New York’s PIX11 / WPIX-TV
Weiner faces sentencing in latest chapter of sexting drama
New York’s PIX11 / WPIX-TV
NEW YORK — It seemed as if Anthony Weiner had hit rock bottom when he resigned from Congress in 2011. “Bye-bye, pervert!” one heckler shouted as the Democrat quit amid revelations that he … Weiner, 53, is set to be sentenced Monday for sending …
Anthony Weiner, Once a Congressman, Faces Jail As a Sex …NBCNews.com
Prosecutors asking for 2-year prison sentence for Anthony WeinerFOX 61
Anthony Weiner faces sentencing over sexts with minorNew York Postall 25 news articles »
Kris Kobach’s claim that there is now ‘proof’ of voter fraud in New Hampshire
Further, there were 196 names that were marked as a New Hampshire voter registration checklist, but also appear to have voted in another state in the November 2016 general election. State officials are investigating the 196 cases, and there is no …
New York Times
Gunman identified in Tennessee church shooting that left 1 dead
The gunman, identified by police as 25-year-old Emanual Kidega Samson, arrived in the parking lot and first fatally fired at 39-year-old Melanie Smith, who was walking to her car, police said. He was wearing a neoprene half-mask and drove an SUV, Aaron …
Gunman captured after a deadly shooting at a church in TennesseeLos Angeles Times
Gunman opens fire in Nashville church; 1 dead, 8 hurtUSA TODAY
One Killed, Seven Wounded in Church Shooting in TennesseeNBCNews.com
Washington Post –The Hill (blog) –WKRN.com
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New York Times
Is Trump All Talk on North Korea? The Uncertainty Sends a Shiver
New York Times
WASHINGTON — When President Trump gave a fiery campaign speech in Huntsville, Ala., on Friday evening, he drew a rapturous roar by ridiculing Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, as “Little Rocket Man.” Among diplomats and national security …
Trump and North Korea war of words escalatesBBC News
Why Trump’s economic moves against North Korea may do more to tame Kim than any insultFox News
Donald Trump warns Kim Jong-un ‘won’t be around much longer’Telegraph.co.uk
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Kushner used private email account for some White House business
President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has used a private email account to conduct and discuss official White House business dozens of times, his lawyer confirmed Sunday. Kushner used the private account through his first nine …and more »
Amid the Russia probes, Trump makes an important nomination
In the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations of large-scale warrantless surveillance, the board’s reports on the National Security Agency’s authorities provided transparency and accountability and helped shape legislation restraining one of the NSA’s …
The new restrictions, slated to go into effect on October 18, broadens the scope of the ban from Muslim-majority countries.
Lawyers for president’s son-in-law say Kushner complied with government record-keeping rules by forwarding all emails to his official account
Donald Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, used a private email account alongside his official White House account to exchange messages with other administration officials, according to reports.
The emails included correspondence about media coverage, event planning and other subjects,Politico reported on Sunday. Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said his client complied with government record-keeping rules by forwarding all the emails to his official account.
President Donald J. Trump Announces Enhanced National Security Measures
The White House (blog)
Today, President Donald J. Trump announced the establishment of enhanced national securitymeasures, aimed at creating—for the first time in history—minimum requirements for international cooperation to support visa and immigration vetting and …
New Order Indefinitely Bars Almost All Travel From Seven CountriesNew York Times
New US Travel Ban on 8 Countries Is Indefinite and TailoredThe Epoch Times
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Facebook reportedly discovered it had been infiltrated by Russian government hackers months before the election
Members of a hacking group connected to Russia’s military intelligence unit, the GRU, began creating fake Facebook accounts to amplify stolen emails as early as June 2016, people familiar with the company’s investigation into Russia’s use of the …
Obama tried to give Zuckerberg a wake-up call over fake news on FacebookWashington Postall 95 news articles »
The National Interest Online
China Is Using the Russia-America Standoff to Win Big in Europe
The National Interest Online
Without anybody paying much attention, China has vastly expanded its military and economic power in Eastern Europe. At stake is a critical … These specialists must take into consideration the growing Chinese influence in the region. Our approach …
Jared Kushner has been busted for regularly using private email in his role as a senior adviser in Donald Trump’s White House. This sets a new bar for irony, after Trump (and the media) spent the campaign flat out lying about a “Hillary Clinton private email scandal” that turned out not to have been a scandal at all. It also sets a new bar for hypocrisy. But more importantly, it may have just set a new bar for Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
We’ll soon find out whether Kushner indeed broke the law with his use of private email while on the job. Politico was the first to break the general parameters of the story (link), but as these things tend to go, far more details will leak out in the coming days. If it turns out Kushner did something illegal in the process, Mueller’s job of getting to Trump just became a whole lot easier.
Mueller’s difficulty in flipping Kushner is that he’s not going to be able to convince the guy to take his own father-in-law down unless he’s doing it to avoid prison. Kushner definitely committed felonies when he filled out his security clearance forms, but he may be (correctly or incorrectly) banking on an “I forgot” defense to get him off the hook. Kushner probably committed some variation of treason with his Russia meetings, but that requires overwhelming proof of intent. On the other hand, the email thing is an entirely different beast.
Jared Kushner just finished participating in an election in which Donald Trump routinely insisted that Hillary Clinton broke the law by using private email. That was a lie, and Hillary was fully exonerated in that imaginary scandal. But it’s enough to demonstrate that Kushner would have been well versed in laws about private email usage by the time the election was over. He therefore has no deniability when it comes to any crimes he went on to commit with his use of private email, and he knows it. Mueller may have just been handed an opportunity to flip Kushner, which in turn would accelerate his takedown of Trump.
The post Jared Kushner’s email scandal may accelerate Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s takedown of Donald Trump appeared first on Palmer Report.
About this series: The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that an attempt to interfere in the 2016 presidential election was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin. A WTOP investigation that began in November 2016 examined how the attack happened, when it started, who was involved and what’s next. Dozens of interviews with current and former U.S. intelligence officials, members of Congress, cybersecurity and intelligence experts, foreign government officials, Russian nationals and American victims were conducted. Here is what WTOP learned.
WASHINGTON — In the geopolitical haze that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, the surviving Russian government promptly launched attempts to undermine the U.S. government from inside out, sources with detailed knowledge of Russia’s plans and operations told WTOP.
According to a top former U.S. counterintelligence official, the U.S. State Department itself gave Russian agents arguably the best opportunity to execute an attack on U.S. soil.
“In 1991–92, senior members of the State Department felt as though old Russia was gone, a new Russia was emerging — ‘they’re friends; we can work with them,’” the official said.
Anatomy of a Russian attack
That mentality opened the door to a series of U.S. government mistakes, said Robert Booth, former deputy director of counterintelligence in the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS).
“Unfortunately, that led to the decision that Russian diplomats who visited the State Department did not have to be escorted when they showed up at the main State Department facility,” Booth said. “They were allowed to walk around inside the State Department and alone.”
Counterintelligence authorities attempted to warn State Department officials.
“My office and the FBI were aware of what was going on. In fact, we had an operation [in] which we monitored the Russian diplomats walking around outside the State Department and we tried to alert our senior members to this situation,” Booth said, “but we were somewhat rebuffed.”
Then all of a sudden, Booth’s DS team and the FBI noticed that the Russian diplomat’s visits to the State Department had stopped suddenly.
But the damage had already been done.
“It became clear later on to us that the operation they had run was over with,” Booth said. “They had successfully introduced a listening device into a conference room [on] the seventh floor of the State Department.”
The device was discovered in 1999, eight years after Booth and his colleagues warned of suspicious activity.
The mistake of granting unfettered access inside the State Department
Taking advantage of U.S. naiveté, Russian diplomats and ostensibly intelligence operatives were able to roam around the U.S. State Department headquarters in the early 1990s. They were able to take notes and collect intelligence.
And some experts believe they made friends who would assist them in pulling off the most stunning intelligence feat of the time: The KGB was able to install a listening device in a conference room outside the secretary of state’s office.
“It was concealed inside a fake piece of chair rail molding,” said Booth.
Russians attended bilateral and trilateral meetings with their American counterparts in that room.
“Obviously”, Booth said, “one or two of those Russian diplomats were intelligence officers under diplomatic cover. They were able to get a picture and determine the exact color and specifications of that chair molding. It went back to Moscow. Moscow duplicated it and put a listening device with batteries on the inside.”
At that point, the most troubling of all of the KGB’s clandestine movements took place.
“The Russians were able to come back into the conference room later on, remove the original chair rail molding and substitute the fake one with the listening device,” Booth said.
The swap still bedevils many intelligence and security officials.
“The case is still an open case 20 years later,” Booth told WTOP on Aug. 14. “There is great debate. There is simply no question that the Russians had unimpeded access to that room on at least two if not three occasions. They had to have been to be in there alone.”
That fact that Russian diplomats were allowed to move around unescorted inside the State Department possibly solves the question of how they were able to access the conference room. But for Booth and others, that does not mean the Russian “diplomats” were actually the ones able to place the bug in the chair.
“We have some ideas of how that may have happened,” he said. “There are some in [the] intelligence community who believe the Russians did that all by themselves. The other 50 percent, including me, believes they had help on the inside.”
A high-level U.S. intelligence source with deep knowledge of Russian spy craft agrees with Booth.
“I believe the Russians used an auxiliary asset to replace the piece of authentic molding with the one containing a bug. Any cleaning lady could easily do it. A good motivation would be something like $50,000,” said the source.
‘Russians didn’t do it themselves’
The source, who spent decades in Russia, in close proximity to KGB thinking, told WTOP: “I am sure this was the case. Russians didn’t do it themselves; it would be an unjustified suicidal mission.”
The source even detailed the likely steps employed.
“Step one: Take a good quality photo and measurements. Step two: Make two almost invisible incisions with the tool provided by the KGB handler. Step three: Take the old piece out and put the new one in. Each step takes no more than two minutes. With minimal training and reasonable precautions, it would’ve been a piece of cake,” the source said.
It’s not clear how long the listening device was in place — but it could possibly have been years.
As for the tactics the Russian agents used, and how they could’ve created the climate for the 2016 election meddling operation, Dr. Christopher Paul, a senior social scientist at the Rand Corp. told WTOP, “When you talk about Russia, remember that this is a nation of chess players.”
“There are two critical aspects to chess,” Paul said. “One is thinking tens if not dozens of moves ahead, and planning meticulously the way things unfold. The other is opportunism because chess is a two-player game. If your opponent makes a mistake, you can exploit that.”
Allowing Russian agents to meander freely inside the State Department may have been the break the KGB sought in its quest to meddle in U.S. politics, but which was never able to achieve during the Cold War.
© 2017 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.
Anatomy of a Russian attack: Attempts to target US began immediately after Soviet Union’s collapse
About this series: The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that an attempt to interfere in the 2016 presidential election was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin. A WTOP investigation that began in November 2016 examined how the attack …
President Trump has once again attacked the NFL for exactly the wrong reasons. He wants NFL owners to fire players who take
Book World: Is Trump mentally ill? Or is America? Psychiatrists weigh in.
One of the psychiatrists in “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” warns of the rise of “Trump Anxiety Disorder.” (Feeling helpless? Stressed about politics? Binging on social media? Ask your doctor about T.A.D.) Another contributor proposes the notion …
Kushner used private email to conduct White House business
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Robert Mueller’s Russia requests expose rifts on Trump legal team
A single poorly timed conversation between two of President Trump’s personal lawyers may help special counsel Robert Mueller obtain documents that White House counsel Donald McGahn could have otherwise attempted to shield. Ty Cobb, Trump’s …and more »
Trump actually is making us crazy
Albany Democrat Herald
Since Election Day, such colloquialisms as Trump Slump, Trump Anxiety and Trump Affective Disorder achieved cultural and perhaps even clinical currency (in an informally diagnostic sense, of course) along with increases in reported incidents of …and more »
Why Trump’s War on the NFL is a Powerful Psychological Distraction
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The Cold War is back. And this time it’s personal.
A quarter century ago, America won the Cold War. After a long, patient, cohesive diplomatic campaign, the West prevailed in the early 1990s, and the Soviet Union collapsed. A decade later Russia became intent on re-establishing itself as a great power on the world stage. Now Russia is resurgent, with greater ambitions than ever and a sophisticated 21st-century foreign policy toolbox blending the techniques of military, cyber and information warfare.
On September 14, Russia began Zapad 2017 joint strategic military exercises, the largest since the Cold War with up to 100,000 Russian troops mobilising on the European Union’s eastern borders. NATO is appropriately concerned about these manoeuvers on the ground, but generals and other military experts warn that Russia’s propaganda tactics – exercised through the channels of online, social and traditional media – may be more effective than conventional weapons.
Evidence continues to pile up of Russian hackers meddling in elections and referendums of Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, France and most notably the 2016 US presidential race with data hacking, denial-of-service attacks, phishing schemes that lure campaign workers to click on bad links, and release of fake news to inspire outrage or induce apathy. Ongoing reports suggest that Russia’s campaign in the United States was far more extensive than initially understood – jeopardising voter data in numerous local races, creating fictional Twitter and Facebook users, posting online events indicating surging xenophobia, launching bots and purchasing online ads.
Bots on the job
Russia’s interference continues. After troubling protests by white supremacists, counter-protests and lethal violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Russia added to the chaos with a flood of tweets produced by bots masquerading as regular folks and spreading fake news stories about the counter-protestors. ProPublica reports that Angee Dixson joined Twitter on August 8 and began a flurry of tweets, as many as 90 a day, defending President Donald Trump, criticising the removal of Confederate monuments, and spreading unproven rumors about violence from counter-protestors. But Dixson was fake, and Twitter removed the account and hundreds of other fictional creations.
Crafting messages to target youth or the marginalised, triggering outrage and despair about issues, is easy. One of the authors grew up behind the Iron Curtain in propaganda-ridden, Soviet-controlled Lithuania. To get reliable news, she and her family surreptitiously listened to Voice of America broadcasts. Today, in a sardonic irony of history, this expert and author on Russian foreign policy in Washington watches Russia Today, the Kremlin’s television network known as RT, blast fake news from American televisions.
