Showing posts with label Trump Regime. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trump Regime. Show all posts

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Trump administration seeking information on thousands of people who interacted with anti-Trump Facebook page


CNN Politics, 29 September 2017:

Washington (CNN)Trump administration lawyers are demanding the private account information of potentially thousands of Facebook users in three separate search warrants served on the social media giant, according to court documents obtained by CNN.

The warrants specifically target the accounts of three Facebook users who are described by their attorneys as "anti-administration activists who have spoken out at organized events, and who are generally very critical of this administration's policies."….

These warrants were first reported by LawNewz.com.

Facebook has not responded to a request for comment about whether it has, or plans to, comply with the search warrants.

The American Civil Liberties Union, representing the three Facebook users, filed a motion to quash the warrants Thursday.

"What is particularly chilling about these warrants is that anti-administration political activists are going to have their political associations and views scrutinized by the very administration they are protesting," said ACLU attorney Scott Michelman.

Facebook was initially served the warrants in February 2017 along with a gag order which barred the social media company from alerting the three users that the government was seeking their private information, Michelman said. However, Michelman says that government attorneys dropped the gag order in mid-September and agreed that Facebook could expose the existence of these warrants, which has prompted the latest court filings. Michelman, however, says all court filings associated with the search warrant, and any response from Facebook, remain under seal.

The Justice Department is not commenting on these search warrants, but government attorneys have issued a similar search warrant to the web provider DreamHost seeking wide-ranging information about visitors to the website disruptj20.org, which provided a forum for anti-Trump protestors. In that case, DOJ modified its initial search warrant seeking millions of IP address for the visitors who merely clicked on the disruptj20.org website. But DC Superior Court Judge Robert Morin largely granted prosecutors' request to collect a vast set of records from the company, which will include emails of the users who signed up for an account associated with the website, and membership lists……

American Civil Liberties Union DC, media release, 28 September 2017:

Overbroad Search Warrant Implicates Private Pages of Two Local Activists and First Amendment Rights of Thousands of Facebook Users

WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia (ACLU-DC) went to court today to block the enforcement of search warrants targeting three Facebook accounts as part of the government’s investigation and prosecution of activists arrested on Inauguration Day 2017 in Washington D.C.

Two of the warrants would require Facebook to disclose to the government all information from the personal Facebook profiles of local DisruptJ20 activists Lacy MacAuley and Legba Carrefour from November 1, 2016 through February 9, 2017. Although the warrants claim to seek only evidence in support of the government’s prosecutions of January 20 demonstrations, they demand—among other things—all private messages, friend lists, status updates, comments, photos, video, and other private information solely intended for the users’ Facebook friends and family, even if they have nothing to do with Inauguration Day. The warrants also seek information about actions taken on Facebook, including all searches performed by the users, groups or networks joined, and all “data and information that has been deleted by the user.”

The third search warrant was issued for the “DisruptJ20” Facebook page (now called “Resist This”), administered and moderated by Emmelia Talarico. Although the page is public, the warrant would require the disclosure of non-public lists of people who planned to attend political organizing events and even the names of people who simply liked, followed, reacted to, commented on, or otherwise engaged with the content on the Facebook page. During the three-month span the search warrant covers, approximately 6,000 Facebook users liked the page.
The ACLU-DC filed a motion to intervene on behalf of the Facebook users whose accounts are targeted, and a motion to quash or modify the search warrants, arguing that the warrants are overbroad under the Fourth Amendment (which protects personal privacy) and are particularly problematic because the lawful political associations and activities of the users and thousands of third parties will be revealed. The ACLU filing asks the court either to void the warrants outright or to appoint a “special master” who is not part of the prosecutor’s office, to review the Facebook information before providing to the prosecutor only the material—if there is any—relevant to their criminal prosecutions.

