Trump gives Barr sweeping new powers to undercut Mueller probe

President Trump has handed off his own intelligence powers to a man who increasingly looks like the most powerful figure in the Trump administration, Attorney General Bill Barr.

MSNBC Chief Legal Correspondent, Ari Melber, breaks down how the White House is not even claiming this move is for national security purposes, but admitting this is all about strengthening Barr’s hand in reviewing the Mueller probe.

Trump retweets Jerry Falwell Jr. suggesting his term should be extended by two years

President Trump on Sunday retweeted a post from Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. that said Trump’s first term should be extended by two years as payback “for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup.”

Falwell, an avid and vocal supporter of Trump, was alluding to the recently completed investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election that special counsel Robert Mueller conducted.

“After the best week ever for @realDonaldTrump – no obstruction, no collusion, NYT admits @BarackObama did spy on his campaign, & the economy is soaring. I now support reparations-Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup,” Falwell tweeted.

Trump followed up the retweet with tweets of his own alleging two years of his presidency were “stollen” that “we will never be able to get back.”

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1125149867347718144?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Trump’s retweet came after he slammed Democrats seeking to have Mueller testify about the report.

The president said Mueller shouldn’t testify because the report found that neither Trump nor his campaign conspired to collude with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.

Trump’s retweet Sunday saying his term should be extended by two years comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she is worried Trump may not accept the results of the 2020 election if Democrats do not beat him by a wide margin.

[The Hill]

‘Bigger than WATERGATE’: Trump hails NYT report on FBI meeting with Papadopoulos

The White House on Friday seized on revelations that the FBI during the 2016 campaign sent an undercover investigator to meet with an aide to then-candidate Donald Trump, with the president calling the news “bigger than Watergate.”

Trump praised one of his most frequent media foes, The New York Times, for its reporting, while his reelection campaign lit into investigators and Vice President Mike Pence called the bureau’s actions “very troubling.”

“Finally, Mainstream Media is getting involved – too ‘hot’ to avoid,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Pulitzer Prize anyone? The New York Times, on front page (finally), ‘Details effort to spy on Trump Campaign.’ @foxandfriends This is bigger than WATERGATE, but the reverse!”

At the heart of Trump’s claim is a Times report out Thursday that a woman, sent by the FBI, identified herself as an assistant to a Cambridge researcher when she met in London in 2016 with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who later pleaded guilty to making false statements to the bureau. The woman was sent as part of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

The revelation that the bureau sent someone undercover to meet with Papadopoulos has fueled the president’s and his allies’ insistence that special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation was politically motivated and that the Trump 2016 campaign was under inappropriate surveillance.

That investigation, however, was reportedly opened after Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat that Russians had offered to help Trump’s campaign, before the aide met the undercover woman.

Still, Trump continued to claim Friday that the report was proof of his spying claims, praising it as a marked departure from what he said is consistently negative coverage about his presidency.

“I was happy to see on the front of The New York Times for the first time where they were talking about spying and they’re talking about spying on my campaign,” he told reporters in the Oval Office. “That’s a big difference between the way they’ve been covering. That’s a story bigger than Watergate, as far as I’m concerned.”

The woman, who identified herself as Azra Turk, posed for her meeting with the Trump campaign aide as an assistant to Cambridge professor and government informant Stefan Halper. The meeting veered eventually from its purported purpose, foreign policy, to the woman directly asking Papadopoulos whether the Trump campaign was working with Russia to interfere in the election. At that point, investigators had been looking into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties for little more than a month, though the politically fraught probe was still being kept under wraps.

The operation “yielded no fruitful information,” the Times reported, and though FBI officials have insisted their investigatory actions taken before the 2016 election were legal, they are being probed by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

The FBI declined to comment to the Times on the undercover effort.

In the wake of Mueller concluding his investigation earlier this year without finding a conspiracy to collude with Russians, Trump and his allies have clamored for an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, calls Attorney General William Barr has said he supports.

Barr came under fire last month when he told lawmakers it was possible there was “spying” on the Trump campaign that should be looked into. He has since defended his use of the term “spying,” arguing that there was likely more involved in the probe’s genesis than what is publicly known.

Pence agreed with Barr’s phrasing in an interview with Fox News on Friday.

“We’ve got to get to the bottom of how all this started. The American people have a right to know how this investigation even began. And as the attorney general said when he testified before Congress, there was spying. We need to understand why there was, whether there was a sufficient predicate. We really need to get to the bottom of how this all began and if there was a violation of the rules, if the law was broken, the people that were responsible need to be held accountable,” he said.

“It’s very troubling,” he said of the Times report, adding later that “the American people are not going to tolerate this.”

In a statement Thursday, Trump’s reelection campaign manager ripped into the revelations.

“There is a word for this in the English language: Spying,” Brad Parscale said. “Democrats and their media friends have expressed horror at the term, but there is no other way to describe it: the FBI spied on the Trump campaign in 2016.”

Parscale accused Democrats and the press of ignoring the “real scandal,” the “Obama Administration using the Justice Department to spy on a political adversary’s campaign.”

He added: “As President Trump has said, it is high time to investigate the investigators.”

Though the Russia investigation was triggered by Papadopoulos’ disclosure to an Australian diplomat that he’d been told Russia had “dirt” on Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton, the president has repeatedly and incorrectly claimed that it was based off an unsubstantiated dossier claiming Russia had compromising information on him that was funded by his political opponents.

Late Thursday, however, Trump appeared to call for dropping an investigation into his investigators before returning to his insistence that the Russia probe had been rigged.

“OK, so after two years of hard work and each party trying their best to make the other party look as bad as possible, it’s time to get back to business,” he wrote in a pair of tweets. “The Mueller Report strongly stated that there was No Collusion with Russia (of course) and, in fact, they were rebuffed at every turn in attempts to gain access. But now Republicans and Democrats must come together for the good of the American people. No more costly & time consuming investigations.”

[Politico]

Trump Suggests FBI Kept Carter Page’s Russia Ties Secret to ‘Spy’ on His Campaign

President Donald Trump suggested that the FBI may have tried to use Carter Page as “an excuse to SPY” on the Trump campaign, as they did not inform the then-candidate about Page’s ties to Russia.

“’Why didn’t the FBI tell President Trump that they had concerns about Carter Page? Is there a double standard here?’” Trump tweeted on Thursday, quoting comments made by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Fox News.

Trump then jumped in with his on commentary on the matter: “They told Senator Diane Feinstein that she had a spy – but not Trump. Is that entrapment or did they just want to use Page as an excuse to SPY?”

Just days before the election in 2016, the FBI filed a surveillance application on Page that said, “The FBI believes that Page has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.”

Page responded to the allegations by denying his involvement with the Kremlin.

“I’ve never been an agent of a foreign power by any stretch of the imagination,” the former Trump campaign adviser said.

[Mediaite]

Reality

First, Carter Page left the Trump campaign in September 2016, the FBI sought another FISA warrant in October 2016 after Page left.

Second, the FBI informed Trump the Russians were trying to infiltrate his campaign in July 2016.

Trump is a liar.

Trump Goes On Another ‘Witch Hunt’ Tweetstorm While Watching Lou Dobbs

President Trump is on another “witch hunt” tweetstorm, this time in response to watching a segment on Lou Dobbs‘ Fox Business Network program.

Dobbs hosted Judicial Watch director Chris Farrell and the President loved what he said so much that he tweeted it out, before concluding again there’s a “witch hunt” going on:

[Mediaite]

Media

 

Trump promises to get back to work and stop obsessing over ‘Rigged Russia Witch Hunt’

President Donald Trump offered a false apology Tuesday morning and promised to stop obsessing over the special counsel investigation — after tweeting four times about the probe in one hour.

The president accused “Angry Democrats” of “meddling” in the upcoming midterm elections with a sprawling investigation of his 2016 presidential campaign’s ties to Russia and other foreign governments, which has resulted in five guilty pleas and 17 indictments.

He tweeted twice more about the investigation before promising to get back to work.

“Sorry, I’ve got to start focusing my energy on North Korea Nuclear, bad Trade Deals, VA Choice, the Economy, rebuilding the Military, and so much more, and not on the Rigged Russia Witch Hunt that should be investigating Clinton/Russia/FBI/Justice/Obama/Comey/Lynch etc.,” the president tweeted.

[Raw Story]

Trump live tweets Fox News to push claims of campaign surveillance

President Trump on Monday tweeted quotes from George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley’s appearance on “Fox & Friends” to bolster his claims of surveillance on his presidential campaign.

Trump also quoted Turley, a constitutional law professor and contributor to The Hill, to slam former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, whom Trump fired last year.

“I think the president has raised a legitimate issue. I don’t agree with how he did it but to say that we shouldn’t investigate this matter is rather bizarre,” Turley said on the Fox News show prior to the president’s tweets.

“We now find out that the Obama administration put the opposing campaign’s presidential candidate, or his campaign, under investigation,” he continued. “That raises legitimate questions.”

Turley also criticized Yates for her decision to not defend the first iteration of Trump’s travel ban on refugees from several majority-Muslim countries. The president fired her over the decision when she was serving as acting attorney general.

The law professor was responding to Yates saying that Trump has “taken the assault on the rule of law to a new level.”

“I’m afraid that it’s a rather ironic statement because she is part of the concerns people have raised about bias in the Justice Department,” Turley said.

“She told an entire department to stand down and not to defend the president’s first immigration order,” he said. “I said at the time that she was fired for good cause, I still believe that. I find her actions to be really quite unbelievable.”

Trump has repeatedly claimed that the FBI spied on his campaign during the 2016 election.

[The Hill]

Trump tweets lie: Why didn’t FBI tell me about ‘phony Russia problem’ during campaign

President Trump questioned on Saturday why the FBI never informed him that it was examining Russian interference in the 2016 election when the bureau began using an informant to meet with his campaign advisers.

“With Spies, or ‘Informants’ as the Democrats like to call them because it sounds less sinister (but it’s not), all over my campaign, even from a very early date, why didn’t the crooked highest levels of the FBI or ‘Justice’ contact me to tell me of the phony Russia problem?” Trump tweeted.

Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported that a top-secret FBI informant met with at least three Trump campaign advisers in 2016. The meeting took place in the early days of the bureau’s counterintelligence investigation into Russian efforts to meddle in the presidential election.

Trump and his allies have suggested in recent days that the informant was used to spy on his campaign for political reasons. No evidence has surfaced to suggest that that was the case.

Former intelligence officials, including former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, have pushed back on Trump’s allegations, saying that the informant was deployed as the intelligence community sought to determine whether Russia was taking active measures to influence the election.

It was also reported in late 2017 that the FBI did, in fact, warn the Trump campaign of possible Russian meddling.

Select lawmakers met with top Justice Department officials this week in a pair of classified meetings to discuss the use of the informant, who has been identified in media reports as American professor Stefan Halper.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded in a report released last year that Russia did, in fact, meddle in the presidential election and sought to help Trump’s campaign.

That conclusion has become the subject of a criminal investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump has denounced that probe as a “witch hunt” and a “hoax” intended to undermine his presidency.

[The Hill]

Trump: ‘Spy’ was placed in campaign ‘way earlier than the Russian Hoax’

President Trump on Friday once again made the claim that the FBI improperly spied on his presidential campaign, suggesting that the bureau used a top-secret informant to surveil his team long before it began investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“The Democrats are now alluding to the the concept that having an Informant placed in an opposing party’s campaign is different than having a Spy, as illegal as that may be,” he tweeted. “But what about an ‘Informant’ who is paid a fortune and who ‘sets up’ way earlier than the Russian Hoax?”

“Can anyone even imagine having Spies placed in a competing campaign, by the people and party in absolute power, for the sole purpose of political advantage and gain?” he wrote in a second tweet. “And to think that the party in question, even with the expenditure of far more money, LOST!”

The tweets were Trump’s latest suggestion that the FBI planted a mole within his campaign to spy on his team under the guise that his associates were being influenced by Moscow.

No evidence has emerged that the FBI spied on Trump’s campaign. The informant, identified in media reports as Stefan Halper, an American academic, reportedly met with at least three advisers on Trump’s campaign in 2016.

It is not clear whether the FBI paid the informant at all for his work.

Trump’s tweets Friday came a day after select lawmakers met with top Justice Department officials for two highly classified meetings to discuss the FBI’s use of the informant in the early months of the counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s role in the election.

After the meetings, congressional Democrats said they saw “no evidence” that the FBI placed a spy in the Trump campaign.

Democrats were also concerned about White House lawyer Emmet Flood’s attendance at the two meetings, with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) noting that his presence “only underscores [that] the President’s legal team expects to use information gleaned improperly from the Justice Department or the President’s allies in Congress to their legal advantage.”

[The Hill]

Trump demands ‘total transparency’ from Rosenstein, FBI on Russia documents

President Trump on Wednesday demanded that federal law enforcement officials show “total transparency” about sensitive information related to the earliest days of the Russia probe.

“What I want from Rod, from the FBI, from everybody — we want transparency,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, referring to his embattled deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.

The president spoke one day before senior law enforcement and intelligence leaders are set to meet with Republican lawmakers to discuss classified information related to a confidential source who helped advance the FBI probe into Trump’s campaign.

No Democrats were invited to the meeting, fueling criticism that the gathering is a politically motivated attempt by Trump and his allies to undercut the investigation — and perhaps fire Rosenstein.

[The Hill]

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