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As the MSM continue to bait us with one contrived Trump scandal after another, President Trump is quietly and systematically transforming the judiciary.
In November 2017, the New York Times noted that:
Mr. Trump has already appointed eight appellate judges, the most this early in a presidency since Richard M. Nixon, and on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to send a ninth appellate nominee — Mr. Trump’s deputy White House counsel, Gregory Katsas — to the floor.
Republicans are systematically filling appellate seats they held open during President Barack Obama’s final two years in office with a particularly conservative group of judges with life tenure. Democrats — who in late 2013 abolished the ability of 41 lawmakers to block such nominees with a filibuster, then quickly lost control of the Senate — have scant power to stop them.
The rapidity of President Trump’s judicial appointments is because he had a battle plan ready. To quote the Times again:
In the weeks before Donald J. Trump took office, lawyers joining his administration gathered at a law firm near the Capitol, where Donald F. McGahn II, the soon-to-be White House counsel, filled a white board with a secret battle plan to fill the federal appeals courts with young and deeply conservative judges.
Mr. McGahn, instructed by Mr. Trump to maximize the opportunity to reshape the judiciary, mapped out potential nominees and a strategy, according to two people familiar with the effort: Start by filling vacancies on appeals courts with multiple openings and where Democratic senators up for re-election next year in states won by Mr. Trump — like Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania — could be pressured not to block his nominees. And to speed them through confirmation, avoid clogging the Senate with too many nominees for the district courts, where legal philosophy is less crucial.
Now, President Trump has begun remaking the military by replacing upper commanders.
The Wall Street Journal reports on August 19, 2018, that according to U.S. officials, the military faces a “sweeping turnover” of its upper commanders as President Trump undertakes a series of military promotions to replace outgoing heads of regional combatant commands.
As the Trump Administration seeks to minimize U.S. footprint in conflict zones around the world, the Pentagon has leaned more heavily on the forces that fall under the Special Operations Command. President Trump’s personnel moves, which include commanders for the Middle East and Europe, will mark the administration’s largest imprint on military leadership thus far. The changes will affect top officers overseeing conflicts in the Middle East, U.S. policy to counter Russia, the detention center on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as stealth operations globally.
The promotions include some that had already taken place and others that are expected in the coming months:
(1) Earlier this year, President Trump nominated Army Gen. Scott Miller, commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, as the new U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Gen. Miller is expected to arrive in Afghanistan in coming weeks.
(2) Last Thursday, August 16, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced the White House nomination of his own senior military assistant, Navy Adm. Craig Faller, to head U.S. Southern Command, the post responsible for Latin and South America as well as Guantanamo Bay. (Adm. Faller was under a Navy investigation in 2011 for accepting a luxury hotel suite upgrade in Malaysia, according to a 2013 report by the Office of Naval Inspector General. The Navy concluded he was wrong to accept the upgrade but that his actions didn’t require disciplinary action because he used the larger room to accommodate several of his own staffers.)
(3) Army Lt. Gen. Richard Clarke to head U.S. Special Operations Command, in Tampa, Fla., to succeed Army Gen. Tony Thomas, who is due to retire next year. The Special Operations Command oversees highly trained, specialized forces of all the military branches, such as the Navy SEALs, Green Berets and others. General Clarke, now the director of strategic plans and policy for the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, was the operations officer at Joint Special Operations Command, in Fort Bragg, N.C., at the time the Pentagon launched the raid that resulted in the death of bin Laden. As operations officer, he was a part of the planning, training and execution of the mission.
(4) Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. is expected to succeed Army Gen. Joseph Votel at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, considered the most prominent within the military, with responsibility for all of the Middle East, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Gen. Votel is expected to retire next spring. Gen. McKenzie now is director of the Joint Staff, a job often seen as a launching pad for top officers, and has years of experience both in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, and inside Washington.
(5) Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters is considered a likely pick to succeed Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti (who is retiring) as the next head of the U.S. European Command and North Atlantic Treaty Organization Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. Gen. Wolters now heads Air Force Europe, Air Force Africa and Allied Air Command, all based in Germany; had served as the operations officer on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff; and has focused in recent years on American military policy toward Russia.
(6 & 7) Two other top Pentagon posts come open next year with the expected retirements of Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman. Top contenders for chairman are the current Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein, and Army chief of staff Gen. Mark Milley. Another possible contender is the head of the U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Gen. John Hyten. Army Gen. John Nicholson, now the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and Army Gen. Vince Brooks, the current commander of U.S. Forces, Korea, who could be under contention, are expected to retire, officials said.
The above expected nominations, like all other combatant or geographic commands, require Senate confirmation. While senators have blocked military promotions, such a move is rare. An individual senator also could at least temporarily hold up confirmation votes once nominations have been formally submitted.
When I look at the list of all the top military commanders who are retiring, I can’t help but think they’ve been holding on through the eight long years of the cursed Obama administration (Obama had decimated the military), delaying their retirements until Donald John Trump was elected President and Commander In Chief.
God speed, Mr. President!
Please pray for President Trump — unceasingly.
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Inspired in part by Watergate, in 1978 Congress passed the Ethics in Government Act, which among other things established formal rules for the appointment of a special prosecutor or counsel. With the expiration of the independent counsel authority in 1999, the Department of Justice under Attorney General Janet Reno promulgated regulations for the future appointment of special counsels. As of 2017, these regulations remain in effect as 28 CFR section 600. (Wikipedia)
28 CFR 600.1 states:
“The Attorney General, or in cases in which the Attorney General is recused, the Acting Attorney General, will appoint a Special Counsel when he or she determines that criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted….”
The independent counsel law originally enacted in the Ethics in Government Act did not allow independent counsels appointed under the law to be removed except under specific circumstances such as wrongdoing or incapacitation. This law is no longer in effect.
The current special counsel regulations specify that:
The Special Counsel may be disciplined or removed from office only by the personal action of the Attorney General. The Attorney General may remove a Special Counsel for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies. The Attorney General shall inform the Special Counsel in writing of the specific reason for their removal.”
The Attorney General works for the President of the United States, which means that the President can fire a special prosecutor, such as Robert Mueller who, in the nearly 11 months since he was appointed on May 17, 2017 to investigate Russian collusion with Trump in the 2016 election, has found no evidence of such a collusion.
But Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), like other Demonrat outlaws, refuses to abide by the special counsel regulations. Instead, Lieu attempts to intimidate and bully President Trump by threatening “widespread civil unrest” if Trump fires Mueller.
Chuck Ross reports for Daily Caller that on March 19, 2018, Lieu told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes:
“If the president does go ahead and fire Robert Mueller, we would have people take to the streets. I believe there would be widespread civil unrest because Americans believe the rule of law is paramount. I think you’re going have protests and marches and rallies and sit-ins. I believe Americans would not stand for the firing of Robert Mueller.”
Yesterday, after President Trump had declassified the memo, the House Intelligence Committee (full name: House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence or HPSCI) finally released the notorious FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) memorandum.
The memo was released in PDF format that does not enable copying. So I took screenshots of the memo and posted them yesterday.
Since I prefer a document in text format because it enables copying, pasting, highlighting, and reproduction, I painstakingly copied and typed the FISA memo from the screenshots into a text document.
Below is the text version of the FISA memo, followed by my bullet-point analysis. Word between brackets [ ] are my comments.
January 18, 2018
To: HPSCI Majority Members
From: HPSCI Majority Staff
Subject: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation
This memorandum provides Members with updates on significant facts related to the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Our findings, which are detailed below, 1) raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) and, 2) represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.
On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order (not under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC. Page is a U.S. citizen who served as a volunteer adviser to the Trump presidential campaign. Consistent with requirements under FISA, the application had to be first certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI. It then required the approval of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division.
The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. §1805(d)(1)), a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the FISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Then-DAG Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.
Due to the sensitive nature of foreign intelligence activity, FISA submissions (including renewals) before the FISC are classified. As such, the public’s confidence in the integrity of the FISA process depends on the court’s ability to hold the government to the highest standard–-particularly as it relates to surveillance of American citizens. However, the FISC’s rigor in protecting the rights of Americans, which is reinforced by 90-day renewals of surveillance orders, is necessarily dependent on the government’s production to the court of all material and relevant facts. This should include information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application that is known by the government. In the case of Carter Page, the government had at least four independent opportunities before the FISC to accurately provide an accounting of the relevant facts. However, our findings indicate that, as described below, material and relevant information was omitted.
(1) The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $16,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Cole and research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.
a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.
b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. law firm (Perkins Cole) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of—and paid by—the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information. [That means Steele, in addition to producing an egregiously flawed dossier on Trump, double-dipped!]
(2) The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News. The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News. Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News—and several other outlets—in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. Perkins Cole was aware of Steele’s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington, D.C. in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.
a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations—an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship to the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David Corn. Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September—before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October—but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.
b) Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling—maintaining confidentiality—and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.
(3) Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. Shortly after the election, the FBI began interviewing Ohr, documenting his communications with Steele. For example, in September 2016, Steele admitted to Ohr his feelings against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” This clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files—but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications.
a) During this time period, Ohr’s wife [Nellie Ohr] was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and the Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC.
(4) According to the head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its “infancy” at the time of the initial Page FISA application. After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele’s reporting as only minimally corroborated. Yet, in early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a summary of the Steele dossier, even though it was—according to his June 2017 testimony—“salacious” and “unverified”. While the FISA application relied on Steele’s past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.
(5) The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok. Strzok was reassigned by the Special Counsel’s Office to FBI Human Resources for improper text messages with his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page (no known relation to Carter Page), where they both demonstrated a clear bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton, whom Strzok had also investigated. The Strzok/Lisa Page texts also reflect extensive discussions about the investigation, orchestrating leaks to the media, and include a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an “insurance” policy against President Trump’s election.
(1) The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 is a federal law that establishes procedures for the U.S. government’s physical and electronic surveillance of foreign powers and domestic (U.S.) agents of foreign powers suspected of espionage or terrorism. The Act created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to oversee requests for surveillance warrants by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
(2) To prevent abuse of FISA against U.S. citizens, FISA applications require the government to produce valid and unbiased documentation in support of the application.
(3) In October 2016, the Obama Administration made a FISA application to FISC to conduct electronic surveillance of an American citizen named Carter Page, who was at the time a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign.
(4) The validity of the Carter Page FISA application depended on two supporting documents:
(5) Both supporting documents are seriously flawed:
(6) An individual involved in the Page FISA application, DOJ official Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, should have recused himself due to conflict of interest. Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, was working for Fusion GPS — the firm that hired Christopher Steele — to produce “opposition research” on Trump. All of this, however, was concealed from the FISC — information relevant to the FISC’s consideration of the Page FISA application.
(6) FBI agent Pete Strzok, who conducted a counterintelligence investigation of another Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, should have recused himself because of his bias against Trump, expressed in text messages to his mistress, another FBI agent named Lisa Page. To compound his misdeeds, Strzok then leaked information to the media, which was used to attack Trump.
(7) Similarly, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who signed the Page FISA application, should have recused himself because of his anti-Trump bias. McCabe had met with Bruce Ohr to discuss an “insurance policy” to ensure that Trump would not be elected President.
The FISA memo shows that the Obama Administration abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to illicitly obtain court approval to conduct surveillance of at least one Trump team member, Carter Page, in violation of Page’s Fourth Amendment Constitutional rights.
This means that the following FBI and DOJ officials committed malfeasance when they certified, approved, and signed the FISA applications: