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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Democratic activists in Orange County threw an impromptu party with cake, party hats and singing after Republican Rep. Darrell Issa announced he was retiring. But the exhilaration over the opportunity to capture a Republican congressional seat quickly turned to political panic. There are so many Democrats running for Congress in some districts that they could split the votes in the June 5 primary and send two Republicans to the November election, thanks to California's top-two primary system. read more

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Special counsel Robert Mueller turned up the pressure on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and aide Rick Gates, as a federal grand jury returned a new indictment Thursday charging the two men with tax and bank fraud. The new 32-count indictment returned by a grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia comes after Mueller separately charged the pair in Washington last year with money laundering and failing to register as foreign agents for their work related to Ukraine. The new indictment accuses Manafort and Gates of repeatedly understating their income on federal tax returns and of bank fraud surrounding three loans Manafort applied for in connection with various homes he owns. No new defendants were charged in the indictment, but it alleges that the men had a "conspirator" at at least one of the lenders from which Manafort obtained the loans. read more

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Vermont Public Radio interviewed Sen. Bernie Sanders today, in response to listeners questions about the Mueller indictments he had this to say:

Listener: "If he was aware that Russians were trying to promote him and divide Democrats against Mrs. Clinton, why did he not communicate this to his supporters?"

Sen. Sanders: "I did not know that Russian bots were promoting my campaign. Russians bots were not promoting my campaign. What we found out is that in April and May, it appeared that there were lots of strange things happening, attacking Hillary Clinton."

Interviewer: "Why did you and your campaign did not tell supporters about Russian interference if you knew Moscow was meddling to sow divisions?"

Sen. Sanders: "I would say that the real question to be asked is what was the Clinton campaign -- they had more information about this than we did, and at this point, we were working with them." read more

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller intensified legal pressure on ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, by filing a false-statements case against a lawyer who did Ukraine-related work with the two men. Prosecutors accused the attorney, Alex van der Zwaan, of lying to the FBI and Mueller's office about conversations related to a report supporting the legitimacy of a Ukrainian criminal prosecution of a former prime minister. That report has already come under the glare of Mueller's team, which has previously accused Manafort and Gates of secretly funneling $4 million through offshore accounts to pay for it. read more

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The federal judge overseeing the criminal case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn has ordered special counsel Robert Mueller's team to turn over any "exculpatory evidence" to his defense team. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan filed the order on Friday, directing federal prosecutors to produce to Flynn's legal team "any evidence in its possession that is favorable to defendant and material either to defendant's guilt or punishment" in a timely manner.

Sullivan's order invoked the "Brady Rule," which requires prosecutors to disclose exculpatory evidence in their possession to the defense -- that is, evidence that could prove favorable to the defendant in negating his guilt, reducing his potential sentence or bolstering the credibility of a witness.

Experts acknowledged that such an order would typically be seen as unusual, especially in cases in which the defendant has already pleaded guilty. Sullivan issued the order "sua sponte" -- or at his own volition. read more



One of the most important phases of the transition to power for President-elect Donald Trump includes legally mandated briefings on U.S. intelligence capabilities and secret operations as well as separate descriptions of the extraordinary powers he will have over the military, especially contingency plans to use nuclear weapons, according to officials.

Though Trump has been given some intelligence briefings on threats and capabilities, there are a series of separate briefs scheduled for the president-elect into what Obama has called "our deep secrets."

First is a detailed look at technical and human intelligence sources and methods that provide critical information on Special Access Programs -- the most sensitive top-secret undertakings -- for drone strikes and other intelligence operations. This would include the disclosure, if Trump wants the names, of the dozens of officials abroad paid by the CIA, to the tune of millions of dollars.

Other methods include the most sensitive technical capabilities of the National Security Agency to intercept communications abroad, store them and make them instantly available to analysts and operators.

Trump will learn that the president is considered "The First Customer" by the intelligence community, which has a tradition of responding to any and every presidential request.

A second briefing will be on the covert actions undertaken by the CIA that are designed to change events abroad without the hand of the United States being revealed publicly. There are currently about a dozen such "Findings" -- intelligence orders signed by the president. Some are broad authorities to conduct lethal counterterrorism operations in dozens of countries. Others are narrow, such as support for clandestine efforts in a single country to stop genocide or payments to political opposition or rebels.

Under law and procedures, such covert-action orders are issued by the office of the president, and Obama's orders will continue unless Trump, as president, changes them. Normally, the president-elect will review current covert actions and decide before the inauguration whether he wants to continue, modify or cease any. He also could add new covert operations after taking the oath.

In addition, Trump will receive information on domestic counterterrorism overseen by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. After the 9/11 attacks, the FBI was turned loose to stop the next attack. Efforts to penetrate banks, communications and foreign corporations in the United States have been significantly expanded.

Trump will also be given information about "Continuity of Government," which are the plans and procedures designed for implementing the line of presidential succession. That could be in case of a terrorist attack or other emergency in which the president dies or could not carry out the duties of his office.

n addition, Trump will receive briefings from the Pentagon on current military operations, including the deployments in the ongoing wars in Afghanistan, against the Islamic State and other Special Operations actions abroad.

Of course, Rice, on Inauguration Day, realizes that she needs to cover her --- because of the Russia mess so she says..."I had no idea that the FBI was investigating this!!!" and sends herself an email to memorialize a conversation that happened 15 days before.


President-elect Donald Trump is about to learn the nation's ‘deep secrets'

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