Category Archives: Politics/Other

Spend Green, Get Green?

Tom Steyer is wading into the forest of politics again, focusing on the 2017 race for Governor of Virginia.

Steyer prefers to harvest current Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam to better control the citizens across the country (Steyer, a billionaire ex-hedge fund manager, lives in San Francisco).

Hillary fundraiser and current oily governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe (below), is ineligible to run for re-election due to term limits.

Image result

Terry ran Hillary’s failed 2008 presidential bid and has a rather checkered past:

Hillary Quilts; Associates Don’t Quit

A recent photo of the progressive policy pusher from Washington Post.

Steyer’s group NextGen America will reportedly pump $100 million into fighting climate change (time period unspecified, but remember this is life or death), including $2 million towards electing Northam.

Labor vs. Climate

At issue are two natural gas pipelines scheduled to pass through Virginia. Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillepsie says full steam ahead on those. But Northam (below), to Steyer’s chagrin, is cowering behind the line that the pipelines’ fate should be decided by federal regulators.

Image result

“Hi I’m here to be your Governor and by the way decisions for this great state will actually be made by Washington!”

Also, Washington Post reports:

A sponsor of one of the pipelines is Dominion Energy, Virginia’s largest corporate political donor. Northam owns shares in the company, and has also accepted campaign contributions from Dominion.

Steyer is cool with Northam being a pussy who folds to special interests, however, because 1). Steyer himself is sort of a special interest, with that kind of money, and 2). Northam has, per Steyer, suggested “the pipeline [sic] […] will be subject to the toughest possible environmental review.”

Also, Steyer told the Post [our emphasis]:

“We think [Northam] is much much better than Mr. Gillespie on environmental policies in general.”

Confidence!

*

Steyer’s focus this year is to mobilize deadbeat “millennial” voters, who tend to care more about climate change but usually don’t vote. The battle plan includes an invasion of 25 Virginia college campuses, as well as an online campaign for Millennials not enrolled in the education-industrial complex.

According to Washington Post, Steyer dropped a cool $8,000,000 via NextGen to help elect McAuliffe by just over 50,000 votes. Per Wikipedia, this was the first Virginia gubernatorial in which no candidate secured a majority of votes. Likely because Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis commanded 146,000 votes for 6.5% of the total.

2017 Libertarian candidate Cliff Hyra was not acknowledged by Washington Post, which is pretty much par for the highly-taxed, reclaimed water-irrigated, liberal billionaire-frequented golf course of the two-sides-only partisan politics powwow into which the nation has devolved.

Thanks to our source:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/democratic-megadonor-tom-steyer-to-spend-2-million-in-virginia-governors-race/2017/08/21/0f2486a2-81fc-11e7-902a-2a9f2d808496_story.html?utm_term=.c0051e2b2497

BREAKING: USS John S. McCain Collision

UPDATE 8/28/17

Washington Post identified the full list of sailors lost in the crash. All remains have been recovered.

Nathan Findley, 31:

Abraham Lopez, 39:

Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26:

Jacob Daniel Drake, 21:

Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23:

Corey George Ingram, 28;

Dustin Louis Doyon, 26:

John Henry Hoagland III, 20:

Logan Stephen Palmer, 23:

and Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22:

UPDATE 8/23/17

Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, commander of the 7th Fleet, was relieved of duties in the wake of the USS John S. McCain collision.

Aucoin speaks following the USS Fitzgerald collision in June.

Aucoin was scheduled to retire next month, and his slated replacement, Rear Admiral Phillip Sawyer, took command.

“Some remains” of the ten missing sailors have been recovered by Navy divers, but no identifications have been made.

Three sailors’ families were informed their sons were missing: Logan Palmer, Ken Smith and Jacob Drake.

Also:

CNN and Wall Street Journal had details on the third and fourth 2017 Naval accidents in the Asian area. According to WSJ:

Two other accidents within U.S. Seventh Fleet’s area of responsibility occurred earlier this year. In May, the guided missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel, and in January, another cruiser, the USS Antietam, ran aground near its port in Yokosuka.

[our coloring]

Original post continues below.

America’s Navy reported the evening of August 20 that the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with a merchant ship in the South China Sea, specifically in Singapore‘s Strait of Malacca (6:24 AM on August 21 in Japan time.)

Five sailors are injured, with ten missing.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) maneuvers alongside the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) for a refueling-at-sea.

John S. McCain, pre-collision.

The other party was Alnic MC, an “oil and chemical tanker” out of Liberia.

The John S. McCain, damaged, made it to Changi Naval Base in Singapore.

The USS John S. McCain arrives at Changi Naval Base in Singapore following the Monday collision.

Damaged John S. McCain pulling into Singapore.

The collision left major damage to the port side of the USS John S. McCain, seen here in Singapore.

CNN reported on the port side damage of the John S. McCain (above).

When reporters asked President Trump about the collision, he reportedly responded, “That’s too bad.” The remark will likely be lambasted for the next few days.

The John S. McCain is named for Senator John McCain’s father and grandfather, both Navy Admirals.

According to CNN, this is the fourth U.S. Navy accident in Asian waters for 2017.

CNN “military analyst” Rick Francona predicted the 7th Fleet of the U.S. Navy will undergo a leadership change.

“How does a state-of-the-art Navy destroyer — equipped with multiple radar systems and communications gear with a full bridge watch — not see, detect and evade a 30,000-ton slow-moving (10 knots) behemoth?” Francona asked.

 

United States Seventh Fleet -logo (hi-res).jpg

The 7th Fleet is based in Yokosuka, Japan; its objectives include defense of the Korean peninsula, according to Wikipedia. According to America’s Navy, “At any given time there are 70-80 ships and submarines, 140 aircraft and approximately 40,000 Sailors and Marines in [the 48 million square mile area of operation].”

 

The oil and chemical tanker Alnic MC after Monday's collision off Johor, Malaysia.

The 505-foot Alnic MC, which reported no injuries and denies any oil was spilled. (“Merchant maritime websites” tout the length at 600 feet, however, according to CNN. Because size matters.)

A Navy official told CNN the John S. McCain briefly lost steering before the collision, but it was regained.

*

Of the Asian accidents made possible this year by the world’s largest, most expensive and intrusive military of all time attempting to micromanage the affairs of all other countries, the USS Fitzgerald‘s disastrous collision with Filipino merchant ship MVACX Crystal outside Tokyo, Japan on June 17 resulted in perhaps the most scathing indictment of leadership.

Seven U.S. sailors (below, thanks New York Times: Xavier Martin, 24; Shingo Douglass, 25; Dakota Rigsby, 19; Carlos Sibayan, 23; Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25; Noe Hernandez, 26; and Gary Rehm Jr., 37) perished, apparently drowning in a breached berthing compartment.

The Fitzgerald (two pictures below, thanks to Washington Post) is also a guided missile destroyer.

Three leaders of the Fitzgerald at the time were removed from duty on August 17. Unfortunately, they all have very similar names (from left to right, above, thanks to USNI News): Commander Bryce Benson, executive officer Commander Sean Babbitt and command master chief (CMC) Brice Baldwin.

None of the three were on the Fitzgerald‘s bridge at the time of collision. In fact, the crash crush[ed] and warp[ed] Benson’s stateroom […] leaving him hanging to the side of the hull in the open air for 15 minutes.

Several subordinate officers had to pop the stateroom door with a sledgehammer and their own bodies, then form a human chain to retrieve Benson, who was medically evacuated by Japanese helicopter.

[VCNO Admiral Bill] Moran singled out the actions of Gary Leo Rehm Jr., who was advanced to Chief Petty Officer posthumously this week. Rehm helped get several sailors out to the exits while Berthing 2 was flooding and was one of the seven who died.

Moran reportedly acknowledged “serious mistakes were made by members of the crew” and that sailors “lost situational awareness.”

New York Times wondered,

[W]hy did [lookouts] not see the 728-foot freighter, the ACX Crystal, stacked with more than 1,000 containers, bearing on the destroyer?

According to USNI News, repair costs “could easily rise above $500 million.”

New York Times reports the Fitzgerald cost $1.5 billion and, like the John S. McCain, is much smaller than its collision partner. [And sustained much more damage. And was supposed to be more maneuverable and able to avoid collisions.]

In fact, Heavy reported back in June that the Crystal was chartered by a Japanese company, and its crew–much smaller than that of the 300-plus Fitzgerald–sustained no injuries.

[T]he ACX Crystal is being investigated for possibly making a sharp turn before the collision. However, that turn might have come after the collision, and ACX Crystal could have been operating on autopilot, one expert said.

Several additional sailors, on duty the night of June 17, were also removed. The Navy, citing “inadequate leadership,” commented that about twelve sailors in all will be disciplined.

Benson, Babbitt and Baldwin’s Naval careers are likely finished.

*

America proceeded with ten days of joint military exercises with South Korea beginning today. North Korea (recently engaged in a verbal spat with Trump over who gets to actually trigger the destruction of all mankind) commented yesterday these drills signified “reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war.”

However, BREAKING UPDATE 12:00 PM Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson on August 21 ordered a one-day pause in operations “to ensure we are taking all appropriate immediate measures to enhance the Navy’s safe and effective operation around the world.”

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=102034

http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/pages/SeventhFleet.aspx#.WZruxyiGNPY

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/08/17/top-two-officers-and-other-sailors-aboard-the-uss-fitzgerald-to-be-disciplined-following-deadly-collision-at-sea/?utm_term=.9d9e3139e123

USS Fitzgerald Command Triad Removed Following Early Investigation Results

ACX Crystal: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/20/asia/us-navy-destroyer-collision-singapore/index.html

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2017/08/23/US-Navy-removes-Pacific-Fleet-commander-after-deadly-warship-crashes/9651503467007/

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-navy-ship-collision-20170822-story.html

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-navy-to-relieve-admiral-of-command-after-collisions-1503448987

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/08/24/these-are-the-10-sailors-lost-from-the-uss-john-s-mccain/?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.b8b3fadbb26f

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: May 19: Anthony Weiner Pleads Guilty to “Sexting” Minor

Disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner (below) entered a guilty plea for his widely-publicized sexual shenanigans.

Anthony Weiner exits federal court in Manhattan

“I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse,” Weiner said, apologizing to the 15-year-old girl to whom he sent sexually explicit images and messages last year.

According to Reuters:

The charge of transferring obscene material to a minor carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, but Weiner is likely to get less. As part of his plea agreement, federal prosecutors said they would consider a term between 21 months and 27 months “fair and appropriate.”

BREAKING NEWS–PART ONE

Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin, top aide to former Secretary of State and failed 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, filed for divorce two days later, according to New York Post.

The scandal contributed to the sinking of the Clinton campaign by potentiating her decision to handle all communications as the nation’s top diplomat on an unauthorized, unsecured secret email server  in the news just days before her surprise loss to Donald Trump (see above).

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/ex-congressman-weiner-expected-plead-guilty-sexting-probe-133819031.html

http://nypost.com/2017/05/19/huma-abedin-finally-files-for-divorce-from-anthony-weiner/

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: May 9: FBI Director Comey Fired

You’re fired!!!

Trump unexpectedly dismissed of FBI Director James Comey.

“Today, President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office [.] President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

–White House statement

Related image

Comey.

The announcement reportedly shocked the intelligence community. Comey’s termination was read to him en route to Los Angeles for a recruitment event [as] part of the FBI’s efforts to boost diversity.

Related:

BREAKING: Comey at the Bat

According to Good Morning America, Rosenstein allege[d] that Comey was wrong to later “hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation.”

Typically when the FBI decides not to bring charges against someone, it normally does not discuss its decision-making. When Comey held a July 5 news conference explaining why [Hillary] Clinton would not be facing charges but at the same time criticizing her email practices, he cited “intense public interest” as the reason for the exception.

[our emphasis]

As we are all now thoroughly aware, Hillary’s 2016 loss was completely attributed to Comey’s actions,

BREAKING NEWS–PART ONE

a shocking turn of events, given his above-detailed criminal pardon of the beleaguered Secretary of State just two months earlier:

BREAKING NEWS

The Hill:

Both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommended Comey’s dismissal, citing “substantial damage” to the FBI’s reputation and credibility under his leadership. 

[…]

At issue, according to a May 9 memo from Rosenstein to Sessions, were Comey’s remarkable public disclosures about Clinton’s conduct. In July, he took the rostrum — without authorization from the Justice Department — to announce that he would not be recommending charges against the former secretary of State.

“I cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken,” Rosenstein wrote in the memo.

[…]

The director “was wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority on July 5 and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution,” Rosenstein wrote, because “it is not the function of the director to make such an announcement.”

[our emphasis]

This itself is confounding, because then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch yielded to the FBI’s recommendations for prosecuting the Secret Server after Lynch’s now-infamous ambush by Hillary’s husband on the Phoenix airport tarmac, which many labeled political interference of a criminal investigation.

Rod Rosenstein US Attorney.jpg

Rosenstein (above) was nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate to replace Sally Yates, who had been Acting Attorney General (AAG) before her high-profile firing by Trump after 10 days on the job. Rosenstein is now Deputy Attorney General (next in line to lead Justice if Sessions dies). The 52-year-old former U.S. Attorney for Maryland, appointed by the George W. Bush administration, was one of a pair of U.S. Attorneys Trump specifically kept on board. The other was Obama appointee Dana Boente (below), 63, who served as AAG from Yates’ dismissal until Sessions’ confirmation. He has now returned to his former post of U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of Virginia.

Dana Boente.jpg

Per USA Today, Trump recently changed the Justice Department order of succession with a subtle executive order [pun alertin order to undo the executive order of Obama issued just before Trump took over the White House:

The order appears to be the first that Trump has not signed in a public ceremony. It’s dated Thursday — the same day Attorney General Jeff Sessions was sworn in — but was not posted to the White House website until Friday morning. The White House did not explain the discrepancy.

 

[…]

Seven days before he left office, President Obama changed the order of succession without explanation to remove Boente from the list. Obama’s order had listed U.S. attorneys in the District of Columbia, the Northern District of Illinois and the Central District of California.

[our emphasis]

*

U.S. Attorneys for Connecticut Deirdre Daly and Northern District of New York Richard Hartunian were granted “short term reprieves” from the mass exodus of Obama-era Justice appointees in order to “complete 20 years of service” at the Justice Department, according to Politico. This milestone determines how fat a pension check they can suck from the nation’s sapped finances until the end of their days. Both major political parties win when they can share in the spoils confiscated from the little people: it’s a bipartisan thing.

*

Burlington Free Press sued the Feds using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for the resignation letters of the 44 other Obama-appointed attorneys general Trump asked to leave (according to the frantic mainstream press, he is the first president to ever do this for a transition change, or something).

USA Today noted Justice found the parting platitudes so “inherently personal” that they should be exempt from release.

But according to public records, the documents were actually withheld because they were never read by Justice.

*

Comey’s recent numbers to Congress on Hillary hack Huma Abedin‘s harried handling of the most qualified presidential candidate ever‘s Secret Server also had to be adjusted.

Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin forwarded “hundreds and thousands” of Clinton’s emails to her then-husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), to print out for Clinton while she was secretary of State.

In fact, the bureau said in a letter sent to the Senate panel Tuesday that only a handful of the 49,000 relevant emails it uncovered on Weiner’s laptop had been forwarded manually. Most of the emails got onto the computer as a result of backups of her Blackberry.

[…]

Abedin, the FBI director testified last week, “appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to [Weiner], for him I think to print out for her so she could then deliver them to the secretary of State.”

[our emphasis]

Secure!!

*

Speaking of the November election, much like Hillary refusing to face her supporters when her defeat by Trump became clear, White House press secretary Sean Spicer bumbled his “face the media” duties following the Comey termination. According to Washington Post, it did not go well:

Was Sessions involved? “That’s something you should ask the Department of Justice,” Spicer said.

Was Rosenstein’s probe part of a larger review of the FBI? “That’s, again, a question that you should ask the Department of Justice,” he said.

Did the president discuss Rosenstein’s findings with Rosenstein? “No, I don’t believe, I don’t know how that sequence went — I don’t know,” he said.

What was the president’s role? “Again, I have to get back to you [stupid phrase alert] on the tick-tock,” he said.

When’s the last time Trump and Comey spoke? “Uh, I don’t know. I don’t know. There’s some — I don’t know. I don’t know,” he said.

What were the three occasions on which the president says Comey assured him that he was not under investigation? “I don’t — we can follow — I can try, yeah,” he said.

How long did the president deliberate? “I don’t, I don’t … I can look at  [what is this guy smoking?] the tick-tock. I know that he was presented with that today. I’m not sure what time,” he said.

Why wasn’t Comey given the news in a personal phone call? “I think we delivered it by hand and by email and that was — and I get it, but you asked me a question and that’s the answer,” he said.

Did Comey’s testimony last week — which contained inaccuracies — influence the decision? “You’d have to ask the Department of Justice. They’re the ones that made the recommendation,” he said.

Why didn’t the president do this months ago? “Again, I would refer you to the Department of Justice,” he said.

Does he know about grand-jury subpoenas that have reportedly been issued in an investigation involving Michael Flynn, Trump’s previous national security adviser? “I’m not — I’m not aware of any,” he said.

Is it true that the president will meet on Wednesday with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov? “We’ll see what the schedule says. I don’t — I just — I’ve been a little tied up.”

The chronology of the Spicer charade is unclear. It sounds like he wasn’t going to make a statement, then made a statement, then [other media outlets were quite clear on this part] literally “hid in the bushes,” before agreeing to a brief interview only in the cover of darkness:

White House press secretary Sean Spicer wrapped up his brief interview with Fox Business from the White House grounds late Tuesday night and then disappeared into the shadows, huddling with his staff near a clump of bushes and then behind a tall hedge.

[…]

After Spicer spent several minutes hidden in the darkness and among the bushes near these sets, Janet Montesi, an executive assistant in the press office, emerged and told reporters that Spicer would answer some questions, as long as he was not filmed doing so. Spicer then emerged.

“Just turn the lights off. Turn the lights off,” he ordered. “We’ll take care of this. … Can you just turn that light off?”

Memes abounded.

Image result for sean spicer hedge

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/09/politics/fbi-james-comey-fired-letter/index.html?sr=twCNN050917fbi-james-comey-fired-letter1110PMVODtopPhoto&linkId=37406591

https://www.yahoo.com/gma/fbi-director-james-comey-fired-215047657–abc-news-topstories.html

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/332613-trump-fires-comey

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/332660-trump-bombshell-fbis-comey-fired

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/332608-fbi-corrects-comey-testimony

http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2017/03/us-attorneys-dismissal-236009

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/10/trump-executive-order-obama-justice-department-succession/97752898/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/05/10/as-trump-fired-comey-his-staff-scrambled-to-explain-why/?utm_term=.f75ea0c74d14

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! April 27–Palestine Payment Update

Great news! Obama‘s two hundred million-dollar transfer on his way out the door to Palestine in order to spite our (ostensibly) strongest Middle East ally, Israel, went through.

Spring Break Blitz: Stories We Sat On!!! January 23–Palestine Payment

President Trump allowed the check to clear, according to Business Insider. Multiple sources reported earlier this year that Trump recognized the Congressional “holds” on the highly controversial payment, would review it and was poised to overturn the deal.

The money was reported to go to hospitals and West Bank “infrastructure,” not the Palestinian Authority.

Despite a review imposed on the payment by the incoming Trump administration, and the perception that Obama had turned away from supporting Israel towards the end of his term, acting State Department Spokesman Mark Toner confirmed the money had reached the Palestinians last month. 

[…]

“None of the funding was to go directly to the Palestinian Authority,” said Toner, contrary to reports that came out at the time. “It’s my understanding that the money has been released.”

So it’s not really clear if the money went to Palestinian citizens, the Palestinian Authority, or if Palestine is even actually a country. The United Nations recognizes it as a non-member UN observer state, whatever that means.

[According to Wikipedia, that means:

Observer status is a privilege granted by some organizations to non-members to give them an ability to participate in the organization’s activities. Observer status is often granted by intergovernmental organizations (IGO) to non-member parties and international nongovernmental organizations (INGO) that have an interest in the IGO’s activities. Observers generally have a limited ability to participate in the IGO, lacking the ability to vote or propose resolutions.]

[F]ar from being a slight to Israel, experts say the funds released by Obama, and later approved by Trump, actually promote stability in the region. 

“The Israeli Defense Forces and the Israeli government are the biggest lobbyists of Congress in favor of continuing Palestinian aid,” Michael Koplow, a Middle East analyst at the Israel Policy Forum, told Business Insider in January

Koplow credits the US and Israel’s aid to the West Bank for keeping it from becoming “a haven for terrorism and a launching ground for rocket attacks,” as is the case with Gaza, another territory occupied by Palestinians. 

As we reported in our previous post, Israel (and America) fund Palestinian authority because it is the most stable alternative, or something. Fortunately, America has no debt and plenty of cash to throw at foreigners.

According to Washington Post on May 2:

The Palestinians are saying they think Trump might be the one — with the right mix of bombast and unpredictability — to restart peace negotiations with Israel with the aim of securing Palestinian borders, a capital and a state.

[…]

In an interview with Reuters on [April 27], Trump said: “I want to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians. There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians — none whatsoever.”

[…]

[Israeli prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu often says he is prepared to meet [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas anywhere, anytime, without preconditions — before listing his preconditions: that Abbas must recognize not only Israel, which Abbas has done, but Israel as “the Jewish state.” Abbas has been reluctant to do so, in part because more than 20 percent of the Israeli population consists of Palestinian Muslims and Christians.

Today, Israel and its congressional supporters are urging Trump to push Abbas to stop social welfare payments that the Palestinian Authority makes to the families of Palestinian prisoners and assailants either wounded or killed by Israeli forces­ during terrorist attacks.

All emphasis is ours.

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-221-million-palestine-israel-foreign-aid-2017-4

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/palestinians-think-trump-can-make-a-deal/2017/05/02/b5a64c7c-2c48-11e7-9081-f5405f56d3e4_story.html?utm_term=.d01daa8ab416

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! April 7–Neil Gorsuch

SENATE GOES NUCLEAR!!!

Demented DC fixture Senator John McCain (R-AZ) had some hateful speech for the Senate majority as he joined his colleagues in changing the body rules to confirm U.S. Tenth Circuit appellate judge Neil Gorsuch (below) to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Gorsuch official portrait.jpg

Democrats had filibustered the nomination of Gorsuch, 49. Republicans, who hold 52 Senate seats, were unable to muster a supermajority of 60 votes to break the filibuster. Instead, they held a 52-48 party-line vote to implement a “nuclear” option: the Senate will now require just 51 votes to allow a vote on Supreme Court justice appointments.

Yahoo! had more:

“It’s a bad day for democracy,” McCain said before entering the Senate chamber, where he later voted with fellow Republicans to change the rules. “I think it’s a terrible mistake that we will regret for many, many years to come.

[…]

There’s not a single senator in the majority who thinks we ought to change the legislative filibuster, not one,” he told reporters Tuesday. “We all understand that’s what makes the Senate the Senate.”

McCain speaks to reporters after the Senate voted to remove the filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominees on Thursday. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

[McCain (above) was re-elected in November with 53.7% of the vote.]

“I find myself torn between protecting the traditions and practices of the Senate and the importance of having a full complement of justices on the Supreme Court,” he said. “I’m left with no choice. I will vote to change the rules an [sic] allow Judge Gorsuch to be confirmed by a simple majority.”

