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Sunday, December 10th open thread: ‘In One Ear’

December 10, 2017

  open-threadHere is the open thread for Sunday, December 10th. Please feel free to post links to interesting articles and to discuss whatever issues arise during the course of the day. Nothing is off-topic here.

  Last week we discussed 6 stories, did you miss any of them? If so there is an easy way to make sure it does not happen again. I understand that all of you are busy and cannot always find the time to check the blog for updates so why not subscribe to America’s Watchtower and receive email updates whenever I write a new post? That is the easiest way to follow the blog to ensure you never miss another post.

  In addition to subscribing you can also follow America’s Watchtower on Facebook and Twitter by clicking the links on the right. But you will get more than that for I often post links to articles probably will not be writing about so it is a great way to keep up with what is happening.

  The Twitter widget in the sidebar is fully interactive. This widget updates my tweets in real time and allows you to respond to or retweet my tweets right from the blog. It also allows you to tweet me right from America’s Watchtower.

  Here is Cage the Elephant performing “In One Ear” live from 2015:

frui diem

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More ties to Hillary Clinton in Robert Mueller’s Russia collusion investigation come to light

December 9, 2017

  It has been a tough week for Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian collusion during the 2016 election: We learned Peter Strzok was removed from the investigation earlier this year after he it was learned he sent rabid anti-Trump texts to his mistress, calling into question his impartiality. And then we learned Bruce Ohr was demoted for dubious ties to Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.

  Now we are learning about more ties between Hillary Clinton and Robert Mueller’s team, here is more:

More Clinton connections have emerged for members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team, amid growing Republican complaints about potential bias inside the office created to lead an independent probe. 

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Mueller investigator Andrew Weissmann, a former partner at WilmerHale, attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party last November at the Javits Center in New York City. Fox News reported earlier this week that Weissmann in January also praised outgoing acting Attorney General Sally Yates, after she was fired for refusing to defend President Trump’s travel ban. 

Meanwhile, at least two Mueller investigators’ past legal work for Clinton-tied figures is getting a second look as Republicans hunt for signs of bias. 

Aaron Zebley, another former partner at WilmerHale and a former chief of staff to Mueller when he served as FBI director, represented Justin Cooper, a key figure in the Hillary Clinton email controversy. 

Cooper is the longtime Bill Clinton aide responsible for helping set up the now-infamous private email server. Cooper later admitted to “two instances where he destroyed [Hillary] Clinton’s old mobile devices by breaking them in half or hitting them with a hammer.”

Jeannie Rhee, another former partner at WilmerHale, represented ex-Obama National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, the Clinton Foundation in a 2015 racketeering case, and Hillary Clinton herself in a lawsuit seeking access to her private emails. 

  So, one member of the team attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party which eventually fizzled into embarrassment; a second defended the Clinton aide who helped to set up Hillary Clinton’s private email server and helped Hillary Clinton smash her cellphones with hammers; while a third member of the team represented Ben Rhodes against racketeering charges as well as defending Hillary Clinton when she was being sued for access to her private emails. And we are supposed to believe this investigation is on the level?

  Here is what Rep. Matt Gaetz had to say about these latest revelations:

“You’ve got Donald Trump being persecuted by Hillary Clinton’s fan club—that’s inequitable. Many of the members of Mueller’s team donated to the Clinton campaign. We have a lot of highly qualified federal prosecutors in the Justice Department and we could have found a bunch of them who didn’t donate to either candidate. But that didn’t occur, and that’s troubling.” 

  For more on the donations made by people on Robert Mueller’s team to the Clinton campaign see the article I linked above. It is pretty clear what is going on here…

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Department of Justice official demoted for contacting Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele during the campaign

December 7, 2017

  Last weekend we learned that an aide to Robert Mueller, Peter Strzok, was removed from the investigation into Russian collusion because he was an anti-Trumper who could not possibly be neutral. The House Intelligence Committee had been seeking documents related to his removal but their efforts had been stonewalled by the special counsel. The House committee is now  preparing contempt of Congress charges now that they know the story. 

  Today we have learned, according to this story, that a top Department of Injustice official, Bruce Ohr, has been demoted because he had contact during the 2016 campaign with the foreign agent,  Christopher Steele, who was hired  by Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Donald Trump. Fusion GPS was hired by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign and eventually created the dossier which was used as justification to open up a special investigation. What a tangled web we weave…

  But apparently Mr. Ohr did not stop there because he also met with a founder of Fusion GPS. Here is more:

A senior Justice Department official was demoted this week amid an ongoing investigation into his contacts with the opposition research firm responsible for the anti-Trump “dossier,” the department confirmed to Fox News.

Until Wednesday morning, Bruce G. Ohr held two titles at DOJ: associate deputy attorney general, a post that placed him four doors down from his boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; and director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), a program described by the department as “the centerpiece of the attorney general’s drug strategy.”

Ohr will retain his OCDETF title but has been stripped of his higher post and ousted from his office on the fourth floor of “Main Justice.”

Fox News has learned that evidence collected by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., indicates that Ohr met during the 2016 campaign with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the “dossier.” 

House investigators have determined that Ohr met shortly after the election with Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS – the opposition research firm that hired Steele to compile the dossier with funds supplied by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. By that point, according to published reports, the dossier had been in the hands of the FBI, which exists under the aegis of DOJ, for some five months, and the surveillance on Carter Page, an adviser to the Trump campaign, had started more than two months prior.

Here is what the Department of Injustice had to say about Mr. Ohr’s demotion:

“It is unusual for anyone to wear two hats as he has done recently. This person is going to go back to a single focus—director of our organized crime and drug enforcement unit. As you know, combating transnational criminal organizations and drug trafficking is a top priority for the attorney general.”

  In other words this had nothing to do with any possible conflict of interest so move on, nothing to see here. We are beginning to see what the true intention of this investigation is and I believe there is more to come, these are just the first two dominoes to fall…

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

New York Post report: the CFPB used a slush fund to funnel money to left wing causes

December 6, 2017

  At the end of November the head of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, stepped down and decided he somehow had the right to appoint his own successor in an attempt to prevent Donald Trump from appointing an interim head. Donald Trump disagreed and named Mick Mulvaney as acting head. The court quickly ruled that Donald Trump was in the right and Mick Mulvaney was installed to head the bureau until a permanent head can be nominated.

  Richard Cordray obviously wanted to ensure the CFPB stayed under the leadership of a Democrat and now we might know why if this New York Post story is correct. It appears as if there were some shady goings on at the CFPB:

 CFPB is a Democrat shop with an anti-business agenda that goes well beyond protecting consumers and includes closing the “wealth gap” and administering “economic justice,” as Cordray has been fond of saying. It hires almost exclusively Democrats and “rejects Republican job applicants,” according to former CFPB enforcement attorney Ronald Rubin. Federal election data show 100 percent of political donations made by CFPB employees during the 2016 election were given to Democratic candidates.

Here is more:

Bounced business owners and industry reps from secret meetings it’s held with Democrat operatives, radical civil-rights activists, trial lawyers and other “community advisers,” according to a report by the House Financial Services Committee.

Retained GMMB, the liberal advocacy group that created ads for the Obama and Hillary Clinton presidential campaigns, for more than $40 million, making the Democrat shop the sole recipient of CFPB’s advertising expenditure, Rubin says.

Met behind closed doors to craft financial regulatory policy with notorious bank shakedown groups who have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grant money to gin up housing and lending discrimination complaints, which in turn are fed back to CFPB, according to Investor’s Business Daily and Judicial Watch.

That is bad enough but here is the biggie:

Funneled a large portion of the more than $5 billion in penalties collected from defendants to community organizers aligned with Democrats — “a slush fund by another name,” said a consultant who worked with CFPB on its Civil Penalty Fund and requested anonymity.

  This is in addition to personal privacy and corporate liability concerns which are also mentioned in the New York Post article…

  So the CFPB, if this story is true, was basically extorting money in the form of penalties from one group and sending the money left wing groups, which is basically a slush fund according to a former CFPB employee and wistleblower.

    It is pretty obvious to me why the left was so concerned when Donald Trump was granted permission by the courts to put a Republican in charge of this apparently corrupt agency.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

The Supreme Court allows Donald Trump to enforce his travel ban

December 4, 2017

  Today the Supreme Court allowed Donald Trump to enforce his travel ban, here is more:

The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Trump administration to fully enforce a ban on travel to the United States by residents of six mostly Muslim countries.

This is not a final ruling on the travel ban: Challenges to the policy are winding through the federal courts, and the justices themselves ultimately are expected to rule on its legality.

But the action indicates that the high court might eventually approve the latest version of the ban, announced by President Donald Trump in September. Lower courts have continued to find problems with the policy.

  This battle is not over but this is a victory for Donald Trump nevertheless: This basically lifts the injunction placed on the travel ban by the lower courts and allows Donald Trump to enforce the ban while the lawsuits are still being fought in the courts. But, as the block quote alludes to, this could be a preview of how the Supreme Court will rule once the ban makes it to the Supreme Court.

  If the Supreme Court had some of the same concerns as the lower courts it would seem to me they would have not allowed the injunction to be lifted so it seems likely the Supreme Court will eventually rule in Donald Trump’s favor. But still all bets are off, I still remember John Roberts basically rewriting the Obamacare mandate as a tax when it looked like the Supreme Court was going to strike it down so who knows how this will end.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Mueller aide removed from Russia investigation was behind the language change to ‘extremely careless’ description of Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information

December 4, 2017

  Over the weekend we learned that a top aide to Robert Mueller, Peter Strzok, in the Russia collusion scandal investigation was removed from the investigation a few months ago for some anti-Trump texts made between himself and his mistress. His impartiality was obviously not so impartial–he had an agenda. At that time we also found out that he played a role in the Hillary Clinton email scandal investigation and this was now under review also.

He participated in the FBI’s fateful interview with Hillary Clinton on July 2, 2016 – just days before then-FBI Director James Comey announced he was declining to recommend prosecution of Mrs. Clinton in connection with her use, as secretary of state, of a private email server.

  Today we learned from this story that not only was he involved in the interview with Hillary Clinton but that he is also responsible for changing the description of Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information from  “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless.”

A former top counterintelligence expert at the FBI, now at the center of a political uproar for exchanging private messages that appeared to mock President Donald Trump, changed a key phrase in former FBI Director James Comey’s description of how former secretary of state Hillary Clinton handled classified information, according to US officials familiar with the matter.

Electronic records show Peter Strzok, who led the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server as the No. 2 official in the counterintelligence division, changed Comey’s earlier draft language describing Clinton’s actions as “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless,” the source said.
  The result of this language change cannot be understated because if the FBI found Hillary Clinton “grossly negligent” the FBI would have had to recommend bringing charges against the failed 2016 Presidential candidate while “extremely careless” gave the FBI an out although the two terms mean basically the same thing.
  In an apparent attempt at downplaying Peter Strzok’s role in the language change another source told CNN that the language change was a group effort and was not Peter Strzok’s responsibility alone. Even if this is true it does not lessen the role Peter Strzok played in the language change but it calls into question whether or not any of the other individuals involved in the language change are also serving Robert Mueller in the Russian collusion scandal but we just do not know it because none of them have slipped up. We would not know about Peter Strzok if he did not slip up and he would probably still be on the team if he did not…
malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Mueller aide removed from Russia investigation for anti-Trump texts now under review for his role in the Hillary Clinton email investigation

December 3, 2017

  Yesterday we learned that earlier this year Peter Strzok was removed from Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russia collusion investigation for some anti-Trump texts he made to a colleague. That one issue alone was enough to have him removed, obviously, because it shows that he had a bias in what is supposed to be a neutral investigation, but now we are learning that Peter Strzok himself is being “reviewed” (I would prefer the term “investigated”) for his role in the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

  Here is more:

Two senior Justice Department officials have confirmed to Fox News that the department’s Office of Inspector General is reviewing the role played in the Hillary Clinton email investigation by Peter Strzok, a former deputy director for counterintelligence at the FBI who was removed from the staff of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III earlier this year, after Mueller learned that Strzok had exchanged anti-Trump texts with a colleague.

A source close to the matter said the OIG probe, which will examine Strzok’s roles in a number of other politically sensitive cases, should be completed by “very early next year.” 

He participated in the FBI’s fateful interview with Hillary Clinton on July 2, 2016 – just days before then-FBI Director James Comey announced he was declining to recommend prosecution of Mrs. Clinton in connection with her use, as secretary of state, of a private email server. 

As deputy FBI director for counterintelligence, Strzok also enjoyed liaison with various agencies in the intelligence community, including the CIA, then led by Director John Brennan.

And here is more:

Strzok himself briefed the committee on Dec. 5, 2016, the sources said, but within months of that session House Intelligence Committee investigators were contacted by an informant suggesting that there was “documentary evidence” that Strzok was purportedly obstructing the House probe into the dossier.

In early October, Nunes personally asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – who has overseen the Trump-Russia probe since the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions – to make Strzok available to the committee for questioning, sources said.

While Strzok’s removal from the Mueller team had been publicly reported in August, the Justice Department never disclosed the anti-Trump texts to the House investigators. The denial of access to Strzok was instead predicated, sources said, on broad “personnel” grounds.

  But it gets even worse for Strzok, the FBI, and the Department of Injustice as possible contempt charges loom: 

Responding to the revelations about Strzok’s texts on Saturday, Nunes said he has now directed his staff to draft contempt-of-Congress citations against Rosenstein and the new FBI director, Christopher Wray. Unless DOJ and FBI comply with all of his outstanding requests for documents and witnesses by the close of business on Monday, Nunes said, he would seek a resolution on the contempt citations before year’s end.

“We now know why Strzok was dismissed, why the FBI and DOJ refused to provide us this explanation, and at least one reason why they previously refused to make [FBI] Deputy Director [Andrew] McCabe available to the Committee for an interview,” Nunes said in a statement.

  So, he played a role in the events leading up to James Comey’s decision not to charge Hillary Clinton in the email scandal and he had an obvious anti-Trump bias while helping in Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion during the 2016 campaign until his bias could no longer be ignored, and yet the Congress was told he was relieved of duty for personal reasons.

  I guess if you count his personal political beliefs as “personal reasons” for letting him go this would make sense, at least to a liberal who only cares about bringing down Donald Trump, but this was not a personal reason in the legal sense of the investigation and now everybody realizes what was going on and hopefully the Congress will bring contempt charges forward. 

  This is quite the incestuous relationship within the swamp…

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium