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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Dan Coats"

Intelligence Insiders: ‘Establishment’ Officials In DNI Still Withholding Documents From Attorney General

Westlake Legal Group Dan-Coats-620x349 Intelligence Insiders: ‘Establishment’ Officials In DNI Still Withholding Documents From Attorney General william barr Uncategorized President Trump pete hoekstra Paul Sperry Joseph Maguire Front Page Stories Fred Fleitz Featured Story Dan Coats

 

On May 23rd, President Trump granted Barr the authority to declassify any documents he and his team required to conduct their investigation into the origins of the Trump/Russia probe. The President also ordered the intelligence community to comply with all of Barr’s requests. According to Real Clear Investigation’s Paul Sperry, inside sources say that “establishment” officials inside the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) have continued to withhold documents which Barr has requested.

Both the Director, Dan Coats, and his deputy, Sue Gordon, left the agency on August 15th. Gordon was said to be a close ally of former-CIA Director Brennan’s.

Although Coats and Gordon have departed, agency officials have continued to “drag their feet.”

Sperry writes that the specific documents being withheld include:

1. Evidence that President Obama’s CIA, FBI, and Justice Department illegally eavesdropped on the Trump campaign.

2. President Obama and CIA chief John Brennan: key briefing still under wraps.

3. An August 2016 briefing CIA Director John Brennan hand-delivered in a sealed envelope to Obama, containing information from what Brennan claimed was “a critical informant close to Putin.” The informant is believed to have actually been a Russian source recycled from the largely debunked dossier compiled by ex-British agent Christopher Steele for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

An email exchange from December 2016 between Brennan and FBI Director James Comey, in which Brennan is said to have argued for using the dossier in early drafts of the task force’s much-hyped January 2017 intelligence assessment. That spread the narrative that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the alleged Clinton campaign hacking to steal the election for Trump.

Copies of all FBI, CIA and State Department records related to Joseph Mifsud, the mysterious Maltese professor whose statements regarding Papadopoulos allegedly triggered the original Russia-collusion probe.

4. Transcripts of 53 closed-door interviews of FBI and Justice Department officials and other witnesses conducted by the House Intelligence Committee. The files were sent to the agency last November.

The DNI was created after 9/11 and is now the “gatekeeper” for much of the government’s classified information.

A source “close to the situation” told Sperry that, “There’s been a huge impasse in getting key documents to Congress and declassified during the Russia investigation. Several House members, especially Devin Nunes [of House Intelligence] and Mark Meadows [of House Oversight)] were upset that Coats refused to cooperate in releasing this explosive material to Congress…It was clear Coats was not acting on the president’s behalf and had been co-opted by the intelligence bureaucracy.”

Trump has reacted by shaking up the senior leadership of the agency. He has said he would like to eliminate the agency altogether, however, because it was established by legislation, he cannot do so. But he can certainly downsize it.

Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Maguire is currently the acting DNI. President Trump is expected to nominate a permanent Director after the Labor Day holiday.

National security consultant Christopher C. Hull told Sperry that “a new director might help break the logjam in declassifying documents for Barr’s investigation.” He added that, “it’s now toweringly obvious that some portion of U.S. intelligence worked to undermine Trump.”

Trump is said to have eight names on his shortlist. The top two on this list are Pete Hoekstra and Fred Fleitz. Hoekstra, currently the US ambassador to the Netherlands, is a former Congressman.

Fred Fleitz is a “20-year veteran of the CIA who also worked for Hoekstra on the House intelligence panel as staff director and, most recently, for Trump in the White House as an adviser on national security.”

The Director of National Intelligence is a cabinet level position and therefore, the nominee must be approved by the Senate.

The post Intelligence Insiders: ‘Establishment’ Officials In DNI Still Withholding Documents From Attorney General appeared first on RedState.

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Solomon: ‘Long Wait For Transparency’ Over Russian Collusion Docs May Soon End; Could ‘Rock Washington’ This Fall

Westlake Legal Group 99CB8FEA-3EC4-4E75-A6D4-53E011083E7B-620x620 Solomon: ‘Long Wait For Transparency’ Over Russian Collusion Docs May Soon End; Could ‘Rock Washington’ This Fall Steele dossier spying Special Counsel President Trump pete hoekstra Mueller Investigation John Solomon john durham Front Page Stories Featured Story FBI and DOJ Corruption elections donald trump democrats Dan Coats Allow Media Exception 2020

Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)

 

Last September, President Trump announced he would order the declassification and release of all relevant documents about the role of U.S. intelligence agencies in the Russian collusion probe. Additionally, the House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously to send 53 interview transcripts from their own investigation to the director of national intelligence (DNI) for review and declassification. Neither release has happened.

Investigative reporter John Solomon, who has broken most of the major news on this story, is reporting that “the long wait for transparency may soon end.” He wrote that the expected release of many of these documents this fall “could rock Washington.”

One reason for the lack of action by the intelligence community was the leadership of DNI Dan Coats, whose interests often appeared to be at odds with those of President Trump. Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana, resigned from his post on August 15th. Coats’ deputy, Sue Gordon, known to be on the same page as he was, left the agency as well.

Two names said to be currently under consideration to replace Coats are Pete Hoekstra and Fred Fleitz. Hoekstra, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, currently serves as the U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands. Fleitz is a national security expert. I think Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) should be included on that shortlist, however, he may be considered too partisan.

Solomon believes “the president has an opportunity to speed up and organize the release of declassified information by simply creating an Office of Transparency and Accountability inside his own White House, run by a staffer empowered at the level of a formal assistant to the president. That would prevent intelligence agencies from continuing their game of public keep-away.”

As mentioned earlier, Solomon has followed this story closely. Over the last several months, he has interviewed four dozen U.S. officials and has identified the documents which he considers that,

When declassified, would show more completely how a routine counterintelligence probe was hijacked to turn the most awesome spy powers in America against a presidential nominee in what was essentially a political dirty trick orchestrated by Democrats.

Here is Solomon’s list of the documents that have the greatest chance of rocking Washington, if declassified:

1.  Christopher Steele’s confidential human source reports at the FBI (known as 1023 reports).

These documents show exactly what transpired each time Steele and his FBI handlers met in the summer and fall of 2016 to discuss his anti-Trump dossier. The big reveal, my sources say, could be the first evidence that the FBI shared sensitive information with Steele, such as the existence of the classified Crossfire Hurricane operation targeting the Trump campaign. It would be a huge discovery if the FBI fed Trump-Russia intel to Steele in the midst of an election, especially when his ultimate opposition-research client was Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The FBI has released only one or two of these reports under FOIA lawsuits and they were 100 percent redacted. The American public deserves better.

2.  The 53 House Intel interviews.

House Intelligence interviewed many key players in the Russia probe and asked the DNI to declassify those interviews nearly a year ago, after sending the transcripts for review last November. There are several big reveals, I’m told, including the first evidence that a lawyer tied to the Democratic National Committee had Russia-related contacts at the CIA.

3.  The Stefan Halper documents.

It has been widely reported that European-based American academic Stefan Halper and a young assistant, Azra Turk, worked as FBI sources. We know for sure that one or both had contact with targeted Trump aides like Carter Page and George Papadopoulos at the end of the election. My sources tell me there may be other documents showing Halper continued working his way to the top of Trump’s transition [team] and administration, eventually reaching senior advisers like Peter Navarro inside the White House in summer 2017. These documents would show what intelligence agencies worked with Halper, who directed his activity, how much he was paid and how long his contacts with Trump officials were directed by the U.S. government’s Russia probe.

4.  The October 2016 FBI email chain.

This is a key document identified by Rep. Nunes and his investigators. My sources say it will show exactly what concerns the FBI knew about and discussed with DOJ about using Steele’s dossier and other evidence to support a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant targeting the Trump campaign in October 2016. If those concerns weren’t shared with FISA judges who approved the warrant, there could be major repercussions.

5.  Page/Papadopoulos exculpatory statements.

Another of Nunes’ five buckets, these documents purport to show what the two Trump aides were recorded telling undercover assets or captured in intercepts insisting on their innocence. Papadopoulos told me he told an FBI undercover source in September 2016 that the Trump campaign was not trying to obtain hacked Clinton documents from Russia and considered doing so to be treason. If he made that statement with the FBI monitoring, and it was not disclosed to the FISA court, it could be another case of FBI or DOJ misconduct.

6.  The ‘Gang of Eight’ briefing materials.

These were a series of classified briefings and briefing books the FBI and DOJ provided key leaders in Congress in the summer of 2018 that identify shortcomings in the Russia collusion narrative. Of all the documents congressional leaders were shown, this is most frequently cited to me in private as having changed the minds of lawmakers who weren’t initially convinced of FISA abuses or FBI irregularities.

7.  The Steele spreadsheet.

I wrote recently that the FBI kept a spreadsheet on the accuracy and reliability of every claim in the Steele dossier. According to my sources, it showed as much as 90 percent of the claims could not be corroborated, were debunked or turned out to be open-source internet rumors. Given Steele’s own effort to leak intel in his dossier to the media before Election Day, the public deserves to see the FBI’s final analysis of his credibility. A document I reviewed recently showed the FBI described Steele’s information as only “minimally corroborated” and the bureau’s confidence in him as “medium.”

8.  The Steele interview.

It has been reported, and confirmed, that the DOJ’s inspector general (IG) interviewed the former British intelligence operative for as long as 16 hours about his contacts with the FBI while working with Clinton’s opposition research firm, Fusion GPS. It is clear from documents already forced into the public view by lawsuits that Steele admitted in the fall of 2016 that he was desperate to defeat Trump, had a political deadline to make his dirt public, was working for the DNC/Clinton campaign and was leaking to the news media. If he told that to the FBI and it wasn’t disclosed to the FISA court, there could be serious repercussions.

9.  The redacted sections of the third FISA renewal application.

This was the last of four FISA warrants targeting the Trump campaign; it was renewed in June 2017 after special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe had started, and signed by then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. It is the one FISA application that House Republicans have repeatedly asked to be released, and I’m told the big reveal in the currently redacted sections of the application is that it contained both misleading information and evidence of intrusive tactics used by the U.S. government to infiltrate Trump’s orbit.

10.  Records of allies’ assistance.

Multiple sources have said a handful of U.S. allies overseas – possibly Great Britain, Australia and Italy – were asked to assist FBI efforts to check on Trump connections to Russia. Members of Congress have searched recently for some key contact documents with British intelligence. My sources say these documents might help explain Attorney General Bill Barr’s recent comments that “the use of foreign intelligence capabilities and counterintelligence capabilities against an American political campaign, to me, is unprecedented and it’s a serious red line that’s been crossed.”

The fall may be setting up to be a perfect storm for Democrats. In addition to the anticipated release of these documents, we can expect the DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’ report on the FBI’s interactions with the FISA Court. Also, U.S. attorney John Durham’s team has been working hard on determining the origins of the Russian collusion investigation.

