Trump claims FBI ‘plotting’ though report found no bias
By ANNE FLAHERTY, ERIC TUCKER and CHAD DAY
Friday, June 15
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump disputed findings by the Justice Department on Friday that former FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe was not politically motivated, declaring that the FBI was biased “at the top level” and “plotting against my election.”
The department’s inspector general report, while critical of the FBI and Comey personally, did not find evidence that political bias tainted the investigation of Clinton’s email practices in the months and days leading up to Trump’s election.
But on Friday, after tweeting that he did a “great service” to the nation by firing Comey, Trump marched out to the White House North Lawn to talk with “Fox & Friends” for more than half an hour, claiming the report “totally” exonerated him, then pointing to accomplishments he said he’s achieved and complaining about not getting proper credit.
Then he turned to other reporters and went over the same list for another 20 minutes.
On the inspector general report that found no political bias in the FBI’s final conclusions, he said, “The end result was wrong. There was total bias.”
“Comey was the ring leader of this whole, you know, den of thieves. It was a den of thieves,” he said.
Trump’s comments followed the IG’s 500-page report that said Comey was “insubordinate” in his handling of the Clinton investigation because he broke agency protocol. The report also rebuked FBI officials for exchanging anti-Trump text messages during the 2016 campaign.
But it said, “We found no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations; rather, we determined that they were based on the prosecutors’ assessment of the facts, the law and past department practice.”
Trump’s supporters have argued that the findings are proof of political bias at the FBI’s highest levels that then tainted the Russia investigation, first led by the FBI and now by special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller’s probe includes a look into whether Trump himself tried to obstruct justice by firing Comey.
Trump said Friday, as he has before, that the Mueller probe, too, “has been totally discredited.”
“The IG Report is a total disaster for Comey, his minions and sadly, the FBI,” Trump tweeted earlier. “Comey will now officially go down as the worst leader, by far, in the history of the FBI. I did a great service to the people in firing him. Good Instincts.”
Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told “Fox & Friends” that the report casts doubt on whether Trump will ever agree to an interview with Mueller’s team because “why would he get interviewed by a corrupt investigation?”
Trump himself said he had “reservations.”
Thursday’s report documents in painstaking detail one of the most consequential investigations in modern FBI history and reveals how the bureau, which for decades has endeavored to stand apart from politics, came to be entangled in the 2016 presidential election. It underscores efforts by FBI and Justice Department leaders to juggle developments in the Clinton investigation — she had used private email for government business while secretary of state — with a separate probe that was then unknown to the American public into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Clinton supporters believe Comey’s actions, far from hurting Trump, may well have torpedoed her chance of becoming president.
The IG found the FBI director erred when he announced in July 2016 that Clinton had been “extremely careless” with classified material but would not be charged with any crime, and again months later when Comey told Congress just days before the election that the investigation into Clinton’s emails had been reopened. Comey concealed from the Justice Department his plans to make a public announcement until the morning he did so, even though such statements are normally handled by the Justice Department, if at all, the report says.
“We found that it was extraordinary and insubordinate for Comey to do so, and we found none of his reasons to be a persuasive basis for deviating from well-established Department policies in a way intentionally designed to avoid supervision by department leadership over his actions,” the report says.
Trump supporters, and then the president himself, quickly focused on the report’s recounting of anti-Trump text messages from two FBI officials who worked the Clinton probe and later the Russia case, including one in which an agent says, “We’ll stop it,” with regard to a possible Trump victory.
The report suggests that text from Peter Strzok, who was later dropped from Mueller’s team, “implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects.” It did not find evidence that those views seeped into the investigation.
FBI Director Chris Wray told reporters the FBI accepted the report’s findings and was making changes, including requiring further training for FBI employees and re-emphasizing the importance of objectivity. In a New York Times opinion piece released after the report, Comey said he disagreed with some conclusions but respected the watchdog’s work.
Also criticized in the report was Comey’s decision, despite the discouragement of the Justice Department, to reveal to Congress that the FBI was reopening the investigation following the discovery of new emails.
The FBI obtained a warrant nine days before the presidential election to review those emails, found on the laptop of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., — the husband of top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin — and ultimately determined there was nothing that changed its original conclusion.
The report faulted the FBI for failing to act with more urgency in reviewing emails from Weiner’s laptop, saying the inaction had “potentially far-reaching consequences.” Clinton supporters say her name could have been cleared well before the election had the FBI moved faster to review the emails. Comey said had he known earlier about the laptop’s import it might have affected his decision to notify Congress.
