5:05 AM 2/25/2019 - Quotes of the day: “If this is a witch hunt, Mueller’s found a coven at this point” | “We are going to get to the bottom of this” | "The FBI was better off when “you all only hired Irishmen” | M.N. I agree with Mr. Sessions. McCabe just proved with this "rat line" that he is the one with the nose rings and tattoos also...

Image result for The FBI was better off when “you all only hired Irishmen,” Sessions said in one diatribe about the bureau’s workforce. “They were drunks but they could be trusted. Not like all those new people with nose rings and tattoos — who knows what they’re doing?” 5:05 AM 2/25/2019 - Quotes of the day: 
    “If this is a witch hunt, Mueller’s found a coven at this point,” said Neal Katyal - Google Search

    “We are going to get to the bottom of this,” Mr Schiff told ABC - Google Search

    "The FBI was better off when “you all only hired Irishmen,” Sessions said in one diatribe about the bureau’s workforce. “They were drunks but they could be trusted. Not like all those new people with nose rings and tattoos — who knows what they’re doing?” - Google Search 

    M.N. I agree with Mr. Sessions. McCabe just proved with this "rat line" that he is the one with the nose rings and tattoos also but well hidden and conspiratorial ones. 
    The rings and tattoos could be overlooked if they did their job properly. The problem is that we do not really know who "these people" are, and what they are doing. And this problems is as old as the FBI itself, or even older, starting with the Pinkertons, who were much more transparent and down to earth, it seems in retrospect. 

    ________________________________

    Today's Reading List

    Opinion | Putin’s One Weapon: The ‘Intelligence State’ - The New York Times
    On Foreign Trips, Pence Steps Out of Trump’s Shadow but Always Stays on Message - The New York Times
    Former US attorney: Mueller report could be delayed by investigation into Trump Jr., Jared Kushner
    Lawmakers preview questions for Cohen testimony this week
    Court Records Reveal a Mueller Report Right in Plain View - NBC Chicago
    'Mueller's Found A Coven' In So-Called Witch Hunt, Ex-DOJ Official Says | HuffPost
    coven - Google Search
    “We are going to get to the bottom of this,” Mr Schiff told ABC - Google Search
    “We are going to get to the bottom of this,” Mr Schiff told ABC - Google Search
    Review: In 'The Threat,' Andrew McCabe's disturbing account of working for Sessions and Trump - Entertainment & Life - The Register-Guard - Eugene, OR
    NYT - Netanyahu Sparks Outrage Over Pact With Racist Party - The New York Times
    11:32 AM 2/24/2019 - The FBI is not a separate branch of government
    Trump Investigations News In Brief
    Congressional Research Service (Library of Congress)
    Top Democrat to Sue Justice Department if Mueller Report is Withheld
    Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr have a whole new problem - Palmer Report
    FBI seeks arrest of US counterintelligence officer who defected to Iran | intelNews.org
    Mueller report: 9 questions you were too embarrassed to ask - Vox
    Speculation mounts on when Mueller report will be delivered
    Donald Trump's Jeffrey Epstein problem just keeps getting bigger - Palmer Report
    Trump needs to go, and the sooner he's gone the better | Letters | athensnews.com
    State comptroller panel ruling reveals Netanyahu was partner with Milikowsky - Israel News - Haaretz.com
    With his 50m shekel fortune, Netanyahu is Israel’s fourth richest politician - Israel News - Haaretz.com
    Bibi fires up the opposition - Israel Election 2019 - Haaretz.com
    Bannon predicts Trump victory in 2020, intensified political vitriol
    Robert Mueller reveals he's anything but “by the book” - Palmer Report
    Lieberman: Ample evidence of Russian election meddling; party 'tribalism' slowing U.S. progress | News | ncnewsonline.com
    Former Obama Official On Russia Probe: ‘If This Is A Witch Hunt, Mueller’s Found A Coven’
    All eyes on William Barr - Palmer Report
    Investigate McCabe’s 25th Amendment Tale - WSJ
    Kushner Cos buys portfolio of apartments for US$1.15b, Real Estate - THE BUSINESS TIMES
    Ex-Jerusalem mayor poised to overtake Netanyahu as richest MK | The Times of Israel
    Court records reveal a Mueller report right in plain view - The San Diego Union-Tribune
    U.S. Democrats will subpoena Mueller's Russia report if needed: Schiff | News | WSAU
    Donald Trump ‘Greatest Threat’ To America Since Civil War, Says Top Democrat
    PressTV-Trump 'greatest threat' to US democracy: Top Dem
    Trump 'greatest threat' to US democracy since Civil War: Top Dem - Google Search
    Images - Trump 'greatest threat' to US democracy since Civil War: Top Dem - Google Search
    The six essential cons that define Donald Trump's success
    Schiff says he’ll ‘obviously’ subpoena Mueller report if Trump administration won't release it - Los Angeles Times
    Specter of 33rd government haunts haredi parties - ANALYSIS - Israel Elections - Jerusalem Post
    Kushner Cos. seek $1.1B federal loan in biggest deal in decade, sources say
    Saved Stories - None DNC Chair Compares Trump to Castro, Kim, and Putin 

    -

    The FBI was better off when “you all only hired Irishmen,” Sessions said in one diatribe about the bureau’s workforce. “They were drunks but they could be trusted. Not like all those new people with nose rings and tattoos — who knows what they’re doing?” - Google Search

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    Andrew McCabe's disturbing account of working for Sessions and Trump

    Washington Post-Feb 14, 2019
    The FBI was better off when “you all only hired Irishmen,” Sessions said in one diatribe about the bureau's workforce. “They were drunks but ...
    Story image for The FBI was better off when “you all only hired Irishmen,” Sessions said in one diatribe about the bureau’s workforce. “They were drunks but they could be trusted. Not like all those new people with nose rings and tattoos — who knows what they’re doing?” from Slate Magazine

    Andrew McCabe: Jeff Sessions Complained That He Missed When the ...

    Slate Magazine-Feb 15, 2019
    The FBI was better off when “you all only hired Irishmen,” Sessions said in one diatribe about the bureau's workforce. “They were drunks but ...
    Story image for The FBI was better off when “you all only hired Irishmen,” Sessions said in one diatribe about the bureau’s workforce. “They were drunks but they could be trusted. Not like all those new people with nose rings and tattoos — who knows what they’re doing?” from The Daily Herald

    Review: A disturbing account of work under Sessions, Trump

    The Daily Herald-Feb 19, 2019
    The FBI was better off when “you all only hired Irishmen,” Sessions said in one diatribe about the bureau's workforce. “They were drunks but ...

    The FBI was better off when “you all only hired Irishmen,” Sessions said in one diatribe about the bureau’s workforce. “They were drunks but they could be trusted. Not like all those new people with nose rings and tattoos — who knows what they’re doing?” - Google Search

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    Review: In 'The Threat,' Andrew McCabe's disturbing account of working for Sessions and Trump - Entertainment & Life - The Register-Guard

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    “The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump”
    By Andrew G. McCabe
    (St. Martin’s, 274 pages, $29.99)
    He didn’t read intelligence reports and mixed up classified material with what he had seen in newspaper clips. He seemed confused about the structure and purpose of organizations and became overwhelmed when meetings covered multiple subjects. He blamed immigrants for nearly every societal problem and uttered racist sentiments with shocking callousness.
    This isn’t how President Trump is depicted in a new book by former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe. Instead, it’s McCabe’s account of what it was like to work for then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
    The FBI was better off when “you all only hired Irishmen,” Sessions said in one diatribe about the bureau’s workforce. “They were drunks but they could be trusted. Not like all those new people with nose rings and tattoos — who knows what they’re doing?”
    It’s a startling portrait that suggests that the Trump administration’s reputation for baseness and dysfunction has, if anything, been understated and too narrowly attributed to the president.
    The description of Sessions is one of the most striking revelations in “The Threat,” a McCabe memoir that adds to a rapidly expanding collection of score-settling insider accounts of Trump-era Washington. McCabe’s is an important voice because of his position at the top of the bureau during a critical series of events, including the firing of FBI chief James Comey, the appointment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller, and the ensuing scorched-earth effort by Trump and his Republican allies to discredit the Russia probe and destroy public confidence in the nation’s top law enforcement agency. The work is insightful and occasionally provocative. The subtitle, “How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump,” all but equates the danger posed by al-Qaeda and the Islamic State to that of the current president.
    But overall, the book isn’t the comprehensive account McCabe was presumably capable of delivering. He seems reluctant to reveal details about his role in conflicts at key moments, rarely adding meaningful new illumination to areas of the Trump-Russia-FBI timeline established by Mueller, news organizations and previous authors.
    McCabe is a keen observer of detail, particularly when it comes to the president’s pettiness. He describes how Trump arranges Oval Office encounters so that his advisers are forced to sit before him in “little schoolboy chairs” across the Resolute Desk. Prior presidents met with aides on couches in the center of the room, but Trump is always angling to make others feel smaller.
    McCabe was known as a taciturn figure in the bureau, in contrast to the more garrulous Comey. His book reflects that penchant for brevity, with just 264 pages of text. Even so, he documents the president’s attempts to impair the Russia probe and incessant attacks on the institution, describing the stakes in sweeping, convincing language.
    “Between the world of chaos and the world of order stands the rule of law,” McCabe writes. “Yet now the rule of law is under attack, including from the president himself.”
    Inevitably, the book includes disturbing new detail about Trump’s subservience to Russian President Vladimir Putin. During an Oval Office briefing in July 2017, Trump refused to believe U.S. intelligence reports that North Korea had test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile — a test that Kim Jong Un had called a Fourth of July “gift” to “the arrogant Americans.”
    Trump dismissed the missile launch as a “hoax,” McCabe writes. “He thought that North Korea did not have the capability to launch such missiles. He said he knew this because Vladimir Putin had told him so.”
    McCabe, of course, has some baggage that hurt the reputation he’d built over 22 years at the bureau and raised questions about his credibility. He was accused by the FBI inspector general of making false statements about contacts with the media.
    McCabe also has ample motivation to lash out at the president. He had been a target of Trump insults and taunts for nearly two years by the time he was fired, mainly because McCabe’s wife, a pediatrician, had run for state office in Virginia with the financial backing of longtime Clinton ally and former governor Terry McAuliffe.
    Trump seized on the connection to insinuate that McCabe had stifled the bureau’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails — a claim debunked by internal FBI investigations. Trump seems never to have let go of the issue, even as he dangled the FBI director job to McCabe, sneering in one conversation that it “must have been really tough” when McCabe’s wife lost her race. “To lose,” Trump said, driving the dagger further. “To be a loser.”
    When McCabe was finally forced out, it was in the most petty fashion possible. He was fired just 26 hours before his own self-declared retirement date. Trump was gleeful. “Andrew McCabe FIRED,” he tweeted. “A great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI.”
    But for all of the understandable alarm and indignation that McCabe registers, he seems, like other Trump dissidents, never to have found reason or opportunity to stand up to the president. There are paragraphs in “The Threat” that recount in detail McCabe’s inner outrage — but no indication that those thoughts escaped his lips in the presence of Trump.
    What is it that makes otherwise proud public servants, Comey included, willing to subject themselves to Trump-inflicted indignities?
    Deference to the office? A determination to cling to power? A view of oneself as an indispensable institutional savior?
    At one point, McCabe puts his odds of getting the FBI director’s position at “one-in-ten-million,” but he goes through a job interview with Trump that feels like a charade from the outset.
    One of the most frustrating aspects of “The Threat” is that it steers around scenes where McCabe might have provided more detail or insight. He is known to have had a series of tense interactions with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the aftermath of Comey’s firing, each suspicious of his counterpart and convinced that the other should recuse himself from the Russia probe.
    McCabe was also witness to secret conversations in which Rosenstein raised the possibility that officials should wear a wire in meetings with the president. You won’t learn about any of that in “The Threat.”
    McCabe skims over the conduct of two of his FBI subordinates, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, whose text exchanges during an illicit affair included disparaging remarks about Trump and, when they were later revealed, fueled doubts about the organization’s impartiality.
    When first confronted with the details of the Page-Strzok texts, McCabe was asked by the inspector general whether he knew that Page — his closest legal adviser — had had interactions with the press. McCabe said he didn’t, though in fact he had authorized those contacts. In the book, he downplays that false testimony as a momentary mental lapse during a confusing conversation — which sounds a lot like the excuses offered by countless defendants who find themselves being prosecuted by the FBI for lying.
    McCabe’s disdain for Trump is rivaled only by his contempt for Sessions. He questions the former attorney general’s mental faculties, saying that he had “trouble focusing, particularly when topics of conversation strayed from a small number of issues.”
    Logs on the electronic tablets used to deliver the President’s Daily Brief to Sessions came back with no indication he had ever punched in the passcode. The attorney general’s views on race and religion are described as reprehensible.
    Sessions “believed that Islam — inherently — advocated extremism” and ceaselessly sought to draw connections between crime and immigration. “Where’s he from?” was his first question about a suspect. The next: “Where are his parents from?”
    McCabe notes that he would like to “say much more” about his firing and questions of his candor toward other bureau officials, but that he is restrained from doing so because he is pursuing a lawsuit.
    There is one area, however, in which he is considerably more forthcoming than Comey. He acknowledges that the bureau made major miscalculations in its handling of the Clinton probe in 2016 and its decision to discuss it publicly.
    “As a matter of policy, the FBI does everything possible not to influence elections,” he writes. “In 2016, it seems we did.”
    Read the whole story

    · · · · · ·

    Where the investigations related to President Trump stand

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    ‘We’ve given Mueller full access’ to our investigation

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    A Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Sunday the panel has given special counsel Robert Mueller “full access” to its own Russia investigation.
    “We’ve given full access to all of our interviews, all of our investigation. We haven’t had that reciprocated,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
    Blunt appeared to acknowledge more has been handed over to Mueller’s team than previously known. Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said in November the panel had made referrals to Mueller but would not say how many.
    The committee has conducted more than 200 interviews in the past two years and is nearing the end of its investigation.
    Burr said earlier this year the committee has so far found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.
    “We are still [investigating],” Blunt said Sunday.
    Blunt said the committee would wait until Mueller issues his findings to write its final report.
    “We’d like to have, frankly, a little more access the Mueller investigation before we come to a final conclusion. His report will help us write our final report,” Blunt said.
    Anticipation has been building in Washington that Mueller will release his findings to the Justice Department in the coming weeks. Neither Mueller’s team nor the department have publicly acknowledged that the special counsel is wrapping up after nearly two years investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible Trump campaign collusion.

    “We are going to get to the bottom of this,” Mr Schiff told ABC - Google Search

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    “We are going to get to the bottom of this,” Mr Schiff told ABC - Google Search

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    Yahoo News-10 hours ago
    ABC News chief legal analyst Dan Abrams and Harvard Law .... state-run news agency showed Mr Kim inspecting a guard of honour at the .... “Absolutely, we are going to get to the bottom of this,'' Schiff of California said on ...
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    Oscars 2019: No host, no clear front runner, no problem! Hollywood's ...

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    Mueller investigation: 'We are going to get to the bottom of' Trump-Russia claims despite attempts to bury report, Schiff vows

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    Adam Schiff has warned the Justice Department that any effort to conceal special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report into Russian interference in the election of Donald Trump will be met with swift legal action.
    Mr Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he was considering taking the Trump administration to court and forcing Mr Mueller to testify before Congress if Attorney General William Barr tries to keep the report secret.
    “We are going to get to the bottom of this,” Mr Schiff told ABC’s 'This Week'. “We are going to share this information with the public. And if the president is serious about all his claims of exoneration, then he should welcome the publication of the report.”

    We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.

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    “We will obviously subpoena the report. We will bring Bob Mueller in to testify before Congress; we will take it to court if necessary. And in the end, I think the [Justice] Department understands they’re going to have to make this public," Mr Schiff continued.
    Mr Schiff, a Democrat, took the helm of the House Intelligence Committee earlier this year after Democrats took over the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections.
    The comments come as reports indicate Mr Mueller will soon deliver his report, ending a two-year investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
    Donald Trump's Cabinet is one the richest in American history, filled with billionaires, conservatives and several career politicians.
    AFP/Getty
    Secretary of Commerce Wibur Ross raised controversy when he was accused of falsely claiming to have sold stock in a bank and violated a government ethics agreement.
    AFP/Getty
    US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has been a fixture in Donald Trump's ongoing trade spat with China.
    AFP/Getty
    US Vice President Mike Pence has defended Donald Trump throughout his presidency while walking a fine line to avoid any public involvement in major scandals.
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    Attorney General William Barr replaced Jeff Sessions as the nation's top cop in early 2019 and has refused to commit to recusing himself from the Russia probe despite an unsolicited memo he sent to the Justice Department decrying the investigation.
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    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo replaced Donald Trump's previous appointment to the post, Rex Tillerson, and has led talks with North Korea in establishing high-profile summits between the president and Kim Jong Un.
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    Energy Secretary Rick Perry has held his post throughout Donald Trump's presidency despite previously undermining the need for the agency he now leads in past public statements.
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    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has also held her post throughout the presidency, despite major backlash to her apparent undermining of the nationwide public school system and advocacy for charter programmes.
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    Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta still remains in his post despite calls to resign over his involvement in a controversial case surrounding Jeffrey Epstein.
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    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has faced numerous controversies throughout his tenure as the head of Treasury, including costing taxpayers at least a million dollars in travel expenses.
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    Veterans Affairs secretary Robert Wilkie was appointed after Donald Trump's White House doctor Ronny Jackson withdrew over allegations he provided prescription drugs to patients without prescriptions.
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    Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has held her post throughout the presidency and has mostly avoided controversy, despite a report claiming her office has been in frequent coordination with her husband's, Mitch McConnell.
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    Secretary of Homeland Kirstjen Nielsen has stirred major backlash throughout her tenure for allegedly lying about details of the zero tolerance policy that caused the systematic separation of migrant families at the US-Mexico border.
    Reuters
    Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson was appointed shortly after Donald Trump took office and raised controversy over an exorbitant furnishing bill for his office.
    Reuters
    CIA Director Gina Haspel was appointed in 2018 and faced backlash surrounding her oversight of Guantanamo Bay.
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    Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats could be the next person to leave Donald Trump's administration over his refuting the president's claims surrounding ISIS.
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    Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has been dogged by ethics questions throughout his tenure and faced controversy when emails showed the agency appeared willing to eagerly work with lobbyists under his leadership.
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    Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is a former pharmaceutical lobbyist and former drug company executive.
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    Acting Chief of Staff and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has described himself as one of the most conservative officials in the White House.
    EPA
    Mr Mueller’s investigation has resulted in several indictments against individuals close to Donald Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, lawyer Michael Cohen, and political strategist Roger Stone.
    Mr Trump has insisted there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 election, and has frequently criticised the investigations into the issue.

    We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.
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    “If this is a witch hunt, Mueller’s found a coven at this point,” said Neal Katyal - Google Search

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    “If this is a witch hunt, Mueller’s found a coven at this point,” said Neal Katyal - Google Search

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    As Washington waits for Mueller, 'everything about this is political'

    <a href="http://NBCNews.com" rel="nofollow">NBCNews.com</a>-16 hours ago
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    Schiff says he'll 'obviously' subpoena Mueller report if Trump ...
    Bristol Herald Courier (press release) (blog)-10 hours ago
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    Meet the Press - February 24, 2019

    <a href="http://NBCNews.com" rel="nofollow">NBCNews.com</a>-15 hours ago
    With Robert Mueller said to be wrapping up, still, so many unanswered questions. ... We'll break it all down with Neal Katyal, acting solicitor general under .... So if this is a witch hunt, Mueller's found a coven at this point.
    Story image for “If this is a witch hunt, Mueller’s found a coven at this point,” said Neal Katyal from Politico

    POLITICO Playbook: Trump schedules July 4 fireworks in DC!

    Politico-16 hours ago
    “Mr. Trump appeared to upbraid Mr. Lighthizer, who said he was negotiating .... CHUCK TODD spoke to NEAL KATYAL on NBC'S “MEET THE PRESS”: TODD: ... So if this is a witch hunt Mueller's found a coven at this point.”.
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    Former acting solicitor general: If Mueller investigation is a witch hunt ...

    The Hill-16 hours ago
    Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal said Sunday that if ... "So if this is a witch hunt, Mueller's found a coven at this point," he added.
    Read the whole story

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    Coven - Wikipedia

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    coven /kʌvən/ usually refers to a group or gathering of witches. The word "coven" (from Anglo-Norman covent, cuvent, from Old French covent, from Latin conventum = convention) remained largely unused in English until 1921 when Margaret Murray promoted the idea, that all witches across Europe met in groups of thirteen which they called "covens".[1][disputed ]

