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Tag: New York Times

Trump Transition Team Knew Flynn Was Under Investigation Before Trump Appointed Him National Security Advisor

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Here’s a pretty good reason why President Donald Trump should have known better than to appoint Michael T. Flynn national security adviser under the circumstances.

The New York Times reports that Flynn told President Trump’s transition team weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign. The paper cites “two people familiar with the case.”

Despite that Trump proceeded to appoint him to the important position.

Flynn first made the disclosure about the investigation on Jan. 4 to the transition team’s chief lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, the Times reports.

NYT: Trump’s Firing of Comey Jeopardizes Investigation of Russia

Former FBI Director James Comey

Former FBI Director James Comey

By Editorial Board
New York Times

The American people — not to mention the credibility of the world’s oldest democracy — require a thorough, impartial investigation into the extent of Russia’s meddling with the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump and, crucially, whether high-ranking members of Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded in that effort.

By firing the F.B.I. director, James Comey, late Tuesday afternoon, President Trump has cast grave doubt on the viability of any further investigation into what could be one of the biggest political scandals in the country’s history.

The explanation for this shocking move — that Mr. Comey’s bungling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server violated longstanding Justice Department policy and profoundly damaged public trust in the agency — is impossible to take at face value. Certainly Mr. Comey deserves all the criticism heaped upon him for his repeated misstepsin that case, but just as certainly, that’s not the reason Mr. Trump fired him.

Mr. Trump had nothing but praise for Mr. Comey when, in the final days of the presidential campaign, he informed Congress that the bureau was reopening the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s emails. “He brought back his reputation,” Mr. Trump said at the time. “It took a lot of guts.”

With congressional Republicans continuing to resist any serious investigation, Mr. Comey’s inquiry was the only aggressive effort to get to the bottom of Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign. So far, the scandal has engulfed Paul Manafort, one of Mr. Trump’s campaign managers; Roger Stone, a longtime confidant; Carter Page, one of the campaign’s early foreign-policy advisers; Michael Flynn, who was forced out as national security adviser; and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself in March from the Russia inquiry after failing to disclose during his confirmation hearings that he had met twice during the campaign with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

To read more click here. 

Comey May Have Wanted to Stay Out of Politics, But He Shaped the Election — N.Y. Times

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A New York Times examination of the 2016 election concludes that while FBI Director James Comey insisted on avoiding politics, he ended up shaping the election.

Reporters Matt Apuzzo, Michael Schmidt, Adam Goldman and Eric Lichblau of the New York Times write about the Hillary Clinton email probe:

But with polls showing Mrs. Clinton holding a comfortable lead, Mr. Comey ended up plunging the F.B.I. into the molten center of a bitter election. Fearing the backlash that would come if it were revealed after the election that the F.B.I. had been investigating the next president and had kept it a secret, Mr. Comey sent a letter informing Congress that the case was reopened.

What he did not say was that the F.B.I. was also investigating the campaign of Donald J. Trump. Just weeks before, Mr. Comey had declined to answer a question from Congress about whether there was such an investigation. Only in March, long after the election, did Mr. Comey confirm that there was one.

The paper goes on to write:

An examination by The New York Times, based on interviews with more than 30 current and former law enforcement, congressional and other government officials, found that while partisanship was not a factor in Mr. Comey’s approach to the two investigations, he handled them in starkly different ways. In the case of Mrs. Clinton, he rewrote the script, partly based on the F.B.I.’s expectation that she would win and fearing the bureau would be accused of helping her. In the case of Mr. Trump, he conducted the investigation by the book, with the F.B.I.’s traditional secrecy. Many of the officials discussed the investigations on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

 

New York Times: Be Careful to Read Too Much into FBI Crime Report

police lightsBy Editorial Board
New York Times

Over the last several decades, whenever there has been a reported increase in violent crime numbers, there have been people eager to seize on the statistics and argue, as the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has, that crime is “out of control.”

The opportunity arose again on Monday, when the F.B.I. released its annual snapshot of crime nationwide in 2015, showing that there was a 10.8 percent increase in the number of murders and nonnegligent manslaughter cases over 2014. The number of violent crimes — which the report defines as murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and assault — was up almost 4 percent, while the number of property crimes, such as burglary and larceny, was down 2.6 percent.

These are troubling figures, and they demand a level-headed, targeted response. But any single data point must be considered against the broader trend of declining crime rates: In fact, 2015 was the thirdsafest year in more than four decades. And the number of violent crimes was 16.5 percent below the 2006 level.

The surge in killings was fueled by street violence in a handful of major cities. While murder rates rose significantly in 25 of the 100 largest cities in 2015, an analysis by The Timesfound that half of the increase in killings in big cities came from just seven — Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Milwaukee, Nashville and Washington — where most of the victims were young African-American males. Guns were used in nearly three-quarters of the 15,696 homicides in 2015.

Unfortunately, the debate over how best to fight crime is always a combustible one, so even relatively small changes in crime rates can lead to big and often destructive changes in law and policy, like mandatory-minimum prison sentences or stop-and-frisk policing. In the name of greater public safety, policies like these have done immense damage to minority communities around the country, and particularly to the young black and Latino men who have borne their brunt, even as evidence shows that they do little if anything to reduce crime.

To read more click here. 

Ex-Secret Service Agent Not Humored by NYT Columnist’s Assassination Joke about Trump

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

At least one former Secret Service agent was not humored when a New York Times columnist joked that an assassination attempt would end Donald Trump’s presidential run.

Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino told WND that the joke was “irresponsible, grotesque, despicable and ignorant.”

Columnist Ross Douthat tweeted Wednesday afternoon, “Good news guys I’ve figured out how the Trump campaign ends,” linking to a YouTube clip from the 1983 movie “Dead Zone” in which a political candidate holds up a baby as a human shield to prevent an assassination attempt.

