RUSSIAGATE: GOWDY PUSHES BRENNAN FOR EVIDENCE OF TRUMP COLLUSION WITH RUSSIA

WASHINGTON, D.C. — During a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R), S.C., grilled former CIA director John Brennan on proof of collusion between president Donald Trump and Russian agencies to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

During a period of often heated exchanges Gowdy repeatedly pressed Brennan for hard evidence that President Trump or representatives of his campaign worked with Russia to rig the election’s outcome.

Each time a visibly frustrated Gowdy asked Brennan for a scintilla of evidence that Trump was involved in the alleged plot, or even a gesture of proof that evidence to support the allegations existed, Brennan answered with the same response: “Mr. Gowdy, I don’t do evidence.”

During one particularly tense exchange, Gowdy fired back, “I appreciate that you don’t do evidence, Director Brennan. Unfortunately, that’s what I do.”

“That’s the word we use, you use the word assessment, you use the word tradecraft. I use the word evidence,” Gowdy continued. “And the good news for me is lots of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle use the word evidence, too. One of my colleagues said there is more than circumstantial evidence of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.”

To that, Brennan responded: “I don’t know whether or not such collusion — and that’s your term, such collusion existed. I don’t know. But I know that there was a sufficient basis of information and intelligence that required further investigation by the bureau to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.”

“That doesn’t help us a whole lot,” Gowdy smirked.

“There are a bunch of words that start with ‘C’ floating around,” Gowdy continued. “I asked you about collusion, coordination, and conspiracy, and you used the word ‘contact,’” Gowdy said. “…Contact could be benign or not benign. So was it contact you saw…what was the nature of what you saw?”

“I saw interaction,” Brennan replied. “But I don’t know. I don’t have sufficient information to make a determination whether or not there was cooperation or complicity or collusion.”

Brennan’s appearance comes as Democrats push to investigate what, if anything, Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey had to do with his investigation into the president’s alleged ties to Russia.

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FLYNN TAKES THE FIFTH: FORMER NSA ADVISOR WILL FIGHT SENATE SUBPOENA, SAY REPORTS

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former national security adviser Michael Flynn is planning to refuse a Senate subpoena to testify and will invoke the Fifth Amendment, say published reports.

Flynn, who was fired as president Donald Trump’s NSA advisor after it was uncovered he had failed to disclose communications he had Russia officials, received a subpoena from Senate Intelligence Committee for documents related to his interactions with Russian officials from June 2015 to January 2017.

The subpoena was issued after Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, failed to provide the documents in response to the panel’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

“He will not be producing the documents they sought. He is entitled to decline, pursuant to the Fifth Amendment,” a source close to Flynn told ABC News (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/michael-flynn-amendment-decline-senate-subpoena/story?id=47560095).

In April, Flynn said through a statement from his lawyer that he wouldn’t agree to questioning by the committee “without assurances against unfair prosecution.”

Members of the House and Senate Intelligence panels leading the Congressional probe have thus far refused to agree to Flynn’s terms.

Although sources close to the retired Army lieutenant general say the decision is not evidence of guilt or wrongdoing, White House insiders say the president is less than pleased by Flynn’s refusal to cooperate.

“Gen. Flynn¹s lawyers said he would not honor the subpoena, and that¹s not a surprise to the committee,” Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), told reporters in response to the report, “but we¹ll figure out on Gen. Flynn what the next step, if any is.”

“It is Mike Flynn’s right to plead the 5th,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), also a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “We will get to the truth one way or another.”

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U.S. STRIKES ASSAD: TRUMP ORDERS HIT ON SYRIA AT IRAQI BORDER

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered a fresh round of airstrikes against pro-Assad troops in Syria after rogue forces repeatedly ignored warnings from both coalition and Russian forces, says a defense spokesperson.

The forces came within a 34-mile defensive zone around the al-Tanf base in southern Syria, according to the latest reports.

The U.S.-led coalition first tried to use a Russian hotline to warn the Syrian government to remove the forces from near the coalition base, but the forces refused to withdraw, the spokesperson said.

U.S. commanders say they quickly became concerned when they saw military tanks, bulldozers and other heavy equipment advance without authorization entering into a “de-confliction” zone near the base where American forces were located and acted accordingly.

