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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Bipartisan Report



Home Corruption National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Lied About Meeting With Russian Ambassador

CorruptionDonald TrumpNational SecurityPoliticsTop Stories

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Lied About Meeting With Russian Ambassador
By Tyler -
February 10, 2017


The Washington Post has reported that a month before Donald Trump’s inauguration, National Security adviser Micheal Flynn met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The details of their discussions are currently unknown, but WaPo reports that some senior intelligence officials saw the meeting as “an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin” that the Trump administration might roll back the sanctions imposed by President Obama.

During an interview on Wednesday, Flynn was twice asked whether the topic of sanctions came up during his discussions with Kislyak and, each time, he replied that they had not been discussed.
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On Thursday, a spokesperson for Fynn backed away from that denial saying that:

‘[Fynn] indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.’

The FBI is currently examining Fynn’s communications with Kislyak and officials have reportedly uncovered evidence that the sanctions were discussed, though Fynn made no promises regarding the Trump administration’s actions regarding said sanctions.

Fynn’s contact with the Russian ambassador drew the Obama administration’s eye due to the strange timing. Fynn spoke with Kislyak shortly after President Obama imposed sanctions on Russian for their interference in the 2016 presidential election. Officials were concerned that Fynn was discussing the sanctions with the Russian diplomat.

The talks in question began on November 8th and lasted several months. Fynn has recently stated that he talked with the ambassador by text, phone call, and in person, but did not say whether or not they discussed the sanctions against Russia.

These statements are at odds with previous statements made by Trump officials including Vice President Mike Pence. Last month, during an interview with CBS, Pence said that he had spoken with Fynn regarding the communications between himself and Kislyak. Pence said:

‘They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.’

Vice President Pence also took things one step further and insisted that there had been no communications between the Trump campaign and Russia during the election. Pence said that to claim otherwise “is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy.”

However, Fynn and Pence’s statements may not be entirely accurate. WaPo interviewed nine current and former members of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies who were in senior positions at various agencies when the communications between Fynn and Kislyak took place.

All of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Fynn made explicit references to the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. Two officials said Fynn had said that Russia should not overreact to the sanctions since they could be reviewed once Trump takes office.

One former official said:

‘Kislyak was left with the impression that the sanctions would be revisited at a later time.’

Another official even went so far as to say that Flynn misled Pence or Pence had misspoken. As of right now, those sanctions do remain in place, but we still have very few details concerning the nature of Fynn’s discussions with Kislya
Post Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:44 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

REUTERS
Commodities | Wed Feb 8, 2017 | 8:33pm EST
White House plans directive targeting 'conflict minerals' rule: sources

By Sarah N. Lynch and Emily Stephenson | WASHINGTON

President Donald Trump is planning to issue a directive targeting a controversial Dodd-Frank rule that requires companies to disclose whether their products contain "conflict minerals" from a war-torn part of Africa, according to sources familiar with the administration's thinking.

Reuters could not learn precisely when the directive would be issued or what the final version would say. However, a leaked draft that has been floating around Washington and was seen by Reuters on Wednesday calls for the rule to be temporarily suspended for two years.

Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the document. The sources spoke on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the plan.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank law explicitly gives the president authority to order the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to temporarily suspend or revise the rule for two years if it is in the national security interest of the United States.

The conflict minerals rule was endorsed by human rights groups that want companies to tell investors if their products contain tantalum, tin, gold or tungsten mined from the Democratic Republic of Congo in the hope that such disclosures would curb funding to armed groups.

Business groups opposed to the measure have contended that it forces companies to furnish politically charged information that is irrelevant to making investment decisions and that it costs too much for companies to trace the source of minerals through the supply chain.

In the leaked draft memo seen by Reuters, the Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury were asked to propose a plan for addressing human rights violations and the funding of armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo and report back within 180 days.

The memo also lays out a justification for suspending the rule, saying that while it has helped discourage some American companies from purchasing materials in the region, it has also led to "some job loss."


It also cited 2014 SEC estimates about the costs imposed on companies, which entailed upfront costs of $3 billion to $4 billion, and $200 million per year thereafter.

Carly Oboth, a policy adviser at human rights group Global Witness, said in a statement on Wednesday that she was deeply concerned about Trump's planned executive action.

"This law helps stop U.S. companies funding conflict and human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo and surrounding countries," she said.

"Suspending it will benefit secretive and corrupt business practices. Responsible business practices are starting to spread in eastern Congo. This action could reverse that progress."

A White House executive order last week took aim more broadly at the Dodd-Frank rules that were put into place after the 2007-2009 financial crisis. That order did not single out a particular rule, but called on the Treasury Secretary to consult with other regulators, including the SEC, and come back with a report outlining possible regulatory changes and legislation.

The conflict minerals rule is one of several disclosure regulations in Dodd-Frank that are unrelated to the financial crisis.

Another Dodd-Frank SEC disclosure rule that required oil, gas and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments was repealed by the Republican-controlled Congress last week.

In 2014, a U.S. appeals court struck down part of the conflict minerals law after the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers sued the SEC over it.

The court found part of it violated free speech rights of companies by forcing them to publicly state that their products were not conflict free.
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The rest of the rule was left intact and companies are required to conduct due diligence and report the details of those inquiries in public reports filed with the SEC.

The SEC cannot repeal the rule without a law passed by Congress. It can, however, use its broad exemptive powers to scale back some of the requirements or stop enforcing the rule entirely.

Last week, acting SEC Chair Michael Piwowar took steps toward doing that by announcing that he had asked SEC staff to reconsider how companies should comply with it and whether "additional relief" was warranted.

House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, meanwhile, is planning to reintroduce his Financial CHOICE Act bill, which contains a provision to repeal the conflict minerals rule.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Emily Stephenson; Editing by Bernard Orr and Lisa Shumaker
Post Sat Feb 11, 2017 4:39 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

THE HILL


THE MEMO: Trump loses at court — so far
BY NIALL STANAGE - 02/11/17 06:06 AM EST 1,211


President Trump fought the law and the law won — so far.

The battle over Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees has handed the president the most significant setback of his young administration. The White House is trying to find a path forward after two legal defeats but even some Republicans say the damage has already been done.

The problem, they say, is that the whole saga buttresses existing negative perceptions of the Trump administration: that the White House is too impetuous, too in thrall with the idea of breaking with “business as usual,” and too blind to the pitfalls that might dot their preferred path on any given issue.


Dan Judy, a GOP strategist whose firm worked for the presidential campaign of Trump’s primary rival Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) last year, noted that Republicans on Capitol Hill “have been watching this administration very carefully. Many of them were not supporters of his in the primaries, were lukewarm in the general election, and they have been watching and hoping that things would go well.”
So far, Judy said, what they’ve seen leaves something to be desired.

The rollout of the travel ban rejected this week in court “does not create a lot of confidence among Republicans on Capitol Hill, in Washington or around the country,” he said.

“Most of that [concern] is less on the policy — though there are certainly plenty of worries about the broadness of it — but more about the haphazard and slapdash way it was conceived and rolled out.”

Similar concerns were raised by senior Republican lawmakers soon after Trump signed the executive order in the first place. In a joint statement, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asserted that the “confusion at our airports” made clear that the order “was not properly vetted.”

Other Republicans — including Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Susan Collins (Maine), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and Dean Heller (Nev.) — raised concerns about the broadness of the language or the uncertainty over how it affected legal permanent residents.

Then there was the stinging rebuke delivered by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday, when it refused to lift the suspension of the ban. The decision of the three appellate court judges was unanimous and stated, among other things, that suggestions that the order discriminated against Muslims raised “serious allegations and present[ed] significant constitutional questions.”

Exactly what happens next is a little unclear.

Initially on Friday, it seemed that the Trump administration had come to a belated recognition that both the roll-out of the order and its vulnerability to legal challenge were flawed.

Multiple reports on Friday evening stated that the administration would not go to the Supreme Court to try to get the temporary restraining order on the ban lifted. But then White House chief of staff Reince Preibus said no decision had been made.

A new order could be coming.

The president told reporters during a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that “we'll be doing something very rapidly having to do with additional security for our country” and that details would be revealed next week.

But even if that happens and if the new order proves legally enforceable — two substantial “ifs” — the political damage will not necessarily be undone..

“Certainly there is an awareness that things have not operated the way people would have liked to have seen them,” said veteran GOP pollster David Winston. “There was some confusion and unhappiness in terms of the implementation. You saw them take steps to correct that — but it’s the fact that they had to take those steps [which is the problem].”

Nevertheless, Winston was among the sources who told The Hill that it would be easy to jump to too negative an assumption about what the furor would do to Trump’s popularity. Several Republicans noted, with varying degrees of vigor, that the basics of the executive order had been relatively popular with voters in the recent past.

New Jersey Republican Steve Lonegan, a Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) supporter in last year’s GOP presidential primary, argued that, while the rollout was imperfect, voters are not all that concerned with “this insider crap that Washington types believe Americans think about every day.”

Lonegan added, “All the naysayers want to be looking for weakness in what Trump does. Most of the Americans I talk to really are tired of this.”

There are clear signs that the controversy has dented the public standing of the underlying policy. A Quinnipiac University poll conducted in recent days asked respondents whether they supported or opposed “suspending immigration from 'terror prone' regions, even if it means turning away refugees from those regions?”

Fifty percent of adults disapproved of that idea, while 44 percent approved. The results had been the exact opposite when the same pollsters asked the same question in mid-November, just after Trump’s election win.

Some Republicans believe those figures could flip yet again if the administration corrects its course. And others contend that some of the fiercest criticism is mounted on a false pretext.

Hogan Gidley, a Republican strategist who has worked on past presidential campaigns by former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said of Trump, “He could have spoken to every single senator, every single congressman, every agency head, media staffer and media outlet — and Donald Trump would still get blowback from the people who don’t like him and don’t want to accept that he is President of the United States.”

But others, such as Dan Judy, are insistent that the president and his aides need to realize they erred.

“The most important thing is that they learn lessons from this,” he said. “If they do, future problems can be avoided. If they don’t, it is going to be one thing after another.”

The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage, primarily focused on Donald Trump’s presidency.
Post Sat Feb 11, 2017 8:25 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Steve Chapman Minority of One
News Opinion Steve Chapman
Column: How Trump's travel ban helps terrorists
Samy el-Goarany

U.S. citizen Samy el-Goarany went to Syria, where he trained with the Islamic State group before he was killed. (AP)
Steve ChapmanSteve ChapmanContact Reporter

If you're afraid that terrorists from a particular country will come to kill your citizens, it makes sense to ban anyone from that place. So brace yourselves, Americans. Any day now, the Syrian government may impose a complete and total shutdown on travelers from the United States.

President Donald Trump ordered a similar ban because he thinks there is a pipeline of violent extremists from Syria and other predominantly Muslim countries. He's right, but he's wrong about the direction of the flow. Islamic State recruits aren't coming from Syria to the United States. They are going from the United States to Syria.
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Nora Ellingsen, who spent five years working on international counterterrorism investigations at the FBI, went through all the cases she could find over the past two years. Over that time, the agency "has arrested 34 Americans who aspired to leave, attempted to leave or actually left the United States to join a terrorist group overseas," she writes — compared with two refugees it has arrested from the seven countries included in Trump's travel ban.

A report from Congress found that 250 U.S. nationals have gone to Syria or Iraq to fight for the Islamic State group, also known as ISIL and ISIS. "More Americans have snuck into Syria to join ISIL," she writes on the Lawfare blog, "than ISIL members have snuck into the United States."
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In ruling against the president's executive order, a panel of three judges for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals couldn't help noticing that "the government has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States." Now we know why.

The Trump administration portrays itself as the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike, trying to block a flood of militants disguised as Syrian kindergartners. John Kelly, secretary of homeland security, explained the abruptness of the travel ban: "The thinking was to get it out quick so that, potentially, people that might be coming here to harm us would not take advantage of some period of time that they could jump on an airplane."

Even before the ban, though, Syrians couldn't just claim to be refugees and proceed to the airport. They had to spend 18 to 24 months being screened and processed. It's not an option for someone in a hurry.

Kelly also left out the large, honking fact that the danger Americans face is less from without than from within. That's clear from a new study done by the Chicago Project on Security and Threats at the University of Chicago.

"The American Face of ISIS" examines 112 cases of people known to have been involved in "ISIS-related offenses" — including carrying out attacks, plotting them, traveling to take part in them or helping other confederates. It reports that 83 percent are U.S. citizens, with 65 percent born here. None came as a refugee from Syria.

Only three of the 112 were refugees, two from Bosnia and one from Iraq. CPOST Director Robert Pape said the researchers found "no evidence of ISIS smuggling fighters into the United States alongside with refugees."

Sniffing out incoming terrorists among those arriving from these nations is like scouting for future NHL stars in Jamaica. In the past two years, Ellingsen says, the FBI has arrested more Americans plotting violent attacks on Muslims in the U.S. than it has refugees from all the banned countries combined.

Skittish sorts may figure it's better to be safe than sorry. But the travel ban doesn't enhance our safety even marginally. Just the opposite.

Middle Eastern terrorists figured out long ago it was too hard to get their people into this country. What is easy is transmitting propaganda. As Pape points out, "ISIS terrorists in America are walk-in volunteers" — people living in the U.S. who have been radicalized by its online videos.

What the travel ban does, by singling out Muslims in these seven countries, is to buttress the Islamic State claim that the West is at war with Islam. If the policy induces a small percentage of American Muslims — who number 3.3 million — to embrace the group, the risk of terrorism will multiply.

Trump thinks he can protect the nation by blocking the arrival of foreigners with murderous plans. The bigger danger is that the Islamic State will enlist more Americans in its bloody cause. And Trump may be the best recruiter it has ever had.

Steve Chapman, a member of the Tribune Editorial Board, blogs at www.chicagotribune.com/chapman.

schapman@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @SteveChapman13
Post Mon Feb 13, 2017 12:37 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Occupy Democrats
(note some of the photos have disappeared or have been altered to hide the identity of the "nuclear football" in this post and in other publications.)


One Of Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Guests Just Posted A Selfie With The “Nuclear Football”

By Colin Taylor
Published on February 13, 2017



This weekend, President Donald Trump was faced with his first national security crisis. North Korea successfully tested a Pukguksong-2 intermediate range ballistic missile, violating the terms of UN Security Council resolutions restricting the authoritarian regime’s nuclear weapons program.

President Trump was enjoying dinner at his Mar-a-Lago mansion with the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe (安倍 晋三) after a relaxing day of golf. When the news came down, Trump didn’t feel the need to interrupt his dinner. He had his aides bring classified information to the dinner table, where Trump and Abe began to strategize in the open as dozens of curious diners eavesdropped.

Afterward, they adjourned to an outdoor patio, where National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon held cell phones lights to illuminate the documents in the dark.

The entire affair was conducted with dozens of paying guests around, as these photos clearly indicate.

Someone even took a picture with the man who carries our nuclear “football.”

This is all, of course, outrageous violations of security protocols. When on the road, national security issues are to be discussed in a mobile secure tent designed to block electronic monitoring equipment, which Trump decided not to use.

After spending his entire campaign lambasting Hillary Clinton for putting classified information at risk on her private email server, Trump is openly waving around classified documents at the dinner table and conducting high-level security discussions surrounded by uncleared civilians as they take photos with the man holding the keys to our nuclear arsenal. The hypocrisy is just unbelievable.
Post Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:53 pm 
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