Douthat removed the tweet and apologized, tweeting, “A lot readers were offended by my Trump/’Dead Zone’ joke from yesterday. I can see why, and I’ve deleted the tweet. Apologies.”

Bongino, who is an outspoken President Obama critic, was not impressed.

“The people are angry at Washington, D.C., and more importantly, the insider class, which includes people like this joker,” Bongino said. “People are angry at them because they feel like morally and ethically that these people live by a different code, and this guy’s code is clearly, ‘I’m gonna say or do whatever I want to anyone who doesn’t live by this connected insider set of rules,’ even if it means tweeting a tweet that suggests someone should kill the guy!

“I mean, how out of touch, ethically challenged and disgusting can this group of people get?”

First Time Since 1920, New York Times Runs Editorial on Its Front Page

ATF photo

ATF file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The New York Times, which has long pushed for tougher restrictions on gun sales, used a major exclamation mark this time, putting a strongly worded editorial Saturday on its front page about tougher gun regulations.

The paper noted that the last time it ran an editorial on the front page was 1920 when it lamented the nomination of Warren G. Harding as the Republican presidential candidate.

Here’s part of the editorial Saturday:

All decent people feel sorrow and righteous fury about the latest slaughter of innocents, in California. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are searching for motivations, including the vital question of how the murderers might have been connected to international terrorism. That is right and proper.

But motives do not matter to the dead in California, nor did they in Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and far too many other places. The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.

It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism.

Opponents of gun control are saying, as they do after every killing, that no law can unfailingly forestall a specific criminal. That is true. They are talking, many with sincerity, about the constitutional challenges to effective gun regulation. Those challenges exist. They point out that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did.

But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not. Worse, politicians abet would-be killers by creating gun markets for them, and voters allow those politicians to keep their jobs. It is past time to stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically — eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition.

But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not. Worse, politicians abet would-be killers by creating gun markets for them, and voters allow those politicians to keep their jobs. It is past time to stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically — eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition.

To read more click here.

 

New York Times: Republicans Talk Tough about Terrorism, But Are Cowardly About Legislation

US CapitolBy New York Times
Editorial Board

Investigators now believe that what initially seemed a workplace shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., was a well-planned attack by a married couple with at least some contact with Islamic extremists.

The evolving situation has forced Republican leaders and presidential candidates to contort themselves: talking tough on terrorism, yet ignoring the fact that the two were armed to the teeth with two .223-caliber assault rifles and two 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistols, and hundreds of rounds, all purchased legally.

While the nation suffered through the shock of another bloody massacre, on Thursday every Senate Republican except Mark Kirk of Illinois voted against legislation to prevent people on the F.B.I.’s consolidated terrorist watchlist from purchasing guns or explosives.

The measure has been introduced repeatedly since 2007. The Government Accountability Office has documented that over years of congressional blockage, hundreds of suspected terrorists on the watchlist bought guns.

Another bill that would have expanded background checks to gun show and online firearms sales to screen out convicted felons and the mentally ill also failed on Thursday. The four Republican senators running for president — Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham — all turned up to vote against these common-sense measures.

“If you need proof that Congress is a hostage to the gun lobby, look no further than today’s vote,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein, who sponsored the terror watchlist measure.

To read more click here. 

James B. Comey Not Afraid to Tackle Controversial Issues, Unlike His Predecessors

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Michael S. Schmidt
New York Times

As a federal prosecutor in two of the country’s most violent cities in the 1980s and 1990s, James B. Comey pioneered some of law enforcement’s most aggressive tactics that put gang members behind bars for long sentences, and he believes, saved many lives.

But as F.B.I. director for the past two years, Mr. Comey has witnessed a major rethinking of that period, much of it by the Justice Department and the White House. President Obama and other administration officials have described law enforcement efforts from the time as “mass incarceration.”

In a speech last Friday in Chicago, Mr. Comey challenged that interpretation, suggesting it “distorts an important reality” of what the authorities have achieved in the past 25 years to bring down the crime rate. “Pulling up those many weeds, as painful as that was,” he said, “allowed churches, schools, community groups and parents to plant seeds that have grown into healthy neighborhoods. Neighborhoods that are free and alive in 2014 in ways that were unimaginable 25 years ago. We cannot lose sight of that.”

He also made another fairly provocative claim, saying that the recent intense focus on police brutality may have made police officers less aggressive and led to an increase in crime. He seemed to be lending his credibility — and the F.B.I.’s — to the idea that the increased attention on the police has affected officers and emboldened criminals without citing any data to back up his assertion.

Mr. Comey did not tell the Justice Department or the White House what he was planning to say in the speech, but the reaction to it was immediate. Justice Department officials were puzzled, as they did not recall Mr. Comey’s ever raising such issues during their deliberations. The deputy attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, pressed Mr. Comey to explain his views. And, Mr. Comey was criticized by civil rights groups and the head of one of the largest police unions in the country.

White House officials were irritated as they saw it as an effort to undermine their criminal justice reform efforts. They later said publicly that there was no evidence to back up Mr. Comey’s claim about the rise in violence. On Thursday, the president met with Mr. Comey in the Oval Office to discuss his views. The White House declined to describe the conversation.

Mr. Comey’s statements — particularly the ones about the chilling effect that scrutiny has had on law enforcement — have been seized on by Republicans, including some who have distorted them. “You know, the F.B.I. director, the president’s appointed F.B.I. director, has said this week that because of a lack of support from politicians like the president of the United States, that police officers are afraid to get out of their cars; that they’re afraid to enforce the law,” said Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey at the Republican presidential debate on Wednesday. “And he says — the president’s appointee — that crime is going up because of this.”

To read more click here.