“The coalition commander assessed the threat and after shows of force didn’t stop the regime forces and those forces refused to move out of the deconfliction zone, the commander on the ground called for the air strike as a matter of force protection,” a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/05/18/us-air-strikes-pound-pro-assad-forces-in-syria.html). “We conducted a show of force. We conducted warning shots. All to no avail,” the official said.

The strike is the second time within as many months that president Trump authorized the targeting of Syrian forces. The military action follows an April 6 attack on a Syrian government airfield, which the president ordered in response to a chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians, including children.

Syrian activists say the strike left an unknown number of casualties.

There was no immediate word from the Syrian government on the attack. Russian officials, who were initially angered by last April’s military strike against their Syrian ally, have yet to comment on the attack.

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BREAKING: PRESIDENT RESPONDS TO APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL PROSECUTOR TO PROBE TIES TO RUSSIA

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Wednesday released a brief statement in response to the Department of Justice’s announcement that it had appointed a special prosecutor to investigate what, if any, ties the president has to Russia and what role Russia may have played in the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

“As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity,” said the president. “I look forward to this matter concluding quickly. In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.”

The announcement comes on the heels of revelations by recently fired former FBI director James Comey that the president had asked him to pull back on his investigation of former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who was removed from his position after it was discovered that he had not been forthcoming with the Trump administration on his communications with a Russian diplomat.

…STORY DEVELOPING

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BREAKING: FORMER FBI HEAD ROBERT MEULLER APPOINTED TO OVERSEE SPECIAL INVESTIGATION INTO TRUMP

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Justice Department announced on Wednesday that former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been appointed as special counsel to oversee a federal investigation into claims of Russian influence during the 2016 presidential election and the recent firing of James Comey by president Trump.

The appointment came as a result of bipartisan outcry for a probe into what, if any, role Russia may have played in the outcome of the 2016 election and whether Comey was fired from his role as FBI director because he refused to cease an investigation into the possible ethics violations by former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

“In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a Special Counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement. “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted.”

The decision by the DOJ to appoint Mueller follows a report by the New York Times on Tuesday that fired FBI Director James Comey claimed in a memo that Trump had asked him to end his investigation into Flynn.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had spoke out earlier on Wednesday, saying that no special counsel was needed on the matter.

Calls for comment to the White House have not yet been returned.

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‘FAKE NEWS’: PRESIDENT DENIES WRONGDOING IN COMMUNICATION WITH RUSSIA; CALLS INFORMATION EXCHANGED WITH RUSSIAN OFFICIALS ‘WHOLLY APPROPRIATE’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump came out swinging this morning in response to a Washington Post report on Monday that he provided classified information to Russia during a meeting last week at the White House (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-revealed-highly-classified-information-to-russian-foreign-minister-and-ambassador/2017/05/15/530c172a-3960-11e7-9e48-c4f199710b69_story.html?utm_term=.57d4272b0b7b).

“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism. I have been asking Director Comey & others, from the beginning of my administration, to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community,” the president continued.

Calling the Washington Post report just another example of “fake news” the Trump administration defended the president’s conversations with Russian officials as “wholly appropriate,” denying claims that the president revealed highly classified information on an Islamic State terror threat at any point to Russian officials.

During an often combative White House briefing on Tuesday, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said the president was not “even aware” of the information he is being accused of sharing with the Russians.

“The president wasn’t even aware where this information came from. He wasn’t briefed on the source or method of the information either,” said McMaster. “What was shared was wholly appropriate given the purpose of that conversation and the purpose of what the president was trying to achieve through that meeting.”

When pressed for a yes or no answer on whether Trump had disclosed any classified information during the course of the meeting, McMaster replied, “We don’t say what’s classified, what’s not classified. What I will tell you again is that what the president shared was wholly appropriate.”

McMaster, who said he was in the room throughout the entire meeting between the president and Russian officials, said as much as members of the mainstream media may like to assert a scandal, there is none on this topic to be found. “The president was emphasizing we have some common interests here. We have to work together in critical areas,” McMaster said. “So this was the context of the conversation in which it was wholly appropriate to share what the threat was as a basis for common action and coordination.”

A spokesperson for the Russian government also came forth on Tuesday to call allegations that Trump inappropriately shared classified information with representatives of their government “completely false”.

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‘NOTHING TO SEE HERE’: WHITE HOUSE REJECTS CALLS FOR SPECIAL PROSECUTOR ON COMEY FIRING

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House is rejecting calls from Democrats to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the firing of former FBI director James Comey.

During Monday’s daily press briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said there was “no need” to appoint a special prosecutor to determine whether Comey was fired as a result of the investigation into alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

“There is no need for a special prosecutor. There are two congressional committees and the FBI is conducting their own review,” said Spicer.

A growing number of Democrats have been rallying for the appointment of a special prosecutor since last week’s announcement that president Trump had notified Comey that his services were no longer needed, although Comey had been the target of Democrats themselves ever since his announcement just before the election that the FBI director had reopened the agency’s probe into then Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Many Democrats, including Clinton herself, claimed Comey’s announcement on the reopening of the investigation played a direct role in the former Secretary of State’s November loss to president Trump.

“This is a process that’s working exactly as it should,” Spicer said. “There’s frankly no need for a special prosecutor.”

When pushed for comment on whether or not the White House’s decision to avoid use of a special prosecutor may lead to push back from Democrats when the president chooses Comey’s replacement, Spicer essentially said that Democrats would just need to get over it.

“If you look at what Acting Director [Andrew] McCabe said last week, he said they have the resources they need and their work continues,” Spicer said.

“It’s at what point, you have a House and Senate, a House committee, a Senate committee, the FBI (investigating),” Spicer said. “I don’t understand why you need additional resources when you have three entities.”

Spicer also added that despite speculation to the contrary, the operation to find a replacement for Comey is running “completely as it should,” and being overseen by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — whose letter to the president on Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email case was cited by the White House as cause for his removal.

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PUTIN STEPS IN: U.S. AND RUSSIA PLEDGE TO ‘WORK TOGETHER’ TO STOP NORTH KOREA

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After weeks of escalating tensions between the United States and Russia, president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin have agreed to put their differences aside to work on a much bigger issue; North Korea.

In a statement on Tuesday, the White House confirmed that the two leaders had spoken by phone and agreed they must work together to help quash the “very dangerous” situation in North Korea.

The Kremlin also confirmed the call, and announced that Putin and Trump have agreed to schedule a face-to-face meeting in Germany in July – possibly coinciding with the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg.

Although they did not elaborate on the exact details, the Kremlin also confirmed that the pair discussed the ongoing crisis in Syria, which has been a sore spot in U.S., Russia relations since a chemical attack took the lives of dozens of Syrian civilians last month. The White House said that the two leaders are in agreement that “all parties must do all they can to end the violence” in the war torn country, which is in it’s sixth year of a civil war.

“The conversation was a very good one, and included the discussion of safe, or de-escalation, zones to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons” said a White House spokesperson.

The phone conference was the first known discussion between the two leaders since Trump ordered US missile strikes against a Syrian government, who counts Russia as one of it’s staunchest allies.

Meanwhile, China, who has pledged to help play mediator between president Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung Un, on Tuesday urged the United States and North Korea to make contact “as soon as possible” in an effort to cool nuclear tensions.

The plea came from Geng Shuang, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry in response to Trump’s comments this week that he would be willing to meet with Jong Un to discuss their differences “if appropriate.”

“Both sides should reach a political resolution as soon as possible,” Mr Geng said. “The most effective way of attaining an improvement is to seek ways to re- establish dialogue and contact.”

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea again reached a fever pitch this week after North Korean military officials threatened to sink a US nuclear submarine deployed in South Korean waters.

“The moment the USS Michigan tries to budge even a little, it will be doomed to face the miserable fate of becoming an underwater ghost without being able to come to the surface,” read a statement from the North’s propaganda website Urminzokkiri.
“The urgent fielding of the nuclear submarine in the waters off the Korean Peninsula, timed to coincide with the deployment of the super aircraft carrier strike group, is intended to further intensify military threats toward our republic. Whether it’s a nuclear aircraft carrier or a nuclear submarine, they will be turned into a mass of scrap metal in front of our invincible military power centred on the self-defence nuclear deterrence.”