[our emphasis]

According to Yahoo!, McCain’s April 4 statement on the matter was even more patronizing to the American people who are apparently supposed to stomach the notion that the six-term senator, 80, has any integrity at all:

I would like to meet that idiot, I’d like to meet the numskull that would say [changing the rule for Gorsuch is a good thing]. Whoever says that is a stupid idiot, who has not been here and seen what I’ve been through and how we were able to avoid that on several occasions. And they are stupid and they’ve deceived their voters because they are so stupid.”

[our emphasis]

Democrats, led by then-Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV), similarly changed filibuster rules in 2013, requiring only a 51-vote majority in the Senate to break filibusters on all presidential nominees except Supreme Court justices (i.e., executive branch and all other judicial appointments). Once the filibuster is broken, these nominees can be confirmed by a similar, simple majority vote.

USA Today notes Reid and the Democrats felt unrelenting Republican filibusters of Obama nominees for necessitated the rule change:

The turning point in the decades-long debate over Senate filibuster rules was Republicans’ decision to block all three of Obama’s latest nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the nation’s second-most-powerful court with vast jurisdiction over federal agencies and regulations.

April’s was therefore the second “nuclear” rule change for the U.S. Senate in four years.

“The American people believe Congress is broken. The American people believe the Senate is broken. And I believe they are right. The need for change is so very, very obvious.”–then-Senator Harry Reid (D-NV)

Reid (above; thanks, galleryhip.com) retired in 2016.

Then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)famously warned the Democrats: “You will no doubt come to regret this, and you may regret it a lot sooner than you think.”

Fifty-two of the fifty-five Democrats and their common-caucusing Independents voted for the 2013 rule change. Of the three Democrats in opposition, only Joe Manchin (WV) remains in the Senate today.

At the time, Dianne Feinstein noted: “I’ve sat on the Judiciary (Committee) for 20 years and it has never, ever been like this. You reach a point where your frustration just overwhelms and things have to change. I think the level of frustration on the Democratic side has just reached the point where it’s worth the risk.”

McCain, per USA Today, called the decision “foolish” and squarely blamed junior Democratic senators. “There are members that have never been in the minority who have been here a short time who basically drove this,” he said.

And Obama praised Reid’s maneuver: “A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to re-fight the result of an election is not normal, and for the sake of future generations, we can’t let it become normal[.]”

*

For Mr. Gorsuch’s confirmation, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer shamelessly misled the public by attempting to goad the Republicans into “changing the nominee” to allow Democrats to contribute at least eight votes to reach a 60-vote threshold. This is the number needed to end the filibuster Schumer orchestrated. Washington Post:

“If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes — a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees and George Bush’s last two nominees — the answer isn’t to change the rules. It’s to change the nominee.”

Also according to Post, Schumer decided to lead a filibuster because “[Gorsuch] was unable to sufficiently convince me that he’d be an independent check” on Trump, and Mr. Gorsuch was “not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology[.]”

Washington Post was complicit in Schumer’s fantasy that all Senate proceedings require 60 “yes” votes to break a filibuster (a sort of holdover from the Obama administration when Republicans filibustered ruthlessly and lead Dirty Harry to change the rules, as above) and not a simple majority of 51:

Among recent Supreme Court nominees, the 60-vote threshold has not caused a problem. President Barack Obama’s choices of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena ­Kagan each received more than 60 confirmation votes. Samuel A. Alito Jr., chosen by President George W. Bush, was confirmed 58 to 42 in 2006, but 72 senators voted to defeat a possible filibuster and allow his confirmation vote to go forward. Indeed, only Alito — among the last 16 Supreme Court nominees — was forced to clear the supermajority hurdle to break a filibuster.

President Obama had nominated chief justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit Merrick Garland in March 2016 following the unexpected death of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Republicans, who held the Senate majority, refused to hold a confirmation vote for Garland, leaving an eight-member court for about one year and prompting allegations they “stole” an additional Obama-appointed Supreme Court seat. The issue became more of a sore spot for liberals with Trump’s unexpected capture of the presidency, ensuring Hillary would not make the next nomination.

After the rule change, Gorsuch was confirmed 54-45 with 51 Republicans (led by now-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) joined in the affirmative by three Democrats: Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Manchin, and Joe Donnelly (IN). All three are up for re-election in 2018. Republican Johnny Isakson (GA) did not vote.

We were unable to find a quote from Obama reacting to the rule change and ensuing Gorsuch confirmation.

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-04-06/gop-begins-nuclear-rule-move-to-advance-trump-high-court-pick

https://www.yahoo.com/news/mccain-filibuster-change-bad-day-democracy-172058093.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_election_in_Arizona,_2016

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/gorsuch-confirmation-hearing-to-focus-today-on-testimony-from-friends-foes/2017/03/23/14d21116-0fc7-11e7-9d5a-a83e627dc120_story.html?utm_term=.a9fa2a9f85fa

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/11/21/harry-reid-nuclear-senate/3662445/

BREAKING: Comey at the Bat

Updated May 8 with additional reporting on Comey’s FBI priorities for investigations: namely, he apparently tried to warn the public last summer that the FBI was investigating Russian attempts to sway the 2016 election, but then-President Obama’s “Situation Room” shot Comey down.

On May 3, FBI director James Comey told a Senate panel in several hours of testimony he was “mildly nauseous” [someone get a hashtag circulating] about his late-October re-opening of the criminal investigation into then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton‘s Secret Server, but stood by his decision.

“It makes me mildly nauseous to think we might have had some impact on the election. But honestly it wouldn’t change the decision.”

–James Comey

Comey has been interviewed by the Justice Department inspector general, which is interesting because (see below) he took over the Secret Server investigation from…the Justice Department after Hillary’s husband, former president Bill Clinton stormed onto then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch‘s private jet for purposes still unknown. And in the heat of the investigation (and literal heat of the Phoenix, AZ airport tarmac!), too!

Hillary has recently emphasized Comey’s action as the reason du jour for her upset November loss of the U.S. presidency to Donald Trump.

She was cleared by the FBI for her unprecedented use of unsecured personal email and unilateral, massive-scale deletions of official State Departments communications as Obama’s first Secretary of State.

BREAKING NEWS

However, a separate FBI criminal investigation into top aide Huma Abedin’s husband Anthony Weiner led to Comey’s brief return to the Hillary server just days before the presidential election.

BREAKING NEWS–PART ONE

The Hillary campaign decried the FBI’s conduct as “unprecedented” and “irresponsible,” while remaining stubbornly unaware of the irony.

“Unprecedented” and “Irresponsible”

*

Comey also told the Senate Judiciary Committee a little more about the FBI’s rank-pulling on the Hillary Secret Server investigation over the Justice Department.

“A number of things had gone on which I can’t talk about yet, that made me worry that the department leadership could not credibly complete the investigation and decline prosecution without grievous damage to the American people’s confidence in the justice system […]

“And then the [STUPID PHRASE ALERT] capper was — and I’m not picking on the attorney general, Loretta Lynch, who I like very much — but her meeting with President Clinton on that airplane was the capper for me, and I then said, you know what, the department cannot, by itself, credibly end this.”

Hillary Email Updates

*

On the matter of the Weiner emails, classified Hillary communications were indeed found on the disgraced former congressman’s sexting laptop, but the content was already known to the FBI:

“Somehow, [Hillary’s] emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information,’’ Comey said, adding later, “His then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him to print out for her so she could deliver them to the secretary of state.”

[Sounds like proper protection of secure state business to us!]

Huma and hubby were not charged, however:

“Really the central problem we had with the whole email investigation was proving people . . . had some sense they were doing something unlawful. That was our burden, and we were unable to meet it,’’ [Comey] said.

Huma Update (BREAKING NEWS–PART TWO)

*

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) expressed concern that Comey did not investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election with the same vigor he applied to Hillary’s Secret Server. Comey denied the charge.

Other Democrats joined Feinstein, according to Washington Post, in hitting Comey for not disclosing that the FBI had begun secretly investigating in late July whether any Trump associates might be working with Russian officials to meddle with the presidential campaign.

