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News reading lists, review of media reports, digests, reviews, summaries, editors selected important articles

1. News in Photos from mikenova (4 sites)
Day in Photos – Voice of America: August 13, 2017

A look at the best news photos from around the world.

Day in Photos – Voice of America


Saved Stories – None
Merkel emphasizes German prosperity, security at rally
Strategic coordination between Robert Mueller and Congress is paying off in Trump-Russia probe
Anthony Scaramucci, HR McMaster, Mike Pompeo: Sunday guests – Orlando Sentinel
Experts Say Journalists Could Be Espionage Act’s Next Frontier – Courthouse News Service
Fired NSC Aide Reveals Political Warfare Operation Targeting Trump – Washington Free Beacon
Report On McMaster Proves Fired Staffer Right – The Daily Caller
What could Trump’s plans to declare opioid use a national emergency mean for S. Utah? – St. George Daily Spectrum
Trump threatens ‘military option’ in Venezuela as crisis escalates
Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn are struggling to pay for legal defense in Russia probe: Report – Washington Examiner
At Netroots, liberal activists demand full-throttle approach to Trump-Russia ties – Politico
Indiana psychologist gets probation for falsifying report – WSBT-TV
Donald Trump warns North Korea that US is locked and loaded
Does Trump love Putin more than his Cabinet and Americans serving overseas? – Washington Post
Russia’s ‘Fancy Bear’ Hackers Used Leaked NSA Tool to Target Hotel Guests – WIRED
Rape as a Tactic of Terror: Holding the Islamic State Accountable
Who’s who in the government’s investigation into Russia ties – Washington Post
Rape as a Tactic of Terror: Holding the Islamic State Accountable – Just Security
Trump believes his CIA director, but only to a point – MSNBC
Surviving America’s Political Meltdown – Project Syndicate
President Trump Officially Declares Opioid Epidemic a National Emergency – Fortune
Just Security: The Early Edition: August 11, 2017
Reuters: World News: Merkel, visiting ex-Stasi jail, defends freedom and democracy
Venezuelan Leader Wants a Face-to-Face Meeting with Trump
Putin, Judo, and his approach to power – Fox News
Australia Is Having A Plebiscite On Gay Marriage — Here’s What That Means – Forbes


Saved Stories – None
Merkel emphasizes German prosperity, security at rally

German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the final phase of her election campaign, focusing her record, emphasizing the growth in economic security and prosperity achieved in her dozen years at the helm.
Strategic coordination between Robert Mueller and Congress is paying off in Trump-Russia probe

Back when Special Counsel Robert Mueller was first appointed to investigate the Trump-Russia scandal, it left the public confused as to what role the House and Senate committees were supposed to play. News outlets friendly to Trump tried to further muddy the waters by reporting on an essentially imaginary turf war between Mueller and Congress. But now we’re seeing evidence that they’ve been strategically coordinating all along and that it’s paying off.

The first concrete example surfaced this week when we learned about the sequence of events that led to Paul Manafort’s house being raided. Congress had demanded that Manafort come in and testify about the scandal under threat of subpoena. The public was upset that Manafort had only agreed to closed-door hearings. But the point of this wasn’t to serve up Manafort for public consumption. It was to get him to either slip up and reveal something that could be used against him, or to demonstrate his lack of cooperation so it could be leveraged against him.

We still don’t know whether Robert Mueller was able to get a no-knock warrant for Manafort’s house because of something he gave away during his testimony, or because of what he refused to answer. But either way, it was enough for a federal judge to be convinced that the warrant was justified. Sure enough, one day after Manafort’s Congressional testimony, the FBI was inside of Manafort’s house before the sun came up the next morning.

In hindsight, Congress and Mueller must have been coordinating their approach to Manafort all along and it paid off in spades. We can now assume that they’re working together when it comes to every witness or suspect they approach. Whenever the House or Senate demands that someone show up and testify, it’s a safe bet that it’s part of the Special Counsel’s targeting of that individual. And we’ll see similar payoffs going forward.

The post Strategic coordination between Robert Mueller and Congress is paying off in Trump-Russia probe appeared first on Palmer Report.

Anthony Scaramucci, HR McMaster, Mike Pompeo: Sunday guests – Orlando Sentinel

Anthony Scaramucci, HR McMaster, Mike Pompeo: Sunday guests
Orlando Sentinel
UPDATED: The Sunday morning guests are likely to focus on President Donald Trump and North Korea. The lineup: ABC’s This Week, 10 a.m. on WFTV-Channel 9: National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. … Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed 

and more »

Experts Say Journalists Could Be Espionage Act’s Next Frontier – Courthouse News Service

Courthouse News Service
Experts Say Journalists Could Be Espionage Act’s Next Frontier
Courthouse News Service
Tatel likened reporters’ privilege to that of mental health professionals or spouses, but found that it is one the government can overcome by showing that public interest in punishing a leaker outweighs damage to press freedom. … When law enforcement

Fired NSC Aide Reveals Political Warfare Operation Targeting Trump – Washington Free Beacon

Washington Free Beacon
Fired NSC Aide Reveals Political Warfare Operation Targeting Trump
Washington Free Beacon
Secondary political attacks include the notion that Russia hacked the election, Trump obstructed justice and is hiding Russian collusion, and that he is a “puppet” of Russian leader Vladimir Putin. “Adversaries utilize these interlocking narratives as 

and more »

Report On McMaster Proves Fired Staffer Right – The Daily Caller

Washington Post
Report On McMaster Proves Fired Staffer Right
The Daily Caller
Specifically, the report singles out Kris Bauman, protégé of hostile-to-Israel, Iran-deal negotiator John Kerry, who it says supports among other things ‘engaging’ genocidal terrorist organization Hamas. Likewise, the report names Dina Habib-Powell
Exclusive Zionist Organization of America Analysis Determines McMaster Hostile to Trump, Calls for ReassignmentBreitbart News
An NSC Staffer Is Forced Out Over a Controversial MemoThe Atlantic

all 533 news articles »

What could Trump’s plans to declare opioid use a national emergency mean for S. Utah? – St. George Daily Spectrum

What could Trump’s plans to declare opioid use a national emergency mean for S. Utah?
St. George Daily Spectrum
With the recent announcement from President Donald Trump that he plans to declare the opioid crisis in America a national emergency, Utahns in particular could benefit from treatment expansion efforts, state officials say. … For St. George in 

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Trump threatens ‘military option’ in Venezuela as crisis escalates

In a surprise intervention, Donald Trump said he would not rule out using military force as the country descends further into civil unrest

Donald Trump threatened a US military intervention in Venezuela on Friday, a dramatic escalation in his administrations stance toward the Latin American country which is descending into political chaos.

Trump made the remarks in response to questions from reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Related: ‘Totally divided’: how Venezuela’s crisis split the Latin American left

Related: The west is gripped by Venezuelas problems. Why does it ignore Brazils? | Julia Blunck

Continue reading…

Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn are struggling to pay for legal defense in Russia probe: Report – Washington Examiner

Washington Examiner
Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn are struggling to pay for legal defense in Russia probe: Report
Washington Examiner
Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn are struggling to manage their legal bills stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, according to a report Friday. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Flynn, the president’s first … 
Mueller’s Targets Face Financial StrainDaily Beast
Paul Manafort Returns to the Center of the Russia StoryThe New Yorker
FBI agents searched former Trump campaign chair’s homeNew Jersey Herald
The Daily World
all 185 news articles »

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At Netroots, liberal activists demand full-throttle approach to Trump-Russia ties – Politico

At Netroots, liberal activists demand full-throttle approach to Trump-Russia ties
ATLANTA Democrats are preparing for what many believe will be the party’s largest presidential field in decades in 2020. But at the premier annual progressive gathering on the political calendar, signs of the crowded primary to come are nowhere to 

Indiana psychologist gets probation for falsifying report – WSBT-TV

Indiana psychologist gets probation for falsifying report
PRINCETON, Ind. (AP) – A southwestern Indiana psychologist who authorities say falsified a mental health evaluation, causing a mistrial in an arson case, has been ordered to surrender his professional licenses. Eighty-four-year-old Albert H. Fink was 

and more »

Donald Trump warns North Korea that US is locked and loaded

US president continues to escalate threats at North Korea over Twitter during working vacation but no troops have been put on higher alert or redeployed

Donald Trump kept up his brinksmanship on North Korea on Friday with a morning tweet claimingthat US military options were locked and loaded for use if Pyongyang acted unwisely. 

There was no change in US deployments in the region or a change in the alert status of US forces.

What kind of anti-missile defences does the US possess?

Related: US and South Korea to stage huge military exercise despite North Korea crisis

Related: Donald Trump loyalists eager to back up his rhetoric on North Korea

Continue reading…

Does Trump love Putin more than his Cabinet and Americans serving overseas? – Washington Post

Washington Post
Does Trump love Putin more than his Cabinet and Americans serving overseas?
Washington Post
In the mind-numbing press conference on Thursday, Trump retained his perfect score. He’s never criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin. Asked about expelling our diplomats from Russia, he sounded, even for him, ridiculously obsequious. I want to …
Trump Thanked Putin For Kicking Out US Diplomats And 7 Other Things He Actually Told ReportersBuzzFeed News

all 204 news articles »

Russia’s ‘Fancy Bear’ Hackers Used Leaked NSA Tool to Target Hotel Guests – WIRED

Russia’s ‘Fancy Bear’ Hackers Used Leaked NSA Tool to Target Hotel Guests
Last month, FireEye says those hackers, believed to be associated with the Russian military intelligence service GRU, have begun to use EternalBlue, the leaked NSA hacking tool, as one technique to broaden their control of hotel networks after gaining 
US Election Hackers Are Now Using Leaked NSA Tools To Target HotelsForbes 
Russian cyber espionage group targeting hotel

all 9 

all 7 news articles »

Rape as a Tactic of Terror: Holding the Islamic State Accountable

Earlier this year, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney spoke at the United Nations to press the global body to hold the Islamic State accountable for rape and other crimes committed as part of its reign of terror in Iraq and Syria. She was joined by her client Nadia Murad, a 2016 Nobel Prize nominee who escaped her Islamic State captors after being held in Mosul by the terror group as a sex slave when she was only 21-years old. Nadia shared her own horrific story with the UN in 2015. As Mosul and eventually Raqqa are freed from Islamic State control, the world is able to hear from more female survivors. The New York Times recently reported that during the Mosul operation, around 180 women and children from the Yazidi ethnic minority in Iraq were rescued from the Islamic State, which had kidnapped, sexually abused, and sold many of these captives as sex slaves.

