Posts tagged with "Vladimir Putin"

Out of sight, top of mind: Whistleblower complaint squelched by Trump or an associate, Schiff says

September 23, 2019

It’s an open secret inside the Beltway that President Donald Trump is intent on blocking every point of access to the “credible and urgent” whistleblower report received by Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire earlier this month.

And while the House Intelligence Committee refuses to be deterred, a closed-door meeting on September 19 with the intelligence community’s Inspector General, Michael Atkinson—who received the report in August and intended to act upon it—yielded little to nothing.

Indeed, according to a report by The Daily Beast members of Congress told reporters that they learned no substantive details about the whistleblower’s complaint during their hearing with Atkinson.

The only facts divulged to date are that the president made a “promise” during a phone call to an unknown foreign leader—and that the subject of the complaint “relates to one of the most significant and important of the DNI’s responsibilities to the American people.”

Only minutes after the conclusion of the closed-door session,  The New York Times reported that the IG told members of the House Intelligence Committee that the complaint related to “multiple acts”—far exceeding the scope of a single alleged conversation with a foreign leader.

But specifics of the complaint—and even public confirmation that it concerns actions by the president—are still being withheld from Congress, committee members said.

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) told reporters after the briefing that he believes the details of the complaint—which would normally be shared with Congress—are being suppressed, either by President Trump himself, or by someone “close” to him and “above the pay grade” of Maguire.

“I don’t think this is a problem of the law,” Schiff said, according to The Daily Beast, adding, “The problem lies elsewhere. And we’re determined to do everything we can to determine what this urgent concern is, to make sure that the national security is protected and to make sure that this whistle-blower is protected.”

Fellow House Intelligence member Representative Jackie Speier (D-California) told reporters that “we’ve got a very grave situation on our hands. The standard that has to be met by the IG… urgent, is talking about fire, as he referred to it.”

“This whistleblower has done everything according to the book,” Speier said. “And the potential for reprisals for this whistleblower are great”

In the five weeks preceding the complaint’s filing, The Daily Beast said, Trump had conversations with at least five foreign leaders, including President Vladimir Putin of Russia, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar.

Legally, such a complaint must involve mismanagement, waste, abuse, or a danger to intelligence operations or public safety, or relate to an intelligence activity that violates U.S. law.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Alone at last! Putin and Trump to meet in Helsinki

June 29, 2018

The Finnish are said to be the happiest people in the world, based on results of the annual World Happiness Report—but they may be rivaled in glee by the two world leaders scheduled to meet in Helsinki on July 16. Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold one-on-one talks with President Donald Trump on that date, the White House announced on June 28.

The summit is characterized by The New York Times as “politically delicate”—and the optics are sure to be controversial, as the two “alter egos” reconvene, even as Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues to investigate the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.

It will be the first formal summit meeting for Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin, who have spoken together twice on the sidelines of annual gatherings of world leaders,—and often by phone, the Kremlin has claimed— and it will come at a particularly critical moment, with midterm elections looming in the United States.

“The two leaders will discuss relations between the United States and Russia, and a range of national security issues,” the White House said in a statement.

In preparation, this week, President Trump sent National Security Advisor John Bolton to Moscow, where he met on June 27 with Putin, himself. Afterward, The Times reported, an aide to Putin, Yuri Ushakov, reiterated Moscow’s denial that it had tried to influence the U.S. presidential election in 2016— comments that Trump cited in a Twitter post before the meeting was announced.:  “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” the POTUS tweeted.

The meeting will come just after NATO members meeting in Brussels on July 11 and 12. They are sure to be unhappy that Trump appears closer to Putin than he does to his allies.

In fact, findings of a Monmouth University poll released on June 15 indicate that 27% of Americans think that Trump’s best relationship worldwide is with the Russian president—far more than any other leader listed in the poll.

There was a notable split among party lines with 43% of Democrats and 28% of independent voters saying Putin was likely Trump’s closest personal relationship among world leaders, while only 8% of Republicans said the same.

GOP voters were more likely to say Trump had a closer bond with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (12%) or the British Prime Minister Theresa May (11%).

When asked more broadly whether Trump has a positive relationship with Putin, 60% of voters agreed, as opposed to the 25% who said the president does not have a good relationship with Russia’s president.

Research contact: pdmurrary@monmouth.edu

Erik Prince has flipped for Mueller

June 20, 2018

While Americans continue to seesaw in their approval of the Russia probe generally—and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in particular—more of President Donald Trump’s aides and supporters continue to flip for the investigators. Erik Prince, founder of private military contractor Blackwater, told The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff on June 19 that he now is among the witnesses who have “cooperated” with the ongoing investigation into Russian election interference.

Prince, who reportedly met with a Russian wealth fund manager in the Seychelles during the transition to set up a back channel between the Trump administration and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, told Woodruff that he has “spoken voluntarily to Congress and I also cooperated with the special counsel.”

At first, Prince, who is the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, had claimed that he merely took the trip as a vacation jaunt and encountered the Russian briefly and casually.

Now, The Daily Beast reports, Prince is all-in on the Trump-Putin connection. “As I’ve said before, if Franklin Roosevelt can work with Joseph Stalin to defeat German fascism, Nazi fascism, national socialist fascism, then certainly Donald Trump can work with Putin to defeat Islamic fascism,” he said.

What’s more, the Blackwater founder said, a relationship with North Korea will be beneficial. I don’t think we have to be provocative with NATO and I think it’s a good idea for the president to reach out diplomatically,” Prince divulged, adding, “ I mean, for heaven’s sakes, he’s sitting down and talking to Kim [Jong-un] of North Korea. Putin is a much more rational actor and I think it’s totally appropriate for the president to sit down and try to thaw the situation.”

” … All I will add,” Prince told Woodruff, “is that much of the reporting about me in the media is inaccurate, and I am confident that when the investigators have finished their work, we will be able to put these distractions to the side.”

Meanwhile, it is no surprise that a Politico/Morning Consult poll released on June 13 found that 53% of Republicans now say they view the lead Russian investigator in an unfavorable light.

Research contact: @woodruffbets