The mess in the US

The mess in the US is looking messier.

The latest news claims that the ‘private memos’ of James Comey contained classified information, and Donald Trump Jr has been more closely linked to Russian interefrence in last year’s election.

The Hill: Comey’s private memos on Trump conversations contained classified material

More than half of the memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote as personal recollections of his conversations with President Trump about the Russia investigation have been determined to contain classified information, according to interviews with officials familiar with the documents.

This revelation raises the possibility that Comey broke his own agency’s rules and ignored the same security protocol that he publicly criticized Hillary Clinton over in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election.

Comey testified last month before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he considered the memos to be personal documents and that he shared at least one of them with a friend.

Comey insisted in his testimony he believed his personal memos were unclassified, though he hinted one or two documents he created might have been contained classified information.

President Trump dived in to that –  Trump on Monday morning tweeted out an angry response: “James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!”

But his son Donald trump Jr has been linked more closely to Russian interference in the election.

NY Times: Trump Jr. Was Told in Email of Russian Effort to Aid Campaign

Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting. In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs. Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy.

Mr. Goldstone’s message, as described to The New York Times by the three people, indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information.

There is no evidence to suggest that the promised damaging information was related to Russian government computer hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails. The meeting took place less than a week before it was widely reported that Russian hackers had infiltrated the committee’s servers.

But the email is likely to be of keen interest to the Justice Department and congressional investigators, who are examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election. American intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government tried to sway the election in favor of Mr. Trump.

And the NY Times now has a copy of the email: Russian Dirt on Clinton? ‘I Love It,’ Donald Trump Jr. Said

The June 3, 2016, email sent to Donald Trump Jr. could hardly have been more explicit: One of his father’s former Russian business partners had been contacted by a senior Russian government official and was offering to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton.

He replied within minutes: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

Four days later, after a flurry of emails, the intermediary wrote back, proposing a meeting in New York on Thursday with a “Russian government attorney.”

Donald Trump Jr. agreed, adding that he would most likely bring along “Paul Manafort (campaign boss)” and “my brother-in-law,” Jared Kushner, now one of the president’s closest White House advisers.

The documents “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” read the email, written by a trusted intermediary, who added, “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

This is now under more investigation.

The Justice Department, as well as the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, is examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election. American intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government tried to sway the election in favor of Mr. Trump.

Trump Jr has been defending himself via Twitter.

On Monday, Donald Trump Jr. said on Twitter that it was hardly unusual to take information on an opponent.

On Tuesday morning, he tweeted, “Media & Dems are extremely invested in the Russia story. If this nonsense meeting is all they have after a yr, I understand the desperation!”

After being told that The Times was about to publish the content of the emails, instead of responding to a request for comment, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out images of them himself on Tuesday.

“To everyone, in order to be totally transparent, I am releasing the entire email chain of my emails” about the June 9 meeting, he wrote. “I first wanted to just have a phone call but when that didn’t work out, they said the woman would be in New York and asked if I would meet.”

Both Putin and President Trump have tried to distance themselves.

A spokesman for Mr. Putin said on Monday that he did not know Ms. Veselnitskaya and that he had no knowledge of the June 2016 meeting.

Back in Washington, both the White House and a spokesman for President Trump’s lawyer have taken pains to distance the president from the meeting, saying that he did he not attend it and that he learned about it only recently.

So his sone, his son-in-law and and his campaign boss said nothing to him at the time? And have said nothing to him since, even though it has been a prominent ongoing topic?

The president has denied any collusion with Russia over the election, but he looks like he could sink into the mire.

This draining the swamp thing may take a while yet.

Especially when the Trumps look as murky as anyone else.

UPDATE: Murkier

The pressure isn’t off Trump

Trump has headed off on his first overseas trip as president.

But the pressure on him back in the US continues relentlessly, despite him allegedly telling the Russians that his sacking of James Comey had taken the pressure off.

NY Times: Trump Told Russians That Firing ‘Nut Job’ Comey Eased Pressure From Investigation

President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”

The conversation, during a May 10 meeting — the day after he fired Mr. Comey — reinforces the notion that Mr. Trump dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives. Mr. Trump said as much in one televised interview, but the White House has offered changing justifications for the firing.

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, did not dispute the account.

In a statement, he said that Mr. Comey had put unnecessary pressure on the president’s ability to conduct diplomacy with Russia on matters such as Syria, Ukraine and the Islamic State.

“By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia,” Mr. Spicer said. “The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”

Meanwhile yesterday the White House decided to fight back.

That’s hardly likely to dampen down the ongoing fire storm.

One thing that may change over the next few days is the timing of Trump’s tweets (that keep fueling the fire) due to him moving through different time zones.

One thing that doesn’t seem to have changed is the number of embarrassing leaks.

On Fox Charles Krauthammer suggested 5 Things Trump Can Do to Fix White House Turmoil

Charles Krauthammer joined Tucker Carlson tonight to reveal the five pieces of advice he would give President Donald Trump to fix the turmoil that seems to have permeated the White House.

He said Trump needs to spend less effort, time and emotional energy on the various controversies facing his administration, and instead focus on implementing his agenda.

  1. Make an unimpeachable appointment for FBI director.
  2. Stop tweeting.
  3. Go on his scheduled nine-day, five-city foreign trip.
  4. Use the trip to announce a huge shift in U.S. foreign policy, thereby changing the narrative about his administration.
  5. Daily sessions with Dr. Krauthammer.

Tucker asked if Krauthammer believes Trump can follow these recommendations, or at least the first four.

“He doesn’t easily compartmentalize. He doesn’t have that almost kind of psychopathic ability to make distinctions, as Clinton did. I think he gets sort of into everything, and it takes him over,” Krauthammer said. “So, I don’t think he can. But that’s why he needs to see me, probably for an hour a day for several years.”

It is being reported that the frontrunner for the positi0n of FBI director is Joseph Lieberman which is likely to be contentious, not unimpeachable.

Will Trump get over his obsession with tweeting?

He’s away on his trip, and some alternative news is likely to come out of that.

Point 5 is tongue in cheek but Trump really needs an honest and forthright adviser who he will listen to for advice.

BREAKING: Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner ‘person of interest in Russia investigation’

Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has reportedly been identified as a “person of interest” in the ongoing investigation into possible ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign.

The Washington Post said that a senior advisor to Mr Trump had been identified as someone that investigators wanted to speak to. A New York magazine reporter then reported that the person in question was Mr Kushner, who is married to the Mr Trump’s daughter and who flew out of Washington on Friday night to accompany the president on his first official foreign trip.

That’ may may things awkward to deal with both on the trip and back in Washington.

 

Questions over Sessions’ testimony

New US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has come under fire over sworn testimony given during his confirmation hearing that appears to deny contact with Russian officials during the election campaign.

Fox News: Sessions, Russian ambassador spoke twice during presidential campaign

Attorney General Jeff Sessions had two conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during last year’s presidential campaign, while Sessions was still a senator.

Reports about the meetings appeared to contradict a statement Sessions made during his confirmation hearing to become attorney general. Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., how he would respond “if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign.”

“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” answered Sessions, one of Trump’s earliest and most prominent supporters during the campaign. “I have been called a surrogate a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”

When contacted by Fox News late Wednesday, Sessions said, “I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”

But he has at least two meetings with Russian government representatives. He should have at least been open about this.

The disclosure caused renewed calls for Sessions to step aside from an ongoing FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The White House has already acknowledged that Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, misled top officials about the nature of his contacts with Kislyak. Flynn initially told Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump advisers that he did not discuss sanctions with the envoy during the transition, though it was later revealed that he did.

It’s fair to question this lack of frankness.

G W Bush’s ethics lawyer:

Washington Post: Sessions met with Russian envoy twice last year, encounters he later did not disclose

One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race.

The previously undisclosed discussions could fuel new congressional calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 presidential election. As attorney general, Sessions oversees the Justice Department and the FBI, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling and any links to Trump’s associates. He has so far resisted calls to recuse himself.

When Sessions spoke with Kislyak in July and September, the senator was a senior member of the influential Armed Services Committee as well as one of Trump’s top foreign policy advisers. Sessions played a prominent role supporting Trump on the stump after formally joining the campaign in February 2016.

At his Jan. 10 Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.

“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” he responded. He added: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

In January, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) asked Sessions for answers to written questions. “Several of the President-elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?” Leahy wrote.

Sessions responded with one word: “No.”

In a statement issued Wednesday night, Sessions said he “never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”

Sessions may think that semantics give him a way out of this but it doesn’t look good for him or for the Trump administration.

Full and open disclosure at the hearings would have avoided this. Now it looks like Sessions has been avoiding open disclosure, which raises questions about whether he deliberately tried to hide contact with Russians.