Now, as we approach the opening of the UN General Assembly this September, the time has come for the Security Council to support accountability for the crimes the Islamic State has committed against Nadia and thousands of other Yazidi women like her. What better way to uphold the Security Councils Resolution 1820, which it passed in 2008 to condemn the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war?

When the Islamic State attacked the Yazidi in Sinjar in 2014, it separated the men and boys from the women and girls. Many of the males were killed, while younger females were abducted, raped and sold into slavery. According to a pamphlet issued by the Islamic State, the fact that the Yazidis are an ethno-religious minority and not Muslim provided the ostensible justification to treat and sell Yazidi women and children as sex slaves. Those who later escaped, reported being repeatedly bought and sold by Islamic State fighters, raped frequently, forced to marry, coerced into converting to Islam, confined in their rooms, and separated from their children.

Last year, after some reluctance to use the label genocide, then- Secretary of State John Kerry concluded that the Islamic State was responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims. That statement came on the heels of a bi-partisan non-binding resolution unanimously adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 393-0, which said the Islamic States atrocities against Christians, Yazidis and other ethnic and religious minorities in Syria and Iraq, amounted to war crimes and, in some cases, “genocide.”

While President Donald Trump has de-emphasized human rights in his foreign policy, he has prioritized the protection of Christians and religious minorities though in a terribly misguided way, often through anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies, which are fundamentally at odds with Americas commitment to religious freedom, tolerance, and equality. Still, seeking justice for the Yazidis who have survived rape and other crimes may be a cause the Trump administration could get behind, given its professed sympathy for religious non-Muslim minorities and its apparent commitment to ending human trafficking. At a recent event releasing the State Departments congressionally mandated annual Trafficking in Persons report, Ivanka Trump, the presidents daughter, stated, Ending human trafficking is a major foreign policy priority of the Trump administration. Plus, after meeting with Clooney and Murad, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley tweeted, The U.S. is committed to bringing ISIS to justice, not just on the battlefield, but in the judicial system as well. And more recently, on July 27, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters, When we look at Iraq and we look at what has happened to some of the Yezidis, some of the Christians, we the Secretary believes and he firmly believes that that was genocide.

Rape and other forms of sexual violence are an essential part of the political economy of the Islamic State. The terrorist group uses rape, sexual slavery, and other forms of sexual violence to recruit new fighters; to terrorize communities into compliance and displace them from strategic areas; to torture and extract intelligence; to compel conversion and indoctrination through forced marriage; and to generate revenue through sex trafficking, slave trade, and ransoms.

Just as international prosecutors have secured convictions for rape as a weapon of war in more traditional wars, so too must accountability be sought for rape as a tactic of terror a phrase used by Zainab Bangura, the former UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence, to refer to this troubling phenomenon. Sexual violence during armed conflict can violate the laws of war and in some cases amount to torture. Under the doctrine of command responsibility, leaders can be prosecuted for war crimes when they knew or should have known that their subordinates were committing such crimes and failed to take adequate steps to prevent the crimes or punish those responsible.

Securing convictions and sentencing perpetrators, particularly of Islamic State leaders, would undercut the terrorist organizations strength at the top, discourage potential recruits, and deter subordinates from committing crimes. Plus, prosecutions could provide survivors with at least some measure of justice. While holding the Islamic State accountable for sexual violence, particularly the systematic rape of Yazidi women and girls, would help disrupt the terrorist organizations authority and resources, finding a court with jurisdiction over these crimes is a challenge.

Iraq has not joined the International Criminal Court (ICC); the Islamic State is not a recognized state and therefore lacks the option of joining the Court (though its members could be potentially prosecuted before the ICC); and domestic courts face obstacles in addressing these complex transnational crimes. Despite the difficulties, the ICC is the most promising venue to investigate and try these cases.

Ideally, Iraq should accept limited ICC jurisdiction with respect to the crime in question under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, which provides for a nonparty to the Statute to accept the jurisdiction of the Court. If Iraq chooses not to, the UN Security Council should refer the case to the ICC under Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute, as it did with genocide allegations in the Darfur region of Sudan. In such an instance, the Council would refer the situationnot a particular actor or partygrowing out of the Sinjar massacre, or it could designate the situation as the territory controlled by the Islamic State, which includes parts of Iraq and Syria. Although the ICC prosecutor could investigate crimes committed by the governments and militaries of Iraq or Syria, as a practical matter, the Office of the Prosecutor typically narrows the investigation to particular incidents or patterns of crimes, and would thus likely only focus on crimes committed by the Islamic State if the situation is limited. However, obtaining the sufficient number of votesand avoiding a veto in the Security Council could be challenging.

If Iraq and the Security Council fail to act, the ICC Prosecutor should, on her own motion, initiate an investigation under Article 15(1) of the ICC Statute on the basis of information on crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court. As the ICC Prosecutor began receiving reports of the Islamic States atrocities against the Yazidi, she indicated an initial reluctance to act, because the Islamic State is primarily led by nationals of Iraq and Syria, and yet neither country is a party to the Statute. And yet, there are mid-level leaders in the Islamic State who, as foreign fighters in Iraq, are nationals of countries that areparties to the ICC, which provides a potential jurisdictional hook.

In an effort to press the Prosecutor on a possible investigation, in September 2015, Yazidi activists worked with Luis Moreno-Ocampo who had by then stepped down as the ICCs first prosecutor to petition the Court on the question of genocide in Sinjar since August 2014. Over the past year, Clooney has taken up this cause and is highlighting not only the genocide against the Yazidi, but also bringing greater attention to the use of rape as a tool of terrorism.

Action by Iraq or the Security Council would be preferable. As an institution created and essentially funded by states, the ICC depends on governmental support. But by acting on her own, the ICC Prosecutor may ultimately leverage Iraq or the Security Council to act. Even in the absence of such action, she should pursue an investigation with a view to eventual prosecutions, assuming the evidence and law warrant it.

The ICC has a proven track record on international crimes. It has experience with cases involving nonstate armed militias (such as with issuing an arrest warrant for Joseph Kony, the elusive leader of the Lords Resistance Army), as well as with cases establishing accountability for sexual violence as a tool of war (such as with convicting former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba in March 2016 for mass rapes committed by his rebel group).

Since Clooney, a British barrister, began advocacy on behalf of the Yazidi, the United Kingdom has led an initiative to gain Security Council approval for setting up an investigation into the Islamic States crimes in Iraq. While such a move would fall short of an ICC referral, it could help preserve vital evidence before witnesses flee or their memories fade. The U.S. government might object to Security Council involvement, given the Trump administrations general opposition to international institutions. However, when the Security Council made the ICC referral in the Darfur case, the United States abstained (under President George W. Bush), rather than blocking it.

Another option for accountability would be for the Iraqi courts to prosecute the Islamic State, but it would be challenging for Iraqi prosecutors to handle these cases, given their relative lack of resources and expertise with such crimes, and the UN and NGOs have highlighted serious concerns over due process in Iraqi courts. Yet another avenue would be for Iraq and the United Nations to establish a hybrid tribunal, combining national and international elements. However, hybrid tribunals have a mixed record and are expensive. By contrast, the ICCs advantage is its economies of scale, given its existing infrastructure, investigators, prosecutors, translators, and court reporters.

One way or another, as part of the campaign to defeat the Islamic State, the Security Council and Iraq should support accountability for the terror groups use of rape and other forms of sexual violence, as convicting and imprisoning its top leaders for these crimes will take them off the battlefield and undermine the revenues gained from sex trafficking.

Image: Nadia Murad Basee Taha with Amal Clooney, Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers and Legal Representative for Yazidi survivors, at the UN in New York March 9, 2017 (UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)

Read on Just Security »

Who’s who in the government’s investigation into Russia ties – Washington Post

Washington Post
Who’s who in the government’s investigation into Russia ties
Washington Post
That was about a week after President Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey. Though Mueller has a large degree of independence, Rosenstein oversees the investigation. He approves the special counsel’s budget and any expansion of the special …
Who Is Robert MuellerOrlando Political Observer
Mueller should resignIsland Packet
Mueller Is Squeezing ManafortNational Review
American Thinker –Media Matters for America
all 167 news articles »
Rape as a Tactic of Terror: Holding the Islamic State Accountable – Just Security

Just Security
Rape as a Tactic of Terror: Holding the Islamic State Accountable
Just Security
Earlier this year, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney spoke at the United Nations to press the global body to hold the Islamic State accountable for rape and other crimes committed as part of its reign of terror in Iraq and Syria. She was joined by her 

and more »

Trump believes his CIA director, but only to a point – MSNBC

Trump believes his CIA director, but only to a point
Asked about the intelligence agencies’ findings about Russia’s role in the attack, Pompeo added, I’ve seen nothing to cast any doubt on the findings in the [intelligence community’s] report. So, here’s the question for the White House: if Trump 

Surviving America’s Political Meltdown – Project Syndicate

Surviving America’s Political Meltdown
Project Syndicate
… keep Trump’s dangerous tendencies in check. But the adults in Trump’s administration are increasingly military figures rather than civilians, including three generals (John Kelly, the new White House Chief of Staff, National Security Adviser H.R

President Trump Officially Declares Opioid Epidemic a National Emergency – Fortune

President Trump Officially Declares Opioid Epidemic a National Emergency
President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency after a recommendation by his commission on the matter, just two days after Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price said the United States would not do so. “The opioid crisis is …
Trump now says he’ll declare opioid crisis ‘national emergency’ as Christie
Trump: ‘The opioid crisis is an emergency’CNN
Donald Trump declares national emergency on opioid
The Guardian –The Verge –Politico
all 288 news articles »
Just Security: The Early Edition: August 11, 2017

Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Heres todays news.


So, if anything, maybe that statement wasnt tough enough, President Trump told reporters yesterday at his golf club in New Jersey, refusing to temper the comments he made Wednesday that North Korea would face fire and fury if it continued to issue threats against the U.S. and its allies, adding that its about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and for the people of other countries. Paul Sonne and Louise Radnofsky report at the Wall Street Journal.

Hes not going to go around threatening Guam and hes not going to threaten the United States and hes not going to threaten Japan, and hes not going to threaten South Korea, Trump also told reporters, reiterating the seriousness of his warning against North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-un and stating that the U.S. retaliation for an attack on Guam would be the likes of which nobody has seen before. Peter Baker reports at the New York Times.

We are preparing for many different alternative events, Trump told reporters yesterday that the U.S. would reconsider its entire military presence in Asia as a consequence of the North Korea threat and other reasons, his comments coming just a few days after the Trump administration congratulated itself for passing a 15-0 U.N. Security Council Resolution imposing sanctions against the Pyongyang regime. Philip Rucker and Karen DeYoung report at the Washington Post.

A plan to add many billions of dollars for U.S. anti-missile defenses in response to North Koreas recent threats will probably be unveiled over the next week by the Trump administration, President Trump said from his private golf club in New Jersey yesterday, Ellen Mitchell reporting at the Hill.

Diplomatic efforts have traction and are gaining results, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said yesterday, highlighting the efforts of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, stating that his job is to be ready for conflict but adding that the tragedy of war is well enough known, the BBC reports.

The idea that Secretary Tillerson is going to discuss military matters is simply nonsensical, deputy assistant to President Trump Sebastian Gorka said today, attempting to explain the mixed messages from the Trump administration on the North Korea threat, Julia Manchester reports at the Hill.

Pentagon officials are seriously considering military options in response to the North Korea threat, though the Pentagon still hopes for a diplomatic solution, Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt explain at the New York Times.

If we have to, well go to war, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said yesterday, stating that such a move would be undesirable but may be necessary and that China could end the crisis by using its influence over North Korea. Josh Delk reports at the Hill.

China should stay neutral if North Korea attacks the U.S., Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times said today, Ben Blanchard and James Oliphant reporting at Reuters.

A pre-emptive war would be catastrophic, former national security adviser Susan Rice said yesterday, warning that the war of words between the U.S. and North Korea could move the nations closer to war but adding that she accepted that previous administrations had failed to stop North Korea from developing its nuclear arsenal. Eli Watkins reports at CNN.

A pre-emptive strike on North Korean missile sites would rely on B-1 bombers, according to two senior retired officers, Cynthia McFadden, William M. Arkin, Kevin Monahan and Kenzi Abou-Sabe report at NBC News.

The C.I.A., the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and other agencies agree that North Korea has miniaturized a nuclear weapon that can be attached to an intercontinental ballistic missile (I.C.B.M.), U.S. officials told N.B.C. News, supporting the assessment from the Defense Intelligence Agency, though it is unclear how much confidence the various agencies have in the analysis. Andrea Mitchell and Ken Dilanian report at NBC News.

Kuwait is taking measures against North Korea, an official source in Kuwaits foreign ministry said yesterday, according to the K.U.N.A. state news agency. Reuters reports.

An annual joint military exercise between the U.S. and South Korea will go ahead this month despite the escalating tensions in the Korean Peninsula, and will involve tens of thousands of U.S. and South Korean troops, Oliver Holmes reports at the Guardian.


It is still possible to de-escalate the crisis by relying traditional deterrence, toning down the belligerent rhetoric, enhancing defense systems, imposing further sanctions, and working with China. Former national security adviser Susan E. Rice writes at the New York Times.

No more presidential improv on North Korea or military threats in general. White House Chief of Staff John Kerry needs to draw a red line with President Trump, writes Ruth Marcus at the Washington Post.

Bombastic rhetoric will not neutralize North Koreas nuclear program and President Trump should follow up sanctions with an offer to negotiate, the Economist writes.

The threat to Guam tests Trump and Kim as both try to prove that their threats are sincere, Choe Sang-Hun writes at the New York Times.

What could happen next? Marc Fisher and David Nakamura set out the possible consequences of the escalating North Korea threat at the Washington Post.

It is unlikely that the current crisis will lead to war. Anna Fifield provides a range of response from experts at the Washington Post.

Smaller disputes between the U.S. and North Korea are now likely to take on greater significance in light of the escalating rhetoric and, although an attack on the U.S. is still a remote possibility, it is not far-fetched that a miscalculation would lead to a war on the Korean Peninsula, Anne Gearan writes at the Washington Post.

The threats traded between the U.S. and North Korea have caused a headache for China as it is caught between Pyongyang, who it sees as a troublesome and destabilizing ally, and the increasingly aggressive rhetoric emanating from the U.S., Chun Han Wong explains at the Wall Street Journal.

Should the U.S. shoot down North Korean ballistic missiles if they do not hit the island of Guam? Eric Talmadge sets out the pros and cons at the AP.

Who is at risk from North Koreas ballistic missiles? Troy Griggs and Karen Yourish provide an interactive map at the New York Times.


Trump hadnt given any thought to firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller from the Russia investigation, the president told reporters yesterday, also expressing surprise at the raid of the home of his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, last month by federal agents to obtain documents related to foreign bank accounts and tax matters. Louise Radnofsky reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Were working with Mueller, Trump added, contradicting reports from private conversations that the president had discussed the possibility of firing the special counsel appointed to investigate whether he had colluded with Russia during his presidential campaign. Michael S. Schmidy reports at the New York Times.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort switched his legal teams as the pressure from the Trump-Russia investigation increases, John Bowden reports at the Hill.

Many questions remain about the Mueller investigation, Philip Ewing answering five of the big ones at NPR.


I want to thank Russian President Vladimir Putin for cutting 755 U.S. diplomatic staff last month, President Trump told reporters yesterday, explaining that his gratitude for the move was due to the fact that his administration was trying to cut down on payroll, Peter Baker at the New York Timesexplaining that is was not clear whether the president was joking or not.

Current and former U.S. officials condemned Trumps remarks, many stating that the comments were unprecedented and grotesque even if made jokingly, Al Jazeera reports.


China conveyed its strong dissatisfaction with the U.S. yesterday over its recent freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea which came within six nautical miles of one of Chinas man-made islands, Christopher Bodeen reports at the AP.

China requested that the U.S.S. John S. McCain destroyer turn round at least ten times as it sailed close to Mischief Reef, one of the disputed Spratly Islands of the Paracel Islands, a U.S. official told the Guardian.


Syrian government forces bombarded two areas inside de-escalation zones, killing civilians, residents and the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said yesterday, Al Jazeerareporting.

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out 16 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on Aug. 9. Separately, partner forces conducted two strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]


State election officials will be able to apply for security clearances to review classified information about cyberthreats to their election systems, federal and state authorities confirmed this week, the move coming after criticisms of the Department of Homeland Security for its failure to provide certain information about suspected hacking attempts during last years presidential election. Alexa Corse reports at the Wall Street Journal.

A global financial network run by a senior Islamic State officials was used to send money to an alleged Islamic State operative in the U.S. via fake eBay transactions, a recently unsealed F.B.I. affidavit reveals. Mark Maremont and Christopher S. Stewart report at the Wall Street Journal.


Iran is not in compliance with the nuclear deal and is not living up to the spirit of the agreement,President Trump said from his private golf club in New Jersey yesterday, Reuters reporting.

President Trump is very close to a decision on whether to send additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan,he told reporters from his golf club yesterday. Reuters reports.

The Trump administration defended its travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries in a filing with the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday in which it repeatedly referred to the executives wide powers to exclude foreigners from entry to the U.S., Mica Rosenberg reports at Reuters.

The Islamic State still retains the capability to send funds to supporters and inspire attacks in Europe and elsewhere despite military defeats and reduced revenue, while al-Qaeda remains resilient, particularly in West and East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, U.N. experts concluded in a report circulated yesterday. Edith M. Lederer extracts elements of the report at the AP.

The Sea of Japan does not belong to Japan, Chinas air force chief insisted today, defending Chinese military maneuvers there after a Japanese defense review warned of increasing Chinese military activity in the area. Reuters reports.

A Saudi proposal that the U.N. take responsibility for reopening and running the international airport in Yemens capital Sanaa which has been closed for over a year due to a Saudi blockade to pressure the Houthis a move which international aid groups say caused the deaths of thousands of civilians by depriving them of relief supplies –  apparently took the U.N. by surprise yesterday, Rick Gladstone reports at the New York Times.

Its too soon to say who or what was responsible for a series of health issues experienced by several U.S. diplomats and their families in Cuba which led to their leaving the country, the State Department said yesterday, the Hills Max Greenwood reporting.

The fact that the Islamic State almost brought down a large passenger plan without authorities having a clue in Australia last month should ring alarm bells worldwide, yet the incident was paid little attention to by the international media, writes the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

Read on Just Security »

 Just Security

Reuters: World News: Merkel, visiting ex-Stasi jail, defends freedom and democracy

BERLIN (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel invoked the injustices of communist East Germany on Friday to defend freedom and democracy during a visit to a notorious prison of the former Stasi secret police in Berlin.

 Reuters: World News

Venezuelan Leader Wants a Face-to-Face Meeting with Trump

Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro said Thursday he wants to meet the man who hit him with sanctions, U.S. President Donald Trump, denouncing what he called “imperialist aggression.” In an address that lasted more than three hours to the newly installed 545-member constitutional assembly, Maduro said he had instructed Venezuela’s foreign minister to approach the United States about arranging a telephone conversation or a meeting with Trump. Maduro said he had also given orders, “if it can happen,” for a face-to-face meeting to be organized in New York on September 20 at the annual gathering of heads of state and government from around the world at UN General Assembly. “If he’s so interested in Venezuela, here I am. Mister Donald Trump, here is my hand,” the Venezuelan socialist leader said, adding that he wanted as strong a relationship with the United States as he has with Russia.  Maduros remarks came shortly after he warned the U.S. president that Venezuela will never give in.’   The Trump administration has called Maduro a dictator and hit him and more than two dozen other former and current officials with sanctions on July 31, after the election of a constituent assembly that Washington said was “illegitimate.”  In imposing the sanctions, the administration also cited human rights violations and the undermining of the country’s democracy as the political and financial crisis escalates.   Credit Suisse bank banned the trading and use of Venezuelan bonds Thursday, citing recent developments and the political climate in the country.   Venezuela is facing mounting international criticism over Maduro’s crackdown on opponents and moves to consolidate power, including the selection of the all-powerful assembly.

Putin, Judo, and his approach to power – Fox News

Fox News
Putin, Judo, and his approach to power
Fox News
As sure as the dog days of August, photos from Putin’s summer holidays have arrived. Whether he’s riding horses, wrestling tigers, or this year, fishing with his buddies – donning underwater camouflage to sneak up on Siberian Pike – what Putin did on

Australia Is Having A Plebiscite On Gay Marriage — Here’s What That Means – Forbes

Australia Is Having A Plebiscite On Gay Marriage — Here’s What That Means
This week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that Australia will participate in a postal plebiscite to gauge public opinion on the same-sex marriage debate. A pleb-a-what (!?) you might ask. Don’t worry, you join the long line of Australian 
Australia’s Gay-Marriage Vote Is Divisive, Even for Gay-Marriage BackersNew York Times 
Tony Abbott is ripping his anti-gay marriage strategy out of the US playbookThe Sydney Morning Herald

Activists plan court action against Australia gay marriage postal 
Washington Post
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Challenge filed in court to Australian gay marriage ballotWashington Post
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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Merkel, visiting ex-Stasi jail, defends freedom and democracy
Trump Plans to Declare Opioid Epidemic a National Emergency
Trump popular in Brooklyn’s Russian-speaking community – Story
Trump: ‘The opioid crisis is an emergency’ – CNN
From Trump to Putin Web World Times on The Web
As investigation intensifies, Trump crows to crowd | Election 2016 Live
Russia: Eight missing in flooded diamond mine
Photos Show Russian President Vladimir Putin on Vacation
Mueller seeks White House documents on Flynn, asks about secret
Preet Bharara says Robert Mueller’s latest Trump-Russia move today is even bigger than the grand jury
Russian oligarchs plane flies into New Jersey on same day Donald Trump arrives for golf vacation
FBI monitored social media on Election Day – Google Search
FBI tracked ‘fake news’ believed to be from Russia on Election Day
‘Information’ is playing more outsized role in warfare
Lt Gen Stewart – Google Search
NATOs Dilemma: The Ties That Bind Nations Together Are Fraying
Tom Maertens Mankato – Google Search
trump, putin, mob – Google Search
Stop Hyping Trump’s Links to the Russian Mob (Op-ed)
My View: Evidence shows Trump, businesses connected to Russia | Editorials
Trump lashes out over Russia probe, after news of grand jury (VIDEO) | World
What straight couples can learn from gay couples
Trump Supports Plan to Cut Legal Immigration by Half – New York Times
What is a grand jury Robert Mueller Trump Russia
Exclusive: Grand jury subpoenas issued in relation to Trump Jr., Russian lawyer meeting


Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Merkel, visiting ex-Stasi jail, defends freedom and democracy

mikenova shared this story .

August 11, 2017 / 8:00 AM / 20 minutes ago

BERLIN (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel invoked the injustices of communist East Germany on Friday to defend freedom and democracy during a visit to a notorious prison of the former Stasi secret police in Berlin.

Merkel, the daughter of a Protestant pastor who grew up in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), visited the ex-prison of Hohenschoenhausen a day before she launches her campaign for a fourth term as chancellor in a national election on Sept. 24.

Thousands of political prisoners were incarcerated in the jail, which after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the 1990 reunification of Germany became a museum and memorial.

“The injustice that occurred in the GDR, that many people had to experience in an awful way, must not be forgotten,” said Merkel, who has just returned to work after a three-week summer holiday.

She said the visit to the former Stasi prison, two days before the anniversary of the start of construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, was “of particular significance for me”.

“It seems a long time ago, but it warns us to work hard for freedom and democracy,” she said.

During her visit, Merkel met a former inmate, Arno Drefke, who often guides visitors through the spacious former prison, which is now preparing for a two-year renovation that will add new exhibition areas and seminar rooms.

Merkel and her conservatives, in power since 2005, are expected to win another term, although an opinion poll by Infratest dimap published late on Thursday suggested her popularity had dropped 10 percentage points to 59 percent.

However, Merkel appears to have little to fear as her main rival, the Social Democrats’ chancellor candidate Martin Schulz, saw his popularity hit a new low of 33 percent, down four points from last month.

Writing by Paul Carrel and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Gareth Jones

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Trump Plans to Declare Opioid Epidemic a National Emergency

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In his comments to reporters on Thursday, Mr. Trump made clear that he was drafting paperwork and intended to issue a formal declaration that the opioid crisis was a national emergency — much the way the federal government officially recognizes the need for a national response to natural disasters.

“We’re going to draw it up and we’re going to make it a national emergency,” he said. “It is a serious problem, the likes of which we have never had. You know, when I was growing up, they had the L.S.D. and they had certain generations of drugs. There’s never been anything like what’s happened to this country over the last four or five years.”

Mr. Trump has repeatedly promised that the federal government will confront the spreading crisis of opioid overdoses. In 2015, officials said, 33,000 of the 52,000 overdose deaths nationwide were the result of the use of opioids like heroin and fentanyl.

After a briefing from health officials this week, Mr. Trump called the issue of opioid overdoses “a tremendous problem in our country,” and he said that he hoped that “we get it taken care of as well as it can be taken care of.”

The opioid commission recommended declaring an emergency under the Stafford Act, which is usually reserved for natural disasters, or under the Public Health Service Act, which also activates federal assistance to states but is carried out by the Department of Health and Human Services.

In a statement on Thursday afternoon, Mr. Christie thanked the president for following the panel’s suggestion.

“I am completely confident that the president will address this problem aggressively and do all he can to alleviate the suffering and loss of scores of families in every corner of our country,” Mr. Christie said.

Mr. Price said this week that most such declarations are for a specific outbreak of an infectious disease, such as the threat from the Zika virus, or are limited geographically to a specific location, like Hurricane Sandy, which hit the New Jersey coast in 2012.

President Barack Obama declared a national emergency as Sandy headed for the East Coast that year. And he used his authority to declare an emergency in 2009 during the H1N1 influenza pandemic.

White House and federal health officials did not respond to requests for more information about how Mr. Trump decided that an emergency declaration is necessary, despite the comments to the contrary from his advisers.

Declaring an emergency could allow states and cities that are hard hit by the opioid crisis to receive federal disaster relief funds and other types of urgent aid, just as they do after hurricanes or tornadoes through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

It could also allow certain federal rules to be waived temporarily — for example, allowing Medicaidfunds to be used for something they normally are not, or allowing access to experimental medications.

“If you declare a state of emergency, you can move federal resources more easily between programmatic areas,” said Michael Fraser, the executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. He added, however, that “when it comes to opioids, it’s really unclear” what kind of effect a federal emergency declaration would have.

Six states — Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia — have already declared emergencies because of the opioid crisis. These declarations have helped expand access to naloxone, a medication that can revive people who have overdosed, according to the Network for Public Health Law. They have also helped states get federal grants for treatment services and improved reporting of overdoses.

The 21st Century Cures Act, which Congress approved last year, is already sending states $1 billion over two years for opioid addiction treatment and prevention, but experts say it is far short of what is needed. Ohio alone spent nearly $1 billion last year on addressing the opioid epidemic.

Continue reading the main story

Trump popular in Brooklyn’s Russian-speaking community – Story

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NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) – Brighton Beach in southern Brooklyn has one of New York’s, and the country’s, highest concentrations of Russian-speaking Americans. With the Russia investigation, Russia sanctions, and Russia news stories coming out all the time, Fox 5 wanted to find out what people think of President Donald Trump and the relationship he recently described as being at an all-time and dangerous low.

“The community voted overwhelmingly for President Trump. Our estimates are 80 percent and higher in some areas,” said Dr. Igor Branovan, a physician in Brighton Beach and the president of the American Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry, a nonprofit that publishes two Russian-language newspapers.

Branovan said that part of the reason Trump attracted so much support in the Russian-speaking community is because the strongman persona he campaigned on is something they can relate to.

“When you see Putin, bare-chested, running after bears,” Branovan said. “So the reason it is shown is because KGB, and he is product of that, knows very well what sells.” [Note: The KGB is now known as the FSB.]

While parts of the community have a negative impression of overall Russian relations, the large majority take a more pragmatic view to the recent tensions between Washington and Moscow.

“The community probably sees that more as the great game that we have in the current times,” Branovan said. “Superpowers and budding superpowers are spying on each other as much as they can.”

And part of that great game is the Russian government interference of the 2016 election. Branovan is convinced the Russians did it.

“Clearly there were games involved,” he said. “Clearly there was interference.”

But not everyone in the community is so sure.

Russians around Brighton Beach and the famous boardwalk told us they like the president and that hacking may or may not be a hoax.

“I don’t think that Russia is interfering,” a resident named Anna said. “My personal opinion it’s a lie.”

Even though relations between the two countries may be at an all-time low, relations between the two peoples aren’t there yet.

“I’ve made jokes at the parties that I’m not here to steal your sensitive data,” Branovan said. “But so far people haven’t done more than laugh.”

