House Intel Republicans appear close to ending Russia probe
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee appear close to closing the committee's yearlong investigation into Russian interference.
Republicans say the panel has thoroughly examined Moscow’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election and they are ready to conclude the probe. But alarmed Democratic colleagues say ending the investigation anytime soon would be premature. ...
Democrats, on the other hand, are renewing their warning calls about a concerted effort by the GOP to cut the investigation's lifespan short in an effort to shield President Trump from the congressional probes, which are separate from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
“We're being shut off,” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) said during a Monday appearance on “CNN Newsroom.”
“If I had to predict, in the next month they will shut down the House and Senate investigations and I would imagine they would cheer on the White House attempt to shut down Mueller,” he added.
Quigley also accused the Republican majority on the committee of being complicit in following the marching orders of the Trump administration by failing to compel witnesses to answer questions in the face of a “gag order" from the White House.
The NRA tried to dodge questions about its ties to Russia, but Congress isn’t done yet
Over the past month Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has been pressing the National Rifle Association (NRA) for answers about money it may have received from the Kremlin or Russian nationals. The NRA, thus far, has tried to stonewall the senator — but Wyden isn’t letting up just yet.
After the NRA dodged his previous questions about its ties to Russia, the senator sent a new round of questions to the group on Monday. Wyden requested information on the structure of the NRA’s election-related expenditures, as well as information about the group’s notorious December 2015 trip to Moscow, where NRA higher-ups met with sanctioned Russian officials.
The letter follows recent revelations about the FBI investigating potential financial ties between Russian nationals and the NRA, especially in light of the $30 million the NRA donated to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign — money that came from a segment of the organization that isn’t required to disclose donors.
The FBI’s investigation has centered on the role Alexander Torshin, a Russian politico who is close to President Vladimir Putin, played in potential financing. Torshin — who describes himself as a “life member of [the] NRA” — was identified by Spanish investigators as a key player in Russian money laundering in Europe. For good measure, Torshin claims he met Trump through the NRA.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-law ... ssia-probe
Still reading. Holy crap.
Still reading. Holy crap.
Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Received Inside Info From Russia Probe
Closed-door testimony before the House Russia probe is supposed to stay behind closed doors. Somehow, it got into the hands of another witness—and key Trump confidante—instead.
Disgusting, Kendra. Just when I think they can't shock me anymore.
Trump’s Moscow Tower and Back-Channel Ukraine Dossier: Both Began During the Election, Evidence Suggests
Congressional investigators are reportedly exploring any connections between two deals brokered by Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen and Felix Sater which directly raised Russian interests. The timeline for one of these arrangements is potentially very different than what has been reported widely in the news media. Discussions of the two deals appear to have occurred closer together in time and discussion on both began during the presidential race. The timing is sure to raise the interest of investigators looking into possible links between Trump associates and Russian election interference.
The first arrangement involving Cohen and Sater was a proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow on terms that would be highly lucrative for Donald Trump. Those discussions reportedly began in September 2015 and led to Trump signing a 17-page letter of intent in late October 2015. Cohen said he discussed the project with Trump three times. The project went so far as to include soliciting building designs from architects and preliminary discussions about possible financing. According to Cohen, he personally decided to end the deal in late January 2016.
The second dealing with Cohen and Sater involved a back channel plan for handling Ukraine and Russia. Most all news outlets and analysis start the timeline for this plan in January 2017, but there is reason to believe it began much earlier.
The Ukrainian proposal has been called a “peace plan” by some, but that is a misnomer. The proposal involved unwinding Russian sanctions on favorable terms to Moscow, and the use of derogatory information against the current Ukrainian leadership. The idea was hatched by Ukrainian politician Andrii Artemenko, who told the Times that he received encouragement for his plans from Putin’s top aides. Discussing the terms of the proposal, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States, Valeriy Chaly said, “Such ideas can be pitched or pushed through only by those openly or covertly representing Russian interests.” Cohen reportedly hand delivered the Ukraine dossier to then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in the White House in the week before Flynn’s resignation.
Salon - Digby
Break up the Intelligence Committee: Devin Nunes can’t be trusted with national secrets
Nunes will never stop being Trump’s lapdog. Even if Democrats win back the House, his committee must be disbanded ...
