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

 

ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, March 31

Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

 Michael Flynn’s lawyers float an idea: he’ll testify if House and Senate investigators give him immunity. At issue, Russia’s influence in the 2016 election and their contacts with the Trump campaign.

The Wall Street Journal broke the story.

Flynn’s lawyer confirmed it; and now everyone is reporting it.

According to the New York Times, Congressional investigators want to be further along in their inquiry before deciding how to handle Flynn.

Comment: The Senate will take the lead here, in cooperation with the FBI. The committee on the House side is tied up in controversy over ties between its chairman, Devin Nunes (R-CA), and the Trump White House.

 Trump begins trade-policy review “as he levels new threats at China”  (Washington Post)

  • The review will cover major products and major trade partners.
  • China’s leader, Xi Jinping, visits Trump next week.

 Historic first: SpaceX launches a satellite into orbit on a reused rocket booster.  A tremendous technical achievement for Elon Musk’s company, one that dramatically lowers costs. SpaceX is aiming to launch new payloads every 2-3 weeks. Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ firm, has also reused rockets but has done so on suborbital missions. (Space.com)

 Opiates: Ohio officials, led by Gov. John Kasich, working to restrict painkiller prescriptions (Toledo Blade)

Calling the proposed rules a “done deal,” Gov. John Kasich said these actions, coupled with a crackdown on the law enforcement side, will eventually reverse Ohio’s distinction of ranking first in the nation in overdose deaths.

“We’re paying the price right now for a lot of the neglect that happened in the past,” he said.

In battling their patients’ acute pain, doctors and other health-care providers could prescribe no more than seven days’ worth of opioid dosages for adults and five days for minors. The potency could not exceed an average of 30 morphine equivalent doses per day.

Physicians could prescribe more than that only after they’ve justified it based on the patient’s medical records. Exceptions would be made for cancer, palliative care, end-of-life, and addiction treatment. –Toledo Blade

 Dumbest comment of the Day: EU top bureaucrat, Jean-Claude Juncker, says he will urge “Ohio and Austin, Texas” to secede from the US if Trump doesn’t stop praising Brexit Story here.

Comment: Looks like ole Jean-Claude’s been in the liquor cabinet again.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

 

ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, March 28

Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

 Democrats want Devin Nunes to recuse himself from the Russia inquiry. (New York Times)

Comment: The attacks on Nunes are a sideshow, featuring displays of faux outrage by Democrats. Nunes will never recuse himself. The game is to discredit him so they can discredit the information he uncovers.

The big questions–the show in the center ring–are 

  1. Will the FBI find anything between Trump campaign people and the Russians? and
  2. Did the Obama White House or its political appointees at CIA or DNI unmask names and circulate “collateral” material through the White House?  
    • From the leak of Flynn’s name and phone call, it is clear the intelligence agencies picked up “collateral information” on US citizens as the agencies were spying on foreigners. That happens occasionally, but, when it does,
      • The names of US citizens are supposed to be masked and never disclosed to the public; we know Flynn’s name was, and that disclosure is a felony;
      • The collection of “collateral materials on US citizens” is not supposed to be the purpose of the surveillance; to surveil US citizens, you need a warrant and you cannot use CIA and other intel agencies; you must use the FBI.
    • The Republicans are hinting that the White House and the intel agencies it controlled were playing fast and loose with these hard-and-fast rules and legal constraints, which prohibit domestic spying and the use of information for domestic political purposes. If the Obama White House was doing that, its ultimate disclosure would be a very big deal, legally and politically. If Nunes has a whistleblower with information about this, then the Democrats are right to be scared and to try and discredit him in advance. If not, then it is all smoke but no fire.

 Trump moves aggressively to undo Obama-era environmental regulations  (Washington Post)

President Trump will take the most significant step yet in obliterating his predecessor’s environmental record Tuesday, instructing federal regulators to rewrite key rules curbing U.S. carbon emissions.

The sweeping executive order also seeks to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing and remove the requirement that federal officials consider the impact of climate change when making decisions.

