Trump demands ‘total transparency’ from Rosenstein, FBI on Russia documents

President Trump on Wednesday demanded that federal law enforcement officials show “total transparency” about sensitive information related to the earliest days of the Russia probe.

“What I want from Rod, from the FBI, from everybody — we want transparency,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, referring to his embattled deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.

The president spoke one day before senior law enforcement and intelligence leaders are set to meet with Republican lawmakers to discuss classified information related to a confidential source who helped advance the FBI probe into Trump’s campaign.

No Democrats were invited to the meeting, fueling criticism that the gathering is a politically motivated attempt by Trump and his allies to undercut the investigation — and perhaps fire Rosenstein.

[The Hill]

Trump Rails Against ‘SPYGATE’ In Wild Tweetstorm After Watching Evidence-Free Fox & Friends Segment

President Donald Trump has ramped up his attacks on the Russia investigation — floating out baseless accusations that an FBI “spy” was dispatched for political purposes to sabotage his campaign and elect Hillary Clinton — and Fox & Friends is eagerly cheering him on.

Fox & Friends opened the show Wednesday morning with a laughably uncritical reading of Trump’s latest tweets, which apparently set off the president on another wild tweetstorm in which he declared the investigation into his campaign, “SPYGATE.”

On Fox News, Brian Kilmeade started by noting that the FBI sent informants to Trump’s campaign in 2016 “to maybe go in there and find out, probe around and see where the Russians had gained access to.”

“And now we know exactly why,” Steve Doocydeclared. “The president sent out a couple tweets, probably why you were sleeping. The reason why the federal government put the spies in there, was so Crooked Hillary would win.”

The hosts of Fox & Friends continued to speculate wildly about the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties, with Doocy and Kilmeade agreeing that the whole thing looks like a “set up.”

The cycle continued later in the morning, when Trump responded to his favorite morning show in another tweet — which blasted “worlds dumbest former Intelligence Head” James Clapper:

“Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State,” Trump continued in his next tweet. “They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before!”

Trump also cited Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano, who appeared on Fox & Friends First and Fox Business Network Wednesday morning.

And, finally, we have a new word for this fresh shitshow… SPYGATE!

UPDATE: Matthew Gertz has the goods one where Trump’s quote came from… a Fox & Friends First chyron that — again, without a dash of evidence — boldly declared “NEW BOMBSHELL IN THE OBAMA SPYING SCANDAL”.

[Mediaite]

Trump: ‘Illegal’ and ‘disgrace’ if spies were on my campaign

President Trump said Tuesday it would be “illegal” and a “disgrace” if the FBI had spies embedded in his campaign.

“A lot of people are saying they had spies in my campaign. If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country,” he said. “It would be very illegal, aside from everything else.”

“I hope they weren’t,” Trump added, because “that would be unprecedented in the history of our country.”

The comments come as Trump is escalating his attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump has repeated conservative claims that federal law enforcement spied on his campaign, perhaps at the direction of senior leaders in the Obama administration, in an effort to sink his chances of winning the 2016 presidential election.

Media reports have said FBI agents used an informant to speak with a trio of Trump campaign advisers after the bureau heard they had suspicious contacts with Russia. There is no evidence a spy or mole was embedded in the Trump campaign.

Critics say Trump is using the allegations to muddy the waters in the Russia probe, which is looking into whether his campaign colluded with Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the election and if the president obstructed the probe.

Trump has repeated conservative claims that federal law enforcement spied on his campaign, perhaps at the direction of senior leaders in the Obama administration, in an effort to sink his chances of winning the 2016 presidential election.

Media reports have said FBI agents used an informant to speak with a trio of Trump campaign advisers after the bureau heard they had suspicious contacts with Russia. There is no evidence a spy or mole was embedded in the Trump campaign.

Critics say Trump is using the allegations to muddy the waters in the Russia probe, which is looking into whether his campaign colluded with Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the election and if the president obstructed the probe.

[The Hill]

Trump Goes Off: FBI ‘Spy’ on Campaign for ‘Political Reasons and to Help Crooked Hillary Win’

President Trump took to Twitter tonight to again go off on the FBI informant at the center of the latest political controversy concerning the Trump campaign.

On Sunday, Trump demanded the DOJ look into whether “the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”

Well, within just days of that tweet, the President has already reached some conclusions:

If the person placed very early into my campaign wasn’t a SPY put there by the previous Administration for political purposes, how come such a seemingly massive amount of money was paid for services rendered – many times higher than normal… Follow the money! The spy was there early in the campaign and yet never reported Collusion with Russia, because there was no Collusion. He was only there to spy for political reasons and to help Crooked Hillary win – just like they did to Bernie Sanders, who got duped!

[Mediaite]

Trump Quotes ‘Fox & Friends’ in Claim Ex-CIA Director Could Go to Jail for Starting Russia Investigation

President Donald Trump quoted a conservative radio host who appeared on Fox & FriendsMonday morning for an attack on former CIA director John Brennan. The slamming of Brennan appeared to be in response to him challenging Republican leadership Sunday following Trump’s “demand” for the Justice Department to investigate whether his campaign was “infiltrated or surveilled” for “political purposes” or if any Obama administration officials had directed such an inquiry.

