May 23, 2018

“Collusion Against Trump” Timeline

 

By

 

It’s easy to find timelines that detail Trump-Russia collusion developments. Here are links to two of them I recommend:

Politifact Russia-Trump timeline

Washington Post Russia-Trump timeline

On the other side, evidence has emerged in the past year that makes it clear there were organized efforts to collude against candidate Donald Trump–and then President Trump. For example:

  • Anti-Russian Ukrainians allegedly helped coordinate and execute a campaign against Trump in partnership with the Democratic National Committee and news reporters.
  • A Yemen-born ex-British spy reportedly delivered political opposition research against Trump to reporters, Sen. John McCain, and the FBI; the latter of which used the material–in part–to obtain wiretaps against one or more Trump-related associates.
  • There were orchestrated leaks of anti-Trump information and allegations to the press, including by ex-FBI Director James Comey.
  • The U.S. intel community allegedly engaged in questionable surveillance practices and politially-motivated “unmaskings” of U.S. citizens, including Trump officials.
  • Alleged conflicts of interests have surfaced regarding FBI officials who cleared Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information and who investigated Trump’s alleged Russia ties.

But it’s not so easy to find a timeline pertinent to the investigations into these events.

Here’s a work in progress.

(Please note that nobody cited has been charged with wrongdoing or crimes, unless the charge is specifically referenced. Temporal relationships are not necessarily evidence of a correlation.)

“Collusion against Trump” Timeline

2011

U.S. intel community vastly expands its surveillance authority, giving itself permission to spy on Americans who do nothing more than “mention a foreign target in a single, discrete communication.” Intel officials also begin storing and entering into a searchable database sensitive intelligence on U.S. citizens whose communications are accidentally or “incidentally” captured during surveillance of foreign targets. Prior to this point, such intelligence was supposed to be destroyed to protect the constitutional privacy rights the U.S. citizens. However, it’s required that names U.S. citizens be hidden or “masked” –even inside U.S. intel agencies –to prevent abuse.

2012

July 1, 2012: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton improperly uses unsecured, personal email domain to email President Obama from Russia.

2013

June 2013: FBI interviews U.S. businessman Carter Page, who’s lived and worked in Russia, regarding his ongoing contacts with Russians. Page reportedly tells FBI agents their time would be better spent investigating Boston Marathon bombing (which the FBI’s Andrew McCabe helped lead). Page later claims his remark prompts FBI retaliatory campaign against him. The FBI, under McCabe, will later wiretap Page after Page becomes a Donald Trump campaign adviser.

FBI secretly records suspected Russian industrial spy Evgeny Buryakov. It’s later reported that Page helped FBI build the case.

Sept. 4, 2013: James Comey becomes FBI Director, succeeding Robert Mueller.

2014

Russia invades Ukraine. Ukraine steps up hiring of U.S. lobbyists to make its case against Russia and obtain U.S. aid. Russia also continues its practice of using U.S. lobbyists.

Ukraine forms National Anti-Corruption Bureau as a condition to receive U.S. aid. The National Anti-Corruption Bureau later signs evidence-sharing agreement with FBI related to Trump-Russia probe.

Ukrainian-American Alexandra Chalupa, a paid consultant for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), begins researching lobbyist Paul Manafort’s Russia ties.

FBI investigates, and then wiretaps, Paul Manafort for allegedly not properly disclosing Russia-related work. FBI fails to make a case, according to CNN, and discontinues wiretap.

August 2014: State Dept. turns over 15,000 pages of documents to Congressional Benghazi committee, revealing former secretary of state Hillary Clinton used private server for government email. Her mishandling of classified info on this private system becomes subject of FBI probe.

2015

FBI opens investigation into Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, including for donations from a Chinese businessman and Clinton Foundation donor.

FBI official Andrew McCabe meets with Gov. McAuliffe, a close Clinton ally. Afterwards, “McAuliffe-aligned political groups donated about $700,000 to Mr. McCabe’s wife…for her campaign to become a Democrat state Senator in Virginia.” The fact of the McAuliffe-related donations to wife of FBI’s McCabe—while FBI was investigating McAuliffe and Clinton—later becomes the subject of conflict of interest inquiry by Inspector General.

Feb. 9, 2015: U.S. Senate forms Ukrainian caucus to further Ukrainian interests. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is a member.

March 4, 2015: New York Times breaks news about Clinton’s improper handling of classified email as secretary of state.

In internal emails, Clinton campaign chairman (and former Obama adviser) John Podesta suggests Obama withhold Clinton’s emails from Congressional Benghazi committee under executive privilege.

March 2015: Attorney General Loretta Lynch privately directs FBI Director James Comey to call FBI Clinton probe a “matter” rather than an “investigation.” Comey follows the instruction, though he later testifies that it made him “queasy.”

March 7, 2015: President Obama says he first learned of Clinton’s improper email practices “through news reports.” Clinton campaign staffers privately contradict that claim emailing: “…it looks like [President Obama] just said he found out [Hillary Clinton] was using her personal email when he saw it on the news.” Clinton aide Cheryl Mills responds, “We need to clean this up—[President Obama] has emails from” Clinton’s personal account.

May 19, 2015: Justice Dept. Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Peter Kadzik emails Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta from a private Gmail account to give him a “heads ups” involving Congressional questions about Clinton email.

Summer 2015: Democratic National Committee computers are hacked.

Sept. 2015: Glenn Simpson, co-founder of political opposition research firm Fusion GPS, is hired by conservative website Washington Free Beacon to compile negative research on presidential candidate Donald Trump and other Republicans.

Oct. 2015: President Obama uses a “confidentiality tradition” to keep his Benghazi emails with Hillary Clinton secret.

Oct. 12, 2015: FBI Director Comey replaces head of FBI Counterintelligence Division at New York Field Office with Louis Bladel.

Oct. 22, 2015: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) publicly states that Clinton is “not under criminal investigation.”

Clinton testifies to House Benghazi committee.

Oct. 23, 2015: Clinton campaign chair John Podesta meets for dinner with small group of friends including a top Justice Dept. official Peter Kadzik.

Late 2015: Democratic operative Chalupa expands her political opposition research about Paul Manafort to include Trump’s ties to Russia. She “occasionally shares her findings with officials from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.”

Dec. 4, 2015: Donald Trump is beating his nearest Republican presidential competitor by 20 points in latest CNN poll.

Dec. 9, 2015: FBI Director Comey replaces head of FBI Counterintelligence Division at Washington Field Office with Charles Kable.

Dec. 23, 2015: FBI Director Comey names Bill Priestap as assistant director of Counterintelligence Division.

2016

Obama officials vastly expand their searches through NSA database for Americans and the content of their communications. In 2013, there were 9,600 searches involving 195 Americans. But in 2016, there are 30,355 searches of 5,288 Americans.

Justice Dept. associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr meets with Fusion GPS’ Christopher Steele, the Yemen-born ex-British spy leading anti-Trump political opposition research project.

January 2016: Democratic operative Ukrainian-American Chalupa tells a senior Democratic National Committee official that she feels there’s a Russia connection with Trump.

Jan. 29, 2016: FBI Director Comey promotes Andrew McCabe to FBI Deputy Director.

McCabe takes lead on Clinton probe even though his wife received nearly $700,000 in campaign donations through Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe, who’s also under FBI investigation.

March 2016: Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s email gets hacked.

FBI interviews Carter Page again.

Carter Page is named as one of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy advisers.

March 2, 2016: FBI Director Comey replaces head of Intelligence Division of Washington Field Office with Gerald Roberts, Jr.

March 11, 2016: Russian Evgeny Buryakovwhich pleads guilty to spying in FBI case that Carter Page reportedly assisted with.

March 25, 2016: Ukrainian-American operative for Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chalupa meets with top Ukrainian officials at Ukrainian Embassy in Washington D.C. to “expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia,” according to Politico. Chalupa previously worked for the Clinton administration.

Ukrainian embassy proceeds to work “directly with reporters researching Trump, Manafort and Russia to point them in the right directions,” according to an embassy official (though other officials later deny engaging in election-related activities.)

March 29, 2016: Trump campaign hires Paul Manafort as manager of July Republican convention.

March 30, 2016: Ukrainian-American Democratic operative Alexandra Chalupa briefs Democratic National Committee (DNC) staff on Russia ties to Paul Manafort and Trump.

With “DNC’s encouragement,” Chalupa asks Ukrainian embassy to arrange meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to discuss Manafort’s lobbying for Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovych. The embassy declines to arrange meeting but becomes “helpful” in trading info and leads.

Ukrainian embassy officials and Democratic operative Chalupa “coordinat[e] an investigation with the Hillary team” into Paul Manafort, according to a source in Politico. This effort reportedly includes working with U.S. media.

April 2016: There’s a second breach of Democratic National Committee computers.

Washington Free Beacon breaks off deal with Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS for political opposition research against Trump.

Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee lawyer Mark Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, hire Fusion GPS for anti-Trump political research project.

Ukrainian member of parliament Olga Bielkova reportedly seeks meetings with five dozen members of U.S. Congress and reporters including former New York Time reporter Judy Miller, David Sanger of New York Times, David Ignatius of Washington Post, and Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt.

April 5, 2016: Convicted spy Buryakov is turned over to Russia.

Week of April 6, 2016: Ukrainian-American Democratic operative Chalupa and office of Rep. Mary Kaptur (D-Ohio), co-chair of Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, discuss possible congressional investigation or hearing on Paul Manafort-Russia “by September.”

Chalupa begins working with investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, according to her later account.

April 10, 2016: In national TV interview, President Obama states that Clinton did not intend to harm national security when she mishandled classified emails. FBI Director James Comey later concludes that Clinton should not face charges because she did not intend to harm national security.

Around this time, the FBI begins drafting Comey’s remarks closing Clinton email investigation, though Clinton had not yet been interviewed.

April 12, 2016: Ukrainian parliament member Olga Bielkova and a colleague meet with Sen. John McCain associate David Kramer with the McCain Institute. Bielkova also meets with Liz Zentos of Obama’s National Security Council, and State Department official Michael Kimmage.

April 26, 2016: Investigative reporter Michael Isikoff publishes story on Yahoo News about Paul Manafort’s business dealings with a Russian oligarch.

April 28, 2016: Ukrainian-American Democratic operative Chalupa is invited to discuss her research about Paul Manafort with 68 investigative journalists from Ukraine at Library of Congress for Open World Leadership Center, a U.S. congressional agency. Chalupa invites investigative reporter Michael Isikoff to “connect(s) him to the Ukrainians.”

After the event, reporter Isikoff accompanies Chalupa to Ukrainian embassy reception.

May 3, 2016: Ukrainian-American Democratic operative Chalupa emails Democratic National Committee (DNC) that she’ll share sensitive info about Paul Manafort “offline” including “a big Trump component…that will hit in next few weeks.”

May 4, 2016: Trump locks up Republican nomination.

May 19, 2016: Paul Manafort is named Trump campaign chair.

May 23, 2016: FBI probe into Virginia governor and Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe becomes public. (McAuliffe is ultimately not charged with a crime.)

Justice Department Inspector General confirms it’s looking into FBI’s Andrew McCabe for alleged conflicts of interest in handling of Clinton and Gov. McAuliffe probes in light of McAuliffe directing campaign donations to McCabe’s wife.

FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, who are reportedly having an illicit affair, text each other that Trump’s ascension in the campaign will bring “pressure…to finish” Clinton probe.

Nellie Ohr, wife of Justice Dept. associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr and former CIA worker, goes on the payroll of Fusion GPS and assists with anti-Trump political opposition research. Her husband, Bruce, reportedly fails to disclose her specific employer and work in his Justice Dept. conflict of interest disclosures.

Nellie Ohr applies for a ham radio license.

June 2016: Fusion GPS’ Glenn Simpson hires Yemen-born ex-British spy Christopher Steele for anti-Trump political opposition research project. Steele uses info from Russian sources “close to Putin” to compile unverified “dossier” later provided to reporters and FBI, which the FBI uses to obtain secret wiretap.

The Guardian and Heat Street report that the FBI applied for a FISA warrant in June 2016 to “monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials” but that the “initial request was denied.” 

June 7, 2016: Hillary Clinton locks up the Democrat nomination.

June 9, 2016: Meeting in Trump Tower includes Donald Trump Jr., Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner with Russian lawyer who said he has political opposition research on Clinton. (No research was ultimately provided.) According to CNN, the FBI has not yet restarted a wiretap against Manafort but will soon do so.

June 10, 2016: Democratic National Committee (DNC) tells employees that its computer system has been hacked. DNC blames Russia but refuses to let FBI examine its systems.

June 15, 2016: “Guccifer 2.0” publishes first hacked document from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.

June 17, 2016: Washington Post publishes front page story linking Trump to Russia: “Inside Trump’s Financial Ties to Russia and His Unusual Flattery of Vladimir Putin.”

June 20, 2016: Christopher Steele proposes taking some of Fusion GPS’ research about Trump to FBI.

June 22, 2016: WikiLeaks begins publishing embarrassing, hacked emails from Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee.

June 27, 2016: Attorney General Loretta Lynch meets privately with former President Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac in Phoenix, Arizona.

Late June 2016: DCLeaks website begins publishing Democratic National Committee emails.

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine signs evidence-sharing agreement with FBI and will later publicly release a “ledger” implicating Paul Manafort in allegedly improper payments.

June 30, 2016: FBI circulates internal draft of public remarks for FBI Director Comey to announce closing of Clinton investigation. It refers to Mrs. Clinton’s “extensive” use of her personal email, including “from the territory of sophisticated adversaries,” and a July 1, 2012 email to President Obama from Russia. The draft concludes it’s possible that hostile actors gained access to Clinton’s email account.

Comey’s remarks are revised to replace reference to “the President” with the phrase: “another senior government official.” (That reference, too, is removed from the final draft.)

Attorney General Lynch tells FBI she plans to publicly announce that she’ll accept whatever recommendation FBI Director Comey makes regarding charges against Clinton.

July 2016: Ukraine minister of internal affairs Arsen Avakov attacks Trump and Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort on Twitter and Facebook, calling Trump “an even bigger danger to the US than terrorism.”

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk writes on Facebook that Trump has “challenged the very values of the free world.”

Carter Page travels to Russia to give a university commencement address. (Fusion GPS political opposition research would later quote Russian sources as saying Page met with Russian officials, which Page denies under oath and is not proven.)

One-time CIA operative Stefan Halper reportedly begins meetings with Trump advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, secretly gathering information for the FBI. These contacts begin prior to the date FBI Director Comey later claimed the Russian investigation began. 

July 1, 2016: Under fire for meeting with former President Clinton amid the probe into his wife, Attorney General Lynch publicly states she’ll accept whatever FBI Director Comey recommends—without interfering.

FBI official Lisa Page texts her boyfriend, FBI official Peter Strzok, sarcastically commenting that Lynch’s proclamation is “a real profile in courage, since she knows no charges will be brought.”

July 2, 2016: FBI official Peter Strzok and other agents interview Clinton. They don’t record the interview. Two potential subjects of the investigation, Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, are allowed to attend as Clinton’s lawyers.

July 5, 2016: FBI Director Comey recommends no charges against Clinton, though he concludes she’s been extremely careless in mishandling of classified information. Comey claims he hasn’t coordinated or reviewed his statement in any way with Attorney General Lynch’s Justice Department or other government branches. “They do not know what I am about to say,” says Comey.

Fusion GPS’ Steele, an ex-British spy, approaches FBI with allegations against Trump, according to Congressional investigators.

Days after closing Clinton case, FBI official Peter Strzok signs document opening FBI probe into Trump-Russia collusion.

July 10, 2016: Democratic National Committee (DNC) aide Seth Rich, reportedly a Bernie Sanders supporter, is shot twice in the back and killed. Police suspect a bungled robbery attempt, though nothing was apparently stolen. Conspiracy theorists speculate that Rich—not the Russians— had stolen DNC emails after he learned the DNC was unfairly favoring Clinton. The murder remains unsolved.

July 2016: Trump adviser Carter Page makes a business trip to Russia.

FISC (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) rejects FBI request to wiretap Page.

Obama national security adviser Susan Rice begins to show increased interest in National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence material including “unmasked” Americans’ identities, according to news reports referring to White House logs.

July 18-21, 2016: Republican National Convention

Late July 2016: FBI agent Peter Strzok opens counterintelligence investigation based on Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.

Democratic operative and Ukrainian-American Chalupa leaves the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to work full-time on her research into Manafort, Trump and Russia; and provides off-the-record guidance to “a lot of journalists.”

July 22, 2016: WikiLeaks begins publishing hacked Democratic National Committee emails. WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange denies the email source is Russian.

July 25-28, 2016: Democratic National Convention

July 31, 2016: FBI begins counterintelligence investigation regarding Russia.

Summer 2016: Nellis Ohr, wife of Justice Dept. associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr is still on the payroll of Fusion GPS.

Fusion GPS’ Christopher Steele, a British citizen, briefs FBI leadership on his anti-Trump political opposition research. Weeks later, the info makes it to FBI agent Peter “Strzok and his team,” according to New York Times.

Aug. 4, 2016: Ukrainian ambassador to U.S. writes op-ed against Trump.

Aug. 14, 2016: New York Times breaks story about cash payments made a decade ago to Paul Manafort by pro-Russia interests in Ukraine. The ledger was released and publicized by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine.

Aug. 15, 2016: CNN reports the FBI is conducting an inquiry into Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s payments from pro-Russia interests in Ukraine in 2007 and 2009.

After a meeting discussing the election in FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s office, the FBI’s Lisa Page and Peter Strzok text of needing an “insurance policy” in case Trump is elected.

Aug. 19, 2016: Paul Manafort resigns as Trump campaign chairman.

Ukrainian parliament member Sergii Leshchenko holds news conference to draw attention to Paul Manafort and Trump’s “pro-Russia” ties.

Late August 2016:

Reportedly working for the FBI, one-time CIA operative Professor Halper meets with Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis offering his services as a foreign-policy adviser, according to The Washington Post. Halper would later offer to hire Carter Page.

Approx. Aug. 2016: FBI initiates a new wiretap against ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, according to CNN, which extends at least through early 2017.

Sept. 2016: Fusion GPS’ Steele becomes FBI source and uses associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr as point of contact. Steele tells Ohr that he’s “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected.”

President Obama warns Russia not to interfere in the U.S. election

Sept. 2, 2016: FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok text that “[President Obama] wants to know everything we’re doing.”

Sept. 13, 2016: The nonprofit First Draft, funded by Google, whose parent company is run by major Hillary Clinton supporter and donor Eric Schmidt, announces initiative to tackle “fake news.” It appears to be the first use of the phrase in its modern context.

Sept. 15, 2016: Clinton computer manager Paul Combetta appears before House Oversight Committee but refuses to answer questions, invoking his Fifth Amendment rights.

Sept. 19, 2016: At UN General Assembly meeting, Ukrainian President Poroshenko meets with Hillary Clinton.

Mid-to-late Sept. 2016: Fusion GPS’ Christopher Steele’s FBI contact tells him the agency wants to see his opposition research “right away” and offers to pay him $50,000, according to the New York Times, for solid corroboration of his salacious, unverified claims. Steele flies to Rome, Italy to meet with FBI and provide a “full briefing.”

Sept. 22, 2016: Clinton computer aide Brian Pagliano is held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoena.

Sept. 23, 2016: It’s revealed that Justice Department has granted five Clinton officials immunity from prosecution: former chief of staff Cheryl Mills, State Department staffers John Bentel and Heather Samuelson, and Clinton computer workers Paul Combetta and Brian Pagliano.

Yahoo News publishes article by Michael Isikoff about Carter Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. (The article is apparently based on leaked info from Fusion GPS Steele anti-Trump “dossier” political opposition research.)

Sept. 26, 2016: Obama administration asks secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) court to allow National Counter Terrorism Center to access sensitive, “unmasked” intel on Americans acquired by FBI and NSA. (The Court later approves the request.)

Sept. 27, 2016: Justice Department Assistant Attorney General of National Security Division John Carlin announces he’s stepping down. He was former chief of staff and senior counsel to former FBI director Robert Mueller.

End of Sept. 2016: Fusion GPS’ Glenn Simpson and Christopher Steele meet with reporters, including New York Times, Washington Post, Yahoo News, the New Yorker and CNN or ABC. One meeting is at office of Democratic National Committee general counsel.

Early October 2016: Fusion GPS’ Christopher Steele, the Yemen-born author of anti-Trump “dossier,” meets in New York with David Corn, Washington-bureau chief of Mother Jones.

According to The Guardian, the FBI submits a more narrowly focused FISA wiretap request to replace one turned down in June to monitor four Trump associates. 

Oct. 3, 2016: FBI seizes computers belonging to Anthony Weiner, who is accused of sexually texting an underage girl. Weiner is married to top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin. FBI learns there are Clinton emails on Weiner’s laptop but waits several weeks before notifying Congress and reopening investigation.

Oct. 4, 2016: FBI Director Comey replaces head of Counterintelligence Division, New York Field Office with Charles McGonigal.

Oct. 7, 2016: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Department of Homeland Security issue statement saying Russian government is responsible for hacking Democrat emails to disrupt 2016 election.

Oct. 13, 2016: President Obama gives a speech in support of the crackdown on “fake news” by stating that somebody needs to step in an “curate” information in the “wild, wild West media environment.”

Mid-Oct. 2016: Fusion GPS’ Steele again briefs reporters about Trump political opposition research. The reporters are from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Yahoo News.

Oct. 16, 2016: Mary McCord is named Assistant Attorney General for Justice Department National Security Division.

Oct. 18, 2016: President Obama advises Trump to “stop whining” after Trump tweeted the election could be rigged. “There is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even — you could even rig America’s elections,” said Obama. He also calls Trump’s “flattery” of Russian president Putin “unprecedented.”

Oct. 19, 2016: Ex-British spy Christopher Steele writes his last memo for anti-Trump “dossier” political opposition research provided to FBI. The FBI reportedly authorizes payment to Steele. Fusion GPS has reportedly paid him $160,000.

Approx. Oct. 21, 2016: For the second time in several months, Justice Department and FBI apply to wiretap former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. This time, the request is approved based on new FBI “evidence,” including parts of Fusion GPS’ “Steele dossier” and Michael Isikoff Yahoo article. The FBI doesn’t tell the court that Trump’s political opponent— the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee— funded the “evidence.”

Oct. 24, 2016: Benjamin Wittes, confidant of FBI Director James Comey and editor-in-chief of the blog Lawfare, writes of the need for an “insurance policy” in case Trump wins. It’s the same phrase FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok had used when discussing the possibility of a Trump win.

Obama intel officials orally inform Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of an earlier Inspector General review uncovering their “significant noncompliance” in following proper “702” procedures safeguarding the National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence database with sensitive info on US citizens.

Late Oct. 2016: Fusion GPS’ Steele again briefs reporter from Mother Jones by Skype about Trump political opposition research.

Oct. 26, 2016: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court holds hearing with Obama intel officials over their “702” surveillance violations. The judge criticizes NSA for “institutional lack of candor” and states “this is a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.”

Oct. 28, 2016: FBI Director Comey notifies Congress that he’s reopening Clinton probe due to Clinton emails found on Anthony Wiener laptop several weeks earlier.

Oct. 30, 2016: Mother Jones writer David Corn is first to report on the anti-Trump “dossier,” quoting unidentified former spy, presumed to be Christopher Steele. FBI general counsel James Baker had reportedly been in touch with Corn but Corn later denies Baker was the leaker.

FBI terminates its relationship with Steele because Steele had leaked his FBI involvement in Mother Jones article.

Steele reportedly maintains backchannel contact with Justice Dept. through Deputy Associate Attorney General Bruce Ohr.

Oct. 31, 2016: New York Times reports FBI is investigating Trump and found no illicit connections to Russia.

Nov. 6, 2016: FBI Director Comey tells Congress that Clinton emails on Anthony Weiner computer do not change earlier conclusion: she should not be charged.

Nov. 8, 2016: Trump is elected president.

Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s interest in NSA materials accelerates, according to later news reports.

Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr meets with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson shortly after election.

The FBI interviews Ohr about his ongoing contacts with Fusion GPS.

Nov. 2016: National Security Agency Mike Rogers meets with president-elect Trump and is criticized for “not telling the Obama administration.”

Nov. 17, 2016: Trump moves his Friday presidential team meetings out of Trump Tower.

Nov. 18-20, 2016: Sen. John McCain and his longtime adviser, David Kramer–an ex-U.S. State Dept. official–attend a security conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia where former UK ambassador to Russia Sir Andrew Wood tells them about the Fusion GPS anti-Trump dossier. (Kramer is affiliated with the anti-Russia “Ukraine Today” media organization). They discuss confirming the info has reached top levels of  FBI for action.

Nov. 28, 2016: Sen. McCain associate David Kramer flies to London to meet Christopher Steele for a briefing on the anti-Trump research. Afterward, Fusion GPS’ Glenn Simpson gives Sen. McCain a copy of the “dossier.” Steele also passes anti-Trump info to top UK government official in charge of national security. Sen. McCain soon arranges a meeting with FBI Director Comey.

Late Nov. 2016: Justice Dept. official Bruce Ohr officially tells FBI about his contacts with Fusion GPS’ Christopher Steele and about Ohr’s wife’s contract work for Fusion GPS.

Dec. 2016: Text messages between FBI officials Strzok and Page are later said to be “lost” due to a technical glitch beginning at this point.

Dec. 8 or 9, 2016: Sen. John McCain meets with FBI Director Comey at FBI headquarters and hands over Fusion GPS anti-Trump research, elevating the FBI’s investigation into the matter. The FBI compiles a classified two-page summary and attaches it to intel briefing note on Russian cyber-interference in election for President Obama.

Hillary Clinton makes a pubic appearance denouncing “fake news.”

Hillary Clinton and Democratic operative David Brock of Media Matters announces he’s leaving board of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), one of his many propaganda and liberal advocacy groups, to focus on “fake news” effort.

Brock later claims credit— privately to of donors— for convincing Facebook to crack down on conservative fake news.

Dec. 15, 2016: Obama intel officials “incidentally” spy on Trump officials meeting with the United Arab Emirates crown prince in Trump Tower. This is taken to mean the government was wiretapping the prince and “happened to capture” Trump officials communicating with him at Trump Tower. Identities of Americans accidentally captured in such surveillance are strictly protected or “masked” inside intel agencies for constitutional privacy reasons.

Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice secretly “unmasks” names of the Trump officials, officially revealing their identities. They reportedly include: Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

Director of National Intelligence Clapper expands rules to allow the National Security Agency (NSA) to widely disseminate classified surveillance material within the government.

Dec. 29, 2016: President Obama imposes sanctions against Russia for its alleged election interference.

President-elect Trump national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn speaks with Russian Ambassador to U.S. Sergey Kislyak. The call is wiretapped by U.S. intelligence and later leaked to the press.

State Department releases 2,800 work-related emails from Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, found by FBI on laptop computer of Abedin’s husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner.

2017

Jan. 2017: According to CNN: a wiretap reportedly continues against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, including times he speaks to Trump, meaning U.S. intel officials could have “accidentally” captured Trump’s communications.

Justice Dept. Inspector General confirms it’s investigating several aspects of FBI and Justice Department actions during Clinton probe.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies to Congress that Russia interfered in U.S. elections by spreading fake news on social media.

Justice Dept. official Peter Kadzik, who “tipped off” Clinton campaign regarding Congressional questions about her email, leaves government work for private practice.

Early Jan. 2017: FBI renews wiretap against Carter Page.

Jan. 3, 2017: Obama Attorney General Lynch signs rules Director of National Intelligence Clapper expanded Dec. 15 allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) to widely disseminate surveillance within the government.

Jan. 5, 2017: Intelligence Community leadership provides classified briefing on alleged Russia hacking during 2016 campaign, according to notes later written by national security adviser Susan Rice.

After briefing, according notes made later by Rice, President Obama convenes Oval Office meeting with her, FBI Director Comey, Vice President Biden and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. The “Steele dossier” is reportedly discussed.

Jan. 6, 2017: FBI Director Comey and other Intel leaders meet with President-Elect Trump and his national security team at Trump Tower in New York to brief them on alleged Russian efforts to interfere in the election.

Later, Obama national security adviser Susan Rice would write herself an email stating that President Obama suggested they hold back on providing Trump officials with certain info for national security reasons.

After Trump team briefing, FBI Director Comey meets alone with Trump to “brief him” on Fusion GPS Steele allegations “to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified…” Comey later says Director of National Intelligence Clapper asked him (Comey) to do the briefing personally.

Jan. 10, 2017: The 35-page Fusion GPS anti-Trump “dossier” is leaked to the media and published. It reveals that sources of the unverified info are Russians close to President Putin.

Jan. 12, 2017: Obama administration finalizes new rules allowing NSA to spread certain intel to other U.S. intel agencies without normal privacy protections.

Justice Dept. inspector general announces review of alleged misconduct by FBI Director Comey and other matters related to FBI’s Clinton probe as well as FBI leaks.

Jan. 13, 2017: Senate Intelligence Committee opens investigation into Russia and U.S. political campaign officials.

Jan. 20, 2017: Trump becomes president.

Fifteen minutes after Trump becomes president, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice emails memo to herself purporting to summarize the Jan. 5 Oval Office meeting with President Obama and other top officials. She states that Obama instructed the group to investigate “by the book” and asked them to be mindful whether there were certain things that “could not be fully shared with the incoming administration.”

Jan. 22, 2017: Intel info leaks to Wall Street Journal which reports “US counterintelligence agents have investigated communications” between Trump aide Gen. Michael Flynn and Russia ambassador to the U.S. Kislyak to determine if any laws were violated.

Jan. 24, 2017: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates sends two FBI agents, including Peter Strzok, to the White House to question Gen. Flynn.

Jan. 21, 2017: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and a high-ranking colleague go to White House to tell counsel Don McGahn that “the underlying conduct that Gen. Flynn had engaged in was problematic in and of itself.”

Jan. 27, 2017: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates again visits the White House.

Jan. 31, 2017: President Trump fires Acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she refuses to enforce his temporary travel ban on Muslims coming into U.S. from certain countries.

Dana Boente becomes Acting Attorney General. (It’s later revealed that Boente signed at least one wiretap application against former Trump adviser Carter Page.)

Feb. 2, 2017: It’s reported that five men employed by House of Representatives Democrats, including leader Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida), are under criminal investigation for allegedly “accessing House IT systems without lawmakers’ knowledge.” Suspects include three Awan brothers “who managed office information technology for members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and other lawmakers.”

Feb. 3, 2017: A Russian tech mogul named in the Steele “dossier” files defamation lawsuits against BuzzFeed in the U.S. and Christopher Steele in the U.K. over the dossier’s claims he interfered in U.S. elections.

Feb. 8, 2017: Jeff Sessions becomes Attorney General and Dana Boente moves to Deputy Attorney General.

Feb. 9, 2017: News of FBI wiretaps capturingTrump national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn speaking with Russia’s ambassador is leaked to the press. New York Times and Washington Post report Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions, despite his earlier denials. The Post also reports the FBI “found nothing illicit” in the talks.

Feb. 13, 2017: Washington Post reports Justice Dept. has opened a “Logan Act” violation investigation against Trump national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

Feb. 14, 2017: New York Times reports that FBI had told Obama officials there was no “quid pro quo” (promise of a deal in exchange for some action) discussed between Gen. Flynn and Russian ambassador Kislyak.

Gen. Flynn resigns, allegedly acknowledging he misled vice president Mike Pence about the content of his discussions with Russia.

Feb. 17, 2017: Washington Post reports that “Flynn told FBI he did not discuss sanctions” with Russia ambassador and that “Lying to the FBI is a felony offense.”

March 1, 2017: Washington Post reports Attorney General Jeff Sessions has met with Russian ambassador twice in the recent past (as did many Democrat and Republican officials). His critics say that contradicts his earlier testimony to Congress.

March 2017: FBI Director James Comey gives private briefings to members of Congress and reportedly says he does not believe Gen. Flynn lied to FBI.

House Intelligence Committee requests list of unmasking requests Obama officials made. The intel agencies do not provide the information, prompting a June 1 subpoena.

March 2, 2017: Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuses himself from Russia-linked investigations.

Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, becomes Acting Attorney General for Russia Probe. It’s later revealed that Rosenstein singed at least one wiretap application against former Trump adviser Carter Page.

March 4, 2017: President Trump tweets: “Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!” and “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

March 10, 2017: Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat, steps forward to support Trump’s wiretapping claim, revealing that the Obama administration intel officials recorded his own communications with a Libyan official in Spring 2011.

March 20, 2017: FBI Director Comey tells House Intelligence Committee he has “no information that supports” the President’s tweets about “alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration. “We have looked carefully inside the FBI,” Comey says. “(T)he answer is the same for the Department of Justice and all its components.”

FBI Director Comey tells Congress there is “salacious and unverified” material in the Fusion GPS dossier used by FBI, in part, to obtain Carter Page wiretap. (Under FBI “Woods Procedures,” only facts carefully verified by the FBI are allowed to be presented to court to obtain wiretaps.)

March 22, 2017: Chairman of House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) publicly announces he’s seen evidence of Trump associates being “incidentally” surveilled by Obama intel officials; and their names being “unmasked” and illegally leaked. Nunes briefs President Trump and holds a news conference. He’s criticized for doing so. An ethics investigation is opened into his actions but later clears him of wrongdoing.

In an interview on PBS, former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice responds to Nunes allegations by stating: “I know nothing about this…I really don’t know to what Chairman Nunes was referring.” (She later acknowledges unmasking names of Trump associates.)

March 2017: Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) writes Justice Dept. accusing Fusion GPS of acting as an agent for Russia—without properly registering—due to its pro-Russia effort to kill a law allowing sanctions against foreign human rights violators. Fusion GPS denies the allegations.

March 24, 2017: Fusion GPS declines to answer Sen. Grassley’s questions or document requests.

March 27, 2017: Former Deputy Asst. Secretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas admits she encouraged Obama and Congressional officials to “get as much information as they can” about Russia and Trump officials before inauguration. “…that’s why you have the leaking,” she told MSNBC.

Early April, 2017: A third FBI wiretap on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page is approved.

April 3, 2017: Multiple news reports state that Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice had requested and reviewed “unmasked” intelligence on Trump associates whose information was “incidentally” collected by intel agencies.

April 4, 2017: Obama former National Security Adviser Rice admits, in an interview, that she asked to reveal names of U.S. citizens previously masked in intel reports. She says her motivations were not political. When asked if she leaked names, Rice states, “I leaked nothing to nobody.”

April 6, 2017: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes recuses himself from Russia part of his committee’s investigation.

April 11, 2017: FBI Director Comey appoints Stephen Laycock as special agent in charge of Counterintelligence Division for Washington Field Office.

Washington Post reports FBI secretly obtained wiretap against Trump campaign associate Carter Page last summer. (Later, it’s revealed the summer wiretap had been turned down, but a subsequent application was approved in October.)

April 20, 2017: Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord resigns as acting head of Justice Dept. National Security Division. She’d led probes of Russia interference in election and Trump-Russia ties.

April 28, 2017: Dana Boente is appointed acting assistant attorney general for national security division to replace Mary McCord. (Boente has signed one of the questioned wiretap applications for Carter Page.)

National Security Agency (NSA) submits remedies for its egregious surveillance violations (revealed last October) to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court promising to “no longer collect certain internet communications that merely mention a foreign intelligence target.” The NSA also begins deleting collected data on U.S. citizens it had been storing.

May 3, 2017: FBI Director Comey testifies he’s “mildly nauseous” at the idea he might have affected election with the 11th hour Clinton email notifications to Congress.

Comey also testifies he’s “never” been an anonymous news source on “matters relating to” investigating the Trump campaign.

Obama’s former national security adviser Susan Rice declines Republican Congressional request to testify at a hearing about unmaskings and surveillance.

May 8, 2017: Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testify to Congress. They admit having reviewed “classified documents in which Mr. Trump, his associates or members of Congress had been unmasked,” and possibly discussing it with others under the Obama administration.

May 9, 2017: President Trump fires FBI Director James Comey. Andrew McCabe becomes acting FBI Director.

May 12, 2017: Benjamin Wittes, confidant of ex-FBI Director James Comey and editor in chief of Lawfare, contacts New York Times reporter Mike Schmidt to leak conversations he’d had with Comey as FBI Director that are critical of President Trump.

May 16, 2017: New York Times publishes leaked account of FBI memoranda recorded by former FBI Director James Comey. Comey later acknowledges engineering the leak of the FBI material through his friend, Columbia Law School professor Daniel Richman, to spur appointment of special counsel to investigate President Trump.

Trump reportedly interviews, but passes over, former FBI Director Robert Mueller for position of FBI Director.

May 17, 2017: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoints Robert Mueller as Special Counsel, Russia-Trump probe. Mueller and former FBI Director Comey are friends and worked closely together in previous Justice Dept. and FBI positions.

The gap of missing text messages between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page ends. The couple is soon assigned to the Mueller team investigating Trump.

May 19, 2017: Anthony Wiener, former Congressman and husband of Hillary Clinton confidant Huma Abedin, turns himself in to FBI in case of underage sexting; his third major kerfuffle over sexting in six years.

June 1, 2017: House Intelligence Committee issues 7 subpoenas, including for information related to unmaskings requested by ex-Obama officials national security adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power.

June 8, 2017: Former FBI Director James Comey admits having engineered leak of his own memo to New York Times to spur appointment of a special counsel to investigate President Trump.

June 20, 2017: Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe names Philip Celestini as Special Agent in Charge of the Intelligence Division, Washington Field Office.

Late June, 2017: FBI renews wiretap against Carter Page for the fourth and final time that we know of. It lasts through late Sept.  2017. (Page is never ultimately charged with a crime.)

Late July, 2017: FBI reportedly searches Paul Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia home.

Summer 2017: FBI lawyer Lisa Page is reassigned from Mueller investigation. Her boyfriend, FBI official Peter Strzok is removed from Mueller investigation after the Inspector General discovers compromising texts between Strzok and Page. Congress is not notified of the developments.

Aug. 2, 2017: Christopher Wray is named FBI Director.

August 2017: Ex-FBI Director Comey signs a book deal for a reported $2 million.

Sept. 13, 2017: Under questioning from Congress, Obama’s former National Security Adviser Susan Rice reportedly admits having requested to see the protected identities of Trump transition officials “incidentally” captured by government surveillance.

Approx. Oct. 10, 2017: Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleads guilty to lying to FBI about his unsuccessful efforts during the campaign to facilitate meetings between Trump officials and Russian officials.

Oct. 17, 2017: Obama’s former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power reportedly tells Congressional investigators that many of the hundreds of “unmasking” requests in her name during the election year —were not made by her.

Oct. 24, 2017: Congressional Republicans announce new investigations into a 2010 acquisition that gave Russia control of 20% of U.S. uranium supply while Clinton was secretary of state; and FBI decision not to charge Clinton in classified info probe.

Oct. 30, 2017: Special Counsel Mueller charges ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and business associate Rick Gates with tax and money laundering crimes related to their foreign work. The charges do not appear related to Trump.

Nov. 2, 2017: Carter Page testifies to House Intelligence committee under oath without an attorney and asks to have the testimony published. He denies ever meeting the Russian official that Fusion GPS claimed he’d met with in July 2016.

Nov. 5, 2017: Special Counsel Robert Mueller files charges against ex-Trump national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn for allegedly lying to FBI official Peter Strzok about contacts with Russian ambassador during presidential transition.

Dec. 1, 2017: Former national security adviser Gen. Flynn pleads guilty of lying to the FBI.

James Rybicki steps down as chief of staff to FBI Director.

Dec. 6, 2017: Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr is reportedly stripped of one of his positions at Justice Dept. amid controversy over his and his wife’s role in anti-Trump political opposition research.

Dec. 7, 2017: FBI Director Wray incorrectly testifies that there have been no “702” surveillance abuses by the government.

Dec. 19, 2017: FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe repeatedly testifies that the wiretap against Trump campaign official Carter Page would not have been approved without the Fusion GPS info. FBI general counsel James Baker, who is himself subject of an Inspector General probe over his alleged leaks to the press, attends as McCabe’s attorney. McCabe acknowledges that if Baker had met with Mother Jones reporter David Corn, it would have been inappropriate.

FBI general counsel James Baker is reassigned amid investigation into his alleged anti-Trump related contacts with media.

2018

Jan. 4, 2018: Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) refer criminal charges against Christopher Steele to the FBI for investigation. There’s an apparent conflict of interest with the FBI being asked to investigate Steele since the FBI has used Steele’s controversial political opposition research to obtain wiretaps.

Jan. 8, 2018: Justice Dept. official Bruce Ohr loses his second title at the agency.

Jan. 10, 2018: Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen files defamation suits against Fusion GPS and BuzzFeed News for publishing the “Steele dossier” which he says falsely claimed he met Russian government officials in Prague, Czech Republic, in August of 2016.

Jan. 11, 2018: House of Representatives approves government’s controversial “702” wireless surveillance authority. The Senate follows suit.

Jan. 19, 2018: Justice Dept. produces to Congress some text messages between FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok but states that FBI lost texts between December 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017 due to a technical glitch.

President Trump signs six-year extension of “702” wireless surveillance authority.

Jan. 23, 2018: Former FBI Director Comey friend who leaked on behalf of Comey to New York Times to spur appointment of special counsel is now Comey’s attorney.

Jan. 25, 2018: Justice Dept. Inspector General notifies Congress it has recovered missing text messages between FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok.

Jan. 27, 2018: Edward O’Callaghan is named Acting Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division.

Jan. 29, 2018: Andrew McCabe steps down as Deputy FBI Director ahead of his March retirement.

Jan. 30, 2018: News reports allege that Justice Department Inspector General is looking into why FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe appeared to wait three weeks before acting on new Clinton emails found right before the election.

Feb. 2, 2018: House Intelligence Committee (Nunes) Republican memo is released. It summarizes classified documents revealing for the first time that Fusion GPS political opposition research was used, in part, to justify Carter Page wiretap; along with Michael Isikoff Yahoo News article based on the same opposition research.

Memo also states that Fusion GPS set up back channel to FBI through Nellie Ohr, who conducted opposition research on Trump and passed it to her husband, associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr.

Feb. 7, 2018: Justice Department official David Laufman, who helped oversee the Clinton and Russia probes, steps down as chief of National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

Feb. 9, 2018: Former FBI Director Comey assistant Josh Campbell leaves FBI for job at CNN.

Justice Department Associate Attorney General, Office of Legal Policy, Rachel Brand, resigns.

Feb. 16, 2018: Special counsel Mueller obtains guilty plea from a Dutch attorney for lying to federal investigators about the last time he spoke to Rick Gates regarding a 2012 project related to Ukraine. The plea does not appear to relate to 2016 campaign or Trump. The Dutch attorney is married to the daughter of a Russian oligarch who’s suing Buzzfeed and Christopher Steele for alleged defamation in the “dossier.”

Feb. 22, 2018: Former State Dept. official and Sen. John McCain associate David Kramer invokes his Fifth Amendment right not to testify before House Intelligence Committee. Kramer reportedly picked up the anti-Trump political opposition research in London and delivered it to Sen. McCain who delivered it to the FBI.

Special counsel Mueller files new charges against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and former campaign aide Rick Gates, accusing them of additional tax and bank fraud crimes. The allegations appear to be unrelated to Trump.

Fri. Feb. 23, 2018: Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, pleads guilty to conspiracy and lying to investigators (though he issues a statement saying he’s innocent of the indictment charges). The allegations and plea have no apparent link to Trump-Russia campaign collusion.

Sat. Feb. 24, 2018: Democrats on House Intel Committee release their rebuttal memo to the Republican version that summarized alleged FBI misconduct re: using the GPS Fusion opposition research to get wiretap against Carter Page.

March 12, 2018: House Intelligence Committee closes Russia-Trump investigation with no evidence of collusion.

Fri. March 16, 2018: Attorney General Jeff Sessions fires Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, based on recommendation from FBI ethics investigators.

Thurs. March 22, 2018: President Trump announces plans to replace National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster with former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton.

House Judiciary Committee issues subpoenas to Department of Justice after Department failed to produce documents.

 

Prosecutorial Misconduct, The Devil’s Bargain – The Other #MeToo Victims

Revelation after revelation about government misconduct is coming to light at breakneck speed as the many details of the DOJ’s “Trump Campaign – Russian Collusion” case surface. Even the federal judge in the Paul Manafort case brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller excoriated the prosecution, telling them, “C’mon man! You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort. You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever.”

Judge Ellis very clearly suggested that the prosecutors were lying to the court, thereby seeking “unfettered power” in their effort to bring down the president at all costs. All very illegal.

Television and radio pundits have commented thousands of times in recent weeks that prosecutors are well known for their tactic of bringing bogus charges against innocent associates of the real targets, forcing them to choose between the truth and prison. Many victims sacrifice truth to avoid an unjust prison sentence, and rather than “sing” like the proverbial canary, instead are forced to “compose” to keep prison at bay. I have termed this the Devil’s Bargain.

Here is the problem with prosecutors blackmailing innocent people to lie about their associates’ criminal activity: IT IS A FELONY! It should be prosecuted.

Suborning perjury is a serious crime. It is a felony in every state, and in the federal statutes. It destroys lives, families, and ends careers. I know, because it happened to me.

Let me share my harrowing experience with you, so you can see how casually it happens. I used to practice law, and was general counsel to a mid-sized family owned business. I had hired Allen Davis, an attorney I respected from law school to work in the corporation’s legal department. Six years after I had moved on to another company, I was asked by federal IRS agents to come to the local IRS office to fill in some blanks about my former client. I dutifully showed up, truthfully answered the federal prosecutor’s questions, assuring them that I had never seen any signs of criminal activity while I worked at that company.

Rather than thank me for my time and candor, the federal prosecutor abruptly told me that he didn’t like what I had told him, and insisted that if I didn’t confess that my employers had committed tax fraud crimes, that I would be indicted with them as a co-conspirator. I was shocked that the prosecutor would even suggest such a scenario. I told him that I had no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. He said he didn’t care. The only way I could avoid federal prosecution was to admit that we had all committed these crimes together–but not to worry, because I would receive immunity in exchange for my ‘composed’ testimony. I told him that was unlawful and that he was committing a crime. He thought that was funny.

The prosecutor told me that if I refused to accept his deal, that Allen Davis had already agreed to take the deal, and testify that we were all in on committing the crimes, but he would receive immunity in exchange for his testimony. If I wanted the deal, I had to take it now, or be indicted with the owners of the company.

Until the weight of the federal government is brought down upon an innocent victim, it is impossible to understand the deep sense of betrayal that a citizen feels when confronted with this devil’s bargain. The federal government wages war on foreign dictators with stealth bombers and fighter jets, and when they set their sights on you as the next person they will wage war against, it is daunting beyond human comprehension.

What did I do? I told the prosecutor that I simply would not lie. Period. As far as I knew, no one had committed any crimes, including me. I would not tell his lies to save myself.

A few weeks later I received notice that I had indeed been indicted, and was forced to sit through a trial where Allen Davis recited his composition to the jury about crimes we all committed together–de-emphasizing his own involvement as it turned out. He walked away unscathed by his “confession” of group wrongdoing, while I and the company’s owners were destroyed. The prosecutors got a check mark in their “Win” column, and moved on with their lives. Justice served.

The Devil’s Bargain is real, and alive and well in America. Perhaps now that it is exposed in the light of day, being launched against the very highest officials in our government by a deep state that is drunk on the last convulsions of its ill-gotten power, the president will instruct the Attorney General to begin enforcing prosecutions against such lawlessness and injustice: #ProsecuteProsecutors

By James Thompson #MeToo

Gina Haspel Confirmed as CIA Director, First Woman to Lead Agency

President Trump’s pick for CIA director Gina Haspel was confirmed Thursday by the Senate, with help from several Democrats who backed the nomination despite concerns over her role in post-9/11-era interrogation and detention practices.

The Senate voted 54-45 to confirm Haspel, with six Democrats voting in support and two Republicans defecting. The vote came a day after Haspel was recommended in a 10-5 vote by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Haspel will be the first woman to lead the agency.

Haspel, who will replace now-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, served as the base chief at a black-site prison in Thailand in 2002, where techniques such as waterboarding were used on terror suspects. But Republican supporters accused Democrats of politicizing her nomination, and initially trying to derail an otherwise highly qualified nominee.

At her confirmation hearing last week, Democrats grilled her on her views on what they deemed torture, as well as objecting to what they saw as the CIA’s selective declassification about information on her. She was also questioned at length about the 2005 destruction of more than 92 interrogation tapes — a move she said she supported to ensure the safety of CIA agents.

Haspel refused to criticize her colleagues and superiors for their conduct during what she called a “tumultuous time,” but said the CIA under her watch would not resume such techniques. She also defended her own conduct.

“After 9/11 … I stepped up. I was not on the sidelines, I was on the frontlines in the Cold War and I was on the frontlines in the fight against Al Qaeda,” she said in response to a question from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Haspel’s confirmation had been in question after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., later joined by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said he would not vote for her.

“While I thank Ms. Haspel for her long and dedicated service to the CIA, as a country we need to turn the page on the unfortunate chapter in the agency’s history having to do with torture,” Flake said in a statement Wednesday.

Along with the absence of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., it meant that Haspel needed Democratic votes to assure her confirmation.

But in the days leading up to Thursday’s vote, she picked up Democratic support, particularly from those in tough midterm re-election fights. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., came out to back her last week, and others followed.

A key factor may have been a letter she wrote to Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chairman of the intelligence committee, on Tuesday, saying: “With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken.”

Warner subsequently said in a statement that he believes she “is someone who can and will stand up to the president if ordered to do something illegal or immoral — like a return to torture.”

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.

BREAKING: Mueller Says No Indictment for Trump

Mueller tells Trump’s legal team he will not indict the president

President Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told Fox News Wednesday that special counsel Robert Mueller has told the president’s legal team he will follow Justice Department guidance and not seek an indictment against Trump.

Giuliani, himself a former federal prosecutor and mayor of New York City, also told Fox that Mueller’s investigators have not responded to five information requests from the president’s team. That has forced Trump’s legal team to push off making a decision about whether the president will sit for an interview with the special counsel — a decision they had hoped to reach by Thursday.

The precedent that federal prosecutors cannot indict a sitting president is laid out in a 1999 Justice Department memo. Giuliani told Fox News that Mueller has no choice but to follow its guidance.

“This case is essentially over,” Giuliani said. “They’re just in denial.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

University Lack of Diversity – Liberals, You’re Not as Smart as You Think

I know many liberals, and two of them really are my best friends. Liberals make good movies and television shows. Their idealism has been an inspiration for me and many others. Many liberals are very smart. But they are not as smart, or as persuasive, as they think.

And a backlash against liberals — a backlash that most liberals don’t seem to realize they’re causing — is going to get President Trump re-elected.

People often vote against things instead of voting for them: against ideas, candidates and parties. Democrats, like Republicans, appreciate this whenever they portray their opponents as negatively as possible. But members of political tribes seem to have trouble recognizing that they, too, can push people away and energize them to vote for the other side. Nowhere is this more on display today than in liberal control of the commanding heights of American culture.

Take the past few weeks. At the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington, the comedian Michelle Wolf landed some punch lines that were funny and some that weren’t. But people reacted less to her talent and more to the liberal politics that she personified. For every viewer who loved her Trump bashing, there seemed to be at least one other put off by the one-sidedness of her routine. Then, when Kanye West publicly rethought his ideological commitments, prominent liberals criticized him for speaking on the topic at all. Maxine Waters, a Democratic congresswoman from California, remarked that “sometimes Kanye West talks out of turn” and should “maybe not have so much to say.”

Liberals dominate the entertainment industry, many of the most influential news sources and America’s universities. This means that people with progressive leanings are everywhere in the public eye — and are also on the college campuses attended by many people’s children or grandkids. These platforms come with a lot of power to express values, confer credibility and celebrity and start national conversations that others really can’t ignore.

But this makes liberals feel more powerful than they are. Or, more accurately, this kind of power is double-edged. Liberals often don’t realize how provocative or inflammatory they can be. In exercising their power, they regularly not only persuade and attract but also annoy and repel.

In fact, liberals may be more effective at causing resentment than in getting people to come their way. I’m not talking about the possibility that jokes at the 2011 correspondents’ association dinner may have pushed Mr. Trump to run for president to begin with. I mean that the “army of comedy” that Michael Moore thought would bring Mr. Trump down will instead be what builds him up in the minds of millions of voters.

Consider some ways liberals have used their cultural prominence in recent years. They have rightly become more sensitive to racism and sexism in American society. News reports, academic commentary and movies now regularly relate accounts of racism in American history and condemn racial bigotry. These exercises in consciousness-raising and criticism have surely nudged some Americans to rethink their views, and to reflect more deeply on the status and experience of women and members of minority groups in this country.

But accusers can paint with very wide brushes. Racist is pretty much the most damning label that can be slapped on anyone in America today, which means it should be applied firmly and carefully. Yet some people have cavalierly leveled the charge against huge numbers of Americans — specifically, the more than 60 million people who voted for Mr. Trump.

In their ranks are people who sincerely consider themselves not bigoted, who might be open to reconsidering ways they have done things for years, but who are likely to be put off if they feel smeared before that conversation even takes place.

It doesn’t help that our cultural mores are changing rapidly, and we rarely stop to consider this. Some liberals have gotten far out ahead of their fellow Americans but are nonetheless quick to criticize those who haven’t caught up with them.

Within just a few years, many liberals went from starting to talk about microaggressions to suggesting that it is racist even to question whether microaggressions are that important. “Gender identity disorder” was considered a form of mental illness until recently, but today anyone hesitant about transgender women using the ladies’ room is labeled a bigot. Liberals denounce “cultural appropriation” without, in many cases, doing the work of persuading people that there is anything wrong with, say, a teenager not of Chinese descent wearing a Chinese-style dress to prom or eating at a burrito cart run by two non-Latino women.

Pressing a political view from the Oscar stage, declaring a conservative campus speaker unacceptable, flatly categorizing huge segments of the country as misguided — these reveal a tremendous intellectual and moral self-confidence that smacks of superiority. It’s one thing to police your own language and a very different one to police other people’s. The former can set an example. The latter is domineering.

This judgmental tendency became stronger during the administration of President Barack Obama, though not necessarily because of anything Mr. Obama did. Feeling increasingly emboldened, liberals were more convinced than ever that conservatives were their intellectual and even moral inferiors. Discourses and theories once confined to academia were transmitted into workaday liberal political thinking, and college campuses — which many take to be what a world run by liberals would look like — seemed increasingly intolerant of free inquiry.

It was during these years that the University of California included the phrase “America is the land of opportunity” on a list of discouraged microaggressions. Liberal politicians portrayed conservative positions on immigration reform as presumptively racist; Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, once dubiously claimed that she had heard Republicans tell Irish visitors that “if it was you,” then immigration reform “would be easy.”

When Mr. Obama remarked, behind closed doors, during the presidential campaign in 2008, that Rust Belt voters “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them,” it mattered not so much because he said it but because so many listeners figured that he was only saying what liberals were really thinking.

These are the sorts of events conservatives think of when they sometimes say, “Obama caused Trump.” Many liberals might interpret that phrase to mean that America’s first black president brought out the worst in some people. In this view, not only might liberals be unable to avoid provoking bigots, it’s not clear they should even try. After all, should they not have nominated and elected Mr. Obama? Should they regret doing the right thing just because it provoked the worst instincts in some people?

This is a limited view of the situation. Even if liberals think their opponents are backward, they don’t have to gratuitously drive people away, including voters who cast ballots once or even twice for Mr. Obama before supporting Mr. Trump in 2016.

Champions of inclusion can watch what they say and explain what they’re doing without presuming to regulate what words come out of other people’s mouths. Campus activists can allow invited visitors to speak and then, after that event, hold a teach-in discussing what they disagree with. After the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that states had to allow same-sex marriage, the fight, in some quarters, turned to pizza places unwilling to cater such weddings. Maybe don’t pick that fight?

People determined to stand against racism can raise concerns about groups that espouse hate and problems like the racial achievement gap in schools without smearing huge numbers of Americans, many of whom might otherwise be Democrats by temperament.

Liberals can act as if they’re not so certain — and maybe actually not be so certain — that bigotry motivates people who disagree with them on issues like immigration. Without sacrificing their principles, liberals can come across as more respectful of others. Self-righteousness is rarely attractive, and even more rarely rewarded.

Self-righteousness can also get things wrong. Especially with the possibility of Mr. Trump’s re-election, many liberals seem primed to write off nearly half the country as irredeemable. Admittedly, the president doesn’t make it easy. As a candidate, Mr. Trump made derogatory comments about Mexicans, and as president described some African countries with a vulgar epithet. But it is an unjustified leap to conclude that anyone who supports him in any way is racist, just as it would be a leap to say that anyone who supported Hillary Clinton was racist because she once made veiled references to “superpredators.”

Liberals are trapped in a self-reinforcing cycle. When they use their positions in American culture to lecture, judge and disdain, they push more people into an opposing coalition that liberals are increasingly prone to think of as deplorable. That only validates their own worst prejudices about the other America.

Those prejudices will be validated even more if Mr. Trump wins re-election in 2020, especially if he wins a popular majority. That’s not impossible: The president’s current approval ratings are at 42 percent, up from just a few months ago.

Liberals are inadvertently making that outcome more likely. It’s not too late to stop.

Gerard Alexander is an associate professor of politics at the University of Virginia.

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Strassel: About That FBI ‘Source’

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Feb. 24 at National Harbor, Md. Photo: joshua roberts/Reuters

Did the bureau engage in outright spying against the 2016 Trump campaign?

The Department of Justice lost its latest battle with Congress Thursday when it agreed to brief House Intelligence Committee members about a top-secret intelligence source that was part of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. Even without official confirmation of that source’s name, the news so far holds some stunning implications.

Among them is that the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation outright hid critical information from a congressional investigation. In a Thursday press conference, Speaker Paul Ryan bluntly noted that Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’s request for details on this secret source was “wholly appropriate,” “completely within the scope” of the committee’s long-running FBI investigation, and “something that probably should have been answered a while ago.” Translation: The department knew full well it should have turned this material over to congressional investigators last year, but instead deliberately concealed it.

House investigators nonetheless sniffed out a name, and Mr. Nunes in recent weeks issued a letter and a subpoena demanding more details. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s response was to double down—accusing the House of “extortion” and delivering a speech in which he claimed that “declining to open the FBI’s files to review” is a constitutional “duty.” Justice asked the White House to back its stonewall. And it even began spinning that daddy of all superspook arguments—that revealing any detail about this particular asset could result in “loss of human lives.”

This is desperation, and it strongly suggests that whatever is in these files is going to prove very uncomfortable to the FBI.

The bureau already has some explaining to do. Thanks to the Washington Post’s unnamed law-enforcement leakers, we know Mr. Nunes’s request deals with a “top secret intelligence source” of the FBI and CIA, who is a U.S. citizen and who was involved in the Russia collusion probe. When government agencies refer to sources, they mean people who appear to be average citizens but use their profession or contacts to spy for the agency. Ergo, we might take this to mean that the FBI secretly had a person on the payroll who used his or her non-FBI credentials to interact in some capacity with the Trump campaign.

This would amount to spying, and it is hugely disconcerting. It would also be a major escalation from the electronic surveillance we already knew about, which was bad enough. Obama political appointees rampantly “unmasked” Trump campaign officials to monitor their conversations, while the FBI played dirty with its surveillance warrant against Carter Page, failing to tell the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that its supporting information came from the Hillary Clinton campaign. Now we find it may have also been rolling out human intelligence, John Le Carré style, to infiltrate the Trump campaign.

Which would lead to another big question for the FBI: When? The bureau has been doggedly sticking with its story that a tip in July 2016 about the drunken ramblings of George Papadopoulos launched its counterintelligence probe. Still, the players in this affair—the FBI, former Director Jim Comey, the Steele dossier authors—have been suspiciously vague on the key moments leading up to that launch date. When precisely was the Steele dossier delivered to the FBI? When precisely did the Papadopoulos information come in?

And to the point, when precisely was this human source operating? Because if it was prior to that infamous Papadopoulos tip, then the FBI isn’t being straight. It would mean the bureau was spying on the Trump campaign prior to that moment. And that in turn would mean that the FBI had been spurred to act on the basis of something other than a junior campaign aide’s loose lips.

We also know that among the Justice Department’s stated reasons for not complying with the Nunes subpoena was its worry that to do so might damage international relationships. This suggests the “source” may be overseas, have ties to foreign intelligence, or both. That’s notable, given the highly suspicious role foreigners have played in this escapade. It was an Australian diplomat who reported the Papadopoulos conversation. Dossier author Christopher Steele is British, used to work for MI6, and retains ties to that spy agency as well as to a network of former spooks. It was a former British diplomat who tipped off Sen. John McCain to the dossier. How this “top secret” source fits into this puzzle could matter deeply.

I believe I know the name of the informant, but my intelligence sources did not provide it to me and refuse to confirm it. It would therefore be irresponsible to publish it. But what is clear is that we’ve barely scratched the surface of the FBI’s 2016 behavior, and the country will never get the straight story until President Trump moves to declassify everything possible. It’s time to rip off the Band-Aid.

 

Correction
The FBI briefed House Intelligence Committee members about a top-secret intelligence source but did not allow them to see documents. An earlier version of this article misstated this.

President Trump Wins Release of 3 Prisoners from N. Korea

American prisoners held in North Korea on their way home after Pompeo visit, Trump says

Three American prisoners held in North Korea have been released and are en route to the U.S. after a surprise diplomatic mission by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, President Trump announced Wednesday.

Pompeo is returning with the Americans, said to be in “good health,” after a brief visit to Pyongyang. Trump said he plans to greet them at Andrews Air Force Base when they arrive outside Washington.

“I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting,” Trump tweeted, referring to the prisoners. “They seem to be in good health.”

Pompeo told reporters during the initial leg of the flight to Japan that he’s “thrilled” to have the Americans back. Trump also said that a date and location have now been set for his meeting with Kim Jong Un.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Trump “appreciates leader Kim Jong Un’s action to release these American citizens, and views this as a positive gesture of goodwill.”

New York Times slams AWOL Pompeo, then learns he was rescuing Americans

“The three Americans appear to be in good condition and were all able to walk on the plane without assistance,” she said.

Pompeo arrived in North Korea on Tuesday to prepare for the upcoming summit between the two leaders. Trump, announcing Pompeo’s visit, had hinted at the possibility of the prisoners’ release.

“We will soon be finding out,” he said Tuesday when asked at the White House whether the prisoners would be freed. “It would be a great thing if they are, we’ll soon be finding out.”

Pompeo was heading to North Korea just as Trump announced the U.S. would pull back from the Iran nuclear agreement. Trump is hoping to now make headway against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Ahead of the planned summit, Trump hinted last week that the release of the prisoners was imminent, saying in a tweet: “stay tuned.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that it would be seen as “a sign of good will” if North Korea released the prisoners.

The Americans were all detained or sentenced within the last couple years.

Kim Dong Chul, a South Korea-born U.S. citizen and former Virginia resident, was sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years in prison with hard labor after being convicted of espionage. He reportedly ran a trade and hotel service company in Rason, a special economic zone on North Korea’s border with Russia.

Tony Kim was detained at Pyongyang’s airport in April 2017 and accused of unspecified “hostile acts” against the regime. He taught accounting at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. In a statement, Kim’s family thanked “all of those who have worked toward and contributed to his return home.”

Kim Hak Song, an ethnic Korean born in China, was detained in May 2017 for “hostile acts.” He worked in agricultural development at an experimental farm run by the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, which was founded in 2010 with donations from Christian groups.

Another American detainee, Otto Warmbier, died in June 2017 — just days after he was brought back to the U.S. with severe brain damage. He had been arrested in January 2016 and accused of stealing a propaganda poster and was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor.

Pompeo’s short trip is the latest move in a constantly evolving diplomatic situation in the region. Kim met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in China on Tuesday, the second meeting in recent months, and also met this month with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in South Korea.

During the summit, the two discussed denuclearization and declared a formal end to the Korean War. The North Korean regime has also claimed it will end its nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missile testing program.

Fox News’ Caleb Parke and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.

 

Trump Withdraws from Iran Nuclear Agreement, Calls Pact ‘Defective at its Core’

President Trump on Tuesday announced plans to leave the Iran nuclear deal, declaring the pact has failed to halt the country’s nuclear ambitions in perhaps the biggest foreign policy decision of his administration.

Speaking at the White House, Trump said: “I am announcing today the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.”

Trump for months had left open whether he would move to scrap the pact, and his apparent decision to re-impose sanctions has rattled European rattles and leaves unclear how Tehran will respond.

But Trump scorched the deal in his Tuesday remarks, saying it put only weak limits on the regime’s nuclear activity and still would allow Iran to pursue a nuclear weapon once key parts of the agreement lapse.

“This was a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never ever been made,” he said. “… The Iran deal is defective at its core.”

The Treasury Department said a restoration of some sanctions will go into effect after a 90-day countdown, with the rest kicking in after a 180-day wind-down period. Once sanctions are re-imposed, the U.S. effectively would be out of the deal.

“At the heart of the Iran deal was a giant fiction, that a murderous regime desired only a peaceful, nuclear energy program,” Trump said Tuesday. “Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie.”

“This was a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never ever been made.” – President Trump

The Treasury Department said Trump would move to reimpose all sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the 2015 deal, not just the ones facing an immediate deadline. If he follows through on a sweeping imposition of sanctions, the move threatens to topple the Iran nuclear agreement as a whole – and with it, his predecessor’s signature foreign policy achievement.

“In theory, the so-called Iran deal was supposed to protect the United States and our allies from the lunacy of an Iranian nuclear bomb, a weapon that will only endanger the survival of the Iranian regime,” Trump said. “In fact, the deal allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium and over time reach the brink of a nuclear breakout.”

During his speech, Trump called Iran “the leading state sponsor of terror.”

“It exports dangerous missiles, fuels conflicts across the Middle East, and supports terrorist proxies and militias, such as Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban, and Al Qaeda,” he said.

Democrats blasted Trump’s withdrawal, with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi calling it “a sad day for America’s global leadership.”

Former President Obama released a statement arguing the nuclear deal “is working” and “has significantly rolled back Iran’s nuclear program,” saying that’s why Trump’s announcement “is so misguided.”

Trump started the day by warning former Secretary of State John Kerry not to meddle in the negotiations.

“John Kerry can’t get over the fact that he had his chance and blew it! Stay away from negotiations John, you are hurting your country!” Trump tweeted early Tuesday.

This was a reference to reports that Kerry was meeting with foreign officials in a bid to salvage the pact. Speaking at a summit Tuesday in Italy, Kerry did not back down, saying the Middle East is “safer with this agreement” and framing this juncture as a choice between peace and war.

Trump’s announcement comes ahead of a May 12 deadline to make a decision on sanctions.

It follows efforts by European allies to convince Trump to keep the deal, even with changes.

But Trump was unconvinced. Since the 2016 presidential campaign, he has railed against the agreement and its Obama administration negotiators.

The 2015 pact lifted most U.S. and international sanctions against the country, in exchange for Iran agreeing to restrictions on its nuclear program making it impossible to produce a bomb, along with rigorous inspections – terms generally set for 10-15 years.

But Israel, Gulf Arab states and many congressional Republicans said the deal was a giveaway to Tehran that ultimately paves the path to a nuclear-armed Iran several years in the future.

“Perhaps the nuclear deal’s most unforgivable flaw is that its original architects chose to stand with and empower Iran’s mullahs over the Iranian people, whose opposition to their corrupt and criminal government continues to grow,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., wrote in a Fox News op-ed urging Trump to abandon the pact and ratchet up sanctions.

But Trump’s decision could lead to retaliation from Iran in the near-term.

If the deal collapses, Iran could resume prohibited enrichment activities, while businesses and banks doing business with Iran would have to scramble to extricate themselves or run afoul of the U.S.

While Trump himself was tight-lipped about his decision in the run-up to the announcement, Iranian officials also were left guessing.

In Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani sought to calm nerves. “It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this,” Rouhani said.

Rouhani earlier warned of “grave” consequences if Trump pulled back on the agreement.

Obama foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes, who played a key role in the deal, also tweeted that “Trump is blowing that up with no understanding of what’s actually in the Deal, no plan for what comes next, and no support from our closest European allies, Russia or China.”

A factor leading to Tuesday’s decision may have been Israel’s public lobbying. A week ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to the U.S. president by making explosive allegations that new evidence proved Tehran had lied about its nuclear program and adherence to the pact.

But even Trump’s secretary of state and the U.N. agency that monitors nuclear compliance have agreed that Iran, so far, has lived up to its side of the deal.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu said, “Israel fully supports President Trump’s bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran.”

Fox News’ John Roberts, Judson Berger and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Alex Pappas is a politics reporter at FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexPappas.

Jason Whitlock: Kanye Had One of the Best Tweets of All Time

Maxine Waters said the rapper spoke ‘out of turn’ by praising Trump, but he affirmed his freedom.

After a nearly yearlong social-media hiatus, polarizing rap star Kanye West re-emerged on Twitter last month. On April 25 he shocked the mainstream media by expressing admiration for President Donald Trump.

“You don’t have to agree with trump but the mob can’t make me not love him,” Mr. West tweeted. “We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.”

Liberalism has been marketed to Black America like cigarettes. Welfare is nicotine, Hollywood celebs act as pitchmen for progressive political groups. It needs a surgeon general’s warning.

The tweet heard round the internet pleased America’s Twitter-loving president, who promptly thanked the rapper. It had a much different effect on liberal elites. Mr. West’s tweet and his other missives supporting center-right figures like Candace Owens and Scott Adams constituted left-wing betrayal of the highest order. The man who once vilified George W. Bush for the slow response to Hurricane Katrina was joining the birther president?

Then-President-elect Donald Trump and Kanye West at Trump Tower in New York City, Dec. 13, 2016. Photo: Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) bashed Mr. West for speaking “out of turn.” Mr. West shared over Twitter text messages from singer John Legend scolding him for aligning with President Trump. “Don’t let this be a part of your legacy,” implored Mr. Legend. The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates even spent 5,000 words admonishing Mr. West for straying too far from his betters’ thinking.

Last week, when Mr. West flippantly and foolishly ascribed blame for American slavery on African-Americans during a TMZ interview, he provided his critics the out they needed to dismiss him. But Mr. West’s larger point should not be rejected because bravado caused him to suggest he would’ve chosen death over slavery. Should we also now discard his criticism of President Bush? Liberals loved that. But they now fear what Mr. West is attempting to credibly convey to black people. It’s a message that could devastate the Democratic Party.

Liberalism is black people’s cigarette. In the immediate aftermath of the civil-rights movement, Democrats marketed liberalism to us as fashionable, sophisticated and liberating. Today it needs a surgeon general’s warning: hazardous to your family and the values you were taught as a child.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Southern, conservative minister who believed in the American promise. His dream was patriotic and traditional. Family, work, self-determination and religion comprised his core values. He never demonized his enemies. He chose to shame them by being better.

The turbulent and assassination-scarred 1960s created an acute leadership void in black America. The Democratic Party capitalized by promising black people government dependency disguised as assistance. The welfare check, the replacement for black fathers, is liberalism’s nicotine. Hollywood celebrities were once deployed by advertising companies to make smoking seem cool; today, they are deployed by liberal interest groups to make progressive politics seem like the only solution to black people’s problems.

Since King’s death, liberalism has increasingly become our religion and the Democratic Party our church. The rewards for our allegiance are at best disappointing: Our families have disintegrated. Our men have been incarcerated and emasculated. Our communities have been abandoned by high achievers. And our children are confused and resentful of their elders.

In 1965, the Moynihan report sounded alarm because only 76% of black children were born to married women. By 2015, 77% of non-immigrant black children were born to single mothers, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Major cities such as Baltimore and Detroit—run almost exclusively by black Democrats—remain crime-ridden and economically challenged, especially for black residents.

Perhaps this can be attributed to the evil work of conservative Republican politicians at the federal level. Or maybe we, African-Americans, have chosen the wrong strategy. No other ethnic group is chained to a single political ideology. Hispanics, whites and Asians actually make political parties compete for their support. Maybe Mr. West is trying to warn us of the dangers of Democratic cigarette addiction?

On April 18 he tweeted: “Don’t follow crowds. Follow the innate feelings inside of you. Do what you feel not what you think. Thoughts have been placed in our heads to make everyone assimilate. Follow what you feel.”

On April 22: “there was a time when slavery was the trend and apparently that time is still upon us. But now it’s a mentality.”

On April 23: “new ideas will no longer be condemned by the masses. We are on the frontier of massive change. Starting from breaking out of our mental prisons.”

Here’s the tweet just before his now infamous President Trump tweet: “Free thinkers don’t fear retaliation for your thoughts. The traditional thinkers are only using thoughts and words but they are in a mental prison. You are free. You’ve already won. Feel energized. Move in love not fear. Be afraid of nothing.”

Black people have no reason to fear political free agency.

Mr. Whitlock is a co-host of “Speak for Yourself” on Fox Sports 1.

Federal Judge Accuses Mueller’s Team of ‘Lying,’ Trying to Target Trump

A federal judge on Friday harshly rebuked Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team during a hearing for ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort – suggesting they lied about the scope of the investigation, are seeking “unfettered power” and are more interested in bringing down the president.

“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort,” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III told Mueller’s team. “You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever.”

Further, Ellis demanded to see the unredacted “scope memo,” a document outlining the scope of the special counsel’s Russia probe that congressional Republicans have also sought.

The hearing, where Manafort’s team fought to dismiss an 18-count indictment on tax and bank fraud-related charges, took a confrontational turn as it was revealed that at least some of the information in the investigation derived from an earlier Justice Department probe – in the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Manafort’s attorneys argue the special counsel does not have the power to indict him on the charges they have brought – and seemed to find a sympathetic ear with Ellis.

The Reagan-appointed judge asked Mueller’s team where they got the authority to indict Manafort on alleged crimes dating as far back as 2005.

The special counsel argues that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein granted them broad authority in his May 2, 2017 letter appointing Mueller to this investigation. But after the revelation that the team is using information from the earlier DOJ probe, Ellis said that information did not “arise” out of the special counsel probe – and therefore may not be within the scope of that investigation.

“We don’t want anyone with unfettered power,” he said.

Mueller’s team says its authorities are laid out in documents including the August 2017 scope memo – and that some powers are actually secret because they involve ongoing investigations and national security matters that cannot be publicly disclosed.

Ellis seemed amused and not persuaded.

He summed up the argument of the Special Counsel’s Office as, “We said this was what [the] investigation was about, but we are not bound by it and we were lying.”

He referenced the common exclamation from NFL announcers, saying: “C’mon man!”

Paul Manafort leaves Federal District Court in Washington, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, and Manafort's business associate Rick Gates have pleaded not guilty to felony charges of conspiracy against the United States and other counts. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Attorneys for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort argue that the special counsel does not have the power to indict their client on the charges they brought.  (AP)

Trump himself drew attention to the judge’s comments later Friday afternoon, during an NRA convention in Texas.

“It’s a witch hunt,” he said. “I love fighting these battles.”

The judge also gave the government two weeks to hand over the unredacted “scope memo” or provide an explanation why not — after prosecutors were reluctant to do so, claiming it has material that doesn’t pertain to Manafort.

“I’ll be the judge of that,” Ellis said.

House Republicans have also sought the full document, though the Justice Department previously released a redacted version, which includes information related to Manafort but not much else.

The charges in federal court in Virginia were on top of another round of charges in October. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to both rounds. The charges filed earlier this year include conspiring against the United States, conspiring to launder money, failing to register as an agent of a foreign principal and providing false statements.

Earlier this year, Ellis suggested that Manafort could face life in prison, and “poses a substantial flight risk” because of his “financial means and international connections to flee and remain at large.”

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Judson Berger contributed to this report.

Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.

‘Iran Lied’ About Nuclear Weapons Program

Netanyahu says Iran ‘brazenly lying’ after signing nuclear deal, moved documents to a secret location

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed new “dramatic” intelligence Monday which he claimed shows Iran is “brazenly lying” about its nuclear weapons program and shows the country is not complying with the vaunted nuclear deal it signed in 2015.

The information was obtained within the past 10 days, Israeli officials told Fox News. Netanyahu said the ‘half a ton” of files were moved to a “highly secret” location in Tehran after the deal was signed, and contained materials spread over 55,000 pages and 55,000 files on 183 CD’s.

“These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it says it never had a nuclear weapons program,” he said.

Israel Achieve

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows where Iran moved its nuclear weapons files to a location in Tehran after signing the nuclear deal. (AP)

Netanyahu displayed what he said was “an exact copy” fo the original materials, which are now in “very safe place” and include incriminating documents, charts, presentations, blueprints, and photos.

Speaking a nationally televised address, Israel’s prime minister said the material is filled with incriminating evidence showing the Iranian program, called “Project Amad,” was to develop a weapon.

Netanyahu briefed President Trump about the intelligence on Saturday and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday. European counterparts were made aware Monday prior to the speech, officials said.

Trump has repeatedly expressed a desire to exit the Iran nuke deal, which was signed during the Obama administration. And though he has yet to end it, a crucial deadline for re-certifying the deal is on the horizon.

Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference at the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv, Israel April 30, 2018. REUTERS/ Amir Cohen - RC1480BD75A0

Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference at the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv, Israel April 30, 2018. (REUTERS/ Amir Cohen)

“In a few days’ time, President Trump… will make a decision on what to do with the nuclear deal,” he said. “I’m sure he’ll do the right thing, the right thing for the United States, the right thing for Israel, the right thing for the peace of the world.”

In a question and answer period at the White House Rose Garden with Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, Trump said he’ll make a decision “on or before” May 12.

“That doesn’t mean I won’t negotiate a new agreement,” the president said, adding that “we’ll see what happens.”

Netanyahu’s statement also came on the heels of a missile attack in northern Syria that killed nearly 26-pro-government fighters, mostly Iranians, according to a Syria war monitoring group. Israel had no comment on the strike, but there was widespread speculation that Israel was responsible. Tehran has sent thousands of Iran-backed fighters to help President Bashar Assad’s forces in Syria’s seven-year civil war.

Israel and Iran are arch-enemies, and Israel has said repeatedly it would not allow Iran to establish a permanent military presence in Syria. Iran has already accused Israel of carrying out another airstrike in Syria this month that killed seven Iranian military advisers and vowed revenge.

SUSPECTED ISRAELI ‘EARTHQUAKE-LEVEL’ SYRIA STRIKE KILLS MOSTLY IRANIANS

Pompeo on Sunday ratcheted up the Trump administration’s rhetoric against Iran and offered warm support to Israel, and Saudi Arabia, in the standoff with Tehran.

In this Sunday, April 29, 2018 file photo, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. left. is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of a press conference at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv. Israel's prime minister has scheduled a special prime-time statement to reveal what his office said would be a "meaningful development" in the Iranian nuclear program. The surprise announcement came as Netanyahu canceled a scheduled speech at the parliament and instead called an emergency meeting of his Security Cabinet at Israeli military headquarters in Tel Aviv.(Thomas Coex, AFP via AP, File)

In this Sunday, April 29, 2018 file photo, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. left. is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of a press conference at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv. (Thomas Coex, AFP via AP)

“The United States is with Israel in this fight,” Pompeo said.

The 2015 nuke deal gave Iran relief from crippling sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Netanyahu has been a leading critic of the agreement, saying it fails to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons capability and welcoming Trump’s pledges to withdraw from the deal if it is not changed.

“The nuclear deal gives Iran a clear path to producing an atomic arsenal,” he said Monday.

Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference at the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv, Israel April 30, 2018. REUTERS/ Amir Cohen - RC1E04F26BC0

Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference at the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv, Israel April 30, 2018. (REUTERS/ Amir Cohen)

On Monday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the time when Iran’s enemies can “hit and run” is over.

“They know if they enter military conflict with Iran, they will be hit multiple times,” he said, according to his website. He did not specifically refer to the latest attack in Syria.

Michael Oren, a senior Israeli official, had no comment on the airstrike in Syria, but warned both Syria and Iran against trying to attack.

“If someone shoots at us, we shoot back and we will shoot back either at the Syrian army or the Iranians, at the origin of the aggression,” Oren said.

 

Fox News’ Yonat Friling in Jerusalem and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Travis Fedschun is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @travfed

DOJ Inspector General Refers Obama’s McCabe for Criminal Charges

The Justice Department’s internal watchdog has sent a criminal referral for fired FBI official Andrew McCabe to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington.

The move follows a recent DOJ inspector general report that found McCabe leaked a self-serving story to the press and later lied about it to then-Director James Comey and federal investigators, prompting Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire him on March 16.

A source confirmed to Fox News that the referral was sent.

The Washington Post reported earlier that the IG referred the finding that McCabe misled investigators “some time ago,” asking the top federal prosecutor for D.C. to examine whether he should be charged.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe lacked “candor” in conversations with federal investigators.  (AP)

Representatives with the Justice Department, inspector general’s office and U.S. attorney’s office all declined to comment.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., backed the move in a tweet Thursday afternoon.

“The criminal referral from the IG is the right decision. It’s about time we have some accountability for this type of conduct at the Justice Department,” he said.

In an interview with CNN Thursday, Comey said that he had no knowledge of the referral, but confirmed that he could be a witness against McCabe if he is prosecuted.

“Given that the IG’s report reflects interactions that Andy McCabe had with me and other FBI senior executives, I could well be a witness,” said Comey.

The former FBI Director added that he liked McCabe “very much as a person, but sometimes even good people do things they shouldn’t do … I think it is accountability mechanisms working and they should work because it’s not acceptable in the FBI or the Justice Department for people to lack candor. It’s something we take really seriously.”

FILE - In this June 8, 2017 file photo, former FBI director James Comey speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington. Comey is blasting President Donald Trump as “unethical and untethered to truth,” and says Trump’s leadership of the country is “ego driven and about personal loyalty.” Comey’s comments come in a new book in which he casts Trump as a mafia boss-like figure who sought to blur the line between law enforcement and politics. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Former FBI Director James Comey ordered the inspector general investigation that led to Andrew McCabe’s ouster.  (AP)

In a statement, McCabe’s legal team said they were advised of the referral “within the past few weeks.”

“Although we believe the referral is unjustified, the standard for an IG referral is very low. We have already met with staff members from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We are confident that, unless there is inappropriate pressure from high levels of the Administration, the US Attorney’s Office will conclude that it should decline to prosecute,” they said.

While Comey may not have intentionally launched the investigation gunning for McCabe, it was spurred by a desire to find who leaked to The Wall Street Journal in October 2016 about an FBI probe of the Clinton Foundation. The story said a senior Justice Department official expressed displeasure to McCabe that FBI agents were still looking into the Clinton Foundation, and McCabe had defended agents’ authority to pursue the issue.

That leak confirmed the existence of the probe into the Clinton Foundation, which Comey, who led the bureau at the time, refused to do.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies during a Judiciary Committee hearing into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 26, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein - RC15A41CCB80

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz sent a criminal referral for Andrew McCabe to the U.S. Attorneys Office in Washington D.C.  (AP)

Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report said McCabe authorized the leak and then misled investigators about it, leaking in a way that did not fall under the “public interest” exception.

Horowitz found that McCabe lacked “candor” when questioned by FBI agents on multiple occasions, and that he told agents he did not authorize the disclosure and did not know who was responsible.

But McCabe’s legal counsel, Michael Bromwich, has blasted the inspector general report and has criticized Comey. The report said Comey and McCabe gave conflicting accounts about a conversation they had on the leak.

“The OIG should credit Mr. McCabe’s account over Director Comey’s,” Bromwich wrote to Horowitz in a letter, complaining that the report “paints Director Comey as a white knight carefully guarding FBI information, while overlooking that Mr. McCabe’s account is more credible…”

He issued a similar statement Wednesday in response to Comey’s interview comments:

“In his comments this week about the McCabe matter, former FBI Director James Comey has relied on the accuracy and the soundness of the Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) conclusions in their report on Mr. McCabe. In fact, the report fails to adequately address the evidence (including sworn testimony) and documents that prove that Mr. McCabe advised Director Comey repeatedly that he was working with the Wall Street Journal on the stories in question prior to publication. Neither Mr. Comey nor the OIG is infallible, and in this case neither of them has it right.”

On Wednesday, nearly a dozen Republican members of Congress sent their own criminal referral to the Justice Department and FBI seeking an investigation of McCabe, along with Comey, ex-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Hillary Clinton and others.

GOP REPS REFER COMEY, CLINTON, MCCABE FOR CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION 

The IG referral, however, could represent a more serious problem for McCabe.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, Judson Berger, Samuel Chamberlain and Jake Gibson contributed to this report. 

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

DOJ’s Rosenstein Assures Trump He is Not a Target

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Trump last week that the president is not a target in the Michael Cohen investigation, and that the investigation is focused solely on Cohen, the president’s personal attorney, a source familiar with the probe told Fox News on Thursday.

Trump has been told previously that he is not a target of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

The source also said the Cohen investigation, together with the abrupt departure of John Dowd from Trump’s legal team, slowed, but did not halt talks about Trump sitting down for a potential interview with Mueller.

The FBI last week raided the office, home and hotel room of Cohen. Federal agents reportedly obtained documents related to several issues, including Cohen’s payments to adult-film star Stormy Daniels in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

Separately, President Trump’s in-house counsel Ty Cobb said no firings are currently under consideration, including those of Rosenstein or Mueller.

Earlier Thursday, Bloomberg reported that Rosenstein told Trump that he was not being targeted in the wider Mueller probe.

According to Bloomberg, Rosenstein told Trump that he wasn’t being targeted during a Thursday meeting at the White House. The assurances reportedly led to waning interest on behalf of the president to fire Rosenstein and Mueller.

In an interview on Thursday with CNN, former FBI director James Comey addressed the reports about Rosenstein’s reported conversation with Trump.

“I don’t know what it means,” Comey said. “It’s a fairly standard part of any investigation, trying to decide whether a person you’re encountering is a witness, a subject or a target. A target is someone on whom the investigation, the grand jury has developed … evidence sufficient to charge. Witness is somebody who has nothing to do with any exposure and a subject is everybody in the middle. So, I don’t know the context in which the Deputy Attorney General did that, but that’s the general framework.”

This is a developing story; check back for updates.

Fox News’ John Roberts and Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report.

Nearly 150 Illegal Immigrant Gang Members Released by Sanctuary Cities Last Year

Dozens of gang members, some of whom belonged to the notorious MS-13, were shielded from deportation and released due to “sanctuary” policies last year, according to newly released stats from the Department of Homeland Security.

The revelation could jolt the escalating “sanctuary” debate, especially in California where many of those gang members were located.

“Two-thirds of the releases occurred in California, which has had a strict sanctuary policy in effect since January 2014,” the Center for Immigration Studies said in a post on the data, pointing to “obvious public safety problems.”

Gang members released due to ‘sanctuary’ policies, by state

From Oct. 1, 2016 to June 19, 2017:

Arizona: 1

California: 89

Illinois:  3

Louisiana: 2

Maryland: 13

Minnesota: 1

New Jersey: 2

New Mexico: 2

New York: 4

Oregon: 2

Rhode Island: 1

Texas: 11

Washington: 11

[Data from Department of Homeland Security]

DHS officials provided a breakdown of gang members that were released in fiscal 2017, in response to questions posed in June by the Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing on the rise of MS-13.

From October 2016 to June 2017, DHS says, sanctuary jurisdictions refused to honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers on 142 suspected gang members — where ICE officials ask authorities to detain criminal illegal immigrants so ICE can take custody and deport them.

In the answers, the officials added that the numbers may be on the conservative side as jurisdictions that do not allow officials into jails make it more challenging to identify gang members.

“Because ICE often determines gang affiliation through interviews, ICE cannot speculate about the number of times it was denied access to an alien in the custody of state or local authorities who may have had such an affiliation,” the answers read.

Fifteen of those released were suspected members of MS-13, a gang started in the 1980s by Central American immigrants and known for its gruesome crimes. The gang’s presence across the country has been an escalating political issue.

“Violence is a central tenet of MS-13, as evidenced by its core motto — “mata, viola, controla,” translated as, ‘kill, rape, control,’ the DOJ said in a 2016 release.

WHAT IS MS-13, THE VIOLENT GANG TRUMP VOWED TO TARGET? 

The majority (89) of suspected gang members released were in California — whose state leaders are locked in a high-profile battle with the Trump administration, and even some of its own cities, over the state’s sanctuary policies. The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state last month, claiming that the policies prevent federal authorities from enforcing immigration laws.

On Tuesday, San Diego County became the latest local jurisdiction to back the lawsuit, claiming it limits police cooperation with federal agents. San Diego County is the largest county so far to back the suit, and its move comes after Orange County has also supported the administration.

California Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday that President Trump’s stance against illegal immigration is “just an inflammatory football that very low-life politicians like to exploit.”

SAN DIEGO VOTES TO JOIN TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S LAWSUIT AGAINST CALIFORNIA’S SANCTUARY CITY LAW 

If Trump “wants to round them up like some totalitarian government and ship them out, say that,” Brown said. “But he doesn’t say that because the American people would repudiate him and his party.”

Trump has repeatedly hailed the pushback against Brown and on Wednesday tweeted that there was a “revolution” in the state against sanctuary policies, which he called “ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept.”

ICE figures show a surge in arrests related to MS-13. In fiscal 2017, there were 796 arrests of MS-13 members, compared with 432 in fiscal 2016 and 322 in fiscal 2015. More broadly, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) said that 5,396 gang members were removed in fiscal 2017, compared with 2,057 in fiscal 2016.

DHS is also calling for tougher border security measures to combat MS-13.

In the questions posed to DHS officials, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, asked officials whether a border wall would stem the violence from MS-13, to which the officials said it would, calling it a “cornerstone” in preventing criminals from entering the country.

“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) believes further securing our border will impact the medium- and long-term health of MS-13 and the level of violence it perpetrates,” the response said. “As many current MS-13 gang members are illegal border entrants, DHS believes increasing border security will discourage the arrival of both current gang members and potential recruits.”

Additionally, officials said that MS-13 members regularly exploit border vulnerabilities and that U.S. Border Patrol agents arrest MS-13 members trying to enter the country “on a near-daily basis.”

Fox News’ Joseph Weber, William LaJeunesse and Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo Met with Kim Jong Un Over Easter Weekend

CIA Director Mike Pompeo met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un over Easter weekend in an effort to lay the groundwork for a summit between Kim and President Trump, Fox News has confirmed.

Pompeo’s trip, which was first reported by The Washington Post, came to light hours after Trump told reporters that the U.S. and North Korea are holding direct talks at “extremely high levels” in preparation for what would be an extraordinary meeting following months of heated rhetoric over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Though the White House did not initially comment on the reports, Trump acknowledged the meeting in a Wednesday morning tweet, saying it went well.

“Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week. Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed. Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!” he tweeted.

Trump, who welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to his Florida resort Tuesday, said five locations for the potential summit are under consideration. The president would not disclose the sites but said the U.S. was not among them.

“We’ll either have a very good meeting or we won’t have a good meeting,” Trump told reporters. “And maybe we won’t even have a meeting at all, depending on what’s going in. But I think that there’s a great chance to solve a world problem.”

The president did not answer shouted questions about whether he has spoken with Kim.

Kim’s offer for a summit was initially conveyed to Trump by South Korea last month, and the president shocked many when it was announced that he had accepted. U.S. officials have indicated over the past two weeks that North Korea’s government has communicated directly with Washington that it is ready to discuss its nuclear weapons program.

Abe, who has voiced fears that short- and medium-range missiles that pose a threat to Japan might not be part of the U.S. negotiations, praised Trump on Tuesday for his bravery in agreeing to meet with the North Korean dictator.

“I’d like to commend Donald’s courage in his decision to have the upcoming summit meeting with the North Korean leader,” Abe said.

Trump also confirmed that North and South Korea are working to negotiate an end to hostilities before next week’s meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In. The meeting will be the third inter-Korean summit since the Koreas’ 1945 division.

North Korea has long sought a peace treaty with the U.S. to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War. But it is unusual for the North to seek to broach the issue directly with South Korea rather than with Washington. The armistice that ended the fighting was signed by the United Nations Command — the U.S.-led forces in the conflict — North Korea and China. South Korea was a member of the U.N. Command but was not a direct signatory.

Trump said Tuesday that the two Koreas “have my blessing to discuss the end of the war.”

Fox News’ John Roberts, Serafin Gomez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Porn Whore Screams for Penetration of Privilege

Judge won’t let Trump attorney Cohen review seized files before the feds, as Stormy Daniels speaks out

A federal judge on Monday denied a request from President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen to review the documents seized from the lawyer’s home and office last week before prosecutors see them, dealing a setback to Trump’s legal team.

U.S. District Judge Kimbra Wood said that she had faith in the Justice Department’s so-called “taint team” to isolate materials protected by attorney-client privilege, but added that she would consider allowing a neutral third party requested by Cohen to weigh in.

Also Monday, attorneys confirmed that Fox News host Sean Hannity was the third individual who received Cohen’s legal help.

Cohen, who formerly worked at the Trump Organization, is under criminal investigation as part of a grand jury probe into his personal conduct and business dealings, including a $130,000 payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about a sexual encounter with the married Trump in 2006.

Wood told prosecutors to put all the seized documents into a searchable database to determine which should come under review. Prosecutors said they expected to let Wood know on Wednesday how long it will take them to share the materials with Cohen’s legal team. Cohen’s lawyers say they will then go through the materials and share relevant information with President Trump’s legal team.

Lawyers for Cohen and Trump had sought to be allowed to decide which items seized are protected by attorney-client privilege before prosecutors see them.

Stormy Daniels and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, outside the courthouse in lower Manhattan Monday.  (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Daniels attended the hearing and addressed reporters after it was over.

“For years, Mr. Cohen has acted like he is above the law,” Daniels said. “He has considered himself – and openly referred to himself – as Mr. Trump’s fixer. He has played by a different set of rules, or, should we say, no rules at all.

“He has never thought that the little man, or especially women – even more, women like me – mattered. That ends now,” she added. “My attorney and I are committed to making sure that everyone finds out the truth and the facts of what happened and I give my word that we will not rest until that happens.”

Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, said Judge Wood’s decision would ensure that “no documents are spoliated, destroyed or otherwise tampered with, which is our chief concern in connection with this process.”

The hearing took a surprise turn when Judge Wood instructed Cohen’s attorneys to disclose the name of a third Cohen client, apart from Trump and top GOP fundraiser Elliot Broidy.

“We have been friends a long time. I have sought legal advice from Michael,” Hannity said on his radio show in response.

But he also said that Cohen did not formally represent him.

“Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees,” Hannity said in a statement issued after his radio show. “I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective. I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third party.”

FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2013, file photo, former FBI Director Robert Mueller is seated before President Barack Obama and FBI Director James Comey arrive at an installation ceremony at FBI Headquarters in Washington. A veteran FBI counterintelligence agent was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating Russian election meddling after the discovery of an exchange of text messages seen as potentially anti-President Donald Trump, a person familiar with the matter said Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller referred an investigation of Michael Cohen to the U.S. Attorneys Office in the Southern District of New York.  (AP)

On his Fox News show Monday, Hannity told viewers his conversations with Cohen “almost exclusively focused on real estate.”

“I’ve said many times on my radio show: I hate the stock market, I prefer real estate,” Hannity said. “Michael knows real estate … I have no personal interest in this legal matter. That’s all there is. Nothing more.”

Lawyers for Cohen filed papers Monday saying investigators “took everything” during the raids, including more than a dozen electronic devices. They said that prosecutors had already intercepted emails from Cohen and executed the search warrants only after discovering that there were no emails between Trump and Cohen.

One of Trump’s lawyers, Joanna Hendon, asked the judge to block prosecutors from studying material seized in the raid until Cohen and the president have both had a chance to review those materials and argue which are subject to the “sacred” attorney-client privilege.

Lawyers for President Trump's personal attorney sought to go through evidence seized during FBI raids to identify 'privileged' communications; reaction and analysis on 'The Five.'

“The seized materials relating to the president must be reviewed by the only person who is truly motivated to ensure that the privilege is properly invoked and applied: the privilege-holder himself, the President,” Hendon wrote in court papers filed Sunday.

On Monday, Wood rejected Hendon’s request for a temporary restraining order on the grounds that it was too early for such an objection.

At issue is the topic of attorney-client privilege, which the president has claimed in recent days is “dead.”

Trump, who was in Florida on Monday, said all lawyers are now “deflated and concerned” by the FBI raid on Cohen.

“Attorney Client privilege is now a thing of the past,” he tweeted Sunday. “I have many (too many!) lawyers and they are probably wondering when their offices, and even homes, are going to be raided with everything, including their phones and computers, taken. All lawyers are deflated and concerned!”

Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain, Jen Oliva and Shira Bush contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

DOJ Inspector General Report: ex-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe Lied Repeatedly

Andrew McCabe, onetime acting FBI director, leaked a self-serving story to the press and later lied about it to his boss and federal investigators, prompting a stunning fall from grace that ended in his firing last month, says a bombshell report released Friday by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz, appointed by President Barack Obama, had been reviewing FBI and DOJ actions leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

The report, handed over to Congress on Friday and obtained by Fox News, looked at a leak to The Wall Street Journal about an FBI probe of the Clinton Foundation.

The report says that McCabe authorized the leak and then misled investigators about it, leaking in a way that did not fall under a “public interest” exception.

“[W]e concluded that McCabe’s decision to confirm the existence of the CF investigation through an anonymously sourced quote, recounting the content of a phone call with a senior department official in a manner designed to advance his personal interests at the expense of department leadership, was clearly not within the public interest exception,” the report says.

McCabe was fired last month by Attorney General Jeff Sessions just days before he would have been eligible for a lifetime pension after it was determined that he misled investigators reviewing the bureau’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s email server.

Sessions said that McCabe “made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor − including under oath − on multiple occasions.”

President Trump reacted to the report Friday in a highly charged tweet saying McCabe “LIED! LIED! LIED!” and used the social media platform to describe allegations of collusion between his campaign and Moscow as “all made up by this den of thieves and lowlifes!”

The report faults McCabe for leaking information to Wall Street Journal reporter Devlin Barrett for an Oct. 30, 2016, story titled “FBI in Internal Feud Over Hillary Clinton Probe.” The story — written just days before the presidential election – focused on the FBI announcing the reopening of the Clinton investigation after finding thousands of her emails on a laptop belonging to former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, who was married to Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

“Among the purposes of the disclosure was to rebut a narrative that had been developing following a story in The WSJ on Oct. 23, 2016, that questioned McCabe’s impartiality in overseeing FBI investigations involving [Clinton], and claimed that McCabe had ordered the termination of the [FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation] due to Department of Justice pressure,” the report says.

That leak confirmed the existence of the probe, which then-FBI Director James Comey had up to that point refused to do. The report says that McCabe “lacked candor” in a conversation with Comey when he said that he had not authorized the disclosure and didn’t know who had done so.

The IG also found that he also lacked candor when questioned by FBI agents on multiple occasions since that conversation, where he told agents that he did authorize the disclosure and did not know who was responsible.

McCabe has denied doing anything wrong. “This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement and intelligence professionals more generally,” McCabe said in a statement after his firing.

In a letter submitted by McCabe’s counsel after reviewing a draft of the report, McCabe argues that “the OIG should credit Mr. McCabe’s account over Director Comey’s” and complains that the report “paints Director Comey as a white knight carefully guarding FBI information, while overlooking that Mr. McCabe’s account is more credible for at least three key reasons …”

McCabe’s counsel, Michael Bromwich, in a statement to Fox News, slammed the OIG report. “The core weakness of the OIG report is the lack of any understandable motive for his alleged wrongdoing. It is undisputed that Mr. McCabe was one of three senior FBI officials authorized to share information with the media, including on sensitive investigative matters,” he said.

“He chose to exercise that authority in October 2016, during one of the most turbulent periods in the history of the bureau, with the knowledge of Director Comey and other senior members of FBI management. His purpose was to protect the institutional reputation of the FBI against false claims, including that a sensitive investigation was being shut down for political reasons.”

McCabe and Bromwich seemingly sought to diminish the credibility of Comey, blasting his “recollection” as “not at all clear.”

“Mr. McCabe’s recollection of discussions he had with Director Comey about this issue is extremely clear; Director Comey’s recollection is, by his own acknowledgment, not at all clear. And yet two of the lack of candor allegations are based on Director Comey’s admittedly vague and uncertain recollection of those discussions. ”

McCabe has been in the news since his firing, particularly over a GoFundMe campaign which raised more than $500,000 for a legal defense fund.

McCabe also wrote a dramatic op-ed for The Washington Post in which he again denied lying to or misleading investigators, and talked of the humiliation he had undergone over the probe and the way in which he was fired.

“Not in my worst nightmares did I ever dream my FBI career would end this way,” he wrote.

 

Fox News’  Chad Pergram, Jake Gibson and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.

Mueller War on Trump – It’s Time to Issue Mass Pardons

With the DOJ’s raid on the offices and homes of the President’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, it is finally time for the President to tactfully shut the investigation down.

The special counsel was given the DOJ assignment of investigating unlawful collusion activity between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign-accusations created solely in the minds of democrats. A year has gone by and not one whisper of unlawful activity has been uncovered. In lieu of results under his mandate, Robert Mueller has instead produced a series of nonsensical accusations against the president’s associates, in an attempt to force them to “make a deal” and manufacture unfounded accusations against the president.

Wisdom presumes that firing Meuller for ineptness and harassment would be a political misstep. However, simply making a public statement that the Meuller investigation has run its course, without results, and issuing pardons to the handful of people who have been attacked by Meuller, thus ending all inquiries, is the best method of bringing this rein of DOJ corruption to a conclusion.

Raiding the offices of a personal attorney is a clear violation of attorney-client privilege, and is the last convulsive, lawless act of a narcissistic government bureau desperately attempting to cling to unconstitutional power. It is time to shut it down. Issue the pardons and let Meuller slink back into the ooze of the swamp from which he sprang.

By James Thompson, political analyst and commentator.

Michael Goodwin: Time to Call a ‘Timeout’ on Mueller Russia Probe

Washington is full of blather, bombast and bullsh-t, but a line about Robert Mueller was the most important thing spoken or written there last week:

“Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office, declined to comment.”

Since Mueller’s office never says anything outside court publicly, who knew he had a spokesman or needed one?

The line was included in a Washington Post story that said Mueller told the White House that President Trump was not a target of the criminal investigation.

The story could be a big deal — if true. But the report is nonetheless remarkable because it was the first leak in memory that carried good news for Trump.

After breathless drip, drip, drip reports that had the president practically being frog-marched to a firing squad at dawn, the fever broke. Every dog has its day, and the Washington media decided this president’s day comes once every 15 months.

True to form, news outlets immediately pivoted back to their regularly scheduled programming of stories saying Trump is in imminent danger. The New York Times and ABC declared that George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, though a stranger to readers, is now Mueller’s hottest witness.

Enough.

The violent swings of the leaky pendulum make this an excellent moment to call timeout on the Mueller probe. What does he have, where is he going and when is he going to get there?

Those are basic questions that need to be answered. The American people deserve facts instead of waters muddied by partisanship, innuendo and special access to biased big-media companies.

Mueller’s team includes some active Democrats, and whether they are behind the anti-Trump leaks is, for the moment, beside the point. The point is that the leaks are creating a reality all their own about the investigation and the president.

It’s time to clear the air of rumor and speculation and put the facts on the record. It’s not as if the public has been impatient.

Mueller was appointed in May of last year to pick up the FBI probe started in the summer of 2016. Although there have been indictments, nothing implicates Trump in wrongdoing.

Yet even the hullabaloo about whether the president will agree to be interviewed is carried aloft by leaks. Has Mueller formally asked and has Trump formally declined? Who knows?

Then there’s the question of whether Mueller believes he can indict a sitting president, or whether he can subpoena Trump to a grand jury. Again, Mueller is, publicly at least, silent.

Under normal rules, the Justice Department is reluctant to either confirm or deny its investigations. One reason is that mere confirmation carries a lifetime whiff of guilt.

But this is hardly a normal situation. Mueller’s appointment was public and we know the president and his campaign team are being probed for possible collusion with Russia, and we know there is a possible issue of obstruction of justice over Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Given the stakes, the public has a right to know at this point what it all adds up to. If Mueller won’t speak for himself, his handler, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who created Mueller, should speak for him.

A concise report about where the probe stands would be enough. Mueller could make a statement, or Rosenstein could testify to Congress.

Rosenstein, because he alone decided a special counsel was needed, bears responsibility for keeping the probe focused and accountable. The recent revelation that he wrote a secret memo last August expanding Mueller’s jurisdiction illustrates what’s wrong with the secretive process.

Even at this late date, about two-thirds of the memo was redacted.

The blackout reeks of arrogance, as if Mueller and Rosenstein believe that whatever they decide will be passively accepted by the public. They act oblivious to the fact that most of the country is suspicious of the FBI because of the clear politicization of law enforcement during the 2016 election. And the stonewalling of Congress over documents only adds to the distrust.

The endless leaks are the final straw. Democracy is undermined by ostensible bombshell stories that cannot be evaluated for their credibility.

Anonymous sourcing defeats any effort by readers to draw conclusions about a story’s credibility based on the motive of the sources. If, for example, a story criticizing Republicans comes from Democrats, we can ascribe a partisan motive.

That doesn’t mean the story isn’t true, but the reader can factor motive into his judgment.

But without knowing who the sources are, readers are like the proverbial blind men touching different parts of an elephant. Each describes a different animal.

The Mueller probe is the most important investigation in a generation and is casting a cloud over a presidency. Yet many important things we supposedly know about it come from sources whose motives and honesty can’t be verified.

If this were a probe involving a third-level bureaucrat, assassination-by-leak would be distasteful but not as meaningful.

But this is the presidency, and even Trump haters should be appalled at the shoddy process.

In its story about Mueller saying Trump is not a target, the Washington Post also said the special counsel is “preparing a report about the president’s actions while in office and potential obstruction of justice.”

Is that true? Is the report the end of it?

Enough questions. It’s time for answers.

Recognize hate

If you are a terrorist, peace is dangerous.

Leaders from Hamas are outraged that the Saudi crown prince is recognizing Israel’s right to exist.

Mohammed bin Salman told Atlantic magazine, “I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land.”

The remarks are noteworthy but hardly radical — unless your aim is to destroy Israel.

“Regrettably, the virus of normalization [with Israel] has begun penetrating some Arab regimes, while the Arabs and Muslims remain categorically opposed to normalization with Israel,” Ahmed Yusef, a Hamas leader, told the Times of Israel. “Normalization is a dangerous germ.”

Imagine that.

Now this borders on high irony

Trump’s policies are cleverly explained in one tweet — and not his own. It comes from J Burton @JBurtonXP, who writes: “What kind of upside-down, nightmare world are we living in where the President is deploying troops to secure our own borders rather than random stretches of Middle Eastern desert halfway across the world from us?”

NYPD’s ‘race’ to assuage slay critics

To counter critics, the NYPD released the race and ethnicity of four cops involved in the killing of a black man in Brooklyn who threatened people with a gun-like metal object. Here’s The Post’s summary of the police racial bean counting: “One was African-American and fired three rounds; a second was white and fired two; a third was white and fired four rounds; and the fourth was Indian-American and fired once.”

Somehow I don’t think this is what Martin Luther King Jr. had in mind.

President: ‘Disgraceful’ that Feds are Targeting His Personal Attorney to Get Him

FBI raid targets Trump attorney Michael Cohen, under scrutiny over Stormy Daniels payments

The FBI raided President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen’s home, office and hotel room Monday to seize a collection of documents — a development that Trump slammed as “a disgrace.”

 

Federal agents reportedly obtained documents related to several issues, including his payments to adult-film star Stormy Daniels in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election. The New York Times was first to report the raid.

“Today the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York executed a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications between my client, Michael Cohen, and his clients,” Cohen’s attorney Stephen Ryan said in a statement Monday. “I have been advised by federal prosecutors that the New York action is, in part, a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”

Trump lashed out Monday evening at the White House, calling Mueller’s investigation “a total witch hunt” and “an attack on our country, in a true sense.”

The FBI did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, the president says he didn't know why his lawyer, Michael Cohen, made the $130,000 payment or where funds came from.

A spokesman for the special counsel referred Fox News to U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 28, Section 600.4 regarding “additional jurisdiction.”

“If in the course of his or her investigation the Special Counsel concludes that additional jurisdiction beyond that specified in his or her original jurisdiction is necessary in order to fully investigate and resolve the matters assigned, or to investigate new matters that come to light in the court of his or her investigation, he or she shall consult with the Attorney General, who will determine whether to include the additional matters within the Special Counsel’s jurisdiction or assign them elsewhere,” the code reads.

That “elsewhere,” in this case, could be referring to the U.S. Attorneys’ Office in the Southern District of New York.

When asked whether it was Attorney General Jeff Sessions or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who directed the jurisdiction, the Justice Department declined to comment. A spokesman for USDNY declined comment to Fox News.

“The decision by the US Attorney’s Office in New York to conduct their investigation using search warrants is completely inappropriate and unnecessary,” Ryan told Fox News in a statement. “It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his clients.”

Ryan added: “These government tactics are also wrong because Mr. Cohen has cooperated completely with all government entities, including providing thousands of non-privileged documents to the Congress and sitting for depositions under oath.”

Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, claimed she had a one-time sexual encounter with the president in 2006 and was paid $130,000 by Cohen in the days before the 2016 presidential election as part of a nondisclosure agreement she has sought to invalidate.

Daniels and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, have pushed for depositions from the president and Cohen.

“Mr. Cohen has been placed in the crosshairs by Mr. Trump,” Avenatti told Fox News on Monday. “He has been set-up to take the fall. An enormous amount of misplaced faith has been placed on his shoulders and I do not believe he has the mettle to withstand it.”

Avenatti added: “If I am correct, this could end very, very badly for Mr. Trump and others.”

Cohen had been living in a hotel room while some repairs were being done to his apartment, Fox News has learned.

Two White House officials told Fox News on Monday that the president was watching cable news when reports broke that the FBI had raided Cohen’s propery. It is unclear at this point, though, whether the president has spoken with Cohen.

Last week, Trump was asked by reporters during a gaggle on Air Force One whether he knew about Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Daniels. “No,” Trump responded.

When asked why Cohen made the payment, Trump said, “You have to ask Michael Cohen–Michael’s my attorney.”

Trump also said he did not know where Cohen got the $130,000 to pay Daniels in the days before the election.

Fox News’ John Roberts, Kristin Brown, Serafin Gomez, Mike Arroyo and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.