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Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters Friday the Pentagon stands ready to dispatch more troops to the border region if President Trump follows through with his pledge to increase the military presence along the U.S.-Mexico boundary.

Trump said after touring a section of recently upgraded border fencing in Calexico, Calif., last week, “We’re going to bring up some more military” to deal with what he said were more than 70,000 illegal migrants rushing the border.

Shanahan said the Pentagon has had conversations with the Department of Homeland Security but has yet to receive a formal request.

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’ll provide more support to the border,” he said in response to a reporter’s question as he prepared to meet with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. “Our support is very elastic, and given the deterioration there at the border, you would expect that we would provide more support.” Shanahan said he anticipates the support will be similar to what the military has already provided with several thousand troops, barrier construction, transport, and surveillance.

Shanahan will meet with a planning team at the Pentagon over the weekend to prepare for the potential request, he said.

“It will follow up with where are we on barrier construction, where do we stand on troops deployed, and then in the areas we anticipate, what type of preliminary plans should we be doing prior to receiving a request for assistance,” he said.

Democrats have been highly critical of the deployment of active-duty troops to the border, and many have cited a leaked internal memo the Marine Corps commandant sent to the Navy secretary warning that unexpected expenses, such as hurricane damage and border operations, could force him to cancel routine training and degrade combat readiness.

But in Senate testimony this week, Gen. Robert Neller insisted his memo was being misconstrued. “To say that going to the border was degrading our readiness is not an accurate statement,” Neller told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday.

Neller’s March 18 memo listed eight categories of unfunded and unexpected expenses. Hurricane recovery was at the top of the list, but a number of expenses were included, such as the raise for civilian employees, which was not in the budget.

“We have a shortfall of just under $300 million, of which the border mission is less than 2 percent,” Neller said. “So my intent was to just simply lay out for my boss what these were and ask for support in trying to figure out how we might fund them.”

Pressed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Neller conceded some Marines, who are not doing the jobs they would normally do, could see a small degradation in their unit readiness, but he said it depended on the unit.

“Some of the units have gone down there and they’ve done tasks that are more in line with their core mission. Like engineer units or MP units. Aviation units that were assigned to that early on have actually improved their readiness because they are able to fly certain profiles and things,” he testified.

Neller reports to his civilian boss, Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer, who requested the memo and jumped to Neller’s defense at the hearing.

“The main stress that we were dealing with at the time, senator, was the hurricane, which was imposing the greatest cost on the Marine Corps,” Spencer told Warren. “Five hundred men for a month at the southern border is $1.25 million. In my mind, is that affecting my readiness stress? No, it’s not.”

Neller said so far border operations have cost the Marine Corps $6.2 million.

JULIAN Assange’s dating profile from 2006 has been unearthed – where he branded himself a “pig-headed intellectual” and “87 per cent slut”.

The then 36-year-old created the profile on OkCupid in December, shortly after launching infamous WikiLeaks, the site that would land him fame and finally arrest.

 Julian Assange winked and gave a thumbs up from the police van as he arrived at court following the dramatic arrest yesterday morning

Getty Images – Getty

Julian Assange winked and gave a thumbs up from the police van as he arrived at court following the dramatic arrest yesterday morning
 Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had a profile on dating site OKCupid, under the pseudo name Harry Harrison

Ok Cupid

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had a profile on dating site OKCupid, under the pseudo name Harry Harrison
 Despite not using his real name, the pictures on 'Harry Harrison’s' page appear to confirm that this really is Julian Assange

Ok Cupid

Despite not using his real name, the pictures on ‘Harry Harrison’s’ page appear to confirm that this really is Julian Assange
 The fact that the page hasn’t been accessed since Jan 2007 adds to the likelihood that it’s the real deal

Ok Cupid

The fact that the page hasn’t been accessed since Jan 2007 adds to the likelihood that it’s the real deal

Assange is now facing decades in prison after he was dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy in a dramatic arrest in London last night.

He’s expected to face charges in the US after prosecutors filed for his extradition over the WikiLeaks scandal.

After seven years in hiding, this dramatic shift has unearthed a multitude of dirt on the hack’s life, the latest being his dating profile.

WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange arrested by police and removed from the Ecuadorian embassy

In it he writes: “WARNING: Want a regular, down to earth guy? Keep moving. I am not the droid you’re looking for. Save us both while you still can.

“Passionate, and often pig headed activist intellectual seeks siren for love affair, children and occasional criminal conspiracy.

“Such a woman should [be] spirited and playful, of high intelligence, though not necessarily formally educated, have spunk, class & inner strength and be able to think strategically about the world and the people she cares about.”

