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TBR News January 25, 2019

Jan 25 2019

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. January 25, 2019: “Inside the Beltway, the strong rumors floating around among senior bureaucrats, the media and members of Congress is that the House will be bringing articles of impeachment against President Trump and that his son, Donald Jr. is slated to be arrested. It is slowly coming out that the Wikileaks that released the Podesta documents in support of Trump in the last election is wholly controlled by Russian intelligence and that the degree of control by Russia over Trump is slowly but surely emerging.”

The Table of Contents

  • How unpopular is Donald Trump?
  • Opposing bills to end US shutdown fail in Senate, with no clear path forward
  • Nancy Pelosi is an alien species to Trump – and he has no idea what to do
  • ‘Don’t bet against Nancy Pelosi,’ former top aide warns Donald Trump
  • Backing down, Trump agrees to end shutdown without border wall money
  • Trump longtime ally Stone arrested in U.S. Special Counsel probe
  • Factbox: ‘Prepare to die’ – Most colorful alleged threats by Trump ally Stone
  • Roger Stone’s arrest may renew threat of impeachment for Trump
  • House to release all Russia probe transcripts: Schiff
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

 How unpopular is Donald Trump?

An updating calculation of the president’s approval rating, accounting for each poll’s quality, recency, sample size and partisan lean

January 25, 2019



56.6 Disapprove


39.3 Approve


Opposing bills to end US shutdown fail in Senate, with no clear path forward

Trump suffers fresh blow as Democratic proposal got more Republican votes than his own

January 24, 2019

by David Smith in Washington

The Guardian

Donald Trump suffered a fresh blow on Thursday when a Democratic proposal to reopen the US government got more votes in the Republican-controlled Senate than his own – though both failed in a mood of grim inevitability.

A measure backed by the president, including $5.7bn to help build a wall on the US-Mexico border, had a vote count of 50-47 in the US Senate – well short of the 60 required to advance it over a Democratic filibuster.

The widely predicted twin failure deepened the sense of dysfunctional government and left Washington with no obvious path out of the longest shutdown in US history. Some 800,000 federal workers are set to miss another pay cheque on Friday.

The $350bn-plus funding bill represented the first attempt by Republicans controlling the Senate to reopen the government since the partial shutdown began a record 34 days ago. It would have provided three years of continued protection against deportation for 700,000 immigrants brought to the US illegally as children.

Then Democratic-backed clean funding bill would have reopened the government for two weeks without money for a border wall, but also fell short of the 60-vote threshold. The Senate voted 52-44, more support than for Trump’s proposal.

Six Republicans voted for the measure including senators Johnny Isakson, Mitt Romney, Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Cory Gardner.

Romney told reporters: “I believe a border security programme should include, as well, a barrier on our souther border. I want to see government get open and government workers get paid. It’s having an effect on our economy and it’s having an effect on the lives of workers.”

The Utah senator and former presidential nominee called for further negotiations. “We’ve got to have the leaders of both parties, including the Democratic party, sit down with the president and work out a deal that includes border security and gets the government open.”

John Thune of South Dakota, the number two Republican in the Senate, which is 53-47 under Republican control, said: “Senate Democrats have made abundantly clear what they oppose, even if it is policies they previously supported, but it is time for them to say what kind of compromise proposal they would vote for that could actually make it to the president’s desk.”

Earlier, the House of Representative passed the latest in a series of measures aimed at reopening the government with a 231-180 vote to open the Homeland Security Department. It was the 11th attempt to pass a bill ending the shutdown.

About 20 House Democrats marched over to the Senate during its vote in an attempt to pressure Republicans.

At a press conference, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said she was willing to meet Trump “any time” to discuss ending the partial shutdown. She said House Democrats are putting together a new border security package that will include money for fencing, technology, personnel and other measures, but not Trump’s long-promised wall.

Apparently watching on TV, the president quickly responded on Twitter: “Nancy just said she ‘just doesn’t understand why?’ Very simply, without a Wall it all doesn’t work. Our Country has a chance to greatly reduce Crime, Human Trafficking, Gangs and Drugs. Should have been done for decades. We will not Cave!”

Trump’s State of the Union address, scheduled for Tuesday, has been postponed until the end of the shutdown following an acrimonious tit-for-tat with Pelosi.

Trump and his allies have been accused of a callous disregard for federal workers’ plight. Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, told CNBC that he did not understand why some are using food banks when they could take out loans. “The obligations that they would undertake – say borrowing from a bank or credit union – are in effect federally guaranteed,” he said. “So the 30 days of pay that people will be out — there’s no real reason why they shouldn’t be able to get a loan against it, and we’ve seen a number of ads from the financial institutions doing that.”

Pelosi told reporters: “Is this a ‘let them eat cake’ kind of attitude, or call your father for money?” Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate, added on Twitter: “Wilbur Ross is @realDonaldTrump’s Secretary of Commerce.

Wilbur Ross is a billionaire. And this is billionaire Wilbur Ross saying he doesn’t understand why federal workers not getting paid during the #TrumpShutdown don’t just take out loans *to feed their families*. Unreal.”

In an eye-catching move, Trump’s former chief of staff, John Kelly, joined the four other former homeland security secretaries in signing a letter urging the president and his Democratic rivals to end the shutdown. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association has warned of a growing threat to aviation safety.

On Wednesday a poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that just 34% of Americans like Trump’s performance as president and six in 10 assign a great deal of responsibility to him for the shutdown, about double the share blaming Democrats.


Nancy Pelosi is an alien species to Trump – and he has no idea what to do

The House speaker is unlike any of the compliant women the president likes to deal with – that’s why she’s perfect for the job

January 24, 2019

by Jill Filipovic

The Guardian

Donald Trump might be the worst president in American history, but with his incompetence, belligerence and intellectual deficits come a perverse advantage: it’s tough to shame someone who has no shame; it’s hard to hold a man accountable for a lie when he doesn’t care if he’s a liar; you can’t chasten someone for breaking the rules when he never believed the rules applied to him.

But while Trump has snaked and slithered his way in and out of scandal, corruption and self-dealing his entire life, there’s one force that seems to truly destabilize him: a competent woman. Which is why, in the Trump era, there’s no better speaker of the House than Nancy Pelosi.

This week, the simmering Trump-Pelosi conflict ratcheted up another notch as the president declared that he will indeed give the State of the Union as scheduled on 29 January, despite a request from Pelosi that he delay, given the ongoing government shutdown and security concerns it poses. Pelosi volleyed back hours later, writing that lawmakers “will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the president’s State of the Union address in the House chamber until government has opened”.

Whether the president actually does speak on Tuesday or not, this will not be the last time he and Pelosi face off.

Luckily, she has the upper hand, and not just because she’s smarter and more experienced than the president (although she is) or because she knows his job better than he does (although she does). She’s also a foreign creature to him.

Trump has spent the whole of his personal life surrounding himself with a particular type of woman: young, working hard at being attractive to men, and compliant. He filters the women in his professional life through this same lens, demanding unyielding female loyalty and prizing female beauty.

As each of his wives grew older and more assured, he replaced them with someone younger and more dependent on him. He dedicated a significant amount of time and money to beauty pageants, where he was accused of being a serial sexual harasser and clearly enjoyed the spectacle of young women parading for male approval (and judgment). His own daughter has seen career success thanks to his money and connections, and yet his first impulse is always to brag about her good looks. He comments leeringly on the physical appearance of reporters and first ladies.

To Trump, a woman’s worth is measured by her sex appeal, and age knocks some points off – no doubt because, for many women, age also increases confidence and conviction. Trump “loves” women, but really, he loves it when women play along with his fantasies of what a woman should be. He simply does not consider women peers and equals. Just look at his cabinet: he’s appointed twice as many men as women. Day to day, he’s surrounded by advisers who are almost entirely white and largely male. As far as diversity goes, there are as many men named “Alex” in Trump’s cabinet as there are women with brown hair.

He is also particularly appalled by women who don’t go out of their way to compete for male attention – and enraged by women who challenge men directly. When Carly Fiorina ran in the Republican primary, he told Rolling Stone: “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” He added: “I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?” His vitriol toward Hillary Clinton is well-documented, and went far beyond normal political sparring. His attacks on female detractors inevitably zero in on their looks.

But aside from insults, he doesn’t really know how to deal with assertive older women, because for his entire life they have existed outside of both his immediate view and his broader imagination. When he talks about “women”, it’s obvious that only a small subsection of us fit into his definition; some might have qualified, but by virtue of challenging him can be written off as bimbos; a few others are witch-like hags who have surrendered their claim to womanhood; and the rest are simply invisible.

The women of Trumpworld have a single role, and that is to say “yes”. Trump has long bought and paid for that acquiescence. Now, Pelosi is telling him no, and she has real power and can’t be ignored, replaced or waved away. They aren’t in direct competition (as he was with Clinton and Fiorina), so he is less able to leverage more generalized public sexism to win his battle against her. He’s used to women helping him feel like a big man. Now, here’s a woman who makes him look small and impotent.

Which is why Trump will respond the only way he knows how: with feeble insults and exclamation-point-laden letters. Pelosi will play it cool. She knows how the rules work and how the system operates, and she’s no stranger to condescending men who insult her before they vastly underestimate her.

Trump, on the other hand, has never had to work directly with a woman like Pelosi, and seems completely perplexed by her behavior, which is so different from that of all the other women in his world. She knows what she’s up against. He can’t seem to tell what species she is. And it usually ends poorly for the man who can’t tell a kitten from a lion.


‘Don’t bet against Nancy Pelosi,’ former top aide warns Donald Trump

Nancy Pelosi won round one in what is widely seen as the quintessential political showdown after Donald Trump conceded to postponing the State of the Union. It may not be his last loss, predict people who know her.

January 25, 2018

by Michael Knigge (Washington)


“I learned a long time ago not to bet against Nancy Pelosi,” John Lawrence told DW in a recent interview when asked to size up the coming clash between President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which many observers think will shape the political landscape in the US over the next two years.

