President Trump signed an executive order allowing sanctions on foreign companies, organizations or individuals the government determines to have interfered in U.S. elections.
The order is the latest effort by the Trump administration to address fears that Russia is looking to meddle in the November midterm elections, much like it did during the 2016 presidential race.
“This clearly is a process put in place to try and ensure we are doing every possible thing we can to prevent any interference in our election,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told reporters.
Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on whether Moscow interfered in the 2016 election, triggering criticism from lawmakers in both parties that his administration has not done enough to deter Russia and other state actors from running online disinformation campaigns or hacking into state voting systems.
Wednesday’s order is designed to address those concerns by showing the president and his team are taking the threat seriously.
“I think his actions speak for themselves,” national security adviser John Bolton said of Trump, adding that the president “cares deeply” about preventing foreign election interference.
The measure orders the director of national intelligence to investigate whether election meddling took place and who was responsible. After a 45-day review period, an assessment will be passed to the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, which will have an additional 45 days to determine if punishments are warranted.
Possible sanctions include freezing any U.S. assets of individuals or groups found to have interfered in the election, cutting off their access to the American financial system and banning them from entering the country.
Bolton said the American public will only learn of any determination of election interference when sanctions are announced, saying investigations must be kept private because they involve highly classified intelligence.
Officials said the order did not pertain to one country in particular — like Russia, which has regularly been the target of sanctions for election interference — over fears that others such as Iran, China and North Korea could also attempt to meddle in the U.S.’s elections.
“It’s more than Russia here that we are looking at,” said Coats.
There is growing evidence that foreign actors are ramping up efforts to interfere in the 2018 midterm contests. Facebook, Google and Twitter have recently shut down hundreds of accounts believed to be tied to influence campaigns backed by Iran and Russia.
Trump signed the executive order at the same time Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are weighing legislation meant to deter foreign election interference.
Bolton said the president is open to considering those measures, but that the administration wanted to put a process in place for the him to respond on his own.
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who jointly introduced a piece of legislation that would impose penalties for election interference earlier this year, said in a statement Wednesday the order “does not go far enough to address” malicious activity by foreign entities.
“Mandatory sanctions on anyone who attacks our electoral systems serve as the best deterrent,” the senators said. “We must make sure Vladimir Putin’s Russia, or any other foreign actor, understands that we will respond decisively and impose punishing consequences against those who interfere in our democracy.”
One has to wonder if President Trump will order sanctions against the Obama administration, given that reports show former CIA Director John Brenan’s election interference made Watergate seem like a job done by rank amateurs.
Recent events — such as the convictions of two former Trump aides, Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, following Trump’s retributive withdrawal of former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance — have some pundits talking excitedly about new Watergate proceedings aimed at the White House.
But the only deserved excitement should be felt by Brennan, the deceitful quarterback of the Russian Collusion team, as the current chaos helps to run out the clock on any investigation and possible indictment of himself.
As Watergate is inevitably compared to the present situation, we should recall what the scandal was and what it was not. The wrongdoing was rooted in abuses by the party in power during an election, not by a relatively powerless contender, as Trump was in 2016. The Nixon administration used the machinery of government for spying on and sabotaging the campaigns of its political enemies, then enlisted the CIA and FBI in a failed coverup.
All of this is beginning to look like small beer when compared to Brennan’s orchestration of the CIA, FBI, GCHQ (British intelligence) and the media to smear Trump as conspiring with thug Vladimir Putin to rig the 2016 election. This charge not only criminalized the incoming president but also delegitimized him from the start, far worse than anything Nixon’s operatives did.
Brennan and his partisan cohort, former FBI Director James Comey, have long maintained the fiction that the “Russian collusion” counterintelligence case was not opened until July 31, 2016, and that claim is supposedly based only upon a meaningless statement made to lowly Trump aide George Papadopoulos.
Indeed, almost laughably, the lie is put to this timing claim simply by noting that the statement (about Russian hacking) was made to Papadopoulos in early April 2016 by Joseph Mifsud, himself a “human source” engaged by Brennan and GCHQ as part of an already ongoing investigation.
We also know that an “interagency” taskforce had been formed by Brennan in December 2015 and that it had voted in April 2016 to deny a “defensive briefing” to Trump, while preparing its first unsuccessful application for a FISA warrant.
So this claim of a July 31, 2016, start date is clearly a lie, but to what end? As we will see, it was highly important to Brennan’s scheme that we not focus on the many months of investigative goose eggs by three behemoths (the CIA, FBI and GCHQ).
Recall that according to the respected journal The Guardian, Brennan first received a tip about electoral collusion in December 2015. On December 28, 2015, FBI lawyer Lisa Page inquired of FBI Counterintelligence Deputy Peter Strzok about his plans to get approval for “LUREs,” or human source informants. All of this history Brennan has consciously ignored as if it never occurred. Again, why the lie about timing?
The answer starts with the hiring of Fusion GPS by Clinton and the virtually simultaneous hiring by Fusion of both Christopher Steele and Nellie Ohr, a former and/or continuing CIA contractor. Most commentators, understandably, point to Ohr’s husband Bruce as a subsequent conduit between Steele and the FBI. But this focuses the public on the aftermath of Steele’s hiring, not its prologue, which is far more important.
Within a month or six weeks of being hired, Steele and Ohr produced a stunning report of June 20, 2016, a) detailing collusion between Trump and Putin, according to Trump insiders, Sources D and E; and b) the lurid peeing prostitute story, to explain Russian kompromat on Trump.
To judge the credibility of this report, let’s examine the origins of the Fusion team. Are we to believe that the CIA and GCHQ had been working on Russian collusion for six months, when, serendipitously, Fusion just happened to hire an ex-GCHQ spy and an ex-contractor for the CIA to investigate the same subject?
I was born at night, but not last night. Moreover, Clinton’s sponsorship would have been concealed only if it was planned from the outset to be used for some official purpose such as, for a wild example, a FISA warrant, and not merely for “oppo” research.
At the same time as Steele was being hired, the “interagency team” was failing in its first FISA bid. So we can infer as well that from the outset a renewed application was intended, using Steele’s report so as to improve upon the then-failing FISA application.
We can at the point of Fusion’s hiring confidently assert that Steele and Nellie Ohr were suggested by Brennan for the main purpose of obtaining a FISA warrant Brennan otherwise couldn’t and that the warrant necessarily would be relying on shaky evidence.
How does this, however, tell us that Brennan knew the Steele investigation would be fraudulent? More specifically, how can we say that Brennan knew that Sources D and E were really one source, Sergei Millian, clearly a non-credible Russian asset posing as a Trump insider?
Millian had, by April 2016 — before Steele and Ohr were hired — begun worming his way into the life of Papadopoulos, recently named to the Trump team. The only entity with a motive to send Millian to Papadopoulos was Brennan’s inter-agency team.
But knowing as well the likely falsity of any Millian claim of collusion, Brennan, fearing honest oversight, could not risk stamping CIA approval on anything Millian said. So Brennan needed Steele as the seemingly reputable cutout for a knowingly fraudulent report, upon which he could obtain a FISA warrant.
When Clinton did not win, Brennan’s team focused on delegitimizing the newly-elected President. Obama official Evelyn Farkas openly expressed the widespread partisan worry that all of the anti-Trump intelligence work would be lost to posterity if it were not quickly publicized, which the FBI’s James Comey and DNI James Clapper readily accomplished in January 2017, as Brennan had attempted through Harry Reid pre-election.
Brennan knew he was on his way out but still had the justice system in place to harass Trump in a way that would make Nixon blush. The FISA warrant was renewed three times, thanks to Comey, while Bruce Ohr remained a conduit between Steele and the FBI.
When Mueller was appointed as Special Counsel in May 2017, the highly partisan FBI Counterintelligence Deputy Peter Strzok hesitated joining the team because “there’s no big there there.” Brennan above all knew that.
