WTF Community

Day 981


(Matt Kiser) #1

1/ The White House and the Justice Department learned about the whistleblower complaint against Trump before the formal complaint was passed from the intelligence community. The whistleblower, reportedly a CIA officer, lodged the formal complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community on Aug. 12th. The whistleblower also shared information about potential abuse of power and a White House cover-up with the CIA's top lawyer, Courtney Simmons Elwood, through an anonymous process. Elwood, following policy, told White House and Justice Department officials on Aug. 14th that she received anonymous information detailing concerns about a call between Trump and a foreign leader. The following day, John Demers, the head of the Justice Department's national security division, went to the White House to review a rough transcript of the call. Demers alerted the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, and Brian Benczkowski, the head of the department's criminal division, to discuss how to handle the information. The Justice Department then blocked sending the whistleblower complaint to Congress. The inspector general presented the matter to the acting director of national intelligence on Aug. 26th. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com/2019/09/27/day-981/

#2

Mark your calendars!

When first reading headlines about this, I thought Vance might be caving on the subpoena for Trump’s taxes and other financial records. But far from it. This is really good news. The Manhattan DA’s office is poised, ready to pounce on October 7 at 1 pm on the dot or perhaps even earlier.

Yes, the judge could still rule in Trump’s favor so this is a real nail biter, but there is a good chance that responsible government investigators will soon have Trump’s taxes in their possession. We shall see… Interesting times we live in. :alarm_clock:

The Manhattan district attorney’s office has agreed not to enforce a subpoena for President Donald Trump’s tax returns until a federal court rules on the office’s motion to dismiss Trump’s suit to block the subpoena and an injunction sought by the president.

In a letter to federal Judge Victor Marrero today, attorneys in the DA’s office said they “reached a temporary arrangement” with Trump’s attorneys to delay enforcement of the subpoena until 1 p.m. two business days after Marrero rules or until 1 p.m. Oct. 7, whichever comes first.

In the meantime, Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, “will resume gathering and preparing all documents responsive to the subpoena,” according to the letter, which was also signed by the president’s attorneys and lawyers for Mazars, which is a defendant in the case.

Unless the court orders otherwise, Mazars will begin “a rolling production” of the tax documents “immediately upon the expiration of this agreement,” with the first delivery by hand on 4 p.m. that day.


#3

White House efforts to limit access to President Donald Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders extended to phone calls with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, according to people familiar with the matter.

Those calls – both with leaders who maintain controversial relationships with Trump – were among the presidential conversations that aides took remarkable steps to keep from becoming public.

In the case of Trump’s call with Prince Mohammed, officials who ordinarily would have been given access to a rough transcript of the conversation never saw one, according to one of the sources. Instead, a transcript was never circulated at all, which the source said was highly unusual, particularly after a high-profile conversation.

The call - which the person said contained no especially sensitive national security secrets – came as the White House was confronting the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which US intelligence assessments said came at the hand of the Saudi government.

With Putin, access to the transcript of at least one of Trump’s conversations was also tightly restricted, according to a former Trump administration official.

It’s not clear if aides took the additional step of placing the Saudi Arabia and Russia phone calls in the same highly secured electronic system that held a now-infamous phone call with Ukraine’s president and which helped spark a whistleblower complaint made public this week, though officials confirmed calls aside from the Ukraine conversation were placed there.

But the attempts to conceal information about Trump’s discussions with Prince Mohammed and Putin further illustrate the extraordinary efforts taken by Trump’s aides to strictly limit the number of people with access to his conversations with foreign leaders.

The White House did not comment about the limiting of access to calls with the Russian and Saudi leaders.


#4

Trump told Russian officials in 2017 he wasn’t concerned about Moscow’s interference in U.S. election

President Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because the United States did the same in other countries, an assertion that prompted alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to an unusually small number of people, according to three former officials with knowledge of the matter.

The comments, which have not been previously reported, were part of a now-infamous meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in which Trump revealed highly classified information that exposed a source of intelligence on the Islamic State. He also said during the meeting that firing FBI Director James B. Comey the previous day had relieved “great pressure” on him.

A memorandum summarizing the meeting was limited to all but a few officials with the highest security clearances in an attempt to keep the president’s comments from being disclosed publicly, according to the former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

The White House’s classification of records about Trump’s communications with foreign officials is now a central part of the impeachment inquiry launched this week by House Democrats. An intelligence community whistleblower has alleged that the White House placed a record of Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president, in which he offered U.S. assistance investigating his political opponents, into a code-word classified system reserved for the most sensitive intelligence information.

The White House did not provide a comment Friday.


#5

Dovetails neatly with this:

Yes, it’s bad to release phone calls that our President has had with foreign leaders because it means that foreign leaders will be less inclined to speak with our President and have frank and forthright conversations. But, you know, at this point, I’ll be honest, I don’t give a crap. I want to know once and for all: Is our President a Russian asset?

Once again we have a case where the nefarious deeds of our President are benefiting, not just him, but Russia as well. Holding up military aid to Ukraine – who does that ultimately benefit? The country attacking Ukraine, of course – and that country is Russia. WTF is going on here? We need to find out and we need to find out now. If that involves breaking norms, then so be it.

A spokesman for the Kremlin expressed concern that the U.S. could publish transcripts of calls between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin following the publication this week of a readout of a call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The Associated Press reported that a Kremlin spokesman told reporters on a press call that such an action could harm already “troubled” U.S.-Russia relations.

“We would like to hope that it wouldn’t come to that in our relations, which are already troubled by a lot of problems," said Dmitry Peskov.

“The materials related to conversations between heads of states are usually classified according to normal international practice,” he added.

A spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry also reportedly ripped into Democrats including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), accusing them of turning the U.S. into a laughingstock.

“Is it the Democrats’ job to make a laughingstock of the United States?” she asked, according to the AP. “It’s exactly what Ms. Pelosi has done to Congress, the White House and other state institutions.”

No, no, no. It is Trump who has made a laughingstock of the United States. Pelosi is restoring some dignity. Russia lies just like Trump – their strategy is to accuse you of exactly what they are doing.


(David Bythewood) #6

You cannot make this up. Russian state media and the Kremlin itself are openly mocking Trump about his calls with Putin.
Rather than answer directly, he dragged up a post from 2017, from a man who resigned from his regime in early 2018, to claim that all of his calls, most of which have happened SINCE that time, are above board.

Seriously.
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(David Bythewood) #7

Among the calls that were hidden on the highest level security computer system were Trump conversations with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

John Eisenberg, the White House deputy counsel for national security affairs & a national security legal adviser, directed the Ukraine transcript call be moved to the separate highly classified system, as detailed in the whistleblower complaint.



Democrats subpoena Mike Pompeo as part of impeachment inquiry.

"The subpoenaed documents shall be part of the impeachment inquiry and shared among the Committees. Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry,” Rep Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, and House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings wrote in a letter to Pompeo.

https://www.politico.com/news/2019/09/27/democrats-subpoena-pompeo-as-part-of-impeachment-inquiry-000159


(David Bythewood) #8

NBC tracked down the Ukrainian ex-prosecutor at the heart of Trump’s accusations against Biden. He outright stated the Bidens broke no Ukrainian laws, but he had spoken with Giuliani more than 10 times.

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(Matt Kiser) closed #9

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