More information on Russian links of Trump advisor Carter Page from 2013
Developments on Day 380 of the Trump Administration:
Nunes Memo Collapses Within 24 Hours
Donald Trump’s campaign against the FBI — hoping to curb or even end the Trump-Russia investigation — runs into trouble only hours after the White House release of a 4-page memo trying to undermine the agency.
More revelations on Saturday cast doubt on the “information” in the memo, drafted by the staff of Representative Devin Nunes, member of the Trump transition team in 2016 and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Nunes has violated the spirit, if not the terms, of his recusal as committee chair from Trump-Russia hearings — forced by Nunes’ coordination with the White House in an attempt to spread false information — to campaign for months against the FBI and the Justice Department as biased against Trump. The memo tries to crystallize this in the claim that the FBI acted inappropriately when it obtained a warrant in October 2016, from the top-secret FISA court, for the surveillance of Trump campaign advisor Carter Page as well as Russian officials and entities.
The memo’s central false assertion is that the warrant to surveil Page was based on a dossier, collected by the private intelligence firm Fusion GPS in 2016, of contacts between Trump, his advisors, and Russian officials. The memo says the dossier is tainted because Fusion GPS was paid by the Democratic National Committee, ignoring that the conservative Republican outlet Washington Free Beacon originally commissioned the “opposition research”.
But the FBI has been collecting intelligence on Page since 2013, when it warned the would-be oil executive, who travelled often to Russia, that Moscow would try to recruit him as an agent.
That case was bolstered further on Saturday by the revelation of a letter, dated August 25, 2013, in which Page wrote, “Over the past half year, I have had the privilege to serve as an informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin in preparation for their Presidency of the G-20 Summit next month, where energy issues will be a prominent point on the agenda.”
In January 2013, Page met Russian official Victor Podobnyy — later charged by US authorities as an intelligence operative under diplomatic cover — at an energy conference in New York City. As the two men exchanged contact information, sent each other documents on energy policy, and met several times — and as Podobnyy spoke of recruiting the American — the FBI issued its warning to Page in June 2013.
Response by Leading Democrat Cites Flaws in Nunes Memo, Notes Political Motives
Meanwhile, a leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Jerry Nadler, issued a six-page rebuttal to the Nunes Memo.
Republicans on the committee have prohibited the circulation of the response by Democrat colleagues, but Nadler set out four points including, “The FISA court found probable cause to believe that Carter Page is an agent of a foreign power. Nothing in the Nunes memo rules out the possibility that considerable evidence beyond the Steele dossier helped the court reach that conclusion.”
Nadler also noted that the Nunes Memo unwittingly supported the FBI with a reference to another strand of intelligence for the FISA warrant: Trump foreign advisor George Papadopoulos was meeting Russian-linked officials from March 2016 and bragged to an Australian diplomat that he had been offered material damaging to Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton.
Nadler continued that former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, contracted by Fusion GPS to compile the Trump-Russia dossier, is highly regarded in the intelligence community as a specialist on Russia. He warned that Trump could use the Nunes Memo to dismiss Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the only official with formal authority to remove Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and that “the Nunes memo shows that House Republicans are now part and parcel to an organized effort to obstruct the Special Counsel’s investigation” into Trump and Russia.
Trump: “An American Disgrace”
Donald Trump avoided detail on Saturday as he put out three tweets trying to maintain the assault on the FBI. He began his day:
This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2018
In the evening, he — or a staff member — relied on the pro-Trump editorial board of the Wall Street Journal for the message:
“The four page memo released Friday reports the disturbing fact about how the FBI and FISA appear to have been used to influence the 2016 election and its aftermath….The FBI failed to inform the FISA court that the Clinton campaign had funded the dossier….the FBI became….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 4, 2018
…a tool of anti-Trump political actors. This is unacceptable in a democracy and ought to alarm anyone who wants the FBI to be a nonpartisan enforcer of the law….The FBI wasn’t straight with Congress, as it hid most of these facts from investigators.” Wall Street Journal
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 4, 2018
Hardline GOP Representative Steve King went farther, pointing to an even wider attack on US agencies over their surveillance of Page and the Russian officials:
Watch closely for Barack Obama’s fingerprints….[Democrats and their allies] will defend Barack Obama at all costs, and they’ll defend Hillary Clinton almost at all costs unless they have to sacrifice her to protect Barack Obama.
A “law enforcement official” summarized the mood inside the FBI:
There’s a lot of anger. The irony is it’s a conservative-leaning organization, and it’s being trashed by conservatives. At first it was just perplexing. Now there’s anger, because it’s not going away.
Ryan Deletes Tweet Boasting of “$1.50 A Week” Extra for Secretary After $1.5 Trillion GOP Tax Cut
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan deletes a tweet boasting that the GOP’s $1.5 trillion tax cut gives $1.50 extra per week to a secretary, after critics noted the disparity with the benefits to wealthy Americans and Ryan’s apparent ignorance of the reality of low-income individuals’ financial situations.
Costco operates a chain of membership-only warehouse clubs. A basic membership costs $60 a year.
House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi chided, “Paul Ryan deleted his embarrassing tweet of a blatant admission because he and Republicans don’t want you to know the truth: the #GOPTaxScam is a gift to corporate America and the top 1% at your expense.”
Jon Favreau, a former staffer for Barack Obama staffer, noted:
As a thank you for passing a $1 trillion corporate tax cut, Paul Ryan received $500,000 in campaign contributions from the Koch brothers, which would probably cover the cost of buying a Costco.
Remember, if you don’t think benefits like an extra $1.50 a week and free Hostess snacks are good enough, you’re the one who’s out of touch.
Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota notes that Well Fargo, which has been under investigation for financial fraud, received $3.4 billion under the tax cut legislation.
White House Withdrawing Nomination of Climate-Change Denier as Head of Environmental Council
The White House will withdraw the nomination of a climate-change denier to head the Council on Environmental Quality, an official confirms.
Kathleen Hartnett White described the belief in “global warming” as a “kind of paganism” for “secular elites” during a September 2016 interview with an online conservative radio show.
She has also said the goal of climate activists and the United Nations was an all-powerful, one-world government and “planetary management”.
Senators challenged her statements about climate change during her confirmation hearing in November. Hartnett White insisted, “I believe those words…have been taken out of context.”
Senator Jeff Merkley responded, “Well, they’re words directly from your writings.”
White once dismissed the idea that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, calling it “the gas of life on this planet”.
Trump Choice to Head Aid to Migrants: Islam is Inherently Violent, Christians Should Be Preferred
The Trump Administration’s nominee to coordinate billions of dollars in assistance to migrants has suggested that Islam is an inherently violent religion and that Christians should receive preferential treatment when resettling from hostile areas.
Ken Isaacs — a vice president of the relief organization Samaritan’s Purse of Reverend Franklin Graham — has also denied climate change. He was announced Thursday as the selection for director general of the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration, which has a nearly $1 billion annual operating budget.
The UN has for decades allowed the US, as the largest donor, to lead the IOM.
In June 2017, after a terrorist attack in London, Isaac commented on a CNN International story that quoted a Catholic bishop: “This isn’t in the name of God, this isn’t what the Muslim faith asks people to do.”
Isaacs responded, “CNN, Bishop if you read the Quran you will know ‘this’ is exactly what the Muslim faith instructs the faithful to do.”
After The Washington Post sent samples of Isaacs’ social media activity to the State Department, along with a request for comment, his Twitter account was made private.
Isaacs then issued a statement:
I deeply regret that my comments on social media have caused hurt and have undermined my professional record. It was careless and it has caused concern among those who have expressed faith in my ability to effectively lead IOM. I pledge to hold myself to the highest standards of humanity, human dignity and equality if chosen to lead IOM.