FBI Agents’ Text Messages Spur Congressional Probe into possible News Leaks
|| The Hill
“Republican-led House and Senate committees are investigating whether leaders of the Russia counterintelligence investigation had contacts with the news media that resulted in improper leaks, prompted in part by text messages amongst senior FBI officials mentioning specific reporters, news organizations and articles.
In one exchange, FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and bureau lawyer Lisa Page engaged in a series of texts shortly before Election Day 2016 suggesting they knew in advance about an article in The Wall Street Journal and would need to feign stumbling onto the story so it could be shared with colleagues.”
“All three networks spent so much time Monday morning breathlessly questioning whether or not Donald Trump Jr. “colluded” with Russia by agreeing to a meeting with an anonymous Russian lawyer during the campaign, that they couldn’t find any time to report on another important development in the same investigation–perhaps because it wasn’t centered on the Trump campaign.
The new report from The Hill Sunday revealed that more than half of former FBI Director James Comey’s personal memos were determined to have contained classified information. While Comey claimed under oath that these were his personal notes and did not contain sensitive material, officials close to the matter have determined that 4 of the 7 memos contained highly classified information.
This is troubling because the information that Comey leaked to the press may have been from one of these four memos. If this is true, then Comey may have lied under oath when he testified that his memos did not contain classified information. While Comey famously blasted Hillary Clinton’s “extremely careless” handling of “highly classified information,” he may be guilty of doing the same thing with his memos on Trump.
But despite this important development, all three networks ignored the news on their morning broadcasts Monday. Not one report or brief was given to the topic. The only airtime the story got was through a brief mention of it by Kellyanne Conway on Good Morning America.”
Report: Trump Actually Draining the Swamp, Preparing Huge Cuts
– PJ Media
“It’s almost too good to be true.
According to a new report in The Hill, Trump “is ready to take an ax to government spending” — and the changes proposed by his transition team are said to be “dramatic.”
How dramatic? How about getting rid of entire departments dramatic:
The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.
Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump’s team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years.
The proposed cuts hew closely to a blueprint published last year by the conservative Heritage Foundation, a think tank that has helped staff the Trump transition.
Trump promised to drain the swamp, and he apparently means to follow through. What’s more, he has the full support of Republicans who have supported similar proposals in the past:
Some conservatives, after decades of being disappointed by Republicans, can’t believe this is actually happening.
“As with everything else in the world of Washington, I’ll hold off on popping the champagne cork until I actually see it done,” writes Jazz Shaw at Hot Air:
but this is the level of cutting which might eventually return us to a point beyond a balanced budget and (dare we say it … ) reducing the national debt. And if it does somehow come true, I’ll have to ask the same question I’ve been posing time and time again over the past couple of months, particularly with companies bringing jobs and investments back to American soil.
Was it really this easy all this time but nobody bothered to try?
“Donald Trump is ready to take an ax to government spending.
Staffers for the Trump transition team have been meeting with career staff at the White House ahead of Friday’s presidential inauguration to outline their plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy, The Hill has learned.
The preliminary proposals from the White House budget office will be shared with federal departments and agencies soon after Trump takes the oath of office Friday, and could provoke an angry backlash.
Trump’s Cabinet picks have yet to be apprised of the reforms, which would reduce resources within their agencies.
The budget offices of the various departments will have the chance to review the proposals, offer feedback and appeal for changes before the president’s budget goes to Congress.
It’s not clear whether Trump’s first budget will include reforms to Social Security or Medicare, two major drivers of the federal deficit.
Trump vowed during the campaign not to cut Medicare and Social Security, a pledge that Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), his pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services, told lawmakers in testimony Wednesday has not changed.
Yet it could be very difficult to reduce U.S. debt without tackling the entitlement programs. Conservative House budgets have repeatedly included reforms to Medicare and Social Security, arguing they are necessary to save the programs.
The presidential budget is important in setting policy and laying out the administration’s agenda, though Congress would be responsible for approving a federal budget and appropriating funds.
Moving Trump’s budget through Congress could be difficult. In 2015, with the GOP in control of the House, the RSC budget failed by a vote of 132 to 294.
Moderate Republicans and Democrats on the Appropriations Committee are likely to push back at some of the cuts being considered by Trump.
But they seem likely to have the support of Mulvaney, a conservative budget hawk who backed the RSC budget.
“Mick Mulvaney and his colleagues at the Republican Study Committee when they crafted budgets over the years, they were serious,” said a former congressional aide. “Mulvaney didn’t take this OMB position to just mind the store.”
“He wants to make significant, fundamental changes to the structure of the president’s budget, and I expect him to do that with Vought and Gray putting the meat on the bones,” the source added.
The Heritage blueprint used as a basis for Trump’s proposed cuts calls for eliminating several programs that conservatives label corporate welfare programs: the Minority Business Development Agency, the Economic Development Administration, the International Trade Administration and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The total savings from cutting these four programs would amount to nearly $900 million in 2017.
At the Department of Justice, the blueprint calls for eliminating the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Violence Against Women Grants and the Legal Services Corporation and for reducing funding for its Civil Rights and its Environment and Natural Resources divisions.
At the Department of Energy, it would roll back funding for nuclear physics and advanced scientific computing research to 2008 levels, eliminate the Office of Electricity, eliminate the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and scrap the Office of Fossil Energy, which focuses on technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Under the State Department’s jurisdiction, funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are candidates for elimination.
Conservatives allied with fiscal hawks such as Pence, Paul and the Heritage Foundation say the time is long past due to get serious about cutting the federal deficit.”