WTF Community

Day 921


(Matt Kiser) #1

1/ Trump called Elijah Cummings a "brutal bully" and his Baltimore-based district a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess" that "is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States. No human being would want to live there." Trump also called Cummings, a black civil rights icon, a "racist." Trump's tweets appeared to be in response to a Fox & Friends segment on the same topic that ran earlier in the day, which included images of rundown and neglected apartment buildings in Baltimore. As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings has initiated most of the investigations into the Trump administration. Last week, Cummings was authorized to subpoena work-related text and emails by White House officials, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Trump called Cummings' "radical 'oversight' is a joke!" (Baltimore Sun / New York Times / Washington Post / Washington Post / The Hill)


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com/2019/07/29/day-921/

#2

Meet John Ratcliffe, Trump’s pick for Director of National Intelligence. He is stunningly unqualified for the position and has already been caught lying about what little qualifications he claims to have. On top of that, like Barr, he is a Trump lackey who will undoubtedly use the office more as a platform to protect Trump than to protect our nation.

Hours before President Donald Trump announced him as the pick to be the new director of national intelligence, Rep. John Ratcliffe was on Fox News saying the Russia investigation may have been tainted by a criminal conspiracy.

“What I do know as a former federal prosecutor is that it does appear that there were crimes committed during the Obama administration,” the Texas Republican said Sunday, speaking about the origins of the FBI’s investigation into Trump campaign contacts with the Russians.

Ratcliffe didn’t specify which crimes, and he didn’t offer any evidence. None have surfaced on the public record.

But statements like that from Ratcliffe, rated one of the most conservative Republicans in Congress, are causing disquiet among current and former intelligence officials, who worry that as the nation’s top spy Ratcliffe will politicize what is supposed to be one of the most nonpartisan jobs in Washington.

"Mr. Ratcliffe appears to be somebody who is more interested in pleasing Donald Trump," President Barack Obama’s CIA director John Brennan, an NBC News analyst, said on MSNBC.

During that time, Ratcliffe became a federal prosecutor, named chief of anti-terrorism and national security for the Eastern District of Texas. In 2007, Ratcliffe was named the district’s acting U.S. attorney by President George W. Bush.

Although Ratcliffe’s website says he “put terrorists in prison,” there is no evidence he ever prosecuted a terrorism case.

Here’s Ken Dilanian, the author of the above article, on MSNBC explaining his findings about Ratcliffe:

Below is a snapshot of Ratcliffe’s House web page so you can confirm his bald-faced lie about his qualifications – it’s his claim at the bottom that he “put terrorists in prison.” As explained in the article above, he was associated with only one anti-terrorist case and that was after the fact, when he was asked to investigate possible misconduct by a juror in the initial trial that ended in a mistrial. Nothing came of that investigation. He had no part in the subsequent trial that did end in a conviction of the terrorists; he is not even mentioned in the trial record, and in no way had any part in “putting the terrorists in prison.”

BTW, Ratcliffe’s biggest government gig before joining the House in 2015, was a stint as mayor of Heath, Texas, population 7,000.


#3

The position of director of national intelligence is a relatively new one, created in 2004 after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The idea was to better consolidate intelligence gathering and sharing by creating a Cabinet-level position responsible for intelligence across government agencies, from the CIA to the Defense Intelligence Agency to the intelligence arms of the armed forces.

The first person to hold the position was John Negroponte, who took over in 2005. He already had more than four decades of government service under his belt, including time as ambassador to various countries and working for the National Security Agency. He was followed by directors with similarly lengthy résumés, either working for the military or, as in the case of the current director, Daniel Coats, in Congress.

Over the weekend, President Trump announced that Coats was leaving the position. In his stead, Trump will nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.), who’s been in Congress since 2015. Ratcliffe attracted Trump’s attention by vigorously defending the president as the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has unfolded.

Beyond that important-to-Trump qualification? Ratcliffe’s résumé is unusually thin.

As noted above, Negroponte spent decades in the Foreign Service and served as ambassador to Honduras and Mexico before the 2001 attacks. After the attacks, he was ambassador to the United Nations and, after the 2003 invasion, Iraq. He served as assistant secretary in the State Department in the late 1980s and, after that, as deputy to then-national security adviser Colin L. Powell.

Negroponte was succeeded as DNI by John McConnell . McConnell served in the Navy for decades, including in senior intelligence roles for more than two decades. He achieved the rank of vice admiral. In 1992, he became the head of the NSA, a position he held for four years. After leaving government, he worked in the private sector focused on intelligence issues. He was confirmed as DNI and served for a bit under two years.

