Friday, July 28, 2017

ObamaCare ‘skinny repeal’ amendment fails in Senate while Russian collusion story crumbles

A GOP-led measure that would strip parts of former President Obama’s signature health law failed in the Senate early Friday, 51 to 49. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, were among those who voted against the bill.


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IN OTHER NEWS

Fusion GPS Ties To Russia Exposed

There is some incredible new information about Democrats and Russian backed Fusion GPS. 

To summarize the web of connections outlined below:

- A know a Russian backed, Democrat connected research firm, with a history of smearing individuals and pitching fake information to reporters, was hired by opponents of President Trump to compile a “dossier” of supposed Trump ties to Russia.

- The information that was compiled was taken seriously by the highest levels of our intelligence community along with our media, despite obvious signs that the firm behind it was tied to Russia.

- As a reminder, this phony “dossier” helped spark the investigation now led by Special Counsel Mueller.

Frightening!
This issue deserves A LOT more reporting and interest.

To recap:

·         Fusion GPS is the firm that hired ex-British spy Christopher Steele to put together a phony dossier during the 2016 campaign on supposed Trump ties to Russia.

·         The dossier, full of Russian sourced information, was shopped to dozens of U.S. journalists during and immediately after the 2016 campaign, and eventually reported on despite obvious red flags to its accuracy.

·         The dossier’s claims made it into the hands of U.S. intelligence officials, and were included in a top secret intelligence briefing for President Obama.

·         The dossier's claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia helped spark the FBI investigation now supervised by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

·         We now know the dossier is full of bogus, false information.  Christopher Steele even admitted in a lawsuit recently that most of his work in the dossier was never fully verified.

·         Fusion GPS is deeply connected to Democrat politics.  The co-founder of Fusion GPS is reportedly a Hillary Clinton donor.  Fusion GPS allegedly was retained by Planned Parenthood, and did work for Democrats to investigate Mitt Romney in 2012.

In recent days, we have learned more about Fusion GPS:

 ·         Fusion GPS has deep ties to Russia.

·         According to the testimony of William Browder this morning, along with other reporting, Fusion GPS was hired by Russians to defend Russian government connected officials from allegations of fraud.

·         Fusion GPS was also employed by Russians to fight against the Magnitsky Act and has worked on issues with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

·         Browder spoke this morning about Fusion GPS’ tactics to work over reporters, and its efforts to run smear campaigns on behalf of their clients.

·         It is troubling to hear about allegations that a Russian-backed opposition research firm, with a history of smearing individuals and pitching fake information to reporters, was then hired by opponents of President Trump and the information that was compiled was taken seriously by the highest levels of our intelligence community along with our media.
See below for more information on this morning’s testimony on Fusion GPS, and HERE for an RNC Research document on the firm. Click below to hear Browder's Congressional testimony: 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: This whole story reads like some kind of novel that nobody would buy, it’s got to be fiction, but unfortunately maybe it’s true. Let’s just break down sort of why you’re here. You believe that Fusion GPS should of registered under FARA, because they were acting on the behalf of the Russians?
WILLIAM BROWDER: That’s correct.
SEN. GRAHAM: So, I just want to absorb that for a moment. The group that did the dossier on President Trump hired this British spy, wound up getting it to the FBI. You believe they were working for the Russians?
BROWDER: And in the Spring and Summer of 2016 they were receiving money indirectly from a senior Russian government official.
SEN. GRAHAM: Okay. So, these are the people that were trying to undermine Donald Trump by showing the nefarious ties to Russia. Is that what you’re saying?
BROWDER: Well, what I’m saying with 100% certainty is that they were working to undermine the Magnitsky act and the timing of that.
SEN. GRAHAM: But, the Fusion GPS products apparently as they hired a guy to look into Trump?
BROWDER: Yes.
SEN. GRAHAM: Right?
BROWDER: Correct.

Click Below To Hear Senator Graham's Questions:
SHANNON BREAM: Good to see you this morning, Senator. Why should Americans care about what this guy is telling you this morning and what it means with regard to Russia?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well who is this guy? He was the lawyer for Mr. Magnitsky, who was killed by Putin, because he exposed a bunch of fraud and criminal misconduct inside Putin’s Russia. So as a tribute to Mr. Magnitsky, he is trying to tell the world about how Putin works. But this was the most fascinating exchange yet. Fusion GPS is an organization that was colluding with the Democratic Party, hired a former British spy to go out and try to find dirt on Donald Trump and the Russians. The dossier – that – the famous dossier, came out of this exercise and this man in 2016 filed a complaint against Fusion GPS saying they were actually working for the Russian government. So what blows my mind is that the Russians were backing Fusion GPS, who produced a dossier to undercut Donald Trump.

