Trump, Ratcliffe implausibly claim Trump was never told of Russian bounties for murder of US troops

Numerous news agencies have now confirmed the story broken by The New York Times on Friday: The Russian government secretly issued bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, offering cash to militants in exchange for the killing of American soldiers. The Russian intelligence unit in question is believed to be the same one behind the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal, in 2018.

The Trump administration's response to this now-undeniable news is coalescing around a bizarre argument: Despite the immediate danger to U.S. forces, nobody in U.S. intelligence told Donald Trump or Mike Pence it was going on.

Despite the Times reporting that Trump's National Security Council met in late March to present Trump with a "menu" of possible retaliatory responses, both Trump and his surrounding toadies now claim that Trump and Pence were not told of the clear and substantive danger to U.S. troops. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, newly installed in the post after maudlin and sycophantic performances as a House Republican defending Trump during impeachment proceedings, gave the most definitive declaration:

"I have confirmed that neither the President nor the Vice President were ever briefed on any intelligence alleged by the New York Times in its reporting yesterday. The White House statement addressing this issue earlier today, which denied such a briefing occurred, was accurate. The New York Times reporting, and all other subsequent news reports about such an alleged briefing are inaccurate."

This is almost certainly a lie—as would be expected from Ratcliffe. There are few plausible scenarios in which top U.S. intelligence officials would hide a Russian operation to assassinate U.S. soldiers from the White House, and fewer still in which this would happen, but the Times' government sources would instead falsely invent a scenario in which he was.

Trump's installed team, however, is suggesting one of only two possible scenarios. One, that those surrounding Trump and Pence did not feel a high-level Russian espionage operation directly promoting the murder of U.S. troops was worth White House attention.

Or two, the U.S. intelligence community was intentionally hiding information about the Russian operation from Trump and Pence. If so, that would be an astonishing choice, and would suggest that intelligence officials believed there were national security reasons to keep Trump and Pence in the dark about just how much the U.S. knew about Russian operations.

The Director of National Intelligence is either suggesting that Trump and Pence are such impotent figures that his office did not bother to alert them or discuss with them a Russian plot to murder Americans, or that his office believed telling Trump about the Russian scheme would itself compromise U.S. security. Both of those possibilities are alarming.

It seems far more likely that both Ratcliffe and the White House are lying, directly, about Trump's involvement. At the end of March, Trump and Putin spoke by phone five times in three weeks, an "unprecedented" level of communications; the White House, as usual, has concealed the contents of those calls.

Trump's own denials are scattershot and ridiculous. In a petulant pair of tweets Trump proclaimed that "Nobody briefed or told me, @VP Pence, or Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an “anonymous source” by the Fake News @nytimes," before wandering off to attack Hunter Biden again.

But Mark Meadows was not Trump's chief of staff during the period in question, and Trump is misstating the actual story. Russians did not "attack" U.S. troops directly, but have offered bounties for others to attack them. Trump, or whoever is tweeting for him, seems to have little ability to comprehend the thing he is denying—a point in favor of Ratcliffe's claim that Trump is simply too stupid to be of use to intelligence officials, to be sure.

Again: We will almost certainly learn that Ratcliffe, Trump, and Trump's indignant but forever-lying spokescreatures are lying blatantly about Trump's knowledge of the Russian operation. That is almost a given. The next question to be answered is why Trump (and Pence), despite learning of the bounties in March, have taken no action in response to Russia's act.

That answer, too, seems self-evident. It is the same reason it was necessary to install a thoroughly corrupt but loyal House Republican into a top intelligence spot to begin with.

Trump Tries Georgia End Run On Senate Race

By David Kamioner | February 21, 2020

The GOP has a problem in Georgia and his name is Doug Collins. Not that Collins isn’t sharp and a strong Trump supporter. He proved both by his exemplary performance during the House impeachment sham.

The issue is that his political ambitions could throw an easy GOP seat to the Democrats.

GOP Senator Johnny Isakson resigned late last year due to health reasons. GOP Governor Brian Kemp appointed Republican Kelly Loeffler to take the seat until a special election this November. Trump and the GOP party organization endorsed Loeffler for the seat. But then Collins got in the picture.

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Looking at very strong polling numbers against Loeffler, he’s bucking the GOP and the president and running for the seat. His excellent performance during impeachment must have only given him more confidence in his decision and made him think the president would not come down too hard on him.

He is right about the president, but not about the party. They had this to say when he made his decision: “This shortsighted decision is stunning,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Kevin McLaughlin. “Doug Collins’ selfishness will hurt David Perdue, Kelly Loeffler, and President Trump. Not to mention the people of Georgia who will stand to bear the burden of it for years to come. All he has done is put two senate seats, multiple house seats, and Georgia’s 16 electoral votes in play.”

You can’t really blame Collins. It’s a rule in politics to look out for number one and take your shot when it’s there for you. The party and the president do not agree because Georgia has weird election rules. All candidates run in November and the top person takes the seat. However, if no one takes a majority then a runoff happens in January. So if too many Republicans run, a Democrat can sneak in through the middle and take the seat because the GOP vote gets split.

Got that?

So, not a happy situation in the GOP Georgia family. Thus, dad steps in.

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The president is offering the high-powered DNI, Director of National Intelligence, post to Collins. It’s the most important intel post in the nation and would give Collins serious creds for higher office. If Collins took it that would get him out of the way in Georgia and make everyone happy.

But Collins isn’t biting. Friday morning he told Fox News that he is still running for the Senate seat. He could be holding out for a better price. Or perhaps he looks at his good numbers in the race and thinks Trump will go easy on him and be distracted by his own race.

But the president has just started his pressure on Collins. We’ll see what happens as November get closer.

This piece originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

Read more at LifeZette:
Trump and Barr pull a classic con on Democrats
Cher comes unglued—claims Trump is going to shoot someone in New York City
Somali community leader confirms Ilhan Omar married her own brother

The post Trump Tries Georgia End Run On Senate Race appeared first on The Political Insider.

Trump replaced intelligence director after election security briefing caused Republican panic

By any measure, outgoing acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire did Donald Trump a huge favor. Confronted by a report from the intelligence community inspector general that a whistleblower had raised an urgent concern, according to regulations, Maguire had no choice but to take that information to Congress. He didn’t. Instead, Maguire took the whistleblower report to the White House and the Department of Justice, where he was promptly told that it was of no concern, please stay quiet, that’s all, thank you. 

But despite his contribution to burying the issue that led to Trump’s impeachment, Maguire isn’t going to get the chance to remove the “acting” from his title and be nominated for the post of DNI. Instead, he’s getting ready to head out the door, and will be replaced by the worst, least qualified, and most poorly suited candidate imaginable. And it seems that Maguire was on track to be the new DNI until only a week ago, when a single briefing turned the intelligence community upside down.

The whole decision to replace Maguire with the spectacularly awful and in no way qualified Richard Grenell seems to be based on something that’s just as bad as the incoming DNI … but also strangely interesting.

According to The Washington Post, everything pivoted around a classified briefing given to the House Intelligence Committee last Thursday. A briefing on the topic of election security. Specifically, the subject of the meeting was “election security and foreign interference in the run-up to the 2020 election.” The meeting was not exclusive to Democrats. Unlike some recent hearings where Republicans have put on a show of being absent, they were in the room for this closed-door briefing—including Devin Nunes. 

At that briefing, intelligence official Shelby Pierson said … something. Something that made Republicans on the committee run back to report to Trump. Whatever that something was, it apparently made Trump hugely angry that this information had reached House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, because, according to the Post, “the information would be helpful to Democrats if it were released publicly, the people familiar with the matter said.”

Trump was so angry that he dragged in Maguire and confronted him over what Pierson had said. After that, Trump dismissed Maguire, replacing him as acting DNI with belligerent neo-fascist Grenell. Even though Trump has been busy cleaning house of officials in the NSA, DOJ, Pentagon, and State Department that don’t have Trump’s logo tattooed on their foreheads, Maguire was definitely on the inside of Trump’s circle … until that briefing. 

To recap: An intelligence official gave a briefing on threats to election security and of foreign interference going into the 2020 election. Whatever was in that briefing, it frightened Republicans enough that they ran to tell Trump that Democrats had seen it. The information is considered so “damaging” if it were to reach the public that Trump replaced the DNI with a far-right troll who has no experience in or connections to intelligence, and whose specialty is attacking opponents while defending neo-fascist leaders around the world.

Let the speculation begin.