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Withheld from Congress: US Intelligence Community’s IG Report on Whistle-blower’s Complaint

Discussion in 'US Politics' started by Zable, Sep 15, 2019.

  1. Zable

    Zable Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 3 Years

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    This is huge…. the cover-up of serious wrong-doing in the national security arena. I smell arrests in the pipeline and POTUS being burned by the fallout.

    Politico reports Schiff accuses top intel official of illegally withholding 'urgent' whistleblower complaint


    By Kyle Cheney (Sept 13th, 2019)

    The nation's top intelligence official is illegally withholding a whistleblower complaint, possibly to protect President Donald Trump or senior White House officials, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff alleged Friday.

    Schiff issued a subpoena for the complaint, accusing acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire of taking extraordinary steps to withhold the complaint from Congress, even after the intel community's inspector general characterized the complaint as credible and of "urgent concern."

    “A Director of National Intelligence has never prevented a properly submitted whistleblower complaint that the [inspector general] determined to be credible and urgent from being provided to the congressional intelligence committees. Never," Schiff said in a statement. "This raises serious concerns about whether White House, Department of Justice or other executive branch officials are trying to prevent a legitimate whistleblower complaint from reaching its intended recipient, the Congress, in order to cover up serious misconduct."

    Schiff indicated that he learned the matter involved "potentially privileged communications by persons outside the Intelligence Community," raising the specter that it is "being withheld to protect the President or other Administration officials."

    In addition, Schiff slammed Maguire for consulting the Justice Department about the whistleblower complaint "even though the statute does not provide you discretion to review, appeal, reverse, or countermand in any way the [inspector general's] independent determination, let alone to involve another entity within the Executive Branch."

    "The Committee can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials," Schiff wrote in a letter to Maguire on Friday.

    The initial whistleblower complaint was filed last month, and Schiff indicated that it was required by law to be shared with Congress nearly two weeks ago. His subpoena requires the information to be turned over by Sept. 17 or else he intends to compel Maguire to appear before Congress in a public hearing on Sept. 19.

    Schiff said Maguire declined to confirm or deny whether the whistleblower's complaint relates to anything the Intelligence Committee is currently investigating or whether White House lawyers were involved in the decision-making about the complaint.

    Officials in Maguire’s office acknowledged Schiff’s subpoena late Friday.

    “We received the HPSCI's subpoena this evening. We are reviewing the request and will respond appropriately,” said a senior intelligence official. “The ODNI and Acting DNI Maguire are committed to fully complying with the law and upholding whistleblower protections and have done so here.”

    Source: https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/13/schiff-maguire-intelligence-1496135


     
  2. Zable

    Zable Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 3 Years

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    The matter involves “privileged communications”, which points to a select group of people according to Mr Schiff, who spoke on Face The Nation’s Sept 15th, 2019 edition. Refer YT video topic snapshot: Circa 3.17 mins – 5.47 mins:

     
  3. Zable

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    PoliticusUSA reports Adam Schiff Tightens The Noose On Trump Over DNI Whistleblower

    By Jason Easley (Sept 15th, 2019)

    House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) laid out why he suspects Trump or top-level officials will not provide the DNI whistleblower to Congress.

    Extract of transcript via Face The Nation:

    MARGARET BRENNAN: Just ignoring the subpoena?

    REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, at this point, yes. Ignoring the subpoena, ignoring our request. No DNI– no director of National Intelligence has ever refused to turn over a whistleblower complaint. And here, Margaret, the significance is the inspector general found this complaint to be urgent, found it to be credible, that is they did some preliminary investigation, found the whistleblower to be credible, that suggests corroboration. And that it involved serious or flagrant wrongdoing. And according to the director of National Intelligence, the reason he is not acting to provide it even though the statute mandates that he do so is because he is being instructed not to. That this involved a higher authority, someone above the DNI. Well, there are only a few people–

    MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

    REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: –above the DNI. So we are concerned this area– this involves wrongdoing that’s under investigation by our committee and we are going to do everything necessary to make sure that whistleblowers– not allowed to provide the complaint to us but can come directly to Congress, which the director is also prohibiting at this point.

    MARGARET BRENNAN: So you don’t know, but you suspect the President has some role or the executive branch here? Can you– can you tell us what the subject was of the whistleblower complaint?

    REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: I can’t go into the contents but I can tell you that at least according to the director of National Intelligence, this involves an issue of privileged communications. Now, that means it’s a pretty narrow group of people that it could apply to that are both above the DNI in authority and also involve privileged communications. So, I think it’s fair to assume this involves either the President or people around him or both. But at the end of the day, if the–

    MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

    REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: –director of National Intelligence is going to undermine the whistleblower protections, it means that people are going to end up taking the law into their own hands and going directly to the press instead of the mechanism that Congress set to protect classified information.

    MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

    REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: And that gravely threatens both our national security as well as a system that encourages people to expose wrongdoing.

    In Rep. Schiff’s initial letter, he suspected that the whistleblower was being hidden due to wrongdoing by Trump or high-level members of the administration. Chairman Schiff provided more detail on Sunday in that this isn’t administration officials, but Trump and the people directly around him.

    A little reading between the lines reveals that the president was trying to do something illegal to meddle with the intelligence community. It is likely very illegal, and a major scandal waiting to happen. If it is wasn’t, the White House would have already attempted to discredit the witness and scream fake news.

    Keep an eye on this space, as it seems that there is another shoe getting ready to drop.