Durham was tapped by Attorney General William Barr in May to lead this probe. The few leaks we’ve heard about over the summer, such as the cooperation of alleged FBI spy Joseph Mifsud, have given us reason for optimism. We also know that prior to Durham’s appointment, he was working on cases related to this investigation.

We’ve had such a long wait already. Let’s hope John Solomon is right.

The post Solomon: ‘Long Wait For Transparency’ Over Russian Collusion Docs May Soon End; Could ‘Rock Washington’ This Fall appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group 99CB8FEA-3EC4-4E75-A6D4-53E011083E7B-300x300 Solomon: ‘Long Wait For Transparency’ Over Russian Collusion Docs May Soon End; Could ‘Rock Washington’ This Fall Steele dossier spying Special Counsel President Trump pete hoekstra Mueller Investigation John Solomon john durham Front Page Stories Featured Story FBI and DOJ Corruption elections donald trump democrats Dan Coats Allow Media Exception 2020  Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Twitter Experts Proven Idiots Yet Again As Deputy DNI Sue Gordon Resigns Allow Trump To Choose An Acting Director

On Sunday, President Trump took to Twitter to announce the departure of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. As I said at the time, this is a good thing. Coats has, in my view, shielded the intelligence community from experiencing the consequences of their illegal meddling in the 2016 election in a failed attempt to elect Hillary Clinton and their subsequent involvement is what can only be described as a soft coup attempt. Now that the special prosecutor looking into how this nonsense started is closing in on a lot of people, Coats will be required to assist in providing access to people and documents. He really couldn’t be relied upon to do so as he’s made it very clear that he does not believe he’s actually part of the administration.

His departure set up a quandry. By law, the designated successor is the deputy director. This makes the ODNI different from basically every other federal agency where the Federal Vacancies Reform Act applies. The problem was that the deputy, Sue Gordon, was an acolyte of John Brennan and a close friend of CIA director Gina Haspel. Brennan, in any other country, would have been imprisoned for treason by now. Haspel was chief of CIA’s London Station as some American agency made numerous runs at members of the Trump campaign team in that city to try to compromise them. Her personal relationships and her quarter century at CIA all combined to not give a warm fuzzy feeling that she would cooperate with John Durham’s investigation. I advocated dismissing her, along with Coats, using the FVRA to select her successor and then allowing that person to succeed Coats.

When my post hit twitter I was inundated by idiots claiming this could not happen because, apparently, Sue Gordon is mentioned in the Constitution or something. Amazingly, a lot of Twitter morons believe that Executive Branch agencies do not respond to directives from the White House because they “serve the people.” In this bizarro world, the agencies do whatever the hell they want…so long as they are doing what the left wants. You don’t find the same argument used now that Education and HHS are eradicating much of the progressive agenda. And, trust me, these goofs don’t want a lot of armed men deciding they’ve had all the Antifa bullsh** they are going to stand for and rolling into Portland to stand that odoriferous crew up against an wall because they are “serving the people.”

Anyway, yesterday Gordon did the right thing. She resigned.

Does this mean I had some inside knowledge or special gift? No. It only means that I could read the law and that TDS hadn’t caused a chronic crainio-rectal infarction that prevented me from seeing what was obviously going to happen. And it continues:

I have to say I was somewhat shocked to find anyone in the federal bureaucracy that still had a sense of honor, much less within the upper reaches of the intelligence community and law enforcement, but perhaps I’ve become too jaded at the antics of Comey and McCabe and Strzok and Mueller and Weissmann and Clapper and Morrell and Brennan to accurately appraise those agencies. She knew the President didn’t have a lot of confidence in her and rather than become another Sally Yates, she accepted that and allowed the President to create his own team without drama.

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The post Twitter Experts Proven Idiots Yet Again As Deputy DNI Sue Gordon Resigns Allow Trump To Choose An Acting Director appeared first on RedState.

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If President Trump Is Going To Drain the Swamp He Must Not Accept Susan Gordon As Acting DNI

There is melodrama brewing at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Over the weekend, President Trump announced the resignation of DNI Dan Coats. The fact that it happened on a Sunday and happened by Twitter signaled that Trump was happy to see the guy go. Either he’d given him the word that he was out and wanted to prevent any laudatory political obituaries for Coats or any effort by the media to try to save Coats’s bacon (this is my gut) or Coats had submitted his letter of resignation and Trump was determined to prevent Coats from stage managing his own departure.

Trump’s decision to nominate John Ratcliffe, a congressman who is serving on the House Intelligence Committee and who is a confirmed skeptic of the Russia hoax seemed inspired. Here was a man who seemed likely to work hand-in-glove with John Durham and William Barr to clean out the people who worked with Comey and Strzok and McCabe and Ohr and Brennan and Sipmson to try to bring down the president. That nomination failed and while we can blame a dishonest press, the lion’s share of the blame lies at the feet of the White House who did not adequately vet the candidate and which was unprepared for the scale of the attack on him (see John Ratcliffe’s Nomination To Be Director of National Intelligence Is Pulled By the White House, All the Right People Are Sweating After John Ratcliffe Is Nominated for DNINY Times Is Concerned John RatcliffeIs Too Partisan For DNI Role; Brit Hume Immediately Pounces and Fusion GPS Media Mouthpieces Take Aim At DNI Nominee John Ratcliffe).

Regardless, the absence of Coats created a problem. Who will be the successor as acting DNI until a new director is confirmed is a critical question. That acting DNI will be the person who decides the degree to which ODNI demands the CIA and NSA cooperate with the Durham investigation. The acting ODNI will decide whether the actions of rogue operatives gets the disinfectant it deserves of whether these particular lice are simply whitewashed into the cracks and crevices to reproduce and reemerge at some future date to do still more damage.

The law creating the ODNI is pretty specific. Unlike the nebulous language that let Mick Mulvaney take over as head of Elizabeth Warren’s wet dream, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the ODNI enabling legislation spells out that the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence “shall” succeed to the directorship in case of a vacancy. This prevents the Federal Vacancies Reform Act dodge–using anyone who has been confirmed by the Senate–from being used to replace him.

The curerent Principal Deputy is Sue Gordon. Gordon is a career intelligence officer who was nominated by President Trump in 2017 while she was serving as deputy director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Before going there she had been at CIA for over 25 years.

Early on, Trump signaled that he probably was not gong to appoint Gordon to be the acting director.

And the White House is apparently compiling a list of replacements. From the media reaction and the reaction of the leftwing commentariat, one is left with the indelible impression that appointing Gordon actin DNI would be a monumentally bad choice.

And if I wanted to sandbag her, I would have tried to make this tweet happen:

Apparently, Gordon is in bad odor with the White House:

Mr. Trump did not allow Ms. Gordon to personally deliver a recent intelligence briefing after she arrived at the White House, according to a person familiar with the matter. A spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of the National Intelligence, Amanda J. Schoch, said Ms. Gordon was not blocked from attending any recent briefing, but she declined to comment about what happened inside the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump and House Republicans have made clear that they believe a broad reorganization of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is needed. Administration officials and House Republicans also have said they would like someone at the agency who will work well with Attorney General William P. Barr, who has ordered a review of the intelligence agencies’ support for the F.B.I. as the bureau sought to understand Moscow’s covert efforts to tilt the 2016 election, including any links to the Trump campaign.

As I said, I suspect it is questions about Gordon’s willingness to work with Barr that are in the forefront.

Gordon was a long time CIA officer and this is what she had to say at a recent conference:

“[CIA Director] Gina [Haspel] is one of my dearest friends and favorite colleagues. For those of you who don’t know her, she is so solid, true and not breathless. She will be an amazing leader of the CIA, particularly following [Secretary of State nominee] Mike Pompeo, whose aggressiveness and assertiveness actually established a really good beachhead for intelligence. [Director of National Intelligence] Dan Coats plays a different role. He is the voice of reason. Pompeo and Coats had a really good relationship. I think Pompeo and Haspel get along exceptionally well. She will secure the seriousness and purpose and go back to the CIA and lead it. I would be so disappointed in America if she doesn’t make it through the confirmation. This woman is the right person at the right time.”

My sensing is that Haspel is very unlikely to survive the Durham investigation. She was head of CIA’s London station during the election. All the major skulduggery happened on her watch. Stefan Halper’s courtship of Carter Page and his attempt to brand Flynn as a Russian asset. The Papadopoulos meetings. Joseph Mifsud worked in London. Christopher Steele works in London. And on and on. Either she knew what was going on or she was one of the most profoundly stupid heads of station in the history of that agency.

Putting her in the position of having to provide access to information that would take down her best friend is not a good idea.

I suspect the administration is going to comply with the ODNI legislation. But I also suspect that Gordon’s days as Principal Deputy. Before Dan Coats leaves it is most likely that Gordon will retire and President Trump will appoint someone else to that position and then elevate them to acting DNI.

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The post If President Trump Is Going To Drain the Swamp He Must Not Accept Susan Gordon As Acting DNI appeared first on RedState.

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BREAKING. John Ratcliffe’s Nomination To Be Director of National Intelligence Is Pulled By the White House

Westlake Legal Group john-ratcliffe-j-620x317 BREAKING. John Ratcliffe’s Nomination To Be Director of National Intelligence Is Pulled By the White House Texas Politics John Ratcliffe Front Page Stories Featured Story donald trump Director of National Intelligence democrats Dan Coats Allow Media Exception

Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas., asks questions to former special counsel Robert Mueller, as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on his report on Russian election interference, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

On Sunday, President Trump informed Dan Coats, via Twitter, that he was stepping down as director of national intelligence. I happen to think that is a manifestly good thing as I see Coats as being part of the problem within the intelligence community in that it has become to incestuous and too beholden to Washington groupthink, and by that I mean Democrat party groupthink, to be a reliable force for defending the nation (see Dan Coats Has Been Booted As Director of National Intelligence and That Is A Very Good Thing). Simultaneously, he announced the nonmination of Texas Representative John Ratcliffe to Coats’s successor. This appointment, I thought to an inspired one. The intelligence community is at ground zero of John Durham’s criminal inquiry into the origins of the Russia hoax and while Coats would be certain to do everything within his power to protect the cretins who helped create the hoax, Ratcliffe would ensure that no stone was left unturned in rooting out the participants in what can only be viewed as an attempted soft coup against the President of the United States.

The hastiness of the nomination had a price attached to it. Ratcliffe was hammered by a wide variety of allegations that he’d puffed up his resume and that he was lazy and detached from committee work. He hadn’t been vetted and there was no strategy to defend him. And that price was paid today.

It’s a shame, because President Trump needs someone at DNI whom he can trust to tell him the truth. Right now he doesn’t have that because the agency is so deeply mired in the Russia hoax that Trump would be a fool to actually trust them.

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The post BREAKING. John Ratcliffe’s Nomination To Be Director of National Intelligence Is Pulled By the White House appeared first on RedState.

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Is Trump’s new pick for intelligence chief about to be blocked by the Republican Senate?

Westlake Legal Group jr-1 Is Trump’s new pick for intelligence chief about to be blocked by the Republican Senate? The Blog Senate Richard Burr republican ratcliffe Prosecutor mueller Intelligence dni Dan Coats confirmation

Two days ago I would have said no way. Rep. John Ratcliffe was one of the most aggressive Republican questioners at Bob Mueller’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, endearing him to the GOP base. And his biggest political “sin,” allegiance to the president, is to be expected (to some degree) in all cabinet officials. Even ones who, like the Director of National Intelligence, are expected to be less partisan in their roles than most department chiefs.

But, two days later, it’s an open question whether he can get through the Senate. Media coverage of Ratcliffe has been scathing because of his suggestion to Mueller at the hearing that Russia might have interfered in 2016 to help Hillary Clinton, not Trump, which contradicts U.S. intel assessments. That won’t bother Trump, of course, but it might bother Susan Collins. And confirmation fights are one of the few areas in which the Senate has asserted some independence from Trump, rejecting both Stephen Moore and Herman Cain for Fed appointments.

I think they’d rubber-stamp a well-qualified nominee for Trump even if he happens to be a sycophant whom they fear might politicize intelligence at Trump’s behest. But what if he’s not so well qualified? This piece at Time got my attention:

In naming Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe to be Director of National Intelligence, Trump ignored a warning from Republican Sen. Richard Burr, the chairman of the intelligence committee, according to Congressional aides familiar with the matter. Burr told the White House last week that the move would inject more partisan politics into the work of the intelligence agencies, said the sources, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter.

The 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) stipulates that the DNI must have “extensive national security experience”. Ratcliffe was a prosecutor and politician in Texas and has served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence for only seven months. Coats and his predecessors in the job all had years of experience in the intelligence community, overseeing it, and serving as U.S. ambassadors.

So Burr is lukewarm about Ratcliffe right out of the chute, and there’s statutory cover for Republican senators to reject him on “neutral” grounds — lack of experience — if they’re privately worried that he’s too eager to ingratiate himself to Trump to deliver intelligence that the president might not want to hear. As noted in the excerpt, Ratcliffe’s only served on the House Intel Committee for half a year; other than that, his sole experience with national intelligence was in the U.S. Attorney’s office in east Texas more than a decade ago, when he was chief of anti-terrorism and national security. How much experience he received in that role is as yet unclear, though: The U.S. Attorney who supervised him says he worked on several cases involving domestic and international terrorism but ABC discovered that one of the cases in which Ratcliffe has long claimed involvement (the Holy Land Foundation trials) has no mention of him anywhere in the record.

Even if he did supervise cases in one district for a few years, does that plus seven months on the House Intel Committee amount to “extensive national security experience” under the statute? Senate Republicans sound iffy:

Mr. Trump’s pick, Representative John Ratcliffe of Texas, could face an uphill battle, Senate Republicans said in private conversations. Several said they wanted to keep the intelligence post apolitical, and Mr. Ratcliffe will need to show he can move beyond the die-hard conservative persona that has made him a star in the House and on Fox News but less well known among senators who will decide whether to confirm him…

The political winds from the Trump White House have buffeted the intelligence agencies, and Mr. Coats worked to insulate them. If Mr. Ratcliffe is confirmed, some current and former American officials believe that other top intelligence officials like the C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel, and the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, could lose their shield against White House interference and partisan criticism…

Mr. Ratcliffe … has indicated that he intends to clean house [at DNI], according to people familiar with his plans. The fate of Mr. Coats’s deputy, Sue Gordon, who runs the office’s day-to-day operations, is unclear. The White House did not immediately announce that she would serve as the acting director when Mr. Coats departs on Aug. 15, as is typical.

Again, I think Ratcliffe’s lack of experience is mostly a pretext for a potential no vote. It’s a genuine concern among senators, with some intel pros warning WaPo that he’d be “the least-qualified person ever nominated to oversee the country’s intelligence agencies,” but it’s not their chief concern. Their chief concern is not letting a guy who gets most of his intelligence from “Fox & Friends” start dictating to U.S. intel bureaus what they’re “supposed to” believe about foreign threats, which Ratcliffe might enable by clearing out intel professionals for loyalists. One senior congressional official who spoke to WaPo claimed that he wasn’t confident that Ratcliffe concurs in the judgment of U.S. intelligence (and Mike Pompeo and Chris Wray) that Russia meddled in the 2016 campaign and did so specifically to try to aid Trump. He might reject other judgments that are inconvenient for Trump politically as well, like whether North Korea’s really prepared to denuclearize.

Trump’s first two years in office, particularly the experience of Russiagate, taught him to seek out yes-men for every vacancy, from the DOJ to the Fed to DNI. He doesn’t ever again want to be in a position where a department might cause him trouble politically, even if it’s justified on the facts, only to find the guy he put in charge recusing himself instead of putting out the fire for the White House. The Senate will have to decide over the next 15 months (or 15 months plus four years) how much it wants to push back on that.

Then again, does it really matter who ends up as DNI?

In a sign of how dysfunctional President Trump’s relationship with the intelligence community has become already, some senior spies and analysts say having a political ally as DNI may not make much of a difference at this point. Trump, these senior officials point out, pays only sporadic attention to his daily briefings, routinely ignores analysis that contradicts his own views, and in many cases pursues policies that analysts have concluded are fruitless or misguided.

If Ratcliffe tells him next year there’s evidence that Russia’s trying to interfere in the election on his behalf and Dan Bongino shows up on “Hannity” to say “no way,” who’s Trump going to believe?

Here’s Trump nemesis Ralph Peters going off on Ratcliffe. The fact that Trump’s enemies, including critics in the intel community who fear being marginalized by Ratcliffe as DNI, have mobilized to attack him so quickly will only help steel righties for the fight ahead. But if the votes aren’t there in the Senate, there won’t be a fight. All you’d need is Collins, Murkowski, Paul, and one more (Burr? Romney?) to balk and that’s that.

The post Is Trump’s new pick for intelligence chief about to be blocked by the Republican Senate? appeared first on Hot Air.

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NY Times Is Concerned John Ratcliffe Is Too Partisan For DNI Role; Brit Hume Immediately Pounces

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The left has been highly critical of President Trump’s decision to replace DNI Dan Coats with Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX). My colleague, Bonchie, posted about some of that outrage here.

Coats, although a Republican, is a creature of the Washington establishment. He has not hesitated to criticize President Trump and he has done his best to stonewall the release of sensitive documents. Some believe Coats may even have been the “anonymous senior White House official” who wrote an op-ed published by The New York Times last September in which he trashed the President.

At any rate, he will leave his position on August 15th.

On Monday, The New York Times sent out a rather audacious and tone-deaf tweet which said: “Former officials have expressed concern that Representative John Ratcliffe, President Trump’s pick to serve as director of national intelligence, will politicize what is supposed to be a nonpartisan job.”

Fox News’ Brit Hume was having none of it and he quickly shot back with a tweet of his own. In one brief sentence, he ended the debate. He wrote: ““Nonpartisan?” As in Clapper and Brennan?”

Both Clapper and Brennan are believed to be complicit in the deep state’s coup against the President. Brennan was one of the earliest and most enthusiastic Obama administration officials to push the Russian collusion narrative. He shared the story with anyone who would listen. He’s often referred as the  “cheerleader” for the Trump/Russia collusion investigation.

Signs point to Clapper’s involvement in the scheme as well. Specifically, he is believed to have leaked word to the media who had been sitting on the dossier story, that the President-elect had been briefed, which gave them the green light to go ahead and publish.

Brit Hume does have a way of getting right to the heart of the matter. As he did on Monday night.

Here are some of the responses to Brit’s insightful tweet:

“Don’t forget “ONLY VOTE FOR DEMOCRATS” Comey”

“This right here is Twitter gold…lol”

“Only democrat presidents are allowed to appoint partisans”

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Coats’ resignation a win for … Pompeo?

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John Ratcliffe may soon be the Director of National Intelligence, but will Mike Pompeo pull the strings? With Dan Coats’ resignation, the last of the “team of rivals” approach to national security has gone among Cabinet members. The direction of intelligence has increasingly been run by the Secretary of State, The Intercept’s James Risen reported this morning, and Ratcliffe’s ascension won’t change that a bit:

Mike Pompeo is still heavily influencing the U.S. intelligence community, more than a year after he left the Central Intelligence Agency for the State Department, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials.

Pompeo, who was Donald Trump’s first CIA director, is now serving as a key intermediary between Trump and the U.S. intelligence community, the officials say, a very unusual role for the Secretary of State, who is supposed to be a customer of the intelligence community, not its master.

The intermediary role Pompeo has largely usurped is supposed to be filled by the CIA director and the director of national intelligence, a post created after 9/11 and designed to coordinate the work of all of the nation’s intelligence agencies. But CIA Director Gina Haspel seems to have accepted the fact that Pompeo continues to help set the agenda on intelligence in the Trump administration from the State Department, the officials say. And after months of rumors that Dan Coats, Trump’s longtime director of national intelligence and nominal head of the U.S. intelligence community, would soon be replaced, Trump announced Sunday that Coats will step down August 15. The president said he would name Rep. John Ratcliffe, a pro-Trump Republican congressman from Texas, to take Coats’s job. Ratcliffe, one of Trump’s most ardent defenders during special counsel Robert Mueller’s appearance before the House Judiciary Committee last week, will likely be far less independent of the Trump White House than was Coats.

Meanwhile, Pompeo has emerged as the administration’s de facto intelligence czar. Although some officials say that both Haspel and Coats have been present when Trump receives his intelligence briefings and so have had regular, direct access to the president, Pompeo has gained Trump’s trust in a way they haven’t.

Risen uses the word “usurped” here, and relies heavily on an argument that the CIA director is (or should be) an independent operator, but … neither really hits the mark. The State Department has its own intelligence apparatus and is one of the key customers of the overall intelligence community as well as producing some of it on its own. Regardless of who’s the Secretary of State at any time, that position will always have considerable influence on intelligence gathering, analysis, and strategy.

Besides, the independence of the CIA director might have been a better argument prior to the creation of the DNI in the post-9/11 reshuffle. Haspel is a subordinate to Coats at the moment, not a superior officer. Both had to be confirmed by the Senate, as was Pompeo. Furthermore, it’s hardly the first time that intelligence operations has been headed by individuals of like mind to the president. Few Democrats complained, for instance, when Barack Obama made political mastermind Leon Panetta the director of the CIA — and he turned out to be pretty good at the job, certainly much better than John Brennan. (Panetta was also arguably a pretty good SecDef later.) James Clapper was no partisan wallflower either as DNI. The point of presidential appointments is to put the elected president’s agenda in action, which means that truly independent thinkers in Cabinet-level positions anywhere are fairly rare creatures.

With all that said, Pompeo’s reach on intelligence may not be as problematic as Risen suggests, but it is intriguing, assuming Risen’s sources are accurate. It might explain why Pompeo hasn’t exhibited much enthusiasm for the open Senate seat in Kansas next year, and expressly denied interest in it today. And, contra the (not altogether unwarranted) worries exhibited in Risen’s piece, it suggests that the Trump administration is looking for continuity in replacing Coats with Ratcliffe, not radical change.

Consider this as well: while Pompeo is a conservative, he’s not exactly the kind of Trumpian non-interventionist that one might assume would be problematic in the role. Pompeo spent a lot of years in the House working on intelligence matters through a few administrations, which means that his guidance is probably very valuable, regardless which hat he’s wearing when providing it. His instincts seem to be good thus far. Would the people inclined to worry about this prefer that John Bolton was in this position? For some, that’s a trick question …

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Dan Coats resigns, Texas Rep. Ratcliffe to be nominated as DNI

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The Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Dan Coats, is resigning and a replacement has been named. Rep. John Ratcliffe from Texas will be nominated by President Trump. Meanwhile, Ratcliffe will join the ranks of several others – an acting head of a department in the Trump administration.

Coats had already indicated he would be resigning and on Sunday, the date of August 15 was announced as his last. It is reported that President Trump has been speaking with Rep. Ratcliffe in recent weeks. Ratcliffe’s performance during last week’s Mueller hearings no doubt cinched the job offer from Trump. Ratcliffe aggressively questioned Robert Mueller about the lack of proof of collusion in his report yet he outlined numerous examples of potential obstruction by President Trump. Mueller refused to exonerate Trump.

During Mueller’s first hearing before the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Ratcliffe said he agreed with Mueller’s conclusions that Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election were “sweeping and systematic.”

But he tore into Mueller for including the asterisk in his report that explicitly said Trump was not exonerated.

“Can you give me an example other than Donald Trump where the Justice Department determined that an investigated person was not exonerated because their innocence was not conclusively determined?” Ratcliffe asked Mueller.

Here is a clip of Ratcliffe’s exchange with Mueller from MSNBC. It’s brutal. “You managed to violate every principle and the most sacred of traditions about prosecutors not offering extra prosecutorial analysis.” Ratcliffe rightfully notes that somewhere along the line, President Trump’s presumption of innocence was lost. Even presidents are entitled to a presumption of innocence, he said.

As is his way, President Trump tweeted his decision and Coats’ resignation Sunday.

Democrats sprang into action to criticize the choice.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, called Ratcliffe’s questioning of Mueller “demagogic” and said the White House selected him for intelligence director because he “exhibited blind loyalty to President Trump.”

“It’s clear that Rep. Ratcliffe was selected because he exhibited blind loyalty to President Trump with his demagogic questioning of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller,” Schumer said in a press release Sunday. “If Senate Republicans elevate such a partisan player to a position that requires intelligence expertise and non-partisanship, it would be a big mistake.”

The implication from Democrats is that Ratcliffe isn’t really qualified for such a high level intelligence position. That’s poppycock. While Democrats like to lessen his career accomplishments by only acknowledging his position as mayor of a small town in Texas, Ratcliffe has had a much bigger career, including being a former U.S. Attorney, before being elected to the House of Representatives.He has expertise in the field of anti-terrorism intelligence.

We haven’t heard much from Coats during his time as DNI. It is reported that his relationship with President Trump has not been good. Trump tends to leave Coats out of the loop. He voiced frustration with Coats in private conversations.

In January, Coats, a former senator and U.S. ambassador to Germany, told Congress that North Korea was unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons, contradicting Trump’s statement that Pyongyang no longer poses a threat.

President Trump hailed his first summit with Kim Jong-Un as a success but Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the young dictator is unlikely to give up his nuclear stockpile.

‘We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival,’ Coats said in his opening statement.

He said, ‘Our assessment is bolstered by our observations of some activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearization.’

He also told lawmakers that Iran had continued to comply with a nuclear deal that Trump abandoned.

The next day, Trump on Twitter complained about the ‘passive and naive’ U.S. intelligence leaders, suggesting they ‘go back to school!’

Coats’ nomination was voted on with strong bi-partisan support. The March 2017 vote was 85-12. I don’t think it is going too far out on a limb to predict that Ratcliffe’s vote will fall along party lines, especially given the present environment in the Senate. There’s no way that a majority of Democrats will vote in favor of the president’s pick in this campaign season, especially given Ratcliffe’s questioning of Mueller.

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Dan Coats Has Been Booted As Director of National Intelligence and That Is A Very Good Thing

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Dan Coats by DonkeyHotey, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/Original

It had been rumored for a few days that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was on the way out and just a few minutes ago President Trump, via Twitter, not only confirmed that Coats was leaving but announced a successor (read my colleague Bonchie’s terrific coverage of the rumors earlier today):

The fact that the announcement came by tweet on Sunday afternoon rather than letting Coats announce his own departure gives it the air of “down let the door hit you on the way out.”

Former Indiana Senator Dan Coats was always, in my view, a very strange choice for President Trump to make for the Director of National Intelligence. If you believe there is a swamp in DC, Coats definitely had scales. He has been in Washington since 1976. His acquaintance with the intelligence community is tangential–he served on the Senate Intelligence Committee. He endorsed Marco Rubio and only said he’d support the party’s nominee after Trump clinched the nomination in May 2016. Coats was famous for being a “hawk” on Russia. The point being that Coats brought no unique skills to job. He was hostile-to-lukewarm towards President Trump and there was no doubt that his primary loyalty would always be to the DC status quo. His only unique qualification is that he was well regarded by Democrats and John McCain. Knowing that our relations with Russia…and the bogus allegations of collusion with Russia on the part of Trump’s campaign…were going to be in the bull’s-eye, it was countintuitive to pick a DNI who could be counted upon to not make institutional Washington look bad.

And that’s pretty much what happened.

Coats seem to go out of his way to contradict Trump at every opportunity. As early as January this year, media outlets were already cataloging Coats’s run-ins with Trump and Trump was tweeting about Coats. Coats’s public dissing of Trump made him one of the suspects as the author of the “anonymous” op-ed allegedly written by a cabinet level official in the New York Times that blasted Trump as “amoral” and claimed to be part of “the Resistance.”

Coats may just be tired, but one can’t help but think that the dual investigations by DOJ IG Michael Horowitz and Attorney General Bill Barr’s designated special-counsel-in-all-but-name, John Durham, have, by now fingered a lot of shenanigans on the part of the intelligence community. Not on the NSA role in unmasking US citizens for basically any intern in the Obama White House but what looks like a role in running provocateurs against members of the Trump campaign and coordinating with members of foreign intelligence services to create an illusion of Russian influence upon the Trump campaign. Indeed, the role of CIA Director Gina Haspel in this fiasco is under examination:

We know a fight is looming over the declassification and public release of documents related to the Russia hoax. It may be that Coats is seen as unwilling or reluctant to aid the investigation and declassification…something that would be a near certainty with a company man like Coats.

What shows a new sheriff is definitely in town is the nomination of John Ratcliffe. Ratcliffe has been a federal anti-terrorism prosecutor. He defeated at 17-term GOP incumbent to win his seat. He’s a member of the House Intelligence Committee. He’s a staunch critic of the Russia hoax. And he smoked Robert Mueller like a cheap cigar last Wednesday (see John Ratcliffe: President Trump Is Not Above The Law But He Is Not Below It).

RATCLIFFE: The special counsel did not make what you call a traditional prosecution or declination decision, the report on the bottom of page two of Volume II reads as follows, ‘The evidence we obtained about the president’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’ I read that correctly?

MUELLER: Yes.

RATCLIFFE: Your report…and today you said “at all times the Special Counsel team operated under, was guided by, and followed Justice Department policies and principles. So, which DOJ policy or principle sets forth a legal standard that an investigated person is ‘not exonerated’ if their innocence from criminal conduct is not conclusively determined?

MUELLER: Can you repeat the last part of that question?

RATCLIFFE: Yeah. Which DOJ policy or principle sets forth a legal standard that an investigated person is ‘not exonerated’ if their innocence from criminal conduct is not conclusively determined? Where does that language come from, director? Where is the DOJ policy that says that? Let me make it easier. Can you give me an example other than Donald Trump where the Justice Department determined that an investigated person was not exonerated because their innocence was not conclusively determined?

MUELLER: I cannot, but this is a unique situation.

Indeed, coups d’etat are all unique situations.

RATCLIFFE: You can’t. Time is short, I’ve got five minutes. Let’s just leave it at you can’t find it, because I will tell you why: It doesn’t exist. In the special counsel’s job nowhere does it say that you were to conclusively determine Donald Trump’s innocence or that the special counsel should determine whether or not to exonerate him. It’s not in any of the documents, it’s not in your appointment order, it’s not in the special counsel regulations, it’s not the OLC opinions, it’s not the justice manual or the principles of federal prosecution.

Nowhere do those words appear together because respectfully, respectfully, director, it was not the special counsel’s job to conclusively determine Donald Trump’s innocence or exonerate him because the bedrock principle of our justice system is a presumption of innocence. It exists for everyone. Everyone is entitled to it, including sitting presidents. And because there is a presumption of innocence, prosecutors never ever need to conclusively determine it. Now director, the special counsel applied this inverted burden of proof that I can’t find and you said it doesn’t exist anywhere in the department policies and you used it to write a report.

The very first line of your report says, as you read this morning, it authorizes the Special Counsel to provide the Attorney General a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel. That’s the very first words of your report, right?

MUELLER: Correct.

RATCLIFFE: Here’s the problem, Director. The Special Counsel didn’t do that. On Volume I, you did. On Volume II, with respect to potential obstruction of justice, the Special Counsel made neither a prosecution decision nor a declination decision. You made no decision. You told us this morning and in your report that you made no determination. So respectfully, Director, you didn’t follow the Special Counsel regulations. It clearly says write a confidential report about decisions reached. Nowhere in here does it say write a report about decisions that weren’t reached. You wrote 180 pages, 180 pages about decisions that weren’t reached. About potential crimes that weren’t charged or decided. And respectfully, respectfully, by doing that you managed to violate every principle and the most sacred of traditions about prosecutors not offering extra-prosecutorial analysis about potential crimes that aren’t charged. So, Americans need to know this as they listen to the Democrats and socialists on the other side of the aisle as they do dramatic readings from this report.

Volume II of this report was not authorized under the law to be written. It was written to a legal standard that does not exist at the Justice Department and it was written in violation of every DOJ principle about extra-prosecutorial commentary. I agree with the chairman this morning when he said Donald Trump is not above the law. He’s not. But he damn sure shouldn’t be below the law, which is where Volume II of this report put him.

This is some of the stupidity that has already been aimed at Ratcliffe

Ratcliffe will have his work cut out for him. He will have a workforce that has a sizeable number of loyal Democrats in it senior management. The institutions are going to try to protect even the worst actors because they are a fraternity. Unless Ratcliffe is damned careful, he will be torpedoed the way Porter Goss was at CIA. And let’s not forget this bit of advice from Chuck Schumer:

But with the support of the White House, perhaps we can remind the intelligence community that their job is providing good information to the National Command Authority and keeping this nation safe. It isn’t eavesdropping on political campaigns or dangling honeypots in front of staffers from a campaign you are hostile to and it certainly isn’t trying to engineer a coup d’etat against a president.

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