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Robert Mueller indicts 13 Russians for interfering in the 2016 election

February 16, 2018

  Without question the big news of the day is Robert Mueller’s decision to charge 13 Russians with trying to interfere in the 2016 election, but because this news comes on the Friday of a long holiday weekend it was practically a given that there was still no evidence of collusion with the Trump campaign.

  Here is more:

A new indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller charges that 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities illegally mounted an “information warfare” scheme to influence the 2016 presidential election that favored then-candidate Donald Trump and involved “unwitting” U.S. citizens and Trump campaign officials.

The dramatic indictment reveals even bolder Russian interference than previously known — led by the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, a notorious online misinformation operation with suspected Kremlin ties — that went beyond the previously-understood use of “fake news” and social media misdirection.

  We also learned that the interference began in 2014, long before Donald Trump announced he was running for President, with the intent to “sow discord” for the political system in the United States by using social media to organize groups and protests.

  Any contact with Trump campaign officials was unbeknownst to them:

The document does allege that some of the defendants were in communication with Trump’s campaign, but not that Trump officials knowingly colluded with Russia. Its specific charges include conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

“Some defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities,” the indictment said.

“There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity,” Rosenstein told reporters. “There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”

  So if anything this means the Trump campaign officials should be counted as victims in the Russian scheme and not as collaborators. After all this time investigating the Trump campaign this is all the Mueller team could come up with but this will be used as justification to keep the investigation going.

  I am not trying to downplay what happened here; Russian interference in our election is a serious matter and we must not let it happen again if possible but I do wonder if this signals the beginning of the end to the Trump collusion angle of the investigation. I am not talking about the mainstream media here, we can rest assured they will continue the narrative.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

 

 

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A bipartisan Senate group reaches a deal on DACA

February 14, 2018

  According to this story a bipartisan Senate group has reached a deal on a DACA solution which they will be releasing shortly for the Senate to read. Here is more:

A bipartisan Senate group tentatively agreed on a trimmed-down immigration proposal Wednesday that would allow citizenship for young undocumented immigrants and provide $25 billion for a border wall without meeting White House demands for cuts in family migration and an end to a diversity visa lottery.

Graham said the proposal won’t address a 50,000 visa diversity lottery that Trump wants to end. The young immigrants wouldn’t be allowed to sponsor their parents to live in this country — a standard that falls short of Trump’s effort to limit all family-based immigration to spouses and minor children.

Here is some of what Lindsey Graham had to say about this upcoming proposal:

Graham said, “The president’s going to get his border security money and we’re going to do a 1.8 million pathway forward. To break the chain, we’re going to say that the parent can’t be sponsored by the Dream Act child they brought in illegally.”

  The reporting in this story seems a little sloppy: The article states there would be funding for a border wall but Lindsey Graham used the term “border security” and those two terms are  not necessarily the same thing. The article also says the proposal would not meet the President’s demand to end chain migration yet Lindsey Graham said the chain would be broken by not allowing minors to sponsor their parents. Perhaps siblings would still be allowed to migrate and that is what the article is referencing–it is not clear.

  The proposal does not address the VISA lottery program but it does apparently give 1.8 million dreamers a pathway to citizenship, which is something that Donald Trump proposed a few weeks ago.

  My instinct tells me that if this is brought to a vote in the Senate it will pass but at this point it is hard to predict what the politicians in Washington will do because they are all really looking out for themselves politically above all else. If it does pass the Senate and eventually makes it to the President’s desk will it be enough to win his approval? Will Donald Trump cave on the VISA lottery program, hoping for a fix in the future, in exchange for border security (or is it a border wall?) and the beginning of the end of chain migration?

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Susan Rice’s email to herself may show James Comey misled the Congress

February 13, 2018

  Yesterday we learned that just before Donald Trump was sworn in as President Susan Rice decided to email herself, in what appears to be a CYA effort, about the details of a meeting which was held 15 days earlier between herself, Barack Obama, and James Comey about the Russian investigation.

  However this email may have inadvertently implicated James Comey for misleading the Congress because he did not disclose this meeting. Here is more: 

A newly-discovered email suggests former FBI Director James Comeymay have been less than honest about his meetings with former president Barack Obama on the subject of Russian interference with and during the 2016 general election.

