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Alice Ollstein

Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.

Articles by Alice

Efforts in both chambers of Congress to get information from ousted national security adviser Mike Flynn are escalating this week after Flynn refused requests from the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to testify and turn over documents on his contacts with Russian officials.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters Wednesday that he expects to issue subpoenas as soon as this week.

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In the wake of reports that President Donald Trump asked National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers to publicly push back on reports of an expanding investigation into whether his campaign staffers colluded with Russia, Rogers will testify Tuesday afternoon before the House Armed Services Committee.

Though the hearing is officially on the topic of the NSA’s budget request, Rogers is expected to face pointed questions about his past conversations with Trump regarding the Russia investigation.

Watch live below:

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Former CIA Director John Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday morning that President Donald Trump violated protocol when he reportedly shared highly classified Israeli intelligence with Russian officials in an Oval Office meeting in early May.

Aside from reports that the U.S. was not authorized to share the intelligence at all—information about an ISIS plot involving explosives concealed in laptops—Brennan says the manner Trump did so was a breach of procedure.

“Such intelligence, classified intelligence is not shared with visiting foreign ministers or local ambassadors, it’s shared through intelligence channels because it needs to be handled the right way and needs to make sure it’s not exposed,” he said. “He didn’t do that, again if the press charges are accurate.”

“Secondly,” Brennan continued, “before sharing any classified intelligence with foreign partners, it needs to go back to the originating agency to make sure that the language in it is not—even just providing the substance—going to reveal sources or methods and compromise the future collection capability. It appears as though, at least from the press reports, that neither did it go in the proper channels nor did the originating agency have the opportunity to clear language for it. That is a problem.”

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In testimony Tuesday morning before the House Intelligence Committee, former CIA Director John Brennan gave the most straightforward explanation to date as to why U.S. intelligence agencies embarked last summer on a now-sprawling investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential coordination between Russian officials and individuals connected to the Trump campaign.

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Amid an avalanche of daily revelations about the investigation into links between Donald Trump’s inner circle and Russia, the House Intelligence Committee will hear testimony on Tuesday from former CIA Director John Brennan. The lawmakers plan to question Brennan about “Russian active measures during the 2016 election campaign” designed to aid Trump and damage the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

Watch live below:

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When the Justice Department announced Wednesday evening that it was appointing former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, both Republicans and Democrats cheered the news.

But less than 24 hours later, after a classified briefing from the man who appointed Mueller—Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—many senators were angry, frustrated, and fearful that both they and the American public will remain in the dark as the federal investigation unfolds.

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Tierney Sneed contributed reporting.

An avalanche of developments fell this week onto the congressional committees digging into the connections between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

In the span of just 24 hours, lawmakers learned that the Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to take over the Russia investigation; that the Trump campaign knew even before inauguration day that then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was under federal investigation; that Trump contacted Flynn in April, against his lawyers’ warning, to tell him to “stay strong”; and that ousted FBI Director James Comey had not yet responded to several requests for him to testify on Capitol Hill.

With a new twist in the saga nearly every hour, the senators tasked with investigating the Trump-Russia connection are scrambling to determine how they can get to the bottom of a host of unanswered questions without stepping on the toes of the FBI’s work in the same area.

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Donald Trump’s lawyers have repeatedly warned him not to contact his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who resigned in February after revelations that he lied about conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and who remains under investigation by congressional committees, the FBI, and a federal grand jury. The attorneys reportedly expressed fears that any contact with Flynn could look like witness tampering or coordination.

It appears the President did not heed their advice.

Yahoo News reported Thursday that Flynn announced at a dinner in late April: “I just got a message from the president to stay strong.” It is not yet known if the message was a phone call, e-mail, text message or other form of communication.

The revelation comes just days after the New York Times revealed that Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to drop his investigation of Flynn, and emerging reports that Flynn intervened to stop a military operation against ISIS without revealing that he was on the payroll of the Turkish government, who opposed the strike. Other reports revealed that Flynn failed to properly register as a foreign agent, and failed to report more than a million dollars in income from Russian and Turkish sources.

Just over a week ago, the public learned from ousted Acting Attorney General Sally Yates that she tried to warn the Trump administration that Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail by the Russia government, warnings that fell on deaf ears. Reports Thursday alleged that the Trump’s transition team—led by Vice President Mike Pence—was already aware that Flynn was under federal investigation when they brought him on board as White House national security adviser.

For now, Flynn is indeed staying strong.

His lawyers informed the Senate Intelligence Committee that he will refuse to honor their subpoena for his documents.

He has reportedly portrayed the investigations as a conspiracy against him by former Hillary Clinton aides as retribution for him leading a chant of “Lock her up” at the Republican National Convention. He previously announced he would be happy to testify before Congress in exchange for legal immunity, an offer that was swiftly rejected.

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Reuters reported Thursday morning that Trump’s campaign had at least 18 calls, e-mails, and text message exchanges with Russian officials and people connected to the Kremlin during the final months of the 2016 campaign—contacts they did not previously disclose.

Six of those conversations—which are now under scrutiny from the FBI and the four congressional committees investigating the Trump-Russia morass—were reportedly with Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn resigned in February after it came to light that he had lied about a December meeting with Kislyak in which he discussed lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia. Flynn’s records of this meeting have since been subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

These newly revealed conversations happened between April and November of 2016, at the same time the world was learning of Russian efforts to intervene in the U.S. election on Donald Trump’s behalf. The unnamed U.S. government officials who described these contacts to Reuters said, however, that they saw no evidence of wrongdoing or collusion.

 

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