DHS Secretary Nielsen just finished her press conference on the family separation policy. It was aggressive, dishonest and included a turbulent exchange with reporters. Here are a few snippets of video I found noteworthy.
Sen. Blumenthal says in today’s hearing that he sent a letter to FBI Director Wray on May 8th asking about the Giuliani issue. He says he’s received no reply. Blumenthal also read into the record a pretty detailed explanation of Nunes’ admission that got a leak from the FBI New York field office right after the Weiner laptop was found. But somewhat bizarrely, Blumenthal didn’t actually ask about that. He asked for assurances that there were no on-going leaks to either Giuliani or Nunes, which of course allowed Wray to completely ignore the whole issue. Not sure I understand the logic of that approach to the question.
This is notable. According to testimony in the IG Report, one reason for the harsh criticism of Secretary Clinton in James Comey’s June 2016 statement was to assuage the concerns of FBI employees who said “You guys are finally going to get that bitch. We’re rooting for you.”
It’s refreshing to see at least one Democratic member of Congress roundly address Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) apparent role pushing to restart the Clinton emails investigation in the final weeks of the 2016 election. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) called Nunes “the President’s fixer in Congress.” But I would be highly, highly skeptical of DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s suggestion that the Rudy Giuliani/New York field office leaks are still under investigation. I’ve even seen some people speculating that he may be signaling the existence of a criminal probe that his office had to avoid interfering with. Again, be highly, highly skeptical.
We are rightly in the midst of a news firestorm about the administration’s family separation policy. But there are a number of things bubbling in the background of the Russia probe that I think will prove more important than they now appear. I wanted to briefly update you on them.
News emerged this weekend that the Russia-backed Brexiters who campaigned for Trump during the 2016 election had one of their top aides arrested on money-laundering, fraud and blackmail charges shortly after he and his boss, Nigel Farage, attended the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The guy’s name is George Cottrell, 23 years of age and apparently adept at operating in the so-called “dark web.” One of those top Brexiters, Andy Wigmore, who was already in regular contact with Russian diplomats, handed over a package of legal documents tied to Cottrell’s arrest and prosecution to one of those Russian diplomats.
President Trump just made the terms pretty clear. The kids can see their parents again if Democrats agree to fund his wall. That’s actually what he’s saying here. If Democrats will support his bill to fund a wall the kids can go free.
Trump: Give me my wall and maybe these beautiful children don't need to get hurt. pic.twitter.com/yk2s4sOjWY
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) June 18, 2018
Amidst the ugliness and moral squalor of the Trump family separation policy, the current backlash provides an important window into the nature of Trumpism. US law gives the government discretion over how to prosecute certain actions at the border. If they are prosecuted criminally that leads to parents being separated from children. It is clear from lower court decisions in recent weeks that if the goal beyond family separation is deterrence or punishment the policy has serious legal and constitutional problems. The problem for the administration is that the highest ranking members of the executive branch (Trump, Sessions and others) have already stated explicitly that the aim is deterrence.
Good morning, happy Monday. Here’s what our writers and editors have their eyes on today.
Over recent days I’ve been noting abundant evidence from the DOJ Inspector General’s report, Rep. Devin Nunes and other sources of clear anti-Clinton animus on the part of senior FBI Agents in the New York FBI Field Office and among retired agents with whom they were apparently in contact. It seems clear that members of that office leaked word of Clinton emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop more or less immediately to Capitol Hill Republicans and at least one top Trump campaign surrogate, Rudy Giuliani, to create pressure to reopen the Clinton probe.
It further seems clear that fear of such leaks was a major or even the primary reason why James Comey sent his letter to Congress on October 28th, 2016. In other words, there was not just bias – Comey himself reportedly called it a “deep and visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton”. That bias lead to specific and repeated actions which at least violated FBI regulations and possibly violated the law. Those violations triggered a chain of events which likely changed the outcome of the election. That is a very big deal. And yet, these basic facts, which seem all but beyond dispute receive no clear examination in the IG Report.
Fascinating but unsurprising. Rep. Adam Schiff says it’s the first he’s heard of the “good FBI agents” immediately leaking news of the Anthony Weiner laptop to Rep. Devin Nunes.
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) June 17, 2018
Big states have big ambitions. The backdrop to what we call the “Trump/Russia” story is how Russia has suborned a whole web of business and political elites in the U.S. and Europe using money corruption and in some cases blackmail to serve Kremlin interests. Here’s a new nugget at the heart of the Brexit and Trump efforts which is simply remarkable, though the names of the players are so little known that it likely won’t get the attention it deserves.
We know that Russian diplomats and intelligence officers were supporting the Brexit campaign in the UK in much the same way they were funding and supporting the Trump effort in the U.S. We also know that the two campaigns ended up intertwining. Once Brexit was successful in the UK, its top campaigner and its top money man, Nigel Farage and Arron Banks, literally went to the U.S. and started campaigning for Trump.
It turns out that an aide to Farage, George Cottrell, was arrested by the FBI just after attending the GOP convention in July along with Farage. He was charged with a series of crimes related to money laundering, wire fraud, bribery, blackmail and more. He was also something of a denizen of the so-called “dark web.” Cottrell had a close personal relationship with both Farage and Banks, though both sought to diminish the extent of that relationship after Cottrell’s arrest.