The order sends an unmistakable signal that just as President Barack Obama sought to weave climate considerations into every aspect of the federal government, Trump is hoping to rip that approach out by its roots. –Washington Post

Comment: Trump sees the issue primarily as “jobs and excessive regulations.” His Democratic opponents see the issue primarily as “climate change”

 Attorney General Sessions threatens to yank DOJ funding from “Sanctuary Cities”  (Philly.com)

To receive grants from his agency, [Sessions] said, cities will have to certify they are in compliance with a federal law banning local governments from restricting communication with the feds over their residents’ immigration status.

And cities and states who fail to do so, Sessions said, could see the DOJ withhold grants, bar them from receiving grants in the future, or even “claw back” grants that had already been handed out. –Philly.com

Comment: Assuming this threat is not blocked by the courts, it will force cities to make very hard political choices. Cities with greatest financial need will likely opt for the money. A few others will try to hold out.

 Canada will legalize recreational pot in 2018, a senior official in Justin Trudeau’s government says  (CBS News)

 

 

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, March 24

Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

 Repeal and Replace goes down to the wire. Vote postponed Thursday, will happen Friday

The Washington Post reports the President gave holdouts a clear choice: “Trump delivers ultimatum to House Republicans: Pass health-care measure on Friday or he’ll move on”

The move was a high-risk gamble for the president and the speaker, who have invested significant political capital in passing legislation that would replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act. For Trump, who campaigned as a skilled negotiator capable of forging a good deal on behalf of Americans, it could either vindicate or undercut one of his signature claims. If the measure fails, it would be a defeat for Trump in his first effort to help pass major legislation and it may also jeopardize other items on his wish list, including a tax overhaul and infrastructure spending.

Defeat would also mean that Obamacare — something that congressional Republicans have railed against for seven years — would remain in place. –Washington Post

 Democrats Plan to Filibuster Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch  (New York Times)

To break the filibuster, the Republicans need 60 votes and, according to the NYT, they don’t have the 8 Democrats they need to do that.

Comment: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is playing to his enraged, activist base. I see two main consequences, one for elections, two for the Senate.

  1. D’s from states Trump won by significant margins are made much more vulnerable. They will have to vote with the party base or the larger electorate in their states.
  2. Mitch McConnell will toss out the 60 vote filibuster rule for Supreme Court  nominees, following Harry Reid’s precedent in overturning it for all other federal appointments.
    • McConnell didn’t hold this position open–blocking hearings for Obama nominee, Merrick Garland–to let the Democrats block this appointment.
  3. The change in Senate rules, executed mostly by Reid, alters that body in fundamental ways. It now looks much more like the House, where a simple majority is enough to ram through legislation if you can whip your party in line.

 The NYT’s spin misses the main story:

Their headline: Devin Nunes Puts Credibility of House Panel He Leads in Doubt

The real headline story:  Devin Nunes says he has hard evidence the Trump Transition team was spied on; Hints at “smoking gun” connecting spying to Obama Administration (ZipDialog post)

Nancy Pelosi clearly did not like Nunes’ doing this. She called him a stooge. Presumable the 4th one.

 London’s terror killer identified as Khalid Masood  Now, the Brits want to know how he slipped through their net (Independent, UK)

Comment: Actually, he slipped through the net twice. The intel services didn’t connect his name to terrorism; they just knew him as a criminal. At this point, nobody knows whether he was connected to a wider network or not. Second, Masood slipped through an open gate and got very near Parliament itself.

That said, British and European counter-terrorism services face overwhelming tasks. Decades of anti-Western immigrants, who have failed to assimilate, have been systematically ignored by political leaders who thought–quite wrongly–that “nobody would come to Britain [or Belgium or France or ….] unless they wanted to become like us.” Nope. And simply celebrating it as “multiculturalism” turned out to be a catastrophic failure, as Theresa May has recognized.  

This problem goes far beyond beefing up domestic intelligence and policing. That’s part of the answer, but the problem is much larger.

 Former Russian lawmaker, critical of Putin, gunned down in broad daylight in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev. (CNN) Denis Voronenkov joins a long line of former Putin critics. The suspected killer was himself killed by Voronenkov’s bodyguard.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called Thursday’s killing a “Russian state terrorist act” on Twitter, and described Voronenkov as “one of the key witnesses of the Russian aggression against Ukraine” — referring to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and a subsequent war with pro-Russian rebels. –CNN

Ukraine’s president called it an “act of terrorism.”

Comment: This killing makes Pres.-elect Trump’s excuses for Putin, especially those in his 2017 Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reilly, all the more noxious (Transcript here)

“But he’s a killer though,” O’Reilly said. “Putin’s a killer.”

“There are a lot of killers,” Trump responded. “We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think — our country’s so innocent.”

 Bright Future for Solar Energy in India: Hopes for a booming domestic market and exports of solar panels manufactured there (Business Insider) PM Narendra Modi wants to spend over $3 billion aiding the industry. In a country where some 300 million are not connected to the grid, the government hopes to draw 40% of its energy from renewables by 2030.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

 

Was the Trump Transition Team Spied On? House Intel Chair Devin Nunes Hints at a Smoking Gun

James Rosen of Fox News is one of Washington’s top reporters, and one of its most intrepid.

Now, he’s reporting a bombshell:

“Potential ‘smoking gun’ showing Obama administration spied on Trump team, source says” (Fox News)

Republican congressional investigators expect a potential “smoking gun” establishing that the Obama administration spied on the Trump transition team, and possibly the president-elect himself, will be produced to the House Intelligence Committee this week, a source told Fox News.

Classified intelligence showing incidental collection of Trump team communications, purportedly seen by committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and described by him in vague terms at a bombshell Wednesday afternoon news conference, came from multiple sources, Capitol Hill sources told Fox News.  . . .

The intelligence is said to leave no doubt the Obama administration, in its closing days, was using the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on President-elect Trump, according to sources.

The key to that conclusion is the unmasking of selected U.S. persons whose names appeared in the intelligence, the sources said, adding that the paper trail leaves no other plausible purpose for the unmasking other than to damage the incoming Trump administration.

–James Rosen reporting for Fox News

Comment: Right now, it is a “behind the scenes” story with an unnamed source. If there is real evidence here–and not hype and hyperbole–then it is a very big deal. The kind of big deal that should be brought before a Grand Jury, requiring testimony under oath.

One troubling question is whether the normal agencies can be trusted to investigate the charges since some of them may be implicated.

Comment #2: This surveillance is not the only big deal being investigated. If key officials in the Trump campaign actually coordinated with the Russians, that is enormous. It cuts to the very heart of a free and fair democratic election and, if substantiated and if it involved high-level Trump officials, would lead to extremely serious charges–legal and political.

ZipDialog will try to stay on top of both stories. 

Nancy Pelosi calls chairman of House Intel Committee a “stooge of the President”

The chair in question is Devin Nunes. 

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the minority leader on the committee is Adam Schiff. All are from California.

The two Democrats, Pelosi and Schiff, are now going after Nunes with both guns blazing.

Here’s Pelosi’s latest, quoted in The Hill:

By being a stooge of the president of the United States, he has demonstrated very clearly that there is no way there can be an impartial investigation under his leadership on that committee. –Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi’s vitriol has a purpose. She and other Democrats want to convene a special committee or, if possible, an independent counsel, to investigate Trump. Anything they can do to undermine Nunes advances that goal. She added,

Chairman Nunes acted outside the circle of respect [for his committee by talking with President Trump about these issues.]

Chairman Nunes is deeply compromised, and he cannot possibly lead an honest investigation. –Pelosi

See?

Comment: The “circle of respect” is a concept previously unknown in Washington.

Sources close to Nancy Pelosi were shocked to hear her associated with “respect” in any way. She had previously avoided any contact with it.

Fortunately, ZipDialog’s artists were able to capture a picture.

♦♦♦♦♦♦

Hat tip to Tom Elia for the Nancy Pelosi quotation