January 18, 2019

MICHAEL COHEN MAY BACK OUT OF CONGRESSIONAL HEARING OVER TRUMP COMMENTS

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen might back out of a congressional hearing scheduled for February, the former Trump lawyer’s adviser said Thursday.

In an appearance on MSNBC, Lanny Davis said Cohen is reconsidering whether to testify before Congress because of comments from President Donald Trump about Cohen’s father-in-law.

“There is genuine fear and it causes Michael Cohen to consider whether he should go forward or not. And he’s not yet made a final decision,” Davis told MSNBC’s Ari Melber.

Trump took aim at Cohen’s father-in-law during an interview Saturday with Fox’s Jeanine Pirro.

“[Cohen] should give information maybe on his father-in-law, because that’s the one that people want to look at,” Trump said.

“Because where does that money — that’s the money in the family. And I guess he didn’t want to talk about his father-in-law — he’s trying to get his sentence reduced.”

“So it’s pretty sad,” Trump continued. “It’s weak and it’s very sad to watch a thing like that.”

Trump’s remarks garnered an immediate rebuke from Democrats who accused the Republican of witness intimidation and tampering.

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January 17, 2019

FISA shocker: DOJ official warned Steele dossier was connected to Clinton, might be biased

When the annals of mistakes and abuses in the FBI’s Russia investigation are finally written, Bruce Ohr almost certainly will be the No. 1 witness, according to my sources.

The then-No. 4 Department of Justice (DOJ) official briefed both senior FBI and DOJ officials in summer 2016 about Christopher Steele’s Russia dossier, explicitly cautioning that the British intelligence operative’s work was opposition research connected to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and might be biased.

Ohr’s briefings, in July and August 2016, included the deputy director of the FBI, a top lawyer for then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and a Justice official who later would become the top deputy to special counsel Robert Mueller.

At the time, Ohr was the associate attorney general. Yet his warnings about political bias were pointedly omitted weeks later from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant that the FBI obtained from a federal court, granting it permission to spy on whether the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia to hijack the 2016 presidential election.

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January 16, 2019

DAYS AFTER COMEY FIRING, FBI WANTED TO ‘RE-ENGAGE’ DOSSIER AUTHOR CHRISTOPHER STEELE


  • The FBI ended its relationship with Trump-Russia dossier author Christopher Steele in late 2016, but the bureau kept taking information from him through DOJ official Bruce Ohr, Ohr revealed in congressional testimony.
  • The FBI had renewed interest in connecting with Steele after President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, according to Ohr’s testimony.
  • Steele was previously paid by both the FBI and the Democratic National Committee through Fusion GPS.

The FBI wanted to reestablish contact with Trump-Russia dossier author Christopher Steele days after President Donald Trump fired bureau Director James Comey, a top Department of Justice official revealed during a previously secret congressional testimony.

DOJ official Bruce Ohr laid out efforts to influence the DOJ by Christopher Steele, a former British spy being paid by the Democratic National Committee via the opposition research firm Fusion GPS. The FBI terminated Steele as a source in late 2016, reportedly for his contacts with the media, but he continued to funnel information to the bureau through Ohr.

On May 9, 2017, Trump fired Comey, which concerned FBI leaders. Comey has since been sharply critical of the president.

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January 15, 2019

TRUMP TEAM REPORTEDLY REJECTED MUELLER REQUEST FOR POTUS INTERVIEW

President Donald Trump’s attorneys rejected a request from special counsel Robert Mueller in recent weeks for a sit-down interview with the Republican, according to CNN.

The request was made after Nov. 20, 2018, when Trump’s lawyers responded in writing to a list of questions from Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion with Russia as well as obstruction of justice.

Trump’s legal team and the special counsel have been at a standstill on the issue of an in-person interview for around five weeks, CNN reports.

“Mueller is not satisfied,” one source told the network.

It is unclear what the development means for the Mueller probe, which is widely considered to be in its final phase. Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump on the Russia investigation, has said that an interview with Trump would occur “over my dead body.”

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January 14, 2019

PETER STRZOK EXPRESSED CONCERN THAT ‘THERE’S NO BIG THERE THERE’ IN COLLUSION PROBE


  • The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether President Donald Trump was a Russian agent just days after he fired James Comey.
  • But days after the FBI opened the probe, Peter Strzok, the bureau’s lead investigator on the Russia matter, expressed concern that “there’s no big there there” regarding the collusion investigation.
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller took over the counterintelligence investigation.

A top FBI counterintelligence official expressed concern that there was “no big there there” in the Trump collusion investigation just days after the bureau formally opened an investigation into whether President Trump was acting as a foreign agent of Russia.

“You and I both know the odds are nothing. If I thought it was likely I’d be there no question. I hesitate in part because of my gut sense and concern there’s no big there there,” Peter Strzok, who then served as deputy chief of FBI counterintelligence, wrote to FBI lawyer Lisa Page on May 18, 2017.

The text message took on new significance Friday after The New York Times reported that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation against Trump after the May 9, 2017 firing of James Comey as FBI director.

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January 11, 2019

AT TRUMP’S REQUEST, THE SUPREME COURT MAY SOON DECIDE ON DISMANTLING DACA

The Supreme Court will consider the Trump administration’s request to intervene in the ongoing legal fight over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program Friday.

DACA is an Obama-era amnesty initiative that extends temporary legal status to 700,000 foreign nationals who arrived in the U.S. as children.

The Trump administration took steps to terminate DACA in September 2017. Those moves were immediately challenged in federal court. U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered the government to continue administering the program on Jan. 9, 2018. The Department of Justice broke with normal judicial procedure and asked the Supreme Court to overturn that decision, bypassing the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The high court rejected that petition in February 2018, but ordered the 9th Circuit to “proceed expeditiously” in its review of Alsup’s decision. After months passed without a ruling from the 9th Circuit, the Justice Department returned to the Supreme Court on Nov. 5, 2018, and again asked the justices to take their case. Three days later on Nov. 8, the 9th Circuit issued a decision upholding Alsup’s order.

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January 10, 2019

REVISITING THE STEELE DOSSIER ON ITS TWO-YEAR ANNIVERSARY


  • The Steele dossier has remained a subject of intense intrigue and speculation since its publication two years ago on Thursday.
  • Republicans claim that much of the salacious document has been debunked while Democrats defend the report as being accurate in its broad allegation that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
  • But the Trump-specific claims in the dossier remain unverified, with some of the claims having come under intense scrutiny.
  • This analysis helps make sense of where the dossier stands now.

Two years after its controversial publication, the Steele dossier remains a subject of intense intrigue.

The 35-page report, authored by former British spy Christopher Steele and funded by Democrats, is best known for the vast conspiracy it alleges between the Trump campaign and Russian government during the run-up to the 2016 election. Its salacious claim that the Kremlin has blackmail material on President Donald Trump in the form of a sex tape has also captured public attention.

But even under two years of scrutiny and debate, the dossier remains unverified, at least as far as its core Trump-related allegations are concerned. None of its specific claims about collusion have been verified, and there is ample reason to believe that its main allegation on that front (an alleged trip to Prague by Michael Cohen) is inaccurate.

Nevertheless, Democrats and some pundits have defended the dossier, claiming that while specific allegations of collusion remain unanswered, Steele’s broader claims of Russian meddling have proved accurate.

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January 9, 2019

TRUMP URGES CONGRESS TO PASS IMMIGRATION SPENDING BILL IN OVAL OFFICE ADDRESS

President Donald Trump urged Congress to pass a spending bill addressing immigration concerns on Tuesday night, citing the potential for violent crime and drug trafficking coming across the U.S.-Mexico border.

The president made his appeal for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border directly to the American people on Tuesday night, marking his first prime-time Oval Office address since taking office.

The president repeatedly referred to the situation at the border with illegal immigration as a “crisis.”

“America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation. But all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration,” Trump asserted. 

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January 8, 2019

REPUBLICANS HAVE QUESTIONS FOR JOHN HUBER, THE US ATTORNEY OVERSEEING INVESTIGATION OF FBI

A group of top House Republicans is asking the Justice Department for details of an investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton and Trump-Russia probes that is being conducted by U.S. attorney John Huber.

In a letter sent Monday, the Republicans pressed Huber, the U.S. attorney for Utah, for details about witnesses and documents reviewed as part of the investigation.

Almost no details have emerged about Huber’s investigation since he was appointed in March 2018 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate the FBI’s handling of the politically-charged investigations of Clinton and Trump.

