web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 31)

Dueling Narratives Emerge From Muddied Account of Russia’s 2020 Interference

Westlake Legal Group 23dc-russia-facebookJumbo Dueling Narratives Emerge From Muddied Account of Russia’s 2020 Interference United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2020 Office of the Director of National Intelligence House Committee on Intelligence Biden, Joseph R Jr

As accusations swirled Sunday about Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2020 election, President Trump’s national security adviser and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. could not agree on what Moscow is, or is not, doing.

Their disagreement came as intelligence officials disputed reports that emerged last week about a briefing of the House Intelligence Committee. The officials now maintain that the House members either misheard or misinterpreted a key part of the briefing, and that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not mean to say that it believes the Russians are currently intervening in the election explicitly to help President Trump.

They do believe that Russia is intervening in the election, and that Moscow prefers Mr. Trump, a deal maker it knows well. But at least for now, those two objectives may not be linked.

The differing interpretations only made it easier for the Trump administration and Democrats to put forward their own version of what the Russians are doing. As the national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, defended Mr. Trump and intimated that the Russians favored the Democratic presidential front-runner, Senator Bernie Sanders, Mr. Biden blamed the president and other Republicans for allowing Russia to continue to interfere in the election.

Mr. O’Brien, who took office at the end of last summer, insisted on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he had never seen any intelligence suggesting that the Russians were interfering on behalf of Mr. Trump.

“There’s no briefing that I’ve received, that the president has received, that says that President Putin is doing anything to try and influence the election in favor of President Trump,” Mr. O’Brien said, referring to the Russian leader, Vladimir V. Putin. “We just haven’t seen that intelligence. If it’s out there, I haven’t seen it.”

He was referring to an assessment provided to the House Intelligence Committee on Feb. 13. That briefing outlined the breadth of Russian efforts to get involved in the November election — from hacking into voting systems to disinformation.

At the root of the confusion is what Shelby Pierson, a senior intelligence official responsible for overseeing the issues of election interference, said in that briefing.

Ms. Pierson, a longtime intelligence official, said there was no doubt the Russians were continuing to insert themselves in the election process. That would be consistent with past intelligence reports, and the effort by the United States Cyber Command in 2018 to block Russian intelligence from manipulating social media before the midterm congressional elections.

But some intelligence officials said Ms. Pierson did not say that the current interference was explicitly on Mr. Trump’s behalf. Others in the briefing said that in response to lawmakers’ follow-up questions, officials made the connection between the Russian preference for Mr. Trump and Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the election.

The difference between actively backing Mr. Trump and preferring his re-election is a subtle nuance, officials say, but an important one: It is probably too early for the Russians to begin any significant move to bolster a specific candidate. In 2016, they at first sought to cause chaos and hurt Hillary Clinton, intelligence reports released later that year said, but only in the last few months before the election did they actively work to elect Mr. Trump.

If they go the same route now, it would not be inconsistent with backing Mr. Sanders for the Democratic nomination, in part because Mr. Sanders has voted against new sanctions on Russia and because he is considered a noninterventionist. And they may conclude, rightly or wrongly, that Mr. Trump could beat Mr. Sanders.

Mr. O’Brien seemed to have little doubt that the Russians preferred Mr. Sanders. “What I’ve heard from the F.B.I.,” he said, “is that Russia would like Bernie Sanders to win the Democrat nomination. They’d probably like him to be president, understandably, because he wants to spend money on social programs and probably would have to take it out of the military.”

He did not give the source of that intelligence.

Mr. Sanders has denounced Russia and warned it not to interfere in the election.

Mr. Biden, who was in office as the Obama White House struggled over how to respond to Russian interference in 2016, saw some advantage in claiming he was the candidate Mr. Putin hated.

“The Russians don’t want me to be the nominee,” he said on “Face the Nation.” “They spent a lot of money on bots on Facebook, and they’ve been taken down, saying Biden is a bad guy. They don’t want Biden running. They’re not — no one’s helping me to try to get the nomination. They have good reason.”

Mr. Biden said he had not been informed of any specific intelligence. But intelligence officials say the reports they have generated have been consistent: Russian activity did not end with the 2016 election.

Mr. Biden suggested that Mr. Trump was still denying Russia’s involvement in 2016, even though American intelligence officials have testified on the issue every year of his presidency.

“The president denies they’re involved,” Mr. Biden said. “They’ve been involved. I was deeply involved in the intelligence apparatus and how it functioned before we left the vice presidency. It was clear they were involved. The president continues to deny their involvement. It’s overwhelming. And the fact is that everybody knows.”

He accused the Republican leadership in the Senate of failing to act to secure electoral systems.

While Congress allocated several hundred million dollars for election security immediately after the 2016 election, gaping holes in the system remain, and Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has repeatedly blocked additional legislation from coming to the floor for a vote.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

D.C. Prosecutors’ Tensions With Justice Dept. Began Long Before Stone Sentencing

Westlake Legal Group 00dc-justice1-facebookJumbo D.C. Prosecutors’ Tensions With Justice Dept. Began Long Before Stone Sentencing United States Politics and Government United States Attorneys Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Shea, Timothy J (1960- ) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates McCabe, Andrew G Liu, Jessie Kong Justice Department Barr, William P

WASHINGTON — In the days before they filed the sentencing recommendation for President Trump’s friend Roger J. Stone Jr. that helped plunge the Justice Department into turmoil, the prosecutors on the case felt under siege.

A new boss, Timothy Shea, had just arrived and had told them on his first day that he wanted a more lenient recommendation for Mr. Stone, and he pushed back hard when they objected, according to two people briefed on the dispute. They grew suspicious that Mr. Shea was helping his longtime friend and boss, Attorney General William P. Barr, soften the sentencing request to please the president.

In an attempt to ease the strain, David Metcalf, Mr. Shea’s chief of staff, clasped his hand on the shoulder of one of the prosecutors, Aaron S.J. Zelinsky, as they passed in a hallway. But the gesture prompted a terse and sharp verbal exchange, according to three people briefed on the encounter. As word of the spat spread through the office, unfounded rumors swirled that the altercation had been physical.

Skepticism of Mr. Shea, the acting U.S. attorney for Washington, only deepened in his 600-person office when Mr. Barr quickly intervened to recommend a lighter sentence for Mr. Stone just as the president declared on Twitter that the government was treating his friend too harshly.

Within a day, Mr. Zelinsky and three others quit the case, one resigning from his job entirely. Their protest engulfed the Justice Department in turmoil that could damage its treasured reputation for political independence.

At the center of the crisis is the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, one of the largest collections of federal prosecutors in the country. Over the decades it has handled some of the nation’s most sensitive cases, including the corruption scandal involving the prominent lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the conviction of the main suspect in the 2012 Benghazi, Libya, attacks.

The Washington office, which operates separately from the main Justice Department, took over the continuing cases last year from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, after he closed his inquiry into Russia’s election interference. He found insufficient evidence to charge anyone tied to the Trump campaign with conspiring with Moscow but charged several Trump associates with other crimes, including Mr. Stone.

The tensions between the office, the Justice Department and the White House date back further than the tumult in the Stone case. They have been simmering since at least last summer, when the office’s investigation of Andrew G. McCabe, a former top F.B.I. official whom the president had long targeted, began to fall apart.

Mr. Shea’s predecessor, Jessie K. Liu, a lawyer whom Mr. Trump had appointed to lead the office in 2017, pressed the McCabe case even after one team of prosecutors concluded that they could not win a conviction. After a second team was brought in and also failed to deliver a grand jury indictment, Ms. Liu’s relationship with Mr. Barr grew strained, people close to them said. She left the position this year, though she and Mr. Barr have both stressed to associates that her departure was amicable.

Still, her exit unnerved prosecutors and set off the chain of events that culminated in the current crisis, in which prosecutors in the office began to worry that Mr. Barr was intervening in sensitive cases for political reasons even as he has publicly pushed back against Mr. Trump, a rebuke the president has ignored.

Mr. Barr has denied any political motivations. But as Mr. Shea took over, the attorney general assigned outside prosecutors to re-examine politically fraught cases, including that of Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser.

The string of events “suggests undue meddling by higher-ups at the Justice Department or elsewhere,” said Channing Phillips, an acting U.S. attorney in Washington under President Barack Obama.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment for this article, which is based on interviews with nearly a dozen current and former department lawyers who have worked with the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington and others familiar with their work.

In a statement in response to questions about tensions in the office and whether he would stay, Mr. Shea said he had prepared “my whole life” for the post and called it “the ultimate job in federal law enforcement.”

He added, “You can impact people’s lives in a very meaningful way by protecting them from violent crime, hate and terrorism.”

When Mr. Shea took over on Feb. 3, he knew he had inherited a series of political land mines. What he did not appear to realize was how mistrustful many of the federal prosecutors in Washington had become of the main Justice Department, and of Mr. Barr.

Their misgivings ramped up last summer, as Ms. Liu worked with prosecutors to investigate whether Mr. McCabe had lied to investigators during an administrative inquiry.

Prosecutors liked Ms. Liu in part because they felt she shielded them from political pressures, even as Mr. Trump publicly accused Mr. McCabe on Twitter of lying and misconduct. And she had a reputation for being a good soldier who had stayed on even as she was passed over for top Justice Department posts.

The McCabe case had always been politically charged: Investigators were scrutinizing an accomplished former top law enforcement official whom the president had repeatedly attacked for his deep involvement in the Russia investigation. The inquiry focused on whether he misled internal investigators examining the source of disclosures of sensitive information in a Wall Street Journal article.

But the case eventually fell apart because a number of hurdles proved too steep, including problematic witnesses and prosecutors’ concerns that Mr. Barr’s handling of the special counsel report would make their case look politicized, people familiar with the investigation said.

The two main prosecutors, Kamil Shields and David Kent, also came to believe that they could not get a jury to convict Mr. McCabe, the people said. They concluded that Mr. Trump’s relentless broadsides against Mr. McCabe had poisoned any potential jury, and they were worried about the appearance of a vindictive prosecution: Mr. McCabe revealed in early 2019 that he had opened the inquiry into whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice by firing James B. Comey as F.B.I. director.

Ms. Shields eventually left the case and the department. Mr. Kent also decided to quit the case. Two other prosecutors known for their aggressiveness, Molly Gaston and J.P. Cooney, took over.

An indictment seemed imminent after Ms. Liu and the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, rejected pleas in September from Mr. McCabe’s lawyers to drop the investigation. The grand jury hearing the case was reconvened after months of inactivity, but the prosecution never appeared to advance.

The investigators’ difficulties began to creep into view in news reports, creating an awkward situation for Ms. Liu.

For months, her office refused to tell Mr. McCabe’s lawyers what was happening with the case. Informing a defense team eager to publicly clear its client would have almost certainly provoked the president’s anger, people close to Mr. McCabe speculated.

While the case remained in limbo, Ms. Liu had difficult conversations about it with officials at the main Justice Department, according to two people briefed on their discussions.

Ms. Liu sought a top Treasury Department job, and Mr. Barr made no attempt to stop her, according to three people briefed on her job search. A new role outside the Justice Department seemed to put to rest political issues for both her and Mr. Barr. Ms. Liu said she took the Treasury job only because she saw it as a good opportunity, people close to her said.

But Ms. Liu’s departure created unrest within her office.

She had initially emailed her office to say that she would remain in place until the Senate confirmed her to her new post, as is typical. But Mr. Barr then asked her to leave early in the new year, saying he was concerned he would have trouble finding a replacement if her confirmation process stretched on toward the end of Mr. Trump’s first term. Though Ms. Liu was taken aback, she eventually agreed to the terms but told few people in the U.S. attorney’s office.

By mid-January, administration officials found an assignment for her at the Treasury Department to take on while she awaited confirmation, and she sent an officewide email saying she would leave earlier than planned. Some of the prosecutors and other employees in the U.S. attorney’s office viewed the announcement and her departure just two weeks later as an abrupt end to her tenure and said they feared she was ousted because she failed to deliver on a prosecution that Mr. Trump openly sought.

Mr. Shea, who comes from a family of law enforcement officers, took over the office in early February, aware that Mr. Barr and the Justice Department had been parrying demands from the president to prosecute his enemies.

But according to two people who have spoken with Mr. Shea, he did not know that some prosecutors now working for him had come to view Mr. Barr not as their chief defender from political interference but as an agent of the president’s pressure campaigns on law enforcement.

Within days of Mr. Shea’s arrival, the Stone sentencing brought tensions to a head. When Mr. Barr sent word to the trial team that he wanted less than the seven to nine years outlined in federal sentencing guidelines that they planned to recommend, the lawyers viewed the directive as a last-minute order with no legal basis.

They expressed frustration that they had so little time to react, according to a person who heard their complaints; most of the team’s disagreement with Mr. Shea played out through intermediaries in the office.

Ultimately, they threatened to withdraw from the case if they were pressured to file a recommendation to the judge that they disagreed with.

Mr. Shea was caught off guard. Even though he agreed with Mr. Barr that following the guidelines allowed for too harsh of a punishment recommendation, he told associates he could not afford to alienate the Stone trial team as his first act on the job.

On the day that the filing was due, Mr. Shea told the attorney general that the prosecutors planned to stick to their recommendation but that “he thought that there was a way of satisfying everybody and providing more flexibility,” Mr. Barr said in an interview with ABC News.

Mr. Barr was left with the misimpression that the team would lay out the factors for Judge Amy Berman Jackson to weigh under the federal guidelines but ask for a lesser sentence. Their filing proved otherwise.

Mr. Barr told ABC that he immediately asked that prosecutors replace it with a more lenient request. But coming alongside the president’s middle-of-the-night protest on Twitter, it created the appearance that the attorney general was heeding political pressure.

The tensions between the U.S. attorney’s office and senior Justice Department leaders exploded into the open. The four prosecutors who withdrew from the Stone prosecution left behind more than a year’s worth of work in the final stages of the case. The chaos crushed morale in the U.S. attorney’s office, according to eight current and former Justice Department employees. Federal prosecutors around the country began to privately articulate fears of political interference.

Mr. Barr moved quickly to blunt the turmoil. He declared in the ABC interview that the president’s tweets were making it “impossible” to do his job, an unusually public rebuke.

Mr. Shea also sought to calm his office. “While there are times where reasonable minds may disagree, I respect the work that each of you do, and I will do my best to support our work,” he wrote in an email to the staff on the evening after the prosecutors withdrew from the Stone case.

Judge Jackson sentenced Mr. Stone last week to more than three years in prison, challenging one of the case’s new prosecutors about the recent disarray. He apologized, but also caused more confusion when he defended the argument for a stiff sentence without disavowing the request for a lighter punishment.

Still, officials at both the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington and the Justice Department expressed hope that the sentencing would help hasten a return to calm in both buildings. Mr. Shea has spent the past two weeks on a listening tour of his office, meeting with hundreds of lawyers.

Whether the storm has passed remains to be seen. The reviews of the Flynn case and others are continuing. And hours after Mr. Stone was sentenced, the president called again for his exoneration.

Charlie Savage contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Same Goal, Different Playbook: Why Russia Would Support Trump and Sanders

Westlake Legal Group 22dc-cyber-facebookJumbo Same Goal, Different Playbook: Why Russia Would Support Trump and Sanders Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Putin, Vladimir V Presidential Election of 2020 House Committee on Intelligence democratic national committee Cyberwarfare and Defense Clinton, Hillary Rodham central intelligence agency

At first glance, it may seem contradictory that the nation’s intelligence agencies were telling Congress that President Vladimir V. Putin is presumably striving to get President Trump re-elected, while also warning Senator Bernie Sanders of evidence that he is the Russian president’s favorite Democrat.

But to the intelligence analysts and outside experts who have spent the past three years dissecting Russian motives in the 2016 election, and who tried to limit the effect of Moscow’s meddling in the 2018 midterms, what is unfolding in 2020 makes perfect sense.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders represent the most divergent ends of their respective parties, and both are backed by supporters known more for their passion than their policy rigor, which makes them ripe for exploitation by Russian trolls, disinformation specialists and hackers for hire seeking to widen divisions in American society.

While the two candidates disagree on almost everything, both share an instinct that the United States is overcommitted abroad: Neither is likely to pursue policies that push back aggressively on Mr. Putin’s plan to restore Moscow’s influence around the world, from the former Soviet states to the Middle East.

And if you are trying to sow chaos in an already chaotic, vitriolic election, Mr. Putin could hardly hope for better than a face-off between an incumbent with a history of race-baiting who is shouting “America First” at rallies — while darkly suggesting the coming election is rigged — and a democratic socialist from Vermont advocating a drastic expansion of taxes and government programs like Medicare.

“Any figures that radicalize politics and do harm to center views and unity in the United States are good for Putin’s Russia,” said Victoria Nuland, who served as ambassador to NATO and assistant secretary of state for European affairs, and had her phone calls intercepted and broadcast by Russian intelligence services.

The intelligence reports provided to the House Intelligence Committee, inciting Mr. Trump’s ire, may make the American understanding of Mr. Putin’s plans sound more certain than they really are, according to intelligence officials who contributed to the assessment. Those officials caution that such reports are as much art as science, a mixture of informants, intercepted conversations and intuition, as analysts in the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies try to get into the heads of foreign leaders.

Though intelligence officials have disputed that the officer who delivered the main briefing said Russia was actively aiding the president’s re-election, people in the room said that intelligence officers’ responses to lawmakers’ follow-up questions made clear that Russia was trying to get Mr. Trump re-elected.

Intelligence is hardly a perfect process, as Americans learned when the nation went to war in Iraq based in part on an estimate that Saddam Hussein was once again in search of a nuclear weapon.

But in this election, the broad strategy — as opposed to the specific tactics — are not exactly a mystery. Mr. Putin, the analysts agree, mostly seeks anything that would further take the sheen off American democracy and make presidential elections in the United States seem no more credible than his own. After that, he is eager for a compliant counterpart in the White House, one unlikely to challenge his territorial and nuclear ambitions.

Not surprisingly, the Kremlin says this is all an American fantasy, aimed at demonizing Russia for the United States’ own failings. “These are more paranoid announcements which, to our regret, will multiply as we get closer to the election,” Mr. Putin’s confidant and spokesman, Dmitry S. Peskov, was quoted by Reuters as telling reporters on Friday. “They have nothing to do with the truth.”

No matter who is elected, Mr. Putin has likely undermined one of his own primary goals: getting the United States and its allies to lift sanctions that were imposed after he annexed Crimea and accelerated a hybrid war against Ukraine.

“By actively exploiting divisions within American society and having its activities revealed, the Kremlin has ensured that its longer-term goal of having the U.S. remove sanctions and return to a less confrontational relationship so far has been thwarted,” Angela E. Stent, a former national intelligence officer for Russia and now a professor at Georgetown University, wrote in her book “Putin’s World: Russia Against the West and With the Rest.”

On Saturday, Ms. Stent noted that if the Russians are in fact interfering in this election, “it could bring about new energy sanctions.’’ She noted that one piece of legislation in the Senate, the DETER bill, would require new sanctions if evidence of Russian meddling emerges from intelligence agencies. Ms. Stent noted that, so far, Mr. Putin may have concluded that the penalties are a small price to pay if he can bring his geopolitical rival down a few more notches. And the early intelligence analyses suggest that, by backing Mr. Sanders in the primary and Mr. Trump in the general election, he would probably have a good chance of maximizing the electoral tumult.

Mr. Sanders is hardly a new target for the Russians. The 2018 indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for their activities in the last presidential election — issued by the Justice Department under the Trump administration — claimed that the officers “engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”

Robert S. Mueller III, in the report on his investigation into Russian operations, concluded that the release of memos hacked from the Democratic National Committee were meant to inflame Mr. Sanders’s supporters by revealing that the committee was funneling assets to Mrs. Clinton.

The more recent public reports emerging from the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I., and classified reports generated by the C.I.A. and others suggest that while the Russian objectives have remained the same, the techniques have shifted.

“The Russians aren’t going to use the old playbook, we know that,” said Christopher C. Krebs, who runs the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

His organization, along with the National Security Agency and British intelligence, has been steadily documenting how Russian operatives are becoming stealthier, learning from the mistakes they made in 2016.

As they focus on evading more vigilant government agencies and technology companies trying to identify and counter malicious online activity, the Russians are boring into Iranian cyberoffense units, apparently so that they can initiate attacks that look as if they originate in Iran — which itself has shown interest in messing with the American electoral process. Russians are putting more of their attack operations on computer servers in the United States, where the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies — but not the F.B.I. and homeland security — are prohibited from operating.

And, in one of the most effective twists, they are feeding disinformation to unsuspecting Americans on Facebook and other social media. By seeding conspiracy theories and baseless claims on the platforms, Russians hope everyday Americans will retransmit those falsehoods from their own accounts. That is an attempt to elude Facebook’s efforts to remove disinformation, which it can do more easily when it flags “inauthentic activity,” like Russians posing as Americans. It is much harder to ban the words of real Americans, who may be parroting a Russian story line, even unintentionally.

Mr. Krebs noted that this was why the Department of Homeland Security had to focus on educating Americans about where their information was coming from. “How do you explain,” he asked last year, “‘This is how you’re being manipulated, this is how they’re hacking your brain?’”

In 2018, the United States Cyber Command and the National Security Agency mounted a new and more public campaign to push back at the Russians, attacking and blocking their Internet Research Agency for a few days around the November elections and texted warnings to Russian intelligence officers that they were being watched. The N.S.A. is preparing for similar counterattacks this year: On Thursday, the United States cited intelligence and blamed Russia for a cyberattack last fall on the republic of Georgia, another place where Mr. Putin seems to be holding dress rehearsals.

Now American intelligence agencies face a new question: How do they run such operations, and warn Congress and Americans, at a moment when the president is declaring the intelligence on Russian election meddling is “another misinformation campaign” that is “launched by Democrats in Congress?”

The intelligence agencies are loath to cross him. The acting director of national intelligence at the time, Joseph Maguire, resisted appearing in public to provide the “Worldwide Threat Assessment” that is usually given to Congress before the president’s State of the Union address. (He was dismissed last week before he had to testify.) Because Mr. Trump was so angered by how his predecessor’s testimony contradicted his own statements last year — particularly on Iran, North Korea and the Islamic State — Mr. Maguire was in no hurry to repeat the experience.

His successor, Richard Grenell, the current American ambassador to Germany, is known for his political allegiance to Mr. Trump, not for his knowledge of the American intelligence agencies. He is widely viewed by career officials as more interested in making sure public intelligence reports do not embarrass Mr. Trump than sounding the clarion call that the Russians are coming, again.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Was Furious That Cruise Ship Passengers With Coronavirus Were Brought Back to U.S.

Westlake Legal Group 22dc-trumpvirus-facebookJumbo Trump Was Furious That Cruise Ship Passengers With Coronavirus Were Brought Back to U.S. United States Trump, Donald J State Department Japan Health and Human Services Department Evacuations and Evacuees Epidemics Cruises Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

WASHINGTON — President Trump was infuriated that 14 American citizens who had tested positive for coronavirus were permitted to return this week to the United States, said two senior administration officials. The decision had taken the president, a self-declared “germophobe,” by surprise.

Officials at the State Department decided to bring back the citizens, who had been quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, after consulting with a senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services. But officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention objected, concerned that the passengers, among hundreds of Americans being evacuated from the ship, could spread the virus. News organizations reported on the decision on Monday, and the passengers arrived in the United States that day.

Mr. Trump, furious at not having been briefed on the Americans who had tested positive, relayed his anger to Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, and other top officials. They then alerted the White House interagency task force on the coronavirus, which Mr. Azar oversees. One official said Mr. Trump views shutting the borders to infected people as critical to keeping the country safe and wants to be seen as managing a proper response.

The top State Department official on the task force is Stephen E. Biegun, the deputy secretary of state.

During the early legs of a four-day trip this week to the West Coast meant to bolster his re-election effort, Mr. Trump paid close attention to Fox News’s coverage of the Diamond Princess that played aboard Air Force One.

Word of Mr. Trump’s anger had already begun circulating among officials on Tuesday morning. The Washington Post first reported on it on Friday.

In 2014, during an Ebola crisis in Africa, Mr. Trump, who was then a private citizen, angrily demanded that the Obama administration cancel flights and bar anyone infected with the virus from entering the country — including American medical workers who had gone to Africa to help. “KEEP THEM OUT OF HERE!” he wrote in a July 31 tweet after learning that one American medical worker would be evacuated to Atlanta from Liberia.

  • How Is the U.S. Being Affected?

    Updated Feb. 22, 2020

    • An Omaha hospital that drew attention for treating Ebola patients is now playing a key role again.
    • One of the people evacuated from Wuhan last week to San Diego had coronavirus but was discharged because of a labeling error.
    • The outbreak has left some Asian-Americans feeling an unsettling level of public scrutiny.
    • Pittsburgh, Wuhan’s “sister city,” has been shaken by the outbreak and is sending aid to relatives and friends trapped in the center of a deadly outbreak.
    • There was a race to contain the disease after one man’s cough became confirmation of America’s first case.
    • Many who recently traveled to China are isolating themselves in ‘self quarantines’ for 14 days.
    • Most experts agree: To protect yourself wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
    • Affected by travel? Or do you know someone who is? Please contact us at coronavirus@nytimes.com if you are willing to be contacted by a reporter or have your comments used for a coming story.

“The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter the next day, adding: “People that go to far away places to help out are great — but must suffer the consequences!”

There have been at least 634 infections and two deaths from the Diamond Princess, which Japanese officials kept in isolation for two weeks at a port in Yokohama. That effort at a quarantine contributed to the virus’s rapid spread among passengers. The cluster from the ship is the largest concentration of coronavirus cases outside China, warranting its own category in data compiled by the World Health Organization.

American officials began a complex evacuation procedure for 328 passengers aboard the Diamond Princess on Sunday night. All had been examined by American medical experts and showed no symptoms of the coronavirus, Dr. William Walters, managing director of operational medicine at the State Department, and Dr. Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, said on Monday during a conference call with reporters.

But as those passengers were bused to Haneda Airport in Tokyo early Monday morning, Japanese officials told American counterparts that laboratory tests for 14 passengers had come back positive, Dr. Walters said. The tests had been conducted two to three days earlier, but American officials, believing the timing of the results would be “unpredictable” because of the volume of testing being done in Japan, began the evacuation without having all results in hand.

American passengers who had already tested positive or who had displayed symptoms had been sent to hospitals in Japan, Dr. Walters said.

After they learned that 14 passengers had tested positive, American officials decided that the entire group set to leave Japan should be treated according to protocols the officials had developed for evacuees, Dr. Walters said. That meant continuing to transport those who had tested positive but putting them in isolation — behind sheets of plastic about 10-feet tall — at the rear of the two planes flying them back to the United States.

Dr. Walters said on Monday that he and Dr. Kadlec reviewed the possible options after learning of the test results.

“Then the question was simply this: Are these evacuees?” Dr. Walters said. “And do we follow our protocol? And the answer to that was yes on both accounts.”

Dr. Kadlec added, “We had additional expertise and experienced eyes on these people and monitoring through the flight.”

The planes landed at Travis Air Force Base in California and Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Most of the 14 passengers who had tested positive were then flown to Omaha for treatment and monitoring by experts at the University of Nebraska.

Since then, Japanese officials have informed American officials that several other passengers among the 328 brought back had also tested positive for coronavirus. On Friday, American officials said at least 34 people inside the United States have the virus — 18 of them from the Diamond Princess. All of the 34 cases have been linked to overseas travel. There has been no sign yet of the virus spreading among communities in the United States.

The State Department is closely monitoring American citizens on board the Westerdam cruise ship in Cambodia, as well as Americans who have disembarked and are in hotels in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Those Americans are expected to travel onward at some point. One 83-year-old American woman from the ship traveled to Malaysia and tested positive for coronavirus.

Dr. Walters said Monday that 92 American citizens were still on board the Westerdam, while another 260 were in hotels in the Cambodian capital. About 300 American citizens had left the country, but “only after testing by the government of Cambodia’s ministry of health,” he said.

When asked whether the United States was thinking about arranging evacuation flights for the hundreds of Americans in Cambodia or elsewhere, Dr. Walters did not offer a direct answer. He said the State Department was “following very closely” the situation of American citizens in places where coronavirus is prevalent and of citizens who are “having difficulty in returning to the United States because of the disruptions in the international airline industry, and flights, and so forth.”

Separately, State Department officials say that thousands of Russia-linked social media accounts are spreading disinformation about the coronavirus, including a conspiracy theory that the United States is behind the outbreak.

American monitors first identified the campaign in mid-January. Agence France-Presse reported the assessment on Saturday.

“Russia’s intent is to sow discord and undermine U.S. institutions and alliances from within, including through covert and coercive malign influence campaigns,” said Philip T. Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia. “By spreading disinformation about coronavirus, Russian malign actors are once again choosing to threaten public safety by distracting from the global health response.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Was Furious That Cruise Ship Passengers With Coronavirus Were Brought Back to U.S.

Westlake Legal Group 22dc-trumpvirus-facebookJumbo Trump Was Furious That Cruise Ship Passengers With Coronavirus Were Brought Back to U.S. United States Trump, Donald J State Department Japan Health and Human Services Department Evacuations and Evacuees Epidemics Cruises Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

WASHINGTON — President Trump was infuriated that 14 American citizens who had tested positive for coronavirus were permitted to return this week to the United States, said two senior administration officials. The decision had taken the president, a self-declared “germophobe,” by surprise.

Officials at the State Department decided to bring back the citizens, who had been quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, after consulting with a senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services. But officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention objected, concerned that the passengers, among hundreds of Americans being evacuated from the ship, could spread the virus. News organizations reported on the decision on Monday, and the passengers arrived in the United States that day.

Mr. Trump, furious at not having been briefed on the Americans who had tested positive, relayed his anger to Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, and other top officials. They then alerted the White House interagency task force on the coronavirus, which Mr. Azar oversees. One official said Mr. Trump views shutting the borders to infected people as critical to keeping the country safe and wants to be seen as managing a proper response.

The top State Department official on the task force is Stephen E. Biegun, the deputy secretary of state.

During the early legs of a four-day trip this week to the West Coast meant to bolster his re-election effort, Mr. Trump paid close attention to Fox News’s coverage of the Diamond Princess that played aboard Air Force One.

Word of Mr. Trump’s anger had already begun circulating among officials on Tuesday morning. The Washington Post first reported on it on Friday.

In 2014, during an Ebola crisis in Africa, Mr. Trump, who was then a private citizen, angrily demanded that the Obama administration cancel flights and bar anyone infected with the virus from entering the country — including American medical workers who had gone to Africa to help. “KEEP THEM OUT OF HERE!” he wrote in a July 31 tweet after learning that one American medical worker would be evacuated to Atlanta from Liberia.

  • How Is the U.S. Being Affected?

    Updated Feb. 22, 2020

    • An Omaha hospital that drew attention for treating Ebola patients is now playing a key role again.
    • One of the people evacuated from Wuhan last week to San Diego had coronavirus but was discharged because of a labeling error.
    • The outbreak has left some Asian-Americans feeling an unsettling level of public scrutiny.
    • Pittsburgh, Wuhan’s “sister city,” has been shaken by the outbreak and is sending aid to relatives and friends trapped in the center of a deadly outbreak.
    • There was a race to contain the disease after one man’s cough became confirmation of America’s first case.
    • Many who recently traveled to China are isolating themselves in ‘self quarantines’ for 14 days.
    • Most experts agree: To protect yourself wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
    • Affected by travel? Or do you know someone who is? Please contact us at coronavirus@nytimes.com if you are willing to be contacted by a reporter or have your comments used for a coming story.

“The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter the next day, adding: “People that go to far away places to help out are great — but must suffer the consequences!”

There have been at least 634 infections and two deaths from the Diamond Princess, which Japanese officials kept in isolation for two weeks at a port in Yokohama. That effort at a quarantine contributed to the virus’s rapid spread among passengers. The cluster from the ship is the largest concentration of coronavirus cases outside China, warranting its own category in data compiled by the World Health Organization.

American officials began a complex evacuation procedure for 328 passengers aboard the Diamond Princess on Sunday night. All had been examined by American medical experts and showed no symptoms of the coronavirus, Dr. William Walters, managing director of operational medicine at the State Department, and Dr. Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, said on Monday during a conference call with reporters.

But as those passengers were bused to Haneda Airport in Tokyo early Monday morning, Japanese officials told American counterparts that laboratory tests for 14 passengers had come back positive, Dr. Walters said. The tests had been conducted two to three days earlier, but American officials, believing the timing of the results would be “unpredictable” because of the volume of testing being done in Japan, began the evacuation without having all results in hand.

American passengers who had already tested positive or who had displayed symptoms had been sent to hospitals in Japan, Dr. Walters said.

After they learned that 14 passengers had tested positive, American officials decided that the entire group set to leave Japan should be treated according to protocols the officials had developed for evacuees, Dr. Walters said. That meant continuing to transport those who had tested positive but putting them in isolation — behind sheets of plastic about 10-feet tall — at the rear of the two planes flying them back to the United States.

Dr. Walters said on Monday that he and Dr. Kadlec reviewed the possible options after learning of the test results.

“Then the question was simply this: Are these evacuees?” Dr. Walters said. “And do we follow our protocol? And the answer to that was yes on both accounts.”

Dr. Kadlec added, “We had additional expertise and experienced eyes on these people and monitoring through the flight.”

The planes landed at Travis Air Force Base in California and Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Most of the 14 passengers who had tested positive were then flown to Omaha for treatment and monitoring by experts at the University of Nebraska.

Since then, Japanese officials have informed American officials that several other passengers among the 328 brought back had also tested positive for coronavirus. On Friday, American officials said at least 34 people inside the United States have the virus — 18 of them from the Diamond Princess. All of the 34 cases have been linked to overseas travel. There has been no sign yet of the virus spreading among communities in the United States.

The State Department is closely monitoring American citizens on board the Westerdam cruise ship in Cambodia, as well as Americans who have disembarked and are in hotels in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Those Americans are expected to travel onward at some point. One 83-year-old American woman from the ship traveled to Malaysia and tested positive for coronavirus.

Dr. Walters said Monday that 92 American citizens were still on board the Westerdam, while another 260 were in hotels in the Cambodian capital. About 300 American citizens had left the country, but “only after testing by the government of Cambodia’s ministry of health,” he said.

When asked whether the United States was thinking about arranging evacuation flights for the hundreds of Americans in Cambodia or elsewhere, Dr. Walters did not offer a direct answer. He said the State Department was “following very closely” the situation of American citizens in places where coronavirus is prevalent and of citizens who are “having difficulty in returning to the United States because of the disruptions in the international airline industry, and flights, and so forth.”

Separately, State Department officials say that thousands of Russia-linked social media accounts are spreading disinformation about the coronavirus, including a conspiracy theory that the United States is behind the outbreak.

American monitors first identified the campaign in mid-January. Agence France-Presse reported the assessment on Saturday.

“Russia’s intent is to sow discord and undermine U.S. institutions and alliances from within, including through covert and coercive malign influence campaigns,” said Philip T. Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia. “By spreading disinformation about coronavirus, Russian malign actors are once again choosing to threaten public safety by distracting from the global health response.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump’s Efforts to Remove the Disloyal Heightens Unease Across His Administration

Westlake Legal Group 22dc-chaosSUB-facebookJumbo Trump’s Efforts to Remove the Disloyal Heightens Unease Across His Administration White House Office of Presidential Personnel United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Rood, John C. Office of the Director of National Intelligence O'Brien, Robert C (1952- ) National Security Council McEntee, John Maguire, Joseph (1952- ) Justice Department Appointments and Executive Changes

WASHINGTON — In some of the most critical corners of the Trump administration, officials show up for work now never entirely sure who will be there by the end of the evening — themselves included.

Even for an administration that has been a revolving door since Day 1, this has become a season of turmoil. At a moment when first-term presidents are typically seeking a stable team to focus on their re-election, President Trump has embarked on a systematic attempt to sweep out officials perceived to be disloyal.

The headquarters of the nation’s intelligence apparatus roiled with the ouster of the acting director Joseph Maguire and his replacement by a sharp partisan amid a dispute over Russian election interference. The Justice Department remained on edge with whispers of further resignations, including perhaps even that of Attorney General William P. Barr, after the president’s intervention in a case involving one of his friends. Witnesses from the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump have been summarily dismissed. Dozens of policy experts have been cleared out of the National Security Council staff as part of a restructuring that will mean fewer career professionals in range of the president. A deputy national security adviser dogged by innuendo about disloyalty was exiled to the Energy Department. A Trump appointee’s nomination for a top Treasury Department post was pulled. The No. 3 official at the Defense Department was shown the door.

And Johnny McEntee, a 29-year-old loyalist just installed to take over the Office of Presidential Personnel and reporting directly to Mr. Trump, has ordered a freeze on all political appointments across the government. He also convened a meeting to instruct departments to search for people not devoted to the president so they can be removed, according to people briefed about the session, and informed colleagues that he planned to tell cabinet secretaries that the White House would be choosing their deputies from now on.

“Trump appears to be launching the biggest assault on the nation’s civil service system since the 1883 Pendleton Act ended the spoils system,” said Paul C. Light, a New York University professor who has studied presidential personnel.

But career professionals are not the only ones in the cross hairs. Also facing scrutiny are Republican political appointees considered insufficiently committed to the president or suspected of not aggressively advancing his agenda.

Allies of the president say he should be free to make personnel changes, even if it amounts to shedding people who are not seen as loyal to Mr. Trump.

“It is not unusual at all that these types of assessments are done and thereafter changes are made,” said Bradley A. Blakeman, a Republican strategist and former White House official under President George W. Bush.

Nonetheless, the tumult and anxiety come at a time when the Trump administration confronts enormous challenges, including the coronavirus outbreak, Iranian and North Korean nuclear development and Russian determination to play a role again in America’s next election. Democrats, for example, have questioned whether specific cuts at the National Security Council have hurt the nation’s ability to respond if there were a severe coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

Mr. Trump has long been obsessed with loyalty, a view only exacerbated by his impeachment and the various investigations over the last three years that have convinced him that he is surrounded by a deep-state enemy within that is leaking, lying and sabotaging his presidency.

He has also been frustrated by the decision-making process of government, aggravated at competing centers of power that have shaped the modern presidency but have, in his view, hindered his ability to enact policies.

With a more loyal team in place, he hopes to make more progress on initiatives that have been slow-walked by institutional inertia or resistance like tougher rules on trade and immigration. But it could mean less dissent and less open debate with surviving officials fearing the loss of their jobs if they are seen as stepping out of line.

From the beginning, his administration has been a turnstile of people who fall in and out of favor with the president. Including those with “acting” designations, he is on his third chief of staff, his fourth national security adviser, his fourth defense secretary, his fifth secretary of homeland security, his sixth deputy national security adviser and his seventh communications director.

According to data compiled by Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, turnover among what she calls Mr. Trump’s “A team,” meaning his senior staff, has hit 82 percent, more in three years than any of the previous five presidents saw in their first four years. Moreover, the Trump administration has been notable for a high level of serial turnover, with 38 percent of the top positions replaced more than once.

“Many key departments and White House entities have been hollowed out,” Ms. Tenpas said. The president has thus been left with acting officials in many key areas. “He seems completely unbothered,” she said. “He claims that actings give him flexibility, but fails to see that temporary leaders cannot advance his policies nearly as well as a Senate-confirmed appointee who has the stature and all the powers to do so.”

While some of the reliance on acting officials owes to a dysfunctional Senate confirmation process, Mr. Trump seems to prefer to keep senior advisers on edge as to whether they will keep their job. Mick Mulvaney, his acting White House chief of staff, a position that does not require Senate confirmation, is finishing his 14th month with an “acting” in front of his title for no reason that has ever been publicly articulated and he may be forced out without ever having been granted the full title.

Mr. Mulvaney has shrugged it off, saying that anyone who works for Mr. Trump is by definition an acting official who could be dismissed at any time. But the president’s refusal to bestow the full title strikes many as a form of ritual humiliation depriving him of stature, influence or job security.

Just a few days ago, Mr. Mulvaney seemed to speak out in a way that caused many to wonder whether he may leave soon, voluntarily or not. During session with the Oxford Union in England, he said that the United States was “desperate” for more immigrants and that Republicans seemed to stop caring about rising deficits when Mr. Trump took office. He added that “I disagree with the president every single day” but did not talk about it publicly.

The newest power center at the White House is Mr. McEntee, a former assistant to the president who was fired by the previous chief of staff, John Kelly, but has been brought back as presidential personnel director. Mr. McEntee has made clear that his mission is to establish a more loyal team around the president. His meeting last Thursday with cabinet liaisons in which he called for rooting out disloyal officials was first reported by Axios.

The ousters have extended beyond impeachment witnesses like Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman and Ambassador Gordon D. Sondland. John C. Rood, who was removed as under secretary of defense for policy, did not speak out publicly but had written internal emails skeptical of the freeze on security aid to Ukraine that was at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

In National Security Council staff meetings, however, Mr. Rood was a constant voice of skepticism over the administration’s troop reductions in Syria, its pending peace deal with the Taliban and other issues. With Mr. McEntee’s arrival, that dissenting voice was no longer welcome, said a person familiar with the matter.

Supporters of Jessie K. Liu, a Trump backer who served as the United States attorney in Washington, suspect her nomination for under secretary of Treasury was pulled because of dissatisfaction with her prosecution of Roger J. Stone Jr., the president’s adviser convicted of obstruction and witness intimidation to protect Mr. Trump.

Victoria Coates, a deputy national security adviser, was dispatched to the Energy Department despite denials that she was the anonymous official who wrote an op-ed and book critical of the administration.

Mr. Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence who angered the president by allowing intelligence officials to tell House lawmakers that Russia was already intervening in the 2020 election on Mr. Trump’s behalf, was replaced by Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany and a vocal conservative with no background in intelligence.

One of Mr. Grenell’s first moves was to push out Andrew P. Hallman, the popular principal executive, who had been acting as the top deputy. Arriving with Mr. Grenell was Kashyap Patel, a senior National Security Council staff member and former key aide to Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California and a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Mr. Patel has been viewed warily by intelligence officers especially since news reports that his mandate was to clean house. Some top civil servants told colleagues they were contemplating quitting or feared being fired.

But Mr. Grenell also began a charm offensive with senior officials and his initial meetings have put some at ease while making others think they should give the new boss a chance. It is also not clear who placed Mr. Patel in the office, with one official saying it was not Mr. Grenell’s idea.

Some allies of the administration cautioned against overanalyzing the developments in the intelligence office. Mr. Maguire was scheduled to leave next month anyway under a vacancies law, although administration officials had been looking for ways to extend him, and Mr. Grenell is only temporary while the president comes up with a nominee to send to the Senate. “The O.D.N.I., I think, is less than meets the eye,” said James Jay Carafano, a national security scholar at the Heritage Foundation, using the initials for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Even so, it has added to the wave of concern across the administration, even among Trump appointees. And that may be part of the point. Convinced that so many officials in government have been working against him, Mr. Trump does not mind if they are more than a little unsettled.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York, and Julian E. Barnes from Washington.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Russia Is Said to Be Interfering to Aid Bernie Sanders in 2020 Election

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-sanders-sub-facebookJumbo Russia Is Said to Be Interfering to Aid Bernie Sanders in 2020 Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Republican Party Putin, Vladimir V Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Internet Research Agency (Russia) Democratic Party Cyberwarfare and Defense

WASHINGTON — Russia has been trying to intervene in the Democratic primaries to aid Senator Bernie Sanders, according to people familiar with the matter, and intelligence officials recently briefed him about Russian interference in the election, Mr. Sanders said on Friday.

In a statement on Friday, Mr. Sanders denounced Russia, calling President Vladimir V. Putin an “autocratic thug” and warning Moscow to stay out of the election.

“Let’s be clear, the Russians want to undermine American democracy by dividing us up and, unlike the current president, I stand firmly against their efforts and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election,” Mr. Sanders said.

He also told reporters that he was briefed about a month ago.

“The intelligence community is telling us Russia is interfering in this campaign right now in 2020,” Mr. Sanders said on Friday in Bakersfield, Calif., where he was to hold a rally ahead of Saturday’s Nevada caucuses. “And what I say to Mr. Putin, ‘If I am elected president, trust me you will not be interfering in American elections.’”

Senior intelligence officials told members of the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia was continuing its election sabotage campaign, including intervening in the Democratic primaries.

Intelligence officials also warned House lawmakers that Russia was interfering in the campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, according to people familiar with the matter. They said that the disclosure to Congress angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him.

Republicans have taken issue with the idea that Russia supports Mr. Trump, insisting that Mr. Putin simply wants to broadly spread chaos and undermine the democratic system. But some current and former officials say that a Russian campaign to support Mr. Sanders may ultimately be aimed at aiding Mr. Trump, with Moscow potentially considering Mr. Sanders a weaker opponent to the president than a more moderate Democratic nominee.

The Washington Post first reported the briefing of the Sanders campaign.

Mr. Sanders said it was his understanding that the Russians were again trying to interfere in the campaign. Some “ugly stuff on the internet” had been attributed to his campaign that could be coming from falsified accounts, he said.

The Russians also worked to support — or at least not harm — Mr. Sanders in 2016. Operatives at a Russian intelligence-backed troll factory were instructed to avoid attacking Mr. Sanders or Mr. Trump, according to the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. The report quoted internal documents from the Internet Research Agency ordering operatives to attack Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest except for Sanders and Trump — we support them,” the document said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Russia Is Said to Be Interfering to Aid Bernie Sanders in 2020 Election

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-sanders-sub-facebookJumbo Russia Is Said to Be Interfering to Aid Bernie Sanders in 2020 Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Republican Party Putin, Vladimir V Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Internet Research Agency (Russia) Democratic Party Cyberwarfare and Defense

WASHINGTON — Russia has been trying to intervene in the Democratic primaries to aid Senator Bernie Sanders, according to people familiar with the matter, and intelligence officials recently briefed him about Russian interference in the election, Mr. Sanders said on Friday.

In a statement on Friday, Mr. Sanders denounced Russia, calling President Vladimir V. Putin an “autocratic thug” and warning Moscow to stay out of the election.

“Let’s be clear, the Russians want to undermine American democracy by dividing us up and, unlike the current president, I stand firmly against their efforts and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election,” Mr. Sanders said.

He also told reporters that he was briefed about a month ago.

“The intelligence community is telling us Russia is interfering in this campaign right now in 2020,” Mr. Sanders said on Friday in Bakersfield, Calif., where he was to hold a rally ahead of Saturday’s Nevada caucuses. “And what I say to Mr. Putin, ‘If I am elected president, trust me you will not be interfering in American elections.’”

Senior intelligence officials told members of the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia was continuing its election sabotage campaign, including intervening in the Democratic primaries.

Intelligence officials also warned House lawmakers that Russia was interfering in the campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, according to people familiar with the matter. They said that the disclosure to Congress angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him.

Republicans have taken issue with the idea that Russia supports Mr. Trump, insisting that Mr. Putin simply wants to broadly spread chaos and undermine the democratic system. But some current and former officials say that a Russian campaign to support Mr. Sanders may ultimately be aimed at aiding Mr. Trump, with Moscow potentially considering Mr. Sanders a weaker opponent to the president than a more moderate Democratic nominee.

The Washington Post first reported the briefing of the Sanders campaign.

Mr. Sanders said it was his understanding that the Russians were again trying to interfere in the campaign. Some “ugly stuff on the internet” had been attributed to his campaign that could be coming from falsified accounts, he said.

The Russians also worked to support — or at least not harm — Mr. Sanders in 2016. Operatives at a Russian intelligence-backed troll factory were instructed to avoid attacking Mr. Sanders or Mr. Trump, according to the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. The report quoted internal documents from the Internet Research Agency ordering operatives to attack Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest except for Sanders and Trump — we support them,” the document said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Russia Is Said to Be Interfering to Aid Bernie Sanders in 2020 Election

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-sanders-sub-facebookJumbo Russia Is Said to Be Interfering to Aid Bernie Sanders in 2020 Election United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Sanders, Bernard Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Republican Party Putin, Vladimir V Primaries and Caucuses Presidential Election of 2020 Internet Research Agency (Russia) Democratic Party Cyberwarfare and Defense

WASHINGTON — Russia has been trying to intervene in the Democratic primaries to aid Senator Bernie Sanders, according to people familiar with the matter, and intelligence officials recently briefed him about Russian interference in the election, Mr. Sanders said on Friday.

In a statement on Friday, Mr. Sanders denounced Russia, calling President Vladimir V. Putin an “autocratic thug” and warning Moscow to stay out of the election.

“Let’s be clear, the Russians want to undermine American democracy by dividing us up and, unlike the current president, I stand firmly against their efforts and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election,” Mr. Sanders said.

He also told reporters that he was briefed about a month ago.

“The intelligence community is telling us Russia is interfering in this campaign right now in 2020,” Mr. Sanders said on Friday in Bakersfield, Calif., where he was to hold a rally ahead of Saturday’s Nevada caucuses. “And what I say to Mr. Putin, ‘If I am elected president, trust me you will not be interfering in American elections.’”

Senior intelligence officials told members of the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia was continuing its election sabotage campaign, including intervening in the Democratic primaries.

Intelligence officials also warned House lawmakers that Russia was interfering in the campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, according to people familiar with the matter. They said that the disclosure to Congress angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him.

Republicans have taken issue with the idea that Russia supports Mr. Trump, insisting that Mr. Putin simply wants to broadly spread chaos and undermine the democratic system. But some current and former officials say that a Russian campaign to support Mr. Sanders may ultimately be aimed at aiding Mr. Trump, with Moscow potentially considering Mr. Sanders a weaker opponent to the president than a more moderate Democratic nominee.

The Washington Post first reported the briefing of the Sanders campaign.

Mr. Sanders said it was his understanding that the Russians were again trying to interfere in the campaign. Some “ugly stuff on the internet” had been attributed to his campaign that could be coming from falsified accounts, he said.

The Russians also worked to support — or at least not harm — Mr. Sanders in 2016. Operatives at a Russian intelligence-backed troll factory were instructed to avoid attacking Mr. Sanders or Mr. Trump, according to the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. The report quoted internal documents from the Internet Research Agency ordering operatives to attack Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest except for Sanders and Trump — we support them,” the document said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Calls Warning of Russian 2020 Meddling a Democratic ‘Hoax’

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-trump1-facebookJumbo Trump Calls Warning of Russian 2020 Meddling a Democratic ‘Hoax’ United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 Grenell, Richard Espionage and Intelligence Services

LAS VEGAS — President Trump said Friday that a disclosure by American intelligence officials that Russia was again meddling in a presidential election in his favor was merely another partisan campaign against him, dismissing the warning as a hoax cooked up by rivals.

“Another misinformation campaign is being launched by Democrats in Congress saying that Russia prefers me to any of the Do Nothing Democrat candidates who still have been unable to, after two weeks, count their votes in Iowa,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “Hoax number 7!”

The intelligence assessment, delivered last Thursday to lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee, determined that Russia is planning to interfere in the 2020 primaries as well as the general election. But the way it was delivered angered some Republicans, and the attendance of Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the committee who led the impeachment proceedings, particularly angered Mr. Trump.

The president’s decision to remove Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, and install Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany and a fervent loyalist, was also seen as a direct outcome of the briefing. On Thursday evening, Mr. Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, an ally and a vocal opponent of impeachment, was one of the candidates under consideration as a permanent successor. By Friday morning, Mr. Collins said he was not interested.

“This is not a job that interests me; at this time, it’s not one that I would accept because I’m running a Senate race down here in Georgia,” Mr. Collins said in an interview on Fox News.

Mr. Trump has a long history of discarding assessments made by intelligence agencies that he has deemed unfair or unflattering. Multiple intelligence groups have determined that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, and, before the 2018 midterms, delivered warnings that Russia was prepared to do it again. Early in his presidency, Mr. Trump grudgingly accepted those assessments before falling back on personal assurances from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

“He said he didn’t meddle,” Mr. Trump said in November 2017. “I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”

Since then, Mr. Trump, with the assistance of his Justice Department, has moved to retaliate against the intelligence community rather than Mr. Putin: A federal prosecutor is scrutinizing how the intelligence officials assessed Russia’s 2016 election interference, targeting the former C.I.A. director John O. Brennan in particular.

On Friday, Mr. Trump seemed to add the details of the latest briefing on Russia to his pile of so-called hoaxes.

That pile is ever growing.

Among them: He has long slammed the special counsel investigation into Russia’s election interference and ties to his campaign as a “Russian hoax,” and in the fall, Mr. Trump’s Justice Department opened a criminal inquiry into the investigation. He has disparaged the impeachment inquiry into his behavior with foreign leaders and later charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress as a “failed impeachment hoax.” He claimed that sexual assault accusations against Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh were a “hoax.”

On Friday, Mr. Trump tweeted that he had a list of four candidates to succeed Mr. Grenell, and that he would announce a decision in the coming weeks.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com