FBI Denies Secret Comey-Obama Meeting Raises Integrity and Public Trust Issues
|| Daily Caller
“The FBI states it will not expedite the release of documents about secret meetings between FBI Director James Comey and former President Barack Obama, according to a letter the bureau sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Such information is not “a matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exists possible questions about the government’s integrity which affects public confidence,” David Hardy, the Section Chief for the bureau’s Record/Information Dissemination Section, told TheDCNF in a Feb. 26 letter.
TheDCNF, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), requested records of all meetings between Comey and Obama and sought an “expedited process” as provided under the act when issues are of great interest to the media and the records address issues pertaining to government integrity. TheDCNF FOIA request was filed Feb. 16, 2018.
The issue prompting the FOIA request was the disclosure Comey held a secret Oval Office meeting with Obama on Jan. 5, 2017. Comey never divulged the meeting to Congress.”
Declassified Susan Rice Email: Obama Contemplated Hiding Russia Intel from Incoming Trump Administration
“Two leading Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee released a redacted top secret email Monday that Obama administration National Security Advisor Susan Rice appears to have sent herself just minutes after President Donald Trump took office.
The email contains Rice’s impressions from a January 5, 2017 meeting on “Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential election” between then-President Barack Obama, then-FBI Director James Comey, and “intelligence community leadership.”
According to Rice, President Obama and Comey had a “follow-on conversation” after the formal meeting during which Obama told Comey that “from a national security perspective” he wanted “to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.” President Obama then asked Comey to inform him of any changes that would affect how his White House should share classified information with the incoming Trump administration.
Separately, Rice claims Obama told Comey that he wanted the Russia investigation handled “by the book” and that “from a law enforcement perspective” he was not “asking about, initiating or instructing anything.
Rice herself claims to have been present at the meeting and to have stayed for this “follow-on conversation,” along with then-Vice President Joe Biden, and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who weeks later would become a darling of the left-leaning press after she was fired over her refusal to enforce President Trump’s first travel ban on certain terror-prone Muslim majority countries.
The Senate Judiciary Committee obtained the email from the National Archives as part of its investigation into potential political bias and influence in the FBI’s handling of the “Russia investigation” and the infamous Fusion GPS “dossier” that was used to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant on one-time Trump associate Carter Page.”
When Mania Goes Mainstream: Experts Claim Nunes Could Be Indicted Next
|| Jonathan Turley
“Below is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the recent column in the New York Times by Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe and others that Devin Nunes could be charged with obstruction of justice. The column contains highly dubious uses of both history and precedent to advance this latest claim of criminality. The ABA Journal and other papers have reported on the theory without any objective of its meritless foundation in constitutional law. The basis for such claim is so attenuated as to border on the fanciful. There are serious possible crimes being alleged without twisting the criminal code to go after supporters of President Trump.
For a year, some of us have questioned calls for the prosecution of President Trump for obstruction of justice. Every ill-conceived statement or tweet by Trump is proclaimed as “smoking gun” evidence of this seemingly catch-all crime. As the “resistance” to Trump grew, so did the expansion of the interpretation of the crime. It became increasingly more difficult to determine not what is obstruction but what is not obstruction. A recent column in the New York Times seems to have the answer: Prosecute them all and let God sort them out.
The column by Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Tribe, (right), American Constitution Society president Caroline Fredrickson and Brookings Institution fellow Norman Eisen argued that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) could now join Trump in the criminal dock. His crime? Writing a memo alleging FBI abuses that was released by a vote of the majority of a committee overseeing the FBI.
The column entitled “Is Devin Nunes Obstructing Justice?” captures the distemper that has overtaken legal analysis. It appears that anyone deemed as supporting Trump can now be charged with the same nebulous crime. After all, if Trump is actively trying to obstruct a federal investigation, surely those who actively support him or oppose the investigation are no less guilty of the same offense.It is not that easy for federal courts, which traditionally follow the opposite inclination under the “rule of lenity.” Courts tend to not only define criminal laws narrowly but rule in favor of defendants in areas of ambiguity. These and other experts appear to view ambiguity as an invitation for creativity in finding ways to indict Trump. There is a real danger to civil liberties by the continuing effort to endlessly expand criminal definitions. Trump will not be our last president and these new overarching definitions will remain with us as a type of unpaid bill. It will be citizens who pay that legal bill.