Russia couldn’t accomplish its Tsarist or Soviet goals through armed conflict, crude propaganda or a coercive energy policy, but now realises once unimaginable success through soft power, cyberwarfare and a tsunami of manipulated news and messaging. Russian influence penetrates deep into Europe and the United States, altering public opinion and the course of political developments.
Former US President Barack Obama – intent on avoiding the appearance of political favoritism – warned his Russian counterpart during the 2016 campaign against hacking, but otherwise remained quiet about the dangers of growing foreign influence in the US political system. In retrospect, this approach was a mistake. Another mistake: the current administration’s striking lack of will to address the threat. Clearly, another strategy is required and the United States and other democracies must rethink their posture toward Russia.
A critical first step is to abandon complacent, misguided assumptions that the West had ever definitively won the soft-power and influence contest with Moscow. Even now, the United Kingdom’s 2016 Brexit vote – an outcome abetted by covert and overt Russian influence and propaganda – has substantially weakened the European Union. Initial EU efforts to confront the challenge have been no match, even against RT alone, with a self-reported annual 2016 budget of more than $300 million, available to 700 million viewers worldwide in more than 100 countries. Meanwhile, the US State Department has been slow to make use of the some $80 million earmarked for fighting Russian and terrorist group disinformation, reportedly out of fear of upsetting Moscow.
More recently, the US Justice Department advised RT that it must register as a foreign agent for its US operations, requiring periodic disclosure of the relationship with the Russian government as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities. The same requirements should be made of the Russian government news agency Sputnik.
US citizens must also study up on ongoing propaganda strategies – and take time to seek confirmation for outrageous claims in any news source. The movie Wag The Dog imagined media experts and a film producer conspiring to invent a war with faked footage of conflict. Government-controlled Russian TV often relies on techniques which could have been lifted from the movie, such as using a single actor to play three different people with different names and fictional histories such as spy, bystander and heroic surgeon in “news” broadcasts on Rossia 1 national news (Vesti), NTV National News and the National Independent News of Crimea.
Russian media skillfully blend entertainment, disinformation and propaganda into a seamless, convincing whole. Over several decades, the distinctions between fiction and reality – and perhaps more importantly the distinction between “reality” television and reality – have become increasingly blurred in US media. Many viewers do not fully appreciate the extent to which “reality” television is not real at all. Participants are carefully cast, their stories and “drama” shaped by producers, their dialogue if not written out word for word, craftily encouraged by producers and writers.
The characters in these “reality” dramas are recorded on video equipment. Everything they say and do on the show is artificially lit and staged and, tellingly, observed by a crew of up to 100 staff members hovering nearby although hidden from TV viewers. The fictional series Unreal, depicting behind-the-scenes action on an “unscripted” show like The Bachelor may be a fairly accurate wheels-within-wheels evocation of just how constructed and confected such shows are – or illustrate just how hopelessly blurred the lines have become.
The Apprentice, as artificial and concocted as any series, created the fictional character of Donald Trump as boss, which he parlayed into a winning presidential campaign. It’s hard to imagine that Trump could have become US president without this manufactured “reality” television show, name recognition and celebrity status included.
To counter Russia’s manipulation, the United States and its allies need, at minimum, to project a forceful unified vision of the appeal of liberal democracy and its values. In contrast, it’s self-defeating for the West to watch the US president spend a private tête-à-tête with Vladimir Putin at a G20 state dinner.
The Russians may or may not have kompromat with which to blackmail Trump. There may or may not have been collusion among members of the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Regardless, the dangerous impression that this foreign power holds some nefarious means of influencing the presidency disrupts global affairs and weakens the United States and the West.
The American people must begin to hear thoughtful, impassioned statements from their leaders, if not their president, condemning interference in the election process. The United States and other democratic countries must commit the full resources of their governments to preventing such activities in the future. And the factions within Washington and other capitals must find the unity, will and vision necessary to win the new Cold War being waged in the media, social networks and cyberspace.
If the United States doesn’t respond quickly and definitively to the ominous threat, history books will mark this era as the pivotal moment when world power shifted from liberal democracy to authoritarian dictatorship.
This article first appeared on Yale Global Online.
Cold war returns: Through soft power and propaganda, Russia is trying to topple democracy in the USA
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The Trump Effect reaches Germany
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Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Huntsville, Alabama, September 22, 2017. (Reuters / Marvin Gentry)
It’s exhausting to have a president who gets angrier at outspoken black athletes than at Nazis. It’s exhausting how shameless he is about his bigotry and his toxicity. This is a president who never played football. He never served in the armed forces. He frets over what conclusions we draw from the size of his hands. His skin is thinner than the gossamer wings of a butterfly. He is the epitome of a bullying but frail brand of masculinity. He belongs in a psychological text book as a case study, not in the White House. Look at Trump’s comments—in their entirety—about the current state of the National Football League, from his speech at a campaign rally in Huntsville, Alabama.
Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s FIRED!” You know, some owner is gonna do that. He’s gonna say, “That guy disrespects our flag; he’s fired.” And that owner, they don’t know it. They don’t know it. They’re friends of mine, many of them. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country.
Then, the very week that the autopsy of 27-year-old former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez went public, which found he had stage-three CTE, Trump claimed that the game was too soft. He said:
Today if you hit too hard—15 yards! Throw him out of the game! They had that last week. I watched for a couple of minutes. Two guys, just really, beautiful tackle. Boom, 15 yards! The referee gets on television—his wife is sitting at home, she’s so proud of him. They’re ruining the game! They’re ruining the game. That’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit! It is hurting the game.
This is Trump, the violent fantasist who dreams of a physical supremacy he never achieved, and has then spent his life expressing this insecurity and hostility through boardroom bullying and, of course, sexually predatory behavior. He has lived his life in thrall to toxic masculinity, but lacked the ability to prove this “manhood” on the football field, and then dodged the armed forces, never attempting to prove his “manhood” on the battlefield. He has chosen instead to spend a lifetime tearing down the people who have dared stand in his path, and the women who dared to say “no.” Call it irony, call it divine coincidence, but it’s stunning that the day Trump publicly yearns for the time when football fulfilled his vicarious desires of physical domination, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Friday scrapped a key part of government policy on campus sexual assault. It’s so on the nose, a screenwriter would reject the scenario.
But Trump’s speech wasn’t over. His radar, always firmly attuned to the worst impulses of his audience, turned his attention again back to black players who protest, and he said:
But do you know what’s hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on the television and you see those players taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem. The only thing you could do better is, if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium. I guarantee things will stop. Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up and leave. Not the same game anymore, anyway.
Some could argue that this is just a case of a divisive autocrat going after obvious targets of racial animus and of a base that doesn’t care if nuclear Armageddon looms, as long as they get their culture war—while Trump’s party gets its tax cuts for billionaires. But whether Trump realizes it or not, there is something else at play. These athletes are doing a lot more than sitting or kneeling or raising a fist during the anthem. They are offering up an alternative model for unity, justice, and even manhood. They are showing that what makes an adult is whom you can help, not whom you can cuss, and certainly not whom you can destroy for shameless and divisive political gain. Look at the work that’s been done by Michael Bennett, Colin Kaepernick, Malcolm Jenkins, the Charlottesville scholarships just funded by Chris Long… the list goes on and on of NFL players attempting to use their platform to highlight a different path for healing this country. The anthem protest is just a means to that end, an effort to highlight the gap between the promises that the flag represents and the lived experience of too many people in this country.
This is a model of politics—as well as manhood—that threatens Trump’s entire agenda of poisonous, divisive narcissism. Look at the outpouring of comments by NFL players following Trump’s remarks. None of them have sunk to his level. Instead, they share the tone of Seahawk Richard Sherman who said, “The behavior of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!!” The cornerback, who is not even 30 years old, is showcasing more adulthood then the 70-year-old president. This is the new reality. And Sherman is absolutely correct. To be silent in the face of this destructive person is to condone his actions. That’s not an option. This president is a child bully, and bullies are emboldened by our silence.
Germany’s national election Sunday has all the makings of a fait accompli. Chancellor Angela Merkel is on track to gain her fourth term, which would give her 16 years as Germany’s leader. Martin Schulz, her closest rival and leader of the center-left Social Democrats, is behind in the latest polls by double digits. Merkel’s camp can start chilling the Riesling.
In the meantime, Merkel can start thinking about the road ahead — and it’s fair to say it’ll get bumpy.
More than any other leader, the woman Germans affectionately call “Mutti,” or mother, runs the show in Europe. Germany is the European Union’s heftiest, most vibrant economy, and with Britain Brexiting out of the EU, Merkel’s pragmatic leadership has become the dominant voice on the European stage.
But the rules of the game have changed in the eight months that Donald Trump has been president. Europe can no longer count on the White House the way it did in the pre-Trump era. Merkel publicly acknowledged as much last spring when she told Europeans to “take our fate into our own hands. … The times in which we could rely fully on others — they are somewhat over.”
Merkel said “others,” but she meant the U.S. Trump has upended trans-Atlantic relations, pushing positions that are antithetical to the EU agenda. He has said the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change, lauded Brexit, promoted protectionist policies and at times showed a vexing admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin leader who digs deep into his toolbox for ways to create fissures in European unity.
It doesn’t help that Europe is more fractured and tenuous than it has been in decades. Great Britain’s departure from the EU takes away the bloc’s second largest economy and leaves it with just one nuclear power, France. To the east, nationalist-minded populist leaders in Poland and Hungary hold power. And the continent is still balancing the accommodation of Middle Eastern and North African refugees with the need to winnow out potential terrorists.
Merkel’s decision to allow as many as a million refugees, primarily from the Middle East, into the country in 2015 made her politically vulnerable, and her popularity dipped. But German officials have since sealed up a major conduit for refugees through the Balkans, and have reimposed border controls. “People are not infused by that feeling any more that this is out of control, that we don’t know what’s going on and who’s coming in,” Germany’s ambassador to the U.S., Peter Wittig, told the Tribune Editorial Board on Thursday. “People now have the feeling that there is an orderly process. And Germans love order.”
Another challenge for Merkel: Turkey has emerged as a major dilemma for Europe as a whole, and Germany in particular. The West recoiled at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s response to last year’s failed coup. After the attempt, Erdogan oversaw a crackdown that jailed 50,000 people and suspended 150,000 from their jobs.
Relations between Germany and Turkey became even more strained last spring, when Erdogan accused German officials of behaving like Nazis after Berlin kept him from campaigning in Germany’s Turkish enclaves ahead of a referendum effectively broadening his presidential powers. Erdogan has since dubbed Merkel’s team “enemies of Turkey.” A NATO member, Turkey also has been edging closer to the Kremlin; it recently bought a surface-to-air missile system from Russia, rankling NATO leaders who see Russia as an aggressive adversary.
Domestically, Merkel likely will have to cope with the emergence of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party, which is expected to garner enough votes in Sunday’s elections to gain several seats in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament.
In Germany, voters pick a party, not a leader. It’s a party’s performance in the election that decides how many seats it gets in parliament, and who the country’s leader will be. Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union, leads the pack. AfD is fiercely anti-immigration and anti-EU, and at one point during the campaign called for an end to atonement for Germany’s Nazi past. It won’t have enough votes to block Merkel’s agenda, but polls suggest it may get enough support to become the third largest force in parliament.
Americans will be watching keenly how Merkel navigates these shoals, mostly because a strong, united Europe is in America’s best interests. A unified Europe is better fit to tackle terrorism, trade, financial crises, energy policy, immigration and, yes, Russia. We know who wants a weak, fragmented Europe — the shirtless ex-KGB agent to the east.
New York Times–1 hour ago
International–The Local Germany–10 hours ago
Opinion–Chicago Tribune–Sep 21, 2017
In-Depth–Vox–1 hour ago
Live Updating–The Guardian–32 minutes ago
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“I have the highest level of personal regard for her.”
NBC Bay Area
Anthony Weiner Faces Sentencing in Latest Chapter of Sexting Drama
NBC Bay Area
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How to trap Trump
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“Bild” -reactor Julian Röpcke has looked at the hashtag #gebahlbetrug times ,
BILD analyzed the hashtag “election fraud”. He is most closely related to the terms “AfD”, “Islamization”, “election observer” and “btw17”. Outside Germany it is mainly pushed by. The USA ranked first, the UK in second place and Russia in third place.
Röpcke and Bild.de could have just as good (and actually even better) titles: “ Altered Ami attack on our choice” . But instead:
For Röpcke and his colleagues it has been clear for many months that today’s Bundestag election is being strongly influenced by Russian forces, more precisely by Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. However, they had predicted completely different caliber than only some Bots from Russia, which now continually retreat AfD-Hashtags. Together with his colleague Karina Mößbauer, Röpcke published this dossier on Putin’s colorful propaganda bouquet in December last year:
The author duo writes :
Attack on our Bundestagswahl! It is a hybrid major attack on the perception of the Germans. And he has several concrete goals.
Experts agree: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (64) wants to shatter the confidence of the population in the German state, the authorities, and in particular Angela Merkel (62, CDU), and drive people into the hands of left and right extremists ,
Some points of this “secret war” dossier are a bit funny, for example, those with the “deliberately scattered fake news”. The only known “Fake News” that made it into a big German medium this year was spread by the “Bild” -zeitung and concerned a supposed refugee “Sex-Mob”, which on New Year’s Eve through Frankfurt am Main “beobt” should be. The Frankish “Bild” -reaction was thereby a lie of a AfD-sympathizer.
Not funny, but rather irreversible is the announcement of a “propaganda campaign with sexmobs” :
The article by Mößbauer and Röpcke really has all the ingredients that a ninth-grader would choose if he were to invent a creative conspiracy theory in a homework: Putin, refugees, Syrian intelligence, Iraqi intelligence, mafia, dead, sex mob. Because “beyond disinformation”, says Mössbauer and Röpcke, “it could get worse!”
In security crises it is already being discussed how Russia could try to force a radical rethinking of the population with disturbances – possibly even with lethal force. (…)
A previously unknown component is the close cooperation between Russian, Syrian and other intelligence services as well as Russian mafia, says Russian expert Gustav Gressel (European Council on Foreign Relations).
