Trump to DOJ: Investigate whether FBI infiltrated campaign
By JONATHAN LEMIRE and DARLENE SUPERVILLE
Monday, May 21
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said he will “demand” that the Justice Department investigate whether the FBI infiltrated his presidential campaign, an extraordinary order that came hours before his legal team said the special counsel indicated the investigation into the president could be concluded by September.
Trump tweeted Sunday: “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”
Trump’s demand puts further pressure on the Justice Department, which later Sunday asked its inspector general to expand an existing investigation into the Russia probe by examining whether there was any improper politically motivated surveillance. It comes as the White House tries to combat the threat posed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
The president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said Mueller recently shared a timetable that suggested his probe could end by Sept. 1 if Trump were to sit for an interview in July, which is the legal team’s new working plan.
“We said to them, ‘If we’re going to be interviewed in July, how much time until the report gets issued?’” Giuliani told The Associated Press on Sunday, referring to the report Mueller is expected to issue to Congress at the conclusion of his investigation. “They said September, which is good for everyone, because no one wants this to drag into the midterms.”
Giuliani said he did not want a repeat of what happened in 2016, when FBI Director James Comey announced in the campaign’s final days that he was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, a decision Democrats believe cost Clinton the race. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, also said Mueller’s team indicated that the entire probe could end by September, not just its investigation into potential obstruction of justice.
“This would be the culmination of the investigation into the president,” Giuliani said.
The special counsel’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
It is not certain that Trump will sit for an interview with Mueller, though the president has publicly said he would. Giuliani said a decision would not be made until after Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, which is slated for June 12. Giuliani said Sunday the two sides “were getting closer” to agreeing on the parameters on a potential interview but would not put the odds of it happening at better than 50/50.
Giuliani’s apparent attempt to publicly pressure Mueller on the timeline amid interview negotiations came just hours after Trump’s demand for a new inquiry, which moved beyond his usual blustery accusations of institutional wrongdoing and into the realm of applying presidential pressure on the Justice Department, a move few of his predecessors have made.
Trump made the order amid days of public venting about the special counsel investigation, which he has deemed a “witch hunt” that he says has yielded no evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russia. In response, the Justice Department moved Sunday to defuse a growing confrontation with the White House by asking its watchdog to investigate whether there was inappropriate surveillance.
It was not immediately clear if that move would satisfy Trump, or if any further demands could lead to a confrontation with FBI Director Christopher Wray or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Mueller investigation. Rosenstein released a statement Sunday saying, “If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.”
The Justice Department probe had begun in March at the request of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and congressional Republicans. Sessions and the lawmakers had urged Inspector General Michael Horowitz to review whether FBI and Justice Department officials abused their surveillance powers by using information compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British spy, and paid for by Democrats to justify monitoring Carter Page, a former campaign adviser to Trump.
Horowitz said his office will look at those claims as well as communications between Steele and DOJ and FBI officials.
Trump did not elaborate on the promised “demand,” which he included in one of a series of tweets he sent throughout the day Sunday. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “If the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal.” He said only the release or review of documents the House Intelligence Committee is seeking from the Justice Department “can give conclusive answers.”
Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called Trump’s claim of an embedded spy “nonsense.”
“His ‘demand’ DOJ investigate something they know to be untrue is an abuse of power, and an effort to distract from his growing legal problems,” Schiff tweeted. “Never mind that DOJ has warned that lives and alliances are at risk. He doesn’t care.”
Trump’s extraordinary demand of the Justice Department alarmed many observers, who felt it not only violated presidential protocol but also could have a chilling effect on federal law enforcement or its use of informants. Giuliani defended the president’s actions.
“As the president’s lawyer, I can’t be concerned on what effect it may have,” he said. “To me, there’s not much of a difference between an informant’s ongoing collection of information in a surreptitious way or a spy.
“If this guy was an FBI implant into the campaign,” Giuliani said, “that’s as offensive as Watergate.”
The New York Times was the first to report that the FBI had an informant who met several times with Trump campaign officials who had suspicious contacts linked to Russia.
Giuliani said the information discovered by the source should eventually be made public and released to Congress, even if the source’s identity is kept confidential.
The GOP-led House Intelligence Committee closed its Russian meddling probe last month, saying it found no evidence of collusion or coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Schiff and other committee Democrats were furious and argued that Republicans had not subpoenaed many witnessed they considered essential to the committee’s work.
