The Inspector General of the Dept. of Justice has announced it will launch an investigation into the DOJ spying on prominent Democratic members of Congress during the Trump administration’s time in office. Those incidents include obtaining subpoenas for communications data from at least 12 people, including lawmakers, their staff members, family members, and at least one minor child.
Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr, according to a New York Times report Thursday, were central to these incidents of spying tasking place.
Among those targeted by Sessions and Barr were Democratic Congressmen Adam Schiff (photo) and Eric Swalwell, both of California.
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Axios reports, made the announcement Friday.
Horowitz was first appointed to that position by President Barack Obama.
The announcement says the investigation will include DOJ’s similar efforts on members of the media.
“The DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is initiating a review of DOJ’s use of subpoenas and other legal authorities to obtain communication records of Members of Congress and affiliated persons, and the news media in connection with recent investigations of alleged unauthorized disclosures of information to the media by government officials. The review will examine the Department’s compliance with applicable DOJ policies and procedures, and whether any such uses, or the investigations, were based upon improper considerations. If circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider other issues that may arise during the review.”
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Feds Arrest Close Trump Pal Tom Barrack: Report
Barrack served as then-President Donald Trump’s chairman of his 2017 inaugural fund. The charges are not believed to be related to that fund.
“Few people are closer to Trump than Barrack, his friend for three decades,” an October, 2017 Washington Post article said of Barrack.
“Barrack as Barrack helped rescue Trump’s real estate empire years ago. He was the top fundraiser for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He turned down a Cabinet offer, preferring to be an outside adviser, although his name is still mentioned as a potential White House chief of staff should Trump decide to choose a new one. Above all, Barrack has remained unfailingly loyal to Trump, whom he sees as a shrewd politician.”
NBC’s Tom Winter reports charges include acting as an “agent” of a foreign government, “influencing the foreign policy positions of the Trump campaign in 2016” and lying to the FBI:
UPDATED: The Justice Department says that Barrack has been charged with acting as an agent of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the direction of UAE officials by influencing the foreign policy positions of the Trump campaign in 2016 and lying to the FBI. https://t.co/CNH3Dy6KxA
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) July 20, 2021
Biden Warns Putin on Hacking: US Will ‘Take Any Action Necessary’ to Protect America
President Joe Biden issued a warning in a call to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday that the United States will “take any action necessary” to protect America, after a wave of Russia-based hacking against U.S. companies in recent weeks, including a $70 million ransomware attack, and reportedly an attack on the RNC.
“President Biden reiterated that the United States will take any necessary action to defend its people and its critical infrastructure in the face of this continuing challenge,” the White House says in a published readout of the call.
President Biden “spoke with President Putin about the ongoing ransomware attacks by criminals based in Russia that have impacted the United States and other countries around the world,” the White House adds.
“President Biden underscored the need for Russia to take action to disrupt ransomware groups operating in Russia and emphasized that he is committed to continued engagement on the broader threat posed by ransomware. President Biden reiterated that the United States will take any necessary action to defend its people and its critical infrastructure in the face of this continuing challenge.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Friday afternoon the call lasted about an hour.
.@PressSec on President Biden phone call with Russian President Putin: "The president also made clear that the United States will take any necessary action to defend its people and its critical infrastructure. So, this is an example of leader-to-leader diplomacy." pic.twitter.com/qzkrljRUyw
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 9, 2021
The call comes just weeks after President Biden met face-to-face with Putin, and warned him to rein-in the Russian hackers, some of whom are reportedly Russian government actors.
Tucker Carlson Was Trying to Get a Putin Interview – And May Have Been Talking to a Russian ‘Foreign Agent’: Report
Fox News personality Tucker Carlson’s bombshell accusations from last week – that the National Security Agency was spying on him, reading his emails and intended to leak them to get him kicked off the air – remains in dispute, but an Axios report Wednesday evening reveals what he may have actually been concerned about.
Carlson, according to Axios’ Jonathan Swan, was attempting to get an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and he may have been communicating with a Russian spy in that effort.
Citing experts, Swan reports one scenario, and the least likely, “is that the U.S. government submitted a request to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor Carlson to protect national security.”
“A more plausible scenario is that one of the people Carlson was talking to as an intermediary to help him get the Putin interview was under surveillance as a foreign agent,” in other words, a Russian spy. “In that scenario, Carlson’s emails or text messages could have been incidentally collected as part of monitoring this person, but Carlson’s identity would have been masked in any intelligence reports.”
Swan goes on to say that two sources “familiar with Carlson’s communications said his two Kremlin intermediaries live in the United States, but the sources could not confirm whether both are American citizens or whether both were on U.S. soil at the time they communicated with Carlson.”
“This is relevant because if one of them was a foreign national and on foreign soil during the communications, the U.S. government wouldn’t necessarily have had to seek approval to monitor their communications.”
But CNN’s Oliver Darcy urges caution, reminding that Carlson claimed the NSA was trying to get his show canceled.
Carlson’s original claim is worth keeping in mind: That the NSA was spying on him for political reasons and conspiring to leak his comms to get him kicked off air. https://t.co/nm4ixYk8l2
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) July 7, 2021
As Axios notes, plenty of American journalists have interviewed Putin, so that’s not a problem.
What Swan and Darcy don’t discuss is the most obvious question: what was in those emails (or other communications) to a Russian foreign agent that would make Carlson, a conspiracy theorist, white supremacist, and white nationalist, think would be so damaging that they could get his show canceled?
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