Special Counsel John Durham, appointed by then-Attorney General Bill Barr, uncovered possible financial crimes by Donald Trump but made no attempt to prosecute them, The New York Times reveals in massive, bombshell report published Thursday after a months-long investigation.
“Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham never disclosed that their inquiry expanded in the fall of 2019, based on a tip from Italian officials, to include a criminal investigation into suspicious financial dealings related to Mr. Trump. The specifics of the tip and how they handled the investigation remain unclear, but Mr. Durham brought no charges over it,” The Times’ Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, and Katie Benner report.
The “potentially explosive tip linking Mr. Trump to certain suspected financial crimes” came during a trip Barr and Durham, his special counsel, took together. They “decided that the tip was too serious and credible to ignore.”
But, “Mr. Durham never filed charges, and it remains unclear what level of an investigation it was, what steps he took, what he learned and whether anyone at the White House ever found out. The extraordinary fact that Mr. Durham opened a criminal investigation that included scrutinizing Mr. Trump has remained secret.”
That’s just one aspect of The Times’ extensive and disturbing report.
It also reveals that there was little justification for Barr to install Durham as a special counsel to investigate what Trump wrongly maintained was an unjustifiable investigation into his ties to Russia.
In fact, The Times “found that the main thrust of the Durham inquiry was marked by some of the very same flaws — including a strained justification for opening it and its role in fueling partisan conspiracy theories that would never be charged in court — that Trump allies claim characterized the Russia investigation.”
In another shocking revelation, The Times reports Durham “used Russian intelligence memos — suspected by other U.S. officials of containing disinformation — to gain access to emails of an aide to George Soros, the financier and philanthropist who is a favorite target of the American right and Russian state media.”
The Times does not explain how Durham obtained the Russian disinformation.
“Mr. Durham used grand jury powers to keep pursuing the emails even after a judge twice rejected his request for access to them. The emails yielded no evidence that Mr. Durham has cited in any case he pursued.”
Attorneys on Durham’s team apparently had significant qualms with his actions, leading at least two to resign.
“There were deeper internal fractures on the Durham team than previously known,” The Times reports. “The publicly unexplained resignation in 2020 of his No. 2 and longtime aide, Nora R. Dannehy, was the culmination of a series of disputes between them over prosecutorial ethics. A year later, two more prosecutors strongly objected to plans to indict a lawyer with ties to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign based on evidence they warned was too flimsy, and one left the team in protest of Mr. Durham’s decision to proceed anyway. (A jury swiftly acquitted the lawyer.)”
BARR THREATENED NSA
The Times also reports that Attorney General Barr bought into Trump’s false claims that there had been “no collusion” between the Trump camp and Russia.
Importantly, The Times states point-blank that the Mueller Report “detailed ‘numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign,’ and it established both how Moscow had worked to help Mr. Trump win and how his campaign had expected to benefit from the foreign interference.”
According to The Times’ account, “soon after giving Mr. Durham his assignment,” in May of 2019, “Mr. Barr summoned the head of the National Security Agency, Paul M. Nakasone, to his office. In front of several aides, Mr. Barr demanded that the N.S.A. cooperate with the Durham inquiry.”
The NSA is a wholly separate entity from the Dept. of Justice. It is an agency under the Dept. of Defense and reports to the powerful Director of National Intelligence (DNI).
Barr apparently did not care, and, “repeating a sexual vulgarity, he warned that if the N.S.A. wronged him by not doing all it could to help Mr. Durham, Mr. Barr would do the same to the agency.”
DURHAM TRIED TO SCUTTLE A REPORT’S FINDING THAT TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION WAS WARRANTED
“Mr. Durham’s team spent long hours combing the C.I.A.’s files but found no way to support the allegation” that the investigation into Trump and Russia was the result of some anti-Trump deep state operation.
Barr and Durham actually “traveled abroad together to press British and Italian officials to reveal everything their agencies had gleaned about the Trump campaign and relayed to the United States, but both allied governments denied they had done any such thing. Top British intelligence officials expressed indignation to their U.S. counterparts about the accusation, three former U.S. officials said.”
The Dept. of Justice’s Inspector General’s investigation found there was, in fact, sufficient cause for the DOJ to have opened up the Trump-Russia investigation, contrary to Barr’s personal beliefs.
So he tried to have that finding removed from the final report.
The Times reports that “the broader findings contradicted Mr. Trump’s accusations and the rationale for Mr. Durham’s inquiry,” which should have shut down what ultimately became Durham’s four-year long investigation that netted almost nothing.
The DOJ Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, “found no evidence that F.B.I. actions were politically motivated. And he concluded that the investigation’s basis — an Australian diplomat’s tip that a Trump campaign adviser had seemed to disclose advance knowledge that Russia would release hacked Democratic emails — had been sufficient to lawfully open it.”
So Barr tried to discredit Horowitz’s report.
“Minutes before the inspector general’s report went online, Mr. Barr issued a statement contradicting Mr. Horowitz’s major finding, declaring that the F.B.I. opened the investigation “on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient.” He would later tell Fox News that the investigation began “without any basis,” as if the diplomat’s tip never happened.”
Read the entire Times report here.
This report has been updated to correct the name of the special counsel. It is John Durham not Robert Durham.
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Rep. Tim Walberg Tells Uganda to ‘Stand Firm’ on ‘Kill The Gays’ Law Ted Cruz Called ‘Horrific’
Representative Tim Walberg (R-MI) delivered a speech in Uganda to defend the country’s President Yoweri Museveni and the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023, better known as the “Kill the Gays” law.
Walberg traveled to Uganda in October to attend a national prayer breakfast organized by the Fellowship Foundation, also known as The Family, which also covered the cost of his trip, according to TYT. In the speech, transcribed by the blog Take Care Tim, he told the attendees to “stand firm” in the face of criticism.
“Whose side do we want to be on? God’s side. Not the World Bank, not the United States of America necessarily, not the UN. God’s side,” Walberg said. “I think as we go on here, it says, ‘So I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, And I will redeem you from the grasp of the violent.’ – Who’s gonna do that? God is gonna do that. Your esteemed President, his excellency, President Museveni needs a nation that stands with him and says, though the rest of the world is pushing back on you, though there are other major countries that are trying to get into you and ultimately change you, stand firm. Stand firm.”
Walberg made it clear he knew his view would be unpopular in the United States.
“Now, this will probably get back to the national media in the United States, and I expect some pushback, but I’m not gonna give in to them. … I know that your President is a warrior. I like that about him. We’re in a battle, folks. We are in a battle,” he said.
Though Uganda has had homophobia enshrined in its legal code since it was a British protectorate, the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023 is a drastic escalation. Previously, homosexuality was punished with life in prison, according to the Advocate. The new law allows the death penalty for those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality.” It also bans “promotion of homosexuality,” much like Russia bans queer “propaganda”.
The law is so draconian that Republican Senator Ted Cruz—no ally to the queer community—condemned it. In May, shortly after Museveni signed the law, Cruz called the law “horrific” on X, formerly Twitter.
“This Uganda law is horrific & wrong. Any law criminalizing homosexuality or imposing the death penalty for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ is grotesque & an abomination. ALL civilized nations should join together in condemning this human rights abuse. #LGBTQ,” Cruz tweeted.
This Uganda law is horrific & wrong.
Any law criminalizing homosexuality or imposing the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” is grotesque & an abomination.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) May 29, 2023
Attempts to pass a similar bill to the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023 started in 2014, with a bill also called the “Kill the Gays” law. That form of the bill was built by anti-LGBTQ activist Scott Lively, who previously claimed then-President Barack Obama was secretly gay.
While it didn’t go into effect then, the bill and ones like it kept popping up on Uganda’s parliamentary agenda. Earlier this year, President Joe Biden threatened to cut nearly $1 billion in annual aid to Uganda if the bill passed.
A previous version of this story credited Salon with the initial reporting; Salon had republished the article from TYT. The sourcing has been corrected; NCRM regrets the error.
Federal Judge Issues Injunction on Idaho Anti-Trans Law Days Before It Takes Effect
A federal judge issued an injunction Tuesday against an Idaho anti-trans law that would bar prescribing puberty blockers to transgender youth.
The Idaho anti-trans law, House Bill 71, was signed into law by Republican Governor Brad Little last April, according to the Idaho Statesman. It was scheduled take effect on January 1, 2024. Providing gender-affirming care to minors, including puberty blockers, hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgeries would become a felony under the law. This is even though it is exceedingly rare for a person under 18 to be offered these type of surgeries, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday, stopping the Idaho anti-trans law from taking effect in less than a week. Winmill said that the pending lawsuit filed by two trans minors and their parents will most likely succeed, citing the 14th Amendment, according to the Statesman.
“Time and again, these cases illustrate that the 14th Amendment’s primary role is to protect disfavored minorities and preserve our fundamental rights from legislative overreach,” he wrote. “That was true for newly freed slaves following the Civil War. It was true in the 20th century for women, people of color, interracial couples and individuals seeking access to contraception. And it is no less true for transgender children and their parents in the 21st century.”
Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador told the paper he will appeal the injunction. Labrador claims “Winmill’s ruling places children at risk of irreversible harm.” The use of the phrase “irreversible harm” echoes the anti-trans book Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier. Shrier’s book endorses the since-debunked theory of “rapid-onset gender dysphoria.” The theory claims girls will declare themselves to be transgender as part of a “social contagion”—basically comparing transitioning to a fad.
Winmill, appointed to the Idaho district court in 1995 by President Bill Clinton, has recently ruled in other pivotal culture-war cases. This August, Winmill blocked Labrador from prosecuting doctors who send patients out-of-state for an abortion, KMVT-TV reported.
In August 2022, he also issued an injunction stopping Labrador from prosecuting ER doctors who provide an abortion in attempts to stabilize a patient, according to the Idaho Capital Sun, while a suit against the law.works its way through the court system. The injunction was overturned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in September of this year, according to the Capital Sun, though the lawsuit itself is still pending.
Mike Johnson Likens Himself to Moses, Tells Christian Nationalists God Charted His Path to Speaker
Mike Johnson, delivering the keynote address to a far-right Christian nationalist group Tuesday, likened himself to Moses and declared God had charted his path to become the Republican Speaker of the House, after telling him in his prayers to prepare.
Speaker Johnson, a Christian nationalist who falsely claims the Constitution’s separation of church and state is a “misnomer” and has declared the United States is not democracy but a “biblical” republic, is an attorney who once worked for a far-right organization that has since been designated an anti-LGBTQ extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Johnson was the lead sponsor last year of a federal “Don’t Say Gay” bill and has bragged that he and his teenaged son are accountability partners in a no-porn pledge that includes installation of monitoring software on all their devices.
“I’ll tell you a secret since the media is not here,” Speaker Johnson said at the National Association of Christian Lawmakers (NACL) Gala (video below), where he was honored with their American Patriot Award for Christian Honor and Courage, as Right Wing Watch reported.
“Thank you for not allowing the media in, I’ll tell you a secret because they wanted to come because they wanted to, you know, take my comments out of context as they’ve been doing with with great joy for the last few weeks,” Johnson charged, not specifying which of his remarks he believes have been taken out of context.
“The Lord impressed upon my heart a few weeks before this happened, that something was going to occur,” Johnson continued. “And the Lord very specifically told me in my prayers to prepare, but to wait. ‘Prepare for what?’ I said to the Lord. You know, I had this sense that we were going to come to a Red Sea moment in our Republican conference and the country at large.”
“And look, I’m a Southern Baptist, I don’t want to get too spooky on you. Okay, but you know, you know okay,” he continued. “All right. But you know, the Lord speaks to your heart. And He had been speaking to me about this and the Lord told me very clearly to prepare and be ready. Be ready for what? Okay, I don’t know. We’re coming to a Red Sea moment. ‘What does that mean, Lord?’ And then when the Speaker’s race happened.”
He said, “the Lord began to wake me up through this three-week process we’re in in the middle of night and to speak to me and to write things down plans and procedures and ideas on how we could pull the conference together.”
“Now at the time I assumed the Lord is going to choose a new Moses. And oh, thank you the Lord. Lord, you’re gonna allow me to be Aaron to Moses,” Johnson told the attendees.
Johnson reminded his audience of the Speaker’s debacle, going down the line of friends who he tried to help become Speaker, acknowledging that all of them failed.
He continued, explaining that “at the end, when it came to the end, the Lord said, ‘Now step forward.’ ‘Me? I’m supposed to be Aaron.’ Now the Lord said, ‘Step forward.’ Psalm 77 speaks of the Exodus in the 14th chapter of Exodus and it says, ‘Only God saw the path through the roiling sea, we could not see it, men could not see it.’ And I believe deep in my heart, is my core conviction, that God wants us to seek Him for the path through the roiling sea.”
As Right Wing Watch reports, after Johnson’s speech, “NACL founder Jason Rapert presented Johnson with the Honor and Courage award, along with a piece of a destroyed Ten Commandments monument that Rapert had placed in front of the Arkansas state capitol in 2017.”
“’It’s very obvious to see, you’re one of us,’ Rapert told Johnson.”
Rolling Stone adds that Johnson’s speech Tuesday is “just the latest evidence that the politician who is now second in line for the presidency views himself as on a divine mission.”
Watch the video of Speaker Johnson below or at this link.
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