On Monday, the Daily Beast reported that Nunes' committee has been feeding information to Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, he of the above-mentioned Stormy Daniels "hush" agreement and a starring role in the Steele dossier. Cohen's lawyer reportedly contacted the attorney for a witness who had earlier appeared before the House Intelligence Committee, telling him that a committee source had said the witness might have knowledge of the dossier that could help Cohen. The attorney for this unnamed witness declined to share information and complained to the committee about the leak. The committee spokesperson denied it had happened, but said the testimony wasn't confidential anyway. You have to ask yourself why a member of the House Intelligence Committee, supposedly tasked with protecting and overseeing national secrets, would want to tip off Michael Cohen about information that might help him. It's all very shady.
There has never been a case of congressional corruption on quite this level before. Speaker Paul Ryan is unwilling to rock the boat, and there's no appetite among the rest of the House GOP caucus to do anything about it. The only possible answer is to toss Nunes and the rest of Trump's toadies out of the majority in November.
But I'm not sure the American people should ever entrust this committee with investigative powers again. Even with Democrats in the majority, the Republican members would still have access to the government's most sensitive intelligence, and they've made clear that their loyalty is to Donald Trump, not the country. If Nancy Pelosi becomes speaker of the House next January, she may need to disband this committee completely. Devin Nunes and his gang are a serious national security risk.
I agree that Devin Nunes is a national security risk. The first time he pulled his famous midnight run should have been the last time he had access to intelligence. Paul Ryan should also receive some kind of sanction for refusing to remove Nunes from that committee. The GOP has become just shameful. If I had not already removed myself from the Republican party years ago I would have certainly done so this past year.
"I know that human being and fish can coexist peacefully"
--- George W Bush
--- George W Bush
Hope Hicks told House Intelligence Committee she was hacked, sources say
WASHINGTON — Hope Hicks told the House Intelligence Committee last week that one of her email accounts was hacked, according to people who were present for the former White House communications director's testimony in the panel's Russia probe.
Under relatively routine questioning from Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., about her correspondence, Hicks indicated that she could no longer access two accounts: One she used as a member of President Donald Trump's campaign team and a personal account, according to four people who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the closed meeting of the Intelligence Committee was supposed to remain private.
Hicks, who portrayed herself as not savvy in matters of technology, told lawmakers that one of the accounts was hacked, according to two sources who were in the room. It is unclear if Hicks was referring to a campaign or personal account.
Her assertion of a hack raises the questions of who might have compromised her account, when, why and what information could have been obtained. But there was no indication from any of the sources that those questions were pursued by the committee, which had limited leverage over Hicks because she was appearing voluntarily and not under a subpoena for her testimony or records.
It is standard practice for lawmakers to ask witnesses about phone numbers and email accounts. But it is uncommon, according to people familiar with the committee process, for a witness to tell lawmakers that he or she no longer has access to past accounts.
A communications director should be tech savvy. Goes with the territory.
A valid point. Is it possible this is one of her white lies to stop them from inquiring further? Wild speculation.
Democrats say Trump associate may have misled House panel over Seychelles meeting
(CNN)The founder of the security firm Blackwater did not mention to the House Intelligence Committee last year that a Lebanese-American businessman had attended a meeting in the Seychelles islands, a trip that has come under intense scrutiny in the Russia investigation, according to a review of the transcript.
In testimony last November before the panel, Erik Prince was questioned extensively about the January 2017 Seychelles meeting and whether it was an attempt to set up secret communications between the Trump administration and Russia. As Prince furiously denied that was the case, he also did not reveal that George Nader -- a Lebanese-American businessman and Middle East specialist with ties to the Trump team -- also attended at least one meeting there, raising fresh questions among Democrats about whether Prince misled the panel when testifying under oath.
Prince, a Trump associate and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, disclosed to the committee that he had met with United Arab Emirates officials and a Russian banker, Kirill Dmitriev, during that trip.
But according to a new report from CNN, another individual also was present in the Seychelles at that time: Nader, who also is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. According to sources familiar with the matter, Nader attended the January 2017 Seychelles meeting between UAE officials and Prince. Nader was also present at a bar when Prince met separately with Dmitriev, the chief executive of the state-run Russian Direct Investment Fund, although it is unclear whether Nader was involved in the conversation, sources said. ...
"During his Russia investigation interview, Mr. Prince was asked directly by me and Mr. Schiff who he met with while he was in the Seychelles," Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat who is a member of the Intelligence Committee, told CNN. "He never gave the name George Nader. If he met with George Nader, he lied under oath."
Republicans signal end is near for House Russia probe after Lewandowski testimony
(CNN)Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is scheduled to be interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, and he could be one of the last major witnesses to appear as part of the panel's Russia investigation.
