Tuesday Reads: Another Overwhelming News DayPosted: May 23, 2017
I’m having another one of those days where I just can’t get going on a post. The news is just so overwhelming.
As has been happening almost daily for the past couple of weeks, The Washington Post broke a huge new story on the Trump Russia investigation: Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence.
Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.
Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president….
Trump’s conversation with Rogers was documented contemporaneously in an internal memo written by a senior NSA official, according to the officials. It is unclear if a similar memo was prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to document Trump’s conversation with Coats. Officials said such memos could be made available to both the special counsel now overseeing the Russia investigation and congressional investigators, who might explore whether Trump sought to impede the FBI’s work.
Coats is refusing to comment on the story, but he isn’t denying it.
Of course that breaking news story was quickly pushed to the media back burner after the terror attack in Manchester, England.
The first victims identified in the suicide bombing after an Ariana Grande concert in Britain were an 8-year-old remembered as a “beautiful little girl” and an 18-year-old college student who had previously met her pop idol.
They were among the 22 killed Monday night at the Manchester Arena in the deadliest terror attack in Britain since 2005. Another 59 people were also injured as the suspect detonated a bomb near one of the venue’s exits, sending the mostly younger concertgoers fleeing in panic, authorities said.
Grande’s fans are predominantly teens and young girls, and many had gone to the venue with their parents for a night of carefree fun that in a flash turned into a scene of carnage. Hours after the bloodshed, desperate parents said they were still trying unsuccessfully to reconnect with children.
The Islamic State claimed Tuesday that one of its “soldiers” carried out an apparent suicide blast in Manchester that killed at least 22 people, including teenagers and others streaming out of a pop concert.
U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, identified the assailant as Salman Abedi. They did not provide information about his age or nationality, and British officials declined to comment on the suspect’s identity.
Islamic State’s claim came as British investigators intensified their search for possible accomplices and police teams fanned out across the northern city after the worst terrorist strike in Britain in more than a decade.
The Islamic State did not give any details about the attacker or how the blast was carried out late Monday. Its statement was posted on the online messaging service Telegram and later noted by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant websites.
The Islamic State often quickly proclaims links to attacks, but some previous claims have not been proven.
This morning DNI Dan Coats testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee and discussed the attack. NBC News:
The bloody mayhem in Manchester could be a taste of the ISIS terror to come.
That was the dire warning from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on Tuesday in his appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee and a report by the agency.
“They claim responsibility for virtually every attack,” Coats told the panel after ISIS declared it was behind the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, that left 22 dead and dozens more injured. “We have not verified yet the connection.”
The attack came straight from the ISIS playbook that Coats warned lawmakers about.
“We anticipate that ISIS will be in transition over the coming year, shifting toward more traditional terrorist operations rather than conventional military engagement in Iraq and Syria,” Coats warned. “ISIS will continue to lead, enable and inspire terrorist attacks, both unilaterally and with the assistance of its formal branches and networks.”
Why? Because ISIS is losing on the battlefield and it has lost much of the territory it held in Iraq and Syria.
There also was a hearing this morning in the House Intelligence Committee on the Trump-Russia connection. I watched some of it. It’s hard to believe, but Republicans are still trying to absolve Trump and are more concerned about leaks to the media than the fact that Russia interfered in U.S. elections.
Some headlines coming out of the testimony of former CIA Director John Brennan:
Former CIA Director John Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday that Russia “brazenly interfered in the 2016 election process,” despite U.S. efforts to warn them off. Brennan testified in an open session of the committee, one of a handful of congressional committee now investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Brennan said he told his Russian counterpart, the head of Russia’s FSB, last August that if Russia pursued its efforts to interfere, “it would destroy any near-term prospect for improvement in relations” between the two countries. He said Russia denied any attempts to interfere.
In his opening statement, Brennan also recounted how he had briefed congressional leaders in August of last year, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees about the “full details” of what he knew of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Brennan said he became convinced last summer that Russia was trying to interfere in the campaign, saying “they were very aggressive.”
So both Ryan and McConnell knew how serious this was back in August 2016, and they did nothing in response but continue enabling/supporting Trump.
Brennan said he is “aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign.” Brennan said that concerned him, “because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals,” and that it raised questions about whether or not the Russians “were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.” Brennan added he didn’t know if “collusion existed” between the Russians and those he identified as involved in the Trump campaign.
While Brennan would not specifically identify any individuals associated with the Trump campaign who had contacts with Russian officials and would not opine as to whether there was any collusion or collaboration, he did tell lawmakers why he was concerned about the contacts occurring against the general background of Russian efforts to meddle in the election. Brennan said he’s studied Russian intelligence activities over the years, and how they’ve been able to get people to betray their country. “Frequently, individuals on a treasonous path do not even realize they’re on that path until it gets to be too late,” he said.
Former CIA Director John Brennan, in testimony Tuesday before the House Intelligence Committee, said that he was concerned by some of the “interactions” between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign that took place during the election last year.
Brennan’s testimony on Russian interference in the election came two months after he was originally scheduled to testify in an open hearing that was unexpectedly canceled by the committee’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes. He told the committee that he warned his Russian counterpart, FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov, in an August 2016 phone call against interfering in the presidential election.
“It should be clear to everyone that Russia brazenly interfered in our 2016 presidential election process,” Brennan said in his opening statement, “and that they undertook these activities despite our strong protests and explicit warning that they do not do so.”
Republican Rep. Tom Rooney asked Brennan if he ever found “any direct evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Putin in Moscow” while he was the CIA director.
Brennan replied that “there was intelligence that the Russian intelligence services were actively involved in this effort … to try to get individuals to act on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly.” He added that he was “was worried by the contacts that the Russians were having with US persons” and “had unresolved questions” by the time he left office about whether” the Russians had succeeded in getting Americans to do their bidding.
More articles of interest about Brennan’s testimony:
Another big story this morning was the release of Trump’s ridiculous proposed budget. I’ll let you check that out at the links below:
The Washington Post: Larry Summers: Trump’s budget is simply ludicrous,
FiveThirtyEight: Trump’s Budget Is Built On A Fantasy.
Business Insider: Trump’s budget only works ‘if you believe in tooth fairies.’
So . . .what stories are you following today?