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released the email on Monday after requesting “records of meetings between President Obama and then-FBI Director Comey regarding the FBI’s investigation of allegations of collusion between associates of Mr. Trump and the Russian government.”

If Rice’s email is accurate, Comey may have seriously misled Congress about his meetings with Obama.

And here is more:

Dated June 8, 2017, Comey’s “Statement for the Record” provided to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, notes, “I have tried to include information that may be relevant to the committee.”

 “I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) – once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016.”

  The first thing I noticed while reading this was the word “alone” in James Comey’s statement, and this was also mentioned in the article I linked to above. Technically he did not lie to the Senate Intelligence Committee because he did not meet alone with Barack Obama on January 5th–Susan Rice was there–but he was less than truthful, and I would also add purposely deceitful.

  Nevertheless James Comey should have disclosed this meeting to the Congress in the interest of transparency but he did not and how ironic would it be if a seemingly spur of the moment decision by Susan Rice ant CYA for herself and Barack Obama could be what does in James Comey?!

  While James Comey technically might not have lied (quid est veritas) to the Congress it should be remembered that Michael Flynn plead guilty to lying to the Congress for failing to disclose a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador. I do not see any difference here. Interestingly enough Michael Flynn’s sentencing has been delayed until May and the plot thickens…

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Susan Rice sent herself an ‘unusual’ email shortly before Donald Trump was inaugurated

February 12, 2018

  According to this story Charles Grassely and Lindsey Graham are looking for some information on an email Susan Rice sent to herself on Inauguration Day. 

  Here is more:

Two top Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are questioning former national security adviser Susan Rice about an “unusual” message she sent to herself on Jan 20, 2017 — President Trump‘s Inauguration Day.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) questioned Rice why she sent a note detailing a conversation she observed on Jan. 5 between then-FBI Director James Comey and then-President Barack Obama.

“It strikes us as odd that, among your activities in the final moments on the final day of the Obama administration, you would feel the need to send yourself such an unusual email purporting to document a conversation involving President Obama and his interactions with the FBI regarding the Trump/Russia investigation,” they wrote in a letter to Rice. 

Here is some of what was in the email:

President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities by the book. The President stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective.

He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.

From a national security perspective, however, President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.

  This seems odd to me as well. Why would Susan Rice, in what was probably her last act as a national security adviser, suddenly decide it was imperative to get it on the books that Barack Obama wanted to make sure everything in the Russia investigation was being done “by the book” and why did she wait 15 days to do so if this is on the level?

  It almost makes it look as if there was some concern that not everything was being done “by the book” and so they wanted to get something on the record where it would be found. It certainly looks like this is CYA and the fact she only emailed it to herself seems to allude to that fact.

  It is also interesting to note that Barack Obama was in contact with James Comey about the Russia investigation because he claimed he never talked to the Department of Injustice about any ongoing investigation because that is not a line to be crossed. “Full stop. Period.”

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Sunday, February 11th open thread: ‘Night Shift’

February 11, 2018

  open-threadHere is the open thread for Sunday, February 11th. 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 7 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 Siouxsie and the Banshees performing “Night Shift” live in 1983. If you look closely you will see Robert Smith of The Cure filling in on guitar as he did often back in those days.

frui diem

Donald Trump seeks to streamline infrastructure permitting

February 10, 2018

  One issue that I believe many people on the right and on the left agree on is the fact that our infrastructure is old and needs upgrading. But still we have been haggling over this issue for years, and I believe the reason is because the left and the right differ on the role the Federal government should play in the finding of the infrastructure.

  Personally, I might differ here with conservatives, I believe the Federal government does have a role in infrastructure and I believe Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution (through the Post roads clause) grants the Federal government some authority when it comes to allocating monies to build infrastructure. That is not to say the States do not also have a responsibility but I believe in this case there is a shared responsibility.

  Although it has been largely ignored since his election Donald Trump did make infrastructure spending a major part of his platform, and in August of last year the President signed an Executive Order on infrastructure spending seeking to streamline the process so reviews on infrastructure projects would be cut from roughly 10 years down to 2 years.

