01/22/20

Day 1 of Impeachment Trial in the Senate

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

After many hours, more than 12, the day was over. A long slog it was with summaries presented on each of Senator Schumer’s amendments to the rules. There was only one Republican defection vote on one amendment by Susan Collins of Maine. Even Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah stayed the course with the Republicans with all the votes they cast.

Perhaps the reason for full party-line votes are as a result of the letter sent to the Senate by 21 State Attorneys General found here. It is a great read even for those on the Democrat/liberal side of the ledger and have already made up their minds to remove Donald Trump from the presidency.

State AG letter to Senate o… by Fox News on Scribd

The House impeachment articles managers/team, led by Congressman Adam Schiff and Gerald Nadler filled the 12 hours with repeated emotional and passionate summaries full of twisted and selectively chosen assertions while negating full truths and context. President Trump’s team did not sway from the initial briefing they filed and made their positions short and cogent on each amendment.

For the most part, the day was filled with lawyers of all distinctions warring with each other and the polarization of the federal government was on full display to only stay with our nation for many years to come.

Adam Schiff introduced Lev Parnas several times in his intense statements when Parnas was not part of the House impeachment inquiry at all. That bit of scandal came after the House voted on the final resolution to impeach. While I am not a lawyer, one must question if that was even a lawful introduction in the first place.

Lev Parnas is a turncoat political opportunist and likely a plant infecting U.S. politics for reasons still being uncovered. Parnas has been injecting himself into relationships both in Ukraine and the United States by ingratiating his cunning tactics with people such as Rudy Giuliani, John Solomon, Victoria Toensing, Joe DiGenova, Trump family members and even Yuri Lutsenko, the former Ukrainian prosecutor general. Presently, Parnas and his business partner, Igor Fruman, and two others have been charged with conspiring to violate straw and foreign donor bans by the Southern District of New York.

Going forward, the argument to watch for is the matter of ‘executive privilege’. All presidents have this privilege to protect interactions and conversations that involve matters of national security and diplomatic architecture. In a matter of criminal action, privilege cannot be asserted, yet that was in fact the case in the previous scandal of Fast and Furious when President Obama gave AG Eric Holder privilege protection and he was found in contempt of Congress for that. Moving on, however…

The embedded message the impeachment managers will continue to use in their summaries will be “corrupt motives.” A president is responsible for foreign policy and is the top steward/protector of taxpayer money, not government money as to where it goes and how it is spent. One question that is not asked and should be is when Congress appropriated and approved the military aid for Ukraine in the NDAA legislation, was there a clause to fully document the status of previous military aid and to make designations of caution and sanction to Ukraine if the equipment and money did not reach or be applied for the intended use. That answer is no. Congress relied on the Department of Defense to make a statement, which it did but only to declare that the Ukraine military had taken reform steps to address corruption, which is not a certification.

Carry on good and well-informed voters.

01/21/20

Confronting Trump Derangement Syndrome

By: Lloyd Marcus

My wife Mary and I spent a wonderful weekend in California with fellow Trump supporters filming the music video for my Trump Train 2020 song.  We boarded our flight back home to the East Coast on Sunday at 8 P.M., arriving at BWI airport in Maryland on Monday at 10:30 am. We were exhausted.

The taxi driver taking us to our car was listening to NPR. A radio show host and his caller were lying about Trump, venomously declaring him a serial liar. Perhaps it was because I was so tired that I had zero tolerance. I spouted, “Those guys are lying jerks!” I launched into a rant defending my president.

The taxi driver pounced. In a heavy Middle-Eastern accent, with a smirk, he said, You actually believe the president is not a liar? I have lived in this country for 40 years. I am not stupid. Bush left Obama a horrible economy. Obama made things better for everyone.”

My feisty wife jumped into the conversation, passionately educating the duped driver. I tapped Mary on the leg, signaling her to stop talking because as their exchange grew more heated, the driver began flailing, taking his hands off the wheel and eyes off the road. I wanted him to calm down and focus on driving. Clearly, our taxi driver was crazed with fake news media-induced Trump Derangement Syndrome. He was not open to hearing the truth. Some people are stuck-on-stupid.

Trump-deranged black family and friends believe I am a traitor to my race for not worshiping Obama and supporting Trump. They ignore the truth that blacks moved economically backward under Obama.

Blacks are thriving under Trump, enjoying the lowest black unemployment in U.S. history. And yet, my siblings are routinely asked by fellow blacks, “What is wrong with your brother who supports Trump and votes Republican?” Either these blacks are infected with Trump Derangement or stuck-on-stupid.

I’m a former Baltimorean. Several Baltimore blacks insist on remembering their Trump-hating late Congressman Elijah Cummings as a hero. Because Cummings was black, they accuse me of betraying my race for writing about Cummings’ corruption.

Cummings received over $15 billion in federal funds to clean up his rat-infested, record-breaking black-on-black homicide district which has endless blocks of rundown vacant houses. The federal funds magically disappeared without fulfilling their purpose. Cummings’ loyalists absurdly say I am the bad guy, an Uncle Tom tool of Trump and Republicans. These blacks are stuck-on-stupid.