    Lawmakers preview questions for Cohen testimony this week

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    By Allan Smith
    President Donald Trump's former longtime attorney Michael Cohen is set to testify before three congressional committees this week — and lawmakers on Sunday gave a preview of some of the questions he will face.
    On ABC's "This Week," House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, said he hopes to learn from Cohen's closed-door testimony before his committee on Thursday why he made "false statements before our committee when he first appeared."
    "Did they go beyond what he told us about Moscow Trump Tower into other areas as well?" Schiff said. "Who would have been aware of the false testimony that he was giving?"
    Schiff added that he wants to ask "what other light" Cohen can "shed now that he's cooperating on issues of obstruction of justice or collusion."
    "What more could he tell us about the Trump Tower New York meeting or any other issues relevant to our investigation?" he continued. "We think he has a lot to offer."
    Trump Organization finances — which Schiff has said he plans to probe as part of a new investigation by his committee — is also certain to be of interest when Cohen testifies on Thursday. Schiff said Cohen "is pivotal" to such an investigation.
    "What we have learned to date about Moscow Trump Tower is chilling, and that is as Donald Trump was campaigning for president, even when it became the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party and was telling the country he had no business dealings with Russia, he was privately, through his organization, seeking the Kremlin's help to what may have been the most lucrative deal of his life, even reportedly offering an inducement to Putin to make it happen and at the same time, talking about removing sanctions on Russia, something very important to the Russians," Schiff said, adding that such negotiations were "deeply compromising."
    "So those issues have to be probed, and they include money laundering as well," he added.
    On NBC's "Meet the Press," Democratic Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, also said "re-asking the questions [Cohen] felt he needed to lie about in prior testimony needed to be the panel's first step.
    Cohen is also set to give closed-door testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday as well as appear publicly before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday.
    At that high-profile Wednesday hearing, Cohen will be asked about Trump's debts and payments related to efforts to influence the 2016 election, compliance with financial disclosure requirements and campaign finance and tax laws, possible conflicts of interests, business practices, the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., the accuracy of the president's public statements, the Trump Foundation, and Cohen's allegations that Trump has tried to intimidate Cohen by threatening him and his family.
    Trump and his legal team have repeatedly slammed Cohen as a liar and have said he is not a credible witness. Trump has also publicly targeted other members of Cohen's family, suggesting investigators should probe them. In response to Cohen's allegation that Trump tried to intimidate him, the president told reporters last month that Cohen has "only been threatened by the truth."
    "He has other clients also, I assume, and he doesn't want to tell the truth for me or other of his clients,” Trump said.
    Cohen will not discuss Russia in the open session, instead speaking on that subject in private with congressional investigators, lawmakers said.
    Last year, Cohen pleaded guilty to a series of federal felonies, including campaign-finance violations that involved hush-money payments he made to two women who alleged past affairs with Trump to silence them just weeks before the 2016 presidential election.
    Cohen also pleaded guilty to making false statements to congressional investigators about the scope and timeline of negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen had originally said that talks were not pursued past the very onset of 2016 only to later admit that they went on into that summer. He said he lied in order to keep in line with Trump's narrative about the Russian dealings. Cohen was then sentenced to serve a three-year prison sentence for his conviction.
    Late last week, The New York Times reported that Cohen, a longtime Trump Organization employee, has provided information to federal prosecutors in New York who are probing the president's inaugural committee and the Trump Organization. Lanny Davis, a lawyer and spokesman for Cohen, said in a statement that Cohen "is interested in cooperating with and assisting the [Southern District of New York] team in any way they believe is helpful."
    In a CBS interview clip that aired Saturday, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said he didn't think the greatest threat against Trump was special counsel Robert Mueller's report, but probes from federal investigators in New York, such as the one examining the president's inaugural committee.
    Allan Smith is a political reporter for NBC News.
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    Mueller report could be delayed by investigation into Trump Jr., Jared Kushner

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    A former U.S. attorney who was appointed during the Obama administration said the “tea leaves” show special counsel Robert Mueller’s report could be delayed by a possible investigation into Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner.
    Reports came out last week that said Attorney General William Barr was preparing to announce as early as next week that Mueller had concluded his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
    Justice Department officials then pushed back, telling multiple news outlets that Mueller’s report would not be delivered so soon.
    Former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade speculated Saturday that redactions in Mueller’s court filings could mean that prosecutors are looking into whether President Trump’s son and son-in-law lied to Congress.
    “One area that seems likely to be at least under scrutiny by Robert Mueller is whether other people have lied to Congress,” she told MSNBC, pointing to redactions in former longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s sentencing memo. McQuade stepped down as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan in March 2017 at Trump's request.
    Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow.
    “I would think that if others lied about that matter [or] other matters, then we might see charges against them. That would include Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner,” she said.
    Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017 that he knew “very little” about the potential Moscow project.
    Trump Jr. and Kushner, the president's son-in-law and adviser, were also both involved in a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer predicated on the promise of dirt on Hillary Clinton, Trump's 2016 general election rival.

    Court Records Reveal a Mueller Report Right in Plain View

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    The Democrats had blamed Russia for the hacking and release of damaging material on his presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton. Trump wasn't buying it. But on July 27, 2016, midway through a news conference in Florida, Trump decided to entertain the thought for a moment.
    "Russia, if you're listening," said Trump, looking directly into a television camera, "I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing" — messages Clinton was reported to have deleted from her private email server.
    Actually, Russia was doing more than listening: It had been trying to help Republican Trump for months. That very day, hackers working with Russia's military intelligence tried to break into email accounts associated with Clinton's personal office.
    It was just one small part of a sophisticated election interference operation carried out by the Kremlin — and meticulously chronicled by special counsel Robert Mueller.

    Longtime Trump Ally Roger Stone Arrested in South Fla.

    [NATL-MI] Longtime Trump Ally Roger Stone Arrested in South Fla.
    NBC 6 has team coverage as Roger Stone was taken into custody on charges in the ongoing federal Russia investigation.
    (Published Friday, Jan. 25, 2019)
    We know this, though Mueller has made not a single public comment since his appointment in May 2017. We know this, though the full, final report on the investigation, believed to be in its final stages, may never be made public. It's up to Attorney General William Barr.
    We know this because Mueller has spoken loudly, if indirectly, in court — indictment by indictment, guilty plea by guilty plea. In doing so, he tracked an elaborate Russian operation that injected chaos into a U.S. presidential election and tried to help Trump win the White House. He followed a GOP campaign that embraced the Kremlin's help and championed stolen material to hurt a political foe. And ultimately, he revealed layers of lies, deception, self-enrichment and hubris that followed.
    Woven through thousands of court papers, the special counsel has made his public report. This is what it says.
    RUSSIA, LOOKING TO INTERFERE
    The plot began before Bernie Bros and "Lock Her Up," before MAGA hats and "Lyin' Ted," before there was even a thought of Trump versus Clinton in 2016. It started in 2014, in a drab, concrete building in St. Petersburg, Russia.
    There, a group of tech-savvy Russian nationals, working at an organization called the Internet Research Agency, prepared "information warfare against the United States of America." The battleground would be the internet, and the target was the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
    Using a game plan honed on its own people, the troll farm prepared to pervert the social networks — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram — that Americans had come to depend on for news, entertainment, friendships and, most relevantly, political discourse.

    Prosecutors: Manafort Violated Deal With ‘Multiple Discernible Lies’

    [NATL] Prosecutors: Manafort Violated Deal With ‘Multiple Discernible Lies’
    Federal prosecutors filed papers in court alleging former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort violated his previous plea deal.
    (Published Friday, Dec. 7, 2018)
    It would use deception, disinformation and the expansive reach of the electronically connected world to spread "distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general." Ultimately, it would carry a budget in the millions, bankrolled, according to an indictment, by Yevgeny Prighozin, a man so close to the Russian president that he is known as Putin's chef. (Prighozin's company has denied the charges).
    It was a long game. Starting in mid-2014, employees began studying American political groups to see which messages fell flat and which spread like wildfire across the internet. The organization surreptitiously dispatched employees to the U.S. — traveling through states such as Nevada, California and Colorado— to collect on-the-ground intelligence about an America that had become deeply divided on gun control, race and politics.
    As they gathered the research, the trolls began planning an elaborate deception.
    They bought server space and other computer infrastructure in the U.S. to conceal the true origin of the disinformation they planned to pump into America's social media blood stream. They began preparing networks of fake accounts they would use like sock puppets to masquerade as U.S. citizens.
    The Russian trolls set up accounts that appeared to be associated with Black Lives Matter, the Tennessee GOP, Muslim and Christian groups and the American South. By late 2015, as Clinton sparred with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, her rival for the Democratic nomination, and as American media still saw Trump as a longshot to emerge from a crowded Republican field, the Internet Research Agency began secretly buying online ads to promote its social media groups.
    By February 2016, they were ready. A memo circulated internally. Post content about "politics in the USA," they wrote, according to court papers, and "use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump— we support them)."

    Trump Lashes Out at Mueller Amid Manafort Plea Deal Breach

    [NATL] Trump Lashes Out at Mueller Amid Manafort Plea Deal Breach
    Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort faces more legal trouble as special counsel Robert Mueller's team accused him of breaking a plea deal and repeatedly lying to the team during the Russia investigation. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, directed a personal attack against Mueller on Twitter, calling him a "prosecutor gone rogue."
    (Published Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018)
    As disinformation scrolled across American computer screens, an entirely different Russian operation readied its own volley.
    In March 2016, as Clinton and Trump began to emerge as the leaders of their respective parties, Russian military intelligence officers began setting a trap.
    Hackers in Russia's military intelligence, known as the GRU, started sending dozens of malicious emails to people affiliated with Clinton's campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee.
    Like Watergate, it was a break-in. But this time, the burglary tools were emails disguised to fool people into sharing their passwords and in turn provide hackers unfettered access to their emails. The goal was to collect as many damaging documents as possible that could be released online and damage Clinton's candidacy.
    In a few short weeks, the hackers had penetrated their targets and hit the motherlode: the private Gmail account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
    A RECEPTIVE CAMPAIGN
    While the Russians were hacking, a young Trump campaign adviser named George Papadopoulos received some startling news in London.

    Manafort Pleads Guilty, Agrees to Cooperate in Mueller Probe

    [NATL] Manafort Pleads Guilty, Agrees to Cooperate in Mueller Probe
    Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded guilty Friday to two conspiracy counts after cutting a deal with prosecutors and agreeing to cooperate with the special counsel's Russia probe.
    (Published Friday, Sept. 14, 2018)
    It was April 26, 2016. While traveling through Europe, he had connected with a Maltese academic. The professor, a middle-aged man with thinning gray hair named Joseph Mifsud, had taken a keen interest in Papadopoulos upon learning that he had joined the Trump campaign as a foreign policy adviser. To dazzle his young friend, Mifsud boasted of his high-level Russian connections and introduced him to a woman named Olga — a relative, he claimed, of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    Mifsud and Olga wanted Papadopoulos to arrange a meeting between Trump aides and Russian officials. Eager to ingratiate himself with the campaign, Papadopoulos brought up his newfound connections in a meeting with Trump and several high-ranking campaign officials, saying he could broker a Trump-Putin summit. When he raised the idea, his lawyers later said, Trump nodded with approval and deferred to another aide in the room, future Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said the campaign should look into it. Sessions would later say he remembered telling Papadopoulos that he wasn't authorized to speak for the campaign.
    When he walked into a London hotel for breakfast with Mifsud, Papadopoulos expected to discuss Russia's "open invitation" to meet with Trump. But the conversation quickly turned to another subject. Mifsud confided in Papadopoulos that Russia had "dirt" on Clinton. What kind of dirt? "Thousands of emails."
    What happened next remains a mystery. Prosecutors haven't revealed exactly where Mifsud got his information or what Papadopoulos might have done with it. The encounter, the first known instance of a Trump aide hearing of stolen emails, would later help kick-start the Russia investigation. But at the time, it was just one of many connections already established between the Trump campaign and Russia.
    Unbeknownst to the public, Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen had been trying to broker a business deal in Russia for the Republican candidate. The proposal was for a Trump Tower Moscow. A letter of intent was signed. Cohen had discussed it with Trump and his children. Cohen had even gone so far as to reach out to the Kremlin directly for help, speaking with an official about ways to secure land and financing for the project.
    While Cohen pursued the deal, another person with Russia ties joined the Trump campaign. Paul Manafort, a longtime Washington insider, had made millions as a political consultant for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. Over that time, Manafort developed a close relationship with a man named Konstantin Kilimnik, who the FBI says has ties to Russian military intelligence. Manafort also had worked for a Russian billionaire named Oleg Deripaska who is close with Putin.

    Manafort Strikes Plea Deal With Mueller to Plead Guilty

    [NATL] Manafort Strikes Plea Deal With Mueller to Plead Guilty
    Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has reportedly reached a tentative deal with special counsel Robert Mueller to plead guilty on charges of money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent. It's unclear what's included in the deal and if it means Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation.
    (Published Friday, Sept. 14, 2018)
    But in March 2016, Manafort was looking for a comeback. His business had dried up after Yanukovych was ousted and fled to Russia. The millions that Manafort had hidden from the IRS while enjoying a lavish lifestyle were largely gone. With the Trump campaign, Manafort saw an opportunity to get back on his feet. He and his protege, Rick Gates, quickly worked their way into the highest levels of the campaign, and they began trying to make sure old clients had heard about their new positions.
    As Trump clinched the Republican nomination, Manafort and those around him began preparing for a general election battle against Clinton.
    The Russians did, too. The Internet Research Agency boosted its support of Trump — and disparagement of Clinton. Using stolen identities and bank account information, the troll farm also began buying political ads on social media services, according to Mueller.
    "Donald wants to defeat terrorism ... Hillary wants to sponsor it," read one. "Hillary Clinton Doesn't Deserve the Black Vote," read another.
    Meanwhile, hackers with the GRU secretly implanted malicious software — called X-Agent — on the computer networks of the DNC and the DCCC. It allowed them to surreptitiously search through the political operatives' computers and steal what they wanted. As the hackers roamed the Democratic networks, a separate group of Russian intelligence officers established the means to release their ill-gotten gains, registering a website, <a href="http://DCLeaks.com" rel="nofollow">DCLeaks.com</a>.
    By May, the Democratic groups realized they had been hacked. The DNC quickly hired a private cybersecurity company, CrowdStrike, to identify the extent of the breach and to try to clear their networks of malware. But they kept it quiet until they knew more.

    Testimony of Candidate's Son Upends Election Fraud Hearing

    [NATL] Testimony of Candidate's Son Upends Election Fraud Hearing
    A Justice Department official gave shocking testimony in an election fraud hearing into his father’s campaign for the North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. John Harris said he warned his father, Republican Mark Harris, against hiring an operative now accused of running an illegal ballot-collecting operation.
    (Published Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019)
    On the Trump campaign, Papadopoulos continued to push for a Trump-Putin meeting, unsuccessfully.
    At the same time, another Russian outreach found a willing audience in Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.
    In early June, Trump Jr. exchanged a series of emails with a British publicist representing Emin Agalarov, a pop singer in Russia, whose father had partnered with the Trumps on the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Emin Agalarov and Trump Jr. had become friendly, and the publicist, Rob Goldstone, had become a common intermediary between the two wealthy sons.
    Over email, Goldstone brokered a meeting between Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer. He said the lawyer had documents that could "incriminate" Clinton and they were being shared as part of the Russian government's support of the Trump campaign. "Seems we have some time and if it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer," Trump Jr. wrote back.
    The meeting was held at Trump Tower in Manhattan on June 9. Trump Jr. attended along with Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. Participants in the room would later say the meeting was a bust, consumed by a lengthy discussion of Russian adoption and U.S. sanctions. To Trump Jr., the information wasn't useful ammunition against Clinton. He was less concerned that it came from Russia.
    Days later, on June 14, the DNC publicly announced it had been hacked, and pointed the finger at Russia.

    16 States Sue Trump Over Emergency Declaration

    [NATL] 16 States Sue Trump Over Emergency Declaration
    California, New York, Maryland and 13 other states have filed lawsuits challenging President Donald Trump's emergency declaration. The declaration bypasses Congress, allowing Trump to use military funds to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico. 
    (Published Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019)
    By then, the Russian hackers had launched <a href="http://DCLeaks.com" rel="nofollow">DCLeaks.com</a>. According to Mueller, the DNC announcement accelerated their plans.
    They created a fake online persona called Guccifer 2.0, which quickly took credit for the hack. Through Guccifer, the hackers masqueraded as a "lone Romanian hacker" and released caches of stolen material.
    The efforts attracted the attention of WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group led by Julian Assange from his exile within Ecuador's embassy in London.
    On June 22, 2016, the group sent a private message to Guccifer: "Send any new material here for us to review and it will have a much higher impact than what you are doing."
    Over the next several weeks, WikiLeaks requested any documents related to Clinton, saying they wanted to release them before the Democratic National Convention when they worried she would successfully recruit Sanders supporters.
    We "think trump has only a 25% chance of winning against hillary ... so conflict between bernie and hillary is interesting," WikiLeaks wrote.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren Unveils Universal Child Care Plan

    [NATL] Sen. Elizabeth Warren Unveils Universal Child Care Plan
    Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., was in Glendale, California, Monday to unveil her plan for universal child care.
    (Published Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019)
    Using Guccifer, the Russian intelligence officers transferred the files to WikiLeaks, hoping for a big online splash.
    They wouldn't have to wait long.
    LEAKS AND CIGARS
    July 22 was supposed to be a big Friday for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. The former secretary of state was planning to announce Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate. The party's convention was just days away.
    But at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, WikiLeaks stole the limelight, releasing more than 20,000 stolen DNC emails.
    The cascade of stolen material was almost immediately picked up by American news outlets, conservative pundits and Trump supporters, who in the wake of Clinton's FBI investigation for using a private email server, were happy to blast out anything with "Clinton" and "emails" in the same sentence.
    So was Trump. After publicly questioning that Russia was behind the hack of Democratic groups, he took to the stage in Florida to make his famous call to Russia, "if you're listening." He would later begin praising WikiLeaks.

    Sanders Back on Campaign Trail With 2020 Presidential Run

    [NATL] Sanders Back on Campaign Trail With 2020 Presidential Run
    Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., announced Tuesday in a radio interview that he will is again running for president, vying for the Democratic nomination in 2020.
    (Published Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019)
    Smelling a possible political advantage, the Trump campaign reached out to Roger Stone, a close confidant of Trump's who is known for his bare-knuckles brand of political mischief. Stone had been claiming to have connections to WikiLeaks, and campaign officials were looking to find out when Wikileaks would drop its next batch of documents.
    According to an indictment against Stone, after the first release of DNC documents, "a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information" WikiLeaks had regarding Clinton's campaign.
    In August, Stone began claiming he had inside information into Assange's plans. At the same time, he was privately sending messages to a radio host and a conservative conspiracy theorist — both of whom had claimed to have connections to WikiLeaks — seeking anything they knew. (No evidence has emerged that these messages made it to Assange).
    That same month there was a meeting that went to the "heart" of the Russia investigation, according to a Mueller prosecutor. It involved Manafort, and it remains an enigma, at least to the public.
    Court papers indicate Manafort had previously shared polling information related to the Trump campaign with Kilimnik, his old Russian pal. According to emails and court papers, Manafort — looking to make money from his Trump access — had also been in touch with Kilimnik about providing private briefings for the billionaire Deripaska. (There's no evidence such briefings ever occurred).
    Meeting with Manafort and Gates at New York's Grand Havana Room cigar bar on Aug. 2, 2016, Kilimnik brought up a possible peace plan for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. What happened at that meeting is in dispute and much of it remains redacted in court papers.

    Sen. Rubio on National Emergency Declaration: ‘I Think it’s a Bad Idea’

    [NATL] Sen. Rubio on National Emergency Declaration: ‘I Think it’s a Bad Idea’
    Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio weighs in on the president’s decision to declare a national emergency that may divert funding from other military construction projects.
    (Published Monday, Feb. 18, 2019)
    But the Mueller prosecutor would note: The men left separately to avoid unwanted attention.
    As the campaign entered the final stretch and Trump's advisers waited for the next WikiLeaks dump, Russian trolls— who had gained hundreds of thousands of social media followers — were barraging Americans with pro-Trump and anti-Clinton rhetoric, using Twitter hashtags such as "#MAGA" and "#Hillary4Prison."
    By early October, Stone was looking for more. On Oct. 3, 2016, ahead of an expected news conference by Assange, Stone exchanged messages with Matthew Boyle, a writer at Breitbart who was close to Trump campaign strategist Steve Bannon.

    Trump Supporter Storms Media Pen at Texas Rally

    [NATL] Trump Supporter Storms Media Pen at Texas Rally
    A Trump supporter stormed the media pen and attacked a BBC cameraman during Trump's first rally for 2019 in El Paso, Texas, shortly after the president criticized the media.
    (Published Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019)
    "Assange — what's he got? Hope it's good," Boyle wrote to Stone.
    "It is," Stone wrote back. "I'd tell Bannon but he doesn't call me back."
    Hours later, Assange held a news conference in which he appeared to waffle on whether he would release additional documents about Clinton.
    Bannon reached out to Stone: "What was that this morning???" Stone chalked it up to a "security concern" and said WikiLeaks would be releasing "a load every week going forward."
    By Oct. 7, the Trump campaign was embroiled in its own scandal. The Washington Post released audio of Trump bragging about sexually harassing and groping women. But within hours, WikiLeaks gave Trump's team a break.
    The first set of emails stolen from Podesta's accounts popped onto WikiLeaks' website. Stone's phone lit up. It was a text message from a Bannon associate.
    "well done," it read.
    A SERIES OF LIES
    The first documented lie in the Russia investigation happened on Jan. 24, 2017, in the White House office of freshly appointed national security adviser Michael Flynn.
    It was the Tuesday after Trump's inauguration, and Flynn was settling in after a whirlwind presidential transition.

    Shutdown Deal Offers No Money for Concrete Wall

    [NATL] Shutdown Deal Offers No Money for Concrete Wall
    The deal includes: $1.3 billion for 55 miles of "steel slats" and other fencing, plus $1.7 billion for other security measures like technology and more border agents. The deal does not include funding for a concrete wall at the border. 
    (Published Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019)
    Since Trump's victory in November, Flynn had become part of Trump's inner circle — and the preferred contact between the Trump team and Russia. In late December, Flynn had asked Sergey Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the U.S., to reject or delay a U.N. vote condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Days later, as the Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russia for election-meddling, Flynn implored Kislyak not to escalate a "tit-for-tat" fight over punishment imposed on Moscow for election interference.
    But on that Tuesday, when FBI agents asked Flynn about those conversations, he lied. No, he said, he hadn't made those requests of Kislyak.
    Days later in Chicago, other FBI agents confronted Papadopoulos as he had just stepped out of the shower at his mother's home. Though his mother would later say she knew it was a terrible idea, he agreed to go to their office for questioning, where he misled them about his conversations with Mifsud, the Maltese professor.
    Months later — after Mueller's May 2017 appointment — Cohen lied to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project, saying it ended much sooner than June 2016. Cohen would later say he was trying to be loyal to Trump and match the public messaging of a president who had adamantly denied any business dealings with Russia.
    Even when Trump aides tried to come clean and cooperate with Mueller's team, they couldn't keep their stories straight.
    As he was working out a plea agreement with Mueller, Gates lied to investigators about his and Manafort's Ukrainian lobbying work. Manafort pleaded guilty and agree to cooperate but a judge later determined he had also misled Mueller's team about several matters, including about his interactions with Kilimnik. Those lies voided the plea deal.
    The deceptions played out as Mueller methodically brought criminal cases. He indicted the Russian hackers. He did the same to the troll farm. He exposed Manafort's tax cheating and his illicit foreign lobbying, winning at trial and putting the 69-year-old political operative at risk of spending the rest of his life in prison. And one by one, his team got guilty pleas from Flynn, Papadopoulos and others .
    Most recently, he indicted Stone, accusing him of witness tampering and lying to Congress about his efforts to glean information about the WikiLeaks disclosures. Despite emails showing him repeatedly discussing WikiLeaks with Trump advisers and others, Stone told lawmakers he had no records of that sort. (Stone has pleaded not guilty.)
    In the backdrop of all this is Trump and his family.
    Mueller's grand jury heard testimony from several participants of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting arranged by Trump Jr., but no charges have been filed.
    The mercurial president himself has made no secret of his disdain for the Mueller investigation and his efforts to undermine it. Mueller has investigated whether any of Trump's actions constituted obstruction of justice, but the special counsel hasn't gone public with what he found.
    And it's unclear if he ever will.
    Copyright Associated Press
    Read the whole story

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    Kushner Cos. seek $1.1B federal loan in biggest deal in decade, sources say

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    In 2017, Kushner Cos. teamed up with Israel-based Psagot Investment House to buy Quail Ridge, a 1,032-unit complex in Plainsboro, New Jersey, that the Kushner family had owned until a 2007 sale. This past April, the firm bought the 360-unit Prospect Place in Hackensack, New Jersey.

    Specter of 33rd government haunts haredi parties - ANALYSIS - Israel Elections

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    Benny Gantz (L) and Yair Lapid (R) anounce the Blue and White Party
    Moshe 'Bogie' Ayalon (L), Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Gabi Ashkenazi anounce the Blue and White Party. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
    The very day that Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience Party and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party announced that they were running together, United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler warned of “a civil war” that was beginning and described it as “a missile attack on the haredi community.”
    In slightly less apocalyptic tones, UTJ leaders Ya’acov Litzman and Moshe Gafni issued a statement to the press with exceeding alacrity, stating that they would not join a government with Lapid and Gantz, describing the pact as “a union for the division of the people and incitement against the traditions of the Jewish people.”
    Just what has aroused the ire of UTJ?
    The answer is easy. During his tenure as Finance Minister with Yesh Atid the largest and most dominant coalition partner after Likud, Lapid advanced a series of policies which were seen as extremely antagonistic to the haredi sector.
    Yesh Atid cut the budget for stipends paid by the state to yeshiva students by more than half, significantly cut child allowances that disproportionately benefited the haredi community because of the large size of the average haredi family, and cut housing benefits enjoyed by the haredi sector.
    Lapid was unable to implement other planned cuts to the welfare budget enjoyed by the haredi community when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initiated early elections in 2015.
    Yesh Atid’s cuts to the various budgets, stipends and welfare benefits hitherto granted to the haredi community generated intense anger and hatred towards it and its leader, and are frequently referred to by the haredi political and rabbinic leadership, as well as the haredi media, in almost Biblical terms as the “decrees of Lapid.”
    Although these policies were much hated by the haredi leadership, they did lead to a significant increase in male haredi employment reaching as high as 52% of the sector.
    The current government, at the behest of UTJ and Shas, reversed almost every one of Yesh Atid’s policies, however, and male haredi employment has once again declined.
    But it was not only budgetary cuts that got the goat of the haredi parties.
    Lapid famously set about revoking the mass exemptions from military service afforded haredi yeshiva students and passed a law that was designed to bring about mass haredi enlistment.
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    The law brought hundreds of thousands of haredi men and women to the streets of Jerusalem in a massive demonstration against the law, which ultimately proved fruitless since it was approved in the Knesset anyway.
    The current government, at the behest of the haredi parties, subsequently eviscerated the law before it could be fully implemented, but the High Court of Justice struck down the new arrangement as unconstitutional, leaving a yawning legislative chasm over haredi enlistment waiting to be filled by the next government.
    The danger that Lapid will get to fill this space with a new law drafting haredi yeshiva students into the army is another reason why the haredi parties are so worried about the Gantz-Lapid alliance.
    AND THEN there is Gantz himself. In his maiden political speech at the end of January, Gantz himself promised various policies that are pure anathema to the haredi community.
    In just a few short sentences, Gantz pledged to institute civil unions, a form of civil marriage, an idea hated by the haredi parties since it allows for interfaith marriage proscribed by Jewish law, public transportation on Shabbat, “full rights” for gay Israelis and vowed to prevent the exclusion of, and discrimination against, women.
    To the haredi ear, these all sound like a full-out attack on its lifestyle and beliefs, and the haredi leadership began speaking out against such proposals immediately.
    Now that Gantz has coupled himself to Lapid, and with the polls predicting that Blue and White – as the new joint party is called, will become the largest party in the coming elections, the warning lights for the haredi parties are well and truly flashing.
     Given this state of affairs, the haredi parties are now in something of a panic. Eichler insisted that a UTJ breakaway group called the Jerusalem Faction, numbering several tens of thousands of voters but which boycotted the last elections, must vote for the haredi party to prevent civil unrest should Blue and White take power.
    And UTJ MK Uri Maklev also talked on Sunday of the importance of haredi voters voting for the haredi parties and not Likud, as some 25,000 haredi voters did in 2015, while UTJ candidate Yitzhak Pindrus tried to dismiss the candidacy of haredi woman Omer Yankelevich for Israel Resilience as “decoration.”
    It would appear that the haredi leadership does have good reason to fear a government led by Blue and White with their bete noire Lapid apparently ready to take on haredi interests once again.
    What is certain is that every weapon in the arsenal of the haredi parties will be deployed to ensure they do not make it into power.
    Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>
    Read the whole story

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    The six essential cons that define Donald Trump's success

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    Washington | Nearly four decades ago, Donald Trump deceived me into including him on the first Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans. He claimed a net worth of $US100 million but was actually worth less than a tenth of that. Last week, President Trump declared a national state of emergency to bypass the constitutional budgeting powers of Congress and divert money to build a wall on the border with Mexico. What do these acts have in common? Only that they are the first and latest entries on the continuum of cons that have defined Trump's success.
    A real estate insider told me back in the 1980s that Trump's win-at-all-costs father, Fred, "loves a crook and he loves a showman." Donald Trump has built his extraordinary career by exhibiting the characteristics of both. He is a self-promoter willing to lie, swindle and destroy to advance his insatiable self-interest. I am not the first journalist to observe that for Trump, the "Art of the Deal" has been the art of the con. But as the first journalist to enable the consummate con man's career-boosting deceptions, I have a completist's view of the pernicious racket that is his playbook. Here, in roughly chronological order, are the six essential cons around which Trump has built and sustained his success:
    You have reached an article available exclusively to subscribers
    Get unlimited access to Australia's best business news and market insights, including our award-winning app.

    Trump 'greatest threat' to US democracy since Civil War: Top Dem - Google Search

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    PressTV-Trump 'greatest threat' to US democracy: Top Dem

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    A top US Democrat has lashed out at President Donald Trump for his abuse of power, calling the Republican head of state the "greatest threat" to American democracy.
    Representative Jerrold Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said in an interview airing Sunday that never since the Civil War the democratic process in the US had been so much vulnerable.
    "I view this president and his conduct as the greatest threat to the democratic system and to the constitutional government since the Civil War,” Nadler told a radio interview. "Whether it’s threatening the newspapers or threatening the judiciary or calling people who criticize him treasonous.”
    Nadler, who has the power to authorize investigations into various aspects of the Trump administration, said the House of Representatives was going to hold hearings on a number of issues, including Trump’s "abuse of power" as well as his "obstruction of justice."
    “Clearly...there have been major abuses of power, major obstruction of justice, obvious violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution," the New York lawmaker said. "All of these have to be looked at."
    Democrats insist that Trump has been using his powers as president to undermine US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into his alleged “collusion” with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
    Nadler said the hearings would be focused on actions conducted in a “noncriminal manner,” whether they were in violation of norms or threatened the democratic system.
    He also said congressional Democrats were putting together legislation that required Mueller's final report to be made public.
    Mueller has subpoenaed many members of the Trump campaign, including his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former lawyer Michael Cohen.
    The special counsel’s months-long probe has already found traces of corruption within the Trump team but has yet to reveal any evidence that suggests Trump had been directly “colluding” with the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin to influence the outcome of the White House race.
    As the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Nadler would also oversee any impeachment investigation should Democrats try to deliver on their many pledges to impeach Trump in case his gets in Mueller’s way.
    Barack Obama, Trump’s predecessor, and his intelligence chiefs had claimed in the final days of their terms in office that Moscow had been running a large cyber warfare campaign to help Trump defeat his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
    Russia has denied all the charges, dismissing them as part of the Russophobia campaign the West has been running against Moscow for years.
    Trump has also denounced the probe as a “witch hunt,” accusing Clinton and Democrats of being in collusion with Moscow.
    Read the whole story

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    Donald Trump ‘Greatest Threat’ To America Since Civil War, Says Top Democrat

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    In a radio interview aired Sunday, top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler of New York, described President Donald Trump as the “greatest threat” to American democracy since the Civil War, The Hill reports.
    “I view this president and his conduct as the greatest threat to the democratic system and to the constitutional government since the Civil War,” he said.
    The New York Democrat listed a number of reasons he thinks Donald Trump is the single biggest threat to democracy in the United States since the Civil War, including the president’s “threatening” of journalists and the judiciary committee, and his characterization of individuals who dare criticize him as “treasonous.”
    The House Judiciary Committee chairman also announced a number of probes into the Trump administration, saying that the House of Representatives will soon hold hearings pertaining to the president’s alleged abuses of power and obstruction of justice.
    “Clearly…there have been major abuses of power, major obstruction of justice, obvious violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. All of these have to be looked at,” Nadler said.
    The New York representative explained that such hearings would not focus on criminal activity. On the contrary, he said, they would focus on actions conducted in a “noncriminal manner.” Meaning, the House will likely look into Donald Trump’s alleged violating of norms, as well as the president’s perceived threats to the United States’ democratic system.
    The Democratic Party will also seek to force the publication of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report, Nadler announced.
    This comes as no surprise, given that other Democrats have indicated that ensuring Robert Mueller’s report is available to the public in full is one of their top priorities.
    As previously reported by The Inquisitr, echoing Jerrold Nadler, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff warned the Justice Department against withholding the Mueller report.
    According to Schiff, President Trump — who is being accused of collaborating with official Moscow to sway the 2016 presidential election in his favor — should welcome the publication of the special counsel’s final memo.
    Mueller has been appointed to investigate the alleged collusion and, according to Schiff, he could be called to testify before Congress, and his report will be subpoenaed if necessary.
    “We are going to get to the bottom of this. We are going to share this information with the public. And if the president is serious about all his claims of exoneration, then he should welcome the publication of the report,” Schiff said.
    Schiff and Nadler’s statements come amid reports that Mueller is bringing his investigation to an end. Both men are top Democrats, and both have the power to launch investigations against Donald Trump.
    Furthermore, according to the Hill, as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler would be in charge of overseeing impeachment investigations, should House Democrats pursue them.
    Read the whole story

