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Sun, 25 Mar 2018
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Russia leak prompts questions concerning staff undermining Trump

© Yahoo
A furor erupted at the White House on Wednesday over a damaging leak that revealed President Trump defied his aides' advice during a congratulatory phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The White House raised the prospect of a staff purge over the disclosure, saying in a statement that it would be a "fireable offense and likely illegal" to give Trump's briefing papers to the news media.

Chief of staff John Kelly was "frustrated and deeply disappointed" by the leak, a White House official told The Hill. The official refused to say whether the White House has launched a formal investigation into the incident.

Comment: See also: CNN: Trump, Kelly furious over leak that Trump was not to congratulate Putin


Trump: 'I would like to testify', Mueller probe

© Leah Mills/Reuters
President Donald Trump said that he wants to testify before Robert Mueller as part of his Special Counsel investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election

"Yes. I would like to," Trump said on Thursday when asked about an interview with Mueller during an event on trade.

The president's pronouncement comes after the sudden resignation of John Dowd, his top lawyer who was leading Trump's handling of the Mueller probe. Dowd had opposed Trump's desire to be interviewed by Mueller.

Despite denouncing the investigation as a "witch hunt," Trump had previously said that he would like to testify under oath. "I'm looking forward to it," Trump told the press in January. "I would do it under oath," he also reportedly vowed.

Trump has consistently denied any collusion with Russia.

The House Intelligence Committee voted on Thursday to formally end its Russia probe, after lawmakers found no evidence of collusion between Trump associates and Russia.

Comment: See also:

2 + 2 = 4

House Intel Committee votes to end Russia probe - no collusion found

© Reuters
The House Intelligence Committee has voted to formally end its Russia probe. Lawmakers found no evidence of collusion between associates of President Donald Trump and Russia.

The committee also voted to release the report, which was authored by Republicans. It will first be sent to the intelligence community so that classified material can be redacted, but is expected to be made public within weeks.

The report recommends a crackdown on administrative leaks including the introduction of "mandatory polygraphs" for officials who have top secret security clearance. It also accuses former Obama administration intelligence director James Clapper of providing "inconsistent testimony" regarding his contacts with the media.

In a summary of its findings, the committee said that some Trump associates had "ill-advised" contact with WikiLeaks but concluded that there was "no evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump's associates and the Kremlin."

The committee spoke to more than 70 witnesses during the course of the investigation, which was launched in January last year. It heard from many prominent Trump administration figures including Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon. It also reviewed more than 300,000 documents.

Comment: 70 witnesses, 300,000 documents, all to tell us what we all already knew. That's government for ya.

See also:


Kaspersky's 'Slingshot' report exposed an active, US-led counterterrorism cyber-espionage operation

An employee works at the headquarters of Kaspersky Lab
© Reuters
An employee works at the headquarters of Kaspersky Lab, a computer security company, in Moscow, Russia, July 29, 2013
The U.S. government and Russian cybersecurity giant Kaspersky Lab are currently in the throes of a nasty legal fight that comes on top of a long-running feud over how the company has conducted itself with regard to U.S. intelligence-gathering operations.

A recent Kaspersky discovery may keep the feud alive for years to come.

CyberScoop has learned that Kaspersky research recently exposed an active, U.S.-led counterterrorism cyber-espionage operation. According to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, the operation was used to target ISIS and al-Qaeda members.

On March 9, Kaspersky publicly announced a malware campaign dubbed "Slingshot." According to the company's researchers, the campaign compromised thousands of devices through breached routers in various African and Middle Eastern countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Turkey and Yemen.


Here's what the Senate Intel Committee thinks US needs to do to stop Russia from influencing elections

senate intel
After a year of investigation, the review of hundreds-of-thousands of documents, multiple hearings on Capitol Hill and interviews with key witnesses behind closed doors, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a series of recommendations Tuesday about how to bolster election security in the United States.

"We're now at a point where we have wrapped up one piece of our investigation which deals with election security," Chairman Richard Burr said during a press conference on Capitol Hill. "Let me say this with a great deal of confidence. It is clear the Russian government was looking for the vulnerabilities of our election system and highlighted some of the key gaps. There is no evidence any vote was changed."

"Russia attempted to penetrate 21 states. We know they were successful in penetrating at least one voter database. The Department of Homeland Security and FBI alerted states to the threat. The warnings did not provide enough information or go to the right person in every case," Burr continued. "We need to be more effective at deterring our adversaries. The federal government should partner with the states to truly secure their systems."