Senator Patrick Leahy (I-VT), who caucuses with the Democrats, opined that Comey should have concealed his agency’s activities from the public:

“I would have been satisfied if he had done what all Republican and Democratic administrations have done in the past. The Justice Department has a procedure. You do not release information like that just before an election.”

*

And finally, Comey had some strong words for the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks:

“To my mind, it crosses a line when it moves from being trying to educate the public and instead becomes about intelligence porn, quite frankly,” Comey said. A “huge portion” of WikiLeaks’ activities “has nothing to do with legitimate news activity,” he said, “… but is simply about releasing classified information to damage the United States of America.”

 

[Spicy!]

All emphasis is ours.

UPDATE 5/8/17:

We neglected to mention a March 30 development that is relevant to Senator Feinstein’s allegations of bias towards investigating Hillary over Russian election interference.

According to Newsweek, Comey tried to educate the public on the Russian efforts to swing the 2016 election Trump’s way.

Comey was silenced by…the Obama White House.

Citing two sources with knowledge of the matter, Newsweek reported: “Comey pitched the idea of writing an op-ed about the Russian campaign during a meeting in the White House Situation Room in June or July.”

One source told Newsweek: “He had a draft of it or an outline. He held up a piece of paper in a meeting and said, ‘I want to go forward.’”

The report continues: “Many in the room didn’t like the idea, and White House officials thought the announcement should be a coordinated message backed by multiple agencies.”

A source told the news organization, “An op-ed doesn’t have the same stature. It comes from one person.”

A second source with knowledge of the request told Newsweek, “The op-ed would not have mentioned whether the FBI was investigating Donald Trump’s campaign workers or others close to him for links to the Russians’ interference in the election… it would have included much of the same information as the bombshell declassified intelligence report released January 6, which said Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to influence the presidential election.”

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-director-james-comey-begins-testimony-to-congress/2017/05/03/9e3244bc-3006-11e7-9534-00e4656c22aa_story.html?utm_term=.41bd452b9d1d

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/03/politics/comey-loretta-lynch-clinton-tarmac-meeting/index.html?sr=twpol050317comey-loretta-lynch-clinton-tarmac-meeting0716PMVODtopLink&linkId=37160992

https://www.yahoo.com/tv/fbi-chief-james-comey-tried-expose-russian-interference-153140819.html

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! April 3–Susan Rice Returns

UPDATE May 4: Later on the evening of May 3, Rice declined to testify (through her attorney Kathryn Ruemmler) to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.

The letter on Politico, reportedly first on CNN, details that Rice will refuse the invitation because it was not bipartisan in nature: the request was from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham only and not his committee co-chair, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Ruemmler notes the hearing is less than two weeks away (not enough time to get the story straight?) and “it is extremely rare for the Congress to request the testimony of a former senior advisor to the President given the longstanding and well-recognized separation of powers concerns at issue.”

Also according to Politico:

Susan Rice, the former National Security Advisor to President Obama, is refusing to testify before a Senate Subcommittee next week on allegations of unmasking Trump transition officials. Not good!” Trump wrote on Twitter, breaking his message up into two posts to accommodate the platform’s character limit.

The hearing will apparently focus on testimony from the (bipartisan-summoned!) former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Yates suffered a high-profile termination ten days into her tenure after ordering the Justice Department not to enforce Trump’s infamous immigration executive order (widely known as the “Muslim ban”).

Sally Q. Yates.jpg

And according to Salon, Yates will also appear before the House Intelligence Committee:

It now appears that President Donald Trump and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes had good reason to try to stop former acting Attorney General Sally Yates from testifying last month. When she appears before the committee, Yates plans on directly contradicting the Trump administration’s official story about the events leading up to the firing of disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

 

Yates is going to testify before the Senate on Monday that she explicitly told White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn had lied when he repeatedly insisted he had not discussed President Barack Obama’s sanctions against Russia with that nation’s ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, according to a CNN report. Yates will describe how in a meeting with McGahn on Jan. 26, she told him that she knew Flynn had lied publicly and privately to Trump administration officials about what he had discussed with Kislyak and she conveyed “serious concerns” that this made Flynn vulnerable to being compromised by Vladimir Putin’s regime.

 

Our original post continues below:

Disgraced former Obama national security advisor, UN ambassador and Benghazi massacre whitewasher Susan Rice is back in the national spotlight. To condense a complicated abuse of civil liberties in the name of national security (?), Rice allegedly demanded Donald Trump operatives caught “incidentally” speaking on Federal Government wiretaps of non-Americans be identified, or “unmasked” by the intelligence community agencies that tapped those conversations in the waning days of the Obama administration.

Bloomberg View broke the story on April 3 after Rice fumbled through a March 22 PBS NewsHour interview and deflected inquiries of the unmasking into a “Russia interfered with our election” monologue (see YouTube video later in article).

BV:

White House lawyers last month learned that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on “unmasking” the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally.

[our emphasis]

God bless the NSA. In addition to sweeping up all our phone records and emails, they also call out (alleged) political power plays that otherwise would have been swept under the rug, quietly violating the privacy rights of Trump transition team members who (reportedly) have done nothing illegal or even suspicious.

Rice.

The question appears to be not whether Rice ordered the unmasking, which she at first denied but now seems to have admitted. Instead, was the breach of privacy legal? And was it within her capacity as a lame-duck presidential advisor to help with national security? Or an abuse of power to execute a sour grapes vendetta against the opposition who handily and unexpectedly beat out her boss’s anointed successor?

(National Review advocates for the latter, placing Rice’s conduct on par with Nixon’s Watergate scandal.)

Daily Wire notes:

U.S. law does not permit surveillance of U.S. persons without a warrant; even if a name surfaces in authorized surveillance of a foreign person, it is “masked.” If a U.S. official is briefed by intelligence officials and determines that a certain communication deals with sensitive security or foreign policy matters, the official can ask the intelligence briefer to “unmask” that person.

They also got some good quotes from former intelligence players:

“What was produced by the intelligence community at the request of Ms. Rice were detailed spreadsheets of intercepted phone calls with unmasked Trump associates in perfectly legal conversations with individualsThe overheard conversations involved no illegal activity by anybody of the Trump associates, or anyone they were speaking with. In short, the only apparent illegal activity was the unmasking of the people in the calls.”

Joseph diGenova, former U.S. attorney. [our emphasis]

“The surveillance initially is the responsibility of the National Security Agency. They have to abide by this guidance when one of the other agencies says, ‘we’re looking at this particular person which we would like to unmask.’ The lawyers and counsel at the NSA surely would be talking to the lawyers and members of counsel at CIA, or at the National Security Council or at the Director of National Intelligence or at the FBI. It’s unbelievable of the level and degree of the [Obama] administration [sic] to look for information on Donald Trump and his associates, his campaign team and his transition team. This is really, really serious stuff.”

Colonel James Waurishuk, former deputy director of U.S. Central Command. [our emphasis]

“[S]omebody blew a hole in the wall between national security secrets and partisan politics […] [the Trump associates’ conversations were] a stream of information that was supposed to be hermetically sealed from politics and the Obama administration found a way to blow a hole in that wall […] [this was] a leaking of signal intelligence. That’s a felony. And you can get 10 years for that. It is a tremendous abuse of the system. We’re not supposed to be monitoring American citizens. Bigger than the crime, is the breach of public trust.”

Michael Doran, former NSC senior director. [our emphasis]

Obama’s condescending maestro of the media “echo chamber” Ben Rhodes (Rice’s second in command) and waterboarding advocate/Senate Intelligence Committee hacker/CIA director John Brennan were reportedly provided the unmasked identity(ies) of the Trump transition people, according to Daily Wire via Fox News.

Related:

Iran’s New Partners in Terrorism

National Security

*

New York thug Governor and 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Cuomo’s less-successful brother Chris Cuomo derided the story with a reference to the term that lately triggers the hard-on of any other, legitimate journalist: FAKE NEWS!

“President Trump wants you to believe he is the victim of a ‘crooked scheme,’ his words. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing. In fact if anything, the NSA asking for identities was foreign players [sic]. The White House blasting the press for not reporting on another fake scandal being peddled by right-wing media.”