McConnell was followed by Dennis Blair , another career Navy man. When he left the armed services, he was the commander in chief of Pacific forces. After leaving, he held a number of academic and think-tank roles focused on national security issues. He was appointed DNI by President Barack Obama and served for a bit more than a year before being dismissed.

Next came James R. Clapper Jr. , the person who held the position for the longest period to date. Clapper served in the Air Force for several decades, focused on intelligence work. He became head of the Defense Intelligence Agency at the end of his tenure in the military. After briefly working in the private sector, he became the head of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which is under the oversight of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. After joining the Defense Department as undersecretary for defense, he was appointed by Obama to replace Blair and served until the end of Obama’s presidency.

Coats took a different path, first serving as a staff member to former representative from Indiana Dan Quayle. When Quayle was elected to the Senate, Coats took his House seat; when Quayle became vice president, Coats replaced him in the Senate. After leaving the Senate, he became ambassador to Germany and, for a period, worked in the private sector. He was elected to the Senate again in 2010 and was tapped by Trump to serve as DNI after deciding against running for reelection.

Then there’s Ratcliffe. Much of his professional career has been spent as an attorney, including service with the Justice Department for about five years, first focusing on anti-terrorism work in East Texas and, later, as U.S. attorney for that region. During that time, he also served as mayor of Heath, Tex., a town of about 7,000 just east of Dallas. In 2014, he was elected to the House. When the current Congress began in January, he took a position on the House Intelligence Committee.

Again, Trump’s interest in Ratcliffe reportedly stems not from his robust background in intelligence operations and organizations but, at least in part, from his willingness to advocate Trump-friendly rhetoric about the Russia investigation.

So let’s summarize Ratcliffe’s résumé in its entirety as he applies for the top intelligence position in the nation:

  • Mayor of town of 7,000.
  • DoJ attorney in East Texas “focusing on anti-terrorism,” but never convicted a single terrorist, despite his lies to the contrary.
  • In Congress for four and half years.
  • On House Intelligence Committee for seven months.
  • Outspoken Trump sychophant.

Shades of the time Trump nominated his personal physician to head up the entire Veterans Administration.


#4

When candidate Donald Trump prepared to give a major energy speech during the 2016 campaign, one of his closest advisers provided a pre-speech review to senior United Arab Emirates officials, an unorthodox move that caught the attention of federal investigators, according to emails and text messages uncovered by a House Oversight Committee investigation.

“The Trump Administration has virtually obliterated the lines normally separating government policy making from corporate and foreign interests,” according to a report overseen by House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, who commissioned the investigation into back channel business dealings between certain Trump aides and Middle Eastern countries.

Two weeks before Trump was scheduled to deliver the energy policy speech, Thomas Barrack, a California investment tycoon with extensive contacts in the Middle East and who later helped oversee Trump’s inauguration, provided a former business associate inside the United Arab Emirates with an advance copy of the candidate’s planned remarks. The associate then told Barrack he shared them with UAE and Saudi government officials, after which Barrack arranged for language requested by the UAE officials to be added to the speech with the help of Trump’s campaign manager at the time, Paul Manafort.

“This is the most likely final version of the speech. It has the language you want,” Manafort confirmed in an email to Barrack on the day of the speech, according to the report. Manafort has since gone to prison for financial crimes unrelated to his campaign work.

No wonder Trump is slamming Cummings with racist attacks. I’m sure Cummings and the Democrats on his Oversight Committee will not be deterred. How can we allow our nation’s energy policies to be dictated by foreign governments? Trump is a traitor (just like Flynn and Manafort) – Cummings is well on the way to exposing him.

And here’s a more in-depth report from the NYT:


Congressional Committee Investigations into Trump 2019
(David Bythewood) #5

The Judiciary Committee held a family separation hearing, and it was infinitely more impactful than the Mueller hearing, even if you haven’t heard about it.

One of the country’s top border officers cannot say whether a 3-year-old child might pose a “criminal or national security threat.” This was one of a number of astonishing takeaways from Thursday’s latest hearing into family separation.

The 3-year-old in question was Sofi, a little girl who was separated from her grandmother after they arrived at a port of entry in El Paso, Texas, last June seeking asylum. She was separated from her family for 47 days, until the Trump administration was forced to reunite them by court order. Chief of Law Enforcement Operations for Customs and Border Protection Brian S. Hastings still isn’t sure if she posed a threat, he told Rep. Ted Lieu during the Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday.

Ted Lieu: Sofi is not a criminal or a national security threat to the United States as a 3-year-old, correct?

Hastings: I don’t know the background in this case, sir.

Ted Lieu: Do you know any 3-year-olds that are criminal or national security threats to the United States?

Hastings: No, I don’t.