    Source: https://www.politicususa.com/2019/09/15/schiff-dni-whistleblower.html
     
  4. Zable

    Zable Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 3 Years

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    From Talking Points Memo: DNI Refuses To Comply With House Subpoena For Whistleblower Complaint

    Reporting by Josh Kovensky | Sept 18th

    The Director of National Intelligence refused Tuesday to comply with a House subpoena for a mysterious whistleblower complaint made last month.

    ...

    The substance of the whistleblower complaint remains unknown, though it has sparked a confrontation on Capitol Hill between the normally tight-lipped House Intelligence Committee and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for overseeing the country’s intelligence community.

    [House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam] Schiff has alleged that the whistleblower complaint points to conduct by President Trump, relying on statements from the DNI that the details of the complaint contain privileged information. In a new letter reviewed by TPM, the DNI’s basis for refusing to hand over the complaint seemed at least consistent with Schiff’s allegation. DNI pegged the refusal to comply with the subpoena on a need to stay in line with the “established confidentiality interests of the Executive Branch” and on “confidential and potentially privileged matters relating to the interests of other stakeholders within the Executive Branch.”

    Schiff had said that he would demand that acting DNI Joseph Maguire appear before a congressional panel on Thursday if his office did not comply with the subpoena by the Tuesday deadline. In a Tuesday letter obtained by TPM, Maguire’s office said that it would refuse the demand, calling it “premature.”

    ...

    Full report: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckr...th-house-subpoena-for-whistleblower-complaint
     
  5. Zable

    Zable Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 3 Years

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    The day before the subpoena deadline for Maguire to appear before Schiff's committee, Schiff was on Anderson Cooper's show:

     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  6. Zable

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    According to the Washington Post, Trump’s communications with foreign leader are part of whistleblower complaint that spurred standoff between spy chief and Congress, former officials say

    Reporting by Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris | Sept 18th, 2019

    Excerpt:

    It was not immediately clear which foreign leader Trump was speaking with or what he pledged to deliver, but his direct involvement in the matter has not been previously disclosed. It raises new questions about the president’s handling of sensitive information and may further strain his relationship with U.S. spy agencies. One former official said the communication was a phone call.

    [My note: Apparently, the whistle-blower is “an official in the U.S. intelligence community” who was “troubled” by a “promise” of some kind.]

    Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nati...651aa2-da60-11e9-bfb1-849887369476_story.html


    Below, the discussion on Lawrence O’Donnell's show on Wednesday night (Sept 18th). The phone conversation between Mr Trump and Mr Putin of July 31st this year gets raised in the discussion for consideration:

     
  7. Zable

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    Confirmed:

    _The Inspector General of the US Intelligence Community the Honourable Michael K. Atkinson will appear before the US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff on Thursday morning (Sept 19th) in a classified session (closed-door hearing).

    _Acting US Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire will testify publicly about the whistle-blower complaint before the same committee on Thursday, Sept 26th.


    Excerpts from a WaPo report:

    The complaint was filed with Atkinson’s office on Aug. 12, a date on which Trump was at his golf resort in New Jersey. White House records indicate that Trump had had conversations or interactions with at least five foreign leaders in the preceding five weeks.

    Among them was a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin that the White House initiated on July 31. Trump also received at least two letters from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during the summer, describing them as “beautiful” messages. In June, Trump said publicly that he was opposed to certain CIA spying operations against North Korea. Referring to a Wall Street Journal report that the agency had recruited Kim’s half-brother, Trump said, “I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices.”

    Trump met with other foreign leaders at the White House in July, including the prime minister of Pakistan, the prime minister of the Netherlands, and the emir of Qatar.



    After fielding the complaint on Aug. 12, Atkinson submitted it to Maguire two weeks later. By law, Maguire is required to transmit such complaints to Congress within seven days. But in this case, he refrained from doing so after turning for legal guidance to officials at the Justice Department.

    In a sign of Atkinson’s discomfort with this situation, the inspector general informed the House and Senate intelligence committees of the existence of the whistleblower complaint — without revealing its substance — in early September.

    Source: www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trumps-communications-with-foreign-leader-are-part-of-whistleblower-complaint-that-spurred-standoff-between-spy-chief-and-congress-former-officials-say/ar-AAHuOBK
     
  8. Zable

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    After Congress’ Intel Watchdogs were briefed by the Intel Community’s inspector general, Schiff said the DOJ and Acting DNI would not authorize the IG to tell Congress/the Intel Watchdogs what was the substance of the whistle-blower’s complaint.

    Per a WaPo newsreport: Someone, Schiff said, “is trying to manipulate the system to keep information about an urgent matter from the Congress … There certainly are a lot of indications that it was someone at a higher pay grade than the director of national intelligence.”

    So, based on the above, we still don’t have the official word on what the whistle-blower reported.


    Meanwhile, that same WaPo news story reports Whistleblower complaint about President Trump involves Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter

    Excerpts from the Sept 19th report by Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, Greg Miller and Carol D. Leonnig:

    IG Atkinson-related:

    On Thursday, the inspector general testified behind closed doors to members of the House Intelligence Committee about the whistleblower’s complaint. … He and the members spent much of their time discussing the process Atkinson followed, the statute governing his investigation of the complaint and the nature of an “urgent concern” that he believed it represented, according to a person familiar with the briefing, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity. “He was being excruciatingly careful about the language he used,” the person said.


    Atkinson made clear that he disagreed with a lawyer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, who had contradicted the inspector general and found that the whistleblower complaint did not meet the statutory definition of an urgent concern because it involved a matter not under the DNI’s jurisdiction.


    Atkinson told lawmakers that he disagreed with that analysis — meaning he felt the matter was under the DNI’s purview — and also that it was urgent “in the common understanding of the word,” the person said.


    Atkinson told the committee that the complaint did not stem from just one conversation, according to two people familiar with his testimony.





    In a Sept. 17 letter to intelligence committee leaders, Atkinson wrote that he and Maguire “are at an impasse” over how the whistleblower could contact the congressional committees. Ordinarily, a matter of urgent concern that the inspector general deems credible is supposed to be forwarded to the intelligence oversight panels in the House and Senate.


    But Maguire prevented Atkinson from doing so, according to correspondence that has been made public. Atkinson wrote that he had requested permission from Maguire to inform the congressional intelligence committees about the general subject matter of the complaint, but was denied.


    Maguire, Atkinson wrote, had consulted with the Justice Department, which determined that the law didn’t require disclosing the complaint to the committee because it didn’t involve a member of the intelligence community or “an intelligence activity under the DNI’s supervision.”

    Ukraine-related...

    Two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian and political newcomer who was elected in a landslide in May.

    That call is already under investigation by House Democrats who are examining whether Trump and his attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani sought to manipulate the Ukrainian government into helping Trump’s reelection campaign. Lawmakers have demanded a full transcript and a list of participants on the call.



    [My note: I’ve moved the following 4 paras in the WaPo report up for grouping purposes]

    In letters to the White House and State Department, top Democrats earlier this month demanded records related to what they say are Trump and Giuliani’s efforts “to coerce the Ukrainian government into pursuing two politically-motivated investigations under the guise of anti-corruption activity” — one to help Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is in prison for illegal lobbying and financial fraud, and a second to target the son of former vice president Joe Biden, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump.

    “As the 2020 election draws closer, President Trump and his personal attorney appear to have increased pressure on the Ukrainian government and its justice system in service of President Trump’s reelection campaign, and the White House and the State Department may be abetting this scheme,” the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees wrote, citing media reports that Trump had threatened to withhold $250 million in aid* to help Ukraine in its ongoing struggle against Russian-backed separatists.

    Lawmakers also became aware in August that the Trump administration may be trying to stop the aid from reaching Ukraine, according to a congressional official.



    House Democrats are looking into whether Giuliani traveled to Ukraine to pressure that government outside of formal diplomatic channels to effectively help the Trump reelection effort by investigating Hunter Biden about his time on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company.

    Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nati...e33f0a-daf6-11e9-bfb1-849887369476_story.html

    [My note: *Per a Thursday, Sept 12th, 2019 Reuters report out of Washington:

    President Donald Trump's administration has released $250 million in military aid for Ukraine, U.S. senators said on Thursday, after law makers from both parties expressed concern that the White House had held up money approved by Congress.
    The money is intended for use by Ukraine in its struggle with pro-Russian separatists backed by Moscow. Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014.
    Some Democrats had questioned whether the administration had withheld the money to put pressure on Ukraine's government to support Trump's re-election campaign by launching an investigation of one of Trump's main rivals in the 2020 U.S. election.
    Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Appropriations Committee said the White House released the money on Wednesday night, hours before the panel was due to debate an amendment to a defence spending bill that would have prevented Trump from such actions in the future.


    Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/worl...itary-aid-for-ukraine-senators-say/ar-AAHcoL6

    Schiff informed the public of the whistle-blower's complaint on Sept 13th, by which time both the IG and ODNI had looked into the matter. Think it a coincidence that the WH released the money to the Ukraine govt just 2 days before Schiff's announcement? ]
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  9. Zable

    Zable Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 3 Years

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    The circus is well and truly underway....

    Stephen Colbert:




    CNN Cuomo Prime Time 9/19/19 (with Rudy Giuliani, in full) ....The video cuts off abruptly during the latter segment *gnash-gnash*:




    Sean Hannity, on Media Delusion:

     
  10. Zable

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    Off topic and irrevelant on the face of it, but I bring it up because Sean Hannity brought it up in the video posted above. It’s about the Russian double agent who the US pulled out of Moscow.

    Hannity's claims that it had nothing to do at all with President Trump and was something that dated all the way back to the Obama Administration is possibly based on the report by one Lew Jan Olowski, which was published this Sept 10th in thefederalist.com

    According to Olowski:

    President Trump did not cause the Central Intelligence Agency to withdraw a top-level spy from Russia. Obama did. And so did indiscreet intelligence officials. CNN’s report to the contrary is false, as usual. CNN has a track record of fake news, including false and biased reporting that elevates white supremacists.

    On Monday, CNN bragged of an “exclusive” report that “the United States successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government” partly because “President Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.”

    In fact, however, officials “mishandled intelligence” and tried to extricate this source in 2016, before Trump even won the presidential election. The New York Times reports intelligence officials compromised this source by gossiping about him to news reporters.

    “When intelligence officials revealed the severity of Russia’s election interference with unusual detail … the news media picked up on details about the C.I.A.’s Kremlin sources.” Then, “C.I.A. officials … made the arduous decision in late 2016 to offer to extract the source from Russia. … [T]he C.I.A. pressed again months later after more media inquiries.”

