Category Archives: Politics/Other

FEMA Withdraws Aid Withdrawal Amid Backlash, Raises Stakes with Seedy Power Provider and Drops the Ball on Puerto Rican Food Delivery; Congress Shits on Taxpayers Again; Your Location and Face Broadcast to More Federal Agencies

FEMA threatened to cut Puerto Rico off their particular division of the federal teat at the end of January, congratulating themselves for distributing over 30 million gallons of potable water and nearly 60 million meals since the island was largely destroyed by last autumn’s Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico Updates

The agency estimated after pumping $500 million of “public assistance,” and $3.2 million of unemployment aid into the island, just 1% of its inhabitants still require emergency food.

Remaining supplies were transferred to the island’s own disaster agency, Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (PREMA)–not to be confused with the floundering state-run power supplier, PREPA.

Some far-flung areas of the island were slated to continue suffering. NPR cited Mayor Carmen Maldonado of Morovis, who was not contacted by PREMA regarding the 10,000 citizens of her municipality still dependent on soon-to-evaporate FEMA rations.

Days after that story broke, the Feds sought to save face:

As the New York Times reports, FEMA now claims that it never intended to end the aid and that it has no plans to at this time. Instead, the Jan. 31 cutoff date was “mistakenly publicized by the agency[.]”

If it really was a mistake, they might have just sacked an employee for pressing the wrong button and promptly reassigned him to continue soaking the taxpayers with his “public service.”

Rather, the hapless agency apparently folds on deadlines at the first hint of (justified) taxpayer discontent. And believe anything disreputable contractors say:

Those millions of FEMA meals may not have included 30 million promised by Tiffany Brown (below) of Tribute Contracting LLC in Atlanta in her October 3 bid. (At $5.10 per meal, Tribute was the lowest bidder.)

Brown bagged (pun alert) one of the biggest contracts for brown bag meals to send to the island (only they didn’t include the required heating pouches, which would have made them fancier than traditional brown bag lunches): $156 million for 30 million meals. At the mid-October deadline for the first 18.5 million, Brown’s one-woman operation had delivered…none. 

Apparently, she farmed the job out to a subcontractor: an eleven-person caterer down the road (who curiously managed anonymity across multiple media outlets). They did have the heating pouches, however:

PHOTO: A photo in Tribute Contracting, LLCs contract with a catering company show examples of self heating meals that include a meal in one pouch with a food heater, water pouch, cutlery, and seasonings.

The caterers weren’t too interested in working either, it appears. Tribute was fired.

“My biggest mistake was not asking for more help.”–Tiffany Brown

Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) of the House Oversight Committee noted this is Brown’s sixth terminated Federal contract. Four were failures to deliver food to the Federal Prison System. The fifth fuck-up came in 2016 for the Government Printing Office, who issued a decision in 2016 that “no agency in the executive branch” would enter contracts with Tribute until 2019. But FEMA said […]that exclusion only applied to GPO.

The GPO angle is interesting: the feckless Feds only banned Tribute from contracts over $35,000, and only until January 2019. And all Tribune did to GPO was fail to put the Marine Corps logo on both sides of some tote bags. Wait. New York Times:

An investigation by [GPO]’s inspector general found that Tribute “altered and submitted a false shipping document and subcontracted the predominant production function on two contracts without proper authorization,” according to a 2015 report submitted to Congress.

Which doesn’t explain why GPO returned to Tribute for the tote bags a year later.

FEMA never gave Brown any money. She is now suing the government for $70 million in debt accrued for the 50,000 meals she managed to almost deliver.

Brown told FEMA officials in an email exchange on Oct. 19 that, because of issues with suppliers, all 30 million meals would instead be delivered by November 7 – two weeks after the deadline.

She told ABC News on Friday that the original schedule in the contract was flexible and that she had been communicating with FEMA officials about the changes.

You can check out her website, but we took some screenshots just in case she stumbles upon some shame and takes it down:

Brown, who reportedly lost family in FEMA’s other notable success story, Hurricane Katrina, spoke with ABC on Friday:

“I think there’s a lacking of seeing the human aspect of everyone, the human aspect of the citizens of Puerto Rico and how they feel, the human aspect of the business owners trying to support them just trying to help out maybe that doesn’t have the larger infrastructure but out of the kindness of their own heart they want to be able to help they’re not seeing the human aspect they’re only seeing a lowest possible bid or trying to meet a budget and not about the people.”