Compiled by the Republican National Committee
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ABC, NBC, And CBS Pretty Much Bury IT Scandal Engulfing Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Office
By Matt Vespa

Well, just in case you didn’t hear, an information technology officer has been accused of bank fraud. He tried to flee the country, and now Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s (D-FL) office has finally fired the aide, despite this person being under investigation since last winter. His termination was made official on Tuesday.
Imran Awan is the name of the subject in question. The Capitol Police launched a probe, where he’s been accused of “serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network.” He also provided technical assistance to other Democratic members of Congress.
It was a family affair as well. As Jenn noted over the weekend, his two brothers, along with two of their wives, also worked for members of Congress. Imran moved out of his house in Virginia when he found out he was under investigation last February.
He rented the home to a Marine Corps veteran and his wife, a naval officer, who found hard drives that Awan had reportedly tried to destroy. The FBI now has possession of those drives. Jenn added that Imran tried to enter the home to retrieve them, though the Marine refused entry.
On Monday, Imran was arrested trying to leave the country at Dulles airport (via The Hill):
Awan, an IT staffer who has worked for many House Democrats and was employed by Wasserman Schultz, was allegedly at the center of a scheme that involved double-charging the House for IT equipment, and may also have exposed House information online, according to Fox.
[…]
Awan and his family have reportedly worked for House Democrats for years. He declared bankruptcy in 2012, but has made millions of dollars on the House payroll over at least a decade of work for various members, according to a Politico report.
In March, a group of House Democrats fired Awan and one other staffer over their alleged involvement in the scheme and the looming criminal investigation. However, Fox News reported Tuesday that Wasserman Schultz still has Awan on her staff's payroll despite him being barred from accessing the House's computer system since February.
Concerning media coverage, Politico has reported something on it, but the big three—ABC, NBC, and CBS—have virtually buried this story, preventing the millions of viewers that tune into these respective networks from learning about it. NBC and ABC have been silent in their broadcasts, but CBS did devote 37 seconds to it. That's it (via Newsbusters):
ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today continued on Wednesday morning the liberal media’s attempts to help Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fl.) cover up the scandal involving now-fired I.T. staffer Imran Awan after his arrested Monday when he tried to flee the country.
After all three ignored the story until Wednesday, CBS This Morning arrived at the scene, albeit it with a 37-second news brief by co-host Gayle King that only scratched the surface on this scandal concerning Awan and his family.
[…]
As The Daily Caller has reported for months, Awan and his family have provided I.T. services to not just Wasserman Schultz but prominent congressional Democrats across key committees such as the House Intelligence Committee.
The news outlet also found that Awan and his brother secretly took $100,000 of Iraqi money, owed money to an Iraqi politician who’s been linked to Hezbollah, and possibly kept their stepmother “in ‘capivity’” for better access to offshore money.
On Monday, The Daily Caller’s Luke Rosiak reported that the FBI had “seized smashed computer hard drives” from Awan’s home in addition to the Capitol Police’s seizure of  “computer equipment tied to [Wasserman Schultz].”
Awan’s attorney is blaming the media attention on “anti-Muslim bigotry.” Awan is from Pakistan.
Oh yeah, I forgot about the bank fraud part (via USA Today):
Awan, who lives in Lorton, Va., was arraigned Tuesday on charges of bank fraud for allegedly attempting to get a loan from the Congressional Federal Credit Union on a rental property by claiming it as his primary residence.
He pleaded not guilty. His passport was confiscated and he was outfitted with a GPS monitoring device.
Awan's wife, Hina Alvi, flew to Pakistan in March with the couple's three children. A federal court complaint, which noted the children had been abruptly taken out of school in Virginia, said an examination of her luggage found she was carrying $12,400 in cash. She was allowed to leave for Pakistan.

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The quest to prove collusion is crumbling
By Ed Rogers 

…[T]he media has been trying to sneak away from the “Russian collusion” story. That’s right. For all the breathless hype, the on-air furrowed brows and the not-so-veiled hopes that this could be Watergate, Jared Kushner’s statement and testimony before Congress have made Democrats and many in the media come to the realization that the collusion they were counting on just isn’t there.


