Saturday, February 18, 2017

Last Call For Russian To Judgment, Con't

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is pursuing at least three separate probes relating to alleged Russian hacking of the U.S. presidential elections, according to five current and former government officials with direct knowledge of the situation.

While the fact that the FBI is investigating had been reported previously by the New York Times and other media, these officials shed new light on both the precise number of inquires and their focus.

The FBI's Pittsburgh field office, which runs many cyber security investigations, is trying to identify the people behind breaches of the Democratic National Committee's computer systems, the officials said. Those breaches, in 2015 and the first half of 2016, exposed the internal communications of party officials as the Democratic nominating convention got underway and helped undermine support for Hillary Clinton.

The Pittsburgh case has progressed furthest, but Justice Department officials in Washington believe there is not enough clear evidence yet for an indictment, two of the sources said.

Meanwhile the bureau’s San Francisco office is trying to identify the people who called themselves “Guccifer 2” and posted emails stolen from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s account, the sources said. Those emails contained details about fundraising by the Clinton Foundation and other topics.

Beyond the two FBI field offices, FBI counterintelligence agents based in Washington are pursuing leads from informants and foreign communications intercepts, two of the people said.

This counterintelligence inquiry includes but is not limited to examination of financial transactions by Russian individuals and companies who are believed to have links to Trump associates. The transactions under scrutiny involve investments by Russians in overseas entities that appear to have been undertaken through middlemen and front companies, two people briefed on the probe said.

I'm betting very strongly this is directly related to FBI Director Comey's meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee members Friday afternoon.

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, along with ex-officio member and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, huddled for a total of more than two hours on Friday with Comey.The FBI director’s visit was not announced publicly, and it’s possible members of the Capitol Hill press corps only found out because he was spotted in the hallways and entered a secure room used for intelligence briefings.

But leaving that secure room in the Capitol Visitor Center, senators declined to even confirm the presence of the FBI director, much less the substance of the meeting. Those who did talk generally only gave “no comments” or referred questions to Intelligence Chairman Richard M. Burr and ranking member Mark Warner.

Both Burr and Warner proved just as loquacious.

“I think we made our non-statement statement,” Warner told reporters after repeated questions about the briefing.

“I won’t talk about it at all,” said Burr.

Whatever was in that Friday briefing has Senate Republicans shaken badly.  No wonder Trump was holding a campaign rally this weekend in Florida.

The Free Press Is Now The Enemy

President Trump further escalated his attacks on the news media Friday afternoon when he tweeted that outlets such as the New York Times, NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN are not his enemy but “the enemy of the American People.”

Although Trump has long colorfully criticized news coverage and sparred with reporters who question him, he had not yet labeled the fourth estate as being an enemy of the country. On the campaign trail, some of Trump’s supporters would heckle and threaten reporters who covered his rallies, and his tweet Friday came 24 hours before his first political rally as president.

It took the president two tries to properly post his message, which came soon after he arrived at his luxury oceanfront estate for the weekend. The first tweet, which was quickly deleted, contained a number of extra spaces and listed the Times, CNN and NBC, ending with this conclusion: “SICK!” The second tweet added ABC and CBS to the list, while removing “SICK!” Both tweets labeled those organizations as being “the FAKE NEWS media.”

The media has been credited with breaking stories about Trump’s administration that have prompted action this week, including the resignation of his national security adviser Monday and his nominee for labor secretary withdrawing from consideration Wednesday. Meanwhile, the president has accused the press of distorting facts and berated it for not painting a rosy portrait of the country under his leadership. At a news conference at the White House on Thursday, Trump uttered the words “fake news” seven times.

“Much of the media in Washington, D.C. — along with New York, Los Angeles, in particular — speaks not for the people but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system,” Trump said early in the news conference, which lasted over an hour and 15 minutes. “The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk to find out what’s going on, because the press honestly is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.”

And Trump is mobilizing support to attack the press, in order to exterminate it.

Thursday night, the Republican Party and Trump’s campaign websites posted a 25-question “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey.” The survey formalized Trump’s attacks and his insinuation that media outlets are working against the American people. It’s unclear what, if anything, the data will be used for, and participants are required to give their name, email address and Zip code.

The first question asks: “Do you believe that the mainstream media has reported unfairly on our movement?” It then asks whether the survey-taker believes that MSNBC, CNN or Fox News “report fairly on Trump’s presidency,” allowing for answers of “yes,” “no” or “no opinion.” Those surveyed are also asked their primary source of news, with options limited to those three cable networks, along with “local news.” There is no mention of specific newspapers, websites, magazines or non-cable networks.

Other questions ask whether the survey-takers think the media does “due diligence fact-checking before publishing stories on the Trump administration,” whether it fairly reported on the rollout of Trump’s travel ban, whether “political correctness has created biased news coverage on both illegal immigration and radical Islamic terrorism” and whether the media has been “far too quick to spread false stories about our movement.” Participants can also indicate which issues the media does “the worst job of representing Republicans” on, with the option to pick as many topics as they like.

The final question: “Do you believe that our Party should spend more time and resources holding the mainstream media accountable?”

The social-media ads driving people to the survey were paid for by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee that splits its proceeds between Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee. Since Trump’s victory, the fundraising committee has continued to pepper supporters with appeals for money, helping keep a steady stream of contributions flowing to the party and Trump’s campaign. By the end of December, Trump had already socked away $7 million into his campaign account, money that officials said they are stockpiling for his 2020 reelection effort.

This is what dictators and tyrants do: declare any outlets of dissent to be enemies of the state.

The next step is the incarceration or murder of journalists.  That I fear is coming a lot sooner than people think.

Meet The Corruption Club

Boy it's a good thing we didn't elect that horrible Clinton woman, otherwise we might have gotten a president that freely sells access to the White House.

President Donald Trump, living alone inside the White House, often hungers for friendly interaction as he adjusts to the difficult work of governance. At his clubs, he finds what’s missing.

That showed last November at a cocktail and dinner reception celebrating longtime members of his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club. Deep into the process of meeting potential Cabinet nominees, the president-elect invited partygoers to stop by the next day to join the excitement.

“We’re doing a lot of interviews tomorrow — generals, dictators, we have everything,” Trump told the crowd, according to an audio tape of his closed-press remarks obtained by POLITICO from a source in the room. “You may wanna come around. It’ll be fun. We’re really working tomorrow. We have meetings every 15, 20 minutes with different people that will form our government."

"We’re going to be interviewing everybody — Treasury, we’re going to be interviewing Secretary of State,” he continued. “We have everybody coming in — if you want to come around, it’s going to be unbelievable….so you might want to come along.”

As he prepares to spend the third straight weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, the tape provides a window into how Trump conducts himself away from the prying press and among the loyal faces of his club.

The special people who can afford access...and the rest of the suckers.  That's all of America now.

Guess which category you fall into?

Congressman Crackpot

I'm sorely disappointed in my Representative, Republican Thomas Massie.  He's gone from a mostly harmless crank to a growing national embarrassment, and it's time for him to be removed from office in 2018.

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie unleashed some theories about Russia, dark forces and President Trump that left CNN anchor Kate Bolduan stunned.

Northern Kentucky's congressman said he sees dark and powerful forces in the military and intelligence community, which he called the "deep state," pushing Trump into a war with Russia.

In the interview on CNN on Friday, Bolduan seemed at a loss for words.

Then, at the end, Massie, a Lewis County Republican, suggested President Barack Obama covered up Saudia Arabia's involvement in 9/11.

"I'm concerned that it's an effort on those who want a provocation with Russia or other countries to sort of push the president in the direction," Massie said in the interview. "So I don't think it's Trump vs. Obama. I think it's really the deep state vs. the president, the duly elected president."

Bolduan asked Massie to clarify whether he thinks there's a concerted effort to provoke Russia. Massie said it's the same military industrial complex that pressured Obama to get involved in Libya, Syria and Ukraine.

"I think he got pulled by the military-industrial complex and the intelligence community into these positions, he even helped cover up Saudi Arabia's involvement in 9/11," Massie said.

Massie is lost in the hall of mirrors that is tinfoil Infowars land, full of juicy conspiracy theories and calls to get rid of entire government agencies.  What he's not doing is his job of representing the people of KY-4, and he's a laughingstock on national television.

Actually I take that back.  He really does represent the people of KY-4, because they're uninformed crackpots too.

Creationist and Christian fundamentalist Ken Ham believes that in ancient times humans and dinosaurs co-existed with a race of giants and they all did battle with each other in gladiator-style combat.

Huffington Post’s Ed Mazza said Friday that Ham tweeted an image of a new diorama in Kentucky’s “Ark Encounter” theme park that features humans, giants and dinosaurs battling to the death in a Roman-style arena.

We're already a national joke here in NKY.  Why would our Representative not be a nutjob?
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