LOOKING FOR LOVE

The unusual relationship request is accompanied by five photographs resembling Assange, the main one being a close-up smiling picture.

It’s captioned: “The author, facing the rising sun after an all puzzle contest.”

Confirming the validity of the profile, OkCupid co-founder Sam Yagan said: “This is real, as best we can tell.

“We have manual and automatic systems in place to prevent fraud. We can tell when a profile is created, from where — and we’re not going to say.

“If the profile is a ruse, then whoever did it went to elaborate lengths. And if someone faked this in 2006, that person has done an amazing job predicting the future.”

This is real, as best we can tell

Sam Yagan OkCupid co-founder

The bizarre revelation was made on blog Frugal Brutal Beauty in 2010.

Assange goes under the name ‘Harry Harrison’, the pen name of an American author of science-fiction books whose protagonist, “Slippery Jim,” is a globetrotting con man.

‘Harry’ was extremely active during his first month on the site, according to Yagan, completing 42 personalty tests. Most members only complete one, if any.

Although his specific answers aren’t available, it is possible to see the results, which included:

  • The Politics Test: Strong Democrat
  • The Death Test: Dead at 83
  • The Intellectual Sexiness Test: 85 intellectual sexiness!
  • The Atheist Test: 75 per cent – The Ardent Atheist
  • The EXTREMELY advanced MATH Test: 84 on the MathDorkOMeter

In addition, Harrison answered the site’s “match questions,” which show that he’s 27 per cent more arrogant, 12.3 per cent kinkier and 10.5 per cent “less capitalistic” than OkCupid’s seven million members.

Yagan admits Assange’s profile attracted “several” responses.

A hairy and dishevelled Assange spent 2,487 days holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy to avoid sex assault claims in Sweden claims.

He feared being sent to the States – where he was wanted over an alleged hacking conspiracy with whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

During that time his health has deteriorated as a result of a lack of sunlight, a Wikileaks source told the Mirror.

In court yesterday, the 47-year-old was blasted a “narcissist who can’t get beyond his own self interest” as he was found guilty of skipping bail in 2012 – relating to his time at the embassy.


WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR:

  • Julian Assange found guilty of skipping bail in UK and could face a year in jail
  • He was arrested after 2,487 days holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London – costing taxpayers more than £10m
  • Assange went into hiding in August 2012 to avoid facing extradition to Sweden over sex assault and rape allegations
  • He is also wanted in US for on suspicion of espionage and publication of sensitive government documents
  • Assange fears he could face death penalty if extradited to US over WikiLeaks scandal
  • Ecuadorian President said Assange’s release dependent on not facing extradition to country with death penalty
  • Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan said “UK courts will decide” his future
  • It’s been revealed Assange staged ‘dirty protests’ while in Ecuador’s embassy

He now faces a battle against extradition to the US where he was today charged over the Iraq War Logs.

Swedish lawyers want to reopen the sex allegations which first sent Assange into hiding – a move which has cost the British taxpayer more than £10m.

He will now learn his fate at Southwark Crown Court on May 2.

 Assange flashed a peace sign in handcuffs

Getty Images – Getty

Assange flashed a peace sign in handcuffs
 Assange took refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden - where he faced accusations of sexual assault
Assange took refuge in the embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden – where he faced accusations of sexual assault
Diane Abbott defends Julian Assange after his arrest from the Ecuadorian Embassy


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FILE PHOTO: Amit Shah, president of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party addresses party workers in Ahmedabad
FILE PHOTO: Amit Shah, president of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) addresses party workers in Ahmedabad, India, February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Amit Dave/File Photo

April 12, 2019

By Devjyot Ghoshal

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The head of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist party took his invective against illegal Muslim immigrants to a new level this week as the general election kicked off, promising to throw them into the Bay of Bengal.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah referred such illegal immigrants as “termites”, a description he also used last September, when he drew condemnation from rights groups. The U.S. State Department also noted the remark in its annual human rights report.

“Infiltrators are like termites in the soil of Bengal,” Shah said on Thursday at a rally in the eastern state of West Bengal, as voting in India’s 39-day general election started.

“A Bharatiya Janata Party government will pick up infiltrators one by one and throw them into the Bay of Bengal,” he said, referring to illegal immigrants from neighboring Muslim-majority Bangladesh.

Shah nevertheless reiterated the BJP’s stance on giving citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs from Bangladesh and Pakistan.

India is already working on deporting an estimated 40,000 Rohingya Muslims living in the country after fleeing Buddhist-majority Myanmar. New Delhi considers them a security threat.

The comments from Shah, the right-hand man of Modi, drew criticism from the main opposition Congress party as well as minority groups. On Twitter, some users likened his speech to a suggestion of ethnic cleansing.

“The statement is a direct attack on the identity and integrity of the nation as a secular state,” the Kerala Christian Forum, a group from the southern state, said in a statement. It demanded an apology from Shah.

A BJP spokesman declined to comment on the speech.

Congress spokesman Sanjay Jha said Shah’s remarks were a deliberate attempt to polarize voters along sectarian lines.

“The political business model of the BJP is to raise the communal temperature, keep it at a boil, and to keep India in a permanent religious divide,” Jha said.

(Reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal; Additional reporting by Munsif Vengattil; Editing by Krishna N. Das)

Source: OANN

In the end, the man who reportedly smeared feces on the walls of his lodgings, mistreated his kitten, and variously blamed the ills of the world on feminists and bespectacled Jewish writers was pulled from the Ecuadorian embassy looking every inch like a powdered-sugar Saddam Hussein plucked straight from his spider hole. The only camera crew to record this pivotal event belonged to Ruptly, a Berlin-based streaming-online-video service, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of RT, the Russian government’s English-language news channel and the former distributor of Julian Assange’s short-lived chat show.

RT’s tagline is “Question more,” and indeed, one might inquire how it came to pass that the spin-off of a Kremlin propaganda organ and now registered foreign agent in the United States first arrived on the scene. Its camera recorded a team of London’s Metropolitan Police dragging Assange from his Knightsbridge cupboard as he burbled about resistance and toted a worn copy of Gore Vidal’s History of the National Security State.

Vidal had the American national-security establishment in mind when he wrote that polemic, although I doubt even he would have contrived to portray the CIA as being in league with a Latin American socialist named for the founder of the Bolshevik Party. Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno announced Thursday that he had taken the singular decision to expel his country’s long-term foreign guest and revoke his asylum owing to Assange’s “discourteous and aggressive behavior.”

According to Interior Minister María Paula Romo, this evidently exceeded redecorating the embassy with excrement—alas, we still don’t know whether it was Assange’s or someone else’s—refusing to bathe, and welcoming all manner of international riffraff to visit him. It also involved interfering in the “internal political matters in Ecuador,” as Romo told reporters in Quito. Assange and his organization, WikiLeaks, Romo said, have maintained ties to two Russian hackers living in Ecuador who worked with one of the country’s former foreign ministers, Ricardo Patiño, to destabilize the Moreno administration.

We don’t yet know whether Romo’s allegation is true (Patiño denied it) or simply a pretext for booting a nuisance from state property. But Assange’s ties to Russian hackers and Russian intelligence organs are now beyond dispute.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 cyberoperatives for Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate for the General Staff (GRU) suggests that Assange was, at best, an unwitting accomplice to the GRU’s campaign to sway the U.S. presidential election in 2016, and allegedly even solicited the stolen Democratic correspondence from Russia’s military intelligence agency, which was masquerading as Guccifer 2.0. Assange repeatedly and viciously trafficked, on Twitter and on Fox News, in the thoroughly debunked claim that the correspondence might have been passed to him by the DNC staffer Seth Rich, who, Assange darkly suggested, was subsequently murdered by the Clintonistas as revenge for the presumed betrayal.

Mike Pompeo, then CIA director and, as an official in Donald Trump’s Cabinet, an indirect beneficiary of Assange’s meddling in American democracy, went so far as to describe WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” For those likening the outfit to legitimate news organizations, I’d submit that this is a shade more severe a description, especially coming from America’s former spymaster, than anything Trump has ever grumbled about The New York Times or The Washington Post.

Russian diplomats had concocted a plot, as recently as late 2017, to exfiltrate Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy, according to The Guardian. “Four separate sources said the Kremlin was willing to offer support for the plan—including the possibility of allowing Assange to travel to Russia and live there. One of them said that an unidentified Russian businessman served as an intermediary in these discussions.” The plan was scuttled only because it was deemed too dangerous.

In 2015, Focus Ecuador reported that Assange had aroused suspicion among Ecuador’s own intelligence service, SENAIN, which spied on him in the embassy in a years-long operation. “In some instances, [Assange] requested that he be able to choose his own Security Service inside the embassy, even proposing the use of operators of Russian nationality,” the Ecuadorian journal noted, adding that SENAIN looked on such a proposal with something less than unmixed delight.

All of which is to say that Ecuador had ample reasons of its own to show Assange the door and was well within its sovereign rights to do so. He first sought refuge in the embassy after he jumped bail more than seven years ago to evade extradition to Sweden on sexual-assault charges brought by two women. Swedish prosecutors suspended their investigation in 2017 because they’d spent five years trying but failing to gain access to their suspect to question him. (That might now change, and so the lawyers for the claimants have just filed to reopen the cases.) But the British charges remained on the books throughout.

The Times of London leader writer Oliver Kamm has noted that quite apart from being a “victim of a suspension of due process,” Assange is “is a fugitive from it.” Yet to hear many febrile commentators tell it, his extradition was simply a matter of one sinister prime minister cackling down the phone to another, with the CIA nodding approvingly in the background, as an international plot unfurled to silence a courageous speaker of truth to power. Worse than that, Assange and his ever-dwindling claque of apologists spent years in the pre-#MeToo era suggesting, without evidence, that the women who accused him of being a sex pest were actually American agents in disguise, and that Britain was simply doing its duty as a hireling of the American empire in staking out his diplomatic digs with a net.

As it happens, a rather lengthy series of U.K. court cases and Assange appeals, leading all the way up to the Supreme Court, determined Assange’s status in Britain.

The New Statesman’s legal correspondent, David Allen Green, expended quite a lot of energy back in 2012 swatting down every unfounded assertion and conspiracy theory for why Assange could not stand before his accusers in Scandinavia without being instantly rendered to Guantanamo Bay. Ironically, as Green noted, going to Stockholm would make it harder for Assange to be sent on to Washington because “any extradition from Sweden … would require the consent of both Sweden and the United Kingdom” instead of just the latter country. Nevertheless, Assange ran and hid and self-pityingly professed himself a “political prisoner.”

Everything about this Bakunin of bullshit and his self-constructed plight has belonged to the theater of the absurd. I suppose it’s only fair that absurdity dominates the discussion now about a newly unsealed U.S. indictment of Assange. According to Britain’s Home Office, the Metropolitan Police arrested Assange for skipping bail, and then, when he arrived at the police station, he was further arrested “in relation to a provisional extradition request from the United States.”

The operative word here is provisional, because that request has yet to be wrung through the same domestic legal protocols as Sweden’s. Assange will have all the same rights he was accorded when he tried to beat his first extradition rap in 2010. At Assange’s hearing, the judge dismissed his claims of persecution by calling him “a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests.” Neither can his supporters.

A “dark moment for press freedom,” tweeted the NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden from his security in press-friendly Moscow. “It’s the criminalization of journalism by the Trump Justice Department and the gravest threat to press freedom, by far, under the Trump presidency,” intoned The Intercept’s founding editor Glenn Greenwald who, like Assange, has had that rare historical distinction of having once corresponded with the GRU for an exclusive.

These people make it seem as if Assange is being sought by the Eastern District of Virginia for publishing American state secrets rather than for allegedly conniving to steal them.

The indictment makes intelligible why a grand jury has charged him. Beginning in January 2010, Chelsea Manning began passing to WikiLeaks (and Assange personally) classified documents obtained from U.S. government servers. These included files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and U.S. State Department cables. But Manning ran into difficulties getting more documents, owing to the limitations of her modest security clearance.

At this point, Assange allegedly morphed from being a recipient and publisher of classified documents into an agent of their illicit retrieval. “On or about March 8, 2010, Assange agreed to assist [Chelsea] Manning in cracking a password stored on United States Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Networks, a United States government network used for classified documents and communications,” according to the indictment.

Assange allegedly attempted to help Manning do this using a username that was not hers in an effort to cover her virtual tracks. In other words, the U.S. accuses him of instructing her to hack the Pentagon, and offering to help. This is not an undertaking any working journalist should attempt without knowing that the immediate consequence will be the loss of his job, his reputation, and his freedom at the hands of the FBI.

I might further direct you to Assange’s own unique brand of journalism, when he could still be said to be practicing it. Releasing U.S. diplomatic communiqués that named foreigners living in conflict zones or authoritarian states and liaising with American officials was always going to require thorough vetting and redaction, lest those foreigners be put in harm’s way. Assange did not care—he wanted their names published, according to Luke Harding and David Leigh in WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy. As they recount the story, when Guardian journalists working with WikiLeaks to disseminate its tranche of U.S. secrets tried to explain to Assange why it was morally reprehensible to publish the names of Afghans working with American troops, Assange replied: “Well, they’re informants. So, if they get killed, they’ve got it coming to them. They deserve it.” (Assange denied the account; the names, in the end, were not published.)

James Ball, a former staffer at WikiLeaks—who argues against Assange’s indictment in these pages—has also remarked on Assange’s curious relationship with a notorious Holocaust denier named Israel Shamir:

Shamir has a years-long friendship with Assange, and was privy to the contents of tens of thousands of US diplomatic cables months before WikiLeaks made public the full cache. Such was Shamir’s controversial nature that Assange introduced him to WikiLeaks staffers under a false name. Known for views held by many to be antisemitic, Shamir aroused the suspicion of several WikiLeaks staffers—myself included—when he asked for access to all cable material concerning ‘the Jews,’ a request which was refused.

