August 23, 2019

Judge Slaps Down Nadler and Dem Gambit in Trump Probe

A D.C. federal judge on Wednesday shot down an attempt by House Judiciary Committee Democrats to link their subpoena for former White House counsel Don McGahn to a separate request for secret grand jury information from the Russia investigation after the Justice Department accused them of trying to “game the system.”

Normally cases are assigned to judges randomly, which the DOJ said is meant to keep parties from “attempting to game the system” by “shopping” for a judge they like. But in a Tuesday court filing, the department alleged the Democrat-controlled committee was trying to do exactly that by exploiting an exception that allows “related” cases to be heard by the same judge. In this case, the DOJ said the panel improperly sought to connect the McGahn case to the grand jury case simply because they’re both part of their investigation of President Trump.

“[A]t first blush, the House Judiciary Committee’s view that the related case rule applies is understandable,” D.C. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell wrote in her order rejecting the bid. “Nonetheless, closer examination demonstrates that these connections between the two cases are too superficial and attenuated for the instant McGahn Subpoena Case to qualify[.]”

Howell, who is currently assigned to the grand jury case, agreed with the DOJ’s argument that the committee’s request to unseal secret grand jury information from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe has to do with the application of the law under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, while the McGahn case is a civil matter dealing with enforcing a subpoena where immunity has been asserted. Video

“This later-filed, subpoena-enforcement suit involves no issues of fact or law common to the earlier Grand Jury application, nor does it focus on a common event or transaction such that the matters would be ‘related,’” the DOJ argued in its court filing.

The House Judiciary Committee claimed that the cases are related because they both tie into what they are now calling an “impeachment investigation” of Trump. Their complaint against McGahn calls him the “most important witness, other than the President, to the key events that are the focus of the Judiciary Committee’s investigation” into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The DOJ, however, argued that the term “related” refers to cases that have “common issues of fact” or stem from a “common event or transaction.” They claimed the committee “gets it backwards” because they are “trying to relate completely unrelated cases simply because it filed them in service of its overarching desire to bring various matters together in its investigation of the President.”

McGahn’s refusal to comply with a subpoena is the real “event or transaction” in this case, the DOJ said, “not the Committee’s asserted ‘impeachment investigation.’”

Howell also identified the legal issues in the grand jury case, pointing out that those issues “are entirely absent” from the McGahn case.

The Justice Department also countered the committee’s claim that linking the cases would make the judicial process more efficient by noting that while the committee knew about McGahn’s refusal to testify back in May, they waited until August – soon after filing the grand jury information case – to sue over it.

“Thus, any delay is the Committee’s doing at this point,” the DOJ said, questioning how getting around the random judge assignment process would help make things go faster.

Judge Howell countered the committee’s argument by saying that “judicial efficiency is not served where two cases present such different factual and legal issues, as is the circumstance here.”

The McGahn case will now be transferred to the Calendar and Case Management Committee to be randomly reassigned.

The existence of an “impeachment investigation” has also been called into question. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., has stated that “formal impeachment proceedings” are underway, but the committee’s ranking Republican Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., said that is impossible because the House never voted to approve such an investigation.

Several House Democrats have claimed that a vote is not necessary, either because the Constitution grants them the power to conduct impeachment investigations or because a recent expansion of committee powers allows it.

By Ronn Blitzer


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Democrat Donor Epstein Found Dead – Another Clinton Witness Doesn’t Make it to Testimony

Disgraced multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of sex trafficking minors, died from an apparent suicide inside in his Manhattan jail cell, officials confirmed Saturday.

Attorney General William Barr said in a statement Saturday that he was “appalled” to learn of the death and the Inspector General would open an investigation into the circumstances of his death. The FBI is also investigating.

“Mr. Epstein’s death raises serious questions that must be answered,” he said. “In addition to the FBI’s investigation, I have consulted with the Inspector General who is opening an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein’s death.”

The 66-year-old Epstein was found unresponsive inside his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City around 6:30 a.m. Life-saving measures were initiated immediately by responding staff. He was transported to the New York Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan Hospital and was dead on arrival, officials said.

Law enforcement sources told Fox News that the initial call to the jail was cardiac arrest. Multiple reports claimed that he hanged himself. An autopsy is pending.

Marc Fernish, one of Epstein’s attorneys, blamed the government, the judge in the case and the media for this “unthinkable tragedy.”

“All these actors appear to bear some responsibility for this calamity. All seem to have a share of Mr. Epstein’s blood on their hands. All should be ashamed of their behavior,” the said in a personal statement to Fox News. “I call for a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Epstein’s death. The public needs to know exactly what happened and why — and how his custodians could have let it occur.”

Epstein’s death comes two weeks after the 66-year-old was placed on suicide watch after he was found nearly unconscious in his cell with injuries to his neck. At the time, it was not clear whether the injuries were self-inflicted or from an assault.

He had been taken off suicide watch before he killed himself, a person familiar with the matter told the AP. It wasn’t immediately clear when he was taken off suicide watch.Video

Epstein was arrested on July 6 over the alleged sexual abuse of dozens of young girls in his Upper East Side townhouse and his waterfront mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, between 2002 and 2005

Epstein allegedly created and maintained a “vast network” and operation from 2002 “up to and including” at least 2005 that enabled him to “sexually exploit and abuse dozens of underage girls” in addition to paying victims to recruit other girls. Prosecutors said that victims would be escorted to a room with a massage table where they would perform massages on Epstein.

At the time of Epstein’s arrest, prosecutors said they found a trove of pictures of nude and seminude young women and girls at his $77 million Manhattan mansion. They also say additional victims have come forward since the arrest.

He had pleaded not guilty and faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

His death also comes a day after thousands of documents were unsealed Friday in connection with a defamation cause against his alleged recruiter that revealed dozens of high-profile names including former Maine Sen. George Mitchell, ex-New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Prince Andrew, Duke of York.Video

Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has long claimed Epstein forced her to have sex with powerful men, claimed in the lawsuit that Epstein and his associate, Ghislaine Maxwell, kept her as a “sex slave” in the early 2000s when she was underage.

Giuffre claimed in the unsealed May 2016 deposition to have been trafficked to have sex with and provide erotic massages to powerful politicians, foreign leaders, and well-heeled businessmen.

JEFFREY EPSTEIN’S HIGH-PROFILE ASSOCIATES ‘BREATHING A SIGH OF RELIEF’ AFTER DEATH: DEROY MURDOCK

Her attorney, Brad Edwards, reacted to Epstein’s apparent suicide on Saturday, telling Fox News it was “unfortunate and predictable.”

“The fact that Jeffrey Epstein was able to commit the selfish act of taking his own life as his world of abuse, exploitation, and corruption unraveled in both unfortunate and predictable,” he said in a statement. “While we engaged in contentious legal battles for more than a decade, this is not the ending anyone was looking for.”

He continued: “The victims deserved to see Epstein held accountable, and he owed it to everyone he hurt to accept responsibility for all of the pain he caused. It is never too late to come forward with information. We will continue to represent his victims and will not stop in their pursuit of finality and justice.”Video

Epstein’s arrest drew national attention, particularly focusing on a deal that allowed Epstein to plead guilty in 2008 to soliciting a minor for prostitution in Florida and avoid more serious federal charges.

Federal prosecutors in New York reopened the probe after investigative reporting by the Miami Herald stirred outrage over that plea bargain.

But his lawyers maintained that the new charges brought by federal prosecutors in New York were covered by the deal and were improper. They said he hasn’t had any illicit contact with girls since serving his 13-month sentence in Florida.

High-profile attorney Lisa Bloom, who presents some of Epstein’s accusers, tweeted Saturday that his death means a “consciousness of guilt.”

“He was charged with only two counts. But he knew. He knew he was guilty, and all of his money would not prevent the inevitable conviction. He knew justice was coming and he could not face it”, she wrote.

David Boies, who represents several women allegedly victimized by Epstein, told Fox News: “This is the end of one chapter, but only one chapter, of the battle to bring the sex traffickers to justice.  Jeffrey Epstein did not act, and could not have done what he did, alone. Justice demands that those who acted with him also be held to account.”

Before his legal troubles, Epstein led a life of extraordinary luxury that drew powerful people into his orbit.

He socialized with princes and presidents and lived on a 100-acre private island in the Caribbean and one of the biggest mansions in New York. A college dropout, he became a sought-after benefactor of professors and scientists, donating millions of dollars in donations to Harvard University and other causes.Video

Still, it was never entirely clear how the middle-class Brooklyn math whiz became a Wall Street master of high finance.

Epstein’s death is likely to raise questions about how the Bureau of Prisons ensures the welfare of high-profile inmates. In October, Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger was killed in a federal prison in West Virginia where had just been transferred.

The Justice Department and the federal Bureau of Prisons did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday.

Fox News’ Bryan Llenas, Robert Gearty, Marta Dhanis, Brooke Singman, Travis Fedschun, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter & Editor for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang


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Ohio Shooter a Leftist Democrat Socialist Warren Supporter – Warren Raises Money

The 24-year-old gunman who killed his sister and eight other people in Ohio is an ardent leftist socialist democrat and supporter of Sen Elizabeth Warren (D) and Sen Bernie Sanders, and their socialist agenda.

“I want socialism, and i’ll not wait for the idiots to finally come round to understanding,” read one tweet.

Betts also exhibited a fascination with the devil, using such hashtags as “#selfie4satan,” “#HailSatan,” and “@SatanTweeting”. Typical leftist.

Sen Warren and the liberal media have completely ignored this reality and have launched money raising campaigns based on the assertion that the El Paso shooter didn’t like illegal aliens. They have further attempted to saddle President Trump with blame for both shooting sprees, completely ignoring the reality that the Ohio shooter was their guy.

Connor Betts, 24, the deceased gunman who shot and killed nine people in Ohio and wounded 27 others in a mass shooting early Sunday morning, had a twitter account showing he supported ANTIFA and socialist causes and was a supporter of presidential candidate Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

The Twitter biography reads, “he/him / anime fan / metalhead / leftist / i’m going to hell and i’m not coming back.” Tweets include praising Satan and “F— John McCain” after late Arizona Sen. John McCain died.

While the El Paso shooter decries the “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” he specifically tells the world that his personal beliefs “predate Trump and his campaign,” and are not part of the Trump agenda or movement.

Warren and Democrats are abusing the victims, their families and loved ones, as well as the public by misrepresenting the truth, and by demanding money at a time of national sorrow. Opportunists and vultures–as always.

by James Thompson

Dem Judge Dismisses DNC Hacking Lawsuit Against Trump

Judge says claims ‘entirely divorced from the facts’

A federal judge (in the Southern District of New York, appointed by Pres. Clinton) in very frank terms Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) against key members of the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks over hacked DNC documents, saying they “did not participate in any wrongdoing in obtaining the materials in the first place” and therefore bore no legal liability for disseminating the information.

The ruling came as Democrats increasingly have sought to tie the Trump team to illegal activity in Russia, in spite of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s findings that the campaign in fact refused multiple offers by Russians to involve them in hacking and disinformation efforts.

President Trump, in a tweet late Tuesday, noted that the judge in the case, John Koeltl, was appointed by Bill Clinton. The president called Koeltl’s decision “really big ‘stuff'” and “yet another total & complete vindication and exoneration.”

The DNC had asserted in court filings that the Trump team’s meetings “with persons connected to the Russian government during the time that the Russian GRU agents were stealing the DNC’s information” were “circumstantial evidence” that they were conspiring with the Russians to “steal and disseminate the DNC’s materials.”

The suit did not allege that the stolen materials were false or defamatory but rather sought to hold the Trump team and other defendants liable for the theft of the DNC’s information under various Virginia and federal statutes, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, Wiretap Act, Stored Communications Act, Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and laws protecting trade secrets.Video

However, Judge Koeltl, sitting in the Southern District of New York, wrote in his 81-page opinion Tuesday that the DNC’s argument was “entirely divorced” from the factual record in the case.

The DNC first filed its suit in April 2018, and the defendants responded that the First Amendment legally protected the dissemination of stolen materials.

“In short, the DNC raises a number of connections and communications between the defendants and with people loosely connected to the Russian Federation, but at no point does the DNC allege any facts … to show that any of the defendants — other than the Russian Federation — participated in the theft of the DNC’s information,” Koeltl said.

“Nor does the DNC allege that the defendants ever agreed to help the Russian Federation steal the DNC’s documents,” he added.

The DNC claimed the defendants illegally compromised their trade secrets contained in some of the stolen documents — including donor lists and strategies. But, the judge said, any such claim to trade secrecy was lost when the documents became public in the first place, and in any event, the newsworthiness of the matter trumped the trade secrecy issue.

“If Wikileaks could be held liable for publishing documents concerning the DNC’s political financial and voter-engagement strategies simply because the DNC labels them ‘secret’ and trade secrets, then so could any newspaper or other media outlet,” the judge wrote. That, he said, would elevate a privacy interest impermissibly over the First Amendment rights of people and media outlets to disseminate matters of “the highest public concern.”

Koeltl went on to describe multiple hacking efforts directed by Russians at the DNC, in which Russians “hacked into the DNC’s computers, penetrated its phone systems, and stole tens of thousands of documents.”

Author of ‘The Russia Hoax’ Gregg Jarrett says the president’s lawyers flagged Mueller’s lack of understanding of the Russia report months ago.

But, even if the Russians had provided the hacked documents to the Trump team directly, the judge wrote, it would not be criminal for the campaign to then publish those documents, as long as they did not contribute to the hacking itself. Similarly, the judge said, it is not criminal to merely solicit or “welcome” stolen documents.

Koeltl cited the infamous Pentagon Papers case in which the Supreme Court held that The New York Times and The Washington Post were protected by the First Amendment when they published articles concerning the government’s public justification for the Vietnam War.

“At first glance, this opinion raises serious concerns about our protections from foreign election interference and the theft of private property to advance the interests of our enemies,” DNC spokesperson Adrienne Watson said.

The suit also named the Russian government, but Koeltl noted that federal law prohibited suits against foreign governments except in highly specific circumstances. Koeltl nevertheless acknowledged that the Russian government “undoubtedly” was involved in the hacking.

Koeltl denied the Trump team’s motion for sanctions but dismissed the suit with prejudice — meaning it had a substantive legal defect and could not be refiled. An appeal remained possible.

In addition to the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks, and Russia, the DNC’s suit named Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, George Papadopoulos, Richard Gates (whose connections with Russia were especially “threadbare,” the judge wrote), Roger Stone, Joseph Mifsud and Julian Assange.

The DNC in its complaint mentioned, among other contacts, Papadopoulos’ meeting with Mifsud in Italy in March 2016, as well as the claim Mifsud told Papadopoulos on April 26, 2016, that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails.

The FBI probe into the Trump team came after the bureau learned Papadopoulos then allegedly told an Australian diplomat about his contacts with Russians.

Mifsud had ties to both western and Russian intelligence, and Papadopoulos relayed to his superiors on the Trump campaign that there were “interesting messages coming in from Moscow.” There has been no evidence Papadopoulos told the Trump team specifically about the stolen emails.

The DNC also focused on statements from Stone that may have suggested he had advance warning of pending email hacks or dissemination, as well as Trump Jr.’s statement that he would “love” to receive potentially damaging information on Clinton. Several other communications from Trump officials to Russians or people tied to Russia were mentioned throughout the DNC’s complaint.Video

None of these alleged episodes, the judge ruled, established a criminal conspiracy.

Republicans, meanwhile, have focused increasingly on the DNC’s own apparent role in the origins of the FBI’s probe into the Trump campaign, which began in the summer of 2016 — after British ex-spy Christopher Steele, a longtime FBI informant funded by the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign, began work on his now-discredited dossier.

The dossier was used in secret surveillance warrants to monitor members of the Trump team, and later fueled media reports that kept the investigation going, despite many apparent problems with its reliability. For example, the dossier claimed that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen went to Prague to discuss Russian interference efforts, which Mueller found no evidence for.

The dossier also claimed the Russians had a compromising, lurid tape of Trump, and were running an interference operation out of a nonexistent Russian consulate in Miami, complete with Trump-affiliated U.S.-based hackers. Additionally, Mueller was unable to substantiate the dossier’s claims that former Trump aide Carter Page had received a large payment relating to the sale of a share of Rosneft, a Russian oil giant.

Multiple DOJ reviews into the dossier’s use, and related matters, were ongoing.

The chances of the FBI securing a secret 2016 surveillance warrant for a Trump campaign aide were “50/50” without the anti-Trump dossier, according to testimony in recently confirmed congressional transcripts from senior FBI lawyer Sally Moyer to House investigators.

And, Papadopoulos on Sunday told Fox News he was heading back to Greece to retrieve $10,000 that he suspected was dropped in his lap during the campaign as part of an entrapment scheme by the CIA or FBI. Federal investigators want to see the marked bills, which he said were stored in a safe.

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Papadopoulos said on “Sunday Morning Futures” he was “very happy” to see House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., grill Mueller about the summer 2017 payment during last week’s hearings — even though Mueller maintained, without explanation, that the matter was outside the scope of his investigation.

“I was very happy to see that Devin Nunes brought that up,” Papadopoulos said. “A man named Charles Tawil gave me this money [in Israel] under very suspicious circumstances. A simple Google search about this individual will reveal he was a CIA or State Department asset in South Africa during the ’90s and 2000s. I think around the time when Bob Mueller was the director of the FBI.”

Fox News’ Bill Mears and Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.


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A-listers Flock to Italian Resort in Private Jets, Yachts for Global Warming Confab


Hypocrite Stars attend Google summit on climate change in private jets, mega yachts.
Geniuses like Katy Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio and more attended a Google summit on climate change in private jets and mega yachts.

Google Camp is hosting the likes of former President Barack ObamaPrince HarryLeonardo DiCaprio and Katy Perry in Sicily, Italy, to discuss climate change, but it may come at a steep cost to Mother Earth.

“Everything is about global warming, that is the major topic this year,” a source told the New York Post.

Sources told the outlet that the three-day event will cost the tech giant $20 million.

Many of the guests, including Obama and DiCaprio – who has his own climate change foundation – have described global warming as the biggest threat to future generations.

Italian press reports allege that the Google Campers would show up in 114 private jets, and 40 had arrived by Sunday.Video

If the guests took 114 flights from Los Angeles to Palermo, the private jets would reportedly release 100,000 kilograms of CO2.

“Google Camp is meant to be a place where influential people get together to discuss how to make the world better,” a source told the Post. “There will likely be discussions about online privacy, politics, human rights, and of course, the environment, which makes it highly ironic that this event requires 114 private jets to happen.”

