Trump son-in-law tried to set up secret communications with Russia?

Jared_Kushner

President Trump’s son-in-law and top advisor Jared Kushner (Ivanka’s husband) talked to the Russian ambassador about setting up a secret communications channel linking the transition team with Moscow.  The technology would be through the Russian embassy.

U.S. intelligence intercepted dispatches from Ambassador Sergey Kislyak telling his superiors about the talks.  So reports the Washington Post.

Could Jared be the mole in the White House?  He wouldn’t be the leaker, since he wouldn’t have leaked this or other information about the Russian investigations.  And this could not have been just his doing.  Michael Flynn, since fired as the president’s national security advisor for his Russian associations, was also at the meeting.  And the channel was to be for the “transition team.”

I grew up up during the Cold War, with all of its worries about Russia infiltrating our government and trying to take us over.  I’ve also read too many spy novels.  But this is all exceedingly troubling. [Read more…]

Trump tried to get intelligence officials to deny collusion

Dan_Coats_official_DNI_portrait

More comes out about President Trump interfering in the investigation of Russian connections with his campaign.

He asked the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and the Director of the National Security Agency, Michael Rogers, separately to deny publicly that any collusion took place.

Both refused the request as inappropriate.

Dan Coats is the former Republican senator from Indiana whom Trump appointed to his position.

In related news, former CIA director John Brennan testified before a Congressional Committee that Russia “brazenly interfered with the 2016 election” and that he briefed Congressional leaders about this in August.  He also talked with his counterpart in Russian intelligence, warning him about the consequences of their “aggressive” actions.  Read what he says about Russian attempts to win over individuals after the jump (and after the Trump story).

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President Trump’s woes

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The initial reports about the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate Russian attempts to influence the election and any ties with President Trump’s campaign at first sounded almost complimentary to the president.  After all, the “administration” appointed Robert Mueller.  President Trump could have taken the credit for it, spinning it as a way to clear his name and to prove the integrity of his administration.

But instead, the president, once again, sent off a tweet storm, calling the appointment of the Special Counsel “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”

It is as if he didn’t know that his own justice department, on the initiative of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, took that action.  He didn’t.

Meanwhile, his staff is leaking its complete demoralization and disarray, sounding like it’s giving up.

In other news, the Trump administration has agreed to continue waiving sanctions against Iran, despite the president’s campaign promise to reverse Obama’s agreement with Iran, which he called the worst deal ever made.

 

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Special prosecutor appointed

 

Robert S. Mueller

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed a Special Counsel–a.k.a., Special Prosecutor–to investigate Russian attempts to influence the U.S. election and any connections to the Donald Trump campaign.

The Special Counsel is former FBI director Robert Mueller, who was appointed by President Bush and continued to serve under President Obama.  He is widely respected by both Republicans and Democrats.

The drama unfolds. . . .We had Special Prosecutors investigating Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.  Do you think this will end differently for President Trump? [Read more…]

“I hope you can let this go”

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Fired FBI director James Comey has reportedly kept a paper trail of President Trump’s inappropriate efforts to influence investigations of his administration’s Russia connections.

The New York Times reported on a memo that Comey wrote the day after the president’s national security director Michael T. Flynn resigned.  It recorded a conversation in which the president told Comey what a “good guy” Flynn is, concluding “I hope you can let this go.”

The White House denies the account.  According to another report, Comey’s notes show that he felt pressured to drop the investigation.  CNN’s legal analyst says this could be an obstruction of justice, what Nixon was impeached for.

There are those building a case for impeachment.  Comey is in a position to strike back.  The implication of these stories is that Comey made other memos and notes, so those may be coming out too, eventually.

Does the president’s “hope” really rise to the level of obstruction of justice, or are his critics over-reacting?

All of these controversies, even if overblown, are hurting President Trump’s ability to enact his agenda.  Republicans in Congress don’t seem afraid of him anymore and some are trying to distance themselves from the Republican president’s plummeting approval ratings.  That could jeopardize the repeal of Obamacare, immigration actions, tax reform, etc.

Realizing that Democrats won’t, should Republicans, the media, and Americans in general “let this go”?

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Officials deny claim that Trump revealed secrets to Russia

Sergei Lavrov

Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister

In yet another controversy, The Washington Post reported that President Trump revealed top secret information to the Russians during his talks last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.  According to the report, the information had to do with threats from ISIS and exposed a crucial source.

But now Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, who was present at the meeting, are forcefully denying the report.

So how do we know which is fake news?  The Washington Post story had to have come from someone inside the White House leaking it to the press.  So some of the president’s people are undermining him and some are defending him.

If this incident is true, it shows the president’s carelessness and diplomatic inexperience, as well as being another example of his ungoverned tongue.  It should not be construed, as some of his enemies probably will spin it, as revealing information to his Russian masters who put him into office.  Even the worst construction of the alleged conversation doesn’t support that.

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