She also fingered “a lack of infrastructure, particularly payment infrastructure on FEMA’s part.”

It appears the 50,000 meals (which actually made it to Jacksonville, FL for shipment before FEMA pulled the plug) actually came from Brown’s other partner, the non-profit Breedlove. Not to drag them into this, but their website is here.

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As we noted above, Cobra Acquisitions may be picking up the slack. Nasdaq reported the subsidiary of Oklahoma City-based energy giant Mammoth (which is reportedly flirting with serious self-enrichment if the new Puerto Rico power grid is built to run on fossil fuels)…more than doubled its contract to rebuild the Puerto Rican power grid on January 28, from the $200 million already invested in quarter four of 2017 to a cool $445 million.

PREPA requested FEMA clear the contract as “reasonable” and “in compliance with emergency procurement provisions of Puerto Rico;” the federal agency obliged in late December.

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Everyone knows the only solution to government incompetence is to pour more confiscated taxpayer cash onto the fire. So last week, as the seventeen-day stopgap fizzled out and the Feds ran out of borrowing power for the second time this year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) huddled to further destroy the livelihood of their subjects employers.

Wading through the details, the disgustingly unaffordable package funds the Federal government for at least another month.

It blows through the 2011 Budget Control Act‘s limit on domestic spending by $57,000,000,000$117 billion more than Trump requested.

Military spending will swell to $700 billion this year, a monstrous 13% increase from 2016, if our numbers are correct.

In Defense of Defense

It bumps up to $716 billion  for 2019.

$90 billion for hurricane and wildfire relief was shoved in there, which sounds generous if you don’t factor in that the victims of these disasters now have more debt to pay off when McConnell and Schumer are long dead.

Some choice goodies that were slipped in, according to New York Times, include: tax credits to prop up renewable energy (it’ll be cheaper and safer for everyone, just wait); extension of a tax break for racehorse owners; exemption from a new college investment income excise tax for the non-tution-charging Berea College (conveniently located in McConnell’s state of Kentucky); funding for abstinence-only sex ed (can’t trust condoms, guys); repeal of $1.35 billion for an Obamacare public health program; repeal of Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, which ostensibly controls Medicare spending; faster implementation of shrinking the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole;” and extension of temporary subsidies to rural hospitals and underserved areas’ health provider tuition loans.

And also billions for the VA, billions for NIH, billions for community health centers, billions for “infrastructure”…all of which Vox suggests will yield major fiscal stimulus.

The deal did not address protections for DACA recipients, the catalyst for last month’s Federal shutdown (and a vote McConnell had promised Schumer to end the impasse). Like the rest of the country, these people appear to be utterly disregarded by McConnell’s rabid lust for accumulating debt. Schumer forgot his earlier advocacy as well:

“After months of legislative logjams, this budget deal is a genuine breakthrough,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “After months of fiscal brinksmanship, this budget deal is the first real sprout of bipartisanship.”

He proclaimed the deal has consigned “the pointless and arbitrary sequester caps to the ash heaps of history.”

A speed bump emerged when Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) forced a procedural delay because the leadership would not allow any amendments to the fiscal depravity. While railing against idiotic government grants (including $700,000 studying whether Neil Armstrong inserted an extra “a” in his famous moon landing line, and coming up empty), Paul pointed out Republicans famously struck the Budget Control Act merely to slow down the rate of spending growth, and decried each and every deficit from the Obama administration.

The 2018 deficit, with this added $300 billion, is projected at $955 billion. Trillion-dollar deficits have become typical since George W. Bush in 2008. TheBalance.com shows how much we’ve added to our over $20,600,000,000,000 in national debt in each of recent years (which is slightly divorced from deficit).

“The reason I’m here tonight is to put people on the spot,” Paul said. “I want people to feel uncomfortable. I want them to have to answer people at home who said, ‘How come you were against President Obama’s deficits, and then how come you’re for Republican deficits?'”

Paul’s fellow Republicans were pissed, as several are up for re-election this year and all reportedly wanted to start the weekend early. The most bone-headed reaction to Paul’s pragmatism came from our favorite crony cow, Lindsey Graham:

“It appears ‘General’ @RandPaul is at it again. He just called for the immediate withdrawal of all forces from Afghanistan as a way to give the US military a pay raise,” Graham tweeted. “Fortunately, only ‘General’ Paul — and the Taliban – think that’s a good idea.”

