The Morning Briefing: Election Day, Fusion GPS, NYC Terror Attack and Much, Much More
Good Tuesday morning.
Here is what's on the president's agenda today:
- In the afternoon, President Donald J. Trump will sign H.R. 2810, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.
- The president will then meet with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and United States Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty.
Today is Election Day in Alabama. All eyes are on this race because, like all other races since the November 2017 election, this one is a referendum on President Trump. So we are told. Who is going to win? The pollsters have no idea.
Political influencers like Charles Barkley, Uma Thurman and Ellen Degeneres have been deployed to sweet home Alabama for the election. The America First Project brought in a 12-year-old to interview candidate Roy Moore. (Optics!) Mrs. Roy Moore wants you to know they don't hate Jews because one of their attorneys is a Jew. So there's that. BTW, Hanukkah starts tonight!
A mysterious SuperPAC supporting Democrat Doug Jones, Highway 31, has been unmasked. It's a joint effort between the progressive Priorities USA Action and the Senate Majority PAC along with some Alabama Democrats. They've spent $4M on the race.
Highway 31 was created in November, Federal Election Commission filings show. Though Birmingham lawyer Edward Still is listed as the group’s treasurer, it was, in fact, founded jointly with Senate Majority PAC, the outside group closely tied to Democratic leadership in the Senate. Highway 31 has been funded jointly by Senate Majority PAC and Priorities USA Action, the Democratic super PAC that backed Barack Obama in 2012 and Hillary Clinton in 2016, the Democrats briefed on the arrangement told POLITICO.
I'll see you back here tomorrow when I will talk about the results, which will undoubtedly be controversial. A judge has ordered Alabama to preserve all the voting records for the special election.
Attempted terror attack in NYC
Yesterday, a failed suicide bomber tried to blow himself and countless others to pieces in New York City. The perp fell victim to an all-too-common phenomenon: the Islamic extremist occupational hazard of a suicide vest improperly deployed. The family of bomber Akayed Ullah is outraged...over the actions of law enforcement.
“We are heartbroken by the violence that was targeted at our city today, and by the allegations being made against a member of our family,” Albert Fox Cahn, the legal director for CAIR New York, stated on behalf of the Ullah family, WABC reported Monday.
“But we are also outraged by the behavior of law enforcement officials who have held children as small as four years old out in the cold and who held a teenager out of high school classes to interrogate him without a lawyer, without his parents,” the family said. “These are not the sorts of actions that we expect from our justice system, and we have every confidence that our justice system will find the truth behind this attack and that we will, in the end, be able to learn what occurred today.”
The bomber, who survived, "told investigators he wanted to retaliate for American action against Islamic State extremists." The wanna-be-bomber came to the U.S. from Bangladesh on a visa that allowed relatives of U.S. citizens to come here. President Trump had a few thoughts about that.
“First and foremost, as I have been saying since I first announced my candidacy for President, America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country,” he said.
The president specifically lashed out at “chain migration,” which gives preference to individuals who are related to immigrants who are already here legally.
“Today’s terror suspect entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security.
“My Executive action to restrict the entry of certain nationals from eight countries, which the Supreme Court recently allowed to take effect, is just one step forward in securing our immigration system. Congress must end chain migration,” he said.
Ullah is not known to have any formal connections to ISIS and was probably inspired by online ISIS propaganda.
RUSSIA collusion update
My, my, my. It turns out that demoted Mueller associate Bruce Ohr was booted out of the cool kids' posse because his wife worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election. And he concealed that fact. Are.You.Kidding.Me.
Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr’s duties – including whether she worked on the dossier – remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.
“The House Intelligence Committee,” Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told Fox News, “is looking into all facets of the connections between the Department of Justice and Fusion GPS, including Mr. Ohr.”
Here's what you need to know about Bruce Ohr's role at the DOJ.
Until Dec. 6, when Fox News began making inquiries about him, Bruce Ohr held two titles at DOJ. He was, and remains, director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force; but his other job was far more senior. Mr. Ohr held the rank of associate deputy attorney general, a post that gave him an office four doors down from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The day before Fox News reported that Mr. Ohr held his secret meetings last year with the founder of Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson, and with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier, the Justice Department stripped Ohr of his deputy title and ousted him from his fourth floor office at the building that DOJ insiders call “Main Justice.”
This is significant because I and others suspect that the sleazy dossier compiled by Fusion GPS and former spy Christopher Steele and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign/DNC was used to obtain a questionable snooping FISA warrant on Trump campaign officials. The FBI literally used unverified campaign propaganda to violate the privacy of United States citizens. This would be entirely consistent with the Obama administration's previous weaponization of federal government authority.
Over at The Daily Caller, Peter Hasson writes that Fusion GPS is tied to a story used by the Clinton campaign to attack Trump the week before the election. I suppose that isn't unusual since the Clinton campaign bought and paid for the dossier. Also, the go-between of the sleazy dossier is speaking out.
Former acting director of the FBI Neil McCabe has backed out of a scheduled appearance before the House Intelligence Committee today. Sketchy, very sketchy.
House investigators previously told Fox News they have long regarded Strzok as a key figure in the chain of events when the bureau, in 2016, received the infamous anti-Trump “dossier,” which launched a counterintelligence investigation into possible Russian meddling in the election.
“This was a routine scheduling error after the dates were switched on an internal email that we are happy to provide the committee,” a Justice Department official told Fox News. “The FBI regrets the error, and we look forward to making both witnesses (the alleged FBI handler for Christopher Steele and McCabe) available prior to the Christmas recess."
Finally, Paul Manafort was not punished by a court for ghostwriting an op-ed for a Ukranian newspaper.
[Alleged] sexual harassment update
The new normal.
Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker has been fired for sexual misconduct. Lizza released a statement characterizing his relationship with his accuser as a respectful one. His accuser disagrees. You might remember Lizza from the Scaramucci days.
Chef Mario Batali, co-host of The Chew, has taken a leave of absence after allegations were made against him on the food blog Eater.
"We have asked Mario Batali to step away from 'The Chew' while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention," a network spokesperson confirmed for ABC News on Monday. "ABC takes matters like this very seriously, as we are committed to a safe work environment. While we are unaware of any type of inappropriate behavior involving him and anyone affiliated with the show, we will swiftly address any alleged violations of our standards of conduct."
Batali released his own statement: "I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt. Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong, and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family."
The Republican Party of Kentucky has asked a GOP lawmaker to step down after allegations he molested a 17-year-old girl.
"Last October, after local media reports about reprehensible and racist posts on his Facebook page, we asked then-candidate Dan Johnson to drop out of the race for State Representative,” said Mac Brown, the chairman of the Republican Party of Kentucky, in a statement Monday, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
“Following today’s extensively sourced and documented story from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, we once again find ourselves in a position where we must call for him to resign, this time, from the Kentucky General Assembly," Brown said.
Johnson is a “bishop” at Louisville’s Heart of Fire Baptist Church.
The NFL Network suspends three analysts— retired players Marshall Faulk and Heath Evans, plus Ike Taylor — following allegations of sexual harassment by former wardrobe stylist Jami Cantor.
Historical picture of the day:
And that's all I've got, now go beat back the angry mob!