The shocking truth is Elijah Cummings did not give a rat’s derriere about improving the lives of or empowering blacks. The same thing is true about the Democrat party, NAACP, Congressional Black Caucus, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, fake news media, and other faux advocates for blacks. To these leftists, blacks are nothing more than a faithful monolithic voting-bloc of useful idiots.

It does not take a genius to recognize that everything good, liberating, and economically empowering for blacks is vehemently opposed by a coalition of leftist faux civil rights activists. The Evil Civil Rights Empire rolls out the red carpet, welcoming illegals who harm blacks economically.

The Evil Civil Rights Empire opposes school choice, sentencing urban black students to suffer in failing violent schools. It opposes traditional marriage and defunding Planned Parenthood which focuses on killing black babies. It also opposes academic standards and black behavioral accountability.

By its bigotry of lowered expectations, the Evil Civil Rights Empire insinuates that blacks are inferior. It always insists that standards be lowered to make things fair for blacks. Remember the insulting Democrat lie that requiring a photo ID to vote disenfranchises black voters?

When Trump announced at the State of the Union that black unemployment was at a historic low, the members of the Congressional Black Caucus sat on their hands, stone-faced, while everyone else in the chamber applauded and cheered. The CBC does not care about blacks. The Evil Civil Rights Empire only cares about gaining the power to control every aspect of Americans’ lives to implement its socialist/progressive and anti-Christian agenda.

The disgusting dirty secret is the Evil Civil Rights Empire wants blacks solely dependent upon government and uneducated about their constitutional freedoms. It wants blacks believing the lie that a majority of Americans are white supremacists, obsessed with concocting ways to suppress blacks. Its bogus, divisive, destructive, and insidiously evil narrative is “vote for Democrats to keep rabidly racist white America at bay.”

That’s the bad news. But be of good cheer, folks. I am extremely pleased to announce great news. Shockingly, 34% of blacks say they support Trump.  Wow! That is awesome!

To blacks who have seen the light, welcome aboard the Trump Train!  To blacks who insist on staying on the Democrats’ government plantation, “You can’t fix stupid.”

Even though the taxi driver was annoying, we tipped him.

Lloyd Marcus, The Unhyphenated American
Help Lloyd spread the Truth
http://LloydMarcus.com

01/21/20

The Impeachment Trial: Getting Trump (and the Clintons) Off the Hook

By: Cliff Kincaid

In one of the biggest blunders of the Trump presidency, it has been decided that two of Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyers should be on the team defending President Trump against impeachment. This time, the anti-Trump headlines can’t be blamed on liberal media bias.  “Alan Dershowitz, marred by ties to Jeffrey Epstein, will defend Trump at impeachment trial” was the Los Angeles Times headline.

Dershowitz, who is knowledgeable and media-savvy, is a Harvard Law Professor Emeritus. The Washington Post noted that he is a friend and supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton who voted for her in 2016 and even contributed money to her campaign. He voted for Barack Hussein Obama twice before turning on him over his treatment of Israel. A more complete analysis of his donations, according to OpenSecrets.org, reveals thousands of dollars over the years to mostly Democratic Party candidates such as Ted Kennedy, Elizabeth Warren, John Kerry, and Al Franken.

There is no doubt that Trump has an excellent case to make against impeachment and that the Senate won’t convict him. The strange part of the story is why his defense team not only includes liberal Democrat Dershowitz but the “Republican” lawyer who botched the impeachment case against Bill Clinton, Kenneth Starr. He is a Fox News contributor who served as Independent Counsel investigating the Clintons from 1994 to 1999. He failed to pursue the most serious charges, including a cover-up surrounding the 1993 death of Deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster.

Strangely, both defended billionaire pedophile Epstein, a high-level friend of the rich and powerful whose alleged suicide in prison has been openly questioned and even ridiculed.  Asked why he defended Epstein, Starr replied, “I was very happy to respond to the needs of a client of the firm.” The comments were made after a 2015 National Press Club event on “the future of higher education and the calling of faith-based institutions.”

Starr served as president of Baylor University, a private Christian University, only to be fired for allegedly ignoring sexual assault issues on campus. Some stories refer to him as the “disgraced” former Baylor University president. But none of that bothered Fox News, which hired him as a legal analyst.

As Independent Counsel, Starr nailed Clinton on lying about his affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. But he and his successor as Independent Counsel, Robert Ray, failed to bring charges against the Clintons on other more serious scandals. Ray, who changed his voter registration from Democrat to independent before taking the job, claimed that he didn’t have enough evidence to proceed with prosecution.

Ray, who is also on the Trump impeachment defense team, rubber-stamped Starr’s conclusion, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that White House deputy counsel Vince Foster committed suicide where his body was found in Ft. Marcy Park. In Travelgate, he failed to hold Hillary Clinton responsible for ordering the unjustified firing of seven career White House travel office employees with unblemished reputations. Billy Dale, head of the travel office, commented, “I am disappointed by Robert Ray’s decision to not prosecute Hillary Clinton and others in the Travelgate affair. Bill and Hillary Clinton tried to have me thrown in jail to cover up their corrupt efforts to give the Travel Office’s business to their friends. Unsurprisingly, a jury found me innocent of all of Hillary Clinton’s charges in record time.”

In Filegate, the Clintons were not held accountable for the improper acquisition of more than nine hundred FBI files, mostly on Republicans of previous administrations.

Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch commented at the time, “Judicial Watch has serious differences with Independent Counsel Ray, who should have indicted Mrs. Clinton and others in both Travelgate and Filegate.”

Foster researcher Hugh Turley comments on the curious developments in the Trump impeachment case, as lawyers who failed to hold the Clintons accountable for serious wrong-doing are now supposed to be defending Trump. He notes, “Robert Ray, who replaced Starr as Independent Counsel, is also on the Trump team. Starr was also on the Jeffrey Epstein defense team.   And Dershowitz, another member of Trump’s defense, was associated with Epstein. As you know, Bill Clinton was linked to Epstein. Starr only appeared to be Clinton’s enemy while he actually covered up the murder of Vince Foster.”

This sounds like a “conspiracy theory” to those who have not bothered to investigate the curious circumstances surrounding Foster’s demise. But Turley, with John H. Clarke and Patrick Knowlton, co-authored the final 20 pages of Ken Starr’s report on Foster’s death. The U.S. Court of Appeals that appointed Starr as Independent Counsel ordered Starr, over his objection, to include their analysis in his report. That analysis, on their website, www.FBIcover-up.com, contradicts Starr’s suicide-in-the-park finding.

Foster, like Epstein, was the man who knew too much.

As we note in our special report, The Deep State Wears Black Robes, “He [Foster] had knowledge of various Clinton scandals, including Travelgate, the Waco tragedy, and possibly some illegal activities involving national security. His secretary testified he had access to mysterious binders associated with the NSA, the agency that conducts mass surveillance, ostensibly for the purpose of monitoring terrorists and foreign agents.”

Accuracy in Media founder Reed Irvine and I wrote at the time that while President Clinton was charged by Starr with perjury and obstruction of justice surrounding a sex scandal, there were much greater abuses of power and illegal activity for which he should have been removed from office. We were voices in the wilderness.

It’s mighty suspicious that Trump has been maneuvered into hiring people who either voted for Hillary or failed to hold her and her husband responsible for serious misdeeds. It not only looks bad but suggests that defending Trump may be useful to some in preventing the president from getting to the bottom of the Clinton scandals. After all, such an investigation could lead back to Trump’s attorneys.

*Cliff Kincaid is president of America’s Survival, Inc. www.usasurvival.org

01/18/20

The Left Embraces Terrorists

By: Renee Nal | RAIR

There is a loud silence from the establishment media and their Democrat allies regarding the Bernie Sanders staffer and self-described “anarcho-communist” Kyle Jurek, who was exposed by James O’Keefe of Project Veritas as reported at RAIR Foundation USA. There is a reason for this.

The Left Embraces Terrorists.

On May 29, 2019, the “free thought” publication Quillette published an article by German author Eoin Lenihan titled: “It’s Not Your Imagination: The Journalists Writing About Antifa Are Often Their Cheerleaders.” Lenihan observed that Antifa “often receives media coverage that is neutral or even favorable, with its members’ violence either being ignored by reporters or vaguely explained away as a product of right-wing provocation.”

Lenihan conducted non-scientific, but compelling research consisting of “a mix of network mapping and linguistic analysis” that some national journalists indeed were connected, at least online, to the “most influential and widely followed Antifa figures.” The article, as one could imagine, was not very well received by the left, who blew a collective gasket and claimed that the article resulted in the persecution of journalists, while at the same time continuing to apologize for Antifa!

“While we would not view being connected to antifascist organizations as discrediting, in general,” Antifa apologists Shane Burley and Alexander Reid Ross wrote indignantly at the Independent, “…for the right, those groups represent a threat to them, so they try to paint ‘Antifa’ as violent extremists.”

Newsflash, guys, Antifa are violent extremists.

Antifa at Berkeley

Antifa attacks

Yes, Antifa is Violent

Antifa threatens

Lenihan was smeared in every way possible but stood by his research. He was predictably banned on Twitter, and later wrote about his experience in an article at the Post Millennial titled: “How they ruin you: inside a smear campaign by activists and journalists.”

Of course, the left covers for Antifa and, as Lenihan observed in his initial piece, “many of the mainstream reporters who are most active in covering Antifa also tend to enthusiastically amplify Antifa’s claims on social media.” It is just the truth: The left embraces terrorists.

CASE STUDY: Willem Van Spronsen

Willem Van Spronsen was a 69-year-old anarchist and former member of the militant left-wing organization Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club who was shot and killed by police as he tried to firebomb an ICE facility in Tacoma, Washington, using the “concentration camp” rhetoric of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and friends.

In his “manifesto,” Willem Van Spronsen, who was not allowed to own firearms, said “I am Antifa”, claimed he used a “home built unregistered ‘ghost’ ar15” and encouraged his comrades to “arm themselves.” The left did not hide their admiration for the domestic terrorist (see here and here), whose ex-wife “obtained four domestic-violence protection orders” against him since 2013.

File:Antifa mourns Willem.JPG

Antifa mourns Willem

CNN’s W. Kamau Bell highlighted the Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club in May 2019 on his show “United Shades of America.” On Facebook, Bell gushed that the group is “actively working to end white supremacy” and encouraged readers to “She [sic] some support for the PSJBC.”

Shaun King referred to the aging anarchist’s manifesto as “beautiful, painful, devastating.” He later deleted the Tweet.

Image

Keean Bexte of TheRebel.media confronted Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, asking for a comment on Willem Van Spronsen.

Not one condemned the attack.

Watch:

Whether it is Rasmea Odeh, the Black Panthers, Bill Ayers, and Bernadine Dohrn, Kathleen Soliah, FARC or HAMAS, the left bends over backward to support domestic terrorists.

Whether it is the butcher Che Guevara or the “great strategist of the class war”, Vladimir Lenin, the left romanticizes murderous communist revolutionaries and those who serve as their “muscle”, such as the Black Bloc during the communist-led Occupy movement or Antifa today.

Even former President Obama expressed “more than a hint of admiration” for terrorist Qassem Soleimani, who was later the recipient of a well-deserved strike authorized by President Trump.

Hana Center Honors Terrorist Rasmea Odeh

HAMAS works openly in America through CAIR

Antifa Professor Injures Innocent People, Gets Probation

Linda Sarsour with terrorist supporter Abbas Hamideh

Rashida Tlaib with terrorist supporter Abbas Hamideh

Americans of goodwill have difficulty understanding the truly insidious nature of the left. As Americans are distanced by time and leftist indoctrination to the true horrors of the gulags and their apologists, the bad guys are slowly but steadily tightening their chokehold on the disintegrating traditions and institutions of America.

01/18/20

A Narco-Nation of Potheads, Courtesy of George Soros

By: Cliff Kincaid

Billionaire George Soros was named “Philanthropist of the Year” by Inside Philanthropy magazine for his “…fight for academic freedom in Central Europe, and his resistance to the rising tide of authoritarianism worldwide.”  The former is a reference to gender studies programs and the latter concerns his ongoing campaign to undermine existing governments, causing chaos that makes more money for hedge fund currency manipulators and short-sellers like himself.

In the United States, he is best known for almost single-handedly creating a narco-nation through the legalization of marijuana, causing human suffering and environmental devastation on a scale most people do not yet comprehend.

With the nation focused on the opioid danger, and President Trump accusing China of pumping fentanyl into the veins of American victims through Mexico, the marijuana problem has gotten less attention. Indeed, liberal politicians and prosecutors, some of them getting Soros money, are treating the dope as a harmless substance and even a money-maker for local and state governments.

For one of the most sensational examples of a notorious pothead, consider Aaron Hernandez, the former NFL star who became a convicted killer and then killed himself in prison. The subject of a new Netflix series, “Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez,” he was a chronic marijuana user throughout college and his NFL career who experienced brain damage from the drug. The case proves a direct link between marijuana, mental illness, and violence.

In California, legal dope was supposed to displace illegal dope. But illicit cannabis cultivation sites are proliferating, offering a cheaper product than the government-approved variety. The Siskiyou County (California) Board of Supervisors voted on a new Declaration of Local Emergency that refers to illegal growers being responsible for “hundreds of pervasive fire hazards, insecticides, pesticides, rodenticides, fertilizers, trash, and unsanitary conditions which severely impact health, safety, and quality of life for countless county residents…”

It’s in Barack Hussein Obama’s state of Illinois that we see some of the recent damage being done.

Illinois last year became the first state to legalize the marijuana business through legislation rather than by referendum and placing excise and sales taxes on the “product.” We can already see the predictable result — marijuana-related emergency room visits are on the rise. The local ABC-TV station in Chicago quotes doctors as saying the most common symptoms of the new potheads in Illinois are restlessness, heart palpitations and anxiety, but that “In some cases, we are seeing full-on psychosis, agitation, hallucinations.”

Incredibly, Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton was one of the first in line to purchase the dope. She bought clementine-flavored marijuana edible gummies and paid with cash. The scene was captured by CNN as she was pictured among hundreds of early-morning customers at a Chicago marijuana dispensary.  She probably went to the front of the line, but some people waited hours in order to buy their “recreational marijuana” and get “high.”

David E. Smith of the Illinois Family Institute comments, “Not only have lawmakers failed to do their due diligence before passing this marijuana law, but they also failed to heed the compelling research that indicates how regular use of marijuana affects young people, including an increased risk of psychiatric illnesses and a permanent loss of IQ points.”

In fact, this is the plan – dumb people down so they ruin their lives and then have to be dependent on the state for the rest of their lives. The potheads are fast becoming an important new constituency for the socialist-minded.

Before they actually navigate their way to the polls, they can relieve their pain by employing another “hemp” product – CBD or cannabidiol.  CBD is being hawked all over, even on the Rush Limbaugh Show, and is being advertised as a treatment for “muscle soreness” and “everyday discomfort.” But many complaints have been filed with the FDA over the false medical claims made about CBD.

Dr. Kenneth Finn comments, “These products are everywhere, but there is little scientific evidence to support the hype that surrounds them.” He says unregulated CBD products hitting the market might be contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, fungicides, rodenticides, insecticides, molds, E. coli, or fungus.

Official dope distribution is supposed to fill a financial gap. In Illinois, the sixth-biggest state, by population, Politico reporter Theodoric Meyer reports that it has seen its credit rating cut to near-junk status in the decade since the financial crisis. “Its bonds are now considered as risky as those of Russia and Romania,” he notes. “Its pension system is in worse shape than that of almost any other state.”

Writers Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner note that the population of Illinois dropped by 100,000 people between 2010 and 2018 and few of the state’s counties have been spared. “That means that 93 of the state’s 102 counties have shrunk since 2010,” they note. Adam Schuster, Director of Budget and Tax Research at the group, Illinois Policy, reports that 36 percent of the money the state allocates to education will be diverted away from teachers and students to meet required pension payments for retirees.

Former Illinois pension chief Marc Levine is quoted as saying a federal bailout may be required, making this a matter affecting all taxpayers, not just the saps remaining in Illinois.

The “progressive” politicians have virtually bankrupted the state, forcing thousands to flee, and have turned to the cruel exploitation of potheads as a sure-fire money-maker to stave off the final countdown to fiscal oblivion. But legalized dope means more wards of the state who need government help.

Now, this is going national. “Once a politically dangerous subject,” notes Trevor Hughes of USA Today, “legal marijuana has become something of a de facto platform plank for the 2020 Democratic candidates: All support either legalizing or decriminalizing its use, and the differences lie in how far the candidates are willing to take it.”

Since 22.2 million people have used marijuana in the past month, this is fertile ground for votes. In a bid for votes, candidate Pete Buttigieg actually toured a “cannabis dispensary” in Las Vegas while commenting that he smoked dope a “handful of times a long time ago.”

President Trump, on the other hand, can just say no. He lost his brother to alcoholism and should consider speaking out against the Soros-funded marijuana craze before more lives are ruined and lost. His Surgeon General, Vice Adm. Jerome M. Adams, is already speaking out about the health risks of marijuana use. He needs the backing of his president.

Roger Morgan, author of Soros: The Drug Lord. Pricking the Bubble of American Supremacy notes the elevated levels of mental illness, addiction, suicides, traffic deaths and the unseen mental and physical defects to babies and future generations from the use of marijuana and other mind-altering drugs.  He adds, “America can never be great again if a major percentage of its young people are brain-damaged, mentally ill, addicted or dead.”​

*Cliff Kincaid is president of America’s Survival, Inc. www.usasurvival.org

01/18/20

The Not so Pure Comey Being Investigated AGAIN

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Voters would all be rich if we had a dollar for every leak, lie and scandal coming out of Washington, DC.

So, Comey is back in the news… he did a no, no.

Department of Justice prosecutors are reportedly investigating the possibility that former FBI director James Comey leaked a classified Russian intelligence document to the media during the Hillary Clinton email investigation, according to a Thursday report from the New York Times.

Per the Times, the investigation is centered around two 2017 articles from the Times and the Washington Post describing the Russian document, which played a key role in Comey’s unilateral decision to announce the FBI would not pursue charges against Clinton for using a private email server to conduct official business during her time as secretary of state.

The document, which was shared with the U.S. by Dutch intelligence, includes an analysis of an email exchange between Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D., Fla.), who was then chairing the Democratic National Committee, and Leonard Bernardo, an official with the Soros-backed non-profit Open Society Foundations. Wasserman-Schultz assures Bernardo in the email that then-attorney general Loretta Lynch will make sure Clinton wasn’t charged in the email probe.

Comey has long taken criticism for his handling of the Clinton investigation from Republicans and President Trump, who suggested in December that Comey could get jail time.

***

Image result for comey leaks

Well now, the plot thickens with new names in the equation:

We cannot forget this little item either. Former FBI Director James Comey violated official policy in the way he handled his memos describing his exchanges with President Trump, an investigation concluded — but Comey won’t be charged. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz conducted the investigation into Comey’s actions and then referred his results to prosecutors.

“After reviewing the matter, the DOJ declined prosecution.”

Investigators concluded that Comey broke several rules.

One involved the former director’s decision to arrange for a friend to disclose the contents of a memo to a New York Times reporter. Another involved Comey’s decision to keep memos at home and discuss them with his lawyers but not reveal to the FBI their contents or what he was doing.

***

In part from RedState: Now this new investigation involves leaks relating to two articles including one in the Washington Post and another in the NY Times (now we see why the spinning) about a Russian intelligence document, which the Times says was highly classified.

Now, this part is fascinating:

The document played a key role in Mr. Comey’s decision to sideline the Justice Department and announce in July 2016 that the F.B.I. would not recommend that Hillary Clinton face charges in her use of a private email server to conduct government business while secretary of state.

Wait, what? What would a Russian intelligence document have to do with Comey stepping in and taking the power away from the DOJ, which he could not properly do anyway? At the time, Comey implied in his reasoning that there was classified information with regard to Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

The document is mentioned in a book published last fall, “Deep State: Trump, the F.B.I., and the Rule of Law” by James B. Stewart, a Times reporter.

Here’s the money paragraph, hidden down in the story.

The latest investigation involves material that Dutch intelligence operatives siphoned off Russian computers and provided to the United States government. The information included a Russian analysis of what appeared to be an email exchange during the 2016 presidential campaign between Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida who was also the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee at the time, and Leonard Benardo, an official with the Open Society Foundations, a democracy-promoting organization whose founder, George Soros, has long been a target of the far right.

In the email, Ms. Wasserman Schultz suggested that then-Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch would make sure that Mrs. Clinton would not be prosecuted in the email case. Both Ms. Wasserman Schultz and Mr. Benardo have denied being in contact, suggesting the document was meant to be Russian disinformation.

That document was one of the key factors that drove Mr. Comey to hold a news conference in July 2016 announcing that investigators would recommend no charges against Mrs. Clinton. Typically, senior Justice Department officials would decide how to proceed in such a high-profile case, but Mr. Comey was concerned that if Ms. Lynch played a central role in deciding whether to charge Mrs. Clinton, Russia could leak the email.

Whoa, so strip everything away and what the document says is that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was guaranteeing that Lynch would get Hillary Clinton off.

So where is the investigation of this?

The Times does the best it can, suggesting it’s disinformation. They literally accuse Trump of trying to pressure the DOJ to investigate his enemies despite no such thing ever occurring.

But American officials at the time did not believe that Ms. Lynch would hinder the Clinton email investigation, and neither Ms. Wasserman Schultz nor Mr. Benardo had any inside information about it. Still, if the Russians had released the information after the inquiry was closed, it could have tainted the outcome, hurt public confidence in the Justice Department and sowed discord.

Prosecutors are also looking at whether Mr. Richman might have played a role in providing the information to reporters about the Russia document and how it figured into Mr. Comey’s rationale about the news conference, according to the people familiar with the investigation. Mr. Comey hired Mr. Richman at one point to consult for the F.B.I. about encryption and other complex legal issues, and investigators have expressed interest in how he operated.

Mr. Richman was quoted in the April 2017 article in The Times that revealed the document’s existence. A month later, The Post named Ms. Wasserman Schultz and Mr. Benardo as subjects of the document in a detailed article. A lawyer for Mr. Richman declined to comment.

This is going to be interesting to see it when the information ultimately comes out without the New York Times spin on it. But this is pretty huge.

01/16/20

Daily Gas Pump Prices are Based on the Strait of Hormuz

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Experts said Iranian officials are trying to demonstrate to the U.S. and its allies that the Islamic Republic is able to push back and gain leverage against the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” policy, which intensified after President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the landmark nuclear deal in May 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions, making it difficult for Iran to export oil, the foundation of the country’s economy.

China, Russia and leading Western European countries have sought ways around the U.S. sanctions, but it has been difficult to bypass them.

“The message that Iran is sending is that it is capable of making international waters unsafe not just for the U.S., but for international trade,” said Reza H. Akbari, a program manager and Iran expert at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.

These are the reasons for oil tanker seizures and attacks by Iranian limpet mines.

Tensions between the West and Iran bubbled to a historic height in recent days after the assassination of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and Tehran bombed two Iraqi bases that housed US troops.

They have sparked fears of wider US-Iran attacks in the greater region, which could take place in and around the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow body of water linking the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman, which feeds into the Arabian Sea and the rest of the world.

strait of hormuz jan 2020

A satellite image of marine traffic passing through the Strait of Hormuz as on January 9, 2020. MarineTraffic.com

While Iran’s leaders claim to have “concluded” their revenge for Soleimani’s death — and President Donald Trump appears to believe them — many regional experts and diplomatic sources say Iran could unleash other modes of attack, which include unleashing allied militias to disrupt the Middle East.

One strategy could include Iran closing the Strait of Hormuz, which would stop oil tanker traffic, disrupt global oil supply, and send prices shooting up.

Here’s what you need to know about this valuable strait.

Some 21 million barrels of crude and refined oil pass through the strait every day, the EIA said, citing 2018 statistics.

That’s about one-third of the world’s sea-traded oil, or $1.2 billion worth of oil a day, at current oil prices. The majority of Saudi Arabia’s crude exports pass through the Strait of Hormuz, meaning much of the oil-dependent economy’s wealth is situated there. Saudi state-backed oil tanker Bahri temporarily suspended its shipments through the strait after Iran’s missile strikes in Iran, the Financial Times reported.

Last June Iran shot down a US drone flying near the strait, and a month later a US warship — USS Boxer — also shot down an Iranian drone in the same area.

Shortly after Iran’s drone attack, President Donald Trump questioned the US’ presence in the region, and called on China, Japan, and other countries to protect their own ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Trump noted that much of China and Japan’s oil flow through the strait, and added: “So why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation.”

While a large proportion — 76% — of oil flowing through the chokepoint does end up in Asian countries, the US still imports more than 30 million barrels of oil a month from countries in the Middle East, Business Insider has reported, citing the EIA.

That’s about $1.7 billion worth of oil, and 10% of the US’s total oil imports per month.

Iranian leaders, who have also vowed retaliation for the death of Soleimani, have threatened to close down the strait multiple times in the past.

If Iran followed through with these threats, it would likely cause a huge disruption to the global oil trade. As the strait is so narrow, any sort of interference in tanker traffic could decrease the world’s oil supply, and send prices shooting up.

