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 poll_icon  Poll  Poll Question: What will be end result of federal investigations on the above lines?
Nothing. Pure political theater. VotesVotesVotes 4 (40%)
Trump cleared. Obama admin. cleared. VotesImageVotes 0 (0%)
Trump cleared. Obama admin faces charges. VotesVotesVotes 3 (30%)
Trump cleared, but his staff faces charges. VotesVotesVotes 1 (10%)
Trump impeached. Obama admin cleared. VotesVotesVotes 1 (10%)
Trump impeached. Obama admin faces charges. VotesImageVotes 0 (0%)
Congress and White House gutted. VotesVotesVotes 1 (10%)
Trump resigns. VotesImageVotes 0 (0%)
Total votes: 10  
 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Treason and Wiretap Investigation Results  (Read 1046 times)
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xx Re: Treason and Wiretap Investigation Results
« Reply #15 on: May 14th, 2017, 12:08am »

on May 13th, 2017, 11:00pm, Reasoner wrote:
Thank you, Sys. I'll take a look at it in a bit. Trying to juggle home life duties with pathological web browsing.

In the meantime:
http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/13/world/prevezon-settlement/index.html

I had heard the Feds were looking into Russian Mob stuff, but hadn't been following closely. With the speed of things going this last week (and maybe related to the raid in Annapolis?), there may be a lot of disparate pieces starting to fit together.

The case was abruptly brought to a close late Friday, with Monday being the date of the trial start. In the article, some worried that there were political forces brought to bear to close the case. There's a number of ways to look at it though.
a) Maybe there was some internal political pressure to make it go away.
b) Maybe there was no pressure whatsoever, and this is best the Feds felt they could do with the case.
c) Maybe deals were cut, which brought this case to a close... in return for something else. Possibly testimony for another case?


OK. I finally watched as much of that video as I could. I think the only point I wound up agreeing with was the "agents changing their profile to Comey" was flak/crap news, though not for the reason that he stated.

He thinks that it means that the MSM has nothing, so they are grasping at straws with meaningless anecdotes. That's not usually how they work. They throw the meaningless anecdotes out to impatient people hungry for more news... so the MSM tends to dredge out extra fluff stories to feed the public. And that story was crap. Think about how many agents are in the FBI. Buried in the story was like "a dozen agents" did it. Oh come on. That's meaningless.

Other than that, WTF is an Earth Alliance? When he started going on about the new science news drops, like they were the secrets being hidden from the public... I stepped off the video train. This guy seems pretty alt-right to me, and I'm just not in that camp. Trey Gowdy is only your hero if you hate hate hate Clinton, because that's pretty much where he makes his bones - heading up and lengthening investigations on the woman.

I'm not gonna dispute the MSM has a hate on for the President. One always needs to consider the source (and sometimes shooting the messenger) when seeing any bit of news. But you can't always dismiss outright what's presented. The kid in the video has a lot of news bits, but discusses no actual facts to base his opinions on those news bits. He's not giving any info, he's reinforcing bias. He's preaching to his choir.
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xx Re: Treason and Wiretap Investigation Results
« Reply #16 on: May 14th, 2017, 01:34am »

I hear ya..His advice was good...dont ignore MSN completely extract what you can useful..I do that to all sites..including the Sorchaa faal..afte a while with everything in context..you get to see what they are all pushing..hes a bright kid..though tals a little too fast..for my taste..if you look at msnews now it does look like its all cut n paste..of the same o same o..a lot of alt right..has of late as well..
On the FBI using people in one thing for another..
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-05-13/russian-hacker-claims-fbi-coerced-confession-over-clinton-cyberattack

have you spoken with LG yet? He speaks very highly of you...


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xx Re: Treason and Wiretap Investigation Results
« Reply #17 on: Jun 5th, 2017, 7:15pm »

Some interesting news. Don't know how important it is yet. Red herrinks? I mean, check out her name!

