flynn remains under multiple investigations by congressional committees and the Pentagon’s inspector general. He’s included in Mueller’s probe, as well.
Mueller’s investigation includes looking into whether Flynn attempted to obtain former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails.
What do we know about Flynn’s businesses?
Aside from Russia, Mueller has also been investigating Flynn’s lobbying work – particularly for a Turkish businessman.
Flynn Intel Group, Inc., carried out $530,000 worth of lobbying and research work for several months, including during the end of the 2016 campaign.
The lobbying campaign sought to gather derogatory information on Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric and green-card holder living in Pennsylvania. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Gulen of being behind a botched coup and has sought his extradition. Gulen has denied the allegations, and U.S. officials have rebuffed Turkey’s extradition demands, citing a lack of evidence.
Mueller is also investigating a meeting where Flynn allegedly discussed a plan that would pay him and his son up to $15 million to kidnap the U.S.-based cleric for the Turkish government.
Flynn filed as a foreign agent with the Department of Justice in March and acknowledged that the work he did could have benefited the Turkish government.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
|Michael Flynn, Trump’s ex-National Security Adviser, focus of Russia investigation: What to know – Fox News|
|Trump Wants to Install a Reliable Mouthpiece on Russia at the CIA Mother Jones|
America – United States President President J. Donald Trump makes an announcement with Senator Tom Cotton on August 2, 2017.Zach Gibson/CNP via Zuma Wire
The White House is considering replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo and giving Pompeo’s job to Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, theNew York Times reports. In Cotton, who reportedly wants the CIA job, President Donald Trump would install at the intelligence agency one of the most vocal supporters of his efforts to dismiss the Trump campaign’s suspected collaboration with the Kremlin in an effort to interfere in the 2016 election.
Trump has frequently clashed with the intelligence community, which concluded that Russia was behind various efforts to meddle in the election. The president has dismissed these findings and continually cast doubt on Russian involvement. Cotton has repeatedly leapt to defend Trump administration officials over their contacts with Russians.
After the Washington Post reported in March that Attorney General Sessions had made false statements under oath in testifying that he had had no contacts with Russian officials during the presidential campaign, Cotton took aim at Democrats who criticized Sessions. He pretended that Democrats had faulted Sessions for holding the meetings rather than for offering inaccurate testimony. “There’s no scandal in a senator meeting an ambassador, which happens all the time,” Cotton said. “I’m disappointed the Democrats are distorting the facts to impugn Attorney General Sessions’s character.”
When news emerged that Trump’s son-in-law and senior aide Jared Kushner had met secretly with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition and attempted to set up a backchannel to communicate with the Kremlin, Cotton defended Kushner. “That is a very normal activity during any kind of transition,” Cotton told CNN in April, ignoring Kushner’s failure to disclose the meeting and other contacts with Russian officials in his application for a security clearance. “Ambassadors and foreign ministers and heads of states from across the world, of course, are reaching out to try to a contact a president-elect and his close advisers.”
Cotton broadened his defense to cover undisclosed meetings involving other Trump aides, such as former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired for lying about his contacts with Kislyak. “The simple fact that Trump advisers were meeting with foreign officials during the transition does not to me raise any concern whatsoever, whether they’re Russian or Chinese or from any other country,” Cotton said.
Russians emissaries who communicated with the Trump campaign and transition officials consistently advocated for the repeal of sanctions imposed by President Barack Obama. Trump has unsuccessfullypushed to roll back those sanctions on Russia and has frequently called for improving relations with Moscow.
But Cotton has pushed the notion that Trump is tougher on Russia than Obama was. “President Trump has appointed members to his Cabinet, and they’ve made deliberate statements that have been tougher on Russia than anything President Obama ever did,” Cotton said in March on Fox News. Cotton argued that Obama’s efforts to curtail growth in defense spending, his nuclear deal with Iran, and his administration’s regulation of oil and gas development amounted to a “pro-Russia” policy. “That’s not Donald Trump’s policy,” Cotton said.
In the same interview, Cotton disputed a New York Times report that Trump associates were being investigated for repeated and extensive contacts with Russian intelligence officials. “You should not trust media sources or media reports based on anonymous sources,” Cotton said. The Times report has been largely validated by subsequent developments, including the guilty plea of Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, congressional testimony of campaign adviser Carter Page, and revelations that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had maintained communications with a Russian oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Cotton has also disputed evidence of Trump’s efforts to derail the FBI’s investigation into his aides. Cotton dismissed memos by fired FBI Director James Comey, which described Trump’s pressure on Comey to stop investigating Flynn, as unreliable. “The accounts of these memos he allegedly wrote would be at least triple hearsay: what Donald Trump said, according to Jim Comey, according to someone who saw the memo, according to the New York Times reporter who had it read to him, didn’t even read it,” Cotton said on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
Cotton has even suggested that the so-called Steele dossier, a set of memos by a former British intelligence agent detailing Russian efforts to obtain influence over Trump and his associates, couldhave been funded by “Russian intelligence.” Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Steele to research Trump’s Russia ties, was paid by a conservative publication and later by Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the research. The company had previously worked for a law firm that represented a holding company owned by a Russian billionaire. Cotton’s conflation of the firm’s clients was part of an effort by Trump backers to confuse the origin of Steele’s findings, which the FBI and former Obama administration officials reportedly found mostly credible.
Rejection of the intelligence community’s conclusions might be standard operating procedure for Trump partisans. It would take on a different significance coming from the head of the CIA.
|Trump Wants to Install a Reliable Mouthpiece on Russia at the CIA – Mother Jones|
|Today’s Headlines and Commentary|
The Trump administration plans to instate Mike Pompeo, the current director of the CIA, as secretary of state within the next few weeks, the New York Times reports. Sen. Tom Cotton, a republican from Arkansas, would replace Pompeo as CIA director. The transition would conclude a contentious year for Tillerson, who has come under public scrutiny for the mass departure of State Department officials during his tenure. Cotton has been regarded as a strong supporter for President Donald Trump in the Senate on issues related to national security and immigration. His departure would open up another seat in the 2018 midterm elections.
On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council convened for an emergency meeting to address North Koreas launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, according to the Washington Post. Despite condemnation of Pyongyangs missile launch, permanent members of the Security Council remain divided. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., called for tougher actions against Pyongyang. China and Russia both suggested less aggressive action against North Korea, with Russia calling for the United States to halt its scheduled military drill next month in an effort to prevent the crisis from escalating.
Trump announced a plan to implement stricter sanctions against the North following a phone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Post reports. Xinhua, Chinas state media outlet, reported that Xi is committed to denuclearizing Pyongyang and establishing a peaceful settlement, though Chinas cooperation on sanctions remains unclear as the country continues to be a significant economic partner to the isolated North Korean regime.
Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III met with Jared Kushner earlier in November as part of Muellers investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, CNN reports. Sources said Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, was a focus of the conversation between Kushner and Muellers team. Reports suggest Flynn may be discussing a possible plea deal, as grand jury testimony connected to Muellers investigation has been postponed and Flynns lawyers have stopped sharing information with Trumps legal team.
Trumps retweets of anti-Muslim videos that a British nationalist group published have sparked public tension between Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May, the Post reports. Mays office stated that Trumps promotion of the videos was wrong and supported the hateful narrative of a far-right British fringe group. The Dutch government also responded to Trumps series of tweets, stating that one of the videos, which alleged to show a Muslim migrant injuring a Dutch boy on crutches, was a mischaracterization: Facts do matter. The perpetrator of the violent act in this video was born and raised in the Netherlands. He received and completed his sentence under Dutch law. Trump responded to Mays rebuke on Twitter, though he targeted the wrong Twitter account for the British prime minister.
On Thursday, an Israeli settler shot and killed a Palestinian man who the Israeli army says was throwing rocks at a group of hikers in the village of Qusrah in the West Bank, Reuters reports. The incident marks the first fatality in the West Bank in several months. The Israeli military said the shooting was in self-defense; locals said there had been no clash before the shooting.
U.S. special operations fighters will now carry freeze-dried blood plasma in their first-aid kits, according to the Associated Press. Freeze-dried plasma can be quickly used to clot blood following battlefield injuries, potentially reducing the number of casualties. The use of freeze-dried plasma was first seen in World War II, but U.S. forces stopped its use after outbreaks of hepatitis. Special operations forces are temporarily using plasma supplied by the French as Telefex, Inc., an American medical device company partnering with the Army to supply plasma, seeks Food and Drug Administration approval by 2020.
ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare
Orin Kerr and Benjamin Wittes hosted a Facebook live with initial reactions following oral argument in Carpenter v. United States.
Paul Rosenzweig defended the mosaic theory in light of Carpenter v. United States oral argument.
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh reviewed Judge David Barrons Waging War.
Cameron Kerry discussed how the Cyber Diplomacy Act of 2017 could strengthen international cybersecurity efforts.
Yishai Schwartz provided an update on military commission proceedings in United States v. al-Nashiri.
Shannon Togawa Mercer posted the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017.
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.
|Sick Puppy Kim – Google Search|
Politico–20 hours ago
Trump, after saying the GOP tax proposal would serve as “rocket fuel” for the American economy, took a passing shot at Kim, whom he again derided as “Lil’ Rocket Man.” “He is a sick puppy,” Trump told a cheering crowd of supporters. The remarks come on the heels of Pyongyang’s latest test of an …
Trump calls Kim Jong Un a ‘sick puppy‘ after missile launch
The Hill (blog)–20 hours ago
Trump: North Korea’s Kim Jong Un ‘a sick puppy‘
USA TODAY–20 hours ago
Trump mocks ‘Little Rocket Man’ Kim Jong-Un as ‘a sick puppy‘ after …
Daily Mail–19 hours ago
Is North Korea’s Nuclear Test a Sign of Hope?
Opinion–New York Times–15 hours ago
The Latest: Trump calls North Korea’s Kim ‘a sick puppy‘
In-Depth–<a href=”http://seattlepi.com” rel=”nofollow”>seattlepi.com</a>–20 hours ago
The Korea Herald–9 hours ago
Trump raises heat on Pyongyang, calls Kim ‘sick puppy‘. By Choi He- … At a rally in Missouri, Trump referring to Kim as a “sick puppy,” adding a new insult to those that have been hurled from both sides. Trump has in the past referred to Kim as “Rocket Man,” and implied that he was “short and fat” in a tweet.
|White House readies plan to replace Tillerson with Pompeo at State, install Cotton at CIA – The Washington Post|
The White House has readied a plan to oust embattled Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who has become one of the most personally loyal and politically savvy members of President Trump’s national security team, two administration officials confirmed Thursday.
The plan, hatched by White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, is expected to be set in motion over the next few weeks, and has broad support within Trump’s inner circle, the officials said. But it was unclear whether Trump had signed off on the plan yet, and the president has been known to change his mind about personnel and other matters before finalizing decisions with public announcements.
Under the plan, Pompeo would likely be replaced at the CIA by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), one of Trump’s most steadfast defenders and a confidant to some leading members of the foreign policy team, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House has not publicly announced the moves.
|Why won’t Trump stand up to Putin? – Boulder Weekly|
But the Maine GOP senator says it’s not “helpful” that he promotes racist conspiracy theories.
|Donald Trump Makes Fun Of Asian Leaders Who Hosted Him|
The president did his own imitation as he promoted GOP tax legislation.
|Factbox: Five Facts About Tom Cotton, Trump’s Likely Pick for CIA – U.S. News & World Report|
|White House readies plan to replace Tillerson with Pompeo at State, install Cotton at CIA|
The White House has readied a plan to oust embattled Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who has become one of the most personally loyal and politically savvy members of President Trump’s national security team, two administration officials confirmed Thursday. The plan, hatched by White House Chief of Staff John […]
|This Is What Mueller Probably Wanted To Know From Jared Kushner About Mike Flynn|
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s questioning of Jared Kushner earlier this month suggests that he has incriminating evidence implicating Kushner in the ongoing probe into Russian collusion in the 2016 election, experts say.
President Donald Trump’s son in law met behind closed doors with the investigative team to discuss former national security adviser Michael Flynn, sources familiar with the meeting told multiple mediaoutlets.
But the real target may be Kushner himself because Flynn has likely given up some important information about Kushner’s involvement with Russians. Flynn has likely accepted a plea deal and is cooperating with Mueller, experts say.
“I’m sure Flynn gave them information about Kushner and they wanted to test that information before it became apparent that Flynn was cooperating, because it was less likely [Kushner] would cooperate after it became clear that Flynn was probably accepting a plea deal,” Nick Akerman, an assistant special prosecutor during the Watergate investigation, told Newsweek.