Sunday was not the first time that Trump accused his predecessor of politically motivated activity against him.
Without substantiation, Trump tweeted in March 2017 that former President Barack Obama had conducted surveillance the previous October at Trump Tower, the New York skyscraper where Trump ran his campaign and transition and maintains a residence. Comey later testified to Congress that internal reviews found no information to support the president’s tweets. Trump fired Comey over the bureau’s Russia investigation.
Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report. Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter/com/JonLemire and Superville at http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap
Lock Them Up
Michael Cohen, personal lawyer for President Donald Trump, leveraged his proximity to the president into lucrative “consulting” contracts. So, where are all the people who once cried “lock her up” about Hillary Clinton’s supposed pay-to-play?
At a rally in Austin, Texas, in August 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump declared, “It’s impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins. It is abundantly clear that the Clintons set up a business to profit from public office. They sold access and specific actions by and really for I guess the making of large amounts of money.”
Trump’s “drain the swamp” refrain was the rhetorical centerpiece of his presidential campaign. He tapped into the widespread sentiment that most Americans believe the political process is corrupt and that politicians are co-opted by special interest influence and big donors. Democracy is effectively rigged in favor of those with deep pockets who use their checkbooks to buy proximity and influence with elected officials.
Just to be clear: It is.
This week, we found out that Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, leveraged his perceived proximity to the president to get lucrative “consulting” contracts from companies like AT&T and pharmaceutical behemoth Novartis. Cohen reportedly “was promising access to the new administration” and told his would-be clients that he could help them “understand” the administration’s approach to public policy.
Taken at face value, Cohen did what every single person working on K Street in D.C. does: trade on their proximity to their former bosses on Capitol Hill to benefit their clients. The entire Washington economy is built on this revolving door between government and the private sector. I’m not saying it’s good or isn’t in need of dire reform, I’m just saying a lot of the outrage about Cohen’s influence peddling is superficial, at best.
My problem with the Cohen deals, aside from the glaring ineptitude of whoever signed these agreements with him in the first place and the still unknown implications for the Russia collusion investigation, is that they completely contradict everything Trump promised and everything his supporters purportedly cared about during his campaign. It is hypocrisy of the worst kind.
You cannot run for office and attack your opponent every day about the appearance of pay-to-play and then turn around and do the exact same thing at a more egregious level.
They say you can learn a lot about somebody based on what they try to keep hidden.
In 2016, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions went on CNN and called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. “The fundamental thing is you cannot be secretary of state of the United States of America and use the position to extort or to seek contributions to your private foundation,” he said. “That is a fundamental violation of law and that appears to have happened.”
And yet, since Jan. 1, 2017, the Republican National Committee has spent $763,335 at Trump-owned properties. The president’s own re-election campaign has spent $551,643 at his hotels and golf resorts.
“Since becoming President, Trump has visited a Trump-branded-or-owned property every 3.1 days ― more than twice a week,” The Washington Post recently reported.
So, using Trump’s own words (slightly adjusted) from August 2016: It’s impossible to figure out where the Trump business ends and the White House begins. It is abundantly clear that Trump and his businesses are profiting from his time in public office.
And it’s surely worse than what we already know. Trump is the first president of the modern era to not release his tax returns, making it impossible to know the full extent of how much he is benefitting from his time in public office, despite promising back in 2014 that “If I decide to run for office, I’ll produce my tax returns, absolutely. And I would love to do that.”
Taxes aside, Trump is not even willing to disclose who he is meeting inside the White House or at Mar-a-Lago.
They say you can learn a lot about somebody based on what they try to keep hidden. In this case, Trump is keeping both his finances and his meetings in the dark.
All the while, those closest to him have been taking cues from Trump and enriching themselves by selling access to the Oval Office.
Whatever you might have thought about the activities of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, there’s no denying that Trump and his cronies are engaged in a much more flagrant version of pay-to-play. And, given what we don’t know about Trump, his tax returns and those he meets with, it certainly appears as if something much more nefarious is yet to be revealed.
My only question is where did all those voices chanting “lock her up” go? It’s gotten awfully quiet now that Trump and friends are making millions while in office.
Kurt Bardella is a HuffPost columnist. He was a spokesman for former House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) and Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @kurtbardella.
Under Trump’s watch, national debt tops $21 trillion for first time ever
By Kathryn Watson CBS News March 17, 2018
About a year ago, President Trump pledged to eliminate the national debt “over a period of eight years.” But for the first time in history, the national debt surpassed $21 trillion this week, according to the U.S. Treasury.
The landmark comes shortly after Congress passed, and Mr. Trump signed, a suspension on the federal debt limit last month, allowing the government to borrow an unlimited amount of money until March 1, 2019.
When Mr. Trump took office on Jan. 20, 2017, the national debt was $19.9 trillion, according to U.S. Treasury data. Since then, the GOP-led Congress has passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut bill and a two-year spending deal which, together, are expected to drive the deficit and debt further upward. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates annual deficits could top $2.1 trillion per year in the next decade, which would send the national debt soaring even higher.
Is fiscal conservatism dead?
Republicans railed against the national debt level under the Obama administration, when it jumped from $10.6 trillion to $19.9 trillion, nearly doubling, but few have been as outspoken about the situation with Republicans controlling Capitol Hill and the White House. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, held up the spending bill last month on the Senate floor, blistering Republicans for doing exactly what they had criticized the Obama administration for doing.
“I ran for office because I was critical of President Obama’s trillion-dollar deficits,” Paul said at the time. “Now we have Republicans hand-in-hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits.”
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, called the national debt the “greatest threat to our nation” when it exceeded $20 trillion for the first time in September.
But the ever-increasing national debt isn’t a frequent topic for Mr. Trump, and when it does come up, he doesn’t seem too concerned. He’s said he’s open to eliminating the debt ceiling entirely.
Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.
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There Is A Secret Underground Vault In The Vatican That Might Conceal Head-Exploding Information
April A Taylor
Whether you’re religious or not, it’s intriguing to consider the numerous proven and rumored creepy Vatican items. No one outside of the pope’s inner circle is likely to ever see many of these artifacts, although you can see a few strange things in the Vatican during your next trip to Rome. The pope could choose to clear up dozens of conspiracy theories, but in most situations, the Vatican appears to prefer ignoring many of the oddest rumors and merely denying others. Of course, this doesn’t mean that none of the theories would hold up to closer scrutiny. Perhaps that’s exactly why the existence of most of the reputed weird Vatican objects has never been officially denied.
Are the rumored items real or merely imaginative conspiracy theories? Either way, they’re entertaining, and they just might provide a glimpse into the secret life of the Vatican. Read on to discover which ones you think are the most likely to actually exist.
Evidence That Jesus Christ Never Existed — If you were the pope, what’s the one secret you’d need to guard above all others? One conspiracy theory posits that the biggest secret in history is that the Vatican contains proof Jesus never existed. There’s also a rumor that the exact opposite is true, although it doesn’t make much sense that the Catholic Church would go out of their way to hide evidence of Jesus. After all, if they could conclusively prove his existence, their churches would probably experience a huge increase in membership.
Skulls Of Extraterrestrial Beings — A conspiracy theory that’s gained a lot of traction involves the Vatican covering up the existence of aliens. Supposedly, one of the Vatican’s numerous renovation projects uncovered the buried remains of extraterrestrial life. An excavation crew discovered these skulls in 1998. Some claim that Pope John Paul II knew all about the aliens and agreed to participate in a massive conspiracy to hide the truth. Where’s Mulder and Scully when you need them?
The Illuminati’s Records Of World History… From The Future — The Illuminati and conspiracy theorists go together like macaroni and cheese. Therefore, it’s only natural that the Illuminati supposedly controls who holds most official Vatican positions. After all, this would enable them to exert an even greater level of control over the world, and it would provide them with access to the Vatican’s secret objects.
One particularly interesting theory states that the Illuminati has stashed records in the Vatican that pertain to future events. If the Illuminati actually had this power, they’d be able to see what’s going to happen without human intervention, meaning they allowed Hitler’s rise, countless human deaths during natural disasters, and even the crazy things that have happened since the election of President Donald Trump.
A Chronovisor That Enables People To See The Past — What would you do if you could see the past and even take pictures of it? For the pope, apparently, the answer is “not much.” At least that’s what’s suggested by the rumor of the chronovisor. Some believe this device actually exists and that one of them resides hidden in the Vatican. The Catholic Church could easily use a chronovisor to prove the existence of Jesus. Therefore, this rumor is either nothing more than a myth or the Vatican has a reason to sit on one of the greatest inventions of all time.
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Regular Gas is getting ready to pass the 3 dollar mark, Thanks to trump.
Breaking News: Rudy Giuliani “MADE UP” End Date for obstruction Mueller Probe According to Source! ~ Reuters
“Trump to ask Justice Department to look into campaign surveillance claims.” A Constitutional crisis is coming very, very soon.
Laurence Tribe @tribelaw
It now turns out that Trump and his son Don Jr. were working not just with Russia but with the Saudis and any other foreign states willing to help the Trumps seize power. So ironic that the MAGA candidate was conspiring to Make American Gangsters Global & Greedy Again: MAGGGA!
Leaked Report Reveals Toxic Levels of Radium in Fracking Waste as House Prepares to Vote on Bill Allowing it to be Sold in Stores
HB 393 would allow radioactive waste to be sprayed on highways, sold in local stores
Columbus, OH — As the Ohio House of Representatives prepares to vote tomorrow morning on a bill that would allow oil and gas waste, including fracking fluids, to be sold as a “commodity,” a newly released report reveals that this waste contains toxic levels of radioactive materials.
According to a leaked memo from June 2017 that was provided to the Ohio House Energy & Natural Resources Committee last month but was never made available to the public, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) found dangerous levels of radium in this waste, including one sample that was over 300 times the safe drinking water limit.
The committee voted to advance HB 393 last week without making this critical information available to the public, after voting down an amendment that would have required ODNR to test for radioactive materials in the waste. The bill would allow fracking waste to be sold in local stores without meeting any safety standards or requirements to protect public health, and would expand the use of this hazardous waste as a road deicer by the Ohio Department of Transportation.
“The Ohio Department of Health’s nationally certified lab has run off the shelf samples for radium levels in this material and at least for radium, the contaminant is not being removed,” said Dr. Julie Weatherington-Rice, PhD, CPSS, CPG. “As it dries and gets tracked off your sidewalks and concrete steps into your house, the level of radium will be far higher than the clean-up level for EPA Brownfields. Your pets and your children will be walking over radioactive contamination in your front hall that would require a Brownfields clean-up. And what makes it worse is that you won’t even know you are exposing your family and, as currently envisioned, the company will not be liable. Really? This information has been sitting on a computer for a year while our state House has continued to consider this as a safe product.”
“Should the Ohio House pass HB 393, our representatives will be voting to allow radioactive waste to be sold at local hardware stores all across Ohio,” said Adam Rissien of the Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Local residents who buy this dangerous product thinking it is safe will unwittingly be spreading high levels of radium on their driveways and sidewalks, exposing children and pets. It’s pretty unconscionable lawmakers are even considering this bill.”
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visit http://www.sierraclub.org.
Trump Says Russia Inquiry’s Overreach Is a Scandal ‘Bigger Than Watergate!’
The New York Times
By Eileen Sullivan
May 17, 2018
WASHINGTON — President Trump asserted on Thursday that federal investigators attempted to infiltrate his 2016 campaign with a confidential informant — a scandalous overreach, he said, that would be “bigger than Watergate!”
In some sense, many analysts have said, he is right: Efforts by a hostile foreign power to influence an American presidential election — with or without the assistance or knowledge of the winning candidate — may well be a scandal “bigger than Watergate!”
The F.B.I. and a team of special prosecutors are investigating whether any of Mr. Trump’s associates were coordinating with Russia to help Mr. Trump defeat his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. And, since the appointment of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, the investigation has expanded to include inquiries into whether Mr. Trump has attempted to obstruct justice to bring an end to what he regularly calls a witch hunt.
Thursday is the first anniversary of Mr. Mueller’s appointment. Since then, Mr. Trump has considered firing Mr. Mueller, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein — drawing parallels to the Watergate investigation more than four decades earlier, when Richard M. Nixon, ordered his attorney general and deputy attorney general to fire the special prosecutor investigating abuses in the 1972 presidential election. Both Justice Department officials resigned rather than carrying out the order.
Mr. Trump marked the Mueller anniversary with a series of Twitter posts on Thursday morning, reminding his 52 million followers his belief that the investigation is a witch hunt.
The president also praised his administration, calling it “the most successful first 17 month Administration in U.S. history — by far!”
In the first year of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, the special counsel’s team has brought dozens of criminal charges against former associates of Mr. Trump as well as Russians and Russian companies involved in the influence campaign.
In one of his tweets, Mr. Trump also mentioned the use of a confidential informant. At least one government informant met several times with two of Mr. Trump’s former campaign aides, officials have said.