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CAN’T LET GO: HILLARY BLAMES COMEY, WIKILEAKS, WOMAN HATERS AND THE RUSSIANS FOR LOSS TO TRUMP

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke out on Tuesday, blaming her election loss to president Trump on FBI director James Comey and Julian Assange.

Showing emotions ranging from anger to indignation, Clinton referenced the now famous announcement made by Comey late in the presidential campaign that agents were looking into new details related to the scandal surrounding the former Secretary of State handling of classified emails. She also blamed the massive hack of DNC emails that were released at the order of Julian Assange, founder of the anti-secrecy watchdog group, Wikileaks.

“I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey’s letter on October 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but were scared off,” said Clinton while speaking at a Women for Women International Conference (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJjd4iaFasI). “If the election were on October 27, I’d be your president.”

Although Clinton said she took “absolute personal responsibility” for her loss to Trump, she then went on to blame her failed presidential bid on being a woman.

Asked by moderator Christiane Amanpour if misogyny played a role in her campaign failure, she replied, “Yes I do think it played a role.”

“And I think as we learn more and more about unprecedented foreign interference from a foreign leader who is not in my fan club” she added, referencing claims by Democrats that the election results were manipulated by the Russians.

As for her future political aspirations, Clinton says she now plays the role of activist.
“I’m now back to being an activist citizen, and part of the resistance,” she said.

“It is a painful process reliving the campaign,” said Clinton, adding that she is now working on a memoir to document her life in the political spotlight.

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‘PREPARE’: KIM JONG-UN ORDERS ‘IMMEDIATE EVACUATION’ OF CAPITAL CITY AS NORTH KOREA WARNS U.S OF ‘BIG EVENT’

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA — North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has ordered the immediate evacuation of the country’s capital Pyongyang, sparking further speculation that he may be preparing for war.

Further, the communist leader has warned foreign journalists to be prepared for a “big event” on North Korea’s biggest national celebration, the ‘Day of the Sun’, to be held on Saturday.

A Russian newspaper, Pravda Report, is reporting that more than 600,000 people – around one quarter of the city’s population – are being urgently evacuated, as tensions between North Korea and the United States reach a fever pitch (http://www.pravdareport.com/hotspots/conflicts/12-04-2017/137480-pyongyang_evacuation-0/).

North Korean monitoring service 38 North said Wednesday that the country’s Punggye-ri nuclear site is “primed and ready” for a sixth nuclear test.

The announcement comes as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday that North Korea has likely developed the capability to deliver missiles equipped with sarin nerve gas.

Jong-un has openly stated that his military’s “nuclear sight” is focused on both American-allied military bases in the region, and on “the U.S. mainland.”

In response, U.S. officials attempted to stare down the rogue leader’s threat, saying they believe Jong-un’s comments to be all talk.

“I think there is no evidence that North Korea has that capability at this time,” press secretary Sean Spicer said on Tuesday. “Threatening something that you don’t have the capability of isn’t really a threat.”

Spicer followed up his comments with the assertion that president Trump had put North Korea on notice that the United States military will not cease to act at the first sign of aggression toward U.S. interests.

Earlier this week it was announced that president Trump, in response to North Korea’s tough talk, had ordered a warship deployed to the Korean peninsula in a show of force.

“We are sending an armada. Very powerful,” Trump told Fox Business Network. “We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you.”

Referring to Jong-un’s recent threats against the U.S., Trump said: “He is doing the wrong thing” Asked if he thought Kim was mentally ill, Trump replied: “I don’t know. I don’t know him.”

In yet another disturbing development, an expert on foreign relations, Professor Rudiger Frank, has warned that China and Russia may be joining forces in an effort to take down the United States.

Franks’s comments come after a week of escalating tensions between the United States and Russia over Russia’s support of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, who U.S. intelligence officials say ordered a deadly gas strike upon his own people in northern Syria.

“The Americans have been able to drive a wedge between the then Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China since the 1970s,” Frank told the U.K.’s Express (http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/791638/north-korea-russia-china-united-states-nuclear-war-kim-jong-un-putin-donald-trump). “But now the US is facing both countries relatively aggressively. Russia and China have a common opponent who unites them.”

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