And the leaks continue

We know from the Snowden leaks that every phone call from inside the US to foreign countries are recorded (not just the meta-data, but all the voice data too), so it is to be expected that Trump’s calls to Mexico and Australia would be in the hands of the NSA. Doesn’t he use a scrambler, or its modern day equivalent, encrypted channels for voice calls? Soon no one will take his calls for fear of reading the transcripts in WaPo the next day.

So who could be the source of this leak? – Only the NSA. The content (nothing new) and the timing, given the shambles brought on by Scaramucci, is interesting. It is effectively the NSA saying “we did it”, and daring Trump to do something about it.

By implication they are also saying they have all of his calls on file. This is pretty blatant stuff, almost a coup in itself.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-03/new-hampshire-drug-infested-den-trump-phone-call-transcripts-leaked

Trump Phone Call Transcripts Leaked: “New Hampshire Is A Drug Infested Den”


Tyler Durden
Aug 3, 2017

It will probably not come as a surprise that days after the biggest shake up among White House communications personnel, the Washington Post obtained transcripts of President Trump’s classified calls with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull from the early days of his presidency back in January. While details of the calls had been made public previously, this is the first time entire transcripts have leaked out.

Back then, when the biggest issue on Trump’s domestic policy plate was the issue of the “Great Wall” across the Mexican border, and the fate of refugees coming into the US, which eventually led to various lawsuits blocking Trump’s immigration and travel ban from several mostly Muslim countries, the president expressed frustration over accepting refugees from Australian detention centers under a humanitarian deal negotiated by the Obama administration and candidly discussed the Mexican border wall, telling the Mexican president “If you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.”

One of the funniest lines: “On the wall, you and I both have a political problem. My people stand up and say, ‘Mexico will pay for the wall,’ and your people probably say something in a similar but slightly different language.”

In a line likely to surprise some Trump supporters, the president described the wall as “the least important thing we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important.”

On the sensitive issue of payment, Trump told the Mexican president “you cannot say that to the press,” urging him to refrain from the public statements because of the political damage it would impose on Trump. He also asked Nieto not to oppose Trump’s demand that Mexico pay for the wall, telling him the funding would “come out in the wash, and that is okay.”

Trump said both he and Nieto should say they “will work it out” when forced to answer questions about the wall. Nieto pushed back at Trump’s demands, saying the wall was “an issue related to the dignity of Mexico and goes to the national pride of my country.”

He ultimately said he would “stop talking about the wall” but did not agree in anyway that Mexico would pay for its construction. Since the call, Trump has continued to publicly say that Mexico would pay for the wall when he has been asked about it, even as the government has taken steps to fund it in different ways. The House has included $1.6 billion in funding for the wall in an appropriations measure under consideration by Congress. Democrats oppose including any more for the way in appropriations measures.

In another controversial exchange with the Mexican leader over the drug problem in the US and Mexico, Trump said “We have a massive drug problem where kids are becoming addicted to drugs because the drugs are being sold for less money than candy. I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den.”

In a separate phone call, Trump told Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull earlier this year that he had a better call with Russian President Vladimir Putin before ending a contentious phone call. Trump argued with Turnbull over an agreement on refugees the U.S. president thought was unfair during their first conversation following his inauguration.

“I have had it,” Trump told his Australian counterpart during the Jan. 28 call, according to the same leaked transcript. “I have been making these calls all day, and this is the most unpleasant call all day.”

Some other Turnbull call highlights:

“This is going to kill me. I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people.”
“I hate taking these people. I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people.”

Aside from embarrassing the president, the leaks present a major headache for Gen. Kelly, Trump’s new chief of staff, who is expected to bring back normalcy to the Oval cabinet. As The Hill notes, the disclosure is likely to raise alarms at the White House, which has struggled to contain leaks of classified and sensitive information. As Axios adds, the calls remain classified, so the fact that the transcripts made it to the Post is a serious issue. Both documents include notes that the transcripts had been reviewed by Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg Jr., the chief of staff for the National Security Council.

Trump’s calls with foreign leaders have not been declassified. The White House said in February, days after the call, it would probe how the details of the call became public

Senators Unveil Two Bipartisan Bills To Block Trump Firing Mueller

Every time Trump tweets “I will …”, Congress say “NO, you won’t”.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-03/senators-unveil-two-bipartisan-bills-block-trump-firing-mueller

Senators Unveil Two Bipartisan Bills To Block Trump Firing Mueller


Tyler Durden
Aug 3, 2017

Two separate bills – both with bipartisan backing from two Senate Judiciary Committee members – are being put forth to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s job. As NBC News reports, the new legislation aims to ensure the integrity of current and future independent investigations, and “ensuring that the special counsel cannot be removed improperly is critical to the integrity of his investigation.”

As a reminder, Mueller was appointed as special counsel following Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey. Mueller, who was Comey’s predecessor as FBI director, has assembled a team of prosecutors and lawyers with experience in financial fraud, national security and organized crime to investigate contacts between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

NBC News notes that Trump has been critical of Mueller since his appointment, and the president’s legal team is looking into potential conflicts surrounding the team Mueller has hired, including the backgrounds of members and political contributions by some members of his team to Hillary Clinton. He has also publicly warned Mueller that he would be out of bounds if he dug into the Trump family’s finances.