    President Obama compromised this source even further, right before Trump’s inauguration. Obama authorized the public release and declassification of a report by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) alluding to this source’s placement in the Russian government. The New York Times cites the public release of the DNI report as another reason for extracting the source.

    The DNI report incredibly claimed President Trump was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s favored candidate in the United States presidential election. It said Mr. Putin was, in part, motivated by a “grudge” against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton “for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging him.”

    In publishing those claims, intelligence officials publicly revealed they were privy to Putin’s private motivations and policy process. This implied they either had a mole in Putin’s inner circle or else were eavesdropping on Putin’s most sensitive discussions. Such a revelation would have been clever if it were false because this could cause Putin to distrust, investigate, or even purge members of his inner circle.

    But now it appears the leak was true. Intelligence officials spoiled a bona fide top-level intelligence source operating inside an adversary foreign government just to damage their own American president and government.

    To be sure, the source himself may be untrustworthy. The New York Times reports that some officials doubted his “trustworthiness” and had multiple “reasons to suspect the source could be a double agent,” which “would almost certainly mean that some of the information the informant provided about the Russian interference campaign or Mr. Putin’s intentions would have been inaccurate.”

    Watch whether the source comes forward now, during the 2020 presidential election campaign, with “bombshell” revelations accusing Trump of being a Manchurian candidate. His testimony would be a predictable follow-up to the “salacious and unverified” Steele dossier, for which Democrats paid money to a retired foreign intelligence official who claimed to receive information directly from Russian agents.

    Russian interference has offered tremendous return on investment to Democrats, who solicited it, to the media, who proliferate it, and to the Russian government, which is always happy to undermine the American president, regardless of political party.

    Laughably, the New York Times says, “The informant’s information was so delicate, and the need to protect the source’s identity so important, that the C.I.A. director at the time, John O. Brennan … sent separate intelligence reports … in special sealed envelopes to the Oval Office.”

    Yet Brennan himself compromised this source through his authorship of the DNI report. And since then, Brennan has shown himself to be dishonest and obscenely partisan. Protecting the source’s identity and preserving the appearance of integrity and objectivity in the U.S. intelligence community are both less important to Brennan than scoring political points.

    CNN now admits it “initially withheld” information “which adds further understanding to the value of the informant” and that “was subsequently reported by the New York Times.”

    The silver lining to CNN’s false reporting is that it reminds Americans about the importance of protecting the “sources and methods” of foreign intelligence. It is unconscionable that CIA officials such as John Brennan would spoil a deeply embedded foreign spy. Americans must demand better.

    Source: https://thefederalist.com/2019/09/10/obama-not-trump-outed-russian-spy/

    It was CNN which first reported on the spy being pulled out.

    The day before Olowski’s report was published, thehill.com – basing its story on CNN’s reporting – reported the White House’s response, and said this in its headline: CNN reports US pulled spy from Russia amid concerns about Trump's handling of intel

    The Hill’s Justine Coleman wrote:

    The White House is strongly disputing a report from CNN that the United States removed a spy from Russia in 2017 partly due to concerns that President Trump mishandled intelligence.

    CNN is reporting that one of the highest-level American spies in Russia was extracted during a secret 2017 mission after concerns that Trump would reveal the spy. The cable news network cited a person directly involved in the conversation about the removal.

    The decision to plan an extraction came after Trump's May 2017 meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. The president during that meeting shared highly classified intelligence given by Israel about ISIS in Syria, according to CNN.

    This information sparked a fear that the spy would be discovered, and then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo warned senior Trump officials about the extent of information being released about the source.

    CNN did not identify the spy or release any revealing details.

    The White House and CIA both released statements to CNN taking issue with the report.

    "CNN's narrative that the Central Intelligence Agency makes life-or-death decisions based on anything other than objective analysis and sound collection is simply false," CIA Director for Public Affairs Brittany Barmell said in a statement to CNN. "Misguided speculation that the President's handling of our nation's most sensitive intelligence — which he has access to each and every day — drove an alleged exfiltration operation is inaccurate."

    The White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told CNN that its "reporting is not only incorrect, it has the potential to put lives in danger."

    The removal of the spy caused the United States to lose a key source in the Russian government built up over time in a time when there's increased tensions between the countries, sources told CNN.

    CNN reported that a source said the United States had "no equal alternative" insight into the Russian government and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Last month, Russia experienced a nuclear explosion, causing the relationship between it and the U.S. to become even more strained.

    https://thehill.com/homenews/admini...om-russia-amid-concerns-about-trumps-handling

    What exactly did CNN’s Jim Sciutto report?



     
  11. Zable

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    I wonder where Sean Hannity stands on Mr Trump's take on "Oppo Research":

     
  12. Zable

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    The Last Word -- with Laurence Tribe:

     
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    That Rudy Giuliani interview again...






     
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    9 questions about the Trump whistleblower complaint, answered
    By Aaron Blake for the Washington Post

    1. What did Trump allegedly ‘promise,’ and what’s the big deal?

    The big, unanswered questions here are essentially: Did Trump make some kind of promise to a foreign government (apparently Ukraine) that would involve using official government resources for personal gain? And if he didn’t make a promise, how persistent were his efforts to gain foreign assistance?

    A whistleblower from the U.S. intelligence community filed a complaint Aug. 12 that alleged some kind of wrongdoing at high levels of the U.S. government. But we haven’t seen the complaint, nor has it been shared with Congress.

