January 14, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 7:24 PM


House Democrats Just Dropped a Boatload of Impeachment Documents That Look Really Bad for Trump (Greg Walters, Jan 14 2020, Vice News)

House Democrats just unveiled a trove of fresh impeachment evidence against President Trump in a surprise move just days before his impeachment trial is set to kick off in the Senate.

The files include a copy of a letter from Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani addressed to the President of Ukraine that casts Trump as fully aware of Giuliani's actions in Ukraine -- at a moment when Giuliani was publicly calling for the country to investigate Trump's Democratic 2020 challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden.

That letter, which requests a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, directly links Trump to a trip even Giuliani described at the time as "meddling in an investigation."

Posted by orrinj at 5:28 PM


Posted by orrinj at 4:05 PM


FISA Court Not Apolitical in Addressing Spying Abuses Against Trump Campaign (Sharyl Attkisson, January 12, 2020, The Epoch Times)

To some, the appointment of Kris to help with the job is as mysterious as to why the FISA Court's judges failed to flag the FBI abuses on their own. It would seem more important than ever to have an apolitical person, or a balanced group of people, conducting oversight of these politically sensitive matters. Kris's vocal criticisms of President Donald Trump present numerous, obvious conflicts of interest.

On Twitter, Kris called Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) "a politicized, dishonest [Intelligence Community] overseer who attempts to mislead," and wrote that Trump and his advisers should be "worried" that the "walls are closing in" regarding the Mueller probe. Kris also bought into the now-disproven conspiracy theory about Trump colluding with Russia and Putin.

But even more importantly, since that time, Kris has advocated for Trump's removal.

"Do we want to be a country in which elected officials can use their governmental power to attack political opponents? If not, it's pretty simple: Trump has to go," Kris wrote on Twitter in October 2019. Specifically, Kris criticized what he said was Trump using government powers against political opponents, seeming to dismiss the possibility that the government had used its powers improperly against Trump.

Always fun when reality penetrates the bubble.

Posted by orrinj at 3:54 PM


Fourth GOP senator wants vote on witnesses (Billy House, 1/14/20, Bloomberg)

Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said Tuesday he wants a guaranteed vote during the trial on whether senators will hear from new witnesses and see additional documents.

"First we need to hear the case - not dismiss the case, we need to hear it," said Alexander of Tennessee, who plans to retire after this session of Congress. "That means hear the arguments, ask our questions and then be guaranteed a right to vote on whether we need more evidence."

"And that could be witnesses, it could be documents," Alexander said. "I'll reserve that decision until I hear the case and I ask questions."

Alexander is the fourth GOP senator to publicly speak in favor of hearing new evidence during Trump's trial. Four GOP votes would be needed to join the 47 Democrats to make a majority in favor of calling witnesses.

A day earlier, GOP Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah said they wanted to ensure there will be an opportunity to vote on calling witnesses or other information later in the trial.

House GOP Leader Suggests Pelosi Timed Impeachment Trial to Hurt Sanders's Presidential Run (MAIREAD MCARDLE, January 14, 2020, National Review)

"This is the dirty little secret that nobody is talking about, why the speaker held these papers," McCarthy told Fox News on Sunday.

Posted by orrinj at 3:47 PM


Iraqi cleric Sadr urges mass protests against US presence (AFP, 1/14/20)

Firebrand Iraqi leader Muqtada al-Sadr called Tuesday for a "million-strong march" against the presence of US troops in Iraq, days after parliament voted for their departure following Washington's killing of an Iranian general in a Baghdad drone strike.

"The skies, land and sovereignty of Iraq are being violated every day by occupying forces," the Shiite cleric turned populist politician wrote on Twitter.

He urged Iraqis to hold "a million-strong, peaceful, unified demonstration to condemn the American presence and its violations," without giving a date.

Posted by orrinj at 1:09 PM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trump Admin Walks Back Anti-MEK Memo (Betsy Swan, Erin Banco, Asawin Suebsaeng. Jan. 13, 2020, Daily Beast)

At whiplash speed, the State Department is walking back an order barring American diplomats from meeting with controversial Iranian dissident groups--including one close with Trump World allies and previously designated as a terror group, the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK). The initial memo, greenlit by a career State Department employee, angered Congressional Iran hawks. And the Department's move to change its guidance has drawn cheers from them. 