The latest obstruction claim asserts that “by writing and releasing the memo, the chairman may just have landed himself, and his staff members, in the middle of Robert Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation.” Of course, there is the obvious complication of the immunity afforded to members of Congress under the Speech and Debate Clause of Article I.
In Gravel v. United States, the Supreme Court reaffirmed this immunity for not just members but staff after Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) read portions of the Pentagon Papers before a congressional committee. Ironically, Gravel was supporting the New York Times, which first published the papers in defiance of the Nixon administration.
While acknowledging the “strong bulwark” of immunity, the authors work mightily to limit the possible use of immunity, including some creative use of history. For example, they note that the Supreme Court did not extend immunity as far as Gravel’s publication of the papers in a later book. However, the court supported the immunity over the disclosure through the committee.
If anything, Nunes is in a much stronger position than Gravel. Nunes did not unilaterally release the memo like Gravel and he did so in a committee with direct oversight of the FBI. Conversely, the Pentagon Papers were read at an entirely unrelated subcommittee on buildings and grounds of the Senate Public Works Committee.
It is equally dubious to suggest that the memo may be found to have “mere peripheral connection to legislative acts” or a pure political act to deny immunity. The basis for this claim is simply that the authors and Democrats disagree with the conclusions of the memo. No competent federal judge would rule that such a memo is unrelated to the legislative purpose of oversight over the FBI
Even more bizarrely, there was this warning: “Nunes would do well to remember what befell Senator Daniel Brewster of Maryland.” Nunes would be understandably confused by the historical reference. Brewster claimed immunity over the acceptance of alleged bribes. This facially ridiculous argument was rejected by the Supreme Court, though Brewster was later acquitted of bribery and had the remaining convictions overturned on other grounds.
Where experts argued for months about the dubious crime of “collusion” with the Russians, these experts are now arguing for a crime of “collaboration” with the White House. The idea is that, if Nunes or his staff coordinated in the issuance of the memo, they could be charged for casting doubt on the conduct of the FBI in the early investigation of the Russian matter.
The suggestion of an obstruction case against Nunes reduces the criminal code to a virtual professorial parlor game. For a year, experts have assured eager (if not desperate) audiences that a criminal case against Trump is now in sight. For example, Tribe and Eisen have been alleging a host of unlawful acts, including a lawsuit alleging unconstitutional emoluments that was thrown out by a federal judge in December.”
Intriguing Links Emerge In GOP Led Dossier Investigation
|| Daily Caller
“The Republican-led investigation into the infamous anti-Trump dossier has recently revealed several intriguing links between Christopher Steele, lawyers, lobbyists, Democratic politicians, a former State Department official, and a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin.
Most of the revelations come thanks to Sen. Chuck Grassley. The Iowa Republican released a letter in January that cited the names of several political operatives and lawyers who had not previously been linked to the dossier Steele wrote while on the payroll of the Clinton campaign and DNC.
And Thursday, a batch of text messages leaked to Fox News revealed that Steele used a back channel to communicate with Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Oleg Deripaska, a Russian aluminum magnate who is allied with Putin, is party to several of the connections. The billionaire has also worked closely in the past with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The Steele connections are being investigated by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Grassley chairs, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The implications of the contacts remain to be seen, but they are worth watching as the investigation into the dossier goes on.
Lobbyist back channel between Warner and Steele
Adam Waldman, a Washington, D.C., lobbyist who works for Deripaska, emerged on the scene out of nowhere last week when Fox News published a batch of text messages he exchanged in 2017 with Warner.
Waldman first approached Warner in March 2017 seeking to discuss a possible extradition deal for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
Waldman, who owns Endeavor Law Firm, also represented that he had ties to Steele as well as to Deripaska.
“Chris Steele asked me to call you,” Waldman wrote to Warner on March 17, 2017.
Warner attempted to set up a phone call with Steele and suggested that he wanted to keep the matter a secret from other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. But the negotiations appeared to end in May because Waldman said that Steele was reluctant to meet without a letter signed both by Warner and North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“Seems very weird that he won’t do a call. What wud a letter do to deal with his concerns,” Warner wrote in late April.
Waldman sent several text messages over the following weeks, but Warner did not reply.
Deripaska hired Waldman in 2009 to help him with a struggle over his visa, which the State Department revoked in 2006 because of alleged ties to Russian mobsters.
Waldman registered as a foreign agent in 2010 after signing on to work for Lavrov to help with the Deripaska visa problem. That relationship ended in May.
In his texts, Waldman suggested to Warner that he was in touch with the Justice Department regarding Deripaska.
“Deripaska is in London Monday-Thursday and I might be able to arrange a mtg w him too if you wish. I discussed it with him today and he seemed interested,” Waldman wrote.
He also suggested making Deripaska available for an interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee. Those talks later broke down because the committee declined to give Deripaska immunity.
Waldman has not responded to numerous requests for comment about his relationship to Steele.
A second Steele-Warner back channel?
One name recently linked to the dossier is Daniel Jones, a former investigator for Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein when she chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Jones was named in the January letter that Grassley sent to Clinton campaign and DNC officials seeking communications with a list of people linked to the dossier. Jones, who worked for Feinstein until Dec. 2015, also appears to have links to Steele as well as to Warner.
In his text messages with Warner, Waldman wrote that “[Steele] said he will also speak w Dan Jones whom he says is talking to you.”
“I pointed out there is no privilege in that discussion although Dan is a good and very trustworthy guy,” he added later.
“I encouraged him to engage with you for the sake of the truth and of vindication of the dossier,” added Waldman.
“[Steele] said Dan Jones is coming to see you,” Waldman wrote later. “I suggest you explain to Dan why a call is the necessary first step rather than a letter from your perspective.”
Jones, who operates the Penn Quarter Group, a consulting firm, did not respond to a voice mail or private message on Twitter.”
The True Biblical Response to Illegal Immigration and DREAMers
“My Congressman Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) hosted another error-ridden town hall in Hermosa Beach last week. On immigration, he claimed to support two parts of President Trump’s proposed(?) plan: granting legal status to 1.8 million young illegals; and enhancing border security (although Lieu called the border wall “stupid”). He differed on ending chain migration and the diversity lottery. He quoted the Bible in his defense: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” (Matthew 25:35).
My response: “Then take them into your home!” Amnesty advocates preach their open-border morality, but don’t live up to it. Moreover, Jesus’ statement is directed toward individuals who welcomed strangers into their own homes voluntarily. Any form of amnesty imposed by our government is not voluntary.
My consternation with these Biblical arguments has grown since reading this article in the Christian Post, when evangelical leaders, many of whom I respect, pressured Congress to pass some kind of DREAM Act. Pastor Samuel Rodriguez of Sacramento, CA stated in a January press conference: “The wall is a physical object created by man. 800,000 human beings created in the image of God by God.” Walls are Biblical, affirmed by God in Scripture. In fact, God commands the construction of walls around Jerusalem both the Old (Nehemiah 1:1-7:3) and the New (Isaiah 54: 12; Ezekiel 42:20).
In another letter to Congress, Evangelical leaders wrote: “Roughly 700,000 young people are poised to lose their right to work lawfully in the U.S., not to mention their dreams of a future in this country—the country they were brought to as children, without choice.” First of all, this country is not responsible for their parents’ crimes, which have harmed their children. Children should not be punished for the sins of their parents (cf. Jeremiah 31:29), but natural consequences remain. A mother breaks into my home, steals my car, and her children use the ill-gotten gains for good. I am still entitled to restoration of my property (Exodus 22). Illegal aliens are stealing this country’s space, resources, and wealth.
In response to these pro-enforcement arguments, preachers cite The New Covenant (Hebrews 8:10-012), which asserts that we are no longer under law, but under grace. However, grace is not arbitrary. Jesus died on a Cross for the sins of the world, the just for the unjust (1 John 2:2; 1 Peter 3:18). A payment must be rendered. Why should law-abiding citizens pay for lawbreakers?
If Christian leaders want to preach accurately on immigration, they should first acknowledge a few things:
Nations are God’s idea, not merely man’s construction, and rewarding illegal immigration harms nations. Genesis 11 reports God created multiple languages—and nations—to stop mankind from building the Tower of Babel. The dissolution of border security and national sovereignty are unholy gestures. To contend for amnesty based on a misplaced understanding of scripture is not tenable. There will come a time when every knee will bow, and every tongue confess Christ Jesus as Lord, but for now nation-states remain as part of God’s plan. Rampant amnesties only erode national boundaries.
Citizenship is a principle defended in the Bible. In the Old Testament, strangers were respected (Leviticus 19:34, Deuteronomy 10: 19), but they were expected to adopt all the customs of Israel, not retain their original cultural views (Numbers 15: 14-29). In the New Testament, Paul the apostle asserted his Roman citizenship to redress the abusive treatment of Roman soldiers (Acts 22:22-23:11). He also addressed his fellow Christians as “citizens of heaven” (Philippians 3:20, Colossians 3:5-16). Membership in a defined, national compact matters and should not be pushed aside. Many illegals in this country, especially DREAMers, are hell-bent on retaining and imposing a neo-pagan culture in this country, estranged and unsubmissive to our country’s constitutional rule and civic culture.
Christians are called to honor their rulers (and rules!) among the nations (1 Timothy 2:1-2; 1 Peter 2:17). To dismiss the authority of temporal rulers, especially on matters of immigration, is unholy and unwise.
Instead of championing amnesty, Christian leaders should reference the ideal immigrant: Ruth the Moabite. Unlike the 11 to 16 million illegal aliens in our country, per official tallies, Ruth did not break into her adoptive nation of Israel. She had a sponsor, her mother-in-law Naomi. There were other factors which Ruth obeyed, too (Ruth 1:16-17):
“For whither thou goest, I will go”: She would attend to Naomi, recognizing her place in her new country as based solely on the goodness of her mother-in-law. She did not enter into Israel as a political radical or busy-body.
“Where thou lodgest, I will lodge”: She would live with Naomi, not depending on someone else, particularly the state or taxpayers, to provide her housing. Her needs would come from her sponsor, not by force from other inhabitants in Israel.
“Your people will be my people”: This statement sums up assimilation perfectly. She pledged to become an Israelite. How often do our leaders today talk about the importance of immigrants adopting American customs, rather than demanding that we accommodate their foreign ways?
“Thy God [will be] my God.”: while our free society does not demand religious adherence to one creed, we should expect immigrants to embrace our cultural and moral values. For this reason, I am adamant against accepting adherents of Sharia Law, for example, or other religious sects which endanger life and property.
“Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried”: Ruth pledged a complete break with her pagan country and culture. She refused to abandon her new country or identity.
At the very least, politicians and pastors should stop shaming the public by misusing Scripture. Christians should have a ready defense when amnesty advocates distort Scripture for selfish political ends. Every country has a right to strong borders, safe citizens, and a secured sovereignty. These are not un-Christian expectations in the slightest.”
Intel Committee Dems ‘Dangerous,’ ‘Negligent’ In Handling Of Breach By Their Own IT Aide
|| Daily Caller
“Three Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have been “dangerous” and “negligent” by seemingly failing to react to evidence of a major security breach by their own IT aides, a former Air Force colonel and career intelligence staffer charged. In light of this, he told The Daily Caller News Foundation, their concerns on committee Republicans voting to release a classified memo ring hollow.