Lawrence should know. He worked for almost four decades as a senior Congressional staffer on Capitol Hill, the last eight years as chief of staff to Nancy Pelosi. And while Pelosi, who is 78, and Trump, who is 72, are peers, they are separated by a gulf of political experience.

“She has a vastly better sense of the political system than Mr. Trump,” said Lawrence, who worked as Pelosi’s top aide from 2005 to 2011. “I think Mr. Trump — I have not worked with him — but those of us who follow politics pretty closely see in Mr. Trump somebody who fundamentally misunderstands the allocation of power in the American political system.”

Despite not having won the popular vote in the presidential election, added Lawrence, Trump appears to believe that he was “anointed to have much greater power than presidents have in the modern American government.”

Historic figure   

Trump’s apparent belief in what has been called an imperial presidency first clashed with the new political reality of a divided government when the house speaker effectively postponed the president’s traditional State of the Union address before Congress until the government shutdown is over. After initially vowing to give his address at a different location, Trump quickly backed down and accepted Pelosi’s postponement.

While the showdown between Trump and Pelosi — who as Speaker of the House of Representatives is second in line for the presidency after the vice president — over the largely ceremonial State of the Union address has little practical consequences, it delivered a clear message to Trump that Pelosi is keenly aware of her constitutional powers and is not afraid to use them vis-a-vis the president.

“She is speaker of the House — a constitutional officer with authority independent of the president to control access to the Capitol,” said Thomas Mann, who studies Congress for the Brookings Institution. He described Pelosi as a professional colleague he has known for 25 years. “She is smart, politically savvy and tough, and she leads a united party.”

Pelosi made history when she became the first female speaker of the House of Representatives in 2007, and again this year when she became the first speaker in more than 50 years to reclaim the position after losing it.

While it may seem that Pelosi’s political path was predetermined, particularly because she hails from a political family in Baltimore where both her father and her brother served as mayor, her political rise was unorthodox. Pelosi, who moved to California with her husband and raised five children, only devoted herself full-time to politics when she was in her forties after all her children had left home. She first ran and won a House seat in a safe Democratic district in 1987 and has held on to it ever since, thereby quickly moving up the ranks in Congress.

Her most significant achievement during her tenure as Democratic leader in the House of Representatives was working with Republican President George W. Bush during the financial crisis in 2008 and preventing a total economic meltdown, said Mann and Lawrence.

Independence from Obama White House

Both also credit her leadership for ensuring the passage of then-President Obama’s historic health care legislation, known as the Affordable Care Act. To achieve that, said Lawrence, Pelosi was prepared to go head-to-head with Obama White House advisers if necessary.

“I certainly remember when we were in the Oval Office with President Obama and we were talking about the health care law. And there were people that she was aware of on the president’s staff who were suggesting that this had become too difficult and that, if we didn’t roll back the scope of the bill that we were talking about, that we would get nothing and that we should just fold our tent and accept a very small bill and hopefully live to fight another day on a big national health insurance bill,” said Lawrence.

But Pelosi, “in no uncertain terms, told the president and his staff that she would not accept that, and that the House was committed to going ahead with a tough bill even if it meant a very tough fight, and even if it meant that some members were going to be put in political jeopardy,” said Lawrence. Her insistence effectively ended any attempts to water down the scope of the signature bill, which eventually passed.

Trump faces steep learning curve

The showdown in Obama’s Oval Office highlights Pelosi’s view of her role as the representative of a co-equal branch of government that is on par with the president, noted the experts.

Due to a deferential, Republican-led Congress, President Trump has obviously not learned in his first two years that Congress is a co-equal branch of government, said Lawrence. “But he is going to learn that now,” he added, “because he has a very skilled opponent in Mrs. Pelosi and he has a party in control of the House which simply is not going to defer to his will.”

Citing a mercurial president, Lawrence and Mann avoided making predictions about whether Trump or Pelosi might have the upper hand in what both considered the signature political fight of the next two years.

“If Trump is prepared to blow up his party, his re-election and the country, he does. If not, she does,” offered Mann.


Backing down, Trump agrees to end shutdown without border wall money

January 25, 2019

by Steve Holland, Richard Cowan


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump agreed under mounting pressure on Friday to end a 35-day-old partial U.S. government shutdown without getting the $5.7 billion he had demanded from Congress for a border wall, handing a political victory to Democrats.

The three-week spending deal reached with congressional leaders, quickly passed unanimously by the Republican-led Senate and heading to the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, paves the way for tough talks with lawmakers about how to address security along the U.S.-Mexican border.

The Republican president’s agreement to end the shuttering of about a quarter of the federal government without securing wall money – an astonishing retreat for a president who usually gives no ground – came three days after he had insisted “We will not Cave!”

But Trump vowed that the shutdown would resume on Feb. 15 if he is dissatisfied with the results of a bipartisan House-Senate conference committee’s border security negotiations, or he would declare a national emergency to get the wall money.

Democrats remained unyielding in their opposition to a wall, one of his signature campaign promises that they call ineffective, costly and immoral. Trump has said it is needed to curb illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

With polls showing most Americans blamed him for the painful shutdown – the longest of its kind in U.S. history – Trump embraced a way out of the crisis that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been pushing for weeks. The shutdown, which pitted Pelosi against Trump – was her first test since assuming the post three weeks ago. She drew praise from fellow Democrats for what they said was an outmaneuvering of the president.