“Opening up the entire contents of a personal Facebook page for review by the government is a gross invasion of privacy,” said Scott Michelman, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU-DC.  “The primary purpose of the Fourth Amendment was to prevent this type of exploratory rummaging through a person’s private information. Moreover, when law enforcement officers can comb through records concerning political organizing in opposition to the very administration for which those officers work, the result is the chilling of First Amendment-protected political activity.”

None of the ACLU-DC’s clients in today’s filing has been charged by the U.S. Attorney with any Inauguration Day-related crimes.

The public first learned of this case when Facebook revealed it had received the warrants and challenged a gag order attached to the warrants that prevented the company from notifying its customers that their information was sought by federal law enforcement. Public interest groups including the ACLU, ACLU-DC, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Public Citizen, as well as internet companies including Google, Apple, and Microsoft, filed friend-of-the-court briefs arguing that the gag order should be lifted so the Facebook users could challenge the constitutionality of the search warrants under the First and Fourth Amendments. On the eve of the hearing on the gag order before the D.C. Court of Appeals, the government abruptly withdrew the order. Facebook then notified MacAuley, Carrefour, and Talarico of the warrants and the threats to their privacy.

“My Facebook page contains the most private aspects of my life—and also a frightening amount of information on the people in my life. There are intimate details of my love life, family, and things the federal government just doesn’t need to see,” said MacAuley, one of the ACLU-DC clients challenging the enforcement of the warrants. “Jeff Sessions doesn’t need to see my family photos.”

"This is part of a pattern of prosecutorial overreach in the repression of Inauguration Day protestors," said Carrefour. "This warrant is more than just a violation of privacy. It is a direct attack on D.C.’s grassroots organizing community," said Talarico. "In a city rife with inequities and injustices, the deck is already stacked against us. This overreaching warrant would strike a devastating blow to organizers working every day to make this city a better place."

This is second known attempt by the government to conduct unlawful dragnet searches of the internet and social media in search of evidence against activists arrested on Inauguration Day. In a similar case of government overreach, the government had issued a warrant to website hosting provider Dreamhost for the IP addresses of the 1.3 million people who ever visited the DisruptJ20.org website. Dreamhost, supported by several amici and intervenors, challenged the scope of the warrant and went public with the government’s overbroad request. Amidst public outcry, the government asked the D.C. Superior Court to narrow the time frame of the warrant and eliminate the request for IP addresses. The court agreed and went further by demanding strict safeguards for privacy before the warrant may be executed. The government is now litigating the scope of these additional protections. 

Today’s motions to intervene and to quash were filed in D.C. Superior Court. The case is formally titled In the Matter of the Search of Information Associated with Facebook Accounts disruptj20, lacymacauley, and legba.carrefour That Is Stored at Premises Controlled by Facebook, Inc.


BACKGROUND

The New Yorker, 21 June 2017:

On the morning of January 20th, the day Donald Trump was inaugurated, in Washington, D.C., a large group of anti-Trump protesters, dressed in black, roamed through the city for close to an hour. Some chanted, some dragged newspaper boxes into the street, and some smashed the windows of various stores. In response, the police arrested more than two hundred people, setting in motion a complex legal saga that, months later, is far from over.

On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia filed a federal lawsuit accusing the police of violating the rights of several people by using pepper spray and explosive devices without warning or justification; by making a mass arrest without differentiating between those who had broken laws and those who hadn’t; and by holding detainees for hours without food, water, or access to toilets, and subjecting some to “humiliating and unjustified” invasive searches.