    · ·

    U.S. Democrats will subpoena Mueller's Russia report if needed: Schiff | News

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    By Ginger Gibson
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats will subpoena Special Counsel Robert Mueller's final report on his investigation into links between U.S. President Donald Trump's 2016 election team and Russia if it is not given to Congress, senior lawmaker Adam Schiff said on Sunday.
    Schiff, a Democrat who chairs the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said Democrats will also sue the government and call on Mueller to testify to Congress if necessary.
    "We will obviously subpoena the report. We will bring Bob Mueller in to testify before Congress; we will take it to court if necessary. And in the end, I think the (Justice) Department understands they're going to have to make this public,” Schiff said in an appearance on ABC's "This Week."
    Amid reports that Mueller could be near concluding a 21-month investigation into whether Trump's campaign team colluded with Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election, Democrats are pushing for it to be made public.
    When Mueller completes his report, he will hand it in to Trump's attorney general, William Barr.
    But Barr indicated during his confirmation hearings that he could draft his own report to Congress and not turn Mueller's report over in its entirety.
    Trump, a Republican, has denied any collusion took place between his campaign team and Moscow. Russia denies the claims of U.S. intelligence agencies that it meddled in the 2016 elections.
    Trump refers to the Mueller probe as a "witch hunt" and on Sunday wrote on Twitter that the only collusion with the Russians was committed by Hillary Clinton, his rival in the 2016 election, and the Democratic National Committee.
    Democrats hope to use the Mueller report as the basis for any further investigations into Trump, including whether they would initiate impeachment proceedings.
    Schiff said he would be willing to take the administration to court if it does not turn over the Mueller report.
    "We are going to get to the bottom of this," Schiff said. "We are going to share this information with the public and if the president is serious about all of his claims of exoneration, then he should welcome the publication of this report."
    (Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
    Read the whole story

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    Page 5

    Court records reveal a Mueller report right in plain view

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    Donald Trump was in full deflection mode.
    The Democrats had blamed Russia for the hacking and release of damaging material on his presidential opponent, Hillary ClintonTrump wasn’t buying it. But on July 27, 2016, midway through a news conference in Florida, Trump decided to entertain the thought for a moment.
    “Russia, if you’re listening,” said Trump, looking directly into a television camera, “I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing” — messages Clinton was reported to have deleted from her private email server.
    Actually, Russia was doing more than listening: It had been trying to help the Republican Trump for months. That very day, hackers working with Russia’s military intelligence tried to break into email accounts associated with Clinton’s personal office.
    It was just one small part of a sophisticated election interference operation carried out by the Kremlin — and meticulously chronicled by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
    We know this, though Mueller has made not a single public comment since his appointment in May 2017. We know this, though the full, final report on the investigation, believed to be in its final stages, may never be made public. It’s up to Attorney General William Barr.
    We know this because Mueller has spoken loudly, if indirectly, in court — indictment by indictment, guilty plea by guilty plea. In doing so, he tracked an elaborate Russian operation that injected chaos into a U.S. presidential election and tried to help Trump win the White House. He followed a GOPcampaign that embraced the Kremlin’s help and championed stolen material to hurt a political foe. And ultimately, he revealed layers of lies, deception, self-enrichment and hubris that followed.
    Woven through thousands of court papers, the special counsel has made his public report. This is what it says.

    Russia, looking to interfere

    The plot began before Bernie Bros and “Lock Her Up,” before MAGA hats and “Lyin’ Ted,” before there was even a thought of Trump versus Clinton in 2016. It started in 2014, in a drab, concrete building in St. Petersburg, Russia.
    There, a group of tech-savvy Russian nationals, working at an organization called the Internet Research Agency, prepared “information warfare against the United States of America.” The battleground would be the internet, and the target was the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
    Using a game plan honed on its own people, the troll farm prepared to pervert the social networks — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram — that Americans had come to depend on for news, entertainment, friendships and, most relevantly, political discourse.
    It would use deception, disinformation and the expansive reach of the electronically connected world to spread “distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” Ultimately, it would carry a budget in the millions, bankrolled, according to an indictment, by Yevgeny Prighozin, a man so close to the Russian president that he is known as Putin’s chef. (Prighozin’s company has denied the charges.)
    It was a long game. Starting in mid-2014, employees began studying American political groups to see which messages fell flat and which spread like wildfire across the internet. The organization surreptitiously dispatched employees to the U.S. — traveling through states including Nevada, California and Colorado — to collect on-the-ground intelligence about an America that had become deeply divided on gun control, race and politics.
    As they gathered the research, the trolls began planning an elaborate deception.
    They bought server space and other computer infrastructure in the U.S. to conceal the true origin of the disinformation they planned to pump into America’s social media bloodstream. They began preparing networks of fake accounts they would use to masquerade as U.S. citizens.
    The Russian trolls set up accounts that appeared to be associated with Black Lives Matter, the Tennessee GOP, Muslim and Christian groups and the American South. By late 2015, as Clinton sparred with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, her rival for the Democratic nomination, and as American media still saw Trump as a long shot to emerge from a crowded Republican field, the Internet Research Agency began secretly buying online ads to promote its social media groups.
    By February 2016, they were ready. A memo circulated internally. Post content about “politics in the USA,” they wrote, according to court papers, and “use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump— we support them).”
    As disinformation scrolled across American computer screens, an entirely different Russian operation readied its own volley.
    In March 2016, as Clinton and Trump began to emerge as the leaders of their respective parties, Russian military intelligence officers began setting a trap.
    Hackers in Russia’s military intelligence, known as the GRU, started sending dozens of malicious emails to people affiliated with Clinton’s campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee.
    Like Watergate, it was a break-in. But this time, the burglary tools were emails disguised to fool people into sharing their passwords and in turn provide hackers unfettered access to their emails. The goal was to collect as many damaging documents as possible that could be released online and hurt Clinton’s candidacy.
    In a few short weeks, the hackers had penetrated their targets and hit the motherlode: the private Gmail account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

    A receptive campaign

    While the Russians were hacking, a young Trump campaign advisor named George Papadopoulosreceived some startling news in London.
    It was April 26, 2016. While traveling through Europe, he had connected with a Maltese academic. The professor, a middle-aged man with thinning gray hair named Joseph Mifsud, had taken a keen interest in Papadopoulos upon learning that he had joined the Trump campaign as a foreign policy advisor. To dazzle his young friend, Mifsud boasted of his high-level Russian connections and introduced him to a woman named Olga — a relative, he claimed, of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    Mifsud and Olga wanted Papadopoulos to arrange a meeting between Trump aides and Russian officials. Eager to ingratiate himself with the campaign, Papadopoulos brought up his newfound connections in a meeting with Trump and several high-ranking campaign officials, saying he could broker a Trump-Putin summit. When he raised the idea, his lawyers later said, Trump nodded with approval and deferred to another aide in the room, future Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, who said the campaign should look into it. Sessions would later say he remembered telling Papadopoulos that he wasn’t authorized to speak for the campaign.
    When he walked into a London hotel for breakfast with Mifsud, Papadopoulos expected to discuss Russia’s “open invitation” to meet with Trump. But the conversation quickly turned to another subject. Mifsud confided in Papadopoulos that Russia had “dirt” on Clinton. What kind of dirt? “Thousands of emails.”
    What happened next remains a mystery. Prosecutors haven’t revealed exactly where Mifsud got his information or what Papadopoulos might have done with it. The encounter, the first known instance of a Trump aide hearing of stolen emails, would later help kick-start the Russia investigation. But at the time, it was just one of many connections already established between the Trump campaign and Russia.
    Unbeknownst to the public, Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen had been trying to broker a business deal in Russia for the Republican candidate. The proposal was for a Trump Tower Moscow. A letter of intent was signed. Cohen had discussed it with Trump and his children. Cohen had even gone so far as to reach out to the Kremlin directly for help, speaking with an official about ways to secure land and financing for the project.
    While Cohen pursued the deal, another person with Russia ties joined the Trump campaign. Paul Manafort, a longtime Washington insider, had made millions as a political consultant for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. Over that time, Manafort developed a close relationship with a man named Konstantin Kilimnik, who the FBI says has ties to Russian military intelligence. Manafort also had worked for a Russian billionaire named Oleg Deripaskawho is close with Putin.
    But in March 2016, Manafort was looking for a comeback. His business had dried up after Yanukovych was ousted and fled to Russia. The millions that Manafort had hidden from the IRS while enjoying a lavish lifestyle were largely gone. With the Trump campaign, Manafort saw an opportunity to get back on his feet. He and his protege, Rick Gates, quickly worked their way into the highest levels of the campaign, and they began trying to make sure old clients had heard about their new positions.
    As Trump clinched the Republican nomination, Manafort and those around him began preparing for a general-election battle against Clinton.
    The Russians did, too. The Internet Research Agency boosted its support of Trump — and disparagement of Clinton. Using stolen identities and bank account information, the troll farm also began buying political ads on social media services, according to Mueller.
    “Donald wants to defeat terrorism ... Hillary wants to sponsor it,” read one. “Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote,” read another.
    Meanwhile, hackers with the GRU secretly implanted malicious software — called X-Agent — on the computer networks of the DNC and the DCCC. It allowed them to surreptitiously search through the political operatives’ computers and steal what they wanted. As the hackers roamed the Democratic networks, a separate group of Russian intelligence officers established the means to release their ill-gotten gains, registering a website, <a href="http://DCLeaks.com" rel="nofollow">DCLeaks.com</a>.
    By May, the Democratic groups realized they had been hacked. The DNC quickly hired a private cybersecurity company, CrowdStrike, to identify the extent of the breach and to try to clear their networks of malware. But they kept it quiet until they knew more.
    On the Trump campaign, Papadopoulos continued to push for a Trump-Putin meeting, unsuccessfully.
    At the same time, another Russian outreach found a willing audience in Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.
    In early June, Trump Jr. exchanged a series of emails with a British publicist representing Emin Agalarov, a pop singer in Russia, whose father had partnered with the Trumps on the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Emin Agalarov and Trump Jr. had become friendly, and the publicist, Rob Goldstone, had become a regular intermediary between the two wealthy sons.
    Over email, Goldstone brokered a meeting between Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer. He said the lawyer had documents that could “incriminate” Clinton and they were being shared as part of the Russian government’s support of the Trump campaign. “Seems we have some time and if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” Trump Jr. wrote back.
    The meeting was held at Trump Tower in Manhattan on June 9. Trump Jr. attended along with Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. Participants in the room would later say the meeting was a bust, consumed by a lengthy discussion of Russian adoption and U.S. sanctions. To Trump Jr., the information wasn’t useful ammunition against Clinton. He was less concerned that it came from Russia.
    Days later, on June 14, the DNC publicly announced it had been hacked, and pointed the finger at Russia.
    By then, the Russian hackers had launched <a href="http://DCLeaks.com" rel="nofollow">DCLeaks.com</a>. According to Mueller , the DNC announcement accelerated their plans.
    They created a fake online persona called Guccifer 2.0, which quickly took credit for the hack. Through Guccifer, the hackers masqueraded as a “lone Romanian hacker” and released caches of stolen material.
    The efforts attracted the attention of WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group led by Julian Assange from his exile within Ecuador’s embassy in London.
    On June 22, 2016, the group sent a private message to Guccifer: “Send any new material here for us to review and it will have a much higher impact than what you are doing.”
    Over the next several weeks, WikiLeaks requested any documents related to Clinton, saying they wanted to release them before the Democratic National Convention when they worried she would successfully recruit Sanders supporters.
    We “think trump has only a 25% chance of winning against hillary ... so conflict between bernie and hillary is interesting,” WikiLeaks wrote.
    Using Guccifer, the Russian intelligence officers transferred the files to WikiLeaks, hoping for a big online splash.
    They wouldn’t have to wait long.