  Now, according to this article, Donald Trump has issued a draft memo to 17 agencies which would cut some of the red tape and make good on this promise. Here is more:

The White House is circulating a draft memo to more than a dozen federal agencies that would dramatically speed up the time it takes to secure environmental permits for infrastructure projects, according to a document obtained by POLITICO.

The draft memorandum of understanding, which is being reviewed by 17 federal agencies and is expected to be finalized soon, would help implement an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in August that set a goal of completing the environmental review process for major infrastructure projects within two years.

Faster permitting is expected to be one element of the infrastructure plan the White House is slated to unveil on Monday, though the inter-agency memorandum of understanding is not expected to be finalized in time for this week’s rollout.

In order to more quickly green-light proposed bridges, pipelines and roads, the Trump administration — led by the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Council on Environmental Quality — has been working behind the scenes for weeks to establish a more streamlined process among the dozens of federal agencies that often have to weigh in before a project can move forward.

Among the changes: requiring that agencies conduct their individual reviews concurrently, rather than sequentially.

To achieve the two-year goal, the memorandum, a draft of which was viewed by POLITICO, says agencies will “commit to cooperate, communicate, share information, and resolve conflicts that could prevent meeting milestones.”

  On the surface it would seem as though this should have bipartisan support, after all the left has been calling for infrastructure spending for years, but the one thing the “resist” movement has taught us is that if Donald Trump is for it they are against it and it does not seem to matter what the issue is–the party of no will oppose it for opposition’s sake–and I expect this to be no different.

  But how can the left justify opposing spending money on infrastructure after calling for it during the 8 years of Barack Obama’s Presidency? I think it is fairly simple: they will claim the evil, greedy capitalist is going about it the wrong way. The left will claim Donald Trump is forsaking the environment at the behest of other evil, greedy capitalists while refusing to admit he is simply trying to streamline the environmental review process.

  Donald Trump is hoping to make an announcement about this on Monday and it will be interesting to see if my theory plays out–it should not take long to find out.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

FBI informant alleges Russia expected payback in the Uranium One deal for donations made to the Clinton Foundation

February 8, 2018

  Not all that long ago there were reports that there was an FBI informant who was going to expose the alleged pay to play scheme between the Clinton Foundation and the Uranium One deal. But since that initial report we have not heard anything more about this but now perhaps that has changed.

  According to this story the informant has issued a statement to three Congressional Committees that alleges Russia routed money to the Clinton Foundation with the expectation they could influence the Obama regime and Hillary Clinton. Here is more:

An FBI informant connected to the Uranium One controversy told three congressional committees in a written statement that Moscow routed millions of dollars to America with the expectation it would be used to benefit Bill Clinton‘s charitable efforts while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton quarterbacked a “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations.

The informant, Douglas Campbell, said in the statement obtained by The Hill that he was told by Russian nuclear executives that Moscow had hired the American lobbying firm APCO Worldwide specifically because it was in position to influence the Obama administration, and more specifically Hillary Clinton.

Campbell added in the testimony that Russian nuclear officials “told me at various times that they expected APCO to apply a portion of the $3 million annual lobbying fee it was receiving from the Russians to provide in-kind support for the Clintons’ Global Initiative.”

“The contract called for four payments of $750,000 over twelve months. APCO was expected to give assistance free of charge to the Clinton Global Initiative as part of their effort to create a favorable environment to ensure the Obama administration made affirmative decisions on everything from Uranium One to the U.S.-Russia Civilian Nuclear Cooperation agreement.”

He accused Obama administration officials of making decisions that ended up benefitting the Russian nuclear industry, which he said was seeking to build a monopoly in the global uranium market to help President Vladimir Putin seek a geopolitical advantage over the United States. 

  APCO is denying any connection, claiming these were two separate departments working apart from each other and it just coincidental. Douglas Campbell was also interviewed by the three committees–the Senate Judiciary Committee, the House Intelligence Committee, and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. 

  Democrats are calling into question Mr. Campbell’s credibility and while he was not under oath during these interviews, from what I understand, it is still a crime to lie to the Congress so Douglas Campbell would have nothing to gain and everything to lose by providing the Congress with false information.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium