NYC School Foils Possible Terror Attack

While the nation spent Thursday wondering if the Parkland, Fla. school district might have missed signs that Nikolas Cruz was destined to kill 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day, another school district over 1,ooo miles north became heroes when students at a school in Harlem set off a chain reaction that would ultimately foil what is being described as a possible terror attack targeting New York City.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who joined the Police Commissioner of the City of New York and members of both the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office Thursday night at a press conference, said a bomb threat made against the school by a student and subsequent tips from staffers led to the arrest of 28-year-old twin brothers Christian and Tyler Toro.

“This is a moment to remind all New Yorkers, to remind everyone, that the idea that if you see something, you say something is more pertinent than ever,” de Blasio said. “We get daily reminders of the threats arrayed against us.”

De Blasio also called the arrests “another example of the very close working relationship between the NYPD and the FBI; the City of New York and our federal partners.”

Christian, who had been a teacher at the school, resigned from his position about a month after a student called in a bomb threat in early December and an investigation began. The Toros had apparently been paying two students from the school to help them dismantle fireworks, the contents of which were collected and stored by the brothers. That started in October 2016; by December, the bomb threat was called in; in January, Christian Toro resigned.

Following his resignation, his brother Tyler was asked by the school to return a laptop they had issued his brother. When he did and it was examined, bomb making instructions were found to have been downloaded, leading authorities to conduct a search of the brothers’ apartment.

What they found was enough for the FBI to swear out a complaint and charge the brothers each with one count of unlawfully manufacturing a destructive device, which carries a maximum of 10 years in prison. The brothers also had a diary and disturbing phrases jotted on index cards, leading de Blasio to declare that “many, many lives” were likely saved.

Law enforcement obtained a search warrant and raided the Toros’ Bronx apartment on Thursday and found “over 30 pounds of chemicals, which taken together in certain combinations, constituted explosive precursor materials,” officials said.

A handwritten diary with Tyler Toro’s name on it was recovered. Officials said it included notations about an operation “flash.”

The diary, according to the complaint, stated, among other things: “Christian arrested” and “If you’re registered as a sex offender, things will be difficult.” [Christian Toro was reportedly arrested in late January for raping a minor.]

“We are twin Toros strike us now, we will return with nano thermite” and “I am here 100 percent, living, buy weapons. Whatever we need,” the diary read, according to the complaint.

The diary added, “I hope this doesn’t turn into a scene from Goodfellas,” after threatening retribution if anyone were to “strike us now.”

A backpack belonging to Christian Toro was also allegedly recovered, containing a purple index card with a handwritten note, which read: “Under the full moon the small ones will know terror.”

Mayor de Blasio and police detectives credited the school and the community for coming forward with what they knew to stop what could have been a tragedy.

“We get daily reminders of the threats arrayed against us, but what we’re seeing here in this case already is, some good people stepped forward with information,” de Blasio said.

The full press conference can be found below.

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Did Obama Mislead Trump on Russian Collusion Investigation?

People who have lived ‘by the book’ for eight years would not have to remind each other to go ‘by the book.’ It would go without saying. ~ Andrew McCarthy, National Review

Now that word has broken that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has identified and indicted 13 Russian nationals for attempting to interfere in the 2016 election, the Russian collusion investigation is starting to take shape. Their attempt to sow chaos — by apparently stealing identities that would facilitate those activities — began in 2014 according to reports, and seemed to be focused on disparaging Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, while promoting Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

This development heightens what legislators like Reps. Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy, who’ve been investigating the Steele dossier and abuses in the FISA court, have been saying from the beginning: the two investigations are distinct and separate from one another. Mueller appears to finally be revealing just exactly what he’s been investigating.

The investigation into the Steele dossier remains hazier.

In a new piece at National Review, Andrew McCarthy breaks down that strange little email former National Security Adviser Susan Rice sent to herself as her last piece of official business as the Obama administration transitioned out of the White House and the Trump team transitioned in.

McCarthy asserts that Rice wasn’t attempting to take notes on a meeting that happened 2 weeks prior to ensure accuracy; she was, instead, writing the missive for posterity and for the record. In that email, Rice strangely highlights Obama’s need to remind his team — including FBI Director James Comey, CIA head John Brennan and Acting Attorney General Sally Yates — that everything be done “by the book.”

But what is the everything he’s referring to? Rice is never explicit but McCarthy reminds us that a few things were happening around the time of the meeting with his IC heads and DOJ officials: 1. Sanctions had just been imposed on Russia and the Kremlin’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, had already contact the much-hated national security adviser-designate for the incoming administration, Michael Flynn. And 2. the Justice Department and FBI had gone to the FISA court not 4 months prior to request a warrant to spy on Trump associate Carter Page, a warrant we now know was obtained using an unverified dossier paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

In effect, argues McCarthy, Obama had placed members of the incoming administration under investigation and so the question is was he trying to keep some things from the new White House officials with that investigation in mind, hence the emphasis on making sure things looked like they were proceeding by the book? McCarthy says yes.

Let’s move beyond “the book.” Far more important are the last paragraphs of Rice’s email. She recounted that “President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.

There follows a blacked-out paragraph, clearly redacted because it either is classified or would expose investigative information — no doubt, some of the information that “we cannot share fully.” Rice then closes with Obama’s instruction to Comey to inform Obama “if anything changes in the next few weeks that should affect how we share classified information with the incoming team.”

That is what Rice’s email is really about: not sharing with the incoming Trump administration classified information about the Trump-Russia investigation, such as the basis for seeking a FISA warrant on Carter Page.

The entire piece is worth a read, and McCarthy is thorough in explaining how and why an investigation where Trump was the central character — despite his not being the actual subject of the FISA warrant — means that Comey was intentionally misleading when he told the president he was not under investigation. Because, if Rice’s email is what it looks like, he most certainly was and the Obama administration had no intention of letting him know that.

It is getting close to two years with no apparent evidence of an actionable Trump–Russia conspiracy. Nevertheless, it is still necessary to ask: Is President Trump under investigation for collusion with the Kremlin? If not, shouldn’t he and the country be told that?

We found out today that Mueller may not have been investigating collusion with the Kremlin after all. Which raises the question of just exactly what Obama and company were trying to keep under wraps by keeping the incoming administration in the dark.

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Jim Comey’s Book is Called “A Higher Loyalty”

That’s right, Jim Comey — reviled by Hillary Clinton for a lack of loyalty to her and fired by Donald Trump for a lack of loyalty to him — has written a book in which, I would imagine, he attempts to explain just exactly what he’s loyal to. Which is good because, honestly, it’s pretty hard to tell most of the time and it seems to change from month to month.

Stephanopoulos is set to interview Comey before the book’s release in April — an interview that is said to have been coveted by many a journalist in the Acela corridor. According to Buzzfeed, their talk should be juicy.

Comey, who was fired by President Donald Trump in May, will sit down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in mid-April ahead of the release of his forthcoming book, according to people familiar with the matter.

The book and interview both promise to cover some of the most controversial topics of the past two years, like his exit from the FBI and the decision to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails days before the 2016 election.

Comey’s account, titled A Higher Loyalty, has become one of the most hotly anticipated political books in recent memory. The publisher, Flatiron Books, this month announced it was moving up the publication date from May 1 to April 17 as media attention on the FBI intensified. The market for accounts of the 2016 election has been strong, and Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury proved that there is an intense appetite for books dishing about the Trump administration.

Comey’s loyalty is something of an ephemeral creature, flitting back and forth as it has between Hillary Clinton and the incoming Trump administration (and just what role did the former FBI director play in that Steele dossier getting before the FISA court judge anyway?).

But his memoir’s title is very likely meant as something of a jab to the man who fired him since he has testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee last summer that Trump explicitly expected loyalty.

