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More Questionable Behavior from Trump, T Admin, DOJ, and R's vs Dems, Press, Justice

From WaPo

President Trump erupted at his acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, in the Oval Office last week over what he perceived as disloyalty by Maguire’s staff, which ruined Maguire’s chances of becoming the permanent intelligence chief, according to people familiar with the matter.

Trump announced on Wednesday that he was replacing Maguire with a vocal loyalist, Richard Grenell, who is the U.S. ambassador to Germany.

Maguire had been considered a leading candidate to be nominated for the post of DNI, White House aides had said. But Trump’s opinion shifted last week when he heard from a GOP ally that the intelligence official in charge of election security, who works for Maguire, gave a classified briefing last Thursday to the House Intelligence Committee on 2020 election security.

It is unclear what the official, Shelby Pierson, specifically said at the briefing that angered Trump, but the president erroneously believed that she had given information exclusively to Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the committee chairman, and that the information would be helpful to Democrats if it were released publicly, the people familiar with the matter said. Schiff was the lead impeachment manager, or prosecutor, during Trump’s Senate trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The president was furious with Maguire and blamed him for the supposed transgression involving Pierson when the two met the next day.

There was a dressing down” of Maguire, said one individual, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. “That was the catalyst” that led to the sidelining of Maguire in favor of Grenell, the person said.

Maguire came away “despondent,” said another individual.

Pierson, who coordinates the intelligence community’s efforts to gather information on foreign threats to U.S. elections, spoke at a briefing held for the full committee on “election security and foreign interference in the run-up to the 2020 election,” said a committee official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail closed-door proceedings.

A spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment. The White House did not immediately comment on Trump’s meeting with Maguire.

“Members on both sides participated, including ranking member [Devin] Nunes, and heard the exact same briefing from experts across the intelligence community,” the committee official said. “No special or separate briefing was provided to one side or to any single member, including the chairman.”

White House officials said that Trump’s decision to make Grenell the acting director, rather than nominate him for the permanent position, reflected concerns that he might not win confirmation in the Senate.

“The president likes acting [officials] better,” one White House official said.

On Thursday, Grenell said in a tweet that the president would nominate a permanent DNI “soon” and that it would not be him. Grenell did not respond to requests for comment. A senior White House official said a permanent nominee would be announced before March 11.

The president has been focused lately on officials who are allegedly disloyal to him, particularly at the Justice Department, the National Security Council, the Pentagon and the State Department, aides said, and has heard from outside advisers that “real MAGA people can’t get jobs in the administration,” in the words of an administration official, referring to Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

As acting DNI, Grenell would oversee the intelligence community’s efforts to combat election interference and disinformation, but he has been skeptical of Russia’s role in 2016.

“Russian or Russian-approved tactics like cyber warfare and campaigns of misinformation have been happening for decades,” he wrote in a 2016 opinion article for Fox News, playing down the severity of the threat. That view is at odds with the conclusions of senior U.S. intelligence officials, who have said Russia’s operation in 2016 was sweeping and systematic, and unlike previous Russian or Soviet efforts.



President Trump on Thursday said he is considering Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) to serve as director of national intelligence.

Trump told reporters aboard Air Force Once while traveling to Nevada from a Colorado campaign rally that Collins is among the candidates in the running to be nominated to fill the position that has not had a full time occupant since Dan Coats resigned last August.

They also feel that Rep Collins would never do well in the Georgia Senate primary…and switching him into the administration.



If walls could talk. Republicans: “Collins is such a disaster, he can’t possibly win the Georgia Senate race, so let’s make him head of national security instead. There, we just killed two birds with one stone – a stronger Republican candidate will now vie for the Senate seat and, at the same time, we’ll ensure the Russians have a free hand in hacking the election for Trump by placing an incompetent Trump flunky in charge of protecting our democracy.”


New Acting DNI’s top advisor is Russian Interference Denier

This keeps getting worse. Trump is purging our intelligence agencies of veteran staffers who are sounding the alarm about Russian attempts to hack our elections – and he’s replacing them with incompetent yes-men conspiracy kooks pushing the fake story that it was Ukraine that attacked our elections in 2016 and not Russia. I feel we are fighting a war now to preserve our democracy and this is how wars are lost – when the commanders at the top refuse to believe sound intelligence and listen to quacks instead.

Kash Patel, a former top National Security Council official who also played a key role as a Hill staffer in helping Republicans discredit the Russia probe, is now a senior adviser for new acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, according to four people familiar with the matter.

It’s not clear what exact role Patel is playing in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the U.S. intelligence community. He started at ODNI on Thursday, according to an administration official.

Patel, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, joined the National Security Council’s International Organizations and Alliances directorate last February and was promoted to a senior counterterrorism role at the NSC in mid-summer.

He had previously worked as Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)’s top staffer on the House Intelligence Committee and was the lead author of a report questioning the conduct of FBI and DOJ officials investigating Russia’s election interference. Republicans later used the report to bolster arguments that the probe was a plot to take down President Donald Trump.

Grenell, who has not served in any U.S. intelligence agency and will also continue as the U.S. ambassador to Germany, will not require Senate confirmation to serve as acting director. Nor will Patel in his new role.

:fire: Actually, this could be even more sinister than it first appears. Check out this post from @Pet_Proletariat from October. It highlights a NYT article about Patel titled, “White House Aides Feared That Trump Had Another Ukraine Back Channel.” Yes, Patel has actually been suspected of establishing a back channel to Ukraine similar to (but separate from) Rudy Giuliani’s. Do we now have an in-plain-sight mole inserted at the highest levels of our intelligence agencies? It sounds crazy to even ask this, but in light of the NYT reporting it is a real and legitimate question.

And there’s this post from @dragonfly9 from August, 2018, that features an Atlantic article about Nunes’s attempts to discredit the Russia investigation. Patel was Nunes’s aid at the time. From the article:

Last summer, two of Nunes’s staffers, Kash Patel and Doug Presley, traveled to London — without the knowledge of the U.S. Embassy or British government — in search of Steele, whose lawyer denied the staffers access to his client.

Just like Giuliani, Patel was helping run a shadow investigation in the service of Trump.

@dragonfly9 also alerted us that Patel is suing Politico for exposing his role in trying to discredit the Russia investigation. He has an uphill battle in that suit since Politico’s reporting was backed up by Congressional testimony from Fiona Hill and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. I hope that case gets a lot of exposure because it will draw attention to Patel’s true colors.


Let the gaslighting begin:



Great news! As @Windthin posted here, Doug Collins has turned down the DNI job. The Republicans tried their darndest to extract him for the Georgia senate race by offering him the position. Instead, he’s digging in and has pledged to stay in the race. Most excellent! He’s playing out Republicans’ biggest fears by splitting votes with their party’s other major contender, Kelly Loeffler. I posted an explainer over in the 2020 Primary thread.


Don’t mince words. Trump is abetting an attack on our country.


Yes…and this paragraph stood out too - T is being aided and abetted by his R loyalists…no question. :exploding_head:

Trump and the ‘regime party’

The larger context here, spelled out by Adam Serwer, is the entrenchment of Trump’s GOP as a “regime party” committed to holding power through maximal manipulation of government. Trump’s Ukraine shakedown and his subsequent cover-up are the most recent conspicuous example – and his acquittal is hastening this process.


Some briefings for Congress…after Super Tuesday.

The administration is gearing up to brief lawmakers on election security as the country wades deeper into the 2020 primaries.

Both the House and Senate will be briefed, separately, on March 10, according to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and a Senate aide.

The briefings will come a week after Super Tuesday, when primary voters in more than a dozen states will head to the polls. On March 10, voters in six more states will cast ballots.

The announcement of the briefings come as President Trump’s shake up of top intelligence community positions has sparked fierce criticism from Democrats and some national security professionals, and after reports that intelligence leaders have told lawmakers that Russia is again seeking to aid Trump’s campaign efforts.

American voters should decide American elections - not Vladimir Putin. All Members of Congress should condemn the President’s reported efforts to dismiss threats to the integrity of our democracy to politicize our intel community," Pelosi said in a tweet on Thursday.


Trump’s New Spy Chief Used to Work for a Foreign Politician the U.S. Accused of Corruption

Richard Grenell did not disclose payments for advocacy work on behalf of a Moldovan politician whom the U.S. later accused of corruption. His own office’s policy says that could leave him vulnerable to blackmail.

Grenell has no intelligence background. His only real qualification, from Trump’s point of view, appears to be his willingness to shut down investigations into election interference by the Russians – perhaps best evidenced by his appointment of a fierce Russian interference denier as his top adviser.

Grenell has barely warmed up his seat as the nation’s top intelligence officer and he’s already being accused of FARA violations and not being qualified for a security clearance.

President Donald Trump’s new acting intelligence director, Richard Grenell, used to do consulting work on behalf of an Eastern European oligarch who is now a fugitive and was recently barred from entering the U.S. under anti-corruption sanctions imposed last month by the State Department.

In 2016, Grenell wrote several articles defending the oligarch, a Moldovan politician named Vladimir Plahotniuc, but did not disclose that he was being paid, according to records and interviews. Grenell also did not register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which generally requires people to disclose work in the U.S. on behalf of foreign politicians.

FARA is the same law that Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates were convicted of violating. (Manafort went to trial. Gates pleaded guilty.)

“There is real reason to believe that Mr. Grenell should have registered here,” Sanderson said after ProPublica described the circumstances to him. “This is exactly the type of circumstances I’d expect the Department of Justice to investigate further.”

Craig Engle, an attorney with the law firm Arent Fox, said he was responding to ProPublica’s questions on Grenell’s behalf. Engle declined to say what Grenell’s paid consulting work involved but said he did not have to register under FARA “because he was not working at the direction of a foreign power.”

