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


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.

(David Bythewood) #66

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.

(David Bythewood) #68

What Would Happen if Trump Refused to Leave Office?

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

(David Bythewood) #69

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.


Comments from Joe Cirincione - Teaches @Georgetown, President- Ploughshares President - assesses nuclear threats

Yes, create back channels…that’s what Grennell is good for.



T has not wanted to talk too much about the Coronavirus as it is apt to shake the markets. And today the markets reacted - Bigly.

U.S., global markets plunge as coronavirus cases spike outside China

The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq are in steep decline as the deadly outbreak expands in South Korea, Italy and Iran

Financial markets sounded the alarm Monday about the relentless spread and widening economic impact of the coronavirus, which after ravaging China now threatens havoc on a global scale.

The Dow Jones industrial average sank by more than 1,000 points or 3.5 percent, to close at 27,961.01 as Wall Street interpreted disease clusters in South Korea, Italy and Iran as a sign that the respiratory illness has outraced confinement efforts in China. The technology-heavy Nasdaq index sank by more than 3.7 percent.

President Trump has lavished praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping for his handling of the growing coronavirus outbreak — a posture some in his administration are growing increasingly uncomfortable with as his advisers remain concerned about China’s lack of transparency and handling of the epidemic.

Worries about rattled financial markets and their effect on the economy as well as the delicate negotiations with China over a trade deal — a key to Trump’s reelection — have played a large role in influencing the president’s friendly posture toward China over the deadly coronavirus, according to several senior White House and administration officials. Trump has heralded Xi’s leadership and “discipline” in responding to the outbreak.


Our Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, Ken Cuccinelli, everybody. Why doesn’t he get his data from the CDC? The fuck?



(David Bythewood) #73

Did you see the story I have up in the weekend section about the Miami man who got himself tested to be safe… and wound up being charged thousands due to a bad health plan of the sort Trump pushed?

Basically, guy came back from a trip to China, had flu-like symptoms, did his due diligence and got tested to be safe. They wanted to run expensive tests, he said “let’s do the blood test first”, turned out to be just the flu. Then he got hit with a bill for thousands AND his insurance carrier insisted on a 3-year history of documents to prove that his having the flu was not related to past pre-existing conditions, because he has one of those junk insurance policies Trump has approved. So double-whammy that could discourage others from being tested.

(M A Croft) #74

A useful link on the Coronavirus is here - updated regularly.


Maybe we should share it with the Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, Ken Cuccinelli because he seems lost on this one!

(David Bythewood) #76


Assange fight draws in Trump’s new intel chief

Lawyers for the WikiLeaks founder plan to use newly obtained recordings and screenshots to argue that Assange’s prosecution is political in nature.

Attorneys for Julian Assange, who is fighting a U.S. extradition request on espionage and computer hacking charges, plan to introduce evidence in the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition hearing involving President Donald Trump’s new intel chief Richard Grenell.

Gareth Peirce, a lawyer representing Assange in his extradition proceedings in London, plans to argue this week that the process to try to extradite her client was abused from early on. Representatives for Assange’s defense team say they expect to introduce recordings and screenshots of communications of a close Grenell associate, including a secondhand claim that Grenell was acting on the president’s orders.

Read this whole thing, it’s wild.


Pandemic fears be damned…T cut the budget in 2018 for handling large-scale issues like the coronavirus we have right now.

When Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), declared the Wuhan coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern on Thursday, he praised China for taking “unprecedented” steps to control the deadly virus. “I have never seen for myself this kind of mobilization,” he noted. “China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response.”

The epidemic control efforts unfolding today in China—including placing some 100 million citizens on lockdown, shutting down a national holiday, building enormous quarantine hospitals in days’ time, and ramping up 24-hour manufacturing of medical equipment—are indeed gargantuan. It’s impossible to watch them without wondering, “What would we do? How would my government respond if this virus spread across my country?”

For the United States, the answers are especially worrying because the government has intentionally rendered itself incapable. In 2018, the Trump administration fired the government’s entire pandemic response chain of command, including the White House management infrastructure. In numerous phone calls and emails with key agencies across the U.S. government, the only consistent response I encountered was distressed confusion. If the United States still has a clear chain of command for pandemic response, the White House urgently needs to clarify what it is
If the United States still has a clear chain of command for pandemic response, the White House urgently needs to clarify what it is
—not just for the public but for the government itself, which largely finds itself in the dark.

When Ebola broke out in West Africa in 2014, President Barack Obama recognized that responding to the outbreak overseas, while also protecting Americans at home, involved multiple U.S. government departments and agencies, none of which were speaking to one another. Basically, the U.S. pandemic infrastructure was an enormous orchestra full of talented, egotistical players, each jockeying for solos and fame, refusing to rehearse, and demanding higher salaries—all without a conductor. To bring order and harmony to the chaos, rein in the agency egos, and create a coherent multiagency response overseas and on the homefront, Obama anointed a former vice presidential staffer, Ronald Klain, as a sort of “epidemic czar” inside the White House, clearly stipulated the roles and budgets of various agencies, and placed incident commanders in charge in each Ebola-hit country and inside the United States. The orchestra may have still had its off-key instruments, but it played the same tune.

Building on the Ebola experience, the Obama administration set up a permanent epidemic monitoring and command group inside the White House National Security Council (NSC) and another in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—both of which followed the scientific and public health leads of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the diplomatic advice of the State Department.

On the domestic front, the real business of assuring public health and safety is a local matter, executed by state, county, and city departments that operate under a mosaic of laws and regulations that vary jurisdiction by jurisdiction. Some massive cities, such as New York City or Boston, have large budgets, clear regulations, and epidemic experiences that have left deep benches of medical and public health talent. But much of the United States is less fortunate on the local level, struggling with underfunded agencies, understaffing, and no genuine epidemic experience. Large and small, America’s localities rely in times of public health crisis on the federal government.

Bureaucracy matters. Without it, there’s nothing to coherently manage an alphabet soup of agencies housed in departments ranging from Defense to Commerce, Homeland Security to Health and Human Services (HHS).

But that’s all gone now.

In the spring of 2018, the White House pushed Congress to cut funding for Obama-era disease security programs, proposing to eliminate $252 million in previously committed resources for rebuilding health systems in Ebola-ravaged Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Under fire from both sides of the aisle, President Donald Trump dropped the proposal to eliminate Ebola funds a month later. But other White House efforts included reducing $15 billion in national health spending and cutting the global disease-fighting operational budgets of the CDC, NSC, DHS, and HHS. And the government’s $30 million Complex Crises Fund was eliminated.

In May 2018, Trump ordered the NSC’s entire global health security unit shut down, calling for reassignment of Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer and dissolution of his team inside the agency. The month before, then-White House National Security Advisor John Bolton pressured Ziemer’s DHS counterpart, Tom Bossert, to resign along with his team. Neither the NSC nor DHS epidemic teams have been replaced. The global health section of the CDC was so drastically cut in 2018 that much of its staff was laid off and the number of countries it was working in was reduced from 49 to merely 10. Meanwhile, throughout 2018, the U.S. Agency for International Development and its director, Mark Green, came repeatedly under fire from both the White House and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And though Congress has so far managed to block Trump administration plans to cut the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps by 40 percent, the disease-fighting cadres have steadily eroded as retiring officers go unreplaced.

Public health advocates have been ringing alarm bells to no avail.

Klain has been warning for two years that the United States was in grave danger should a pandemic emerge. In 2017 and 2018, the philanthropist billionaire Bill Gates met repeatedly with Bolton and his predecessor, H.R. McMaster, warning that ongoing cuts to the global health disease infrastructure would render the United States vulnerable to, as he put it, the “significant probability of a large and lethal modern-day pandemic occurring in our lifetimes.” And an independent, bipartisan panel formed by the Center for Strategic and International Studies concluded that lack of preparedness was so acute in the Trump administration that the “United States must either pay now and gain protection and security or wait for the next epidemic and pay a much greater price in human and economic costs.”

The next epidemic is now here; we’ll soon know the costs imposed by the Trump administration’s early negligence and present panic. On Jan. 29, Trump announced the creation of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force, an all-male group of a dozen advisors, five from the White House staff. Chaired by Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, the task force includes men from the CDC, State Department, DHS, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Transportation Department. It’s not clear how this task force will function or when it will even convene.


And the right wing response - Rush chimes in…

And a cooler head prevails…and asks the right question - WTF with this assertion.

(M A Croft) #80

Good Grief! I hope he is removed from whatever platform he is on. This is not only very stupid and ignorant, it is highly dangerous. Yes the early symptoms are similar to the common cold, because the virus attacks the upper respiratory system, but that is where the similarity ends.


The new Acting Director of National Intelligence has violated FARA just like Paul Manafort did

ProPublica recently reported on allegations that Richard Grenell violated FARA laws and that experts in the field of security clearances maintain he should never have been vetted to work as the number one keeper of our nation’s secrets.

Now the Washington Post has picked up on the story and added significant new evidence that points to Grenell’s dubious overseas connections. While reading this, I was struck by a feeling of déjà vu – this guy sounds like a Paul Manafort clone.

It’s just astounding – I mean truly astounding – that a person with such a murky past is now head of all our intelligence agencies. Wow. And Congress doesn’t even have an opportunity to weigh in since Trump’s using his trademarked end run by just making Grenell the “acting” head – Trump has granted him all of the power, and all of the access to our country’s precious intel with none of the accountability.

And now that the DOJ is in Trump’s pocket, it appears that they are turning a blind eye.

Two years before President Trump nominated him to become ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell wrote an op-ed about Nigeria’s highly charged 2015 presidential race, a move that drew notice from Nigerian media. A year later, Grenell defended the government of Moldova against corruption allegations from a whistleblower who, Grenell argued, was a Russian operative bent on destabilizing an Eastern European country trying to move toward the West.

And Grenell’s public relations firm was paid to do work for a U.S. nonprofit funded almost entirely by the Hungarian government led by far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Grenell’s public relations consulting and foreign policy commentary, as well as his reputation as a vocal loyalist of Trump’s, are part of an unusual résumé for a leader of the U.S. intelligence community, a job Grenell assumed last week when Trump named him acting director of national intelligence. Individuals who have served in that position typically have been nonpartisan national security professionals whose experience has included leading intelligence agencies or service in the military.

Now that promotion is drawing fresh scrutiny to Grenell’s past, including his foreign affairs commentary and consulting work after he served as U.S. spokesman at the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration. His work for the Hungarian-funded nonprofit is the type of activity that, in other cases, has drawn the attention of Justice Department investigators tasked with enforcing the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), according to two lawyers who specialize in that law. There is no indication that the Justice Department is looking into Grenell’s activities.

The law requires people who advocate in the United States on behalf of a foreign power to register and disclose their activities. Grenell did not register, records show. Craig Engle, who said he has been Grenell’s lawyer for several years, said he was not required to. …

As to his lawyer’s remark that Grenell wasn’t required to register: in light of the facts detailed in the article, that sounds like B.S. – and BTW it’s the same thing that Paul Manafort claimed.