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Member since: 2002
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Testifying Saturday - Phil Reeker expected to corroborate key testimony in impeachment inquiry

Phil Reeker, an assistant secretary of State, is expected to corroborate key testimony before the impeachment inquiry tomorrow...

Could This Straight Shooter Bring Trump One Step Closer to Impeachment?

“He’s been at this a long time and he’s not about to give that all up to protect anyone,” one State Department official told The Daily Beast.


There’s a new character about to take the stage in the impeachment drama. President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may not like what he has to say. Phil Reeker, the assistant secretary of State in the Bureau of Europe and Eurasian Affairs, is set to appear for questioning Saturday on Capitol Hill. Congressional aides say they’re unsure which members will show up to the weekend session but two individuals with knowledge of Reeker’s plans say the State official will likely unveil additional details about the efforts to push out former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, including who above him at the department knew about the campaign, and when. Reeker is also set to touch on what he knew of Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s involvement with Rudy Giuliani and the effort to convince Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, sources say.

Reeker kicks off another long string of depositions in the impeachment inquiry that includes the highly-anticipated testimony of the first national security council witness—Senior Director for Europe and Russia Tim Morrison—as well as Charles Kupperman, former deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs.

Reeker is the sixth State Department official to testify in the inquiry, which has focused in part on how Pompeo and his staff learned of and handled a shadow effort by the president’s personal attorney to run U.S. foreign policy on Ukraine. His testimony is expected to deal another blow to a department where officials are now working overtime to try and restore confidence in the U.S. foreign policy system.


Since taking up his post in March, Reeker has spent a significant amount of time interacting with Sondland and dealing with Ukraine policy, according to officials with knowledge of his schedule. Reeker also holds a direct line to senior officials at the department including David Hale, the under secretary for political affairs, as well as Secretary Pompeo. During the effort to oust Yovanovitch, Reeker reportedly relayed concerns by George Kent, his deputy, about the campaign to Hale.


Federal deficit increases to $984 billion for fiscal 2019, highest in 7 years

Federal deficit increases 26% to $984 billion for fiscal 2019, highest in 7 years


The U.S. Treasury on Friday said that the federal deficit for fiscal 2019 was $984 billion, a 26% increase from 2018. The gap between revenues and spending was the widest it’s been in seven years as expenditures on defense, Medicare and interest payments on the national debt ballooned the shortfall.

The government said corporate tax revenues totaled $230 billion, up 12%, thanks to a rebound in the second half of the year. Individual tax revenues rose 2% to $1.7 trillion. Receipts totaled $3.4 trillion, up 4% through September, while federal spending rose 8%, to $4.4 trillion.

The U.S. government also collected nearly $71 billion in customs duties, or tariffs, a 70% increase compared to the year-ago period. As a percentage of U.S. economic output the deficit was 4.6%, 0.8 percentage points higher than the previous year.

Annual deficits have nearly doubled under President Donald Trump’s tenure notwithstanding an unemployment rate at multidecade lows and better earnings figures. Deficits usually shrink during times of economic growth as higher incomes and Wall Street profits buoy Treasury coffers, while automatic spending on items like food stamps decline.


City of Albuquerque sends Trump campaign $211,000 bill for rally, asks him 'pay our taxpayers back'

City of Albuquerque sends Trump campaign $211,000 bill for rally, asks him to 'pay our taxpayers back'


The city of Albuquerque, N.M., is asking President Trump’s campaign to pay its bill for costs incurred from his visit last month. In a press release provided to The Hill on Thursday, the city said it sent Trump’s campaign organization, Donald Trump for President, Inc., an invoice totaling $211,175.94. The costs stem from police services provided to the campaign to help with Trump’s visit, as well as covering the paid time off it had to provide to city employees who were forced to vacate facilities near Trump during his stay over the course of two workdays.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement that the town’s “resources for law enforcement are critical and limited.” “The President’s campaign stop in the Albuquerque area cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, including over 1500 hours of police overtime that was required by the campaign,” he continued. “We are asking the Trump campaign to pay our taxpayers back for the costs from his campaign stop.” The city said it incurred $7,102 for barricades during Trump’s visit and $132,831 in paid time off for city employees. It also said assistance from the Albuquerque Police Department provided during Trump’s campaign visit amounted to $71,242.

