Manchester police allow boy to stay in paedophile's house to protect covert investigation

Manchester police let a teenage boy stay in the house of a suspected paedophile and gangster for two hours in order to “protect an undercover investigation.”

During the 2011 ‘Nixon’ operation that was carried out to monitor suspect Dominic Noonan, police officers reportedly witnessed a 13-year-old boy walking into the paedophile’s house, but were told not to take any action by their superiors, the Times has revealed.

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FILE PHOTO © Georges Gobet

Police officers at the scene were concerned and asked senior staff how they could intervene. It was suggested that a local officer could come in under the pretext that they had received a public call. But that was not carried out.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) chose not to take legal action against the officer in charge, Dominic Sally, and his colleague, when the incident was first revealed to internal investigations by a whistleblower in 2014. On the contrary, Sally has since been promoted to the head of counterterrorism policing in northwest England.

One of the police officers that allowed the teenage boy to enter the criminal’s home claimed that he was later “haunted” by his decision not to intervene.

Dominic Noonan was found guilty of 13 cases of sexual assault in relation to young boys between the ages of 10 and 17.

“He used his notoriety to groom young vulnerable boys, then use them and sexually assault them until his behaviour became normalized” inspector Michael Gladwin told GMP’s Public Protection Investigation Unit earlier this month. Noonan was also previously convicted for robbery and firearm offences.

Early last year, the case was referred back to the IPCC. According to a spokeswoman for the force, a misconduct meeting was held in March last year, and the IPCC concluded that “both officers’ actions should be dealt with as a performance matter with appropriate action plans put in place.”

READ MORE: Policeman caught with images of children being raped receives slap on wrist, walks free from court

This is not the first time English police have come under fire for unprofessional conduct. Last year, Northumbria police paid a convicted child rapist £10,000 (US$ 13,200) to act as an undercover informant in their child sex abuse investigation. Back then, the IPCC concluded that there was no evidence of misconduct in relation to the case.

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There’s Plenty of Evidence That Donald Trump Has Sought to Block the Russia Investigation, But it Will Take More Than That to Bring Him Down

One of the most important things to understand about Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the Trump-Russia case, is that he helped nail New York mob boss John Gotti, the gangster known as the “Teflon Don.”

One of the most important things to understand about Donald Trump, the con man and hustler who happens to be president, is that he comes from the mob-tinged New York real estate industry and knows exactly what happened to Gotti and other mob bosses felled by racketeering prosecutions waged by the likes of Mueller.

Trump knows that Mueller is now conducting the same kind of racketeering investigation in the Trump-Russia case, and it frightens him.

Mueller is approaching his Trump-Russia investigation in the same way he and his fellow Justice Department prosecutors went after Gotti and other mobsters. He is rolling up Trump loyalists. He is slowly but surely climbing the ladder from low-level operatives to more prominent figures, and holding the threat of prison over their heads to get them to flip and talk about people higher up the ladder. Eventually, Mueller’s racketeering case will make its way to Trump.

Whenever Mueller seems to be making progress, Trump tries to distract. That is why a desperate Trump has been turning to crazed loyalists like Rudy Giuliani to go on cable news and spout incoherent attacks on the Mueller investigation. And it explains why Trump and his minions are now trying to focus the public’s attention on the FBI’s use of an informant to falsely claim that Trump was illegally spied on by the purported “deep state” during the 2016 campaign. To be sure, there is plenty of ugly history behind the FBI’s use of informants. In the 1960s, the FBI infiltrated the anti-war movement and other political organizations; more recently, it has used informants to entrap people in ginned-up terrorism cases.

But there is no evidence that the FBI engaged in any of those abusive tactics in the Trump-Russia investigation. Trump simply wants to depict himself as the victim of partisan intelligence operatives so that he can discredit and distract from Mueller’s actual investigation. It is the same kind of ploy he tried last year, when he claimed that he had been wiretapped.

In fact, the stunning number of very public actions taken by Trump to distract from or impede the Russia inquiry – a number that grows almost daily — suggests that he has been desperate to make the investigation go away from the moment it began.

I believe that it is obvious – and has been for more than a year – that Trump is doing everything he can to obstruct any investigation into evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential election. If that means discrediting the FBI, the Justice Department, and other government agencies, Trump will do it. He is quite willing to destroy crucial governmental checks and balances to impede the investigation.

This is my third column for The Intercept about the Trump-Russia case. Given all the conspiracy theories, false controversies, and Trump’s other efforts at distraction – which the media dutifully reports in mind-numbing detail in excruciatingly narrow and incremental stories – it is easy to lose the thread of the Trump-Russia narrative. My objective in this series of columns is to step back and look at the big picture.

While Trump tries to make you look the other way, I want to remind you of the big events, like the fact that Trump fired the FBI director to stop the Trump-Russia inquiry.

This third column is very straightforward. It is about whether Trump has attempted to impede the efforts, first by the FBI under then-Director James Comey and now by Mueller, to investigate whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians win the White House.

The answer, unequivocally, is yes.

There are many open questions about other aspects of the Trump-Russia narrative, but not about this. Trump has been trying to block the investigation from the very start. 

There are many open questions about other aspects of the Trump-Russia narrative, but not about this. Trump has been trying to block the investigation from the very start. The only real questions about this aspect of the case are whether Trump’s efforts to impede the inquiry will meet the legal definition of obstruction of justice, whether he will be criminally charged with obstruction of justice, and whether he will face impeachment in Congress.

And one more: Will Trump fire Mueller if he thinks he is getting too close to making the case for obstruction?

Trump’s efforts to derail the investigation have been very public and are becoming increasingly unbalanced.

Trump’s current focus on what he calls “Spygate” is straight from the playbook he has been using since the investigation began. He is trying to distract the public from the substance of the investigation by publicly spouting conspiracy theories and other wild claims.

During the 2016 campaign, the FBI asked Stefan Halper, an American who was an emeritus professor at the University of Cambridge, to act as an informant in its fledgling investigation of Russian election interference and possible ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Halper, a former Republican operative, was asked by the FBI to talk to Trump foreign policy advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, both of whom the bureau believed were in contact with the Russian government.

Halper’s informal talks with the Trump advisers don’t seem to have yielded much. But press reports about his role as an FBI informant gave Trump and his loyalists fresh ammunition to attack the FBI.

Trump purposefully and falsely branded Halper as a “spy” planted inside his campaign. To sway public opinion, he tried to make Halper’s role and the FBI’s inquiry sound far more nefarious than it was.

Giuliani recently acknowledged in a television interview that Trump and his camp are waging a battle to discredit Mueller’s investigation if the case ends up going to Congress for impeachment proceedings, which are, by definition, political and subject to the whims of public opinion. “Eventually, the decision here is going to be: impeach [or] not impeach. Members of Congress, Democrats, and Republicans are going to be informed a lot by their constituents. So our jury … is the American people. And the American people … Republicans largely, independents pretty substantially, and even Democrats, now question the legitimacy of [Mueller’s probe],” Giuliani said on CNN last weekend.

Trump so successfully cast the Halper episode as a right-wing fever dream that congressional Republicans demanded briefings on Halper’s role in the investigation. The FBI and the Justice Department gave in and agreed to brief some Democrats as well. Afterward, like so many Trump conspiracy theories before it, the Halper case began to fizzle. Most Republicans had little to say, while Democrats said the briefings showed that there was no substance to Trump’s charges. Eventually, even some Republicans began to break with Trump on the Halper matter. Sen. Marco Rubio acknowledged that there was no evidence that the FBI had been spying on the Trump campaign. Most surprisingly, Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican and Draco Malfoy lookalike who has long been one of the GOP’s leading conspiracy theorists, now says that the FBI’s use of Halper was appropriate.

U.S. President Donald Trump, center, shakes hands with James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), during an Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Reception in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Trump today mocked protesters who gathered for large demonstrations across the U.S. and the world on Saturday to signal discontent with his leadership, but later offered a more conciliatory tone, saying he recognized such marches as a hallmark of our democracy. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

U.S. President Donald Trump, center, shakes hands with James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), during an Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Reception in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017.

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

“Spygate” is just the latest in a long string of actions by Trump designed to impede the investigation.

Before Mueller, Trump went after Comey when he was running the Russia investigation. Like Mueller, Comey quickly came to see Trump’s similarity to the mob bosses that he had pursued as a prosecutor in New York, particularly after Trump began trying to pressure Comey to do his bidding.

Unlike the close-mouthed Mueller, Comey has been very public and explicit in comparing Trump to a mobster. In his recent memoir, Comey describes one meeting with Trump this way: “As I was sitting there, the strangest image filled my mind. I kept pushing it away because it seemed too odd and too dramatic, but it kept coming back: I thought of New York Mafia social clubs, an image from my days as a Manhattan federal prosecutor in the 1980s and 1990s. The Ravenite. The Palma Boys. Cafe Giardino. I couldn’t shake the picture. And looking back, it wasn’t as odd and dramatic as I thought it was at the time.”

The Trump-Comey relationship got off to a rocky start, when Comey had to brief the president-elect on the contents of the infamous Steele dossier. Comey told Trump about an unconfirmed allegation included in the dossier that during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, Trump had spent a night at the Ritz Carlton with prostitutes and been filmed by Russian intelligence. Days later, after BuzzFeed published the dossier, Trump called Comey to vent about it.

About two weeks later, on January 27, 2017, Trump again called Comey and asked him to come to the White House for dinner that night. When Comey arrived, he discovered that he was the only guest.

Over dinner, Trump asked Comey whether he wanted to stay on as FBI director. Since Trump had previously asked him the same thing, and Comey had already told him that he did, Comey rightly suspected that this was a veiled threat.

“Now it was pretty clear to me what was happening,” Comey writes in his book. “The setup of the dinner, both the physical layout of a private meal and Trump’s pretense that he had not already asked me to stay on multiple occasions, convinced me this was an effort to establish a patronage relationship.”

“I expect loyalty,” Trump told him over dinner.

Comey says he responded: “You will always get honesty from me.”

Comey came away from the dinner feeling like he had just met with a Mafia boss who was trying to strong-arm him.

“I thought of New York Mafia social clubs, an image from my days as a Manhattan federal prosecutor in the 1980s and 1990s. The Ravenite. The Palma Boys. Cafe Giardino.”

On February 14, Comey met Trump again at the White House, this time with a group of other officials. At the end of the meeting, Trump asked Comey to stay behind for a private talk. When everyone else had left the room, Trump told Comey that he wanted to talk about Gen. Michael Flynn, his onetime national security adviser, who had resigned the day before amid questions about his contacts with Russia and for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about them.

Trump told Comey that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in his dealings with the Russians, and then made a statement that sounded to the FBI director a lot like an effort to obstruct justice: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Comey says he replied only that Flynn was “a good guy,” but did not say that he would let the matter go.

Gen. Michael Flynn(R), former national security adviser to US President Donald Trump, leaves Federal Court on December 1, 2017 in Washington, DC.Donald Trump's former top advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying over his contacts with Russia, in a dramatic escalation of the FBI's probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. The fourth, and most senior, figure indicted so far in the investigation into Russian interference in last year's election, Flynn appeared in federal court in Washington for a plea hearing less than two hours after the charges against him were made public.Ex-Trump aide Flynn says he recognizes his actions 'were wrong'. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Gen. Michael Flynn (right), former national security adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, leaves federal court on December 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with Russia, in a dramatic escalation of the FBI’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

“At the time, I had understood the president to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December,” Comey writes in his book. “I did not understand the president to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign. Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency. Imagine the reaction if a President Hillary Clinton had asked to speak to the FBI director alone and urged him to back off the investigation of her national security advisor.”

On March 30, Trump called Comey and told him that the Russia investigation, then being run by the FBI, was a “cloud” over his presidency, and asked what could be done to “lift the cloud.” Trump also asked him to make public the fact that Trump was not personally under investigation, which Comey had previously told him privately.

On April 11, Trump called Comey again and made another veiled threat, saying: “I have been very loyal to you, very loyal. We had that thing, you know.” This was apparently a reference to their dinner in which Trump had demanded Comey’s loyalty.

On May 9, 2017, Trump fired Comey in the midst of the FBI’s investigation of evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. It was the most public and consequential action taken by Trump in the growing obstruction case against him. It ultimately led to Mueller’s appointment as special counsel to conduct an independent investigation into the Trump-Russia case.

At first, Trump suggested that a Justice Department memo criticizing Comey for his handling of the Clinton email investigation prompted the firing. But Trump couldn’t control himself and soon admitted to a television reporter that he was really thinking of “this Russia thing” when he fired the FBI director.

The day after he fired Comey, Trump told visiting Russian officials: “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off,” according to a memo describing the discussion.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21:  Special counsel Robert Mueller (C) leaves after a closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 at the Capitol in Washington, DC. The committee meets with Mueller to discuss the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Special counsel Robert Mueller (C) leaves after a closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 21, 2017 at the Capitol in Washington, DC.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

During those early months, Comey wasn’t the only person Trump sought to pressure on the Russia investigation.

In March 2017, before he fired Comey, Trump asked two top intelligence officials — the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, and NSA Director Mike Rogers — to say publicly that they saw no evidence that the Trump campaign had colluded with the Russians. Both declined.

After he was fired, Comey decided he would go to the press, at least indirectly. He used a law professor friend as an intermediary. The friend told the New York Times about Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice by pressuring Comey to drop the investigation of Flynn. The resulting media firestorm prompted Rosenstein to appoint Mueller to investigate the Trump-Russia case. Rosenstein’s decision so angered Trump that he has reportedly wanted to fire him ever since.

Trump also wanted to fire Mueller almost as soon as he was appointed. He was only stopped when his own White House counsel said he would quit rather than carry out the order.

If Mueller gets enough evidence to make an obstruction case against Trump but still can’t prove the underlying case of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, the obstruction case will ring hollow.

Trump has gone to great lengths to quash the investigation, even getting directly involved in crafting a misleading statement to the press about the purpose of a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between a Russian lawyer, Donald Trump Jr., and campaign officials. The meeting was designed to get dirt on Clinton, but the press statement said it was about Russian adoption policy.

It seems unlikely that Mueller will seek to criminally charge and prosecute a sitting president. But if Mueller writes a report to Congress that could be used in impeachment proceedings, there is historical precedent for a focus on obstruction. During Watergate, the first count in the impeachment proceedings of Richard Nixon included charges of obstruction of justice.

The big question in this case will be whether Trump’s actions meet the legal definition of obstruction. As president, he has the power to hire and fire senior officials, like the FBI director. And given all of Trump’s various early explanations, including the laughable notion that he fired Comey because of his handling of the Clinton email case (which, incidentally, almost certainly helped Trump win the election), it may be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt what exactly drove him to fire Comey. Trump has been so public and said so many contradictory things that it will also be difficult to parse his words and intent on many other actions.

What’s more, if Mueller gets enough evidence to make an obstruction case against Trump but still can’t prove the underlying case of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, the obstruction case will ring hollow. Trump’s supporters will almost certainly rally to him, claiming he is just being punished for his efforts to fight back against a partisan takedown.

It’s important to remember what Trump thinks of his voters and how strongly he believes they will always side with him. On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump said: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK? It’s, like, incredible.”

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The Intercept

Navy SEALs Face Sexual Assault Charges and Drug Investigation

The commanding officer and the senior enlisted adviser of a Virginia Beach-based Navy SEAL team deployed in East Africa have been relieved of their duties because of allegations of sexual assault and harassment. In addition, 11 members of other East Coast SEAL units tested positive for drugs and face disciplinary action, according to a Navy official and two members of the special operations community.

“A commanding officer and command master chief assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit have been relieved of their duties overseas due to alleged misconduct,” said Commander Tamara Lawrence, a spokesperson for Naval Special Warfare, the Navy SEAL command. “Naval Special Warfare and NCIS have initiated investigations as appropriate.”

According to two current Navy SEAL consultants familiar with the case, the investigation into the commander and his senior enlisted adviser concerns allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment of a female service member while deployed in East Africa. Both consultants requested anonymity because they are not permitted to publicly discuss the investigation.

Both the commander and the master chief were sent back to their Virginia Beach-based unit pending the investigation.

Separately, the commanding officer of all Navy SEALs, Rear Admiral Timothy Szymanski, addressed a large gathering Friday in what the Navy refers to as an “all hands” meeting after the 11 SEALs tested positive for drug use in recent weeks.  Lawrence confirmed Admiral Szymanski addressed the SEALs but would not provide details of his remarks. “During a number of command drug tests from March-April 2018, 11 service members from East Coast based Naval Special Warfare units tested positive for controlled substances,” said Lawrence.

“We have a zero tolerance policy for the use of illicit drugs and as such these individuals will be held accountable for their actions. We are confident in our drug testing procedures and will continue to impress on all members of the command that illicit drugs are incompatible with the SEAL Ethos and Naval service.”

Last year, a senior SEAL officer told the East Coast SEALs that there had been a “staggering” amount of drug use in the SEAL teams, according to a CBS News report. After several SEALs tested positive for drugs in late 2016, the entire SEAL command was put on a stand down order and submitted to drug tests.

The larger SEAL command, which includes the elite SEAL Team 6, has struggled with drugs and discipline in recent years according to several current and former members of the SEAL community.

One of the military consultants said there has been a spike in disciplinary and legal issues for SEALs since the drawdown of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Take warriors out of a warzone and take all their stimuli away and see what happens,” the consultant said.

The SEAL community has been waiting for the results of a NCIS investigation into the strangulation death of an Army Special Forces sergeant last summer. In that case, two members of SEAL Team 6 are considered “persons of interest” after changing their accounts of how the Green Beret died in their shared living quarters while deployed to the African nation of Mali.

ABC News first reported that the two SEAL leaders in Africa were removed.

Top photo: U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, second from left, talks with Rear Admiral Timothy Szymanski, commanding officer of all Navy SEALs, on July 7, 2013, at Camp Integrity, Afghanistan.

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The Intercept

Will the U.S. Strike on Syria Impact the Alleged Chemical Weapons Attack Investigation?

Last night the U.S. and its allies, France and the U.K. led a military strike against Syria, striking Syrian military targets said to be linked to Syrian chemical weapons programs on the eve of the arrival of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) who is supposed to investigate the alleged chemical attack. Plus, the hottest stories of the week. Newsbud does not take money from advertisers, foundations or NGO’s. We are 100% funded by you, the people. Support Newsbud for a stronger independent grassroots media by subscribing or making a donation today.

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Show Notes 

OPCW Fact-Finding Mission Continues Deployment to Syria

US, France, Britain launch strikes on Syria: Trump

Chemical weapons investigation team arrives in Damascus – OPCW

Russia Call US Aggressor, Washington Locked and Loaded to Hit Syria Again

US-led strikes in Syria without UNSC mandate a violation of international law – Putin

US training Syria militants for false flag chemical attack as basis for airstrikes – Russian MoD

UN accuses Syrian rebels of carrying out sarin gas attacks which had been blamed on Assad’s troops

Syrian Government Accused of Using Chemical Weapons

Russian claims that US is planning a false-flag chemical weapons attack is a distraction, Pentagon says

US found chlorine gas, nerve agent in samples from Syria attack: report

The Latest: Russia says no evidence of gas attack in Douma

Russia claims Syria air defences shot down 71 of 103 missiles

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California AG Launches Investigation Into Stephon Clark Shooting

The California state Department of Justice will open an independent investigation into the fatal police shooting of 23-year-old Stephon Clark, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Sacramento’s police chief jointly announced on Tuesday. The decision was made at the request of the Sacramento Police Department, and comes amid growing national outrage over the killing of Clark, who was shot in his grandparent’s backyard after police apparently mistook his cell phone for a gun. Becerra’s office will also conduct a review of the Sacramento Police Department’s use of force policy.


Clark, a father of two, was shot on March 18, after two Sacramento police officers responded to a call about a man breaking into cars in a residential neighborhood. The Sacramento Police Department has since released videos of the shooting from two separate police body cameras. The videos show officers encountering Clark on the side of a house after airborne Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies identified Clark as the suspect. The house was later determined to be the home Clark shared with his grandparents and several siblings.

Clark is difficult to make out in the video, but an officer can be heard ordering Clark to show his hands, and then rushing to the back of the house, presumably in pursuit of Clark. The officer orders Clark to show his hands a second and third time in quick succession and then a flurry of bullets is heard after the officer says that Clark had a gun. Police officials have said that no gun was found at the scene, and that Clark was holding a cell phone when he was shot.

Sacramento Police Department Chief Daniel Hahn has said that the two officers fired 20 shots at Clark. It’s unclear how many times Clark was hit. One of Clark’s relatives has called the shooting “overkill.” The family has also raised questions about why the Sacremento PD initially released a statement about the shooting that many have interpreted as suggesting Clark was armed with a toolbar, and why police why officers chose to mute their body cameras toward the end of cameras’ recordings. They have also argued that officers did not give Clark enough time to comply with their directions before shooting. The Sacramento County District Attorney’s office is investigating to determine whether or not to file criminal charges against the officers involved.

Clark’s death prompted tense protests in Sacramento last week, and nationwide outrage on social media. Protesters blocked the entrance to a Sacramento King’s game last Thursday, preventing thousands of fans from being able to attend, and blocked a highway on Friday. Clark’s name was mentioned at multiple March for Our Lives rallies on Saturday, including at the rally in Washington, DC. 

In an emotional press conference on Monday, Clark’s grandmother called for criminal charges against the officers involved in Clark’s death. The family’s lawyer—veteran civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has also represented the families of other black victims of police and gun violence, including Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown—said that the family intended to seek an independent autopsy. Crump has also previously stated that the family intends to sue.

Crime and Justice – Mother Jones

Nunes Memo Accidentally Confirms the Legitimacy of the FBI’s Investigation

Despite strong objections from the Justice Department, House Republicans released a four-page memo on Friday challenging the “legitimacy and legality” of the FBI’s surveillance of Carter Page, a former adviser to the Trump campaign suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence.

The memo, generated by staffers of House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes, R-Calif., confirms that the FBI sought authorization under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to intercept Page’s communications. The FBI submitted the FISA application in October 2016, after Page had left the Trump campaign, by establishing probable cause to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that Page was acting as an “agent” of Russia. The Nunes memo also reports that FISA surveillance of Page was subsequently renewed three times.

The central claim of the memo is that the FISA surveillance applications relied on a controversial dossier by former British spy Christopher Steele, whose raw intelligence reports claimed that Trump campaign officials had met with Russians and that Russian intelligence had information sufficient to blackmail Donald Trump. Steele was a Russia expert for MI6 and had provided credible information to the FBI in the past.

According to the Nunes memo, the FBI received three 90-day extensions to monitor Page’s communications under FISA authority.

The Nunes memo does not say Steele’s dossier was the only piece of information used to establish probable cause that Page was acting as a foreign agent. Indeed, when FBI agents submit a FISA application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, they use information from multiple sources, according to current and former FBI officials. What’s more, the same information is not used over and over to extend surveillance under FISA. Instead, every 90 days, the FBI, as a matter of practice, shows evidence to the court that agents are obtaining foreign intelligence information through the surveillance that is in line with the initial FISA application.

According to the Nunes memo, the FBI received three 90-day extensions to monitor Page’s communications under FISA authority. This would have required the FBI to show Justice Department lawyers and the FISA court judge that Page’s intercepted communications included relevant foreign intelligence information. In fact, according to the memo, two Trump appointees at the Justice Department — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Dana Boente, who served as acting attorney general after Trump fired Sally Yates — reviewed this information and signed off on submissions to the FISA court.

What’s more, it’s highly doubtful that the FISA court judge would not have known about Steele by the time Page’s surveillance came up for renewal, as the Nunes memo suggests. BuzzFeed published Steele’s dossier in full in January 2017.

“Steele was out there. He was in the press at this time,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. “It’s ridiculous to believe that the judge had no idea who Steele was as this is being renewed over and over again.”

According to reports from journalists, unnamed Democrats on the committee have already begun to dispute the memo’s claim that the Steele dossier was an “essential part” of the evidentiary basis for the warrant applications.

But even if the dossier was a key part of the initial investigation, it wouldn’t have helped the FBI renew its warrant on three subsequent occasions.

The memo argues that the FBI’s process was not a good-faith attempt to investigate Russian influence; rather, the memo says, it was a politically motivated operation to spy on someone affiliated with the Trump campaign.

The memo claims that Steele’s dossier is not reliable because an opposition research firm, Fusion GPS, hired Steele after receiving payments from a law firm connected to the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Fusion GPS’s clients for its Trump research, however, were not limited to partisan Democratic Party concerns: The firm began its research into Trump at the behest of the Washington Free Beacon, a right-wing news website that initially opposed Trump’s insurgent campaign.

Nunes’s memo also alleges another funding source for Steele: the document states that he was not only paid for his work by Fusion GPS, but also by the FBI. That means the Trump opposition work was funded by partisans of both parties as well as a federal bureaucracy.

The context missing from the memo is that the FBI routinely deals in information coming from biased sources.

Even if Steele’s work was purely at the behest of the Democratic Party, however, that would not historically exclude it from being used as evidence in court. The context missing from the memo is that the FBI routinely deals in information coming from biased sources. FBI informants, who number more than 15,000 today, are often motivated by revenge, money, or idealism, among other drivers. The FBI collects relevant information, no matter the source, and then exerts extensive effort to corroborate the information — for example, by seeking a wiretap of a campaign official thought to be conspiring with a foreign government.

U.S. government officials have for years suspected that Page, an energy investor who has done business in Russia, had connections to Russian intelligence. According to the New York Times, the FBI became aware of him as early as 2013, when agents learned that he was passing documents about the energy business to a Russian intelligence agent. The FBI interviewed Page at the time, but concluded he had done so unwittingly, passing the documents to a man he thought was a businessman instead of a spy. The FBI again turned its attention to Page after he traveled to Moscow in the summer of 2016.

The Nunes memo is widely seen as an attempt to challenge the credibility of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. After reviewing the memo, but before it was released, the FBI issued a statement saying it had “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impacted the memo’s accuracy.”

Trump took to Twitter on Friday morning and said the FBI and Justice Department “politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans.” The White House later released a statement saying the memo raises “serious concerns about the integrity of decisions made at the highest levels of the Department of Justice and the FBI.”

Despite rhetoric that could help to undermine Mueller’s investigation, the Nunes memo specifically says that George Papadopoulos sparked the counterintelligence investigation that ultimately led to the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the firing of FBI Director James Comey, and the appointment of Mueller as special counsel. Papadopoulos, a former Trump foreign policy advisor, pleaded guilty in October to making false statements to the FBI.

Even if the controversial Steele dossier and the FISA surveillance of Page had sparked the special counsel’s inquiry, this would not be the first time that politically motivated information led to a special counsel investigation. Conservative businessman Richard Mellon Scaife gave $ 2 million to the American Spectator in the early 1990s to investigate President Bill Clinton’s real estate investments and sexual harassment claims against him. Information from the reporting Scaife funded led in part the appointment of Kenneth Starr to investigate Clinton.

Throughout the Nunes memo, Republicans appeal to the rhetoric of civil libertarians, who have long argued that the standards and protections of the FISA court are insufficient. Critics have pointed to the fact that the court operates in secrecy and relies on a body of hidden laws and precedents. The FISA court is also non-adversarial, as the government is typically the only party represented, although Congress passed a law in 2015 that allows the court to appoint outside counsel.

The American Civil Liberties Union, a critic of the FISA court’s lack of transparency, charged that Nunes was wrapping a political argument in claims of civil liberties abuse. “The completeness and accuracy of government representations to the FISA court are longstanding concerns,” Christopher Anders, deputy director of ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, said in a statement. “The Nunes memo makes serious charges of FBI and Justice Department misconduct in obtaining a warrant to surveil an American citizen, but on its own, does not contain the facts needed to substantiate its charges.”

Anders added: “Rather than one side or the other cherry-picking facts, all Americans deserve to see all of the facts, including both the minority report and the underlying documents. The goal should be more transparency, not less, particularly when a congressional committee chairman makes serious charges of abuse but does not provide the facts to either prove the charges or allow Americans to make up our own minds.”

Top photo: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., walks away after speaking to reporters after a meeting at the White House March 22, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

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The Intercept

ACLU Investigation Reveals Texas Troopers Are Turning Traffic Stops of Immigrants Into Deportations

A shocking new investigation by the ACLU of Texas and The Intercept reveals how state troopers are essentially acting as deportation officers. After poring through public records of traffic stops by the Texas Highway Patrol, the ACLU of Texas uncovered what amounts to a deportation machine operated by the state’s Department of Public Safety. State troopers stop drivers for minor traffic infractions, and if they are unable to produce a driver’s license, they are taken into custody and turned over to Border Patrol. Several DPS dashboard camera videos show immigrants being detained for trivial traffic violations and then carted away by Border Patrol. We speak with Debbie Nathan, investigative reporter for the ACLU of Texas.


NERMEEN SHAIKH: We end the show in Texas, where a shocking new investigation has revealed how state troopers are essentially acting as deportation officers. After poring through public records of traffic stops by the Texas Highway Patrol, the ACLU of Texas has uncovered what amounts to a deportation machine operated by the state’s Department of Public Safety, or DPS. State troopers stop drivers for minor traffic infractions, and if they are unable to produce a driver’s license, they’re taken into custody and turned over to Border Patrol. The Intercept, working with the ACLUof Texas, obtained several DPS dash cam videos that show immigrants being detained for trivial traffic violations and then being carted away by Border Patrol.

This is a clip from a video produced by The Intercept of dash cam video of a traffic stop, and features Debbie Nathan, investigative reporter for the ACLU of Texas, our guest today.

TEXAS STATE TROOPER: I’m at a traffic stop. Can you send a Border Patrol agent over here?

DRIVER’S WIFE: No, they’re going to take him, sir! They’re taking everybody!


DRIVER’S WIFE: Everybody’s saying that. They’re taking everyone and deporting them!

DEBBIE NATHAN: When the dash cams started coming in, I realized, “Wow! This is really a record of a deportation machine, of state troopers fishing for people on the highways and then turning them in to federal immigration officials.”

DRIVER’S WIFE: [translated] Please, Jesus, please!

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we are joined by Debbie Nathan, investigative reporter for the ACLU of Texas, her report for The Intercept headlined “‘They’re Taking Everybody’ — Videos Show Texas Troopers Ripping Apart Immigrant Families During Traffic Stops.”

Debbie, welcome to Democracy Now! I’m glad you’re in New York today to explain what is happening in Texas and what you found, right where you live.

DEBBIE NATHAN: I live in Brownsville, Texas, which is right on the border, at the easternmost part of the border. It’s a 1,200-mile border that goes all the way to El Paso. And for the past three years, the state of Texas has been funding, mega-funding, to the tune of like — right now it’s like $ 800 million a year, to have like a lot of state troopers down on the border. They’re like brought in on tours. And they are empowered to stop people on the roads, as they traditionally have, doing traffic enforcement.

So, in the course of stopping people on the border, for things like broken taillights or failing to signal when they do a lane change, they ask for their driver’s licenses. Now, in Texas and many other states for the past few years, it’s been impossible for undocumented people to get driver’s licenses. Well, they have to drive. I mean, there’s really no public transportation, and people have to go to work. So they drive, and they don’t have licenses. And it becomes sort of like sort of the opposite of a star on your sleeve, like not to have something. As soon as they say they don’t have a driver’s license, it triggers a call from the trooper to the Border Patrol. And the Border Patrol, there are, you know, thousands of them on the Texas border, so they’re usually just a few minutes away, and they arrive quickly. And —

AMY GOODMAN: Are they interrogating them?

DEBBIE NATHAN: Well, the troopers are not supposed to do that, but they start the interrogation, and then the Border Patrol finishes it up. They have the legal right to do that, once they arrive. But the interrogations often start, you know, when the troopers encounter the person. And I’ve seen — there’s one video in The Interceptpiece where a man tries to exercise his Fifth Amendment right not to say why he doesn’t have a driver’s license. And he’s very much verbally abused — in a similar manner, actually, to the Sandra Bland encounter. These are the same agents. But, you know, it was my sense, from looking at a lot of these videos, these dash cam videos that I got from the troopers, that, you know, I mean, even though that behavior is supposed to be really unacceptable, and they fired the agent who did it to Sandra Bland, it’s allowed on the border with immigrants.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, presumably, state troopers and police, in general, stopped people and asked for driver’s licenses for minor traffic violations in the past. When did you — what do you know about when they started reporting these violations, when people weren’t able to produce a driver’s license, undocumented people weren’t able to produce a driver’s license, and then state troopers started communicating with Border Patrol?

DEBBIE NATHAN: Well, it’s my impression, from looking at data — and I only have data that goes back about two years — and from hearing anecdotes from people in the community — and I’ve been down there one year — but people talk about this having happened in the last few years, but it was always sort of touch and go, because many times when I speak with people, and they say, “Well, you know, I used to get stopped, and they would ask me if I had my driver’s license, and I didn’t, and they would just let me go.” And that seems to be almost what the custom was until about a year ago.

Now, a year ago, just a couple of days before the presidential election, DPS put out a memo to all of its staff saying, “You have an obligation to call the Border Patrol when you suspect that someone is undocumented. You have an obligation.” I actually heard from somebody like a whistleblower in the Department of Public Safety, the troopers, that that had not been the custom or the obligation prior to the letter. So, now it seems like they have to do it.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, Debbie Nathan, we introduced you as the investigative journalist for the ACLU, which is very interesting. I mean, we knew that model from Michigan, Curt Guyette with the ACLU, an investigative reporter, who investigated the poisoning of an American city, of Flint, Michigan. Explain this model. You’re an investigative reporter with the ACLU.

DEBBIE NATHAN: So, I am an investigative reporter. I have many years of investigative reporting in a more traditional context, with independent media. And what Curt and I have both done is worked with community organizations to really develop our — to develop our tips, to develop information that we can go out and document, I mean, and then to publish that in independent sources. So, I’m not part of communications. I’m not a researcher or investigator. Neither is he. We are investigative journalists.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, one of the people whose case you investigated was Ruth Ramirez. She was subjected to a traffic stop because of the tint in the windows of her truck, which were apparently too dark. She was turned over to Border Patrol, and you found her in Juárez, Mexico. This clip is from an interview you had with her, as you showed her the dash cam video of her traffic stop.

RUTH RAMIREZ: [translated] I would simply describe it as the worst moment of my life.

DEBBIE NATHAN: [translated] To be handcuffed?

RUTH RAMIREZ: [translated] To be handcuffed, to be embarrassed, to be humiliated — for no apparent reason.

DEBBIE NATHAN: [translated] But you were stone-faced.

RUTH RAMIREZ: [translated] Yes, because he had already had enough triumph to have turned me in to immigration. I wasn’t going to hand him the triumph of seeing me shed tears.

TEXAS STATE TROOPER: Now, this is starting to get old, man. Maybe I should have joined the Border Patrol.

RUTH RAMIREZ: [translated] It’s very clear that, to him, we undocumented people are like a trophy. He was making fun of destroying a family.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So that’s Ruth Ramirez speaking in one of the videos that you produced. Could you say, very quickly, Debbie Nathan, what happened?

DEBBIE NATHAN: She ended up in a deportation center, not far from the reporter who you just interviewed, and she ultimately went back to Mexico. And she has three US-citizen, US-born children who accompanied her, and a DACA-age child, who was just applying for DACA. They’re all back in Mexico now.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to leave it there, but congratulations on your very important work, and we’ll continue to follow it. Debbie Nathan, investigative reporter for the ACLU of Texas. We’ll link to her report in The Intercept headlined “‘They’re Taking Everybody’ — Videos Show Texas Troopers Ripping Apart Immigrant Families During Traffic Stops.”

And this breaking news: South African anti-apartheid activist, former head of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo, has been named the next secretary general of Amnesty International.

Truthout Stories

Marcy Wheeler: Mike Flynn’s Guilty Plea to FBI Will Shape How GOP Handles Russia Investigation

Just before news broke that President Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn will plead guilty this morning to lying to the FBI, we spoke with national security reporter Marcy Wheeler, who anticipated the news and said it could “dramatically change how Republicans face the Russian investigation.”


AMY GOODMAN: On Thursday, The New York Times reported President Trump pressured senior Senate Republicans over the summer, including the chair of the Senate intelligence committee, to drop Mueller’s probe into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. News coming amidst reports that Mueller’s investigators recently questioned senior White House advisor and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, over a meeting with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition.

MARCY WHEELER: Right, and this is actually one of the reasons why this switch isn’t going to happen, because I don’t think Pompeo is confirmable by the senate foreign relations committee, because we have learned a lot more of his implication in the Russian story.

The Kushner meeting was reported as kind of one of the last things that Mueller had to put into place before this plea agreement that people have been talking about with Mike Flynn. And that suggests that there is more news about to drop regarding Mike Flynn that I think is going to really dramatically change how Republicans take the Russian investigation.

Flynn had been avoiding discussing plea agreements for months and months and months, and then really in the last two weeks, all of a sudden it seems like it’s about to happen. Mueller has more leverage over Flynn in the last couple of weeks. It may be Turkey, because a key witness in New York has turned state’s evidence and apparently has information on Flynn. I think there’s some other information.

And so, Flynn, we expect, is moving towards a plea agreement. We expect, or I expect, that’s going to add a lot more pressure on Trump. And I have been saying for months that the way to get to Kushner is through Flynn. Because a lot of the events in which Flynn was involved, such as meeting with Sergei Kislyak in December, they connect very closely with activities that Kushner is known to be involved with.

So that seems to be where things are moving. And this Pompeo news seems impossible against that background, because Pompeo has helped Trump to cover up this Russia thing. And I don’t see Bob Corker and I don’t see Marco Rubio, who are both Senate foreign relations committee members, I do not see them supporting Pompeo having an even bigger role in the administration as this Russia stuff opens up.

AMY GOODMAN: And Flynn and Turkey. Can you explain what has been uncovered at this point?

MARCY WHEELER: Flynn was a consultant for the Turkish government, but through some cutouts, right? And he is alleged to have A, discussed on two different occasions basically kidnapping a cleric who lives in Pennsylvania that the Turkish government considers one of their big enemies. They blame him for the attempted coup earlier this year. So that’s one thing is that he has talked about kidnapping an American permanent resident on behalf of another government.

The other thing is that there was a guy named Reza Zarrab who was charged in a sanctions avoidance laundering case in New York. Basically, laundering money to get gold to Iran. That connects very closely with Turkey’s president. But that guy, Zarrab, made a plea agreement basically, and that just came out this week. The trial in which he is testifying is rolling out. But he is believed to have some information about Flynn’s efforts to free him on behalf of the Turkish government.

And again, this is another case where Flynn did not disclose these monies. He was working as the transition national security adviser and being paid by a foreign government. There is a much stronger case against him on this Turkish stuff even than on the Russian stuff. So I think not only is it easier to charge him with this stuff — and that would be kind of similar to what happened to Paul Manafort — but also it would — one of the things that has been reported to happen is it would implicate his son, Mike Flynn, Jr., who was involved in some of these things. And so one of the motives that Flynn might have for flipping, for cooperating with Mueller, is to keep his son out of prison.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, do you think this could account for all these developments this week? Could account for the further unraveling of President Trump? Tweeting out these racist, Islamophobic videos, talking about President Obama once again — as he led the birther movement, Trump did — and all of the things he has done? You know, the “Pocahontas comments in the midst of a Navajo code talker ceremony in the oval office in front of a portrait of Andrew Jackson. But all of this coming one after another has Republicans scratching their heads as well.

MARCY WHEELER: It is hard to measure the next outrage from the president, but I do think that he is hearing footsteps. I do think he continues to try and convince those around him that he is not in any risk of this investigation. That is ridiculous at this point. It is clear that Mueller is investigating him for obstruction, if not far more. And these attempts to distract attention — but I also think — and this will segue into your next piece, but I also think he is also attempting to distract from the fact that he is about to, in the name of tax reform, carry out this vast looting of the American poor and middle class. So, it serves two purposes — distract from Russia but also distract from the tax bill that they are rushing through Congress this week.

AMY GOODMAN: Marcy Wheeler, we want to thank you so much for being with us. Independent journalist who covers national security and civil liberties, runs the website We’ll link to your piece,  Throwing H2O on the Pompeo to State Move. This is Democracy Now!

When we come back, we go to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to talk about a little-known provision of the tax law that has to do with opening up the Arctic to drilling. And then we will go to Mogadishu. We will talk about the latest on a massacre that took place there. What was the US involvement? Finally, we will look at the Impeach Trump movement. Stay with us. 

Truthout Stories

Comey drafted ‘unclassified’ statement ending Clinton email investigation long before case closed

In newly-released documents, the FBI confirms that former Director James Comey sent a draft statement regarding the conclusion of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, months before interviewing her.

The title of the release is ‘Drafts of Director Comey’s July 5, 2016 Statement Regarding Email Server Investigation’. This title refers to a press conference Comey gave in which he said the bureau had completed its investigation into Clinton’s use of a personal email system, while also saying he would not recommend that the Department of Justice proceed with charges against Clinton.

The five-page document has a list of nearly 50 deleted pages and a redacted email thread titled ‘Midyear Exam’.

The email is marked unclassified but the only available content is FBI senior counselor James Rybicki’s email dated May 16, 2016, which is a follow-up on a redacted email from Comey dated May 2 to other senior officials. In it, the FBI official says “Please send me any comments on this statement so we may roll into a master doc for discussion with the Director at a future date. Thanks, Jim.”

In August, Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the same committee, sent a letter to new FBI Director Christopher Wray saying they had learned from interview transcripts released by the Office of the Special Counsel that Comey had drafted the statement in advance. Now this information has been confirmed in the release.

After Grassley and Graham made their disclosure, President Donald Trump accused Comey in a typical tweet of exonerating Hillary Clinton long before the investigation was over.

The FBI formally interviewed Clinton on July 2, 2016, while ruling three days later that it would not bring charges against her.

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