Undisclosed work for a foreign politician would ordinarily pose a problem for anyone applying for a security clearance or a job in a U.S. intelligence agency because it could make the person susceptible to foreign influence or blackmail, according to the official policy from the office that Trump tapped Grenell to lead.

The policy specifies that among the “conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying” are:

  • “Failure to report or fully disclose, when required, association with a foreign person, group, government or country.”
  • “Substantial business, financial, or property interests in a foreign country … that could subject the individual to a heightened risk of foreign influence or exploitation or personal conflict of interest.”
  • “Acting to serve the interest of a foreign person, group, organization or government in any way that conflicts with U.S. national security interests.”

“That’s really easy, he should not have a clearance,” said Kel McClanahan, a Washington-area lawyer specializing in security clearances. “If he were one of my clients and just a normal [federal employee], he would almost assuredly not have a clearance.”

McClanahan said it’s unclear how Grenell could have already gotten a clearance as an ambassador. The House Oversight Committee is investigating whether the Trump administration has overruled career officials in granting security clearances to political appointees.

As Trump’s pick for acting director of national intelligence, Grenell will have access to the country’s most sensitive secrets. Grenell isn’t subject to Senate confirmation because Trump appointed him on a temporary basis.


" Because whatever Russia’s real intentions towards Trump, this is still an attack on our democracy . "

Plus, we should care that any foreign country is trying to interfere and pollute our elections.

I’m starting to hate all social media, especially Facebook.


Not far from anyone’s mind.


And don’t forget our intelligence agencies – looks like he’s annexed them as well.


Trump Is Lobotomizing Our Government

Trump’s national security adviser has made clear that he sees his job as serving as a kind of human cocktail of drugs for the erratic president—part palliative, part sedative.

We know this is happening…the WH continues down the path of Russians are determined only to help Bernie Sanders. With more deceptive tactics on social media and potential voting machines, the optics have never been good on this nor is the guarantee that Americans can withstand a disinformation campaign.

The more recent public reports emerging from the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I., and classified reports generated by the C.I.A. and others suggest that while the Russian objectives have remained the same, the techniques have shifted.

“The Russians aren’t going to use the old playbook — we know that,” said Christopher C. Krebs, who runs the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

His organization, along with the National Security Agency and British intelligence, has been steadily documenting how Russian operatives are becoming stealthier, learning from the mistakes they made in 2016.

As they focus on evading more vigilant government agencies and technology companies trying to identify and counter malicious online activity, the Russians are boring into Iranian cyberoffense units, apparently so that they can initiate attacks that look as if they originate in Iran — which itself has shown interest in messing with the American electoral process. Russians are putting more of their attack operations on computer servers in the United States, where the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies — but not the F.B.I. and homeland security — are prohibited from operating.

And, in one of the most effective twists, they are feeding disinformation to unsuspecting Americans on Facebook and other social media. By seeding conspiracy theories and baseless claims on the platforms, Russians hope everyday Americans will retransmit those falsehoods from their own accounts. That is an attempt to elude Facebook’s efforts to remove disinformation, which it can do more easily when it flags “inauthentic activity,” like Russians posing as Americans. It is much harder to ban the words of real Americans, who may be parroting a Russian story line, even unintentionally.

Now American intelligence agencies face a new question: How do they run such operations, and warn Congress and Americans, at a moment when the president is declaring that the intelligence on Russian election meddling is “another misinformation campaign” that is “launched by Democrats in Congress”?

The intelligence agencies are loath to cross Mr. Trump. The acting director of national intelligence at the time, Joseph Maguire, had resisted appearing in public to provide the “Worldwide Threat Assessment,” which is usually given to Congress before the president’s State of the Union address. (He was dismissed this week before he had to testify.) Because Mr. Trump was so angered by how the testimony of Mr. Maguire’s predecessor contradicted his own statements last year — particularly on Iran, North Korea and the Islamic State — Mr. Maguire was in no hurry to repeat the experience.

Mr. Maguire’s successor, Richard Grenell, the current American ambassador to Germany, is known for his political allegiance to Mr. Trump, not for his knowledge of the American intelligence agencies. He is widely viewed by career officials as more interested in making sure public intelligence reports do not embarrass Mr. Trump than sounding the clarion call that the Russians are coming — again.

Did watch Fox’s Sunday show and Chris Wallace did tear into Pence’s Chief of Staff, Marc Short use of the R;s talking points…and there quite a few on his panel afterwards who shredded the Administration - Barr in particular.


What Would Happen if Trump Refused to Leave Office?

A peaceful transfer of power is necessary for American democracy to survive.

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D.C. Prosecutors’ Tensions With Justice Dept. Began Long Before Stone Sentencing

Months of strain date back to the investigation into the former F.B.I. official Andrew McCabe and growing fears of political interference.

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