Posts tagged with "Hillary Clinton"

In 2016, Manafort held secret talks with Wikileaks’ Assange in Ecuadorian embassy

November 28, 2018

President Donald Trump’s former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he had sought asylum—and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign, The Guardian reported on November 27.

Manafort’s March 2016 visit to Assange lasted about 40 minutes, a source told the news outlet. Just two months later, in June 2016, WikiLeaks emailed Russian intelligence (the GRU) via an intermediary—seeking DNC materials. After failed attempts, Vladimir Putin’s spies sent the Democrats’ documents in mid-July to WikiLeaks as an encrypted attachment.

What’s more, this was not Manafort’s first visit to Assange. The Guardian’s “well-placed” source said that Manafort previously had visited Assanage at the embassy in 2013 and 2015.

Indeed, The Guardian reported, Manafort’s acquaintance with Assange goes back at least five years, to late 2012 or 2013, when the American was working in Ukraine and advising its Moscow-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych.

However, it is the 2016 encounter that is especially likely to come under scrutiny by Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Just this week, Mueller said that Manafort had “repeatedly lied to the FBI” after he promised to cooperate with the probe in mid-September. The former campaign manager now has been referred by Mueller to the court for sentencing. Whether the secret tête-à-tête in London already has been investigated Mueller’s team is unknown.

According to The Guardian’s report, Manafort, 69, denies involvement in the hack and says the claim is “100% false”. His lawyers declined to answer the Guardian’s questions about the visits.

His defense team says he believes what he has told Mueller to be truthful and has not violated his deal.

One key question is when the Trump campaign, itself, became aware of the Kremlin’s hacking operation—and what, if anything, it did to encourage it. President Trump repeatedly has denied collusion

One person familiar with WikiLeaks said Assange was motivated to damage the Democrats campaign because he believed a future Trump administration would be less likely to seek his extradition on possible charges of espionage. This fate had hung over Assange since 2010, when he released confidential U.S. State Department cables. It contributed to his decision to take refuge in the embassy.

According to the dossier written by the former MI6 Officer Christopher Steele, The Guardian reports, Manafort was at the center of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russia’s leadership. The two sides had a mutual interest in defeating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Steele wrote, whom Putin “hated and feared.”

Research contact: @lukeharding1968

Evidence of cell phone spying found near White House

June 1, 2018

A Department of Homeland Security study has detected evidence that controversial surveillance technology—intended to pick up cell phone calls and texts—was in operation near the White House and at other sensitive locations in the nation’s capital last year, The Washington Post reported on June 1. .

The DHS program found the surveillance devices, called IMSI catchers, as part of federal testing last year, according to a letter  from the agency to Intelligence Committee member Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) dated May 22.

The letter did not specify what entity operated the devices and left open the possibility that there could be alternative explanations for the suspicious cellular signals collected by the federal testing program.

The discovery bolsters years of independent research, The Post said, suggesting that foreign intelligence agencies use sophisticated interception technology to spy on officials working within the hub of federal power in the nation’s capital.

Experts in surveillance technology say that IMSI catchers—sometimes known by the popular brand name, StingRay—are gizmos that are used by many foreign intelligence services, including Russia and China.

“This admission from DHS bolsters my concern about stingrays and other spying devices being used to spy on Americans’ phones,” Wyden said in a statement on May 31. “Given the reports of rogue spying devices being identified near the White House and other government facilities, I fear that foreign intelligence services could target the president and other senior officials.”

The DHS letter came in response to a meeting last month in which Wyden pushed for a more aggressive federal response to cellular system insecurity. IMSI catchers are widely used by local, state and federal police, as well as foreign intelligence agencies.

The same May 22 letter revealed that DHS was aware of reports that a global cellular network messaging system, called SS7, was being used to spy on Americans through their cell phones. Such surveillance, which can intercept calls and locate cell phones from anywhere in the world, are sometimes used in conjunction with IMSI catchers.

Wyden’s fears about the White House are based in reality: The president and his aides have used cellphones extensively for communications. While there have been no polls about how the U.S. electorate feels about this unsafe practice, in January, a Morning Consult/Politico poll, of 1,988 registered voters, found that 65% of self-identified Republicans said that the Department of Justice should its investigation into personal cell phone usage for official emails, texts and phone calls.

Hillary Clinton was investigated extensively for her personal cellphone usage while she was Secretary of State. In fact, Trump declared repeatedly during his 2016 presidential campaign that Clinton’s email “negligence”disqualified her to be president.

In January 2016, The Washington Post reported that he said the email scandal was “a disaster for Hillary Clinton. At a minimum, how can someone with such bad judgment be our next president?”

He also released this zinger in July 2016, the Post reported:  “Crooked Hillary Clinton and her team ‘were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.’ Not fit!” His refrain continued throughout the summer.

Even after being elected, Trump demanded that the Justice Department look into Clinton’s emails to determine whether she committed a crime. His supporters still chant “Lock her up! Lock her up!”

Research contact: craig.timberg@washpost.com

McCain does not want Trump at funeral

May 9, 2018

In recognition of the continuing ill will between Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) and President Donald Trump, the ailing legislator and war hero—age 81 and battling aggressive brain cancer—has let it be known to the White House that he does not want the POTUS to attend his funeral. Vice President Mike Pence has been invited in Trump’s place.

The beef between the two men began during Trump’s presidential campaign, when the candidate said of the former Navy pilot, who had been held as a prisoner of war by the North Vietnamese at the Hanoi Hilton, “I like people who weren’t captured.”

But the relationship became truly icy last summer, after the Senator cast a pivotal vote that defeated GOP attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act at 2 a.m. on Friday, July 27.

Following that vote, McCain’s  favorability rating rose to 58% among the American public, according to Gallup—with a surge in Democratic favorability more than making up for a decline among McCain’s fellow Republicans.

At the same time, President Donald Trump had a rating of 36%, after he made remarks questioning McCain’s military service at the Family Leadership  Summit on July 15.

He’s a war hero because he was captured,” Trump told moderator Frank Luntz—a remark that was followed by some boos from the nearly 2,000 attendees of the event on the campus of Iowa State University, ABC News reported.

McCain spent five and a half years as a P.O.W.; deferments enabled Trump to dodge service in Vietnam entirely.

Trump also did not attend the recent funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush in Houston, Texas—supposedly  in order “to avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family and friends attending the service,” the White House said last month. First lady Melania Trump attended the service instead, along with former Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and former first lady Hillary Clinton.

Now, NBC News reports, Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have been requested by McCain to be eulogists at his funeral service, which is to be held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C..

Research contact: @RebeccaShabad

Trump’s Twitter rage promotes Comey’s book

April 16, 2018

With enemies like this, who needs friends? President Donald Trump angrily counter-punched at James Comey on Twitter on April 13—catapulting the former FBI director’s book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, onto best-seller lists even before its April 17 release date, through pre-orders.

In a two-part tweet, Trump labeled Comey as a “proven LEAKER & LIAR” and an “untruthful slime ball” who botched his handling of “the Crooked Hillary Clinton case,” and added: “It was my great honor to fire James Comey!”

Indeed, according to a Washington Post opinion piece by Greg Sargent, “Everyone is remarking on how Trump appears to be emotionally melting down now that news organizations are widely covering Comey’s new book.”

What’s more, the American people are not behind him. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released on April 13 determined that 69% of Americans support Mueller’s efforts to investigate possible Russia-Trump campaign collusion, and 64% support Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s business activities, which, you may recall, Trump declared as a red line that Mueller mustn’t cross. It even finds that 58 percent support the investigation of hush money paid to women who alleged affairs.

What about public attitudes toward Comey? Well, the poll finds that Americans see Comey as more believable than Trump by 48-32 and disapprove of Trump’s firing of Comey by 47-33.

And, according to Sargent, “Trump appears to be making an actual argument underneath all the all-caps bluster that should not go unnoticed. He is suggesting that he retrospectively relishes having fired one of the nation’s chief law enforcement officials, at least in part because he did not prosecute his political opponent [Clinton].”

The original fake pretext that Trump used to fire Comey was enshrined in a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, Sargent says, which recounted that Comey had mishandled the Clinton email probe in a way that was unfair to her. By contrast, Trump’s Twitter version of events highlights that Clinton is “crooked,” apparently meaning Comey mishandled the Clinton case by not prosecuting her alleged criminality.

According to the Post’s The Plum Line columnist, the poll represents a major public vote of confidence in the investigation — and a repudiation of Trump’s delegitimization of it as a mere “witch hunt.”

He concludes, “It’s tempting to see this polling as little more than a reflection of Trump’s deep unpopularity. But numbers this stark suggest something else may be going on: that the depth of Trump’s contempt for our institutions and the rule of law is becoming clear to the public, and Americans are recoiling at it.”

Research contact: @theplumlinegs

Barack Obama edges out Donald Trump as most admired man

January 2, 2018

Americans once again have named Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as the man and woman they admire most in the world, as they have for the past 10 years.

The pair retain their titles this year, although by much narrower margins than in the past. Obama edged out Donald Trump, 17% to 14%, while Clinton edged out Michelle Obama, 9% to 7%.

Those who placed slightly lower were not exactly “chopped liver”,” either: Rounding out the top five for men were Pope Francis, Reverend Billy Graham and Elon Musk.

The top five for women also included  Oprah Winfrey, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel.

The 2017 Gallup Poll, conducted early in December, marks the 16th consecutive year in which Clinton has been named the most-admired woman. She has held the title 22 times in total—more than anyone else.

Eleanor Roosevelt is second, with 13 wins. Obama has now been named the most admired man ten times; trailing only Dwight Eisenhower, who earned the distinction 12 times. Obama won all eight years he was president, plus 2008—the year he was first elected-—and this year, his first as a former president.

One-quarter of Americans cannot name a man or a woman whom they admire most. Nine percent named a relative or friend as the most admired man, and 13% did the same for the most admired woman.

As would be expected for a Republican president, Trump won handily among Republicans: 35% named him as the man they admired most, with only 1% naming Obama

Research contact:  datainquiry@gallup.com

America finds a soft spot for Melania

December 18, 2017

First Lady Melania Trump‘s favorability rating has risen 17 percentage points since last January—up to 54%— as she has become better known in her role as first lady, Gallup reported on December 15.

By contrast, the polling organization said, only 41% of American voters say they like her husband; and that’s a stretch: Many other pollsters have the POTUS’s rating in the mid- and low 30s.

In early January, before the president took office, 37% of Americans viewed Melania Trump unfavorably—matching her favorability score—while 26% did not yet have an opinion of her.

Now, in Gallup’s first measure of the First Lady, the percentage with no opinion of her is down to 13%, while her favorability rating is up and her unfavorable rating has dipped slightly to 33%.

Melania Trump’s favorability advantage over Donald Trump in the Dec. 4-11 Gallup poll is consistent with Gallup’s findings that recent first ladies are, on average, more popular than their husbands. This is likely, the pollster said, because a first lady’s role is more ceremonial and, generally, much less divisive than that of the president.

Michelle Obama and Laura Bush outpaced their husbands, holding an average 12-point and 17-point edge in favorability, respectively, over their spouses. Melania Trump’s current 13-point favorability advantage over her husband is roughly in line with those of the last two first ladies. (Hillary Clinton averaged one point lower in favorability than Bill Clinton over the course of his presidency.)

Although Melania Trump’s rating has improved, she still rates behind other first ladies at roughly comparable points in time. Michelle Obama (61%), Laura Bush (77%) and Hillary Clinton (58%) all had higher favorability ratings in the fall of their husband’s first year in office than Melania Trump has now.

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted between December 4 and December 11, among a random sample of 1,049 adults, living in all 50 U.S. states.

Research contact:  datainquiry@gallup.com