Rep. Mike Conaway and other Intelligence Committee Republicans are signaling they're ready to end the investigative phase of their Russia probe and move on to writing the final report, while Democrats say there are still scores of witnesses the committee needs to speak with. Conaway, the Texas Republican leading the committee's Russia investigation, hasn't ruled out calling additional witnesses, but he's hinted that no big names remain on his list.
"Something may pop up. We're coming toward the end of it," Conaway said when asked about future witnesses. "Every investigation ought to have a conclusion, including this one."
Other committee Republicans have been more forceful in saying it's time to shut down the House Intelligence Russia probe. Rep. Tom Rooney of Florida pointed to the leaks of White House communications director Hope Hicks' testimony last week as reason to end the investigation, while Rep. Pete King of New York says the committee has learned all it can.
Rep. Adam Schiff raises questions about whether Trump ally lied to House Intelligence Committee
WASHINGTON — The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee raised questions Thursday about whether Erik Prince, the founder of the private security company Blackwater, misled lawmakers in his testimony about a January 2017 meeting he held with a Russian official close to Vladimir Putin. ...
"There is clearly a significant discrepancy” between the Post story and what Prince told the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told reporters on Thursday. Schiff is the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, which is also examining Russian efforts to sway the 2016 election.
“Which is accurate I don’t know … but clearly both can’t be true,” Schiff said. “It either was a back channel or it wasn’t … And we need to get to the bottom of it.”
Schiff said he would like to call Prince and other witness back before the committee for another round of questioning. Whether that will happen is unclear, as Democrats are in the minority and the committee's probe has been mired in partisan sniping.
Former Trump Aide Interviewed by House Committee Over Russia
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, arrived at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday to be interviewed by the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee as it investigates Russia and the 2016 U.S. election.
Lewandowski arrived at around 11 a.m. EST (1600 GMT) and was expected to talk to panel members behind closed doors until about 2 p.m. (1900 GMT).
Lewandowski, who helped Trump win the Republican presidential nomination, last met with the committee on January 17. ...
Reflecting a deep partisan divide on the committee, Republicans - who have a majority in the House and thus control the committee's actions - have been saying they expect to wrap up their investigation soon and begin to work on their report.
But Democrats have said they have a significant list of witnesses still to call, as well as documents to subpoena.
Top Intel Dem: Lewandowski refused to answer key questions about Trump Tower, Comey firing
The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says Corey Lewandowski selectively declined to answer lawmakers' questions during his second interview before the panel about key events and conversations.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Thursday called on the majority to issue a subpoena on the former Trump campaign manager, stating it is unacceptable for a witness to refuse to answer particular questions that are relevant to their Russia probe while also warning that it continues to set a "broader precedent" it could set for congressional investigations.
“Witnesses do not get to pick and choose when it comes to very relevant testimony to our investigation,” Schiff told reporters after the meeting ended.
He said Lewandowski refused to answer a series of questions about key events including Donald Trump Jr.'s initial misleading statement after news broke about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer, questions about the firing of former FBI director James Comey, as well as he may have had with the president about the potential of firing special counsel Robert Bob Mueller.
George Nader reportedly contradicts Erik Prince House Intel testimony
George Nader, a top adviser to Emirati crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and a critical witness in the Russia probe, contradicted key points in Trump associate Erik Prince's testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday.
Nader and Prince met in the Seychelles in January 2017 with Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive of a sanctioned Russian investment fund and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The meeting has drawn scrutiny from the special counsel Robert Mueller as he investigates whether it took place as part of an effort to open a secret back-channel between the incoming Trump administration and Russia. ...
Meanwhile, Nader told prosecutors earlier this year that the Emirati delegation did not introduce Prince and Dmitriev, The Journal reported.
Emirati officials were also under the impression that Prince was attending the meeting as a surrogate for then President-elect Donald Trump's team, while Dmitriev was representing Putin's interests. Nader testified before a grand jury about the meeting earlier this year, and according to The Washington Post, a witness told Mueller that the Seychelles meeting was set up in advance to discuss US-Russia relations.
But Prince denied that in his testimony last year, saying he attended the meeting strictly for business purposes.
That little factoid I hadn't heard before. Hmmmm.Prince, who resides in the United Arab Emirates, told the House Intelligence Committee last year that his meeting with Dmitriev had occurred by chance as he was meeting potential Emirati business contacts in the Seychelles.
