Month: October 2016

CNN, Brazile part ways amid renewed WikiLeaks controversy


By Amy Tennery
| NEW YORK

NEW YORK CNN cut ties with political commentator and interim Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile after leaked emails suggested she offered advisers to Hillary Clinton advance information about presidential debate questions, the news network reported on Monday.

Brazile came under fire earlier this month after a hacked email published by WikiLeaks showed she may have tipped off the Democratic presidential nominee’s campaign about a March CNN town-hall debate question about the death penalty.

CNN announced her departure after a subsequent leaked email showed she said she was privy to “questions in advance” and offered to “send a few more.” Brazile had offered the network her resignation earlier this month, CNN reported.

Brazile previously denied allegations that she gave the Clinton campaign information about debate questions ahead of time, according to media reports.

Brazile, currently serving as interim head of the DNC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment but posted several tweets on Monday as the news broke.

“Thank you @CNN,” Brazile tweeted. “Honored to be a Democratic strategist and commentator on the network. Godspeed to all my former colleagues.”

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized CNN, alleging it is biased against his campaign.

A Clinton spokesman said in an email the campaign would not comment “on the authenticity of any individual emails that have been hacked by the Russian government.”

FBI Director James Comey said on Friday the agency was probing more emails that might relate to Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Peter Cooney)



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Clinton campaign confident in anonymously sourced stories on FBI director


Senior Hillary Clinton staffers told reporters Monday they’re confident in the accuracy of two anonymously sourced reports alleging FBI Director James B. Comey opposed adding his name to a statement accusing Russia of interfering in the presidential election because it was too close to Nov. 8.

“We’re simply acting on the information we have here,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said. “It has now been confirmed by two sources.”

Mook and Clinton’s press secretary, Brian Fallon, held a call with reporters Monday evening to discuss an “explosive” report claiming Comey “ensured that the FBI would not join in the announcement naming Russia as interfering with elections because it was too close to Election Day.”

The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper Jr., and the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement on Oct. 7 that hacked emails published by WikiLeaks appear to be part of a larger, Russian-led effort to “interfere with the U.S. election process.”

“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” the statement said.

The FBI was reportedly approached to be part of the statement, but Comey allegedly declined, stating that it was too close to the election to get involved in an effort like that, CNBC reported Monday afternoon.

That article, which cited only one anonymous “former FBI official,” reported, “FBI Director James Comey argued privately that it was too close to Election Day for the United States government to name Russia as meddling in the U.S. election and ultimately ensured that the FBI’s name was not on the document that the U.S. government put out.”

The Huffington Post reported the same story later that afternoon, but with a separate, also anonymous source.

“A source familiar with the interagency discussions confirms to The Huffington Post that Comey declined to [sign onto a statement saying the Russian government was meddling in the U.S] because, specifically, he was concerned the statement was coming too close to the election,” the Huffington Post reported.

Hillary Clinton wants Michelle Obama in her Cabinet

Also from the Washington Examiner

The Democratic nominee said the first lady would be a fitting member of her administration.

10/31/16 7:00 PM

The story’s author stressed his source was separate from CNBC’s, explaining, “The source who spoke to the HuffPo is not a former FBI official and spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.”

On Monday, the Clinton campaign pounced on the anonymously sourced stories, claiming they demonstrate the FBI director is applying a clear double standard when it comes to scrutinizing Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump.

“In a recent House hearing, [Comey] was asked more than a dozen times about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, and Russia’s interference in the election,” Mook said. “And each time he denied the comment. It’s impossible to view this as anything less than a blatant double standard.”

“That Director Comey would show more discretion in a matter concerning a foreign state actor than one involving the Democratic nominee for president is nothing short of jaw-dropping,” Mook said.

Comey informed Democratic and Republican lawmakers last week that its investigation of disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner turned up additional emails possibly related to the private server Clinton maintained when she worked at the State Department.

Lightsaber-wielding Bernie Sanders takes on Darth Vader Koch brother

Also from the Washington Examiner

“When you’re the only one in the office in a costume this morning. #HappyHalloween,” Charles Koch tweeted.

10/31/16 6:29 PM

The additional emails were found on a laptop shared by Weiner and his estranged wife and longtime Clinton aide, Huma Abedin.

The laptop may contain as many as 1,000 emails, which FBI agents are checking now to see if they’re related to official government work, if they’re are classified, or if they’re simply duplicates of emails authorities already processed.

Justice Dept. to 'dedicate all necessary resources' to Hillary Clinton email probe

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“We assure you that the Department will continue to work closely with the FBI,” a statement said.

10/31/16 4:34 PM



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Tech billionaire Thiel says Trump movement 'not going away'


By Alana Wise
| WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON Billionaire technology investor Peter Thiel, a lightning rod for criticism in Silicon Valley for his support of Donald Trump, predicted on Monday that the movement the Republican presidential nominee has created would carry on even if he loses his bid for the White House on Nov. 8.

“No matter what happens in this election, what Trump represents isn’t crazy, and it’s not going away,” Thiel said in a speech to reporters at the National Press Club in Washington.

Thiel, who announced earlier this month he was donating $1.25 million to help Trump get elected, said the New York businessman was laying the groundwork for “a new Republican Party” that will go “beyond the dogmas of Reaganism.”

Thiel attacked Washington in his remarks, saying its elite insiders were out of touch with ordinary Americans and that Trump was shaking up a system in need of change.

“The truth is, no matter how crazy this election seems, it is less crazy than the condition of our country,” said Thiel.

While it is impossible to predict what will happen to Trump and his followers after the election, Thiel is not alone in his view.

“This will certainly continue after Nov. 8, whether Donald Trump is leading the movement or not,” Republican strategist Alice Stewart said on Monday, arguing that the movement surrounding Trump will have lasting effects on the Republican Party.

“Without a doubt, Trump has tapped into an electorate that has felt like their voices have not been heard in quite some time,” she said, adding that the Republican Party old guard would have to work with followers of Trump’s newer brand of conservatism, regardless of the outcome of the election, if the party is to survive.

IMPERFECT PEOPLE

Thiel, who was born in Germany and came to the United States as a child, is best known as a co-founder of online payment service PayPal Holdings Inc and an early backer of online social network Facebook Inc.

His support for the real estate developer and reality TV star has made him a target for scorn in liberal-leaning tech circles, especially after his full-throated endorsement of Trump at the Republican National Convention in July.

The only major-name Trump backer in Silicon Valley, Thiel has attracted criticism and some have called for Thiel’s removal from Facebook’s board. Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has insisted on Thiel staying, citing the importance of diversity of opinion at the company.

Trump’s tirades against cross-border trade agreements and immigration run counter to the views of most in the U.S. tech industry, which sells its products worldwide and has leaned heavily on talented programmers coming to the United States from overseas.

On Monday, Thiel accused the media of taking too literally many of Trump’s more controversial proposals, including imposing a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country and building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

He also said the comments Trump made about groping and kissing women in a 2005 video that was made public earlier this month were “clearly offensive and inappropriate.”

But Thiel said he and other Trump supporters were voting on policy, not personality. He added that both Trump and White House rival Democrat Hillary Clinton were “imperfect people, to say the least.”

On top of his political views, Thiel has faced a backlash in the media for secretly funding a lawsuit against the online publishing company Gawker Media by former professional wrestler Terry Bollea, known professionally as Hulk Hogan, that ultimately led to the bankruptcy and sale of Gawker.

Thiel on Monday defended his decision to bankroll the suit against the site, which a decade earlier outed Thiel as gay in an article entitled “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people.” Thiel said the judicial system was too costly for all but the very rich.

“If you’re a single-digit millionaire like Hulk Hogan, you have no effective access to the legal system,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Weber; Editing by Bill Rigby)



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Lightsaber-wielding Bernie Sanders takes on Darth Vader Koch brother


The Vermont senator shot back at Charles Koch, ".@Koch_Industries Our great nation can no longer be hijacked by right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers." (Screenshot)

Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is taking on the Koch brothers this Halloween.

Charles Koch, who with his brother David are known for their millions of dollars in donations to conservative politicians, tweeted a picture of himself in a Darth Vader costume from the “Star Wars” movie franchise.

“When you’re the only one in the office in a costume this morning. #HappyHalloween,” the tweet stated.

The Vermont senator shot back, “.@Koch_Industries Our great nation can no longer be hijacked by right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers.”

Sanders’ campaign message focused on lambasting the industrialist brothers for their donations to Republican-affiliated super PACs.

Justice Dept. to 'dedicate all necessary resources' to Hillary Clinton email probe

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“We assure you that the Department will continue to work closely with the FBI,” a statement said.

10/31/16 4:34 PM

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Uproar over whether FBI chief broke law by raising new Clinton emails


By Mica Rosenberg
| NEW YORK

NEW YORK Whether FBI Director James Comey broke the law may hinge on whether he had political motivations or was merely doing his job by reviving Democrat Hillary Clinton’s email controversy just days before the Nov. 8 presidential election.

Richard Painter, a chief White House ethics lawyer to former Republican President George W. Bush, on Saturday accused Comey of violating the 1939 Hatch Act when the FBI chief wrote Congress on Friday that more of the candidate’s emails would be scrutinized.

On Sunday, U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid wrote to Comey to accuse him of partisan actions that may have broken the law.

The Hatch Act bars government employees from taking part in political activities that include soliciting or accepting donations from a political party and using official authority to interfere with the outcome of an election.

Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said, “I would be surprised if this complaint leads to anything significant, but I would also be surprised if Comey’s tenure as the FBI director will not be shortened.”

“Even if he didn’t violate the letter of the Hatch Act, he certainly violated the spirit of the Hatch Act, which should have prompted him to think twice before issuing that letter. Especially because the letter didn’t say anything,” he said.

Little is publicly known about the new email trove. Comey wrote Congress the FBI had yet to determine the significance.

Painter filed his complaint with the independent Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Office of Government Ethics. A spokesman for the OSC, which has a specialized Hatch Act investigative unit, declined to comment.

A Hatch Act investigation is an administrative, not a criminal, matter. Penalties may include removal from office, a demotion or temporary suspension, or a civil penalty no higher than $1,000. In cases of high-level officials, the disciplinary decisions on OSC actions are made by the president.

On Monday, the White House said President Barack Obama believes Comey is a man of integrity and is not trying to influence the election by announcing the scrutiny of additional emails.

Jan Witold Baran, a lawyer at Wiley Rein in Washington, suggested it would be hard to construe what appeared to be Comey’s engagement in normal government business as a violation of the Hatch Act.

But Kenneth Gross, former associate general counsel of the Federal Election Commission, said Comey’s letter fell outside the FBI director’s normal duties as there is no legal obligation to disclose details of an ongoing probe to Congress.

INCREASED DISCIPLINE

Painter’s complaint said that barring extraordinary circumstances, a public communication about a pending FBI investigation involving a candidate for public office so close to an election likely violated the act.

Comey said in an internal memo obtained by news media that even though it is not common to update Congress on the progress of investigations, he felt obligated because he had repeatedly said the probe was completed.

The OSC Hatch Act unit, which usually experiences a surge in complaints during election years, has disciplined 84 employees the last five years, almost a three-fold increase over the previous five years, an OSC 2015 report to Congress said.

Hatch Act violations usually relate to inappropriate electioneering. For example, the 2015 report cited a complaint against a U.S. Agriculture Department official who allegedly asked two subordinate employees to donate to a political action committee supporting Obama’s 2012 re-election.

In a 2016 letter, the OSC found that Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro violated the act by advocating for and against presidential candidates during a media interview. Castro called it an “inadvertent error.”

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York; Additional reporting by Joel Schectman, Julia Harte and Alana Wise in Washington; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Howard Goller)



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Let's Move: The White House Halloween cookie recipe includes 1 pound of sugar, 2 pounds of butter


White House trick-or-treaters are coming away with sweet treats that include the official White House Halloween cookie, which is made with 1 pound of sugar and 2 pounds of butter. (iStock Photo)

First lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” program is taking the night off for Halloween.

White House trick-or-treaters are coming away with sweet treats that include the official White House Halloween cookie, which is made with 1 pound of sugar and 2 pounds of butter.

Here’s the full White House Halloween cookie recipe:

1 lb Sugar
2 lbs Butter
3 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Salt
3 lbs All Purpose Flour
Mix the butter and sugar till soft and well beaten. Then add eggs, vanilla, salt and half the flour. Beat on slow speed till mixed, then add the rest of the flour and mix until incorporated.
Push flat onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate overnight. Roll out to one quarter inch thick and cut out cookie shapes with cookie cutter.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 14 minutes and allow to cool.

And here’s the full White House trick-or-treating haul:

• A box of White House Hershey Kisses
• A White House Halloween Cookie
• A box of White House M&Ms
• Fruit Bars
• Kettle Corn
• Bo and Sunny baseball cards
• An assortment of candies

Justice Dept. to 'dedicate all necessary resources' to Hillary Clinton email probe

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“We assure you that the Department will continue to work closely with the FBI,” a statement said.

10/31/16 4:34 PM

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Clinton's lead slips as FBI looks at more emails: poll


NEW YORK Democrat Hillary Clinton’s lead in the U.S. presidential race has narrowed slightly since the FBI said late last week it was reviewing new emails in its investigation of the former secretary of state, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Monday.

Clinton had a 5 percentage point lead over Republican rival Donald Trump, according to the Oct. 26-30 survey, down from 6 percentage points posted in the five-day tracking poll last Thursday.

Other polls have also shown Clinton’s lead slipping over the weekend. Real Clear Politics, which averages the results of most major polls, shows that Clinton’s lead has declined from 4.6 points on Friday to 2.5 points on Monday.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey told Congress in a letter made public on Friday that his agency was looking into new emails that may be connected to Clinton, who had been probed by the FBI over her use of a private server and how she handled classified information while America’s top diplomat.

