Sunday, May 20, 2018

BREAKING: DOJ asks watchdog to look into possible 'impropriety' after Trump demands probe on alleged campaign 'infiltration'




The Justice Department asked its watchdog to look into any alleged "impropriety or political motivation" in the FBI's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, the DOJ said Sunday night -- hours after President Trump ordered a review looking into whether federal agents infiltrated or surveilled his campaign for political purposes.
"I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes -- and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!" the president tweeted.
----------

 I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!

-----

"The Department has asked the Inspector General to expand the ongoing review of the (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) application process to include determining whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election. As always, the Inspector General will consult with the appropriate U.S. Attorney if there is any evidence of potential criminal conduct," DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told Fox News.
She also released a response from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein: "If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action."
Trump, late last week, began accusing the Justice Department of trying to frame him by planting a spy in his campaign -- an allegation his own lawyer said might not be true.
Promoting a theory that is circulating, Trump quoted Fox Business anchor David Asman and tweeted Friday: "Apparently the DOJ put a Spy in the Trump Campaign. This has never been done before and by any means necessary, they are out to frame Donald Trump for crimes he didn't commit."
...
On whether there was an "informant" in the 2016 presidential campaign, Giuliani told CNN, "I don't know for sure, nor does the president, if there really was one," though he said they have long been told there was "some kind of infiltration."
Earlier this month, the National Review raised the question of a possible FBI spy in Trump's campaign. The article cites work by California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, an ardent Trump supporter and head of the House Intelligence Committee, who has demanded information on an FBI source in the Russia investigation.
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee as its vice chairman, objected Friday to such demands, emphasizing "the critical importance of protecting sources and methods."
"It would be at best irresponsible, and at worst potentially illegal, for members of Congress to use their positions to learn the identity of an FBI source for the purpose of undermining the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in our election," Warner wrote in a statement. "Anyone who is entrusted with our nation's highest secrets should act with the gravity and seriousness of purpose that knowledge deserves."
The New York Times reported separately this past week that at least one government informant met several times with Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, both former foreign policy advisers for Trump's Republican campaign.
The Times reported Friday that the informant talked to Page and Papadopoulos because they had suspicious contacts linked to Russia. The newspaper attributed the information to current and former FBI officials.
...
Fox News' Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

SHOCK: Cambridge professor outed as FBI informant inside Trump campaign


By Mary Kay Linge | New York Post
  


A Cambridge professor with deep ties to American and British intelligence has been outed as an agent who snooped on the Trump presidential campaign for the FBI.

Multiple media outlets have named Stefan Halper, 73, as the secret informant who met with Trump campaign advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos starting in the summer of 2016. The American-born academic previously served in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations.

The revelation, stemming from recent reports in which FBI sources admitted sending an agent to snoop on the Trump camp, heightens suspicions that the FBI was seeking to entrap Trump campaign aides. Papodopoulous has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, while Page was the subject of a federal surveillance warrant.

“If the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal,” President Trump tweeted Saturday, calling for the FBI to release additional documents to Congress.

The Halper revelation also shows the Obama administration’s FBI began prying into the opposing party’s presidential nominee earlier than it previously admitted.

Halper’s sit-downs with Page reportedly started in early July 2016, undermining fired FBI Director James Comey’s previous claim that the bureau’s investigation into the Trump campaign began at the end of that month.

Halper made his first overture when he met with Page at a British symposium. The two remained in regular contact for more than a year, meeting at Halper’s Virginia farm and in Washington, DC, as well as exchanging emails.

The professor met with Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis in late August, offering his services as a foreign-policy adviser, The Washington Post reported Friday, without naming the academic.

Clovis did not see the conversation as suspicious, his attorney told the paper — but is now “unsettled” that “the professor” never mentioned he’d struck up a relationship with Page.

Days later, Halper contacted Papadopoulos by e-mail. The professor offered the young and inexperienced campaign aide $3,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to London, ostensibly to write a paper about energy in the eastern Mediterranean region.

“George, you know about hacking the e-mails from Russia, right?” the professor pressed Papadopoulos when they met, according to reports — a reference to Trump’s campaign-trail riffs about Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server.

Sources close to Papadopoulos told NBC News that he now believes Halper was working for an intelligence agency.

Highly detailed descriptions of the FBI informant in Friday reports in The New York Times and Washington Post pegged Halper in all but name. 

Outlets including NBC and Fox News subsequently connected the dots. The revelation confirms a March report in the Daily Caller that outlined Halper’s repeated meetings with Papadopoulos and Page.

It is not clear if the professor was paid to speak with Trump campaign figures, but public records show that he has received large payments from the federal government in the last two years.

The Department of Defense’s Office of Net Assessment — a shadowy think tank that reports directly to the secretary of defense — paid Halper $282,000 in 2016 and $129,000 in 2017.
Halper has close personal and professional ties to the CIA reaching back decades

He is the son-in-law of a former deputy director of the agency and worked on the 1980 presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush, who had served as CIA director.

When Bush became Ronald Reagan’s running mate, Halper was implicated in a spying scandal in which CIA officials gave inside information on the Carter administration to the GOP campaign.
Meanwhile, reports emerged Saturday that Donald Trump Jr. met in August 2016 with a representative of Saudi crown princes, who offered pre-election help to his father’s campaign.

An Israeli political strategist who attended the meeting told the New York Times that their plan to carry out a pro-Trump social media campaign did not go forward.


___________________


POWERLINE


Jazzing up the FBI spying-on-Trump scandal


The FBI and its friends in the mainstream media want to make the Bureau’s spying on the Trump campaign seem as dry, innocuous, and non-cloak-and-dagger as possible under the circumstances. An elderly professor contacted three Trump advisers — Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, and Sam Clovis.

He met with Page at least several times and maintained an email correspondence with him. He met with Clovis once for coffee. He met several times for dinner with Papadopoulos. He was looking for indications of Russian influence in the campaign. Apparently, he found none.

As dry as this story sounds, it still constitutes the federal government spying on the campaign of the candidate of the party out of power. It’s still a scandal.

It could a use a little spice, though. This report by Chuck Ross at the Daily Caller supplies it.

According to Ross:

Papadopoulos made the trip to (London) and had dinner multiple times with [the spying professor] and a Turkish woman described as his assistant. Sources familiar with Papadopoulos’s version of their meetings said Halper randomly asked Papadopoulos whether he knew about Democratic National Committee emails that had been hacked and leaked by Russians.

Papadopoulos strongly denied the allegation, sources familiar with his version of the exchange have told The DCNF [Daily Caller News Foundation]. Halper grew agitated and pressed Papadopoulos on the topic. Papadopoulos believes that Halper was recording him during some of their interactions, sources said.

[The professor’s] assistant. . .brought up Russians and emails over drinks with Papadopoulos. [She] also flirted heavily with Papadopoulos and attempted to meet him in Chicago, where he lives, a source told TheDCNF.

If true, the FBI didn’t just use an elderly professor to spy. It also used a temptress.

This isn’t as juicy as parts of the anti-Trump dossier, but it may have the virtue (so to speak) of being true.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Obama Legacy Deserves to Be Destroyed




It’s strange that a president who had such a transformative effect on our national discourse will leave such a negligible policy legacy.

But Barack Obama, whose imperial term changed the way Americans interact and in some ways paved the way for the Trump presidency, is now watching his much-celebrated and mythologized two-term legacy be systematically demolished. This, in many ways, tells us that American governance still works.

When President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, he was able to do so without much difficulty because the agreement hinged on presidential fiat rather than national consensus. Obama’s appeasement of Iran was only one in a string of unilateral norm-busting projects that deserve to be dismantled.

You’ll remember the panic-stricken coverage we endured when the United States withdrew from the faux international Paris climate agreement last year. It’s true that the deal was oversold as a matter of policy (by both parties for political reasons), but it was symbolic of how the Obama administration concerned itself more with international consensus than domestic compromise.

We know this because the president would never have won ratification for a deal remotely similar to the one he entered—nor did he attempt to. Obama, despite the hagiographic framing of his scandal-ridden presidency, had about as much interest in genuine concession as his political adversaries did.

Obama allies at home incessantly pointed to poll numbers as a justification for his executive abuse, mostly because the only polls that really mattered, congressional elections, continued to soundly reject his agenda.

The defense rested on the idea that the Republican-led Congress had failed to “do its job” and act on issues Democrats had deemed vital. But Congress, of course, “acted” all the time by checking the president’s ambitions. This was not only well within its purview but also in many ways the reason the electorate handed the GOP Congress in the first place.

Even if you substantively supported Obama’s actions—as I do on legalizing the children of immigrants who are in the country illegally, for instance—the reasoning that girded these supposedly temporary executive decisions was soon revealed to be abusive.

In 2012, Obama told the nation that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which by any standard was a stand-in for legislation, was merely a “temporary stopgap measure.” By the time Trump overturned it, the measure represented “who we are as a people.” That’s because by “temporary,” Obama always meant “until Democrats can make it permanent through the courts or electoral victories.”

Even when implementing laws Congress could pass, Obama and his allies relied on coercing participation through mandates. But when it became inconvenient, they began arbitrarily implementing parts of laws. Administrative discretion became administrative abuse. When the president decided Obamacare’s employer mandate was politically inconvenient, for example, he simply skipped it for expediency.

The Constitution doesn’t say, “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law unless liberals tell us it’s super important.” Yet shortly after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration realized it would need more subsidies and asked for an appropriation from Congress.

When Congress, then teeming with politicians elected on the promise of overturning Obamacare, refused, then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew ordered the administration to begin making “cost-sharing reduction” payments anyway, without any public legal justification.

Obama created a $7 billion per year appropriation for insurance companies participating in the supposedly self-sufficient and competitive state health care exchanges. Not a single liberal pundit that I know of concerned himself with this norm-breaking.

One federal court found the Obamacare subsidy unconstitutional, and the case was working its way toward the Supreme Court. But then again, no administration in memory was stopped more often by courts, often by unanimous Supreme Court decisions. 

Whether it was ignoring the Senate in making appointments or claiming to rewrite employment law, Obama tried to function without constitutional restraints.

None of this even breaches the unprecedented regulatory regime Obama built to circumvent the legislative branch. Even The New York Times characterized his governing as “bureaucratic bulldozing, rather than legislative transparency.”
Fortunately, it is also unsustainable. 

As we now see, this kind of governance not only corrodes constitutional order but also undermines stability, as new presidents busy themselves overturning the executive actions and international agreements enacted by the previous.

While most Americans aren’t sticklers for process, it seems they are content with destroying legacies built on the rickety foundation of unilateralism for political reasons.

That’s fine, too. It means that if Trump engages in similar legislative efforts through the executive office, his agenda will also be dismantled one day. That’s as it should be.


Friday, May 18, 2018

HISTORIC: Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA director, first woman to lead agency




Gina Haspel was confirmed Thursday as CIA director, becoming the first woman to lead the agency and overcoming initial Democratic opposition regarding her role in post-9/11 interrogation and detention practices.

The Senate voted 54-45 to confirm President Trump's nominee, with six Democrats supporting and two Republicans defecting. Haspel, whose nomination was endorsed by the Senate Intelligence Committee a day earlier, previously was deputy director and has spent her career with the agency.

Trump tweeted his congratulations after the vote.

Haspel earned emphatic support from GOP lawmakers as well as intelligence community members from both Democratic and Republican administrations.

"The safety and security of the American people depend on capable intelligence leadership. Gina Haspel is the right woman at the right time," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. 

But her history as base chief at a black-site prison in Thailand in 2002, where techniques such as waterboarding were used on terror suspects, came under scrutiny during the confirmation process. 

Republican supporters accused Democrats of politicizing her nomination and initially trying to derail an otherwise highly qualified nominee.

At her confirmation hearing last week, Democrats grilled her on her views on what they deemed torture, as well as objecting to what they saw as the CIA’s selective declassification about information on her. She was also questioned at length about the 2005 destruction of more than 92 interrogation tapes -- a move she said she supported to ensure the safety of CIA agents.

Haspel refused to criticize her colleagues and superiors for their conduct during what she called a “tumultuous time,” but said the CIA under her watch would not resume such techniques. She also defended her own conduct.

“After 9/11 … I stepped up. I was not on the sidelines, I was on the frontlines in the Cold War and I was on the frontlines in the fight against Al Qaeda,” she said in response to a question from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Haspel’s confirmation had been in question after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., later joined by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said he would not vote for her.

“While I thank Ms. Haspel for her long and dedicated service to the CIA, as a country we need to turn the page on the unfortunate chapter in the agency's history having to do with torture,” Flake said in a statement Wednesday.

Along with the absence of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., it meant that Haspel needed Democratic votes to assure her confirmation.

But in the days leading up to Thursday's vote, she picked up Democratic support, particularly from those in tough midterm re-election fights. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., came out to back her last week, and others followed. 

A key factor may have been a letter she wrote to Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chairman of the intelligence committee, on Tuesday, saying: “With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken."

Warner subsequently said in a statement that he believes she “is someone who can and will stand up to the president if ordered to do something illegal or immoral -- like a return to torture.” 

Haspel will replace now-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.

_________________

IN OTHER NEWS

Texas high school shooting leaves 8-10 dead, 1 suspect in custody, 1 detained



Students console each other following a school shooting at Santa Fe High School.  (AP)

A Texas high school student unleashed a hail of bullets inside one of his classes early Friday morning, gunning down eight to 10 people and explosive devices were found at the school, police said.

The suspected shooter was taken into police custody and a second suspect has been detained. The suspect in custody and the suspect detained for further questioning were both students.

Police officers responded to Santa Fe High School around 8 a.m. CDT after reports that a shooter opened fire inside.

The Santa Fe Police Department confirmed explosive devices were found at the campus of the high school and the "surrounding areas adjacent to the school." The school has been evacuated and the campus was cleared, the Santa Fe Police Department said.

A school resource officer was shot and injured and another officer was also injured in the incident, CBS News reported.

The chief nursing officer at the University of Texas Medical Branch told reporters the center received two adult patients and one person under 18 years old.

Galveston County Sheriff's Maj. Douglas Hudson said units responded to reports of shots fired. Witnesses say a gunman opened fire inside an art class during first period. A student in the class told KTRK she witnessed at least one girl being shot.

"We thought it was a fire drill at first but really, the teacher said, 'Start running,'" the student told the news station.

Two seniors at the school told KHOU 11 their friend pulled the fire alarm after spotting the shooter and urged other students to run. They also said they saw an injured female student.

“Now I am worried about everyone else,” one student commented. “ I don’t even want to go to graduation now.”

The student said she did not get a good look at the shooter because she was running away. She said students escaped through a door at the back of the classroom.

Authorities have not yet confirmed these accounts.

A 17-year-old student told Fox News her friend was shot in the leg.

"It was very dramatic because I thought she was going to the ambulance because we all had to run through and she's very dramatic so I thought she rolled her ankle or something but when I called her she was screaming crying saying she got shot in the leg and so much is going on and is was dramatic," the student told Fox News.

A parent of one of the students told Fox News they drove to the school immediately after hearing about the active shooting situation.

"If it can happen in Santa Fe, Texas, it can happen anywhere," the parent said. "I mean it's just unbelievable."

President Trump tweeted Friday regarding the shooting stating, "School shooting in Texas. Early reports not looking good. God bless all!"

Trump mentioned the school shooting during a speech at the White House Friday.


 Eight to 10 people were killed Friday in a school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas.  (AP)

“Unfortunately I have to begin by expressing our sadness and heartbreak over the deadly shooting in Texas,” he said. “We send prayers and support for everyone affected in the horrific attack.

Trump also tweeted again saying he "grieved for the terrible loss of life, and send our support and love to everyone affected by this horrible attack in Texas."

"To the students, families, teachers and personnel at Santa Fe High School - we are with you in this tragic hour, and we will be with you forever," he concluded.

Trump spoke with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to "offer his condolences for those affected by the shooting at Santa Fe High School," an official told Fox News.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said it was also on the scene. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted early Friday that he arrived at the school to assist officers with the Galveston County Sheriff Office.

Santa Fe is a city of about 13,000 residents, located 30 miles southeast of Houston. The incident is the nation's deadliest school shooting since the February attack in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people.

Fox News' Madeline Rivera and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

How #MeToo Has Undermined the #Resistance




Caitlyn MacGregor dons a “pussyhat” and attends the second annual Women’s March in Cambridge, Mass., January 20, 2018.(Brian Snyder/Reuters)

The steady drumbeat of sexual scandal is eroding the Left’s moral authority.
In 2016, the Democrats made a significant mistake in opposing Donald Trump:

They framed their opposition to Trump in moral terms, but failed to provide a better alternative. In 2017 and 2018, they’re making the same mistake again, adopting an attitude of moral superiority in spite of obvious evidence to the contrary.

The Left’s failure in the presidential election was glaringly obvious. 

You claim Trump is dishonest? So is Hillary Clinton. 

You claim that Trump’s financial dealings are shady? Let’s walk through Whitewater, cattle futures, and the Clinton Foundation. 

Trump is a predator? Voters who lived through the 1990s remember “bimbo eruptions,” Monica Lewinsky, a rape allegation, and a wife who consistently covered for her husband’s horrible behavior. The Clintons were a package deal, and that deal included a legacy of tawdry, shocking sexual scandal.

Hillary centered her entire campaign on the notion that Trump was a bad person. She was the worst candidate to make that argument. 

But when 2016 entered history, so did she. 

Her book tours and headline-grabbing gaffes notwithstanding, she’s largely yesterday’s news. 

The #Resistance, on the other hand, is fresh. And it has the moral authority that Hillary lacked. It can speak clearly about “norms” and “values.” It can condemn Trump’s multiple moral failings in the strongest possible terms, unencumbered by all that Clinton baggage.

At least until #MeToo.

I truly don’t think the Left understands how the relentless drumbeat of sexual scandal looks to Americans outside the progressive bubble. 

Left-dominated quarters of American life — Hollywood, the media, progressive politics — have been revealed to be havens for the worst sort of ghouls, and each scandal seems to be accompanied by two words that deepen American cynicism and make legions of conservative Americans roll their eyes at the Left’s moral arguments: “Everyone knew.”

Let’s put this in the clearest possible terms: 

For years, as Hollywood positioned itself as America’s conscience and as the media lauded its commitment to “social justice,” it was harboring, protecting, and indeed promoting truly dreadful human beings as leaders and taste-makers. Progressive politicians who proclaimed support for women’s rights on Twitter were groping women on airplanes or punching them in the bedroom.

All this was happening at the precise time that the dominant argument — particularly against social conservatism — was that “you people are haters and bigots.” 

It’s difficult to overstate the extent to which conservative Americans have felt scolded and hectored. 

So how do you expect us to react when it’s revealed that all too many of the self-appointed moralists weren’t just the kind of preachers who’d run off with the secretary, they were the kind of monsters who’d press a button in their office, lock the secretary in the room, and assault her?

And again, people knew.

Progressives might immediately respond, “Well, at least we’re cleaning house.”

And it’s true that the number of politicians and celebrities who’ve resigned or been fired is growing long indeed. 

But conservatives have their own retort: “We are too.” Bill O’Reilly is off Fox. Roger Ailes was forced out before he passed away. Roy Moore lost an unlosable Senate seat. Missouri’s governor may well face impeachment.

That leaves, of course, the presidency, which puts us right back where we started, with the terrible dilemma of 2016. 

Do Democrats honestly believe that they can put forth a corrupt candidate and then, when that candidate loses, adopt a morally scolding position that Republicans should demand the discipline or resignation of their victor? 

If they do, they’re in for a rude awakening: 

Most living voters remember all too well how they circled the wagons in 1998 around a man who was credibly accused of rape — not just defending him, but trying to reorder American sexual morality and destroy his accusers and investigators in the process.

There are very good reasons why there is collapsing trust in American public institutions, and #MeToo has only hastened that collapse. 

Make no mistake, it’s a welcome reckoning. 

But it’s also dismantling progressive moral credibility. 

It’s revealing a deep rot and entrenched corruption. 

And it’s leaving Americans with a profound, unanswered question: 

You say the Trump GOP is morally bad, but where is your morally superior alternative?

Moral arguments are always perilous to make. 

They invariably put a spotlight on the person and the movement making them.

They carry with them an implicit requirement to be better

Hillary Clinton could never manage that burden. 

Now the #Resistance is saddled with the collapsing credibility of major progressive cultural institutions.

The housecleaning is welcome and long overdue. 

Victims have been crying out for justice for far too long. 

But justice has a way of revealing truth, and for the Left that truth is hard to face: 

In the battle for American hearts, it has lost the standing to make its moral case.

DAVID FRENCH — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. @davidafrench