Michael Glassner, the chief operating officer of Trump’s campaign organization, responded to the city’s invoice in a statement to The Hill on Thursday, saying “it is the U.S. Secret Service, not the campaign, which coordinates with local law enforcement.” “The campaign itself does not contract with local governments for police involvement. All billing inquiries should always go to the Secret Service,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the city of Albuquerque responded to Glassner’s comments in a statement to The Hill later on Thursday. “The cost to the taxpayer was created by the President’s campaign. Taxpayers are on the hook for the thousands of hours of police overtime and other costs incurred, and we are asking the Trump campaign to pay them back,” the spokeswoman said in the statement. The city said the $211,175 bill is due on November 16, which is 30 days after the invoice was sent to Trump’s campaign.

“Donald Trump for President, Inc. has outstanding bills from at least 10 other cities for campaign stops, including overtime for police departments,” the city added in the release.


A Lunar Eclipse that Flat-Earthers have never seen.

A Lunar Eclipse that Flat-Earthers have never seen.



Why Matt Gaetz stunt to storm the SCIF is a VERY serious national security problem

-- Link to original source is posted below --

A few words on why Gaetz stunt to storm the SCIF to disrupt Laura Cooper's deposition is a VERY serious national security problem.

Note, I worked in that SCIF for HPSCI and handled cybersecurity issues while there.

Aside from disrupting the testimony of a DoD official shedding light on the President's attempts to extort a sham investigation into the child of his most feared political rival by withholding military aid that Congress gave to resist a Russian invasion...

Storming the SCIF without respecting the security protocols that require people to leave their electronic devices *outside* the space, is actually compromising our national security.

First, the SCIF itself is a secure facility designed to prevent electronic eavesdropping so members of Congress can receive highly classified information about how the nation collects information on its adversaries, and on *very* sensitive intelligence operations.

Foreign adversaries are constantly trying to figure out what goes on inside those rooms to figure out what the US knows about them, to out US high-level sources in their governments, to know what the US government knows and use it against us.

The facilities are carefully designed and controlled to ensure that electronic signals, surveillance methods, or other listening devices do not compromise the information discussed in these rooms. I will not, for obvious reasons, go into details.

Bringing electronic devices into a SCIF, and this SCIF in particular is *very* problematic, especially when done by members of Congress.

Because Members of Congress (and their electronic devices) are high-value targets for compromise by foreign intelligence services.

Members of Congress have access to a wide range of sensitive information, including, in the case of these members, conversations with the President of the United States. They travel internationally, receive emails from the public, and meet with foreign dignitaries.

As politicians, they're also highly sensitive to revelations of derogatory information, which means that foreign adversaries are very interested in collecting same.

They also tend to be lax in their security protocols. This means they may not know they have been compromised. For example, their phones can be turned into listening devices without their knowledge.

This is why outside HPSCI there is a security guard and a series of cabinets for people to leave (and lock) their electronic devices while they are inside the room.

Failure to follow this protocol can violate the security of the entire SCIF.

After an incident like this happens, countermeasures have to be taken to ensure the SCIF is not compromised. It is a time-consuming, technical process, which again, I will not discuss.

But in "storming the SCIF" without observing the security protocols, Rep. Gaetz et al, endangered our national security & demonstrated they care more about a political stunt than protecting intelligence information.

I cannot emphasize enough how serious this is.

To ensure that the information was secure, the members should give over their electronic devices for scanning to ensure no malware was on them, and that they have not compromised the SCIF.

If they don't want to give them up, they should have checked them before entering.

So, to recap:

To disrupt testimony from a DOD official on how the President endangered national security for both the US and Ukraine by withholding military aid, the President's allies further endangered national security by storming the SCIF with their electronic devices.


here is the first tweet, if you follow the link to Twitter it will show you to the entire thread with all the original tweets...



187 Republicans vote against bill to close the gender wage gap

187 Republicans vote against bill to close the gender wage gap

And women voters continue to leave the Republican Party.



The House on Wednesday voted 242-187 for a bill that would strengthen protections for female workers and help close the gender wage gap. The vote comes as Republicans are trumpeting themselves as the champions of women’s economic mobility — though only seven of them voted for the bill.

Iterations of this legislation have been debated by lawmakers for decades but have never actually been able to pass. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), seeks to boost women’s pay by prohibiting employers from seeking job applicants’ salary histories and preventing them from retaliating against workers for disclosing their wages. It also would require the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to collect wage data based on sex, race, and national origin to better determine whether employers are responsible for discriminatory practices. The House passed the bill on Wednesday despite Republicans’ opposition, but it now faces an uncertain future in the GOP-controlled Senate.

The House Education and Labor Committee voted to advance the legislation earlier this week. Every single Republican opposed moving the bill out of committee, with many saying the focus should instead be on providing more job opportunities for women.


But many of the jobs gained by women are part time, and nearly 80 percent of them fell into just four categories: education and health services, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing. In three of those industries, women make less than 80 cents for every dollar a man earns, or worse than the average national wage gap, according to a 2018 analysis by the Center for American Progress analysis. (Editor’s Note: ThinkProgress is an editorially independent newsroom housed at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.)


Look at this picture. And know this when you look at it ...


Look at this picture.

When you’re looking at this photo, you’re looking at a mirror. This is America. This is Texas. This is our course of action, the one we chose.

I cannot and will not accept it.



This is El Paso right now, where hundreds of migrant families are being held in the parking lot of a Border Patrol station because there is no room for them inside, or anywhere else.


EXCLUSIVE: FBI's War Crimes Unit and the International Human Rights Unit on the Chopping Block

EXCLUSIVE: FBI’s War Crimes Unit on the Chopping Block


A special unit within the Federal Bureau of Investigation that handles war crimes may be shut down imminently, according to officials familiar with the administration’s decision-making process. The FBI’s International Human Rights Unit takes the lead on investigating individuals within the United States who have been accused of committing international crimes, including war crimes, torture, genocide, female genital mutilation, and the recruitment of child soldiers. It also investigates international crimes committed against or by U.S. citizens abroad and enforces immigration statutes that can be invoked against abusers who cannot be prosecuted for their underlying crimes for whatever reason. The rationale for suddenly scaling back the United States’ commitment to investigating and prosecuting war criminals is unclear. President Donald Trump’s National Security Strategy recognizes the importance of the United States taking the lead on this imperative policy objective


Together, these entities work to prevent the United States from becoming a safe haven for individuals who commit serious human rights abuses. In addition to focusing on perpetrators who make their way here, the FBI component also investigates situations in which Americans are either the victims or the perpetrators of atrocities overseas. In so doing, it leverages the FBI’s intelligence capabilities, vast network of field agents and analysts, and contacts within diaspora communities. It has also cultivated international partnerships with foreign law enforcement entities (such as Interpol), nongovernmental organizations, and others to research and build cases. Once developed, these dossiers can be handed off to domestic FBI field offices and the Justice Department for indictment and prosecution. The reality is that the Justice Department cannot succeed in its prosecutorial work without skilled and dedicated investigators to identify perpetrators, witnesses, and evidence within their fields of operation around the country.

The timing of this potential closure is surprising. This team of specialized units, working in conjunction with FBI field offices and state prosecutors, recently won a significant victory with the conviction of “Jungle Jabbah,” a ruthless warlord who committed atrocities—including cannibalism—in Liberia and was later found living comfortably in Pennsylvania. (See Just Security’s prior coverage here and here). Numerous other perpetrators of atrocities from Guatemala and the former Yugoslavia have also been successfully prosecuted based upon this Unit’s investigations. What’s more, attesting to his support for this work, President Trump finally succeeded in deporting Jakiw Palij, who is believed to be the last Nazi living in the United States—a diplomatic feat that Presidents Obama and Bush were not able to accomplish.


If the FBI’s International Human Rights Unit is disbanded, its portfolio (but not the majority of the staff) will apparently shift to other Civil Rights Unit staff. The Civil Rights Unit is already fully engaged in their day jobs, pursuing violations of the federal civil rights statutes, particularly on behalf of vulnerable members of American communities. Saddling it with this additional responsibility threatens to jeopardize its core civil rights mission and deemphasize new war crimes cases. In addition, removing expertise from within the Bureau will undermine operations in the field when it comes to these most specialized of cases. Individual FBI field agents, however talented, rarely confront international cases in which crime scenes, physical evidence, and potential witnesses may all be overseas. Experts within the FBI’s International Human Rights Unit work up the cases and then, after handing them off, continue to provide support to investigators and prosecutors in the field, helping to link them with foreign counterparts, enable witness interviews, and connect to additional lead and background sources. New investigations will inevitably suffer absent this dedicated team of war crimes investigators.


Ex-CIA agent: US allies fear Trump will leak classified intel to Putin

Ex-CIA agent: US allies fear Trump will leak classified intel to Putin

'Trump's actions are making us all less safe,' according to a 30-year veteran of the CIA.


In an alarming new op-ed published in the Washington Post, former CIA agent Steven Hall warns that Trump’s attacks on his own intelligence agencies have gotten so bad that his actions are threatening national security and “making us all less safe.” Hall, a CIA veteran who ran and managed Russian operations for more than 30 years, expressed his concern that Trump’s constant public attacks and hostility toward the intelligence community will not only harm morale among the workforce but will also damage America’s relationships with allied intelligence agencies.

“Many have already taken note of Trump’s cavalier attitude toward sensitive information, as well as his apparent failure to understand the basic rules of intelligence sharing,” he wrote. “Recall when our president shared sensitive intelligence obtained from one of our foreign partners with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, for example.” Trump’s carelessness and lack of regard for the sensitive nature of classified intelligence “will have a chilling effect” on intelligence sharing, Hall warned, noting that our allies likely fear he will leak sensitive information to Putin.

“I would be deeply surprised if many of our best intelligence allies were not already holding back information they would normally pass to their U.S. counterparts, for fear Trump might not be able to keep a secret,” Hall wrote. “Their concerns might even be darker when they consider the possibility that our president has reportedly discussed sensitive matters with Russian President Vladimir Putin behind closed doors with no record of the conversation,” he added.

Hall was referring to recent reports that Trump has withheld details of his previous talks with Putin from top officials in his administration, including confiscating notes from an interpreter who was present during one of the meetings.


Ex-fed prosecutor: Whitaker only pulled out of hearing because he couldn't cite executive privilege

Ex-federal prosecutor reveals Whitaker only pulled out of hearing after he realized he couldn’t cite executive privilege


Former Federal Prosecutor Renato Mariotti explained he might know the reason acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker pulled out of the Congressional hearing set for Friday. In a long Twitter thread, Mariotti said that House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) gave Whitaker the questions he would be asked ahead of time. The goal being to explain none of the questions would apply to the executive privilege rules.

“Nadler did so because during the past two years when the GOP controlled Congress, Trump Administration officials would routinely refuse to answer questions without invoking executive privilege,” Mariotti said. “They did so knowing that Congressional Republicans wouldn’t compel their testimony.”

The former prosecutor explained that it isn’t “proper” to refuse due to executive privilege unless the president has formally proclaimed it. Nadler gave the question in advance to give Trump time to actually invoke the privilege. Whitaker couldn’t walk into the hearing and say he was surprised by the questions and couldn’t answer because the president needs time.

“Similarly, Nadler prepared to subpoena Whitaker in case Whitaker refused to answer any of the questions,” Mariotti continued. “A voluntary witness (as Whitaker was) can refuse to answer questions, but a witness appearing pursuant to a subpoena is required to testify. If Whitaker was subpoenaed and refused to answer questions at that point, Congress could refer him to the [Justice Department] for Contempt of Congress.”


Posted by KelleyKramer | Fri Feb 8, 2019, 03:53 AM (5 replies)
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