(For graphic click: tmsnrt.rs/2cpWSwM)

The FBI has revealed very little to the public about the new emails under investigation, except that they were uncovered during an unrelated investigation into the estranged husband of a top Clinton aide.

In July, Comey concluded that Clinton and her staff were “extremely careless” with their handling of classified information, but that there was not enough evidence to bring criminal charges. On Friday, Comey told Congress, “We don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails.”

According to the poll, 44 percent of likely voters said they would support Clinton, while 39 percent said they would support Trump. In a separate poll that included alternative-party candidates, 43 percent supported Clinton, while 37 percent supported Trump, 6 percent supported Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and 1 percent supported Jill Stein of the Green Party.

The poll determines likely voters according to a number of factors including voting history, registration status and stated intention to vote. It assumes that 60 percent of eligible Americans will vote. The result of the 2016 election will vary greatly depending on how many voters actually cast a ballot.

Currently, Clinton leads Trump in both high and low turnout scenarios, according to the latest poll. Her advantage holds at 5 points if 55 percent of eligible voters participate, and it rises to 6 points if 70 percent of Americans cast a ballot.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English in all 50 states. It included 1,264 people who were considered likely voters under the assumption that 60 percent of eligible voters would participate. The poll has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 3 percentage points.

(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Leslie Adler)



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Justice Department to 'dedicate all necessary resources' to Clinton email probe


Justice Department officials pledged to work through the FBI's revived Hillary Clinton email probe "as expeditiously as possible" on Monday amid a backlash over FBI Director James Comey's unexpected public announcement of the investigation on Friday. Above, Attorney General Loretta Lynch. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Justice Department officials pledged to work through the FBI’s revived Hillary Clinton email probe “as expeditiously as possible” on Monday amid a backlash over FBI Director James Comey’s unexpected public announcement of the investigation on Friday.

“We assure you that the Department will continue to work closely with the FBI and together, dedicate all necessary resources and take appropriate steps as expeditiously as possible,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik in a letter to lawmakers, according to multiple media reports.

The letter came as both Republicans and Democrats in Congress pressed Comey to provide more information about the nature of his bureau’s interest in newly-discovered emails found on a laptop used by Huma Abedin, one of Clinton’s closest aides. Those emails emerged through a separate investigation of sexual misconduct allegations against Abedin’s estranged husband, Anthony Weiner.

Gowdy: Reid's attacks on FBI's James Comey are 'laughable'

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“I don’t consider what Comey did to be updating congress. I view it as supplementing his previous testimony.”

10/31/16 9:48 AM

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U.S. attorney general did not order FBI to withhold Clinton-related emails: source



By Julia Harte and Mark Hosenball
| WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch did not order FBI Director James Comey to withhold from Congress the discovery of emails potentially related to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server, but she made it known that she thought his decision violated department policy, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday.

As Comey and Lynch debated on Thursday whether alerting Congress about the emails would comply with longstanding Justice Department policy against announcing overt investigative steps that would influence an upcoming election, Comey asked whether he was being explicitly directed not to do so.

Lynch never gave Comey the order not to send the emails, a senior government official said.

(Reporting by Julia Harte and Mark Hosenball; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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After #HillaryForPrison wouldn't trend, users tricked Twitter to make it happen


Why are Twitter users misspelling the hashtag #HillaryForPrison as #HillaryForPrision?

Well, if you must know, Twitter has a track record of censoring political speech, namely from conservative users, and now they’re blocking the hashtag #HillaryForPrison from trending on their site.

Now, #HillaryForPrision is the second most tweeted hashtag today behind “Happy Halloween” to get around Twitter’s Leftist filter.

And Twitter users have had enough with the whole charade:

Read more at Red Alert Politics.

Justice Dept. to 'dedicate all necessary resources' to Clinton email probe

Also from the Washington Examiner

Justice Department officials pledged to work through the FBI’s revived Hillary Clinton email probe “as expeditiously as possible” on Monday amid a backlash over FBI Director James Comey’s unexpected public announcement of the investigation on Friday.

“We assure you that the Department will continue to work closely with the FBI and together, dedicate all necessary resource and take appropriate steps as expeditiously as possible,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik in a letter to lawmakers, according to multiple media reports.

The letter came as both Republicans and Democrats in Congress pressed Comey to provide more information about the nature of his bureau’s interest in newly-discovered emails found on a laptop

10/31/16 4:34 PM

CNN quietly pushed Brazile out after emails showed Clinton coordination

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CNN said it accepted Brazile’s decision, but didn’t make that decision known until Monday.

10/31/16 12:46 PM



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