House Intel Committee plan to build physical wall is shelved
A plan put forward by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee to build a physical wall to separate the staffs of the two parties has been put on hold, multiple committee sources tell CBS News, reviving hopes that the committee may regain -- or at least retain -- some of its bipartisan tradition.
The erstwhile spirit of bipartisanship in the committee has, in recent months, seemed all but extinguished as its members clashed repeatedly and with escalating rancor over the release of agenda-ridden surveillance memos, the sources of selective leaks to the media, and the investigatory priorities of the committee's ongoing probe into Russia's 2016 election interference.
Though no shortage of it has been public, much of the drama has played out in the committee's secure spaces, a sprawling, double-doored chamber of rooms marked by siren-red signs that indicate restricted access. At the far right end of those spaces – beyond where, on one side, members meet for routine business, and on the other, witnesses are questioned – the committee's Republican and Democrat staff sits and works in a windowless area, undivided but for printer stations and safes.
Last month, a permanent division between the staff seemed imminent, as committee Republicans, led by Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California, put forth plans to construct a physical barrier to separate the staff by party. Other committees, the argument went, also divide their staffs.
The reason to put it on hold in itself is not strictly partisan: A senior committee official said the plan has been rejected for what appear mainly to be cost considerations. According to the official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the project, the unique requirements of retrofitting the committee's secure spaces would have cost eight to ten times more than a similar project in a non-secure environment. While other planned, less costly work – such as soundproofing some areas and installing doorways in others – is moving forward apace, the staff area will, for now, stay in one piece.
The Asset: How A Player In The Trump-Russia Scandal Led A Double Life As An American Spy ...
He did some of this work to fend off prison time after he admitted guilt in a stock scam — but he had started helping the US government before then, and he continued to report back to the FBI after the agreement ended. Today, as he is being questioned about Trump's business deals and ties to Russia, he has built relationships with at least six members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, some going back more than 10 years.
Fragments of Sater’s work for the government have leaked out, partly because Sater himself has bragged about “building Trump Towers by day and hunting Bin Laden by night.” But his “cloak-and-dagger claims of chasing down terrorists” were often dismissed as “wildly unlikely,” while Sater himself remained “an obsession of the many investigators — professional and amateur — searching for Trump’s Russia connection.”
Now BuzzFeed News has obtained the statement Sater gave under oath to House Intelligence Committee investigators at his attorney’s office in December, interviewed him extensively, and corroborated many details of his spy-thriller account through legal documents, emails, letters, and interviews with 10 current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials familiar with his undercover work.
“At the direction of the FBI,” the Department of Justice stated in a newly unsealed court filing, Sater traveled to the Middle East after 9/11 to collect “valuable intelligence” on “key leaders in al Qaeda,” and he helped “in a number of other areas, including Russian organized crime.” In other court filings, the Justice Department said Sater’s work on behalf of the United States “involves 18 foreign governments” as well as “various families of La Cosa Nostra,” and that his help was “of an extraordinary depth and breadth.” ...
Over the past month, two BuzzFeed News reporters met frequently with Sater in Los Angeles, where he’s been living since February and which seems to suit him. He’s tan. He had his Porsche shipped over from Long Island. He gets the good table at Delilah, a see-and-be-seen West Hollywood nightclub. He said he is telling his full story, long kept secret by the government, to clear his name. “I am being given no choice because of the ongoing Trump investigations,” he said. “The media lies about me.”
Everyone's breaking the news right now.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpos ... 5f436a8c58
https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpos ... 5f436a8c58
Republicans find no evidence of collusion or Russian preference for Trump
http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-p ... story.html
http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-p ... story.html
After a yearlong investigation marred by bitter partisan divisions, Republicans announced Monday that the House Intelligence Committee has not found any evidence of collusion between President Trump's campaign and Russians who used social media and hacked emails to influence the 2016 election.
A draft report of more than 150 pages will be shared with Democrats, who have been pressing for a more aggressive investigation than Republicans would allow.
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LOL Hannity's show is gonna be lit
Hrm, interesting. Riddle me this, Batman - how would a mid-level Russian mobster (whether or not turned as an FBI informant) have intimate knowledge of the inner workings of North Korea or Al Quaeda?
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Assuming, of course, that any part of Sater's statement to Buzzfead is correct, and also assuming that I'm not quite as insane as I usually think I am.
