• House Intelligence Committee now looking at targeting of Trump Campaign by Obama intel agencies, also raisng perjury questions

    Exclusive at Real Clear Investigations: CIA Ex-Director Brennan’s Perjury Peril (link here)

    Here is the heart of Paul Sperry’s report:

    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes next plans to investigate the role former CIA Director John Brennan and other Obama intelligence officials played in promoting the salacious and unverified Steele dossier on Donald Trump — including whether Brennan perjured himself in public testimony about it.

    In his May 2017 testimony before the intelligence panel, Brennan emphatically denied the dossier factored into the intelligence community’s publicly released conclusion last year that Russia meddled in the 2016 election “to help Trump’s chances of victory.”

    Brennan also swore that he did not know who commissioned the anti-Trump research document, even though senior national security and counterintelligence officials at the Justice Department and FBI knew the previous year that the dossier was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

    Last week, Nunes (R-Calif.) released a declassified memo exposing surveillance “abuses” by the Obama DOJ and FBI in their investigation of Trump’s ties to Russia. It said the agencies relied heavily on the uncorroborated dossier to take out a warrant to secretly surveil a Trump adviser in the heat of the 2016 presidential election, even though they were aware the underlying “intelligence” supporting the wiretap order was political opposition research funded by Clinton allies — a material fact they concealed from FISA court judges in four separate applications. –Paul Sperry at Real Clear Investigations

     

  • Latest on FusionGPS’s crucial role in sparking the Russiagate Scandal

    Mary Jacoby, wife of FusionGPS founder, Glenn Simpson, posted items on Facebook (now removed) bragging that her husband’s work really launched the federal investigation. It was already know that Simpson and FusionGPS were central players. What’s new is an investigative report that says Simpson’s involvement goes back several years.

    A detailed article by Lee Smith in The Tablet, reports

    In a Facebook post from June 24, 2017, that Tablet has seen in screenshots, Jacoby claimed that her husband deserves the lion’s share of credit for Russiagate. (She has not replied to repeated requests for comment.) “It’s come to my attention that some people still don’t realize what Glenn’s role was in exposing Putin’s control of Donald Trump,” Jacoby wrote. “Let’s be clear. Glenn conducted the investigation. Glenn hired Chris Steele. Chris Steele worked for Glenn.” This assertion is hardly a simple assertion of family pride; it goes directly to the nature of what became known as the “Steele dossier,” on which the Russiagate narrative is founded. The fact that Jacoby is a reporter who often shared bylines with her husband at The Wall Street Journal is another reason to take her Facebook post seriously.

    Last week’s revelation that Simpson hired Nellie Ohr, the wife of ranking Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, to work on the dossier certainly supports Jacoby’s implicit contention that Steele’s role in compiling the dossier has been exaggerated. –Lee Smith, in The Tablet

    Smith’s most striking point is not that Simpson played a key role–that was already know–but that he generated the material earlier and did not rely on Russian sources. (I have no idea if that claim is accurate, but it is surely worth consideration in the Congressional investigations.) To quote Smith:

    A Tablet investigation using public sources to trace the evolution of the now-famous dossier suggests that central elements of the Russiagate scandal emerged not from the British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s top-secret “sources” in the Russian government—which are unlikely to exist separate from Russian government control—but from a series of stories that Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson and his wife Mary Jacoby co-wrote for The Wall Street Journal well before Fusion GPS existed. –Smith, in The Tablet

    Separately, another aspect of the dossier is being exposed. Writing in The Daily Caller, Chuck Ross reports on the London trial where a Russian tech businessman, Aleksej Gubarev, alleges he was defamed in the dossier, which says that he and his tech companies hacked the Democratic National Committee servers. (The DNC has refused to allow the FBI or independent investigators to access their server to find out.) Gubarev is suing the US website, BuzzFeed, for publishing the document and thus publicizing the allegation.

    A key question is “who leaked the dossier to BuzzFeed?” The website won’t say, claiming journalistic privilege, and a US judge recently agreed.

    But now Gubarev’s lawyer says they have discovered the answer independently and are close to revealing it.

    The article implies it is a former senior aide to Sen. John McCain. The Senator was given the dossier, turned it over to the FBI, and has stated he did not leak it. FusionGPS has said, in court documents, that it did not leak it. But McCain’s aide, David Kramer, a former State Department official, has refused to make such a public declaration and spent months dodging a subpoena. He was finally served and deposed, as well as interviewed by the House Intel Committee.

  • ESPN cutting another 150 jobs; execs now considering an entirely new focus: sports

    1 No tags Permalink

    The AP story is here.

    Comment: Previously, sports had been injected into the network’s political commentary, confusing viewers.

    Now, it will appear as part of regularly-scheduled programming.

    One exciting addition is Nancy Pelosi’s new program, “Hoops Highlights,” focusing on girls’ middle-school basketball.

    Bernie Sanders follows with all today’s news and action in curling.

    The network will then feature a regular, four-hour discussion on the minimum wage.

  • Another Congressional payoff reveals another hidden slush fund

    This one involves Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) (link here)

    Rep. Raul M. Grijalva quietly arranged a “severance package” in 2015 for one of his top staffers who threatened a lawsuit claiming the Arizona Democrat was frequently drunk and created a hostile workplace environment, revealing yet another way that lawmakers can use taxpayer dollars to hide their misbehavior on Capitol Hill.

    While the Office of Compliance has been the focus of outrage on Capitol Hill for hush-money payouts in sexual harassment cases, the Grijalva payout points to another office that lawmakers can use to sweep accusations under the rug with taxpayer-funded settlements negotiated by the House Employment Counsel, which acts as the attorney for all House offices. –Washington Times

    Media bias alert: The article appears–and is fairly reported–in the Congressman’s local paper, Tucson.com and The Arizona Star (link here).

    But, so far, NO mainstream media have run it.

    Comment: Now comes the hard question for Nancy Pelosi. Is Raul an icon?

    Second question: What’s the over/under on time until Conyers and Grijalva play the “oppressed minority, unfairly treated” card?

  • ICON? ABC’s Cokie Roberts says of John Conyers, “Every female in the press corps knew that, right, don’t get in elevator with him”

    Roberts made her comment on ABC’s This Week. (Transcript here)

    PALMER: I don’t think that the culture has — we haven’t seen major shift, right? And I would also just point out, members policing themselves, a very bad track record of it, whether it’s about these kind of scandals, whether it’s about how they use their finances. There is — nobody is saying that they’re going to change the whole process by which this is done, that they’re going to throw out members if they actually have sexual harassment cases. This is a big problem for them.

    ROBERTS: The fact that people are willing to be public can change things. I mean, we all talked about for years.

    RADDATZ: A little bit at a time.

    ROBERTS: Don’t get in the elevator with him, you know, and the whole every female in the press corps knew that, right, don’t get in elevator with him. Now people are saying it out loud. And I think that does make a difference.

    Comment: She apparently did not recognize that her admission is as damning to the cozy DC press as it is to Conyers.

    She was casually reporting that, even after the Weinstein scandal, no one in the Washington Press corps was willing to expose what all insiders knew.

    Btw, I didn’t see other news outlets picking up Roberts’ admission and broadcasting it widely.

    Media bias involves omission, as well as commission.

    Comment #2: If Conyers’ conduct was habitual and well-known, then Nancy Pelosi’s defense of him is even more noxious.

    Comment #3: Please note that I have written extensively on Roy Moore’s predatory behavior. This post about Conyers is not a partisan one.

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, November 14: All Sleaze Edition

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    Roy Moore abandoned by national Republicans as more women accuse him

    Comment: With such a thin margin in the Senate, Republicans need the Alabama seat to pass legislation (not that they have done so, yet), but individual office holders cannot afford to back him. And they are absolutely right, ethically, to back away from this sleazebag.

    Unfortunately for Republicans, Moore owes them nothing, so they have no leverage to force him out of the race.

    Trump and his Press Secretary will have to answer the question, an awkward prospect.

    A write-in candidacy might win, but it’s a long shot.

    The New York Sun notes the precedent of the Adam Clayton Powell case, where the House refused to seat the long-time congressman in 1966 because of corruption. He took the case to the Supreme Court and won. In other words, Congress can remove people from office after giving them hearings but cannot refuse to seat them.

    That would mean immediate and nasty hearings to unseat Moore, with the prospect of further public humiliation. When he contemplates that, he might decide to back out. If he does, the Governor would probably postpone the election–over strenuous Democratic objections and lawsuits.

     AG Sessions testifies before Congress on Russia, Clintons, Roy Moore (New York Times)

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, showed selective recall on the Trump campaign’s Russia contacts.

    Mr. Sessions said he had “no reason to doubt these women” who have accused the man who wants his old Senate seat, Roy S. Moore, of seeking sexual or romantic favors from them as teenagers. –New York Times

    Sessions floats prospect of a Special Counsel to Investigate Uranium One, Clinton Foundation (Washington Post)

    The New York Times reports the same thing.

    Comment: There seems to be enough smoke here to warrant a serious investigation. If so, then it should be conducted by a Special Counsel, not the DOJ for several reasons. The most important, by far, is this:

    Any investigation of political opponents by law enforcement carries the heavy burden of perceived unfairness. Supporters of the opposing party (or candidate) will fear that the state’s power to investigate and punish is being used to crush opposition. That should never happen in a democracy. Even if the investigation is fair, it must be perceived as fair.

    While Sessions and other political appointees could–and would–say that the task has been delegated to “career professionals,” they would have to sign off on any recommendations to charge. Again, their opponents could not be confident the process was fair and impartial.

    Bottom line: Appoint a Special Counsel to investigate Uranium One, the Clinton Foundation, and the botched FBI investigation of the Clinton email server, including James Comey and Loretta Lynch’s roles.

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, November 8

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ Democrats win big in off-year elections. The most important: a surprisingly large victory in the Virginia Governor’s race

    Comment: NJ returning to a Democratic governor is not surprising. In Virginia, which is shifting from purple to a blue state because of the DC suburbs, the surprise is not Ralph Northam’s win but his 9-point margin over a good Republican candidate, Ed Gillespie.

    Northam’s margin tells me Democrats are motivated, even after a divisive primary. Hillary won Virginia by 5 points. Down-ballot Democrats are also doing very well.

    President Trump’s begins his biggest stop: Beijing

    There are three major issues on the table: North Korea, China’s expansion in the South China Sea, and China’s asymmetrical trade relations with the US.

    Comment: More on this stop as news emerges.

    Texas Mass Killing: “Botched Air Force handling of Texas shooter’s criminal history may be ‘systemic’ issue” (Fox News)

    The 2015 Department of Defense Inspector General report analyzed a sample of 1,102 convictions, including felonies, handled in the military court system and found the Navy, Air Force and Marines failed to send criminal history or fingerprint data to the FBI in about 30 percent of them. –Fox News

    Ratcheting up the financial sanctions on Chinese banks doing business with North Korea (Reuters)

    Senate Finance Committee votes unanimously on these sanctions, just as Pres. Trump lands in Beijing.

    The U.S. Senate Banking Committee unanimously backed new sanctions targeting Chinese banks that do business with North Korea on Tuesday, just before President Donald Trump visits Beijing for the first time since taking office….

    Washington so far has largely held off on imposing new sanctions against Chinese banks and companies doing business with North Korea, given fears of retaliation by Beijing and possibly far-reaching effects on the world economy.–Reuters

    ◆ Curiouser and Curiouser: Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr also met with FusionGPS before and after the Trump Tower meeting (Fox News)

    The story about Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson and Russian attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, comes from one of our best investigative reporters, Catherine Herridge.

    The co-founder of Fusion GPS, the firm behind the unverified Trump dossier, met with a Russian lawyer before and after a key meeting she had last year with Trump’s son, Fox News has learned. The contacts shed new light on how closely tied the firm was to Russian interests, at a time when it was financing research to discredit then-candidate Donald Trump….

    Simpson and Fusion GPS were hired by BakerHostetler, which represented Russian firm Prevezon through Veselnitskaya. –Catherine Herridge for Fox News

    Comment: So, Fusion GPS was simultaneously working for this Russian firm and the Clinton campaign. That could be an innocent coincidence . . . or it could lead to some “synergies.”  So far, Fusion GPS has taken the 5th before Congressional investigative committees and fiercely resisted subpoenas for any records of their financial transactions.

    “Oh, what a tangled web we weave . . . ”

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, November 3

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    Bowe Bergdahl, Army deserter held by Taliban, avoids prison sentence (Washington Post)

    Comment: This outcome is shocking. US soldiers died looking for this creep. Others were injured. Lots of resources devoted to finding a soldier who voluntarily abandoned his post and planned for weeks to do so.

    Pres. Trump immediately weighed in, via Twitter. My guess is that Trump’s position will be very popular on this issue. He’s implicitly daring the Democrats to come out on the other side, as many of them did (to their cost) on the NFL kneeling.

    More good economic news: Unemployment down to 4.1%, the lowest rate since 2000.

    Less good: Wage growth slow (Wall Street Journal, subscription)

    Best news of all: Strong Productivity Growth. (CNBC)

    Comments: Productivity growth is crucial. It is the underlying source of real wage growth.

    The biggest problem for the economy now is the misfit between the skilled jobs available and the unskilled workers who are unemployed.

    Tax Bill, next phase: We will find new details (none good, otherwise they wouldn’t be hidden), and gored oxen will come out to save themselves

    Example of hidden details:

    House Republicans claim the tax plan they introduced Thursday keeps the top individual rate unchanged at 39.6 percent—the level at which it’s been capped for much of the past quarter-century. But a little-noticed provision effectively creates a new band in which income is taxed at over 45 percent.

    Thanks to a quirky proposed surcharge, Americans who earn more than $1 million in taxable income would trigger an extra 6 percent tax on the next $200,000 they earn—a complicated change that effectively creates a new, unannounced tax bracket of 45.6 percent. –Politico

    Example of gored oxen:  Republican Tax Proposal Gets Failing Grade From Higher-Ed Groups (Chronicle of Higher Education)

    The House tax-reform proposal released today would discourage participation in postsecondary education, make college more expensive for those who do enroll, and undermine the financial stability of public and private two-year and four-year colleges and universities,” said Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education and under secretary of education in the Obama administration, in a written statement.

    In broad terms, the bill would eliminate or consolidate a number of tax deductions meant to offset the costs of higher education for individuals and companies, including the Lifetime Learning Credit, which provides a tax deduction of up to $2,000 for tuition, a credit for student-loan interest, and a $5,250 corporate deduction for education-assistance plans. –Chronicle of Higher Education

    Comment: There is also tremendous pushback on the limitations on deducting state and local taxes, led by Republicans in high-tax states.

    These issues will be fought out over the next month, first in House committee, then on the floor in both chambers, then in reconciliation.

     Spain issues arrest warrant for Catalonia’s leader, who has fled the country (BBC)

    ◆ Mainstream media ignore bombshell, documented revelation that Hillary and DNC rigged primaries

    All three major TV news networks completely skip the story (Fox News)

    NYT: nothing

    Comment: It’s not surprising that most Democratic politicians are silent. But the story is a significant one, and it’s omission by mainstream outlets is bias, pure and simple.

     Pressure builds on AG Jeff Sessions, accused of false or misleading statements to Congress. The issue: what he knew Trump campaign officials’ contacts with Russia 

    The Atlantic magazine calls it: “Jeff Sessions’ Selective Memory

     

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    Hat Tip to

    ◆ Robert Pahre for the Chronicle of Higher Education story