Trump: ‘The opioid crisis is an emergency’ – CNN

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Trump: ‘The opioid crisis is an emergency’
The White House commission examining the nation’s opioid epidemic had told Trump last week that declaring a national public health emergency would be an immediate help in combating the ongoing crisis. “Our citizens are dying. We must act boldly to stop …
Trump Says He Intends To Declare Opioid Crisis National EmergencyNPR
The opioid crisis is now a national emergency, Trump saysThe Verge
President Trump plans to declare national emergency in response to opioid crisisUSA TODAY
BBC News – –New York Times
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From Trump to Putin Web World Times on The Web

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Trump-like chicken at White House ruffles feathers on Twitter
BBC News
An inflatable chicken with a golden coiffure has appeared near the White House in protest at DonaldTrump’s “weak” and “ineffective” leadership. The 30 ft (9m) tall bird, referred to as “Chicken Don”, stands between the official residence of the US 
Inflatable Trump chicken takes roost outside White HouseWashington Post
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Poll: Trump finances fair game in Russia investigation

Seventy percent of Americans believe the federal investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the2016 presidential election in the US should be able to look into President Donald Trump’s finances, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.
and more » 

Why Is Russian Airforce Flying Over Trump Golf Course, Capitol and CIA HQ?
As if Washington had not had enough of talking about Russia, the country’s air force sent an intelligence-gathering jet above the U.S. capitol, flying over the U.S. Capitol, Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency at low altitude on Wednesday. Far 
Russian spy plane trolls Trump with flight over DC, New JerseyPolitico
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Russian spy plane flies over Trump’s New Jersey golf club, DC areaFox News –Daily Mail -The Independent
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As investigation intensifies, Trump crows to crowd | Election 2016 Live

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“Are there any Russians here?”

With that mocking cry, delivered from the bosom of an adoring West Virginia crowd, President Donald Trump offered the most explicit glimpse yet of how he plans to cope with the spreading net of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

“Most people know there were no Russians in our campaign, there never were. We didn’t win because of Russia, we won because of you,” Trump said at a raucous campaign rally.

The President offered a political argument — not a legal one — for why the Russia story was “a total fabrication” on a day of dizzying revelations about the probe, that heaped fresh pressure on his beleaguered White House.

Trump’s rhetoric and behavior have often defied prediction and logic, and history suggests his comparatively moderate approach on Thursday night could yet be followed by a scorching tweet storm or an assault on Mueller’s character and position.

But Trump’s apparently scripted remarks in a context when he has often careened into improvisation and off the political reservation, may also be a hint that he just may be ready to take care of the politics, and let his legal team handle his defense in a case in which he insists he has nothing to hide.

Trump’s defiant yet calibrated message followed significant breaking news on Thursday over Mueller’s probe into allegations of collusion between Trump campaign aides and Moscow, that once again electrified Washington.

Then, capping a frenzied afternoon, Reuters reported that Mueller’s team had issued subpoenas in connection with the June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr., top campaign aides and a Russian lawyer.

Convening a grand jury does not signal that indictments are imminent or that Mueller has concluded there has been wrongdoing. The move is often simply a tool to allow a prosecutor to subpoena evidence or testimony.

But Thursday’s revelations were a sign that the former FBI director’s investigation is serious, expanding and gathering pace, and will mean more complications for West Wing staff and the President himself.

Mueller is investigating whether there was any collusion between Moscow’s spies and the Trump campaign — allegations that, if proven true, could represent an abrogation of American democracy.

But Trump, admittedly before a receptive audience, implied that any outcome of the probe that did not favor him or his associates would in itself represent a flouting of democratic norms.

“They can’t beat us at the voting booths so they are trying to cheat you out of the future and the future that you want,” the President told the crowd, during a vintage performance in the heart of Trump country, Huntington, West Virginia.

“I just hope that the final determination is a truly honest one which is what the millions of people who gave us our big win in November deserve and what all Americans who want a better future want and deserve.”

It was not that Trump softened his stance — his tone was caustic and highly partisan, suggesting “the prosecutors” should be investigating Clinton’s missing emails. But in an unusually nuanced approach, he attacked Democrats rather than taking on Mueller head on. And he managed to make his political case in a way that did not immediately dismember and detract from the arguments of his lawyers — a feat that he has not always achieved.

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Trump’s response to the day of drama was highly anticipated since it represented a first test for the new high powered political and legal team that he has assembled to defend him and relaunch his struggling presidency.

The arrivals of veteran Washington lawyer Ty Cobb as Trump’s top legal counsel and new chief of staff John Kelly have been hailed by supporters as a way for Trump to steady a chaotic White House and an inconsistent legal team.

It may be significant, that while his remarks about the Russia probe on Thursday night were scathing and scornful, they did not specifically focus on Mueller himself.

And so far there have not been the kind of personal assaults against the prosecutor and others on Twitter, that often have deepened his political peril and even his legal position.

As new revelations on the Russia probe emerge, the question now is: how long Trump can keep his discipline (hold his tongue and his tweets) and will he deviate from Thursday’s message or stick to its confines?

Trump’s legal team responded to Thursday’s reports exactly in the way that might be expected of a conventional White House, with a sense of professionalism that has often been lacking from the administration.

“Grand jury matters are typically secret. The White House favors anything that accelerates the conclusion of his work fairly … The White House is committed to fully cooperating with Mr. Mueller,” Cobb said.

Republican strategist Alice Stewart said on AC360 that the approach from Trump’s lawyers was the correct one.

“I was encouraged by the president’s attorney saying ‘we will fully cooperate’ … which I think is a far cry and a welcome direction from calling this a witch hunt,” she said.

One White House source told CNN’s Gloria Borger that the President’s lawyers were “highly content” to hear about the grand jury, adding that the move was “not causing any anxiety” among the legal team.

Such a cool response is consistent with the team’s line that Trump not only has nothing to hide, but wants to get the entire case behind him as soon as possible. And it may not account for rising personal angst that members of Trump’s political team may feel at the prospect of being drawn into protracted and costly legal proceedings.

Legal observers agreed that the arrival of a grand jury itself did not necessarily mean Mueller believed that he had found fruitful ground for his investigation.

“It is the end of the beginning,” said CNN’s Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin on CNN’s “Erin Burnett Out Front.”

Another CNN legal commentator, former Watergate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste, said, “It is not at all surprising that we have reached a point involving a grand jury.”

But equally, it was clearly a significant step.

Former CIA analyst and FBI official Phil Mudd said he didn’t buy the White House message that no one was rattled.

“The White House is obviously going to be anxious about this. I don’t believe a word they are saying. I think this suggests Robert Mueller has some smoke,” said Mudd, a senior CNN analyst.

In West Virginia, Trump concluded a five-minute riff on Russia with a caustic jab at Democrats who allege that he had an unfair leg up — from a US enemy — to defeat Clinton in last year’s presidential election.

“Try winning at the voter booth. Not going to be easy, but that is the way you are supposed to do it.”

Russia: Eight missing in flooded diamond mine

mikenova shared this story from BBC News – Home.

Eight miners are missing after a flood at Russia’s largest diamond mine.

Water leaked into an underground shaft on Friday morning when more than 100 workers were inside.

Most have been rescued from Mir mine in eastern Siberia, according to diamond company Alrosa, which runs it.

However, the company said reports that those still missing had been located were not true and the search continues. Divers have reportedly arrived at the scene.

The town of Mirny in Yakutia has declared a state of emergency.

One man was rescued on Saturday morning.

He is in intensive care at a nearby hospital with a bruised lung, but his life is not in danger, Alrosa said.

Chief Executive Sergey Ivanov said every effort was being made to find the other workers.

The company said 142 people had been brought safely back to the surface so far.

The adjacent open-pit mine, one of the world’s largest excavated holes, is no longer operational, as mining has moved underground.

However, flooding of the exhausted quarry may have caused the problem, according to local emergency services, as water leaked into one of the active mine’s pumping stations.

The crater contained some 300,000 cubic meters of water, the equivalent of 120 Olympic-size swimming pools, the emergencies ministry said.

Photos Show Russian President Vladimir Putin on Vacation

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Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week enjoyed a nature-filled vacation that included hiking, fishing and diving, according to photos. The images are the latest in a series that seek to portray Russia’s leader as an adventurous and rugged outdoorsman and athlete.

Russian news agency TASS reports that Putin went to Siberia to hike in the forest, go fishing on mountain lakes and dive underwater while chasing a pike during a short stop in the Tuva region over the first two days in August.

Photos of the vacationing Putin show the Russian leader sitting shirtless and accompanied by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who was also pictured shirtless and wearing camouflage pants. In other pictures, Putin is decked out in outdoor gear and is shown wading into water to fish.

According to presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, Putin at one point donned a diving suit, complete with a mask, breathing tube and GoPro camera, and started spearfishing.

“He filmed some unique footage while hunting a pike,” Peskov told Tass. “He chased a pike for two hours before eventually hitting it. It was very brief, but very eventful trip.”

Mueller seeks White House documents on Flynn, asks about secret

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The New York Times reported Friday night that investigators working for special counsel Robert Mueller have asked the White House for documents concerning ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Witnesses have been questioned about possible secret payments from the Turkish government to Flynn, according to the report.

Former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, said the New York Times report on Friday night eclipses previous reports that Mueller is working with more than one grand jury.

Bharara was fired by President Trump in March, even though Bharara said Trump invited him, shortly after the November 2016 election, to stay on.

Preet Bharara says Robert Mueller’s latest Trump-Russia move today is even bigger than the grand jury

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

Yesterday it was revealed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has had a grand jury going for the past several weeks in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal, and it landed in the media like a bombshell. Today Mueller made an entirely different kind of move in the Trump-Russia investigation which got far less media attention. But according to respected former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who would know these kinds of things, today’s move is even bigger than the grand jury.

Today’s story is that Mueller has ordered Trump’s White House to turn over all documents relating to the paid foreign agent work that Michael Flynn was doing for Turkey and Russia while he was working for the Trump campaign, as reported by the New York Times (link). To a layperson this might sound like a mere procedural move. But Bharara sees it differently, tweeting that “If true, request for WH documents re: Flynn’s work for Turkey is much more significant than breathless reporting about [grand jury] yesterday. Much.” (link).

One of Bharara’s followers, also an attorney, replied that this was “Direct evidence of a crime is being sought, not the mere setting up of an investigative body.” This prompted Bharara to respond “Precisely” (link). While he didn’t go into further detail, there are some additional specific legal reasons as to why this could be a much bigger break in the case than the grand jury.

For one thing, this is the first known instance of Robert Mueller making any such demands of the White House. So this furthers the notion that Mueller is has moved past the insular phase of his investigation, and is now prepared to take on Trump and his associates in direct fashion. It’s also common for attorneys to demand documents that they already have copies of. That way, if the other side refuses to comply, or panics and destroys its own copies, it’s evidence of bad faith intent.