[our emphasis]

*

We know to take Rice’s words with a grain of salt [squandered opportunity for cooking pun] to begin with:

Spring Break Blitz: Stories We Sat On!!! February 17–The Michael Flynn Focus and Kennedy Kulpability

 

In March, Rice outright denied the unmasking allegations from Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (CA), who himself is under House Ethics Committee investigation for improper procedures while looking into Russian interference with the U.S. 2016 election.

[Incidentally, Washington Times reported the investigation of Nunes is exploring allegations of “unauthorized disclosures of classified information.”

[…]

The committee notes that the mere fact that it is investigating these allegations, and publicly disclosing its review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the committee,” Reps. Susan W. Brooks, Indiana Republican, and Theodore E. Deutch, Florida Democrat, said in a joint statement.]

Rice’s initial reaction to the “unmasking” interview question on PBS:

I know nothing about this. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today.”

[March 22]

[our emphasis]

*

“The allegation is that somehow, Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes,” Rice told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “That’s absolutely false.”

[April 4]

Some other tidbits from that interview, per The Hill:

On whether Rice would ever request an unmasking:

I don’t solicit reports. They’re giving it to me, if I read it, and I think that in order for me to understand, is it significant or not so significant, I need to know who the ‘U.S. Person’ is, I can make that request.”

“It was not uncommon, it was necessary at times to make [unmasking] requests. [I] don’t have a particular recollection of doing that more frequently after the election.”

[our emphasis]

On the “Trump tower wiretap”:

There was no such collection or surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals, it is important to understand, directed by the White House or targeted at Trump individuals.”

When queried on Trump’s own national security advisor Michael Flynn‘s concealment of communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, which was leaked to the media and forced Flynn’s resignation 24 days into his tenure (see our link above):

“I leaked nothing to nobody.”

*

Big government-loving, corporate welfare-advocating pansy Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on May 2 requested Rice testify before his judiciary subcommittee, according to CNN, to determine whether the Obama administration “tried to politicize intelligence” — part of his broader investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections.

Ex-Im Bank Updates

CNN has reached out to Rice for comment and has not yet received a response. Over the weekend, Rice denied the unmasking allegation to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

“I did my job, which was to protect the American people, and I did it faithfully and to the best of my ability,” she said. “And never did I do anything that was untoward with respect to the intelligence I received.”

Why have major media outlets that mercilessly mocked Trump for blasting (apparently unsubstantiated) allegations that his campaign was wiretapped utterly shunned burgeoning evidence in the affirmative?

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.dailywire.com/news/15080/report-susan-rice-wanted-detailed-spreadsheet-hank-berrien?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_content=040417-news&utm_campaign=dwtwitter

https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/jackson-richman/2017/04/04/cnn-partisan-cuomo-spins-susan-rice-story-another-fake-scandal

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/446415/susan-rice-unmasking-trump-campaign-members-obama-administration-fbi-cia-nsa

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/327594-ethics-panel-announces-investigation-into-nunes

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/327197-rice-denies-obama-administration-inappropriately-unmasked-trump-team

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/apr/6/devin-nunes-susan-rice-unmasking-revelation-worth-/

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/02/politics/lindsey-graham-susan-rice-senate-hearing/

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/03/susan-rice-testify-237947

Trump blasts Susan Rice for declining request to testify before Senate panel

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_Yates

http://www.salon.com/2017/05/03/sally-yates-in-the-spotlight-fired-attorney-general-will-counter-white-house-narrative-on-michael-flynn/

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! March 15 and 17: Secret Service Slips with Security; Separately, Another White House Intruder, Donna Brazile Pouts and Rand Ruffles Feathers

On March 15, John McCain announced that Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is a Russian agent when Paul tried to block a vote that would reportedly have allowed Montenegro to join NATO, according to Politico:

“The senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin […] [i]f there is objection, you are achieving the objectives of Vladimir Putin,” McCain said. “You are achieving the objectives of trying to dismember this small country, which has already been the subject of an attempted coup.”

[our emphasis]

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) a 28-country international alliance that assembled against Russia [then Soviet Union] and other Communists in the beginnings of the Cold War in 1949, most recently used Article 4 to require “member state consultation” following Putin’s annexation of Crimea, Poland in 2014. Article 5, obliging member states to defend others when threatened, has apparently only been enacted once: to send the International Security Assistance Force into Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America.

Paul’s introduction to his failed amendment to sink the Montenegro NATO invitation:

*

More domestically, on March 17 the Secret Service misplaced, according to New York Daily News, a Secret Service-issued laptop — containing floor plans for Trump Tower, information about the Hillary Clinton email investigation and other national security information — that was stolen from an agent’s car in Brooklyn.

(In the “who can lose more national secrets on a laptop” contest, Hillary appears to maintain a slim lead:

Hillary Updates

)

*

Just seven days earlier (March 10), Jonathan T. Tran, of Milpitas, CA jumped the White House fence and roamed around the grounds for 17 minutes, according to Washington Post.

Court sketch of suspect

According to BBC, Tran, 26, shown above in a court sketch, breached multiple barriers of security:

[Tran] was carrying two cans of mace, a US passport, a computer and one of Mr Trump’s books, authorities said…[he] had managed to climb a 5ft (1.5m) fence near the US Treasury Department, which is next to the White House. He then scaled an 8ft vehicle gate, and a shorter fence near the east wing of the White House grounds.

Post reports the laptop contain[ed] a letter addressed to the president about Russian hackers, saying Tran had found “information of relevance,” according to a criminal complaint filed March 11. 

TIME TO RESET THE CLOCK:

The Secret Service (budget: $2,800,000,000 annually) has cultivated a comical public persona for the past several years. Multiple “White House fence jumpers” were caught during the Obama years, including one wielding a knife who made it through the front door of the mansion and near the actual living quarters in 2014:

Omar Gonzalez had passed an alarm box on the lawn, which Washington Post reported was muted at the request of an “usher.” Therefore, the front door guards had no warning to bolt the door, and Gonzalez made it up some stairs and into the East Room. The much-maligned Secret Service initially lied and said the intruder was stopped at the front door. Not so. Scientific diagrams from the Post illustrate his full [TRIGGER WARNING] penetration:

Eluding security in the White House

Post quoted three unnamed sources “familiar” with the breach, and noted at that time: Agency spokesman Edwin Donovan said the office is not commenting during the ongoing investigation of the incident.

We provide a list from Wikipedia of all the fence security breaches (just those that were stopped on the lawn) from the George W. Bush administration until now. Our emphases:

