May 2017 News Reports


 

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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative May 2017 news and views

May 31

New York Times, Trump Likely to Pull U.S. Out of Climate Pact, Officials Say, Michael D. Shear and Coral Davenport, May 31, 2017. The decision would make good on President Trump’s campaign pledge, but would weaken the landmark accord that pledged action to curb global warming. Mr. Trump has been willing to shift direction up until an announcement, and an official said that caveats may accompany the withdrawal.

And Mr. Trump has proved himself willing to shift direction up until the moment of a public announcement. He is set to meet Wednesday afternoon with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (shown at left in a file photo), who has advocated that the United States remain a part of the Paris accords and could continue to lobby the president to change his mind.

Advocates for pullout are reported to include White House advisor Stephen Bannon, shown in a file photo at right.

Trump White House

Washington Post, How Jared Kushner built a luxury skyscraper using loans meant for job-starved areas, Shawn Boburg, May 31, 2017.   The strategy allowed Kushner and his partners to obtain $50 million in financing from foreigners through a U.S. visa program. Jared Kushner and his real estate partners wanted to take advantage of a federal program in 2015 that would save them millions of dollars as they built an opulent, 50-story residential tower in this city’s booming waterfront district, just across the Hudson River from Lower Manhattan.

There was just one problem: The program was designed to benefit projects in poor, job-starved areas.

So the project’s consultants got creative, records show. They worked with state officials in New Jersey to come up with a map that defined the area around 65 Bay Street as a swath of land that stretched nearly four miles and included some of the city’s poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhoods. At the same time, they excluded some wealthy neighborhoods only blocks away.

Washington Post, White House grants ethics waivers to 17 appointees, including four former lobbyists, Matea Gold, May 31, 2017. The White House disclosed Wednesday evening that it has granted ethics waivers to 17 appointees who work for President Trump and Vice President Pence, including four former lobbyists. The waivers exempt the appointees from certain portions of ethics rules aimed at barring potential conflicts of interest. In letters posted on the White House website, the White House counsel's office wrote that the waivers were in the public interest because the administration had a need for the appointees' expertise on certain issues.

Washington Post, Trump defends former adviser Carter Page, once again declares Russia probe a ‘witch hunt,’ Jenna Johnson​, May 31, 2017. People close to Trump have tried to distance the president from the international businessman and energy consultant, insisting that the two never met and that Page played a limited role in the campaign.

President Trump came to the defense of Carter Page — a former campaign adviser whose interactions with Russia are under investigation — in two tweets early Wednesday morning and accused Democrats of trying to block Page from testifying before a congressional committee. “Witch Hunt!” Trump at one point tweeted.

Page is an international businessman and energy consultant who became an unpaid adviser to Trump's campaign in late March 2016, joining a national security advisory group. Those close to Trump have tried to distance the president from Page, insisting that the two never met and that Page played a limited role.

Bloomberg, Touting Ties to Trump Is the Only Thing That Unites the Feuding Kushners, David Kocieniewski, Wenxin Fan and David M. Levitt, May 31, 2017 (with 3:31 min. video). Charles and Murray Kushner have been called the Cain and Abel of New Jersey real estate, feuding publicly for more than a decade through competing property empires. One thing now unites the brothers: Both have had projects promoted to Chinese investors by playing the White House card.

Charles is the father of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. His prolonged quarrel with Murray has sparked fraud allegations, newspaper comparisons to biblical fury, lawsuits and a revenge plot that landed Charles in prison.

Yet early this month, a Jersey City apartment project being developed by Murray’s company, the KRE Group, was pitched to investors in China with a promotion that includes images of Jared (shown in a file photo), his wife Ivanka Trump and the president. “Work hand-in-hand with Trump son-in-law Kushner,” said the pitch, which hasn’t previously been reported. It told the investors that by putting $500,000 in the planned apartment tower at 235 Grand Street, they could qualify for a U.S. resident visa through a program known as EB-5, aimed at attracting foreign funds to help develop neglected areas and promote jobs.

Neither Jared nor the Trumps have any involvement with the project, according to spokesmen for Kushner Cos. and KRE. Jared and the president have been accused of using their offices to promote their family businesses. Now the extended and estranged branch of the family seems to have joined in.

New York Times, Recruiting Proves Difficult as Trump Weighs Shake-Up, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, May 31, 2017. Recent investigations coupled with Mr. Trump’s habit of undercutting his staff are said to have driven away candidates for normally coveted West Wing jobs. By the time the first change in what may be a broader shake-up was announced Tuesday, the White House was left without a replacement. Michael Dubke, the White House communications director, said he would step down, but four possible successors contacted by the White House declined to be considered, according to an associate of Mr. Trump who like others asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.

Shaky Source?

Washington City Paper, Now-Notorious 'Private Investigator' in Seth Rich Case is Unlicensed in D.C., Jim McElhatton (freelance reporter and a licensed private investigator), May 31, 2017. And Rod Wheeler, the Fox talking head, was fired from MPD. Rod Wheeler, the now-notorious Fox News commentator who characterizes himself as a private investigator and whose recent comments fueled conspiracy theories about the murder of former DNC staffer Seth Rich, isn’t even licensed to practice in D.C., and the website for his investigative firm has disappeared from the Internet.

The former Metropolitan Police Department detective has steadfastly refused to answer questions from City Paper about whether he is a licensed private investigator in D.C., which, like many jurisdictions, has strict background and other regulatory requirements overseeing the businesses and individuals in the investigative field. But it’s clear that the jurisdiction where the murder of Rich occurred has no record of a licensed investigator by Wheeler’s name.

Democratic Politics

Joe Biden

Washington Post, Biden sets up new political action committee, signaling a possible 2020 White House run, John Wagner, May 31, 2017. The former vice president makes a play to stay politically active in coming years.

May 30

Inside Trump White House

President Donald Trump official

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Washington Post, This new CNN scoop shows the drip-drip-drip of Trump’s Russia scandal will continue, Greg Sargent, May 30, 2017. Russians privately claimed to have potentially compromising information that may have come from Trump’s finances. This revelation provides Democrats with an opening — to renew the pressure on congressional Republicans to prod Trump into releasing his tax returns, or to get access to them via other means.

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Washington Post, Mike Dubke resigns as White House communications director, Philip Rucker​, May 30, 2017. The departure could be the first of many from President Trump's senior staff as the Russia investigation intensifies. Dubke, who has been in the post for three months, resigned on May 18 and his last day could be today. ​Dubke, 47, who has worked closely with White House press secretary Sean Spicer, served as a behind-the-scenes player helping manage communications strategy. Dubke previously was a Republican strategist who founded Crossroads Media and had long ties to party establishment figures, including strategist Karl Rove.

Global News: Syria

SouthFront, Tiger Forces Prevail Against ISIS In Aleppo, Harold Hoover narration, May 30, 2017 (2:52 min. video). With the liberation of Syria FlagBazreh, government forces made a large step in a wider effort aimed at securing the Damascus countryside from various terrorist threats. On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that France would launch an immediate strike in response to any use of chemical weapons in Syria. The Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) have reached the border with Syria in the western part of the province of Nineveh. A spokesman of the PMU also announced that the group is ready to fight ISIS in Syria in coordination with the Damascus government.

American Conservative via Unz Review, The Life and Legacy of Lt. Gen. William Odom, Ron Unz, May 30, 2017 (republished from Sept. 8, 2008). While other top brass played press agents for the administration’s war, William Odom told the truth about Iraq — though few listened.

The death last week of Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the leading American national security figures of the last half century, prompts me to republish my 2008 encomium to his closest collaborator, Lt. Gen. William Odom, whose passing occurred almost exactly nine years earlier. During the aftermath of the 9/11 Attacks and the preparations for the Iraq War, I was stunned that the entire American media suddenly blacklisted the man (shown in an official photo) who had run the NSA for President Ronald Reagan for his discordant (and prescient) views, and this telling situation first marked my realization that we live in a largely fictional world constructed by “Our American Pravda.”

Days before his death, Odom had co-authored a Washington Post piece with Brzezinski, urging an immediate strategic rapprochement with Iran as a means of stabilizing Iraq pursuant to an American withdrawal. The Post had finally become willing to publish Odom’s views, but his counsel seemed to fall on deaf ears. The most chilling of his public pronouncements has received little attention, though it might be regarded as his last will and testament to the country he loved.

Intercept, Trial and Terror: The U.S. government has prosecuted 802 people for terrorism since the 9/11 attacks. Most of them never even got close to committing an act of violence, Staff report, Data last updated on May 30, 2017. The U.S. government segregates terrorism cases into two categories — domestic and international. This database contains cases classified as international terrorism, though many of the people charged never left the United States or communicated with anyone outside the country.

Since the 9/11 attacks, most of the 802 terrorism defendants prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice have been charged with material support for terrorism, criminal conspiracy, immigration violations, or making false statements — vague, nonviolent offenses that give prosecutors wide latitude for scoring quick convictions or plea bargains. 523 defendants have pleaded guilty to charges, while the courts found 175 guilty at trial. Just 2 have been acquitted and 3 have seen their charges dropped or dismissed, giving the Justice Department a near-perfect record of conviction in terrorism cases.

Today, 350 people charged with terrorism-related offenses are in custody in the United States, including 61 defendants who are awaiting trial and remain innocent until proven guilty.

May 29

Johnn F. Kennedy Looking UpWashington Post, JFK, the forever-young president, 100 years on, E.J. Dionne Jr., May 29, 2017 (print edition). We cannot imagine John F. Kennedy on his 100th birthday. For all of us, he will always be a man in his 40s, exuding the vigor that became one of his trademark words, pronounced in his distinctively New England way.

He was a student of history whose rhetoric gloried in the future, challenge and change. He became an icon even though he was an iconoclast. He could be coldly realistic, but he preached idealism. He honored intellectuals but mistrusted abstract thinking and ideology. He promised greater affluence but preached against complacency.

He was a fervent Cold Warrior whose most important triumphs came in the name of peace. He avoided nuclear holocaust during the Cuban missile crisis and negotiated a partial nuclear test-ban treaty with the Soviet Union. He took office with a muscular promise that the United States would “pay any price, bear any burden” in the battle for freedom. But five months before his death, he became a prophet of what would be called detente, describing peace as “the necessary, rational end of rational men.”

New York Times, Cornell’s Climate-Conscious Urban Campus Arises, Diane Cardwell and Vincent Tullo, May 29, 2017. A new complex on Roosevelt Island aims to produce as much energy as it uses. Here’s how the designers are making it happen.

New York Times, Isn’t Some of the Trump Hotel Profit Ours? Editorial Board, May 29, 2017. When President Trump took office, his lawyers said they had an easy way to solve the legal questions posed by his ownership of a Washington hotel. Since the Constitution’s emoluments clause bans government officials from accepting payments from foreign governments, Sheri Dillon of Morgan Lewis, standing with Mr. Trump next to a mound of files at a made-for-television news conference, said her client would “voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotel to the United States Treasury.”

You didn’t believe that, did you? Early on, anyone who asked the hotel for proof that it was earmarking foreign government profits for taxpayers was told to wait until the end of the year.

Global News: Russia, North Korea

World Beyond War, Russia Calls House Bill an “Act of War.” Will the Senate Block H.R. 1644? Gar Smith, May 29, 2017. Top Russian officials are concerned that a bill passed by the US Congress will do more than increase sanctions on North Korea. Moscow claims H.R. 1644 violates its sovereignty and constitutes an “act of war.” On May 4, 2017, House Resolution 1644, the innocently named “Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act,” was quickly passed by the US House of Representatives by a vote of 419-1 – and it was just as quickly labeled an “act of war” by a top Russian official. What caught the eye of Russian critics was Section 104, the part of the bill that presumed to grant the US “inspection authorities” over shipping ports (and major airports) far beyond the Korean Peninsula – specifically, ports in China, Russia, Syria, and Iran.

May 28

Global Affairs

New York Times, After Meeting, Merkel Laments Loss of Reliable Alliances, Alison Smale, May 28, 2017. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s most influential leader, has apparently concluded that the United States of President Trump is not the reliable partner her country and continent have automatically depended on in the past.

German FlagClearly disappointed with European leaders’ inability to persuade Mr. Trump to publicly endorse NATO’s doctrine of collective defense — or to agree to common positions on Russia, climate change or global trade — Mrs. Merkel said on Sunday that traditional alliances were no longer as reliable as they once were, and that Europe should pay more attention to its own interests “and really take our fate into our own hands.”

Her strong comments were a further indication that Mr. Trump’s trip did not go down well with influential European leaders and that it seems, at least from the Continent’s perspective, to have increased trans-Atlantic strains rather than diminish them.

Angela Merkel

Speaking on the campaign trail after contentious summit meetings in Belgium and Italy, Ms. Merkel (shown in a file photo) said: “The times in which we could rely fully on others, they are somewhat over.”

“This is what I experienced in the last few days,” she said. Given this new context for international relations, she said, “that is why I can only say that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands — of course in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain and as good neighbors wherever that is possible also with other countries, even with Russia.”

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Washington Post, For the U.S.-European alliance, everything has changed, Anne Applebaum, May 28, 2017. "Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!" (Donald Trump, Sunday morning).

For more than four months, the White House has confirmed no European ambassadors, filled no high-level diplomatic jobs and given no indication that it ever will. Occasional envoys, the vice president and defense secretary among them, have floated across the Atlantic, carrying messages of general reassurance. They have reconfirmed America’s commitment to NATO, spoken of old ties and old alliances, hinted and winked that nothing has changed.

What actually happened in Belgium and Italy? Having declared in Saudi Arabia that he would not “lecture” Arab leaders about human rights, Trump arrived in Brussels and began to lecture America’s closest allies, accusing them of owing “massive amounts of money” to NATO and U.S. taxpayers. This made no sense: NATO is not a club like Mar-a-Lago with annual dues. But it was a clear sign, at last, of what many had suspected all along: Trump prefers the company of dictators who flatter him to democrats who treat him as an equal.

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Washington Post, Military’s clout at White House could shift U.S. foreign policy, Missy Ryan and Greg Jaffe, May 28, 2017. Eight out of 25 senior positions on the council are held by current or former military officers, and a recent disconnect between the White House and State Department over a change in strategy for Afghanistan illustrated the influence that they hold in the Trump administration.

Team Trump Responds To Probes

Gen. John F. Kelly Homeland Security

Washington Post, Homeland security chief calls alleged proposal for Russia back channel ‘a good thing,’ Abby Phillip​, May 28, 2017. John Kelly (the retired general shown in a military uniform before his appointment as Homeland Security secretary) has been the lone administration official to speak publicly about reports that President Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner proposed a secret way to communicate with the Russian government. “Any way that you can communicate with people, particularly organizations that are not particularly friendly to us, is a good thing,” Kelly said on Sunday shows. 

Washington Post, As White House defends Kushner, experts criticize his alleged back-channel move, Abby Phillip and Max Ehrenfreund, May 28, 2017. Homeland Security chief John Kelly called reports that Jared Kushner sought a secret way to communicate with Moscow “a good thing,” but some former officials said such action could send a confusing message and be manipulated by a foreign power.

Around the Nation: Justice

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Washington Post, Sheriff’s deputy among 8 dead in Mississippi shooting, police say, Amy B Wang, May 28, 2017. "I ran out of bullets," the suspect told a reporter who was at the scene of his arrest in Lincoln County. Officials haven't filed charges in the attack and said it was premature to discuss a motive. 

Around the Nation: Educational, Social Justice

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Washington Post, ‘No one is teaching’: Nearly 200 D.C. teachers have quit since the school year began, Alejandra Matos, May 28, 2017. The rate of resignations during the school year for D.C. Public Schools is higher than many other urban school districts, according to data obtained by The Washington Post. The departures hit hardest in schools that already face numerous academic challenges, three of which lost between 20 percent and 28 percent of their teachers. May 27

New York Times, Trump Returns Home to Face Growing Crisis Over Kushner, Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, May 27, 2017. President Trump headed home from an overseas trip to face reports that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner (shown in a file photo), is under scrutiny in inquiries into possible ties between Russia and Trump associates. The White House was putting together a damage-control plan to wall off a scandal that has jeopardized Mr. Trump’s agenda and now threatens to engulf his family.

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Washington Post, National security adviser: ‘I would not be concerned’ about a Russia back channel, Philip Rucker, May 27, 2017. H.R. McMaster (shown in a file photo) and another top White House official refused to comment specifically on the growing controversy surrounding Jared Kushner. "It's not something that I've in any way been involved with or that I have any knowledge of," McMaster said.

Trump Travels

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Washington Post, Trump ends first overseas trip without committing to Paris climate agreement, Karen DeYoung and Philip Rucker, May 27, 2017. President Trump failed to commit to remaining within the Paris climate agreement during a two-day meeting with world leaders that ended here Saturday, but he tweeted that he was still considering it and would announce a final decision “next week.” The other six members reaffirmed their commitment to swiftly implement the 2015 accord to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

White House Chronicle, The Awful Budget and the Ugly Thinking Behind It, Llewellyn King, May 27, 2017. On the face of it, President Donald Trump’s $4.1 trillion budget for 2018 is risible. Its math doesn’t add up; it assumes an unlikely growth rate of 3 percent per year through 2027; and it avoids calculating the tax cut, which has been promised as the largest in history.

But it really warms to its perfidy when it comes to Medicaid and other programs for the poor. It says what some people have whispered for years: The poor are poor because they don’t work, and the sick have charities and emergency rooms. It is policy based on hearsay, on the reprehensible arguments of the country club soiree and on the folk wisdom of talk radio. This is a budget that is not only dangerous but also explicitly callous. It reveals a black heart, a locked mind and an indifference to U.S. needs in years to come. It will be amended in Congress, but its message will linger. It is an ugly message.

Global News: United Kingdom

United Kingdom flag

Daily Mail, 7/7 Met police chief calls for extremists to be locked up in INTERNMENT camps as he says MI5 and police cannot keep track of 3,000 terror suspects, Abul Taher and Martin Beckford, May 27, 2017. Thousands of radical extremists must be locked up in new internment camps to protect Britain from the unprecedented terror threat it faces, a Muslim former police chief declares today. Writing exclusively for the Mail on Sunday, Tarique Ghaffur warns there are too many extremists on the streets for police and MI5 officers to monitor. Mr Ghaffur, an Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard when the 7/7 bombings took place, proposes that special centres be set up to detain as many as 3,000 extremists, where they can be kept from launching attacks.  They would also be made to go through a de-radicalisation programme.

May 26

Stop Fascism Conference sponsored by KBBO-FM, Stop Fascism, speech by Truthdig columnist and Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, May 26, 2017 (74:21 min. video). This speech in Portland, OR is divided in two parts. The first is the speech (introduced by Becky Meirs and Paul Roland of KBBO-FM community radio). A separate follow-up is Q&A with Joe Sacco.

Russia Mania?

Hollywood Reporter, Donald Trump Angled for Soviet Posting in 1980s, Says Nobel Prize Winner, Scott Feinberg, May 26, 2017. Donald Trump, in the mid-1980s, aggressively pursued an official government post to the USSR, according to a Nobel Peace Prize winner with whom Trump interacted at the time.

"He already had Russia mania in 1986, 31 years ago," asserts Bernard Lown, a Boston-area cardiologist known for inventing the defibrillator and sharing the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize with a top Soviet physician in recognition of their efforts to promote denuclearization. Lown, now 95 and retired in Newton, Massachusetts, tells The Hollywood Reporter that Trump sought and secured a meeting with him in 1986 to solicit information about Mikhail Gorbachev. (Gorbachev had become the USSR's head of state — and met with Lown — the year before.) During this meeting, Lown says, the fast-rising businessman disclosed that he would be reaching out to then-President Ronald Reagan to try to secure an official post to the USSR in order to negotiate a nuclear disarmament deal on behalf of the United States, a job for which Trump felt he was the only one fit.

"He said to me, 'I hear you met with Gorbachev, and you had a long interview with him, and you're a doctor, so you have a good assessment of who he is,'" Lown recalls. "So I asked, 'Why would you want to know?' And he responded, 'I intend to call my good friend Ronnie,' meaning Reagan, 'to make me a plenipotentiary ambassador for the United States with Gorbachev.' Those are the words he used. And he said he would go to Moscow and he'd sit down with Gorbachev, and then he took his thumb and he hit the desk and he said, 'And within one hour the Cold War would be over!' I sat there dumbfounded. 'Who is this self-inflated individual? Is he sane or what?'"

The Lithuania-born Lown, who today is professor of cardiology emeritus at the Harvard School of Public Health, had been the subject of considerable media attention shortly before he first heard the name Trump. In October 1985, he and Yevgeny I. Chazov, the personal physician of the Kremlin's senior leadership (including Gorbachev), were chosen to share the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, a group they co-founded in 1980 that had grown to include more than 150,000 members in 49 countries. And in December 1985, shortly after collecting their Nobel medals in Oslo, Lown joined Chazov for a meeting at the Kremlin with Gorbachev, who unexpectedly had come into power that March, making Lown one of the first Westerners to spend time with him.

It wasn't long after Lown returned to the United States that he learned about Trump. "I get a call from New York and it was a Wall Street broker who was a friend of Trump's," Lown recalls, declining to name the individual. "He says, 'Trump would like to see you,' and I said, 'Who is Trump?' I had no idea." He continues, "This fellow was a member of the board of the Lown Cardiovascular Research Foundation, this Wall Street fellow, and he knew that we were short on funds for the research that I outlined and that we had to do in the following few years. He says, 'Here's somebody who might be a source of [funding]. Why don't you meet him? He wants to talk to you — he asked me to arrange it.' So I came into New York and went to Trump Tower and met him for lunch." Lown says it quickly became apparent that Trump had an agenda of his own. "I was sitting there in this glass bubble, overlooking New York, and feeling, 'What am I doing here?'" he recalls. "He seemed totally disjointed."

Hillary Clinton

New York Times, Criticizing Trump, Clinton Invokes Nixon Resignation, Jess Bidgood and Katharine Q Seelye, May 26, 2017. In an commencement speech at Wellesley College, Hillary Clinton (shown in a file photo) was critical of the current president without naming him, and noted that the president in the year she graduated ultimately resigned.

Investigative Claims Against Trump Allies

Palmer Report, FBI: Jared Kushner may have negotiated Russian loans for Donald Trump team in exchange for sanctions, Bill Palmer, May 26, 2017. If you’ve spent the past months trying to figure out why Jared Kushner secretly met with the Russian Ambassador in December and then turned around and met with the head of a Russian government-controlled bank, those two dots have finally been tied together by a new leak to the media this evening. Kushner (shown in a file photo) and Russia may have been negotiating Russian bank financing for Trump’s team in exchange for sanctions relief. Suit against Hillary Clinton over Benghazi deaths and emails is dismissed

Palmer Report, Jared Kushner is screwed: his intercepted phone calls with Russian Ambassador go back to April 2016, Bill Palmer, May 26, 2017. In the midst of a twenty-four hour period of leaks which have revealed everything from Kushner having tried to set up a secret backchannel with the Russians, to the FBI now investigating Kushner’s activities, here comes the part that’s going to sink him: he was making phone calls to the Russian Ambassador dating back to early 2016. This latest story has been broken by Reuters, and reveals that Jared Kushner and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak (shown in a file photo) had multiple phone calls dating back to April 2016. Reuters says it got the information from “seven current and former U.S. officials.” Now stop and think about how those U.S. officials would know about these phone calls.

Benghazi Suits Against Hillary Dismissed

Hillary Clinton

Politico, Hillary Clinton Benghazi suits dismissed, Josh Gerstein, May 26, 2017. A federal judge in Washington has dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Hillary Clinton's lax security surrounding her emails led to the deaths of two of the Americans killed in the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. In a ruling Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson tossed out the wrongful death claims as well as allegations that Clinton essentially slandered the parents of the deceased by contracting accounts the parents gave of their children's deaths.

The suit was filed last August by Patricia Smith, the mother of State Department information officer Sean Smith, and Charles Woods, the father of CIA operative Tyrone Woods. The case was brought weeks after Patricia Smith took to the stage at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and delivered an emotional speech blasting the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and for failing to save the four Americans who died in the Benghazi attack while she was secretary of state: Smith, Woods, CIA operative Glen Doherty and U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.

Juvenile Killer Prevails

Roll Call, Republican Gianforte Wins Montana Special Election, Simone Pathé, May 26, 2017. Greg Gianforte prevails despite misdemeanor assault citation on eve of election. Republican Greg Gianforte won the special election for Montana’s at-large House seat Thursday night. With 77 percent of precincts reporting, he led Democrat Rob Quist 51 percent to 44 percent. Gianforte (shown in a file photo) will fill the seat vacated by former GOP Rep. Ryan Zinke, who left to become Interior secretary.

Washington Commentary

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Washington Post, A week that reveals how rotten today’s Republican Party is, Jennifer Rubin (conservative syndicated columnist and Trump critic), May 26, 2017. President Trump has had more-scandalous weeks. But no week has matched this one in revealing the moral and intellectual rot at the center of the GOP. Pandemic intellectual dishonesty and celebration of uncivilized conduct now permeate the party and its support in the conservative ecosystem. This is the state of the GOP — a refuge for intellectual frauds and bullies, for mean-spirited hypocrites who preach personal responsibility yet excuse the inexcusable.

Washington Post, On Trumps’ first official trip, world gets its first real look at their marriage, Krissah Thompson, May 26, 2017. Holding hands or not, the Trumps drew the scrutiny that falls on all White House couples. As Melania Trump accompanied her husband on his first foreign trip, the public got an uncommon glimpse into the first couple’s dynamic.

Melania Trump Twitter photo

The first lady, who remained in New York when President Trump moved to Washington, was more visible than she has been during any other stretch of his presidency. The first couple has been married for 12 years and together for 17. The personalities they’ve presented to the public have typically suggested an opposites-attract dynamic — he is impulsive and decisive, while she is quiet and cautious.

Washington Post, About Melania Trump and that $51,500 jacket she wore in Italy, Robin Givhan, May 26, 2017. The head-shaking and tsk-tsking over Melania Trump’s attire calls to mind the outrage and indignation that erupted in 2009 when Michelle Obama wore $540 Lanvin sneakers to a Washington food bank. The fundamental point is fashion shame. 

Justice System

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Washington Post, Federal judge tosses life sentences for convicted sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, Tom Jackman, May 26, 2017. The life sentences that Lee Boyd Malvo received for his role in the sniper shootings which occurred in Virginia in 2002 were thrown out Friday by a federal judge, because he was 17 at the time of the attacks. The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole were unconstitutional for juveniles, and in 2016 the court decided that ruling should be applied retroactively.

And so even though Malvo pleaded guilty in Spotsylvania County and agreed to serve two life sentences without parole, in addition to being convicted by a jury and sentenced to two life sentences in Fairfax County, U.S. District Court Judge Raymond A. Jackson vacated the four sentences and ordered re-hearings for Malvo.

David A. Clarke Jr. Milwaukee Police Chief Gage Skidmore photo

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Washington Post, Here’s what the pins that Sheriff David Clarke wears actually mean, Philip Bump, May 26, 2017. A military veteran recently took issue with the many decorations on the Milwaukee officer’s uniform, which Clarke declined to help identify — saying they “have very significant emotional and real value to me.” The ones we have been able to identify are a mix of résumé and politics.

Global Terror

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Washington Post, Gunmen in Egypt kill 23 in attack on bus carrying Coptic Christians, Heba Farouk, May 26, 2017. It was the latest attack on the embattled Christian minority which has been increasingly targeted by militants from the Islamic State. Militants in military-style uniforms opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt on Friday, killing at least 26 people in the latest bloodshed targeting the country’s Christian minority, officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for previous attacks against Egypt’s Christians, who are about 10 percent of the population.

May 25

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Washington Post, Jared Kushner now a focus in Russia investigation, Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz, Devlin Barrett and Adam Entous​, May 25, 2017. FBI investigators are focusing on meetings held by Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and an influential White House adviser, as part of their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related matters, according to people familiar with the investigation. Kushner held meetings in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow.

Trump's Travels

New York Times, In Words, and Actions, Tough Posturing From Trump to Allies, Michael D. Shear, Mark Landler and James Kanter, May 25, 2017. President Trump promised NATO leaders that the U.S. would “never forsake” them, but also reminded them of their duty to pay a fair share of the costs. The discord was palpable even in the body language, which included an awkward handshake with one world leader and a little jostling with another.

Angela MerkelRelated News: Washington Post, Trump chastises fellow NATO members, demands they meet payment obligations, Philip Rucker, Karen DeYoung and Michael Birnbaum​, May 25, 2017. Trump used the occasion of his maiden summit with NATO leaders, where he was invited to dedicate the September 2001 memorial, to remind its members that “23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they are supposed to be paying,” and that they owe “massive amounts” from past years. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is shown in a file photo.

USA Today, President Trump shoved the Montenegro prime minister at NATO, Jessica Estepa, May 25, 2017. During his first joint meeting with North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders, President Trump on Thursday appeared to push aside the prime minister of Montenegro.

In a video of the interaction (portrayed at right), the president comes up from behind and then shoves Montenegro's Dusko Markovic to get to the front of the group of world leaders. Trump then adjusts his jacket. Markovic appears to be taken aback at first, but after seeing that it was Trump, he smiles and pats Trump on the back.

Around the Nation

Washington Post, Montana GOP candidate charged after allegedly body-slamming reporter, David Weigel​, May 25, 2017. A Fox News reporter who witnessed the scuffle described Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte throwing the reporter to the ground, grabbing his neck, striking him and exclaiming, “I’m sick and tired of this!" Hours before polls close Thursday after nearly four weeks of voting, three of Montana’s largest newspapers rescinded their endorsements of the Republican, shown in a file photo. Editor's note: Returns early Friday showed the Republican on his way to victory over his rival, a folk singer and first-time candidate. About 60 percent of voters cast their ballots in advance of election day.

Washington Post, Press advocates see Trump’s words behind physical attacks on journalists, Paul Farhi May 25, 2017. A reporter asks a politician a question — and allegedly gets attacked for doing his job. There’s even an audio recording of the incident. While it sounds like the alleged assault on Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs by Montana congressional candidate Greg Gianforte on Wednesday, the episode in question actually occurred three weeks ago in Alaska, part of what may be a rising trend of physical violence against journalists.

Inside Washington: Health Care Policy

Washington Post, Senate Republicans have all the evidence they need to reject the health-care overhaul, Paul Kane​, May 25, 2017. The $119 billion in savings would result mostly because fewer people would be covered and because the new legislation would loosen requirements. For some Senate Republicans, those facts may be all they need to bury the House version of a health-care overhaul once and for all.
 
UK Terror Attack Probe

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Washington Post, U.S. leaks in concert bomb investigation provoke ire from British officials, Karla Adam​, May 25, 2017. British indignation over alleged American leaks of investigative material related to the Manchester bombing will likely create a charged environment when the British Prime Minister Theresa May meets later today with President Trump. May said Thursday morning she would “make clear” to Trump when they meet later in the day at a NATO summit in Brussels that “intelligence that is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure.”

Leaks from the ongoing investigation — including the publication of crime-scene photos in the New York Times and the naming of the suspected bomber by U.S. broadcasters — have provoked ire from British officials. Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said he complained to acting U.S. ambassador Lewis Lukens that the leaks were undermining the investigation. “These leaks are completely unacceptable, and must stop immediately,” he said. “This behavior is arrogant and is undermining the investigation into the horrific attack on the city of Manchester.”

Washington Post, Trump asks for U.S. investigation into British bomb probe leaks, Karla Adam, May 25, 2017. British police investigating the Manchester attack have decided to withhold information from the United States in the wake of the leaks. British police chiefs have also criticized the leaks in a highly unusual statement.

Trump Court Appointments

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Washington Post, Senate Republicans likely to change custom that allows Democrats to block judicial choices, Robert Barnes and Ed O'Keefe, May 25, 2017. Under “blue slip” practice, nominations don’t proceed unless home-state senators approve.  leaders. But the rule was strictly observed during the Obama administration, and GOP opposition to President Barack Obama’s nominees partly explains why Trump entered office with more than 120 judicial vacancies to fill.