“A part of the refugees from Iraq and Syria, if only a very small part, had connections with Assad or Saddam Hussein’s secret services.”
These people could be specifically targeted by secretaries or mafia trips and are instrumentalized for disturbances, warns Gressel.
“What would happen, for example, if a similar event were repeated at a summer festival before the election, as in the Silvesternacht in Cologne? How would Merkel stand? What would be the consequence for the Bundestag election? Of course, this is an extreme example, but it is within reach, “says Gressel.
We have waited until shortly before the end of the Bundestag election. Nowhere did a Putin-Assad-Saddam-Mafia refugee sex mob appear. At no “summer festival” and also nowhere else in Germany. Already at the publication in December 2016 the questions of Gustav Gressel sounded absurdly enough, in order to regard them as highly questionable. But instead of questioning them, Röpcke, Mößbauer and “picture” adopt the conspiracy theory of their experts already in the headline.
Julian Röpcke writes today to the retweeting Twitter accounts from Russia:
It is unclear whether the campaign is more than mere propaganda.
We sometimes ask ourselves this.
You’re Donald Trump. You’re less popular than head lice. Your escalating scandals may land you in prison. People are openly questioning your mental health. You try to appease what’s left of your racist base by attacking black athletes. You take it too far. Within a twenty-four hour period you’ve been condemned by everyone from the biggest star in the NBA to the commissioner of the NFL. Donald, you’re having a day from Hell – and it’s just getting started.
Trump’s hellish twenty-four hour cycle began when he referred to NFL quarterback Colin Karpernick a “son of a bitch” at a rally tonight. He thought he could get away with it, because Kaepernick’s kneel-downs are seen as controversial by a number of moderate white Americans. But it turned out he’d taken things too far, even by his low standards. By today, after NFL stars like Lesean McCoy were calling Trump an “asshole” and worse, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement condemning Trump’s remarks. The owners of the New York Giants did the same. But that was just the half of it.
After NBA star Steph Curry hinted that he would decline to visit the White House, Donald Trump tweeted that Curry and his entire Golden State Warriors were no longer invited. This prompted LeBron James, the only NBA star with even more clout than Curry, to respond by calling Trump a “bum.” Kobe Bryant and others piled on. NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement in support of his players.
Donald Trump has been pushing an openly racist agenda for years, and it’s defined his entire time in politics. But these past twenty-four hours feel like a shift has taken place. Trump has taken his racist attacks so far that even moderate white Americans, who would generally prefer to not to get involved in social issues one way or the other, seem to be finally scratching their heads today at just how dementedly racist Trump is. If so, this will indeed go down as Trump’s ultimate day from Hell. Contribute to Palmer Report
If you were paying attention on election night, you’re aware that the vote totals in key swing states lined up for Donald Trump in statistically suspicious fashion. Trump winning would have been a shock; Trump winning along those particular numbers was all but mathematically impossible. If you’ve been paying attention since, you’ve figured out that Russian hackers almost certainly found a way to alter the actual vote totals. Now the U.S. government is inching closer to finally admitting it.
Russia’s fake news stories and fake Facebook ads were enough to con some Americans into voting under mistaken pretenses. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. As Palmer Report has been documenting since November, the actual vote totals were absurd (link). The national polls ended up being accurate within the margin of error, as Hillary Clinton won by three million votes nationwide. But those same polls said Hillary would win the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida, and they should logically have also been accurate in those states. Instead Trump won all four of them, by the same one percent margin (link) – just large enough to avoid automatic recounts without being large enough raise eyebrows.
Other things stood out as having been just plain wrong about the vote totals in those four states. Exit polls for early voting in Florida, which accounted for the bulk of the vote, gave Hillary Clinton such a huge lead that Donald Trump shouldn’t have been able to overcome it on election day (link). Across the board in these four states, the numbers simply did not add up in the way that numbers are supposed to add up. There were other eyebrow raising issues. Voting equipment broke in suspiciously large numbers in Michigan on election – but it all happened in Detroit, which would have been the most favorable to Hillary (link). Any one of the above issues would be curious on its own. Combined, they’re suspicious as hell.
So this news blip from the Associated Press matters greatly: “US government tells election officials in 21 states that hackers targeted their systems in 2016, but most not breached” (link). Keep two things in mind here. The first is that the Trump administration has been doing everything it could to prevent the federal government from acknowledging that Russia meddled in the election. The only reason for it to put out a statement like this is because it knows it’s all going to come out anyway. The second thing to keep in mind there is the phrase “most not breached.” That’s an acknowledgment that some state voting systems were breached. This story is just getting started.
The post U.S. government inches closer to admitting Russian hackers altered Trump vs Hillary vote totals appeared first on Palmer Report.
7 signs Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is getting serious
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Trump and North Korea war of words escalates
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Trump allies see vindication in reports on Manafort wiretapping
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Trump vs. Kim: Political theater or prelude to apocalypse?
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A Group of Experts Wrote a Book About Donald Trump’s Mental Health—and the Controversy Has Just Begun
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Put psychologist John Gartner on a couch and ask him about his childhood and one of the first stories he will recall is about his mom, Diana, and a touchstone moment in the fight for women’s rights.
In 1969, Diana Gartner and other leaders of the relatively new National Organization for Women made a reservation at the Oak Room Bar in New York under the name “Dr. Gartner.” The showdown that followed when the women arrived during the establishment’s male-only hours would lead to an early victory for feminism: The storied bar ultimately changed its gender policy.
John Gartner was 10 years old when the incident made headlines.
“It does run in our family to be mavericks,” he said. “Or rebels with a cause.”
These days Gartner is gaining national attention for a cause of his own — and creating a stir in his field — by trying to convince voters that President Donald Trump has a mental illness, and should be removed from his job because of it.
From a small office at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, Gartner has emerged as a leader of a group of mental health professionals called Duty To Warn. The campaign began as an internet petition seeking to remove Trump under the 25th Amendment, which broadly lays out the procedure for booting a president who is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
The <a href=”http://Change.org” rel=”nofollow”>Change.org</a> petition, launched in January and aimed at Trump’s cabinet, has garnered more than 62,000 signatures. But it has also drawn substantial criticism, and not just from Trump supporters. Both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association advise members against assessing the mental health of individuals they haven’t personally examined .
And yet the campaign by Gartner and others appears to be expanding. Duty to Warn is planning to hold conferences in cities across the country on Oct. 14, many drawing established psychologists and psychiatrists. Gartner and others, meanwhile, have contributed to a book to be published next month: “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”
Gartner — a Princeton graduate and former assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins medical school, specializes in borderline personality disorder and depression. He describes Trump as a “malignant narcissist,” a condition that includes paranoia, anti-social behavior, sadism and other traits along with narcissism.
Gartner points to the president’s insistence that President Barack Obama bugged his office, or that the crowds at his inauguration were historically large, as validating signs.
“Unless he doesn’t believe a word he’s saying, there’s evidence here of someone, really, who’s actually disconnected from reality,” said Gartner, 59. “We have someone in charge of the nuclear codes who is not in touch with reality. I can’t imagine anything more dangerous.”
Among Gartner’s most notable critics is psychiatrist Allen Frances, who wrote the guidelines for diagnosing narcissistic personality disorder — and who rejects any claim that Trump has it.
To meet the criteria for a narcissistic personality disorder, Frances said, Trump would have to display distress or impairment himself. One could argue he’s caused distress, Frances said, but he doesn’t appear to experience it.
“I think that this guy and other people like him mean well and are sincere and believe that somehow they have a professional responsibility to warn America about the horrors of Trump,” said Frances, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Duke University. “But I don’t see them as knowing much about diagnoses.”
Frances, who published a book this month titled “Twilight of American Sanity,” is hardly a fan of the 45th president. He describes Trump as “the biggest threat to democracy since the Civil War.” But he says that doesn’t mean he has a mental illness.
The effort to apply a diagnosis to Trump, Frances said, “confuses bad behavior for mental illness.”
A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump supporters frequently say the president’s brazen rhetoric is a big part of the reason why he was elected. His voters did not want another carefully scripted, play-it-safe politician.
And as with any politician, it’s impossible to sort out what Trump believes from political theater.
Gary Collins led the Trump campaign in Baltimore.
“Time and again on the campaign and in the White House, while something might sound a little different, the reality is that it usually comes out in weeks, months or even days that what he’s saying has a lot of validity to it,” he said.
Collins said Gartner “is clearly pushing a political agenda, and clearly doesn’t like the president.”
Duty to Warn has reopened a heated discussion in the psychiatric community over the Goldwater Rule, the 1973 prohibition on analyzing people from afar. It’s named for Sen. Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican nominee for president. When Fact magazine published an article in which psychiatrists opined that Goldwater was mentally unfit for the presidency, the Arizona senator successfully sued.
The policy was reaffirmed this spring by the American Psychiatric Association.
“The complexity of today’s media environment demands that we take special care when speaking publicly about mental health issues,” the association says on its website.
The Goldwater rule doesn’t apply to Gartner, who is a psychologist. But the American Psychological Association takes a similar — if less ironclad — position.
“APA’s Code of Ethics counsels psychologists against diagnosing living individuals whom they have not personally assessed,” spokeswoman Kim I. Mills said. “Singling out mental illness is misguided and tends to further stigmatize mental health problems.”
Gartner dismisses the rule and similar guidelines as a product of professional associations concerned primarily with protecting members from lawsuits. It is preferable to meet with patients before assessing them, he agrees, but in cases where that’s not possible it shouldn’t be a requirement.
Much can be gleaned, he says, by observing years of public interactions.
“The only people who aren’t allowed to comment on Donald Trump’s mental health are the people who are most expert and qualified to do it,” Gartner said.
The phrase “duty to warn” has its antecedent in a similar ethical dilemma. It’s based on the name used for laws on the books in at least 28 states, including Maryland, that require mental health professionals to break patient confidentiality rules and report information about a patient if they believe that person may become violent.
Garter isn’t alone in his assessment of the Goldwater Rule.
Justin A. Frank, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical Center, has written books analyzing Presidents George W. Bush and Obama, and expects to publish a third in the series, on Trump, next year.
“My feeling is that the rule was based on a very specific kind of thing: Financial fear,” he said.
Frank said he relies on principles of applied psychoanalysis to build profiles of presidents.
“It’s true that I don’t get them in my office — and that’s a serious issue,” he said. “But there’s nothing I can do about that.”
Asked whether he has come to any conclusions yet about Trump, Frank declined to offer a diagnosis.
“He’s Donald Trump,” Frank said. “I really think that he’s a fairly unique person.”
The Duty to Warn effort has drawn some attention on Capitol Hill, but almost entirely from Democrats — making it an easy target for Trump supporters and others to dismiss as a partisan endeavor.
Supporters of the group point to a private conversation caught on an open microphone this summer between Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island. During a conversation about the federal budget, Reed was heard describing the president as “crazy,” and Collins responded with “I’m worried.”
Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee told reporters last month that Trump had failed to display the “stability nor some of the competence” to be a successful president.
But those comments have been exceptions to the rule in both parties.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Montgomery County Democrat, introduced legislation this year to create a commission that would determine whether a president is unable to meet the responsibilities of the office under the 25th Amendment.
Raskin, a constitutional law professor from the liberal wing of the party, says he is addressing a long-term process issue, not targeting the current president.
Raskin, whose bill has 31 Democratic co-sponsors, declined to say whether he agrees with Gartner on Trump’s mental health.
“I do not take a position on that and I don’t think it’s my role to take a position on that,” he said. “There are enough signs of chaos in some of the dealings of the president that it reminds us of the importance of the 25th Amendment, but I personally will reserve judgment on presidential fitness — that’s why we have the process.”
Raskin is set to receive an award from Duty to Warn at its meeting in Washington next month.
“They appreciate the work that I’m doing in trying to flesh out the constitutional process,” he said.
Gartner is a registered Democrat, and has contributed to Democratic campaigns, including Hillary Clinton’s. But Gartner insists Duty to Warn isn’t a political exercise.
“I didn’t like George Bush, but I never circulated a petition about him,” he said. “I’d be grateful for a President Pence, even though I disagree with everything he believes in. … He’s conservative, [but] he’s not mentally unstable.”
Gartner says the petition will be sent to each member of Trump’s cabinet next month.
He acknowledges he’s unlikely to get the kind of quick response his mother received decades ago at the Oak Room Bar.
“All along I’ve felt, even if it was a hopeless cause, that we still needed to speak out,” Gartner said. “Bearing witness to these things is important. And I think bringing out the truth is important.”
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TRUMP’S SCHEDULE TODAY
5 p.m.: President Donald Trump will depart the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey en route to Alabama.
Story Continued Below
7:30 p.m.: Trump will arrive at Huntsville International Airport.
8 p.m.: Trump will arrive at the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville.
8:15 p.m.: Trump will participate in a rally for Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.).
9:10 p.m.: Trump will depart the Von Braun Civic Center en route to Bedminster, New Jersey.
11:50 p.m.: Trump will arrive at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster.
TRUMP’S TWITTER THIS MORNING: “Rand Paul, or whoever votes against Hcare Bill, will forever (future political campaigns) be known as ‘the Republican who saved ObamaCare.’ … Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before! … The Russia hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook. What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary? … The greatest influence over our election was the Fake News Media “screaming” for Crooked Hillary Clinton. Next, she was a bad candidate! … Will be in Alabama tonight. Luther Strange has gained mightily since my endorsement, but will be very close. He loves Alabama, and so do I!”
INSIDE THE HEALTH CARE PUSH: From POLITICO’s Josh Dawsey and Burgess Everett: “In public, President Donald Trump is all-in on the Senate’s final chance to repeal Obamacare. But privately, there’s ambivalence in the White House about the bill’s contents and its chances of clearing the tightly divided chamber next week. Trump spent time between meetings at the United Nations calling senators and other senior White House officials about the Graham-Cassidy bill, asking for updated vote tallies and how to woo senators for the bill. White House officials have considered tweaking the state funding to win a vote from GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — and others. Trump has also publicly excoriated Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul for voting against the legislation, telling aides he would go after other senators.”
SCRAMBLE TO LEAVE THE WEST WING: From POLITICO’s Nancy Cook: “A fast-growing number of White House staffers are starting to look for the exits, even though the one-year mark of President Donald Trump’s first term is still months away. Many who joined the administration in January did so with the explicit idea that they’d stay for at least a year, enough to credibly say they’d served. But in the aftermath of a wave of abrupt, high-profile departures over the summer that culminated with former strategist Steve Bannon’s ouster in August, aides up and down the chain are reaching out to headhunters, lobbyists, and GOP operatives for help finding their next job.”
FACEBOOK TO COOPERATE: From POLITICO’s Nancy Scola, Josh Dawsey and Ali Watkins:“Facebook has agreed to provide details to congressional investigators about ads purchased by Russians to influence the 2016 presidential campaign, and on Thursday vowed greater transparency in political advertising. But some Democratic senators want to make those pledges mandatory. The moves come amid mounting pressure from Congress to release the Russian-related ads, particularly criticism from Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Two people familiar with the matter disclosed the deal to POLITICO on Thursday shortly before Facebook announced it publicly.”
MUELLER’S WORK: From POLITICO’s Josh Dawsey: “Special counsel Robert Mueller has sought phone records concerning the statement written aboard Air Force One defending a meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russians at Trump Tower last year that was set up by Donald Trump Jr., according to two people familiar with the investigation. Mueller has also asked the White House for documents and emails connected to a May 3 press briefing where Sean Spicer said the president had confidence in James Comey as FBI director, these people said. The request seeks to determine what White House officials – particularly Spicer – knew about the president’s plans to fire Comey in the days before it happened, according to one of the people familiar with it.”
PRICE UPDATE: From POLITICO’s Rachana Pradhan and Dan Diamond: “Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has taken at least 24 flights on private charter planes at taxpayers’ expense since early May, according to people with knowledge of his travel plans and a review of HHS documents. … The cost of the trips identified by POLITICO exceeds $300,000, according to a review of federal contracts and similar trip itineraries.”
Paul Manafort speaks on the phone while touring the floor of the Republican National Convention on July 17, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Paul Manafort speaks on the phone while touring the floor of the Republican National Convention on July 17, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio.
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Last week in the Russia imbroglio: Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, got some bad news; members of Congress put social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, under the interrogation lights; and with all these many lawyers now running around — the meter is running too.
Much more below.
The Russia story is so vast, has been running for so long — and may continue for so much longer — that NPR journalists have been getting an update inside the newsroom every day to try to keep them in step. On the theory that other readers also might find the reports useful, here’s a version of our newsletter called “The Daily Imbroglio,” which also includes a look back at events from the past week you might have missed.
Reports: U.S. Government Surveilled Manafort … Sometime … Somewhen
Donald Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was under U.S. government surveillance at some point, according to reports this week — although they do not agree as to the particulars. CNN was first out of the gate with its story about surveillance on Monday, which called what the FBI or other spy agencies were doing “a wiretap.” The eavesdropping took place before, during and after the campaign, according to CNN.
CBS News also cited a source confirming CNN, but not many other news organizations reported this development. That stood until Friday, when the Wall Street Journal’s Shane Harris reported that the U.S. put Manafort under surveillance after he resigned from the Trump campaign in August of 2016.
But the monitoring the Journal describes is very different. Not a “wiretap” like you might have seen on The Sopranos, where FBI agents listen in real-time, but surveillance after the fact, “possibly by obtaining copies of his emails and other electronically stored communications, or by having agents follow him or conduct physical searches of his property.”
NPR has not confirmed any of these reports, and U.S. government officials have declined to comment about these kinds of law enforcement operations. A spokesman for Manafort, Jason Maloni, told NPR’sGeoff Bennett that if the stories are true, it’s evidence of abuse of power by then-President Obama and also evidence of criminal leaking by whatever sources revealed the surveillance was taking place.
Why would the Feds want to spy on Manafort? Former U.S. intelligence officials, including ex-CIA Director John Brennan, have said they’ve documented evidence of a lot of clandestine communications between people in Trumpworld and Russians. The latest data point came on Wednesday, when the Washington Post reported that Manafort had offered a private briefing on the U.S. election to to Oleg Deripaska, a Ukrainian billionaire friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The FBI wants to know whether Manafort was colluding with the Russians whose interference in the U.S. was aimed at helping Trump be elected.
That’s one example of what are believed to be tens of thousands of emails and other documents the Trump campaign has given congressional investigators looking into the Russia imbroglio — but it also confirms what Brennan and others have suggested. The frustration in trying to understand this story from the outside is how more evidence is deemed classified, possibly from Congress or the Justice Department, which U.S. spy agencies might not want to reveal because it compromises the sources or methods they used to collect it.
In Manafort’s particular case, investigators’ focus appears to be on alleged money laundering, foreign advocacy or other such crimes — sources told The New York Times that prosecutors working for Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller have warned Manafort they intend to indict him.
Next In The Hot Seat: Facebook And Twitter
Russian influence-mongers used more overt tools to attack the election last year than anyone first appreciated, including Facebook ads, public accounts (of fake Americans) and others. And as NPR’s Ryan Lucas reports, members of Congress want answers about what social media platforms knew at the time about what was happening — and what they’ve learned in retrospect.
“The moves on Capitol Hill follow concerns that the social media giants have been less than forthcoming about how Russia may have used their platforms to try to undermine the American election,” Lucas writes.
“Facebook has acknowledged that it sold ads to some 500 fake Russia-linked accounts between 2015 and 2017. The ads addressed socially divisive issues like gun control, immigration and race relations. It also conceded in a statement that it may discover more.”
The Intelligence Committee’s leaders, North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr and Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, had been turning up the heat on Facebook especially: The social behemoth had shown the content of some ads to committee staffers in a briefing, but not permitted the Hill investigators to keep them. Burr and Warner said they wouldn’t abide any deflection or soft-pedaling, so Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday the company would turn over the contents and cooperate with the congressional investigations. More from Facebook.
In a file photo taken on May 15, 2012, a login page of Facebook reflects in a glass panel in Kuala Lumpur. Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption
Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images
In a file photo taken on May 15, 2012, a login page of Facebook reflects in a glass panel in Kuala Lumpur.
Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images
Here’s what Facebook does not want: Regulations it considers onerous. So company leaders are expected to go along to get along in the hope that if they’re cooperative and forthright, Congress will not mandate restrictions on the way it does business. That might not be good enough for Warner, however, who has broached the idea of new requirements for disclosures about ad-buyers or other such new policies.
All These Lawyers Are Getting Expensive
President Trump and several administration officials have retained their own lawyers in the Russia matter, and all that advice is not cheap. So donors are covering the costs: The Republican National Committee has directed more than $427,000 to attorneys representing Trump and Donald Trump Jr., Matea Gold reported in the Washington Post.
Separately, family members of former Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn announced on Monday that they have set up a legal defense fund to help Flynn continue to pay the lawyers helping him in the Russia matter. Joe Flynn and Barbara Redgate, Flynn’s brother and sister, made a case based on Flynn’s record of service.
“Mike devoted 33 years of his life to our country serving in the United States Army, spending years away from his family while he fought this nation’s battles overseas, including the war on terror,” they wrote.
Attorneys say Flynn’s fund will not accept contributions from foreign nationals, anonymous givers or Trump’s business or campaign. But the fund is not expected to disclose how much it raises or the identities of its donors, as NPR’s Tom Bowman reported.
Mueller Wants White House Phone Records
Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller has asked the White House for records specifically about President Trump’s role in drafting Donald Trump Jr’s initial statement about the June 2016 meeting between campaign aides and a Russian delegation, reports Josh Dawsey for Politico.
Meaning what? Trump had a hand in drafting the original statement that said Trump Jr., Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner met with Russians to talk about “adoptions.” But “adoptions” is the code word that Russians use when they talk about the 2012 sanctions imposed by the U.S. under the Magnitsky Act. So Mueller wants to know who in the White House was involved, what discussions took place and what the intentions of the principals were.
Rosenstein: Trump Knew Comey Ouster Wouldn’t End Russia Probe
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has told Mueller’s team that he believes Trump knew he’d encounter a political backlash by firing FBI Director James Comey, but that he didn’t expect it would end the Russia investigation, report Aruna Viswanatha and Del Quentin Wilber for the Wall Street Journal.
Meaning what? Mueller is reported to be weighing whether Trump has obstructed justice: Comey said the president asked him to ease off of Flynn, there are reports he also asked other intelligence agency bosses how to get the FBI off the case and then Trump went ahead and fired Comey. Although Trump has said in subsequent interviews that he fired Comey (among other reasons) because of the whole “Russia thing,” Rosenstein may be trying to put in a word for his boss. He could be making the case, in so many words, that Trump isn’t guilty of obstruction because he didn’t actually expect that getting rid of Comey would get rid of the Russia matter.
Howard Students to Comey: You, Sir, Are Not Our Homey
The former FBI director addressed the students of Howard University in Washington, D.C. on Friday, Sept. 22, in the first of what’s set to be a series of speeches as he takes a lecturer post there. Comey has built a relationship with the president of the historically black university because, in part, he wanted to bring more non-white recruits into the FBI.
It did not go over well, as NPR’s Ryan Lucas reports: Protesters interrupted with chants of “no justice, no peace” and “James Comey, you’re not our homey.” They also sang the civil rights song “We Shall Not Be Moved.”
While President Trump made headlines this week for his provocative rhetoric on North Korea and the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, several major developments related to the ongoing probe of possible collusion between his associates and Russia flew quietly under the radar.
Each new disclosure about the direction and breadth of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation lent credence to what many legal experts have been saying since the former FBI director began hiring lawyers with expertise in corruption, foreign bribery, and white collar crime: This is serious, and some in Trump’s orbit should be worried.
“Combined with a flurry of stories about subpoenas, grand-jury appearances and other activity, it’s reasonable to expect that Mueller is moving forward on a number of different fronts and is getting close to entering a litigation phase,” Brookings Institution fellows Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes wrote earlier this week.
Here are seven key signs that indicate Mueller and his high-powered team are digging deep and may be nearing the “litigation phase,” as Hennessy and Wittes put it.
1. Indictment warning
During the FBI’s raid of an apartment belonging to Paul Manafort earlier this summer, Mueller explicitly told the former Trump campaign chairman he “planned to indict him,” the New York Times reported Monday. According to the report, Manafort and several FBI agents picked the lock of Manafort’s home in the predawn hours of July 26 and left with “binders stuffed with documents” and photographs of “expensive suits in his closet.”
The report shed light on the aggressive tactics Mueller has employed as he reportedly seeks to “flip” Manafort against several other persons of interest in the special counsel’s investigation, including the president.
2. Record requests
It was widely reported this week that Mueller has begun requesting exhaustive records from White House aides who were clued in to the decision-making process that led to former FBI director James Comey’s firing in May, and aware of Trump’s response when he learned that ex-national security adviser Mike Flynn was under federal investigation for his lobbying for foreign governments.
Beyond Comey and Flynn, the Washington Post claimed Mueller demanded that any correspondence related to the following individuals or incidents be turned over to his team: Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian attorney last June; Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov; Manafort; the FBI’s interview of Flynn shortly after the inauguration; and a statement issued by former White House press secretary Sean Spicer the night Comey was fired.
3. Spicer’s notes and texts
Spicer made news Thursday for being snappish with Axios co-founder Mike Allen during an exchange about the notes he kept during his time in Trump’s circle, which could become a valuable resource for Mueller.
“From a legal standpoint I want to be clear: Do not email or text me again. Should you do again I will report to the appropriate authorities,” Spicer said in an email, later adding that he would “contact the appropriate legal authorities to address [Allen’s] harassment” if he continued to receive requests for comment.
A source close to Spicer said the exchange, which the former press secretary later apologized for, showed how current and former White House officials are trying to be “careful … and want to avoid attracting attention to themselves” as long as the Russia investigation is ongoing.
Spicer is one of several former and current Trump aides whom Mueller has expressed an interest in interviewing, ABC News reported earlier this month. The others include: former chief of staff Reince Priebus, White House communications director Hope Hicks, White House counsel Don McGahn, senior associate counsel James Burnham, and White House spokesman Josh Raffel.
4. Surveillance of Manafort
A bombshell report by CNN late Monday night alleged that U.S. government officials wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who remains at the center of Mueller’s investigation, before the November election and during the subsequent transition phase. The surveillance was conducted after federal investigators obtained a so-called FISA warrant, which almost always requires the demonstration of probable cause.
Sources told CNN that “some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign.”
5. Grand jury testimony
Mueller is beginning to bring in lobbyists and public relations consultants who have worked with Manafort to testify before a federal grand jury in Washington. One such individual – Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni – did so last week at a courthouse in downtown D.C.
Maloni, who began working for Manafort after the 2016 election, testified for more than two-and-a-half hours, telling reporters on his way in that “hell yeah” he was ready to appear before the grand jury. It was not immediately clear what investigators sought from Maloni’s testimony, though the longtime public relations executive may have been aware of potential errors on Manafort’s foreign-agent filing amendments, which he retroactively disclosed in June.
Mueller also issued a grand jury subpoena in August to Melissa Laurenza, a lawyer and former National Republican Senatorial Committee staffer who represented Manafort until recently.
6. Facebook ads
The social media giant turned over detailed records to congressional committees and Mueller’s team this week regarding ads purchased by a Russian company during the 2016 election. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed earlier this month that the company bought approximately $3,000 ads between June 2015 and May 2017, totalling $100,000.
There is a good chance Mueller will probe whether the advertisements “showed any of the kind of sophisticated targeting that might indicate that Americans had provided assistance,” the Atlantic’s David Graham wrote earlier this week.
7. James Quarles
Former assistant special prosecutor for the Watergate investigation James Quarles is the latest to emerge as a central figure assisting with Mueller’s probe. The Daily Beast reported Tuesday that Quarles was added to the team as its “point person” for interactions with the White House, noting that he has been constantly in touch with Trump’s legal aides to check in on document requests and confirm the status of upcoming interviews.
Quarles left his position as a partner at the global law firm WilmerHale to join Mueller’s team in June.
State election officials didn’t know whether their systems had been targeted until Friday.