Asked by reporters if she could guarantee there will not be another government shutdown in three weeks, Pelosi said, “I can’t assure the public about anything that the president will do, but I do have to say I’m optimistic.”

A lapse in funding shuttered about a quarter of federal agencies, with about 800,000 workers either furloughed or required to work without pay. Many employees as well as contractors were turning to unemployment assistance, food banks and other support. Others began seeking new jobs.

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden on a chilly, sunny winter day, Trump said he would act to ensure that federal workers get their back pay “very quickly, or as soon as possible.”

Trump had previously demanded the inclusion of the money to help pay for a wall in any legislation to fund government agencies, but Democrats had blocked him.

An administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that stories of law enforcement officials not being able to do their jobs at full capacity helped convince Trump to agree to a short-term solution to re-open the government. The official said the White House ultimately would accept a deal with lawmakers if it includes wall funding, even if it is less than $5.7 billion.


“We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” Trump said. “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb. 15 – again – or I would use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”

He previously has indicated he was considering an emergency declaration to circumvent congressional funding powers if lawmakers do not fund his wall, an action that almost certainly would be swiftly challenged by Democrats as exceeding his authority under the U.S. Constitution.

Trump triggered the shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, with his wall-funding demand after being criticized by conservative commentators for being willing to sign legislation funding the government without securing wall money.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter lashed out at Trump for capitulating on Friday, calling him on Twitter “the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States.”

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said he hoped the experience would be a “lesson learned” for Trump and his party that it is self-defeating to shut down the government over policy disputes. Schumer said Democrats and Trump have “so many areas” on which they can agree on border security but not a wall.

“The walls we are building are not medieval walls,” Trump said. “They are smart walls designed to meet the needs of front-line border agents and are operationally effective. These barriers are made of steel, have see-through visibility, which is very important, and are equipped with sensors, monitors and cutting-edge technology, including state-of-the-art drones.”

“We do not need 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of concrete wall from sea to shining sea. We never did,” Trump added. “We never proposed that. We never wanted that because we have barriers at the border where natural structures are as good as anything that we could build.”

Pelosi said she would discuss with Trump “a mutually agreed date” for his annual State of the Union address, which she had effectively forced him to postpone amid the shutdown showdown. A senior White House official said the speech will not be on Tuesday, as originally planned, and it is up to Pelosi to reschedule it.

Reporting by Richard Cowan and Steve Holland in Washington:Additional reporting by Ginger Gibson, Lisa Lambert, Doina Chiacu and Jeff Mason; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Bill Trott and James Dalgleish


Trump longtime ally Stone arrested in U.S. Special Counsel probe

January 25, 2019

by Nathan Layne, Susan Heavey


NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s longtime ally Roger Stone was arrested on Friday on charges of obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements related to the release of stolen Democratic Party emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Stone, an adviser to Trump in his unorthodox bid for the White House, was arrested in the predawn darkness on Friday and scheduled to appear at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at 11 a.m. EST (1600 GMT).

The indictment ends months of speculation that Stone would be charged as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 campaign to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.

Stone was charged with seven criminal counts accusing him of lying to Congress about his public statements and communications with others suggesting he may have had advance knowledge of plans by Wikileaks to release hacked emails.

Grant Smith, Stone’s lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Stone has previously denied any wrongdoing. WikiLeaks, which is referred to as “Organization 1” in the indictment, did not respond to a request for comment.

The Stone indictment is unrelated to the president or the White House, press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Friday. “The charges brought against Mr. Stone have nothing to do with the president, has nothing to do with the White House,” she told CNN. “The president did nothing wrong.”

The charging documents included new details about the activities of Trump aides, including an incident in which a senior campaign official “was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information Organization 1 had regarding the Clinton Campaign.”

The indictment referred to an October 2016 email from the “high-ranking Trump Campaign official” asking Stone to inquire about future releases of emails by “Organization 1.” Stone responded that “Organization 1” would release “a load every week going forward.”

The high-ranking official is Steve Bannon, Trump’s former campaign chairman, according to a person familiar with the matter. Bannon is considered a witness in Mueller’s probe and is not at risk of being charged, the source said. Bannon did not respond to a request for comment.

“The indictment was not unexpected, but it is still significant because it alleges coordination between the Trump Campaign and WikiLeaks,” said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Stone was charged with one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of making false statements and one count of witness tampering, according to the indictment. The charges relate to Stone’s testimony before congressional committees probing Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

CNN, in video of the arrest, showed a heavily armed FBI team taking Stone away from his home in the dark just before 6 a.m. EST (1100 GMT) on Friday and Stone surrendering without any issue.

Michael Caputo, a longtime Stone associate and former Trump campaign adviser, said he expected Stone to fight the charges.

“This has been rumored to be coming down for several months, so Roger and his legal team are ready to fight these charges in court,” Caputo told Reuters. “They can’t prove collusion or conspiracy because it doesn’t exist, so they’re going after him personally. He will be vindicated.”


“This is not some casual, low-level contributor to the Trump Campaign. This is someone who had been very active in Republican Party politics for a long time,” Democratic U.S. Senator Chris Coons told MSNBC in an interview.

A self-described “agent provocateur” of the American right and Republican veteran of Washington and New York City politics, Stone has a tattoo of the face of late president Richard Nixon on his back. His political career began with the Nixon presidential campaign in 1972.

The indictment described in detail numerous emails and text messages “during the 2016 campaign in which he discussed Organization 1, its head, and its possession of hacked emails.”

Stone still possessed many of those communications when he gave false testimony about them, prosecutors said in the indictment.

He also tried to persuade a witness to provide false testimony and withhold information from the congressional investigations, the indictment said.

U.S. prosecutors pointed to two other individuals, including an unnamed political commentator with an online publication who regularly spoke with Trump throughout the campaign, a description that matches Jerome Corsi. They also described a radio host who Stone had known for more than 10 years, which matches the profile of Randy Credico.

Corsi declined to comment and Credico did not immediately respond to request for comment

Reporting by Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu, Mark Hosenball and Ginger Gibson in Washington and Nathan Layne and Karen Freifeld in New York; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Jeffrey Benkoe



Factbox: ‘Prepare to die’ – Most colorful alleged threats by Trump ally Stone

January 25, 2019


(Reuters) – Roger Stone, a longtime ally of U.S. President Donald Trump, allegedly called an associate “a rat,” threatened his dog and invoked “The Godfather” Mafia movies in a bid to stop him from testifying in an investigation run by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, according to court papers unsealed on Friday.

Stone was arrested in Florida on Friday and accused of lying to congressional investigators and tampering with a witness.

Prosecutors accuse the political provocateur of threatening an associate who hosted a radio program in an apparent attempt to stop the unnamed person from testifying to investigators probing Russian influence in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The 24-page indictment is peppered with alleged threats, some with typos or grammatical errors, from Stone to the unnamed associate:

* “You are a rat. A stoolie. You backstab your friends-run your mouth my lawyers are dying Rip you to shreds,” Stone told the person in an April 9 email. He also threatened to “take that dog away from you,” and said, “I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die (expletive).”

* “If you testify you’re a fool. Because of tromp I could never get away with a certain (sic) my Fifth Amendment rights but you can. I guarantee you you are the one who gets indicted for perjury if you’re stupid enough to testify,” Stone told the person in a Dec. 1, 2017, text message.

* “You are so full of (expletive). You got nothing. Keep running your mouth and I’ll file a bar complaint against your friend,” Stone wrote in a May 21 email.

* Another Dec. 1 2017 message referred to a character in “The Godfather: Part II” who declines to testify to Congress after mobsters bring his brother from Italy to the hearing in an apparent threat to the man’s safety. Court papers said that Stone told the person to “do a ‘Frank Pentangeli.’”

(This version of the story was refiled to add dropped word in headline)

Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe


Roger Stone’s arrest may renew threat of impeachment for Trump

White House says arrest of Trump’s adviser ‘has nothing to do with the president’ but analysts warn it may thrust him into legal jeopardy

January 25, 2018

by Tom McCarthy in New York

The Guardian

It was time once again on Friday morning for Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, to go on television and say that the arrest of a Donald Trump campaign associate had nothing to do with the president.

This time the arrestee was Roger Stone, a longtime Trump political adviser, taken into custody in a 6am raid by FBI agents on his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Stone was charged with lying to Congress, obstructing an investigation and witness tampering. In the past, Stone has denied all wrongdoing.

As usual, the White House moved swiftly to dismiss the arrest. “This has nothing to do with the president and certainly nothing to do with the White House,” Sanders said on CNN. “This is something that has to do solely with that individual.”

But influential members of Congress and legal analysts described a sharply different view of what the arrest meant.

Perhaps most troubling for Trump was a tweet by the Democratic representative Jerry Nadler, the freshly minted chairman of the House judiciary committee – where articles of impeachment against Trump would originate, if Democrats decided to bring them.

Nadler’s tweet named other Trump associates to plead guilty or be convicted of crimes since the election. The line of questioning was famously posed by a Republican senator during the Watergate hearings of 1973-74, which culminated in the resignation of Richard Nixon – on whose campaign Stone first cut his teeth as a political streetfighter and whose face Stone has tattooed on his back.

Nadler has described a hesitancy to open impeachment hearings, and the Democrats seem unlikely to make such a move during the partial government shutdown, the longest in US history, which appears to be damaging Trump more deeply with each passing day.

But renewed talk of impeachment represents only one threat that Trump and his campaign and associates could face with the arrest of Stone, which could also put the president in significant legal jeopardy, analysts said.

In the indictment of Stone, special counsel Robert Mueller describes a line of communication between a senior Trump campaign official, who appears from previously published emails to be the former White House strategist Steve Bannon; Stone; and the WikiLeaks organization, which during the 2016 election battle published emails stolen from the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and elsewhere.

Mueller has not charged Stone or any member of the Trump campaign with a conspiracy to defraud the United States by tampering in the election, as the special counsel did in the case of Russians accused of email hacking. But the alleged line of communication between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks could represent criminal activity along those lines, legal analysts said.

Or the alleged communication between the campaign and other parties could violate laws forbidding coordination between campaigns and outside political groups. “Focus on underlying conduct revealed in [the Stone indictment],” tweeted Ryan Goodman, the co-editor-in-chief of the Just Security blog. “The coordination between Trump Campaign and WikiLeaks via Stone gives rise to potential criminal campaign law violations.”

“Today’s indictment makes clear that Roger Stone had something to hide,” tweeted former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti. “He desperately tried to hide his efforts to coordinate with WikiLeaks from Congress and the public. Why does Donald Trump care so much about ensuring that Stone doesn’t flip? What does *he* have to hide?”

The Stone indictment appears to strengthen the case that the Trump campaign coordinated some of its own messaging with real-time actions by WikiLeaks, which the current secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has called a “non-state, hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors, like Russia”.

In the indictment, Mueller asserts that Stone was told in advance of a WikiLeaks dump related to Clinton’s health, and the “Trump Campaign – and Russia – then kicked into gear on Clinton’s health”, Goodman pointed out.

Other lines in the indictment could represent legal vulnerability for as-yet unnamed members of the Trump campaign. “A senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information WikiLeaks had,” the indictment says, without identifying who was giving the directions.

The case against Stone – or against Trump or his associates – could change in unexpected ways depending on material that federal agents seized in the raid on Stone’s Florida home and a simultaneous raid on a Manhattan address tied to Stone on Friday. Material seized in the second raid included hard drives, the New York Times reported; any communications between Stone and WikiLeaks intermediaries or other actors could be significant.

Mueller has signaled that he would follow justice department guidelines barring the indictment of a sitting president, which means that any legal vulnerability Trump might face would not appear to include looming criminal charges.

But the descending spiral of public disapproval that Trump faces from the shutdown could make him more vulnerable to a move by Democrats to take the first steps toward impeachment.

In any case, the arrest of Stone has made it all the harder for the White House to credibly argue that none of the wrongdoing alleged – and in many cases proven in court – by Mueller is connected with Trump himself.

“It is completely normal for lots of smart, accomplished professionals to lie like crazy, tell other people to lie like crazy, and commit multiple felonies in the process, all in order to hide the fact that … nothing nefarious actually happened,” tweeted University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck.



House to release all Russia probe transcripts: Schiff

January 25, 2019


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The House Intelligence Committee will release all transcripts of interviews in its probe of Russian election interference to the special counsel’s office, its Democratic chairman said on Friday after Roger Stone, a longtime ally of President Donald Trump, was charged with lying to Congress.

“This is now the second witness who has been indicted for or plead guilty to making false statements in testimony before our Committee,” Rep. Adam Schiff said in a statement. “The first order of business for the Committee will be to release all remaining transcripts to the Special Counsel’s Office, and we will continue to follow the facts wherever they lead.”

Schiff and Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the House oversight committee, said on Wednesday they expect Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to testify before both panels, despite his decision to postpone his Feb. 7 appearance, citing threats against his family from Trump.

The chairmen said they understood Cohen’s security concerns, but added in a statement: “This will not stop us from getting to the truth. We expect Mr. Cohen to appear before both committees, and we remain engaged with his counsel about his upcoming appearances.”

Cohen is scheduled to begin a three-year prison sentence in March after pleading guilty to charges including lying to Congress.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

January 25, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks,”: Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas  in 1993  when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publications


Conversation No. 91

Date: Monday, July 21, 1997

Commenced: 8:15 AM CST

Concluded: 8:50 AM CST


RTC: I decided to let the phone ring for awhile, Gregory. I’m glad I got you. You appear to have won some money from me.

GD: Pardon?

RTC: Oh yes, I thought you might like to know that your friend James Atwood is dead.

GD: Ah! Start the week with good news, Robert. How did this totally unexpected thing happen? Shot to death in a Savannah mall by a drug crazed dwarf? Dead elephant fell out of a passing cargo plane and landed on him while he was walking his dog?

RTC: (Laughter) No, nothing so noticeable. One of our people took James out for Sunday brunch and he had a sudden embolism and fell face down into his salad.

GD: An embolism? Into the salad? (Laughter) My, my, such a tragic but somehow expected death. An autopsy?

RTC: I doubt it. He was getting old. Sixty seven by my information. I’ll send you a check.

GD: I will honor it. Will they bury him in Arlington with full military honors?

RTC: Probably not.

GD: Well, at least he didn’t shoot himself in the back of the head and fall off his boat.

RTC: Yes. The Paisley syndrome. Well, they both had mouth problems.

GD: And just think, if I hadn’t filled Critchfield in about James that time, Jimmy might still be operating down there; spreading joy wherever he went.

RTC: Do I know her?

GD: Know who?

RTC: Joy.

GD: (Laughter) Oh yes, that must be Joy Kobinski. We call her the Mattress Queen. Do you  know what Jimmy said when Joy had a runny nose?

RTC: Please tell me, Gregory.

GD: Why, she was full.

RTC: (Laughter) My God, have you no compassion?

GD: Very little. I save it for my dogs, Robert. Why waste compassion on those who do not deserve it? Jimmy tried to use me and to rip me off once. Perhaps he even planned a salad drop for me, who knows? And don’t pity the dead, Robert, they are at peace. You know, in retrospect, I can comfort myself by considering the number of people I have brought peace to.

RTC: I share your sentiments.

GD: That’s why we talk to each other, Robert. Wonderful shared memories of those departed for a better land. Still, unless their silence is beneficial to me, I prefer to keep them alive so I can poke them up once in awhile. Small pleasures to contemplate when one is depressed.

RTC: Have you always been so brutal, Gregory? Subtle and creative  but brutal I must say.

GD: No, not always. Why would you believe it, Robert, when I was young, I was loving and kind.

RTC: When you were three?

GD: No, up until high school. I was essentially a private person, disliked by most of the teachers and some of the student body because I always said what I thought,, but only if asked. And I knew a good deal about people; their sins of commission and omission. People are afraid of this sort of thing so I was generally avoided. So when a very attractive and intelligent girl in one of my classes became very friendly with me, I was, to be sure, very pleasantly surprised. No, my hormones were not raging, Robert, and it was what I believed was a very warm and friendly relationship. In fact, this began to occupy my thoughts more and more and each time I talked with her, I became more and more interested and, I might add, very happy.

RTC: These things happen.

GD: Oh, they do but not very often to me, I assure you. So, I began to explore the means to widen the relationship outside of school. She had what we would call very correct parents but that did not bother me because my own family was the same way. Then, as the Christmas season was approaching, I thought in my innocence we might go to San Francisco and attend a performance of Handel’s ‘Messiah.’ I love the work and in fact, when my grandfather died, I inherited an autograph copy of the conductor’s text for this back when King George II attended a London performance and stood for the ‘Hallelujah chorus.’ When the King stood, so also did the entire house and that’s why today everyone stands. Well, so much for that. Anyway, I prepared my scenario and got up the nerve to ask her. A couple of days later, I came to school late after a dentist’s appointment and when I was walking down the empty halls to my classroom, I ran into her so I very politely chatted with her for a few minutes and then invited her. She looked right at me, over my shoulder and then walked towards me and past me away down the hall. At first, I thought she had seen someone but when I turned, there was no one.

RTC: What was the reason for that? Did you ask her?

GD: No, I watched her walk away and then just stood there. I was so stunned that I told the school nurse I had just had a tooth extraction and was having some pain so she sent me home. There was no one there so I just went to my apartment and sat in the armchair for a long time. I wondered what it was that I had said to cause her to just walk away. I went over my very short conversation a dozen times…a hundred times is more like it…but could find nothing.

RTC: I assume from this that you were of an unsettled mind.

GD: Yes, very. And no, I did not call her or try to visit her. She did what she did and there was no point in bothering with it any further. This was on a Friday and Monday, I went to school early and had my class changed so I didn’t have to see her any more. I did see her from time to time in the halls but we never made eye contact at all. Devastation, Robert, total devastation but I would not chase after anyone, believe me. Anyway, about six months or later, give or take, I was talking with a girl and she mentioned that everyone knew I was very friendly with this girl but didn’t appear to be around her anymore. Before I could concoct some story, she told me that my friend was a member of a very aggressive young Christian group that met every week at the school and that this girl was what my communicant told me was a ‘seeker.’ That is, she was chosen by the group to single out what were essentially social misfits, befriend them and bring them into the group. Once they did this, the mark would be passed off to another handler. And, she added, they were not permitted to get too close to their victims and had to break off contact if the relationship heated up. I personally don’t think going to see a sacred oratorio at Christmas is particularly intimate but who knows what evil lurks in the minds of women? I later came to the conclusion that the evil lay in their pants. Robert, I was polite with her but got away as fast as I could because I got very, very angry. I was nothing but some poor sucker to be lured into some Jesus freak group and I was so mad I started to shake.

RTC: Well, I don’t blame you.

GD: Yes, well, I walked around the football field for about an hour until I calmed down. Then, of course, I did remember her little comments about her circle of worthy friends and so on. And I noticed that she was now walking and talking with some other social misfit and learned that she had a very serious boyfriend in the Jesus group. This did not go over too well with me, Robert, not at all. So I decided to teach all of them a lesson in manners.

RTC: Not with a gun I assume.

GD: No. If you kill a person, they are immune from ongoing payback. I thought about it for some time and then I made up a letter from her to a fictional Miguel Ramirez. As I created him, Miguel was an illegal who worked in the local animal shelter, euthanizing unwanted cats. He got tired of giving them fatal shots because they would fight and scratch him so he took them by the tails and slammed them into the wall of his work area. Sometimes, Miguel had to slam them several times….

RTC: Jesus….