Mike Pompeo

National Public Radio, Pompeo Signals He'll Move CIA In A More Aggressive Direction, Rachel Martin interview of NPR national security correspondent Mary Louise Kelly, May 24, 2017. "We are back in the business of stealing secrets," says CIA chief Mike Pompeo (shown in a file photo), who made the comment Tuesday night in a session at CIA headquarters in northern Virginia. We examine what he meant.

Search For New FBI Director

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Washington Post, Lieberman officially withdraws from consideration for FBI post, Josh Rogin, May 25, 2017. President Trump’s drive to find a new FBI director has lost its “Joe-mentum.” Former senator Joseph I. Lieberman today withdrew his name from consideration for the post, citing a conflict of interest because his law firm colleague has signed on to help the White House with the Russia investigations.

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Lieberman had been considered a front-runner and met with Trump on May 17 to discuss succeeding James B. Comey. But Senate Democrats expressed reservations about their former colleague, who served as a Democrat and then as an independent. After Trump hired Marc Kasowitz, a partner in the firm where Lieberman is senior counsel, to help him navigate the investigations into the Trump team’s Russia ties, Lieberman’s prospects for becoming the head of the FBI decreased.

Investigations of Trump

Washington Post, How a Russia-friendly adviser found his way into the Trump campaign, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman, May 25, 2017. Carter Page, a businessman who had an office near Trump Tower, appeared as Donald Trump needed a foreign policy team. The story behind his arrival could answer key questions in the investigation into possible collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign.

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Washington Post, The official who let Trump keep his government hotel deal explains herself, Jonathan O'Connell, May 25, 2017. Denise Turner Roth’s phone began ringing almost as soon as the presidential election results were in. Everyone was asking: Would her agency pull the plug on Donald Trump’s lease for a Washington property where he had just opened a luxury hotel?

Roth (shown in an official photo), the top federal official at the agency overseeing the Old Post Office Pavilion, decided to leave office on Inauguration Day without ending Trump’s lease, leaving in place a business relationship between the president and a federal agency that some experts consider untenable.

In her first public remarks since leaving office, Roth told The Washington Post last week that she personally thinks President Trump should divest from the property but that the lease offered no valid reason to force him to do so. The former head of the General Services Administration, the federal government’s chief landlord, Roth said her decision was based on a technical reading of Trump’s lease and an interest in ensuring that the GSA maintained its integrity in a heated moment.

Roth has been likened to a sort of anti-Sally Yates, a reference to the former deputy attorney general who was fired by Trump after saying she could not legally defend one of his executive orders. By comparison, Roth has been accused of avoiding the lease decision to protect her own interests, since, after leaving government, she joined a company that does business with the GSA.

Kennedy 100th Birthday Reflections

Dallas Morning News, Dallas' darkest day: a Visual chronology of the JFK assassination, Michael Hogue, May 24, 2017. Eyewitness accounts.

PaulCraigRoberts.org, JFK at 100, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in a file photo), May 25, 2017. This Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2017, is the 100th birthday of JPaul Craig Robertsohn Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States. JFK was assassinated on November 22, 1963, as he approached the end of his third year in office. Researchers who spent years studying the evidence have concluded that President Kennedy was assassinated by a conspiracy between the CIA, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secret Service. (See, for example, JFK and the Unspeakable by James W. Douglass.)

Kennedy entered office as a cold warrior, but he learned from his interaction with the CIA and Joint Chiefs that the military/security complex had an agenda that was self-interested and a danger to humanity. He began working to defuse tensions with the Soviet Union. His rejections of plans to invade Cuba, of the Northwoods project, of a preemptive nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, and his intention to withdraw from Vietnam after his reelection, together with some of his speeches signaling a new approach to foreign policy in the nuclear age, convinced the military/security complex that he was a threat to their interests. Cold War conservatives regarded him as naive about the Soviet Threat and a liability to US national security. These were the reasons for his assassination. These views were set in stone when Kennedy announced on June 10, 1963, negotiations with the Soviets toward a nuclear test ban treaty and a halt to US atmospheric nuclear tests.

Lance deHaven-Smith in his book, Conspiracy Theory in America, shows that the CIA introduced “conspiracy theory” into the political lexicon as a technique to discredit skepticism of the Warren Commission’s coverup report. He provides the CIA document that describes how the agency used its media friends to control the explanation.

MadCowNews, Meet the Russian Hackers Behind Russia-Gate, Daniel Hopsicker, May 25, 2017. A Russia-Gate bombshell per day.  Watergate burglars Gordon Liddy & E. Howard Hunt were already famous by now. So why aren’t the Russian hackers?

May 24

Pope Francis and President Trump on May 24, 2017 (Pool photo by Evan Vucci)

Pope Francis and President Trump on May 24, 2017 (Pool photo by Evan Vucci) 

New York Times, Trump Meets Pope at the Vatican Amid Underlying Tensions, Mark Landler and Jason Horowitz, May 24, 2017. Pope Francis welcomed President Trump to the Vatican on Wednesday, shaking his hand before ushering him into his study for the first face-to-face meeting of the two leaders, who symbolize starkly different views of the world.

For Mr. Trump, who landed in Rome after stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel, the audience in the Vatican caps a tour of the ancestral homes of three of the world’s great monotheistic religions. For Francis, who recently made his own landmark visit to Egypt last month, it was a chance to welcome a second American leader, after President Barack Obama paid his respects in 2014.

Smiles and pleasantries aside, the atmospherics of this meeting were fraught. Pope Francis and Mr. Trump have diametrically opposed views on issues as varied as immigration, climate change and arms sales. Although both men seemed determined not to let politics intrude on their encounter, the underlying tensions were clear.

More Suspects Arrested In UK Concert Terror Attack

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Washington Post, Brother of British bomber arrested in Libya after authorities say he was planning attack, Griff Witte, Karla Adam and Sudarsan Raghavan, May 24, 2017. Libya’s counterterrorism service said the younger brother of 22-year-old bomber Salman Abedi was arrested before he could carry out an attack in the capital, Tripoli. The brothers' father was also arrested as the crackdown on a suspected terrorist network extended to a second continent.

Suicide Bombs Kill Police In Indonesia

Reuters, Suspected suicide bombers kill 3 police officers, wound 10 in Jakarta, Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Tom Allard, May 24, 2017. Two suspected suicide bombers killed three Indonesian police officers and injured 10 people on Wednesday night in twin blasts near a bus station in the eastern part of the capital, police said. The blasts went off five minutes apart at Jakarta's Kampung Melayu terminal, police said. Indonesia has suffered a series of mostly low-level attacks by Islamic State sympathizers in the last 17 months, but police have not confirmed any Islamist motive for Wednesday's bombing.

The explosives appeared to have been packed into pressure cookers. A similar bomb was used in February in the city of Bandung by a lone attacker, killed by police, whom authorities suspected of having links to a radical network sympathetic to Islamic State. Authorities in the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation are increasingly worried about a surge in radicalism, driven in part by a new generation of militants inspired by Islamic State.

DC Opinion, Analysis, Scandal

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Washington Post, How a dubious Russian document influenced the FBI’s handling of the Clinton probe, Karoun Demirjian and Devlin Barrett, May 24, 2017. A secret document that officials say played a key role in then-FBI Director James B. Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation has long been viewed within the FBI as unreliable and possibly a fake, according to people familiar with its contents.

James Comey FBIIn the midst of the 2016 presidential primary season, the FBI received what was described as a Russian intelligence document claiming a tacit understanding between the Clinton campaign and the Justice Department over the inquiry into whether she intentionally revealed classified information through her use of a private email server.

The Russian document cited a supposed email describing how then-Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch had privately assured someone in the Clinton campaign that the email investigation would not push too deeply into the matter. If true, the revelation of such an understanding would have undermined the integrity of the FBI’s investigation.

Current and former officials have said that Comey relied on the document in making his July decision to announce on his own, without Justice Department involvement, that the investigation was over. That public announcement — in which he criticized Clinton and made extensive comments about the evidence — set in motion a chain of other FBI moves that Democrats now say helped Trump win the presidential election.

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Washington Post, The Trump team’s five major shams, Jennifer Rubin (shown in Twitter photo), May 24, 2017. Between the health-care plan it supported, its tax-reform outline and its budget, the Trump administration has demonstrated an unusual degree of intellectual dishonesty. Most administrations take liberties with economic projections and re-interpretations of campaign promises, but it is rare to see a team of advisers so blatantly and ineptly trying to conceal what they are up to. First, the Trump administration refuses to acknowledge that it has reneged on its vow not to touch entitlements.

Huffington Post, 23 Million Fewer Americans Would Have Health Coverage Under Obamacare Repeal Plan, Budget Office Confirms, Jonathan Cohn and Jeffrey Young, May 24, 2017. The new Congressional Budget Office analysis looks a lot like the old one. Twenty-three million fewer Americans would have insurance under legislation that House Republicans narrowly passed last month, the Congressional Budget Office reported on Wednesday.

The agency also predicted the deficit would come down by $119 billion over the next decade ― and that premiums for people buying insurance on their own would be relatively lower than those premiums would be if the Affordable Care Act stays in place.

But the reasons health insurance would be less expensive for some aren’t much to cheer about, the budget report makes clear. Prices would come down for healthy people because those who are sick or have illness in their medical histories would have less access to coverage ― and the policies available on the market would tend to be a lot less comprehensive. In other words, the price for lower premiums would be some combination of higher out-of-pocket costs, fewer covered services, and coverage that would be harder to get for the people who need it most.

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Washington Post, Despite promise, Trump’s business has made limited effort to identify foreign profits, Drew Harwell and Tom Hamburger, May 24, 2017. Documents show the ease with which foreign money could be paid into the president’s business interests, even though Trump pledged to donate all profits from foreign-government sources at his Washington hotel and other businesses.

Reuters, Convicted spy Pollard loses bid to relax U.S Parole Conditions, Jonathan Stempel, May 24, 2017. A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected a bid by Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence officer convicted of spying for Israel, to relax his parole conditions. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the U.S. Parole Commission acted within its discretion in requiring Pollard to wear an electronic tracking device, obey a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew, and allow his computers to be monitored. Pollard, 62, was paroled in November 2015 after serving 30 years of a life sentence for espionage. He had said the parole conditions were too severe because he was neither a flight risk, nor a threat to disseminate or even remember classified information he learned decades ago.

Politico, Suit over billionaire's underage sex abuse settles, Josh Gerstein, May 24, 2017. A woman who alleged she was held as a teenage sex slave by a well-connected billionaire financier has settled a lawsuit accusing another woman of facilitating the abuse. Virginia (Roberts) Giuffre alleged she was pulled into years of abuse by investor Jeffrey Epstein while working as a 15-year-old towel girl at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach in 1999.

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001The suit alleged no wrongdoing on Trump's part, but accused Epstein's girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell of procuring underage girls for Epstein. She denied the allegations.

The made-for-the-tabloids case appeared to be nearing trial as soon as this month when a last-minute delay was granted by the judge. A notice filed with the federal court in Manhattan Wednesday said a settlement had been reached in the case, but did not reveal details. Lawyers for both sides issued identical statements welcoming the outcome. Giuffre, formerly known as Virginia Roberts, was represented by attorneys David Boies, Sigrid McCawley, Brad Edwards, Paul Cassell and Stan Pottinger, while Maxwell was represented by lawyer Laura Menninger.

The suit had drawn media attention as an extension of the two-decade-long saga that drew in a slew of prominent political figures. The photo shows Prince Andrew of the UK royal family with Roberts, then aged 17 at center, and the defendant Maxwell at right.

May 23

Investigation Of Trump Campaign, Administration

John Brennan CIA Official Photo

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Washington Post, CIA director alerted FBI to pattern of contacts between Russian officials and Trump campaign associates, Greg Miller​, May 23, 2017. Describing a previously undisclosed high-level conversation between Washington and Moscow, former agency director John Brennan (shown in an official photo) testified that he told the head of Russia’s security service that “American voters would be outraged by any Russian attempt to interfere in the election.”

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Washington Post, Senate Intelligence Committee issues new subpoenas to Michael Flynn’s businesses, Karoun Demirjian, May 23, 2017. The move challenges his lawyer’s refusal to comply with an existing subpoena for documents detailing the former national security adviser's contacts with Russian officials. “A business does not have the right to take the Fifth,” said Sen. Mark R. Warner, the committee’s lead Democrat.

British Terror Attack

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Washington Post, Manchester suspect identified as ISIS claims responsibility for attack that killed 22, Griff Witte and Karla Adam, May 23, 2017. The Islamic State claimed Tuesday that one of its “soldiers” carried out an apparent suicide blast in Manchester that killed at least 22 people, including teenagers and others streaming out of a pop concert. Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins named the suspected attacker as 22-year-old Salman Abedi but declined to provide other details.

A senior European intelligence official said the attacker was a British citizen of Libyan descent. The official said the suspect’s brother has been taken into custody. The Islamic State’s claim came as British investigators intensified their search for possible accomplices and police teams fanned out across the northern city after the worst terrorist strike in Britain in more than a decade.

War In Syria

Syria FlagSouthFront, Syrian Army Expels US-backed Militants From Syrian Desert, Voiceover by Harold Hoover, May 23, 2017. US-backed militant groups, often referred to as the Free Syrian Army (FSA), have declared the start of a counter-offensive against “the regime and its foreign militias” in the area east of Suweida in southeastern Syria.

Centcom logoThe counter-offensive was dubbed operation “Desert Volcano”. Its declared goal is to expel government forces from the Syrian desert. Since last weekend, the Syrian Army and its allies have made notable gains east of Suweida and along the Damascus-Baghdad highway. These advances posed a direct threat to the US-led plan aimed at building a buffer zone controlled by US-backed factions between Syria and Iraq. Now, the US-led forces are going to use force against the Syrian military in order to achieve their strategic goal.

Trump Justice Budget Plan

Politico, Trump Justice budget targets illegal immigration, Josh Gerstein, May 23, 2017. President Donald Trump is proposing to trim the Justice Department's overall budget in the coming year, but he wants to boost funding for a crackdown on illegal immigration. The Trump administration is proposing a $27.7 billion for the Justice Department in fiscal 2018, down $1.1 billion, or about 4 percent, from the continuing resolution the previous year.

But the administration proposed nearly $145 million in additional funding for immigration enforcement, adding 75 immigration judges along with about 375 support personnel, 70 new assistant U.S. attorneys focused on immigration and border crime, 40 deputy marshals, and new funds for prison space to detain more illegal immigrants.

"With this budget we are also implementing the president's promise to secure our borders and restore a lawful immigration system," Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told reporters at a Justice Department briefing Tuesday. "While dramatic progress has been made at the border in recent months, much remains to be done, and it's critical that we focus on increased enforcement of our criminal immigration laws and that we enforce all immigration laws efficiently." "We've asked all federal prosecutors to increase their focus on this area by making several immigration offenses a higher priority," Rosenstein said.

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Washington Post, Trump advisers weigh privatizing some public assets to build new infrastructure, Michael Laris​, May 23, 2017.  The administration is considering paying state and local governments to entice them to sell facilities such as airports, bridges and highway rest stops. It’s part of a plan to overhaul the nation’s infrastructure. In his proposed budget released Tuesday, President Trump called for spending $200 billion over 10 years to “incentivize” private, state and local spending on infrastructure. Trump advisers said that to entice state and local governments to sell some of their assets, the administration is considering paying them a bonus. The proceeds of the sales would then go to other infrastructure projects.

Media News: Fox But Not Hannity Retract DNC Murder Claim

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Washington Post, Fox News retracts controversial story on Seth Rich’s death and alleged WikiLeaks contact, Kristine Phillips and Peter Holley, May 23, 2017. The network said the article did not meet its editorial standards. But host Sean Hannity, who has aired reports on the killing of the DNC staffer Seth Rich (shown in a file photo), pushed back and said, “I am not Fox.com or Foxnews.com. I retracted nothing.”

Innocence Project Success

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Washington Post, Man cleared of murder conviction after 24 years behind bars, with help of an ex-cop, Tom Jackman, May 23, 2017. James Figorski, a retired Philadelphia police officer, took on the murder case of Shaurn Thomas for the Innocence Project and helped get him released. Shaurn Thomas had claimed for 16 years that he didn’t kill a popular Philadelphia businessman in a street robbery. He was 16 then, and said he had been at a juvenile court proceeding for trying to steal a motorcycle when the daylight slaying occurred. But the courts weren’t buying it, and Thomas lost appeal after appeal. Convicted almost completely on the testimony of a co-defendant, he was sentenced to life without parole.

Then in 2009, Thomas sent a letter to the newly formed Pennsylvania Innocence Project, and a lawyer named James Figorski happened to open it. Figorski had spent 25 years as a Philadelphia police officer. He knew how the city’s juvenile system worked, and he sensed something wasn’t right. For the next eight years, Figorski volunteered countless hours investigating Thomas’s case, along with Innocence Project legal director Marissa Bluestine, and last year they began meeting with the Philadelphia district attorney’s Conviction Review Unit. And the prosecutors agreed: Thomas was almost certainly innocent.

Assange Touts Book Mocking Hillary

RT, Assange defends Clinton campaign leaks in foreword of new book, Staff report, May 23, 2017. A book about Hillary Clinton’s presidential run is being promoted by WikiLeaks, thanks in no small part to a foreword by Julian Assange in which he defends publishing leaked Democratic Party campaign material.

The latest edition of How I Lost by Hillary Clinton by former Wall Street Journal correspondent Joe Lauria (shown at right) is said to examine how the US was “delivered” to Donald Trump. "At a time of widespread dissatisfaction with business-as-usual politics," the publisher's announcement said, "the Democrats chose to field a quintessential insider. Her campaign dwelt little on policies, focusing overwhelmingly on the personality of her opponent."

New York Times, Jared Kushner’s Other Real Estate Empire, Alec MacGillis, May 23, 2017. Baltimore-area renters complain about a property owner they say is neglectful and litigious. Few know their landlord is the president’s son-in-law. When Americans were introduced last year to Ivanka Trump’s husband and the nation’s prospective son-in-law in chief, it was as the preternaturally poised, Harvard-educated scion of a real estate empire whose glittering ambitions resembled Donald Trump’s own.

In 2007, Kushner Companies, run at the time by Jared (photo by Lori Berkowitz via Wikimedia) and his father, Charles, bought the aluminum-clad skyscraper at 666 Fifth Avenue for a record-breaking $1.8 billion; they are now seeking partners for a $12 billion plan to replace it with a glass tower that would be 40 stories taller. In 2013 they acquired 17 buildings in Manhattan’s East Village for about $130 million, and three years later they spent $715 million on a cluster of buildings owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses on prime land in Brooklyn’s fast-developing Dumbo district.

But the Kushners’ empire, like Trump’s, was underwritten by years of dealing in much more modestly ambitioned properties. Jared’s grandfather Joseph Kushner, a Holocaust survivor from Belarus, over his lifetime built a small construction company in New Jersey into a real estate venture that owned and managed some 4,000 low-rise units concentrated in the suburbs of Newark. After taking over the business, Charles expanded Kushner Companies’ holdings to commercial and industrial spaces, but the company’s bread and butter remained the North Jersey apartment complexes bequeathed to him by his father.

In the mid-2000s, the company began to sell off the more than 25,000 multifamily rental units it owned, culminating in a 2007 sale of nearly 17,000 units for $1.9 billion. The sale — near the peak of the housing boom, just months before the crash — was impeccably timed, but it also reflected a shift in the attentions of what would soon be a three-generation real estate dynasty. Charles, a major Democratic Party donor, had returned late the previous year from a brief stint in federal prison after pleading guilty to 18 counts of tax evasion, witness tampering and illegal campaign donations. Back at the helm of the company, he began to shift its focus from New Jersey to New York City — and prepared to pass the reins to his son Jared, who had just received a degree in law and business from New York University.

But amid the high-profile Manhattan and Brooklyn purchases, in 2011, Kushner Companies, with Jared now more firmly in command, pulled together a deal that looked much more like something from the firm’s humble past than from its high-rolling present. That June, the company and its equity partners bought 4,681 units of what are known in real estate jargon as “distress-ridden, Class B” apartment complexes: units whose prices fell somewhere in the middle of the market, typically of a certain age and wear, whose owners were in financial difficulty. The properties were spread across 12 sites in Toledo, Ohio; Pittsburgh; and other Rust Belt cities still reeling from the Great Recession. Kushner had to settle more than 200 debts held against the complexes before the deal could go through; at one complex, in Pittsburgh, circumstances had become so dire that some residents had been left without heat and power because the previous owner couldn’t pay the bills. Prudential, which was foreclosing on the portfolio, sold it for only $72 million — half the value of the mortgages on the properties.

ProPublica via Alternet (co-published also by The Guardian), The Story Behind Jared Kushner’s Curious Acceptance into Harvard, Daniel Golden, Nov. 19, 2016. The rich buy their children access to elite colleges. At least one such student is now poised to become one of the most powerful figures in the country.

I would like to express my gratitude to Jared Kushner (shown in a photo by Lori Berkowitz via Wikimedia Commons) for reviving interest in my 2006 book, “The Price of Admission.” I have never met or spoken with him, and it’s rare in this life to find such a selfless benefactor. Of course, I doubt he became Donald Trump’s son-in-law and consigliere merely to boost my lagging sales, but still, I’m thankful.

My book exposed a grubby secret of American higher education: that the rich buy their under-achieving children’s way into elite universities with massive, tax-deductible donations. It reported that New Jersey real estate developer Charles Kushner had pledged $2.5 million to Harvard University in 1998, not long before his son Jared was admitted to the prestigious Ivy League school. At the time, Harvard accepted about one of every nine applicants. (Nowadays, it only takes one out of twenty.)

I also quoted administrators at Jared’s high school, who described him as a less than stellar student and expressed dismay at Harvard’s decision.

May 22

Probes Of Trump CampaignNSA Official Logo

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Washington Post, Trump asked top intelligence officials to publicly deny collusion between campaign, Russia, officials say, Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima, May 22, 2017. President Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials.

Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers (shown above left in an official photo), the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.

Coats (shown at right in a photo) Dan Coatsand Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president. 

Trump's NSA Pick Claims Fifth Amendment Constitutional Protection Against Self-Incrimination

New York Times, Flynn Rejects Senate Subpoena, Invoking 5th Amendment, Enmarie Huetteman, May 22, 2017. Michael T. Flynn, the Michael Flynn Harvard 2014former national security adviser, was ordered to turn over documents for the Senate inquiry into Russian election meddling. Michael T. Flynn misled Pentagon investigators about his income from Russian companies and contacts with Russian officials when he applied for a top-secret security clearance last year, according to a letter released Monday by the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee.

Mr. Flynn, who resigned this year as President Trump’s national security adviser, told investigators in February 2016 that he had received no income from foreign companies and had only “insubstantial contact” with foreign nationals, according to the letter. In fact, Flynn had two months earlier sat beside President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia at a Moscow gala for RT, the Kremlin-financed television network, which paid Mr. Flynn more than $45,000 to attend the event and give a separate speech.

His failure to make those disclosures and his apparent attempt to mislead the Pentagon could put Mr. Flynn in further legal jeopardy. Intentionally lying to federal investigators is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Separately, he also faces legal questions over failing to properly register as a foreign agent for lobbying he did last year on behalf of Turkey while advising the Trump campaign, which is also a felony.

Opinion: Conservative Trump Critic Blasts Leakers

Washington Post, In Trump’s house of betrayal, leaks are business as usual. That’s a big problem, Michael Gerson (shown in file photo), May 22, 2017. Trump has set a morally stunted tone for his administration, but even that does not justify the rampant leaking from those inside it. How in God’s name did the reporter gain access to a discussion in the Oval Office? According to the article, the “memcon” — the memorandum of conversation — was “read to The New York Times by an American official.”

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Let that sink in. This is a document of very limited distribution. According to sources I consulted, it typically would not have even been given to the director of the CIA. This was a leak of an extremely sensitive and highly classified document by a very senior person.

There are a number of explanations for why leakers leak. They may be trying to kneecap a rival. Sometimes leakers are embittered or just want to look and feel important. The “nut job” leak suggests something different: a real attack on the president from within his inner circle. It was designed to reveal Trump as a foolish figure and expose him to charges of obstruction. Whoever read this material over the telephone to a reporter was playing for the highest stakes.

Trump Budget Cuts

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Washington Post, Trump budget proposal would slash spending, could reshape assistance to the poor, Damian Paletta and Robert Costa, May 22, 2017. The White House will propose cutting federal spending by $3.6 trillion over 10 years, and its $4.094 trillion budget request for fiscal 2018 calls for cuts to Medicaid, food assistance and other anti-poverty programs.

Washington Post, Trump budget seeks huge cuts to disease prevention and medical research departments, Joel Achenbach and Lena H. President Donald Trump officialSun​, May 22, 2017. President Trump's 2018 budget request to Congress seeks massive cuts in spending on health programs, including medical research, disease prevention programs and health insurance for children living in poverty. The full budget document is scheduled to be released Tuesday morning, but either by mistake or design, the administration posted the section dealing with the Department of Health and Human Services late Monday afternoon. The document was soon taken offline.

The dramatic cuts in spending on programs that normally have enjoyed bipartisan support is part of the Trump administration's effort to cut trillions of dollars in spending over the next decade while at the same time paying for tax cuts and increases in military spending.

Deadly Explosion At British Concert: Witness Says A Score Killed

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Washington Post, At least 19 people dead following ‘terrorist incident’ at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, Griff Witte and Peter Holley, May 22, 2017. Initial evidence suggested the attack, which also left dozens hurt, may have been a suicide bombing, according to two U.S. security officials. The blast appeared intended to inflict the maximum possible damage on young concert-goers — many of them in their early teens — who were making their way out of an arena in the city of Manchester after a show by American singer Ariana Grande.

See also: ​Reuters, Some killed in blast at Ariana Grande concert in British arena, Alistair Smout, Guy Faulconbridge, Sandra Maler, May 22, 2017. "We were making our way out and when we were right by the door there was a massive explosion and everybody was screaming," concert-goer Catherine Macfarlane told Reuters. "It was a huge explosion -- you could feel it in your chest. It was chaotic. Everybody was running and screaming and just trying to get out."  Manchester Arena, the largest indoor arena in Europe, opened in 1995 and has a capacity for 21,000 people, according to its website. It is a popular concert and sporting venue. A spokesman for Ariana Grande's record label said that the singer was "okay."

Supreme Court Again Rules Against GOP Gerrymandering

U.S. Supreme Court SealWashington Post, Justices rule North Carolina improperly relied on race in redistricting efforts, Robert Barnes, May 22, 2017. The decision continued a trend at the court, where the Supreme Court has found that racial considerations improperly predominated in redistricting decisions by Republican-led legislatures in Virginia, Alabama and North Carolina.

Trump's 9-Day Trip

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New York Times, Trump Pushes Israel to Make Palestinian Deal a Priority, Peter Baker and Ian Fisher, May 22, 2017. President Trump began his visit to Israel with a new push to resolve the generations-old standoff with the Palestinians. He said Israel’s Arab neighbors see a peace deal as crucial in a regional realignment around an anti-Iran coalition.

Report: Honeytrap Ensnared Weiner, Devastated Clinton Campaign

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WhoWhatWhy, EXCLUSIVE: Weiner’s “Underage” Sexting Girl Lied to Damage Clinton, Matthew Harvey, Michael Dwyer, Jonathan Z. Larsen and Russ Baker, May 22, 2017. Shocking New Evidence on How Clinton Was Sandbagged in Last-Minute Email Scandal. The North Carolina teen at the center of the infamous Anthony Weiner scandal that helped doom Hillary Clinton’s campaign lied to news outlets about her age, motives and political allegiances, a WhoWhatWhy investigation reveals.

On Friday, former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) accepted a plea deal in a Manhattan courtroom to a charge of “transfer of obscene material to a minor.” WhoWhatWhy has learned that much of what we know about this crime — which played a major role in the outcome of the election — is a lie.

The official narrative is that Weiner, husband of Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin, had exchanged explicit messages with a 15-year-old girl. The FBI got involved, seized Weiner’s laptop and discovered emails from Clinton on the hard drive. This caused FBI Director James Comey to inform Congress that new evidence had been unearthed in the investigation of Clinton’s mishandling of classified information.

Related story: The Hill.com, Report: Girl in Weiner sexting case lied to damage Clinton, Mallory Shelbourne, May 22, 2017. The teenage girl who had exchanged sexually explicit text messages with former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) lied about her age and political motivations to harm Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to a report by the investigative news site WhoWhatWhy. In a report published Monday, the website said the girl who exchanged the messages with Weiner was closer to 17 and not 15, as initial reports said. That also puts her above the age of consent in North Carolina, which is 16.

Justice: Around the Nation

NBC News, O.J. Simpson to Receive Parole Hearing in July, Could Be Released, Andrew Blankstein and Daniella Silva, May 22, 2017. After nearly a decade behind bars, O.J. Simpson could be released from prison this year. Simpson is set to face a parole hearing this July, according to the Nevada Department of Corrections. His actual hearing date won't be set until mid-June. The former NFL star has been serving 33 years in a Nevada prison on burglary and kidnapping charges unrelated to the so-called "trial of the century" that transfixed America following the murder of Simpson's ex-wife and her friend in 1994.

Global News

SouthFront, Video: Yemeni Forces Crushing Sudanese Troops Invaded Country Within Saudi-led Coalition, Staff report, May 22, 2017.  On Monday, the Yemeni media released a video showing attack of Yemeni forces against Sudanese troops deployed in the war-torn country within the Saudi-led coalition. The attack took place in the Medi desert. According to the report, Yemeni fighters were able to destroy some 15 armoured vehicles, including battle tanks, and to kill a high number of fighters belonging to the coalition.

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Washington Post, Turkey condemns U.S. over treatment of its bodyguards during Erdogan’s visit to D.C., Kareem Fahim​, May 22, 2017. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry lodged a formal protest Monday with the U.S. ambassador over “aggressive” actions by American security personnel during a clash between Turkish guards and protesters as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Washington this month.

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The summoning of the ambassador, John Bass, sharply escalated a diplomatic rift between Turkey and the United States following the violence. Footage of the brawl was widely circulated on social media, prompting outrage in the United States, along with calls for the prosecution of the Turkish guards and even the expulsion of Turkey’s ambassador to Washington.

American and Turkish officials have provided directly contrasting versions of how the violence unfolded. Local police said the Turkish guards savagely attacked a peaceful protest outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence as Erdogan was visiting. Footage of the melee showed what appeared to be Turkish security guards kicking and choking protesters as police struggled to contain the unrest. It also showed Erdogan watching, from a distance, as the fighting raged.

Julian Assange at Ecuador's Embassy (Photo Collage by The Indicter Magazine)

Julian Assange, center, at Ecuador's Embassy (Photo Collage by The Indicter Magazine)

The Indicter, UK Threaten Assange As Sweden Withdraw Accusations, Andrew Kreig, May 22, 2017. Justice Integrity Project Editor Andrew Kreig is a member of the Editorial Board, and Associate Editor of The Indicter Magazine.

Media Insights

New York Times, Monica Lewinsky: Roger Ailes’s Dream Was My Nightmare, Monica Lewinsky (shown in file photo), May 22, 2017. This is not another obituary for Roger Ailes, who died last week 10 months after being ousted at Fox News. It is, I hope, instead an obituary for the culture he purveyed — a culture that affected me profoundly and personally.

As the past year has revealed, thanks to brave women like Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly, it is clear that at Fox, this culture of exploitation wasn’t limited to the screen. The irony of Mr. Ailes’s career at Fox — that he harnessed a sex scandal to build a cable juggernaut and then was brought down by his own — was not lost on anyone who has been paying attention.

Presidential Sidelights

President Trump opens Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology with Egypt's al-Sissi and Saudi Arabia's King Salman (Washington Post photo)

President Trump opens Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology with Egypt's al-Sissi (at left) and Saudi Arabia's King Salman

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Washington Post, Behold! Donald Trump and the mysterious glowing orb, Katie Mettler and Derek Hawkins, May 22, 2017.
President Trump, along with Egypt's Abdel Fatah al-Sissi and Saudi Arabia's King Salman, opened the new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology on May 21 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Trailed by a sea of people in suits and head coverings, the three men walked on a wide red carpet into a dark room. A bright spotlight illuminated them as they surrounded the glowing glass the size of a kickball.

Washington Post, Sinkhole forms in front of Mar-a-Lago; metaphors pour in, Amy B Wang, May 22, 2017.  A large sinkhole has formed in front of Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach estate belonging to President Trump. Town officials posted a run-of-the-mill advisory about the sinkhole Monday morning. But where utility workers saw a repair project, the Internet saw an opening for metaphors.

Sweden's Assange Prosecution Termed 'Farce'

The Real News Network, John Pilger: Julian Assange is Cleared of Rape Allegations, but Far From Free, Kim Brown interview, May 22, 2017. Filmmaker and journalist John Pilger says Swedish authorities should be 'embarrassed' for pursuing what he called trumped up accusations against Assange and also how journalists are increasingly targeted as enemies of the state.

JOHN PILGER: The case is being dropped because it's demonstrably a farce and always has been. Marianne Ny, the prosecutor, has embarrassed the Swedish judiciary. She's embarrassed the Swedish government. I would suggest she's probably embarrassed many people in the Swedish public with her obsession, and a previous prosecutor has described it as an obsession, with Julian Assange. It's not simply that, of course. There are great political aspects to this that are very sinister. But there never was a case against Assange. The Chief Prosecutor of Stockholm, Eva Finné, when Assange was arrested, said: "There is no case to answer here, no crime was committed," and she dismissed it. Marianne Ny picked it up only after a local politician, Claes Borgström, a very ambitious and highly contentious character, encouraged her to do so.

May 21

Inside U.S. Politics

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Washington Post, Kushner keeps most of his real estate but offers few clues about potential White House conflicts, Amy Brittain and Jonathan O'Connell, May 21, 2017. Jared Kushner, who is emerging as a singularly powerful figure in the White House, retained nearly 90 percent of his real estate holdings even after resigning from his family business and pledging a clear divide between his private interests and public duties, a Post analysis shows. But two Jersey City projects illustrate the complexity of the divestiture strategy.

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Washington Post, Trump to propose slashing Medicaid, giving states power to limit other safety-net benefits, Damian Paletta, May 21, 2017. The budget proposal would follow through on a House GOP bill to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years from Medicaid, people familiar with the planning said. Estimates show that change could cut benefits for about 10 million low-income people. The White House also will call for giving states more flexibility to impose work requirements in anti-poverty programs.

Washington Post, Trump summons Muslim nations to confront ‘Islamic terror of all kinds,’ Karen DeYoung and Philip Rucker, May 21, 2017. Speaking from the birthplace of Islam, President Trump implored leaders of dozens of Muslim nations to take their destinies in hand and, with the United States, eliminate the “wave of fanatical violence” committed in the name of religion. See earlier story: Trump to deliver speech in Riyadh on 'crisis of Islamist extremism.

With Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and home to several of the religion’s holiest sites, as his backdrop, Trump will implore dozens of Muslim nations to stand with the United States against the oppression of women, the killing of innocent people and the persecution of Christians and Jews. “This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between good and evil,” Trump intends to say, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks released by the White House.

In the run-up to Trump’s visit, there has been considerable speculation about whether he would utter the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” in his speech, the centerpiece of his Saudi visit. On the campaign trail, Trump loudly criticized President Barack Obama for refusing to describe the terrorism threat in those terms. Trump to summon Muslim nations to confront ‘the crisis of Islamist extremism. ’It appears, according to the released excerpts, that Trump has decided to use a substitute phrase: “Islamist extremism.”

By preaching religious tolerance, Trump is departing from his previously stated views on Muslims. Anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies were hallmarks of his nationalist campaign; he proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States and proclaimed, “I think Islam hates us.”

Trump is seeking to strengthen U.S. alliances in the Middle East to isolate the Islamic State and other extremist forces. A few hours before his remarks, Trump and the leaders of six Persian Gulf states reached an agreement to crack down on terrorism financing, including the prosecution of individuals who continue sending money to militants.

The memorandum of understanding — between the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia as well as Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — includes the creation of a center in Riyadh to fight extremism.

Russians To Confront U.S. In Syria?

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Al Masdar News, Russian forces arrive in southern Syria, Leith Fadel, May 21, 2017. Russian paratroopers and special forces arrived in the Al-Sweida Governorate of southern Syria this week, following the U.S. attack on a pro-government convoy near the Iraqi border-crossing, a military source told Al-Masdar News last night.

The Russian military personnel will take the role of advising the Syrian government troops in southern Syria, while also helping to deter any potential response from the U.S. and Jordanian forces that have carved a niche in the Al-Sweida and Homs governorates. According to some media activists in southern Syria, the Russian forces are planning to build a base along the Al-Sweida Governorate’s border with Jordan; however, this could not be confirmed by Al-Masdar News.

Saudi King Salman decorated President Trump with the gold King Abdulaziz medal at the royal court in the Saudi capital (AFP Photo)

Trump Affirms Fateful Choices Among Middle Eastern Nations, Religious Choices

Iran FlagNew York Times, In Saudi Arabia, Trump Reaches Out to Sunni Nations, at Iran’s Expense, Ben Hubbard and Thomas Erdbrink, May 21, 2017. As voters in Iran danced in the streets, celebrating the landslide re-election of a moderate as president, President Trump stood in front of a gathering of leaders from across the Muslim world and called on them to isolate a nation he said had “fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.”

That nation was Iran. In using the headline address of his first foreign trip as president to declare his commitment to Sunni Arab nations, Mr. Trump signaled a return to an American policy built on alliances with Arab autocrats, regardless of their human rights records or policies that sometimes undermine American interests.

Pentagon Slush Fund?

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Washington Post, At the Pentagon, overpriced fuel sparks allegations of a slush fund, Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward, May 21, 2017 (print edition). The Pentagon has generated almost $6 billion over the past seven years by charging the armed forces excessive prices for fuel and has used the money — called the “bishop’s fund” by some critics — to bolster mismanaged or underfunded military programs, documents show.

Since 2015, the Defense Department has tapped surpluses from its fuel accounts for $80 million to train Syrian rebels, $450 million to shore up a prescription-drug program riddled with fraud and $1.4 billion to cover unanticipated expenses from the war in Afghanistan, according to military accounting records.

The Pentagon has amassed the extra cash by billing the armed forces for fuel at rates often much higher — sometimes $1 per gallon or more — than what commercial airlines paid for jet fuel on the open market. Some senior leaders with the armed forces accused the Pentagon of intentionally overbilling the Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine Corps for fuel and pocketing the difference to pay for other priorities.

“We’ve been complaining about this,” Ray Mabus, who served as Navy secretary for eight years during the Obama administration, said in an interview. “But if we do it too loudly, oh man, they come back on us really hard.”

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New York Times, Justice Department Official Seeks Neutral Ground, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Rebecca R. Ruiz, May 21, 2017. Rod J. Rosenstein’s naming of a special prosecutor in the Russia investigation is typical of how the deputy attorney general addresses tough situations, friends and allies say.

May 20

President Donald Trump poses for photos with ceremonial swordsmen on his arrival to Murabba Palace, as the guest of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, Saturday evening, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

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Washington Post, Trump gets elaborate welcome in Saudi Arabia as he begins first foreign trip, Philip Rucker and Karen DeYoung, May Saudi Arabian flag20, 2017. The landing in Riyadh marked the start of a high-stakes, nine-day overseas journey for the president. President Trump was received like visiting royalty here Saturday, as his debut on the world stage competed for attention at home with ongoing news of the scandal encircling his presidency.

In a series of official arrival ceremonies — at the airport and the Royal Court palace — Trump, his wife Melania, and an entourage including virtually his entire senior White House staff and much of his Cabinet, were serenaded by military bands, treated to a flyover of Saudi jets, feted in opulent palaces and given the undivided attention of King Salman, the ruler of this ultra-conservative Muslim nation.

The welcome reflected a kingdom eager to rekindle its relationship with the United States, and to use the visit to declare and solidify its own leadership role in the Muslim world.

The only U.S. president to make Saudi Arabia his first foreign visit, Trump was presented with the highest honor for a foreign dignitary, the collar of Abdulaziz al-Saud, named for the for the kingdom’s founder, which Salman hung on a thick gold chain around Trump’s neck.

On the dais with Trump were the First Lady, Ivanka Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (shown in a file photo). Others included Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and chief strategist Steve Bannon.

FBI Investigation Of Trump Campaign, White House

Ivanka and Jared Kushner depart from their Washington home on a nine-day presidential trip May 19 (photo via Ivanka Trump Facebook)

Independent, Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner 'person of interest in Russia investigation,' Andrew Buncombe and Mythili Sampathkumar, May 20, 2017. Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has reportedly been identified as a “person of interest” in the ongoing investigation into possible ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign. The Post said the person under investigation was close to the President, but did not identify them. However, the number of people who fit such a profile would be very small.

Yashar Ali, a contributor to New York magazine said on Twitter: “It’s Jared Kushner. Have confirmed this with four people. I’m not speculating. " The White House did not immediately respond to calls and emails from The Independent seeking comment.

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Washington Post, U.S. affirms $110 billion deal to sell ships, tanks and missile defense systems to Saudi Arabia, Philip Rucker and Karen DeYoung, May 20, 2017. President Trump was received like visiting royalty here Saturday, as his debut on the world stage competed for attention at home with ongoing news of the scandal encircling his presidency. The only U.S. president to make Saudi Arabia his first foreign visit, Trump was presented with the highest honor for a foreign dignitary, the collar of Abdulaziz al-Saud, named for the kingdom’s founder, which Salman hung on a thick gold chain around Trump’s neck....In related news, Melania and Ivanka Trump, following tradition of western visitors, forgo headscarves in Saudi Arabia.  

Iran's Incumbent Beats Conservative In Presidential Race

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Washington Post, Iranian President Rouhani wins reelection by a landslide, Erin Cunningham, May 20, 2017. In easily winning an election with a near-record turnout, the moderate leader Hassan Rouhani earned a resounding endorsement of his project to end Iran’s pariah status and rejoin the global economy.

Secret JFK-CIA Documents Scheduled For Release

Politico, What Could a Mysterious U.S. Spy Know About the JFK Assassination? Philip Shenon, May 20, 2017. John F. Kennedy buffs are awaiting the release of documents about June Cobb, a little-known CIA operative working in Cuba and Mexico around the time of the president’s assassination. She may have been one of the bravest and best-placed American spies in the history of the Cold War, but few people outside the CIA know the mysterious story of June Cobb (shown in a 1962 Parade Magazine photo).

The existing information in the spy agency’s declassified files depicts Cobb as an American Mata Hari — an adventure-loving, death-defying globetrotter who moved to Cuba to work for Fidel Castro, the country’s newly installed strongman, then found herself recruited to spy for the CIA after growing disenchanted with Castro’s revolution. The era’s rampant sexism is obvious in her job evaluation reports: Cobb’s CIA handlers wrote down speculation about her sex life and her failed romance in the 1950s with an opium farmer in the jungles of South America.

Historians of the Cold War — and anyone with an interest in JFK’s 1963 assassination and the possibility of Cuban involvement — are on the verge of learning much more about the extraordinary, often bizarre, sometimes tragic life of the American spy who was born Viola June Cobb, the full name that appeared on her birth certificate back home in Ponca City, Oklahoma, in 1927. The National Archives has recently acknowledged that it is preparing to release a 221-page file of long-secret CIA documents about Cobb that — for reasons the Archives says it cannot yet divulge — are somehow linked to JFK’s murder.

The Cobb file is among the most tantalizing of an estimated 3,600 assassination-related documents scheduled to be made public by late October under the 25-year deadline established by the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act. Under the 1992 law, the full library of long-secret files will be released automatically by the National Archives later this year unless President Donald Trump blocks their release on national security grounds. The White House has not signaled what Trump, who for years has promoted mostly baseless conspiracy theories, including about JFK’s assassination, will do.

U.S. Health Care

New York Times, What Ails Health Market Is Largely Washington, Robert Pear, May 20, 2017. Trump, Shouting ‘Death Spiral,’ Has Nudged Affordable Care Act Downward. The administration and Congress have had a hand in the instability shaking the health care program, using it to their advantage.

Around the Nation

Secret Service

NBC News, Ex-Secret Service Officer Gets 20 Years for Sexting Teens From White House, Alex Johnson, May 18, 2017. A former uniformed Secret Service officer was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Thursday for sending sexually explicit photos of himself to underage girls — while he was on duty at the White House. Lee Robert Moore, 38, of Church Hill, Maryland, pleaded guilty in March to enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity and attempting to transfer obscene materials to a minor. The Secret Service fired him after his arrest in November 2015.

At the time of his arrest, Moore (shown in a mug shot by Delaware authorities) was assigned to protect the White House complex, and prosecutors said he sent some of the materials while on guard duty at the White House. Moore's case was heard in U.S. District Court in Palm Beach County, Florida, so he could consolidate his guilty pleas.

Moore's wife urged U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley in court documents to sentence her husband, a retired Marine and father of two children, to the minimum sentence of 10 years. "I can honestly say he is still a genuinely good and decent person," she wrote. "I ask that you consider the lowest possible sentence as it would greatly benefit our children, as well as myself."

Fake News From Fox?

Washington Post, Family of slain DNC staffer fights back against conspiracy theories with cease-and-desist letter, Perry Stein, May 20, 2017. The family of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich is threatening legal action against a man it says has peddled politicized conspiracy theories about the murder of the 27-year-old, who was shot as he was walking home in the District late one night last July. A lawyer for the Rich family sent a cease-and-desist letter Thursday to Rod Wheeler — a private investigator and Fox News contributor who had been working on behalf of the family.

Julian Assange 2014Justice For Assange, Why I won: My statement, Julian Assange, May 20, 2017 (via Twitter link to Nov. 14-15, 2016 Assange statement summarizing interview with Swedish authorities). "You have subjected me to six years of unlawful, politicized detention without charge in prison, under house arrest and four and a half years at this embassy. You should have asked me this question six years ago. Your actions in refusing to take my statement for the last six years have been found to be unlawful by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and by the Swedish Court of Appeal. You have been found to have subjected me to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. You have denied me effective legal representation in this process. Despite this, I feel compelled to cooperate even though you are not safeguarding my rights."May 19

FBI Trump Probes

Comey Agrees To Testify To Senate After Memorial Day Holiday

James ComeyWashington Post, Fired FBI director Comey to testify in open session before Senate Intelligence Committee, Karoun Demirjian, May 19, 2017. Former FBI director James B. Comey will testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee at a date to be set after Memorial Day, committee leaders announced Friday night.

Russia’s official news agency photographed President Trump’s meeting with Sergey V. Lavrov in the Oval Office on Wednesday. The American press was denied access. Credit: Alexander Shcherbak/TASS, via Getty Images  

New York Times, Trump Told Russians That Firing ‘Nut Job’ Comey Eased Pressure From Investigation, Matt Apuzzo, Maggie Haberman and Matthew Rosenberg, May 19, 2017. President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”
The conversation, during a May 10 meeting — the day after he fired Mr. Comey (shown in an official photo) — reinforces the notion that Mr. Trump dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives. Mr. Trump said as much in one televised interview, but the White House has offered changing justifications for the firing.

The White House document that contained Mr. Trump’s comments was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office and has been circulated as the official account of the meeting.

New York Times, Kushner Shepherded $110 Billion Weapons Deal to Saudis, Mark Landler, Eric Schmitt and Matt Apuzzo, May 19, 2017. Jared Kushner (shown in a file photo) called the head of Lockheed Martin while he met with Saudi officials, showing President Trump’s eagerness for a major deal before his first foreign trip. 

Washington Post, White House adviser close to Trump is a person of interest in Russia probe, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, May FBI logo19, 2017. Investigation into Russian meddling reaches highest level of government. The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.

The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official.  The revelation comes as the investigation also appears to be entering a more overtly active phase, with investigators shifting from work that has remained largely hidden from the public to conducting interviews and using a grand jury to issue subpoenas. The intensity of the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, the people said.

Washington Post, Trump’s scandals stoke fear for 2018 midterms among Republicans nationwide, John Wagner, May 20, 2017. More and more Republicans across the country are watching dispiritedly as Democrats become further energized to turn out their voters in 2018, potentially tipping not only congressional contests but state and local races down the ballot.

Washington Post, Rosenstein says he appointed a special counsel to restore Americans’ faith in Russia investigation, Sari Horwitz, Rod Rosenstein Deputyty Atttorney GeneralKaroun Demirjian and Elise Viebeck, May 19, 2017. Despite the positive feeling during the all-House briefing, several members leaving the meeting expressed frustration with the lack of new information deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein (shown in photo) provided about President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey. Democrats, in particular, left the latest meeting frustrated that Rosenstein was not more forthcoming. Several said they learned nothing new from speaking with him.

Washington Post, The stench of a corrupt president wafts into Virginia and beyond, Jennifer Rubin, May 19, 2017. Jennifer Rubin, shown in a Twitter photo, is a conservative blogger. The nonstop bombshell stories regarding President Trump’s collapsing presidency tend to blot out smaller events, which at any other time might be seen as significant breaches of ethics rules and constitutional restrictions on the president. This week we saw two cases in this category.

Trump Media News

Washington Post, Trump’s media firewall is collapsing as the Russia probe gets closer, Callum Borchers, May 19, 2017. Trump has been insulated by journalists’ inability to show that the FBI investigation touches him or his White House staff directly. Not anymore.

The Hill, Piers Morgan: Trump becoming 'President Paranoid Snowflake,' Nikita Vladimirov, May 19, 2017. Journalist and former CNN host Piers Morgan blasted President Trump on Friday, calling the commander in chief a "President Paranoid Snowflake." Morgan took issue with Trump's claim Wednesday, following the appointment of a special counsel to investigate ties between Russia and his campaign, that "No politician in history has been treated worse or more unfairly," arguing that others have had it worse.

New York Times, Roll Call Reporter Says F.C.C. Security Pinned Him to a Wall, Christophre Mele, May 19, 2017. A reporter said he was pinned against a wall by two security officials in a public hallway at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington on Thursday after he tried to ask a question of a commissioner. The reporter, John M. Donnelly of CQ Roll Call, said the officials’ behavior did not end there. They then waited for him outside a restroom, one of them followed him to the lobby and, under the implied threat of force, ejected him from the building, Mr. Donnelly said on Friday.

The commission said in a statement that it had apologized to Mr. Donnelly more than once and had told him it was on a heightened security alert on Thursday “based on several threats.” The commission did not respond to an email seeking elaboration about the nature of the threats or how Mr. Donnelly was perceived as a danger.

Propaganda Techniques

Anti-Media, 10 ‘Crazy’ Conspiracy Theories That Became Conspiracy Facts, Jake Anderson, May 19, 2017. As we learned from so-called Operation Mockingbird — a conspiracy theory fact discussed in my first post on the subject, “Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out to Be True” — hundreds, if not thousands of news organizations have been conscripted into working with the CIA to support pro-government narratives. That was in the 1960s. One can only imagine how vast the network is now. Not to mention the fact that a single proprietary algorithm owned by Google dictates the vast majority of the population’s exposure to a subject.

With groups like Wikileaks and Anonymous out there, the last decade has witnessed a dam burst of new data and documents. Thanks to intrepid journalists, whistleblowers, hacktivists, and leakers, the human race continues to tear down the wall of lies erected Mohammad Mossadeqby the corporatocracy. Without further ado, let’s get to it….ten more conspiracy theories we can start calling conspiracy facts.
Iran Flag

1. Operation Ajax, the CIA’s Iranian Coup. In Iran it was called 28 Mordad coup; the United Kingdom contributed under the name Operation Boot. However you refer to it, Operation Ajax was an Iranian coup that in 1953 deposed the democratically elected Muhammad Mossadeq (shown above) and reinstalled the monarchical power of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.

Democratic Sex Scandal

New York Times, Anthony Weiner Pleads Guilty to Federal Obscenity Charge, Benjamin Weiser and William K. Rashbaum, May 19, 2017.   Anthony D. Weiner, the former Democratic congressman whose sexting scandals ended his political career and embroiled him in a tumultuous F.B.I. investigation of Hillary Clinton before the election, pleaded guilty to a felony on Friday, crying openly as he admitted to conduct that he knew was “as morally wrong as it was unlawful.”

The plea agreement ended a federal investigation into a series of sexually explicit pictures and messages that Mr. Weiner sent last year to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. Mr. Weiner, 52, will have to register as a sex offender where he works and lives, and he may face a prison term. He pleaded guilty to transferring obscene material to a minor, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors said in the plea agreement that a sentence in the range of 21 to 27 months would be “fair and appropriate.” Mr. Huma Abedin October-2010-flickrWeiner is to be sentenced on Sept. 8 in Federal District Court in Manhattan. It was during the investigation that the F.B.I. seized Mr. Weiner’s electronic devices, including a laptop on which agents found a trove of emails to his estranged wife, Huma Abedin (shown in a file photo), a top aide to Mrs. Clinton.

That discovery led to the surprise announcement in late October by James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, that the bureau was conducting a new investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s handling of official email, an inquiry that ended two days before the election, with no charges brought. Mrs. Clinton recently attributed her election loss in part to Mr. Comey’s announcement.

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Related news: Washington Post, Anthony Weiner pleaded guilty to ‘sexting’ a teen girl. Then his estranged wife filed for divorce, Lindsey Bever, May 19, 2017. The day was marked by an emotional courtroom confession and news that Weiner’s estranged wife, Huma Abedin, filed for divorce after a separation that began last year amid the evolving sex scandal. A spokesperson with the Manhattan Supreme Court confirmed that Abedin, a close aide to Hillary Clinton, had filed court papers seeking a divorce.

Turkish Security Assault On DC Protesters

Flag of Turkey

Washington Post, Was Turkish president personally involved in his bodyguards’ attacks on protesters in D.C.? New footage raises questions, Philip Bump, May 19, 2017. Was Turkish president personally involved in his bodyguards’ attacks on protesters in D.C.? New footage raises questions. In the video, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to give instruction before the brawling begins seconds later.

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Washington Post, First stop on Trump’s first official trip overseas signals Saudi Arabia’s importance, Karen DeYoung, May 19, 2017 (print edition). President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia — the first stop on his first overseas trip, beginning Friday — is designed to solidify what the administration envisions as its premier partnership in the Arab and Muslim world, effectively anointing the kingdom as Islam’s political as well as religious leader.

Given the turmoil in Washington, the journey may offer a welcome break for the besieged administration. Nearly every senior White House adviser will be aboard Air Force One on Friday afternoon for the more-than 12-hour flight to Riyadh. But after touting the tour as an opportunity for what aides call Trump’s “disruptive” style to shake up the world in a positive way, the ongoing news from home may end up being a major distraction to Trump and his hosts.

Saudi Arabian flagOver two days at the top of a grueling schedule, the president will hold bilateral meetings and a summit with the six Persian Gulf states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. At a lunch with leaders of more than 50 majority-Muslim countries from around the world — chosen and invited by Saudi Arabia — Trump will deliver what White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster called “an inspiring, yet direct speech” on his vision for confronting radical ideology, spreading peace and sharing the burdens of achieving both. The nine-day trip ends with visits to the headquarters of NATO and the European Union, both in Brussels, and attendance at a summit of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations in Sicily. Trump returns home on May 27.

Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Saud

The Saudis welcome Trump’s apparent lack of concern about their limits on free expression and other human rights problems, and are looking for help in quashing last year’s U.S. legislation that could hold them liable for legal damages related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, in which 15 of the 19 perpetrators were Saudi citizens. (Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of the royal family is shown in a file photo.)

Both the United States and Saudi Arabia — which has recently signed deals with Russia to reduce oil production in a slow market — are expecting new trade and investment agreements with each other.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia with his entourage prepare to greet President and Mrs. Obama in Riyadh Jan. 27, 2015 (White House photo)

King Salman of Saudi Arabia and his entourage arrive to greet President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

Global News: Ramped Up U.S. War Escalation Against Syrian Government

SouthFront, US Military Declares Own ‘De-Confliction Zone’ Along Syrian-Iraqi Border, Staff report, May 19, 2017. Yesterday, Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led campaign against ISIS, said in a statement that “the coalition struck pro-regime forces [Syrian government forces] that were advancing well inside an established de-confliction zone” and “posed a threat to U.S. and partner forces” at al-Tanf.
However, there is no a de-confliction [de-escalation] zone near al-Tanaf in southwestern Syria.

Sweden Drops Claims Against WikiLeaks Founder; UK Charges Bail-Jumping

Reuters via Washington Post, Sweden drops Assange rape allegation, but Britain says WikiLeaks founder still faces arrest, Karla Julian Assange August Adam, May 19, 2017. Swedish prosecutors on Friday dropped their investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange, closing a nearly seven-year legal saga that led the WikiLeaks founder to seek sanctuary at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London. But British police said that Assange still faces arrest for jumping bail if he walks out of diplomatic protection, which he claims is needed to keep him from being extradited to the United States to face charges of disclosing confidential military and diplomatic documents.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a statement that Sweden’s director of public prosecution, Marianne Ny, “today decided to discontinue the investigation” into a rape claim against Assange. Assange has disputed the rape allegation. He also argued that he risked being extradited by Sweden to the United States and tried for espionage.

He took refuge in the embassy in 2012. Assange’s lawyer, Per Samuelson, said in an emailed statement that Assange had “proved his innocence.” The case was closed, he wrote, “because an innocent man proved he was not guilty!”

Swedish flagBut Swedish officials said the decision only drops the case and is not a ruling on Assange’s guilt or innocence. The attorney for Assange’s accuser said it was a “scandal” that the case was not tried in court. In explaining why Sweden was dropping the investigation, Ny told a news conference in Stockholm that “all possibilities to advance the investigation have now been exhausted” and that the legal proceedings could continue only if Assange were present in Sweden.

May 18

Robert Mueller (FBI Official Photo)New York Times, The Investigator America Needs, Editorial board, May 18, 2017. With the former F.B.I. director Robert S. Mueller III (shown in an official photo) in charge, Americans should be assured of a strong inquiry.

Politico, What Donald Trump Needs to Know About Bob Mueller and Jim Comey, Garrett M. Graff (shown in a file photo), May 18, 2017. The two men who could bring down the president have been preparing their entire lives for this moment. When Jim Comey first learned that Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzales were on their way to the George Washington Hospital room of John Ashcroft, his first call for help was to Bob Mueller. Comey knew that the White House chief of staff and the White House counsel would try to push the attorney general to renew the National Security Agency’s Terrorist Surveillance Program, code-named STELLAR WIND.

Comey (shown in a photo), who was then Ashcroft’s deputy, had spent the preceding weeks leading the charge against the White House and especially Vice President Dick Cheney against the program, which the Justice Department’s lawyers had determined was illegal.
James Comey

Donald Trump, as it turns out, has stumbled into taking on two experienced Washington players on their home turf — in skirmishes that will play out in public Capitol Hill hearings with Comey even as Mueller slogs along with what is likely to be a quiet, tenacious and by-the-book investigation into the heart of the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia.

That thoroughness and Mueller’s strong independence should terrify the Trump White House. President Trump impulsively fired Comey in the hope that it would shut down the Russia investigation; one week later, though, he finds himself facing not just one esteemed former FBI director but two: the first a wronged martyr for the bureau, and the second a legendary investigator without a hint of politics.

New York Times, Outreach From President Made Comey Uneasy, a Friend Says, Michael S. Schmidt, May 18, 2017. James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, described being dismayed by President Trump’s attempts to build a personal relationship with him amid the Russia investigation. A close friend of Mr. Comey’s said that he saw Mr. Trump’s behavior in a “more menacing light” and decided to speak out.

President Trump called the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, weeks after he took office and asked him when federal authorities were going to put out word that Mr. Trump was not personally under investigation, according to two people briefed on the call. Mr. Comey told the president that if he wanted to know details about the bureau’s investigations, he should not contact him directly but instead follow the proper procedures and have the White House counsel send any inquiries to the Justice Department, according to those people.

After explaining to Mr. Trump how communications with the F.B.I. should work, Mr. Comey believed he had effectively drawn the line after a series of encounters he had with the president and other White House officials that he felt jeopardized the F.B.I.’s independence.

New York Times, Decision to Fire Comey Was Made Before Justice Memo, Matthew Rosenberg and Rebecca R. Ruiz, May 18, 2017. Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, said he knew the decision to fire James B. Comey was made before he wrote a justification.

New York Times, Trump’s Team Knew of Flynn Inquiry Before Hiring Him, Matthew Rosenberg and Mark Mazzetti, May 18, 2017. Michael T. Flynn is said to have told the transition team that he was under investigation for working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey. He was named national security adviser anyway. 

Reuters, Exclusive: Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians: sources, Ned Parker, Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel, May 18, 2017. Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters.

Michael Flynn Harvard 2014The previously undisclosed interactions form part of the record now being reviewed by FBI and congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Six of the previously undisclosed contacts described to Reuters were phone calls between Sergei Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the United States, and Trump advisers, including Flynn (shown in a photo), Trump’s first national security adviser, three current and former officials said.

Conversations between Flynn and Kislyak accelerated after the Nov. 8 vote as the two discussed establishing a back channel for communication between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that could bypass the U.S. national security bureaucracy, which both sides considered hostile to improved relations, four current U.S. officials said. In January, the Trump White House initially denied any contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. The White House and advisers to the campaign have since confirmed four meetings between Kislyak and Trump advisers during that time.

Mike Pence

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Washington Post, Vice President Pence has a growing credibility problem, Aaron Blake, May 18, 2017. There are more than a few people who look at Vice President Pence and see President Pence — possibly sooner than later. For wistful Democrats, it would be the end result of President Trump stepping aside or being impeached; for wistful Republicans, some dream of a more serious, less error-prone Republican president actually succeeding at passing a conservative agenda.

But as the Post's Abby Phillip began documenting last week, Pence has hardly been immune from Trump's foibles and from saying untrue things about them. And now twice in the past week, his defenses of the White House he serves in have been pretty directly contradicted in ways that seriously call into question his credibility. Below are big instances in which Pence said something that turned out to be highly misleading at best and clearly false at worst, starting with the newest one.

1) Michael Flynn's status as a foreign agent for Turkey
2) The explanation of James Comey's firing

New FBI Director?

Politico, Lieberman emerges as front-runner for FBI post, Josh Dawsey, Kenneth P. Vogel and Michael Crowley, May 18, 2017. Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic vice-presidential nominee, is the front-runner to be named FBI director, according to several White House officials and advisers. Senior administration officials have told others in the last 12 hours that Trump is expected to pick Lieberman to replace FBI director James Comey, who was abruptly fired by Trump last week.

A person familiar with Wednesday’s meeting said Trump bonded with Lieberman, and the president left leaning towards the former Connecticut senator, who retired in 2013. Trump has not signaled otherwise that anyone else is the favorite, aides said, and has told one adviser he wants to make an announcement before he leaves Friday on his first foreign trip. A White House spokesman declined to comment.

Huffington Post, Donald Trump Says Joe Lieberman Is His Top Choice For FBI Director, Marina Fang and Sam Stein, May 18, 2017. The president is “very close” to making a final decision, he told reporters on Thursday. Trump confirmed that former Sen. Joe Lieberman is his top choice, according to White House pool reports. The founder of Lieberman’s law firm ― Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman ― is one of the president’s top lawyers.

Lieberman, who was the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee before losing a primary bid for re-election and becoming an independent, would be an unconventional choice. He has no federal law enforcement experience and, while currently at a high-profile law firm, is most associated as a centrist Democrat.  He has previously said that he would support an independent commission to investigate ties between Trump’s administration and Russia. But it is his background in politics that had Democrats reacting with severe reservation.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) called it a “mistake” to select an elected official to the post, saying that the FBI director should be a law enforcement official.

While Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), in an interview with Huffpost, called the possible nomination “shocking.”  “There is no reason to appoint a politician to run the FBI,” Schatz said. “It is contrary to everything the FBI is about and it undermines the confidence that the public needs to have in the independence of the agency. And more to the point, it is not as if there is no one else qualified to do this job. There are literally dozens of people who would get a unanimous vote.”

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), A special prosecutor and a mobbed-up president, Wayne Madsen, May 18, 2017 (Subscription required).  Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller as a special prosecutor for the investigation of President Trump's actions during his time in the White House and his prior presidential campaign and transition, comes with renewed attention on Trump's Red Kosher Nostra mafia business connections recently reported by WMR.

Trump Defense: Calls Foul, Aides Urge Legal Help

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Washington Post, Trump claims to be victim of ‘witch hunt’ following appointment of special counsel in Russia case, Ashley Parker, May 18, 2017. President Trump (shown in a Gage Skidmore photo) described himself as the victim of a “witch hunt” Thursday morning, a day after the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to investigate possible collusion between Trump associates and the Russian government to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

In a pair of tweets Thursday shortly before 8 a.m., Trump — without evidence — pointed to “the illegal acts” he claimed occurred during Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and President Barack Obama's administration, expressing anger that a special counsel had never been appointed to investigate his Democratic rivals.

New York Times, Trump Calls Himself the Victim of a ‘Witch Hunt,’ Mark Landler, May 18, 2017. President Trump, without citing evidence, accused the Clinton campaign and Obama administration of “illegal acts” that didn’t prompt the appointment of a special prosecutor.

New York Times, Advisers Urge Trump to Hire an Outside Lawyer, Maggie Haberman, May 18, 2017. The recommendations came even before a special counsel was named to lead the investigation into any collusion between his campaign and Russian officials.

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Washington Post, Trump denies asking Comey to back off Flynn investigation, Sari Horwitz, Ashley Parker and Ed O'Keefe​, May 18, 2017. President Trump said there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia, while adding the caveat that he can only speak for himself, and denied asking then-FBI Director James B. Comey to end his agency’s probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein indicated to the Senate that, contrary to the White House’s initial account, he knew Comey would be fired before he wrote a memo that was used as justification for the dismissal.

Washington Post, Trump needs private attorney to navigate complex probe, his ex-lawyer says, Michael Kranish, May 18, 2017. A longtime private attorney for President Trump said he has advised the White House that Trump should hire a “tough Washington lawyer” to help navigate an increasingly complex legal strategy in response to the special counsel investigation of alleged ties between the presidential campaign and Russia.

“He needs a good lawyer, someone who is strong, not that he would go against the lawyer’s advice, but everybody should have a lawyer who sees things through and comes up with good advice,” said Jay Goldberg, who represented Trump from 1990 to 2005, including during his two divorces and other high-profile cases.  Trump’s need for a private attorney is viewed as a high priority because he so far has been relying on government lawyers, including his White House counsel, who could eventually be called to testify about their private conversations with him. Such conversations are not considered “privileged,” unlike what Trump experienced as a corporate executive working with hired legal counsel.

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FCC Security Roughs Up Reporter For Asking Question

National Press Club, Reporter manhandled by FCC guards because he asked question, Julie Schoo, May 18, 2017. Security guards at the Federal Communications Commission headquarters here manhandled a well-regarded reporter at a public hearing today and forced him to leave the premises after he had tried to politely ask questions of FCC commissioners.

The reporter, John M. Donnelly of CQ Roll Call, is an award-winning journalist. He is also chairman of the National Press Club’s Press Freedom Team and president of the Military Reporters & Editors association. He has chaired the NPC Board of Governors and formerly served on the Standing Committee of Correspondents in the U.S. Congress, which credentials the Washington press corps.

Donnelly said he ran afoul of plainclothes security personnel at the FCC when he tried to ask commissioners questions when they were not in front of the podium at a scheduled press conference. Throughout the FCC meeting, the security guards had shadowed Donnelly as if he were a security threat, he said, even though he continuously displayed his congressional press pass and held a tape recorder and notepad. They even waited for him outside the men’s room at one point.

When Donnelly strolled in an unthreatening way toward FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly to pose a question, two guards pinned Donnelly against the wall with the backs of their bodies until O’Rielly had passed. O’Rielly witnessed this and continued walking. One of the guards, Frederick Bucher, asked Donnelly why he had not posed his question during the press conference. Then Bucher proceeded to force Donnelly to leave the building entirely under implied threat of force. 

Bucher has been implicated in at least one other incident involving harassment of a journalist. Bloomberg News reporter Todd Shields told Donnelly today that Bucher took his (Shields’) press badge last July when Shields was talking to a protester at an FCC meeting. The agency later apologized and said it restored Shields' credentials.  “I could not have been less threatening or more polite,” Donnelly said of today’s encounter. “There is no justification for using force in such a situation.”

FCC Regulation

C-SPAN, Author Thomas Hazlett on Radio Spectrum Regulation, Brian Lamb, May 18, 2017. Clemson University economic Dr. Thomas Hazlett talked about his book, The Political Spectrum: The Tumultuous Liberation of Wireless Technology from Herbert Hoover to the Smartphone, published this spring by the Yale University Press. He served as the first Chief Economist for the Federal Communications Commission before resuming his teaching career. Following his Hazlett’s remarks, a wireless policy specialist from Verizon and a technology policy representative from Facebook discussed radio spectrum regulation.

Around the Nation: Fox News Co-Founder Ailes Dead

Roger Ailes

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Washington Post, Roger Ailes, architect of conservative TV juggernaut Fox News, is dead at 77, Marc Fisher, May 18, 2017. The chairman and CEO of the Fox News Channel was recently ousted over sexual harassment charges. Roger Ailes (shown in a file photo), who mastered the art of selling political candidates like Hollywood celebrities and was the architect of conservative-oriented TV news, died Thursday at 77. He was the longtime chairman and chief executive of the Fox News Channel, building it over two decades into a politically influential juggernaut until his abrupt ouster last year amid sexual harassment allegations.

Global News: ISIS

New York Times, Saudis to Give Royal Welcome to Trump, Ignoring His Slights, Ben Hubbard, May 18, 2017. The Middle Eastern kingdom seeks a reset in relations after the Obama years, hoping to emphasize common goals in business, counterterrorism and confronting Iran.

SouthFront, ISIS Massacred 52 Civilians In Hama Countryside, Staff report, May 18, 2017. On Thursday, ISIS (with a contingent shown in a file photo) launched a large attack on government-held villages, which resulted in the wounding and killing of a number of civilians.

Global News: U.S. Chiquita Co. Involvement In Terrorism?

National Security Archive, Chiquita Papers Are Key Evidence in International Criminal Court Filing, Staff report, May 18, 2017. Groups Ask ICC to Investigate Banana Company Execs for Facilitating Crimes Against Humanity. National Security Archive Submits 48,000 Pages on Chiquita’s Illegal Payments to Prosecutors at The Hague. The National Security Archive’s Chiquita Papers collection represents key evidence behind a “communication” calling on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate officials from Chiquita Brands International for facilitating crimes against humanity committed by armed groups the company paid in Colombia.

The petition to the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor was brought by the International Human Rights Clinic of Harvard Law School, the International Federation for Human Rights, and the Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo, a Colombian human rights organization, and was made public today at a press conference in Bogotá, Colombia. The Archive provided more than 48,000 pages of internal Chiquita records to the ICC as part of the communication, including financial records, legal memoranda, handwritten notes, and the secret, sworn testimony of company officials that help to identify individuals at Chiquita who steered millions of dollars in “sensitive payments” to Colombian insurgent groups, government security forces, and right-wing paramilitary militias.

The ICC action comes at an important moment, just as Colombia begins to implement a historic peace agreement ending more than 50 years of conflict with rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Today’s posting features a selection of key excerpts from the evidence and a dozen full-text documents from the case.

Upcoming JFK 100th Birthday Anniversary Events

JFK Presidential Library and Museum, JFK100: Centennial Celebration, Staff report, May 18, 2017. Over Memorial Day weekend, the Kennedy Library will host a series of events and activities highlighting peace, public service, science and innovation. On Monday, May 29, join us for free admission to our Museum, and a cake cutting ceremony to celebrate President Kennedy's 100th birthday. There's cake for 1,000 visitors.

9/11 Truth Action Project, May 29th: Peaceably Assemble for Truth: JFK to 9/11 (in Washington, DC), Staff report, May 18, 2017. Your participation will invaluably heighten the impact of this timely event, which joins the struggles for truth about 9/11 (15+ years) and JFK's assassination (50+ years), in a high-visibility location and important context.

October of this year (2017) is the statutory deadline for still-withheld JFK assassination records to be released; yet whether that occurs is by no means certain - some "agencies" will likely pressure President Trump to keep hiding crucial secrets, disclosure of which is essential for public understanding and action. A well-attended "Peaceable assembly" on the occasion of "JFK 100" (100th anniversary of JFK's birth) on the north/public terrace of The Kennedy Center will convey, by our physical presence (rather than merely in-print or online) our "petition, for redress" of the grievance that information the public requires has been too-long withheld. This pressure will provide both political cover and strong encouragement for President Trump to do the right thing: shine a bright light upon what has been hidden too long in darkness.

Success in obtaining full-disclosure of the JFK records will further the case for hastening release of withheld 9/11 records, such as NIST's WTC-7 modeling data. While the number of activists still intently focused on the JFK records release may have declined in these 50 years, the groundswell of advocacy for truth about 9/11 is strong and applying that strength - by turning out in large numbers for this May 29th "JFK Vigil" - is of tremendous potential value.

The designated location for this event, available public terraces of The Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. is of strategic importance, serving as essentially a "safe zone" from which activists who have "peaceably assembled" may similarly disperse and peaceably re-assemble elsewhere in the Washington area; joining together on this spot May 29th will provide a valuable opportunity for together assessing and envisioning the merit of initiating peaceable assemblies here in even greater numbers this coming September 11th, then November 22nd (a month after the JFK records-release deadline), and thereafter as necessary.

For an analysis of historical parallels between JFK's assassination and 9/11, please read the article by Karl Golovin, "Liberty Lives in the Light: Illuminate + End 'False-Flag' Terrorism," published in the newsletter this month.

Karl has forwarded the domain www.JFKvigil.com to an Eventbrite page to provide further details; registering for this event will facilitate your receiving updates via email as the date approaches.

May 17

Special Counsel Named On Trump Campaign-Russian Probe

Robert Mueller (FBI Official Photo)New York Times, Russia Investigation Gets Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, Rebecca R. Ruiz, May 17, 2017. Ex-F.B.I. Chief, to Lead Inquiry on Meddling. The Justice Department has appointed Robert S. Mueller III, the former F.B.I. director, to serve as a special counsel to oversee its investigation into Russian meddling in the election, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein (shown at right below) announced on Wednesday.

Rod Rosenstein Deputyty Atttorney GeneralThe appointment of Mr. Mueller dramatically raises the stakes for President Trump in the multiple investigations into his campaign’s ties to the Russians. It follows a swiftly moving series of developments that have roiled Washington, including Mr. Trump’s abrupt dismissal of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and the disclosure that the president urged Mr. Comey to drop the bureau’s investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.

The stakes are now higher for President Trump in the multiple investigations into his campaign’s ties to the Russians.

Kevin McCarthyWashington Post, House Majority Leader McCarthy told colleagues in 2016: ‘I think Putin pays’ Trump, Adam Entous​, May 17, 2017. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA, and shown in an official photo) made the politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill in June 2016 with his fellow GOP leaders. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan interjected and stopped the conversation from exploring McCarthy’s assertion, saying: “No leaks. ... This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

James Comey

New York Times, Senate Panel Asks Comey to Testify on Flynn and Trump, Staff report, May 17, 2017. The Senate Intelligence Committee invited Mr. Comey to testify in both open and closed-door hearings, and asked the F.B.I. for memos prepared by Mr. Comey. The Senate Intelligence Committee invited the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey to testify on reports that President Trump asked him to scuttle the investigation into Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser.

Wall Street Journal, Russian State-Run Bank Financed Deal Involving Trump Hotel Partner, Rob Barry, Christopher S. Stewart and Brett Forrest, May 17, 2017 (subscription required). Russian-Canadian developer put money into Toronto project after receiving hundreds of millions from deal involving VEB. VEB, a Russian state-run bank under scrutiny by U.S. investigators, financed a deal involving Donald Trump’s onetime partner in a Toronto hotel tower at a key moment for the project, according to people familiar with the transaction. Alexander Shnaider, a Russian-Canadian developer who built the 65-story Trump International Hotel and Tower, put money into the project after receiving hundreds of millions of dollars.

Russia’s official news agency photographed President Trump’s meeting with Sergey V. Lavrov in the Oval Office on Wednesday. The American press was denied access. Credit Alexander Shcherbak/TASS, via Getty Images  

Washington Post, Putin offers to provide Congress with details of Trump disclosures to Russian envoys, Devlin Barrett, Ellen Nakashima and Matt Zapotosky, May 17, 2017. Putin offers to provide Congress with details of Trump disclosures to Russian envoys. The provocative offer for the Kremlin to share evidence with U.S. oversight committees about the Oval Office meeting came with the caveat that the request for the transcript would have to come from the Trump administration.

Homeland Defense & Justice System

ICE logoNew York Times, Immigration Arrests Rise 38% as Trump’s Mandate Is Realized, Caitlin Dickerson, May 17, 2017. Under a new Trump administration policy, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is casting a wider net.

Roll Call, Controversial Sheriff Says He’s Taking Homeland Security Post, Gopal Ratnam, May 17, 2017. Milwaukee County Sheriff David David A. Clarke Jr. Milwaukee Police Chief Gage Skidmore photoClarke, who has been a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, said Wednesday he’s taking a job at the Homeland Security Department. Clarke, whose name has been previously floated for administration jobs, told WISN-AM that he’s taking a job at DHS that involves liaising with state and local law enforcement agencies. The post does not require Senate confirmation.

“It’s going to be a huge learning curve for me. I’m going to get in there and figure out the landscape; learn the people,” Clarke (shown in a file photo) told the Wisconsin radio station, according to a transcript posted online. “I’ll be developing who I have interplay with.” He went on to say he’d talk to Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly to “figure out a strategy to create this better liaison between the Department of Homeland Security and our state and local partners.”

The White House referred questions about the appointment to DHS. Jenny Burke, an agency spokeswoman, said the position “is a Secretarial appointment,” adding that “such senior positions are announced by the Department when made official by the Secretary. No such announcement with regard to the Office of Public Engagement has been made.” Clarke is a controversial figure who has faced criticism for his leadership in Wisconsin. He is a strong supporter of Trump’s policies on immigration and critical of the Black Lives Matter movement.

WhoWhatWhy, Re-examining the Chelsea Manning Saga as Prison Term Ends, Staff report, May 17, 2017. Chelsea Manning is released from prison today after her 35-year sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama. Manning leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents, many of which cast a new and damning light on US actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The most sensational documents revealed wrongdoing by the US government, and its attempts to cover them up. For instance, documents show that the US was well aware of torture and prisoner abuse perpetrated by Iraqi Security Forces, and did nothing about it. Another revelation was that known Egyptian torturers had received training at FBI headquarters in Quantico, VA.

Chicago Review New Obama Biographry

Chicago Tonight: WTTW, Obama Biography Paints Complicated Picture of a ‘Rising Star’, Nick Blumberg, May 17, 2017. When then-Sen. Barack Obama began his run for president a decade ago, historian and author David Garrow was disappointed by the quality of biographical journalism on the much buzzed-about candidate. In the new book “Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama,” Garrow traces how Obama’s life led him to the presidency – and paints a complicated, sometimes critical portrait of a polarizing and iconic figure.

NATO Ally's Guards Accused of Beating DC Protesters

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Washington Post, Erdogan’s guards clash with protesters outside Turkish ambassador’s D.C. residence, Peter Hermann and Perry Stein​, May 17, 2017. People with knowledge of the investigation said authorities are reviewing video to identify presidential guards who they believe instigated the melee. Nine people were injured; two arrests already have been made. D.C. police announced they are pursuing charges against additional suspects involved in Tuesday’s violent clash between demonstrators and guards for visiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Flag of Turkey

Two people with direct knowledge of the investigation said authorities are reviewing video to try to identify Erdogan guards who they believe instigated the melee outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence. Nine people were injured; two arrests already have been made.  During a Wednesday news conference, police did not directly identify the guards as suspects but said they are working with the State Department and Secret Service to identify people involved in the altercation.

D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said the violence was “not something we tolerate in our city.” He said several of the Erdogan guards were armed with guns, making the incident especially “dicey” for D.C. officers trying to quell the violence.  If charges are pursued against any Erdogan guards, District officials might have to work through thorny issues such as diplomatic immunity or the special status afforded to those who guard visiting heads of state.

Global Banking Intrigue

BBC, The Swiss, the Germans, and the mysterious case of Daniel M, Imogen Foulkes, May 17, 2017. The story could be straight out of a Graham Greene novel, or a James Bond film. The case of Daniel M, a Swiss man arrested by the Germans on charges of spying, has focused attention in Switzerland on the activities of the Swiss intelligence services, the banks and the often awkward relationship between Switzerland and Germany. Daniel M, now detained in Mannheim in south-west Germany, was once a police officer in Zurich, then a security specialist for Swiss banking giant UBS and finally, it is alleged, a spy for the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service (FIS).

Around the Nation: Infrastructure Breakdown In Mississippi

Associated Press, Water Line Break Could Mean No Water in Vicksburg for 5 Days, Staff report, May 17, 2017. Too much water will mean none at all for almost 30,000 customers in and around Vicksburg for five days or more. The line carrying treated water from the city's water plant to all customers broke Wednesday morning in an area that's currently flooded by a Mississippi River backwater. With no way to deliver clean water, the city shut down its pipes. "We have absolutely no water anywhere in Vicksburg," Mayor George Flaggs Jr. told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Bill Cosby's Sexual Assault Trial

New York Times, Andrea Constand’s Story: Will It Send Bill Cosby to Prison? Graham Bowley and Sydney Ember, May 17, 2017. Though more than 40 women have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault, the task of convincing a jury that he is a sexual predator when his criminal trial begins next month will largely fall to just one — Andrea Constand.

Ms. Constand, who says Mr. Cosby (shown in a photo) drugged and sexually assaulted her at his home outside Philadelphia in 2004, is the only woman whose complaint has resulted in criminal charges. Many of the other women never called the police, or when they considered it, found that the statute of limitations had expired. By coming forward, Ms. Constand is sure to confront the sort of intense scrutiny that most people do when publicizing claims of sexual assault. And her account, along with how she tells it, will be critically important, not only to the outcome of the case and to the Cosby legacy but also to the many other women who view her as their last chance for justice.

“She is the linchpin of the case,” said Lynne M. Abraham, a former Philadelphia district attorney and judge. “The whole case stands or falls on her. She is it.”

Scheming DC School Chancellor

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Washington Post, Secret report shows ‘special’ treatment for public officials in D.C. school lottery, Peter Jamison and Aaron C. Davis, May 17, 2017. Former D.C. Public Schools chancellor Kaya Henderson routinely helped well-connected parents — including two senior aides to Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) — bend or break the rules of the District’s notoriously competitive school lottery to enroll their children at coveted schools, according to a confidential report obtained by The Washington Post.

The report, based on an investigation by the D.C. Inspector General’s Office, describes in remarkable detail how Henderson used her power as head of the school system to place the children of those with political clout at campuses they could not otherwise access through the random lottery, which every year leaves thousands of families on waiting lists for their desired schools.

Inspector General Daniel Lucas found that Henderson misused her authority by giving preferential treatment to seven of 10 people who requested special school placements for their children during the 2015 lottery season. The investigation did not examine the rest of Henderson’s tenure from November 2010 to September 2016.

Baltimore Sun, Trumped-up claims against Trump United Kingdom flag, Ray McGovern and William Binney, May 17, 2017. The Washington establishment rejoiced last week over what seemed to be a windfall "gotcha" moment, as President Donald Trump said he had fired FBI Director James Comey over "this Russia thing, with Trump and Russia." The president labeled it a "made-up story" and, by all appearances, he is mostly correct. A few days before his firing, Mr. Comey reportedly had asked for still more resources to hunt the Russian bear. Pundit piranhas swarmed to charge Mr. Trump with trying to thwart the investigation into how the Russians supposedly "interfered" to help him win the election.

On March 31, 2017, WikiLeaks released original CIA documents — ignored by mainstream media — showing that the agency had created a program allowing it to break into computers and servers and make it look like others did it by leaving telltale signs like Cyrillic markings, for example. The capabilities shown in what WikiLeaks calls the "Vault 7" trove of CIA documents required the creation of hundreds of millions of lines of source code. At $25 per line of code, that amounts to about $2.5 billion for each 100 million code lines. But the Deep State has that kind of money and would probably consider the expenditure a good return on investment for "proving" the Russians hacked.

President Trump has entered into a high-stakes gamble in confronting the Deep State and its media allies over the evidence-free accusations of his colluding with Russia. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, publicly warned him of the risk earlier this year. "You take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you," Mr. Schumer told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Jan. 3.

If Mr. Trump continues to "take on" the Deep State, he will be fighting uphill, whether he's in the right or not. It is far from certain he will prevail.

Ray McGovern (rrmcgovern@gmail.com) was a CIA analyst for 27 years; he briefed the president's daily brief one-on-one to President Reagan's most senior national security officials from 1981-85. William Binney (williambinney0802@comcast.net) worked for NSA for 36 years, retiring in 2001 as the technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and reporting; he created many of the collection systems still used by NSA.

May 16 

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New York Times, Trump Asked Comey to End Flynn Inquiry, Michael S. Schmidt, May 16, 2017. Ex-F.B.I. Director Documented Request in February Memo. President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. “I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey. The White House denied the account in the memo.

The existence of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.

Michael Flynn Harvard 2014Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn (shown in a photo) resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.

Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of the memo to a Times reporter.

James Comey

RollCall, White House Denies Report Trump Asked Comey to Drop Flynn Probe, John T. Bennett and Niels Lesniewski, May 16, 2017. The White House quickly tried to shoot down a New York Times report Tuesday that President Donald Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

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Washington Post, Analysis: Trump is careening toward an inevitable showdown with an undeniable truth, Philip Bump​, May 16, 2017. Time and time again, the public has been forced to decide: Whom do you believe — Donald Trump, or some other source? Whether it’s Trump’s word against that of his campaign rivals or of the media or of James Comey, it seems only a matter of time until Trump is up against someone or something that leaves him no wiggle room.

Trump Russian Dispute

President Trump meets last week at the White House with Russian diplomatic officials in a gathering from which U.S. media were banned. Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister is at left, and at right is Sergey I. Kislyak, Moscow’s ambassador to the United States

Washington Post, Trump acknowledges ‘facts’ were shared with Russian envoys, Ashley Parker, May 16, 2017. Trump's tweets undercut Donald Trump and Mike Pence logohis administration's frantic effort Monday night to contain the damaging report. The White House trotted out three senior administration officials to deny the very reports Trump openly confirmed less than 24 hours later.

Washington Post, This is why Trump’s loose tongue has compromised U.S. security, Stephen Tankel​, May 16, 2017. According to the rules of the intelligence game, in order to share this particular piece of classified information, the United States would have needed permission from the country that collected it. This information was not America's to share.

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New York Times, Israel Is Said to Provide Secrets Trump Shared With Russia, Adam Goldman, Matthew Rosenberg, Matt Apuzzo and Eric Schmitt, May 16, 2017. The classified intelligence that President Trump disclosed in a meeting last week with Russian officials at the White House was provided by Israel, according to officials. The revelation adds a potential diplomatic complication to the episode.

New York Times, Tempers Flare and Confusion Swirls at Rattled White House, Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman, May 16, 2017. As his staff squabbles, Mr. Trump’s mood has become sour and he has turned against most of his aides, two advisers say. The disclosure that President Trump divulged classified intelligence to two high-ranking Russian officials was a new blow to an already dispirited and besieged White House staff still recovering from the uproar and recriminations from the president’s firing of James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director.

Mr. Trump’s appetite for chaos, coupled with his disregard for the self-protective conventions of the presidency, have left his staff confused and squabbling. And his own mood, according to two advisers who spoke on the condition of anonymity, has become sour and dark, turning against most of his aides — even his son-in-law, Jared Kushner (shown in a photo) — and describing them in a fury as “incompetent,” according to one of those advisers.

Washington Post, I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal’ with Trump. His self-sabotage is rooted in his past, Tony Schwartz, May 16, 2017. Tony Schwartz (shown at right) is the chief executive officer of the Energy Project, which helps companies tap more of people’s capacity by better meeting their core needs so they can perform more sustainably. He is the author, most recently, of “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working.”

Why does President Trump behave in the dangerous and seemingly self-destructive ways he does? Three decades ago, I spent nearly a year hanging around Trump to write his first book, The Art of the Deal, and got to know him very well. I spent hundreds of hours listening to him, watching him in action and interviewing him about his life. To me, none of what he has said or done over the past four months as president comes as a surprise. The way he has behaved over the past two weeks — firing FBI Director James B. Comey, undercutting his own aides as they tried to explain the decision, disclosing sensitive information to Russian officials and railing about it all on Twitter — is also entirely predictable.

Donald Trump The Art of the DealEarly on, I recognized that Trump’s sense of self-worth is forever at risk. When he feels aggrieved, he reacts impulsively and defensively, constructing a self-justifying story that doesn’t depend on facts and always directs the blame to others.

The Trump I first met in 1985 had lived nearly all his life in survival mode. By his own description, his father, Fred, was relentlessly demanding, difficult and driven. Here’s how I phrased it in “The Art of the Deal”: “My father is a wonderful man, but he is also very much a business guy and strong and tough as hell.” As Trump saw it, his older brother, Fred Jr., who became an alcoholic and died at age 42, was overwhelmed by his father. Or as I euphemized it in the book: “There were inevitably confrontations between the two of them. In most cases, Freddy came out on the short end.”

Trump Defenders From National Security Community

Philip Giraldi

Unz Review, Are They Really Out to Get Trump? Sometimes paranoia is justified, Philip Giraldi, May 16, 2017. Philip Giraldi (shown at left) is a former CIA analyst. What exactly drove the firing at this time remains somewhat of a mystery though the media has been quick to link it directly to Trump’s reported anger at the seemingly endless investigation into his Administration’s possible ties to Russia, an investigation that nominally Comey headed as FBI Director.

Two well-informed observers of the situation have recently joined in the discussion, Robert Parry of Consortiumnews and former CIA senior analyst Ray McGovern of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

Ray McGovernMcGovern (shown at left) has noted, as have I, that there is one individual who has been curiously absent from the list of former officials who have been called in to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. That is ex-CIA Director John Brennan, who many have long considered an extreme Obama/Hillary Clinton loyalist long rumored to be at the center of the information damaging to Team Trump sent to Washington by friendly intelligence services, including the British.

Ray suggests that Brennan and also Comey may been at the center of a “Deep State” combined CIA-NSA-FBI cabal working to discredit the Trump candidacy and delegitimize his presidency.
Robert Parry

Robert Parry (shown at right) asked in an article on May 10th whether we are seeing is “Watergate redux or ‘Deep State’ coup?” and then followed up with a second Piece “The ‘Soft Coup’ of Russia-gate” on the 13th. In other words, is this all a cover-up of wrongdoing by the White House akin to President Richard Nixon’s firing of Watergate independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox and the resignations of both the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General or is it something quite different, an undermining of an elected president who has not actually committed any “high crimes and misdemeanors” to force his removal from office.

Global News: Israel, U.S. Media Ramp Up Disputed Claims Against Syria

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SouthFront, Israeli Cabinet Minister Calls To Assassinate Syrian President Bashar Assad, Staff report, May 16, 2017. Israeli Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant has called to assassinate Syrian President Bashar Assad. Galant made the statement speaking at a conference outside Jerusalem amid the recent US allegations that Syrian security forces were conducting mass executions and were burning the bodies of the “victims.” The reality of the situation in Syria is that they are executing people, using directed chemical attacks against them, and the latest extreme — burning their corpses, something we haven’t seen in 70 years,” Galant said, according to the Times Of Israel.

Global News: Saudis Dangle Oil Money For U.S.

OilPrice.com, Will The $40 Billion Saudi Infrastructure Gift Influence Trump? Zainab Calcuttawala, May 16, 2017. It’s “Infrastructure Week” in Washington, and foreign powers are taking note. Ahead of President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit to the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has promised to make $40 billion of its sovereign wealth fund available to the United States to bankroll part of the roughly $1 trillion in infrastructure improvements that Trump promised on the campaign trail.

Saudi Arabian flagThe move is reminiscent of the KSA’s (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) strategy amongst its allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), as well as Morocco and Jordan. This GCC + 2 group of kingdoms is regularly showered with billions of dollars in gifts from its wealthiest members, earmarked for similar construction projects, allowing the most stable Arab countries to remain intimately connected through financial obligations. The monarchial structure of these countries allows the lead executive to accept the sizeable donations without much fuss from the public. It’s just the way things are done there, and citizens of those regions generally accept.

But using foreign funds, especially those from a country such as Saudi Arabia – which only garnered favorable reactions from 31 percent of Americans polled by Gallup in February 2017 – could be another political trap for Trump.

The KSA had gone all-in on Hillary Clinton before the election, expecting her to continue to tweak policies put in place by Barack Obama. Contributions from GCC nations, especially Saudi Arabia, to the Clinton Foundation total in the millions. Reports of the serial grand donations made voters question Clinton’s allegiances in the 2016 elections. Trump could suffer a similar loss in faith if he begins accepting funding from monarchies willy-nilly – though censuring the new commander-in-chief in the media for any questionable action has led to fierce resistance from the White House and far right.

Riyadh’s most recent $40 billion gift is an effort to court support in the Trump administration, especially as the Saudi Aramco IPO approaches next year. Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman met Trump at the White House in the early days of the new administration. Local media took to labelling the trip a “historic turning point” in bilateral relations – a marked shift from rumors regarding friction between the two countries during Obama’s tenure. Nonetheless, the Department of Defense continued to approve the KSA’s weapons orders for use in Yemen and other regional squabbles, and Trump will likely continue that legacy.

Syria Denies War Atrocity Claims

New York Times, Syria Denies Building Crematory for Political Prisoners, Anne Barnard, May 16, 2017. The Syrian government forcefully Syria Flagrejected on Tuesday accusations by the United States that the bodies of thousands of political prisoners had been disposed of in a crematory at a prison near Damascus, describing the allegations as “lies” to justify American aggression. “U.S. administrations continue fabricating lies and allegations to justify their aggressive and interventionist policies in other sovereign countries,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, according to the state news agency SANA. “These allegations are totally untrue and are only fabrications by the imagination of this administration and its agents.” 

SouthFront, US Revives Discredited Syria “Slaughterhouse” Story, Tony Cartalucci, March 16, 2017. Originally appeared at landdestroyer.blogspot.com. In February 2017, the US would attempt to leverage an Amnesty International report claiming to detail unfolding atrocities at Sednaya prison in Syria. While painting a picture of torture, neglect, and even mass executions, Amnesty forgot to include any actual evidence to corroborate its claims. The only actual evidence included in a report that otherwise consisted only of alleged interviews and 3D models of the prison made in London, was a picture taken from outer space by an imaging satellite. The satellite image itself revealed nothing besides a building resembling a prison.

Syria FlagThe report’s release and leveraging by the US came just ahead of another round of talks aimed at stemming the catastrophic six-year conflict. The move by the US was a bid to give Washington and its regional allies extra leverage at the negotiating table. And now – months later – and just when the US is in need of more leverage, the Sednaya story has once again been revived.

The US State Department not only has repeated previous and discredited claims drawn from the Amnesty International report, it now claims the prison includes a crematorium facility – an oblique attempt to link the current Syrian government with historical arch-villains like Germany’s Nazis. The Washington Post – just in case readers failed to make the oblique connection to Germany’s Nazis – connects the dots for its audience by characterizing the US State Department’s briefing as “accusations of mass murder and incinerated bodies, evoking the Holocaust.”

Global News: ISIS Fight

SouthFront, Vicinity Of Raqqah Is Flooded With Water From Tabqah Dam, Staff report, May 16, 2017. The vicinity of the Syrian city of Raqqah has been flooded with water from the Tabqah dam recently captured by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. According to the SDF Press Center, ISIS terrorists had used irrigation channels (linked with the dam) to do this. However, it is not clear what goal ISIS could pursue with this move.

