election

FILE PHOTO: Man types on computer keyboard in this illustration picture
FILE PHOTO: A man types on a computer keyboard in this illustration picture February 28, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration

February 18, 2019

By Dan Williams

BEERSHEBA, Israel (Reuters) – Israel has launched a cyber hotline, staffed mostly by veterans of military computing units, to enable businesses and private individuals to report suspected hacking and receive real-time solutions.

The 119 call-in number to the Computer Emergency Response Centre (CERT) is being billed by Israel and cyber experts as a world first.

“Our job is to mitigate the damage as quickly as possible, to learn about the threats and to spread the knowledge where relevant,” CERT director Lavy Shtokhamer told Reuters at the facility in the southern hi-tech hub city of Beersheba.

“A cyber-attack may not be limited only to property or financial damage. It can also threaten lives.”

In some cases, Shtokhamer said, CERT will dispatch teams of experts to affected computer users at a few hours’ notice.

At the center, 20 responder terminals face a bank of huge screens, one of which shows a world map with cyber-attacks rendered as meteor-like strikes on Israel and the country of origin of computer servers used by the hackers.

When Reuters viewed the facility, these were in the northeastern United States, western Europe and Indonesia – details Shtokhamer played down given hackers’ use of proxy servers to mask their true locations.

He declined to elaborate on this. Ahead of Israel’s April 9 election, its officials have been reticent about the possibility of online influence campaigns of the kind Russia has been accused of waging in the West, or about Chinese cyber-espionage.

Israeli cyber expertise is also widely believed to have been used in sabotage against Iran’s nuclear program and controversial surveillance software made available to foreign clients.

Since its launch three weeks ago, the hotline has received around 100 calls daily, Shtokhamer said.

Most complainants, he said, have been victims of cyber-criminals rather than nation-states, and less than one percent were hoax reports.

Around 15 percent of callers have been so-called “white hackers”, sleuths who find vulnerabilities in corporate or government systems and want them plugged before they can be hit.

CERT also runs a chat room that links up the technology officers of Israel’s major firms for candid but discreet information-sharing about data breaches.

Michael Levi, a Cardiff University criminology professor who has advised EU and U.N. agencies on cyber-security, described the Israeli hotline as unique and said it could catch on elsewhere.

“The keys are good advice and no leaks, and using patterns to build up good threat assessments and rapid responses,” he said. “The earlier you get reports the more you can prevent.”

(Reporting by Dan Williams, editing by Ed Osmond)

Source: OANN

Indonesia's presidential candidate Joko Widodo shakes hands with his opponent Prabowo Subianto after the second debate between presidential candidates ahead of the next general election in Jakarta
Indonesia’s presidential candidate Joko Widodo (L) shakes hands with his opponent Prabowo Subianto after the second debate between presidential candidates ahead of the next general election in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 17, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

February 18, 2019

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s two presidential candidates pledged on Sunday to achieve energy self-sufficiency by boosting the use of bioenergy, particularly fueled by palm oil, to cut costly oil imports by Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.

Indonesia, the world’s biggest palm oil producer, has been pushing for all diesel fuel used in the country to contain biodiesel to boost palm consumption, slash fuel imports, and narrow a yawning current account gap.

In a televised election debate, President Joko Widodo said if he won a second term the government planned to implement a B100 program, referring to fuel made entirely from palm oil, after last year making it mandatory to use biodiesel containing 20 percent bio-content (B20).

“We hope 30 percent of total palm production will go to biofuel. The plan is clear, so we will not rely on imported oil,” Widodo said, adding that Indonesia’s crude palm oil production had reached 46 million tonnes a year.

Agreeing on the importance of bioenergy for self-sufficiency, his opponent Prabowo Subianto said if elected he would also “boost the use of palm oil, palm sugar, cassava and ethanol from sugar (cane)”.

The challenger did not elaborate on his bioenergy plan, but his campaign team has proposed using millions of hectares of degraded land to cultivate palm sugar to produce energy.

Widodo’s government has previously said it would offer incentives for developers of B100, which the net oil importer hopes can replace fuel imports within three years.

Indonesia’s state energy company PT Pertamina has signed an agreement with Italian oil company Eni to develop a refinery in Indonesia that would produce fuel completely derived from crude palm oil (CPO).

Oil imports have contributed to Indonesia’s widening current account deficit and the volatility of the rupiah currency. The government claimed that its biodiesel program would save billions of dollars in diesel fuel imports.

Although retired general Prabowo agreed with Widodo on several points during the debate, he said Indonesia’s “land and water, and the resources within” must be controlled by the government.

“We are of the view that the government must be present in detail, thoroughly, firmly and actively to correct inequalities in wealth,” he said.

The challenger said the proportion of small farmers’ holdings in the country’s palm plantations should also be larger. Smallholders currently account for roughly 40 percent of Indonesia’s 12 million hectares of palm oil plantations.

Farmers currently do not require larger plots of land, but instead, they need a program to boost yield from their current farm, Mansuetus Darto of Palm Farmers Union said.

He added that farmers wanted more clarity on Widodo’s B100 program and have asked to ensure that small holders play a greater role in the biodiesel supply chain.

“This is an important task for Jokowi on how to prevent big palm companies to be the only main suppliers and not farmers,” Darto said, referring to the president’s nickname.

Both candidates expressed support for greater control of Indonesian natural resources.

President Widodo highlighted Pertamina’s takeover of stewardship of major oil and gas blocks from foreign operators, and an agreement for a state company to purchase a 51 percent stake in the giant Grasberg copper mine from Freeport McMoRan.

(Reporting by Fransiska Nangoy and Tabita Diela,; Additional reporting Bernadette Christina Munthe,; Editing by Ed Davies, Jan Harvey and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Venezuela Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza responds to questions in the press briefing room at the United Nations Headquarters in New York
FILE PHOTO: Venezuela Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza responds to questions in the press briefing room at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, U.S. February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

February 18, 2019

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela denied a group of European Parliament deputies entry into the country on Sunday, arguing they had “conspiratorial motives” for flying to Caracas in the throes of a political crisis.

The European Parliament last month joined a slew of Western nations in recognizing Venezuelan opposition chief Juan Guaido as interim head of state after President Nicolas Maduro won a second term in an election last year that critics denounced as a sham.

The four deputies from the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) were traveling to Venezuela to meet with Guaido, one of them said in a video distributed via social media.

“They have retained our passports, they haven’t communicated the reason for our expulsion,” Esteban González Pons said.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said on his Twitter account that the lawmakers had been advised several days ago they would not be allowed entry into the South American country.

Venezuela would “not permit the European extreme right to disturb the peace and stability of the country with another of its rude, interventionist actions,” he wrote.

There is growing pressure on Maduro at home and abroad to step down so that Guaido can head an interim government to organize free elections. Maduro, who retains the backing of Russia and China, says he is the victim of a coup.

(Reporting by Mayela Armas; Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Source: OANN

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio visits the Colombia-Venezuela border at the Simon Bolivar International Bridge on the outskirts of Cucuta
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio visits the Colombia-Venezuela border at the Simon Bolivar International Bridge on the outskirts of Cucuta, Colombia February 17, 2019. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

February 18, 2019

By Steven Grattan

CUCUTA, Colombia (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, visiting the Colombia-Venezuela border on Sunday, warned Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of severe consequences if he takes action against the country’s opposition leader and self-declared president or U.S. citizens.

In a televised interview, Rubio declined to say if he would support U.S. military action against Venezuela, which is mired in a political and economic crisis.

But the Republican senator said he was confident that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration would not stand by if the Venezuelan government harmed or imprisoned opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president last month.

“There are certain lines and Maduro knows what they are,” Rubio, a senator from Florida seen as an influential voice on Venezuela policy in Washington, told CNN. “The consequences will be severe and they will be swift.”

Rubio also warned Maduro against harming U.S. personnel working in the country and said the United States would also respond if aide workers were targeted.

The senator was part of a U.S. delegation visiting the Colombian border city of Cucuta, where humanitarian aid is being stockpiled for planned delivery to Venezuela.

While Maduro is refusing to allow in the food, medicine and other supplies, Guaido has vowed to move hundreds of tonnes of the aid into the country on Saturday.

Guaido has said he will announce details on Monday of how he plans to get the aid into the country from Colombia, Brazil and Curacao, despite Maduro’s opposition.

The Feb. 23 deadline sets the stage for a showdown with Maduro, who calls the aid a U.S.-orchestrated show and denies any crisis despite many Venezuelans’ scant access to food and medicine. It is unclear whether the military will allow aid to cross the border.

Most Western countries and many of Venezuela’s neighbors have recognized Guaido as the legitimate head of state after Maduro won a second term in an election last year that critics denounced as a sham. Maduro retains the backing of Russia and China and control of Venezuelan state institutions including the military.

The U.S. delegation included Carlos Trujillo, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States, and Republican U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.

(Reporting by Steven Grattan in Cucuta; Additional reporting by Jason Lange in Washington; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: APEC Summit 2018 in Port Moresby
FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison arrives for APEC CEO Summit 2018 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 17 November 2018. Fazry Ismail/Pool via REUTERS

February 18, 2019

By Colin Packham

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A cyber attack this month on Australian lawmakers was probably carried out by an unidentified foreign country, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, adding that the networks of major political parties were breached ahead of an election due by May.

Lawmakers were this month told to urgently change their passwords after Australia’s cyber intelligence agency detected an attack on the national parliament’s computer network.

The hackers breached the networks of Australia’s major political parties, Morrison said, as he issued an initial assessment by investigators.

“Our cyber experts believe that a sophisticated state actor is responsible for this malicious activity,” he told parliament.

“We also became aware that the networks of some political parties, Liberal, Labor and Nationals have also been affected.”

Morrison did not reveal what information was accessed, but he said there was no evidence of election interference.

Australians will return to the polls by May.

Morrison did not name any suspects, but government analysts have said China, Russia and Iran were the most likely culprits.

Ties with China have deteriorated since 2017, after Canberra accused Beijing of meddling in its domestic affairs. Both countries have since sought to mend relations, but Australia remains wary of China.

Tension rose this month after Australia rescinded the visa of a prominent Chinese businessman, just months after barring Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies from supplying equipment to its 5G broadband network.

Officers of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency covertly monitored computers of U.S. Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and campaign committees, and stole large amounts of data, U.S. investigators have concluded.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall are seen behind the border fence between Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana
FILE PHOTO: The prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall are seen behind the border fence between Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes/File Photo

February 18, 2019

By David Morgan and David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – California will “imminently” challenge President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to obtain funds for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said on Sunday.

“Definitely and imminently,” Becerra told ABC’s “This Week” program when asked whether and when California would sue the Trump administration in federal court. Other states controlled by Democrats are expected to join the effort.

“We are prepared, we knew something like this might happen. And with our sister state partners, we are ready to go,” he said.

Trump invoked the emergency powers on Friday under a 1976 law after Congress rebuffed his request for $5.7 billion to help build the wall that was a signature 2016 campaign promise.

The move is intended to allow him to redirect money appropriated by Congress for other purposes to wall construction.

The White House says Trump will have access to about $8 billion. Nearly $1.4 billion was allocated for border fencing under a spending measure approved by Congress last week, and Trump’s emergency declaration is aimed at giving him another $6.7 billion for the wall.

Becerra cited Trump’s own comment on Friday that he “didn’t need to do this” as evidence that the emergency declaration is legally vulnerable.

“It’s become clear that this is not an emergency, not only because no one believes it is but because Donald Trump himself has said it’s not,” he said. 

Becerra and California Governor Gavin Newsom, both Democrats, have been expected to sue to block Trump’s move.

Becerra told ABC that California and other states are waiting to learn which federal programs will lose money to determine what kind of harm the states could face from the declaration.

He said California may be harmed by less federal funding for emergency response services, the military and stopping drug trafficking.

“We’re confident there are at least 8 billion ways that we can prove harm,” Becerra said.

Three Texas landowners and an environmental group filed the first lawsuit against Trump’s move on Friday, saying it violates the Constitution and would infringe on their property rights.

The legal challenges could at least slow down Trump’s efforts to build the wall but would likely end up at the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court.

Congress never defined a national emergency in the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which has been invoked dozens of times without a single successful legal challenge.

Democrats in Congress have vowed to challenge Trump’s declaration and several Republican lawmakers have said they are not certain whether they would support the president.

“I think many of us are concerned about this,” Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Trump could, however, veto any resolution of disapproval from Congress.

White House senior adviser Stephen Miller told Fox News on Sunday that Trump’s declaration would allow the administration to build “hundreds of miles” of border wall by September 2020.

“We have 120-odd miles that are already under construction or are already obligated plus the additional funds we have and then we’re going to outlay – we’re going to look at a few hundred miles.”

Trump’s proposed wall and wider immigration policies are likely to be a major campaign issue ahead of the next presidential election in November 2020, where he will seek a second four-year term.

(Reporting by David Morgan and David Lawder; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

Marco Rubio: Venezuelan soldiers would be committing 'crime against humanity' by blocking aid

During a visit to the Colombian border city of Cucuta, Sen. Marco Rubio warned Venezuelan soldiers that they would commit a "crime against humanity" if they blocked the entry of U.S. aid being channeled through rivals of disputed socialist President Nicolás Maduro.

The Florida Republican made a stop in Cucuta on Sunday, where U.S. aid packages were being stockpiled for distribution by opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognized by the U.S. and dozens of other countries as Venezuela’s legitimate president.

Maduro has been using troops to block aid from entering, saying it’s unnecessary and part of coup to overthrow him.

Venezuelans fleeing hardship at home have rushed into Cucuta seeking food and medicine in recent months. Rubio told a cheering crowd that Venezuelan soldiers who blocked aid would spend "the rest of their lives hiding from justice."

REPORT: POPE SAYS NOT TIME YET FOR MEDIATION IN VENEZUELA

During a contentious hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the U.S. special envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, told members of the committee that while the Trump administration has preferred to use economic, humanitarian and diplomatic channels to deal with the Maduro regime, the use of military force is not being ruled out.

“When we say all options are on the table, that is because all options are on the table,” Abrams said, adding that military force “is not the preferred route and not the route we’re going down.”

The comments on Capitol Hill by Abrams came as President Trump met last week in the Oval Office with Colombian President Ivan Duque. The two leaders discussed, among other issues, the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela that has sent an estimated 1.14 million refugees into Colombia.

Despite having the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela is gripped by widespread malnutrition, disease and violence after 20 years of socialist rule launched by the late President Hugo Chávez. Critics have accused Maduro, Chávez’s hand-picked successor, of unfairly winning an election last year for a second six-year term by banning his popular rivals from running and jailing others.

The U.S. and other nations have demanded Maduro step down and have recognized National Assembly leader Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader. Venezuelans also have staged large protests to pressure Maduro to leave.

Venezuela’s opposition has called its supporters into the streets across the country in a campaign to break the military’s support of Maduro, while Maduro has rallied supporters to demonstrations following over a month of pressure led by Guaido.

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"Right now, I’m going to give this order to the armed forces: Allow in the humanitarian aid. That’s an order," Guaido told the mass of people gathered in Caracas.

Guaido said last week that he would try to run caravans of badly needed food and medicine into Venezuela — but it wouldn’t start for nearly two weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source: Fox News Politics

Schiff 'Pretty Compelling Evidence' of Trump Campaign-Russia Collusion

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., on Sunday said there’s “pretty compelling evidence” of Trump campaign collusion with Russia during the 2016 election.

In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Schiff refuted the findings of  Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr, R-N.C., that the panel found no evidence of collusion with Moscow.

"You can see evidence in plain sight on the issue of collusion, pretty compelling evidence,” Schiff said. “Now, there's a difference between seeing evidence of collusion and being able to prove a criminal conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt.”

"All of this is evidence of collusion,” he added. “And you either have to look the other way to say it isn't, or you have to have a different word for it, because it is a corrupt dealing with a foreign adversary during a campaign.”

Schiff also said the president’s declaration of a national emergency to build his long-promised border wall is “daring the court to strike this down.”

"This is the first time a president has tried to declare an emergency when Congress explicitly rejected funding for the particular project that the president is advocating,” Schiff said. “He's pretty much daring the court to strike this down. It is going to be a real test for my GOP colleagues in Congress and their devotion to the institution."

Source: NewsMax Politics

Report: Bernie Sanders Records Campaign Announcement Video

Bernie Sanders has recorded a campaign video in which he says he’s running for president in 2020, Politico reports, citing two people familiar. It’s unclear when, or whether, the video will be released, Politico says.

Sanders, 77, an independent senator from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, said earlier this week he would introduce a Medicare for All bill “fairly soon.” In the event of a campaign announcement, he would be joining a widening group of presidential hopefuls including Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Kamala Harris of California, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey

Sanders spokeswoman Sarah Ford didn’t respond to a request for comment from Politico. In January, Politico reported that the Sanders team was in talks with film-making company Means of Production, which created New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign video in the 2018 midterm election.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Nigerians wake to find a delayed election, with some angry

Nigerians have awakened to find the presidential election delayed a week from Saturday until Feb. 23 because of what the electoral commission has called unspecified "challenges." The country’s top two political parties condemn the last-minute postponement.

Some bitter voters in the capital, Abuja, and elsewhere who traveled home to cast their ballots say they cannot afford to wait another seven days.

A spokesman for top opposition challenger Atiku Abubakar in Delta state said the electoral commission "has destroyed the soul of Nigeria with this act."

Abubakar is expected to speak to reporters later Saturday from his home in the north.

One ruling party campaign director said it is better to give the electoral commission time to conduct a credible vote.

The commission is to give more details in the afternoon.

Source: Fox News World

Sarah Sanders says she ‘voluntarily’ agreed to Mueller interview

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders acknowledged Friday she was interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team as part of their probe into whether anyone on the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“The president urged me, like he has everyone in the administration, to fully cooperate with the special counsel. I was happy to voluntarily sit down with them,” Sanders said in a statement.

MUELLER’S RUSSIA INVESTIGATION: WHAT TO KNOW

She did not elaborate on when the interview took place, or what was discussed. But others involved in the campaign who later took White House jobs have been interviewed by Mueller’s team, including former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former press secretary Sean Spicer.

Sanders worked on the presidential campaign of her father, Mike Huckabee, before joining Trump’s campaign in 2016. She later took a press job in the White House, before being promoted to White House press secretary.

WILLIAM BARR SWORN IN AS ATTORNEY GENERAL, FOLLOWING SENATE CONFIRMATION

CNN first reported Friday that Sanders had been interviewed by Mueller’s team.

Mueller’s investigation, which was initially ordered to look into the 2016 election, has gone on for more than a year and half. It has expanded to probe financial crimes of Trump associates before the election, conversations Trump’s national security adviser had with the Russians during the transition, and whether Trump obstructed justice with his comments and actions related to the probe.

Sanders, as Trump’s top spokesperson, has repeatedly denied any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

"It’s very clear that Russia meddled in the election, it’s also very clear that it didn’t have an impact on the election, and it’s also very clear that the Trump campaign didn’t collude with the Russians in any ways for this process to take place," Sanders said during a briefing last year.

Several weeks ago, then-Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said during congressional testimony that he’s been “fully briefed, and I look forward to Mueller delivering the final report. Right now, the investigation is, I think, close to being completed.”

Fox News’ John Roberts and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Judge imposes partial gag order in Roger Stone case

A federal judge on Friday issued a partial gag order in the criminal case of former Trump political adviser Roger Stone as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the federal court for the District of Columbia on Friday ordered that Stone “refrain from making statements to the media or in public settings that pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case,” according to the court filing.

ROGER STONE PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO MUELLER CHARGES IN FEDERAL COURT

Jackson further ordered that any participants in the case, including witnesses and counsel, “refrain” from making any statements to the media or public when they are near the courthouse that could “influence any juror, potential juror, judge, witness or court officer or interfere with the administration of justice.”

"There will be no additional restrictions imposed on the defendant’s public statements or appearances at this time, although this order may be amended in the future…if necessary," Jackson said in a court order. "This order should not be interpreted as modifying or superseding the condition of the defendant’s release that absolutely prohibits him from communicating with any witness in the case, either directly or indirectly. Nor does this order permit the defendant to intimidate or threaten any witness, or to engage or attempt to engage in any conduct in violation of [U.S. Code.]"

She added: "Finally, while it is not up to the Court to advise the defendant as to whether a succession of public statements would be in his best interest at this time, it notes that one factor that will be considered in the evaluation of any future request for relief based on pretrial publicity will be the extent to which the publicity was engendered by the defendant himself."

Stone, who last month pleaded not guilty to obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and making false statements to Congress after being indicted last month as part of Mueller’s probe, was also ordered not to travel anywhere other than Washington, the Eastern District of New York, and the Southern District of Florida while the case is pending.  Stone is not permitted to have a passport in his possession or apply for any new passport. Stone was also ordered to return to court “whenever required.”

Stone, 66, was taken into custody last month after being indicted by a federal grand jury a day earlier as part of Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates in the 2016 presidential election. More than a dozen FBI agents arrived in tactical gear outside of Stone’s home.

Following his arrest, Stone made several media appearances and comments about the case on his social media accounts.

The 24-page indictment released last month alleges that Stone worked to obstruct the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election by making false statements to the committee, denying he had records sought by the committee and persuading a witness to provide false testimony.

The indictment does not charge Stone with conspiring with WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website that published the emails, or with Russian officers Mueller says hacked them. Instead, it accuses him of witness tampering, obstruction, and false statements about his interactions related to WikiLeaks.

Stone served as an adviser to Trump for years before Trump ran for president. He left Trump’s campaign in August 2015, but maintained regular contact with and publicly supported the Trump campaign throughout the 2016 presidential election.

FBI’S SHOW OF FORCE IN ROGER STONE ARREST SPURS CRITICISM OF MUELLER TACTICS 

Jackson, who presided over the case of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, also imposed a gag order in that criminal case as part of Mueller’s probe.

Mueller’s investigation, which was initially ordered to look into the 2016 election, has gone on for more than a year and a half. It has expanded to probe financial crimes of Trump associates before the election, conversations Trump’s national security adviser had with the Russians during the transition and whether Trump obstructed justice with his comments and actions related to the probe.

Twenty-six Russian nationals and three Russian companies have been charged with interfering in the 2016 presidential election. But none of the Trump associates have been charged with crimes related to collusion.

Other convictions include former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who both pleaded guilty to making false statements in 2017. Former campaign adviser Rick Gates in 2018 pleaded guilty and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted and later pleaded guilty in a separate financial crimes case dating back before the 2016 election.

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements in a case brought by Mueller in November. Alex van der Zwaan, a London-based lawyer, pleaded guilty to making false statements this year, and Richard Pinedo, a California man, pleaded guilty to identity fraud in 2018.

Source: Fox News Politics

Gillibrand on call to tear down border wall: 'If it makes sense, I could support it'

CONCORD, N.H. — Democratic presidential contender Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says she could possibly support a call by former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas to tear down parts of the existing U.S.-Mexico border wall.

“I’d have to ask folks in that part of the country to see whether the fencing that exists today is helpful or unhelpful,” the senator from New York told Fox News on Friday, as she was campaigning in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state of New Hampshire.

“I could look at it and see which part he means and why, and if it makes sense, I could support it,” Gillibrand added.

O’ROURKE CALLS FOR TEARING DOWN WALL

O’Rourke, who’s seriously mulling a White House bid of his own, said Thursday in an interview with NBC News that he’d “absolutely … take the wall down," referring to the barrier by El Paso, Texas.

O’Rourke, who came close to upsetting GOP Sen. Ted Cruz in last November’s Senate election in Texas, argued that the existing 600 miles of wall and fencing along the 2,000-mile border have “not in any demonstrable way made us safer.”

Republicans quickly criticized O’Rourke, charging that he embraces open borders.

Gillibrand, kicking off a two-day campaign swing in New Hampshire, stressed that “Democrats are not afraid of national security or border security. Democrats have funded border security for decades.”

“What President Trump wants to do is build a medieval-style wall,” she charged. “It is a hateful message.”

TRUMP DECLARES BORDER EMERGENCY

Gillibrand arrived in New Hampshire as the president declared a national emergency along the southern border, potentially allowing him to divert billions in Defense Department funding toward wall construction.

“We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border … one way or the other, we have to do it,” Trump said in the Rose Garden.

Gillibrand targeted the president’s move, saying, “I think the only national emergency is the humanitarian crisis that President Trump has created at our border by separating families from children and treating people who need our help inhumanely. I think this is manufactured, I think this [is] inappropriate.”

She highlighted that congressional Democrats will sue the Trump administration and called the president’s move “not only reckless but it’s unwise.”

Source: Fox News Politics

Gillibrand on call to tear down border wall: 'If it makes sense, I could support it'

CONCORD, N.H. — Democratic presidential contender Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says she could possibly support a call by former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas to tear down parts of the existing U.S.-Mexico border wall.

“I’d have to ask folks in that part of the country to see whether the fencing that exists today is helpful or unhelpful,” the senator from New York told Fox News on Friday, as she was campaigning in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state of New Hampshire.

“I could look at it and see which part he means and why, and if it makes sense, I could support it,” Gillibrand added.

O’ROURKE CALLS FOR TEARING DOWN WALL

O’Rourke, who’s seriously mulling a White House bid of his own, said Thursday in an interview with NBC News that he’d “absolutely … take the wall down," referring to the barrier by El Paso, Texas.

O’Rourke, who came close to upsetting GOP Sen. Ted Cruz in last November’s Senate election in Texas, argued that the existing 600 miles of wall and fencing along the 2,000-mile border have “not in any demonstrable way made us safer.”

Republicans quickly criticized O’Rourke, charging that he embraces open borders.

Gillibrand, kicking off a two-day campaign swing in New Hampshire, stressed that “Democrats are not afraid of national security or border security. Democrats have funded border security for decades.”

“What President Trump wants to do is build a medieval-style wall,” she charged. “It is a hateful message.”

TRUMP DECLARES BORDER EMERGENCY

Gillibrand arrived in New Hampshire as the president declared a national emergency along the southern border, potentially allowing him to divert billions in Defense Department funding toward wall construction.

“We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border … one way or the other, we have to do it,” Trump said in the Rose Garden.

Gillibrand targeted the president’s move, saying, “I think the only national emergency is the humanitarian crisis that President Trump has created at our border by separating families from children and treating people who need our help inhumanely. I think this is manufactured, I think this [is] inappropriate.”

She highlighted that congressional Democrats will sue the Trump administration and called the president’s move “not only reckless but it’s unwise.”

Source: Fox News Politics

Trump Org Scraps Plans for 2 Hotel Chains, Blaming Politics

President Donald Trump's company is scrapping plans for two new hotel chains announced two years ago, casting blame in part on a hostile political environment.

The Trump Organization said Thursday that it will no longer try to open hotels under its Scion and American Idea brands catering to budget and mid-priced travelers, a departure from its focus on luxury hotels. The announcement comes as the company has posted losses at a few of its golf properties and brand experts say it has lost some of its appeal.

"We live in a climate where everything will be used against us, whether by the fake news or by Democrats who are only interested in presidential harassment and wasting everyone's time, barraging us with nonsense letters," the president's son, Eric Trump, said in an emailed statement. "We already have the greatest properties in the world and if we have to slow down our growth for the time being, we are happy to do it."

The rollout began with promises of fast success. The company said in March 2017 that nearly two dozen developers had already signed letters of intent to open mid-priced Scion hotels, and was enthusiastic about the future prospects.

"It's full steam ahead," said Eric Danziger, who oversees the hotel business for the family. "It's in our DNA."

But the avalanche of deals never materialized, as was the case for its budget-priced American Idea, which was launched a few months later at a party at the Trump Tower in New York.

The only developer willing to strike a deal was Chawla Hotels of Mississippi. It planned to open as many as four hotels in the state — but now that is off, too.

"In today's politically charged environment," hotel consultant Lee Hunter told The Associated Press recently, "everyone is cautious."

The company is also struggling with some self-imposed restraints on expanding its business.

When Trump became president, he handed day-to-day control of the company to Eric and his other adult son, Donald Jr. He also agreed his company would not pursue new deals abroad and that domestic deals would be vetted by a lawyer hired to make sure they posed no conflicts with Trump's presidency.

"We walked away from billions of dollars' worth of deals and ceased virtually all expansion," said Eric Trump in his statement. "We continue to make tremendous sacrifices and understand the bigger picture more than anyone — our father has the most important and powerful job in the world."

The Trump Organization did not dismiss the possibility that it could revive the new brands someday, perhaps when Trump leaves the presidency.

The end of the rollout follows bad news for the company in other areas.

Charities have canceled events at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, his Scottish clubs lose millions of dollars each year and several buildings have stripped the Trump names off their facades.

The Trump Organization owns or has licensed its name to 17 golf clubs and more than two dozen hotels and residential buildings around the world.

The Trump Organization has also drawn scrutiny in federal probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Michael Cohen's campaign finance violations. More recently, it is facing blowback from Democrats in Congress for firing long-time workers at several of its U.S. golf clubs for being in the country illegally, raising doubts about its hiring practices amid the president's vow to crack down on such workers and build a wall to keep more from coming in.

The company has said it had no choice but to fire workers once it discovered they were in the country illegally.

Source: NewsMax America

Trump Org Scraps Plans for 2 Hotel Chains, Blaming Politics

President Donald Trump's company is scrapping plans for two new hotel chains announced two years ago, casting blame in part on a hostile political environment.

The Trump Organization said Thursday that it will no longer try to open hotels under its Scion and American Idea brands catering to budget and mid-priced travelers, a departure from its focus on luxury hotels. The announcement comes as the company has posted losses at a few of its golf properties and brand experts say it has lost some of its appeal.

"We live in a climate where everything will be used against us, whether by the fake news or by Democrats who are only interested in presidential harassment and wasting everyone's time, barraging us with nonsense letters," the president's son, Eric Trump, said in an emailed statement. "We already have the greatest properties in the world and if we have to slow down our growth for the time being, we are happy to do it."

The rollout began with promises of fast success. The company said in March 2017 that nearly two dozen developers had already signed letters of intent to open mid-priced Scion hotels, and was enthusiastic about the future prospects.

"It's full steam ahead," said Eric Danziger, who oversees the hotel business for the family. "It's in our DNA."

But the avalanche of deals never materialized, as was the case for its budget-priced American Idea, which was launched a few months later at a party at the Trump Tower in New York.

The only developer willing to strike a deal was Chawla Hotels of Mississippi. It planned to open as many as four hotels in the state — but now that is off, too.

"In today's politically charged environment," hotel consultant Lee Hunter told The Associated Press recently, "everyone is cautious."

The company is also struggling with some self-imposed restraints on expanding its business.

When Trump became president, he handed day-to-day control of the company to Eric and his other adult son, Donald Jr. He also agreed his company would not pursue new deals abroad and that domestic deals would be vetted by a lawyer hired to make sure they posed no conflicts with Trump's presidency.

"We walked away from billions of dollars' worth of deals and ceased virtually all expansion," said Eric Trump in his statement. "We continue to make tremendous sacrifices and understand the bigger picture more than anyone — our father has the most important and powerful job in the world."

The Trump Organization did not dismiss the possibility that it could revive the new brands someday, perhaps when Trump leaves the presidency.

The end of the rollout follows bad news for the company in other areas.

Charities have canceled events at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, his Scottish clubs lose millions of dollars each year and several buildings have stripped the Trump names off their facades.

The Trump Organization owns or has licensed its name to 17 golf clubs and more than two dozen hotels and residential buildings around the world.

The Trump Organization has also drawn scrutiny in federal probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Michael Cohen's campaign finance violations. More recently, it is facing blowback from Democrats in Congress for firing long-time workers at several of its U.S. golf clubs for being in the country illegally, raising doubts about its hiring practices amid the president's vow to crack down on such workers and build a wall to keep more from coming in.

The company has said it had no choice but to fire workers once it discovered they were in the country illegally.

Source: NewsMax America

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You gotta hand it to our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters in the press. They couldn’t drag Grandma over the finish line on Election Day, but they can keep dragging her into their studios to whine about the guy who defeated her.

Nick Visser, HuffPo:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday launched a blistering attack against President Donald Trump for his near-silence on the humanitarian disaster in Puerto Rico, questioning the president’s focus on a days-long campaign against NFL athletes on Twitter while the U.S. territory has struggled with universal devastation.

“I’m not sure he knows that Puerto Ricans are American citizens,” Clinton told Sirius XM’s Zerlina Maxwell on Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Wisconsinites aren’t sure Hillary Clinton knows that they’re American citizens.

I’m looking at HuffPo’s front page now, and the only headlines I see about Puerto Rico are about Trump’s reaction to it. Same with CNN. MSNBC has exactly one non-Trump-related headline about it. It’s almost as if their only interest in the story is political.

This whole #TakeTheKnee thing is dumb and overblown, on both sides, but let’s not pretend the media really cares about Puerto Rico. They care about leverage, and they think this gives them some.

Question for all you #woke journalists in #theresistance: If you think Trump is focusing on the NFL protests as a distraction from the real issues, because he knows you can’t resist taking the bait, then… um… why are you taking the bait?

Why do you keep doing exactly what this guy wants you to do? It keeps happening again and again and again, yet you don’t seem to learn anything from it.

That works for me, because I never want you to win another election. At this point, the only thing worse than President Trump is President [Fill in Democrat here].

Go ahead, keep having your little sob sessions with Hillary. Keep pretending none of this is your fault. Keep driving away anybody who doesn’t march in lockstep with you.

Keep up the good work.

Source: DC Trawler – The Daily Caller


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