Sessions appointed Huber as a compromise to Republican pressure to appoint a special counsel to investigate the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign.

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January 7, 2019

FORMER FBI CHIEF: ONLY WRAY CAN REPAIR FBI AFTER DISGRACES OF COMEY, MCCABE AND STRZOK

In the near-decade I spent with the FBI training senior law enforcement officials around the world on how to combat corruption, there were always two key points I tried to impart. First, never stop with the low hanging fruit when addressing law enforcement corruption. Second, remember that the greatest indicator of systemic corruption within a government is when a country’s law enforcement is intentionally used as a political weapon.

Unfortunately, the FBI has work to do when it comes to both of these principles. In the year ahead, Director Christopher Wray should resolve to take back the bureau’s reputation.

FBI agents, particularly those who work public corruption investigations, are uniquely positioned to understand better than most that politics is a dishonest game of manipulation. Law enforcement should never allow itself to be lowered into that abyss. Jim Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and others have cast a dark cloud over the FBI, making the line between politics and law enforcement nearly indistinguishable.

Before the FBI can move forward with their rehabilitation, it must take an honest inventory of the events leading to its public relations descent. First were the three blows of imprudence by James Comey. Within a single year, Comey assigned Andrew McCabe, the spouse of a then-recently failed candidate for Virginia state government, to the number two position in the FBI, charged with authority over public corruption investigations; gave an epoch-making press conference announcing the FBI would not pursue charges against Hillary Clinton; and told Congress days before the presidential election that the FBI was reviewing newly-acquired emails relevant to the Hillary Clinton investigation.

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January 3, 2019

NINTH CIRCUIT FINALLY HANDS TRUMP A BIG WIN AGAINST YOUTH’S GLOBAL WARMING LAWSUIT

The Trump administration’s battle against a global warming lawsuit brought by 21 youths will continue into 2019 after a federal court handed the government a big win over the holiday season.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Department of Justice (DOJ) in a Dec. 26 ruling largely missed by major media outlets. The court granted DOJ’s petition for interlocutory appeal that decreases the chances of the climate lawsuit going to trial anytime soon.

The three-judge Ninth Circuit panel is the very same one that in March 2018 ruled against Trump administration petitions for a writ of mandamus, which allows a higher court to overrule a lower court before a case is decided.

Environmentalists handling the case on behalf of youth activists immediately filed a petition asking the District Court of Oregon to restart trial proceedings in light of the appeals court ruling.

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January 2, 2019

BLACK LAWMAKERS’ CHARITY DIDN’T GIVE OUT A SINGLE SCHOLARSHIP, TOP POLS HIDE FINANCIALS

The caucus of black New York state lawmakers runs a charity whose stated mission is to empower “African American and Latino youth through education and leadership initiatives” by “providing opportunity to higher education” — but it hasn’t given a single scholarship to needy youth in two years, according to a New York Post investigation.

The group collects money from companies like AT&T, the Real Estate Board of New York, Time Warner Cable and CableVision, telling them in promotional materials that they are “changing lives, one scholarship at a time.”

The group — called the Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, Inc. — instead spent $500,000 in the 2015 – 2016 fiscal year on items like food, limousines and rap music, the Post found.

The politicians refused to divulge the charity’s 2017 tax filing to the Post despite federal requirements that charities do so upon request.

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January 1, 2019

WHITE HOUSE AIDE BLASTS REPORTER AFTER HE SAID TRUMP WAS NOT WORKING DURING SHUTDOWN

White House aide Hogan Gidley called out a reporter for saying President Donald Trump was not working Monday amid the ninth day of the government shutdown, demanding he “correct the record.”

Gidley, Trump’s deputy press secretary, was responding to Playboy’s White House reporter Brian Karem, who tweeted out a photo of the West Wing, saying since there was no Marine present at the doorway, the president was not in the Oval Office. Gidley said he looked into the Oval Office right after seeing the tweet, and saw Trump sitting behind the Resolute Desk working, and said Karem did not even call the press team to ask if he was working before sending out the tweet.

This all comes as Trump has said he will not budge on the $5 billion requested for a border wall, one of his key campaign promises. Democrats refuse to accept Trump’s idea for a wall, with both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer continuing to say there will be no wall built.

The two parties will now have to figure out an agreement, and the senators must be present for a vote on the Senate floor to send a bill to the president to sign and end the partial government shutdown.

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