In turn, ISIS reported that the SDF did this by itself in order to flood ISIS underground tunnels in the area. In any case, the city is on the verge of the humanitarian crisis. ISIS actively uses and builds a network of underground tunels around and inside the city. The terrorist group is going to use this network during the battle for Raqqah.

Global News: Turkey's White House Meeting

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Washington Post, Trump, Erdogan commit to cooperation despite tensions over Syrian militias, Missy Ryan, May 16, 2017. President Trump on Tuesday pledged continued support for Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, highlighting the importance of the U.S.-Turkish alliance despite mounting tensions over Washington’s support for Kurdish rebels in Syria.
Speaking alongside Erdogan at the White House, Trump said Turkey and the United States would act together against extremist groups including the Islamic State.  Trump welcomed Erdogan, fresh off a narrow electoral victory that granted him wide-ranging new powers, to Washington just a week after the Pentagon announced a plan to directly arm Kurdish militiamen in Syria for the first time. 

More on Epstein Underage Trafficking Scandal

Daily Caller, Jeffrey Epstein’s Runaway Procurer, Conchita Sarnoff, May 16, 2017. Ghislaine N. Maxwell (shown at right, in a photo with Prince Andrew with purported former Mar-a-Lago employee Virginia Roberts at center) is on the run again. A close friend of Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001HRH Prince Andrew and former president Bill Clinton was sued once more. Maxwell refuses to accept service and instructed her Denver, Colorado attorneys, Haddon, Morgan & Foreman, not to accept service on her behalf. Maxwell’s attorneys also announced they do not know her whereabouts. The case: Jane Doe #43 vs. Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell, Sarah Kellen, Lesley Groff, and Natalya Malyshev, is the second pending civil lawsuit filed against Maxwell by a sex-trafficked survivor, according to the suit, whose description continues:

Jeffrey Epstein Harvard University Filed January 26, 2017, in New York, this case shows how Maxwell and her former companion, Jeffrey E. Epstein (shown in a file photo), sexually abused Jane Doe #43 when she was a minor living in Manhattan. Maxwell is a dual citizen of England and France and until recently owned a residence in New York City off Madison Avenue. Jane Doe #43 otherwise known as Sarah Ransome, is a native South African.

DOJ, Sessions Scandals

Legal Schnauzer, Roger Shuler, James Comey firing was an "assault on constitutional values," and Jeff Sessions, with his long history of abusive tactics in Alabama, was in the middle of it, Roger Shuler, May 16, 2017. If Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions (shown in photo) goes down in the widening KremlinGate scandal, it will be ironic because Sessions has played a major role in fostering an environment that allows corruption to take hold, according to a new report out of Washington, D.C. Andrew Kreig, an attorney and journalist who directs the Justice-Integrity Project (JIP), writes that Sessions long has been a "master of the dark arts of political intrigue," which include blackmail, prosecution of political enemies, and gross abuse of the justice system

Whistleblower Alleges Huge Health Care Scam By UnitedHealth

New York Times, ‘Perfect Scheme’ Bilked Medicare of Billions, Insider Says, Mary Williams Walsh, May 16, 2017. A former executive at UnitedHealth says he was paid bonuses to make patients look sicker than they were, which led to bigger reimbursements. Benjamin Poehling, a former finance director at UnitedHealth Group, in Minneapolis. He contends that his company and other insurers have been systematically bilking Medicare Advantage for years.

Murdered Democratic Staffer Denies Fox Claim He Helped WikiLeaks

Washington Post, Family of slain DNC staffer says Fox News reports that he fed WikiLeaks info are untrue, Peter Hermann, May 16, 2017. D.C. police have repeatedly said they believe Seth Rich was killed in a random robbery attempt, but conspiracy theories surrounding WikiLeaks have emerged following his death.

Fox News, Family of slain DNC staffer Seth Rich blasts detective over report of WikiLeaks link, Malia Zimmerman, May 16, 2017. The family of the Democratic National Committee staffer who was gunned down on July 10 on a Washington, D.C., blasted reports that he was a source of thousands of emails leaked to WikiLeaks. Rod Wheeler, a retired Washington homicide detective and Fox News contributor hired by a third party to investigate the case made the WikiLeaks claim, which was corroborated by a federal investigator who spoke to Fox News. “My investigation up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich (shown in a file photo) and WikiLeaks,” said Wheeler.

But a spokesman for Rich's family on Tuesday said Wheeler was not authorized to speak for the family and called assertions Seth Rich sent emails to WikiLeaks "unsubstantiated." Brad Bauman said even if purported emails were to surface, it would not necessarily mean Rich had helped WikiLeaks. "Even if tomorrow, an email was found, it is not a high enough bar of evidence to prove any interactions as emails can be altered and we've seen that those interested in pushing conspiracies will stop at nothing to do so," Bauman said. "We are a family who is committed to facts, not fake evidence that surfaces every few months to fill the void and distract law enforcement and the general public from finding Seth's murderers."

Around Wall Street: Hedge Fund Leaders Reap Billions In Income

New York Times, These 25 Men Made $11 Billion, Despite Modest Returns, Alexandra Stevenson, May 15 2017. Outsize paydays for hedge funds come at a turning point for the industry, where even managers who had a tough year were able to cash in. But some big names did not make the cut.

FBI Succession

RollCall, Cornyn Withdraws From Consideration as FBI Director, Bridget Bowman, March 16, 2017. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX and shown in an official photo) has taken himself out of consideration to be the next F.B.I. director, he informed President Donald Trump’s administration Tuesday.

May 15

Controversial Trump Disclosures To Russia

 

Russia’s official news agency photographed President Trump’s meeting with Sergey V. Lavrov in the Oval Office on Wednesday. The American press was denied access. Credit Alexander Shcherbak/TASS, via Getty Images  

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Washington Post, Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador, Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe, May 15, 2017. President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

CIA LogoThe partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.

Palmer Report, H.R. McMaster caught lying while disputing story that Donald Trump gave classified info to Russians, Bill Palmer, May 15, 2017. After the Washington Post reported this evening that Donald Trump gave highly classified information to the Russians during their recent White House meeting, the New York Times confirmed the same. This represents arguably the most serious accusation ever leveled against a sitting President. Trump sent National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster out to defend him – but McMaster was quickly caught lying.

McMaster is largely viewed as a stand-up guy, with distinguished military record, leaving some surprised that he was even willing to take the job. Trump seemed to think that trotting him out would lend an air of credibility to the denial, particularly McMaster claims he was in the room with Trump and the Russians. But during his brief forty-eight second statement, McMaster flat out lied about what the Washington Post story was reporting to begin with.

The WaPo merely claimed that Trump gave away classified intel to the Russian government representatives (link). But H.R. McMaster declared that “The story that came out tonight, as reported is false” and then went on to justify his assertion by stating that “At no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed” (video). But that’s not what the Washington Post reported to begin with.

Trump Supporters, Confederates, Scandals

WhoWhatWhy, WWW Exclusive: Felix Sater Links Trump to Comey’s Replacement, C. Collins, May 15, 2017. Acting FBI Director McCabe WhoWhatWhy(shown in a C-SPAN photo on May 11) was deeply involved in investigating the Russian mob while Felix Sater was both cooperating with the FBI and working with Donald Trump. This unreported aspect of McCabe’s career gives him firsthand knowledge of potential ties between the president, his business, and organized crime — and highlights how much we do not know about this story.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Trump's "Russian" ties are with the "Red Kosher Nostra," not the Kremlin, Wayne Madsen (shown in a file photo), May 15, 2017. (3,670 words, subscription required.)  Donald Trump has solid criminal links.

Russian Flag

Politico, Russian oligarch Deripaska sues AP for libel, Josh Gerstein, May 15, 2017. A Russian aluminum magnate with ties to President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort is suing the Associated Press for libel over its reporting on the pair's relationship. Lawyers for Oleg Deripaska filed the suit Monday in federal court in Washington, claiming that the CEO of the Russian firm United Company RUSAL was defamed by a March AP story reporting about business dealings between Deripaska and Manafort.

Paul Manafort

The suit alleges that the AP report was libelous because it falsely implied that Deripaska was paying Manafort for work aimed at advancing the goals of the Russian government and Russian president Vladimir Putin. The suit also says the article created a false impression that Deripaska's dealings with Manafort (shown in a file photo) were intertwined with the Trump campaign when that work ended by 2009 and that Deripaska is tied to ongoing investigations of alleged theft of assets from Ukraine after the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.

The AP story disclosed proposal Manafort allegedly sent Deripaska in 2005, offering to provide services that "can greatly benefit the Putin Government." The suit alleges that proposal former no part of any work Manafort did for the Russian oligarch.
"The Article is structured to imply falsely that Mr. Deripaska's commercial dealings from the period between 2005 and 2009 were somehow related to alleged criminal conduct and improprieties related to the campaign of then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and the 2016 U.S. Presidential election," Deripaska's suit says.

Global News: March 16 White House Meeting With Turkey

Washington Post, Fethullah Gulen: The Turkey I no longer know, Fethullah Gulen, May 15, 2017. Fethullah Gulen (shown in a file photo) is an Fetullah-GullenIslamic scholar, preacher and social advocate. My homeland’s slide into authoritarianism must be stopped. As the presidents of the United States and Turkey meet at the White House on Tuesday, the leader of the country I have called home for almost two decades comes face to face with the leader of my homeland.

Flag of Turkey

The two countries have a lot at stake, including the fight against the Islamic State, the future of Syria and the refugee crisis. But the Turkey that I once knew as a hope-inspiring country on its way to consolidating its democracy and a moderate form of secularism has become the dominion of a president who is doing everything he can to amass power and subjugate dissent.

Media News

Toledo Blade, Justice Department: Chicago Tribune wants to buy the Chicago Sun-Times, May 15, 2017. Chicago's media scene could get a lot smaller — so long as the Justice Department approves. Wrapports, the parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times, is looking for a buyer that will keep publishing the daily newspaper. The owner of the Chicago Tribune, tronc, has stepped up to the plate, both companies announced today. "If completed, tronc would own and operate the Sun-Times as a separate unit, keeping in place the independent newsroom," Wrapports said in a statement. The terms of the pending merger haven't been disclosed. But it's not a done deal yet. The Justice Department has blocked the Chicago Tribune's parent company from completing a merger before, back when it was known as Tribune Publishing.

Free Press Issues

Reporters without Borders, Sixth journalist murdered this year: why doesn't Mexico protect its media? Staff report, May 16, 2017. After yesterday’s murder of a journalist in Sinaloa state and an armed attack on a group of seven reporters three days ago in Guerrero state, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) sounds the alarm yet again and urges the Mexican authorities to reinforce protection for journalists and end impunity for crimes of violence against the media.

Javier Valdez Cárdenas, 50, a well-known veteran journalist who specialized in covering drug trafficking, was gunned down in broad daylight yesterday in Culiacán, the capital of the northwestern state of Sinaloa. He was the sixth journalist to be killed in Mexico this year (four of them in direct connection with their work). This makes Mexico the world’s deadliest country for the media. Valdez reported for the national daily La Jornada and the local weekly Río Doce and had worked with Agence France-Presse for more than 10 years. He had also written several books, the latest of which, published last year, was entitled Narcoperiodismo (Narco-Journalism).

Inside the Trump White House: Analysis

Mike PenceWashington Post, Trump doesn’t embody what’s wrong with Washington. Pence does, Richard Cohen, May 15, 2017. The president is crazy. What’s everyone else’s excuse? (Vice President Pence is shown in an official photo.)

Washington Post, A shake-up may make things worse, Jennifer Rubin, May 15, 2017. Because every error is someone else’s fault, President Trump — who went through three campaign leaders — is reportedly thinking about a major shake-up — or at least threatening a shake-up in his already shell-shocked White House. Trump supporters cheering a possible shake-up should consider a number of factors:

First, when they are fired, aides have more incentive to rat out their former colleagues and boss. Second, after everyone has watched the clown show and seen how readily Trump undercuts his aides, he is not likely to get the cream of the crop. Third, potential advisers may be afraid to join the administration for fear of implicating themselves in wrongdoing. Finally and most critically, Trump’s problems have little to do with staff whom he bullies, intimidates and keeps out of the loop.

Andrew McCabe

Trump Supporters

Washington Post, Trump is evangelicals’ ‘dream president.’ Here’s why, Michael Gerson, May 15, 2017. Even in an era of marriage diversity, it remains the most unlikely match: President Trump and his loyal evangelical base. In the compulsively transgressive, foul-mouthed, loser-disdaining, mammon-worshiping billionaire, conservative Christians “have found their dream president,” according to Jerry Falwell Jr.

It is a miracle, of sorts. In a recent analysis, the Pew Research Center found that more than three-fourths of white evangelical Christians approve of Trump’s job performance, most of them “strongly.” With these evangelicals comprising about a quarter of the electorate, their support is the life jacket preventing Trump from slipping into unrecoverable political depths.

The essence of Trump’s appeal to conservative Christians can be found in his otherwise anodyne commencement speech at Liberty University. “Being an outsider is fine,” Trump said. “Embrace the label.” And then he promised: “As long as I am your president, no one is ever going to stop you from practicing your faith.” Trump presented evangelicals as a group of besieged outsiders, in need of a defender.  This sense of grievance and cultural dispossession — the common ground between The Donald and the faithful — runs deep in evangelical Christian history.

Kris Kobach Kansas AG

Election Protection, Voter Suppression

New York Times, Trump’s Fraudulent Voter-Fraud Commission, Editorial board, May 15, 2017. The president’s new commission is based on a myth, and is crafted to cover up for his own lies about the election. To state the obvious, this isn’t a commission. It’s a self-driving vehicle pre-programmed to arrive at only one destination: that strange, fact-free land in which, according to Mr. Trump and many conservatives, hordes of foreigners and people without valid photo identification flood the polls, threatening the nation’s electoral integrity. The right-wing politicians and anti-voter activists who appear to believe this never trouble themselves with the actual data.

So here it is: Voting fraud is extremely rare, and in-person fraud — the only kind that would be caught by voter ID laws — is essentially nonexistent, as study after study has shown. And as for those foreigners, a new survey of local election officials in 42 jurisdictions turned up a total of about 30 cases of suspected noncitizen voting last November — out of more than 23 million votes.

May 14

Washington Post, Top lawmakers: If Trump has tapes, Congress needs access to them, Ed O'Keefe and Jenna Johnson, May 14, 2017. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer were among leaders in both parties requesting that any recordings of White House conversations be turned over for review immediately. Sen. Mike Lee, a former federal prosecutor, said “it’s probably inevitable” that such tapes would be subpoenaed.

May 13

Inside Washington

New York Times, What’s Next for Comey? Probably Not ‘a Normal Job,’ Matthew Goldstein and Alexandra Stevens, May 13, 2017. Few can boast of a résumé like James B. Comey’s: top federal prosecutor, chief lawyer for both the world’s largest defense contractor and the world’s biggest hedge fund, and most recently director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There’s just one problem: He was fired by President Trump, who has called him a “showboat” and a “grandstander.”

So where does Mr. Comey (shown in an FBI photo) go next? The next act for a former top government official is typically a large financial firm, corporation or law firm. And those jobs, as well as teaching, remain strong possibilities for Mr. Comey. Still, his firing and the furor over his impact on last year’s presidential election could give some potential employers pause. The same is not true for literary agents and publicists who try to get clients on the speaking circuit — the more controversial the better. And Mr. Comey brings with him plenty of controversy.

National Law Journal, Alice Fisher of Latham Considered for FBI Director — But Who Is She? Katelyn Polantz, May 13, 2017. Washington FBI logocorporate defense lawyer Alice Fisher interviewed on Saturday to be the next FBI Director, after the agency was shocked by the firing of James Comey last week. Fisher's among the reported top contenders. The National Law Journal has done comprehensive coverage of Fisher, the former Bush-era Criminal Division chief-turned law firm leader, over the years, since she's been a major name in public service at the U.S. Justice Department and private practice at Latham & Watkins. Here are some highlights of Fisher's career.

Washington Post, Kellyanne Conway’s husband helped sow chaos for Bill Clinton. Now he could be picked by Trump to keep order in Justice Department log circularWashington, Ben Terris, May 13, 2017. George Conway, Kellyanne’s husband, was a shadow player in the Lewinsky scandal. He seems to be on track to lead the Justice Department’s civil division, tasked with guarding President Trump and his polices from legal challenges. 

If it weren’t for George Conway, the nation might never have met Monica Lewinsky, and Donald Trump might never have met Kellyanne. In the 1990s, George was a quiet but critical presence in what Hillary Clinton would dub the vast right-wing conspiracy — a hotshot young attorney working to undermine President Bill Clinton by offering secret legal aid to his accusers and reportedly funneling salacious details to the Drudge Report. “This one disgruntled New York lawyer almost single-handedly brought down the president,” David Brock, the conservative provocateur-turned-Clinton-acolyte, later wrote.

Years later, George would marry Kellyanne Fitzpatrick, a publicity-prone Beltway pollster and move with her to an apartment in Manhattan’s Trump World Tower. There, he caught the future president’s attention by arguing to the condo board against stripping Trump’s name from the exterior.

Around the Nation

New York Times, Where Anti-Tax Fervor Means ‘All Services Will,' Kirk Johnson, May 13, 2017. Inside the big wood-paneled downtown library here (in Roseburg, Oregon), a sign spells out the future in four words. Come June 1, “All services will cease.” 

Donald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainFor generations in America, small cities like this declared their optimism and civic purpose with grand libraries that rose above the clutter of daily life and commerce. But last fall, Douglas County residents voted down a ballot measure that would have added about $6 a month to the tax bill on a median-priced home and saved the libraries from a funding crisis. So this spring, it has been lights out, one by one, for the system’s 11 branches. The Roseburg central library here is the last to go.

“We pay enough taxes,” said Zach Holly, an auto repair worker in a shop a few blocks from the library who said his vote against the tax was not about libraries at all, but government waste. “I vote against taxes, across the board,” he said.

Dutch TV Probes Trump Finances

Dutch News, Video: Dutch TV documentary claims Trump has ties to Russia mobsters, Staff report, May 13, 2017. Dutch television current affairs show Zembla is claiming that US president Donald Trump has extensive connections to Russian oligarchs and even to convicted gangsters. The 45-minute documentary looks at Trumps alleged relationship with Russian mobster Felix Slater and agreements he has with rich Russians. 'The Russians' are alleged to be in possession of sensitive information about Trump. And that exposes Trump to blackmail,’ the program makers say.

ZEMBLA/VARA, The dubious friends of Donald Trump: The Russians, (Parts 1), Staff report, May 2017. (45.45 min.) Although still in its early days, Donald Trump’s presidency is coming under fire. The Russians are alleged to be in possession of sensitive information about Trump. And that exposes Trump to blackmail. "Fake news," tweets Trump: “I have nothing to do with Russia – no deals, no loans, no nothing!” Trump swears he has no ties with the Russians. But is that actually the case?

For months, the FBI have been investigating Russian interference in the American presidential elections. ZEMBLA is investigating another explosive dossier concerning Trump’s involvement with the Russians: Trump’s business and personal ties to oligarchs from the former Soviet Union. Powerful billionaires suspected of money laundering and fraud, and of having contacts in Moscow and with the mafia. What do these relationships say about Trump and why does he deny them? How compromising are these dubious business relationships for the 45th president of the United States? And are there connections with the Netherlands? ZEMBLA meets with one of Trump’s controversial cronies and speaks with a former CIA agent, fraud investigators, attorneys, and an American senator among others.

ZEMBLA/VARA, The dubious friends of Donald Trump: King of Diamonds, (Part Two), May 9, 2017 (39.35 min.). Although still in its early days, Donald Trump’s presidency is coming under fire. The Russians are alleged to be in possession of sensitive information about Trump. And that exposes Trump to blackmail. Fake news, tweets Trump: “I have nothing to do with Russia – no deals, no loans, no nothing!” Trump swears he has no ties with the Russians. But is that actually the case?

In the second part of our program about Donald Trump’s controversial friends, we will set our sights on the Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, who is controversial because he is suspected of trading in blood diamonds. He is one of the world’s biggest diamond traders and owns prestigious stores in New York and Moscow, but he is also the owner of Siebel, the Netherlands’ biggest jewellery chain. Leviev has ties with Russian president Putin, US president Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Trump, however, claims he hardly knows this “King of Diamonds.” Zembla investigates Lev Leviev’s business empire.

Salon, The Russians, Staff report, May 2017. Nearly every newsworthy story about the White House this week has contained one common thread: Russia. Whether it involves President Donald Trump facing backlash for sharing highly classified information with Russian diplomats or encountering fallout from the firing of FBI Director James Comey amid the bureau’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election with possible ties to Trump, his relationship with Russia is proving to be ever relevant.

A new Dutch documentary, released earlier this month, called “The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump,” attempts to provide context for the allegations surrounding Trump’s Russian ties by investigating the president’s financial history and previous connections. The two-part film was produced by Zembla, a Dutch television documentary program. Zembla has provided Salon with an English-language version of the film. You can watch both Part 1 of the film, “The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump: The Russians,” and Part 2, “The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump: King of Diamonds,” on Salon.com.

May 12

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Washington Post, Sessions is resurrecting tough charging policies, Sari Horwitz and Matt Zapotosky, May 12, 2017. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday that he has directed his federal prosecutors to pursue the most severe penalties possible, including mandatory minimum sentences, in his first step toward a return to the war on drugs of the 1980s and 1990s that resulted in long sentences for many minority defendants and packed U.S. prisons.

Civil rights groups, Republican lawmakers and even the conservative Koch brothers issued swift condemnations of the policy, saying that Sessions was taking the nation backward. Aggressive prosecutors, however, are likely to embrace the measure as giving them more tools to do their jobs. In the later years of the Obama administration, a bipartisan consensus emerged on Capitol Hill for sentencing reform legislation, which Sessions, as a senator from Alabama, opposed and successfully worked to derail.

Russia Influence-Peddling, Comey Firing Scandals

Washington Post, In apparent warning to Comey, Trump suggests possible ‘tapes’ of their private conversations, Philip Rucker​, May 12, 2017. In a tweet this morning, President Trump said former FBI director James Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Trump fired Comey on Tuesday.

Washington Post, Trump’s words add fuel to questions about legality of firing Comey, Karen Tumulty, May 12, 2017. In a television interview and on Twitter, the president in the past two days has given ammunition to arguments by some legal experts that his actions constitute a possible case of obstruction of justice — a central charge in the impeachment proceedings against two presidents in the last 43 years.

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Washington Post, Watchdog group alleges Sessions violated recusal rule in firing of Comey, Tom Hamburger, May 12, 2017. An ethics watchdog group filed a complaint against Attorney General Jeff Sessions (shown in an official photo) on Friday alleging that his participation in the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey violated Justice Department rules and Sessions’s promise to recuse himself from matters involving Russia.

“Firing the lead investigator is the most extreme form of interfering with an investigation,” wrote Fred Wertheimer, who signed the six-page complaint on behalf of his organization, Democracy 21. The filing asked the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate the matter and issue a public report — and to take additional action.

“Immediately, we call on OPR to take all necessary steps to ensure that the Attorney General withdraws from any participation in the selection of an interim or permanent Director of the FBI,” the complaint said. When President Trump fired Comey on Tuesday, he announced that he had consulted with Sessions and the department’s No. 2 official, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.

Wertheimer, who has worked on ethics issues since the Watergate scandal, said the attorney general’s participation in the Comey firing violated Justice Department rules requiring staffers to recuse themselves from any criminal inquiry in which they have a “personal or political relationship.”

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Washington Post, Spicer won’t deny Trump is recording his Oval Office guests. That’s untenable, Aaron Blake, May 12, 2017. President Trump is also now declining to comment on whether he has a tape of his Comey conversation. "Well I can't talk about it," he told Fox News's Jeanine Pirro in a new interview. "I won't talk about it. All I want is for Comey to be honest. And I hope he will be." White House press secretary Sean Spicer was given multiple opportunities Friday to deny that President Trump is recording his conversations. He didn't deny it once. He wouldn't even talk about it.

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Washington Post, Acting FBI director, Sen. Cornyn among 4 to be interviewed for top FBI job, Matt Zapotosky and Ed O'Keefe, May 12, 2017. Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), the second-ranking Senate Republican, who has in recent weeks become a more outward defender of President Trump, and acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, who on Thursday contradicted the Trump White House on a range of topics, will interview Saturday to serve as the FBI’s permanent director, according to people familiar with the matter.

The men are two of at least four people who will interview to replace James B. Comey, whom Trump suddenly fired this week, the people said. The others are Alice Fisher, a white-collar defense lawyer who previously led the Justice Department’s criminal division, and Michael J. Garcia, a judge on the New York State Court of Appeals who previously served as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Washington Post, Trump has a long history of secretly recording calls, according to former associates, Marc Fisher, May 12, 2017. For some who have had regular dealings with Donald Trump through the years, there was something viscerally real about the threat implied by the president’s tweet warning the former FBI director about possible “tapes” of their conversations.

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Washington Post, In service to Trump, Pence keeps saying things that aren’t true, Abby Phillip​, May 12, 2017. Since his selection to be Donald Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence has been unflagging in his loyalty and deference to Trump. But in return, Trump and White House aides have repeatedly set Pence up to be the public face of official narratives that turn out to be misleading or just false. The FBI director’s firing is just the latest example.

New York Times, In Private Meeting, Trump Demanded Comey’s Loyalty, Michael S. Schmidt, May 12, 2017. At a private dinner just after Mr. Trump took office, Mr. Comey demurred when asked to pledge his loyalty. Associates say Mr. Comey now believes it ultimately played a part in his dismissal.

New York Times, Trump Warning to Comey Prompts Questions on ‘Tapes,’ Peter Baker and Michael D. Shear, May 12, 2017. President Trump warned James B. Comey that he had “better hope” that there are no tapes of their conversations. The White House later refused to say whether the president tapes his visitors.

New York Times, A Look at the Contenders to Be the Next F.B.I. Director, Maggie Haberman and Jeremy W. Peters, May 12, 2017. FBI logoAmong the choices being discussed at the White House are J. Michael Luttig, a former judge; Senator John Cornyn of Texas (shown in a photo and the senate's No. 2 Republican); and Representative Trey Gowdy, officials said.

Washington Post, Clapper’s remarks constitute the third strike for Trump, Jennifer Rubin, May 12, 2017. There are two problems coming together at once. First, the president is blabbing about actions (real or not) that would constitute abuse of power, if not obstruction of justice. It is coming from his mouth. He does not even have the excuse of “fake news.” Second, because the Comey firing sent events spinning out of control, the president now appears to be irrational, if not ill. No one in control of his emotions or taking counsel from sober advisers would behave as he is. The president has either confessed to a pattern of conduct that is unacceptable or he is so out of it that he would make up facts that suggest a pattern of conduct that it is unacceptable.

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Washington Post, Trump’s lawyers outline president’s Russian income but provide no documents, Rosalind S. Helderman, May 12, 2017. The White House released a letter from two tax attorneys for President Trump claiming that his only income from Russian sources in the last 10 years came from fees for hosting the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and sales of a mansion, condo units and golf games to Russians.

Major Hacking Attack Said To USA NSA Tool

New York Times, A Vast Global Hack Is Said to Use a Leaked N.S.A. Method, Dan Bilefsky and Nicole Perlroth, March 12, 2017. Hackers using a tool stolen from the United States government conducted cyberattacks that aimed to blackmail computer users by seizing their data. A cybersecurity firm said it had recorded at least 45,000 attacks in as many as 74 countries.

Washington Post, Malware described in leaked NSA files cripples systems worldwide, Craig Timberg, Griff Witte, Ellen Nakashima and Todd C. Frankel, March 12, 2017. Malicious software that blocks access to computers is spreading swiftly across the world, snarling critical systems in hospitals, telecommunications, corporate offices and beyond. The Russian Interior Ministry reported that it, too, was under assault.

Pioneering DC Civil Rights Activist Profiled

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Washington Post, This 75-year-old has been a gay rights activist for decades. Now, he’s back on the Mall fighting Trump, Perry Stein, May 12, 2017. Decades before rainbow flags were common adornments on D.C. homes — 16 years before the pride flag was even invented — Paul Kuntzler walked into a Columbia Heights apartment in March 1962. Together, they formed the ­Mattachine Society of Washington, the city’s first gay and lesbian advocacy organization. Since that meeting, Kuntzler, 75, and these early activists have attended countless city meeting and protests, fighting for gay rights and racial equality.

At a time when the Donald Trump presidency has ushered in a new era of activism — bringing many first-time protesters to the Mall — Kuntzler is still out there. He wants others out there too, but he also urges a new generation of activists to pay attention to their local politics. If they can build coalitions locally, he says, they will have a stronger voice on the national stage.

He has remained involved in activism and D.C. politics for 40 years, regularly attending city meetings and protests in support of liberal causes while volunteering for political campaigns in the District and Virginia.

Kuntzler, a widower, lives in a Southwest Waterfront apartment surrounded by a worn-out bicycle — his main mode of transportation — and relics of his past.  There’s a framed proclamation hanging on his wall that then-Mayor Marion Barry signed, declaring April 9, 1981, as Paul Kuntzler Day in the District.

Also hanging in his bedroom is documentation of Kuntzler’s most unconventional interest: a copy of the $200,000, two-page New York Times ad he purchased in 2007, which asserted that Lyndon B. Johnson killed President John F. Kennedy in an “incredibly complex and brilliantly planned conspiracy” involving the FBI, in part, because Johnson “possessed an overpowering ambition to be president.” Kuntzler remembers every date with precision, his memory serving as a chronicle of D.C. history.

May 11

Russian Flag

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Washington Post, Trump says he was thinking of ‘this Russia thing’ when he decided to fire Comey, Devlin Barrett and Philip Rucker, May 11, 2017.​ Recounting his decision to dismiss the FBI director, the president told NBC News “I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats.” His account flatly contradicts the White House’s initial version of events and undercuts denials by his aides that the move was influenced in any way by his growing fury with the ongoing Russia probe.

National Press Club, Why did Trump block all but Russian state media from Oval Office? Kathy Kiely, May 11, 2017. The National Press Club on May 11 criticized a Trump administration decision to exclude reporters from a White House meeting between the president and top Russian officials. Dismissing a request from the White House Correspondents Association, the White House press office refused to allow reporters into the top of a May 10 meeting between the president and two top Russian officials, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

The embarrassing result: News from inside the White House being made available to the world exclusively from Russian news sources.  For its own reasons, the Russian foreign ministry and the government-controlled Tass news agency made the photographs available to the public.

Washington Post, The real test of our tolerance for Trump comes now, Michael Gerson, May 11, 2017. This was always the main question: Would President Trump go beyond mere Twitter abuse and move against institutions that limit his power?

Donald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainBy any reasonable standard, we now have an answer. Trump’s official rationale for firing FBI Director James B. Comey — that the president was suddenly seized with outrage at the shocking treatment of Hillary Clinton by the FBI during the election — is false in a typically Trump-like way. It requires his supporters to demonstrate their loyalty by defending the indefensible. This is apparently the manner in which Trump identifies true believers. They must be willing, when instructed, to say that 2+2=5. On cable television.

Donald TrumpPolitico, Trump says it was his call to fire ‘showboat’ Comey, Madeline Conway, May 11, 2017. President Donald Trump on Thursday  described former FBI Director James Comey as a "showboat" and said he intended to fire him "regardless" of what Justice Department officials suggested. “I was going to fire regardless of recommendation,” Trump told NBC News’ Lester Holt in an interview scheduled to air later on Thursday, two days after Comey’s abrupt firing.

New York Times, An Open Letter to the Deputy Attorney General, Editorial Board, May 11, 2017. Rod Rosenstein has more authority than anyone else to restore Americans’ confidence in their government. Dear Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:

It’s rare that any single person has to bear as much responsibility for safeguarding American democracy as you find yourself carrying now. Even before President Trump’s shocking decision on Tuesday to fire the F.B.I. director, James Comey, a dark cloud of suspicion surrounded this president, and the very integrity of the electoral process that put him in office. At this fraught moment you find yourself, improbably, to be the person with the most authority to dispel that cloud and restore Americans’ confidence in their government. We sympathize; that’s a lot of pressure.

Given the sterling reputation you brought into this post — including a 27-year career in the Justice Department under five administrations, and the distinction of being the longest-serving United States attorney in history — you no doubt feel a particular anguish, and obligation to act. As the author of the memo that the president cited in firing Mr. Comey, you are now deeply implicated in that decision.

New York Times, Nixon Library Tweet That Trolled Trump Was Inappropriate, Officials Say, Staff report, May 11, 2017. The federal agency that oversees presidential libraries said this Twitter post, made by the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, was inappropriate.

Baltimore Sun, FBI raids office of Republican campaign consultant in Annapolis, Michael Dresser, May 11, 2017. The FBI raided a Republican campaign consultant's Annapolis office Thursday, leading Maryland Republican lawmakers to say they won't work with the firm. Kelley Rogers, president of Strategic Campaign Group, said a half-dozen FBI agents arrived at his Main Street office at about 8:30 a.m. with a warrant to search and seize records.

An FBI spokeswoman confirmed the agency conducted "law enforcement activity" along Main Street in Annapolis but would not be more specific. Agents on the scene, dressed in plainclothes, confirmed they were with the FBI but referred all other questions to a spokeswoman. They left the building shortly after 4 p.m., carrying files and a computer with them. Rogers, whose firm has worked with campaign committees for Maryland Senate and House of Delegates candidates, said the FBI investigation concerns work the firm performed during the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial campaign of former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican.

May 11

David Garrow and Thomas Burr, March 11, 2017 (Noel St. John Photo)Pulitzer-prize winning historian David J. Garrow hefts his 1,400-page biography of former President Barack Obama while immediate-past National Press Club President Thomas Burr looks on during a Club Book Rap on May 11, 2017 (Noel St. John photo used with permission).

National Press Club, Garrow tells Book Rap he interviewed 1,000 people for biography, Joe Motheral, May 13, 2017. Historian David J. Garrow estimates he interviewed around 1,000 people to obtain the information to write his biography of former President Barack Obama. “A tax person on Chicago’s South side had a list of people that had been provided by Barack,” Garrow told a National Press Club Book Rap on May 11.

For “historical purposes you need to find everyone you can,” Garrow said of the process he took to research the 1,400-page Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama. “It’s almost entirely a pre-presidential book,” Garrow said, and so throughout the evening he referred to the former president as ‘Barack.’ Garrow believes in seeing those he interviews in person rather than by phone or email. "Sometimes they can dig up papers and such,” Garrow said.

The Nation, What Kissinger Can Teach Trump about Surviving an Impeachment, Greg Grandin, May 11, 2017. It’s all showbiz — that’s how Henry escaped the Watergate dragnet. So yesterday, with social mainstream media lit up with discussions of Watergate, Saturday Night Massacres, and impeachment, who but Henry Kissinger should show up at the Oval Office and sit down for a photo shot with Donald Trump, where Trump took questions on Syria, Russia, and Comey. (The photo was by the White House pool, distributed via Twitter,)

About two years ago, I published a book called Kissinger’s Shadow (now out in paperback), which argued that Kissinger is good to think with. By this, I meant that his long career (as an early Cold War defense intellectual, a top foreign-policy maker, a consigliere to the world’s elite, and a hawkish pundit), combined with his very self-aware philosophy of history, helps illuminate the contours of postwar militarism, tracing a bright line from the disastrous war in Southeast Asia to the catastrophic one in the Persian Gulf.    

The book came out long before Trump appeared a serious option, when I thought an autumnal Kissinger’s last act would be to bask in the warmth of neoliberal love offered by Democrats such as Hillary Clinton and Samantha Power.  It turns out Kissinger’s Shadow needs an epilogue, for Trump vindicates its argument in a different way. There are materialist explanations for Kissinger’s affinity with Trump. Kissinger has long called on Washington to work closely with Moscow, to create a new axis of global stability. And the portfolio of Kissinger Associates Inc., among the world’s premier neoliberal consulting firms, will benefit from access to the Trump administration and, were relations to improve, to Russia. But what is more interesting is the way the two men converge — or, perhaps better, combust — ideologically.

Vote Protection or Voter Suppression?

New York Times, Trump Picks Voter ID Advocate for Election Fraud Panel, Julie Hirshfeld Davis, May 11, 2017. President Trump on Thursday named Kris W. Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who has pressed for aggressive measures to crack down on undocumented immigrants, to a commission investigating vote fraud, following through on his unsubstantiated claim that millions of “illegals” voted for his Democratic rival and robbed him of victory in the national popular vote.

Kris Kobach Kansas AG

Mr. Kobach (shown in an official photo), who has championed the strictest voter identification laws in the country, will be the vice chairman of the commission, which will be led by Vice President Mike Pence and is expected to include about a dozen others, including state officials from both political parties. Mr. Trump signed an executive order on Thursday creating the commission, which Ms. Sanders said would have a broad mandate to review policies and practices that affect Americans’ confidence in the integrity of federal elections. Marc E. Lotter, Mr. Pence’s spokesman, said that voter suppression would be among the topics studied by the commission, which he said would take a wide-ranging look at problems at the state and national levels. But the order makes no mention of suppression or voting restrictions, specifying only “improper” or “fraudulent” registration and voting as issues to be explored.

Around the Nation: Corruption

New York Times, Ex-Florida Congresswoman Convicted of Taking Money Meant for Charity, Matt Stevens, May 11, 2017. Corrine Brown, a Corrine Brownformer longtime United States representative from Florida, was convicted on Thursday of taking for herself thousands of dollars in donations that were meant to fund student scholarships. Ms. Brown, 70 (shown in an official photo), served in the House of Representatives for more than two decades and was one of the first African-Americans elected to Congress from Florida. But she lost her seat in a primary election in August, just weeks after she was indicted on federal conspiracy and fraud charges. JIP Editor's Note: Conservatives raised the valid point that the New York Times report omitted her party affiliation: Democrat.

In all, a federal jury in Jacksonville, Fla., found Ms. Brown guilty on 18 of the 22 counts in an indictment that charged her with conspiring with others to run the fraudulent charity, filing false tax returns and other crimes, according to the Justice Department. She faces a lengthy prison term.

“Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown violated the public trust, the honor of her position and the integrity of the American system of government when she abused one of the most powerful positions in the nation for her own personal gain,” Kenneth A. Blanco, the acting assistant attorney general, said in a statement. “She shamefully deprived needy children of hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have helped with their education and improved their opportunities for advancement, and she lied to the I.R.S. and the American public about secret cash deposits into her personal bank accounts.”

May 10

James Comey

Sally Yates

Preet Bharara

 

 

 

 

Washington Post, James B. Comey, Sally Yates and Preet Bharara (shown left to right) were all law enforcement officials until President Trump fired them — and they were all investigating Trump or his administration at the time of their firing, Peter Stevenson, May 10, 2017.

New York Times, Before Comey’s firing, Trump’s animus toward him boiled over into fury, officials say, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Devlin Barrett and Robert Costa​, May 10, 2017. President was said to be frustrated by FBI director’s focus on Russia and lack of attention to leaks. Accounts from more than 30 officials at the White House, Justice Department and on Capitol Hill indicate that the president was angry that James Comey would not support his baseless claim that President Obama had his campaign offices wiretapped. And he fumed that Comey was giving too much attention to the Russia probe and not enough to investigating leaks to journalists.

New York Times, Comey sought more resources for Russia probe days before firing, officials say, Elise Viebeck, Ed O'Keefe, Sean Sullivan and Paul Kane​, May 10, 2017. As furor grew, Republicans and Democrats said the FBI director's dismissal will frustrate bipartisan efforts to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.

New York Times, Russian Meeting Comes at Awkward Time, David E. Sanger and Neil MacFarquhar, May 10, 2017. Amid an inquiry into his campaign’s foreign ties, President Trump welcomed Russia’s foreign minister to the Oval Office. (In a White House meeting from which U.S. media were barred, Trump is shown in a Russian photo by its government-run Tass service as surrounded by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at left and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Krislyak.)

New York Times, Rod Rosenstein Fails His Ethics Test, David Leonhardt,May 10, 2017. Until two days ago, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, had an enviable reputation as a straight-shooting law-enforcement official respected by members of both parties. Then he decided that he was willing to help President Trump tamper with an investigation into his presidential campaign.

Rod Rosenstein Deputyty Atttorney General

Now Rosenstein’s reputation is permanently damaged, as it deserves to be. In that damage is a lesson for other subordinates and allies of Trump. When Rosenstein accepted his job at the Justice Department, many observers hoped he would be the adult who would moderate the excesses of Trump and Jeff Sessions, the attorney general. But it is enormously difficult to resist pressure, persuasion and incentives from one’s bosses, especially when those bosses are running the country.

Rosenstein’s moral test arrived after just a couple of weeks on the job. He failed it, evidently without putting up much of a struggle. He was willing to be “exactly the mouthpiece Trump needed,” as Slate’s Leon Neyfakh put it. Rosenstein wrote a memo that claimed James Comey, the former F.B.I. director, was fired for his handling of the Hillary Clinton inquiry that Trump and Sessions had once praised fulsomely. And Rosenstein, who was supervising the probe into the Trump campaign’s Russian ties, wrote the memo only a few days after Comey had come to him and requested more money for it, The Times reported. Deputy attorney general threatened to quit after being cast as impetus of dismissal, source says.

Washington Post, James B. Comey, Sally Yates and Preet Bharara were all law enforcement officials until President Trump fired them — and they were all investigating Trump or his administration at the time of their firing, Peter Stevenson, May 10, 2017.

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Washington Post, Rod J. Rosenstein, a longtime prosecutor, signed the letter that served as the rationale for firing the FBI director, Michael Kranish and Lynh Bui, May 10, 2017. To many who have followed the career of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, the longtime prosecutor’s starring role in drama surrounding the ouster of FBI Director James B. Comey has left them surprised — and a little bit baffled.

Rosenstein, who took office last month, has been spared much of the criticism being aimed at President Trump and his top lieutenants. But Rosenstein’s authorship of the memo that was used as a justification for Comey’s firing has prompted some to wonder whether the Justice Department’s No. 2 was fully committed to firing the FBI director — or whether he was drawn into a White House plan to thwart the FBI’s investigation of potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Legal Schnauzer, No one should be surprised at Jeff Sessions' role in Trump's firing of James Comey; Sessions has a history of using such underhanded tactics in Alabama, Roger Shuler, May 10, 2017. Many Americans were stunned yesterday at news that President Donald Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey. Many were further stunned upon learning that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recommended the firing to Trump. This kind of behavior is not new for Jeff Sessions, and it dates to his time as U.S. attorney and attorney general in Alabama. Sessions has a history of taking underhanded steps to remove people he sees as threats. Knowing that history might help the public better understand how yesterday's drama came to unfold.

Wayne Madsen shown during a New York City panel discussion, May, 2015

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Rosenstein at DOJ to insulate Intelligence Community and Kushners, Wayne Madsen, May 10, 2017. Based on his activities under two presidents — George W. Bush and Barack Obama — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein only has a position in the Justice Department to insulate key Intelligence Community officials from any prosecutorial fallout emanating from the multiple investigations of Trump's campaign connections to Russian interests. Rosenstein gladly agreed with Attorney General Jeff Sessions to sign Sessions's letter to Trump recommending the termination of FBI director James Comey to ensure his longevity as the DOJ's number two.

Rod Rosenstein Deputyty Atttorney General

Rosenstein had always looked out for the interests of the U.S. Intelligence Community. As an attorney within the Public Integrity Section (PIN) of the Department of Justice from 1990 to 1993, Rosenstein conveniently ignored the mounds of evidence linking then-President George H. W. Bush and his top cronies, including former National Security Adviser John Poindexter, former Poindexter aide Oliver North, State Department official Elliott Abrams, and Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger to the Iran-contra "arms-for-hostages" scandal. PIN's job is to prosecute corruption through all levels of government, including DOJ itself.

During the probe of the scandal by independent prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, DOJ prosecutors and Attorney General Richard Thornburgh stonewalled attempts by Walsh's investigators to gain access to intelligence documents on the roles played by Bush, Poindexter, North, and the late CIA director William Casey in Iran-contra. One of the stonewallers was Rosenstein.

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Washington Post, Before Comey’s firing, Trump’s animus toward him boiled over into fury, officials say, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Devlin Barrett and Robert Costa​, May 10, 2017. President was said to be frustrated by FBI director’s focus on Russia and lack of attention to leaks. Accounts from more than 30 officials at the White House, Justice Department and on Capitol Hill indicate that the president was angry that James Comey would not support his baseless claim that President Obama had his campaign offices wiretapped. And he fumed that Comey was giving too much attention to the Russia probe and not enough to investigating leaks to journalists.

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Washington Post, Comey sought more resources for Russia probe days before firing, officials say, Elise Viebeck, Ed O'Keefe, Sean Sullivan and Paul Kane​, May 10, 2017. As furor grew, Republicans and Democrats said the FBI director's dismissal will frustrate bipartisan efforts to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.

New York Times, Just Days before firing, Comey asked to expand Russia inquiry, Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo, May 10, 2017. Days before he was fired, James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, asked the Justice Department for a significant increase in resources for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election, according to three congressional officials who were briefed on his request.

Mr. Comey asked for the resources last week from Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who also wrote the Justice Department’s memo that was used to justify the firing of Mr. Comey this week, the officials said.

Mr. Comey then briefed members of Congress on the meeting in recent days, telling them about his meeting with Mr. Rosenstein, who is the most senior law enforcement official supervising the Russia investigation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself because of his close ties to the Trump campaign and his undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador.

The timing of Mr. Comey’s request is not clear-cut evidence that his firing was related to the Russia investigation. But it is certain to fuel bipartisan criticism that President Trump appeared to be meddling in an investigation that had the potential to damage his presidency. In his briefing with members of Congress, Mr. Comey said he had been frustrated with the amount of resources being dedicated to the Russia investigation, according to two of the officials. Until two weeks ago, when Mr. Rosenstein took over as deputy attorney general, the investigation was being overseen by Dana Boente, who was acting as the deputy and is now the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

James Comey

Mr. Comey (shown in a file photo) has said he was hoping that he would find a supportive boss in Mr. Rosenstein, and according to the officials, pressed for more resources so he could accelerate the investigation, which is also examining possible collusion between Trump associates and the Russian interference campaign. It was unclear how Mr. Rosenstein reacted to the request, or whether the White House was informed of it.

WhoWhatWhy, WWW Analysis: Trump’s Even More Desperate Reason for Comey Firing, Matthew Harvey and Russ Baker, May 10, 2017. WhoWhatWhyWhoWhatWhy offers its unique perspective on why Trump took the rash step of firing FBI Director James Comey — based on knowledge gained in producing two major exclusive investigations. Trump’s firing of James Comey yesterday proves that even those who carry water for the president are not safe. Trump is in greater peril, it seems, by the hour. And in response, the long knives are out for anyone who is less than 100 percent dependable.

He needs unquestioned loyalists around him — especially in the office that could send almost anyone to prison. After all, Trump and his cronies are investigable for so very many things, from questionable business dealings and conflicts of interest to tax matters to allegedly colluding with the Russian government.

Comey, under criticism for his own actions, faced significant public pressure to demonstrate that the FBI does its job. That could not have sounded good to Trump. As it happened, just hours before the Comey news broke, WhoWhatWhy had published a lengthy investigation into the back story to Comey’s most famous — or infamous — act. It chronicled how Trump’s close surrogates and media allies pressured the FBI director to reopen the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Evidence strongly suggests that this surprising move days before the election was decisive in Trump’s unexpected victory.

The White House said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is recused from involvement in the FBI's probe of Russia contacts with Trump officials because of contacts with Sessions himself, approved the firing, as did the recently confirmed Deputy Attorney Gen. Rod Rosenstein, shown in a file photo.

CQ Roll Call, Chaffetz Asks DOJ to Investigate Comey’s Departure, Rema Rahman, May 10, 2017.  Now that he’s indicated he’s not running for re-election, Chairman Jason Chaffetz is wielding the gavel he controls on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to willfully go after the Trump administration.

Newsweek, Rudy Giuliani as Next FBI Director? Former Mayor Due at White House But Insists He Isn’t Being Considered, Jason Le Miere, May 10, 2017. Rudy Giuliani has denied that he is a candidate to be the new, permanent FBI director, despite saying that he was scheduled for a meeting at the White House Wednesday. The former New York City mayor and presidential candidate was rumored by many to be a possible choice to replace James Comey after he was controversially fired by President Donald Trump Tuesday evening.

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Washington Post, Before Comey’s firing, Trump’s animus toward him boiled over into fury, officials say, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Devlin Barrett and Robert Costa​, May 10, 2017. President was said to be frustrated by FBI director’s focus on Russia and lack of attention to leaks. Accounts from more than 30 officials at the White House, Justice Department and on Capitol Hill indicate that the president was angry that James Comey would not support his baseless claim that President Obama had his campaign offices wiretapped. And he fumed that Comey was giving too much attention to the Russia probe and not enough to investigating leaks to journalists.

New York Times, Comey sought more resources for Russia probe days before firing, officials say, Elise Viebeck, Ed O'Keefe, Sean Sullivan and Paul Kane​, May 10, 2017. As furor grew, Republicans and Democrats said the FBI director's dismissal will frustrate bipartisan efforts to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

New York Times, Russian Meeting Comes at Awkward Time, David E.Sanger and Neil MacFarquhar, May 10, 2017. Amid an inquiry into his campaign’s foreign ties, President Trump welcomed Russia’s foreign minister to the Oval Office.

Russia’s official news agency photographed President Trump’s meeting with Sergey V. Lavrov in the Oval Office on Wednesday. The American press was denied access. Credit Alexander Shcherbak/TASS, via Getty Images  

New York Times, Trump Bars U.S. Press, but Not Russia’s, at Meeting With Russian Officials, Julie Hirshfeld Davis, May 10, 2017. When President Trump met with top Russian officials in the Oval Office on Wednesday, White House officials barred reporters from witnessing the moment. They apparently preferred to block coverage of the awkwardly timed visit as questions swirled about whether the president had dismissed his F.B.I. director in part to squelch the investigation into possible ties between his campaign and Moscow.

Russian Flag

But the Russians, who have a largely state-run media, brought their own press contingent in the form of an official photographer. They quickly filled the vacuum with their own pictures of the meeting with Mr. Trump, Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey I. Kislyak, Moscow’s ambassador to the United States.

Within minutes of the meeting, the Foreign Ministry had posted photographs on Twitter of Mr. Trump and Mr. Lavrov smiling and shaking hands. The Russian embassy posted images of the president grinning and gripping hands with the ambassador. Tass, Russia’s official news agency, released more photographs of the three men laughing together in the Oval Office.

The White House released nothing. The result was a public relations coup of sorts for Russia and Mr. Lavrov in particular, who not only received a collegial Oval Office welcome from the president, but the photographic evidence to prove it. By contrast, when Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson traveled to Moscow last month, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia kept him waiting for hours before granting him an audience at the Kremlin. Then, too, Mr. Tillerson left his American press contingent behind.

New York Times, Rod Rosenstein Fails His Ethics Test, David Leonhardt, May 10, 2017. Until two days ago, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, had an enviable reputation as a straight-shooting law-enforcement official respected by members of both parties. Then he decided that he was willing to help President Trump tamper with an investigation into his presidential campaign.

Now Rosenstein’s reputation is permanently damaged, as it deserves to be. In that damage is a lesson for other subordinates and allies of Trump. When Rosenstein accepted his job at the Justice Department, many observers hoped he would be the adult who would moderate the excesses of Trump and Jeff Sessions, the attorney general. But it is enormously difficult to resist pressure, persuasion and incentives from one’s bosses, especially when those bosses are running the country.

Rosenstein’s moral test arrived after just a couple of weeks on the job. He failed it, evidently without putting up much of a struggle. He was willing to be “exactly the mouthpiece Trump needed,” as Slate’s Leon Neyfakh put it. Rosenstein wrote a memo that claimed James Comey, the former F.B.I. director, was fired for his handling of the Hillary Clinton inquiry that Trump and Sessions had once praised fulsomely. And Rosenstein, who was supervising the probe into the Trump campaign’s Russian ties, wrote the memo only a few days after Comey had come to him and requested more money for it, The Times reported.

CQ Roll Call, Chaffetz Asks DOJ to Investigate Comey’s Departure, Rema Rahman, May 10, 2017. Now that he’s indicated he’s not running for re-election, Chairman Jason Chaffetz is wielding the gavel he controls on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to willfully go after the Trump administration.

WhoWhatWhy, WWW Analysis: Trump’s Even More Desperate Reason for Comey Firing, Matthew Harvey and Russ Baker, May 10, 2017.  WhoWhatWhyWhoWhatWhy offers its unique perspective on why Trump took the rash step of firing FBI Director James Comey — based on knowledge gained in producing two major exclusive investigations. Trump’s firing of James Comey yesterday proves that even those who carry water for the president are not safe. Trump is in greater peril, it seems, by the hour. And in response, the long knives are out for anyone who is less than 100 percent dependable.

He needs unquestioned loyalists around him — especially in the office that could send almost anyone to prison. After all, Trump and his cronies are investigable for so very many things, from questionable business dealings and conflicts of interest to tax matters to allegedly colluding with the Russian government.

Comey, under criticism for his own actions, faced significant public pressure to demonstrate that the FBI does its job. That could not have sounded good to Trump. As it happened, just hours before the Comey news broke, WhoWhatWhy had published a lengthy investigation into the back story to Comey’s most famous — or infamous — act. It chronicled how Trump’s close surrogates and media allies pressured the FBI director to reopen the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Evidence strongly suggests that this surprising move days before the election was decisive in Trump’s unexpected victory.

The White House said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions (shown in an official photo), who is recused from involvement in the FBI's probe of Russia contacts with Trump officials because of contacts with Sessions himself, approved the firing, as did the recently confirmed Deputy Attorney Gen. Rod Rosenstein, shown in a file photo.

Consortium News, Watergate Redux or ‘Deep State’ Coup? Robert Parry, May 10, 2017. Exclusive: Official Washington is abuzz, comparing President Trump’s ouster of FBI Director Comey to President Nixon’s Watergate cover-up, but there is a darker “deep state” interpretation of these events. President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday reflected a growing concern inside the White House that the long-rumored scheme by “deep state” operatives to overturn the results of the 2016 election may have been more than just rumors.

The fear grew that Comey and other senior officials in the U.S. intelligence community had concluded last year that neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump was a suitable future president, albeit for different reasons. I’m told that Clinton was seen as dangerously hawkish and Trump as dangerously unqualified, opinions privately shared by then-President Barack Obama. The Comey firing is already backfiring on Trump. It’s only going to get worse.

Washington Post, President Trump has surrounded himself with sycophants and amateurs who are either unwilling or unable to tell him no, James Hohmann, March 10, 2017.  
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New York Times, Don’t Be Complicit, Republicans, Peter Wehner, May 10, 2017. President Trump’s firing of James Comey, the 7th director of the F.B.I., was an abuse of power. Republicans — Republican lawmakers and especially the congressional leadership — need to say so. But that is hardly enough. Words must be followed by actions. At a minimum, Republicans must insist on a congressional select committee or independent commission to investigate Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election and any collusion between the president, his associates or campaign officials and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. What is now in the shadows needs to be brought into the light.

Among the reasons we can confidently conclude that the president abused his power is that the White House’s explanation for the expulsion of Mr. Comey was transparently false, even ludicrous. The reason the Trump administration gave for firing Mr. Comey this year is the exact same reason for which Mr. Trump praised Mr. Comey last year: the former F.B.I. director’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server.

Washington Post, After meeting with Trump, Russian foreign minister again denies interference in U.S. election, Amber Phillips, May 10, 2017. 

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Washington Post, Mitch McConnell just shut down any hopes Democrats had of an independent Russia investigation, Amber Phillips, May 10, 2017. President Trump just cut off the head of Washington's most apolitical investigation of his presidential campaign associates' connections with Russia. To make up for it, Democrats think Congress should appoint a special investigator unbeholden to them or the Trump administration. Except, it looks as though that's not going to happen.

On Wednesday, one of the most powerful lawmakers in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), basically flat-out said he wouldn't support a special investigation. The various committees in Congress already looking into Russian meddling will suffice, he said: “Today we'll no doubt hear calls for a new investigation, which could only serve to impede the current work being done.”

Republicans control the majority in both chambers of Congress, so the power to set up an outside investigation is in their hands. A growing number of Senate and House Republicans don't like that Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey, but only one GOP senator — Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) — has said he'd support an independent inquiry. And he has held that position for months.

Several moderate House Republicans want a special investigation, but almost all of them already thought there should be one. No one in Washington's mind has been changed by Comey's firing, it seems. People who were calling for a special investigator before are still calling for one now. People who weren't still aren't.

“We have a bipartisan commitment to get to the bottom of this Russian investigation,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), the Senate's No. 2, said on Fox News Channel. “Nothing will change by virtue of Director Comey's termination.”

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Washington Post, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson briefly addressed reporters with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on May 10, Carol Morello, May 10, 2017. He did not answer questions about the firing of former FBI director James Comey. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that no evidence exists linking Russia to hacked emails during last year's election and that the issue never arose during his meeting in the morning with President Trump.

Speaking to reporters at the Russian Embassy after his White House talks with Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Lavrov showed his exasperation over repeated questions about Moscow’s alleged interference in the presidential elections. “I never thought I’d have to answer such questions, particularly in the United States given your highly developed democratic system,” he said, according to a simultaneous translation of his remarks into English.

“President Trump publicly stated on a number of occasions what he thinks of the allegations regarding Russia’s meddling into your domestic affairs. There is no need for him to tell us anything or give us assurances behind closed doors. There is not a single fact. There is no compelling evidence regarding Russian intervention.”

Challenging reporters to “give me one fact to prove it,” Lavrov repeated Trump’s assertion that the allegations are “false news” that fostered conspiracy theories. “I believe politicians are damaging the U.S. political system by trying to pretend someone is controlling America from outside,” he said, characterizing the allegations as “noise” and a “humiliation” for the American people.

New York Times, An Open Letter to the Deputy Attorney General, Editorial Board, May 11, 2017. Rod Rosenstein has more authority than anyone else to restore Americans’ confidence in their government. Dear Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:

It’s rare that any single person has to bear as much responsibility for safeguarding American democracy as you find yourself carrying now. Even before President Trump’s shocking decision on Tuesday to fire the F.B.I. director, James Comey, a dark cloud of suspicion surrounded this president, and the very integrity of the electoral process that put him in office. At this fraught moment you find yourself, improbably, to be the person with the most authority to dispel that cloud and restore Americans’ confidence in their government. We sympathize; that’s a lot of pressure.

Given the sterling reputation you brought into this post — including a 27-year career in the Justice Department under five administrations, and the distinction of being the longest-serving United States attorney in history — you no doubt feel a particular anguish, and obligation to act. As the author of the memo that the president cited in firing Mr. Comey, you are now deeply implicated in that decision.

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Washington Post, Before Comey’s firing, Trump’s animus toward him boiled over into fury, officials say, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Devlin Barrett and Robert Costa​, May 10, 2017. President was said to be frustrated by FBI director’s focus on Russia and lack of attention to leaks. Accounts from more than 30 officials at the White House, Justice Department and on Capitol Hill indicate that the president was angry that James Comey would not support his baseless claim that President Obama had his campaign offices wiretapped. And he fumed that Comey was giving too much attention to the Russia probe and not enough to investigating leaks to journalists.

May 9

Richard NixonNew York Times, Watergate’s Saturday Night Massacre Redux, Peter Baker, May 9, 2017. Mr. Trump’s decision drew instant comparisons to President Richard M. Nixon’s firing of the special prosecutor looking into the so-called third-rate burglary that would eventually bring him down. (Nixon is shown in an official photo.)

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Washington Post, Trump fires FBI’s Comey; officials say he mishandled Clinton email probe, Devlin Barrett, May 9, 2017. Officials said FBI Director James B. Comey was dismissed after senior Justice Department officials concluded he had violated department principles and procedures by publicly discussing an investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of private email. Just last week, President Trump publicly accused Comey of giving Clinton, his Democratic challenger for president, “a free pass for many bad deeds” when he decided not to recommend criminal charges in the case.

CQ Roll Call, Comey Firing Spurs Calls for Special Prosecutor in Russia Probe, Joe Williams and Niels Lesniewski, May 9, 2017. The firing of FBI Director James B. Comey brought renewed calls from both House and Senate Democrats for a special prosecutor to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. The announcement on Tuesday night came as a surprise to many lawmakers, but reaction was swift. Even some Republicans said the timing of the termination would raise questions.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer told reporters that President Donald Trump called personally to inform him of the decision to fire Comey, a move the New York Democrat called a “big mistake.” Schumer said that the time has come for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor in the Russia probe, a move that several other Democrats also called for.

“It is deeply troubling that the President has fired the FBI director during an active counterintelligence investigation into improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia,” Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement. “The President’s actions today make it clear to me that a Special Counsel also must be appointed.”

House Democrats reacted with equal severity. “This is not what an innocent person would do; this is an abuse of power, and shows a consciousness of guilt,” Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said in a statement. “Nobody recommended by this administration can be trusted to oversee this investigation, and so the need for an independent bipartisan commission is now more urgent than ever.”

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn quickly refuted the need for a special prosecutor and called Rosenstein “competent to lead that effort.”

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Washington Post, Trump fires FBI’s Comey; officials say he mishandled Clinton email probe, Devlin Barrett, May 9, 2017. Officials said FBI Director James B. Comey was dismissed after senior Justice Department officials concluded he had violated department principles and procedures by publicly discussing an investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of private email. Just last week, President Trump publicly accused Comey of giving Clinton, his Democratic challenger for president, “a free pass for many bad deeds” when he decided not to recommend criminal charges in the case.

FBI logoComey was fired as he is leading a counterintelligence investigation to determine whether associates of President Trump may have coordinated with Russia to meddle with the presidential election last year. That probe began quietly last July but has now become the subject of intense debate in Washington.

Rod Rosenstein Deputyty Atttorney GeneralIt is unclear how Comey’s dismissal will affect that investigation. “The president has accepted the recommendation of the Attorney General and the deputy Attorney General regarding the dismissal of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” Spicer told reporters in the briefing room. Spicer also said that Comey was “notified a short time ago.” This is effective “immediately,” he said.

The White House said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is recused from involvement in the FBI's probe of Russia contacts with Trump officials because of contacts with Sessions himself, approved the firing, as did the recently confirmed Deputy Attorney Gen. Rod Rosenstein, shown in a file photo.

Washington Post, Democrats hate Comey. But they hate the fact Trump fired him even more, Amber Phillips​, May 9, 2017. Comey was likely the last chance Democrats had of having an apolitical investigation into whether Trump campaign associates colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.

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Washington Post, Trump needed a really good excuse to fire James Comey. Comey gave it to him, Aaron Blake, May 9, 2017. While the FBI director’s termination happened rather quickly — mere hours after it was revealed that Comey gave faulty testimony to Congress — it wasn’t altogether a shock.

Washington Post, Trump fires FBI’s Comey, Officials said director had mishandled probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails, Devlin Barrett​, May 9, 2017. The FBI told Congress that Director James B. Comey misstated some key findings involving the investigation into former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's emails during testimony last week. “The president has accepted the recommendation of the Attorney General and the deputy Attorney General regarding the dismissal of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” the White House said. 9, 2017.

Unclear how dismissal will affect probe of Russia ties to Trump campaign. FBI Director James B. Comey has been dismissed by the president, according to White House spokesman Sean Spicer -- a startling move that officials said stemmed from a conclusion by Justice Department officials that he had mishandled the probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

New York Times, Deputy Attorney General’s Memo Breaks Down Case Against Comey, Charlie Savage, May 9, 2017. When President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director on Tuesday, the White House made public a memorandum from Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, recommending the dismissal. The firing was highly fraught because the F.B.I. is investigating contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russia.