GD: No, cats. And no one who worked there wanted to go into the room so the walls were a smeared mess. Anyway, this girl was enamored, very enamored, of Miguel and her letter to him was full of grossly explicit discussions of their sexual writhings amidst the cat remains. Oh yes, very graphic indeed. So I had her letterhead copied in a San Francisco print shop, envelopes too, and wrote, or rather typed this grossly pornographic and sadistic letter out. I took one of the envelopes with her name printed on the back flap, just like the original, and wrote my name is pencil on the front. Into the mail and when it came, erased my address and typed in Miguel’s at the local Humane Society. So, I put the terrible letter into the envelope and later, I was sitting next to a school gossip in the library and slipped it into her bulging notebook. You thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you, Robert? And then I waited, and waited. About a week later, she found it and proclaimed its contents throughout the land and unto all the inhabitants thereof. Oh, my God, what an uproar! We didn’t have the Xerox then but we did have Thermofax and within a week, that evil missive was all over the school and the town. My gossip mongering sister had two copies and someone in my mother’s bridge club had give her a copy. Of course I got a ragging for having the bad taste to associate with such a vile monster but I took my ass chewing peacefully.

RTC: And the result?

GD: Well, her Christian parents were horrified but not at her. No, they believed she did not write it and they found out there was no Miguel at the cat killing emporium but no one would listen to them and the letter was copied and recopied for months afterwards. My former friend? Her family sent her off to a Christian academy in southern California. It’s location was supposed to be a secret but a friend who worked after school filing in the principal’s office found out where her school transcripts had been forwarded so I sent them copies of the Miguel screed along with a fictional letter from an outraged local parent, warning them of the foul beast they had taken unto themselves. I understand that she left the place a month later and I never heard about her again. Of course her truly Christian real boyfriend had dumped her very quickly, the image of her nude writhings amid the decaying cats must have sickened him. But then I dealt with the religious freaks. They had a student office in the school and I broke into it one night and planted a number of bad things around. First off, I had bought a box of rubbers from a friend, filled the ends with liquid starch and draped and threw them all over the little room. There was a picture of an Aryan Jesus on the wall and I tossed one on top of the frame. And several large uncooked and shelled prawns under the couch and I scattered a few truly awful porn pictures here and there. The shrimp started to rot and I dropped a note in the school snitch box about the wild sex orgies going on right under the nose of Jesus. The smell got very bad very quickly and when the assistant principal and a janitor went into the room, one of them threw up. Of course the group was at once banned from the campus and many students expressed outrage and the Miguel letter was dragged into the situation as a typical example of these sick people.

RTC: My oh my, Gregory. You really must have been angry to do all that.

GD: Oh, very angry, Robert, very, but also eventually very satisfied.

RTC: You know, what she did may have seemed to be terrible to you but that is standard recruitment procedure with most intelligence agencies. We do the same thing. Pick out targets, befriend them and when we have gained their friendship and confidence, pass them along to their new handlers. I can understand why this upset you but she was obviously doing what she thought was right.

GD: Well, she might have thought it was right but I certainly didn’t, did I?

RTC: No, you obviously did not. You wreaked absolute havoc, Gregory and took no prisoners.

GD: I do not ask for quarter, Robert and I never give it. And I recognize that all societies must have a moral core or they collapse. The Christians have their examples and the Muslims and other have theirs. All well and good. Frederick the Great said once that all men in his kingdom were free to find Heaven in their own way. And I agree, but by God, I will not tolerate any religious group stepping outside their church, mosque or synagogue and taking their particular nonsense out aggressively to the public. The Muslims and the Jews don’t do this but the lunatic Christians are a worst pest than an invasion of mice. First of all, from a purely historical point of view, I personally doubt if Jesus ever existed. Jesus was a very common name in Roman Judea. I do not accept the nonsense about the manger, the wise men, the star or other myths and legends. There is no contemporary mention of Jesus or his gang anywhere other than a patently forged reference in Flavius Josephus. The Gospels are full of misinformation and were written long after the event and then rewritten to suit various current political themes. No, if Jesus did exist, Jesus was an Essene. Most theological scholars agree with this by the way. But I go a little further. There exists a considerable body of information on the Essenes of the period. They were put out of business after this, by the way. No, the Essenes, were an all male agricultural community who practiced a communistic way of life and hated women. In short, like the Spartans or Zulus, they were a homosexual community.

RTC: Not nice, Gregory.

GD: I can easily prove this. Oh yes, let the little children come unto me but only the boys. Anyway, I want nothing to do with such Easter Bunny- type myths and legends and as long as these people keep to themselves, all well and good but of course they think they have the only game in town and act accordingly. In earlier times, I would have been burnt at the stake. Say, do you know what St. Dismas the Thief said to Jesus while both of them were up on their crosses?

RTC: I’m afraid to ask you, Gregory.

GD: Dismas said, ‘Say, Jesus, I can see your house from up here.’

RTC: (Laughter) Well, assuming you are right….

GD: And I am….

RTC: Well, I rather pity this poor girl who was only trying to get you to share her joy in Jesus.

GD: Well, she was sharing her pudenda with Miguel the Cat Basher as well.

RTC: (Laughter) Perhaps she went into other work after you finished with her. By the way, did anyone ever suspect you?

GD: No. I never said a word to anyone. I just sat back and savored my revenge. Revenge is a tasty dish, Robert, but always far better if eaten cold.


(Concluded at 8:50 AM CST)







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