The president, who often cites information he’s viewed on Fox News’ morning program, took three tweets to sum up the accusations made by Dan Bongino about Brennan, who the former Secret Service agent called “disgraced” and “largely responsible for the destruction of Americans faith in the intelligence community…”

“John Brennan is panicking. He has disgraced himself, he has disgraced the Country, he has disgraced the entire Intelligence Community,” Trump tweeted citing Bongino. “He is the one man who is largely responsible for the destruction of American’s faith in the Intelligence Community and in some people at the top of the FBI. Brennan started this entire debacle about President Trump.”

Trump continued, quoting Bongino: “We now know that Brennan had detailed knowledge of the (phony) Dossier…he knows about the Dossier, he denies knowledge of the Dossier, he briefs the Gang of 8 on the Hill about the Dossier, which they then used to start an investigation about Trump. It is that simple. This guy is the genesis of this whole Debacle. This was a Political hit job, this was not an Intelligence Investigation. Brennan has disgraced himself, he’s worried about staying out of Jail.”

The president has in recent days increased his attacks on the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, exactly what one of his personal attorneys, Rudy Giuliani, said would happen at the one-year anniversary of Robert Mueller’s appointment.

Over the weekend, Trump referenced a New York Times report that detailed how his eldest child, Donald Trump Jr., had met with a representative for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in August 2016. Like a Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr. and other campaign representatives two months prior, they too were offering to help the Trump campaign.

“The Witch Hunt finds no Collusion with Russia – so now they’re looking at the rest of the World. Oh’ great!” Trump tweeted Sunday.

[Yahoo News]

In extraordinary meeting, Trump gets involved in congressional oversight of Russia probe

President Trump met with top law enforcement and intelligence officials Monday to pressure them to turn over to Congress information about the origins of the FBI investigation into his own campaign.

The hour-long meeting in the Oval Office ended with an agreement to have the Justice Department’s inspector general investigate any “irregularities” in the investigation into the Trump campaign, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will also meet with congressional leaders and administration officials to mediate the dispute over documents, she said.

The White House characterized the meeting as routine, and said it was scheduled last week. But it came a day after Trump demanded that the Justice Department investigate whether the FBI spied on his campaign for president in 2016.

The episode underscores the unique position Trump finds himself in: As president, he has the constitutional power to give orders to officials overseeing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election — even though his own campaign is the subject of that investigation.

Trump’s lead lawyer in the probe, Rudy Giuliani, said Monday that Trump called the meeting in his official capacity as president.

“He wants to make sure that the relevant members of Congress get a chance to see what they are entitled to see,” he told USA TODAY. But he also said that whether Trump agrees to an interview with investigators could turn on the release of those documents, which would show the original sources of information that led to the probe.

“I think they could help us, if they show there is no original basis for the investigation,” Giuliani said.

He added, “Every time we move in the direction of an interview, something weird happens.”

Law enforcement and intelligence officials have resisted, saying it could compromise their investigation and imperil covert sources.

In the Oval Office Monday, Trump met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Sanders said. The meeting lasted less than an hour.

The meeting was scheduled last week, Sanders said — before Trump made his demand Sunday.

“I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” Trump tweeted.

Trump’s demand was a reference to a New York Times report that a secret FBI source met with Trump campaign official several times during the 2016 campaign. The informant was working for the FBI as part of its ongoing investigation into Russian interference with the American election.

Following that demand, the Justice Department announced that it was referring the matter to Justice’s inspector general to determine whether there was “any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted it counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election.”

[USA Today]

Reality

We have never had before an american president who has used the Justice Department as his own private investigators.

Not even Nixon went this far. This is your democracy.

All this over a Fox News conspiracy theory that we know is false.

Trump Accuses FBI of Spying on His Campaign on Mueller Anniversary: ‘If So, This is Bigger Than Watergate!’

It has been 365 days since Robert Mueller was appointed to head up the special counsel investigation into Russia’s 2016 election-meddling campaign.

Trump took to Twitter to ring in the first year, by suggesting the FBI spied on his campaign. He referenced a story by Andrew McCarthy — who appeared on Fox & Friends earlier — in the National Review saying Barack Obamaopened an FBI investigation in 2016 that targeted the Trump campaign for suspicion of working with Russian cyber-espionage efforts. This comes after New York Times released a separate report detailing how the FBI was looking into Trump’s campaign ever since George Papadopoulos rambled about Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton during a chat with an Australian diplomat.

Trump’s tweet also comes after Rudy Giuliani appeared on Fox & Friends Thursday morning to speculate about the FBI placing a spy in the Trump campaign — which the lawyer said “would be the biggest scandal in the history of this town.”

Oh course, the since the investigation has prompted lingering questions about national security and the nature of Trump’s relationship with Russia, the president also took a moment to mark the anniversary:

[Mediaite]

Reality

The tweet refers to the claim, increasingly popular among Trump’s most ardent defenders, that the FBI had a spy in his campaign. The theory was given more fuel Wednesday by a line in a New York Times story, which said “at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos,” referring to Trump campaign aides Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

After the Times piece was posted, Breitbart News ran a headline that said “Leakers to NYT Confirm FBI Ran Spy Operation Against Trump Campaign.” On Wednesday night, Trump’s newest lawyer Rudy Giuliani was talking about it on Fox News, telling Laura Ingraham that the FBI “possibly plac[ed] a spy in the Trump campaign.”

