John McCain faces serious questions in Trump-Russia dossier case
“Sen. John McCain faces questions in a defamation lawsuit about leaks leading to publication of the now-infamous dossier that alleged Donald Trump’s campaign had connections to Russian operatives, McClatchy has learned.
The dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and his London firm, Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd., amounted to a collection of uncorroborated reports of collusion gathered as political research for sale to Trump’s opponents. It proved explosive when published by online news site BuzzFeed on Jan. 10.
Now, two lawsuits — one in the United States and a second in the U.K. — are being brought by lawyers for Aleksej Gubarev, a Cyprus-based Internet entrepreneur whom Steele’s Russian sources accused of cyber spying against the Democratic Party leadership.
According to a new court document in the British lawsuit, counsel for defendants Steele and Orbis repeatedly point to McCain, R-Ariz., a vocal Trump critic, and a former State Department official as two in a handful of people known to have had copies of the full document before it circulated among journalists and was published by BuzzFeed.
The court document obtained by McClatchy confirms that Sir Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Moscow and a Russia adviser to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, discussed the 35-page dossier with McCain.
“The Defendants considered that the issues were self-evidently relevant to the national security of the US, UK and their allies,” the document says, explaining why Steele and his partner, Christopher Burrows, felt it necessary to share the dossier’s findings.
Wood had told Britain’s The Guardian in January that McCain had reached out to him about the dossier, and had obtained it through other means. The court document confirms that Wood, Steele and former State Department official David Kramer decided together that new information gathered after the election should be shared with authorities in Britain and the United States.”
Sworn Trump Enemy John McCain Admits HE handed smear dossier to FBI
– Daily Mail UK
“Sworn Donald Trump enemy John McCain admitted Wednesday that he passed the dossier of claims of a Russian blackmail plot against the president-elect – calling it ‘what any citizen should do’.
McCain – a longstanding anti-Trump Republican who had disassociated himself from the candidate’s campaign weeks before the election – cast himself as an innocent and concerned member of the public as he justified his move.
He claimed he had no idea whether it was accurate or not – but that he believed the FBI should have it because it was ‘sensitive’.
‘I did what any citizen should do. I received sensitive information and handed it to the FBI,’ he told CNN – the network which broke the story that the document existed. It was then published in full by Buzzfeed.
‘That’s why I gave it to the FBI. I don’t know if it is credible or not but the information I thought deserved to be delivered to the FBI, the appropriate agency of government.’
He added: ‘It doesn’t trouble me because I don’t know if it is accurate or not. I have no way of corroborating that.
‘The individual gave me the information. I looked at it. After receiving that information I took it to the FBI.’
He added that he was now aware from media reports that the FBI was apparently already in possession of the information. ‘
The Arizona senator had issued a public statement amid mounting questions of his exact role in the affair – and how a document riddled with errors and unverifiable claims came to be published.
‘Late last year, I received sensitive information that has since been made public,’ he said.
‘Upon examination of the contents, and unable to make a judgment about their accuracy, I delivered the information to the Director of the FBI.
‘That has been the extent of my contact with the FBI or any other government agency regarding this issue.’
But the 2008 Republican loser, who disowned his party’s candidate weeks before the election, may have been far more intimately involved than that.”
California voters just approved more taxes, but the new state budget could still be lean on cash
– LA Times
“In the six years since Gov. Jerry Brown returned to the state Capitol, his relatively parsimonious approach to state budgets has been consistent enough to leave few watchers expecting major surprises.
But recent events in California and the nation suggest the fiscal proposal Brown unveils next week could be his most circumspect to date, even after voters in November approved billions of dollars in additional taxes.
“We have a number of significant fiscal pressures that are looming,” said H.D. Palmer, the governor’s budget spokesman.
Although the details of the new budget plan remain under wraps, the underlying economic data are hidden in plain sight.
On Thursday, the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office reported that preliminary tax collections in December — a key month for quarterly tax payments — were almost $1.2 billion below predictions. The state Department of Finance, which doesn’t release its December analysis until next week, has reported several months of anemic tax collections in comparison to the assumptions built in to the foundation of the California budget that Brown signed into law in June.
Voters, though, may find news of missing state tax revenues a surprise after ratifying two major tax measures on the Nov. 8 ballot. Proposition 55 will extend current tax rates on the most wealthy that otherwise would have expired in 2018. Proposition 56 raised the state’s tobacco tax by an additional $2 per pack of cigarettes.
The political campaign in support of Proposition 55 promised it would prevent cuts to public school funding, which generally is protected by state constitutional funding requirements. Still, sagging revenues could shrink the expected rate of growth in school spending. That could leave education advocates deflated over their efforts to further restore programs that were cut during the recession.
In fact, Medi-Cal’s reliance on federal dollars may be the most worrisome part of the budget year ahead, given its dramatic expansion with dollars provided by the Affordable Care Act. President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to repeal Obamacare could affect the more than 3.8 million Californians who have enrolled in Medi-Cal.
In all, the program’s expansion is budgeted to cost $16.1 billion in the current budget year. All but $819 million of that money comes from the federal government, an enormous risk for the state in the years to come.”
How Sheriff Lee Baca’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis could affect his prison sentence
– LA Daily News
“A day after court documents confirmed that former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, community leaders and law enforcement groups gave opposing views Tuesday about how much time he should serve in prison for his part in a corruption scandal.
Baca’s diagnosis was revealed one month before he is scheduled to appear for sentencing in federal court for lying to federal authorities who were investigating corruption in county jails under his command. Baca faces six months in federal prison.
He pleaded guilty in federal court in February to one count of lying to government investigators probing corruption and civil rights abuses by deputies in the county’s downtown jails and the attempt by the Sheriff’s Department to obstruct that investigation. The former sheriff had repeatedly denied his involvement.
George Hofstetter, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, said he doesn’t believe the diagnosis should change Baca’s sentence. The association represents more than 8,200 deputy sheriffs and district attorney investigators working in Los Angeles County.
“Although his diagnosis is tragic, the simple matter of fact is he committed a crime,” Hofstetter said. “He finally admitted to that. We have several of our members potentially looking at some lengthy prison sentences, compared to the slap on the wrist he got.”
Nine other members of the sheriff’s department have been convicted, receiving sentences that range from 18 to 41 months.
But Los Angeles author and community activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson issued a statement early Tuesday, calling on the court to show “tempered justice” when it comes to Baca’s sentence.”