Reality Leigh Winner arrested for leaking classified information to the news. Which classified information is the question.
https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/federal-government-contractor-georgia-charged-removing-and-mailing-classified-materials-news

It could be for any number of leaks that have hit the press, but since she is NSA, we should look for media reports of leaked NSA news. Like say, TOP-SECRET NSA REPORT DETAILS RUSSIAN HACKING EFFORT DAYS BEFORE 2016 ELECTION. (Caps lock courtesy of the article here)
https://theintercept.com/2017/06/05/top-secret-nsa-report-details-russian-hacking-effort-days-before-2016-election/

Checking the Media Bias / Fact Checking site, I see that The Intercept is a left-center news site https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/the-intercept/

So... if that they may use slanted language invalidates their findings, I'll let you decide. Up until I saw that article, I hadn't really considered that the elections could have actually been successfully hacked. Heck, still no evidence that they were, just that there were successful intrusions in one of the companies that administers election machines. It is a sort of thing that makes you say Hmmm. Or maybe only makes LIBS say that. Maybe everyone else says Harumph!
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xx Re: Treason and Wiretap Investigation Results
« Reply #18 on: Jun 7th, 2017, 3:09pm »

Comey released the following before his scheduled hearing...

Statement for the Record
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
James B. Comey
June 8, 2017



Chairman Burr, Ranking Member Warner, Members of the Committee. Thank you for inviting me to appear before you today. I was asked to testify today to describe for you my interactions with President-Elect and President Trump on subjects that I understand are of interest to you. I have not included every detail from my conversations with the President, but, to the best of my recollection, Ihave tried to include information that may be relevant to the Committee.

January 6 Briefing



I first met then-President-Elect Trump on Friday, January 6 in a conference room at Trump Tower in New York. I was there with other Intelligence Community (IC) leaders to brief him and his new national security team on the findings of an IC assessment concerning Russian efforts to interfere in the election. At the conclusion of that briefing, I remained alone with the President-Elect to brief him on some personally sensitive aspects of the informationassembled during the assessment.

The IC leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified. Among those reasons were: (1) we knew the media was about to publicly report the material and we believed the IC should not keep knowledge of the material and its imminent release from the President-Elect; and (2) to the extent there was some effort to compromise an incoming President, we could blunt any such effort with a defensive briefing.

The Director of National Intelligence asked that I personally do this portion of the briefing because I was staying in my position and because the material implicated the FBI's counter-intelligence responsibilities. We also agreed I would do it alone to minimize potential embarrassment to the President-Elect. Although we agreed it made sense for me to do the briefing, the FBI's leadership and I were concerned that the briefing might create a situation where a new President cameinto office uncertain about whether the FBI was conducting a counter-intelligence investigation of his personal conduct.

It is important to understand that FBI counter-intelligence investigations are different than the more-commonly known criminal investigative work. The Bureau's goal in a counter-intelligence investigation is to understand the technical and human methods that hostile foreign powers are using to influence the United States or to steal our secrets. The FBI uses that understanding to disrupt those efforts. Sometimes disruption takes the form of alerting a person who is targeted for recruitment or influence by the foreign power. Sometimes it involves hardening a computer system that is being attacked. Sometimes it involves "turning" the recruited person into a double-agent, or publicly calling out the behavior with sanctions or expulsions of embassy-based intelligence officers. On occasion, criminal prosecution is used to disrupt intelligence activities.

Because the nature of the hostile foreign nation is well known, counter-intelligence investigations tend to be centered on individuals the FBI suspects to be witting or unwitting agents of that foreign power. When the FBI develops reason to believe an American has been targeted for recruitment by a foreign power or is covertly acting as an agent of the foreign power, the FBI will "open an investigation" on that American and use legal authorities to try to learn more about the nature of any relationship with the foreign power so it can be disrupted.

In that context, prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI's leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally. That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-Elect Trump's reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance.

I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the President-Elect in a memo. To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting. Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward. This had not been my practice in the past. I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) -once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016. In neither of those circumstances did I memorialize the discussions. I can recall nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months - three in person and six on the phone.

January 27 Dinner



The President and I had dinner on Friday, January 27 at 6:30 pm in the Green Room at the White House. He had called me at lunchtime that day and invited me to dinner that night, saying he was going to invite my whole family, but decided to have just me this time, with the whole family coming the next time. It was unclear from the conversation whoelse would be at the dinner, although I assumed there would be others.

It turned out to be just the two of us, seated at a small oval table in the center of the Green Room. Two Navy stewards waited on us, only entering the room to serve food and drinks.

The President began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI Director, which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to. He said that lots of people wanted my job and, given the abuse I had taken during the previous year, he would understand if I wanted to walk away.

My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship. That concerned me greatly, given the FBI's traditionally independent status in the executive branch.

I replied that I loved my work and intended to stay and serve out my ten-year term as Director. And then, because the set-up made me uneasy, I added that I was not "reliable" in the way politicians use that word, but he could always count on me to tell him the truth. I added that I was not on anybody's side politically and could not be counted on in the traditional political sense, a stance I said was in his best interest as the President.

A few moments later, the President said, "I need loyalty,I expect loyalty." I didn't move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner.

At one point, I explained why it was so important that the FBI and the Department of Justice be independent of the White House. I said it was a paradox: Throughout history, some Presidents have decided that because "problems" come from Justice, they should try to hold the Department close. But blurring those boundaries ultimately makes the problems worse by undermining public trust in the institutions and their work.

Near the end of our dinner, the President returned to the subject of my job, saying he was very glad I wanted to stay, adding that he had heard great things about me from Jim Mattis, Jeff Sessions, and many others. He then said, "I need loyalty." I replied, "You will always get honesty from me." He paused and then said, "That's what I want, honest loyalty." I paused, and then said, "You will get that from me." As I wrote in the memo I created immediately after the dinner, it is possible we understood the phrase "honest loyalty" differently, but I decided it wouldn't be productive to push it further. The term - honest loyalty - had helped end a very awkward conversation and my explanations had made clear what he should expect.

During the dinner, the President returned to the salacious material I had briefed him about on January 6, and, as he had done previously, expressed his disgust for the allegations and strongly denied them. He said he was considering ordering me to investigate the alleged incident to prove it didn't happen. I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren't, and because it was very difficult to prove a negative. He said he would think about it and asked me to think about it.

As was my practice for conversations with President Trump, I wrote a detailed memo about the dinner immediately afterwards and shared it with the senior leadership team of the FBI.

February 14 Oval Office Meeting



On February 14, I went to the Oval Office for a scheduled counter-terrorism briefing of the President. He sat behind the desk and a group of us sat in a semi-circle of about six chairs facing him on the other side of the desk. The Vice President, Deputy Director of the CIA, Director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center, Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and I were in the semi-circle of chairs. I was directly facing the President, sitting between the Deputy CIA Director and the Director of NCTC. There were quite a few others in the room, sitting behind us on couches and chairs.

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xx Re: Treason and Wiretap Investigation Results
« Reply #19 on: Jun 7th, 2017, 3:10pm »

The President signaled the end of the briefing by thanking the group and telling them all that he wanted to speak tome alone. I stayed in my chair. As the participants started to leave the Oval Office, the Attorney General lingered by my chair, but the President thanked him and said he wanted to speak only with me. The last person to leave was Jared Kushner, who also stood by my chair and exchanged pleasantries with me. The President then excused him, saying he wanted to speak with me.

When the door by the grandfather clock closed, and we were alone, the President began by saying, "I want to talk about Mike Flynn." Flynn had resigned the previous day. The President began by saying Flynn hadn't done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to let him go because he had misled the Vice President. He added that he had other concerns about Flynn, which he did not then specify.

The President then made a long series of comments about the problem with leaks of classified information -a concern I shared and still share. After he had spoken for a few minutes about leaks, Reince Priebus leaned in through the door by the grandfather clock and I could see a group of people waiting behind him. The President waved at him to close the door, saying he would be done shortly. The door closed.

The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying, "He is a good guy and has been through a lot." He repeated that Flynn hadn't done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President. He then said, "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." I replied only that "he is a good guy." (In fact, I had a positive experience dealing with Mike Flynn when he was a colleague as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency at the beginning of my term at FBI.) I did not say I would "let this go."

The President returned briefly to the problem of leaks. I then got up and left out the door by the grandfather clock, making my way through the large group of people waiting there, including Mr. Priebus and the Vice President.

I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership. 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. I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign. I could be wrong, but I took him to be focusing on what had just happened with Flynn's departure and the controversy around his account of his phone calls. Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI's role as an independent investigative agency.

The FBI leadership team agreed with me that it was important not to infect the investigative team with the President's request, which we did not intend to abide. We also concluded that, given that it was a one-on-one conversation, there was nothing available to corroborate my account. We concluded it made little sense to report it to Attorney General Sessions, who we expected would likely recuse himself from involvement in Russia-related investigations. (He did so two weeks later.) The Deputy Attorney General's role was then filled in an acting capacity by a United States Attorney, who would also not be long in the role. After discussing the matter, we decided to keep it
very closely held, resolving to figure out what to do with it down the road as our investigation progressed. The investigation moved ahead at full speed, with none of the investigative team members - or the Department of Justice lawyers supporting them - aware of the President's request.

Shortly afterwards, I spoke with Attorney General Sessions in person to pass along the President's concerns about leaks. I took the opportunity to implore the Attorney General to prevent any future direct communication between the President and me. I told the AG that what had just happened - him being asked to leave while the FBI Director, who reports to the AG, remained behind - was inappropriate and should never happen. He did not reply. For the reasons discussed above, I did not mention that the President broached the FBI's potential investigation of General Flynn.
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xx Re: Treason and Wiretap Investigation Results
« Reply #20 on: Jun 7th, 2017, 3:14pm »

In anticipation of Comey's testimony, the pro-Trump PAC Great America Alliance released the following ad:


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xx Re: Treason and Wiretap Investigation Results
« Reply #21 on: Jun 7th, 2017, 3:28pm »

Today, several members of the intelligence agencies are testifying before congress. There are some odd answers and takeaways.

National Intelligence Director Dan Coats
National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers

Rogers said, "I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate." However, both he and Coats wouldn't directly address what was asked of them by the President. At points, they simply refused to answer.

Sen. Angus King asked Rogers whether he was invoking executive privilege, a legal doctrine that shields some presidential conversations from disclosure. He said he was not.


It's been noted that their refusal to answer was not because of classified information either. Multiple senators expressed frustration over their refusal to answer, but not contempt of congress charge was levied.

(I grabbed some lines above from http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/coats-rogers-won-t-discuss-talks-trump-about-russia-probe-n769196)
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xx Re: Treason and Wiretap Investigation Results
« Reply #22 on: Jun 7th, 2017, 3:31pm »

My apologies, I didn't grab all of Comey's released statement. Here is more.

March 30 Phone Call


On the morning of March 30, the President called me at the FBI. He described the Russia investigation as "a cloud" that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to "lift the cloud." I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could, and that there would be great benefit, if we didn't find anything, to our having done the work well. He agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him.

Then the President asked why there had been a congressional hearing about Russia the previous week - at which I had, as the Department of Justice directed, confirmed the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. I explained the demands from the leadership of both parties in Congress for more information, and that Senator Grassley had even held up the confirmation of the Deputy Attorney General until we briefed him in detail on the investigation. I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, "We need to get that fact out." (I did not tell the President that the FBI and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.)

The President went on to say that if there were some "satellite" associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn't done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren't investigating him.

In an abrupt shift, he turned the conversation to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, saying he hadn't brought up "the McCabe thing" because I had said McCabe was honorable, although McAuliffe was close to the Clintons and had given him (I think he meant Deputy Director McCabe's wife)campaign money. Although I didn't understand why the President was bringing this up, I repeated that Mr. McCabe was an honorable person.
He finished by stressing "the cloud" that was interfering with his ability to make deals for the country and said he hoped I could find a way to get out that he wasn't being investigated. I told him I would see what we could do, and that we would do our investigative work well and as quickly as we could.

Immediately after that conversation, I called Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente (AG Sessions had by then recused himself on all Russia-related matters), to report the substance of the call from the President, and said I would await his guidance. I did not hear back from him before the President called me again two weeks later.

April 11 Phone Call



On the morning of April 11, the President called me and asked what I had done about his request that I "get out" that he is not personally under investigation. I replied that I had passed his request to the Acting Deputy Attorney General, but I had not heard back. He replied that "the cloud" was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. He said that perhaps he would have his people reach out to the Acting Deputy Attorney General. I said that was the way his request should be handled. I said the White House Counsel should contact the leadership of DOJ to make the request, which was the traditional channel.

He said he would do that and added, "Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know." I did not reply or ask him what he meant by "that thing." I said only that the way to handle it was to have the White House Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended.

That was the last time I spoke with President Trump.
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xx Re: Treason and Wiretap Investigation Results
« Reply #23 on: Jun 7th, 2017, 3:34pm »

These aren't recent recollections, but memos Comey filed after each interaction with the President. He also noted that he did NOT do this with interactions with Obama, as he felt his interactions with Obama were of a normal nature... that when interacting with President Trump, the subject matter and manner were not normal interactions with the President and head of FBI.
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« Reply #24 on: Jul 1st, 2017, 11:41am »

An interesting read from Lawfare Blog.

https://lawfareblog.com/time-i-got-recruited-collude-russians

This guy is a CEO and security analyst from Britain, and he had an interaction with Peter Smith. Interesting things from the article, Smith was supposedly onboard the Trump Campaign. Hard to say if true... he may have been a peripheral campaigner... someone who was ostensibly working to help the campaign with no direction or little input (think any normal off-the-street campaigner, but one who has his own deep pockets). This isn't any smoking gun, since you'd have to corroborate what Smith told Tait with Trump Campaign documentation, which who knows if that can or ever will be provided.

There's a Side A and a Side B to this record, with an interesting picture on the label.
Side A: Peter Smith acted independently to help the Trump Campaign. Whatever seedy tactics or possible help via the Russians he had, that was on him and not the Trump Campaign. It's interesting that you have powerful information brokers working behind the scenes in elections, stopping at nothing to get the dirt on candidates, but I think we're all worldly enough to expect such.

Side B: Peter Smith was actually a part of the Trump Campaign. If you're listening to this side of the record, you may find yourself more concerned that the Trump Campaign would be so reckless not to vet where the information came from that they were getting. If it was a Russian source, the information may have been seeded with whatever pointed lies mixed with other verifiable facts to have a verisimilitude of truth. And of course, the campaign would be abetting whatever Russian interest simply because it aligns with their own for electing Trump.

Label on the record: this quote in the story is troubling.
He also told of a deep sense of angst even among Trump loyalists in the campaign, saying “Trump often just repeats whatever he’s heard from the last person who spoke to him,” and expressing the view that this was especially dangerous when Trump was away.

Which side of the record you listen to probably depends on your political affiliation, but thinking independently, which one should you listen to? Probably both to fully understand the implications. Whether or not Peter Smith was officially onboard the Trump Campaign, he was part enough to have discussions with its members, so there is an established communication conduit as well as a semblance of direction even if by shared spirit.

It's also eyebrow-raising that Peter Smith had passed away but 10 days after talking to the Feds. Again, the world is full of happenstance, and that doesn't prove anything, just another thing to think about.
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xx Re: Treason and Wiretap Investigation Results
« Reply #25 on: Jul 12th, 2017, 6:17pm »

The Russia meddling story is no longer just smoke. It’s fire.

THERE CAN now be no doubt: The Russia meddling story is not just smoke but fire. Donald Trump Jr.’s interactions with Russians during last year’s presidential campaign were abnormal and alarming. An incriminating email chain has made it impossible for the administration to deploy its always flimsy argument of last resort — that the whole story is just “fake news.”

Not only Mr. Trump but also presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul J. Manafort are involved. Following a string of misleading and false statements, Americans must also wonder: Were other Trump associates involved? Did other meetings take place? Was President Trump aware of them? What more did the Trump camp know about Kremlin support for the Trump campaign?

And then there is this recurring question: How long can the rest of the Republican Party prioritize partisanship and agenda over decency and patriotism?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-russia-hacking-story-is-no-longer-just-smoke-its-fire/2017/07/11/b8dc758c-665f-11e7-8eb5-cbccc2e7bfbf_story.html
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xx Re: Treason and Wiretap Investigation Results
« Reply #26 on: Jul 12th, 2017, 6:22pm »

I realize people may not wish to read the Washington Post, so let's go with the National Review.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/449376/donald-trump-jr-e-mails-proof-trump-campaign-attempted-collusion-russia

There Is Now Evidence That Senior Trump Officials Attempted to Collude With Russia
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xx Re: Treason and Wiretap Investigation Results
« Reply #27 on: Jul 12th, 2017, 9:43pm »

I believe this is might be collusion but seeing that collusion is only illegal in financial dealings (and if Republicans are involved) , I doubt it will be looked at !

http://thefederalistpapers.org/us/trump-jr-attorney-obama?utm_source=AFF&utm_medium=AFF&utm_campaign=AFF


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Another. I know 'MadWordNews' but it has better pictures of the 'collusion' !!
http://madworldnews.com/obama-russian-lawyer-don-jr/
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xx Re: Treason and Wiretap Investigation Results
« Reply #28 on: Jul 13th, 2017, 09:07am »

Five times the Democrats tried to use the Russians to sway an election!

http://www.dailywire.com/news/18519/5-times-democrats-tried-work-russians-swing-aaron-bandler?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_content=062316-news&utm_campaign=aklavan
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xx Re: Treason and Wiretap Investigation Results
« Reply #29 on: Jul 21st, 2017, 7:27pm »

With this week's news that the President has been asking about the scope and limits of his pardon ability, I thought I'd add some info from the following link
https://www.justsecurity.org/43308/presidential-pardon-scenarios/

Possible Presidential Pardon Scenarios

[Update] On Thursday, news outlets reported that President Donald Trump has been consulting with his lawyers about granting pardons in the Russia investigation, including a potential self-pardon. Those bombshell reports came after one of Trump’s personal lawyers, Jay Sekulow, refused to rule out the possibility that the president would pardon his associates, or even himself, in the Russia investigation. Sekulow told ABC’s This Week: “He can pardon individuals, of course. That’s because the founders of our country put that in the United States Constitution: the power to pardon. But I have not had those conversations, so I couldn’t speculate on that.”

The issue of whether Trump could use his pardon power returns us to the debate over whether a sitting president may be indicted or whether the Constitution requires impeachment and removal prior to indictment. As some have noted, that is almost a purely academic question because it is highly unlikely that Special Counsel Robert Mueller would indict Trump while still in office. In any event, there is the potential for post-presidency criminal exposure. In addition, Trump’s family members and close associates could also be under investigation. This means Trump could be tempted to insulate them by granting pardons before they’re convicted of anything.

Presidents tend to save their most controversial grants of clemency for the end of their term in order to avoid the ensuing political firestorm while in office. But a Russia-related pardon would be particularly incendiary politically. That may not mean much to Trump given that a defining element of his rise has been his willingness to disregard longstanding norms and upend convention. He has mocked the disabled, attacked a Gold Star family, joked about sexual assault, savaged the free press, and fired the FBI director investigating Russian interference.

Aside from the political dynamics, granting a pardon in the context of the Russia investigation also raises fundamental questions of constitutional law.

Presidential Pardon Power

Presidential pardon power derives from a specific grant in the Constitution. Article II, Section 2 vests the president with the “Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” The President’s pardon power is limited to federal offenses, which include federal prosecutions in U.S. territories like the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Clemency requests, which include both requests for a pardon and requests that a sentence be commuted, typically flow through the Office of the Pardon Attorney at the Department of Justice (see the Justice Department’s FAQs). The Justice Department evaluates clemency requests pursuant to standards set forth in the U.S. Attorneys’ Manual. However, the president may bypass that process given that it is a power expressly reserved for the president.

A Prospective Pardon?

A president can prospectively pardon individuals for crimes that have occurred but have not been charged. In the most famous example, President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon even though he was not under indictment. President Ford’s proclamation included a “full, free and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in” during his presidency. Similarly, President George H.W. Bush issued full pardons to six people implicated in the Iran-Contra Affair, some of whom still faced trial.

The Nixon pardon was a political disaster that ended Ford’s presidential honeymoon, but it also sparked a debate among legal commentators about whether it was constitutional. Mark Rozell gives a brief and interesting treatment of the debate. Some argued it was beyond the power of the president to relieve a person of criminal liability for hypothetical offenses (see Edwin Brown Firmage and R. Collin Magnum here). However most sources suggest a prospective pardon is within the president’s constitutional authority. In Ex Parte Garland, 71 U.S. 333, 380 (1867), the Supreme Court described the power in broad temporal terms:

The [pardon] power … extends to every offense known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken, or during their pendency, or after conviction and judgment. (emphasis added).

A 1995 Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion notes that presidents throughout U.S. history “have asserted the power to issue pardons prior to conviction, and the consistent view of the Attorneys General has been that such pardons have as full an effect as pardons issued after conviction.” It cites an Attorney General opinion from the 1850s, which defends the president’s preemptive power on the grounds that “the act of clemency and grace is applied to the crime itself, not to the mere formal proof of the crime.” Members of Congress have occasionally contemplated a constitutional amendment to preclude a future pardon like Nixon received, which itself suggests Congress acquiesces to the Executive Branch’s view. Most legal authorities indicate President Trump has the power to grant prospective pardons for criminal acts not subject to formal charge.

A Self-Pardon?

Three days before Nixon resigned, OLC issued an opinion that “[u]nder the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the President cannot pardon himself.” Most legal experts supported that view, although the arguments as to why vary from natural law (first principles such as ‘no man can be a judge in his own case’) to constitutional structure (a self-pardon would defeat the purposes of Article I, Section 4, which expressly allows officeholders removed by impeachment to be subject to criminal prosecution). A handful of Republican members of Congress cited the possibility of self-pardon as a justification for their votes to impeach President Bill Clinton, which is discussed in the introduction to this Oklahoma Law Review article. While some doubt remains about whether the president has the authority to pardon himself, a self-pardon is most likely legally ineffective from shielding a president from future federal prosecution.

A Twenty-Fifth Amendment Pardon Scheme?

In its Watergate opinion, OLC also suggested that the president could invoke Section 3 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to allow the vice president, in his role as acting president, to pardon the president. “If the President declared that he was temporarily unable to perform the duties of his office, the Vice President would become Acting President and as such he could pardon the President. Thereafter the President could either resign or resume the duties of his office,” the opinion stated. However, if the president and vice president conspired to launder away the president’s criminal liability, it would trigger a seismic political event. It would also tarnish the vice president’s standing as a politically viable successor in the event of impeachment. However, I have not yet seen a legal obstacle to that kind of scheme.

A Pardon’s Effect on the Special Counsel Investgation

As for the special counsel, a prospective pardon would have a narrowing effect on his authority, as it would end any criminal jeopardy arising from his investigation. However, provided there are still active leads and targets, the special counsel mandate would continue. It would raise interesting legal questions. For example, a pardoned individual could still potentially serve as an unindicted coconspirator, which triggers benefits to a prosecution such as a hearsay exception for co-conspirator statements.

A Pardon’s Effect on the Congressional Investigations

Congressional investigations serve legislative policy and oversight goals rather than criminal enforcement goals, so a pardon does not end an Article I inquiry. But there could be other counterintuitive effects of a pardon on the ongoing congressional investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether there was any coordination with the Trump campaign. For example, it could potentially remove federal legal jeopardy in a manner that may defeat an assertion of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Were Trump to pardon his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, tomorrow, Congress might be able to get a court order requiring Flynn to testify before the committees because he no longer faces federal criminal prosecution. That court order or resulting congressional contempt finding, in turn, could theoretically be enforced by coercive contempt (i.e., jailing until such time as the witness provides ordered testimony). Because coercion serves process integrity goals rather than criminal goals, that enforcement power probably could not be defeated by another presidential pardon.

The criminal and congressional Russian investigations should proceed with integrity and without interference. With Trump at the helm and his family under scrutiny, pardon power hangs over the investigations like a sword of Damocles. The pardon sword is largely held overhead by a thread made of political, rather than legal, fiber.
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no more evil. bury the hatchet. there's enough bad out there, we need more good
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