Archive for February 15, 2017

Special Report | Out Like Flynn

February 15, 2017

Special Report | Out Like Flynn, American SpectatorScott Mckay, February 15, 2017

(Apparently, General Flynn’s knowledge of and access to Obama’s secret agreements with Iran were a major reason why the “deep state” wanted him out. No longer a member of the National Security Council, he likely lacks access. Is there any reason he can’t tell selected members of the Council what and where they are? — DM)

outlikeflynn

Which gives rise to the mistake which ultimately cost him his job — pressed about the conversation, Flynn told Vice President Mike Pence that he and Kislyak did not discuss the lifting of Obama administration sanctions against Russia, which was apparently true. What Flynn had discussed, per an interview he did with the Daily Caller before he was forced out, was the status of the 35 Russian diplomats Obama had expelled from the country. He contends Kislyak raised the issue and was told it would be reviewed after the inauguration — but he made no promises to the Russian.

The expulsions were considered part of the sanctions, and therefore Flynn’s representation to Pence would go down as inaccurate — and the resulting media scandal following Pence’s reliance on Flynn’s statements to pass the adviser’s contention on in a TV interview ultimately made Flynn too hot to handle.

There should be no holdovers from the Obama administration left in the federal government beyond what the law forces on the president.

Which includes the CIA, NSA, and other agencies clearly infested with Harkonnens seeking to impose the same fate on Trump and his administration which befell Duke Leto Atreides.

All new administrations, particularly those taking over from predecessors in the opposite party, will struggle to find loyal servants within the bowels of the federal government. But no administration has politicized the bureaucracy and the intelligence community the way Obama did, and the government has never been so corrupted as it is now. The political assassination of Mike Flynn proves that, and Flynn will certainly not be the last. This administration is in a death struggle with the deep state, and only one will survive.

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If there is truth to the stories about the intelligence community’s campaign to force the resignation of Trump’s national security advisor, his should be the first of countless heads to roll.

“House Atreides took control of Arrakis 63 standard days into the year 10,191. It was known that the Harkonnens, the former rulers of Arrakis, would leave many suicide troops behind. Atreides patrols were doubled.”

— From the 1984 David Lynch movie Dune, as adapted from the Fran Herbert novel.

You’ve got to read, if you haven’t yet, the piece by Adam Kredo in the Washington Free Beacon about the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Michael Flynn on Monday.

Kredo weaves together the statements of several confidential sources to create an alarming tapestry that views not unlike the classic 1980s sci-fi film referenced above — it seems reasonably clear that leftovers from the Obama administration are actively sabotaging the new president.

A quick excerpt or two…

The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes—the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber—included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn’s credibility, multiple sources revealed.

The operation primarily focused on discrediting Flynn, an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, in order to handicap the Trump administration’s efforts to disclose secret details of the nuclear deal with Iran that had been long hidden by the Obama administration.

Kredo’s piece isn’t the only one pointing to Iran as the real enemy of interest here rather than Russia. It’s worth watching Obama’s fundraising for his presidential library and other “philanthropic” activities with interest in the identities of his benefactors.

And there’s more…

“It’s actually Ben Rhodes, NIAC, and the Iranian mullahs who are celebrating today,” said one veteran foreign policy insider who is close to Flynn and the White House. “They know that the number one target is Iran… [and] they all knew their little sacred agreement with Iran was going to go off the books. So they got rid of Flynn before any of the [secret] agreements even surfaced.”

Flynn had been preparing to publicize many of the details about the nuclear deal that had been intentionally hidden by the Obama administration as part of its effort to garner support for the deal, these sources said.

Flynn is now “gone before anybody can see what happened” with these secret agreements, said the second insider close to Flynn and the White House.

Sources in and out of the White House are concerned that the campaign against Flynn will be extended to other prominent figures in the Trump administration.

Read the whole thing. It’s well worth your time.

But let’s understand what actually happened here. Yes, Mike Flynn had a conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Dec. 29 regarding American policy toward that country. Yes, there is an ancient and little-known piece of legislation, the Logan Act, which makes it illegal for private citizens to conduct foreign policy, and yes, that law was put forth to justify accusations Flynn had committed a crime in his conversation with Kislyak.

But as a national security advisor designate it’s hardly realistic to have considered Flynn a private citizen, and he wasn’t going to be charged with anything for that conversation. Which gives rise to the mistake which ultimately cost him his job — pressed about the conversation, Flynn told Vice President Mike Pence that he and Kislyak did not discuss the lifting of Obama administration sanctions against Russia, which was apparently true. What Flynn had discussed, per an interview he did with the Daily Caller before he was forced out, was the status of the 35 Russian diplomats Obama had expelled from the country. He contends Kislyak raised the issue and was told it would be reviewed after the inauguration — but he made no promises to the Russian.

The expulsions were considered part of the sanctions, and therefore Flynn’s representation to Pence would go down as inaccurate — and the resulting media scandal following Pence’s reliance on Flynn’s statements to pass the adviser’s contention on in a TV interview ultimately made Flynn too hot to handle.

But this goes far beyond the Beltway scandal machine which is now running at top gear after largely idling for the past eight years spitting out its first Trump administration victim. What blew Flynn out of the water were leaks from the intelligence community — his conversation with Kislyak was recorded by the FBI, pursuant to a FISA warrant which had to come from the highest levels, possibly high enough to have reached Obama himself, and then a transcript was provided to the media in order to refute Flynn’s contention he hadn’t discussed the sanctions.

Mike Walsh called this troubling pattern a “rolling coup attempt, organized by elements of the intelligence community, particularly CIA and NSA, abetted by Obama-era holdovers in the understaffed Justice Department (Sally Yates, take a bow) and the lickspittles of the leftist media, all of whom have signed on with the ‘Resistance’ in order to overturn the results of the November election.”

He’s not wrong. He goes further and is also not wrong…

Welcome to the Deep State, the democracy-sapping embeds at the heart of our democracy who have not taken the expulsion of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party lightly. They realize that the Trump administration poses a mortal threat to their hegemony, and so have enlisted an army of Democrats, some Republicans, the “neverTrumpumpkin” conservative die-hards, leftist thugs, Black Lives Matter and anybody else they can blackmail, browbeat or enlist. They mean business.

What to do if you’re Trump? Fight.

It’s not enough to send Sean Spicer out to complain about the leaks, or to back his press conference statements up with early-morning tweets.

He must fight.

Trump clearly has not taken the sound advice of any executive engaged in a hostile takeover of a large organization — which is to fire everyone. There should be no holdovers from the Obama administration left in the federal government beyond what the law forces on the president.

Which includes the CIA, NSA, and other agencies clearly infested with Harkonnens seeking to impose the same fate on Trump and his administration which befell Duke Leto Atreides.

Trump went to Langley and spoke about inaugural crowds, and received warm applause from some of the same people concocting schemes to destroy his presidency. That was a mistake, and it must be recognized as such. Trump is late in drumming Obama’s people out of the government, and those people are now a cancer on his administration. He must clean out the intelligence community and the rest of the deep state, and he must drain the swamp in Washington. And he’s in a race against time in doing so.

All new administrations, particularly those taking over from predecessors in the opposite party, will struggle to find loyal servants within the bowels of the federal government. But no administration has politicized the bureaucracy and the intelligence community the way Obama did, and the government has never been so corrupted as it is now. The political assassination of Mike Flynn proves that, and Flynn will certainly not be the last. This administration is in a death struggle with the deep state, and only one will survive.

Trump & Netanyahu agree: Israel-Gulf peace first

February 15, 2017

Trump & Netanyahu agree: Israel-Gulf peace first, DEBKAfile, February 15, 2017

“One state, two states, I like this state,” Donald Trump joked, turning to visiting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when they addressed a wide-ranging, friendly news conference Wednesday, Feb.15, at the White House, ahead of their face-to-face talks.

Trump reacted positively to Netanyahu’s proposal to broaden the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to a regional effort as a “very important” new idea “on a broader canvas” which he believed could succeed. Netanyahu said that the regional fears of Iran also presented an opportunity for cooperation against the Islamic State and radical Islamic terror.

DEBKAfile reports that these sentiments reflected agreement in principle between Trump and Netanyahu to seek an Israeli peace accord with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates as the lead-in to negotiations for an accord with the Palestinians. Egypt, Jordan and Turkey with whom Israel already has normal relations would jump in later. This deal fits in with the US plan reported more than once on these pages for a regional peace between the Sunni Arab nations and the Jewish State.

Some of the spadework may have been performed by CIA Director Mike Pompeo who paid a secret visit to Ramallah Wednesday morning for talks with Mahmoud Abbas, after trips to Ankara and Riyadh, following which Turkey upgraded its diplomatic mission in Israel

This plan was the fulcrum for the president to push back against the two-state solution advocated by the Obama administration as the cure for the conflict. It remains to be seen if this plan takes on life outside the White House and in the region’s capitals.

Trump realistically called on Israel to “hold back settlements,” show flexibility and make compromises for a peace deal. He urged the Palestinians to “get rid of hate starting in the schoolroom.” Whatever the Israelis and Palestinians agree to in direct talks – one state or two – “I will accept,.” he said, adding “I believe we will have a deal that is better than many Israelis think.”

In answer to a question on settlements, Netanyahu replied that he did not believe they were the core of the conflict and the issue could be addressed in peace negotiations. With regard to a two-state formula, the prime minister said this was a label and he preferred to deal in substance. An independent state was contingent on the Palestinians recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, giving up incitement to violence and Israel remaining responsible for security up to the Jordan River. “Do we want another failed state, another terrorist state?” he asked.

Netanyahu commended the US President for pledging that Iran must never, ever obtain a nuclear weapon and stressed that its missile program was a threat – not only to Israel and the region, but to America due to the ICBMs under development and Iran’s plans for a nuclear arsenal.

President Trump greeted the Israeli leader with stress on the “unbreakable bond with our cherished ally, Israel” their cooperation against violence and terror and shared values in respect of human life. He said that his first sit-down with Netanyahu as president would be the first of “many productive meetings.”

The president made the exceptional gestures of welcoming Netanyahu and his wife Sarah at the door of the White House, with the First Lady at his side. The couples exchanged warm embraces.

Melania Trump took a seat beside Sarah Netanyahu in the front row of the news conference. They were joined by Ivanka and Jared Kushner, who holds the post of special adviser to the president.

Netanyahu ends his Washington visit Thursday after meeting Vice President Mike Pence and leaders of Congress.

The Muslim Brotherhood: Wellspring of Terrorism

February 15, 2017

The Muslim Brotherhood: Wellspring of Terrorism, Gatestone InstituteJudith Bergman, February 15, 2017

The Trump administration is considering designating the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) a foreign terrorist organization, and Human Rights Watch is outraged.

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The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt released an official statement calling on its supporters to “prepare” for “jihad”, in January 2015.

“The Muslim Brotherhood at all levels have repeatedly defended Hamas attacks… including the use of suicide bombers and the killing of civilians.” — UK government expert review of the Muslim Brotherhood, December 2015.

The Muslim Brotherhood not only funds one of the most virulent terrorist groups, Hamas, but there is barely any daylight between the various leaderships of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Jordan and Hamas.

Most of the terrorists who later founded al Qaeda were rooted in the MB. Osama bin Laden was apparently recruited as a young man to the MB, whereas Ayman al Zawahiri joined the MB at the age of 14 and went on to found the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ),”an organization that…. holds many of the same beliefs as the MB but simply refuses to renounce violence inside Egypt” — Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The Muslim Brotherhood believes today what it has always believed: that a caliphate, where sharia law will rule, must be established through jihad. Refusing to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization would be a grave mistake, playing straight into the strategy of the Brotherhood and, once more, revealing to the world the extreme gullibility of the West.

The Trump administration is considering designating the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) a foreign terrorist organization, and Human Rights Watch is outraged.

“Designating the Muslim Brotherhood a ‘foreign terrorist organization’ would wrongly equate it with violent extremist groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State and make their otherwise lawful activities illegal,” said Human Rights Watch. The press release went on to repeat the old claim that “…the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt officially renounced violence in the 1970s and sought to promote its ideas through social and political activities”.

Adding its voice to the Muslim Brotherhood’s apologists, the New York Times wrote:

“A political and social organization with millions of followers, the Brotherhood officially renounced violence decades ago and won elections in Egypt after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Affiliated groups have joined the political systems in places like Tunisia and Turkey, and President Barack Obama long resisted pressure to declare it a terrorist organization.”

For decades, the Muslim Brotherhood has pushed a specific public narrative, intended exclusively for Western consumption. Just how extremely effective the MB has been was demonstrated in 2011, when then Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, unbelievably, claimed that the MB was “… largely secular… has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam…They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt…there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence”.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan Al-Banna made jihadist violence a focal point of his movement. He wrote, “Death is art” and “Fighting the unbelievers involves all possible efforts that are necessary to dismantle the power of the enemies of Islam.” The MB inducts members into its deliberatively secretive and opaque network with the pledge that “Jihad is our way” and “Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

It is, in fact, difficult to overstate the importance of the MB in promoting and spreading jihad in the 20th century and onwards[1]. As the UK government’s expert review of the MB, published in December 2015, concluded:

“[The Muslim Brotherhood’s] public narrative — notably in the West — emphasized engagement not violence. But there have been significant differences between Muslim Brotherhood communications in English and Arabic; there is little evidence that the experience of power in Egypt has caused a rethinking in the Muslim Brotherhood of its ideology or conduct. UK official engagement with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood produced no discernible change in their thinking. Indeed even by mid-2014 statements from Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood-linked media platforms seem to have deliberately incited violence”.

The UK review goes on to say:

“The Muslim Brotherhood at all levels have repeatedly defended Hamas attacks against Israel, including the use of suicide bombers and the killing of civilians. The Muslim Brotherhood facilitate funding for Hamas. The leadership of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, its Jordanian counterpart and Hamas are closely connected. There are wider links with Muslim Brotherhood affiliates throughout the region and senior Muslim Brotherhood figures and associates have justified attacks against coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan”.

In other words, the Muslim Brotherhood not only funds one of the most virulent terrorist groups, Hamas, but there is barely any daylight between the various leaderships of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Jordan and Hamas. (According to article two of the Hamas Charter, “The Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] is one of the wings of Moslem Brotherhood in Palestine. Moslem Brotherhood Movement is a universal organization which constitutes the largest Islamic movement in modern times”).

The indictment could not be more damning.

Another terrorist group rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood is Egyptian terrorist group Jamaat al-Islamiyya. This group came into existence, conveniently, when it broke away from the Muslim Brotherhood, after the latter denounced the use of violence in the 1970s. Creating a new terrorist organization was a brilliant strategy, which allowed for the Muslim Brotherhood to polish its image as a peaceful organization, leaving the dirty terrorist work to so-called “offshoots” or proxies. Indeed, Jamaat al-Islamiyya used the writings of the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief ideologue, Sayyid Qutb, as an ideological basis. Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who was convicted and jailed in the United States as the perpetrator of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, was the spiritual leader of Jamaat al-Islamiyya.

The New York Times itself featured a lengthy article called “The Philosopher of Islamic Terror” about Sayyid Qutb in its magazine in March 2003, stating that he was “…the intellectual hero of every one of the groups that eventually went into Al Qaeda, their Karl Marx… their guide”. Most of the terrorists who later founded al Qaeda were rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood. Osama bin Laden was apparently recruited as a young man to the MB, whereas Ayman al-Zawahiri joined the MB at the age of 14 and went on to found the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, “an organization that holds many of the same beliefs as the MB but simply refuses to renounce violence inside Egypt”, according to The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). It subsequently merged with bin Laden’s organization. The lead hijacker of 9/11, Mohammed Atta, was also a member of the MB. The list goes on.

2304“The objective, then, is to strike terror into the hearts of God’s enemies, who are also the enemies of the advocates of Islam…” — Sayyid Qutb, chief ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and 1960s.

In January 2015, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt released an official statement calling on its supporters to “prepare” for jihad:

“It is incumbent upon everyone to be aware that we are in the process of a new phase, where we summon what is latent in our strength, where we recall the meanings of jihad and prepare ourselves, our wives, our sons, our daughters, and whoever marched on our path to a long, uncompromising jihad, and during this stage we ask for martyrdom.”

The statement also quotes at length the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, disproving the claim that the Muslim Brotherhood has broken with its violent past:

“Imam al-Bana prepared the jihad brigades that he sent to Palestine to kill the Zionist usurpers and the second [Supreme] Guide Hassan al-Hudaybi reconstructed the ‘secret apparatus’ to bleed the British occupiers.”

After the official statement was released, Eric Trager, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), stated:

“Muslim Brothers have been committing violent acts for a very long time. Under [Egypt’s former president, Mohamed] Morsi, Muslim Brothers tortured protesters outside the presidential palace. After Morsi’s ouster, they have frequently attacked security forces and state property… But until now, the official line from the Brotherhood was to support this implicitly by justifying its causes, without justifying the acts themselves. So the Brotherhood’s open call to jihad doesn’t necessarily mean a tactical shift, but a rhetorical one.”

Terrorism expert and national security reporter Patrick Poole added:

“It [the call for jihad] invokes the Muslim Brotherhood’s terrorist past, specifically mentioning the ‘special apparatus’ that waged terror in the 1940s and 1950s until the Nasser government cracked down on the group, as well as the troops sent by founder Hassan al-Banna to fight against Israel in 1948. It concludes saying that the Brotherhood has entered a new stage, warns of a long jihad ahead, and to prepare for martyrdom… What remains to be seen is how this announcement will be received inside the Beltway, where the vast majority of the ‘experts’ have repeatedly said that the Brotherhood had abandoned its terrorist past, which it is now clearly reviving, and had renounced violence,”

There is nothing peaceful, lawful or democratic about the Muslim Brotherhood. It believes today what it has always believed and openly stated: that a caliphate, where sharia law will rule, must be established through jihad. Refusing to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization would be a grave mistake, playing straight into the strategy of the Brotherhood and, once more, revealing to the world the extreme gullibility of the West and its boundless willingness to believe anything the Muslim Brotherhood throws its way.

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[1] As Fereydoun Hoveyda writes in his book, The Broken Crescent: The “Threat” of Militant Islamic Fundamentalism:

“…aspiring terrorists from all over the world poured into Egypt… to learn from al-Banna’s men the art of eliminating the enemies of Islam. While training terrorists and directing murders, Sheikh Hassan denied involvement in the assassinations and attacks, using what Shiite clerics called ketman (holy dissimulation). Indeed, deceiving infidels was admitted by all Muslims, and Shiites even extended the dissimulation to other Muslims when the security of their ’cause’ was at stake”.

President Trump Participates in a Joint Press Conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu

February 15, 2017

President Trump Participates in a Joint Press Conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu, The White House via YouTube, February 15, 2017

(The press conference begins at approximately 45 minutes into the video. — DM)

 

House Intelligence Committee Chair: Leakers of Flynn Call ‘Belong in Jail’

February 15, 2017

House Intelligence Committee Chair: Leakers of Flynn Call ‘Belong in Jail’, Breitbart, Kristina Wong, February 14, 2017

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) said Tuesday that those who leaked the contents of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s phone calls “belong in jail.”

“That’s nine leakers that all belong in jail,” Nunes said. “Those nine people broke the law, clearly, by leaking classified information to anybody.”

Flynn resigned late Monday night, after a Washington Post report on Feb. 9 said he had privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with a Russian ambassador during phone calls in December — despite assertions by Trump officials, including the vice president, that he had never done so.

The Post’s report cited nine anonymous current and former officials “who were in senior positions at multiple agencies” who “had access to reports from U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies that routinely monitor the communications of Russian diplomats.”

“All of those officials said Flynn’s references to the election-related sanctions were explicit,” the report said.

Nunes said he also wanted to know how U.S. intelligence agencies were wiretapping Flynn’s calls, which he said may also have been illegal.

The chairman said there are only two ways that intelligence agencies can listen in on an American’s phone call — after obtaining a warrant, or inadvertently, such as in the case of Flynn speaking with a foreign official being spied on, which the report suggests was the case.

Nunes said “it’s pretty clear” that there was no warrant.

“It’s pretty clear that’s not the case,” he said. “I’m pretty sure the FBI didn’t have a warrant on Michael Flynn … To listen to an American’s phone call you would have to go to a court, there’d be all that paperwork there. So I’m guessing that doesn’t exist.”

In case Flynn was speaking to a foreign official — Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in this case — Nunes said there should have been a process to mask Flynn’s identity.

“Unless it’s a high-level national security issue, and then someone would have to unmask the name, someone at the highest levels, they’d have to unmask that name,” Nunes said. “It’s a very high threshold to unmask an American citizen’s name, that’s a very high threshold, almost unprecedented. And if you were going to unmask it, it seems like you would immediately go get a warrant.”

“If they did that, how does all that get out to the public which is another leak of classified information,” he added. “Whoever did it, it’s illegal.”

A Wall Street Journal editorial on Tuesday also questioned whether spies listening to Flynn broke the law.

The editorial said U.S. intelligence services routinely get orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor foreign officials, but are supposed to use “minimization procedures” that don’t let them listen to the communications of an American.

“That is, they are supposed to protect the identity and speech of innocent Americans. Yet the Washington Post, which broke the story, says it spoke to multiple U.S. officials claiming to know what Mr. Flynn said on that call,” the Journal said.

“The questions someone in the White House should ask the National Security Agency is why it didn’t use minimization procedures to protect Mr. Flynn? Or did it also have a court order to listen to Mr. Flynn, and how did it justify that judicial request?” it added.

“If Mr. Flynn was under U.S. intelligence surveillance, then Mr. Trump should know why, and at this point so should the American public. Maybe there’s an innocent explanation, but the Trump White House needs to know what’s going on with Mr. Flynn and U.S. spies,” it said.

Nunes said he is seeking more information from the FBI on what happened.

“There’s nothing to investigate until I know what happened,” he said.

NYTimes Reports Trump Aides’ “Repeated Contact” With Russian Intel Officials, Admits No Collusion Discovered

February 15, 2017

NYTimes Reports Trump Aides’ “Repeated Contact” With Russian Intel Officials, Admits No Collusion Discovered

Source: NYTimes Reports Trump Aides’ “Repeated Contact” With Russian Intel Officials, Admits No Collusion Discovered | Zero Hedge

As The White House tries to put the Flynn disappointment behind them, The New York Times appears to be resurrecting an old story with a new angle to keep the ‘blame the Russians’ narrative alive. Following FISA court approval (to spy on Trump’s campaign), intercepted calls reportedly show “repeated contact” between Trump advisor Paul Manafort and senior Russian intelligence officials… but reveal no collusion.

Intercepted phone calls and phone records show that several aides and allies to President Trump’s campaign were in repeated contact with senior Russian intelligence officials, according to the New York Times. As The Hill explains,

Current and former officials that spoke with the Times would not give many details, and it’s not clear exactly who, both from the U.S. and Russia, were part of the conversations or what they talked about, including if discussions centered on Trump himself.

 

Officials told the publication that they have seen no evidence of collusion in regards to hacking or the election.

 

Three of the four current and former officials who spoke with the Times said the contacts were discovered during the same time that U.S. intelligence agencies were investigating Russia’s extensive hacking campaign, later determined to be aimed at helping Trump win the White House.

 

The Times’ sources said Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was picked up on the calls. Manafort left the campaign after several months as reports swirled about his business ties in Russia and the Ukraine.

The officials would not name any other Trump aides or supporters captured in the conversations.

As a reminder, it was not just Paul Manafort that was involved in FBI probes, but Tony Podesta – the brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign director John Podesta – who had set up secret meetinsg woth Ukraine officials.

Manafort, who has not been charged with any crimes, exclaims To Britain’s Telegraph that “this is absurb,”

“I have no idea what this is referring to. I have never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers, and I have never been involved with anything to do with the Russian government or the Putin administration or any other issues under investigation today.”

 

Mr. Manafort added, “It’s not like these people wear badges that say, ‘I’m a Russian intelligence officer.’”

Several of Mr. Trump’s associates, like Mr. Manafort, have done business in Russia, and it is not unusual for American businessmen to come in contact with foreign intelligence officials, sometimes unwittingly, in countries like Russia and Ukraine, where the spy services are deeply embedded in society. Law enforcement officials did not say to what extent the contacts may have been about business.

Finally, buried deep in The New York Times’ story – which is sure to run the narrative during tomorrow’s media cycle (and already is a hot topic of conjecture on CNN) – the author admits, rather sheepishly that…

The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

 

The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.

Which confirms what The FBI said back in November.

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The bottom line here is that the only incremental news is that Manafort knowingly or unknowingly came into contact with Russian intelligence officials during his business dealings but no election-collusion was discovered. We leave it to Ari Fleischer to sum it all up perfectly…

Lt. Col Tony Schaffer Revels Who Was ‘Directly Behind’ Mike Flynn Phone Call Leaks

February 15, 2017

Lt. Col Tony Schaffer Revels Who Was ‘Directly Behind’ Mike Flynn Phone Call Leaks, Fox News via YouTube, February 15, 2017