    Thanks to reporting from The Washington Post’s national security team this week, though, we now know that this whistleblower’s complaint involves Trump and alleges that he made some kind of a “promise” to a foreign leader. We then learned that the complaint involves Ukraine. By Friday afternoon, we learned that Trump had pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 call to launch an investigation involving the Bidens. (The Wall Street Journal first reported that and said Trump pressed Zelensky on the matter about eight times)

    Intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson has reviewed the complaint and determined it was credible. Generally, that means there is corroboration beyond just the one source. Atkinson also determined that it was a matter of “urgent concern,” which is a legal threshold that requires notifying the relevant congressional committees. In this case, that would be the intelligence committees.

    2. Why isn’t the administration sharing the whistleblower complaint?
    Acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to share the complaint, and we learned Friday that the White House Office of Legal Counsel has been involved in efforts to keep it from Congress.

    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said Thursday that he understood that the Justice Department was involved in the decision but that he had not been given an answer as to whether the White House is also involved.

    DNI general counsel Jason Klitenic said in a letter that the complaint “involves confidential and potentially privileged communications.” The Post reports that the White House has stopped short of asserting executive privilege over the complaint, but White House counsel Pat Cipollone has been trying to set up legal obstacles, such as claiming jurisdictional issues, to prevent Maguire from handing it over to Congress.

    3. What recourse does Congress have?
    This an unusual situation that breaks with traditional protocol, so, as The Fix’s Amber Phillips writes, there are limited tools at Schiff’s disposal. He has already activated one of them.

    This week, he subpoenaed both the whistleblower complaint and documents related to the decision to withhold it. Schiff has said that if Maguire doesn’t comply, he will require him to testify in an open session, at which point lawmakers could pepper him with difficult questions. Maguire is scheduled to testify Thursday.

    Schiff this week also said that he might sue over the matter and that his committee and the Democratic-controlled House could withhold funding from the DNI’s office until it relents.

    4. How does this involve Ukraine?
    We know little concretely besides that it involves the Eastern European country and the requests from Trump. But the picture is filling out.

    The Trump team, and specifically his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, has publicly telegraphed a desire to get the Ukrainian government to pursue certain investigations that might carry political benefits for Trump. These include matters involving convicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, the 2016 campaign and the Biden family.

    Giuliani this summer even planned a trip to Ukraine, which he readily admitted was intended to benefit Trump by pushing for particular investigations. “I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop,” Giuliani told the New York Times in May. “And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.” Giuliani ended up canceling the trip amid an outcry.

    We also know that Trump spoke with Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, on July 25 — 2½ weeks before the whistleblower filed the complaint — and that the administration was withholding $250 million in military aid for Ukraine in late August, before bipartisan pressure forced it to release the funding.

    5. What do we know about Trump’s phone call with Zelensky on July 25?
    Logically, this would seem likely to be the conversation at the heart of the complaint. Given the parties involved in the call — Trump and Zelensky — and its temporal proximity to the complaint, that would make sense.

    Trump’s repeated request of Zelensky that Ukraine investigate the Bidens would form one portion of a potential quid pro quo, but our latest reporting is that Trump didn’t mention foreign aid on the call. So it’s not clear what was actually part of the “promise” the whistleblower alleges.

    But Atkinson, in his closed-door testimony this week, also said the complaint involves multiple actions and no single communication.

    The White House said July 25 that the call involved Trump congratulating Zelensky on his election win this year and that they “discussed ways to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Ukraine, including energy and economic cooperation.”

    The Ukrainians, though, said at the time that Trump told Zelensky he was “convinced the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve [the] image of Ukraine, [and] complete [the] investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.”

    That last phrase is particularly conspicuous, given what we know now.

    6. Why is the Trump team so interested in Ukraine?
    For a variety of perhaps unrelated reasons, Trump has eyed developments in Ukraine for potential political gain.

    As Philip Bump wrote Friday, the first of these involved a Democratic National Committee consultant who sought information from Ukrainian officials about Manafort, who had previously done work for onetime Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. This was held up as a counterargument to potential Trump campaign collusion with Russia — the idea being that Democrats might have also colluded, with Ukraine.

    The other big one — and apparently the more significant one when it comes to what we see today — is the situation involving the Bidens. As The Post’s Michael Kranish and David L. Stern detailed in July, the vice president’s son, Hunter Biden, took a well-paying job on the board of Ukraine’s largest private gas company, Burisma Holdings, late in the Obama administration. That company had been under some scrutiny from Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Shokin was removed amid pressure from then-Vice President Biden and other Western leaders, who alleged that he wasn’t pursuing corruption cases seriously enough.

    7. How substantial are the allegations against Joe and Hunter Biden?
    The contention from Trump, Giuliani, et al., is that Biden was taking an action to benefit his son’s company. Shokin himself alleged to The Post “that the activities of Burisma, the involvement of his son, Hunter Biden, and the [prosecutor general’s office] investigators on his tail, are the only, I emphasize, the only motives for organizing my resignation.”

    But Shokin’s contention is questionable, and it’s not clear that he had actually been scrutinizing Burisma at the time; one official said the probe had long been dormant. Shokin had also fallen out of favor with many other Western leaders, as well as with lawmakers in Ukraine, where he was the subject of a decisive vote of no confidence.

    Neither of these cases involves readily apparent wrongdoing. But the Trump team seems to regard them as sleeping giants in the 2020 race — or at least issues that could be used to muddy the political waters with the leading Democratic candidate in the race (and the one who polls best against Trump).

    8. Where do Joseph Maguire and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence fit into this?
    Maguire’s defenders say he’s in a legitimate legal bind, because the law doesn’t countenance this conflict between a president’s executive privilege and the disclosure requirements regarding a whistleblower complaint.

    Regardless of whether you sympathize with him, though, he finds himself in an inauspicious position. Trump named him acting DNI a little more than a month ago under slightly controversial circumstances. After it was announced that then-DNI Daniel Coats would be resigning, Trump bypassed Coats’s No. 2, Sue Gordon, who had extensive bipartisan support, in favor of Maguire as the acting DNI. (Gordon resigned and subtly protested the decision in a brief letter.) Maguire, a retired Navy admiral, was also a somewhat unorthodox pick for the job, given his lack of experience in the U.S. intelligence community.

    The overlapping timelines of Coats’s resignation, Maguire’s elevation and the whistleblower complaint are also raising eyebrows. Trump announced the exit of Coats, with whom he occasionally clashed, on July 28. That’s three days after his call with Zelensky. Trump announced Maguire’s selection Aug. 8. Four days later, the whistleblower complaint was filed.

    The practical impact is that Maguire, who was Senate-confirmed but for a different job, has been thrust into a high-profile position that now involves making a very difficult legal and political call for an intelligence community in which he isn’t exactly steeped.

    9. How bad is this for Trump and his presidency?
    That’s the other big question right now. It’s too early to know whether it will be proved that Trump did anything wrong. Even if we see the complaint, it’s not certain that things happened exactly as the whistleblower said they did. And just because Trump pushed for investigating the Bidens doesn’t mean there is a provable quid pro quo.

    Any specific legal violations would depend on those details. Asking for foreign assistance is problematic in and of itself, but this is also the president who publicly asked for Russia to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2016 and has indicated repeatedly that he was open to foreign help. The more troubling possibility (and the one raised specifically by the “promise” allegation) is that this might involve outright government corruption — the trading of favors for personal gain.

    Of course, even if Trump violated the law, we’re in the same position as we are with obstruction of justice and Michael Cohen’s campaign finance violation (in which Trump has been implicated but not accused of a crime). And that position is: Justice Department guidelines say a sitting president can’t be indicted, thus any remedy would be Congress’s responsibility, via potential impeachment proceedings.

    The constitutional definition of an impeachable offense — “high crimes and misdemeanors” — is a subjective one that means basically whatever Congress determines it means. So the real question is whether serious wrongdoing by Trump in this case would rally public and political support in a way we haven’t yet seen for impeachment and/or removal from office.

    In the background are other highly controversial things Trump has done, most notable being his potential obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation. But thus far, public support for impeachment is far short of a majority, and Republicans, who control the Senate and can easily prevent Trump’s removal from office, have shown no appetite for going down that road. Democrats have thus proceeded somewhat timidly. And with the 2020 election approaching, they might reason that the election would be the best way to decide how Trump is held accountable.

    As far as that race goes, Trump finds himself in a tough spot. He has low approval ratings and trails most Democrats he potentially faces in 2020, including by double digits in the case of Biden. One more big scandal would seem to cement his underdog status, but there is plenty of time until November 2020.

    Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/poli...p-whistleblower-complaint-answered/ar-AAHBw7l
     
  16. Zable

    Zable Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 3 Years

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    Folk are getting ahead of themselves. We haven’t even heard from the whistle-blower. We’ve only heard words being put in the whistle-blower’s mouth via the unnamed sources leaking information & suppositions to WaPo and the rest of the media. Is it truly among the whistle-blower's allegations that Mr Trump promised US aid in return for 'opposition research' dirt to help his re-election chances?

     
  17. Zable

    Zable Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 3 Years

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    Message for whistle-blower: Adam Schiff on the Rachel Maddow show:



    GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Bret Baier's show:

     
  18. Zable

    Zable Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 3 Years

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    I stumbled across the NPR transcript below while surfing. It occurred to me that the answers to why the Acting DNI went to the DOJ for advice after receiving the IG’s whistleblower report instead of forwarding it on to Congress as required by law lie within the content of the transcript. I underscore the sentences that I think are relevant.

    Trump Stands By Decision To Declassify Intelligence That Led To Russia Investigation

    Heard on All Things Considered | May 24th, 2019

    National Public Radio's Audie Cornish speaks with Jeremy Bash, former CIA chief of staff, about President Trump's order to the intelligence community to comply with a probe into 2016 campaign surveillance.

    AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

    President Trump has given his Attorney General William Barr expansive new powers to review how the 2016 Trump campaign's ties to Russia were investigated. The president granted Barr those powers in a memo issued last night. He also gave Barr the power to declassify any intelligence that led to the opening of the Russia investigation. In that memo, the president also ordered the heads of the U.S. intelligence agencies to cooperate with the attorney general.

    (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Everything that they need is declassified. And they'll be able to see how this hoax - how the hoax or witch hunt started and why it started. It was an attempted coup or an attempted takedown of the president of the United States. It should never, ever happen to anybody else.

    CORNISH: Jeremy Bash was the chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Defense and the CIA during the Obama administration. Welcome to the program.

    JEREMY BASH: Hey, Audie.

    CORNISH: Let's get into this a little more. On the subject of confidential sources, what are the implications of this? I know that, I think, just last year, the Justice Department reportedly revealed the name of a source in the Trump campaign in the course of a congressional investigation. So what are the implications of this going forward?

    BASH: The president wants to advance a political narrative that there was a coup or a deep-state effort to undermine him. He's asked Bill Barr to undertake somewhat of an investigation, although the parameters of that investigation have not really been described publicly. And the president has now stripped the directors of CIA, NSA and the director of national intelligence from their authority to control classified information. And so if I were running intelligence operations, I'd be concerned that sources would be clamming up. This is very dangerous territory. It's politicizing intelligence in a wholly inappropriate way.

    CORNISH: There's also the issue of declassifying information. What are the concerns about one person having the power to declassify at will?

    BASH: Well, the power to declassify information is also the power to selectively declassify information. So if Bill Barr, in his investigation, comes upon snippets of intelligence that bolster the president's political narrative, then he has the apparent authority under this order issued last night to declassify selectively that information. And what happens is there can be a false narrative out there in the public. And the source can be exposed.

    CORNISH: But it's only a limited review, right? This is not a criminal investigation. Are people making a bigger deal out of it than they should?

    BASH: I don't think we know yet exactly what the parameters of this review were. I suspect, Audie, that this review by Bill Barr has not been fully thought out. It's been a mechanism for Bill Barr to say to the president, Mr. President, don't worry. We're going to do exactly what you want us to do. We're going to basically conduct this political exercise in trying to, quote, unquote, "go after" those who started the investigation. It is very dicey territory to try to investigate the investigators who were trying to protect national security.

    CORNISH: Given how politicized this investigation has become, is there any value to finding out the origins of it?

    BASH: I think we know a lot about the origins of the investigation. If the Department of Justice wants to conduct a very circumscribed, limited review, perhaps that's appropriate. And if the attorney general had been someone who I think had been playing it straight all along, I'd be less concerned. But here we have an attorney general who has misrepresented Bob Mueller's key findings and then misled Congress as to the concerns that Bob Mueller had raised directly to the attorney general.

    CORNISH: If this is a political move in the way that you're talking about, what do you think is to be gained here?

    BASH: Nothing.

    CORNISH: That's Jeremy Bash. He was chief of staff at the Central Intelligence Agency during the Obama administration. He's the founder of Beacon Global Strategies. Thank you for talking with us.

    CORNISH: Thanks, Audie.

    Source: https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=726784184
    Recently, Jeremy Bash spoke with Nicole Wallace of MSNBC's Deadline show. With regard to POTUS's dealings with Ukraine said by some to be one of the matters of concern to the whistleblower, Mr Bash perceived that 3 crimes had been committed:
    1. Extortion
    2. Conspiracy to engage in extortion
    3. Conspiracy to violate federal election law


    (Other guests on the Deadline show: Karine Jean-Pierre, Michael Steele, Eli Stokols, John Heilemann, and Rick Stengel)
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2019
  19. Frank Underwood

    Frank Underwood Soap Chat Star EXP: 19 Years

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    The whistleblower complaint may end up being worse for Joe Biden than Trump

    Washington is being roiled by another Trump controversy. And this one appears to have enough staying power to affect the 2020 presidential race.

    All we really know at this point is that a complaint from an intelligence community whistleblower, in part, concerns a July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. According to The Post, the whistleblower’s complaint “involved communications with a foreign leader and a ‘promise’ that Trump made.” The president himself has admitted discussing with Zelensky opening an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The complaint’s mere existence has emboldened Democrats and has made their case for impeachment look stronger while Republicans are waiting for more shoes to drop. Meanwhile, even if Trump is left standing, this latest development could finally doom Biden’s political career. What is bad for Trump may be even worse for Biden, one of the leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination.

    Without knowing the full extent of what did or did not happen, Republicans’ defense of the president is sure to involve a fair share of “whataboutism.” That Hunter Biden was engaged in swamp business par excellence is already well-documented, and there are questions about whether Joe Biden has ever used his position to help his son. So all this points to Biden’s vulnerability and reminds everyone that he has been in the swamp far too long.

    The coming finger-pointing by Republicans and the demand for answers from Biden could not come at a worse time for his campaign. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is gaining traction and getting a fresh look from voters. The latest poll from Iowa shows her inching ahead of Biden. Voters may think Biden isn’t just too old to be president, but that maybe he carries too much baggage to be the party’s nominee, as well. In the strangest of ways, the whistleblower incident is more likely to end the political career of Biden before that of Trump.

    Biden is a fragile front-runner and the whole matter involving his son’s foreign business dealings not only raises unflattering questions but provides plenty of reminders about his life in the swamp. Trump, on the other hand, is exceptionally durable with his base, to say nothing of the fact that his entire presidency has practically been defined by his ability to outlive Democratic “witch hunts.”

    The Democrats have been itching to impeach the president and this may be their best chance, though, so far, it doesn’t appear Trump committed a criminal act. Maybe there is something truly substantial in the whistleblower complaint, or maybe we are just witnessing the latest example of hyperbole and fraught partisanship being pushed forward by Democrats and their allies. Maybe this time, Trump has really crossed the line by acting with extremely bad judgment — in his own self interest and in a way that weakened an important U.S. alliance for no good reason. Whatever it is, the latest Trump debacle seems to be a gift from the president to every Democrat who isn’t named Joe Biden.

    Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/09/24/how-whistleblower-complaint-will-affect-election/

     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
  20. Frank Underwood

    Frank Underwood Soap Chat Star EXP: 19 Years

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    Let's get real: Democrats were first to enlist Ukraine in US elections

    Earlier this month, during a bipartisan meeting in Kiev, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) delivered a pointed message to Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

    While choosing his words carefully, Murphy made clear — by his own account — that Ukraine currently enjoyed bipartisan support for its U.S. aid but that could be jeopardized if the new president acquiesced to requests by President Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to investigate past corruption allegations involving Americans, including former Vice President Joe Biden’s family.

    Murphy boasted after the meeting that he told the new Ukrainian leader that U.S. aid was his country’s “most important asset” and it would be viewed as election-meddling and “disastrous for long-term U.S.-Ukraine relations” to bend to the wishes of Trump and Giuliani.

    "I told Zelensky that he should not insert himself or his government into American politics. I cautioned him that complying with the demands of the President's campaign representatives to investigate a political rival of the President would gravely damage the U.S.-Ukraine relationship. There are few things that Republicans and Democrats agree on in Washington these days, and support for Ukraine is one of them," Murphy told me today, confirming what he told Ukraine's leader.

    The implied message did not require an interpreter for Zelensky to understand: Investigate the Ukraine dealings of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, and you jeopardize Democrats' support for future U.S. aid to Kiev.

    The Murphy anecdote is a powerful reminder that, since at least 2016, Democrats repeatedly have exerted pressure on Ukraine, a key U.S. ally for buffering Russia, to meddle in U.S. politics and elections.

    And that activity long preceded Giuliani’s discussions with Ukrainian officials and Trump’s phone call to Zelensky in July, seeking to have Ukraine formally investigate whether then-Vice President Joe Biden used a threat of canceling foreign aid to shut down an investigation into $3 million routed to the U.S. firm run by Biden’s son.

    As I have reported, the pressure began at least as early as January 2016, when the Obama White House unexpectedly invited Ukraine’s top prosecutors to Washington to discuss fighting corruption in the country.

    The meeting, promised as training, turned out to be more of a pretext for the Obama administration to pressure Ukraine’s prosecutors to drop an investigation into the Burisma Holdings gas company that employed Hunter Biden and to look for new evidence in a then-dormant criminal case against eventual Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, a GOP lobbyist.

    U.S. officials “kept talking about how important it was that all of our anti-corruption efforts be united,” said Andrii Telizhenko, the former political officer in the Ukrainian embassy in Washington who organized and attended the meetings.

    Nazar Kholodnytsky, Ukraine’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor, told me that, soon after he returned from the Washington meeting, he saw evidence in Ukraine of political meddling in the U.S. election. That's when two top Ukrainian officials released secret evidence to the American media, smearing Manafort.

    The release of the evidence forced Manafort to step down as Trump’s top campaign adviser. A Ukrainian court concluded last December that the release of the evidence amounted to an unlawful intervention in the U.S. election by Kiev’s government, although that ruling has since been overturned on a technicality.

    Shortly after the Ukrainian prosecutors returned from their Washington meeting, a new round of Democratic pressure was exerted on Ukraine — this time via its embassy in Washington.

    Valeriy Chaly, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States at the time, confirmed to me in a statement issued by his office that, in March 2016, a contractor for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) pressed his embassy to try to find any Russian dirt on Trump and Manafort that might reside in Ukraine’s intelligence files.

    The DNC contractor also asked Chaly's team to try to persuade Ukraine’s president at the time, Petro Poroshenko, to make a statement disparaging Manafort when the Ukrainian leader visited the United States during the 2016 election.

    Chaly said his embassy rebuffed both requests because it recognized they were improper efforts to get a foreign government to try to influence the election against Trump and for Hillary Clinton.

    The political pressure continued. Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in crucial U.S. aid to Kiev if Poroshenko did not fire the country’s chief prosecutor. Ukraine would have been bankrupted without the aid, so Poroshenko obliged on March 29, 2016, and fired Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.

    At the time, Biden was aware that Shokin’s office was investigating Burisma, the firm employing Hunter Biden, after a December 2015 New York Times article.

    What wasn’t known at the time, Shokin told me recently, was that Ukrainian prosecutors were preparing a request to interview Hunter Biden about his activities and the monies he was receiving from Ukraine. If such an interview became public during the middle of the 2016 election, it could have had enormous negative implications for Democrats.

    Democrats continued to tap Ukraine for Trump dirt throughout the 2016 election, my reporting shows.

    Nellie Ohr, the wife of senior U.S. Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, worked in 2016 as a contractor for Fusion GPS, the same Hillary Clinton-funded opposition research firm that hired Christopher Steele, the British spy who wrote the now-debunked dossier linking Trump to Russia collusion.

    Nellie Ohr testified to Congress that some of the dirt she found on Trump during her 2016 election opposition research came from a Ukrainian parliament member. She also said that she eventually took the information to the FBI through her husband — another way Ukraine got inserted into the 2016 election.

    Politics. Pressure. Opposition research. All were part of the Democrats’ playbook on Ukraine long before Trump ever called Zelensky this summer. And as Sen. Murphy’s foray earlier this month shows, it hasn’t stopped.

    The evidence is so expansive as to strain the credulity of the Democrats’ current outrage at Trump’s behavior with Ukraine.

    Which raises a question: Could it be the Ukraine tale currently being weaved by Democrats and their allies in the media is nothing more than a smoke screen designed to distract us from the forthcoming Justice Department inspector general report into abuses during the Democratic-inspired Russia collusion probe?

    It’s a question worth asking.

    Source: https://thehill.com/opinion/campaig...-were-first-to-enlist-ukraine-in-us-elections

     

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