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Congress Is Completely Ignoring the Blatant Bias in the FBI Against Hillary Clinton that Likely Swung the 2016 Election

July 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Republicans' conspiracy theories about the FBI go in completely the wrong direction.


Republican lawmakers berated FBI agent Peter Strzok Thursday over his professed dislike of Trump during the 2016 campaign, when he worked on both the Russia investigation and the Clinton email probe, but they completely ignored the real evidence that hatred for a candidate influenced the outcome of the election.

The idea that Strzok or others in the FBI were so biased against Trump that they worked to undermine his election laughable because the bureau kept its investigation into Trump's campaign and ties to Russia a secret. Had Strzok or others in the bureau wanted to torpedo Trump's electoral chances, they could have just made that information public. And though Strzok clearly despised Trump, a recent thorough report from the Justice Department inspector general found no evidence that this bias affected any investigation or the election (and, of course, Trump won).

But the IG report did find evidence that FBI agents were seriously biased against Clinton, and one section of the report, highlighted by the pseudonymous Twitter lawyer “southpaw,” suggests that the bias drove an investigatory process that threw the election to Trump.

This evidence is in the form of testimony from Attorney General Loretta Lynch, recounting a conversation she had with former FBI Director James Comey. She explains that he believed senior officials at the FBI's New York office had a “deep and visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton” and that this spurred his decision to reopen the email investigation:

…. he said it’s clear to me that there is a cadre of senior people in New York who have a deep and visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton. And he said it is, it is deep. It’s, and he said, he said it was surprising to him or stunning to him.

You know, I didn’t get the impression he was agreeing with it at all, by the way. But he was saying it did exist, and it was hard to manage because these were agents that were very, very senior, or had even had timed out and were staying on, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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‘This Is Not Benghazi!’: Peter Strzok and Democrats Berate Trey Gowdy as Hearing Devolves into Meltdown

July 12, 2018 in Blogs

By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

The hearing was a disaster.


House Republicans insisted they had to interview FBI agent Peter Strzok to publicly air his anti-Trump texts in an attempt to discredit the Mueller investigation into Russia's attack on the 2016 presidential election.

For much of Thursday, the hearing has been a disaster – for the GOP. Grandstanding, lies, attempts to frame Strzok as biased have all failed. In fact, some watching have compared Strzok, the Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, to Hillary Clinton during her 11 hour marathon Benghazi testimony.

At one point late Thursday afternoon, Strzok saw fit to berate Rep. Trey Gowdy (who, incidentally, chaired the Committee that forced Hillary Clinton to testify for 11 hours, and concluded he had learned nothing new that day.)

In the clip below, Gowdy reads a part of one of Strzok's texts.

And that's when Strzok went for the jugular.

“Sir, my concern was not knowing, given these allegations, what existed,” Strzok said, referring to Trump and his team. “Whether on the one hand, there was no criminal activity whatsoever, towards the middle, that there were individuals kind of pursuing their own agenda for their own self-enrichment, or on the far end, that there might be an impeachable offense.”

It devolved from there.

As Rep. Gowdy interrupted Strzok, Rep. David Cicilline (D-NJ) interjected, noting Gowdy was already a minute and a half over his time limit.

Other Democrats called, “point of order!”

Strzok returned to his testimony.

“The reality is,” Strzok continued, attacking Gowdy, “you know full well I said both, and you know why I said both, why I did that, and what I'm telling you under oath, is that I did not know what existed. I had pre-judged nothing.”

The committee devolved into chaos once again as Gowdy tried to support his line of questioning – which he could not.

“If you can't control yourself,” Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman charged Gowdy, “how do you expect this committee to control itself?”

“You've been out of control since you've been on this committee!” Rep. Watson Coleman accused. “Why don't you leave it alone? This is not Benghazi!” she concluded, referring to Gowdy's disastrous investigation that found …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump and Congressional Republicans Are Working to ‘End Welfare As We Know It’

July 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Ebony Slaughter-Johnson, Independent Media Institute

They are setting the stage for the elimination of the social safety net altogether.


At the end of May, the Virginia state Senate joined the House of Delegates in electing to participate in the Medicaid expansion provided by the Affordable Care Act. As 400,000 Virginians look toward expanded access to health care coverage from Medicaid, millions of Americans across the country could encounter new restrictions on their access to the program. On June 21, the Republican-led House Budget Committee passed its budget for the 2019 fiscal year, “A Brighter American Future.” Among other changes, this budget would empower states to either convert Medicaid into a block grant or establish per capita caps and apply work requirements to any “able-bodied, working-age, non-pregnant adult without dependents” as a condition of Medicaid enrollment.

It seems that relentless attacks on the social safety net, characterized by deep budget cuts, work requirements, and other programmatic modifications, have a distinct purpose: The Trump administration and its Republican allies in Congress are setting the stage for the elimination of the social safety net altogether.

Undermining the Social Safety Net

Having campaigned on repealing the Affordable Care Act, it was clear that President Trump felt no strong inclination to protect the social safety net. However, the attitude of his administration toward the social safety net has been characterized not by neglect, but by active hostility. In May 2017, the Trump administration introduced a budget that Vox described as including the “largest cuts to social programs and the safety net to be proposed by a president in decades.”

The budget, “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” requested that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a favorite target of congressional Republicans, be cut by 25 percent over the next ten years in the amount of $191 billion. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Clinton administration’s less generous replacement to Aid to Families with Dependent Children, was to lose $21.6 billion over the next ten years. For Medicaid, which congressional Republicans had already hoped to cut by $880 billion …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Democratic Rep Destroys GOP Attacks on FBI Agent — But Slams the Bureau for Stopping a 'Legitimate President' from Being Elected

July 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

This should put the Republican's manufactured outrage to rest.


While GOP lawmakers used the congressional hearing of FBI agent Peter Strzok on Thursday to express their frustration with the ongoing investigation into President Donald Trump's ties to Russia, it was a Democratic lawmaker who had the most justified and righteous diatribe of the day.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) effectively demolished the entirety of the Republicans' attacks on Strzok when she spoke. She noted that all their GOP conspiracy theories about the FBI fail to grapple with one simple reality: Because of the FBI, Trump became president and Hillary Clinton did not.

All the Republicans' manufactured outrage, then, is nonsense.

“If anybody should be pissed at the FBI because you all helped this unfit man become president of the United States by not revealing to the people that he was under investigation in his campaign, it should be me,” she told Strzok.

Gesturing toward her Republican colleagues, she said, “They should be applauding you, kissing you, and giving you all awards because but for you, we would have had a legitimate president.”

Watch the clip below:

Related Stories

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Does Trump Want to Sabotage the United Nations?

July 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Evelyn Leopold, Independent Media Institute

The Trump administration seems to see no value in participating in international conferences.


President Donald Trump has frequently scorned the United Nations, leaving his pragmatic UN Ambassador Nikki Haley to smooth over the rough spots as he rejected policies identified with his cerebral predecessor, Barack Obama.

The United Nations is made up of a lot of foreigners (and that’s the point); yet, Trump has stressed “America First” to the UN General Assembly, the world’s primary multilateral forum, most recently in September. This prompted Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, to comment: “This was a bombastic nationalistic speech. It must have been decades since one heard a speech like that in the UN General Assembly.”

Despite constant talk of bankrupting the United Nations, especially for peacekeeping, Nikki Haley made sure there was no “slash and burn” action—yet. She took credit for some budget reductions that were negotiated with the UN Secretary-General and Europeans. And she is known for withering condemnations of Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

But the bombardment by a Saudi-led coalition of civilians in Yemen is not high on the list of criticisms by the United States—or other Western nations since Iran is supporting the rebels.

Still, the Trump administration has injured the United Nations through relatively minor cuts that can add up. It withdrew from the Human Rights Council, cut financing to Palestinian refugees, and quit the UN population fund (UNFPA) as well as the cultural agency UNESCO. It also threatened all UN agencies and programs if they ever uttered the word “abortion” regardless of circumstances.

The White House started its negative initiatives by pulling out of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, which commits nations to take action against the earth’s rising temperatures. The United Nations has supplied some of the startling research on air, water and land pollution. Only the United States seems to reject the science.

The Trump administration also seems to see no value in participating in international conferences. The United States withdrew from a global compact on “handling flows of migrants and refugees, describing …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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No, Secretary Pompeo, America’s Strategy in Afghanistan is Not Working

July 12, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Afghanistan earlier this
week and declared that U.S. strategy there “is indeed working.”
Alas, evidence of success in America’s longest war is difficult to
find. On Saturday, just before the secretary made his hopeful
statement, an Afghan soldier killed Corporal Joseph Maciel of South
Gate, California, in yet another brazen insider assault on one of
our troops. The administration’s approach did not “work” for
him.

After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. had no choice but to target
al-Qaeda and its Afghan host, the Taliban government. Both were
quickly, if incompletely, defeated. The threat to America was
largely eliminated.

Today, al-Qaeda is mostly an inspiration to local affiliates,
such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, currently being targeted
in Yemen by a heavy U.S. bombing campaign. Osama bin Laden gained
sanctuary in next-door Pakistan, where American forces eventually
found him. Nonexistent in 2001, the Islamic State now takes credit
for many of the bloody attacks against civilians in Afghanistan
today.

Although the Taliban continues to contend for power, it is just
another insurgency in a world seemingly aflame. The group wants to
return Afghanistan to medieval-style rule, but has few ambitions
beyond that. What is left of al-Qaeda would gain nothing from a
Taliban victory, since the group can operate from most anywhere in
the world.

In short, Washington could have claimed “mission accomplished”
and brought its personnel home years ago. But it didn’t and is now
— by several measures — paying the price.

The green-on-blue killing
of an American soldier is just the latest indication that this war
has failed.

Nearly 17 years, 2,400 military and 3,500 contractor deaths, and
almost a trillion dollars later, U.S. forces remain on station in
Central Asia. Indeed, Donald Trump has upped force levels, expanded
CIA covert operations, and increased airstrikes. Overall,
Washington is set to spend $45 billion in Afghanistan this
year.

Despite recurring claims of progress and promises of
improvement, Kabul appears little closer to standing on its own.
When I visited Afghanistan as part of a NATO delegation a few years
back, the private, off-the-record comments of allied military
personnel, civilian contractors, and Afghans were invariably
caustic and pessimistic at best.

The government there is in permanent crisis. Poppy production,
which corrupts everything it touches, reached a new high last year.
The number of Taliban fighters is thought to have at least tripled
since 2014 to 60,000, and insurgents are active across the country,
even staging attacks with night vision equipment. Kabul is unsafe,
forcing the U.S. to ferry its personnel to the airport via
helicopter (a route I took multiple times without incident during
my visits).

The U.S. government …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Pursuing Realistic US Goals at the Helsinki Summit

July 12, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

The summit meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in
Helsinki on July 16 offers an important opportunity to repair the
badly damaged relationship between Russia and the United States. A
successful outcome would be beneficial to European nations as well,
since it could substantially reduce overall East-West tensions.
Success, however, depends on President Trump having realistic
expectations and not making demands that have no chance of being
fulfilled.

Unfortunately, sentiment in the United States in the lead up to
the summit is not encouraging. Trump’s partisan opponents, as well
as the usual flock of congenital hawks, are already pressuring him
not to show any inclination to compromise with Russia.
Indeed, some critics act as though his mere willingness to meet with Putin shows poor
judgment and an appeasement mentality. That attitude surfaced as well when President Trump held a
face-to-face meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

It is an unhealthy, unrealistic view of foreign affairs. A
willingness to meet and negotiate in good faith with foreign
adversaries is a crucial aspect of successful diplomacy, and
Washington has achieved important successes by doing so. Without
such policy flexibility, the United States would never have
concluded important arms control agreements with the Soviet Union
or normalized relations with the People’s Republic of China —
breakthroughs that benefited both U.S. interests and the welfare of
humanity.

The rising tensions between Washington and Moscow have reached
alarming levels that some experts believe amount to a second Cold
war. The summit can begin to ease those tensions and
resolve some of the underlying disputes
. Trump and his
advisers, though, need to focus on attainable objectives and not
waste their efforts on unattainable ones.

The summit meeting
between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in Helsinki offers an
important opportunity to repair the badly damaged relationship
between Russia and the United States.

Demanding that Russia return Crimea to Ukraine is at the top of
the unattainable category. The Kremlin’s annexation was at least
partly a reaction to the clumsy and
provocative actions
that the United States and key European
Union powers took in 2014 to support demonstrators who unseated
Ukraine’s elected, pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, before
the expiration of his term. Moscow was furious about that Western
power play, and Putin’s seizure of Crimea was the response. Issues
of national pride and security calculations were involved. The
West’s meddling in Ukraine was merely the latest encroachment in
Russia’s geopolitical neighborhood, and this one would not go
unchallenged. Russians were especially sensitive regarding the
Crimea issue, because the peninsula had been part of Russia from
1783 until …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Why America Must 'Invade' North Korea

July 12, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

North Korea is not rushing to disarm. Pyongyang’s return to its
rhetoric of old to describe Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit
suggested a significant difference between United States and North
Korean expectations.

That should surprise no one. Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un would be
foolish to cast away weapons developed at such cost—which are
the only certain means to protect his rule from America’s
overwhelming military power. Since taking over in December 2011 he
has ruthlessly consolidated power. He knows that foreign leaders
trust Washington at their peril.

In fact, many observers remain skeptical that Kim is willing to
yield his arsenal for any economic reward. Last year Dan Coats, the
director of National Intelligence, explained that he “has
watched, I think, what has happened around the world relative to
nations that possess nuclear capabilities and the leverage they
have.” The experience of Libya dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi
was “If you had nukes, never give them up. If you don’t
have them, get them.”

Has Kim had an unexpected change of heart? Not likely, but even
if so he wouldn’t give away his deterrent based only on the
president’s promise of goodwill after five hours of
talks.

Pyongyang’s propaganda
can be countered by sending Americans to reside in the Hermit
Kingdom.

Indeed, the summit communique set denuclearization as last in a
series of actions. The first was to “establish new U.S.-DPRK
relations” reflecting a mutual desire “for peace and
prosperity.” The second was “to build a lasting and
stable peace regime.” Third was working for
denuclearization.

Although the president may have wanted to get the nukes at the
beginning, that never was Pyongyang’s view. Before the summit
Kim asked why his country would need nuclear weapons if it
established good relations with America? There’s an obvious
answer to that question—ask Muammar el-Qaddafi how his
bromance with President George W. Bush worked out—but even if
Kim was serious the relationship he suggested would require more
than one brief meeting. Creating a “lasting” system
will take time.

Amid reports of continuing North Korean nuclear work, the
administration should advance engagement policies to help move the
denuclearization process forward. What initiatives at little cost
or risk to America would promote the sort of relations and regime
Kim requested? What would help convince Kim that the United States
does not now nor ever will support regime change?

First, Secretary Pompeo should drop the ban on Americans
traveling to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Imposed
last September, the prohibition made no sense even then. Otto
Warmbier’s case was tragic—and almost certainly more
complicated than commonly presented. But he was the only one
detained in 2016 out of about one thousand Americans …read more

Source: OP-EDS