News by Professionals 4 Professionals

middle-east

CIA director alerted FBI to pattern of contacts between Russian officials and Trump campaign associates

The CIA alerted the FBI to a troubling pattern of contacts between Russian officials and associates of the Trump campaign last year, former agency director John Brennan testified on Tuesday, shedding new light on the origin of a criminal probe that now reaches into the White House. In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Brennan said he became increasingly concerned that Trump associates were being manipulated by Russian intelligence services as part of a broader covert influence campaign that sought to disrupt the election and deliver the presidency to Trump.

I was worried by a number of the contacts that the Russians had with U.S. persons, Brennan said, adding that he did not see proof of collusion before he left office on January 20, but felt as though the FBI investigation was certainly well-founded and needed to look into those issues. Brennan s remarks represent the most detailed public accounting to date of his tenure as CIA director during the alleged Russian assault on the U.S. presidential race, and the agency s role in triggering an FBI probe that Trump has sought to contain.

[Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence[1]]

Team Trump s ties to Russian interests

It should be clear to everyone that Russia brazenly interfered in our 2016 presidential election process, Brennan said at one point, one of several moments in which his words seemed aimed squarely at the president.

Trump has refused to fully accept the unanimous conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies[2] that Russia stole thousands of sensitive e-mails, orchestrated online dumps of damaging information, and employed fake news and other means to upend the 2016 race. GOP lawmakers spent much of Tuesday s hearing trying to get Brennan to concede that he had no conclusive evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Brennan acknowledged that he still had unresolved questions about the purpose of those contacts when he stepped down as CIA director in January. But, I know what the Russians try to do, Brennan said. They try to suborn individuals and they try to get individuals, including U.S. persons, to act on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly.

Brennan refused to name any of the U.S. individuals who were apparently detected communicating with Russian officials. The FBI investigation, which began last July, has scrutinized Trump associates including Paul Manafort, Trump s former campaign manager, Carter Page, who was once listed as a foreign policy adviser to Trump, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn who was forced to resign after misleading statements about his contacts with the Russian ambassador were exposed[3]. The probe has intensified in recent weeks and identified a current White House official[4] as a significant person of interest. Because Russia uses intermediaries and other measures to disguise its hand, many times, [U.S. individuals] do not know that the individual they are interacting with is a Russian, Brennan said.

(Whitney Leaming/The Washington Post)

He added that Russian agencies routinely seek to gather compromising information, or kompromat, to coerce treason from U.S. officials who do not even realize they are on that path until it gets too late. The remark appeared to be in reference to Flynn. Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday they will consider interim steps to compel Flynn to hand over documents related to its Russia, short of citing him for contempt, after he refused to comply with a subpoena. Brennan was also asked about Trump s disclosure of highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting this month. Brennan said that the CIA at times provided tips about terrorist plots to the Kremlin, but he indicated that Trump violated key protocols.

Sensitive information should only be passed through intelligence services, not divulged to foreign ministers or ambassadors, Brennan said. Referring to the information revealed by Trump, Brennan said it had neither gone through the proper channels nor did the originating agency have the opportunity to clear language for it. Brennan was a key figure in the Obama administration s handling of Russian election interference. As alarm grew, Brennan held classified meetings with top congressional officials in the fall to impress upon them the unprecedented nature of Moscow s interference. Later, Brennan was among the top officials who briefed then-President-elect Trump on the scale of Russia s intervention, and its assessed goal of helping Trump win.

[FBI in agreement with CIA that Russia aimed to help Trump win White House[5]]

On Tuesday, Brennan testified that he was the first to confront a senior member of the Russian government on the matter, using an August phone conversation with the head of Russia s security service, the FSB, to warn that the meddling would backfire and damage the country s relationship with the United States. Brennan said he told FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov that American voters would be outraged by any Russian attempt to interfere in the election and that such activity would destroy any near-term prospect of improvement in relations with the United States. Bortnikov, twice denied that Russia was waging such a campaign, according to Brennan, but said he would carry the message to Russian President Vladi mir Putin.

[Political chaos in Washington is a return on investment for Moscow[6]]

I believe I was the first U.S. official to brace Russia on this matter, Brennan said.

The Obama administration went on to issue statements publicly accusing Moscow of election meddling, and in December announced punitive measures including the expulsion of 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives from the United States. Despite those warnings and efforts at retaliation, Brennan said that Russia was likely not dissuaded from attempting similar interference operations in the future. The former CIA chief is the latest senior Obama administration official to appear publicly before Congress in hearings that have often produced damaging headlines for Trump.

Earlier this month, former acting attorney general Sally Yates testified that she expected White House officials to take action [7] after warning that Flynn had misled administration officials about his contacts with Russia. At that same hearing, former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said that Moscow s leaders must be congratulating themselves for having exceeded their wildest expectations with a minimal expenditure of resource, a reference not only to the outcome of the 2016 race but also to the chaos that has characterized the early months of the Trump administration. Brennan has feuded publicly with Trump over the president s treatment of intelligence agencies. In January, he lashed out at Trump[8] for comparing U.S. spy agencies to Nazi secret police.

Brennan was particularly offended by Trump s remarks during a speech at CIA headquarters on the day after he was inaugurated. Trump used the CIA s Memorial Wall a collection of engraved stars marking the lives of agency operatives killed in the line of duty to launch a rambling speech in which he bragged about his election victory.

Brennan called the appearance despicable and said that Trump should be ashamed.

Read more:

Trump angrily calls Russia investigation a witch hunt, and denies charges of collusion[9]

Justice Department ethics experts clear Mueller to lead Russia probe[10]

Comey prepared extensively for his conversations with Trump[11]

References

  1. ^ www.washingtonpost.com (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ the unanimous conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies (www.washingtonpost.com)
  3. ^ esign after misleading statements about his contacts with the Russian ambassador were exposed (www.washingtonpost.com)
  4. ^ intensified in recent weeks and identified a current White House official (www.washingtonpost.com)
  5. ^ www.washingtonpost.com (www.washingtonpost.com)
  6. ^ www.washingtonpost.com (www.washingtonpost.com)
  7. ^ testified that she expected White House officials to take action (www.washingtonpost.com)
  8. ^ he lashed out at Trump (www.washingtonpost.com)
  9. ^ www.washingtonpost.com (www.washingtonpost.com)
  10. ^ www.washingtonpost.com (www.washingtonpost.com)
  11. ^ www.washingtonpost.com (www.washingtonpost.com)

New voices join Washington clamor over beatdown by Erdogan guards

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves as he arrives at the entrance to the West Wing to meet with President Donald Trump at the entrance to the West Wing of the White House, Washington, May 16, 2017. (photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

New voices join Washington clamor over beatdown by Erdogan guards

Author: Amberin Zaman Posted May 23, 2017

Anger over the thuggish behavior of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan s security guards who brutally assaulted protesters[1] outside the Turkish ambassador s residence in Washington shows no sign of abating as more US lawmakers[2] call for the administration to take action against them.

Summary Print[3] More US lawmakers are calling for action against the Turkish president’s security detail after it beat up protesters in Washington, while the Turkish Foreign Ministry complains of what it calls “aggressive” conduct by “US security personnel.”

In a letter dated May 19 addressed to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson[4] on behalf of 12 fellow members of the House, Carolyn B. Maloney[5], a Democratic representative for New York s 12th congressional district, said that the Turkish security guards should be arrested, prosecuted and jailed. Maloney noted that the guards had kicked men and women crouched on the ground and disregarded numerous commands by police to cease and desist. Maloney cited incredibly disturbing video footage documenting the violence around Sheridan Circle. She urged Tillerson to “use all tools at your disposal so that these men are denied diplomatic immunity and prosecuted to the fullest extent of U.S. law. In an interview with Fox News May 21, Tillerson called the incident simply unacceptable. He reminded the audience that the State Department had summoned the Turkish ambassador, Serdar Kilic, to discuss the matter. He said, There is an ongoing investigation we’ll wait and see what the outcome of that investigation is.

It’s probably too late for justice. The security detail, two members of which were reportedly detained and then freed after invoking diplomatic immunity, flew home with Erdogan. At best, those who are positively identified as having engaged in the beatings may be denied future entry to the United States. Several administration officials speaking to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity claimed that Tillerson has developed an antipathy for the Erdogan government following his trip to Turkey in late March. He saw their real face and he doesn t much like them, said one of the sources. Relations between the NATO allies sunk to new lows after President Donald Trump authorized the Pentagon to directly arm the People s Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian Kurdish militia that is the United States premier partner in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria.

Turkey, however, labels the group a terrorist entity because of its ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party, which is waging a bloody campaign for self-rule inside Turkey. Erdogan had been hoping to persuade Trump to sever all ties with the Syrian Kurdish outfit during a 23-minute face-to-face meeting in the White House earlier that day, but failed. In an apparent tit for tat, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the US ambassador[6] to Ankara, John Bass, on May 22 over what it termed the aggressive and unproffessional [sic] actions taken, contrary to diplomatic rules and practices, by US security personnel toward Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu s own security detail, which apparently was also present at the scene.

The Foreign Ministry repeated the trope being propagated in the pro-Erdogan Turkish media that the violence had erupted because of the inability of US authorities to take sufficient precautions at every stage of the official program.

New footage[7] analyzed by the investigative journalists collective BellingCat suggests that Erdogan may have sanctioned the attacks, which left nine protesters, including two women, hospitalized.

The images show one of Erdogan s guards leaning into his Mercedes Benz after it pulls into the residence driveway. The guard then appears to signal fellow members of the security detail and pro-Erdogan picketers to descend on the protesters, who were chanting Baby killer Erdogan and Long live the YPG. A gray-faced Erdogan is then seen emerging from the car.

Read More: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/05/us-lawmakers-call-action-erdogan-guards-violence.html

References

  1. ^ brutally assaulted protesters (www.al-monitor.com)
  2. ^ US lawmakers (www.al-monitor.com)
  3. ^ Click here to Print this article (www.al-monitor.com)
  4. ^ Rex Tillerson (www.al-monitor.com)
  5. ^ Carolyn B. Maloney (twitter.com)
  6. ^ summoned the US ambassador (twitter.com)
  7. ^ New footage (www.youtube.com)

CIA director warned Russian security service chief about interference in election

Former CIA director John Brennan said Tuesday that he personally warned the head of Russia s intelligence service last year that Moscow s interference in the U.S. election would backfire and cause severe damage to the country s relationship with the United States. Describing a previously undisclosed high-level discussion between Washington and Moscow, Brennan said in a phone conversation with the head of Russia s domestic security service, the FSB, that American voters would be outraged by any Russian attempt to interfere in the election. In congressional testimony, Brennan said that such meddling would destroy any near-term prospect of improvement in relations between the United States and Russia. Brennan said that the FSB chief, Alexander Bortnikov, twice denied that Russia was waging such a campaign, but said he would carry Brennan s message to Russian President Vladi mir Putin.

[Political chaos in Washington is a return on investment for Moscow[1]]

I believe I was the first U.S. official to brace Russia on this matter, Brennan said. His remarks came at the start of his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee as part of that panel s ongoing investigation of a Russian influence campaign in the 2016 presidential election, as well as whether there was collusion or coordination between Moscow and members of the Trump campaign.

Team Trump s ties to Russian interests

Brennan led the CIA during a critical period last year when U.S. intelligence agencies concluded[2] that Russia was not only attempting to disrupt the election but was actively seeking to defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and help elect Trump. Brennan was among the top officials who briefed then-President-elect Trump on that conclusion which represented the consensus view of the CIA, the FBI and the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

[FBI in agreement with CIA that Russia aimed to help Trump win White House[3]]

Brennan became so alarmed by the Russian intervention last fall that he held classified meetings with top congressional officials to impress upon them the unprecedented nature of Moscow s interference. Brennan testified that he was disturbed by intelligence that surfaced last year showing a pattern of contacts between Russian agents or representatives and individuals with links to the Trump campaign. I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind, Brennan said. He emphasized that the information he saw did not amount to proof of collusion or cooperation between Trump associates and Russia, but said that it served as the basis for the FBI investigation.

With that remark, Brennan appeared to identify the point of origin of the FBI investigation that began last July the first time that a U.S. official has provided insight into what prompted the bureau probe.

[Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence[4]]

He said that the targets of those Russian approaches may not even have been aware of the nature of the contacts, because Russian services often disguise their efforts by using intermediaries. Many times [U.S. individuals] do not know that the individual they are interacting with is a Russian, Brennan said. The former CIA chief is the latest in a series of senior Obama administration officials to appear publicly before Congress in hearings that have often produced damaging headlines for Trump. Earlier this month, former acting attorney general Sally Yates testified that she expected White House officials to take action [5] after warning that then-national security adviser Michael T. Flynn had misled administration officials about his contacts with Russia.

At that same hearing, former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said that Moscow s leaders must be congratulating themselves for having exceeded their wildest expectations with a minimal expenditure of resource, a reference not only to the outcome of the 2016 race, but the chaos that has characterized the early months of the Trump administration. Brennan has feuded publicly with Trump over the president s treatment of intelligence agencies. In January, he lashed out at Trump[6] for comparing U.S. spy agencies to Nazi secret police. Brennan was particularly offended by Trump s remarks during a speech at CIA headquarters on the day after he was inaugurated. Trump used the CIA s Wall of Honor a collection of engraved stars marking lives of agency operatives killed in the line of duty to launch a rambling speech in which he bragged about his election victory.

Brennan called the appearance despicable and said that Trump should be ashamed.

Read more:

Trump angrily calls Russia investigation a witch hunt, and denies charges of collusion[7]

Justice Department ethics experts clear Mueller to lead Russia probe[8]

Comey prepared extensively for his conversations with Trump[9]

References

  1. ^ www.washingtonpost.com (www.washingtonpost.com)
  2. ^ www.washingtonpost.com (www.washingtonpost.com)
  3. ^ www.washingtonpost.com (www.washingtonpost.com)
  4. ^ www.washingtonpost.com (www.washingtonpost.com)
  5. ^ testified that she expected White House officials to take action (www.washingtonpost.com)
  6. ^ he lashed out at Trump (www.washingtonpost.com)
  7. ^ www.washingtonpost.com (www.washingtonpost.com)
  8. ^ www.washingtonpost.com (www.washingtonpost.com)
  9. ^ www.washingtonpost.com (www.washingtonpost.com)
1 2 3 260