Then on Thursday morning former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy appeared on Fox & Friends to talk about the informant, which he’d previously written about for The National Review.

“What happened here is that they did not have a criminal predicate to open an investigation on Trump,” McCarthy said. “And what they did was use their counterintelligence powers covertly to investigate the Trump campaign, during the stretch run of the campaign, under circumstance where they did not have evidence that anyone had actually committed a crime.”

Giuliani also appeared on Fox & Friends Thursday morning to stoke the flames, saying that if the FBI had spied on the Trump campaign, “That would be the biggest scandal in the history of this town, at least involving law enforcement.” This morning’s Trump tweet confirms that the intended audience for that statement was watching.

Pence calls on Mueller to wrap up’ Russia probe

US Vice-President Mike Pence has urged special counsel Robert Mueller to “wrap up” his investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

He said the White House has “fully co-operated” with the probe, which is looking at whether US President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.

Mr Trump and the Kremlin have repeatedly denied the allegations.

His remarks came as he and Mr Trump greeted three Americans returning from North Korea after being held there.

“In the interests of the country, I think it’s time to wrap it up,” he told NBC News early on Thursday morning at Joint Base Andrews.

The vice-president added the administration had provided more than a million documents to Mr Mueller’s investigation team.

“And I would very respectfully encourage the special counsel and his team to bring their work to completion.”

Mr Pence dismissed reports about Michael Cohen, Mr Trump’s personal lawyer, receiving millions of dollars in payments from companies as a “private matter” and “something I don’t have any knowledge about”.

Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that Mr Cohen’s company, Essential Consultants LLC, last year received half a million dollars from Columbus Nova, a New York-based investment company affiliated with a firm controlled by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

It was one of several businesses – including major corporations like AT&T – which paid a shell company set up by Mr Cohen after the 2016 election.

Following the vice-president’s comments, top Democrat Adam Schiff tweeted that Mr Pence “has now brought his sycophancy to a whole new level”.

Mr Schiff’s tweet centers around lingering concerns over Michael Flynn, the former US national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia last December.

Mr Trump sacked Mr Flynn last February, saying he had lied to Mr Pence about meeting the Russian envoy to the US.

Per a list of questions leaked to US media, it appeared that special counsel Robert Mueller will look into Mr Flynn’s contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and what exactly the president knew about the situation.

[BBC]

Trump Threatens to ‘Get Involved’ With the DOJ: ‘At Some Point I Will Have No Choice’

President Trump has once again weighed in on Republican concerns that the DOJ is not providing documents in a timely manner.

It’s gotten to the point where some Republicans have begun drafting articles of impeachment against Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein as a “last resort.” Rosenstein fired back yesterday by saying the DOJ will not be “extorted.”

And now the President himself is getting into this ongoing battle:

[Mediaite]

Trump pressed Sessions to fire 2 FBI officials who sent anti-Trump text messages

President Donald Trump sharply questioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray during a White House meeting on January 22 about why two senior FBI officials — Peter Strzok and Lisa Page — were still in their jobs despite allegations made by allies of the president that they had been disloyal to him and had unfairly targeted him and his administration, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

The president also pressed his attorney general and FBI director to work more aggressively to uncover derogatory information within the FBI’s files to turn over to congressional Republicans working to discredit the two FBI officials, according to the same sources.

The very next day, Trump met Sessions again, this time without Wray present, and even more aggressively advocated that Strzok and Page be fired, the sources said.

Trump’s efforts to discredit Strzok and Page came after Trump was advised last summer by his then-criminal defense attorney John Dowd that Page was a likely witness against him in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice, according to two senior administration officials. That Trump knew that Page might be a potential witness against him has not been previously reported or publicly known.

The effort to discredit Strzok and Page has been part of a broader effort by Trump and his allies to discredit and even fire FBI officials who they believe will be damaging witnesses against the president in Mueller’s obstruction of justice probe.

Those attacks, in turn, are part of a broader push to denigrate Mueller himself and make it easier for Trump to publicly justify his potential firing. Those efforts have taken on new urgency as Mueller continues to rack up guilty pleas from former senior Trump officials like Michael Flynn and Rick Gates, and after the FBI, in conjunction with other federal prosecutors, raided the office, home, and hotel room of Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime lawyer. Trump’s fury over the raid has made many of his closest advisers worry that he’s inching closer to firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the Mueller probe, and possibly Mueller as well.

Last May, Trump fired James Comey as FBI director, who today appears to be the special counsel’s most crucial witness against the president. Trump also enlisted his attorney general to pressure current FBI Director Wray earlier this year to fire then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Wraythought the pressure was so improper that he threatened to resign if it did not end.

Trump’s efforts against Page and Strzok demonstrate that the president personally has targeted even midlevel officials and career FBI agents.

[Vox]

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