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Clinton Scandal Only Deepens — So Why Is Trump, Not Hillary, Targeted For Investigation?

Corruption: Amid the trivial fault-finding by the media of President Trump's every move, it's important to note that the very same pundits who now rip Trump have completely ignored the growing scandal of Hillary Clinton's pay-for-play tenure as secretary of state. It's reasonable to wonder why no charges have yet been filed, yet the media, blinded by their Trump hatred, seem strangely incurious.
The legal investigative think tank Judicial Watch recently released 448 pages of documents that it dug up from the U.S. State Department, the fruit of months of Freedom of Information Act requests and document-digging. The documents are damning, showing even more instances of Hillary Clinton performing official favors for those who donated to the Clinton Foundation and certain political campaigns.
To put it even more bluntly, the emails make a prima facie case for a criminal prosecution of Clinton. As Judicial Watch notes:
"In July 2009, in reference to the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, Clinton Global Initiative head Doug Band told (Huma) Abedin that she "Need(s) to show love" to Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow Chemical (DOW). Band also asked for Liveris to be introduced to Hillary, "and have her mention both me and wjc." Dow gave between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative. Band also pushes for Clinton to do a favor for Karlheinz Koegel, a major Clinton Foundation contributor, who wanted Hillary Clinton to give the 'honor speech' for his media prize to 'Merkel.' "
Further, "The emails reveal that on June 19, 2009, Clinton's brother, Tony Rodham, passed a long a letter for Hillary Clinton for Clinton donor Richard Park. Park donated $100,000 to Bill Clinton as far back as 1993 and is listed by the Clinton Foundation as a $100,000 to $250,000 donor."
This wasn't all, not by a long shot. Ben Ringel, a Clinton donor, emailed top Clinton aide Huma Abedin seeking a U.S. visa for an unnamed Iranian woman. Ringel donated between $10,000 and $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation.
Foundation head Band shows up in numerous emails, seeking favors, including trying to get people jobs in the State Department. At times, the Clinton Foundation's top executive seems almost to be an adjunct State Department official.
In August 2009, for instance, Band tried to get his candidate installed as ambassador to Barbados. Abedin answered: "I know, he's emailed a few times. But she wants to give to someone else." In another instance earlier that year, Band sought a "career post" in East Timor for someone. Abedin told him that Hillary Clinton's chief of staff Cheryl Mills was working on that request "under the radar."
Still other emails show a stunning contempt for any notion of protecting classified information, with emails revealing sensitive matters being routinely exposed on Hillary Clinton's and Huma Abedin's unsecured email server, ranging from classified emails from U.S. ambassadors to the planned schedule for President Obama while in Cairo, Egypt, to a sensitive document of a Clinton phone call with "Chinese Foreign Minister Yang."
All on a server that many experts believe was probably hacked by the Chinese, the Russians, or both.
Old news, you say? Hardly. As most know, the hoo-ha over Donald Trump Jr.'s talks with Russian officials revolves around a somewhat mysterious yet nearly ubiquitous Russian lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya, who purported to have some dirt on Hillary Clinton that she would exchange for help with the Global Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law that imposed sanctions on Russians who were deemed to be human-rights violators.
Now, if you reach way back in your memory banks, recall that Bill Clinton, on June 29, 2010, gave a speech in Moscow for $500,000, paid for by the Russian government-tied financial firm Renaissance Capital. And also remember that before Bill's speech was made, Hillary had refused a congressional request to reject visas for several Russian officials who were thought to be implicated in human-rights abuses.
Which raises a big question: Was Bill's speech a quid pro quo for Hillary's help?
Subsequent events suggest the answer was yes. For despite Hillary Clinton's and President Obama's hopes of a "reset" with Russia, Congress in 2012 passed the Global Magnitsky Act. And for the record, Renaissance Capital was allegedly party to the scandal that led to the Magnitsky Act.
Documents from WikiLeaks show that Hillary was aware of the potential trouble this could create for her campaign. As Jesse Lehrich, part of the Clinton campaign's "Rapid Response Communications" team, wrote in May of 2015: "With the help of the research team, we killed a Bloomberg story trying to link HRC's oppostion to the Magnitsky bill a $500,000 speech that WJC gave in Moscow."
In an ironic addendum, it was to get help with avoiding restrictions under the Magnitsky Act that Veselnitskaya sought to meet with Donald Trump Jr.
Collusion? There's plenty of it. As we've noted repeatedly in the last year, the conflicts of interest and criminal collusion between Hillary Clinton's State Department, the Clinton Foundation and the Russians, among others, are numerous and profound. They warrant a thorough investigation. Why Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been tasked to look into the pathetically trivial meetings between the Trump camp and a handful of Russians — not a violation of any law we're aware of — is inexplicable.
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Sessions Intensifies Crackdown on Sanctuary Cities
By Alice Greene
As announced this Tuesday, sanctuary cities that fail to meet certain requirements risk losing access to millions of dollars in law enforcement grants.
The requirement is twofold:

1.   Cities must notify authorities 48 hours before releasing an immigrant that is wanted by ICE

2.   Cities must allow DHS officials into their jails to interview inmates. 

Giving agents the ability to interview inmates “would knock aside a major hurdle for immigration agents trying to carry out Mr. Trump’s policies,” reports The New York Times. “Instead of trying to round up unauthorized immigrants on the street or during raids, they would be able to collect their targets straight from local jails.” 
The new policy is the next step in the Trump Administration’s broader goal to decrease illegal immigration by tightening our borders and punishing sanctuary cities for their failure to obey federal law.
“This is what the American people should be able to expect from their cities and states,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Under previous rules, cities looking for grant money were simply required to show that they did not prohibit local cops from communicating with ICE agents.
“So-called sanctuary policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes,” said Sessions. “These policies also encourage illegal immigration and even human trafficking by perpetuating the lie that in certain cities, illegal aliens can live outside the law.”
President Trump has long sought to withhold federal money from cities that refuse to cooperate with immigration enforcement. 
American cities should be sanctuaries “for law abiding Americans,” said Trump Tuesday at a campaign-style rally in Ohio. “Not for criminals and gang members that we want the hell out of our country!”

One of his earlier moves was to ask the DHS to periodically release lists of jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with ICE and the crimes committed by illegal aliens they released from prison. As I wrote in March, the first such list detailed crimes including sexual assault, domestic violence, and drunk driving.
Trump attempted to withhold grant money from sanctuary cities earlier this year, but the policy was blocked by a federal judge in California.
The policy announced this week is different than the previous policy in that it requires advance notice before illegals are released, but does not require cities to hold inmates after they have finished their sentences.
Despite continuous threats from the Trump Administration, several big cities across the country have vowed to maintain sanctuary policies. San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera is actually suing the Trump Administration over its attempts to withhold funding to sanctuary cities, arguing that the newest policy violates the Constitution.
The new policy will take effect in September.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

