Monday, April 30, 2018
Pointed at the large number of GOP members on baseball team who are leaving Congress
Sunday, April 29, 2018
As he presses on with his bookselling tour, fired FBI Director James Comey is leaving a trail of confusing statements about how he handled the memos he wrote after conversations with President Trump, including the memo he leaked for the purpose of creating momentum for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the president.
It has been generally understood that Comey, who says he wrote some of the seven memos on a secure FBI laptop and others on his personal computer at home, gave four of the memos to a friend, law professor Daniel Richman. Fox News reported the number of four memos back in July, 2017, and the Wall Street Journal reported it as recently as this month. "Mr. Comey gave four total memos to his friend Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor who is now a professor at Columbia Law School, people familiar with the matter said," the Journal reported on April 20.
In addition, the FBI has recently confirmed the four memos number to congressional committees, according to sources familiar with the matter.
But Wednesday night, during a town hall appearance on CNN , Comey suggested there was just one memo involved, and that he did not leak anything.
"You did leak memos," CNN's Anderson Cooper said to Comey. "Is it okay for somebody at the FBI to leak something — an internal document, even if it's not classified? Isn't that leaking?"
"There's a whole lot wrong with your question, Anderson," Comey responded. "First, I didn't leak memos. I asked a friend to communicate the substance of one unclassified memo. ... One unclassified memo to the media, and it was really important. I was a private citizen. I was not an FBI employee at that time."
After that semantic defense — he did not leak but instead "asked a friend to communicate the substance" of a memo to the press — Comey engaged in some creative accounting for the memos he gave Richman.
Comey explained that after his firing he sent one memo, which he claimed was unclassified, to Richman for the purpose of leaking to the New York Times. Again insisting that was not a leak — just a request to "communicate the substance" — Comey basically repeated the account he gave of events in his book, where he wrote that he "wanted [Richman] to share the substance of the memo — but not the memo itself — with a reporter."
The memo to which Comey referred was apparently the one he wrote after a Feb. 14, 2017, conversation with Trump in which the president expressed hope that Comey would drop the FBI's investigation into fired national security adviser Michael Flynn. "I hope you can let this go," Comey wrote that Trump said. The New York Times broke the story of the memos on May 16, 2017, with a story that included the quote — not just the substance but the exact quote — of Trump's words as Comey recalled them. (The Times also sourced the story to "two people who read the memo," suggesting that more eyes had seen the memo than Comey said.)
A few days before the Times' May 16, 2017, story, the paper also broke the story that Trump had asked Comey for loyalty during a Jan. 28, 2017, dinner meeting. That was the subject of Comey's classified memo from the same day, and the Times' sources were "associates" who had been told about the conversation by Comey.
On CNN, Comey expanded on why he does not believe that what he did qualifies as leaking. "I think of a leak as an unauthorized disclosure of classified information," he said. That is clearly at odds with the general understanding, one shared by Cooper in his questioning, that leaks can be of classified or unclassified information. For example, the Health and Human Services secretary might be preparing a controversial proposal on hospital funding, and an adversary inside the agency might secretly give a draft copy to the Washington Post. That's a leak, even though no classified information is involved.
But Comey insists he did not leak because the information in the memo he gave to Richman to leak was not classified. (There is some disagreement on whether that is true.) Comey also argued that giving the memo to Richman was not a leak because, "I was a private citizen — I was not an FBI employee at that time." FBI officials are not allowed to disclose confidential information, classified or not, simply because they leave the FBI.
But what about the one-memo-versus-four-memos question? On CNN, Comey explained that he gave one memo to Richman to leak . But later, he gave Richman four memos, including the one he gave Richman originally. But he only gave Richman one memo for the purpose of being leaked, and the rest he gave Richman after he, Comey, retained Richman as one of his personal lawyers.
"After I was fired I put together a legal team with three people, one of whom was Professor Dan Richmond at Columbia University," Comey told CNN. "After I had asked him to give this information to the media I separately gave my legal team four memos which were unclassified. They included the one that he had gotten to give the substance of it to give the New York Times."
So Comey gave Richman four memos, but only one at first, and then the other three later, and then as part of his "legal team." And none were leaked, although Comey authorized Richman to "communicate the substance" of one memo, although not the memo itself, to the press, although the memo ended up being quoted in the resulting news story.
Comey made some of the same arguments Thursday night in an interview with Fox News' Bret Baier. "I don't consider what I did with Mr. Richman a leak," Comey said. "I told him about an unclassified conversation with the president."
"That's a leak, isn't it?" Baier asked a bit later. "It's not," Comey responded.
On another occasion, Comey told Baier that he never considered his memos as part of an FBI file, or FBI work product. "I always thought of it as mine, like a diary," Comey said, suggesting it was therefore something he was free to give to Richman.
In all, it's a very complicated story, one in which Comey insists he did nothing wrong, no matter how it looks.
Saturday, April 28, 2018
BY: Members of Congress hope to compel the State Department to disclose the amount of U.S. aid money the Palestinian Authority has given to convicted terrorists and their families, according to a congressional communication viewed by the Free Beacon that calls for a complete freeze in U.S. aid to the Palestinian government.
Reps. David McKinley (R., W.V.) and John Ratcliffe (R., Texas) are circulating a letter to Republican offices urging them to join an effort to compel the State Department to detail the amount of taxpayer money that has been used by the Palestinian government to pay terrorists under a longstanding policy known as "pay to slay."
Following passage of the Taylor Force Act, which requires the Palestinian government to stop these payments or face a full cutoff in aid, the lawmakers are seeking to immediately freeze U.S. aid to the Palestinians until the State Department explains to lawmakers how it plans to enforce the new law.
The letter follows a recent Free Beacon report disclosing that the Palestinian Authority continues to spend U.S. aid dollars on terrorists. Palestinian officials have also made clear that they have no intention of following the new law and will continue to provide terrorists and their familiar with compensation.
"We urge you to immediately suspend all aid payments to the Palestinian Authority," the lawmakers write, according to a copy of the letter viewed by the Free Beacon. "Further, we urge you to make the cessation of this abhorrent practice that incentivizes terrorism a pre-condition for any U.S.-brokered peace talks between the sovereign state of Israel and the Palestinian Authority."
The lawmakers also demand the State Department outline in detail, "how many foreign aid dollars went to the PA that were then used to fund terrorists prior to passage of the Taylor Force Act?"
Lawmakers are additionally requesting information on what measures the administration is "planning to take to enforce the law and suspend aid to the PA, given the above statements and the content of their proposed budget?" according to the letter, which is addressed to secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo.
The State Department is required to report to Congress this week on its implementation of the Taylor Force Act and explain what efforts it is taking to stop Palestinian payments to terrorists.
Asked about the state of play on Wednesday, a State Department official declined to provide information on the reporting requirement and further information showing the Palestinian government continues to provide salaries to terrorists.
Organizations tracking the Palestinian media recently disclosed that the PA is slated to spend at least eight percent of its 2018 budget on its so-called martyr's fund. That figure amounts to about $355 million, according to Palestinian Media Watch.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a recent speech, outlined his intention to continue paying terrorists, a point highlighted by the lawmakers in their letter to Pompeo.
"There is something that the Americans are telling us to stop—the salaries of the martyrs and the martyrs' families," Abbas was quoted as saying. "Of course we categorically reject this. We will not under any circumstances allow anyone to harm the families of the prisoners, the wounded, and the martyrs. They are our children and they are our families. They honor us, and we will continue to pay them before the living."
The lawmakers go on to request the Trump administration require the Palestinians to abandon this practice as a pre-condition for peace talks with Israel.
Other members of Congress are lining up behind the effort as well.
"Congress took a bipartisan and resolute stance in the budget deal last month: We will not continue to provide aid to the Palestinian Authority if they use those funds to pay terrorists and their families. These evil individuals seek to harm the United States and our ally Israel," said McKinley. "We call on the State Department to cease aid payments to the Palestinian Authority until it can be confirmed that they have complied with this requirement."