The four plaintiffs in the A.C.L.U.’s lawsuit include Shay Horse, a twenty-three-year-old whose Twitter account identifies him as a photojournalist and “scrumptious/rambunctious anarchist.” According to the lawsuit, Horse broke no laws on the day of the protest but was doused with pepper spray, trapped between police lines for several hours, and then arrested and subjected to a rectal probe. In February, prosecutors dropped all charges against him. The other plaintiffs are Milo Gonzalez, a protester who, the lawsuit says, was also subjected to a rectal search after his arrest and was denied access to a bathroom for nine or ten hours; Elizabeth Lagesse, who, according to the suit, did not break any laws before being arrested but was handcuffed so tightly her wrists bled; and a lawyer named Judah Ariel, who said that he was among a group of people on a sidewalk who were pepper-sprayed without cause but not taken into custody…………

While it seemed clear on the day of the protest that the vandalism and property damage were committed by a small number of people, a superseding indictment handed down in late April charged two hundred and twelve people with rioting, inciting a riot, and engaging in a conspiracy to “damage, destroy, or deface property.” Because participants in a conspiracy can be held responsible for an offense committed by a co-conspirator, the defendants were all charged with breaking the windows of a Bank of America branch, a McDonald’s restaurant, a café, and two separate Starbucks stores. All of them faced the possibility of lengthy prison sentences.

According to defense lawyers, there appears to be no modern-day precedent for charging everyone arrested during a particular protest with conspiracy, and, in May, thirty of the accused filed a motion saying that those charges lacked merit and asking that the superseding indictment be dismissed. Lawyers from the Georgetown Criminal Justice Clinic, white-shoe firms like Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, and D.C.’s Public Defender Service joined in the motion, which argued that the indictment had attributed crimes “collectively and indiscriminately” to defendants without offering evidence of individual culpability.

Some of the defendants have said that they believe they are being targeted for their perceived political identity. Calls for an “anti-capitalist anti-fascist bloc” on Inauguration Day had begun circulating soon after the election in November. Social-media messages included a photograph of a group of black-clad figures brandishing flags and what appear to be flares along with the hashtag #disruptJ20 and the words “wear black.” A communiqué on the Web site CrimethInc read, “If Trump is to be inaugurated at all, let it happen behind closed doors, showing the true face of the security state Trump will preside over. It must be made clear to the whole world that the vast majority of people in the United States do not support his presidency or consent to his rule. . . . We must take to the streets and protest, blockade, disrupt, intervene, sit in, walk out, rise up, and make more noise and good trouble than the establishment can bear.”

The authorities seemed aware of the political leanings associated with the protest. Charging documents said that police officers had been “monitoring a planned assembly of individuals that were known to be associated with an anarchist group” and that intelligence-division officers knew that they would be gathering “with the express intent to disrupt Inauguration-related activities.”

Prosecutors in D.C. now face a potentially daunting number of cases, and whether they will be able to come up with individual evidence for each defendant’s case remains to be seen. So far, according to court documents, they have looked at photographs taken by police officers, reviewed video footage, and obtained a judge’s permission to search more than a hundred cell phones seized from those who were arrested. In March, they obtained a warrant to search the home of a man described as a protest organizer and to take computers, cell phones, tablets, and any material documenting the planning of a “riot or ‘Black Bloc’ march” or the planned destruction of property.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The United States of America under Trump - the ugly picture. Part Two


The Time

The 203rd to 206th day of the Trump Regime

The Place

Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

The Events

White supremacists rallies with unarmed counter protesters on the sidelines

The Images




Charlottesville, Virginia (CNN) One person was killed and 19 were hurt when a speeding car slammed into a throng of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, where a "Unite the Right" rally of white nationalist and other right-wing groups had been scheduled take place, the city tweeted on its verified account.

Note: All images found on Twitter

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Quotes of the Week


“These days, it's not just leftie troublemakers who doubt that benefits going direct to big business will trickle down to the rest of us, it's every punter in the street.”  [Economics Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald, Ross Gittins, 24 July 2017]

“Six months into his presidency, Donald Trump is saddled with a stalled agenda, a West Wing that resembles a viper’s nest, a pile of investigations and a Republican Party that is starting to break away.”  [Journalists Julie Pace and Jonathan Lemire writing in The Washington Post, 29 July 2017]

“This White House is broken, perhaps beyond repair. It can’t do anything right. It can’t issue executive orders that are enforceable. It can’t pass legislation. It can’t prioritize the president’s agenda. It can’t get anybody on the same page. In a normal White House, all of those things flow from an empowered White House chief of staff who can execute the president’s agenda and most importantly tell him what he does not want to hear. And none of that is happening.”  [Author Chris Whipple quoted in The Washington Post, 31 July 2017]

“Yeah. He’s like a conveyor belt for bad overseas ideas.” [Journalist Richard Chirgwin tweeting about Australian Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull on 2 August 2017]

“By August 2 2017, we will have used more from Nature than our planet can renew in the whole year…..This means that in seven months, we emitted more carbon than the oceans and forests can absorb in a year, we caught more fish, felled more trees, harvested more, and consumed more water than the Earth was able to produce in the same period.” [World Wildlife Fund quoted in the Independent on 2 August 2017]

Friday, 28 July 2017

The American Resistance has many faces and this journalist is one of them (12)


In June 2017 the U.S. White House banned cameras from its regular press briefings. The last live on-camera White House briefing was on 29 June and live audio-only ceased at some point after that.

At first news agencies were reduced to the absurd – painting short word pictures or using sketch artists to depict action.




In July ABC (USA) began showing "The Briefing Room" with its in-house political team analysing the now 'invisible' press briefings.

Then the dam wall was breached......

The Washington Post, 19 July 2017:

It was only a matter of time.

At every White House news briefing since June 29 — and many before, too — President Trump's spokesmen have ordered a room full of smartphone-toting journalists not to film the session or even broadcast live audio. On Wednesday, one reporter defied the White House by streaming live sound of the briefing online.

Ksenija Pavlovic, a former political science teaching fellow at Yale who founded a news site called Pavlovic Today, used the Periscope app to stream audio of Wednesday's briefing. She tweeted a link to the feed:
PBS News Hour followed suit as did ABC News (USA) with delayed audio posted on YouTube.

It is noted that two days later the White House announced an on-camera press briefing with Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

Well done Ksenija!


Monday, 3 July 2017

The American Resistance has many faces and these are just some of them (9)


See: http://kentucky.gov/Pages/Activity-stream.aspx?n=SOS&prId=120


"President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order creating a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes released the following statement:
While cloaked as an effort to protect the integrity of our elections, President Trump's voter fraud commission will be anything but. The cloak hiding its real mission is thin; indeed, it will no doubt serve as a tool to further real and serious Republican attacks on American voting rights and leave eligible voters disenfranchised.
For months, the President has falsely claimed that millions of illegal votes are cast in our elections. With zero evidence and none provided since, he boldly called into question the honorable work thousands of Americans do to conduct our free and fair elections.
My mission as Kentucky's chief election official has been to tear down barriers to the ballot box, not to erect them. That should be the mission of every American election administrator. This sham voter fraud commission will hamper that mission.
If the President truly wishes to protect American elections, he should finally admit what our intelligence community accepts as fact: Russia and perhaps other foreign powers attempted to influence our presidential election. If the President wants to investigate "voter fraud", let it begin there."
The Hill, 30 June 2017:

Kentucky's secretary of State delivered a biting rejection on Friday of a presidential voter fraud commission's broad request for voter registration information, saying "there's not enough bourbon" in Kentucky to convince her to comply with the demand.

"There's not enough bourbon here in Kentucky to make this request seem sensible," Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) said on MSNBC. "Not on my watch are we going to be releasing sensitive information that relate to the privacy of individuals."

The Washington Post, 1 July 2017:


More than two dozen states have refused to fully comply with a sweeping and unprecedented White House request to turn over voter registration data, including sensitive information like partial Social Security numbers, party affiliation and military status.

Overall, the states that have said they will not be complying at all with the Kobach commission's request represent over 30 percent of the nation's population. That could complicate any efforts to build a truly national voter file, although it remains unclear what the commission's ultimate goal is in collecting the data…..

“I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally,” said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat.

“California's participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the President, the Vice President, and Mr. Kobach,” he added. "[Kobach's] role as vice chair is proof that the ultimate goal of the commission is to enact policies that will result in the disenfranchisement of American citizens.”…..

A number of states said they would only provide limited, publicly available information, as required by state law.

Vermont Secretary of State James Condos (D) said “I am bound by law to provide our publicly available voter file, but will provide no more information than is available to any individual requesting the file.”

North Carolina will comply with the request by handing over “publicly available data as already required under state law,” said Kim Westbrook Strach, the executive director of the bipartisan North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics enforcement.

Mississippi rejected the request on privacy and states' rights grounds. “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico,” Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, said on Friday. “Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our State's right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral process."

In Alabama, another GOP stronghold, Secretary of State John Merrill told the Montgomery Advertiser he will not comply with the request until he learns more about how the Kobach commission will keep the data secure. “We’re going to get answers to our questions before we move on this,” Merrill said.

The Kansas secretary of state, a Republican, told the Kansas City Star on Friday that he would not be providing any parts of Kansas voters' Social Security numbers because that data is not publicly available under state law. “In Kansas, the Social Security number is not publicly available,” he said. “Every state receives the same letter, but we’re not asking for it if it’s not publicly available.”

Similarly, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said in a statement that “Indiana law doesn't permit the Secretary of State to provide the personal information requested by Secretary Kobach.” Lawson, another Republican, is also a member of the commission.

Trump's tweet suggests the commission's work remains a top priority for him. That's going to cause concern for elections experts and voting rights activists, many of whom are concerned that Kobach will use the state voter registration data to manufacture “evidence” of widespread voter fraud.

“We're concerned about unlawful voter purging, which has been something that Kris Kobach has been leading the charge,” said Vanita Gupta of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and former head of the Justice Department's civil rights division, in an interview Friday.

Gupta and others argue that Kobach doesn't exactly have a reputation for being honest about his work on voter fraud. Just a week ago, a federal judge fined Kobach $1,000 for “presenting misleading arguments in a voting-related lawsuit.”
  

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Safely out of harm's way at ANU in Canberra former Director US National Intelligence James Clapper dumps on Trump, while the former Director of US Federal Bureau of Investigation signposts Trump's journey towards obstruction of justice


"I have to say though, I think if you compare the two that Watergate pales, really, in my view, compared to what we're confronting now."
 [Professor James Clapper, quoted in ABC News online, 7 May 2017]

Excerpt from 7 May 2017National  Press Club Address by Professor James Clapper AO, US Director of National Intelligence 9 August 2010-20 January 2017:

I will speak more about the depth and breadth of the relationship between the United States and Australia at an event with another great friend and colleague, Kim Beazley, next week. But I know you all want to hear about the current state of US politics, so let me delve into that.
There is well-founded concern here about our current administration and its emerging foreign policy generally, toward this region, and specifically toward Australia. And that is one reason I wanted to come here, and one reason why I want to speak publically. It is, in fact, quite liberating to be free of the government “harness”.

Some truth in advertising at this point is appropriate: I have toiled in the trenches of US intelligence for every President since and including John F. Kennedy; 34 years of that were in the US military, and, in a variety of civilian capacities since I left the military some 21 plus years ago. My professional instincts have always included loyalty to the President, particularly in his capacity as Commander-In-Chie, whoever it has been, above all else. I have served as a political appointee in both Republican and Democratic administrations. So, it is not easy for me to be critical of a president, but as I said in a CNN interview a couple of weeks ago, now as a private citizen I am very concerned about the assaults on our institutions, coming from both an external source (read Russia), and an internal source (read the President himself).

So let me speak briefly first about the source of the external assault:

Russia embarked on a campaign to interfere with our presidential election, which was unprecedented in its directness and aggressiveness. The Russians have a long history of interfering in elections — theirs and others. They have tried to interfere in ours going back to the sixties, but let me stress, never like this. Apart from the infamous hacking of the Democratic National Committee, their campaign had many other dimensions: social media trolls planting false information; orchestrated “fake news” which many other news outlets picked up (either wittingly or unwittingly); and a very sophisticated campaign by the regime funded propaganda arm RT, against Hillary Clinton, and for Donald Trump.

Their first objective, though, was to sow doubt, discontent, and discord about our political system. They achieved, I am sure, beyond their wildest expectations. Given their success, they have only been emboldened to be even more aggressive in the future. This is not, let me emphasize, “fake news.” The Russians are not our friends; they (Putin specifically) are avowedly opposed to our democracy and values, and see us as the cause of all their frustrations.

I would also point out some things about Russia that many in the United States have not kept in perspective. The Russians are embarked on a very aggressive and disturbing program to modernize their strategic forces — notably their submarine and land-based nuclear forces. They have also made big investments in their counter-space capabilities. They do all this — despite their economic challenges — with only one adversary in mind: the United States. And, just for good measure, they are also in active violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty.

Interestingly, every one of the non-acting Prime Ministers of Russia since 1992 has come from one of two domains:

      the oil and gas sector, or
      the security services.

To put this in perspective, and as I have pointed out to US audiences, suppose the last ten presidents of the US were either CIA officers, or the Chairman of Exxon-Mobile. I think this gives you some insight into the dominant mind-set of the Russian government.

As a consequence of all this, I have had a very hard time reconciling the threat the Russians pose to the United States—and, for that matter, western democracies in general—with the inexplicably solicitous stance the Trump administration (or at least, he himself as opposed to others in his administration) has taken with respect to Russia.

Let me move to the internal assault on our institutions I will share two examples, among many.

Then President-elect Trump disparaged the Intelligence Community’s high-confidence assessment of the magnitude and diversity of the Russian interference by characterizing us as “Nazis”. This was prompted by his and his team’s extreme paranoia about, and resentment of, any doubt cast on the legitimacy of his election. When he made this absurd allegation, I felt an obligation to defend the men and women of the United States intelligence community, so I called him on 11 January. Surprisingly, he took my call. I tried, naively it turned out, to appeal to his “higher instincts” — by pointing out that the intelligence community he was about to inherit is a national treasure, and that the people in it were committed to supporting him and making him successful. Ever transactional, he simply asked me to publicly refute the infamous “dossier”, which I could not and would not do.

When I later learned that the first place he was going to visit after the Inauguration was CIA, I thought — again, naively — that perhaps I had gotten through to him. For the intelligence community (not just the CIA) the wall in the front lobby at CIA Headquarters is hallowed, with over 120 stars commemorating CIA officers who have paid the ultimate price. He chose to use that as a prop for railing about the size of the inauguration crowd on the Mall, and his battle with the “fake news” media. His subsequent actions — sharing sensitive intelligence with the Russians, and, compromising its source reflect ignorance or disrespect — are likewise very problematic.

Similarly, the whole episode with the firing of Jim Comey a distinguished public servant. Apart from the egregious, inexcusable manner in which it was conducted, this episode reflected complete disregard for the independence and autonomy of the FBI, our premier law enforcement organization. (Again truth in advertising, Jim is a personal friend and personal hero of mine.)

So, as I said, I worry about these assaults on our institutions.
   
Finally, as long as I am into controversial things, I do want to say a word about China, since I realize it is much more of a pre-occupation here than Russia is, but I see some striking parallels between what our two countries are experiencing at the hand of these two countries.

I have seen just this week compelling evidence of potentially nefarious foreign interference in your democratic institutions, and from where that interference apparently originates.

For America, though, I consider China more benignly than I do Russia. Their economy is inextricably bound with ours, as well as with yours. With all the challenges that poses, I do think that fact serves to moderate China’s behavior. But we, and you, I think, need to be very wary. A few factoids on the growth of China’s economic power, some of them lesser known, are illustrative:


                 In 2004, 7 of the 10 largest companies in the world were American. 

             There were no Chinese companies on the top ten list until 2010.

In 2016, it was 4 Chinese, 5 American, 1 Japanese.

And, 12 of the 15 largest Chinese companies are state-owned - and, are, accordingly, potential intelligence platforms.

In telecommunications the 7 largest Chinese smartphone companies control 1/3 of the market world-wide, more than twice the market share of Apple.

This is not just about market share, this is about intelligence-gathering, since Chinese law allows and implicitly encourages their intelligence services to use any and all communications and IT equipment for intelligence collection.

In the summer of 2016, the United States was surpassed by China as number one in the world for super-computing. Even more startling was the suddenness of China’s jump, with FIVE times the manufacturing of supercomputers compared to just one year earlier. This has huge implications, for many reasons.

And regarding foreign investment, since 2014 Chinese companies have acquired US companies in 39 of our 50 states. Chinese investment tripled in 2016, compared to 2015 (Total: almost $46B).

I cite this litany not to sermonize, but to share, since China poses somewhat similar challenges for both our nations. The issue for both of us is how China employs this economic muscle, and how we conduct ourselves accordingly.

As Dennis Richardson forthrightly acknowledged — and as your news media has exposed this week — it is no secret that China is very active in intelligence activities directed against Australia, just as they are against us, and that China is increasingly aggressive in attempting to gain influence in your political processes, as Russia is in ours.

In light of all this, Australia, in my humble view, should engage with China with both cautious and confidence, eyes wide open, weighing its strategic and economic interests, never forgetting the importance of its democratic institutions and values that you share with us.

Dennis summed it all up very succinctly and accurately: Australia’s relationship with China and the United States will continue to be “friends with both, allies with one.” I think in many ways, that applies equally well to how the United States approaches its relationships with China, on the one hand, and its historic security partners in the Asia-Pacific on the other.

Attorney General Brandis recently sounded a profoundly important warning, which, I think also applies equally to both our countries: “The threat of political interference by foreign intelligence services is a problem of the highest order, and it is getting worse…. It can cause immense harm to our national sovereignty, to the safety of our people our economic prosperity, and to the very integrity of our democracy.”

I think it says it all.

I know I have talked about Dennis a lot, but I know how much you all love him. I want to conclude with another very important statement he made that I resonate with, when he acknowledged the role of journalists. There is an inherent tension in my country between the media and the intelligence community. I have certainly had my own personal ups and downs with our media: but, never has the media’s role been more important in the United States than it is now. And, a free, independent, and responsible press is yet another of the crucial pillars that bind our two countries, and the values we share and hold dear, which far transcend a transitory occupant of the White House.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“So it confused me when I saw on television the president saying that he actually fired me because of the Russia investigation, and learned again from the media that he was telling privately other parties that my firing had relieved great pressure on the Russian investigation.…..although the law required no reason at all to fire an FBI director, the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. Those were lies, plain and simple. And I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I'm so sorry that the American people were told them.”  [James B. Comey, testimony before US Senate Intelligence Committee, 8 June 2017]

CNN Politics, excerpt from the transcript of former Director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) James B. Comey’s written Statement of Record submitted to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, dated 8 July 2017:

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 information assembled 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…….

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 Intelligence chiefs won't say if Trump asked them to downplay Russia probe 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.

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 who else 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……
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.
On February 14, I went to the Oval Office for a scheduled counterterrorism 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 CounterTerrorism 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.
The President signaled the end of the briefing by thanking the group and telling them all that he wanted to speak to me 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 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.)…..
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.)…..
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.
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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Donald J. Trump's word has always been worthless

Leaving aside broken marriage vows, it appears that for decades few people have trusted Donald J. Trump to tell the truth.......

BuzzFeed News, 7 October 2016:


Snapshots from the 19 April 1993 deposition of a lawyer retained by Donald Trump until sometime in 1991, Patrick McGahn of the law firm McGahn, Friss & Miller.

This deposition appears to have been taken in the matter of 1992 banruptcy proceeding for Trump Plaza and Casino in Atlantic City - debtor Trump Plaza Associates.

At the time Donald Trump was forty-three years of age and his former lawyers were obviously frustrated with his lack of truthfullness during the period they represented him. 

The key phrases are "says certain things and then has a lack of memory" and "He's an expert at interpreting things".

At fifty-eight years of age Donald Trump was still following his own unique approach to the truth.

Excerpt from Deposition of DONALD J. TRUMP, held at the offices of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, New York, 19 December 2007:

The full transcript of this deposition clearly shows why Donald Trump's 'interpretive' tendencies lost the civil court case he brought against Timothy L. O'Brien (author of TrumpNation,The Art of Being The Donaldand Time Warner Bookswhich finally wound its way to an end in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, as DonaldJ. TRUMP, Plaintiff–Appellant, v. Timothy L. O'BRIEN, Time Warner Book Group,Inc., and Warner Books, Inc., Defendants–Respondents in 2011.


Donald J. Trump on 7 April 2011 on the subject of then US President Barack Hussein Obama’s country of birth:


“His grandmother in Kenya said, 'Oh, no, he was born in Kenya and I was there and I witnessed the birth. She's on tape…. He has what is called a certificate of live birth……It’s not even signed by anybody. I saw his, I read it very carefully. Doesn’t have a serial number, doesn’t have a signature - there’s not even a signature.”



This is a certified longform copy* of Barak Hussein Obama’s Certificate of Live Birth, officially registered by the State of Hawaii Dept. of Health on 8 August 1961, showing a serial number and signed by his mother, a medical doctor and the local registrar of births.

This copy was released to the media by the White House on 27 April 2011.


The tape to which Donald Trump alludes first surfaced on social media and has never been independently verified and was created by a self-proclaimed Continental Bishop of the Anabaptist Church of North America, Ron McCrae.

* The short from copy of the Certificate of Birth also has the serial number visible and contains the registrars signature on the reverse side.
In 2009 a fake birth certificate was circulated on the Internet purporting that Obama was born in Kenya but it was a copy of an altered Australian birth certificate originally issued for a Jeffery David and, a second fake birth certificate was auctioned on eBay also in 2009.

Donald Trump on the subject of Barack Obama’ early life at the Conservative Political Action Conference, 10 Feb. 2011, :

“Our current president came out of nowhere, came out of nowhere.  In fact I'll go a step further.  The people who went to school with him, they never save him; they don't know who he is. Crazy.”

By 2011 the Internet was so packed with data on individuals and schools that it would have been easy for Trump to find out differently.

High school basketball coach Chris McLachlin remembers Obama from 1979, as did fellow student Darin Maurer.

PJ Media, 12 August 2008:

After contacting the Selective Service System for an answer several times since late June, Pajamas Media obtained official confirmation from the Selective Service System via email that Barack Obama did indeed register for the Selective Service as required by law, and is eligible to run for the presidency.

Mr. Owens,
Barack Hussein Obama registered at a post office in Hawaii. The effective registration date was September 4, 1980.
His registration number is 61-1125539-1.
Daniel Amon
Public Affairs Specialist

The New York Times, 9 February 1990:

BOSTON, Feb. 5— The Harvard Law Review, generally considered the most prestigious in the country, elected the first black president in its 104-year history today. The job is considered the highest student position at Harvard Law School.
The new president of the Review is Barack Obama, a 28-year-old graduate of Columbia University who spent four years heading a community development program for poor blacks on Chicago's South Side before enrolling in law school. His late father, Barack Obama, was a finance minister in Kenya and his mother, Ann Dunham, is an American anthropologist now doing fieldwork in Indonesia. Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii.

None of these instances are evidence of genuine misapprehension on the part of Donald Trump. These statements appear to be deliberately misleading and often downright falsehoods uttered to suit his own personal or political agenda.

By 2017 former Director US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) James B. Comey was another who had found President Trump will brazenly lie if it suits him.