    Leaks and cigars

    July 22 was supposed to be a big Friday for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The former secretary of State was planning to announce Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate. The party’s convention was just days away.
    But at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time, WikiLeaks stole the limelight, releasing more than 20,000 stolen DNC emails.
    The cascade of stolen material was almost immediately picked up by American news outlets, conservative pundits and Trump supporters who, in the wake of Clinton’s FBI investigation for using a private email server, were happy to blast out anything with “Clinton” and “emails” in the same sentence.
    So was Trump. After publicly questioning that Russia was behind the hack of Democratic groups, he took to the stage in Florida to make his famous call to Russia, “if you’re listening.” He would later begin praising WikiLeaks.
    Smelling a possible political advantage, the Trump campaign reached out to Roger Stone, a close confidant of Trump’s who is known for his bare-knuckles brand of political mischief. Stone had been claiming to have connections to WikiLeaks, and campaign officials were looking to find out when WikiLeaks would drop its next batch of documents.
    According to an indictment against Stone, after the first release of DNC documents, “a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information” WikiLeaks had regarding Clinton’s campaign.
    In August, Stone began claiming he had inside information into Assange’s plans. At the same time, he was privately sending messages to a radio host and a conservative conspiracy theorist — both of whom had claimed to have connections to WikiLeaks — seeking anything they knew. (No evidence has emerged that these messages made it to Assange.)
    That same month there was a meeting that went to the “heart” of the Russia investigation, according to a Mueller prosecutor. It involved Manafort, and it remains an enigma, at least to the public.
    Court papers indicate Manafort had previously shared polling information related to the Trump campaign with Kilimnik, his old Russian pal. According to emails and court papers, Manafort — looking to make money from his Trump access — had also been in touch with Kilimnik about providing private briefings for the billionaire Deripaska. (There’s no evidence such briefings ever occurred.)
    Meeting with Manafort and Gates at New York’s Grand Havana Room cigar bar on Aug. 2, 2016, Kilimnik brought up a possible peace plan for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. What happened at that meeting is in dispute and much of it remains redacted in court papers.
    But the Mueller prosecutor would note: The men left separately to avoid unwanted attention.
    As the campaign entered the final stretch and Trump’s advisors waited for the next WikiLeaks dump, Russian trolls— who had gained hundreds of thousands of social media followers — were barraging Americans with pro-Trump and anti-Clinton rhetoric, using Twitter hashtags such as ”#MAGA” and ”#Hillary4Prison.”
    By early October, Stone was looking for more. On Oct. 3, 2016, ahead of an expected news conference by Assange, Stone exchanged messages with Matthew Boyle, a writer at Breitbart who was close to Trump campaign strategist Steve Bannon.
    “Assange — what’s he got? Hope it’s good,” Boyle wrote to Stone.
    “It is,” Stone wrote back. “I’d tell Bannon but he doesn’t call me back.”
    Hours later, Assange held a news conference in which he appeared to waffle on whether he would release additional documents about Clinton.
    Bannon reached out to Stone: “What was that this morning???” Stone chalked it up to a “security concern” and said WikiLeaks would be releasing “a load every week going forward.”
    By Oct. 7, the Trump campaign was embroiled in its own scandal. The Washington Post released audio of Trump bragging about sexually harassing and groping women. But within hours, WikiLeaks gave Trump’s team a break.
    The first set of emails stolen from Podesta’s accounts popped onto WikiLeaks’ website. Stone’s phone lit up. It was a text message from a Bannon associate.
    “well done,” it read.

    A series of lies

    The first documented lie in the Russia investigation happened on Jan. 24, 2017, in the White House office of freshly appointed national security advisor Michael Flynn.
    It was the Tuesday after Trump’s inauguration, and Flynn was settling in after a whirlwind presidential transition.
    Since Trump’s victory in November, Flynn had become part of his inner circle — and the preferred contact between the Trump team and Russia. In late December, Flynn had asked Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., to reject or delay a U.N. vote condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Days later, as the Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russia for election-meddling, Flynn implored Kislyak not to escalate a “tit-for-tat” fight over punishment imposed on Moscow for election interference.
    But on that Tuesday, when FBI agents asked Flynn about those conversations, he lied. No, he said, he hadn’t made those requests of Kislyak.
    Days later in Chicago, other FBI agents confronted Papadopoulos as he had just stepped out of the shower at his mother’s home. Though his mother would later say she knew it was a terrible idea, he agreed to go to their office for questioning, where he misled them about his conversations with Mifsud, the Maltese professor.
    Months later — after Mueller’s May 2017 appointment — Cohen lied to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project, saying it ended much sooner than June 2016. Cohen would later say he was trying to be loyal to Trump and match the public messaging of a president who had adamantly denied any business dealings with Russia.
    Even when Trump aides tried to come clean and cooperate with Mueller’s team, they couldn’t keep their stories straight.
    As he was working out a plea agreement with Mueller, Gates lied to investigators about his and Manafort’s Ukrainian lobbying work. Manafort pleaded guilty and agree to cooperate, but a judge later determined he had also misled Mueller’s team about several matters, including about his interactions with Kilimnik. Those lies voided the plea deal.
    The deceptions played out as Mueller methodically brought criminal cases. He indicted the Russian hackers. He did the same to the troll farm. He exposed Manafort’s tax cheating and his illicit foreign lobbying, winning at trial and putting the 69-year-old political operative at risk of spending the rest of his life in prison. And one by one, his team got guilty pleas from Flynn, Papadopoulos and others.
    Most recently, he indicted Stone, accusing him of witness tampering and lying to Congress about his efforts to glean information about the WikiLeaks disclosures. Despite emails showing him repeatedly discussing WikiLeaks with Trump advisors and others, Stone told lawmakers he had no records of that sort. (Stone has pleaded not guilty.)
    In the backdrop of all this are Trump and his family.
    Mueller’s grand jury heard testimony from several participants of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting arranged by Trump Jr., but no charges have been filed.
    The mercurial president himself has made no secret of his disdain for the Mueller investigation and his efforts to undermine it. Mueller has investigated whether any of Trump’s actions constituted obstruction of justice, but the special counsel hasn’t gone public with what he found.
    And it’s unclear if he ever will.
    Read the whole story

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    Ex-Jerusalem mayor poised to overtake Netanyahu as richest MK

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    While last week’s political merger between Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid has injected considerable uncertainty into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection campaign, there is one title the premier is all but certain to lose — that of richest Knesset member.
    That honor will instead go to former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, according to a list of Israel’s wealthiest politicians released Sunday by Forbes.
    Barkat, who the business magazine estimated is worth NIS 500 million ($138,458 million), is number nine on Likud’s electoral slate after an impressive showing in its primary and, with the ruling party currently polling around 30 seats, is expected to easily win a Knesset seat.
    Before entering Jerusalem municipal politics, Barkat and his brother Eli Barkat founded an anti-virus firm that they would later transform into a successful investment fund in high-tech companies.
    Following Barkat on the list was his sister-in-law Alona Barkat with a projected worth of NIS 460 million ($127,381 million), much of which also comes from tech investments.
    Alona Barkat, who is known for owning the Hapoel Beersheba soccer team, earlier this month joined the New Right party and was placed number three on its slate.

    Hapoel Beersheba soccer team owner Alona Barkat gives a press conference in Beersheba, on February 7, 2019. (Flash90)
    Among active politicians, Forbes ranked Netanyahu as the richest, with NIS 50 million ($13.8 million) in assets, much of which is believed to have come from consulting work and lectures he gave during his sabbatical from politics after losing the 1999 elections to Labor’s Ehud Barak.
    After Netanyahu came Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a co-leader of the New Right, with NIS 32 million ($8.861 million). Bennett was a co-founder of the tech company Cyota, which was bought out by US-based RSA Security in 2005.
    Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay, a former CEO of the Bezeq telecoms giant, was next, with an estimated NIS 29 million ($8.03 million) in wealth, followed by Likud Minister Haim Katz with NIS 28 million ($7.75 million). Katz was a head of the Israel Aerospace Industries workers union before entering politics.
    Trailing Katz was Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid, a former television host, with NIS 25 million ($6.9 million).
    Other notable names on the list included former military chief Benny Gantz, who last week merged his Israel Resilience party with Yesh Atid to form the Blue and White Alliance.
    According to Forbes, Gantz is worth around NIS 8 million ($2.2 million), though the magazine noted this did not include his military pension, which it said could total NIS 20 million ($5.5 million) by the time the 59-year-old retired general turns 80.

    Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak attends a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, at the Ben Zvi Institute in Jerusalem on June 5, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Though no longer a serving or prospective lawmaker, third overall on the list was Barak, whom the magazine included because of his continued political activity.
    Barak’s wealth was put at NIS 120 million ($33.2 million), with Forbes saying he saw the largest jump in his net worth thanks to his investment in medical marijuana firm InterCure, an increase in value of his real estate holdings and money he has accumulated from giving paid lectures and consulting.
    Read the whole story

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    Kushner Cos buys portfolio of apartments for US$1.15b, Real Estate

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    Mon, Feb 25, 2019 - 5:50 AM
    New York
    KUSHNER Cos, the property company owned by the family of Jared Kushner - US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser - has acquired a rental-apartment portfolio for US$1.15 billion, the firm's biggest purchase in more than a decade.
    The company bought 6,030 apartments across 16 properties in Maryland and Virginia from private equity firm Lone Star Funds.
    This is according to a representative for Michael Campbell of the Carlton Group, a real estate investment bank helping to arrange financing for the deal, who confirmed the purchase.
    The purchase from Lone Star is the latest sign that Kushner Cos is returning to its roots after it sold almost US$2 billion of suburban apartments in 2007 to help finance the purchase of 666 Fifth Ave, a 41-storey Manhattan office tower.
    Now, it has slowly been transitioning away from New York City and back to the sprawling multifamily complexes that Charlie Kushner, Jared's father, built his fortune on.
    The deal comes less than a year after Kushner Cos unloaded its interest in the office tower, which was overburdened with debt from the record-setting US$1.8 billion purchase.
    Brookfield Asset Management took a 99-year lease on the building and intends to update the aging property to attract new tenants.
    As Jared Kushner ascended to the White House in early 2017, the family was in talks with China's Anbang Insurance Group Co for a deal that would have knocked down the 41-storey tower and built a second, twice as tall, in its place.
    The transaction fell apart after the terms were made public. The sale to Brookfield paid off a US$1.1 billion mortgage that would have come due this month.
    Talks between Kushner Cos and Lone Star began in the middle of 2018, according to a person familiar with the deal who asked not to be named discussing a private deal. Kushner Cos put down a non-refundable deposit this week, the person said.
    The 6,030 apartments are spread across Baltimore suburbs such as Cockeysville, Owings Mills and Columbia, and Washington suburbs in Virginia including Alexandria, Fairfax and Reston.
    In 2017, Kushner Cos teamed up with Israel-based Psagot Investment House to buy Quail Ridge, a 1,032-unit complex in Plainsboro, New Jersey, that the Kushner family had owned until a 2007 sale. In April last year, the firm bought the 360-unit Prospect Place in Hackensack, New Jersey. BLOOMBERG
    Read the whole story

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    Investigate McCabe’s 25th Amendment Tale

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    Signed in as Michael_Novakhov
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    On Foreign Trips, Pence Steps Out of Trump’s Shadow but Always Stays on Message

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    “I don’t think it was as much about how he was received,” Marc Short, Mr. Pence’s incoming chief of staff, said. “He was effective in getting his message across.”
    This relatively low-key approach makes for a kind of comfortable stability as well as a whiff of rigidity on Mr. Pence’s trips.
    Mr. Pence does not drink — he gave it up in the past, Mr. Short said, for “lots of reasons,” so no alcohol is served onboard Air Force Two. Mr. Pence opts for coffee as he revises and tweaks his prepared remarks at all hours. Any reporters or West Wing staff members along for the ride have to make do.
    When they are in different places, according to aides, Mr. Pence and the president speak several times a day. Their conversations tend to remain private even among the vice president’s closest advisers.
    “You will never ever hear him talk about his conversations, his advice, their discussions, ever,” said Marc Lotter, Mr. Pence’s former spokesman. “The only thing we would hear is, ‘The president wants us to do this.’”
    This deferential style is one Mr. Pence has told people he admired in George Bush when he was Ronald Reagan’s vice president. Mr. Bush was so humble that he famously refused to let a helicopter deposit him on the South Lawn after Mr. Reagan was shot in a 1981 assassination attempt. “Only the president lands on the South Lawn,” Mr. Bush remarked at the time.
    And so, even on Mr. Pence’s European trip, Mr. Trump’s influence could hardly be missed. His in-flight entourage contained several Trump loyalists, including the president’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, the architect of the administration’s nascent Middle East peace plan, who traveled alongside Mr. Pence for most of his stops.