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Bill Palmer is the founder and editor in chief of the political news outlet Palmer Report

Russian oligarchs plane flies into New Jersey on same day Donald Trump arrives for golf vacation

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

Donald Trump has raised eyebrows by departing on a seventeen day golf vacation in New Jersey at a time when his grasp on the presidency is slipping away by the hour in Washington DC. In terms of his own political future, Trump couldn’t have picked a less opportune time to skip town. But there may end up being an entirely different reason why Trump’s vacation raises eyebrows: the arrival today of a private plane in New Jersey owned by a Russian oligarch.

On the same day that Donald Trump traveled to Bedminster, New Jersey to begin his vacation, a private plane belonging to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich arrived at nearby Newark International Airport. Abramovich isn’t just any Russian oligarch; he’s very close to Vladimir Putin, and his wife attended Donald Trump’s inauguration in January (source: link). This flight pattern was uncovered by Juha Keskinen, who has been tracking the relevant flight information for some time (source: Juha Keskinen). Flight plans of private planes can be publicly tracked online, meaning the owners of these planes have less privacy in their travels than they sometimes think they have.

There are a number of caveats here. Just because Mr. Abramovich’s plane arrived in Newark today, it doesn’t mean that he or his wife were necessarily on it. It’s possible they could have lent the plane to someone else, for a trip that has nothing to do with Trump. And while Newark is the airport that one would fly into when traveling to Bedminster, it should be pointed out that Newark also serves as a de facto third airport for New York City, after JFK and Laguardia. So whoever was on the Abramovich plane could have been ultimately heading to New York, and not to New Jersey.

But if this is a mere coincidence, it’s a remarkable one. And it’s not the first time a Russian oligarch has flown into a particular location while Donald Trump was there. It’s happened with Dmitry Rybolovlev at least twice, though he insists those were in fact coincidences, and that he never met with Trump. And now we have the plane of another Russian billionaire arriving in New Jersey on the same day that Trump has arrived in New Jersey. Now it’s a matter of determining if Mr. or Mrs. Abramovich were actually on their private plane, and if so, whether they did indeed travel on to Bedminster after landing in Newark.

The post Russian oligarch’s plane flies into New Jersey on same day Donald Trump arrives for golf vacation appeared first on Palmer Report.

FBI monitored social media on Election Day – Google Search

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Exclusive: FBI tracked ‘fake news’ believed to be from Russia on …

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Washington (CNN) The FBI monitored social media on Election Day last year in an effort to track a suspected Russian disinformation campaign …
FBI tracked ‘fake news’ believed to be from Russia on Election Day

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In the months leading up to Election Day, Twitter and Facebook were the feeding grounds for viral “news” stories floating conspiracies and hoaxes, many aimed at spreading negative false claims about Hillary Clinton.

On Election Day, dozens of agents and analysts huddled at a command center arrayed with large monitoring screens at the FBI headquarters in Washington watching for security threats, according to multiple sources.

That included analysts monitoring cyber threats, after months of mounting Russian intrusions targeting every part of the US political system, from political parties to policy think-tanks to state election systems.

On this day, there was also a group of FBI cyber and counterintelligence analysts and investigators watching social media.

FBI analysts had identified social media user accounts behind stories, some based overseas, and the suspicion was that at least some were part of a Russian disinformation campaign, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.

The FBI declined to comment for this story.

For the FBI, this was uncomfortable territory, given the First Amendment’s free speech protections even for fake news stories.

“We were right on the edge of Constitutional legality,” a person briefed on the investigation said. “We were monitoring news.”

As the hours ticked by on Election Day, teams at the FBI, Homeland Security Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence held conference calls every three hours with a team at the Situation Room in the White House to discuss possible problems, according to multiple sources.

Minor issues popped up in far-flung parts of the country, from Alaska to Georgia.

At the end of day, top officials exchanged congratulations for an election day that was completed without disruptions of the vote.

One Obama White House official responded to the messages of congratulations with the opposite view, saying the US government response to the Russian operation was “a failure of imagination.”

“Are you kidding?” that official recalled saying to others at the White House as they celebrated a successful election. “What they did worked!”

CNN’s Marshall Cohen and Zachary Cohen contributed to this report.

‘Information’ is playing more outsized role in warfare

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DIA chief: US must avoid ‘Kodak moment’

More so now than ever, information is playing an outsized role in military capabilities and being rolled into conventional elements.

In 21st century warfare, war is cognitive as much as it’s kinetic, Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told a small group of reporters in his office this week.

Top competitors, Stewart said, are organizing their forces in this new information space and have developed doctrine to fight and win in the information age.

Russia views many facets of the information space — to include information operations, space/counterspace, cyber, cyber-enabled psychological operations and electronic warfare, to name a few — as critical to fighting and winning future conflicts, especially against the U.S., according to a recent and unclassified report on Russia’s military published by DIA.

“Moscow perceives the information domain as strategically decisive and critically important to control its domestic populace and influence adversary states. Information warfare is a key means of achieving its ambitions of becoming a dominant player on the world stage,” the report says. “Since at least 2010, the Russian military has prioritized the development of forces and means for what it terms ‘information confrontation,’ which is a holistic concept for ensuring information superiority, during peacetime and wartime. This concept includes control of the information content as well as the technical means for disseminating that content. Cyber operations are part of Russia’s attempts to control the threat environment.”

China, similarly, views information domination as critical and has taken concrete steps to better posture itself in this space.

Investments in so-called information capabilities serve a purpose for a more “informatized” military, according to the Defense Department‘s most recent annual report to Congress on China’s military developments. “The [People’s Liberation Army] conducts military exercises simulating these operations and likely views conventional and cyber operations as means of achieving information dominance,” the report says. “PLA writings suggest EW, cyberspace, deception, counterspace, and other operations during wartime could deny an adversary’s use of information.”

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Nations such as Russia and China have observed how the U.S. fights dating back to Desert Shield and have taken steps to organize and defeat the U.S.

Stewart noted that one of the most important fights in the technological space is in quantum computing and quantum encryption. Whoever wins this fight wins the game, he said, meaning that whoever gets there first can control the market.

Quantum encryption capability allows for one to more easily decrypt traditional encryption methods and make decryption for competitors nearly impossible. Stewart likened quantum encryption to spinning a coin on a flat surface, and in order to read the encrypted message the coin must be caught at just the right spot.

China is making significant advancements in this space with one of the most advanced capabilities in the world, he said, noting that the U.S. advantage is shrinking.

“[H]ow many of you own a Kodak camera? How many of you still use Kodak film?” Stewart asked the audience at the annual GEOINT Symposium in June. “I’m willing to bet it’s not many. Well, if I’d asked that question 20 years ago every hand would be in the air.”

Stewart’s point was that while Kodak dominated the market in photography and even helped invent the digital camera, bringing the first megapixel camera to market; yet the company “refused to completely embrace the digital future they helped create,” Stewart said, failing to bring its previous level of innovation to the next wave of technology. The intelligence community is currently facing its own “Kodak moment”, Stewart remarked, noting that if the IC doesn‘t address the issue, it will be left behind.

He added this week that the challenge for the DIA and the IC is reforming and maintaining the relentless focus on innovation. For the government, embracing disruption can be a challenge.

Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has previously referred to innovation in the private sector as a small brush fire, in that if no one stamps it out, it will continue to burn. “I would describe innovation in the Defense Department as a forest fire: ‘Holy shit, we’re on fire, let’s put it out,’ ” Selva candidly admitted at the fiscal 2017 McAleese/Credit Suisse Defense Programs Conference in 2016, where he highlighted how the department is sometimes averse to change and disruption.

“If we form a hypothesis and build an experiment, you have to be willing to be wrong. Then we can discount that idea and move on to another one. My experience with commercial industry tells me that innovation in commercial industry is exactly that process,” he said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies last year, adding that failure can be tolerated if done small and quickly.

Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work spearheaded the so-called third offset, which essentially looks to ensure conventional deterrence through man-machine teaming and other means to offset military gains made by competitors of the U.S.

Russia and China now have battle networks — theaterwide battle networks, Work warned during a conference last year, that are approaching parity with the U.S. In order to strengthen conventional deterrence, the U.S. wants to make sure it can extend its advantage in that particular area, he said.

Work provided five examples of injecting artificial intelligence and autonomy into these grids: autonomous learning systems that use big data to crunch numbers in ways humans cannot; human-machine collaborative decision-making that provides fused information and visualization coupled with machine-to-machine communication; assisted human operations to allow humans to make more informed decisions and to include physical assistance such as exoskeletons, wearable electronics and disposable sensors; advanced manned-unmanned system teaming; and network-enabled cyber and EW, autonomous weapons, and high-speed weapons, all of which will be injected into these grids to impact performance.

“Our adversaries — all of them and potential adversaries — are modernizing at a rate that we were not accounting for and our Army acquisition process has to move at the speed to create that offset,” Maj. Gen. Walter Piatt, who formerly served as deputy director for operations at the Army Rapid Capabilities Office and is now commanding the 10th Mountain Division, said during a panel discussion at the same conference.

In areas such as electronic warfare, Stewart orated a similar refrain from many top military leaders; in 16 years of fighting an adversary that the U.S. can dominate in every domain, the country has forgotten what it’s like to fight a peer competitor that can challenge it in every domain of war.

“We assume that we had [battlefield supremacy], and therefore we took actions inside the Army to cut our field artillery, to do away with EW inside the Army as a capability, and now we’re finding that those capabilities did not go away on our threat — enemy, adversaries — at the near-peer level. We’ve just been focusing on a different thing the last 15 years, and appropriately so,” Maj. Gen. Bo Dyess, acting director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center at Training and Doctrine Command, told reporters during an Association of the United States Army symposium in March.

Part of the thinking in publicly releasing the Russian study, aside from the fact customers asked for an unclassified version, was its importance to the American people and the notion that it’s hard for decision-makers to shape policy if only a few people know about something, Stewart said.

A similar report on China, to be rolled out in the same fashion as the Russia study, will be coming out soon, Stewart said, with one on North Korea and then Iran to follow.

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My View: Trump’s Russian ties evident

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Stop Hyping Trump’s Links to the Russian Mob (Op-ed)

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It seems there is some new claim to link Donald Trump and his business empire with “Russian organized crime” almost every day.

There are plenty of reasons to think that Trump’s business model is flawed to the point of being a pyramid scheme, and that his taste in buyers and investors is in the extreme.

But talk of his becoming an ally or instrument of organized crime misses the point.

There is real organized crime in Russia, just as there is everywhere. Some proper gangsters have, from time to time, shown up in these Trump tales.

One notorious old-school Russian criminal or “thief-within-the-code,” as the old underworld elite was called, even lived in the New York Trump Tower for a while.

But there is no evidence Trump and Vyacheslav “Yaponchik” Ivankov, ever met. And given that at the time Ivankov had no criminal record in the United States, there is a distinct limit to how big a deal one can make of this.

The real connection, it would seem, is that many dubious Russian figures who are in the United States illegally have bought into Trump properties. As with so much up-market real estate dealing, it is likely these deals are in part money laundering.

Trump certainly stands accused of building a property empire which has disproportionate exposure to questionable Russian cash. But that’s not quite the “smoking gun” so many yearn for.

First of all, Trump’s aesthetics — all gilt, no guilt — probably appealed to the 1990s generation of Russian nouveau riche. For them, no excess was excessive. Furthermore, communities often cluster, and as the “Trump brand” became known, others gravitated towards it.

More to the point, 1990s Russian money was by definition dirty, generated in a bare-knuckled era of gangster capitalism where the laws were still being rewritten and the market was whatever your muscle or connections made it.

Things have moved on, and there are genuinely quite reputable Russian companies and banks these days, but even they are usually built on money made in the days when all money was dirty.

This is how capitalism emerges, how generations slowly turn yesterday’s dirty practices into today’s historical foibles — think Lloyd’s underwriting slavery or America’s “robber barons.” Unpicking clean money from dirty in the Russian economy is no more possible than it is in the global economy.

So if you sell to Russians without caring too much who they are, or if you look for investments outside the handful of blue-chip Russian sources, what will you get?

A mix of a clean, gangster but mainly just grubby money, courtesy of what is still a rapacious, corrupt, capital-flighty, embezzlement-heavy, corrupt economy.

That said, the odds are that you’re dealing with Russian businessmen, not tattooed criminal gangsters.

Get beyond the street-level thuggery and the supply chains moving trafficked people and drugs to the lucrative Western markets and your modern “Russian organised crime” figure is likely an entrepreneur with a portfolio of assets from the dirty to the essentially clean.

He’ll be educated and solvent, connected to local and even national political circles and savvy enough to move his money around so that it is next to impossible to prove its criminal origins.

In this respect, they are not that different from so many investors from China, Africa or so many other parts of the world where economic opportunities have outpaced morality and governance. And they are not just buying into Trump properties, they are investing in central London penthouses, Caribbean mansions, Miami beachfront condos, and luxury yachts.

In the current feverish mood, in which many believe that opposing and decrying Trump is a patriotic duty, there is a risk that all this sounds like excusing him. However, I would suggest it is actually raising the rather more real and general problem.

However satisfying it might be to find proof that a tattooed Russian mobster carried a suitcase of blood-stained cash into Trump Tower and bought off the president-to-be, that seems rather unlikely.

Trump was ahead of the downward curve, driven by his desperate need to bail out an often-mismanaged property empire by looking for emerging market money, including from Russia.

There is no evidence yet that this has turned him into a pawn of a mythologized “Russian mafia” or the Kremlin, but that shouldn’t be the only point.

Instead, his business dealings hold up a depressingly accurate mirror to the worst-case scenarios of today’s transnational financial markets.

They also show the “business-is-business” values these markets embody, in which compliance too often simply means deniability, and in which everyone is willing to be a money laundry, so long as there has been a little pre-washing beforehand.

Trump’s sin, and his service, is to show us the dangers in unrestrained, globalized capitalism. Bigly.

Mark Galeotti is a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague and coordinator of its Center for European Security.

The views and opinions expressed in opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the position of The Moscow Times.

My View: Evidence shows Trump, businesses connected to Russia | Editorials

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The Trump administration continues to deny that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections, including hacking 21 state voter databases; the campaign/White House issued at least 20 blanket denials of meeting with Russians, now shown to be lies.

The evidence is overwhelming that Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort knowingly conspired with Russia to alter the 2016 election. Trump Jr. was told explicitly that the June 9 meeting he accepted with several Russians was very sensitive because Russia was supporting his father.

His emails make the transactions clear: the Kremlin offered assistance, and subsequently left behind “compromising material” on Hillary Clinton; Trump Jr. willingly accepted it knowing it came from Russia and was intended to affect the election. The (eventual) quid pro quo involved “adoptions” (the Magnitsky Act), which imposed sanctions on 44 of Putin’s cronies linked to murder, corruption or cover-ups.

Besides the Trump Jr., Manafort and Kushner meetings, Page, Flynn, and Sessions also met with Russian officials and lied about it.

The idea that these meetings took place without the knowledge and direction of Trump is laughable. Trump has consistently defended Russia, and denigrated his own intelligence community and the press, while impeding or obstructing investigations.

For his part, Trump had multiple private meetings with Putin at the Hamburg G20 meeting, with no Americans present. There was no American notetaker in the Oval Office meeting Trump had with Russians where he disclosed highly classified information. What else did Trump give away?

Why did Jared Kushner attempt to set up a secret back-channel communication with the Kremlin inside the Russian embassy to avoid detection by U.S. intelligence?

We already know that Roger Stone, a Trump campaign official, admitted to having contacts with Wikileaks, which the CIA director labelled a hostile intelligence service, (and which Trump professed to “love” over 140 times during the last 30 days of the campaign) and with Guccifer 2.0, a front for Russian military intelligence. Stone also betrayed his involvement by his foreknowledge that John Podesta’s email account would be hacked.

Several investigations are underway which should confirm who the culprits were and how they manipulated the elections.

What most Americans don’t understand is the connection between Putin, the KGB/FSB, and the Russian mob. Boris Yeltsin himself described Russia as “the biggest mafia state in the world.”

The connection dates back to the Communist Party’s rainy day slush fund — said to exceed $20 billion — in case Gorbachev’s reforms got out of control and they had to flee the country. The KGB was charged with exporting the money, which it subcontracted to the mob to launder and invest abroad.

When the Soviet Union disintegrated, Yeltsin abolished the Communist Party, leaving the KGB/mafia with all that money, which they used to buy real estate abroad and distressed enterprises in Russia as their own insurance policies.

When Putin succeeded Yeltsin as president, he endorsed Russian intelligence connections with the country’s mobsters and oligarchs, allowing them to operate freely as long as they served his personal interests. Multiple sources make clear that Putin and the FSB/KGB essentially control the Russian mob.

According to James Henry, former chief economist at McKinsey & Company, some $1.3 trillion in illicit capital has been sent out of Russia since the 1990s, parked mostly in real estate, like Trump’s. In fact, Trump Jr. said in 2008 that most of the Trump money was coming from Russia.

The Guardian has uncovered elaborate ties between the Trump family and Russian money laundering in New York real estate (

According to Craig Unger in The New Republic, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal activities out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties over the past three decades. USA Today reported that “the president and his companies have been linked to at least 10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering.”

Unger cites multiple sources about hundreds of Trump units that were sold to “Russian-speakers” and concludes that, without the Russian mafia, Donald Trump would not be president of the United States.

Trump is clearly running scared, desperate to stop the investigation; he fired Comey, he’s threatening to fire Mueller and is talking about presidential pardons, all intended to obstruct justice. As former Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller said: “Trump looks ‘super guilty.’”

Trump continues to claim the Russia connection is a “hoax,” but it’s gotten the Trump crime family in deep trouble.

Tom Maertens worked on Soviet and then Russian affairs for a dozen years, inside the State Department, at the U.S. Consulate General in Leningrad, and as Minister-Counselor for Science, Environment and Technology at U.S. Embassy Moscow. Sources for this article can be found in the online version at

Trump lashes out over Russia probe, after news of grand jury (VIDEO) | World

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US President Donald Trump accompanied by Senator Shelly Moore Capito arrive at Huntington tri-state airport for a rally in Huntington, West Virginia, August 3, 2017.  Reuters picUS President Donald Trump accompanied by Senator Shelly Moore Capito arrive at Huntington tri-state airport for a rally in Huntington, West Virginia, August 3, 2017. — Reuters picWASHINGTON, Aug 4 — Donald Trump described Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as a “total fabrication” yesterday amid reports that a special prosecutor has impaneled a grand jury to investigate the issue, a step toward possible criminal indictments.

“We didn’t win because of Russia. We won because of you,” Trump said at a campaign-style rally in West Virginia.

Trying to build support among his core supporters, he said his enemies were “trying to cheat you out of the leadership you want with a fake story that is demeaning to all of us and most importantly, demeaning to our country and demeaning to our constitution.”

“The reason why Democrats only talk about the totally made-up Russia story is because they have no message, no agenda, and no vision,” he said.

“The Russia story is total fabrication. It’s just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics.”

His comments came after the Wall Street Journal revealed that special counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury to investigate Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential election.

The newspaper, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter, reported that the grand jury had begun its work in the US capital Washington “in recent weeks.”

The move is a sign that the sweeping federal investigation — which includes allegations that Trump campaign officials coordinated with Russia to tilt the election in the Republican’s favour — is gathering pace.

The establishment of a grand jury will allow Mueller — a former FBI director — to subpoena documents and get sworn testimony. It could well lead to criminal indictments.

“It’s a significant escalation of the process,” national security attorney Bradley Moss told AFP.

“You don’t impanel a grand jury unless your investigation has discovered enough evidence that you feel reflects a violation of at least one, if not more, criminal provisions,” he said.

“If you secure an indictment, your next step is to arrest the defendant.”

Presidential lawyer Ty Cobb said he was not aware that a grand jury had been convened.

“Grand jury matters are typically secret,” Cobb said, adding that “the White House favors anything that accelerates the conclusion of his work fairly.”

“The White House is committed to fully cooperating with Mr Mueller.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president was not likely the subject of the investigation.

“Former FBI director Jim Comey said three times the president is not under investigation and we have no reason to believe that has changed,” she said.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores declined to comment on the report.

‘Investigatory independence’

Trump has repeatedly denied allegations of collusion, saying he is the victim of a political “witch hunt” and “fake news”.

But he has been forced to acknowledge that his eldest son, Donald Jr, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his then campaign advisor Paul Manafort did meet a Kremlin-connected lawyer to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Mueller is also said to be investigating Trump’s financial records unrelated to Russia or the election, CNN reported.

Trump has publicly warned Mueller that his financial dealings should be out of bounds and investigating them would cross a red line.

If called to testify before a grand jury, Trump would not be the first president to do so. Then president Bill Clinton was forced to give details about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, evidence that was used in his impeachment.

yesterday’s revelations will only fuel speculation that Trump may try to curb the investigation by firing Mueller.

Two US senators introduced a bipartisan bill yesterday to pre-empt that move by insulating Mueller.

The legislation, sponsored by Democrat Chris Coons and Republican Thom Tillis, would bar a president from directly firing the special counsel without a judicial review.

Under the bill, Mueller would be allowed to challenge his removal in court in the event he is fired without good cause.

“A back-end judicial review process to prevent unmerited removals of special counsels not only helps to ensure their investigatory independence, but also reaffirms our nation’s system of check and balances,” Tillis said in a statement.

Coons added: “Ensuring that the special counsel cannot be removed improperly is critical to the integrity of his investigation.” — AFP

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Trump Supports Plan to Cut Legal Immigration by Half – New York Times

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Trump Supports Plan to Cut Legal Immigration by Half
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WASHINGTON President Trump embraced a proposal on Wednesday to slash legal immigration to the United States in half within a decade by sharply curtailing the ability of American citizens and legal residents to bring family members into the country.
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What is a grand jury Robert Mueller Trump Russia

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  • Special Counsel Robert Mueller (R) departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017.   REUTERS/Joshua RobertsRobert Mueller, right. Thomson ReutersRobert Mueller, the FBI’s special counsel, impaneled a grand jury in recent weeks to help him investigate Russia’s election interference.
  • The move signals the scope of the investigation is broadening, and the jury has already issued subpoenas.
  • Investigators have also seized on Trump’s financial ties to Russia as a potential avenue of investigation, according to CNN.

Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, has impaneled a grand jury, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The grand jury has been working for several weeks already, according to The Journal, and marks an escalation of the investigation into the election meddling and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign team was involved.

“It is a clear sign that this investigation is escalating, and it likely means we are going to see a parade of White House staffers and other Trump associates coming in and out of the courthouse in downtown Washington,” Matthew Miller, a Justice Department spokesman under President Barack Obama, told Business Insider.

“While testimony is secret, you can’t hide who is coming in and out of that courthouse,” Miller said, “and it will put tremendous pressure on White House staffers who will be wondering what their friends and associates testified to behind closed doors.”

Reuters reported that the jury had already issued subpoenas related to the June 2016 meeting between Trump’s eldest son and a Russian lawyer with connections to the Kremlin. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, also attended the meeting.

A grand jury “serves as the mechanism by which” criminal charges are initiated, according to Alex Whiting, a former federal prosecutor, and it has the authority to subpoena documents and witnesses.

“In any complex or long-term criminal investigation, therefore, federal prosecutors will go to the grand jury to compel the production of documents or records,” Whiting wrote in May. “Or if they want to force witnesses to testify under oath, which a grand jury subpoena requires unless the witness has a valid privilege not to testify.”

Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas who specializes in national-security law, told The Journal that the grand jury was “a further sign that there is a long-term, large-scale series of prosecutions being contemplated and being pursued by the special counsel.”

Emily Pierce, who was a Justice Department official in the Obama administration, told Business Insider that impaneling a grand jury “does not necessarily mean Mueller will bring charges,” adding that “it certainly ups the ante for anyone who may be a target of this probe.”

Miller said the choice of venue for the grand jury was “notable,” too.

“Washington is where any obstruction-of-justice crimes that occurred in the White House would be appropriately venued,” he said.

Mueller reportedly expanded the investigation in May to include obstruction of justice, days after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the Russia probe.

In June, Mueller took over the grand-jury investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s lobbying work for a Turkish businessman, according to Reuters. And experts say Mueller appears to be widening his investigation into Trump’s associates by impaneling the second grand jury.

“While many people have focused on the potential actions of the president and whether he can face charges, I think that the lower-level folks who are reportedly targets have more to fear, given it is likely more difficult to indict a president than a campaign operative,” Pierce said.

Vladeck agreed.

“If there was already a grand jury in Alexandria looking at Flynn, there would be no need to reinvent the wheel for the same guy,” he told The Journal. “This suggests that the investigation is bigger and wider than Flynn, perhaps substantially so.”

Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, said that impaneling a grand jury was “an early step, not a late step, in an investigation.”

“It means there is enough evidence to warrant serious investigation,” Mariotti wrote on Twitter. “But it does not mean that charges will be sought.”

The White House said in a statement attributed to Ty Cobb, the special counsel to the president, that it “favors anything that accelerates the conclusion of his work fairly.”

He continued: “The White House is committed to fully cooperating with Mr. Mueller.”

Whiting previously wrote that grand jury investigations “can last for months or even years, as prosecutors chase down evidentiary leads and amass the documentary and testimonial evidence.”

According to reports, Mueller has additionally expanded the investigation to examine Trump’s financial history and business dealings, and he recently added a 16th lawyer to his team of investigators: Greg Andres, a former Justice Department official who managed the department’s program targeting illegal foreign bribery.

Citing people familiar with the investigation, CNN reported on Thursday that “federal investigators exploring whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian spies have seized on Trump and his associates’ financial ties to Russia as one of the most fertile avenues for moving their probe forward.”

The investigators are apparently examining Trump Organization financial records and looking at who purchased Trump-branded real estate in the past six years, according to CNN. They’re also probing the backgrounds of people like the Russian-Azerbaijani oligarch Aras Agalarov, who helped bring Trump’s Miss Universe pageant to Moscow in 2013.

Exclusive: Grand jury subpoenas issued in relation to Trump Jr., Russian lawyer meeting

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August 3, 2017 / 8:42 AM / 44 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Grand jury subpoenas have been issued in connection with a June 2016 meeting that included President Donald Trump’s son, his son-in-law and a Russian lawyer, two sources told Reuters on Thursday, in a sign that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is gathering pace.

The sources added that Mueller had convened a grand jury in Washington to help investigate allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

Russia has loomed large over the first six months of the Trump presidency. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia worked to tilt the presidential election in Trump’s favor. Mueller, who was appointed special counsel in May, is leading the probe, which also examines potential collusion by the Trump campaign with Russia.

Moscow denies any meddling and Trump denies any collusion by his campaign, while regularly denouncing the investigations as political witch hunts.

Mueller’s use of a grand jury could give him expansive tools to pursue evidence, including issuing subpoenas and compelling witnesses to testify. The impaneling of the grand jury was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

A spokesman for Mueller declined comment.

A grand jury is a group of ordinary citizens who, working behind closed doors, considers evidence of potential criminal wrongdoing that a prosecutor is investigating and decides whether charges should be brought.

“This is a serious development in the Mueller investigation,” said Paul Callan, a former prosecutor.

“Given that Mueller inherited an investigation that began months ago, it would suggest that he has uncovered information pointing in the direction of criminal charges. But against whom is the real question.”

U.S. stocks and the dollar weakened following the news, while U.S. Treasury securities gained.

Damaging Information

News last month of the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who he was told had damaging information about his father’s presidential rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, fueled questions about the campaign’s dealings with Moscow.

The Republican president has defended his son’s behavior, saying many people would have taken that meeting.

Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort also attended the meeting.

Ty Cobb, special counsel to the president, said he was not aware that Mueller had started using a new grand jury.

“Grand jury matters are typically secret,” Cobb said. “The White House favors anything that accelerates the conclusion of his work fairly. … The White House is committed to fully cooperating with Mr. Mueller.”

John Dowd, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, said: “With respect to the news of the grand jury, I can tell you President Trump is not under investigation.”

A spokesman for Manafort declined to comment.

Lawyers for Trump Jr. and Kushner did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

One source briefed on the matter said Mueller was investigating whether, either at the meeting or afterward, anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign encouraged the Russians to start releasing material they had been collecting on the Clinton campaign since March 2016.

Another source familiar with the inquiry said that while the president himself was not now under investigation, Mueller’s investigation was seeking to determine whether he knew of the June 9 meeting in advance or was briefed on it afterward.

Additional reporting by Noeleen Walder, Jan Wolfe, Anthony Lin, Jonathan Stempel, Tom Hals, Julia Ainsley and Joel Schectman; Writing by Frances Kerry and Phil Stewart; Editing by Bill Trott and Peter Cooney

August 2, 2017 / 9:07 PM / 21 hours ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told Attorney General Jeff Sessions last weekend that his job was safe after Sessions endured several weeks of sharp public criticism from President Donald Trump, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday.

Kelly, who was named chief of staff by Trump on Friday, phoned Sessions on Saturday to reassure him the White House wanted him to remain as head of the Justice Department, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The conversation was first reported by the Associated Press.

Kelly said Trump was still annoyed with Sessions’ decision in March to recuse himself from the investigation of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, but there had been “kind of a thaw” in Trump’s attitude toward him, according to the official.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

The Kremlin says it did not interfere in the election, and Trump has denied any collusion.

Last week, Trump assailed Sessions in a tweet as “very weak” and said he was “very disappointed” with his attorney general in a Wall Street Journal interview.

When asked at a news conference last week about Sessions’ future, Trump replied: “Time will tell. Time will tell.”

Republican lawmakers rallied to the defense of Sessions, a former U.S. senator from Alabama, and Trump has not mentioned him in tweets in recent days.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Eric Beech; Editing by Peter Cooney

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