If Sessions leaves, a new DOJ sheriff could rein in or ax Mueller

By Gregg Jarrett

It is unconventional, if not unprecedented, for a sitting president to publicly disparage his attorney general after a mere five months on the job.
Nevertheless, is President Trump justified in his displeasure and frustration with Jeff Sessions?  Let’s examine the facts.
"If he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office, and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump said at a Rose Garden news conference.  “It’s a bad thing not just for the president, but also for the presidency.  I think it’s unfair to the presidency.”
Trump’s point is this: Sessions concealed his intent to recuse himself from the federal investigation into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.  In so doing, the attorney general effectively “sandbagged” the president.
Perhaps the former senator from Alabama was so desperate for the job, he did not care that his recusal might undermine the presidency of the man who nominated him to be the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.  Or maybe Sessions was naïve in convincing himself that failing to disclose such a material matter was somehow inconsequential. It was not.
By his own admission during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in June, Sessions began setting his recusal in motion within hours after being sworn-in as attorney general on Feb. 9.  On his first full day as AG, Sessions immediately met with Justice Department officials to discuss stepping aside from the investigation. A month later, on March 2, he made his recusal official.
Clearly, Sessions was considering disqualifying himself well before he took the oath of office. It was not something that simply dawned on him the moment he raised his right hand in the Oval Office ceremony. And there stood the president, expecting his new attorney general to serve the nation fully and honestly. In retrospect, it was a significant and deliberate deception by Sessions.
On this basis alone, President Trump would be justified in firing him. In the alternative, Sessions could choose to resign. Either way, it is apparent from Trump’s recent remarks that he is more than “disappointed” in his attorney general. He has lost confidence in Sessions.
One can legitimately debate whether Sessions was required to recuse himself. Under the law (28 CFR 45.2), there is sufficient latitude and discretion for Sessions to have remained involved in the Russia investigation. The legal standard is a subjective one.  One person’s interpretation of the language is invariably different than another person’s judgment.
Regardless, President Trump was entitled to know the truth. He deserved an attorney general who, at the outset, was forthright about his intentions, not someone who was hiding his plan to step aside from a major investigation that would surely impact the new administration.
But for Sessions’ deceit, it is unlikely that a special counsel would have been appointed. Instead, Sessions’ replacement in the Russia case, Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, took it upon himself to appoint Robert Mueller to preside over the probe… which played neatly into the scheme admittedly devised by fired FBI Director James Comey, who just happens to be Mueller’s close friend and long-time professional ally.
If there was ever a conflict of interest that demanded recusal under the special counsel law (28 CFR 600.7), it is Mueller’s relationship to his protégé, Comey. The regulations, codified into law, specifically require Mueller to step down if he has a “personal relationship with any person substantially involved in the investigation or prosecution.”  It then defines personal relationship as a “friendship…normally viewed as likely to induce partiality” (28 CFR 45.2). The current conflict is so conspicuous, there may as well be a photo of Mueller and Comey accompanying the rule.
Yet Mueller continues to ignore the law. And Rosenstein has shown no inclination toward limiting the special counsel’s investigation which seems to have morphed into matters well beyond the scope of his original directive.
Rosenstein, himself, is also hopelessly conflicted because he authored the memo that led to Comey’s firing which is reportedly being examined by Mueller as possible obstruction of justice. As Mueller’s boss, it is inconceivable that Rosenstein could serve in the capacity of both prosecutor and witness without turning the entire case into a charade of conflicts. President Trump expressed it more succinctly when he tweeted, “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!”
However, all this could change if Sessions were to leave the Justice Department. President Trump could then name a new acting attorney general who would not only replace Sessions, but assume oversight over Mueller’s investigation, pushing aside Rosenstein.
Who might the president choose? Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe predicts that Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand would get the job, although her name has been bandied about in the media for more than a month. Already confirmed by the Senate as third in command, the respected lawyer could take over the helm at Justice and properly confine Mueller’s probe to its expressed directive: “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump”.  If he strays, she could rein him in.
Under the special counsel law, Mueller would be required to consult directly with Brand and explain the course of his investigation. If any of his actions are determined by Brand to be “so inappropriate or unwarranted that it should not be pursued,” she could stop him.  If he persists, she would then be authorized to discipline or remove Mueller for “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies” (28 CFR 600.7-d).
Or, Brand could simply decide that Mueller’s existing conflict of interest, as noted above, is now so pronounced that it compromises the integrity of the overall investigation. For this reason alone, she could dismiss the special counsel and select someone else who is fair, impartial and devoid of the kind of bias that has rendered Mueller and his investigation inherently suspect.
For now, President Trump seems to be escalating the pressure on Jeff Sessions to resign.  At the same time, the president is mounting a public case that Robert Mueller is the wrong person to serve as special counsel.
Both arguments have merit. If they prevail, it could dramatically alter the president’s fortunes.
Gregg Jarrett is a Fox News Anchor and former defense attorney.
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OTHER NEWS


Trending in Politics


Sunday, July 23, 2017

America's Media Meltdown

By Victor Davis Hanson

 
Image credit: Barbara Kelley

Between 2008 and 2016, the media were unapologetic about their adoration of President Barack Obama. Now, they are energized by their thorough loathing of President Donald Trump. In tragic fashion, the hubris of deifying Obama has now come full circle to the nemesis of demonizing Trump. The common denominator of the two extremes is the abandonment of disinterested reporting.
When Obama announced his candidacy for president in 2007, the media relinquished pretenses of objectivity. The progressive Obama, who had the most partisan record in the U.S. Senate after less than four years in office, appeared to progressive journalists to have come from central casting: glib and charismatic, an Ivy-League pedigree, mixed racial ancestry, a power marriage to a Harvard-trained black lawyer, and an exotic name resonant of multicultural fides.
By comparison, even the would-be first female president Hillary Clinton seemed staid. In the 2008 general election, moderate Republican John McCain—once the darling of the liberal press during his bid to sidetrack George W. Bush in the 2000 Republican primaries—was reduced to a cranky spoiler of the nation’s rare chance to be saved by the messianic Obama from the Bush era’s legacy of war, economic crisis, and callousness.
In the 2008 campaign, reporters ignored the close and disturbing relationships between the mostly unknown Obama and a cast of unsavory characters: his racist and anti-Semitic pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the neighborhood confidant and former terrorist Bill Ayers, and the wheeler-dealer and soon-to-be felon Tony Rezko.
Instead, journalists quickly started worshipping candidate Obama in a manner never quite seen before, not even in the days of the iconic liberal presidents like Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. Newsweek editor Evan Thomas declared Obama to be a deity (“Obama's standing above the country, above the world, he’s sort of God.”) His very words were able to make the leg of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews “tingle.” His pants’ crease proved for David Brooks a talisman of his future greatness, along with the fact that the mellifluent Obama “talks like us.”
While a few journalists were aware of their cult-like worship, most were hooked and competed to outdo one another with embarrassing hagiographic praise. Upon election, Obama was summarily declared by one presidential historian and television pundit to the smartest man with the highest IQ ever to have been president.
Obama himself channeled the veneration, variously promising in god-like fashion to cool the planet and lower the seas, remarking that his own multifaceted expertise was greater than that of all of the various specialists who ran his campaign.
For the next eight years, the media largely ignored what might charitably be called an historic overextension of presidential power and scandal not seen since the days of Richard Nixon’s presidency. A clique of journalists set up a private chat group, JournoList, through which they could channel ideas to promote the Obama progressive agenda.
Freed from most press scrutiny, the Obama administration surveilled Associated Press reporters accused of leaks and monitored the communications of Fox News’s White House Correspondent James Rosen. In a variety of scandals, UN Ambassador and National Security Advisor Susan Rice lied repeatedly about the Benghazi catastrophe, the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap, the Iran deal, and the supposed destruction of weapons of mass destruction by the Assad government in Syria.
Meanwhile, Obama’s Attorney General Loretta Lynch faced inquiries about massaging the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Close advisors such as Rice and UN Ambassador Samantha Power faced congressional inquiries into whether some in the administration had requested improper surveillance reports of political opponents, unmasked their names, and illegally leaked them to the press—a story that the media overlooked.
Most Obama foreign policy initiatives proved disappointments: reset with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the bombing of Libya resulting in postwar chaos, the withdrawal of all U.S. peacekeepers from Iraq, the faux redlines with Syria, failed “strategic patience” with North Korea, writing off the ISIS terrorist caliphate as “Jayvees,” and the expansion of Chinese bases into the South China Sea.
At home, Obama was the first president in recent history never to have achieved three percent economic growth, as labor non-participation rose and median family incomes fell.
The media largely ignored a series of scandals, as if investigating them might endanger the Obama progressive moment: the politicization of the IRS, FBI, and Justice Department; ICE reduced to de facto irrelevance; fraud at the VA; overreach at EPA; and incompetence at the Secret Service and GSA.
Rather than appreciate such media obsequiousness, Obama sometimes showed near contempt for toadyish reporters, joking about his positive press coverage and joshing how he got the Nobel Peace Prize without much accomplishment.
His deputy National Security Advisor and would-be novelist Ben Rhodes contemptuously manipulated and then wrote off young foreign correspondents as know-nothings—despite the fact they had helped the administration obfuscate the dangerous implications of Obama’s Iran deal through what Rhodes called an “echo chamber” of administration-fed talking points.
Former speech writers Jon Favreau and Jon Lovett joked on television how they had easily deluded the public on the downsides of Obamacare. Special advisor Jonathan Gruber laughed at the “stupidity of the American voter” who was easily deceived by the administration and media about the nature of Obamacare. Again, the common denominator was an expectation that the press was not a public watchdog but an enabler of the Obama agenda.
By the time of 2016 presidential race, the media had lost their credibility as disinterested guardians of objective truth. And while Hillary Clinton in 2016 was no Barack Obama in 2008, reporters still gave her special privileges. CNN talking-head Donna Brazile fed debate questions to the Clinton campaign prior to a Clinton-Sanders televised debate. And the John Podesta Wikileaks trove revealed that a number of marquee reporters were openly colluding with Clinton to defeat Trump.
Once the media crossed the Rubicon of partisanship, there was no turning back. The unchecked ebullience that they had showed for Obama has now been replaced by an undisguised hatred for Donald Trump.
Just as journalists saw no negative repercussions in their adoration of Obama, they are now able to denigrate the conservative populist Trump without consequences. Arrogance plays a role: the media feel that they displayed power in getting Obama elected and now they wager that they can also ensure Trump’s defeat, or at least derail his presidency.

The liberal Harvard Kennedy School and Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy issued a report recently showing how the media has established a “new standard” of negativity in presidential reporting. It noted that the aggregate news stories from the first 100 days of the Trump administration were about 80% critical. Some networks such as CNN aired 93% negative coverage of the president.
CNN was forced to fire three reporters for creating fictional news about the Trump administration. Some of its anchors and hosts used scatology to denigrate the president. CNN's New Year’s host Kathy Griffin was fired at the end of May 2017, for holding up a facsimile of the decapitated head of Trump. Some producers were caught on tape bragging about CNN’s biases against Trump and the stupidity of the voters who elected him.
Media hosts and commentators have been lavish in their coverage of progressive efforts to subvert Trump—whether it was getting the Electoral College to deny Trump the presidency; the attempts to overturn the voting results in three states Trump won; the move to impeach him or remove him by the 25th Amendment; or to find him guilty of obstruction of justice or collusion with the Russians.
Some exasperated journalists have been at least intellectually honest enough to admit that the profession should no longer adhere to traditional norms of disinterested presidential reporting in the post-Obama age. According to Christiane Amanpour, Carl Bernstein, Jorge Ramos, and Jim Rutenberg, the singular menace of the Trump presidency demands open anti-Trump advocacy, without the veneer of unbiased reporting.
What caused the media’s Trump meltdown? There were a variety reasons.
Trump represents everything that the media despise: a crude reality-TV billionaire without military or political experience, whose orange skin, combed over dyed blond hair, sharp Queens accent, and confrontational attitude seemed vulgar and crass.
The nexus between beltway politics and the media, often cemented through marriages and familial relationships, recoiled that an outsider like Trump sought not just to overturn the Obama agenda but to do so unapologetically and with the same executive orders that Obama himself had bragged about in his “pen and phone” ultimata to make laws without the help of the Congress.
Moreover, Trump campaigned on an us/them, red-state/blue-state dichotomy. He smashed the proverbial Democratic blue wall—a fact that caused great unease to liberal journalists who sensed that half the country found their coastal progressive culture not just foreign but apparently hypocritical and elitist.
In addition, the current generation of marquee reporters was schooled at the major journalism schools by veterans of the 1960s, when the “new” journalism saw progressive political activism—opposition to the Vietnam War and the promotion of civil rights, feminism, and environmentalism—as the proper counterweight to traditional and supposedly regressive American values.
Postmodernism—the theory that there are no absolute facts or eternal truths, only interpretations based on power machinations—seeped out from university English departments into the larger elite culture. Such relativism may explain the epidemic of fake news accounts and plagiarism as alternative “narratives” rather than simple untruths.
Buzzfeed, for example, published the infamous fake Steele file, a lurid dossier of oppositional research against the Trump campaign, even though it admitted it could not confirm the veracity of the salacious accusations against Trump. But who was to say that the accusations were any more true or false than any other? In such anything-goes fashion, Politico’s Julia Joffe channeled the vulgarity of television celebrities like Steven Colbert and Bill Maher in suggesting an incestuous relationship between the president and his daughter.
Trump was neither shy nor decorous in punching back, ridiculing the appearance of on-air talking heads, relegating them to back of the room slots at press conferences, and going over the head of the media through often crude ad hominem tweets. Although polls (whose reliability remains questionable after the 2016 election) rarely showed figures higher than forty percent for Trump, the media is held in even less regard, with about two-thirds of those polled expressing their disapproval of journalists.
If the media became unhinged in the adulatory Obama years through hubris, it might have earned back its respect and professionalism by covering Trump in even-handed fashion. But Nemesis does not work that way: those it destroys, it first makes mad.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Hillary Used "Fusion GPS" Phony Oppo Info From Kremlin That Sought To Damage Trump


Christopher Steele - Trump Dossier Author
While most in the media continue to focus on a meeting that all parties involved say resulted in no damaging material against Hillary Clinton, there’s little attention being paid to the fact that Hillary’s supporters were able to successfully use a foreign intelligence agent to disseminate false information to the mainstream American press.
The phony information allegedly came from inside the Kremlin and sought to damage then-candidate Donald Trump.
Newly-released British court documents show that Fusion GPS, an “oppo firm” funded by Hillary’s supporters, successfully managed to get a former spy to discuss the phony foreign intelligence with The New York Times, The Washington Post, Yahoo News, The New Yorker, Mother Jones and CNN.
From McClatchy:
“Later, Democrats paid for the same research on Trump’s past and alleged Russian ties.
Fusion GPS contracted with Steele, who had once worked as an undercover spy in Moscow.
The court document lifted a veil on Washington’s inner workings, with Steele laying out how Fusion briefed select reporters on the material for which it and Steele had been paid to gather.
‘The journalists initially briefed at the end of September 2016 by the Second Defendant (Steele) and Fusion at Fusion’s instruction were from the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, the New Yorker and CNN,’ Steele’s lawyers said, adding that he “verbally and in person” briefed the first three organizations in mid-October and a reporter from Mother Jones via Skype.”
On the heels of a CNN report refuting Clinton campaign officials’ claims that the DNC never worked with a foreign government to dig up dirt on Donald Trump, we now know that Democrats actually used a foreign agent to disseminate phony information to the American mainstream media that allegedly came from inside the Kremlin.
 And hardly anyone is paying any attention to it.
 Background
Fusion GPS is an opposition research firm funded by Hillary Clinton supporters in the summer of 2016.
“But congressional sources say it’s actually an opposition-research group for Democrats, and the founders, who are more political activists than journalists, have a pro-Hillary Clinton, anti-Trump agenda. ‘These weren’t mercenaries or hired guns,’ a congressional source familiar with the dossier probe said. ‘These guys had a vested personal and ideological interest in smearing Trump and boosting Hillary’s chances of winning the White House.’
"Fusion GPS was on the payroll of an unidentified Democratic ally of Clinton when it hired a long-retired British spy to dig up dirt on Trump. In 2012, Democrats hired Fusion GPS to uncover dirt on GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. And in 2015, Democratic ally Planned Parenthood retained Fusion GPS to investigate pro-life activists protesting the abortion group.
"Moreover, federal records show a key co-founder and partner in the firm was a Hillary Clinton donor and supporter of her presidential campaign.” (Paul Sperry, Sketchy firm behind Trump dossier is stalling investigators,” New York Post, 6/24/17)
Fusion GPS hired foreign intelligence agent Christopher Steele to compile the now-infamous dossier containing unproven allegations against President Trump.
“Fusion GPS, which is based in Washington DC and was established by former Wall Street Journal reporters Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, found itself in the spotlight earlier this year after it emerged it was behind an “oppo research” dossier containing unproven and often salacious allegations about Mr Trump.
"The company had originally been hired by Republican rivals of Mr Trump during the primary campaign. After he secured the party's nomination, the company was instead paid by Democratic financial supporters of Ms Clinton.
"In the summer of 2016, GPS hired former British intelligence agent, Christopher Steele, to help their work.” (Andrew Buncombe, “Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr linked to investigation group behind salacious Steele Dossier,” The Independent, 7/10/17)
Steele “once worked as an undercover spy in Moscow.”
“Fusion GPS contracted with Steele, who had once worked as an undercover spy in Moscow.” (Kevin G. Hall, “John McCain faces questions in Trump-Russia dossier case,” McClatchy, 7/11/17)
The dossier contains several anonymous sources from inside the Kremlin.
“The dossier quotes from a large number of anonymous sources. It cites ‘a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin’, ‘a senior Russian foreign ministry figure’ and “a senior Russian financial official’.” (Luke Harding, “What we know – and what’s true – about the Trump-Russia dossier,” The Guardian, 1/11/17)
Despite denials from multiple DNC and former Clinton campaign officials, a DNC contractor worked with the Ukrainian government “to dig up dirt on Donald Trump and his top aides.”
“Multiple Democratic National Committee officials, former Clinton campaign officials and Democratic sources denied that the Democratic committee or Clinton campaign worked with the government of Ukraine to dig up dirt on Donald Trump and his top aides.
"But multiple Democratic sources said that a DNC contractor, whose work included organizing political events for Ukranian-Americans, did tell DNC operatives that Ukrainian officials would be willing to deliver damaging information on Trump's campaign and, most notably, Paul Manafort, his then-campaign head who has previously advised Viktor Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian President who has close ties to Moscow.” (Dan Merica, “DNC denies working with Ukrainian government, but contractor floated anti-Trump material,” CNN, 7/12/17)
Compiled by the Republican National Committee