The House inspector general found that a family of Pakistanis working for Democrats made “unauthorized access” to House servers, logging in using members’ personal usernames, covering their tracks, and continuing to access servers even after efforts to stop them. The IG found evidence that data from 17 members may have been funneled onto one server, which law enforcement said was later physically stolen.
Intelligence committee members Democratic Reps. Joaquin Castro of Texas, Andre Carson of Indiana, and Jackie Speier of California employed the aides until they were banned from the network in February 2017. Castro and Speier both said they did not know of any cybersecurity breach, but then they refused to respond when TheDCNF revealed two reports by the House’s internal investigator that showed there was a breach.
“As a member you have an obligation and a responsibility to know. To say you don’t know is a cop-out and excuse. You had no interest in it nor did you care about safeguarding official government documents,” James Waurishuk, a retired Air Force colonel, senior career strategic intelligence officer and National Security Council staffer, told TheDCNF. People with clearances, he said, are obligated to proactively find and report threats.
One of the aides, Imran Awan, had a secret email address — email@example.com — that was set up in the name of an intelligence specialist who works for Carson. The secret address remained active after Imran’s main account was blocked. In August, TheDCNF discovered in civil court documents that the address actually belonged to Imran, and alerted Carson’s office of the vulnerability. Carson spokeswoman Jessica Gail did not openly express any alarm.
“Where someone has knowledge that something wasn’t right and rather than make an issue of it — the individual was a friend or someone they had to deal with every day and they wanted to turn a blind eye — in the end it winds up catching both of them,” Waurishuk told TheDCNF. “If you fail to follow the necessary procedures, then depending on the level, people go to jail for that.”
Democrats are “outraged over publishing the memo in accordance with House rules, yet they have nothing to say at all about major security breaches by a staffer they themselves employed,”a Republican intel committee source told TheDCNF on background because the person was not authorized to comment. “Their level of concern about information security issues obviously depends on that issue’s political ramifications for themselves and their party.”
Ranking Member of the intelligence committee Democrat Adam Schiff has attacked the GOP for voting to release a classified memo Republicans say shows abuses of spying authority. Democrats charge Republicans are showing a disregard for security procedures. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said committee Chairman Devin Nunes “has disgraced the House Intelligence Committee.” Republicans say the document contains information that Americans have a right to know about.
“With these three members on intel with this whole investigation going on with FISA and unmasking, did these individuals have any access to that info?” Waurishuk asked of that incident and the active email address tied to Carson’s office. “I’d like to see Schiff briefed on this and see what he knows about it.”
Outcry over the Nunes memo is damning for Democrats and FBI
|| theHill.com | Jonathan Turley
“The release of the four-page memo by the House Intelligence Committee has triggered preset responses from both sides. The memo is, in fact, enlightening in a number of respects. However, the most alarming elements may be what it does not contain.
First, it is important to start with what we previously knew. At the heart of this controversy is the dossier that was compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British spy, and Fusion GPS with funding from Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. Previously, Clinton’s top campaign lawyer, Marc Elias, and former campaign chairman, John Podesta, denied any connection to the dossier. After news stores confirmed the funding, Elias and Clinton herself admitted that they did fund this effort.
Second, we knew that Steele shopped the information in the dossier to various reporters to try to get them published during the election. Third, the contents of this dossier were so unverified that virtually all of the reporters declined to run the story during the campaign.
The memo confirms that top FBI officials, including former director James Comey and his deputy Andrew McCabe, used the dossier to secure secret surveillance targeting a U.S. citizen. That citizen was Carter Page, an aide to the presidential candidate of the party opposing the Obama administration. Comey signed off on multiple Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications targeting Page.
The memo states that the applications never mentioned that the dossier was funded in significant part by the Clinton campaign, even though high-ranking officials knew about that funding. That would obviously be highly material to judging the value of the information. To make matters worse, Steele admitted to FBI agent Bruce Orr, who was later demoted, that he hated Trump and was “desperate that not be elected and was passionate about his not being president.”