Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠: 8:16 AM 6/13/2019 | Trump and Trumpism – Review Of News And Opinions

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Michael_Novakhov
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8:16 AM 6/13/2019

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Congress raises questions Mueller left unanswered about Trump, Russia

Michael_Novakhov shared this story .

WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report failed to address crucial questions about President Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia that the FBI may still be investigating, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday as he kicked off a hearing designed to spotlight those issues.

“Of all the questions that Mueller helped resolve, he left many critical questions unanswered — what happened to the counterintelligence investigation?,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said as he opened a hearing on counterintelligence issues. “Were there other forms of compromise, like money laundering, left out, uninvestigated or referred to other offices? Were individuals granted security clearances that shouldn’t have them? And are there individuals still operating in the administration that leave America vulnerable?”

Schiff said he is determined to get to the bottom of those questions, but he wasn’t likely to do so at Wednesday’s hearing, which featured testimony from two former FBI counterintelligence officials and a conservative commentator.

The former FBI officials, Stephanie Douglas and Robert Anderson, each ran the FBI’s National Security Division, a job that entails hunting for Russian spies in the United States. Neither of them is in a position to know what the FBI is doing now, but they sought to interpret the spare language of Volume One of special counsel Mueller’s report, the section that details more than 100 contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians.

Douglas, for example, said that when then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort handed polling data to a person the FBI said was linked to Russian intelligence, that amounted to the Russians “tasking” Manafort, a term spy hunters use to describe the actions of people under the influence of a spy service.

Manafort was charged with acting as an unregistered agent for Russian-backed Ukrainian politicians, but Mueller made no allegation against him or any other American of acting on Russia’s behalf in Russia’s operation to interfere in the 2016 election. To the contrary, Mueller did not find enough evidence to file criminal charges in any of the contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians.

But Mueller’s report was a prosecutor’s brief, written under strict Justice Department regulations. It did not render a judgment on the propriety of a major political campaign flirting with a foreign adversary that was offering assistance. Nor did it assess whether U.S. national security was harmed, or whether Trump or anyone else was compromised by his dealings with Russia, including his effort to build a hotel tower in Moscow that would have required the approval of President Vladimir Putin.

“It may not be a crime to build a Trump Tower in Moscow,” Schiff said. “Or for [former Trump attorney] Michael Cohen to seek the Kremlin’s help to do so. It may not be a crime to try to enrich yourself with a foreign business deal even while running for president, or to lie about it to the American people. But it is deeply compromising.”

Schiff and the former FBI officials noted that the Mueller report says FBI agents who worked alongside the Mueller team sent counterintelligence reports back to headquarters, the contents of which are not included in the Mueller report.

The Republican witness, Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who writes for National Review, testified that members of the Trump campaign should have called the FBI when Russians approached them with offers of assistance.

But Republican lawmakers dismissed any notion that the Trump campaign behaved inappropriately. The real scandal, they said, was that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into an American political campaign.

Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the ranking Republican on the committee, called the Mueller report “a shoddy political hit piece.”

Schiff sees it much differently.

“Volume I of the report outlines a ‘sweeping and systematic’ effort by Russia to interfere in the 2016 election for the benefit of Donald Trump,” he said. “It establishes that the Trump campaign welcomed the Russian interference because it ‘expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian effort.’ It shows how the Trump campaign built the theft and dumping of the Russian stolen documents into its campaign messaging and strategy. And as the special counsel made clear, it sets out in great detail why the conduct in his report should concern every American.”

Ken Dilanian is an NBC News correspondent covering intelligence and national security.

Trump’s son, 2 former FBI leaders testify on Capitol Hill

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from WILX – Content – News.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election bore some of the textbook tricks of the trade of Kremlin spycraft, including the volume and breadth of contacts with Trump associates, former FBI officials told lawmakers Wednesday in the latest congressional hearing dedicated to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report .

The two officials, Robert Anderson and Stephanie Douglas, highlighted aspects of the Mueller report they said showed Russian efforts to vet and test Trump campaign associates, to establish back channels of communications and to spread their contacts around in hopes of maximizing their chances of getting what they wanted.

“It is an absolute classic tradecraft of Russia and Russian intelligence services. They’ll never have one point of failure,” said Anderson, a former FBI executive assistant director who used to supervise counterintelligence investigations. “If they’re looking to try to obtain or pass information or potentially even influence information, they’ll make sure that they have numerous aspects or points to where they can try to get that done.”

The House Intelligence Committee invited the ex-officials to testify about the counterintelligence implications of Mueller’s investigation into potential coordination between Russia and President Donald Trump’s campaign. Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy between the campaign and Russia but did detail a series of interactions and outreach that have alarmed Democrats and accelerated calls from some in the party for impeachment proceedings and renewed investigations.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic committee chairman, noted in his opening remarks that Mueller detailed more than 100 contacts between Russia and associates of the president.

“The primary objective of a counterintelligence investigation is not to target an individual for prosecution but to protect the nation by developing information about the actions and intentions of foreign powers and to thwart them before they can act against us,” Schiff said at the hearing.

Among the interactions was a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower during which the president’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., expected to receive dirt on his father’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, discussed Obama administration sanctions against Russia with the then-Russian ambassador in the weeks leading up to the president’s inauguration.

“It immediately put the existing administration in a horribly conflicting position, and they didn’t know about the backchannel in advance of the inauguration,” said Douglas, also a former FBI executive assistant director. “It also probably assured the Russians that they were going to get a more favorable treatment” by the incoming Trump administration.

She highlighted how Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, shared polling data during the presidential campaign with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate accused of having ties to Russian intelligence. He also told Kilimnik he was willing to provide “private briefings” about the Trump campaign to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I thought that that was very interesting, that they are tasking him and building upon that,” Douglas said. “And if he would have stayed with the campaign, I am sure they would have continued to task him.”

Also Wednesday, Trump Jr. arrived on Capitol Hill for a second closed-door interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senators want to discuss answers he gave to the panel’s staff in a 2017 interview and to another Senate panel in a separate interview that year.

The president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen told a House committee in February that he had briefed Trump Jr. approximately 10 times about a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow before the presidential election. Trump Jr. had told the Senate Judiciary Committee he was only “peripherally aware” of the real estate proposal.

Trump Jr. told reporters on his way in on Wednesday that he had “nothing to correct.”

In the House hearing, both ex-FBI officials retired from the bureau before it opened its investigation into the Trump campaign in summer 2016. By inviting them instead of agents involved in the investigation, Democrats are giving center stage to longtime career officials devoid of the political baggage that accompanies some of the Republican president’s more outspoken critics, including former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former agent Peter Strzok. Both were fired last year.

Even so, the partisan divisions that had riven the committee in recent years manifested themselves again on Wednesday morning. Schiff said most Americans consider the Trump campaign’s embrace of Russian aid “to constitute plain evidence of collusion.” The panel’s top Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes, repeatedly described allegations of collusion to be a “hoax” and suggested Democrats should apologize.

“One would think the Democrats would simply apologize and get back to lawmaking and oversight, but it’s clear they couldn’t stop this grotesque spectacle even if they wanted to,” Nunes said.

Republicans mostly focused their questioning on their own witness, former Justice Department prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, a conservative columnist.

The hearing comes two days after the House Judiciary Committee heard from John Dean , the former White House counsel in the Nixon administration, who described parallels between Richard Nixon’s behavior during the Watergate investigation and Trump’s own conduct in the Mueller probe.

___

Associated Press writer Laurie Kellman in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Trump’s son, 2 former FBI leaders testify on Capitol Hill | National Politics

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from azdailysun.com – RSS Results in news/national/govt-and-politics of type article.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election bore some of the textbook tricks of the trade of Kremlin spycraft, including the volume and breadth of contacts with Trump associates, former FBI officials told lawmakers Wednesday in the latest congressional hearing dedicated to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report .

The two officials, Robert Anderson and Stephanie Douglas, highlighted aspects of the Mueller report they said showed Russian efforts to vet and test Trump campaign associates, to establish back channels of communications and to spread their contacts around in hopes of maximizing their chances of getting what they wanted.

Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠


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