Shamir soon turned up in Moscow where, according to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, he was offering to write articles based on these cables for $10,000 a pop. Then he traveled to Minsk, where he reportedly handed over a cache of unredacted cables on Belarus to functionaries for Alexander Lukashenko’s dictatorship, whose dissident-torturing secret police is still conveniently known as the KGB.

Fish and guests might begin to stink after three days, but Assange has reeked from long before he stepped foot in his hideaway cubby across from Harrods. He has put innocent people’s lives in danger; he has defamed and tormented a poor family whose son was murdered; he has seemingly colluded with foreign regimes not simply to out American crimes but to help them carry off their own; and he otherwise made that honorable word transparency in as much of a need of delousing as he is.

Yet none of these vices has landed him in the dock. If he is innocent of hacking U.S. government systems—or can offer a valid public-interest defense for the hacking—then let him have his day in court, first in Britain and then in America. But don’t continue to fall for his phony pleas for sympathy, his megalomania, and his promiscuity with the facts. Julian Assange got what he deserved.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

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Bill Priestap, left, with Michael Horowitz, DoJ inspector general.

By Eric Felten, RealClearInvestigations
April 12, 2019

Attorney General William Barr shocked official Washington Wednesday by saying what previously couldn’t be said: That the counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016 involved “spying.”

The spying, which Barr vowed to investigate, is not the only significant possible violation of investigative rules and ethics committed by agents, lawyers, managers, and officials at the FBI and the Department of Justice. A catalogue of those abuses can be found in recently released testimony that Edward William Priestap provided to Congress in a closed-door interview last summer. From the end of 2015 to the end of 2018 Bill Priestap was assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, which meant he oversaw the FBI’s global counterintelligence efforts.

In that role, he managed both of the bureau’s most politically sensitive investigations: the inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information and the probe into whether Donald Trump or his campaign conspired with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election. His testimony provides rare insight into the attitudes and thoughts of officials who launched the Russia probe and the probe of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose final report is expected to be released very soon.

More important, his testimony contains extensive indications of wrongdoing, including that the FBI and DoJ targeted Trump and did so with information it made no effort to verify. It paints a portrait of the Obama-era bureau as one that was unconcerned with political interference in investigations and was willing to enlist the help of close foreign allies to bring down its target. And, perhaps presaging a defense to Barr’s claim that American officials had spied on the Trump campaign, it showcases the euphemisms that can be used to disguise “spying.”

Filling In the Blanks

Priestap’s testimony took place on June 5, 2018, in Room 2226 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The questioning, by congressmen and House committee staff, focused on whether the FBI had applied the same rigor to the Clinton investigation that it had to the Trump probe.

The transcript the public can read today contains not only those questions and Priestap’s responses, but also the tell-tale redactions of anxious bureaucrats. One thing that is very clear is that the Sharpie brigades at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice really, really didn’t want anyone to know where Bill Priestap was a week into May 2016.

Rep. Jim Jordan: Where in the world was Bill Priestap?

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Not long into the questioning that Tuesday morning last summer, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) asked, “Do you ever travel oversees?”

“Yes,” said Priestap.

 “How often?”

 “As little as possible.”

The seeming comedy routine notwithstanding, Jordan later asked how many times in his 2½ years running the counter-intelligence shop Priestap had traveled abroad.

 “I want to say three times,” he said.

 “And can you tell me where you went?” Jordan asked.

“The ones I’m remembering are the [REDACTED].”

Jordan drilled in: “All three times to [REDACTED]?

Priestap said the trips he remembered “off the top of my head were all [REDACTED].”

Jordan asked whether Priestap remembered when he went to this place. Priestap said “No.”

Jordan was back at it in later rounds of questioning, asking whether Priestap had traveled to a given location at a given time in 2016. Over and again, censors from the FBI and DoJ have redacted the location and the time.

What could this exotic destination be?  How is the timing of Priestap’s trip there a matter of national security? What secrets were the redactors trying to protect?

Peter Strzok: “Bill” was in London. 

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Turns out the Sharpie brigades weren’t nearly as thorough as they thought. A long-available transcript of text messages between FBI agent Strzok and lawyer Page – the paramours who worked on both the Clinton and Trump investigations – provide the answer. It’s right there on the page detailing texts between Strzok and Page on May 4, 2016. At around 9:31 that Wednesday evening, Strzok writes to say he is worried about getting a memo into shape that is expected that night or the next morning. He feels pressured even though “I don’t know that Bill will read it before he gets back from London next week.” Go to a text from the next Monday morning, May 9, and Strzok is wondering who will be receiving the daily report on the Clinton investigation, what “with Bill out.”

So there we have it. Bill Priestap was in London on or around May 9. Which strongly suggests that all three of the international trips taken by him during his tenure as FBI counterintelligence chief were to London.

Still, there is a reason the censors had out their Sharpies. It has to do with another question Jordan asked Priestap: “Okay. So what were you doing in [REDACTED] in the [REDACTED] of 2016?”

“So,” Priestap replied, “I went to meet with a foreign partner, foreign government partner.” In other words, almost certainly British intelligence. Not exposing our British partners has been the Justice Department’s justification for locking up secrets about the beginnings of the Trump investigation. The redactions try and fail to hide that Priestap met repeatedly with his British counterparts in 2016.

Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos was also in London. So was the FBI, around the same time.

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File

Students of the Russia-collusion saga will recall that some of the earliest and most significant events cited as leading to the FBI’s investigation of Team Trump took place in a certain REDACTED country during a REDACTED season in 2016. It was over breakfast on April 26 in London that the mysterious Maltese professor, Joseph Mifsud, told young Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Five days later, on May 1, Papadopoulos had drinks with Australian diplomat Alexander Downer in a London bar where he shared this piece of gossip/intel. And, of course, London is home to the author of the anti-Trump “dossier,” Christopher Steele.

According to the official story laid out in the New York Times, Australian officials did not pass on this new information for two months. And while Steele was retained by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS in the spring to dig up dirt on Trump for the Clinton campaign, the official story is that he did not start working with U.S. officials until the summer.

And so it is more than passingly curious that Priestap kept going to London when these significant events were occurring. Jordan asked Priestap about his second trip there: “What did it have to do with?”

Priestap demurred: “I’m not at liberty to discuss that today.”

After some dodging and weaving, Jordan came back to the question, but this time with an uncomfortable specificity: “Was your second trip then concerning the Trump-Russia investigation?” he asked.

“Sir, again, I’m just not at liberty to go into the purpose of my second trip.”

Priestap could have answered “no” without perjuring himself, he could have quickly put this matter to bed.  His “I’m not at liberty” answers strongly suggest that the Trump-Russia investigation was exactly what his second trip to London was about.

Spying, Redefined

Attorney General Barr’s statement that “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign makes another part of Priestap’s testimony – about why an FBI asset in London named Stefan Halper reached out to Papadopoulos and to another Trump foreign policy adviser, Carter Page — even more significant.

Stefan Halper: also in London.

Voanews.com/Wikimedia

Weeks before Priestap’s testimony was taken last summer, the efforts of Halper, an American scholar who works in Britain, had been exposed. Republicans had been spluttering with outrage that the FBI would deploy a spy against an American presidential campaign. Democrats had been countering that while the bureau used informants, only the ignorant and uninitiated would call them spies.

Democratic staff counsel Valerie Shen tried to use her questioning of Priestap to put the spying issue to bed. “Does the FBI use spies?” she asked the assistant director for counterintelligence (who would be in a position to know).

“What do you mean?” Priestap responded. “I guess, what is your definition of a spy?”

“Good question,” said Shen. “What is your definition of a spy?”

Before Priestap answered, his lawyer, Mitch Ettinger, intervened. “Just one second,” he said. Then Ettinger – who was one of President Bill Clinton’s attorneys during the Paula Jones/Monica Lewinsky scandal – conferred with his client.

Back on the record, Priestap presented what smacks of pre-approved testimony: “I’ve not heard of nor have I referred to FBI personnel or the people we engage with as – meaning who are working in assistance to us – as spies. We do evidence and intelligence collection in furtherance of our investigations.”

Shen was happy with the answer, and so she asked Priestap to confirm it: “So in your experience the FBI doesn’t use the term ‘spy’ in any of its investigative techniques?” Priestap assured her the word is never spoken by law-enforcement professionals – except, he said (wandering dangerously off-script), when referring to “foreign spies.”

“But in terms of one of its own techniques,” Shen said, determined to get Priestap back on track, “the FBI does not refer to one of its own techniques as spying?”

“That is correct, yes.”

“With that definition in mind, would the FBI internally ever describe themselves as spying on American citizens?”

“No.”

So there we have it with all the decisive logic of a Socratic dialogue: The FBI could not possibly have spied on the Trump campaign because bureau lingo includes neither the noun “spy” nor the verb “to spy.” Whatever informants may have been employed, whatever tools of surveillance may have been utilized, the FBI did not spy on the Trump campaign – didn’t spy by definition, as the bureau doesn’t use the term (except, of course, to describe the very same activities when undertaken by foreigners).

What’s telling about this line of questioning is that it inadvertently confirms Republican suspicions — and Attorney General Barr’s assertion. If House Democrats believed there had been no spying on the Trump campaign, they could have asked Priestap whether the FBI ever spies on Americans, given the common meaning of the verb “to spy.” They could have flat-out asked whether the FBI had spied on Trump World. Instead, Democratic counsel asked whether, given the FBI’s definition of spying, the bureau would “internally ever describe themselves as spying on American citizens.” It would seem that Democrats were every bit as convinced as Republicans that the FBI spied on Trump’s people.

Interpreting ‘Political Interference’

Democratic lawyer Shen also seemed to be engaged in damage control when she asked Priestap whether “political interference in the Department of Justice or FBI investigation [is] ever proper?”

Surprisingly, Priestap said it was: “In my opinion, I can imagine situations where it would be proper.” He explained that the political appointees in an administration might determine “that the national security interests of the country outweigh the law enforcement/prosecutive interest of the FBI and Department of Justice.”

Shen then appeared to push him to clean up his answer, suggesting that what Priestap was describing wasn’t “a political determination” but “a policy interpretation balancing national security and law enforcement.”

“Yeah. I guess,” Priestap said. “And maybe I misunderstood your question.” Then what does he do but repeat his belief that political appointees — and “by political, I could imagine, for example, the National Security Council” — might act on the notion that national security outweighs other considerations.”

“Right. Yeah. Right,” Shen said. “Let me rephrase.” She explained she wasn’t asking about decisions political officials make, but rather, decisions officials make for political reasons. Then came the rephrased question: “Is interference in a Department of Justice or FBI investigation ever proper when motivated by purely political considerations?” [Emphasis added]

“Not in my opinion,” responded Priestap.

What Shen was laboring to establish was that the only sort of investigative behavior that could be called political interference was when someone at DoJ or FBI acted out of “purely political considerations.” That’s a standard that leaves plenty of room for politics.

Targeting Trump?

But does it leave room enough for the “dossier”? The political abuse foremost in Republican minds was, and remains, that collection of howlers and hearsay allegedly compiled by Christopher Steele, who was sold to the public as a high-minded former British spy instead of a man being paid by the Clinton campaign to dirty up Trump.  Steele’s efforts were lapped up by the FBI and DoJ even though the lawmen knew Steele was peddling political work-product — opposition research paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Carter Page: Was he the real quarry, or was Donald Trump?

Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP

In particular, Republicans have charged that Steele’s dossier was presented to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court without full disclosure of its partisan origins, thus perpetrating a fraud on the FISA court. The accusation was formalized in May 2018, when Republicans demanded the appointment of a second special counsel because, they claimed, “the FBI and DOJ used politically biased, unverified sources to obtain warrants issued by the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISA Court) that aided in the surveillance of U.S. citizens, including Carter Page.”

Shen, the House Oversight Committee minority counsel, brushed that accusation aside with what appeared to be an unambiguous and definitive question: “Mr. Priestap,” she asked, “are you aware of any instances of the FBI and DOJ ever using politically biased, unverified sources in order to obtain a FISA warrant?”

Priestap gave the most unambiguous and definitive of answers: “No.” One might be tempted to think that was an endorsement of the dossier, a confirmation that the FISA warrant applications were largely based on information that was neither politically biased nor unverified. But that would be taking the question and the answer on face value, when something rather less straightforward was going on.

Shen followed with another broad, all-encompassing question about the propriety of the FBI and DoJ’s behavior: “Are you aware,” she asked Priestap, “of any instances where the FBI or DOJ did not present what constituted credible and sufficient evidence to justify a FISA warrant?”

Priestap’s response is a textbook case of circular logic: “If it’s not justified, the court doesn’t approve it. So, like, if we’re not meeting the standard required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the requests are turned down.”

“So, in other words,” said the Democratic counsel, “by definition, if you presented information and a FISA court approved it, that would constitute credible sufficient information?”

“In my opinion,” said Priestap, “yes.”

Sit back and savor that exchange for a moment. One of the most senior officials in the Federal Bureau of Investigation – an organization that regularly refers for prosecution people who don’t tell the full truth – champions this peculiar standard of credibility: If you can snooker a FISA court judge, the information used to traduce the court is rendered by definition “credible sufficient information.” What is the condition of the FBI if its leaders think whatever you can get past a judge is good enough?

This strange concept of legal alchemy aside, the question remains whether the dossier was used merely as a vehicle to get information on Carter Page, or whether the real quarry was Donald Trump himself. As before, Shen was unintentionally helpful at winkling inadvertent truths out of her cooperative witness. It started with the softest of softballs: “Are you aware of any FBI investigations motivated by political bias?”

“I am not.”

“Are you aware of any Justice Department investigations motivated by political bias?”

“No.”

 And a little later: “Are you aware of any actions ever taken to damage the Trump campaign at the highest levels of the Department of Justice or the FBI?”

“No.”

And there Shen might have left it, having elicited basic denials that the FBI and Justice had abused their power. But then she pushed her luck, asking a question that wasn’t worded quite carefully enough: “Are you aware of any actions ever taken to personally target Donald Trump at the highest levels of the Department of Justice or the FBI?”

Priestap must have pulled quite the face because Shen immediately declared, “I’ll rephrase.” Here’s how she tried it the second time: “Are you aware of any actions ever taken against Donald Trump at the highest levels of the Department of Justice or the FBI?”

Before Priestap can answer, his lawyer, Mitch Ettinger, interjected: “I think you need to rephrase your question.”

At which point Shen’s Democratic colleague Janet Kim jumped in to help: “Are you aware of any actions ever taken against Donald Trump at the highest levels of the Department of Justice or the FBI for the purpose of politically undercutting him?”

At last, Priestap was able to say, “No.”

That long road to “no” strong suggests that the highest levels of Justice and the FBI personally targeted Trump and took action against him. The only caveat is that Priestap believes none of that targeted action was done to undercut Trump politically. That may be so (however much the savvy observer may think otherwise). But it doesn’t blunt the main takeaway — that the bureau and DoJ targeted Trump.

In Summary…

So what did we learn from Bill Priestap’s compendious and revealing testimony?

  • We learned that the FBI and Justice targeted and took action against Trump.
  • We learned that the FBI, according to Priestap, is incapable of securing a FISA warrant with information that isn’t credible, although the judge’s approval of the warrant means by definition that the information is credible.
  • We learned that the FBI believes political interference in an investigation can be proper as long as the bureau isn’t acting purely politically.
  • We learned that the FBI did send at least one asset to do to the Trump campaign an activity that even the bureau would call “spying” — if it were done by foreign operatives.
  • We learned that the origins of the Trump-Russia tale will never be fully understood until the part played by British intelligence is made clear.

That’s an awful lot to take away from one largely neglected transcript. But it suggests just how much remains unknown about the Trump-Russia investigation while providing a glimpse at the people that want to keep it that way.

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Source: Real Clear Politics

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Guest post by Adrienna DiCioccio

In today’s America, we find that there is a huge separation between beliefs and ideologies. MSM outlets, social platforms, and the Democratic party are at war with Trump “MAGA” supporters.  There have been countless attacks on people for simply showing their support to the POTUS for wearing a red MAGA hat. A recent study has found over 400 hoax hate crimes in America. Most would say this is Trump Derangement Syndrome or TDS, but now the newly coined phrase is “MAGAphobic.” – in short means bigotry towards Republicans who voted for Donald Trump.

The two most recent hoax hate crimes against Trump supporters are outrageously ridiculous. First, it was the Covington High School boys being attacked by fake Vietnam vet Nathan Phillips.  This led to minors being doxed by Trump haters and verified accounts on Twitter saying grotesque things such as “LOCK THE KIDS IN THE SCHOOL AND BURN THAT BITCH TO THE GROUND.”

Second is Jussie Smollett and his hoax hate crime in Chicago claiming that two men in MAGA hats came up and yelled “This is MAGA country” and poured bleach on him while putting a noose around his neck. Come to find out he staged the whole thing—go figure. While the MSM pushed the story to the extreme and verified accounts bashed all Trump supporters as a threat to people all over the country.

Many conservatives believe there is something called liberal privilege and you don’t have to look hard to find it.  The fact is there is an ideology of extreme hate against President Trump and his supporters in the mainstream media and across social media. It has gotten to the point where people walk to the corner neighborhood store and get harassed. Or a mother takes her minor son shopping and watches him get slandered by an unhinged adult. Can we call this derangement of lies, hysteria and hate crimes MAGAphobia? I think we can simply because behind each one of these crimes there is a Trump hater. Who has one main goal and that is to get Trump out of office and ruin his 2020 campaign. Jack Posobiec’s MAGAphobia phrase defined by Will Chamberlin in the tweet below:

The hashtag #MAGAPhobia is trending on Twitter. Search and you will see all the lies and hoax hate crimes created by individuals who simply cannot accept the fact that Donald J. Trump is their president.

Source: The Washington Pundit


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