    All eyes on William Barr

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    As various major news outlets continue to speculate about the conclusion of Robert Mueller’s investigation, the spotlight will inevitably begin to shine on William Barr. Before being confirmed as Attorney General, Barr penned a memo to Rod Rosenstein and Steven Engel stating that Trump’s firing of Comey did not rise to the level of legal obstruction because as president, he has the right to hire and fire staff as he sees fit.
    Barr did, however, say in his memo that a president can be charged with obstruction if he destroys evidence, suborns perjury, or interferes with a witness with the intent of changing his or her testimony. Trump has been accused of doing most, if not all, of these things. Barr did disagree with Trump that Mueller’s investigation was a “witch hunt” though this public declaration reveals little of what Barr is thinking.

    So, what’s it going to be for Barr? Is he going to allow Mueller’s report and everything contained therein to proceed, even if those findings support obstruction by the president? The Democrats are now demanding that Mueller’s report be made public or, at the very least, turned over to Congress. Barr is the only person who can make that ultimate decision.

    Most believe that Trump nominated Barr because of the June 8 memo, erroneously thinking that his writing meant he was willing to protect Trump from criminal charges. Keep in mind that when Barr wrote his memo, it was from the standpoint of an outsider, giving his “two cents.” Barr acknowledged that he was not privy to any evidence or information held by the Justice Department. The bulk of Barr’s memo centered on the legal definition of “obstruction,” a category which he does not believe the firing of James Comey fits. He was clear that obstruction is “evidence of interference in finding the truth or otherwise compromising the integrity of such an investigation.” In that case, if it is proven that Trump tampered with witnesses (and we know he has), will Barr do the right thing and allow the report – good or bad – to be public?

    Barr has stated that he will “summarize” Mueller’s report, but do his plans include leaving out pertinent parts that point to Trump’s guilt? If he follows the very law he quotes, he cannot. Barr could base much of his decision on whether or not people mentioned in the report will be indicted. Congress is pushing back, however, by reminding Barr that information that should have been confidential about Hillary Clinton was publicly released, though she was never indicted. Is one investigation more important than the other? No.

    Where this ends up is anyone’s guess, but rest assured that if they are not given the opportunity to read Mueller’s full report, Congress will demand access. One way or the other, Mueller will find a way to make his findings public. We’re just getting started with this, so stay tuned. We won’t know anything until the report is released. Then, we will be able to see just how this plays out.
    Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years
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    Page 6

    ‘If This Is A Witch Hunt, Mueller’s Found A Coven’

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    Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal appeared Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press to discuss Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, The Hill reports.
    The former Obama administration official discussed President Donald Trump’s tendency to label Mueller’s investigation as a politically-motivated “witch hunt.” Trump often alleges bias, insulting Mueller and his team of prosecutors who are, he claims, conflicted and partisan.
    “If this is a witch hunt, Mueller’s found a coven at this point,” the former Obama administration official said.
    While many disagree with President Trump’s characterization of Robert Mueller’s probe, it is undeniable that the special counsel is yet to charge or indict anyone for colluding or conspiring with Russia. Mueller was appointed to investigate the alleged coordination between Moscow and the Trump campaign.
    As Axios reported, detailing every important event in Mueller’s two-year investigation, the special counsel has netted 37 indictments or guilty pleas, four prison sentences, and 99 criminal charges so far.
    In October of 2017, Mueller indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner, Rick Gates, on 12 counts of conspiracy against the United States, pertaining to lobbying work on behalf of the Ukrainian government and money laundering. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos were also indicted in October, and subsequently pleaded to making false statements to the FBI.
    In February of 2018, Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for interfering in the 2016 presidential election. The indicted individuals and entities spread false information online in an effort to sow discord, according to ABC News.
    February was productive for Robert Mueller, as his team of prosecutors filed new money laundering and bank fraud charges against Manafort and Gates, and got Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan to plead guilty about his contacts with the two men. In June, Mueller brought additional charges against Manafort, also charging his associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national, for conspiring to launder money.
    In July, Mueller indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officers, alleging that they had hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential campaign. In November, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. He was subsequently sentenced to three years in prison on charges related to tax evasion, false statements, and campaign finance violations.
    The fact that Mueller failed to indict or charge anyone with colluding or conspiring with the Kremlin thus far, according to former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, does not make his investigation a witch hunt. The crimes these individuals have committed are, according to the former Obama administration official, nevertheless “crucial.”
    “It’s a really thin read to say, ‘Oh, you’ve been indicted for obstruction of justice about Russian collusion and not the Russian collusion itself.’ I mean, some people denigrate these as so-called process crimes. But anyone in law enforcement knows, these are really crucial crimes,” Katyal said.

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The New Abwehr Hypothesis of The Operation Trump 

A Study In Political Psychology, Political Criminology, and Psychohistory, and as the aid for the General, Criminal and the Counterintelligence Investigations of Donald Trump - by Michael Novakhov, M.D. (Mike Nova): Web Research, Analysis, Hypotheses, and Opinions | Current News | Reviews of media reports | Selected reading lists | Site: http://trumpinvestigations.org/ | Bike With Mike! Psycho-Historically And Hermeneutically. 

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M.N.: This is a very important story. It confirms my impressions, formed earlier, that the Orthodox Judaism in general, and its various offshoots , such as "Chabad Lubavitch" and other "Hasidic movements", just like the State of Israel itself (God bless it), are nothing less and nothing more than the creations of the Abwehr and the New Abwehr (after WW2), which themselves were and are predominantly half or part Jewish, especially in their "top heavy" leadership circles, including Canaris himself and most of his commanding officers, as exemplified by this particular one described in this article

It was a historically formed and a historically determined circumstance: the ethnically German junkers looked down upon the Intelligence work which, as they felt, was not compatible with their ideal of the "honest military service", and they gladly or by necessity gave this area to the Jews and part Jews to manage. Another half of this formula might have been in the objective military observations that the smart, creative, ambitious, and quite German-wise patriotic Jews were simply much better and more efficient in this area, and they accepted and practiced this observation as the rule of their science and arts of wars and espionage. 


For the half and part Jewish Abwehr officers this "half and half" became their ideal and their elaborate "philosophy": the fusion of the Germanic and the Hebrew Spirits and their best embodiment and representations (in the high Abwehr officers, of course). 


It also included the criteria for the personnel selection; most of the Abwehr high officers do LOOK half or part Jewish


This point is very important for the understanding of the Abwehr's and the New Abwehr's psychology, outlook, and the nature, the character, and the distinguishing, the "diagnostic" features of their operations


The New Abwehr apparently, influences and manipulates the Orthodox Judaic movements, especially their pet project, the "Chabad Lubavitch" and other "Hasidic movements" quite heavily and almost absolutely invisibly, masking and advertising their "Putin connection" as the quite efficient, convenient, and convincing cover. 


These issues need the sophisticated and in-depth research. 


With regard to Trump Investigations, this assumption, or the working hypothesis, as described above, has the direct bearing and is a factor in understanding the Sphinx The Regent Jared Kushner, his family, their origins, and the origins of their wealth


The so called "Bielski Partisans" absolutely could not exist, function, and survive (quite nicely, with the trainloads of the robbed Nazi Gold and jewelry, which they later invested in the US real estate and other successful business ventures-rackets) without the overt or tacit approval and consent from the Abwehr which controlled everything on the occupied territories


The Kushner Crime Family was the tool: kapos and the enforcers for the Abwehr. They became their money launderes and money managers after the WW2, when Abwehr moved them to the US


The Trump Crime Family was the long term Abwehr assets, starting from Frederich Trump, Donald's grandfather, who run the bordellos for them, and including Fred Trump, Donald's father who built the "economy" housing for the newly arrived Abwehr agents, mixed into the mass of the legitimate refugees, and who also became the money launderer and the money manager for the Abwehr and the New Abwehr


Recently they (the New Abwehr planners) decided to merge these two families into a singleTrump-Kushner Crime Family, in what was clearly the arranged marriage between Jared and Ivanka, in preparation and as the first step towards Operation Trump
It was helped, as the apparent second step in this arrangement, by Wendi Deng the "Chinese spy", as alleged and circulated by Rupert Murdoch, her husband at the time. Both of them, just as, hypothetically, the FOX News Corporation were (and are?) heavily influenced by the New Abwehr. For Murdoch this proclivity apparently also runs in a family.  This is the apparent pattern of this prudent way of family recruitment; universally, and for the Abwehr in particular. 

This aspect is also important for the understanding of the role that Felix Sater and his "Chabad" sect played in the "Trump - Russia Affair". 


This thesis about the connection between the Orthodox Judaism and Abwehr is also consistent with the "Abwehr Diagnostic Triad" which was formulated by me earlier, as consisting of: 

  1) Judeophobia (as the psychological product of these described above circumstances: the Abwehr half Jews were the GOOD (half) JEWS, all the rest were "very bad, sick, and contaminating" Jews), 

2) Homophobia (the so called "Internalized Homophobia", stemming from the personal aspects of the Abwehr leadership and reflecting the general, very permissive attitude towards homosexuality among the German military circles before and especially in the aftermath of the WW1), and 


3) the specific Austrophobia or the so called Anti-Austrian sentiment (distrust and hate of all things Austrian), which stems from the Austro - Prussian War of 1866 and from the Austria–Prussia rivalry.


In the "Trump Affair", the Austrophobia aspect is expressed by the New Abwehr planners in the concept of the "decadent and dishonest, not to be trusted", part Jewish, Hapsburg Group, and this circumstance can be viewed as the particularly "telling", or highly suggestive and indicative, "pathognomonic", of the Abwehr operations. 



Michael Novakhov

2.13.19 

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