[America has been in Afghanistan, killing and being killed, without declaring war, for over 16 years.]

CNBC noted:

The vast majority of the Republican lawmakers who are opposing the budget agreement, including Paul, voted for the GOP tax law. The massive tax cuts are estimated to add more than $1 trillion to budget deficits over 10 years, even after economic growth is taken into account, according to the CBO.

The bill eventually passed early Friday morning, 71-28, and technically shuttered the government for several hours before the House could ram it through and get it to Trump to sign. It’s unclear if anyone read all of the nearly 700 pages.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gave a House-record eight-hour speech advocating for DACA protections, largely reading testimony from Dreamers (DACA recipients) threatened with deportation next month, as the program was not extended by the crooked Schumer-McConnell generational theft. Pelosi voted against the bill, but it passed the House 240-186.

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As we boosted the defense budget with fake money we don’t have, it emerged as the Pentagon undergoes its first-ever audit that its own Defense Logistics Agency (annual budget: $40 billion) lost track of $800 million in construction projects.

Image result

The outside firm Ernst & Young who discovered the glaring errors (and warned more will be uncovered) are just one of the third party consultants who comprise $367 million of the nearly $1 billion audit. Politico reports the rest is to go back and fix broken accounting systems that are crucial to better financial management.

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Customs and Border Protection continues to safeguard your liberties…by expanding locations at which it scans your face. To better patrol the U.S.-Mexican border, the McAllen, TX checkpoint will now catalog the face of every driver and passenger. About time:

The agency will use the results of the South Texas effort to set the stage for a wider rollout along the southern and northern borders, where the technology someday could be used to identify fugitives or wanted terror suspects. Customs and Border Protection already operates facial recognition exit programs at nearly a dozen international airports, including Houston’s, aimed at making sure travelers are who they say they are.

Traveler acceptance is really high, and we can thank the Apples and the Googles for that,” said Colleen Manaher, CBP executive director of planning, program analysis and evaluation, in an interview at the Border Security Expo in San Antonio, where she revealed the Anzalduas project. “It’s a game-changer.”

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! March 10, 19 and 22–Genes, Tattoos and Faces

[our emphasis]

Colleen Manaher

Manaher (above) called the prospect of getting her grubby fingers on identification of just 50 percent of faces crossing the Port Anzalduas bridge “a home run.”

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And in the wonderful state of Kansas,

Kansas: Helpful Public Servants and Meddlesome Neighbors

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! December 12: Kansas Lawsuit Settled

 

the two-party duopoly cracked down on attempts by the country’s debt-laden youth to gain representation.

After six teenage boys filed to run in this year’s gubernatorial election, the state House committee swiftly passed a bill from Rep. Blake Carpenter (R) requiring candidates to be “qualified electors”–that is, at least 18 years old, and able to vote.

The bill, which would not take effect until after the election, was reportedly co-drafted by Libertarian candidate Ethan Randleas (who happens to be 18). It is lauded as TRIGGER WARNINGcommon sense” by 17-year-old Tyler Ruzich (Republican candidate) and slammed as “reactionary” and “disenfranchis[ing]” by Jack Bergeson, 17 (Democratic candidate).

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It’s turning into a rocky year even for Kansans who are eighteen or older: renewing a drivers license may require residents to obtain new social security cards if their middle initial, not their full middle name is currently displayed; new state-issued birth certificates if all they have is a hospital document; and a marriage license, if they’ve ever changed their name. This will transform one’s license into a Federal Real ID.

Secure driver’s licenses and identification documents are a vital component of a holistic national security strategy.

–DHS website, our emphasis

The Federal Real ID Act was passed over 12 years ago on recommendation from the 9/11 Commission, but, like Common Core, has faced massive public opposition. It mandatory compliance has therefore been extended for various states (yellow, below).

On October 10, residents of non-compliant states will no longer be granted access to airports or military bases with their state-issued drivers license.

The veil is sliding off DHS’s threat to states refusing to funneling all your passport, birth certificate, marriage license and other ID info into a single police state card with a literal TRIGGER WARNING gold star  (they’re calling it a yellow star, for obvious reasons) that can pool all surveillance of your life at the filthy fingertips of the Federal agent manning the bar code reader:

It has been 12 years since the REAL ID Act was passed and half of all the states have already met the REAL ID minimum standards. It is time that the remaining jurisdictions turn their commitments to secure identification into action.

[our emphasis]

Fortunately, according to Charlotte Observer in 2016:

By 2010, more than 25 state legislatures had passed laws criticizing or refusing to comply with the law.

Kansas is currently “in compliance” until 2020. The Feds are signaling that for other, less obedient states that later this year,

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/01/29/581511023/fema-to-end-food-and-water-aid-for-puerto-rico

https://www.theroot.com/fema-cutting-off-food-and-water-aid-to-puerto-rico-1822558738

https://www.theroot.com/tiffany-brown-head-of-the-one-woman-company-which-deli-1822897056

http://www.nasdaq.com/press-release/cobras-puerto-rico-contract-increased-to-approximately-445-million-update-on-puerto-rico-activities-20180129-01030

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/fema-contractor-scapegoat-controversy-canceled-contract/story?id=52915221

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/372748-senate-leaders-agree-to-two-year-budget-deal?userid=115887

https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-democrats-split-on-budget-deal-1518115903

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/08/politics/budget-vote-congress-shutdown/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/08/politics/rand-paul-analysis/index.html

http://money.cnn.com/2018/02/07/news/economy/rising-deficits/index.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/08/shutdown-news-rand-paul-holds-up-senate-budget-vote.html

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/05/pentagon-logistics-agency-review-funds-322860

https://www.mystatesman.com/news/facial-recognition-scanners-tested-soon-texas-mexico-border/K5zgnDYPlrvASb1k5c2vIP/

http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article198664404.html

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2018/feb/11/new-drivers-license-requirements-causing-headaches/

https://www.dhs.gov/real-id

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! Awan Updates

Updated 1/7/18.

Suspected bank defrauder Imran Awan and his circle of crack ex-tech employees of the Federal Government were back in the news over the past several months.

Related:

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: July 25: Debbie, Derelict of Any Responsibility

In September, Awan’s wife Hina Alvi, at large in Pakistan from bank fraud charges after Federal agents intercepted her with a bag of cash at Dulles airport in March, then let her board the plane out, bargained with the Feds to return to America to face an arraignment. It is unclear if she actually returned, but Washington Examiner reported the deal scheduled the homecoming for the last week of September. In exchange for her children not watching her arrest, Alvi agreed to give up her passports.

We already reported on Awan’s stepmother, Samina Gilani‘s allegations that Awan coerced her to sign over assets, wiretapped her and threatened to kill family members back in Pakistan. Daily Caller found Gilani and two other women filed police reports in Virginia accusing Awan of abuse.

Salam Chaudry‘s December 2015 injury was redacted from the domestic dispute report. Awan lawyered up when the officer asked him questions. Both Awan and Chaudry insisted they were only roommates. Chaudry and her two young children stayed while Awan left the apartment that night.

Seven months later, Samara Siddique summoned police while Awan was out, claimed to be in a relationship with him, and asked for information on obtaining a restraining order.

Gilani told police Awan threatened to hurt her and a cousin in Baltimore, and that Siddique is Awan’s second wife by Pakistani law.

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Update:

Daily Caller also fingered the Awans for a Hillary-esque, Federal-oversight defying Secret Server operation whose existence was only reported by other apparently conservative outlets.

While Politico acknowledged in March that Awan and his four relatives and friends were fired for stealing equipment from [Congress] members’ offices without their knowledge and committing serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network, the ex-employees are now alleged to have compiled server data from Democratic House members onto this unknown server as well as “Dropbox.” Since Dropbox use was prohibited, Awan allegedly used a fake account and could have accessed the data after his official clearance was revoked in February.

(In his defense, Federal officials often use fake accounts to get around FOIA requests.)

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

The secret server (“connected” to the House Democratic Caucus, according to Daily Caller) came to light when outgoing HDC chair Xavier Becerra (D-CA) (below) resigned to become California’s attorney general and requested the server be wiped.

Xavier Becerra official portrait.jpg

Police asked to see the server (right around the time Awan and entourage were fired by everyone except Debbie Wasserman Schultz), and Awan turned in a false copy for evidence, which may carry a charge of interfering with a criminal investigation.

Awan had access to office files from 45 House Democrats prior to his removal. Mrs. Alvi reportedly received at least $25,000 per year (in addition to her salary) from Becerra’s office during his 2013-2016 chairmanship of the HDC.

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In October, when Awan (on house arrest for bank fraud charges) argued through his attorney he should have his GPS monitor removed and curfew rescinded, the FBI’s finding that he wiped all data from his cell phone–just prior to being arrested at the airport fleeing to Pakistan–came to light.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Mirando stamped out the counterargument that the phone contained no data because it was recently purchased by producing the phone’s time stamp from three hours prior to the arrest.

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On November 11, the Congress Committee on House Administration announced two STUPID PHRASE ALERT “listening sessions” to brief House members behind closed doors on the future use of “shared employees.” Politico suggests Awan and four associates’ charges of lifting IT equipment and illegal activity on the House network may have motivated the seminar.

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But the strangest development was the revelation of Cars International A (CIA), an auto dealership Awan’s brother Abid (below, not feeling very photogenic) ran in tandem with his recent $164,980 “shared employee” position in for House members.  He reportedly omitted  loans to finance the dealership from his Congressional ethics form.

Abid Awan, a House IT technician suspected in a security breach, leaves court after separately being accused of insurance fraud. DCNF photo

A 2010 loan of $100,000 to CIA came from internal medicine Dr. Ali Al-Attar, who was indicted by then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein for tax fraud in 2012. Al-Attar has reportedly fled to Iraq to shake additional charges.

CIA apparently took orders for cars, then procured them from AAA Motors across the street. Nasir Khattak (also from Pakistan) ran AAA, and revealed in deposition that his business subsidized Imran Awan (the actual mastermind of CIA).

Other dealerships tried to move cars through CIA, and sued when Awan screwed them. Daily Caller:

It’s not clear where the dealership’s money was going, because it was sued by at least five different people on all ends of a typical car business who said they were stiffed. CIA didn’t pay the security deposit, rent or taxes for its building, it didn’t pay wholesalers who provided cars, and it sold broken cars to people and then refused to honor the warranties, the lawsuits say.

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Chris Gowen (below), Imran Awan’s attorney, worked for both Bill and Hillary Clinton when Hillary was a Senator.

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/democratic-it-staffer-who-fled-the-country-strikes-deal-to-return-face-charges/article/2633528

EXCLUSIVE: DWS IT Guy Was Banned From House After Trying To Hide Secret Server

House IT Worker At Center Of Scandal Allegedly Abused Three Muslim Women

https://www.forbes.com/sites/frankminiter/2017/10/09/congressional-it-aide-wiped-his-phone-before-being-arrested-heres-how-the-fbi-found-out/#1efe9142e139

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/07/house-lawmakers-it-probe-244662

House IT Aides Ran Car Dealership With Markings Of A Nefarious Money Laundering Operation

https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/baltimore/press-releases/2012/two-physicians-indicted-in-a-conspiracy-to-defraud-the-irs-by-concealing-their-income-and-filing-false-tax-returns

https://medium.com/@TelescreenMedia/we-the-people-have-been-compromised-imran-awan-timeline-a25a5c9d4c80

http://gowenrhoades.com/christopher-gowen/

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! October 27: Boente Bows Out

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dana Boente is ready to cash out, announcing his resignation in October (pending confirmation of his replacement).

Image: Dana Boente, acting U.S. attorney general, listens during a county sheriff listening session

Politico reported the career “government servant” and 2015 Obama appointee to EDV, 63, who briefly took over for Sally Yates as acting Attorney General upon Yates’ firing for refusal to enforce Trump’s travel ban, is reportedly still in charge of Justice’s national security division.

Related:

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

MSNBC suggests Boente’s resignation was solicited by Trump after the veteran Justice employee was retained at the beginning of 2017. Rachel Maddow emphasized Boente “was in a position to investigate the president when Trump decided unexpectedly to fire him.”

Justice bit back on November 29 via a letter to Senator Chris Coons (D-DE). Mr. Coons asked the Judiciary Committee for a hearing on Boente’s resignation, apparently sensing something nefarious.  The letter indicates Trump’s nominee to take over for Boente as AAG–national security division, John Demers (below) is merely the next expected link in the chain of succession.

Mr. Demers is a big man at Ex-Im Bank beneficiary Boeing, and will reportedly retain over $1 million of their stock in his new position.

If he gets confirmed. Demers reportedly helped author the 2008 Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, a monstrous justification for the Feds to scoop up your phone records and emails.

According to AllGov:

At his confirmation hearing on October 31, 2017, Demers made it clear that the NSA should not be required to obtain a warrant from the FBI before searching the communications of American citizens. He also waffled on the subject of whether journalists should be jailed for refusing to reveal their sources.

[our emphasis]

Later on in December, Senator Rand Paul blocked Demers’ confirmation vote to the Justice position. It is unclear when the vote will proceed.

Section 702 is scheduled to expire next month, and neo-conservative thugs are eager to reauthorize the privacy-and-constitutional-rights-be-damned program.

Daily Beast:

If confirmed, Demers will be one of just three DOJ officials with the power to sign off on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications. 

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/27/dana-boente-justice-departments-national-security-division-244268

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/trumps-ouster-us-attorney-dana-boente-matters

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/justice-department/dana-boente-senior-federal-prosecutor-obama-holdover-submits-resignation-n815331

http://www.allgov.com/news/appointments-and-resignations/assistant-attorney-general-national-security-division-who-is-john-demers-171107?news=860356

https://www.thedailybeast.com/republican-senator-rand-paul-freezes-trump-nomination-over-nsa

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! October 23: Podesta Joins the Presidential Party

Tony Podesta 2009.jpg

Conservative outlet Daily Wire noticed lobbyist extraordinaire Tony Podesta (above) had been subpoenaed in August by the “Russia Ruins U.S. Elections 2016” investigative committee head Robert Mueller (below).

In Washington.Muller, the special counsel ...

This is only interesting because Hillary’s decrepit former campaign chairman John Podesta, now a partisan writer for Washington Post, had to cease and desist his unauthorized lobbying for Vladimir Putin before signing onto Hillary‘s RMS Titanic campaign for U.S. president in 2016.

Panama Papers

Apparently, ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and the Podesta Group both worked with the pro-Putin outfit European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. Tony Podesta pocketed over $1 million to lobby the American Feds, casting former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych as a decent guy–without authorization from Washington to lobby on behalf of a foreign agent. Daily Wire reports Podesta registered these activities only after NBC blew the whistle.

Yanukovych (below) was exiled to Russia in 2014 after reportedly using his office to help the Kremlin undermine Ukraine.

Image result

Mueller started investigating Podesta’s possible violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act in October. Podesta put out a statement that his company always complies with lobbying restrictions, then resigned on October 30.

USA Today reports that while Podesta has worked on campaigns of Democrats including Ted Kennedy and George McGovern, Podesta Group itself works with Republicans as well, and their (now) former CEO Kimberley Fritts (below) was a Republican. [She jumped ship in November to start the new lobbying firm Cogent Strategies–with 40 percent of the Podesta staff.]

Kimberley Fritts is pictured. | AP Photo

However, Politico reports this transition was underway months ago. Like about the same time Tony Podesta got subpoenaed.

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Mueller’s office and the Justice Department together have spent over $6 million on the investigation through September 30. The juiciest results of the probe thus far include Trump’s (oh so briefly) national security adviser Michael Flynn’s cooperation after admitting to lying to the FBI and Manafort’s indictment on twelve charges including conspiracy against the United States, money laundering, failure to register as a foreign agent and multiple failures to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

Another Trump adviser, Rick Gates, was indicted and house-arrested alongside Manafort (also) on October 30.

Russian Relations

Although Manafort was recently sprung from that house arrest on $10 million bail to live in his Florida home with continued GPS monitoring, Mueller had serious misgivings, because as recently as November 30, Manafort ghostwrote an op-ed alongside a “long-time Russian colleague” who is “currently based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service.”

The “colleague,” with whom Manafort communed during the 2016 campaign, is Konstan Kilimnik. The pair’s piece was to run under the name of Oleg Voloshin.

Mueller is understandably concerned Manafort meant to muddy the waters of his upcoming trial (which probably explains the gag order against his drumming up support with rosy op-eds). Daily Beast has an email from Manafort to Kilimnik on November 29 that includes:

“[This draft] keeps [Voloshin’s] approach but takes out pieces that would not be good to mention.”

Manafort reportedly struck the statement that he “had an ear of the president [Yanukovych] on a more regular basis than even some his ministers.”

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.dailywire.com/news/22614/special-counsel-robert-mueller-now-investigating-emily-zanotti?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_content=051717-news&utm_campaign=dwtwitter#

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/30/tony-podesta-stepping-down-from-lobbying-giant-amid-mueller-probe-244314

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/11/01/who-tony-podesta-and-why-he-under-scrutiny-bob-muellers-russia-investigation/821166001/

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/16/podesta-group-ceo-kimberley-fritts-new-lobbying-firm-245557

http://www.businessinsider.com/robert-mueller-investigation-cost-trump-russia-2017-12

https://www.unian.info/politics/1648501-lutsenko-reads-out-accusations-of-treason-against-yanukovych-video.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/paul-manafort-rick-gates-told-surrender-special-prosecutor-probe-n815536

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/15/politics/manafort-bail-florida/index.html

https://www.thedailybeast.com/mueller-manafort-wrote-op-ed-with-russian-operative-last-month-4?ref=topic

https://www.thedailybeast.com/new-email-shows-paul-manaforts-heavy-hand-on-ghost-written-ukraine-op-ed

Christmas Special: Sheila Jackson Lee

Jean-Marie Simon was bumped from first class returning to Washington, D.C. from Guatemala on December 18 so Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee could get extra elbow room, the Houston Chronicle apparently first reported.

United Airlines swore the 63-year-old private school teacher and attorney cancelled her seat on flight 788 from Houston to D.C. after  a 50-minute weather delay was announced.

[Sort of like how University of California–Irvine scrambled to cut down on enrollments after they underestimated who would accept admission by adjusting the facts of individuals’ applications.]

Simon noted there was no cancellation on the mobile app United claimed she used to relinquish seat 1A. (United could only respond that Simon ended up on the flight, so obviously the cancellation was struck from the record.)

Another nugget surfaced on Yahoo!:

[A] man identifying himself as a Texas congressman sat down next to [Simon in economy]. [She] claims the man told her that he was glad she had made it on the flight and that Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee was the reason she’d been bumped.

According to Simon, the congressman said, “Jackson Lee gives us all a bad name; it’s shameful,” and pointed out that the airport is in Jackson Lee’s district, Texas’s 18th Congressional District. Up until that conversation[,] Simon said, she didn’t know who Jackson Lee was.

[Who is the mystery man???]

She proceeded to put photo evidence of Jackson Lee on social media with the following explanation:

 

As a United customer for a decade (Gold Elite) and a reader of the Washington Post for 20 years, I never thought I’d be posting this: the WP killed the story because they thought it was “too much ambiguity about exactly what happened,” despite the fact that I sent them copies of my boarding pass, my original receipt, my letter to United CEO Óscar Muñoz, and the photo of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. So they got suckered by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and the absurd claim that a passenger headed for home in DC would cancel the second segment of her flight. Moreover, as the WP was killing the story, I received three voicemails from United customer service, with “apologies” for what happened and asking me to get in touch with them.

Here is the photo of Jackson Lee in my seat, the one I paid for, on United flight #788, sitting next to the man who apologized to me for her behavior.

Does anyone recognize the gentleman next to Jackson Lee? He may be a congressman.

Please share this story: although I want an apology from United, this is really more about how this kind of behavior by an airline continues to go unchallenged.

Scroll below for a copy of the letter I sent on December 21st to CEO Óscar Muñoz.

The flight reportedly had many empty seats, but it is unclear if they were first class seats.

Congress people crushing the lower class by taking their seats on group transport: better than the alternatives?

Senators High on Private Fly(ing)

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! September 13 and 29: Mnuchin Continues Opulent Employment; Tom Price Priced Out of Trump Administration

On Christmas Day, United issued Simon a $500 travel voucher and apology for her treatment. Simon told New York Post United claimed to have offered this settlement and apology earlier. Simon put on her elitist hat momentarily and countered that a “low ranking employee” [sic] merely offered a phone apology six days earlier, after Simon declined a $300 voucher offered with her new “economy plus” seat at the gate.

*

Jackson Lee, a Democrat representing Texas’s 18th district in and around Houston, told the press she was targeted by Simon for the clandestine photo and “disruptive” claims to a 140,000-mile first class ticket because of Jackson Lee’s race.

“Since this was not any fault of mine, the way the individual continued to act appeared to be, upon reflection, because I was an African American woman, seemingly an easy target along with the African American flight attendant who was very, very nice.”

She denied any special treatment and layered fake beneficence, a tact our employees use to cast themselves as victims:

“But in the spirit of this season and out of the sincerity of my heart, if it is perceived that I had anything to do with this, I am kind enough to simply say sorry.”

[our emphasis]

Simon, whose race is unclear, told NYP that United threatened to remove her from the flight for taking the photo.

Related:

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! April 9–United We Drag

Thanks to our sources:

https://nypost.com/2017/12/25/united-apologies-to-passenger-booted-for-congresswoman/

https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/teacher-claims-united-booted-gave-seat-us-congresswoman-213301253.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/airplane-mode/rep-jackson-lee-suspects-she-was-accused-united-incident-because-n832726

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/article/Woman-accuses-United-of-giving-her-seat-to-Rep-12452258.php

Christmas Special: Mohamed Noor and Justine Damond Updates

Minneapolis police dismantled a memorial to Australian national Justine Damond, who was killed by MP officer Mohamed Noor in July. The display was erected in front of the MP 5th precinct on December 23.

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: July 18: Crime and Punishment

Multiple sources describe the responsible party, California-based Identify Evropa, as a hate group and white nationalist group.

IDENTITY EVROPA

They have 25,000 followers on “Twitter,” and reportedly helped organize the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA last August.

“We cannot allow any memorial and anything like that to be put up at that location.”–John Elder, Minneapolis police.

Noor is still refusing to interview with the police for his role in Damond’s death. Instead, Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is seeking “voluntary interviews” of all officers involved. Several (including Noor, apparently) have lawyered up.

mike freeman confronted about damond charges Freeman: I Cant Charge MPD Officer Yet In Damonds Shooting Death

Mike Freeman (above), the Hennepin County attorney, promised to decide whether he would criminally charge Noor by the end of 2017. However, when pressed by the group Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar at a December 13 holiday party hosted by Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, Freeman blamed Minneapolis police for not cooperating with his investigation. He maintained Noor is not obligated to answer Freeman’s questions, and suggested Noor’s partner, Matthew Harrity, “just gave [investigators] shit.”

Freeman later apologized to investigators and said his comments were ill-advised.

TCCJ4J appear to be a police accountability group whose Facebook mission reads in part: To get the police who killed Jamar Clark prosecuted. We also will take on any injustice that we feel we can wage a successful campaign against.

Jamal Clark, 24 (below), was fatally shot by two white Minneapolis police officers while allegedly interfering with their assistance to an assault victim in November 2015.

Jamar Clark

The ensuing citizen reaction resulted in five non-fatal shootings of protesters from national social justice group Black Lives Matter outside the Minneapolis 4th precinct police station by Allen Scarsella (below). He received fifteen years in prison after prosecutors successfully proved he was a racist.

Allen Scarsella

Freeman announced in March 2016 he had insufficient evidence to charge Clark’s shooters, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, as the investigation found Clark attempted to take Ringgenberg’s firearm. Just before clearing the officers, Freeman ended the use of grand juries in police-involved shootings.

Fox9 notes that relinquishing grand jury control of police shootings unfortunately cost the legal system power to subpoena police.

It’s quite a time to live in Minnesota:

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: June 16: Philando Castile Update

Judicial Watch on Somali Immigrants

Thanks to our sources:

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/366444-police-remove-memorial-erected-by-white-nationalist-group-in

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42482921

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/minnesota/articles/2017-12-25/minneapolis-police-remove-memorial-from-hate-group

Freeman: I Can’t Charge MPD Officer Yet In Damond’s Shooting Death

http://www.fox9.com/news/137-days-later-responding-officers-still-to-be-interviewed-in-damond-killing

http://www.startribune.com/no-charges-against-police-in-jamar-clark-shooting-death/373979481/#1

https://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2015/11/updated-what-we-know-about-shooting-five-protesters-and-jamar-clark-investig

http://www.startribune.com/hennepin-county-attorney-to-provide-update-into-jamar-clark-inquiry/372229891/

Man Gets 15 Years For Shooting 5 Black Lives Matter Protesters

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 Fitzgeralds 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