“Flynn probably gave them very specific information about Kushner’s activities. If you get information about Kushner that is incriminating the first thing you do is call his lawyer and say ‘I want to speak with your client,’” Akerman continued.
One source told CNN that Mueller’s team spoke to Kushner to see if he had information that could exonerate Flynn.
But Akerman says it’s likely the special counsel is investigating Kushner’s involvement in helping the Russians use data analytics to target voters via social media during the 2016 election. Kushner’s handling of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, which may have been presented to Kushner and the President’s son Donald Trump Jr during a meeting with a Russian lawyer in the Trump tower in June last year, could also be an issue of special interest.
Meanwhile, others suggest that the Mueller investigation might want to know why and how Flynn became involved in the Trump transition team.
“Kushner apparently had a role in bringing Flynn onto the transition after [New Jersey Governor Chris] Christie was pushed out,” Andy Wright, a former associate counsel to President Barack Obama and a professor at Savannah Law School, told Newsweek. “Part of that could be tracing Flynn’s inclusion into the inner circle and know what Flynn represented in terms of his business contacts and contacts with Russia and Turkey.”
Kushner also failed to mention meetings with foreign representatives when being screened for a security clearance, which alone is a reason to launch an investigation, Wright added.
Kushner has been a person of interest in the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling, and in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s separate investigation into the same matter. Even before Mueller took over the Russia investigation, the FBI was looking into Kushner’s roles on the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team.
Still, experts say the focus on Flynn mimics the Special Counsel’s focus on former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort before Manafort’s indictment.
And it all comes as Flynn’s legal team recently informed the president’s lawyers that they could no longer talk strategy during the investigation, an indication that Flynn is cooperating or taking a deal that could affect Trump or other officials.
|Trump calls Chinese envoy to North Korea ineffectual|
President Trump in a tweet Thursday morning said that North Korea’s recent missile launch showed that the Chinese envoy who just returned from the country seems to have had no impact on Little Rocket Man. On Wednesday, North Korea launched its third and most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile, which experts now believe could reach the […]
|Donald Trump Attacks China For Having ‘No Impact On Little Rocket Man’|
While offering no details of his own plan for North Korea, Trump has pinned much of the responsibility on China, which experts say will do little to solve the crisis.
|Israel & the South Caucasus|
To ordinary observers, the South Caucasus region might not appear high in Israel’s foreign policy agenda. First, the geographic distance matters as none of the three states, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia, border on Israel itself. Moreover, the region is also a hotbed of ethnic fighting with three ongoing separatist conflicts in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh further complicating political stability. However, the South Caucasus’ strategic location, which lies between Central Asia and eastern Europe, and connects Russia with the Middle East, has drawn a number of regional players to seek larger influence on the territory. Those regional players are usually Turkey, Russia and the European Union and this, by virtue of logic, would negate any potential influence Israel could have in the region.
Over the past year, Israel has intensified its foreign policy moves towards each of the South Caucasian states. Each country is interesting to Israel for specific reasons. For example, with Georgia, Israel had had extensive military contacts when the Georgian army was largely supplied with specific Israeli military technologies before 2008. However, the Russo-Georgian war in August 2008 stopped Israeli exports as Russia was particularly angry at having a small neighbor with much-advanced military capabilities.
Beyond military ties, Georgia is also interesting for Israel from the economic point of view: Israeli investments play an important role in Georgia’s economy. Moreover, due to its geopolitically important location, Georgia has several large ports on its Black Sea shore which could easily be used for commercial and military purposes.
With Armenia, Israeli’s relations have been somewhat distant over the past decade or so. This largely conditioned Israel’s rather intensive ties with Yerevan’s two biggest geopolitical rivals, Azerbaijan and Turkey. However, recently, there was a certain shift in the bilateral relations when a senior Israeli official visited Yerevan. Tsachi Hanegbi, Israel’s Minister for Regional Cooperation, visited Armenia on July 25-26 for talks with senior Armenian officials. Hanegbi has been a key figure in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party and has held various ministerial positions for the past two decades. Hanegbi said that his visit was intended as a step forward in relations to make Armenia-Israeli “friendship mutually beneficial in many fields.” What is more important it was the first visit by a senior Israeli official to Armenia since 2012.
One of the major bones of contention between Armenia and Israel has been Israeli-supplied arms to Azerbaijan. The supplies played an important role in last year’s “April war” between Armenia and Azerbaijan. After Azerbaijan took several frontline posts in a surprise attack on April 2, 2016, Armenian forces undertook a counteroffensive. But Israeli-supplied Harop suicide drones and Spike anti-tank missiles helped Azerbaijani forces thwart that counterattack.
This brings us to Israel-Azerbaijani relations. In late 2016, reports were circulated that Baku was planning to buy Israeli “Iron Dom” capabilities to better counter potential Armenian attacks. Beyond those military ties, Azerbaijan has also been important to Israel for its large natural resources and how the country could potentially, in case of need, become Israel’s major oil-supplier.
Thus, Israel’s relations with each of the three South Caucasian states depends on specific economic and military interests. Each of the states has different relations with larger neighbors such as Russia or Turkey, and the Israeli diplomacy has to navigate in this difficult political arena, where a misstep could deteriorate Israel’s ties with Turkey or Russia.
However, beyond that there could also be another incentive as to why Israel’s diplomacy has become more active over the past year or so in regards to the South Caucasus. And the reason for this is Iran.
Historically, from Achaemenids to the Sasanians and the 17th-18th centuries, Iran, under various dynasties, aspired to achieve a major role in the South Caucasus. When, after the Cold War, sanctions were placed against Tehran’s nuclear program, Iran was constrained in expanding its role in the above-mentioned region.
One might think that Iran’s recent economic and diplomatic successes with regards to Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia could have driven Israel’s quite diversified foreign policy towards each of the South Caucasus states.
30 November 2017 18:14
|mike pompeo – Google Search|
Vanity Fair–1 hour ago
The who’s-next-at-State soap opera appears to be moving to a denouement, with Mike Pompeoeclipsing Nikki Haley as Rex Tillerson’s likely successor, multiple current and former State Department staffers tell me. Diplomats are bracing themselves for the rumored shakeup that would see the current C.I.A. …
Business Insider–1 hour ago
The Trump administration has devised a plan that would replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, The New York Times reported on Thursday. Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican and staunch Trump ally, would reportedly replace Pompeo at the CIA. White House Chief …
White House Plans Tillerson Ouster From State Dept., to Be …
Highly Cited–New York Times–1 hour ago
Spectrum News–14 minutes ago
WASHINGTON — The White House is discussing a plan to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA director Mike Pompeo. That’s according to two administration officials. They were not authorized to publicly discuss internal thinking and spoke on condition of anonymity. U.S. officials and …
Politico–Nov 15, 2017
President Donald Trump has turned his daily intelligence briefing — a routine that in previous administrations has been a dry, formal affair — into a free-flowing conversation during which he peppers his CIA director, former House member Mike Pompeo, with questions about everything from national …
Trump apparently wants to replace Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo
The Week Magazine–Nov 15, 2017
|mike pompeo – Google Search|
|Its All but a Done Deal: Insiders Expect C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo to Take Over the State Department|
Left, Mike Pompeo testifies on Capitol Hill in May; Right, Rex Tillerson during an event at the White House in October.
Left, from REX/Shutterstock; Right, by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg/Getty Images.
The who’s-next-at-State soap opera appears to be moving to a denouement, with Mike Pompeoeclipsing Nikki Haley as Rex Tillerson’s likely successor, multiple current and former State Department staffers tell me. Diplomats are bracing themselves for the rumored shakeup that would see the current C.I.A. director supplant the former ExxonMobil executive as early as January. According to one source, there is already a candidate chosen to assume the helm of the spy agency in Pompeo’s stead.
While Tillerson has dismissed the narrative that he has considered resigning, his controversial 10-month tenure appears to have accelerated looming changes in Foggy Bottom. Several diplomats I spoke to believe that the cake is largely baked. “The working knowledge here is that Tillerson will be leaving in late January and Pompeo will be coming in as quickly as he can following that,” a current State Department staffer told me. Diplomats believe that the C.I.A. chief is more than open to the move. “I will call it all but a done deal,” one former diplomat said, adding that according to a source familiar with the conversations involving Pompeo, the C.I.A. chief’s replacement has already been selected. Though they declined to identify them by name, this person noted the expected nominee to lead the intelligence agency is a retired military officer who has not previously worked at the C.I.A.
