News & Politics

The Morning Briefing: 'What Is This?' Asks Sessions, Real Hacking Ignored, Rolling Stone to Pay Out and Much, Much More

Jeff Sessions (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Good Wednesday Morning.

Here’s what is on the President’s agenda today:

  • In the afternoon, President Donald J. Trump will depart the White House en route to the Department of Labor.
  • The President will then give remarks at the Apprenticeship Initiative kickoff.
  • Later in the afternoon, the President will sign an Executive Order. The President will then return to the White House.

The Sessions Testimony

Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee to clean up after former FBI Director James Comey vengefully detonated some innuendo bombs during his own appearance before the committee the previous week. I think Sessions did well. It was obvious the A.G. wanted to clear his name and it was obvious the Democrats wanted to get anything they could to continue to taint the administration with clouds of suspicion.

“I have never met with, or had any conversation with, any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States,” Sessions told the Committee. “Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign.”

Sessions asserted he did not collude with the Russians and had no knowledge of any collusion and addressed the newly surfaced rumor that he had a previously undisclosed meeting with RUSSIAN Kislyak at a Trump campaign event at the Mayflower Hotel. Sessions said he had no recollection of meeting with Kislyak when the two were at a VIP event with about two dozen other people.  Here are some highlights from the committee meeting if you missed it.

1. Sessions got assertive with the grandstanding Senator Wyden, who self-righteously asked Sessions what were the matters, ominously alluded to by Comey, that led Sessions to recuse himself from the investigation. Why didn’t Wyden ask Comey that? How would Sessions know what Comey was referring to?

“Why don’t you tell me? There are none, Senator Wyden. There are none,” said Sessions. “I can tell you that for absolute certainty… this is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me, and I don’t appreciate it, and I tried to give my best and truthful answers to any committee I’ve appeared before, and it’s really people sort of suggesting innuendo that I have been not honest about matters, and I’ve tried to be honest.”

2. Sessions explained he met with senior ethics officials about recusing himself from the investigation after he was sworn in to his position. He also said he had no access to nor did he seek out any information about the investigation before he formally announced he would recuse himself.

“I recuse myself not because of any asserted wrongdoing or any belief that I may have been involved in any wrongdoing in the campaign, but because a Department of Justice regulation… required it,” said Sessions. “That regulation states in effect that department employees should not participate in investigations of their campaign if they served as a campaign adviser.”

3. Sessions confirmed that Comey expressed concern over a one-on-one meeting with President Trump but denied that he ignored Comey’s concern.

“I responded to his comment by agreeing that the FBI and the Department of Justice needed to be careful to follow department policies regarding appropriate contacts with the White House,” said Sessions. “Mr. Comey had served in the department for better than two decades, and I was confident that he had understood and would abide by the well-established rule.”

Sessions also said that Comey did not tell him any specifics about the meeting or what made him uncomfortable. Did you know that Sessions is not Comey’s direct supervisor? He isn’t. His supervisor is Rosenstein.

4. Sessions responded to the Democrat-generated talking point that Sessions should not have been involved in Comey’s firing because he recused himself from the RUSSIA investigation. The A.G. explained that discussions about having a fresh start at the FBI began before Sessions was even sworn in and that he did not agree to step away from every matter at the DOJ simply because he recused himself from one of the thousands of investigations taking place at the agency. As I have mentioned before, firing Comey is a personnel matter. The Democrats would love to have Sessions opt out of all DOJ business.

“I think it’s my responsibility,” said Sessions. “I mean, I was appointed to be attorney general. Supervising all the federal agencies is my responsibility. Trying to get the very best people in those agencies at the top of them is my responsibility, and I think I had a duty to do so.”

5. Sessions responded to claims that he lied under oath when he responded to Franken’s confusing question/statement about a discredited blackmail dossier on Trump.

“[Franken] asked me a rambling question that included dramatic, new allegations,” said Sessions, later adding, “My answer was a fair and correct response to the charge as I understood it. It simply did not occur to me to go further than the context of the question and list any conversations I may have had with Russians in routine situations, as I had with numerous other foreign officials.”

6. Sessions also refused to answer questions about his discussions with President Trump, citing a DOJ policy to allow the president the future possibility of asserting executive privilege.

7. Senator Tom Cotton was a superstar when he likened the Democrats’ fabulism about RUSSIA to wild spy-tales.

8. Kamala Harris, getting ready for a 2020 presidential run presumably, badgered Sessions and refused to let him finish his answers. Again. This is because none of these Democrats want their questions answered and put to rest; they want a good sound clip that can play on the news and can be used in campaign commercials. The New York Times reports:

“Chairman,” Mr. McCain said, “the witness should be allowed to answer the question.”

Mr. Burr responded: “Senators will allow the chair to control the hearing. Senator Harris, let him answer.”

Naturally, Harris’ rude behavior was spun to indicate some sort of sexism or racism by Burr and McCain. Harris later said she would not be silenced, but she should be silenced if she can’t control herself and conduct herself according to the procedural rules.

The entire “collusion” narrative has fallen apart and now the “obstruction of justice” narrative is in play. Ironic from a group of people who tout a motto of “resist.”

It’s important to remember that this investigation is about RUSSIAN interference into the 2016 election. The Democrats have decided, for political reasons, to interpret this exclusively about the Trump campaign, but it is not. This is a shame because…

There is actual proof the RUSSIANS tried to hack our election infrastructure

It’s bizarre that despite the GOP controlling the Senate, the Congress and the White House, the minority party continues to dictate the agenda. So while politicians are giving press conferences about how they “got” Jeff Sessions and how the once-hated-but-now-loved Comey was wronged, we have evidence the RUSSIANS were trying to hack into our election infrastructure. And this hacking took place under former President Obama’s administration. How come that didn’t leak?

Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump’s election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported.

In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said.

Last week, The Daily Caller reported that the Obama administration did not warn any of the secretaries of State about this massive cyberattack on our election systems. But they were privately concerned:

The scope and sophistication so concerned Obama administration officials that they took an unprecedented step — complaining directly to Moscow over a modern-day “red phone.” In October, two of the people said, the White House contacted the Kremlin on the back channel to offer detailed documents of what it said was Russia’s role in election meddling and to warn that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict.

Not concerned enough to taint Hillary Clinton’s victory and ascendancy to the presidency with doubt, of course. Where are the hearings on the real hackings? Why aren’t there leaks about the real hacking investigation?

Those are rhetorical questions.

Rolling Stone to pay out $1.65m for publishing made-up gang rape story

There’s a price for publishing fake news designed to further a social justice cause.

Rolling Stone has agreed to settle a defamation lawsuit brought by the University of Virginia fraternity at the center of a discredited article about an alleged gang rape, effectively closing the door on a pivotal and damaging chapter in the magazine’s history.

Under the terms of the settlement, the magazine agreed to pay the Virginia Alpha Chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity $1.65 million. The fraternity had originally sought a trial by jury and $25 million in damages.

Seems pretty cheap to me.

The settlement essentially brings to an end the legal issues facing Rolling Stone over the 9,000-word article published in November 2014. In April, the magazine and the writer of the article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, settled a suit brought by a University of Virginia administrator, Nicole P. Eramo, who said the article defamed her and portrayed her as the “chief villain” of the story. (A federal jury had awarded Ms. Eramo $3 million in damages in November 2016.) A third lawsuit, filed by three former fraternity members, was dismissed last June, though that decision is being appealed.

The article, “A Rape on Campus,” was retracted in April 2015 after a Columbia Journalism School report that said the magazine failed to take basic journalistic steps to verify the account of a woman, identified only as Jackie, who said she was the victim of a gang rape. It was an embarrassing episode for a magazine that has long prided itself on its journalistic accomplishments.

Good.

‘A F*cking Piece Of Sh*t’

Those are the words of a “long time Democratic” strategist when describing the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. The Daily Caller writes about these revelations published in a Rolling Stone article:

“At a really fundamental level we gotta get people to acknowledge what a fucking piece of shit her campaign was, because Donald Trump should not have won this election,” the strategist said.

“Yes, Comey happened,” he added. “And yes, the Russians happened. But she had more money than God, and they spent all of it trashing him [Trump] and not actually rebutting his ideological agenda.”

They certainly did try and rebut his ideological agenda, but that agenda won him the election. Whatever your opinion about Trump is, voters were clear on his agenda and they liked it. That’s why they voted for him. Get rid of Obamacare, build a wall, tighten up immigration and terror country travel to the U.S., jobs: is this news to people? Are the people who voted for this also “a fucking piece of shit”? Because that’s what the Democrats must think by #resisting Trump’s agenda.

“The country’s waking up shocked to what he’s doing because Hillary didn’t actually explain to anybody what he was going to do when he became president,” the strategist said. “We focused on him groping people — and not on him saying he was going to end our alliance with Europe or he was going to strip health care. It was an amazing failure of our politics to make our case.”

Nope. He was very clear about his platform and he is trying to do exactly what he said he was going to do.

Other morsels:

Don’t forget Qatar’s horrible human rights record

Norway to ban full face veils in schools, universities

Kellogg sues over “Special K”

Barron Trump’s “The Expert” shirt sells out

Journalist pleads guilty in Jewish bomb threat case

Epi-pen CEO took home $98m in 2016

Hazmat team called after geese poop on Disneyland guests

And that’s all I’ve got, now go beat back the angry mobs!