This has not kept Brennan from repeating the smears of Trump/Russian collusion, suggesting falsely that such claims are based upon classified information he cannot share. Brennan is doubling down on his fraud, hoping that Trump is impeached before Brennan is exposed.
The President at this point would be too crippled to go after Brennan. Rosenstein won’t (he was part of the FISA process) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself. And Trump may not win Senate confirmation of a replacement for Sessions. If not, and if Trump continues to avoid declassification of key documents, Brennan may indeed run out the clock on his well-deserved indictment.
Indeed, as Trump faces cascading legal and impeachment charges, an omnipresent, well-paid television pundit will likely be, yes, John Brennan, happy to divert attention from his own wrongdoing.
Who says that crime does not pay?
John D. O’Connor is the San Francisco attorney who represented W. Mark Felt during his revelation as Deep Throat in 2005. O’Connor is the co-author of “A G-Man’s Life: The FBI, Being ‘Deep Throat,’ and the Struggle for Honor in Washington” and is a producer of “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” (2017), written and directed by Peter Landesman.
As the treason noose around his neck tightens, fake news network NBC security analyst, Communist, Muslim terrorist sympathizing, former CIA director John Brennan is doubling down on a threat to sue President Trump after the outspoken former Obama official was stripped of his security clearance.
Brennan appeared Friday night on MSNBC and told Rachel Maddow he is exploring litigation against the president. This follows Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) saying Trump stripping Brennan of his security clearance is illegal. (SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO)
“As you can imagine, a number of lawyers reached out to say that there is a very strong case here, not so much to reclaim mine but to prevent this from happening in the future,” Brennan said. “So, I am thinking about what it is that I might want to do. At this time, I’m trying to make sure that the principle is what is going to be defended and supported and this is something that should not be repeated.”
“The other people on the so-called enemy’s list now, I think this is just another example of Mr. Trump trying to frighten and intimidate others,” he continued. “But I can tell you, having worked in the national security and intelligence, these are not the type of people who are bullied or intimidated by the likes of someone of Mr. Trump.”
Today NBC’s Chuck Todd asked Brennan if he’s “serious” about suing the president. Brennan said that he is.
“Well, I have been contacted by a number of lawyers and they have already given me their thoughts about the basis for a complaint, an injunction to try to prevent him from doing this in the future,” Brennan responded. “If my clearances, and my reputation, as I’m being pulled through the mud now, it if that’s the price we’re going to pay to prevent Donald Trump from doing this to other people, to me it’s a small price to pay. I am going to do whatever I can personally to try to prevent these abuses in the future. And if it means going to court, I will do that.”
TODD: “You have been more outspoken than really any former official. And in fact, it may be why many Republican legislators feel comfortable taking the president’s side, they believe your comments have been over the top. Do you regret essentially accusing the president of treason? Do you regret some of the things you have said?”
BRENNAN: “I called his behavior treasonous which is to betray one’s trust and aid and albeit the enemy and I stand very much by that claim.”
TODD: “You are the former CIA director accusing the sitting president of the United States. It’s not a private citizen. A lot of people here, the former CIA director accusing the sitting president of the United States of treason, that’s a monumental accusation.
BRENNAN: “Well, I think these are abnormal times and I think a lot of people have spoken out against what Mr. Trump has done and maybe it’s my warning, training as an intelligence professional. I have seen the lights blinking red in terms of what Mr. Trump has done and is doing and is bringing this country down on the global stage and he’s fueling and feeding divisiveness in our country. He continually lies to the American people. The type of things that he is doing, I think I need to speak out. So I have been speaking put rather forcefully because I think it is important to do so. I don’t believe I’m being political at all. I am not a Republican. I am not a Democrat. And many members of the Congress over the years who have security clearances have spoken out rather forcefully against whoever was in the Oval Office if they weren’t from the same political party. So now as a private citizen they are telling me that I should not do that? I am sorry, I am just fundamentally disagree with them.”
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
September 12th, 2018