Attendees, who according to a source were personally invited by Google founder Sergey Brin and Larry Page, reportedly will foot the bill for their travel costs to Sicily’s Verdura Resort, but Google will pay the rest of their expenses. Rooms reportedly start at $903 a night in the luxurious vacation spot.

Other stars in attendance will be Perry’s fiancee Orlando Bloom, singer Harry Styles, Bradley Cooper, Nick Jonas, Priyanka Chopra, Gayle King, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, designer Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller. Furstenberg and Diller reportedly arrived via their $200 million yacht Eos; Dreamworks founder David Geffen is said to have given Perry and Bloom a lift to the event on his $400 million yacht, Rising Sun.

Perry, who’s starred in UNICEF videos about combating climate change, was reportedly spotted in a Maserati SUV that gets only an estimated 15 miles per gallon.


By Jessica Sager | Fox News


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Supreme Court OKs Trump to Use Military Funds for Border Wall

President Donald Trump talks with reporters as he reviews border wall prototypes, Tuesday, March 13, 2018, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Supreme Court sided with the Trump administration on Friday in lifting a freeze backed by a lower court that had halted plans to use $2.5 billion in Pentagon funds for border wall construction.

The decision, which split the bench along ideological lines, allows the administration to move ahead with plans to use military funds to replace existing fencing in California, Arizona and New Mexico.

The conservative justices on the court ruled in favor of the administration. Liberal justices Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented. And Justice Stephen Breyer issued a split opinion, agreeing in part with both sides.

The president celebrated the ruling on Twitter: “Wow! Big VICTORY on the Wall. The United States Supreme Court overturns lower court injunction, allows Southern Border Wall to proceed. Big WIN for Border Security and the Rule of Law!”

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court recognized that the lower courts should not have halted construction of walls on the southern border,” Justice Department spokesperson Alexei Woltornist said in a statement. “We will continue to vigorously defend the Administration’s efforts to protect our Nation.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which opposes the funding for the wall, vowed to keep fighting.

“This is not over,” said Dror Ladin, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project. “We will be asking the federal appeals court to expedite the ongoing appeals proceeding to halt the irreversible and imminent damage from Trump’s border wall. Border communities, the environment, and our Constitution’s separation of powers will be permanently harmed should Trump get away with pillaging military funds for a xenophobic border wall Congress denied.”

The ruling means the Trump administration can tap the funds and begin work covered by four contracts it has awarded.

A trial court initially froze the funds in May and an appeals court kept that freeze in place earlier this month. The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to take up the issue.

Earlier this month, a divided three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco agreed with a lower-court ruling that prevented the government from tapping Defense Department counterdrug money to build high-priority sections of the planned wall in the three aforementioned states.Video

At stake is billions of dollars in funding that would allow Trump to make progress on a major 2016 campaign promise heading into his race for a second term.

Trump declared a national emergency after losing a funding fight with the Democrat-led House that resulted in a 35-day government shutdown. Congress agreed to spend nearly $1.4 billion on barriers in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for illegal crossings, an amount well below the $5.7 billion the president had sought.

Trump grudgingly accepted the money but declared the emergency in order to tap up to $8.1 billion for wall construction. That amount includes $3.6 billion from military construction funds, $2.5 billion from Defense Department counterdrug activities and $600 million from the Treasury Department’s asset forfeiture fund.


Fox News’ Shannon Bream and Bill Mears and The Associated Press contributed to this report.Alex Pappas is a politics reporter at FoxNews.com.


 

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AGAIN: Facebook Pays Historic $5B Fine for Privacy Violations

After months of speculation, Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission agreed to a $5 billion fine for privacy violations, as well as new oversight on how the company handles user data.

The fine is the largest the FTC has ever levied on a tech company and to the disappointment of some, CEO Mark Zuckerberg is only being held personally responsible in a limited fashion.

As part of the agency’s settlement with Facebook, Zuckerberg will have to personally certify his company’s compliance with its privacy programs. The FTC said that false certifications could expose him to civil or criminal penalties.

Facebook also does not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

In a statement posted to the FTC’s website, FTC Chairman Joe Simons said the Zuckerberg-led company “undermined consumer choices and the fine is being used not only to punish past violations, but future ones as well.

“Despite repeated promises to its billions of users worldwide that they could control how their personal information is shared, Facebook undermined consumers’ choices,” Simons said in the statement. “The magnitude of the $5 billion penalty and sweeping conduct relief are unprecedented in the history of the FTC. The relief is designed not only to punish future violations but, more importantly, to change Facebook’s entire privacy culture to decrease the likelihood of continued violations. The Commission takes consumer privacy seriously, and will enforce FTC orders to the fullest extent of the law.”

Three Republican commissioners voted for the fine while two Democrats opposed it. “The proposed settlement does little to change the business model or practices that led to the recidivism,” wrote Commissioner Rohit Chopra in his dissenting statement.

Chopra added the settlement imposes “no meaningful changes” to the company’s structure or business model. “Nor does it include any restrictions on the company’s mass surveillance or advertising tactics.”

The money is likely to go to the U.S. Treasury and far surpasses the FTC’s previous record for a fine on a tech company, $22.5 million, which it levied upon Google in 2012 for bypassing the privacy controls in Apple’s Safari browser.

The largest punishment against a non-tech company was the $14.7 billion fine that was handed out to Volkswagen to settle allegations it cheated on emissions tests and deceived customers.

The FTC investigation, which opened last year, stems from the scandal that data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica took user information from as many as 87 million Facebook users without their permission.

The government agency had also been looking into whether Facebook violated a settlement with government regulators in 2012 after it was determined the social networking giant broke privacy promises to users. That settlement said Facebook required user consent to share personal data that overrode their privacy settings.

Cambridge Analytica eventually shut down as a result of the scandal.

In a statement, Facebook’s General Counsel Colin Stretch said the agreement with the FTC would provide new standards for protecting user privacy.

“After months of negotiations, we’ve reached an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission that provides a comprehensive new framework for protecting people’s privacy and the information they give us,” Stretch wrote in a blog post.

“The agreement will require a fundamental shift in the way we approach our work and it will place additional responsibility on people building our products at every level of the company. It will mark a sharper turn toward privacy, on a different scale than anything we’ve done in the past,” Stretch added.

Zuckerberg said the company has a “responsibility to protect people’s privacy,” and as part of the deal with the FTC, it will further its efforts.

“As part of this settlement, we’re bringing our privacy controls more in line with our financial controls under the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Our executives, including me, will have to certify that all of the work we oversee meets our privacy commitments. Just as we have an audit committee of our board to oversee our financial controls, we’ll set up a new privacy committee of our board that will oversee our privacy program. We’ve also asked one of our most experienced product leaders to take on the role of Chief Privacy Officer for Products.”

Sources close to the matter said that Zuckerberg will also discuss the changes at a company-wide meeting Wednesday afternoon.

On its first-quarter earnings call in April Facebook told analysts that it estimated the settlement with the FTC to be between $3 billion and $5 billion.

Separately, The Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday that Facebook would also settle with the Securities and Exchange Commission to close the matter of whether it properly disclosed its privacy practices to investors and pay a fine “larger than $100 million.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia


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Omar Introduces Resolution to Boycott Israel, Likens it to Nazis, USSR

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar proposed a resolution this week supporting the right to boycott Israel, likening the boycott of the Jewish state to boycotts of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Omar’s resolution seeks to push back against U.S. laws banning the boycott of Israel and affirms the right of Americans to organize boycotts of foreign countries if they so wish.

While the resolution doesn’t explicitly name Israel or the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, she told media outlets that the resolution concerns the Jewish state.

“And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”— U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

“We are introducing a resolution … to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our First Amendment rights in regard to boycotting,” Omar told Al-Monitor.

“And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement,” she added.

The resolution attracted some Republican detractors, with Rep. Lee Zeldin slamming Omar for introducing it, saying she brought “her hateful twist” by propping up the BDS movement.

“Israel is our best ally in the Mid East; a beacon of hope, freedom & liberty, surrounded by existential threats,” Zeldin wrote in a tweet. “Shame on Rep Omar for bringing her hateful twist on that reality to House Foreign today, propping up the BDS movement & blaming Israel for all of its challenges.”

The resolution affirms the right to boycott as an expression of free speech and cites examples of boycott movements against Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and apartheid South Africa.

“Americans of conscience have a proud history of participating in boycotts to advocate for human rights abroad including … boycotting Nazi Germany from March 1933 to October 1941 in response to the dehumanization of the Jewish people in the lead-up to the Holocaust,” Omar said in the resolution introduced Tuesday.

“Americans of conscience have a proud history of participating in boycotts to advocate for human rights abroad including … boycotting Nazi Germany from March 1933 to October 1941 in response to the dehumanization of the Jewish people in the lead-up to the Holocaust.”— U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

Omar’s measure will be co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., the first female Palestinian-American lawmaker in Congress who openly supports a one-state solution in the Israeli-Palestine conflict, and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.

But the resolution will likely lead to yet another clash with her fellow Democrats who are mulling a resolution condemning the boycott movement.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed Wednesday a resolution that accuses the BDS movement of promoting “principles of collective guilt, mass punishment and group isolation,” the Times of Israel reported.

It remains unclear if the resolution will be introduced to the whole Congress next week amid fears over intra-party clashes.

“I think the timing would not be very wise to take up additional measures around the Middle East,” Rep. Mark Pocan told Politico. “Donald Trump just brought us all together, so let’s take advantage of that.”


Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for FoxNews.com


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CNN’s Collapsed Ratings Trigger Network Panic

CNN is suffering a credibility crisis as viewership for the once-proud network continues to crater with a no apparent plan in place to fix things anytime soon, according to media watchdogs and insiders.

CNN’s audience shriveled in the second quarter of 2019, averaging only 541,000 total viewers while being more than doubled by Fox News Channel’s 1.3 million average in the process. But CNN struggled even more during the primetime hours of 8-11 p.m. ET, finishing as the fifteenth most-watched network on basic cable behind networks such as TLC, Investigation Discovery and the Hallmark Channel. CNN averaged a dismal 761,000 primetime viewers while FNC averaged 2.4 million.

The Hill media guru Joe Concha told Fox News that CNN’s freefall may not be slowing.

THIS IS CNN? PRIMETIME SHOWS FILLED WITH LIBERAL OPINION, NOT STRAIGHT NEWS AS NETWORK CLAIMS

“The numbers warrant concern, yes. Q2 was a particularly news-rich quarter highlighted by the release of the Mueller report and all the aftermath and controversy following it, plus the launch of several high-profile Democratic candidacies including Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg to propel 2020 coverage into high gear,” Concha said. “It may only get worse in Q3 given the numbers we’re already seeing.”

CNN did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

CNN started off the third quarter with “the network’s lowest average since 2015” when it comes to primetime viewers among the key demographic of adults age 25-54, according to TVNewser. But the network has extended various contributors through the election, indicating that its apparent anti-Trump programming strategy will remain in place for at least the duration of the president’s first term.

“You know the answer,” a longtime CNN employee said when asked if staffers are panicked about the ratings decay before declining further comment.

Another current CNN employee told Fox News that there is widespread concern about the network’s ratings problem, but high-profile hosts such as Anderson Cooper remain unfazed.

“The people that are concerned – it’s certainly not the anchors who have lucrative contracts – it’s the people among the lower levels, such as producers and show bookers.”— CNN employee

“The people that are concerned – it’s certainly not the anchors who have lucrative contracts – it’s the people among the lower levels, such as producers and show bookers,” the employee said.

A third current staffer told Fox News that CNN “is clearly doing something wrong if the ratings are like this,” before asking, “So why don’t we try something different?”

Cable news viewership has declined in general as more and more consumers cut the cord in favor of OTT streaming services, but CNN’s losses are overwhelming. Zucker’s network lost 18 percent of its audience compared to the second quarter of last year. CNN also dropped a whopping 38 percent of primetime viewers among the key demo.

“Losing nearly 40 percent of an already-third place audience must be a primary topic in internal meetings, with immediate remedies not readily apparent.”— Joe Concha

“Losing nearly 40 percent of an already-third place audience must be a primary topic in internal meetings, with immediate remedies not readily apparent,” Concha said.

CNN’s most popular show averaged only 910,000 viewers. Fourteen Fox News programs and 10 MSNBC programs attracted larger audiences.

Chris Cuomo and Anderson Cooper are part of CNN’s struggling primetime lineup that lost 38% of its audience in the key demo during the second quarter of 2019.
Chris Cuomo and Anderson Cooper are part of CNN’s struggling primetime lineup that lost 38% of its audience in the key demo during the second quarter of 2019.

Reporter-turned-banker Porter Bibb is surprised parent company AT&T hasn’t made any changes. “My guess is that senior management is more concerned about the launch of HBO Max than CNN, at least for the moment,” he said.

Sagging ratings weren’t the only negative headlines generated by CNN executives during the second quarter, as the network reduced headcount days after publically declaring there wouldn’t be mass layoffs.

A CNN spokesperson told Fox News on May 7 that reports of looming layoffs were a “crazy rumor,” but staffers were shocked when members of the network’s Atlanta-based staff that covered health care were shown the door only two weeks later.

CNN also saw over 100 employees accept a voluntary buyout option, losing bureau chiefs and award winners in the process while the network moved into elaborate new New York City digs.

“My guess is that senior management is more concerned about the launch of HBO Max than CNN, at least for the moment.”— Porter Bibb

CNN began broadcasting in May from the network’s ritzy new facility in the Hudson Yards area on the West Side of Manhattan. The brand-new, state-of-the-art headquarters is part of a luxurious complex that also features condominiums which start at $4.3 million, high-end restaurants and stores such as Cartier, Rolex, Louis Vuitton and Neiman Marcus.

The second quarter also saw the release of the White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s anti-Trump book. Before its June release, one current CNN employee told Fox News that CNN’s Acosta might not be the right person to cover Trump’s White House these days.Video

“Jim Acosta is, a lot of times, asking the right questions but it doesn’t always need to be about him and his grandstanding,” the CNN staffer said. “People get tired of it. Acosta is supposed to be a correspondent reporting the facts but you can’t tell the difference between him and a paid pundit.”

MSNBC’s recent Democratic presidential primary debate attracted a large audience, and CNN is set to host its own version later this month. The event would typically be a reason for optimism, but CNN announced on Monday that opinion host Don Lemon would a moderator, raising eyebrows in the process as respected journalists such as Erin Burnett and Poppy Harlow remain on the sideline.

Debate moderators are historically straight-news journalists, as opposed to partisan pundits, but CNN’s decision mirrors NBC’s strategy to allow Maddow to moderate last month’s Democratic Debate. CNN has continued to label Lemon an “anchor” despite him spouting anti-Trump opinions on a regular basis.

Conservative strategist Chris Barron told Fox News that CNN’s decision is “a disservice to voters all across the political spectrum” because Lemon – whose beleaguered primetime show has contributed to the network’s ratings crisis — is so open about his own views.Video

DePauw University professor and media critic Jeffrey McCall recently told Fox News that Lemon is no longer a news anchor in the traditional sense because of his partisan rhetoric.

“He is a host of an opinion-driven show in which his opinions are front and center. Thus, he is a host rather than a news anchor,” McCall said. “His show does discuss news topics, but it is not designed as an objective news show.”

In recent memory, Lemon has compared Trump to Adolf Hitler, then claimed he “didn’t mean” to compare the president and Hitler. He has also called Trump a “racist,” a “fraud,” “con man,” questioned whether or not the State of the Union should air on a delay to avoid “propaganda,” declared that he wouldn’t shake the president’s hand and questioned Trump’s mental fitness.

“To pretend he’s not an opinion host is lunacy,” a CNN employee told Fox News.

Lemon has also suggested Trump doesn’t do enough work, speculated on whether or not the president lies about his weight, tied Trump to the college admissions cheating scheme and took a shot at Trump as he was giving his colleague Chris Cuomo a brief tour of his new studio, suggesting that the president can’t afford such a lavish space since he isn’t a “real billionaire.”

One certainty is that Lemon wasn’t selected to lift the debate’s viewership totals. Lemon’s “CNN Tonight” finished the second quarter of 2019 as the 35th most-watched show on cable news.


Brian Flood covers the media for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @briansflood.


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New Witnesses in Obama Admin FISA Abuse Probe Agree to Testify

Key witnesses sought for questioning by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz early in his investigation into alleged government surveillance abuse have come forward at the 11th hour, Fox News has learned.  

Sources familiar with the matter said at least one witness outside the Justice Department and FBI started cooperating — a breakthrough that came after Attorney General William Barr ordered U.S. Attorney John Durham to lead a separate investigation into the origins of the bureau’s 2016 Russia case that laid the foundation for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz looks on as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on "Examining the Inspector General's First Report on Justice Department and FBI Actions in Advance of the 2016 Presidential Election" in the Hart Senate Office Building on June 18, 2018, on Capitol Hill. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP/Getty Images)

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz looks on as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on “Examining the Inspector General’s First Report on Justice Department and FBI Actions in Advance of the 2016 Presidential Election” in the Hart Senate Office Building on June 18, 2018, on Capitol Hill. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP/Getty Images)

While the investigative phaseof the inspector general’s long-running probe is said to be complete, the sources said recent developments required some witnesses to be reinterviewed. And while Barr testified that he expected the report into alleged Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuse to be ready in May or last month, multiple sources said the timeline has slipped.

“The wheels of inspector general investigations move very, very slowly,” former senior DOJ official Tom Dupree told Fox News.

Dupree, who served as deputy assistant attorney general from 2007 to 2009, does not have firsthand knowledge of the current IG case but is familiar with the process. He added, “Like any investigation, you talk to one person, something that person tells you sends you back … to the first person, so it can be a very extensive, exhaustive process, because you are constantly picking up leads, interviewing former sources and navigating complex questions of classified information.”

Late-breaking information is known to delay such investigations. Horowitz’s office similarly encountered new evidence late in the process of the IG review into law enforcement decisions during the 2016 Hillary Clinton email investigation. In this case, additional FISA information came to light late in the process – including October 2016 contact (first reported by The Hill and confirmed by Fox News) between a senior State Department official and a former British spy Christopher Steele, who authored the infamous and salacious anti-Trump dossier.  

The State Department contact with Steele was relayed to a senior FBI official.  The timeline matters because about two weeks later, the FBI and DOJ used Steele’s unverified research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign, to secure a surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. At the very least, it’s been argued, Steele’s contact with another government agency should have been a red flag for the FBI because it may have violated his confidential human source agreement.

Steele was later fired by the FBI over his media contacts before the 2016 presidential election. The Page surveillance warrant is the central issue of the DOJ IG’s review.

With the timeline for Horowitz’s report not public, one of the wild cards is the final review by the FBI and DOJ, which includes classification issues and could take weeks.

A spokesman for Horowitz would not comment on the report’s status. But during largely unrelated testimony in November, Horowitz offered some guidance for the timeline of the FISA abuse probe in response to questions from GOP Rep. Jim Jordan.  

“What I can say is given the volume of documents we’ve had and the number of witnesses it looks like we’ll need to interview, we are likely to be in the same sort of general range of documents and witnesses as the last report,” Horowitz said, referring to his team’s review of the Clinton email case. “It wouldn’t surprise me if we are in that million or so plus range of documents and a hundred-ish or so interviews. The last review, as you know, took us about … 16 months or so.”

If that same guidance holds, the window for completion would begin this month, though it remains unclear how much the DOJ/FBI review and the additional interviews could delay the process.

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Facebook’s Process to Label You a ‘Hate Agent’ Revealed

Facebook monitors the offline behavior of its users to determine if they should be categorized as a “Hate Agent,” according to a document provided exclusively to Breitbart News by a source within the social media giant.

The document, titled “Hate Agent Policy Review” outlines a series of “signals” that Facebook uses to determine if someone ought to be categorized as a “hate agent” and banned from the platform.

Those signals include a wide range of on- and off-platform behavior. If you praise the wrong individual, interview them, or appear at events alongside them, Facebook may categorize you as a “hate agent.”

Facebook may also categorize you as a hate agent if you self-identify with or advocate for a “Designated Hateful Ideology,” if you associate with a “Designated Hate Entity” (one of the examples cited by Facebook as a “hate entity” includes Islam critic Tommy Robinson), or if you have “tattoos of hate symbols or hate slogans.” (The document cites no examples of these, but the media and “anti-racism” advocacy groups increasingly label innocuous items as “hate symbols,” including a cartoon frog and the “OK” hand sign.)

Facebook will also categorize you as a hate agent for possession of “hate paraphernalia,” although the document provides no examples of what falls into this category.

The document also says Facebook will categorize you as a hate agent for “statements made in private but later made public.” Of course, Facebook holds vast amounts of information on what you say in public and in private — and as we saw with the Daily Beast doxing story, the platform will publicize private information on their users to assist the media in hitjobs on regular American citizens.

Breitbart News has already covered some of the individuals that Facebook placed on its list of potential “hate agents.” Paul Joseph Watson eventually was categorized as “hateful” and banned from the platform, in part, according to the document, because he praised Tommy Robinson and interviewed him on his YouTube channel. Star conservative pundit Candace Owens and conservative author and terrorism expert Brigitte Gabriel were also on the list, as were British politicians Carl Benjamin and Anne Marie Waters.

The Benjamin addition reveals that Facebook may categorize you as a hate agent merely for speaking neutrally about individuals and organizations that the social network considers hateful. In the document, Facebook tags Benjamin with a “hate agent” signal for “neutral representation of John Kinsman, member of Proud Boys” on October 21 last year.

Facebook also accuses Benjamin, a classical liberal and critic of identity politics, as “representing the ideology of an ethnostate” for a post in which he calls out an actual advocate of an ethnostate.

In addition to the more unorthodox signals that Facebook uses to determine if its users are “hate agents,” there is also, predictably, “hate speech.” Facebook divides hate speech into three tiers depending on severity and considers attacks on a person’s “immigration status” to be hate speech.

Here’s how “hate speech” — both on and off Facebook — will be categorized by the platform, according to the document:

Individual has made public statements, or statements made in private and later made public, using Tier 1, 2, or 3 hate speech or slurs:

3 instances in one statement or appearance = signal
5 instances in multiple statements or appearances over one month = signal

If you’ve done this within the past two years, Facebook will consider it a hate signal.

Other signals used by Facebook to determine if its users should be designated as hate agents include carrying out violence against people based on their “protected or quasi-protected characteristics,” attacks on places of worship, and conviction of genocide.

Are you a source at Facebook or any other corporation who wants to confidentially blow the whistle on wrongdoing or political bias at your company? Reach out to Allum Bokhari securely at allumbokhari@protonmail.com.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.


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2 Oil Tankers Attacked in Gulf of Oman

Two oil tankers were damaged in a suspected attack off the Gulf of Oman early Thursday, prompting the rescue of dozens of crew members.

The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet told Reuters it was assisting two tankers in the Gulf of Oman after receiving two distress calls. Details of the incident were unclear, but one of the operators made an unconfirmed report that a torpedo had hit its ship, Reuters reported.

“We are aware of the reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman. U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time and a second one at 7:00 a.m.,” Joshua Frey of the Fifth Fleet said. The Fleet did not blame anyone for the attack.

An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.
An oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked on Thursday, an assault that left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (AP/ISNA)

One of the vessels involved was identified as the MT Front Altair, a Marshall Islands-flagged but Norwegian-owned crude oil tanker carrying naphtha, a petrochemical product, to Japan.

International Tanker Management, which operates the MT Front Altair said an explosion had caused a fire onboard. The firm told the Associated Press the incident is still being investigated and it was unclear what caused the explosion. Its 23 crew members were evacuated by the nearby South Korean-based Hyundai Dubai Vessel and are now safe, the firm said.

Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency, IRNA, claimed the Front Altair had sunk, but the Norwegian shipping firm Frontline said it was still afloat.

The Iranian Students News Agency tweeted unverified images of the Front Altair on fire.

International Tanker Management, which operates the MT Front Altair said an explosion had caused a fire onboard. The firm told the Associated Press the incident is still being investigated and it was unclear what caused the explosion. Its 23 crew members were evacuated by the nearby South Korean-based Hyundai Dubai Vessel and are now safe, the firm said. 
International Tanker Management, which operates the MT Front Altair said an explosion had caused a fire onboard. The firm told the Associated Press the incident is still being investigated and it was unclear what caused the explosion. Its 23 crew members were evacuated by the nearby South Korean-based Hyundai Dubai Vessel and are now safe, the firm said. (AP Photo/ISNA)

The other vessel, the Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, reportedly carrying methanol, sustained damage on its hull starboard side. 21 sailors were evacuated, and one was slightly injured.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations — an arm of the British Navy — had put out an alert earlier and urged “extreme caution” amid U.S.-Iran tensions.

In this photo released by state-run IRIB News Agency, an oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz have been reportedly attacked. The alleged assault on Thursday left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels. The U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.
In this photo released by state-run IRIB News Agency, an oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. Two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz have been reportedly attacked. The alleged assault on Thursday left one ablaze and adrift as sailors were evacuated from both vessels. The U.S. Navy rushed to assist amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. (IRIB News Agency via AP)

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, described the incidents as “suspicious” and called for regional talks. His comments came as Ayatollah Khamenei was meeting Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, for talks in Iran.

The area of the explosions is near the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic route through which 20 percent of global oil consumption passes from Middle East producers. Oil prices rose by about 4 percent in the wake of the latest incidents, while the tanker association INTERTANKO said that there were growing worries for the safety of ships sailing through the strait.

“Following two attacks on Member vessels this morning, I am extremely worried about the safety of our crews going through the Strait of Hormuz,” Paolo d’Amico, chairman of INTERTANKO, said in a statement.

“We need to remember that some 30% of the world’s (seaborne) crude oil passes through the Straits. If the waters are becoming unsafe, the supply to the entire Western world could be at risk.”

This May 2018 image made available by Marine Traffic shows the MT Front Altair in Antwerp, Belgium. (Patrick Vereecke/Marine Traffic via AP)
This May 2018 image made available by Marine Traffic shows the MT Front Altair in Antwerp, Belgium. (Patrick Vereecke/Marine Traffic via AP)

Thursday’s incident comes a month after the U.S. accused Iran of attacking ships off the coast of United Arab Emirates. The UAE told the U.N. Security Council a “state actor” was most likely behind the attacks but stopped short of blaming Iran.

The timing of Thursday’s incident was especially sensitive as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was visiting Iran as an interlocutor for President Donald Trump to ease tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, reviews an honor guard as he is welcomed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, left, in an official arrival ceremony at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, reviews an honor guard as he is welcomed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, left, in an official arrival ceremony at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran. (AP)

On Wednesday, after talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Abe warned that any “accidental conflict” amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. must be avoided at all costs.

While meeting with Abe on Thursday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that while Tehran doesn’t want an atomic bomb, “America could not do anything” to stop Iran if it did.

Khamenei was quoted earlier saying that Iran “will in no way repeat” negotiations with the U.S. amid tension over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

Khamenei’s official website quoted him as telling Abe: “I don’t regard Trump as deserving any exchange of messages and have no response for him and will give no response.”

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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Hillary Clinton’s Russia collusion IOU: The answers she owes America

During the combined two decades she served as a U.S. senator and secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s patrons regularly donated to her family charity when they had official business pending before America’s most powerful political woman.

The pattern of political IOUs paid to the Clinton Foundation was so pernicious that the State Department even tried to execute a special agreement with the charity to avoid the overt appearance of “pay-to-play” policy.

Still, the money continued to flow by the millions of dollars, from foreigners and Americans alike who were perceived to be indebted to the Clinton machine or in need of its help.

It’s time for the American public to call in their own IOU on political transparency.

The reason? Never before — until 2016 — had the apparatus of a U.S. presidential candidate managed to sic the weight of the FBI and U.S. intelligence community on a rival nominee during an election, and by using a foreign-fed, uncorroborated political opposition research document.

But Clinton’s campaign, in concert with the Democratic Party and through their shared law firm, funded Christopher Steele’s unverified dossier which, it turns out, falsely portrayed Republican Donald Trump as a treasonous asset colluding with Russian President Vladimir Putin to hijack the U.S. election.

Steele went to the FBI to get an investigation started and then leaked the existence of the investigation, with the hope of sinking Trump’s presidential aspirations.

On its face, it is arguably the most devious political dirty trick in American history and one of the most overt intrusions of a foreigner into a U.S. election.

It appears the Clinton machine knew that what it was doing was controversial. That’s why it did backflips to disguise the operation from Congress and the public, and in its Federal Election Commission (FEC) spending reports.

Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) used the law firm of Perkins Coie to hire Glenn Simpson’s research firm, Fusion GPS, which then hired Steele — several layers that obfuscated transparency, kept the operation off the campaign’s public FEC reports and gave the Clintons plausible deniability.

But Steele’s first overture on July 5, 2016, failed to capture the FBI’s imagination. So the Clinton machine escalated. Steele, a British national, went to senior Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr — whose wife, Nellie, also worked for Fusion — to push his Trump dirt to the top of the FBI.

Nellie Ohr likewise sent some of her own anti-Trump research augmenting Steele’s dossier to the FBI through her husband. Perkins Coie lawyer Michael Sussmann used his connection to former FBI general counsel James Baker to dump Trump dirt at the FBI, too.

Then Steele and, separately, longtime Clinton protégé Cody Shearer went to the State Department to get the story out, increasing pressure on the FBI.

In short, the Clinton machine flooded the FBI with pressure — and bad intel — until an investigation of Trump was started. The bureau and its hapless sheriff at the time, James Comey, eventually acquiesced with the help of such Clinton fans as then-FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.

To finish the mission, Simpson and Steele leaked the existence of the FBI investigation to the news media to ensure it would hurt Trump politically. Simpson even called the leaks a “hail Mary” that failed.

Trump won, however. And now, thanks to special counsel Robert Mueller, we know the Russia-collusion allegations relentlessly peddled by Team Clinton were bogus. But not before the FBI used the Clinton-funded, foreign-created research to get a total of four warrants to spy on the Trump campaign, transition and presidency from October 2016 through the following autumn.

The Clinton team’s dirty trick was as diabolical as it was brilliant. It literally used house money and a large part of the U.S. intelligence apparatus to carry out its political hit job on Trump.

After two years of American discomfort, and tens of millions of taxpayer dollars spent, it’s time for the house to call in its IOU.

Hillary Clinton owes us answers — lots of them. So far, she has ducked them, even while doing many high-profile media interviews.

I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Longtime Clinton adviser Douglas Schoen said Friday night on Fox News that it’s time for Clinton to answer what she knew and when she knew it.

Here are 10 essential questions:

  1. In January 2018, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a formal investigative request for documents and written answers from your campaign. Do you plan to comply?
  2. Please identify each person in your campaign who was involved with, or aware of, hiring Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson and Christopher Steele.

  3. Please identify each person in your campaign, including Perkins Coie lawyers, who were aware that Steele provided information to the FBI or State Department, and when they learned it.

  4. Describe any information you and your campaign staff received, or were briefed on, before Election Day that was derived from the work of Simpson, Steele, Fusion GPS, Nellie Ohr or Perkins Coie and that tried to connect Trump, his campaign or his business empire with Russia.

  5. Please describe all contacts your campaign had before Election Day with or about the following individuals: Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr, Glenn Simpson, Christopher Steele, former Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, former foreign policy scholar Stefan Halper and Maltese academic Joseph Mifsud.

  6. Did you or any senior members of your campaign, including lawyers such as Michael Sussmann, have any contact with the CIA, its former Director John Brennan, current Director Gina Haspel, James Baker, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page or former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe?

  7. Describe all contacts your campaign had with Cody Shearer and Sidney Blumenthal concerning Trump, Russia and Ukraine.

  8. Describe all contacts you and your campaign had with DNC contractor Alexander Chalupa, the Ukraine government, the Ukraine Embassy in the United States or the U.S. Embassy in Kiev concerning Trump, Russia or former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

  9. Why did your campaign and the Democratic Party make a concerted effort to portray Trump as a Russian asset?

  10. Given that investigations by a House committee, a Senate committee and a special prosecutor all have concluded there isn’t evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, do you regret the actions by your campaign and by Steele, Simpson and Sussmann to inject these unfounded allegations into the FBI, the U.S. intelligence community and the news media?

Hillary Clinton owes us answers to each of these questions. She should skip the lawyer-speak and answer them with the candor worthy of an elder American stateswoman.

John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He serves as an investigative columnist and executive vice president for video at The Hill. Follow him on Twitter @jsolomonReports.


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Far-Left CNN Suffers Double Digit Primetime Ratings Crash in May

The news just keeps getting worse and worse for the far-left CNN, which suffered a 16 percent primetime ratings collapse last month.

The embattled CNN, which always lands is far-last place and axed more than 100 jobs already this year, had about as bad of a ratings month as is possible in May.

It’s primetime hours were only able to average a measly 761,000 viewers, while the fake news outlet’s total day viewers dove nine percent (compared to this same month last year) to just 559,000 viewers.

For comparison purposes, Fox News earned three times as many primetime viewers (2.34 million) and more than twice as many total day viewers (1.34 million). What’s more, when compared to this same month last year, Fox lost none of its primetime viewers and only four percent of its total day viewers.

The most astounding thing, though, is that CNN’s ratings are already so low, it seems impossible they could dive any lower — and yet, they always do.

Do you have any idea just how low 761,000 primetime viewers is…?

How does a nationally known brand like CNN, a brand that is decades old, only manage to attract 761,000 viewers throughout a gonzo news month in a country of over 300 million?

But his is just how far over the cliff CNN has gone… CNN has lost almost all of its viewers, all of its moral authority, and every bit of trust it once had. Over the past six years, as soon as Jeff Zucker took over, CNN got every major national  story exactly wrong, including…

  • Hispanic George Zimmerman: The White Racist Killer
  • Hands Up, Don’t Shoot
  • Trump Can’t Win
  • Brett Kavanaugh: Serial Rapist
  • The KKKids from KKKovington High School
  • Trump Colluded with Russia

And in every one of those cases, CNN got it deliberately wrong because CNN is nothing less than a hysterical propaganda outlet, a fire hose of hate, violence, and lies

Things are so bad at CNN that even though it is only competing with two other cable news networks, the fake news outlet’s top rated program, Cuomo Prime Time, crash-landed in 25th place averaging only 938,000 viewers.

That’s right, the top 24 slots are all filled with shows from Fox News and MSNBC — and Fox holds seven of the top ten.

The insufferable Jake Tapper, the guy Zucker put at 4 p.m. hoping he’d act as a primetime anchor, as a lead-in for the rest of the night, landed in a pathetic 36th place with only 706,000 average viewers, which is 55,000 fewer viewers than CNN’s primetime average.

Among CNN shows, Tapper used to regularly place in the top three as far as total viewers. Now he’s in sixth place among his fake news colleagues.

CNN’s flagship morning show, New Day, is a laughingstock with just 485,000 average viewers.

How big of a fail is that?

Well, New Day is losing by about 80,000 viewers to Fox & Friends First, which airs at — get this — 4 a.m.

Morning shows are supposed to be Zucker’s specialty, where he truly shines, and New Day is a catastrophe — but so is CNN overall in every possible metric — including integrity, decency, honesty, and humanity.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.


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Special Counsel Robert Mueller Speaks, Closes Russia Probe

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in his first public appearance since being appointed to lead the Russia investigation, said it was “not an option” to charge President Trump with a crime, citing Department of Justice policy, but maintained that if they had “confidence” that the president did not commit a crime, they “would have said so.”

“I am speaking out today because our investigation is complete,” Mueller said. “The attorney general has made the report on our investigation largely public. We are formally closing the special counsel’s office. And as well, I’m resigning from the Department of Justice to return to private life.”

The Justice Department announced Mueller would make a statement on Wednesday morning–his first in the more than two years since he was appointed as special counsel.  A senior White House official told Fox News that the White House was advised on Tuesday night of Mueller’s plans.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Wednesday morning that President Trump was “aware” Mueller’s remarks were coming but had no comment when asked whether the White House had advanced knowledge of the substance of Mueller’s remarks. Sanders also had no comment on whether the president would make a public statement after Mueller speaks.

Meanwhile, multiple sources familiar with the situation told Fox News that Attorney General Bill Barr was aware of Mueller’s plans to deliver a statement Wednesday. One source told Fox News that Barr has also been made aware of the contents of Mueller’s statement. The attorney general, though, will not be at the Justice Department for Mueller’s appearance, and is, instead, traveling to Alaska to meet with law enforcement officials.

Mueller’s appearance comes amid mounting pressure for Mueller to testify before the House Judiciary Committee in a public setting as part of that panel’s oversight investigation of the probe and the Trump administration.

The committee, led by Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., has been in negotiations with Mueller to schedule a hearing for the special counsel, but it is unclear if and when he will appear.

Meanwhile, the special counsel’s office this week issued a rare denial in response to questions about controversial author Michael Wolff’s upcoming book, “Siege: Trump Under Fire,” which reportedly claims that Mueller drew up an obstruction of justice indictment against President Trump.

Robert Mueller set to make first public statement since the release of the report

Video

According to The Guardian’s Edward Helmore, Wolff reports that Mueller’s office planned to charge the president with “influencing, obstructing or impeding a pending proceeding,” “tampering with a witness, victim or informant” and “retaliating against a witness, victim or informant” but eventually decided to “shelve” it. The Guardian reporter claimed he viewed the document, but the special counsel’s office denied it even exists.

“The documents described do not exist,” Mueller spokesman Peter Carr told Fox News on Tuesday.

DOJ AGREES TO SHARE SOME MUELLER DOCUMENTS WITH DEMOCRATS

Last month, Mueller’s report, with redactions covering sources and methods, and grand jury material, was released to the public and to Congress. The special counsel found no evidence of collusion between the Russians and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

Mueller was also leading an inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice, outlining 10 instances that could have been perceived as obstruction. Mueller did not, however, come to a conclusion on that matter.

Attorney General Bill Barr, in March, upon reviewing Mueller’s report, said in his four-page summary that the special counsel’s investigation did not find evidence sufficient to charge the president with an obstruction of justice offense.

Barr has come under intense scrutiny over his handling of the report. The House Judiciary Committee, earlier this month, voted to hold him in contempt after he failed to comply with a subpoena to turn over an unredacted version of the Mueller report and its underlying documents and evidence to the committee. The president, then, asserted executive privilege in a bid to protect those files from release.

Fox News’ Kristin Brown, Jake Gibson, Brian Flood, and Blake Burman contributed to this report. Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.


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Obama Federal Judge Sides with House Democrats over Subpoena for Trump’s Financial Records

Most of President Trump’s income came from his properties, making $247 million from his golf and other resort clubs; Fox Business Network’s Edward Lawrence reports from Washington.

A Washington, D.C.-based federal judge has sided with House Oversight Committee Democrats seeking to enforce their subpoena of Trump accounting firm Mazars USA, in a major ruling that breathes new life into Democrats’ ongoing efforts to probe the president’s financial dealings.

The subpoena seeks access to a slew of Trump financial documents dating back to 2011, including personal records and records of various affiliated business and entities. Democrats pursued the subpoena after former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testified to Congress in February that the president’s accountants routinely and improperly altered his financial statements — including some signed by Mazars — to misrepresent his assets and liabilities.

Barack Obama-appointed judge Amit P. Mehta’s 41-page opinion began by comparing President Trump’s concerns about congressional overreach to those of President James Buchanan, asserting that Trump “has taken up the fight of his predecessor.”

And Mehta acknowledged a high likelihood that any documents obtained by House Democrats would quickly leak, and become partisan political fodder.

“[T]he court is not naïve to reality,” Mehta wrote, admitting there “is a chance that some records obtained from Mazars will become public soon after they are produced.”

Mehta added that he was “well aware that this case involves records concerning the private and business affairs of the President of the United States,” dating back to well before he declared his candidacy.

White House says House Democrats will not get a 'do-over' of the Mueller probe

White House says House Democrats will not get a ‘do-over’ of the Mueller probe

A letter to House Judiciary Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler accuses Democrats of trying to pursue an unauthorized ‘do-over’ of the investigation; Catherine Herridge reports from Washington.

But, Mehta said, Democrats’ subpoena fell within established congressional investigative and oversight powers, which generally only require that subpoenas serve some “valid legislative purpose.” The judge noted that the probe could uncover conflicts of interest in the White House, as well as potential violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause or the reporting requirements of The Ethics in Government Act of 1978.

Mehta said he would not stay his ruling pending appeal, despite the risk of permanently compromising Trump’s private financial information, in part because of the public’s strong interest in Democrats obtaining the records.

“Courts have grappled for more than a century with the question of the scope of Congress’s investigative power,” Mehta wrote. “The binding principle that emerges from these judicial decisions is that courts must presume Congress is acting in furtherance of its constitutional responsibility to legislate and must defer to congressional judgments about what Congress needs to carry out that purpose. To be sure, there are limits on Congress’s investigative authority. But those limits do not substantially constrain Congress.”

The judge continued: “It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct—past or present—even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.”

The president’s legal team, in a filing earlier this month, had asked the judge to prohibit Mazars from “enforcing or complying” with the subpoena, issued April 15.

Trump’s lawyers quoted Democrats as openly admitting they wanted to use subpoena power for political purposes. “We’re going to have to build an air traffic control tower to keep track of all the subpoenas flying from here to the White House,” one Democrat said; another referenced a “subpoena cannon” firing at the White House.

Trump’s lawyers also argued the subpoena to Mazars “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose,” and is an “unconstitutional attempt to exercise ‘the powers of law enforcement.’”

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings, D-Md., prevailed in court on Monday, as a judge upheld his panel's subpoena of Mazars, President Trump's accountingi firm. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings, D-Md., prevailed in court on Monday, as a judge upheld his panel’s subpoena of Mazars, President Trump’s accountingi firm. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

But, Mehta wrote in his ruling, the standard for obtaining a valid congressional subpoena is not a difficult bar to clear under Supreme Court precedent, and Democrats had easily shown they were not simply out on a “fishing expedition.” Comments made by Democrats suggesting their political motivations, Mehta said, did not automatically make the subpoena itself invalid.

“The Oversight Committee has shown that it is not engaged in a pure fishing expedition for the President’s financial records,” the judge wrote. “It is undisputed that the President did not initially identify as liabilities on his public disclosure forms the payments that Michael Cohen made to alleged mistresses during the presidential campaign. Furthermore, Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations arising from those payments.”

Trump’s lawyers also noted that the House Oversight Committee, led by Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., is leading several Trump-focused investigations.

“The Oversight Committee has shown that it is not engaged in a pure fishing expedition for the President’s financial records.”— Washington, D.C. district court Judge Amit P. Mehta

“Chairman Cummings flat-out admitted that he wanted to ‘investigate whether the President may have engaged in illegal conduct before and during his tenure in office’ and ‘review whether he has accurately reported his finances to the Office of Government Ethics and other federal entities,’” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the filing.

Meanwhile, House Oversight Commitee ranking member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, called the subpoena “an unprecedented abuse of the Committee’s subpoena authority to target and expose the private financial information of the President of the United States.”

The Trump team filing came after Cummings’ committee issued several subpoenas for Mazars Accounting in an effort to obtain financial documents and audits prepared for Trump and his businesses over the last decade.

Cummings also sought independent auditor’s reports, annual statements and other documents related to Trump’s finances spanning from 2011 to 2018.

At the time, Mazars said it “will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.”

The ruling comes the same day that Trump directed former White House Counsel Don McGahn to skip a House Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Tuesday, citing a Justice Department opinion that he cannot be compelled to testify about his official duties.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders blasted Democrats for continuing to pursue Trump investigations, saying they want a “wasteful and unnecessary do-over” in the wake of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe — and describing the subpoena for McGahn as part of that effort.

Fox News’ Bill Mears, Edward Lawrence, Brooke Singman, and Kristin Brown contributed to this report.Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.


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US Attorney John Durham has been Investigating Origins of Russia Probe For Weeks Already


Attorney General Bill Barr assigns Connecticut attorney John Durham to review the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe.

The U.S. attorney appointed to examine the origins of the Russia investigation has been working on his review “for weeks,” a person familiar with the process told Fox News on Tuesday.

Fox News reported on Monday that Attorney General Bill Barr had assigned John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to conduct the inquiry into alleged misconduct and alleged improper government surveillance on the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election, as well as whether Democrats were the ones who improperly colluded with foreign actors.

https://video.foxnews.com/v/6036508658001/

Durham, known as a “hard-charging, bulldog” prosecutor, according to a source, will focus on the period before Nov. 7, 2016—including the use and assignments of FBI informants, as well as alleged improper issuance of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants.

Barr first announced that he was reviewing the “conduct” of the FBI’s original Russia investigation during the summer of 2016 last month, following calls from Republicans, and President Trump, to investigate the origins of the probe.

“I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted in the summer of 2016,” Barr testified on April 9.

AG Barr taps US attorney John Durham to investigate Russia probe origins

That same day, Fox News learned that Barr had assembled a “team” to investigate the origins of the investigation. A source told Fox News Tuesday that Durham has been working on the investigation “for weeks,” but it is unclear if he was part of the original team assembled by Barr last month.

The FBI’s July 2016 counterintelligence investigation was opened by former senior agent Peter Strzok. Former FBI counsel Lisa Page, with whom Strzok was romantically involved, revealed during a closed-door congressional interview that the FBI “knew so little” about whether allegations against the Trump campaign were “true or not true,” at the time that they opened the probe, noting that they had just “a paucity of evidence because we are just starting down the path” of vetting the allegations. Page later said that it was “entirely common” that the FBI would begin a counterintelligence investigation with just a “small amount of evidence.”

The FBI, at the time, was led by former Director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe—both fired during the Trump administration.

It has been widely reported that in the weeks and months leading up to the 2016 election, the FBI employed informants to probe and extract information from Trump campaign officials.

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that an investigator working for the U.S. intelligence community posed as a Cambridge University research assistant in September 2016, and tried to probe former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos on the campaign’s possible ties to Russia.

The investigator, who went by Azra Turk, met with Papadopoulos at a London Bar, where she asked directly whether the Trump campaign was working with Russia. Papadopoulos told Fox News that he saw Turk three times in London: once over drinks, another time over dinner, and then once with Stefan Halper, the Cambridge professor who had been a longtime FBI informant. The Times noted that Turk had apparently been sent to oversee Halper, and possibly provide cover for Halper in the event Turk needed to testify.

Papadopoulos told Fox News earlier this month that he “immediately thought she was an agent, but a Turkish agent, or working with the CIA,” and explained “that’s why I never accepted her overtures and met her again after London…London became a very bizarre hangout spot for me that year.”

Papadopoulos also told Fox News that Turk was trying to “seduce” him in an effort to “make me slip up and say something that they knew I had no info on.”

The role of the informants, however, are also reportedly part of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s review into potential abuses of FISA. Horowitz’s probe began last year, and Fox News has learned that that investigation is nearing completion. Horowitz’s probe is also focused on the FISA warrants issued and recertified for former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Christopher Wray on if the FBI engages in spying: 'That's not the term I would use'

Republicans, for months, have called for a careful review as to whether the FBI violated Page’s constitutional rights, misled the FISA court, or withheld exculpatory information.

The FBI’s ultimately successful October 2016 warrant application to surveil Page, which relied in part on information from British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the now-infamous anti-Trump dossier, accused Page of conspiring with Russians. Page was never charged with any wrongdoing.

Republicans have also been looking for answers from U.S. Attorney John Huber, who was appointed by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to review not only surveillance abuses by the Justice Department and the FBI, but also their handling of the investigation into the Clinton Foundation and other matters. Huber apparently has made little progress, and has spoken to few key witnesses and whistleblowers.

Meanwhile, Barr’s appointment of Durham comes after he testified last month that he believed that “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign in 2016.

“I think spying did occur,” Barr said at a congressional hearing. “The question is whether it was adequately predicated…Spying on a political campaign is a big deal.”

Barr later clarified in the hearing: “I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred; I’m saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it, that’s all.”

But FBI Director Chris Wray during a separate congressional hearing broke with Barr’s sentiment.

“That’s not the term I would use,” Wray told lawmakers on the Senate Appropriations Committee when asked if FBI agents engage in “spying” when they follow FBI policies and procedures.

“Lots of people have different colloquial phrases,” he continued. “I believe that the FBI is engaged in investigative activity, and part of investigative activity includes surveillance activity of different shapes and sizes, and to me the key question is making sure that it’s done by the book, consistent with our lawful authorities.”

But former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who resigned in November amid a political clash with the president following his decision in 2017 to recuse himself from oversight of the Russia investigation due to his work with the campaign, later took Barr’s side.

“I think that ‘spying’ is a perfectly good word,” Sessions said during an on-stage interview at a conference in Las Vegas last week.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson, Gregg Re and Adam Shaw contributed to this report. Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.


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9th Circuit Agrees Trump Admin can Send Asylum Claimants to Wait in Mexico

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals late Tuesday granted the Trump administration’s request to send asylum seekers back to Mexico to wait out court proceedings temporarily.

The court order reversed a decision by a San Francisco judge that would have blocked the policy — giving President Trump a temporary victory on immigration.

The case must still be considered on its merits at a lower court in San Francisco and could end up at the Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg ruled April 8 that the policy should be halted while a lawsuit, filed on behalf of 11 asylum applicants and several other organizations, proceeds.

Migrants from around the world gather in Mexico with goal of entering US

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the suit along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, said that despite the ruling, “there is good reason to believe that ultimately this policy will be put to a halt.”

“Asylum seekers are being put at serious risk of harm every day that the forced return policy continues,” Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement. “Notably, two of the three judges that heard this request found that there are serious legal problems with what the government is doing.”

The lawsuit on behalf of 11 asylum seekers from Central America and legal advocacy groups says the Trump administration is violating U.S. law by failing to adequately evaluate the dangers that migrants face in Mexico.

Yuma at breaking point over asylum seekers, Sen. McSally says ‘crisis getting worse everyday’

Video

It also accuses Homeland Security and immigration officials of depriving migrants of their right to apply for asylum by making it difficult or impossible for them to do so.

The Trump administration says the policy responds to a crisis at the southern border that has overwhelmed the ability of immigration officials to detain migrants. Growing numbers of families are fleeing poverty and gang violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Last year, the Justice Department eliminated gang violence and domestic abuse as a possible justification for seeking asylum.

The so-called “Remain in Mexico” policy was one of the primary innovations of former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who left her role with the Trump administration last month.

Asylum law, conservatives point out, is intended to shield individuals from near-certain death or persecution on account of limited factors like religious or political affiliation — not poor living conditions and economic despair.

Most asylum applicants are ultimately rejected for having an insufficient or unfounded personalized fear of persecution, following a full hearing of their case before an asylum officer or an immigration judge.


Fox News’ Raymond Bogan, Gregg Re and The Associated Press contributed to this report.Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @nicoledarrah.


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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Denies House Dem’s Request for Trump’s Tax Returns

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in a letter Monday, denied House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal’s request for President Trump’s tax returns, saying the request lacked a “legitimate legislative purpose.”

“As you have recognized, the Committee’s request is unprecedented, and it presents serious constitutional questions, the resolution of which may have lasting consequences for all taxpayers,” the letter said.

Mnuchin told the Massachusetts Democrat he’d relied on the advice of the Justice Department. He concluded that the department was “not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information.”

“The Department of Justice has informed us that it intends to memorialize its advice in a published legal opinion as soon as practicable. Out of respect for the deadlines previously set by the Committee, and consistent with our commitment to a prompt response, I am informing you now that the Department may not lawfully fulfill the Committee’s request,” the letter read.

The move, which was expected, is sure to set in motion a legal battle over Trump’s tax returns. The likely options available to Democrats would be to subpoena the Internal Revenue Service for the returns or to file a lawsuit.

Neal originally demanded access to Trump’s tax returns in early April under a law that said the IRS “shall furnish” the returns of any taxpayer to a handful of top lawmakers, including the chair of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

The White House and the president’s attorneys declined to comment on the deadline to turn over Trump’s returns. Trump already has signaled he has no intention of turning over the much-coveted records.

The president has long told confidants that he was under audit and therefore could not release his taxes. But in recent weeks, he has added to the argument, telling advisers that the American people elected him once without seeing his taxes and would do so again, three White House officials and Republicans told The Associated Press anonymously.

By Frank Miles | Fox News

The Associated Press contributed to this report.Frank Miles is a reporter and editor covering geopolitics, military, crime, technology and sports for FoxNews.com. His email is Frank.Miles@foxnews.com.

Kimberly Strassel: AG Barr Attacked Because His New Probe Targets Powerful Democrats

The only thing uglier than an angry Washington is a fearful Washington. And fear is what’s driving this week’s blitzkrieg of Attorney General William Barr.

Mr. Barr tolerantly sat through hours of Democratic insults at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday. His reward for his patience was to be labeled, in the space of a news cycle, a lawbreaking, dishonest, obstructing hack. Speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly accused Mr. Barr of lying to Congress, which, she added, is “considered a crime.” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said he will move to hold Mr. Barr in contempt unless the attorney general acquiesces to the unprecedented demand that he submit to cross-examination by committee staff attorneys. James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, lamented that Donald Trump had “eaten” Mr. Barr’s “soul.” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren demands the attorney general resign. California Rep. Eric Swalwell wants him impeached.

These attacks aren’t about special counsel Robert Mueller, his report or even the surreal debate over Mr. Barr’s first letter describing the report. The attorney general delivered the transparency Democrats demanded: He quickly released a lightly redacted report, which portrayed the president in a negative light. What do Democrats have to object to?

Some of this is frustration. Democrats foolishly invested two years of political capital in the idea that Mr. Mueller would prove President Trump had colluded with Russia, and Mr. Mueller left them empty-handed. Some of it is personal. Democrats resent that Mr. Barr won’t cower or apologize for doing his job. Some is bitterness that Mr. Barr is performing like a real attorney general, making the call against obstruction-of-justice charges rather than sitting back and letting Democrats have their fun with Mr. Mueller’s obstruction innuendo.

But most of it is likely fear. Mr. Barr made real news in that Senate hearing, and while the press didn’t notice, Democrats did. The attorney general said he’d already assigned people at the Justice Department to assist his investigation of the origins of the Trump-Russia probe. He said his review would be far-reaching – that he was obtaining details from congressional investigations, from the ongoing probe by the department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, and even from Mr. Mueller’s work. Mr. Barr said the investigation wouldn’t focus only on the fall 2016 justifications for secret surveillance warrants against Trump team members but would go back months earlier.

He also said he’d focus on the infamous “dossier” concocted by opposition-research firm Fusion GPS and British former spy Christopher Steele, on which the FBI relied so heavily in its probe. Mr. Barr acknowledged his concern that the dossier itself could be Russian disinformation, a possibility he described as not “entirely speculative.” He also revealed that the department has “multiple criminal leak investigations under way” into the disclosure of classified details about the Trump-Russia investigation.


Kimberley Strassel is a Fox News contributor and writes the Potomac Watch column for the Wall Street Journal where she is a member of the editorial board. Her latest book is “The Intimidation Game: How the Left Is Silencing Free Speech” (Twelve, 2016).  Follow her on Twitter @KimStrassel.  


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