The report also notes that Comey, despite chiding Clinton for mishandling government business, occasionally used personal email himself to discuss FBI matters.
“But my emails,” she said, reacting in a three-word tweet.
Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick, Steve Braun and Colleen Long contributed to this report.
Read the report: http://apne.ws/UW6V5LZ
Philippines delays rebel talks but says ‘breakthroughs’ near
By JIM GOMEZ
Thursday, June 14
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government is delaying a resumption of peace talks with communist guerrillas to allow public consultations, an official said Monday, adding that efforts to end one of Asia’s longest rebellions were “now at the cusp of some major breakthroughs.”
Presidential adviser Jesus Dureza said Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte ordered government negotiators to consult public and government groups about issues in the Norwegian-brokered negotiation, delaying its planned resumption. Duterte separately said the talks may resume next month.
“We are now at the cusp of some major breakthroughs in the peace talks, hence, the urgent need now to take deliberate steps to ensure that we do not falter,” Dureza said, without elaborating. “Just and sustainable and lasting peace will happen only when our people understand and support these efforts.”
Rebel leader Jose Maria Sison has said “back channel” talks have led both sides to agree to a preliminary “stand-down” accord on June 21, with the peace talks to resume on June 28 to June 30 in the Norwegian capital of Oslo.
Philippine security officials, however, have opposed some rebel demands, including the release of jailed guerrillas, and want guarantees that the insurgents would comply with any cease-fire agreement.
“We’ve been had before by that stand-down, when they continued reclaiming villages that we have liberated,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters last week. “We may be the only ones standing down and not them.”
The communist rebellion, which has raged since 1969, has left about 40,000 combatants and civilians dead. It has also stunted economic development, especially in the impoverished countryside where the military says a few thousand Maoist insurgents are still waging a guerrilla war.
When he took power in 2016, Duterte resumed peace talks with the guerrillas and granted concessions by appointing three left-wing activists to his Cabinet. But the cordial relations rapidly deteriorated when he protested continuing rebel assaults on troops and policemen, along with guerrilla extortion of mining firms and agricultural plantations.
Last year, Duterte canceled the talks with the guerrillas and signed an order declaring the rebel group a terrorist organization in a prelude to his government’s petition to a Manila court in February to formally designate the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, as terrorist groups.
Washington has long blacklisted the rebel group as a terrorist organization.
Duterte said he has invited Sison, the founder of the communist party who has been in exile in the Dutch city of Utrecht for more than three decades, to return to the Philippines for 60 days in an effort to hasten the conclusion of the talks.
Dureza said the two sides would finalize an agreement on social and economic reforms when the talks resume and then tackle political and constitutional reforms before discussing the sensitive topic of ending the fighting and “disposition of forces.” It’s uncertain how long the complicated talks would take but Dureza said the Duterte administration was carefully moving to ensure its efforts would put a closure on the long-running insurrection.
“The almost 50 years of intermittent and oftentimes disrupted peace negotiations with the communist rebels across several presidencies need a close study for lessons to learn from to ensure that our last chance to put a dignified closure to the armed rebellion will not be squandered away,” Dureza said.
What Happened? Assessing the Singapore Summit
by Mel Gurtov
“Peace and prosperity,” “lasting and stable peace,” “peace regime,” “denuclearization,” “new US-DPRK relations”—these fine words and phrases dominate the joint statement of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Yet it’s difficult to describe in a concrete way what they agreed to actually do. The joint statement stands as one of hope, nothing more, similar to the tone of the Pyongyang Declaration between Kim Jong-un and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in. The Trump-Kim statement has nothing of substance to say about denuclearization, a Korean peninsula at peace, normalization of US-North Korea relations, economic or military incentives, verification of promises, and schedules for implementation.
Whatever substantive agreements were reached took place between Trump and Kim alone, without any top advisers. And here’s where the trouble begins: the contrary claims that are bound to emerge about who promised what. Already, North Korean state media are saying that Trump promised to ease sanctions, whereas Trump insisted that sanctions will continue. Trump said US military exercises will be suspended, but surely many kinds of small-scale joint exercises with South Korea’s military will go on. And what about Kim’s promise of denuclearization? Does it apply to US nuclear-capable ships and planes in East Asia that comprise extended deterrence? Will “denuclearization” mean anything at all?
The joint statement is thus fair game for critics of Trump, myself included. Yet I have to acknowledge that for all the weaknesses not only of the statement but also of Trump’s entire approach to dealing with North Korea—the sanctions, the threats, the boasts, the ignoring of experts, the false claims about previous administrations’ policies, the insensitivity to South Korean and Japanese interests—in the end we are better off having had the summit than not. Surely no one wants a return to trading threats and insults, with use of a nuclear weapon a possibility.