Mr. Rosenstein, who served as the United States attorney in Maryland under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, has a reputation as a by-the-book, nonpartisan prosecutor. In his memo, Mr. Rosenstein focused on the continuing fallout of Mr. Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

It portrays anger at Mr. Comey as a rare source of bipartisan agreement. “Over the past year, however, the F.B.l.’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice. … I cannot defend the Director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.”

Obama Years

Washington Independent Review of Books, 'Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama' by David J. Garrow (William Morrow 1,472 pp.), Reviewed by Jennifer Bort Yacovissi, May 9, 2017. An exhaustive dissection of virtually every experience that went into shaping our 44th president.

On March 28, 1980, Wisconsin Steel of South Chicago, with zero prior notice, sent its workforce home and locked its gates. In many cases, the people who had labored at the mill their entire working lives — having built a comfortable middle-class life without benefit of a college or even high school degree — never found another job. Recounting this economic catastrophe is the gripping first chapter in Rising Star, David J. Garrow’s practically day-by-day accounting of the pre-presidential life of Barack Obama.

That opening sets the stage to explain how the Columbia University graduate ended up in Chicago as a community organizer. Before we get there, though, Garrow pulls back into the fascinating pre-history of Obama’s parentage, and then moves forward through his upbringing, education, and gradual migration into politics.

Perhaps there is little here that is entirely new or revelatory; after all, there truly are no skeletons in the Obama closet. Certainly, the voting public heard and read endless reporting on Obama’s background and life story — some of which was even true — during his candidacy and two terms as president, but Garrow goes much deeper, provides far more detail, and connects all the disparate pieces in the detailed step-by-step of what went into, as his subtitle says, The Making of Barack Obama.

At 1,076 pages of narrative and 270 more of notes, this firehose of primary research will be foundational to future Obama biographers, but it is hardly the book for casual readers. Like many painstakingly thorough biographers, Garrow appears to have included any fact he uncovered, however tangential it might be. Nonetheless, it is a surprisingly compelling read and should appeal to political junkies and insiders.

Oddly, though, after the meticulous detail that carries the reader through a thousand-plus pages to the moment that Obama announces his candidacy for president, the next nine years are summarily dispatched with in just under 50 pages of an epilogue. The contrast in tone, pacing, and detail is jarring, and the book would have ended more coherently had the author, editor, or publisher decided to lop off the rushed afterthought.

Global News

Flag of Turkey

Washington Post, In blow to ties with Turkey, U.S. to directly arm Syrian Kurds against ISIS, Missy Ryan, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Karen DeYoung, May 9, 2017. President Trump has approved a plan to directly arm Kurdish forces as part of a plan to capture Raqqa, the Pentagon said. Turkey views the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, as a threat and has rebuked the United States for partnering with them in its fight against extremists in Syria.

WhoWhatWhy, Exclusive: How Trump Backers Weaponized Anthony Weiner to Defeat Clinton, Matthew Harvey, Jonathan Z. Larsen and WhoWhatWhyRuss Baker, May 9, 2017. Less than two weeks before the election, Hillary Clinton had opened a wide lead over her rival before a seemingly random series of events rocked the race at the most opportune time for Donald Trump. A month-long WhoWhatWhy investigation finds that there was nothing random about the circumstances that led the FBI to reopen its probe of Clinton.

FBI logoWhen the Federal Bureau of Investigation decided not to pursue a criminal case against Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server, Donald Trump’s path to the White House narrowed considerably… until a group of his staunchest supporters found a way to get the case back in the spotlight at the most opportune time. WhoWhatWhy has examined the events and players that had a hand in the FBI’s reopening of the Clinton email probe — apparently a factor in swinging the election Trump’s way.

Close scrutiny of the circumstances leading up to the FBI’s fateful decision reveals a key aspect that has thus far gained little attention — that fate got a helping hand from Trump supporters, surrogates and media allies.

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Washington Post, Comey misstated key Clinton email evidence at hearing, say people close to investigation, Devlin Barrett, May 9, 2017. FBI Director James B. Comey overstated key findings involving the Hillary Clinton email investigation during testimony to Congress last week, according to people close to the inquiry.

FBI logoIn defending the probe, Comey offered seemingly new details to underscore the seriousness of the situation FBI agents faced last fall when they discovered thousands of Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s emails on the computer of her husband, Anthony Weiner. “Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information,” Comey said, adding later, “His then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him I think to print out for her so she could then deliver them to the secretary of state.” At another point in the testimony, Comey said Abedin “forwarded hundreds and thousands of emails, some of which contain classified information.’’

Neither of those statements is accurate, said people close to the investigation. The inquiry found that Abedin did occasionally forward emails to her husband for printing, but it was a far smaller number than Comey described, and it wasn’t a “regular practice,” these people said. None of the forwarded emails were marked classified, but a small number — a handful, one person said — contained information that was later judged to contain classified information, these people said.

Around the Nation: Air Travel

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Washington Post, Furious passengers clash with Spirit Airlines employees and police at Fort Lauderdale airport, Amy B Wang, May 9, 2017. Cellphone video captured pandemonium as passengers clashed with Spirit employees and police at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Global News

New York Times, South Korean Who Backs Talks With the North Claims Victory, Choe Sang-hun, May 9, 2017. Moon Jae-in, a human rights lawyer who favors dialogue with North Korea, declared victory in the South Korean election on Tuesday, after his rivals appeared to concede defeat. “I will be a president for all the people,” Mr. Moon said in a nationally televised speech before a group of cheering supporters gathered in central Seoul, the capital. He said he would work with political rivals to create a country where “justice rules and common sense prevails.”

His victory would return the liberals to power after nearly a decade in the political wilderness and set up a potential rift with the United States over the North’s nuclear weapons program. Mr. Moon, 64, a son of North Korean refugees, faces the challenge of enacting changes to limit the power of big business and address the abuses uncovered in his predecessor’s downfall, while balancing relations with the United States and China and following through on his promise of a new approach to North Korea.

May 8

Sally Yates

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates, career federal prosecutor fired by President Trump on Jan. 30, 2017 (Official file photo)

New York Times, Twice Warned, Trump Stuck by Flynn Despite Ties to Russia, Matt Apuzzo and Enmarie Huetteman, May 8, 2017. After Michael Flynn Harvard 2014Sally Q. Yates warned President Trump that his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, was vulnerable to foreign blackmail, Mr. Flynn held his job for 18 more days. In their Oval Office meeting two days after the election, President Barack Obama warned Mr. Trump against hiring Mr. Flynn (shown in a file photo).

Washington Post, Sally Yates just threw the White House under the bus, Jennifer Rubin May 8, 2017. Former acting attorney general Sally Yates is testifying this afternoon along with former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on crime and terrorism, chaired by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who unlike some GOP colleagues seems interested in getting to the bottom of the Russia scandal in a timely fashion and in full view of the American public.

Word leaked out before she appeared that President Barack Obama, according to multiple Obama administration officials, warned then-President-elect Donald Trump not to hire Michael Flynn as national security adviser. News reports also previewed Yates’s testimony that she had issued an urgent warning to the White House counsel concerning Flynn’s contacts with Russia, which Flynn lied about and would therefore open him to blackmail.

Former CIA and NSA director Michael V. Hayden had chimed in on CNN’s morning show: “If the acting attorney general insists on seeing the White House counsel, that is a tectonic thing in its own right,” Hayden said. “It suggests one: the chaos in the Trump White House, second is the inordinate distrust of the officials from the government they were replacing, and third is going to feed that darker narrative out there with regard to the relationship with the Trump campaign and the Russian Federation.”

With all that build-up, Yates’s testimony might have been anti-climactic. It was not. Yates is giving a tutorial in committee testifying. She just walloped not one but two GOP senators. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) tried to accuse her of misconduct in refusing to defend the Trump administration’s travel ban, which was ultimately blocked by multiple courts. Yates reminded him that at her confirmation hearing, Cornyn had asked if she would refuse to carry out an illegal or unconstitutional order. She recalled she had promised him she would indeed refuse. Ouch.

Then up came Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) sleazily trying to get her to opine on Huma Abedin’s email habits(!). When that led nowhere, he took to quoting the statutory basis for the travel ban. She corrected him by pointing out that there was subsequent congressional action that specifically prohibited religious discrimination. Game, set, match.

New York Times, Senate Republicans Form All-Male Panel on Health Bill, Robert Pear, May 8, 2017. The lineup assembled by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to draft language for a new health care law excludes women and moderates, who could align to derail the legislation.

New York Times, The Kushners and Their Golden Visas, Editorial board, May 8, 2017. The president’s in-laws promise Chinese investors green cards. The real scandal is that it’s legal.

President Trump (Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr)

New Yorker, How Trump Could Get Fired, Evan Osnos, May 8, 2017 (print publication date). The Constitution offers two main paths for removing a President from office. How feasible are they?

Trump’s critics are actively exploring the path to impeachment or the invocation of the Twenty-fifth Amendment, which allows for the replacement of a President who is judged to be mentally unfit. During the past few months, I interviewed several dozen people about the prospects of cutting short Trump’s Presidency. I spoke to his friends and advisers; to lawmakers and attorneys who have conducted impeachments; to physicians and historians; and to current members of the Senate, the House, and the intelligence services.

By any normal accounting, the chance of a Presidency ending ahead of schedule is remote. In two hundred and twenty-eight years, only one President has resigned; two have been impeached, though neither was ultimately removed from office; eight have died. But nothing about Trump is normal. Although some of my sources maintained that laws and politics protect the President to a degree that his critics underestimate, others argued that he has already set in motion a process of his undoing. All agree that Trump is unlike his predecessors in ways that intensify his political, legal, and personal risks. He is the first President with no prior experience in government or the military, the first to retain ownership of a business empire, and the oldest person ever to assume the Presidency.

Senator Richard Blumenthal (shown in an official photo), a Connecticut Democrat who is on the Judiciary Committee, believes that the Administration’s actions denigrating or denying the power of equal branches of government portend a “constitutional crisis” akin to Nixon’s refusal to accept the appellate-court judgment regarding the White House tapes.

Global News

New York Times, Appearance by an Ailing President Hardly Reassures Many in Nigeria, Dionne Searcey and Tony Iyare, May 8, 2017. Nigeria’s ailing president, Muhammadu Buhari, had been seen in public so rarely that some Nigerians were convinced he was dead. Some of his supporters have called on him to step down, at least until his health improves.

Muhammadu Buhari Chatham House.

His wife recently defended him, posting on Twitter that the president’s condition was “not as bad as it’s being perceived.” As the worries grew, Mr. Buhari desperately needed a victory to show that he was still in control, securely at the helm.

Over the weekend he got one: Dozens of the nearly 300 schoolgirls kidnapped three years ago by Boko Haram were released, by far the biggest break in a case that shocked the nation and the world. But Mr. Buhari, 74, barely reveled in the achievement. He met with the girls briefly Sunday, then flew back to London, where he has spent nearly two months this year on medical leave.

American FlagNew York Times, Send More U.S. Troops to Afghan War, Aides Tell Trump, Michael R. Gordon, May 8, 2017. With President Trump expected to make a decision on his Afghan strategy this month, senior officials are recommending deploying several thousand additional American troops.

Around the Nation: Bystander Saves Life, Reporter Watches

New York Times, A Cry for Help as a Witness Recounts a Man’s Fall Onto the Subway Tracks, Michael Wilson, May 8, 2017. It was Saturday afternoon, April 29.

May 7

French FlagWashington Post, Macron beats back populist tide to win French presidency, Griff Witte, James McAuley and Isaac Stanley-Becker, May 7, 2017. After a tumultuous campaign, voters rejected anti-E.U. firebrand Marine Le Pen and chose Emmanuel Macron, a centrist political neophyte who has pledged to revive both his struggling country and the flailing continent. Le Pen (shown below in a file photo) conceded defeat, telling her demoralized supporters in Paris that the country had “chosen continuity.”

Marine Le Pen

Washington Post, China pitch by Kushner sister renews controversy over visa program for wealthy, Michael Kranish, May 7, 2017. A much-criticized visa program that allows foreigners to win fast-track immigration in return for investing $500,000 in U.S. properties was extended in a bill signed by President Trump just one day before a sister of senior White House adviser Jared Kushner (shown in a file photo) pitched the program to Chinese investors.

Trump, who advocates for restrictive immigration policies, extended the EB-5 investor program without long-promised changes as part of a massive federal spending bill. The program has offered wealthy foreigners a way around complicated U.S. immigration rules, allowing them to live in the United States and seek permanent residency in return for substantial investments. 

The Washington Post reported Saturday that Nicole Kushner Meyer delivered a sales presentation in Beijing at which she urged Chinese citizens to invest in a New Jersey project being managed by the Kushner family’s real estate company. Meyer’s relationship to her brother was mentioned as part of the presentation. Meyer’s sales presentation about the EB-5 investor visa program brought pointed criticism from Democrats, who said she sought to benefit from her ties to her brother, who, as the husband of Ivanka Trump, has become one of Trump’s closest advisers.

Psychological Warfare Bringing Tump?

The Observer, The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked, Carole Cadwalladr, May 7, 2017. A shadowy global operation involving big data, billionaire friends of Trump and the disparate forces of the Leave campaign influenced the result of the EU referendum. As Britain heads to the polls again, is our electoral process still fit for purpose?

In June 2013, a young American postgraduate called Sophie was passing through London when she called up the boss of a firm where she’d previously interned. The company, SCL Elections, went on to be bought by Robert Mercer, a secretive hedge fund billionaire, renamed Cambridge Analytica, and achieved a certain notoriety as the data analytics firm that played a role in both Trump and Brexit campaigns. But all of this was still to come. London in 2013 was still basking in the afterglow of the Olympics. Britain had not yet Brexited. The world had not yet turned.
 
“That was before we became this dark, dystopian data company that gave the world Trump,” a former Cambridge Analytica employee who I’ll call Paul tells me. “It was back when we were still just a psychological warfare firm.”

May 6

Washington Post, Health-care plan could launch ugly battles in state legislatures, Amber Phillips, May 6, 2017. Even if a watered-down Donald Trump Logo Make America Great Againversion of House Republicans' health-care legislation becomes law, states are probably going to be on the hook for billions of dollars of health-care costs, especially for the poor and sick. And that means they're going to have to make some hard choices: Do you find a way to raise taxes/cut other services to keep your most vulnerable population insured? Or do you just stop insuring them? 

That's the heart of the question facing all 50 states as Republicans in Washington unwind the federal government's involvement in health care. Legislatures trying to answer it could get ugly. States just don't have the money right now to make up for the health insurance subsidies the federal government could cut back on. Thirty-one states started 2017 with deficits — a couple are closing in on $1 billion, according to a MultiState Associates study.

Global News: France

Washington Post, ‘Massive and coordinated piracy action’ alleged by Macron’s campaign, James McAuley and Isaac Stanley-Becker, May 6, 2017. One day before France’s most momentous presidential election in decades, authorities Saturday began investigating the “massive and coordinated piracy action” that the independent candidate Emmanuel Macron reported minutes before the official end of campaigning.

Kushner Conflicts?

Washington Post, In a Beijing ballroom, Kushner family flogs $500,000 ‘investor visa’ to wealthy Chinese, Emily Rauhala, May 6, 2017. The Kushner family came to the United States as refugees, worked hard and made it big — and if you invest in Kushner properties, so can you. That was the message delivered Saturday by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s sister to a ballroom full of wealthy Chinese investors, renewing questions about the Kushner family’s business ties to China.

Over several hours of slide shows and presentations, representatives from the Kushner family business urged Chinese citizens gathered at the Ritz-Carlton hotel to consider investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a New Jersey real estate project to secure what’s known as an investor visa. The EB-5 immigrant investor visa program, which allows foreign investors to invest in U.S. projects that create jobs and then apply to immigrate, has been used by both the Trump and Kushner family businesses.

But President Trump’s vow to crack down on immigration, as well as criticism from members of Congress, has led to questions about the future of a program known here as the “golden visa.”

OpEdNews, How Information Is Controlled, Paul Craig Roberts, May 6, 2017. Dr.. Paul Roberts, shown in a file photo, is a conservative scholar and former Reagan administration assistant Treasury Secretary. In a real democracy with a real media and real opposition Paul Craig Robertsparties, these questions would be investigated and part of public debate, not dismissed as "conspiracy theory." As I reported in a previous column, CIA documents were discovered that show that the CIA invented the use of "conspiracy theory" to prevent a real investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Everywhere in the Western World, and this includes the Asian provinces of the American Empire, it is close to impossible to acquire accurate information. The only purpose of information from Washington and from the print and TV media and NPR is to get the captive populations to accept the official explanation that serves the ruling agenda. Those who provide real news, such as RT, are attacked as fonts of "fake news." In other words, for Washington truth is an enemy. As George Orwell said, "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

May 5

Wayne Madsen Navy Photo

WMR, The Jane Does are back to haunt Trump, Wayne Madsen, May 5, 2017 (subscription required). Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen (shown in a photo from his years as a Navy intelligence officer) is the author of 15 books, most recently a 400-page encyclopedia of CIA front companies and contracting partners.

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001In 1999, Virginia Roberts was a 15-year old "towel girl" at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida in 1999 when she was approached by a representative of Trump's billionaire friend Jeffrey Epstein to become a virtual sex slave for Epstein.

(Roberts, center, is shown as a teenager with Prince Andrew of the United Kingdom and Ghislaine Maxwell, the socialite girlfriend of the never-married Epstein. Roberts, using her married name of Giuffre, is suing Maxwell on defamation charges in New York's federal court for denying that the sex trafficking claims are true.)

House Health Care Vote

Roll Call, Opinion: What the Vote on Health Care Means — Republicans Now Own It, Walter Shapiro, May 5, 2017. Even low-information voters know that the GOP controls the levers of government. Now that the buses have returned from the White House victory-lap rally and House Republicans have headed home for what undoubtedly will be ticker-tape parades, it is time to step back from the partisan talking points to try to realistically gauge the meaning of Thursday’s health care vote. It is no exaggeration to say that Thursday may have been Paul Ryan’s best day in politics since he was named Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012. Especially since being elected House speaker brought Ryan so many heartaches and headaches that it doesn’t count.

Paul RyanBut this is also grading the speaker on a steep curve. Put another way, Ryan (shown in an official photo) and the House Republicans passed on the third try by a two-vote margin an ungainly piece of legislation that will deprive maybe 20 million Americans of health care. Even though the GOP has been running against Obamacare for more than six years, the only hope for the new bill is if Senate Republicans perform a feat of legislative alchemy akin to turning a lead balloon into a golden coach.

Thursday’s House vote represented a historic moment — Trump and the Republicans now own the American health-care system. Sure, the White House can still loudly claim, as it did in a Thursday press release, “OBAMACARE IS COLLAPSING: Across the country, Obamacare is failing the American people, delivering high costs, few options and broken promises.” But whatever happens from here, the blame (or, possibly, the praise) rests with our reality-show president and his loyal acolytes in Congress.

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Washington Post, GOP health-plan faces uncertain fate in Senate, Ed O'Keefe, Paige Winfield Cunningham and Amy Goldstein, May 5, Mitchell_McConnell2017 (print edition). House Republicans claimed a major victory by pushing through health-care legislation, which makes dents in portions of the Affordable Care Act but falls short of repealing it outright. Widespread disagreement remains among Senate Republicans about how to proceed. The Senate’s rules-keeper cannot even review the legislation until the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office submits its official estimate, which could take several more weeks to complete.

Cuts For Drug Programs?

New York Times, White House Proposes Cutting Drug Control Office Funding by 95%, Alan Rappaport, May 5, 2017. When he was running for office, Donald J. Trump promised to rid America of the scourge of drugs, vowing to crack down on dealers and invest heavily in programs to get heroin and other opioids off the streets. But on Friday, President Trump’s administration revealed plans to gut the 2018 budget of his Office of National Drug Control Policy. According to an Office of Management and Budget document obtained by The New York Times, the White House is proposing to slash the drug policy office budget by about 95 percent, to just $24 million from $388 million.

The cuts would mean the office could lose up to 33 employees. The budget would also eliminate grant programs it administers, including the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program and the Drug-Free Communities Support Program. According to the document, the Trump administration thinks the programs are duplicative of other federal and state initiatives. Rich Baum, the acting drug czar appointed by Mr. Trump, expressed anguish about the cuts in an email sent to the office’s staff on Friday.

Around the Nation: Crackdown on Immigrant Crime Group

Washington Post, Organized crime ring made millions smuggling cigarettes and writing bad checks in Va., police say, Justin Jouvenal and Dana Hedgpeth, May 5, 2017. A bust of a major organized crime ring that made millions smuggling cigarettes and committing bank fraud in Virginia has resulted in 43 indictments and more than 740 charges, Fairfax County police announced Friday. An extensive two-year investigation uncovered a sprawling operation with more than 150 suspects engaged in transporting cigarettes from the Richmond area to New York City, writing bad checks, money laundering, and committing shootings and other violent crimes in the Richmond area, officials said.

Authorities there said the ring sold $30 million worth of cigarettes on the black market and created 29 fake businesses in the Richmond area to make bulk purchases of cigarettes, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. “It’s got to be one of the largest organized crime groups we’ve had,” Fairfax County police 2nd Lt. Thomas Harrington said at a Friday news conference. “It is an extremely complex case.”

Harrington said that detectives are still trying to determine where the organization’s profits went but that officials are exploring whether any money funded terrorist groups. The organization was primarily composed of foreign nationals from northern Africa, Harrington said. In all, police said nine banks in Fairfax County reported losses of more than $620,000. After it was determined that the 12 to 14 people were using multiple addresses in the county and the Richmond area, Fairfax police reached out to the FBI for help.

Washington Post, Sessions follows Obama playbook on prosecuting officers, but not on police reform, Matt Zapotosky, May 5, 2017. 
Where the Justice Department under the previous administration saw fatal shootings by police as a product of cultural problems in law enforcement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is inclined to see them as the result of a few bad officers.

When the Justice Department announced this week that it would not charge the officers involved in the death of Alton Sterling, officials used a familiar script. The acting U.S. attorney in Baton Rouge called a news conference and outlined a vivid description of the encounter, caught on video, that ended when an officer fired three bullets into Sterling’s back. He pointed to federal civil rights law as making it impossible to substantiate a case.

It was a scene that played out a number of times under the Obama administration: The Justice Department declines to press charges in a high-profile police shooting. Federal law makes charging police officers with civil rights violations extremely difficult. And because Attorney General Jeff Sessions is critical of broader reforms targeting entire departments, “that suggests that very little work on police accountability is going to get done, at all,” said Chiraag Bains, a former federal prosecutor and senior official in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Senate Seeks Trump Aides' Russian Records

New York Times, Senators Seek Trump Aides’ Records of Russia Contacts, Matthew Rosenberg and Maggie Haberman, May 5, 2017. The step by the Senate Intelligence Committee in its investigation into Russian election meddling may be a way to open a path to subpoenas if needed.

Trump Fills Federal Jobs Without Congressional Confirmation, Announcements

President Donald Trump officialMonthly Review, What the Trump Administration is up to: Analysis, Editors, May 2017. The April 2017 issue of Monthly Review, “Neofascism in the White House,” by John Bellamy Foster, pointed out that the Trump administration has been exceedingly slow to fill the more than 500 political positions in the executive branch that need Senate confirmation. That article attributed this failure to the chaos of the new administration’s early days, and to the struggle to find appointees “loyal” to its larger project, including the “deconstruction of the administrative state,” as White House chief strategist Steve Bannon put it.

However, at the end of February, Trump offered another partial explanation, claiming that he was allowing the seats to remain empty because “many of those jobs, I don’t want to fill.” Subsequently, critics have taken a much closer look at Trump’s “beachhead” transition teams, consisting of more than 400 interim placements whereby those hired are allowed to work for up to eight months without Senate confirmation (“Trump’s New Personnel Plan: Leave Parts of His Administration Empty,” MSNBC, February 28, 2017).

As journalist Matt Taibbi writes in Rolling Stone (April 6, 2017), “a darker explanation” has emerged in various sources suggesting “that Trump sent waves of nonpolitical appointees to the agencies in so-called beachhead teams, i.e., people sent in groups under temporary appointments of four to eight months. These appointees did not have to be confirmed by Congress…. A fair number carry amorphous ‘special assistant’ titles, making it difficult to know what their duties are.” Indeed, all the indications are that the normally very temporary positions are being maintained as long as possible—thus constituting part of a larger effort to bring the government in line, while circumventing the separation of powers.

What is particularly revealing, adding to these growing suspicions, is the extraordinary nature of these “beachhead” appointments. Dozens of them are well-known lobbyists, contradicting Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp.” Eight are Heritage Foundation staffers. One “special assistant” just graduated from high school. Others are political appointees from the alt-right and Breitbart. Many are little more than names, with no known profile or qualifications. The Trump administration, departing from precedent, has refused to offer such information when questioned — or even to deny or confirm their existence as individuals. (See “Meet the Hundreds of Officials Trump Has Installed Across the Government,” ProPublica, March 8, 2017; “Mystery Trump Workers Hold DOE, Interior Jobs,” Greenwire, March 30, 2017).

Architects Succumbing To Indifference On 9/11 Attack?

9/11 Free Fall Radio, Integrity vs. Indifference: An Inside Scoop on the AIA's WTC 7 Vote, Host Andy Steele is joined by AIA members William Prevatel and David Mack and by AE911Truth’s Director of Strategy and Development Ted Walter, May 5, 2017. They discuss the WTC 7 resolution vote at the AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando last week. The conversation explores why delegates shrank from the historic opportunity to call for a new WTC 7 investigation. Listen Now on SoundCloud.

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Washington Post, Conservative Opinion: These Republicans may be throwing their seats away, Jennifer Rubin, May 5, 2017. Whatever you think of the American Health Care Act on the merits, political watchers across the spectrum see a significant downside for Republicans who voted for the AHCA. Activists and groups on the left, like the Daily Kos, figure:

Of the 23 members who hold districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, 14 Republicans voted for the bill, as did another 10 of those whose seats Trump won with less than 50 percent (excluding districts in Utah, where conservative independent Evan McMullin drew substantially from Republicans). Democrats need to gain exactly 24 Republican-held seats while defending all 194 of their own to capture control of the House in 2018, and these 24 Trumpcare supporters will likely be prime targets.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report shows six Republicans, including the Georgia 6th District seat, in the “toss up” category and 18 in the “lean Republican” column. In the “likely Republican” column are 19 more names, including 14 who voted for the bill. Add in the likely pickup for the Democrats of the seat held by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) — who is retiring from a district Hillary Clinton won by nearly 20 points — and you had 44 of the best potential Democratic pickups. [How the House voted to pass the GOP health-care bill.]

White House Jousting

Mediaite, Roger Stone Calls for Resignation of ‘Incompetent Ass’ Steve Bannon: ‘You Are Part of the Problem,’ Jon Levine, May 5, 2017.
Donald Trump consigliere, Roger Stone, took to Twitter Thursday to slam White House strategist Steven Bannon and call for the former Breitbart chairman’s resignation. In a pair of zingers, Stone said that Bannon was “part of the problem” for failing to check the growing influence of Jared Kushner and added that he was a “disorganized incompetent ass.”

Stephen BannonStone (shown in a file photo), a famously snappy dresser who maintains his own fashion blog, even managed to blast Bannon as poorly dressed. Stone, the ultimate Trump insider, is no stranger to in-fighting. After being ejected from the formal Trump campaign, he helped a successful effort to oust campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski and install his old business partner Paul Manafort. Earlier this month, Stone derided Bannon (shown in a file photo), saying he had done a poor job staffing the White House with like-minded allies, now leaving him surrounded and vulnerable.

JFK Assassination Research

Facebook, JFK, Searching for the Truth, Lawrence Schnapf, May 5, 2017. Lawrence Schnapf, a prominent environmental attorney in New York State, co-chairs the legal committee of Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA). I am pleased to announce that the Honorable Jay Karahan agreed to preside over the mock trial "State of Texas vs Lee Harvey Oswald" that will be held on Nov. 16/17th at the South Texas College of Law-Houston. Judge Karahan is the presiding judge of the Harris County Criminal Court 8. He has presided over 500 jury and court trials and has managed the disposition of over 70,000 cases since his investiture on January 1, 2003. Previously, he served as both a state and federal prosecutor where he tried to jury verdict over 100 serious felony cases.

Around the Nation: Charges Dropped In Immigrant Rape Case Exploited By Trump

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Washington Post, Rape charges to be dropped against immigrant teens in Md. case, Dan Morse and Ann E. Marimow, May 5, 2017. Maryland prosecutors said they will drop rape and sex offense charges against two immigrant teens accused of attacking a 14-year-old classmate in a high school bathroom stall in a case that shocked local parents, attracted international and White House attention and stoked the debate about illegal crossings into the U.S. 

After a court hearing Friday morning, prosecutors said they will drop the sex assault case against Henry Sanchez Milian, 18, and Jose Montano, 17, who was ordered released from custody. Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said at a press conference that “the original charges cannot be sustained and prosecution is untenable” because of “substantial inconsistencies” from witnesses.

McCarthy, who was joined by the county’s top leaders, said the decision to dismiss the charges followed an extensive investigation that included additional interviews and a review of medical records, school security videos, and phone and computer records. Defense lawyers for both defendants have said for weeks that the sex acts were consensual and that text messages and school surveillance videos did not substantiate the girl’s claims she had been pushed from a hallway into a bathroom at Rockville High School on March 16 where the suspects took turns assaulting her in a stall as she tried to break free.

The severity of the reported assault and the fact the two accused teens had entered the U.S. illegally only months earlier drew heated comments from the White House, in the State House and among demonstrators, callers and emailers who weighed in with the county.

Around the Nation: Financial Threats

Wall Street On Parade, GAO: Biggest Fiscal Threat to U.S. Is Interest on Treasury Debt – Not Social Welfare Programs, Pam Martens and Russ Martens, May 5, 2017. On Wednesday, the General Accountability Office (GAO), the bipartisan congressional watchdog, released an in-depth report on the U.S. government’s challenging fiscal outlook. Despite its surprising revelations, the study received little to no coverage by major media outlets.  The report further noted that both the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and GAO’s own projections indicate that the federal government’s current fiscal path is unsustainable and policy changes must occur.

Key concerns raised by these findings include the fact that federal resources that could be deployed into key priorities like rebuilding the nation’s roads and bridges are being diverted to interest on debt. Another concern expressed by the GAO is the upward rise in interest rates.

May 4

National Press Club, Wrongly convicted man recounts ordeal at "Anatomy of Innocence" Book Rap, Eleanor Herman, May 4, 2017. A National Press Club Book Rap on May 1 about Anatomy of Innocence featured Jerry Miller, who was exonerated after a wrongful conviction; John Mankiewicz, who wrote the book chapter about Miller; Laura Caldwell, the book's editor; and National Press Club President Jeff Ballou, who moderated.

Jerry Miller, who served 24 years in prison and a year on parole for a rape, robbery and assault he did not commit, said he is not angry but expressed concern for other innocent people in the prison system.

Miller spoke at the National Press Club as part of a panel at a May 1 Book Rap discussing Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted. Miller had been wrongfully convicted in 1982 in Chicago, paroled in 2006, and exonerated in 2007 after testing of DNA evidence implicated another man. He is the 200th person exonerated through the efforts of the Innocence Project, a non-profit legal organization committed to exonerating wrongly convicted people.

“The conviction of an innocent person occurs in small steps. First, you are accused and think you just need to clear it up. Then there’s a trial. Then you hear you’re guilty,” said Caldwell, who founded Life After Innocence, an organization that provides services to exonerees.

Miller’s happiest moment came when Chicago prosecutors apologized to him on camera. “They had told the world I was guilty of a crime. Now they were telling the world I was innocent.” Still, he added, “The word ‘exonerated’ can never tell the full story. What was I supposed to do? I was 52 but felt like I was still 26.”

Mankiewicz admitted that he became so passionately involved with his chapter on Miller that he was very late with some “House of Cards” scripts. “I knew mistakes were made,” Mankiewicz said, referring to the justice system in general, “but Jerry was framed in a way that you know it’s institutional. The city of Chicago gave citizens’ awards to parking attendants who identified him before his trial.” Miller could feel the travesty unfolding. “They wanted the public to feel safe,” Miller explained. “They needed a body and they needed a conviction.… I knew I was cooked before the verdict.”

Washington Independent Review of Books, Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted (Edited by Laura Caldwell and Leslie S. Klinger Liveright Publishing, 304 pp.), Reviewed by Kenneth Jost, May 4, 2017.

The late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia repeatedly voiced doubts that any innocent people had been executed in the recent past in the United States. Scalia was almost certainly incorrect, but his view reflects what was once widespread public confidence in the criminal justice system. Criminal justice advocates have shaken that confidence over the past 25 years through their work in a growing number of so-called innocence projects which document hundreds of wrongful convictions in both capital and noncapital cases.

Many exonerations have stemmed from the use of DNA analysis to demonstrate that the specific offense — often, a rape — was committed by someone other than the defendant. Most of the exonerations, however, have resulted from less scientific post-conviction discoveries of, for example, unreliable eyewitness identifications, or abusive police interrogations.

The new book Anatomy of Innocence allows 15 exonerees to tell their stories through compelling first-person accounts as written up by prizewinning crime and mystery writers in gritty, film-noir style. Editors of the collection are Leslie Klinger, an award-winning editor of more than 20 books in the mystery field, and Laura Caldwell, the author of 14 novels and the nonfiction book Long Way Home about a wrongful incarceration.

The stories are variations on Kafkaesque themes: Innocents inexplicably implicated in gruesome crimes, stripped of their humanity in sterile interrogation rooms and jail cells, and denied any actual presumption of innocence in their eventual trials. The police and prosecutors heroically depicted in season after season of “Law and Order” sometimes behave badly, for example, by suborning perjurious testimony from jailhouse snitches or withholding information on deals cut for the benefit of prosecution witnesses.

Remarkably, most of the exonerees are more upbeat than bitter when freed. Kirk Bloodsworth, an ex-Marine who served nine years on death row for the rape and murder of a young girl, won his release in 1993 after DNA excluded him as the killer. With the actual killer unknown, Bloodsworth worried more about justice for the girl than about the injustice done to him. (Justice is eventually done a decade later, when a DNA database hit identifies the actual killer: ironically, a fellow inmate of Bloodsworth's who had been serving time for attempted rape and other crimes.)

Trump Perk for McCain?

The Hill, White House considering Cindy McCain for State Dept. job: report, Max Greenwood, May 4, 2017. The Trump administration is expected to appoint Cindy McCain, the wife of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), to a role in the State Department, The Associated Press reported Thursday. Which position McCain could step into is not yet clear, though one potential option could be as an ambassador-at-large — a post in which she could focus on a specific issue, such as human trafficking.

John McCain, the powerful chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee and 2008 GOP presidential nominee, has been fiercely critical of Trump's foreign policy and national security operation since before the real estate mogul entered the White House.  He has taken particularly sharp aim at Trump's proposed "America first" vision of foreign policy, which downplays the U.S. role in state building and foreign military intervention. McCain has also ripped Trump over his friendlier approach to Russia and other adversaries of the U.S. 

Banking System Corruption

Bradley Birkenfeld, author of "Lucifer's Banker"RT, 'Lucifer’s Banker' Blows the Whistle: Part II, Sean Stone, May 4, 2017 (9:26 mins). RT's Watching the Hawks host Sean Stone presents part 2 of his interview with UBS and Swiss Banking Whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld into the Hawks Nest to discuss his book Lucifer’s Banker.

Politico, The one weird court case linking Trump, Clinton, and a billionaire pedophile, Josh Gerstein, May 4, 2017. A woman suing in connection with Jeffrey Epstein’s underage sex ring claims she was first approached while working as a towel girl at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. A woman who claims in a lawsuit that she was lured into a sex-trafficking ring run by billionaire Jeffrey Epstein contends that the depravity began at a Florida resort now known as the winter White House: Mar-a-Lago. Virginia Giuffre’s civil suit, scheduled to go to trial here later this month, threatens to expose new details of a long-running saga tying together President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, and other prominent figures, including Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz.

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Washington Post, Opinion: Every Republican who voted for this abomination must be held accountable, Paul Waldman May 4, 2016. There are moments when you have to set aside the mechanics and focus intently on the substance of what government does — or in this case, what government is trying to do.

The health-care bill that the House of Representatives passed this afternoon, in an incredibly narrow 217-to-213 vote, is not just wrong, or misguided, or problematic or foolish. It is an abomination. If there has been a piece of legislation in our lifetimes that boiled over with as much malice and indifference to human suffering, I can’t recall what it might have been. And every member of the House who voted for it must be held accountable.

It is no exaggeration to say that if it were to become law, this bill would kill significant numbers of Americans. People who lose their Medicaid, don’t go to the doctor, and wind up finding out too late that they’re sick. People whose serious conditions put them up against lifetime limits or render them unable to afford what’s on offer in the high-risk pools, and are suddenly unable to get treatment.

Huffington Post, Democrats Taunt GOP After Obamacare Repeal Vote By Singing ‘Goodbye,’ Igor Bobic, May 4, 2017. Democrats believe the vote will haunt Republicans. House Democrats taunted Republicans on Thursday by bursting into song after the GOP plan to repeal and replace passed. “Na, na, na, na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye,” dozens of Democratic members sang on the floor as the legislation cleared the required 216 vote threshold. Democrats have argued that a vote for the bill ― one that guts funding for states to help people with pre-existing conditions pay for health insurance ― will haunt Republicans in the future and possibly even help oust them from the majority in the 2018 midterm elections.

Huffington Post, Republicans Are Rushing To Pass Their Health Care Bill Before You Find Out What’s In It, Jeffrey Young, May 4, 2017. The American Health Care Act doesn’t do what the GOP says it does. They’re counting on you not to notice.

WhoWhatWhy, Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Part 1: Rex Tillerson, Dick Russell, May 4, 2017. First part of an excerpt from Horsemen of WhoWhatWhythe Apocalypse: The Men Who are Destroying Life on Earth and What It Means for Our Children (with an Introduction by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.). Rex Tillerson likes his privacy. Career diplomats working in the same building with him were given special instructions: Do not try to make eye contact with him, and do not speak to him directly.

On his first three trips abroad, Tillerson did not even meet with State Department employees in their embassies. Nor did he allow the usual press corps to accompany him on those trips. He took along only one reporter, one who was from the conservative website, Independent Journal Review. He does not like to answer questions.

RawStory, ‘I have a target on my back’: Lewandowski out at lobbying firm over concerns he hyped access to Trump, Elizabeth Preza, May 4, 2017. Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is leaving Avenue Strategies, blaming his partner and others at the firm for using his name without his authorization while trying to woo foreign clients.  Wednesday, it was revealed “Avenue Strategies” — which Lewandowski co-founded after the 2016 election — offered to lobby for the Venezuelan government-backed oil company Citgo. Sources told Politico “Avenue” was “brought on to help provide access to the Trump administration.”

Newsweek via RawStory, New Trump religious freedom order: who benefits, Nina Burleigh, May 4, 2017. The order directs the IRS to "exercise maximum enforcement discretion to alleviate the burden of the Johnson Amendment" — effectively putting restraints on a 60-year-old American law that forbids religious institutions from giving money to political candidates. "A crippling financial punishment," Mr Trump said. "Very, very unfair. But no longer."

Aaron Scherb, legislative affairs director for Common Cause, called the order a “backdoor” way to get more secret money into politics. “The order would allow a billionaire to funnel money through a religious organization, it would be secret, the group would never have to disclose it, and the billionaire donor would get a tax write-off,” he said. 

Raw Story, Sex slavery lawsuit links Trump’s Mar-a-Lago to pedophile ring: report, Noor Al-Sibai, May 4, 2017. Last fall’s allegations of sexual assault against President Donald Trump failed to stop his presidency, but one of the more explosive of those allegations is once again making headlines. Politico reported that a new lawsuit reveals details linking Trump to billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender. The reports indicate that one lawsuit contains information about Virginia Giuffre who alleges that she met Epstein while working as a towel girl at Mar-a-Lago when she was 15 before being recruited into “sexual slavery.”

Giuffre’s case is set to appear before a judge on May 15, and although her accusations against Epstein have been public for some time, this is the first time the detail about her employment at Mar-a-Lago has been included. Last summer, the Trump-Epstein connection made headlines when Trump was slated to win the Republican nomination, and just before the election, a woman came forward alleging that Trump raped her when she was 13 at one of Epstein’s parties — only to drop suit a few days later.

In 2015, Trump lawyers denied claims of the then-candidate’s involvement with Epstein by saying their only relation was that Epstein was “one of thousands of people who has visited Mar-a-Lago.” Those claims that fly in the face of a 2002 New York Magazine interview in which Trump claimed to have known Epstein for 15 years.

Press Freedom

National Press Club, Press Freedom experts: Trump's harsh tone toward media takes toll at home, abroad, Justin Duckham, May 4, 2017.
President Donald Trump officialOn the first World Press Freedom Day under President Donald J. Trump, media advocates gathered at the National Press Club May 3 to warn that the president’s harsh rhetoric toward the press is taking its toll both at home and abroad. Speaking on the first of three panels marking the day, Delphine Halgand, the U.S. director of Reporters Without Borders, pointed to the organization’s annual press freedom index released last week showing that the United States has fallen two places to become 43rd on the list of countries that support a free press.

May 3

Epstein Sex Trafficking Defamation Trial Set This Month

Radar, The Truth Will Come Out! Jeffrey Epstein’s Alleged Madam Loses BIG In Court, Radar Staff, May 3, 2017. A lawsuit brought by a former 'sex slave' will move forward. A Manhattan judge has vowed to get to the bottom of claims by Jeffrey Epstein‘s self-described sex slave, RadarOnline.com has learned, setting the stage for an explosive trial. Virginia Roberts is suing socialite Ghislaine Maxwell for defamation, after Maxwell told the press that she didn't recruit Roberts to be Epstein’s sex slave. Maxwell had requested to have the case thrown out, insisting that she couldn’t be held responsible for the fact that the media published comments she had distributed via press release.

Judge Robert Sweet found that argument ridiculous, writing in his denial obtained by Radar, “Because as a matter of law, the issuer of a press release is responsible for its publication, the motion is denied.”

Roberts, filing under her married name Giuffre, described very graphic sexual situations in the lawsuit filed in September 2015. “With the assistance of Maxwell, Epstein was able to sexually abuse Giuffre for years until Giuffre eventually escaped,” the lawsuit says. “As part of their sex trafficking efforts, Epstein and Maxwell intimidated Giuffre into remaining silent about what had happened to her.”  The defamation trial is expected to begin May 15.

Washington Post, FBI Director Comey says classified Clinton emails were forwarded to Anthony Weiner, Devlin Barrett and Karoun FBI logoDemirjian​, May 3, 2017.  Emails from Hillary Clinton containing classified information were forwarded to former congressman Anthony Weiner, the director of the FBI testified as he defended his handling of politically sensitive probes surrounding the 2016 presidential race. Weiner, a New York Democrat, was married to a top aide to Clinton, Huma Abedin.

Trump Family

Wall Street Journal, Trump adviser Kushner’s undisclosed partners include Goldman and Soros, Jean Eaglesham, Juliet Chung and Lisa Schwartz, May 3, 2017. Investments show ties to major finance and technology names. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is currently in business with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and billionaires George Soros and Peter Thiel, according to people familiar with the matter and securities filings.

The previously undisclosed business relationships with titans of the financial and technology worlds are through a real-estate tech startup called Cadre that Kushner co-founded and currently partly owns. Goldman and Soros and Thiel, as well as other billionaires’ firms, also have stakes in the company, which is based in a Manhattan building owned by the Kushner family’s company, according to people close to Cadre. Also read: Jared Kushner disclosure form left out stake in tech startup Cadre.

The Cadre stake is one of many interests—and ties to large financial institutions—that Kushner didn’t identify on his government financial-disclosure form, according to a Wall Street Journal review of securities and other filings. Others include loans totaling at least $1 billion, from more than 20 lenders, to properties and companies part-owned by Kushner, the Journal found. He has also provided personal guarantees on more than $300 million of the debt, according to the analysis.

In his disclosure form filed earlier this year, Kushner didn’t identify Cadre as among his hundreds of assets. The Journal identified his Cadre stake through a review of securities and other filings as well as interviews with people familiar with the company and Kushner’s finances.

Huffington Post, Ivanka Trump’s ‘Vapid’ New Book Earns A Series Of Savage Reviews, Katherine Brooks  May 3, 2017.  It’s been described as “witless,” “insufferable,” “vapid,” and “very vapid.” The reviews are in: Ivanka Trump’s new book is “vapid” at worst, “earnest” at best, and “a strawberry milkshake of inspirational quotes” somewhere in between.

Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success went on sale Tuesday and seemed to immediately incite criticism from all corners of the internet. Trump has explained that the book is meant to “inspire you to redefine success and architect a life that honors your individual passions and priorities.” However, the self-help disquisition has been described in noticeably harsher terms in the book reviews that have come out since its release.

Take, for example, The New York Times’ Jennifer Senior, who indeed described the book (Having Trouble Having It All? Ivanka Alone Can Fix It) as “a strawberry milkshake of inspirational quotes” “perfect for a generation weaned on Pinterest and goop.com.”

Protesters Against Sessions Convicted

New York Times, A Code Pink Protester Laughs Over a Trump Nominee and Is Convicted, Christopher Mele, May 3, 2017. A jury on Wednesday convicted three Code Pink activists on charges related to a protest at the confirmation hearing of Jeff Sessions for attorney general — including a Virginia woman who said all she did was break out in laughter. Each of the three protesters faces up to 12 months in jail, $2,000 in fines, or both, depending on the outcome of a June 21 sentencing hearing. The woman with the laugh, Desiree A. Fairooz, 61, of Bluemont, Va., said she was undeterred. “We’ll face the music when we get to that,” she said.

Kennedy Records

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, The final cache of secret JFK records set for release this year, James Eli Shiffer, May 2, 2017. Documents that show what the government knows about John F. Kennedy's 1963 trip to Dallas have been kept secret for more than 50 years. Now, these records are among the remaining sealed documents about the JFK assassination set for release in coming months.

Weeks before he murdered President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Lee Harvey Oswald traveled to Mexico City and visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies in search of a visa. Documents that show what the government knows about that 1963 trip have been kept secret for more than 50 years. Now, these records are among the remaining sealed documents about the JFK assassination set for release in coming months.

Unless President Donald Trump intervenes to stop them, the National Archives will make available tens of thousands of pages of previously unseen records on or before Oct. 26. That’s 25 years to the day President George H.W. Bush signed the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, which created a five-member board that reviewed and released millions of pages of records before it disbanded in 1998. One of the main advocates for disclosing the files is the chairman of the panel, John Tunheim, the chief federal district judge for Minnesota (shown in a photo by Noel St. John).

Editor's Note: The Justice Integrity Project disagrees with some of the editorial assumptions in the article, such as its unattributed conclusion that Oswald killed Kennedy, but reprints the column as relevant to understanding of the current status of the inquiry in terms of media coverage.

New York Times, Having Trouble Having It All? Ivanka Alone Can Fix It, Jennifer Senior, May 2, 2017. After so many months of sustained exposure to the anxieties of average Americans, you’d think Trump would have been humbled. Her response was slightly different. “I have grown tremendously as a person,” she continues, “and the experience has been life changing.”

For Donald J. Trump’s eldest daughter, the campaign trail was simply a switchback in the long, golden path toward self-actualization. Self-actualization is the all-consuming preoccupation of “Women Who Work.” In this way, the book is not really offensive so much as witlessly derivative, endlessly recapitulating the wisdom of other, canonical self-help and business books — by Stephen Covey, Simon Sinek, Shawn Achor, Adam Grant. (Profiting handsomely off the hard work of others appears to be a signature Trumpian trait.)

For a while, it reads like the best valedictorian speech ever. Pursue your passion! Make sure you, and not others, define success! Architect a life you love in order to fully realize your multidimensional self!

Washington Post, FBI Director Comey says classified Clinton emails were forwarded to Anthony Weiner, Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian​, May 3, 2017. Emails from Hillary Clinton containing classified information were forwarded to former congressman Anthony Weiner, the director of the FBI testified as he defended his handling of politically sensitive probes surrounding the 2016 presidential race. Weiner, a New York Democrat, was married to a top aide to Clinton, Huma Abedin.

Global News: Saudi's On UN Women's Rights Panel?

United Nations

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Washington Post, Saudi Arabia was elected to the U.N. women’s rights commission. Activists are now pushing back, Amanda Erickson, May 3, 2017. When it comes to women's rights, no country's perfect. One recent study found that it'll take 170 more years before Saudi Arabian flagwomen and men are equally well educated, well paid and well cared for. Even so, electing Saudi Arabia to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women seems like … a bit of a slap in the face for women's rights. Saudi women are not allowed to drive their own cars. They also must obtain the permission of a male guardian before they can travel outside the country, work or marry.

PaulCraigRoberts.org, What the N. Korean “Crisis” Is Really About, Paul Craig Roberts, May 3, 2017. The North North Korean flagKorean “crisis” is a Washington orchestration. North Korea was last at war 1950-53. N. Korea has not attacked or invaded anyone in 64 years. So what is the demonization of N. Korea by the presstitutes and Trump administration about? It is about the same thing that the demonization of Iran was about. In other words, Washington is creating a shield against nuclear retaliation from both Russia and China from a US nuclear strike against both countries.

May 2

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Washington Post, Before Michelle, Barack Obama asked another woman to marry him. Then politics got in the way, Carlos Lozada, May 2, 2017. A massive new biography sheds light on the relationships, sacrifices and calculations that enabled the Obama presidency. Of the books that journalists and historians have written on the life of Barack Obama, three stand out so far. In Barack Obama: The Story, David Maraniss shows us who Obama is. In Reading Obama, James T. Kloppenberg explains how Obama thinks. In The Bridge, David Remnick tells us what Obama means.

 

American FlagWashington Post, Trump says U.S. needs a ‘shutdown’ as he seeks leverage in future budget talks, Damian Paletta and John Wagner, May 2, 2017. Trump’s comments on Twitter came in the wake of a deal with Democrats to keep the government open past Friday that some fellow Republicans have criticized as too generous to the minority party. “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!” Trump wrote in a series of tweets Tuesday morning. He likely meant a shutdown in October, as the current spending bill lawmakers have agreed to would fund government operations through Sept. 30.

House Health Vote In Limbo

Washington Post, Republicans’ health-care bill could be in danger ... again, Amber Phillips, Kevin Schaul, Kim Soffen and Kevin Uhrmacher, May 2, 2017. House Republicans seemed close to finalizing a health-care reform bill, about a month after they had to pull a similar bill from consideration for lack of support. It’s unclear whether the bill, the latest version of the American Health Care Act, has the votes to pass. With the bill’s latest changes, states would be able to opt out of the ACA’s requirement that insurers charge customers the same amount regardless of their pre-existing conditions. States could also opt out of regulations constraining how much companies can charge older people versus younger ones and requiring insurance plans to offer a set of “essential health benefits.”

The hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus leaders endorsed the new legislation, eliminating a significant barrier Republican leadership faced last time around. Whether moderates will support the legislation is yet to be known. Assuming no Democrats support the measure, Republicans could lose no more than 22 votes to pass the bill and send it to a much tougher test in the Senate.

New York Times, As Health Bill Lingers, Trump and Ryan Are Put on the Spot, Thomas Kaplan and Robert Pear, May 2, 2017. With Congress about to take a recess, no vote is scheduled for the revised health care bill even as Speaker Paul D. Ryan tries for a third time to rally his party around one of President Trump’s priority items.

Representative Fred Upton of Michigan, an influential voice on health care, was the latest Republican to say he would not vote for the current version of the bill. Representative Tom Rooney, Republican of Florida, said he was “leaning yes” on the repeal bill, but agonizing over how to explain his vote to constituents. “I have a lot of people who call my office on a daily basis who are extremely angry,” he said. “It’s not just because I’m a Republican, but because they are sincerely scared.”

Global News

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Unz Review, Where to Go with Turkey, Philip Giraldi, May 2, 2017. Erdogan's electoral fraud must be challenged. As democracy vanishes in Ankara it is time to get back to basics. Washington should respect the right of every country to select the kind of government it wants and it should maintain friendly relations whenever possible, but that doesn’t mean we Americans have to provide our seal of approval on the process.

Trump Conflicts With Philippines Strongman?

Washington Post, While in White House, Trumps appeared in promotional materials for ‘very special’ Philippines project, Drew Harwell and Matea Gold​, May 2, 2017. Video testimonials from the president and his daughter Ivanka Trump touting a project "like nobody’s seen before" were featured on the website for the Manila skyscraper — until this week. Four months into President Trump’s tenure, his business relationship with a developer who is one of the Philippines’ richest and most powerful men has emerged as a prime example of the collision between the private interests of a businessman in the White House and his public responsibility to shape U.S. foreign policy.

Rodrigo DuterteThe potential conflict first came into focus shortly before Trump was elected, when the Philippines’ iron-fisted president, Rodrigo Duterte, named the Trump Organization’s partner on the Manila real estate venture his top trade envoy. [Duterte, 71, a former seven-term mayor of his nation's capital of Manila, is shown in a file photo along with the national flag.]

The connection burst back into public view this week, after Trump stunned human-rights advocates by extending a White House invitation to Duterte, known for endorsing hundreds of extrajudicial killings of drug users, following what aides described as a “very friendly” phone call. Trump aides have said the outreach to Duterte is part of a broader effort to isolate North Korea.

Democratic Complaints

Hillary Clinton ButtonWashington Post, Clinton blames Russian hackers, Comey for loss: ‘If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president,’ Philip Rucker, May 2, 2017. ​After spending the past six months in relative hibernation, the Democratic nominee made a rare public appearance and ruminated extensively for the first time on her loss.

Trump's World of Alternative Facts?

Golf Digest, Donald Trump has plaque at his golf course commemorating Civil War battle that never happened, Sam Weinman, May 2, 2017. A New York Times report [from Nov. 24, 2015) says Donald Trump's Northern Virginia Trump National Golf Club features a plaque between the 14th and 15th holes honoring a Civil War battle at that precise spot. The inscription, signed by Trump, reads: “Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot. The casualties were so great that the water would turn red and thus became known as ‘The River of Blood.’ It is my great honor to have preserved this important section of the Potomac River!”

Nice sentiment, small problem: there apparently was no such battle. The Times checked with various historians in the area who had trouble tying the site of Trump's course to any such event. “No. Uh-uh. No way. Nothing like that ever happened there,” Richard Gillespie, the executive director of the Mosby Heritage Area Association, told the Times. Gillespie went on to say the closest thing to what Trump was describing was a battle 11 miles up the river in 1861. “The River of Blood?” he said. “Nope, not there.”

Trump questioned how historians could dispute the battle. "How would they know," he told the Times. "Were they there?"

Global News: Fight Against ISIS In Syria

SouthFront, The Stronghold Of Raqqah, Staff report, May 2, 2017. The city of Raqqah is considered one of the most important Syrian cities. The city is located on the northeast bank of the Euphrates River, at the edge of “Sharqiya Syria,”, a term used to describe eastern Syria. The strategic importance of the city as well as the nearby Tabqah dam turned Raqqah into a target for every faction involved in the war and all of them have attempted to take control of it.

Syria FlagOne of the biggest problems that the SDF will face is a high number of civilians in the city. According to local sources, there are over 250,000 people, including refugees from Deir Ezzor and Iraq, and families of ISIS terrorists in Raqqah. In general, the battle is expected to last months, and unfortunately, as in Mosul, large numbers of civilians will be killed due to a fighting and the coalition’s bombing campaign. US military officials argue that US-backed forces will start storming Raqqah this summer. Nonetheless, it’s complicated to forecast when the city is retaken from terrorists.

New York Times, Trump and Putin Agree to Seek Syria Cease-Fire, Peter Baker and Neil MacFarquhar, May 2, 2017, President Trump reopened direct communications with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Tuesday and sought to reignite what he hoped would be a special relationship by agreeing to work together to broker a cease-fire in war-torn Syria.

In their first telephone conversation since the United States launched a cruise missile strike on Syria’s Moscow-backed military to retaliate for a chemical weapons attack on civilians, Mr. Trump agreed to send a representative to Russian-brokered cease-fire talks that start on Wednesday in Astana, Kazakhstan. He and Mr. Putin also discussed meeting each other in Germany in July.

But American and Russian officials offered divergent accounts of their interest in establishing safe zones in Syria to protect civilians suffering from a relentless, six-year civil war. A White House statement said the two leaders had discussed such zones “to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons.” The Kremlin statement made no mention of safe zones, and Mr. Putin’s spokesman said they had not been discussed in detail.

May 1

Trump Presidency: 100 Days Assessments

President Trump (Gage Skidmore photo via Flickr)

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Washington Post, Opinion: Trump’s 100th-day speech may have been the most hate-filled in modern history, Michael Gerson, May 1, 2017. Michael Gerson, a syndicated columnist, is a conservative former speechwriter for President George W. Bush who has long opposed Donald Trump's candidacy for president. For those who claim that Donald Trump has been pasteurized and homogenized by the presidency, his sour, 100th-day speech in Harrisburg, Pa., was inconvenient.

Trump used his high office to pursue divisive grudges (Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is a “bad leader”), to attack the media (composed of “incompetent, dishonest people”) and to savage congressional Democrats (“they don’t mind drugs pouring in”). Most of all, Trump used his bully pulpit quite literally, devoting about half his speech to the dehumanization of migrants and refugees as criminals, infiltrators and terrorists. Trump gained a kind of perverse energy from the rolling waves of hatred, culminating in the reading of racist song lyrics comparing his targets to vermin. It was a speech with all the logic, elevation and public purpose of a stink bomb.

It is not sophisticated or worldly-wise to become inured to bigotry. The only thing more frightening than Trump’s speech — arguably the most hate-filled presidential communication in modern history — is the apathetic response of those who should know better. 

Health Care Fight

Washington Post, House Republicans continue push for a health-care bill, even if it goes nowhere in the Senate, David Weigel and Paige Paul RyanWinfield Cunningham​, May 1, 2017. The messy effort to rally their party around a plan to revise the Affordable Care Act has forced House leaders to focus on one goal: pass a bill they can say repeals Obamacare to shield their members in next year’s elections. But even that is proving elusive. (House Speaker Paul Ryan is shown in an official photo.)

Democratic Confidence?

Washington Post, After spending-bill win, Democrats confident they can block Trump agenda, Kelsey Snell and John Wagner, May 1, 2017. By exploiting Republican divisions over spending priorities, Democrats secured nearly $5 billion in new money for domestic programs in the five-month budget deal. The lopsided victory means it will be very difficult — if not impossible — for the GOP to exert its will in future budget talks.

Syrian Bombing: 'Entertainment?'

Time, Wilbur Ross: U.S. Airstrike on Syria Was 'After-Dinner Entertainment' for Mar-a-Lago, Julia Zorthian, May 1, 2017.  U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross called the April 6 U.S. missile strike on Syria "after-dinner entertainment" for President Donald Trump's guests at Mar-a-Lago during a conference on Monday. (Trump and Ross are shown in a file photo.)

Ross, a billionaire banker without previous experience in government, was describing Trump's dinner with China's President Xi Jinping at the Florida club. He was speaking at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference, known for bringing together billionaires and leaders in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Department of Defense Seal“Just as dessert was being served, the president explained to Mr. Xi he had something he wanted to tell him, which was the launching of 59 missiles into Syria,” Ross said, according to Variety. “It was in lieu of after-dinner entertainment.”

The audience laughed at the remarks, Variety reports, and Ross continued: “The thing was, it didn’t cost the president anything to have that entertainment.”  At least seven were killed in the attack, according to the Syrian military.

New York Times, Trump Risks a Snub, or Worse, in Outreach to Rogue Leaders, Mark Landler, May 1, 2017. President Trump expressed an openness to meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Kim Jong-un of North Korea. But Mr. Trump may have left himself open to being snubbed by Mr. Duterte, and allies in the Korean Peninsula are unsettled by his overture to the North.

Around the Nation: Justice System

Washington Post, Proposed budget bill leaves FBI headquarters underfunded, Jonathan O'Connell, May 1, 2017. The proposed budget FBI logodeal Congress is set to consider this week would leave the FBI still a half a billion dollars short of what it needs to build a new headquarters in the D.C. suburbs.

New York Times, Police Account Changes in Killing of Texas 15-Year-Old, Liam Stack and Christine Hauser, May 1, 2017.  Jordan Edwards was shot late on Saturday when the police in a Dallas suburb were responding to a call reporting young people drinking.

New York Times, Milwaukee Jail Workers Should Be Charged in Dehydration Death, Jury Says, Niraj Chokshimay, May 1, 2017. Terrill Thomas, who died in a Milwaukee jail last year, had bipolar disorder, a lawyer for his estate said. A jury recommended on Monday that prosecutors file criminal charges against seven Milwaukee County jail employees over the death of Terrill Thomas, an inmate who the authorities say died of dehydration after going a week without water. The jury found probable cause to charge the seven staff members, including two supervisors, with felony abuse, according to Erik Heipt, a lawyer representing Mr. Thomas’s estate. “Nothing like this should ever happen in an American jail,” Mr. Heipt said, “and we’re pleased that justice is taking its course.”

Washington Post, Justice Dept. won’t charge Baton Rouge officers in fatal shooting caught on video, Matt Zapotosky and Wesley Lowery, May 2, 2017. The probe of Alton Sterling’s death will be the first time under Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the department has publicly declined to prosecute officers investigated for possible wrongdoing in a high-profile case.

Trump vs. Media

New York Times, Trump Walks Out. Over and Over Again, Chris Cirillo, May 1, 2017 (video). President Trump abruptly ended an interview with John Dickerson, the host of “Face the Nation,’’ in the Oval Office. Here’s a look at other times he cut short interviews.

Secret Service

Presidential Protection

New York Times, Congress Allocates $120 Million for Trump Family’s Security Costs, Nicholas Fandos, May 1, 2017. The additional funding, part of a spending deal that could pass this week, reflects the extraordinary costs associated with the family’s lifestyle.

Media News

New York Times, A Long, Long Look at Obama’s Life, Mostly Before the White House, Michiko Kakutani, May 1, 2017, Rising Star, the voluminous 1,460-page biography of Barack Obama by David J. Garrow, is a dreary slog of a read: a bloated, tedious and — given its highly intemperate epilogue — ill-considered book that is in desperate need of editing, and way more exhausting than exhaustive.

Washington Post, Fox News co-president Shine resigns amid harassment scandal, Paul Farhi, May 1, 2017. He succeeded Roger Ailes, who left during a sexual-harassment scandal last summer, and Bill Shine’s ouster comes one week after the firing of Bill O’Reilly, the network’s biggest star.

Transparency: JFK Records Release Now In Doubt?

Future of Freedom Foundation, Call the Assassination Records Review Board Back into Existence, Jacob G. Hornberger (shown in file photo), May 1, 2017. As some of us have been predicting, the CIA appears to be gearing up to continue its cover-up in the JFK assassination, specifically regarding the tens of thousands of long-secret CIA records relating to the Kennedy assassination that the National Archives is set to release this coming October. An article in Politico last week entitled “Will Trump Release the Missing JFK Files?” by Philip Shenon quoted CIA spokesperson Heather Fritz Horniak as saying: “CIA continues to review the remaining CIA documents in the collection to determine the appropriate next steps with respect to any previously-unreleased CIA information.”

We are talking here about records that are more than 50 years old. There is no possibility that the release of any of those records will cause the United States to fall into the ocean or will cause the federal government to fall into the hands of the communists.

There is, however, one distinct possibility: that the release of those long-secret records will further incriminate the CIA in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which is the reason why it is almost a certainty that the CIA will request that those half-a-century old records continue to be kept secret from the American people.

It’s time for Congress to reassert itself in the matter and call the Assassination Records Review Board back into existence. Otherwise, there is a distinct possibility that the CIA’s will succeed with a continuation of its cover-up.