Comment: A fairly drab recommendation for a fairly humdrum accusation. All major powers probe the cyber security of their competitors, whether during elections or not. So naturally, U.S. officials will recommend beefing up security. But there's a reason the U.S. will never sign an agreement laying out the rules of cyber "engagement": they like doing all this and more with impunity. So they don't have much of a leg to stand on when accusing other countries of "penetrating databases". That's kid stuff.

War Whore

The untold story of John Bolton's role in US-Israeli strategy to start war with Iran

John Bolton
© Gage Skidmore/Flikr
John Bolton
Everyone knows Bolton is a hawk. Less understood is how he labored in secret to drive Washington and Tehran apart.

In my reporting on U.S.-Israeli policy, I have tracked numerous episodes in which the United States and/or Israel made moves that seemed to indicate preparations for war against Iran. Each time-in 2007, in 2008, and again in 2011-those moves, presented in corporate media as presaging attacks on Tehran, were actually bluffs aimed at putting pressure on the Iranian government.

But the strong likelihood that Donald Trump will now choose John Bolton as his next national security advisor creates a prospect of war with Iran that is very real. Bolton is no ordinary neoconservative hawk. He has been obsessed for many years with going to war against the Islamic Republic, calling repeatedly for bombing Iran in his regular appearances on Fox News, without the slightest indication that he understands the consequences of such a policy.

His is not merely a rhetorical stance: Bolton actively conspired during his tenure as the Bush administration's policymaker on Iran from 2002 through 2004 to establish the political conditions necessary for the administration to carry out military action.

Comment: See also:

Mr. Potato

Boris Johnson admits British Government has stocks of nerve agent used to poison Skripal

Boris Johnson Deutsche Welle interview
In an exclusive interview with DW's Zhanna Nemtsova, UK Foreign Secretary Johnson waffled on about the evils of Russia and why Putin is responsible for the attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal. In the course of the interview, he let something very significant slip.

Cloud Lightning

Washington and FBI insiders fear: 'General Flynn might take a flamethrower to this town before he's done"

Flynn is back
The biggest, baddest dude in Washington D.C. might be President Trump but Gen. Mike Flynn is running a close second, according to FBI insiders who fear he may start talking soon.

And talking about the FBI and what exactly went down during his ordeal with the Bureau's Andrew McCabe-infused investigation of Flynn. Those unflattering details, insiders reveal, would bring more unwanted turmoil and public scrutiny to the embattled agency. Especially the FBI's actions wielded against Flynn which likely involve illegality and corruption.

Worry quickly swept through the Beltway this weekend after Flynn appeared at a political rally days ago to support a California underdog running for Congress; Flynn's first public appearance since he was sacked as national security adviser in 2017.

That surprise appearance clearly put the D.C. establishment on notice.

Flynn is back.

Comment: Mike Flynn may have been one of the few really knowledgeable, capable and willing enough to truly help Trump drain the swamp - so he had to be taken out. But is he back in the sense that the article conveys? We'll have to wait and watch. See also:


Selective outrage: Liberal media slams Trump's call to Putin, forgets that Obama did the same in 2012

Putin and Obama
The mainstream media's anti-Trump obsession was on full-display Tuesday; with multiple networks slamming the President for calling Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his re-election; totally ignoring the fact that Barack Obama did the same thing in 2012.

The President confirmed this week that he placed a private phone call to Russian President Vladimir Putin hours after his landslide election; sparking outrage from liberal lawmakers and the destroy-Trump press.


Light Saber

Blunt Duterte blasts Canada over failed helicopter deal: 'How stupid can you get?'

duterte trudeau
© Mark R. Cristino / Reuters
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
Outspoken Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has launched another tirade of abuse, this time aimed at Canada after it decided to stop a $233-million deal to send 16 helicopters to Manila.

In his address to the General Assembly of the League of the Municipalities of the Philippines, Duterte hit out against Canada's decision after beginning his speech with a description of the various internal struggles his country is up against.

"My God, you Canadians, how stupid can you get? Our citizens are joining ISIS so we have every right to kill our citizens because we do not want to destroy the community with apathy."

The Philippines has been struggling with Islamic extremism in recent years, with terrorist groups affiliated to ISIS operating in the country since 2014. Tensions between extremist groups and the government culminated with the so-called Marawi Siege, a five-month conflict that has cost thousands of lives.

Comment: Duterte may be too rough around the edges for the elite, but his lowyalty to his people is unquestioned.