Wednesday's HOT MIC
Happy Wednesday Morning!
Here is what is on President Trump's agenda today:
- In the morning, President Trump will depart the White House for Joint Base Andrews en route to Groton, Connecticut.
- The President will then give remarks at the United States Coast Guard Academy Commencement Ceremony.
- In the afternoon, the President will depart Groton, Connecticut, for Washington, D.C., en route to the White House.
Media reveals classified information and that's cool
After spending more than 24 hours going completely bonkers about the alleged content of a meeting between the White House and Russian officials, the media -- ever obsessed with itself and its importance -- chose to up the ante, insert itself into the story and release classified information to the world.
In case you haven't been paying attention, President Trump, along with NSC Advisor H.R. McMaster, Deputy NSC Advisor Dina Powell and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, met with Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, last week. "Someone" leaked out part of the discussion that concerned intelligence the U.S. had about an ISIS terror threat involving laptops and airplanes. The leaker went to the Washington Post and the Washington Post reported that Trump shared classified information with the Russians -- and the media and left went wild. There was much concern.
We do not know what was said in the meeting and at least initially, we did not know where the intelligence came from or what exactly that intelligence was. The media and the left were shrieking like banshees about how sharing this information was a breach of classified information and how our allies would not share intelligence with us any longer because Trump can't keep a secret. Impeachment was mentioned, but it's always mentioned so that's nothing new. Also of little concern: leaking classified information to the media.
All three of the U.S. officials at the meeting denied confidences were breached or that inappropriate information was shared with the Russians, and McMaster told the media Trump did not even know the origin of this intelligence -- but that did not stop the spiral of hysteria.
And then all of a sudden...those concerns went away when the New York Times revealed that the country that shared that information with the U.S. is Israel.
The classified intelligence that President Trump disclosed in a meeting last week with Russian officials at the White House was provided by Israel, according to a current and a former American official familiar with how the United States obtained the information. The revelation adds a potential diplomatic complication to an episode that has renewed questions about how the White House handles sensitive intelligence.
Israel is one of the United States’ most important allies and runs one of the most active espionage networks in the Middle East. Mr. Trump’s boasting about some of Israel’s most sensitive information to the Russians could damage the relationship between the two countries and raises the possibility that the information could be passed to Iran, Russia’s close ally and Israel’s main threat in the region.
Israeli officials would not confirm that they were the source of the information that Mr. Trump shared, which was about an Islamic State plot. In a statement emailed to The New York Times, Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, reaffirmed that the two countries would maintain a close counterterrorism relationship.
The public went from knowing Trump told the Russians the U.S. has knowledge of a terror plot involving laptops and airplanes, something we already know since there was a very public ban against flying into the U.S. with carry-on laptops from certain countries, to knowing who provided this information to us, precisely the issue the media and the left was so concerned about.
The NYT writes:
It was not clear whether the president or the other Americans in the meeting were aware of the sensitivity of what was shared. Only afterward, when notes on the discussion were circulated among National Security Council officials, was the information flagged as too sensitive to be shared, even among many American officials, the officials said.
Intelligence officials worried that Mr. Trump provided enough details to effectively expose the source of the information and the manner in which it had been collected.
Well, if he didn't do it in the meeting, the media sure has. I repeat, the damaging information that was leaked to the world came from the Washington Post and the New York Times, not President Trump. Our relations with other countries and the trust we have with our intelligence sources were soured because the media published agenda-driven leaks from anti-Trump foes in the administration.
I will go further and say it is no accident that the country revealed was Israel because the left hates Israel and the Obama administration officials, along with the bad actors Trump has installed in his administration under bad advice, also hate Israel. The Obama administration stooges in the Trump administration still have anti-Israel business to accomplish.
“The Russians have the widest intelligence collection mechanism in the world outside of our own,” said John Sipher, a 28-year veteran of the C.I.A.who served in Moscow in the 1990s and later ran the agency’s Russia program for three years. “They can put together a good picture with just a few details. They can marry President Trump’s comments with their own intelligence, and intelligence from their allies. They can also deploy additional resources to find out details.”
They don't have to do anything now, as the media has done it for them. If we clear away the grandstanding and the hysteria, we have no evidence there was any classified information revealed in that meeting and the media is not the judge and jury of what is or is not appropriate to reveal in a diplomatic meeting. That's really what this is about: that the president makes these decisions and they don't like the president. Unless Trump gets his house in order and gets rid of these bad actors, situations like this will only get worse.
Comey kept a Trump slam book
I have whiplash just writing about this topic, but former media/left enemy and current media/left darling-hero Jim Comey was keeping notes on his conversations with President Trump.
Former FBI Director James Comey wrote in a memo that President Donald Trump asked him to end the investigation of national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Comey was so appalled by the request that he wanted to document it, the source said. Comey shared it with FBI senior officials, according to the source.
Why didn't Comey do something about this "obstruction of justice" when it happened? It seems really serious based on the reactions from the Democrats and the media.
"You realize something momentous has happened and memories fade so he wanted to memorialize it at the earliest time," the source said. The source said it was not common practice for Comey to document conversations with senior officials unless he thought it was significant. Conversations Comey had with Trump were documented by the former FBI director.
In one memo, Comey included a description of Trump talking to him about crowd size at the inauguration.
The source said Comey did not do this with President Barack Obama, in part, because he had fewer one-on-one conversations with him.
"There is no need to document the conversations with people who are truthful or situations that are routine. It's when you have situations that are not routine and people who are not truthful, you would write a memo to file," the source said. "There have been other occasions where he has done this but not everyday."
So yet another anonymous source. Does Comey have notes on his conversations with Loretta Lynch about the "accidental" meeting on the tarmac with the husband of a presidential candidate under investigation for sharing the highest level of State Department business with an insecure computer network? Why didn't that memo leak?
And here the source reveals their agenda: "There is no need to document the conversations with people who are truthful or situations that are routine. It's when you have situations that are not routine and people who are not truthful, you would write a memo to file," the source said. "There have been other occasions where he has done this but not everyday."
Rep. Jason Chaffetz has said he wants to subpoena's Comey's slam book.
"[email protected] is going to get the Comey memo, if it exists. I need to see it sooner rather than later. I have my subpoena pen ready," Chaffetz tweeted.
Chaffetz later sent a letter to Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, asking for all FBI notes and information on Comey's communications with President Donald Trump.
Trump asked Comey to end his investigation of Michael Flynn one day after he fired him, according to a memo written by Comey detailing their discussion. The New York Times first reported the memo Tuesday and a source familiar with the matter confirmed the contents of the memo to CNN.
"If these reports are true, the President's brazen attempt to shut down the FBI's investigation of Michael Flynn is an assault on the rule of law that is fundamental to our democracy," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. "At best, President Trump has committed a grave abuse of executive power. At worst, he has obstructed justice."
We'll see where this ends up.
Is the Seth Rich story "dead"?
There was news on the Seth Rich murder yesterday but most of the media didn't cover it. CNN decided to cover that the story it wasn't concerned with was "dead."
It took only hours for one of the biggest stories in conservative media this week, which some outlets had chosen to focus on over news that President Trump disclosed classified information to senior Russian officials, to fall apart.
By the way, it's merely alleged Trump disclosed classified information to the Russians. It was denied by all parties present at the meeting, but nothing will get in the way of a good narrative for CNN -- even the truth.
Now why wouldn't CNN cover this story? They've been breathlessly reporting how the Russians "hacked" the election. I would think they would be relieved that it appears Rich was the one leaking DNC emails to Wikileaks and not the Russians. I guess not.
Is the story really dead? The CNN piece is far from conclusive. It includes statements from the family complaining that hired gun Ron Wheeler had spoken to the media. And Wheeler did qualify what he said to Fox News.
Wheeler instead said he only learned about the possible existence of such evidence through the reporter he spoke to for the FoxNews.com story. He explained that the comments he made to WTTG-TV were intended to simply preview Fox News' Tuesday story. The WTTG-TV news director did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
"I only got that [information] from the reporter at Fox News," Wheeler told CNN.
Democrat operative Brad Bauman, who is the family spokesperson, also responded to Wheeler's statements, saying the family had "seen no evidence" of communication between Rich and WikiLeaks.
Bauman told CNN the outlets that had run with the story "have shown over and over again that they are willing to lie and manipulate the facts" to further "their own political end."
"I think it's important for everyone at Fox News to be careful with this information and how this story breaks because using the legacy of a murder victim in such an overtly political way is morally reprehensible," he said.
This is wild. CNN loves running anonymously sourced "journalism" without regard for whether or not it's leaked to further "their own political end."
But Wheeler told Fox News' Sean Hannity last night that a "federal investigator that was involved on the inside of the case" saw Rich's computer files. And according to Fox News (from an unnamed source much like the kind CNN has no problem running with all the time),:
An FBI forensic report of Rich's computer -- generated within 96 hours after Rich's murder -- showed he made contact with WikiLeaks through Gavin MacFadyen, a now-deceased American investigative reporter, documentary filmmaker, and director of WikiLeaks who was living in London at the time, the federal source told Fox News.
“I have seen and read the emails between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks,” the federal investigator told Fox News, confirming the MacFadyen connection. He said the emails are in possession of the FBI, while the stalled case is in the hands of the Washington Police Department.
The revelation is consistent with the findings of Wheeler, whose private investigation firm was hired by a third party on behalf of Rich’s family to probe the case.
And it goes on to say:
“My investigation up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks,” Wheeler said. “I do believe that the answers to who murdered Seth Rich sits on his computer on a shelf at the DC police or FBI headquarters.”
The federal investigator, who requested anonymity, said 44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments between Democratic National Committee leaders, spanning from January 2015 through late May 2016, were transferred from Rich to MacFadyen before May 21.
Meanwhile, a current FBI official and a former one completely discount the Fox News claim that an FBI analysis of a computer belonging to Rich contained thousands of e-mails to and from WikiLeaks.
Local police in Washington, D.C., never even gave the FBI Rich's laptop to analyze after his murder, according to the current FBI official.
And a former law enforcement official with first-hand knowledge of Rich's laptop said the claim was incorrect. "It never contained any e-mails related to WikiLeaks, and the FBI never had it," the person said.
Number of uninsured American at all-time low -- tell me more about pre-existing conditions?
That's all I've got, now go beat back the angry mob!
If Trump asked Comey to "end the Flynn investigation," as the New York Times put it, why did Director Comey say this under oath during his appearance before the Senate Intelligence committee on May 3?
HIRONO: So if the Attorney General or senior officials at the Department of Justice opposes a specific investigation, can they halt that FBI investigation?
COMEY: In theory yes.
HIRONO: Has it happened?
COMEY: Not in my experience. Because it would be a big deal to tell the FBI to stop doing something that -- without an appropriate purpose. I mean where oftentimes they give us opinions that we don't see a case there and so you ought to stop investing resources in it. But I'm talking about a situation where we were told to stop something for a political reason, that would be a very big deal. It's not happened in my experience.
Acting Director McCabe also said during a hearing on May 10 that there had been no effort to impede the investigation:
McCabe replied that “the work of the men and women of the FBI continues despite any changes in circumstance, any decisions. There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.
Simply put, sir, you cannot stop the men and women from the FBI from doing the right thing, protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution.”
However, according to Comey’s notes, Trump had urged him to drop the counterintelligence investigation into Flynn in the wake of the former national security adviser’s resignation.
“I hope you can let this go,” Trump said, according to Comey’s notes, which were described to The Washington Post by the former director’s associates. The associates said Comey wrote a detailed, two-page account of the meeting, noting that Trump described Flynn as “a good guy.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, wrote a letter to the FBI Tuesday night requesting any and all communications between Comey and Trump. He said he’s prepared to issue a subpoena if need be to get a copy of Comey’s notes.
“I need to see it sooner rather than later. I have my subpoena pen ready,” he tweeted.
This is wonderful. From Benny Johnson:
The Trump administration tapped Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to serve as assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security for partnership and engagement. Clarke, a tough-talking, conservative firebrand recognized by his penchant for cowboy hats, announced the appointment during an interview with a local Wisconsin radio station Wednesday afternoon.
"I'm both honored and humbled to be a appointed to this position by [DHS Sec. John Kelly], working for the Trump administration in this position," Clarke told WISN Milwaukee. Clarke will begin in the position in June. The position does not require Senate confirmation.
Which promptly elicited this response from Bill Kristol:
Position doesn't require Senate confirmation. But Congress could defund the position or that section of the Department... https://t.co/LFRx3aVOt1
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) May 17, 2017
Good for Clarke. I'm not sure what the job actually entails, but the sheriff is a tremendously impressive man and a great role model for kids tempted to stray. We should all wish him well.
You know, I could see Joe Lieberman.
This seems like good advice.
One vulnerable Democrat senator paid for another vulnerable Democrat senator's trip to Cancún. From NTK Network:
One vulnerable Senate Democrat, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) paid for a $7,500 trip to Cancún, Mexico for another, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), in February 2016, according to a report filed by Tester with the U.S. Senate this week.
Under Tester’s annual report, which the Senate posted online on Monday, Tester lists under “Travel” almost $7,500 in “Airfare, Lodging, [and] Meals” for him and his spouse, paid for by McCaskill.
This doesn't look good, especially given both senators' electoral vulnerability next year, running in states Trump won in November.
Both Tester and McCaskill are in the fight of their political careers in 2018, as both are up for re-election in states Donald Trump won in 2016.
Was McCaskill intentionally handing fodder to her eventual Republican opponent?
In other "Not the Onion" campaign news, Montana Democrat Rob Quist dodged questions about genital herpes. Yes. These question are legitimate because they are relevant to a decades-old medical malpractice lawsuit which Quist used to excuse not paying $27,000 in taxes and debts.
