Friday, May 26, 2017
The ruling is the most bruising the White House has suffered in its attempts to defend the ban, as it was rendered by 13 judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit — which deemed the case important enough to skip the usual three-judge process that the vast majority of cases go through.
U.S. Chief Circuit Judge Roger Gregory wrote that the text of Trump’s executive order, which was challenged in courts across the country for targeting members of a particular faith, “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”
“Congress granted the President broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute,” Gregory wrote in a ruling that largely upheld the original block on the travel ban. “It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation.” Read full post
The Republican candidate in the nationally-watched election Thursday for Montana’s sole congressional seat has been charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly grabbing a reporter by the neck and throwing him to the ground.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin made the announcement shortly before midnight Wednesday in a written statement, about six hours after the attack on reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian. Gianforte would face a maximum $500 fine or 6 months in jail if convicted.
Gianforte was in a private office preparing for an interview with Fox News when Jacobs came in without permission, campaign spokesman Shane Scanlon said.
The Fox News crew watched in astonishment as, after Jacobs pressed him on the GOP health care bill, “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him,” Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna wrote in an article. She added that Gianforte then began to punch Jacobs.
In an audio recording posted by the Guardian, the reporter asks the congressional candidate about the GOP’s health care bill, which was just evaluated hours earlier by the Congressional Budget Office.
“We’ll talk to you about that later,” Gianforte says on the recording, referring Jacobs to a spokesman.
When Jacobs says that there won’t be time, Gianforte says “Just--” and there is a crashing sound. Gianforte yells, “The last guy who came here did the same thing,” and a shaken-sounded Jacobs tells the candidate he just body-slammed him.
“Get the hell out of here,” Gianforte says. [The Associated Press, 5/25/17]
Kushner has not been accused of wrongdoing, both outlets noted. Sources told the Post that Kushner has come under scrutiny because of two meetings with Russian officials in December ― one with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak and another with a banker.
Kushner met with Kislyak in December and Sergey Gorkov, the head of Vnesheconombank, a state-owned bank, after Trump was elected, at Kislyak’s request.
Kushner initially did not disclose the meetings on an application for a security clearance. His lawyer later acknowledged he had made an error and amended the application. Kushner has also voluntarily agreed to meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss the meetings.
U.S. intelligence officials have already concluded that Russia interfered in the U.S. election through hacking with the goal of getting Trump elected. Several officials involved with the Trump campaign, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and campaign manager Paul Manafort, have also come under scrutiny for connections to Russia. Earlier in May, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey as his bureau investigated the Russian links. Following Comey’s firing, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special prosecutor in the investigation. Read full story here
Thursday, May 25, 2017
That would bring the Trump administration in line with practices followed under former President Barack Obama, who appointed Shaub to his current role.
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is refusing to turn over the waivers. He wants time to consult with the Justice Department about the scope of Shaub’s authority.
In a letter to Shaub, which Mulvaney distributed widely throughout the government, the budget director called the request burdensome and questioned whether the OGE had the power to obtain the waivers. Republicans have in the past bristled at Shaub’s tactics and believe he is politicizing his office.
Shaub went public on Monday with the administration’s refusal to turn the waivers over. Read full post
The Russian document mentioned 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 — a conversation that if made public would cast doubt on the inquiry’s integrity.
Current and former officials have said that document played a significant role in the July decision by then-FBI Director James B. Comey 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. Read full post here
“I know this is an unpopular position these days, but I believe children should go to the doctor and eat."
Sign of the times: Democratic candidates flip two Republican districts that voted big for Donald Trump
In a special election for New York’s District 9 State Assembly, Democrat Christine Pellegrino upset Republican Thomas Gargiulo, The Huffington Post reported.
Trump had won District 9 by 23 points in November. The seat was formerly held by Republican Joseph Saladino, who resigned after being appointed town supervisor of Oyster Bay.
Democrats also pulled off an upset in New Hampshire’s Carroll County District 6, where Democrat Edith DesMarais defeated Republican Matthew Plache, according to WMUR. In the 2016 presidential election, Trump defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in District 6 by seven points. Read post
“We’re worried about the Constitution, we’re worried about the rule of law, we’re worried about separations of powers, we’re worried about somebody going to the office and doing great violence to our Constitution that has held this country, this republic, together for 240 years — these are just distractions,” Scarborough said.
“What people in middle America are focused on are jobs and the performance of this president and the performance of this Republican Congress,” he continued. “I mean, of course people care about all that, but I say, at the end of the day, somebody’s not going to go into a voting booth and say, ‘Hmm, he said something bad about a judge in Hawaii. They’re going to say, ‘What have they done to get me back to work?'”
The “Morning Joe” host slammed Trump as “a rank amateur,” and he said his failure to achieve any legislative successes would hurt Republicans more than his continuing scandals.
“He creates so much chaos that there’s just absolute dysfunction,” co-host Mika Brzezinski said. “You have a candidate that promised to make America great again, to rebuild the military.” Read full post
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
23 Million Fewer Americans Would Have Health Coverage Under Obamacare Repeal Plan, Budget Office Confirms
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.
Wednesday’s assessment of the American Health Care Act ― the House bill to repeal Obamacare ― is relatively similar to the evaluations the Congressional Budget Office issued previously, when it studied earlier versions of the legislation.
But in late April, House leaders rushed to vote on the bill less than 24 hours after making significant modifications, without waiting for the budget office to study how those changes might affect insurance coverage or the federal deficit.
One of those changes would allow states to waive a rule that prohibits insurers from charging higher premiums to people at greater risk of medical problems. Without that rule in place, insurers could jack up rates for people with pre-existing conditions, effectively making standard coverage unavailable ― and violating a key promise to guarantee insurance for everybody regardless of medical status, which most Republicans had endorsed. Read full story
When that access is improved, an uptick in the local economy due to increased fishing and other outdoors activities is sure to follow, he said
With that in, mind the governor signed documents today at a ceremony held at the state-run Salmon Run Hatchery in Altmar, finalizing the state's acquisition of two separate land tracts totaling nearly 6,000 acres.
The acquisitions were obtained via separate routes. One came for free, the result of years-old consent agreement with National Grid as a result of problems with coal-burning power plants in Western N.Y; the other came with a $4.5 million purchase from national land trust group. Read full story here
In a column in The Washington Post on Tuesday, Lawrence Summers, who directed Obama’s national economic council from 2009 to 2010, took the current White House to task for double-counting $2 trillion in revenue it predicts its tax cuts will generate.
President Donald Trump’s budget proposal assumes that the tax cuts it would enact for wealthy individuals and corporations, as well as its reductions in regulations, will create consistent 3 percent economic growth ― enough to generate $2 trillion a year in additional revenue.
That projection in itself is dubious; tax cuts rarely, if ever, spur enough growth to replenish the revenue they cost the Treasury. But it is nonetheless a prediction consistent with the supply-side economics that Republicans have been peddling for decades. Read full post
Budget director brags about Trump’s cruel welfare cuts: ‘You have to have compassion’ for wealthy taxpayers
During a briefing at the White House, Mulvaney defended Trump’s drastic cuts to entitlement programs to pay for increased military spending, a border wall and sizable tax reductions that would benefit the wealthy.
According to Mulvaney, the proposal looks “at the budget through the eyes of the taxpayer” instead of those who receive benefits from federal programs.
“If I can look you in the eye and say I’m going to take this money from you so I can help this injured vet, I can do that in good conscience,” he said. “I am a lot less comfortable to the point of not wanting to look you in the eye and say, ‘Look, I need to take this money from you to give to this person over here who really isn’t disabled but is getting a disabled benefit or this person over here who is supposed to use the money to go to school but isn’t actually going.”
Mulvaney said that the government would “no longer measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs, but by the number of people we help get off of those programs.” Full post here
That leaves Rep. Peter King, NY-2, as the only congressional Republican in the state that the committee is not actively fundraising and recruiting against. In all, the DCCC has targeted 79 Republican-held seats.
“House Republicans’ midterm prospects grow dimmer with each passing day thanks to the endless supply of chaos, scandal and broken promises to voters from Republican-controlled Washington,” spokesperson Meredith Kelly stated in a press release.
The DCCC pointed to President Donald Trump’s approval rating as well as the ongoing Russia investigation as important factors that could influence the mid-term election. It also believes competitive special elections for traditionally red seats in Georgia, Montana and Kansas are an “ominous” sign for the GOP.
Stefanik’s campaign did not appear to be overly concerned either.
“There will be a time for politics. Now is the time to focus on the hard work of enacting policy and a continued, laser-like focus on putting constituents first. That is exactly what Congresswoman Stefanik is doing,” spokesperson Lenny Alcivar said.
Republicans Lee Zeldin, Dan Donovan, John Faso, Claudia Tenney, John Katko and Chris Collins were identified in the first round of battleground targets. Post
In a stunning bit of the math Republicans do to make themselves feel better, Mnuchin has apparently made a $2 trillion dollar mistake in the calculations upon which the White House’s budget is based.
In effect, the Trump Administration has decided that 2 – 2 = 4 and is trying to sell it to the American people. New York Magazine reports:
The budget assumes $2 trillion in higher revenue from growth in order to achieve balance after ten years. So the $2 trillion from higher growth is a double-count. It pays for the Trump cuts, and then it pays again for balancing the budget.
Or, alternatively, Trump could be assuming that his tax cuts will not only pay for themselves but generate $2 trillion in higher revenue. But Trump has not claimed his tax cuts will recoup more than 100 percent of their lost revenue, so it’s simply an embarrassing mistake.
Read the full story here
It’s a recurring nightmare of a pattern for Republicans around the country, as traditional GOP strongholds prove more difficult and expensive for the party to hold than it ever anticipated when President Donald Trump plucked House members like Ryan Zinke, the former Montana Republican now running the Interior Department, for his Cabinet. Gianforte is still favored to keep the seat red, but a state Trump carried by 20 percentage points last year became a battleground in the past few months.
"I remember talking to people when it first started who said this was a slam dunk, Gianforte’s it. And it’s not there anymore,” said Jim Larson, the Montana Democratic Party chairman. “It is a lot closer than people ever thought it would be.” Read full story
During three congressional hearings, the leaders lent new weight to questions about whether Trump’s campaign aides colluded with Russian officials to influence the presidential election — providing yet another setback as the White House seeks a reset during Trump’s foreign trip.
Across Capitol Hill, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats declined to comment on a Washington Post report that Trump had asked him to deny evidence of Russia collusion, though Coats left the door open to answering such questions in the future. And National Security Agency chief Adm. Mike Rogers did nothing to douse the Post's allegation that Trump had made a similar request to him — as lawmakers failed to ask him a single question about the issue. Read full story here
Trump first full budget proposal, released Tuesday, was met with heavy criticism, including from his fellow Republicans. But Graham evoking the deadly 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound attacks was, perhaps, the most pointed critiqued offered. Those attacks ― which left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens ― have been spotlighted by Republicans as massive, even criminal, failures of the Obama administration and, specifically, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
For Graham to cite the Benghazi attacks illustrates the frustration he and others have with Trump’s push to cut U.S. foreign policy functions outside of the military.
“Twenty-nine percent cut to the State Department, I think, is very irresponsible given threats we face,” said Graham, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “If fully implemented we’d have to retreat from the world or have a lot of Benghazi situations on our hands.”
Graham, who briefly was one of Trump’s opponents in the 2016 presidential race, also said the U.S. can’t win wars “with hard power alone,” referring to an approach focused on the heavy use of military force. Read the full story
“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign,” former CIA chief John Brennan told lawmakers on Tuesday during a House Intelligence Committee hearing. By the time he left the CIA on Jan. 20, Brennan continued, he had “unresolved questions” as to whether the Russians were successful in getting Americans “to work on their behalf, again, either in a witting or unwitting fashion.”
Brennan told lawmakers he could not say with certainty whether the president’s campaign associates colluded with Moscow. “But I know that there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the [FBI] to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring or colluding with Russian officials,” he testified Tuesday.
Brennan made the disclosure after multiple Republican lawmakers asked Brennan to provide “evidence” that the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to boost Trump’s chances of winning the 2016 presidential election. In carefully worded responses, Brennan said that, as CIA chief, he dealt with intelligence rather than evidence ― and the intelligence warranted further investigation. Read full story
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
The Times article, published May 11, revealed that information was sent to the State Comptroller’s Office certifying that Sens. Diane Savino, José Peralta and David Valesky were serving as committee leaders and should be paid an additional stipend for their service. All three are members of the “Independent Democratic Conference” and caucus with Senate Republicans, which tips the balance of power in the state Senate to the Republicans.
All three serve as “vice chairs” of standing committees and not actual chairs. Senate Democrats believe there is no gray area about which titles and positions deserve additional pay under state law.
“The granting of legislative allowances to senators who do not hold one of the specifically itemized positions listed in Legislative Law Section 5-A is not permitted by law,” wrote Shontell M. Smith, Esq., Director of Counsel and Finance for the Senate Democratic Conference in a memo released Monday. “Senate leadership and their staffs may not lawfully file records with the Comptroller that authorize payments to senators for such allowances unless that specific senator explicitly holds the position listed in Legislative Law.” Read full story here
‘Trump doesn’t care about workers’: Carrier employees react to announcement that 632 jobs are moving to Mexico
The company, which makes heating and air conditioning units, became the posterchild of offshoring when during the 2016 presidential campaign a video went viral of management announcing to angry workers that the entire plant was being shut down and 1,400 jobs were being eliminated.
Donald Trump leapt on the issue and hammered Hillary Clinton for supporting free-trade deals like NAFTA that by 2004 led to the net loss of 1 million U.S.-based jobs.
Trump vowed to save all the jobs at Carrier, as well as at another Indianapolis factory, Rexnord, that announced last year that it was also moving 300 jobs to Monterrey. Bashing Carrier helped propel Trump to an upset victory.
On December 1, President-elect Trump swept into Indianapolis and triumphantly announced that he struck a deal with Carrier’s parent company, UTC, to save “over 1,100” jobs. Trump claimed too that was the “minimum number” of jobs being saved and the number of workers would “go up very substantially as they expand this area, this plant.” Read full story
Monday, May 22, 2017
Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence
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, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.
Coats and 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. Read full story here
The Washington Post reported Friday that the law enforcement investigation had reached “the highest levels of government” to include a current White House official who is close to the president.
“There are some facts that emerged weeks ago that I think are going to get more attention,” said David Ignatius, a columnist for the Post. “Jared Kushner, now senior adviser to the president, we know, met with (Russian) ambassador (Sergey) Kislyak, accompanied by Mike Flynn, back during the transition period.”
Kushner, who is President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, met in December with Kislyak and Sergey Gorkov, a graduate of Russia’s spy school who now heads Vnesheconombank, but failed to disclose the meeting on his security clearance forms.
“Those events, whether they have anything to do with this latest investigation, will be part of where this goes,” Ignatius said. “Kushner offered to testify, voluntarily, before the Senate Intelligence Committee many weeks ago about the facts I just described.”
Host Joe Scarborough pointed to comments by the White House chief strategist that may have taken on new significance, and he also pointed out that the White House counsel also fit the description of the official under investigation.
“One of his rivals, Steve Bannon, was telling reporters he didn’t have to worry about Kushner because Russia would take care of him,” Scarborough said. “That’s there. Also you have to look at — since we said Jared’s name, we might as well — the other person, Don McGahn has been in the middle of everything from the very — I’m not suggesting that he is one of those, but if you were narrowing it down to one (or) two.” Read full post
The Israeli leg of the president’s trip abroad, his first since taking office, has also seen tension over shifting plans and diplomatic stumbles. Even Trump’s arrival at the airport became a contentious event, as Israeli media reported Sunday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angrily commanded his ministers to attend Trump’s welcome ceremony after learning many had planned to skip it.
The controversies around Trump’s visit underscore a larger shift in how some Israel officials are viewing the new U.S. president. Since the inauguration, analysts say Trump’s changing policies and vague statements have made him a more unreliable ally than many on the Israeli far right anticipated.
“There is a sense of disappointment with Trump, because their knee-jerk reaction to his election was ‘great, we don’t have to worry about a Palestinian state, we don’t have to worry about pressure on settlements and we’re going to have the American embassy in Jerusalem,’” Yossi Alpher, a former senior Israeli intelligence official, told HuffPost.
“It’s clear to them that this is not the case, and they are confused and disappointed.” Read full story here
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.
In addition, she and her family were also not Clinton supporters, as the girl claimed in a letter published by BuzzFeed, according to social media posts unearthed by the website. The report also says the girl initiated the contact with Weiner and then sought advice from a GOP figure behind "prior efforts to harm Weiner and other Democrats."
The website suggests this could mean that Weiner was the target of a politically motivated plot.
“Seeing that Weiner is both a repeat offender — his sexting addiction cost him his job in Congress as well as a shot at becoming mayor of New York — and associated with one of the most important people in Clinton’s inner circle, it is conceivable that this was a set-up from the beginning, with the objective of embarrassing the Clinton campaign,” the WhoWhatWhy report reads.
The investigation of Weiner and his accuser led the FBI to announce just weeks before Election Day that it was again looking at Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of State. It did so because it had found a number of Clinton's emails on Weiner's laptop, which were forwarded to him from his wife, Human Abedin, a longtime aide to Clinton. Read full story
The former chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign says the president is 'absolutely crazy' and Republicans are stuck to him like 'Velcro.'
But, says John Podesta—the sharp-tongued campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton whose 60,000 hacked emails are at the heart of that FBI investigation into the team of the man who defeated them—don’t expect impeachment proceedings anytime soon.
Republican congressional leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have chosen to “Velcro their own political fate” to Trump’s and won’t pursue allegations against the president of their own party unless forced to do so by a 2018 midterm election debacle or further revelations. “It is clear to me that Republicans on Capitol Hill are not going to begin to turn on him at this point,” Podesta says.
His scathing comments about a presidency in crisis—and the Republicans who “enable” Trump—came in an exclusive new interview for The Global Politico about Clinton’s shocking election defeat and the still-unfolding investigations swirling around Russia’s role in it. The wide-ranging conversation covered everything from infighting on last year’s Clinton campaign (“if those 70,000 votes had gone differently in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, … we would have all been geniuses”) to Watergate comparisons (unlike Trump, “Nixon, for all his flaws… was a serious person”) to why Clinton lost and whether her new PAC means she’s running for president again (“quite frankly, she’s done with that”). Read the full story here
Sunday, May 21, 2017
In 2015, half a year before he announced he was running for president, Trump criticized then-First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama for not wearing a headscarf over her hair during a trip to Saudi Arabia.
But when Trump and his family visited the Islamic nation this weekend, people noticed that his wife Melania Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump did the exact same thing.
Melania Trump wore loose-fitting conservative outfits to the Islamic nation, much like Obama did during her 2015 trip to Saudi Arabia. Trump was seen wearing a black Stella McCartney jumpsuit covered most of her arms and legs, and was accentuated with a gold belt and chain-link necklace. Ivanka Trump wore a long-sleeved floral dress that reached above the ankles. Read full story
Joe Biden says he never thought Hillary Clinton ‘was a great candidate,’ does not rule out running for president in 2020
Biden, 74, went as far as to say that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was “never a great candidate,” but that he was, CNN reports.
He qualified the statement by adding, “Hillary would have been a really good president.”
When pressed about running in 2020, Biden said, “Could I? Yes. Would I? Probably not,” according to CNN.
By the time the next election cycle rolls around, Biden will be 78. Barack Obama’s right-hand man said that at the moment, he’s focused on putting his family back together after the death of his son, Beau, who lost his battle with brain cancer in 2015. He was just 46.
Biden also said he must fulfill several financial promises with his wife, Jill, including paying off their mortgage, CNN notes.
Nonetheless, should the stars align, Biden said, “I may very well do it.” Read full post here
Rosenstein's side of the story—bits of it, at least—came out Thursday afternoon after he briefed the Senate on Comey's firing, when senators summarized his testimony to reporters. On Friday, the Justice Department released some of Rosenstein's remarks delivered to the senators. Those remarks verify some pieces of the emerging story around the firing and contradict the White House's initial narrative. Read full post here
Cracks appear in the GOP façade as the news keeps getting more devastating for Trump. How long can he last?
Of course, many Republicans had similarly deluded themselves earlier in the year, after Trump had managed to win the party’s nomination. Now that he was entering the general election as a major-party candidate for president, the reasoning went, he would finally “pivot” and start acting … well, presidential.
We all know how that turned out, of course. After just four months in the Oval Office it should be absolutely clear that President Trump will not be changing any time soon. That is to say, he will not stop tweeting like an unhinged maniac early in the morning or peddling blatant falsehoods and conspiracy theories or revealing classified information to foreign officials in order to boast, or repeatedly breaking democratic norms — whether it be personally attacking sitting judges who rule against his policies, or calling journalists “enemies of the people.” In other words, Donald Trump will not (read: cannot) stop acting like Donald Trump — an impulsive, vindictive and unscrupulous billionaire with the temperament of a pubescent boy. Read full post here
A slip of the tongue from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy mentions Donald Trump being on Vladimir Putin's payroll
Friday morning, Ryan told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that the
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” the speaker said. “There was somebody who taped a meeting a year ago where our majority leader cracked a joke and then they released the tape of that joke out just a few days ago and that’s a pretty bizarre thing to happen. So obviously that’s a cause of concern of ours.”
He's never seen anything like this? How about watching the Russians hacking the DNC, getting a briefing from the Ukrainian prime minister which detailed the attacks and the sophisticated propaganda Russia was conducting against it and other European nations, and then brushing off the suggestion that Putin was controlling the possible Republican presidential nominee? That's pretty bizarre and unimaginable. And that's exactly what happened. Read full story here
The conversations deeply concerned US intelligence officials, some of whom acted on their own to limit how much sensitive information they shared with Flynn, who was tapped to become Trump's national security adviser, current and former governments officials said.
"This was a five-alarm fire from early on," one former Obama administration official said, "the way the Russians were talking about him." Another former administration official said Flynn was viewed as a potential national security problem.
The conversations picked up by US intelligence officials indicated the Russians regarded Flynn as an ally, sources said. That relationship developed throughout 2016, months before Flynn was caught on an intercepted call in December speaking with Russia's ambassador in Washington, Sergey Kislyak. That call, and Flynn's changing story about it, ultimately led to his firing as Trump's first national security adviser. Read full story here
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 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.
The sources emphasized that investigators remain keenly interested in people who previously wielded influence in the Trump campaign and administration but are no longer part of it, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Read full story