  • December 4, 2005 – Shawn A. Cox, of Mammoth Spring, Arkansas, was immediately captured by Secret Service agents after scaling the White House fence.[21][22] Cox believed that Chelsea Clinton still lived at the White House “and that he was destined to marry her.” Cox was sent to the St. Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital; a court-ordered psychiatric report found that he was “grossly psychotic and manic.”[22]
  • February – April 2006 – Brian Lee Patterson, jumped the White House fence a total of four times.[23][24]
  • October 13, 2006 – Alexis Janicki, 24, of Independence, Missouri, an Iraq War veteran suffering from PTSD, was arrested after climbed over the fence while in possession of marijuana.[25]
  • March 16, 2007 – Catalino Lucas Diaz, scaled the fence with a package and threatened officers that he had a bomb. Catalino was arrested after determining that he had no dangerous weapon.[26][27]
  • June 9, 2009 – Pamela Morgan, jumped the fence onto the northeast corner of the grounds while carrying a backpack. Morgan was arrested immediately and her backpack later searched and found to contain nothing dangerous.[28]
  • March 30, 2014 – Unidentified male, caught and arrested after climbing over the fence.[29]
  • August 7, 2014 – An unknown toddler squeezed through the fence, and was returned to his parents.[30]
  • September 11, 2014 – Jeffrey Grossman, 26, of Rensselaer, New York, scaled the fence and entered the North Lawn while carrying Pikachu doll and wearing a Pikachu hat; he was apprehended by Secret Service agents.[31][32] Grossman did not intend to inflict harm; he suffered from schizophrenia.[33] After being atrrested [sic], he was taken to George Washington University Hospital for mental health observation.[31]
  • October 22, 2014 – Dominic Adesanya, formerly of Bel Air, Maryland, jumped the fence onto the north lawn and was quickly taken down by two security dogs while punching and kicking them before being arrested by the Secret Service. He was later ordered by a judge to a mental health facility.[34][35] Adesanya, who had twice jumped the White House fence in July 2014, pleaded guilty in April 2015 to entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds and was sentenced in July 2015 to time served and one year of supervised release. Adesanya’s lawyer said that he suffered from schizophrenia.[36]
  • November 26, 2015 – Joseph Anthony Caputo, 22, of Stamford, Connecticut, was arrested by Secret Service agents almost immediately after jumping over a White House fence as the first family was inside celebrating Thanksgiving.[37][38] Caputo had left a suicide note and will and apparently had intended to die.[39] In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Caputo pleaded guilty to one federal misdemeanor count of illegal entry of restricted grounds in a deal with prosecutor and was sentenced to three years’ probation with various conditions.[40]
  • March 10, 2017 – A man carrying a backpack, later identified as Jonathan Tuan Tran, 26, of Milpitas, California, was arrested after jumping the White House fence, coming within steps of the mansion. Court papers charged Tran with “entering or remaining in restricted grounds while using or carrying a dangerous weapon” and stated that he had two cans of mace in his possession at the time of the incident.[41][42]

We are not making this up: Within 24 hours of writing this article (March 18), an still-unnamed individual jumped a bike rack/pedestrian barrier but did not actually clear the fence.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer reportedly “tweeted”: “Individual jumped bike rack on Pennsylvania Ave, not White House fence. Great response by Secret Service.”

So great, in fact, the next intruder had to get creative. On March 18, the very next day, CNN reported Sean Patrick Keoughan drove into a White House checkpoint and announced he had a bomb.

Keoughan, 29, of Roanoke, Virginia, was charged with threatening and conveying false information about the use of an explosive, according to the US attorney’s office. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

[…]
 
[He] had pulled up to the White House an hour prior to his bomb threat, saying he had an appointment with President Donald Trump, the office said. He also said he could communicate telepathically with the President.

*

Joseph Clancy was appointed by Obama in February 2015 to help clean up the mess, against Washingtonian recommendations. USA Today:

In the fallout [from the scandals], then-Director Julia Pierson, the first woman to lead the agency, was forced to resign.

In selecting Clancy, Obama defied the recommendation of a bipartisan White House security panel, which recommended that a new director come from outside the agency.

Julia Pierson USSS.jpg

Pierson (above, flag) served 18 months. She was promoted by Obama to clean up Secret Service in the aftermath of agents getting caught with prostitutes at Summit of the Americas in Colombia, 2012.

EPA USA CRIME CLJ CRIME USA NJ

Clancy (above, bald) resigned as head of the Secret Service effective…March 4, 2017. Remember this date.

One of the first incidents of Clancy’s two-year tenure was a highly-publicized (and perhaps sensationalized…see sources) incident in March 2015. Agents  Mark Connolly and George Ogilvie made national news for allegedly leaving a fellow agent’s retirement party sloshed and plowing at low speed into a traffic barrel that sequestered a “suspicious package.” Huffington Post:

The area was locked down because [the Secret Service were] investigating a package thrown out of a car by a woman who had shouted, “It’s a bomb,” [Washington Post] said, citing a police report.

[A] law enforcement official familiar with some of the details described the vehicle as moving very slowly and deliberately at about 1 mile per hour.

The driver intentionally nudged a light-weight plastic orange construction barrel a couple of feet out of the way so the vehicle could reach a checkpoint, and did not drive through police tape, the official said.

[Marc Ambinder of The Week opined days later that he–as well as outlets like Washington Post, New York Post, and–real news!–The Daily Showmay have jumped to unwarranted conclusions regarding the agents’ alcohol use. Ambinder unofficially retracted the earlier statement he made in Politico: “This latest incident — where two high ranking Secret Service agents, while drunk, allegedly drove themselves into a crash barrier at the White House, disrupting a tense investigation into a suspicious package nearby, is heartbreaking.”]

WHAT WAS THE DATE IN 2015 OF THE “BOMB AND BASHED DRIVING” CONDUCT BY THE AGENTS???

March 4, 2015.

According to Wikipedia, Clancy was also head of security for Comcast from 2011 until his appointment by Obama.

UPDATES

April 20: The Secret Service announced it was closing the sidewalk in front of the White House permanently, according to multiple sources.

April 29: On April 25, Trump appointed Randolph “Tex” Alles, acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, as new head of the Secret Service.

Randolph Alles, the new director of the Secret Service, is second from the right. Here, he is participating in a Senate Homeland Security hearing in April as an official with Customs and Border Protection.

Picture from Wall Street Journal.

Alles is a 35-year Marine Corps veteran who retired in 2011 as a major general to begin work at CBP.

*

On March 17, Donna Brazile lamented in Time that the Russians fixed the 2016 presidential election, called for an independent investigation of their interference of the DNC communications, portrayed herself as a damsel drubbing up Democratic diversity in the 2016 primaries, and oh by the way admitted she helped Hillary cheat in a nationalized presidential debate, contradicting her previous statement [our emphasis]:

Then in October, a subsequent release of emails revealed that among the many things I did in my role as a Democratic operative and D.N.C. Vice Chair prior to assuming the interim D.N.C. Chair position was to share potential town hall topics with the Clinton campaign. I had been working behind the scenes to add more town hall events and debates to the primary calendar, and I helped ensure those events included diverse moderators and addressed topics vital to minority communities. My job was to make all our Democratic candidates look good, and I worked closely with both campaigns to make that happen. But sending those emails was a mistake I will forever regret.

By stealing all the DNC’s emails and then selectively releasing those few, the Russians made it look like I was in the tank for Secretary Clinton. Despite the strong, public support I received from top Sanders campaign aides in the wake of those leaks, the media narrative played out just as the Russians had hoped, leaving Sanders supporters understandably angry and sowing division in our ranks. In reality, not only was I not playing favorites, the more competitive and heated the primary got, the harder D.N.C. staff worked to be scrupulously fair and beyond reproach. In all the months the Russians monitored the D.N.C.’s email, they found just a handful of inappropriate emails, with no sign of anyone taking action to disadvantage the Sanders campaign.

[our emphasis]

As we reported in October, Brazile’s misconduct was exposed not by the pro-Trump Russians, but by Wikileaks.

Related:

Hillary Updates

Brazile disparages the Republican reluctance to support “special prosecution” of Russian communication with Jeff Sessions and other Trump allies: Despite all the deeply troubling evidence, the White House continues to insist that “there’s no there there.” 

Her own nonsensical syntax seems to be plagiarized from her former boss Bill Clinton‘s go-to legal defense: “That depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is.”

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39311901

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/laptop-trump-tower-floor-plans-stolen-secret-service-article-1.3001078

https://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/nato

http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/news_107716.htm

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/mccain-rand-paul-is-now-working-for-vladimir-putin-236106

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/white-house-fence-jumper-made-it-far-deeper-into-building-than-previously-known/2014/09/29/02efd53e-47ea-11e4-a046-120a8a855cca_story.html?utm_term=.830625e5192d

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/2-secret-service-agents-investigated-for-dui-crash-near-white-house/

http://theweek.com/articles/544867/how-unfairly-maligned-two-secret-service-agents-politico-magazine

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/secret-service-laptop-with-sensitive-information-stolen-in-new-york-law-enforcement-officials-say/2017/03/17/b3861be0-0b35-11e7-b77c-0047d15a24e0_story.html?utm_term=.28eb826c7db1

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2017/03/18/Pedestrian-apprehended-for-jumping-barrier-outside-White-House/3671489862358/?utm_source=sec&utm_campaign=sl&utm_medium=2

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/19/politics/white-house-security-situation/index.html

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/14/secret-service-director-joseph-clancy-leaving-agency/97893974/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/white-house-sidewalk-closed_us_58f884a4e4b0cb086d7e3c43

http://abcnews.go.com/US/us-secret-service-director-named/story?id=47004686

http://time.com/4705515/donna-brazile-russia-emails-clinton/?xid=homepage

Spring Break Blitz: Stories We Sat On!!! February 27–Justice Department and EPA

Associated Press reported that new EPA head Scott Pruitt is under scrutiny for using personal email to communicate official business while Attorney General for Oklahoma, and lying about it to Congress.

A review of Pruitt emails obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request showed a 2014 exchange where the Republican emailed a member of his staff using a personal Apple email account.

Emails released under court order last week in response to a different public records request yielded additional examples where emails were addressed to Pruitt’s private account, including a 2013 exchange with a petroleum industry lobbyist who emailed Pruitt and a lawyer on the attorney general’s staff. That suggests Pruitt made his private email address available to professional contacts outside his office.

It is not illegal in Oklahoma for public officials to use private email as long as they are retained and made available as public records. Pruitt’s use of the private account appears to directly contradict statements he made last month as part of his Senate confirmation.

Pruitt’s deception came from the forward-thinking 2020 presidential hopeful, New Jersey’s Senator Cory Booker in a written inquiry for Pruitt prior to his confirmation hearing. Cabinet nominees apparently respond to written questions for vetting because it is more efficient for the Senate panels to process nominations.

Mr. Booker apparently sought to avoid the confusion caused by both Obama’s Secretary of State and Attorney General, who used personal emails throughout their tenures to flout Freedom of Information Act lawsuits:

Hillary Updates

The FOIA avoidance is especially relevant recently, because the National Security Archive FOIA Audit released March 11 revealed that only 38 out of 99 federal agencies have updated their FOIA regulations in compliance with the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016.

This allows about 60% of our agencies are ignoring the new improvements on FOIA, which require agencies to notify citizens of their right to seek assistance with the FOIA liaison and prohibiting the charge of search or duplication fees when the agency fails to meet the notice requirements and time limits set by existing law.

Oh well.

Interestingly, Elijah Cummings said of the FOIA reform during 2016 floor debate:

“This is a simple improvement that every agency should adopt, and I look forward to working with Chairman [Jason] Chaffetz [R-Utah] in the years ahead on such commonsense [sic] reforms.”

[our emphasis]

Cummings Not Going

Let’s see if the career criminal Cummings holds his own future moves to the same standard of transparency.

The Hill:

Booker […] asked Pruitt whether he had ever conducted state business using personal email accounts. Pruitt responded: “I use only my official OAG email address and government issued phone to conduct official business.”

[…]

AP and other news organizations reported last week that 7,500 pages of emails released following a lawsuit filed by a left-leaning advocacy group showed Pruitt and his staff in Oklahoma coordinated closely on legal strategy with fossil-fuel companies and special interest groups working to undermine federal efforts to curb planet-warming carbon emissions.

The emails were released after an Oklahoma judge ruled that Pruitt had been illegally withholding his correspondence, which is public record under state law, for the last two years.

[…]

Pruitt’s use of private email was first reported earlier this month by FOX 25 television of Oklahoma City.

The Hill notes that Republicans rammed through Pruitt’s confirmation vote earlier in February prior to the release of the emails. Senator Booker joined all but two of his fellow Democrats in voting against Pruitt, who was confirmed 52-46.

FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2017 file photo Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks in Washington. Pruitt occasionally used private email to communicate with staff while serving as Oklahoma’s attorney general, despite telling Congress that he always used a state email account for government business. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Pruitt.

***

The Pruitt predicament is interesting, because it was only one month ago (January 26) that…

Outgoing DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and three other officials fought Obama-appointed US District Court Judge Randolph Moss‘s order to preserve their emails for public record.

Conservative group Judicial Watch was conducting a Freedom of Information Act investigation of Johnson and his lackeys using private emails on government computers. Judge Moss declared the emails should be copied for official record for “an abundance of caution.” Just in case Johnson wanted to delete them. Like Hillary.

Politico:

“DHS’s present understanding is that the former officials are not independently aware of how to transfer e-mails from a web-based account (i.e., Gmail) to a thumb drive and that DHS information technology staff who were consulted did not have any particular knowledge about how to transfer the e-mails, either,” Justice Department attorneys wrote.

The filing suggests the ex-officials and DHS staff are also unsure about how to copy part of the private emails archives, since the suit sought only work-related emails between certain dates in 2013 and 2015.

If Moss won’t lift his order, the Justice Department asked that he let the officials move the messages to encrypted DVDs instead of thumb drives or hard drives.

As brilliant and dedicated as our “public servants” are, moving an email to a thumb drive is apparently beyond their capabilities. But burning “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde” on a DVD? Easy.

As we have referenced above, disgraced ex-Attorney General Eric Holder deliberately used the email alias Lew Alcindor for official government proceedings to shield his official communications from FOIA lawsuits.

*

For all the missteps and truly troubling actions of his nascent leadership, Trump appeared to actually propose meaningful conservative budget reforms this week, reducing spending for State Department and EPA in a budget draft. The Hill:

The Trump administration is proposing a 37 percent spending cut for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), according to multiple reports.

U.S. officials say the suggested decrease would likely require laying off employees, including security contractors at diplomatic facilities overseas, The Associated Press said Tuesday.

[…]

The agencies together received $50.1 billion during the current fiscal year, it added, a little more than 1 percent of the total federal budget.

Career Republicans in Washington whose careers depend on lavishing their constituents’ money (which they exhausted $20 trillion ago) were not pleased.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday said he would oppose drastic cuts to the State Department. 

“Probably not,” he said when asked if Congress could pass a 37 percent reduction at the department, according to Fox News.

The leaked EPA budget proposal suggested Trump will cut spending by 24% (a reduction of $2 billion to $6.1 billion), possibly reducing the EPA “work”force by about 20% to “only” 12,000 employees.

Pathetic presidential hopeful, carpet-bombing and corporate welfare advocate Lindsey  Graham had equally strong reservations as McConnell on the proposal.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday said Trump’s reported plans for his first budget were “dead on arrival.”

“It’s not going to happen,” he said, according to NBC News. “It would be a disaster. A budget this lean would put those who serve overseas for the State Department at risk. And it’s not going to happen.”

Ex-Im Bank Updates

The Trump budget will reportedly not touch the entitlement spending that is financially dooming everyone who does not die in the next 20 years.

Defense spending will increase by $54,000,000,000. That amount will be cut from non-defense spending.

As a reminder, the earlier full Trump budget proposal increased the national debt by $9,700,000,000,000 over the next 10 years. Rand Paul was the only Republican to vote against it.

*

Washington Free Beacon had some damning juice on the EPA this week as well.

Environmental Protection Agency employees used their government purchase cards to spend $14,985 on fitness memberships, according to an audit by the inspector general of the agency.

[…]

Three other transactions [from the audit] were made to vendors who were considered high risk[.]

[…]

Auditors also noted that this is not the first time the agency did not have adequate oversight of the purchase-card program. In March of 2014, the inspector general released a report noting that of the $152,602 in transactions that they evaluated, $79,254 went to purchases that were prohibited, improper, or erroneous.

[Less than 50% of sampled spending was allowed…that’s success, right?]

After the most recent findings, the inspector general said that the risk for the purchase-card program “is high enough to warrant an audit.”

The EPA did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

All emphasis is ours.

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2017/01/justice-department-dhs-officials-emails-234253

http://freebeacon.com/issues/epa-purchase-card-fitness-memberships/

https://www.yahoo.com/news/records-show-epas-pruitt-used-private-email-despite-203908715–politics.html

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/321605-trump-pitches-37-percent-cut-to-state-budget-reports

http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/news/20170311-2017-FOIA-Audit-shows-3-in-5-Agencies-Failed-to-Follow-New-FOIA-Law-Instructions/

FOIA Reform Adopted after Years-Long Battle