Still, the summit was more photo-op than peace building project. Some observers believe, with good reason, that Kim Jong-un outfoxed Trump—elevating North Korea’s international standing, obtaining a suspension of US military exercises, and gaining sanctions relief from China in exchange for a repetition of previous North Korean promises to denuclearize. Trump can respond that getting to denuclearization is a lengthy “process”—a word he used quite a bit recently, and certainly not one John Bolton likes. But the process should have preceded the summit, with diplomatic engagement paving the way to agreement on step-by-step deescalation of tensions and time points for establishing diplomatic relations and reducing nuclear weapons in a verifiable way.
Now Trump must, and fairly soon, show that his “terrific relationship” with Kim is paying off, not just on the nuclear issue but also with regard to improved North-South Korea relations, North Korea’s missiles and cyber war capabilities, and repression of human-rights. Otherwise, his gamble will have failed and he will look like a fool for having tried. As he acknowledged after the summit, “I think he’s [Kim] going to do these things. I may be wrong. I mean, I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey, I was wrong.’ I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse.” Yes, he will.
Trump has already created yet another problem: his effusive praise of Kim Jong-un. Ignoring the North Korea gulag and the Stalinist character of Kim’s regime, Trump has actually said (twice) that Kim “loves his people,” assured us that Kim is “very honorable,” and expressed appreciation for the difficult job Kim has had maintaining order in his society. Such extraordinarily ignorant and politically explosive comments speak to Trump’s fascination with dictators and envy (previously expressed about Putin and Xi Jinping) for their iron-fist rule. Too bad he can’t find equally laudable words for democratic leaders.
Thus, Donald Trump’s effort to create a diplomatic triumph that might divert attention from the Russia investigation may implode early. He has the monumental job of convincing Americans, including many in his party, that the Singapore summit solved the problem of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and took the measure of a dictator. His undeserved reputation as a deal maker is about to be sorely tested.
Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University.
What’s the Buzz? Rose Pest Solutions Supports National Pollinator Week
Pest management company supports pollinators including beneficial honeybees
TROY, Mich. (June 14, 2018) – National Pollinator Week, June 18-24, 2018, spotlights the importance of protecting pollinators and their ecosystems. Rose Pest Solutions, the nation’s oldest pest management company, is dedicated to preserving pollinating insects including the honeybee.
Pollinators play an integral role in the food supply chain by pollinating flowers and crops. According to The Pollinator Partnership, 75 to 95 percent of all flowering plants need help with pollination. Pollinators, including the honeybee, provide pollination to more than 180,000 different plant species. It has been estimated that honeybees must make approximately 2 million flower visits to produce a pound of honey and each colony has the ability to produce more than 100 pounds of honey. That represents between $1.2 and $5.4 billion in agriculture productivity annually.
Rose Pest Solutions works to protect beneficial insects like the honeybee and other pollinators in the communities it serves throughout Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. If a honeybee hive or nest is discovered on a customer’s property, Rose will recommend the least invasive solution, including safe relocation when possible.
“Rose Pest Solutions frequently receives calls from our residential customers to remove honeybees,” said Mark VanderWerp, certified entomologist and director of education and training for Rose Pest Solutions. “Our teams work with local community beekeepers in many cases to safely relocate the bees.”
Individuals interested in celebrating National Pollinator Week can plant flowers and flowering plants in their gardens that bloom at different times during spring, summer and autumn. To make it easier for honeybees and other pollinators to access, place colorful flowers in clusters. Homeowners are cautioned not to establish a beehive in their yard without instruction and support of a trained beekeeper.
For more information about Rose Pest Solutions or to schedule a service, please visit www.rosepestsolutions.com or call 877-746-0224. For more information about National Pollinator Week, please visit www.pollinator.org/pollinator-week.
About Rose Pest Solutions
Founded in 1860, Rose Pest Solutions is the nation’s oldest pest management company. Rose provides comprehensive pest management services for commercial, municipal and residential clients from its 15 offices in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. With five board certified entomologists and nine other credentialed entomologists on staff, Rose is renowned for its technical expertise and use of integrated pest management practices designed to protect the homes, health and property of its clients. Rose has received numerous honors for its commitment to excellence, including QualityPro, QualityPro Schools & GreenPro designations from the National Pest Management Association. QualityPro & GreenPro companies meet or exceed industry best practices, offer green services, and are committed to providing clients with the best possible service. For more information about Rose Pest Solutions, please call (800) 966-ROSE or visit www.RosePestSolutions.com.
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