This is who the Right thinks should replace the Shi'a, Who is the Iranian group targeted by bombers and beloved of Trump allies? (Saeed Kamali Dehghan,  2 Jul 2018, The Guardian)

Believed to have between 5,000 to 13,000 members, the MeK was established in the 1960s to express a mixture of Marxism and Islamism. It launched bombing campaigns against the Shah, continuing after the 1979 Islamic revolution, against the Islamic Republic. In 1981, in a series of attacks, it killed 74 senior officials, including 27 MPs. Later that year, its bombings killed Iran's president and prime minister.

During the eight-year Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the MeK, by then sheltered in camps in Iraq, fought against Iran alongside the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a turning point for the group, which sought to reinvent itself as a democratic force.

Today, it functions as a fringe exiled group with characteristics of a cult that works for regime change in Iran, though it has little visible support inside the country. It portrays itself as a democratic political institution although its own internal structure is anything but.

Eli Clifton, a fellow at the Nation Institute, said the MeK's influence in the US is multilayered. "When [MeK] members go and swarm Capitol Hill and seek meetings with the members of Congress," Clifton said, "they're very often the only voices that are heard, because there is simply not a lot of Iranian-American presence on Capitol Hill."

Clifton said the MeK, which operates under a set of front groups, writes very large cheques to those speaking at their events. Estimates are in the range of $30,000 to $50,000 per speech. Bolton is estimated to have received upwards of $180,000 to speak at multiple events for MeK. His recent financial disclosure shows that he was paid $40,000 for one speech at an MeK event last year.

Jason Rezaian, the Iranian-American Washington Post journalist who was jailed in Tehran for more than a year, wrote in March that in the seven years he lived in the country, he saw a great deal of criticism towards the ayatollahs but "never met a person who thought the MeK should, or could, present a viable alternative".

Clifton said the MeK "shares many qualities of a cult". That description was echoed by Iraj Mesdaghi, a Sweden-based Iranian activist who was jailed in Iran from 1981 to 1991 for his links to the MeK. Mesdaghi left Iran in 1994 and worked for the MeK in its headquarters in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, until 2001.

"In the MeK, everything has to morph into leadership, and leadership means Masoud Rajavi [Maryam Rajavi's husband, missing since 2003]. Not only your heart belongs to him, any love belongs to him, it's forbidden to have love for spouse, mother, children," he said.

He compared working for the MeK to holding an electric wire. "You have to follow the path, you have to transfer what you're given, you're not meant to add or reduce anything, you can't pose any ifs."

A 2007 state department report included claims that MeK has forced members to divorce. Human Rights Watch, in a 28-page report, has shed light on the MeK's mistreatment of its members, including claims that those wishing to leave the group have been subjected to "lengthy solitary confinements, severe beatings, and torture".

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Russians hack energy company that played major role in Trump Ukraine scandal (Brian Fung, January 14, 2020, CNN)

The New York Times was the first to report the hack, and noted the attempts began in early November, as the Bidens, Ukraine and impeachment were dominating the news in the United States while the House impeachment hearings were underway.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Sanders Refused to Condemn Farrakhan Official's Anti-Semitic Screed (Adam Kredo, JANUARY 14, 2020, Free Beacon)

As the Nation of Islam faced public and private pressure to moderate its rhetoric in the mid-1990s, Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders voted against a congressional measure condemning a series of virulent anti-Semitic statements by a leading member of the group.

In 1994, Sanders was one of a small minority of congressmen who declined to back a resolution condemning the remarks by Khalid Abdul Muhammad, a black nationalist and New Black Panther Party member, who became a lightning rod for criticism in the 1990s due to his repeated public displays of anti-Semitism. The remarks, delivered at New Jersey's Kean College in 1993, drew the condemnation of African-American leader Jesse Jackson, who called them "racist, anti-Semitic, divisive, untrue, and chilling," and ultimately forced Farrakhan to expel Muhammad from the Nation of Islam.