Ross Douthat doesn't think Trump is guilty of high crime and misdemeanors, nor does he believe the president is conspiring with the Russians in any meaningful way. Instead:
I do not believe that our president sufficiently understands the nature of the office that he holds, the nature of the legal constraints that are supposed to bind him, perhaps even the nature of normal human interactions, to be guilty of obstruction of justice in the Nixonian or even Clintonian sense of the phrase. I do not believe he is really capable of the behind-the-scenes conspiring that the darker Russia theories envision. And it is hard to betray an oath of office whose obligations you evince no sign of really understanding or respecting.
Rather than calling for impeachment, Douthat says members of Trump's cabinet are duty bound to invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows for the removal of a president when a majority of the cabinet informs Congress that he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."
According to Douthat, Trump's closest allies have lost confidence in him:
Read the things that these people, members of his inner circle, his personally selected appointees, say daily through anonymous quotations to the press. (And I assure you they say worse off the record.) They have no respect for him, indeed they seem to palpitate with contempt for him, and to regard their mission as equivalent to being stewards for a syphilitic emperor.
It is not squishy New York Times conservatives who regard the president as a child, an intellectual void, a hopeless case, a threat to national security; it is people who are self-selected loyalists, who supported him in the campaign, who daily go to work for him. And all this, in the fourth month of his administration.
If he's right, the stakes are high:
Meanwhile, from the perspective of the Republican leadership’s duty to their country, and indeed to the world that our imperium bestrides, leaving a man this witless and unmastered in an office with these powers and responsibilities is an act of gross negligence, which no objective on the near-term political horizon seems remotely significant enough to justify.
Douthat ends with a plea for Republican leadership to do the honorable thing in service to the country:
I respectfully ask Mike Pence and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to reconsider their support for a man who never should have had his party’s nomination, never should have been elevated to this office, never should have been endorsed and propped up and defended by people who understood his unfitness all along.
Vlad Putin, America's bestest buddy:
Asserting himself abroad with his customary disruptive panache, President Vladimir V. Putin on Wednesday jumped into the furor over President Trump’s disclosure of classified information to Russian diplomats, declaring that nothing secret had been revealed and that he could prove it.
Mr. Putin, who has a long record of seizing on foreign crises to make Russia’s voice heard, announced during a news conference in Sochi, Russia, the Black Sea resort that has become his equivalent of Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, that he has a “record” of the American president’s meeting at the White House with two senior Russian officials and was ready to give it to Congress — so long as Mr. Trump does not object.
Referring to reports that Mr. Trump had revealed highly classified intelligence, Mr. Putin said, “It’s hard to imagine what else these people who generate such nonsense and rubbish can dream up next.”
Mr. Putin’s offer to release a record of what was said, made after a meeting with the visiting prime minister of Italy, Paulo Gentiloni, suggested less an effort to create clarity over what Mr. Trump actually said in the Oval Office last Wednesday than a headline-grabbing assertion of his own authority and a reminder that he should not be ignored.
The idea that Putin would release a record of his meeting to "prove" Trump's innocence should panic Trump supporters. What earthly reason would Putin have to assist an American president? The Kremlin record of the conversations may, indeed, show that Trump did nothing particularly wrong in revealing secrets. But what else would the record contain? Almost certainly not good news for Trump.
Putin is having a gay old time watching his American counterpart sink into the muck and mire of scandal. He didn't have to order the hacking of anyone, or corrupt any American officials. America is tearing itself apart without any help from anyone outside the country.
That's something Putin's Communist predecessors could only dream of happening.
Chelsea Manning wasn't the only person released from custody today — not even the only person released today whose sentence was commuted by Obama. Paul Crookston at National Review's The Corner has the story:
Oscar Lopez-Rivera was released from house arrest in Puerto Rico today, and next month he will be returning to New York City, where his terrorist group bombed innocent people, to be honored in the Puerto Rican Day parade. His sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama in the final days of his administration, and now the Puerto Rican “nationalist” is a free man.
Lopez-Rivera was convicted for weapons trafficking and conspiracy to overthrow the government. He helped the socialist revolutionary group FALN, of which he was a member, obtain weapons and carry out attacks such as the bombing of Fraunces Tavern in downtown Manhattan, which killed four.
Joe Connor, whose father was killed in the Fraunces Tavern bombing when Joe was nine, told NPR, “I would love to ask people who support his release and say, If not a terrorist, what has Oscar Lopez done to help the Puerto Rican people?” This exposes the contradiction at the heart of the usual case for freeing Lopez-Rivera: that he is a hero for fighting for the revolution but also a political prisoner who did nothing wrong.
This interpretation doesn't square with the facts, naturally. But it seems the Left doesn't quite care for the facts these days.
In addition to his appearance in the city where FALN racked up its greatest body count, Lopez-Rivera has been booked to appear in San Francisco and Chicago, where he will have a streetway named in his honor. But to those affected by FALN’s terrorism, Lopez-Rivera will still be a killer whom Obama gave a get-out-of-jail-free card.