However, Mueller has strong support on Capitol Hill.

And now, as NBC reports, two bills are being unveiled – from within the Senate Juduciary Committee – blocking a president from firing any special counsel, without a federal judge’s approval if the president or his Administration is the center of the investigation.

Bill 1.

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware plan to introduce the legislation Thursday. The bill would allow any special counsel for the Department of Justice to challenge his or her removal in court, with a review by a three-judge panel within 14 days of the challenge.

“It is critical that special counsels have the independence and resources they need to lead investigations,” Tillis said in a statement. “A back-end judicial review process to prevent unmerited removals of special counsels not only helps to ensure their investigatory independence, but also reaffirms our nation’s system of check and balances.”

“Ensuring that the special counsel cannot be removed improperly is critical to the integrity of his investigation,” Coons said.

Bill 2.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, another member of the judiciary panel, said last week that he was working on a similar bill that would prevent the firing of a special counsel without judicial review. Graham said then that firing Mueller “would precipitate a firestorm that would be unprecedented in proportions.”

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey is also working on Graham’s legislation, according to Booker’s office. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has yet to signal support for either measure.

So the difference is Tillis-Coons bill is ‘reactive’ – once the firing has taken place, it can be challenged; where as the Graham-Booker bill is pre-emptive – forcing the decision to fire a special prosecutor to a Federal judge (as a reminder, only the attorney general or the most senior Justice Department official in charge of the matter can actually fire the special counsel).

These bills had been generally expected.

We look forward to Trump’s tweet-sponse to all of this, though it is kind of ironic that the only thing that brings the two sides of the aisle together is wanting to control Trump…

The list of high-ranking personnel fired by Trump rises to 12

In case you are being overwhelmed by all the changes at the White House, and all the leaks which are STILL happening:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-31/trump-removes-scaramucci-white-house-communications-director
The list of high-ranking personnel fired by Trump rises to 12:

Sally Yates, the acting attorney general and an appointee of former President Barack Obama, was fired by Trump just ten days after he assumed office. Yates had refused to uphold the Trump administration’s controversial travel ban in January.

Michael Flynn resigned in February after serving in the position for less than a month. Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials about the contents of his phone conversations with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the US. Flynn reportedly discussed the Obama administration’s sanctions against Russia with Kislyak prior to Trump assuming office.

Katie Walsh, the former deputy chief of staff and close ally to chief of staff Reince Priebus left the White House just nine weeks into the job to run America First, a pro-Trump group outside of the government.

Preet Bharara, the former US Attorney for the Southern District of Manhattan and ‘Sheriff’ of Wall Street, was fired by Trump in March after Bharara refused to submit a resignation letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

James Comey, the former FBI durector, was fired by Trump in May.

Michael Dubke, the former White House communications director, resigned in May. Dubke was replaced by Anthony Scaramucci, the founder of a hedge fund and a top Trump donor. Scaramucci was fired after just 10 days on the job (see below).

Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, resigned earlier this month after clashing with the White House over Trump’s complicated financial holdings. Shaub called Trump’s administration a “laughingstock,” following his resignation, and advocated for strengthening the US’s ethical and financial disclosure rules, per The New York Times.

Mark Corralo, spokesman for President Donald Trump’s legal team, resigned on July 20 within two months of being on the job.

Sean Spicer, the embattled former White House press secretary, resigned on July 21 after telling Trump he vehemently disagreed with the selection of Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director.

Micheal Short, the former White House press aide, resigned the same day as Spicer, after Scaramucci revealed plans to fire him.

Reince Priebus, the former White House chief-of-staff, resigned just six months into his tenure after a public feud with Anthony Scaramucci, the White House communications director.

And now, Anthony Scaramucci, who “resigned” as the new White House Communications Director on July 31, after just 10 days on the job.

Trump Saw A Disturbing Video, Then He Shut Down The CIA’s Covert Syria Program

More blow-back from supporting CIA proxy fighters in Syria. The head of the CIA at the time was John O. Brennan, should be the first to be jailed for this gross error of judgement.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-31/trump-saw-disturbing-video-then-he-shut-down-cias-covert-syria-program

Trump Saw A Disturbing Video, Then He Shut Down The CIA’s Covert Syria Program

Tyler Durden
Jul 31, 2017

While we’ve carefully documented the dynamics in play behind Trump’s decision to end the CIA’s covert Syria program, as well as the corresponding fury this immediately unleashed among the usual hawkish DC policy wonks, new information on what specifically impacted the president’s thinking has emerged.

Thomas Joscelyn, a Middle East analyst for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explains in the August edition of The Weekly Standard:

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump was shown a disturbing video of Syrian rebels beheading a child near the city of Aleppo. It had caused a minor stir in the press as the fighters belonged to the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, a group that had been supported by the CIA as part of its rebel aid program.

The footage is haunting. Five bearded men smirk as they surround a boy in the back of a pickup truck. One of them holds the boy’s head with a tight grip on his hair while another mockingly slaps his face. Then, one of them uses a knife to saw the child’s head off and holds it up in the air like a trophy. It is a scene reminiscent of the Islamic State’s snuff videos, except this wasn’t the work of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s men. The murderers were supposed to be the good guys: our allies.

Trump pressed his most senior intelligence advisers, asking the basic question of
how the CIA could have a relationship with a group that beheads a child and then uploads the video to the internet. He wasn’t satisfied with any of the responses:

Trump wanted to know why the United States had backed Zenki if its members are extremists. The issue was discussed at length with senior intelligence officials, and no good answers were forthcoming, according to people familiar with the conversations. After learning more worrisome details about the CIA’s ghost war in Syria—including that U.S.-backed rebels had often fought alongside extremists, among them al Qaeda’s arm in the country—the president decided to end the program altogether.

Screenshot of the horrific video of a CIA-backed Syrian group beheading a boy named Abdullah Issa.

At the time the beheading video surfaced (July 2016), many in the American public naturally wanted answers, but the story never really picked up much momentum in the media. As Joscelyn describes, it caused nothing more than “a minor stir in the press.” The State Department seemed merely satisfied that the group responsible, Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki, claimed to have arrested the men that committed the gruesome crime, though nothing more was known. Absurdly, a US government spokesperson expressed hope that the child-beheading group would “comply with obligations under the law of armed conflict.”

The only press agencies that publicly and consistently challenged the State Department at the time were RT News and the Associated Press, yet even these attempts didn’t get picked up beyond the confines of the State Department’s daily briefing. When the AP’s Matt Lee initially questioned spokesman Mark Toner as to whether Zenki would continue to receive any level of US assistance, Toner casually replied “it would give us pause” – which left Lee taken aback.

Meanwhile, it wasn’t just the US government which had aided Zenki, but as fighting in Aleppo raged it became a favored group among both the mainstream media and prominent think tank pundits. One of the UK’s major broadcasters (Channel 4) even went so far as to attempt to delete and hide its prior online content which sought to normalize the beheaders as “moderate” and heroic once news of the video got out.

Among think tankers, Zenki’s most prominent public supporter, frequently presenting the terror group as actually representative of Syria’s “secular” and supposedly democracy-promoting armed opposition (even after the beheading video emerged), was Charles Lister. Lister was finally confronted not by mainstream media, but by AlterNet’s Max Blumenthal at a DC event held by the (largely Gulf funded) Atlantic Council.

Only by the time of this January 2017 public forum, and after being persistently questioned, did Lister awkwardly back off his previous enthusiastic promotion of Zenki:

We can imagine that Trump saw other things beyond the shocking Zenki beheading video which made him fully realize the utter criminality of the CIA program (Thomas Joscelyn further emphasizes that Trump came to understand the full scope of CIA cooperation with al-Qaeda in Syria).

The only question that remains is who in the CIA or Obama-era State Department should be prosecuted first?

WH communications director Scaramucci leaves after 10 days

I thought Trump was supposed to be the expert at picking good staff (WTF?)

https://www.rt.com/usa/398124-scaramucci-wh-quit-confirmed/

WH communications director Scaramucci leaves after 10 days

Published time: 31 Jul, 2017


White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci © Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Anthony Scaramucci is leaving after only 10 days as White House communications director. The decision came at the recommendation of the newly sworn-in chief of staff John Kelly, the White House confirmed.

“Anthony Scaramucci will be leaving his role as White House Communications Director. Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team. We wish him all the best,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Scaramucci was named as communications director on July 21, leading to the resignation of press secretary Sean Spicer. He was to answer directly to Trump, sidestepping chief of staff Reince Priebus, who was ousted on Friday, and officially replaced with Kelly on Monday.

The language used in the White House statement about Scaramucci, namely the “clean slate” phrase, was the same as used in the statement about Spicer’s resignation.

Shortly after entering the White House, Scaramucci promised to take “drastic action” to prevent leaks from the Trump administration, warning staff that “they’re going to get fired” if the leaks do not stop. He also all but accused Priebus of the leaks.

On Thursday, Scaramucci appeared on CNN to complain about leakers and rebuff allegations that he accused Priebus of releasing sensitive information to the media. He also complained that his financial disclosure form was leaked to the press. However, financial disclosure forms are available to the public upon request, so no leak occurred, nor did any felony.

Kelly, who left his position as secretary of homeland security to be sworn in as chief of staff on Monday, requested Scaramucci’s removal, the New York Times and Politico reported, citing anonymous sources in the administration.

During a staff meeting at the White House, Kelly made it clear to members that he is in charge and that they would all answer directly to him, not the president, according to the New York Times.

“Kelly is already changing the culture here,” one White House aide told Politico.

There was “no way” Scaramucci could work with Kelly, a senior aide said.

It is unclear if Scaramucci will be offered another position in the administration. He was a member of the presidential transition team, and was initially named as an assistant to Trump and director of the White House Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs in mid-January.