In seven remarkable pages of prepared testimony, Comey describes a president obsessed with loyalty and publicly clearing his name amid an FBI investigation of his associates, and the FBI director’s growing unease with the nature of the demands being made of him in their private conversations.

Since firing Comey last month, the president has denied reports that he sought a pledge of loyalty from the FBI director amid a Justice Department probe into possible coordination between Trump associates and Russian operatives. Comey’s written remarks do support another Trump claim — that the FBI director repeatedly assured the president that he was not personally under investigation.

Well, Trump didn’t get it. Nor did Hillary, who definitely blamed her loss in the 2016 election (when she could tear her finger away from the Russians) on Comey reopening the investigation into her private email server.

Should be interesting to see just exactly what Comey considers worthy of his loyalty (again, what was his role in the promotion of the Steele dossier, again?)

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Where, Oh Where, Has Russian Collusion Gone?

Yes, the Trump-Russia collusion media campaign really was delusional and deranged; it really was a conspiracy theory. So after the unexpected happened, after Trump won the election, the Russiagate campaign morphed into something more urgent, something twisted and delirious.

In a fascinating piece today at The Federalist, international affairs columnist Lee Smith writes about the mysterious disappearance of the Russia collusion story from the front pages (virtual or otherwise) of major media outlets. The once-ballyhooed Mueller investigation has all but vanished following the release of the unredacted Graham-Grassley letter showing the now-almost incontrovertible fact that former British agent Michael Steele wrote an unverified dossier of slanderous allegations, one that was funded by Hillary Clinton and the DNC, which the FBI then used to subvert the 4th Amendment rights of Trump associate Carter Page.

Prior to that, all anyone heard about was the Trump campaign’s possible shifty ties to Russia that existed to help the outsider beat the presumptive next president, Hillary Clinton. But after the release of the Senators’ letter — following on the heels of the release of a memo by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence  alleging abuse by the FBI and the DOJ as regards Carter Page — the media went silent.

Smith thinks he knows why: because the media had been pushing the narrative contained in Steele’s dossier since before the election and were therefore complicit in it’s subterfuge. And they really don’t want anyone to remember that.

They enlisted their bylines in a political campaign on behalf of the Democratic candidate for president and rehearsed the talking points Steele later documented. But weren’t the authors of these articles, big-name journalists, embarrassed to be seen reading from a single script and publishing the same article with similar titles within the space of two weeks? Weren’t they worried it would look like they were taking opposition research, from the same source?

The stories were vessels built only to launch thousands of 140-character salvos to then sink into the memory hole.

No, not really. In a sense, these stories weren’t actually meant to be read. They existed for the purpose of validating the ensuing social media messaging. The stories were written around the headlines, which were written for Twitter: “Putin’s Puppet”; “It’s Official: Hillary Clinton is Running Against Vladimir Putin”; “Trump and Putin: A Love Story”; “The Kremlin’s Candidate.” The stories were vessels built only to launch thousands of 140-character salvos to then sink into the memory hole.

Since everyone took Clinton’s victory for granted, journalists assumed extravagant claims alleging an American presidential candidate’s illicit ties to an adversarial power would fade just as the fireworks punctuating Hillary’s acceptance speech would vanish in the cool November evening. And the sooner the stories were forgotten the better, since they frankly sounded kooky, conspiratorial, as if the heirs to the Algonquin round table sported tin-foil hats while tossing back martinis and trading saucy limericks.

Yes, the Trump-Russia collusion media campaign really was delusional and deranged; it really was a conspiracy theory. So after the unexpected happened, after Trump won the election, the Russiagate campaign morphed into something more urgent, something twisted and delirious.

Smith argues that the ease with which the press was conscripted into the collusion conspiracy relates to a journalistic ethic damaged by the rise of internet journalism and social media — what some in the business collectively call “click bait” journalism — and hungry kids with no expertise all of a sudden finding themselves with huge platforms but no wisdom stemming from tempered experience.

This all led, says Smith, to “a scandal signaling that the institution where American citizens are supposed to discuss and debate the choices about how we live with each other has been turned against a large part of the public to delegitimize their political choices.”

In other words, the press is no longer eager to report on a scandal in which they have a starring role.

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I Fired a Handgun For the First Time on the Same Day Nikolas Cruz Shot and Killed 17 People in Florida

The first day I ever fired a handgun, a lunatic shot and killed 17 people at a Florida school.

What started out as an empowering new adventure turned into a complex — and, I think, ultimately good — examination of some cultural truths as they relate to what happened in Florida, and Vegas before that, and Newtown and all the rest stretching back to Columbine. But more on that in a minute…

That day was, of course, February 14, 2018 — Valentine’s Day — and today is the day after. No one’s healed or processed the death of innocence yet, but there’s already a good deal of discussion online and in the media about what needs to be done (good question and one we should try to answer). The President is speaking live about the shootings as I write this, news of which was met with the usual inappropriate cynicism because people apparently can’t put their personal animus away for even a day despite the unadulterated tragedy of what took place in Florida (seriously, save your snark. It’s extra ugly today).

And we’re slowly learning about the perpetrator, a 19-year-old kid depressed about his adoptive mother’s death and possibly an ex-girlfriend, with known behavioral problems, who had been on both police and school radar.

Nikolas Cruz was apparently obsessed with weapons and had made some disturbing YouTube videos to that effect. He legally purchased the assault rifle he used Wednesday in the attack. He had also been expelled from the school that he ultimately returned to with that rifle, where he pulled a fire alarm to draw his victims out of rooms and then peppered them with gunfire. Then, like the coward he was, he ran away.

Behavior which makes tweets like this from avowed liberal actor, and very likely rabidly anti-gun advocate, Michael Ian Black all the more twisted, inappropriate and downright infuriating:

The entire thread is something else, blaming men (and firearms themselves) for the behavior of a broken boy. I get it, liberals, you like socialism and the collective a whole bunch. Even to the point that you would have everyone share the blame for the degeneracy of Cruz. If I weren’t a lady, I’d tell you where you can stick that for trying to blame good people for the deaths in Florida. Men are not broken, Michael Ian Black. But Nikolas Cruz was. And if we want to “do something” about these school shootings — and I think everyone does — the place to start is figuring out what was broken about him as an individual because I bet there are more than a few common threads — or broken things — between all these mass shooters.

Firearms is of course one of them. As mentioned, I fired a handgun for the first time yesterday as part of a concealed-carry training course I’m finishing up. I’ve fired a rifle before, but never a handgun. My first day at the range — where I learned I’m a pretty good natural shot — was exciting and euphoric because I found out I was good at something. And then, upon learning of the Florida school shooting, was immediately complicated and nearly guilt-ridden as I saw blame (as it always is) heaped on the National Rifle Association. I had just been at their range in Virginia.

What no one tells you about a gun range is what it smells like. Gunpowder. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever smelled before and it hangs in the air. And how loud a range is. Very, very loud. Particularly when there’s a young man of about 19 or 20 two stalls over firing an assault rifle, which there was Wednesday as I trained. And as I looked furtively at him — it takes some getting used to, the knowledge that any person in that room has the power to turn around and kill anyone else — I felt uneasy and wondered how such a young person had the means to own a piece of equipment like that. And if he should. And why he would want to.

But then, one stall over from him, were two gentlemen, clearly military, practicing with their own rifle, from their stomachs and in a ready standing position. And my uneasiness abated immediately. Because I knew they were good guys. My instincts told me. And something about that strikes me as a decent metaphor for the gun debate in the age of school shootings: good guys with guns isn’t just a thing people say to selfishly protect their 2nd Amendment rights and their right to own firearms. It’s a defense against the broken people. People like Cruz.

And it occurred to me, after giving it a lot of thought yesterday watching the reports out of Florida: I’m ready to accept the responsibility of being one of the good guys. And I’m thrilled I’m a good shot and could possibly be of some use if the worst were to happen.

And so my crisis of conscience was addressed, but the nation still has to, as this young teacher begs, “do something.”

And, as easy as it is to blame the teachers and the community since they apparently knew Cruz was a threat, shes right: it’s time to start looking at those links, those commonalities between these shooters, of which a fascination with firearms is undoubtedly one.

Which makes the FBI’s recent diversion — their job being to police these kinds of things by tracking and monitoring guns sales etc. — into helping pick our politicians that much more disturbing. They must get back to their role as a line of defense and protection and readdress their diligence in maintaining databases and monitoring background checks. The nation depends on their work recognizing disturbing profiles. And the community must help them. It’s a balancing act between civil liberties and security that will be hashed out in debate over legislation — because you can be sure that’s coming — but it’s time we had it.

But there are likely other links as well, including mental illness and the one no one likes to talk about: medication. Now, a caveat: there is no report indicating that Cruz was medicated. But it would be unsurprising if it turned out he was.

I’m not sure why the prevalence of medication, particularly of SSRIs, is downplayed as relates to these shootings, but it always is. I suspect it’s because people are worried that if mental health medication takes a share of the blame, those meds people rely on might be regulated and harder to come by. And there’s certainly a reason for concern there.

However, just as an observer having never been medicated, there has been, since the early 80s, an unbelievable growth in the use of SSRIs (antidepressants) in this country, with many children being medicated at a young age. As far back as 2011, Harvard University was talking about the growth in the use of this class of drug:

  • 23% of women in their 40s and 50s take antidepressants, a higher percentage than any other group (by age or sex)
  • Women are 2½ times more likely to be taking an antidepressant than men (click here to read a May 2011 article in the Harvard Mental Health Letter about women and depression)
  • 14% of non-Hispanic white people take antidepressants compared with just 4% of non-Hispanic blacks and 3% of Mexican Americans
  • Less than a third of Americans who are taking a single antidepressants (as opposed to two or more) have seen a mental health professional in the past year
  • Antidepressant use does not vary by income status.

With the rise of diagnoses of things like ADHD and autism in children, to the point that the CDC has been issuing warnings about overmedicating, it’s a fair bet that many, many of the kids you know take some kind of medication before their brains even finish developing.

In short, there’s going to be a lot of talk about gun control. There always is, and there’s some legislation to shore up background checks that has a chance of being debated (and that may keep the next kid like Cruz from purchasing a rifle like the one used in Florida), and let’s hope it is.

But that’s only one element we need to address. We must change as a culture in more ways than addressing the ease of obtaining firearms. Our reliance on unreliable medication to address mental health needs to looked at. Our federal police force must get back to the work of protecting the nation. And communities must find the strength and courage to recognize evil, point a finger at it, take it seriously, and rationally work with with the forces that keep them safe if we want to keep our children safe.

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Reporters Didn’t Care, But Trump Unveiled a $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Plan Tuesday

At the White House press briefing today, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders — even after explicitly setting the stage that the briefing was going to generally cover the infrastructure plan and the budget outline, both of which had just been released by President Trump — was asked about almost literally nothing else for 30 minutes except when the White House knew about allegations of abuse against former staffer Rob Porter.

To be fair, there were two very brief questions (one on the budget, one on infrastructure) thrown in, but White House reporters really couldn’t have cared less; despite the fact that the infrastructure plan, for example, is reportedly set to spend roughly $1.5 trillion dollars (including $200 billion in federal funding).

Reporters, judging by what appeared to be a willing refusal to even acknowledge these new measures, preferred to stay focused on how quickly Rob Porter was fired.

That said, here’s a little information in the new infrastructure package, in the event spending becomes something people care about again.

Trump sent a missive to Congress Tuesday explaining his rationale for undertaking the expensive plan that seeks to leverage public-private partnerships to achieve four goals: generating $1.5 trillion toward infrastructure projects, facilitating an easier, shorter permitting process, a focus on investment in rural infrastructure projects, and workforce training.

Our Nation’s infrastructure is in an unacceptable state of disrepair, which damages our country’s competitiveness and our citizens’ quality of life.  For too long, lawmakers have invested in infrastructure inefficiently, ignored critical needs, and allowed it to deteriorate.  As a result, the United States has fallen further and further behind other countries.  It is time to give Americans the working, modern infrastructure they deserve.

To help build a better future for all Americans, I ask the Congress to act soon on an infrastructure bill that will:  stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in new investment over the next 10 years, shorten the process for approving projects to 2 years or less, address unmet rural infrastructure needs, empower State and local authorities, and train the American workforce of the future.

Trump referred to the proposal as a “roadmap” that he expects Congress to use as they develop infrastructure legislation which can include roads, bridges, and airports, but can be expanded to include “drinking and wastewater systems, waterways, water resources, energy, rural infrastructure, public lands, veterans’ hospitals, and Brownfield and Superfund sites.”

The full infrastructure roadmap and guiding principles can be found here.

At least $100 billion of the federal allocation will be used to develop an Incentives Program with the explicit goal of encouraging state and local governments — as well as private enterprise — to invest in infrastructure. Other uses of the federal spending include:

  • $20 billion will be dedicated to the Transformative Projects Program (essentially a research and development project).
  • $20 billion will be allocated to expanding infrastructure financing programs
  • $50 billion of the $200 billion in direct Federal funding will be devoted to a new Rural Infrastructure Program to rebuild and modernize infrastructure in rural America.

There will also be an increased focus on returning the decision-making authority about what infrastructure projects should be undertaken back to State and local governments, as well as ustilizing pre-existing federal agencies with a hand in infrastructure — such as Veterans Affairs and Army Corp of Engineers — more flexibility with regard to infrastructure assets.

Perhaps the biggest change, if the president is successful in encouraging Congress to adopt his vision, will come with the permitting process. Trump laid out a framework that “establish[es] a ‘one agency, one decision’ structure for environmental reviews; shorten[s] the lengthy environmental review process to two years while still protecting the environment; eliminate[s] certain redundant and inefficient provisions in environmental laws; [and] creates two new pilot programs to test new ways to improve the environmental review process.”

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Nunes’ Next Step: ‘Sycophant’ Former Head of CIA, John Brennan

It’s no secret House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes will continue his investigation into the creation and use of the Steele dossier now that he and the committee have established they believe it was funded by Hillary Clinton and the DNC and improperly used to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on Trump adviser Carter Page.

And it’s no secret he’s turning his focus on the State Department and their role passing “intelligence” from foreign sources through Clinton associates (possibly Sidney Blumenthal) to former British intelligence officer Michael Steele for inclusion in the dossier.

But what broke yesterday may just be the biggest scandal of an almost unbelievably scandalous story: Nunes is also turning his attention to former CIA chief John Brennan according to a lightning bolt of a story published in Real Clear Investigations.

According to their investigation, the Committee’s memo, released last week, detailing possible abuses at the FBI and DOJ in securing the FISA warrant to surveil Page (notably a lack of disclosure about who funded the dossier and how many senior officials may have been aware of that funding without informing the FISA judge) and a planned deep dive into what happened at the State Department are nowhere near the end of what Nunes plans to examine.

“Those are the first two phases” of Nunes’ multipart inquiry, a senior investigator said. “In phase three, the involvement of the intelligence community will come into sharper focus.”

The aide, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said Nunes will focus on Brennan as well as President Obama’s first CIA director, Leon Panetta, along with the former president’s intelligence czar, James Clapper, and national security adviser, Susan Rice, and security adviser-turned U.N. ambassador Samantha Power, among other intelligence officials.

“John Brennan did more than anyone to promulgate the dirty dossier,” the investigator said. “He politicized and effectively weaponized what was false intelligence against Trump.”

Brennan, the RCI piece alleges, was known to be a highly political CIA director — one source even goes so far as to refer to him as a “sycophant” while others say he was “responsible for much of the anti-Trump bias from the intelligence community [IC] during the campaign and transition period” — and may even have perjured himself last May when he said in public testimony that the dossier hadn’t played any role in the IC’s assertion that Russia was trying to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

Brennan also swore that he did not know who commissioned the anti-Trump research document (excerpt here), even though senior national security and counterintelligence officials at the Justice Department and FBI knew the previous year that the dossier was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Another bombshell included in their report: Brennan may actually have been the initial spark that lit the fire that was to become the Russian collusion investigation by giving a somewhat unprecedented private briefing to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) informing him the FBI would be investigating what the IC believed was a plot by the Russians to help Trump:

On Aug. 25, 2016, for example, the CIA chief gave an unusual private briefing to then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in which he told Reid the Russians were backing Trump and that the FBI would have to take the lead in an investigation because the FBI is the federal agency in charge of domestic intelligence and, unlike the CIA, can spy on U.S. citizens.

Two days after Brennan’s special briefing, Reid fired off a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey demanding he open an investigation targeting “individuals tied to Trump” to determine if they coordinated with the Russian government “to influence our election.”

“The Trump campaign has employed a number of individuals with significant and disturbing ties to Russia and the Kremlin,” the then-top Democrat in the Senate added in his two-page letter.

Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, is reportedly also of interest to Nunes for similar remarks he made just after the election expressing an uneasiness with leaks while providing a summary of the dossier to outgoing-President Obama. Nunes apparently wants to know if Clapper knew who funded it when he passed it along to Obama and erroneously called it a document created by a “private security company.”

Both Clapper and Brennan, interestingly enough, have signed media deals — the former with CNN, the latter with NBC/MSNBC — and will likely be taking their defense of themselves and the Democratic party to the cable airwaves.

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Surprise Democrats! Bill Murray Thinks You’re Kinda Divisive, Too

In a surprisingly refreshing interview with CNBC Friday, comedian Bill Murray (generally not considered to be a defender of conservatism, but I could have missed something) has a few choice words for Democrats when it comes to their seemingly never ending attempts to put Americans into neat demographic boxes (arguably to divide and conquer):

You’re not helping.

Needless to say, the CNBC questioners were stunned into near silence. It was beautiful.

Murray mentions fellow comedian Kristen Wiig and her ability to make people laugh because she appeals not to what divides the masses but rather to what connects them.

“How can Kristen Wiig make everyone laugh?,” Murray asks. “She’s not thinking about being political. She’s thinking about what resonates and what’s common to all of us…My friend who’s a great comedy writer, Jim Downey, he’s accused of being a right-wing comedy writer, if there is such a thing.”

“He says, no no, I just think the way the Democrats handle things is poor, the way they try to pick out little pieces…where [they say] ‘we represent the Hispanics, we represent LGBTQ’ or something. And they’re not speaking to everyone at once. It’s almost demeaning to say ‘I’m choosing you because you’re a splinter group or you’re a certain minority group.’”

“There’s almost a resentment…you’re separated again by a politician,” Murray continued. “You’re my people, I’m in control of you, and I represent you. Instead of thinking each citizen has the right to be respected as a citizen first under the laws of the country.”

Jimmy Kimmel, Alyssa Milano, Sarah Silverman, you listening?

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BREAKING: Trump Still Not Ready to Release Democrat Memo

After indicating earlier in the day he may release a “letter” related to the Democrat memo on FISA court abuse, President Donald Trump announced late Friday he is inclined to release the Democrat memo but that the administration needs time to work on what can ultimately be made available to the public. The implication is that the memo needs significant redaction.

Per pool reports, regarding a note from Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah that refers to an attached letter from White House Counsel Don McGahn:

The White House has transmitted the attached letter—along with a classified attachment not included— to House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Committee regarding the classified intelligence memorandum the Committee voted to disclose on February 5th.

The letter, which mentions the sensitive nature of the information included in the Democrat memo, is included in the tweet below:

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) — author of the Republican memo released last week which the Democrat memo is said to rebut — predicted the Democrats might iinclude information within their 10-page document that required redaction giving the impression that the administration is hiding information from the American people.

In an appearance on Fox News’s “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” Gowdy appeared to suggest that lawmakers in the opposing party want Americans to wonder about information that may be redacted.

“The Democrats are politically smart enough to put things in the memo that require either the [Federal] Bureau [of Investigation] or the Department of Justice to say it needs to be redacted. Therefore, it creates this belief that there’s something being hidden from the American people,” Gowdy said.

The competing memos are a result of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s investigation of a dossier — known as the Steele dossier — and how it was created, funded and used to obtain a FISA warrant to secretly spy on Trump adviser Carter Page. The Republican memo, a result of that investigation, was released last Friday. It alleged disturbing abuses of both the FBI and the DOJ in pursuit of Democrat’s plans to cause political damage to the Trump campaign, and later the Trump administration.

The Democrats responded with a memo of their own, written by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and reportedly rebuts many of the claims in the Republican version, and used the same Committee vote to moved it to the president’s desk requiring his signature to release.

Trump had five days to release the memo pursuant to House Committee rules. Friday was the last day of that timeframe. The memo will go back to the House Committee if Trump fails to release and they have the opportunity to resubmit it to the president, and may also be able to release the memo on their own.

The post BREAKING: Trump Still Not Ready to Release Democrat Memo appeared first on RedState.

Source: Red State


Mike Pence Brings Father of Boy Murdered by N. Korean Regime to S. Korea for Olympic Games

Vice President Mike Pence is quietly being a total bada** at the Olympic Games, from skipping a dinner with North Korea’s ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam to bringing as his official guest Fred Warmbier, father of Ohio-born Otto Warmbier who was detained and ultimately murdered by the North Korean regime.

Pence was reportedly seated in very close proximity to the sister of Kim Jong-un, Kim Yo-jong, at the Olympic opening ceremony in Pyeongchang; he had earlier chosen not to shake the hand of Kim Yong-nam at a reception given by South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Pence’s official guest for the Olympics, which opened Friday morning, is Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier. Otto, who spent 5 days in North Korea in 2016 before being detained as he was boarding a plane to leave, was tortured by the regime and ultimately died from his injures.

If you don’t remember exactly how and why Otto Warmbier got arrested in North Korea, we’ll take you back to the start of this whole ordeal. The 21-year-old student from Wyoming, Ohio was detained as he was about to board a plane to leave North Korea on January 2, 2016. He was finishing up a five-day trip to the country set up by a China-based travel company.

Why was he arrested? The reason wasn’t immediately clear. North Korea reportedly claimed that Warmbier wanted to “destroy the country’s unity” through an act “tolerated and manipulated by the U.S. government.” The government did not explicitly state what that act was.

But later, in a press conference, Warmbier admitted that he attempted to steal a banner with a political slogan from his hotel in Pyongyang. He said that a church member from his hometown allegedly offered him a used car worth $10,000 in exchange for it, according to The New York Times. It also appeared that Warmbier was forced to say that the American government put him up to this so-called crime in the extremely emotional press conference.

Warmbier, after being left in North Korea by the Obama administration, was eventually returned home by the Trump administration in a state of unresponsive wakefulness, “meaning that he was unable to speak, hear, or see due to a brain injury he suffered while he was detained. The injuries ultimately took his life and Warmbier passed away on June 19, 2017.”

Pence and the elder Warmbier met with survivors of the North Korean regime as part of their official business Friday.

Warmbier also met North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho, who was a special guest at the SOTU and made a lasting impression by holding up the crutches he used following his torture at the hands of the North Korean regime.

A North Korean military parade, originally scheduled for April, was moved up as part of the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games.

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Source: Red State