A State Department spokesperson referred me to previous comments dismissing widespread rumors that the secretary has imminent plans to leave. The C.I.A. did not respond to a request for comment.
Pompeo’s own tenure has not been without controversy. The former Kansas congressman has faced accusations of politicizing the traditionally nonpartisan intelligence agency and prioritizing his loyalty to Donald Trump over the findings of the intelligence community. Notably, Pompeo came under fire for comments he made about Russian interference in the 2016 election and found himself publicly at odds with his predecessor John Brennan. (Pompeo did publicly break with the president on this issue, stating that he agrees with the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community that the Kremlin sought to derail Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, but he has also entertained alternate conspiracy theories promoted by the president.)
Still, Pompeo could prove an improvement at the State Department, which Tillerson has been busy dismantling. Morale within the agency is at an all-time low: more than 100 senior diplomatic officershave left since January, and applications to the Foreign Service have fallen by more than 50 percent. Part of the hollowing-out has been at the direction of the White House, which has called for massive cuts to the State Department budget. But much of the agency’s listlessness is the result of Tillerson’s strained relationship with Trump. (Sources cited the decision not to send senior State Department officials to accompany the U.S. delegation to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India this week, led by First Daughter Ivanka Trump, as evidence of further tensions between Tillerson and the White House.) Pompeo, who is well-known on Capitol Hill and is friendly with Trump, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, might prove a more effective interlocutor and advocate.
Pompeo has also chafed at the restrictions inherent in running the C.I.A., where he has been expected to be neither seen nor heard. “I think part of it is he has signaled his frustrations with his current job, which would make the transition much easier,” the second State Department staffer said. “He is already a willing participant to move over to state, which he sees as a much easier, much better job for him in terms of what he wants to do.”
Appointing a retired military officer to serve as Pompeo’s successor at the spy agency also fits with a broader pattern of Trump tapping battle-tested officers to serve as his top advisers. As his administration has evolved, Trump has demonstrated an impulse to name individuals to his Cabinet with the appearance of being straight out of “central casting”—most notably in regards to his national security team. Kelly and Mattis are both retired four-star generals; Trump’s National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, is an active duty officer who boasts three stars; Mike Flynn, McMaster’s short-lived predecessor, was a retired three-star general, and Pompeo graduated first in his class at West Point before serving as an officer in the United States Army.
Of course, as with all rumblings of Trump administration shake-ups, this one should be taken with a grain of salt. Mere weeks ago, ambassador Haley was widely viewed as waiting in the wings to take over State. Only after a deluge of denials from Haley that she had her sights set on Tillerson’s post did Pompeo emerge as the reported front-runner for the job. And another senior State Department staffer is not yet putting too much stock in the Pompeo rumors. “The succession thing to me is just chatter at the moment,” they told me. But the source conceded that arguably any replacement would be an improvement. “I hate to say it, but I think almost anything would be better than what we have,” they added. “It is just where the bar is.”
|It’s All but a Done Deal: Insiders Expect CIA Director Mike Pompeo to Take Over the State Department – Vanity Fair|
|Kushner Reportedly Met With Mueller’s Team (VIDEO)|
Jared Kushner reportedly met with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team at some point in November.
Mueller is leading an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Sources told CNN that Mueller’s team spent the majority of the meeting asking Kushner questions about former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Flynn resigned in February after he misled Vice President Mike Pence about communications he had with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. before President Donald Trump took office.
Flynn appears to be a key part of Mueller’s investigation. The New York Times reports Mueller’s team questioned Kushner about a December 2016 meeting between him, Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
It’s unknown how much of Mueller’s investigation — if any — is centering on Kushner. But he’s already been somewhat of a focus in other Russia investigations taking place on Capitol Hill.
He’s spoken with both the Senate and House intelligence committees, and he turned over documents from the campaign and the transition to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Kushner reportedly handed over similar documents to Mueller’s team.
Mueller’s office did not comment to media on the meeting. Kushner’s lawyer said in a statement that his client “has voluntarily cooperated with all relevant inquiries and will continue to do so.”
|Kushner’s Meeting With Mueller’s Team Reportedly Focused On Flynn – Newsy|