In a wilderness of mirrors, what will the spider do beyond the circuit of the shuddering Bear in fractured atoms? -TS Eliot (somewhat modified)
All warfare is based on deception. - Sun Tzu
All warfare is based on deception. - Sun Tzu
Democrats.intelligence.house.gov - Press Release
Schiff Statement on House Republicans’ Premature Shutdown of Russia Investigation
“Today, the House Majority has announced it is terminating the Russia investigation, leaving to others the important work of determining the full extent of Russian interference in our election, the role of U.S. persons connected to the Trump campaign in that intervention, possible efforts to obstruct the investigation by the President and most important, what needs to be done to protect the country going forward. While the Majority members of our committee have indicated for some time that they have been under great pressure to end the investigation, it is nonetheless another tragic milestone for this Congress, and represents yet another capitulation to the executive branch. By ending its oversight role in the only authorized investigation in the House, the Majority has placed the interests of protecting the President over protecting the country, and history will judge its actions harshly.
“Next week, it will be one year since our investigation began with its first open hearing, and the country learned that the Trump campaign had been the subject of a counterintelligence investigation since July of the election year. Since that time, we have learned a great deal about countless secret meetings, conversations and communications between Trump campaign officials and the Russians, all of which the Trump Administration initially denied, would later misrepresent, and finally be forced to acknowledge. Thirteen Russians have been indicted in a far reaching conspiracy in which the Russians sought to influence our election by helping Donald Trump, hurting the Hillary Clinton campaign and sowing discord in the United States. Most significant, high-ranking Trump campaign and Administration officials have also been indicted, including the President’s national security advisor, his campaign chair and deputy campaign chair, as well as one of his foreign policy advisors, and three of those have already pled guilty.
“During that first open hearing of our investigation, I asked whether we could conduct this investigation in the kind of thorough and nonpartisan manner that the seriousness of the issues merited, or whether the enormous political consequences of our work would make that impossible. At that time, I said that I did not know the answer, but ‘if this committee can do its work properly, if we can pursue the facts wherever they lead, unafraid to compel witnesses to testify, to hear what they have to say, to learn what we will and, after exhaustive work, reach a common conclusion, it would be a tremendous public service and one that is very much in the national interest.’
“Regrettably, that challenge proved too much. The Majority was not willing to pursue the facts wherever they would lead, would prove afraid to compel witnesses like Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks, Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump Jr., Corey Lewandowski and so many others to answer questions relevant to our investigation. It proved unwilling to subpoena documents like phone records, text messages, bank records and other key records so that we might determine the truth about the most significant attack on our democratic institutions in history. Instead, it began a series of counter-investigations, designed to attack the credibility of the FBI, the Departments of Justice and State, and investigate anyone and anything other than what they were charged to do — investigate Russia’s interference in our election and the role the Trump campaign played. Ironically, even while they close down the Russia investigation, they plan to continue trying to put our own government on trial: this is a great service to the President, and a profound disservice to the country.
“Some will say that we should leave the investigation to Special Counsel Mueller anyway, since he has the resources and independence to do the job. But this fundamentally misapprehends the mission of the Special Counsel, which is to determine whether U.S. laws were broken and who should be prosecuted. It is not Mueller’s job to tell the American people what happened, that is our job, and the Majority has walked away from it. Others may be tempted to say a pox on both houses, and suggest that in a dispute between the parties, both must be equally culpable. But after months of urging the Majority to do a credible investigation, the Minority was put in the position of going along with a fundamentally unserious investigative process, or pointing out what should be done, what must be done, to learn the truth. We chose the latter course.
“On a fundamental aspect of our investigation — substantiating the conclusions of the Intelligence Community’s assessment that the Russians interfered in our democracy to advance the Trump campaign, hurt Clinton and sow discord — we should have been able to issue a common report. On those issues, the evidence is clear and overwhelming that the Intelligence Community Assessment was correct. On a whole host of investigative threads, our work is fundamentally incomplete, some issues partially investigated, others, like that involving credible allegations of Russian money laundering, remain barely touched. If the Russians do have leverage over the President of the United States, the Majority has simply decided it would rather not know. On the final aspect of our work — setting out the prescriptions for protecting the country going forward — we will endeavor to continue our work, with or without the active participation of the Majority.
“In the coming weeks and months, new information will continue to be exposed through enterprising journalism, indictments by the Special Counsel, or continued investigative work by Committee Democrats and our counterparts in the Senate. And each time this new information becomes public, Republicans will be held accountable for abandoning a critical investigation of such vital national importance.”