Ted Lieu: Sophie’s grandmother was not a national security or criminal threat to the United States, correct?

Hastings: I don’t know—again, I don’t know the background of what her grandmother or relatives were.

During a lightning round of opening questions from Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, the CBP official confessed what many had long suspected but that the administration has repeatedly denied against all evidence: The Trump administration intended for family separation to be permanent.

First, Nadler cited new evidence offered by members of the Trump administration itself that many cases of family separation conducted by Hastings and his officers had been done in as inhumane a manner as possible. As CNN reported, “Hundreds of red flags were raised internally within the Trump administration” about family separation between October 2017 and June 2018. Nadler noted during the hearing that 850 such complaints filed to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties had been turned over to the committee. CNN, which reviewed the confidential documents, reported that children were “allegedly blindsided when they were separated from their parents” in deceptive ways:

One referral received by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties describes a 14-year-old who said he was separated from his father in May 2018 “after a meal break while in custody, and was told by officers that his father would be deported.”

In another, an 11-year-old stated that he “was called aside by an officer and then he did not see his father again.” A 10-year-old with “poor communication skills” was allegedly separated from his mother in June 2018.

These documents “are marked law enforcement sensitive” and will not be turned over to the public, according to a committee spokesman. Nonetheless, Nadler asked Hastings specifically about some of these incidents.

Hastings could not explain in even the simplest terms how his officers had gone about removing children from their parents; he further admitted there was no “minimum time” for warning parents they were about to be separated from their children perhaps forever. The denouement came when Hastings confessed what the administration had long denied: that there was no intent ever to reunite the families when the policy was first implemented.

Nadler: After it was determined that the adult was being deported, was the child supposed to be returned to the parent before the deportation, or the parent is suddenly in some foreign country and the child is here?

Hastings: It’s probably a better question for HHS.

Nadler: Who did the deportation?

Hastings: We would do the deportation.

Nadler: You would do the deportation while the child was in a different city in the United States.

Hastings: We don’t do the reunifications is my point, sir.

Nadler: So you would do the deportation before the reunification without any knowledge of whether the parents are being reunified?

Hastings: Yes.

Nadler: So, in other words, you’re kidnapping the child.

Hastings: We’re not kidnapping the child. We follow the guidelines that are out.

Nadler: Deporting a parent without their child is literal kidnapping.

This is the exact opposite of what the administration had previously said. “[Zero tolerance] did have the impact of … 2,000-plus families being separated during that prosecution [period],” McAleenan told NBC’s Lester Holt in April. “They were always intended to be reunited.”


(David Bythewood) #6

Trump aide submitted drafts of 2016 ‘America First’ energy speech to UAE for edits, emails show

Trump retweeted this to brag about congress failing to stop him from selling arms to Saudi Arabia. We literally have an illegal arms dealer in the White House and nobody can stop him, which is the plot of I don’t know how many bad 80’s movies.

Trump Adviser Tom Barrack Pushed for Saudi Nuclear Deal — and Planned to Profit From It

Documents released by a congressional committee reveal Barrack’s plan to team up with Arab princes to buy a U.S. nuclear company. Federal prosecutors are investigating foreign influence.

Report Accuses Trump Allies of Conspiring to Profit Off Saudi Nuclear Deal


This is a monstrous act.

Attorney General William Barr ruled Monday that immigrants fearing persecution because of threats against their family members are no longer eligible for asylum.


#7

President Trump will be ineligible for California’s primary ballot next year unless he discloses his tax returns under a state law that immediately took effect Tuesday, an unprecedented mandate that is almost certain to spark a high-profile court fight and might encourage other states to adopt their own unconventional rules for presidential candidates.

The law, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on his final day to take action and passed on a strict party-line vote in the Legislature, requires all presidential candidates to submit five years of income tax filings. They must do so by late November in order to secure a spot on California’s presidential primary ballot in March. State elections officials will post the financial documents online, although certain private information must first be redacted.

“As one of the largest economies in the world and home to one in nine Americans eligible to vote, California has a special responsibility to require this information of presidential and gubernatorial candidates,” Newsom said in a statement that accompanied his signature on the bill approved by the Legislature earlier this month. “These are extraordinary times and states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence. The disclosure required by this bill will shed light on conflicts of interest, self-dealing, or influence from domestic and foreign business interest.”

Trump, who is not singled out by the law but is clearly its inspiration, is likely to fight back.


(David Bythewood) #8

For a man trying to buy the farm vote with his ever-larger bailouts, Trump’s pretty dumb.

More than half of Trump’s trade relief is being allocated to the biggest, richest farms.


(Matt Kiser) closed #9

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