Trump, quite simply, is the best at everything. Believe him.
Posted by The Trumpster Fire by HuffPost on Wednesday, February 28, 2018
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FEATURED:By Avery Anapol – 02/09/18 11:14 PM EST
A former lawyer in the George W. Bush White House on Friday criticized President Trump’s decision to block the release of a memo drafted by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.
Jamil Jaffer, who in the past served as senior counsel to the House Intelligence Committee and also as a former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, said Trump’s move was a “massive strategic miscalculation.”
“The White House’s failure to declassify the House Intelligence Committee minority memo — particularly in the face of unanimous bipartisan vote by the committee — represents a massive strategic miscalculation,” Jaffer said, according to Politico.
Trump last week approved the release of a GOP memo drafted by staff for Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), which accused the FBI and Justice Department of abusing a surveillance program to target the Trump campaign. The committee voted this week to release the Democratic rebuttal pending Trump’s approval.
“The decision to reject the committee’s request simply plays into the partisan narrative about the Nunes memo and deprives the American public of the benefit of both sides of highly politicized debate,” Jaffer said Friday.
His comments fall in line with other GOP critics of the move, who have said that Americans deserve the opportunity to view both documents. Democrats have blasted the move, accusing Trump of exhibiting a double standard in his handling of the memos.
Trump cited national security concerns as his reason not to release the Democratic memo, with White House counsel Don McGahn saying in a letter to Nunes that while Trump “is inclined to declassify” the memo, the administration believes it would create “especially significant concerns” for “national security and law enforcement interests.”
The president has claimed that the GOP memo released last week “totally vindicates” him in the probe into whether his campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election.
“Even worse,” Jaffer continued, “This unforced error undermines the President’s own ability to make the case about alleged failures in the intelligence collection process and, as such, is yet another example of this White House being its own worst enemy.”
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5:58 PM 09/19/2017
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is calling on the Justice Department to release transcripts of any intercepted communications he may have had with foreigners.
Manafort, a longtime Republican political consultant, also called on the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate the leak of details of secret surveillance warrants obtained by U.S. investigators.
“Mr. Manafort requests that the Department of Justice release any intercepts involving him and any non-Americans so interested parties can come to the same conclusion as the DOJ — there is nothing there,” Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said in a statement.
On Monday, CNN reported that investigators obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against Manafort prior to the presidential election. The wiretapping continued into early this year, according to CNN’s unnamed sources. (RELATED: Feds Wiretapped Paul Manafort Before And After The Election)
It is unclear whether the warrant was obtained before or after Manafort left the Trump campaign in August. According to CNN, the surveillance on Manafort, who has a residence in Trump Tower in New York, picked up conversations he had with Russian operatives about the election.
That was the second FISA warrant obtained by investigators against Manafort. The FBI also conducted surveillance on the longtime Republican operative during a 2014 investigation into his consulting work for a Ukrainian political party. That surveillance reportedly ended without charges being followed prior to Manafort joining the Trump campaign last May.
Manafort is currently at the center of a sprawling investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
That probe began as an inquiry into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government, but Mueller appears lately to have focused on Manafort’s business dealings. Mueller conducted an early-morning raid on Manafort’s Virginia residence at the end of July. The New York Times reported on Monday that Mueller, a former FBI director, told Manafort that he will be indicted.
Whether or not Manafort committed a crime — and he has not been charged with anything — the leak of information about FISA warrants is a federal crime, Maloni noted in his statement.
“If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges ever emerged,” Maloni said.
Information about FISA warrants is classified and tightly held by government officials and the federal judges that approve them. Unauthorized disclosures of FISA information is also a felony.
At a House Intelligence Committee hearing in March, then-FBI Director James Comey testified that the leak of FISA information is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
In his statement, Maloni called on the Justice Department’s watchdog to “immediately” open an investigation into the leak and to “examine the motivations behind the previous Administration’s effort to surveil a political opponent.”
Trump’s Justice Department has recently ramped up its efforts to get to the bottom of a spate of classified leaks. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are overseeing the effort, which includes a task force involving FBI agents.
The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment about the Manafort leak.
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