Global oil prices have proven vulnerable to tensions between Iran and the West before. After the Trump administration said in April 2019 it would stop providing sanctions waivers to countries who purchase Iranian oil, prices rose to their highest level since November the year before, Axios reported.

How likely is Iran to shut down the strait?

Iran is more likely to disrupt traffic in the Strait of Hormuz than to engage in an all-out conventional war with the US, which is much stronger militarily.

But doing so comes with high costs to Iran.

To close down the entire strait, Iran would have to place at least 1,000 mines with submarines and surface craft along the chokepoint, security researcher Caitlin Talmadge posited in a 2009 MIT study. Such an effort could take weeks, the study added. (taken in part from here)

01/16/20

U.S. Killed AQ Leader in a Taliban Stronghold

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Asim Umar (1974/1976 – 23 September 2019) was an Indian militant and the leader of alQaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. AlQaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced the creation of AQIS and introduced Asim Umar as its leader in a video posted online in September 2014.

Though the Taliban or al-Qaeda has not given an official confirmation of their own, the Afghan government has released pictures and confirmed his death alongside six other AQIS operatives in a joint U.S.-Afghan operation (Al Jazeera, October 8).

Umar was killed in an Afghan Taliban hideout in Musa Qila district, a known Taliban stronghold in Helmand province. The circumstances are indicative of long-running Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda ties and their collaboration in the Afghan insurgency. The idea that the Taliban would deny a safe haven to foreign fighters in Afghanistan after reaching a peace deal with the United States, as was suggested during negotiations, has been proven unlikely following Umar’s discovery in Taliban-held territory. More details here.

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The U.S. Department of Defense suppressed a press release that would have announced the death of Asim Umar, the emir of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, because it “would complicate future negotiations with the Taliban,” military officials have told FDD’s Long War Journal.

The U.S. military killed Umar in the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala in Helmand province, Afghanistan on Sept. 23, 2019. Umar was killed just two weeks after President Donald Trump canceled a possible deal between the U.S. and the Taliban. As part of that accord, the U.S. was willing to accept the Taliban’s supposed counterterrorism assurances.

The Sept. 23 raid exposed the ongoing ties between the Taliban and al Qaeda’s branch in South Asia. Among the 17 people killed was Haji Mahmood, the Taliban’s military commander for the neighboring district of Naw Zad, which is also controlled by the Taliban.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, has claimed throughout “peace” negotiations that the Taliban would sever ties with al Qaeda. But Umar’s presence with the Taliban cast further doubt Khalilzad’s claim that the Taliban is truly willing to split with its longtime battlefield allies.

Umar was not the only al Qaeda operative killed in the raid. Raihan, Umar’s courier to Zawahiri; Faizani, the AQIS chief for Helmand and an ‘explosives expert;’ and Madani, Faizani’s deputy, also perished during the raid, which including intense airstrikes that killed more than a dozen civilians.

Umar’s wife was identified as one of six Pakistani women detained during the operation. Fourteen other “terrorists” were also captured, according to Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security.

The NDS confirmed Umar’s death on Oct. 8, 2019, and released photographs of Umar, both dead and alive. AQIS itself had previously obscured images of Umar, likely due to its concerns over operational security.

Al Qaeda and AQIS have not released a martyrdom statement confirming his death, but have not denied that he was killed. The Taliban, which has a vested interest in hiding its ties with al Qaeda (although it occasionally slips up) called the reports of his death “a part of enemy fabricated propaganda.”

Umar’s presence with the Taliban was “inconvenient”

The U.S. military was aware of Umar’s death and the Department of Defense was prepared to announce it a week after the statement by the NDS, military officials and officers who are familiar with the events told FDD’s Long War Journal on condition of anonymity.

A press release announcing Umar’s death was drafted and currently resides at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, military officials have confirmed. Yet, three months after OSD drafted the press release, it remains hidden from the public.

FDD’s Long War Journal has contacted the OSD several times over the past three months requesting comment on the press release, but has not received a response.

The U.S. military has suppressed the report of Umar’s death as “his presence with the Taliban during the late stage of talks would complicate future negotiations with the Taliban,” one defense official said.

“Asim Umar, his staff, his courier to [Al Qaeda emir Ayman] Zawahiri, and even his wife, were embedded with the Taliban, in the Taliban’s heartland,” a military officer said. “When you want to sell a split between the Taliban and Al Qaeda, these facts become inconvenient.”

01/16/20

Putin to Lead Russia for Life?

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

In his annual state-of-the-nation speech on Wednesday, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia shook up the country and its political class by calling for constitutional changes that would give him a new path to holding onto power after his current — and, in theory, last — term ends in 2024.

With that, the entire cabinet, led by a long-serving Putin ally, Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev, abruptly resigned. The head of the Federal Tax Service, Mikhail V. Mishustin — a little-known but skilled technocrat — will become the next prime minister.

The spate of moves offers some clues about Mr. Putin’s plans and priorities, but also raises questions about what may lie ahead for the Russian president. Here are the answers to some of them.

Mr. Putin with Prime Minister Dmitry A. Medvedev last year.

Mr. Putin with Prime Minister Dmitry A. Medvedev last year. Credit…Yuri Kochetkov/EPA, via Shutterstock.

What is Putin doing?

Mr. Putin’s hold on power in Russia is unrivaled, built up over the last 20 years in his posts as president and prime minister.

But Russia’s Constitution bars a president from serving more than two consecutive terms. To maintain his grip on power, as he has hinted he intends to do, Mr. Putin needs to find a way to engineer a leadership transition that will allow that to happen.

To that end, it appears, he has proposed changes to the Constitution that would weaken the presidency while increasing the sway of the Parliament and the prime minister.

He said, for example, that the president should in the future be required to accept the prime minister’s cabinet appointments. This and other changes could give Mr. Putin more leeway to find a position in which he can maintain power without violating the Constitution.

What position will he hold?

That’s not entirely clear.

Mr. Putin could become prime minister again, taking advantage of the position’s expanded influence. Alternatively, some analysts have pointed to a leadership maneuver engineered by Nursultan Nazarbayev, the longtime president of Kazakhstan, another former Soviet republic.

In 2018, Mr. Nazarbayev increased the power of Kazakhstan’s Security Council and made himself its chairman for life. When he resigned from the presidency last year in favor of a handpicked successor, his position at the helm of the Security Council allowed him to hold on to key levers of power.

On Wednesday, offering few details, Mr. Putin dangled the possibility of a similar move in Russia. The State Council — currently an advisory body made up of the governors of Russia’s regions — should have its “status and role” fixed in the Constitution, he said.

That quickly raised speculation among Russian political analysts that a revamped State Council could become a vehicle for Mr. Putin to maintain power if he relinquishes the presidency, particularly over the military and foreign policy.

Why doesn’t he just seize power?

Despite Mr. Putin’s immense sway, he’d be taking a risk if he simply declared himself president for life.

Mr. Putin served two consecutive presidential terms from 2000 to 2008 and then became prime minister. His announcement in 2011 that he would seek the presidency again, followed by parliamentary elections widely seen as rigged, helped trigger Russia’s biggest street protests since the 1990s.

This time around, Mr. Putin looks determined to orchestrate his next move in a slow-motion fashion that’s less likely to produce a backlash. The changes to the Constitution he called for give him several options to hold on to power — while affording him as much as four years’ time to set his course.

Is he really worried about public opinion?

“Our society is clearly calling for change,” Mr. Putin said at the beginning of his speech on Wednesday.

Indeed, over the last year, Russia has seen its most vigorous street protests since the anti-Putin rallies of 2011 and 2012.

Polls show that Russians increasingly distrust pro-Kremlin TV channels and are getting their news on the Internet, which remains largely uncensored.

And the Kremlin’s appeal to patriotism — so effective after Mr. Putin’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014 — has lost its visceral power, overshadowed by Russia’s economic problems.

All of this means that the Kremlin is likely to portray the resignation on Wednesday of Mr. Medvedev and every cabinet minister as a sign that Mr. Putin has heard Russians’ demand for change.

While Russians do increasingly blame Mr. Putin for their ills, many more blame the bureaucrats below him. Mr. Putin’s approval rating has fallen to 68 percent from 82 percent in April 2018, an independent pollster, Levada, says. But Mr. Medvedev is in far worse shape, with an approval rating of 38 percent.

What about his new prime minister?

Mr. Putin’s choice of Mr. Mishustin seems to reflect his concerns about Russia’s declining standard of living, which has contributed to the spasms of unrest over the last year.

Mr. Mishustin is widely seen as one of Russia’s most effective technocrats. He has headed Russia’s Federal Tax Service since 2010, modernizing a notoriously ineffective and corrupt tax-collecting system. The Financial Times dubbed the computerized, real-time approach to taxation he developed as “the taxman of the future.”

In his early years as president, Mr. Putin built his popularity on soaring living standards, which coincided with a period of rising oil prices. But with lower oil prices and Western sanctions, those steady improvements are now a thing of the past. Disposable incomes are still effectively below what they were in 2013.

Mr. Putin also used his state-of-the-nation speech to make a raft of pledges to improve Russians’ daily lives. For example: free hot meals for all elementary school students from grades one through four.

Unlike Russia’s more prominent economic reformers, the 53-year-old Mr. Mishustin has no political base of his own, reducing the likelihood that he might use the powers of his new office to chip away at Mr. Putin’s authority.

Could he be loosening his grip?

Not at all.

In theory, at least, Russia’s system of governance echoes that of France — a powerful presidency checked by an independent judiciary, by parliament and by a cabinet of ministers headed by a prime minister with his own locus of authority.

But Mr. Putin has steadily subsumed the authority of all those institutions, often justifying crackdowns on political pluralism as necessary in the face of external threats. He reprised that language in his speech on Wednesday, signaling that no political thaw is in the offing.

“Russia can be and can remain Russia only as a sovereign state,” he said.

That was an allusion to Mr. Putin’s frequent charge the West is fomenting political opposition to undermine Russian sovereignty.

To drive home the point, Mr. Putin proposed a constitutional amendment that offered the day’s clearest statement of how he views his successor: Russia’s future president, Mr. Putin said, may not ever have had citizenship or permanent residency in another country.