Patterico's Pontifications

5/22/2017

At Least 20 Dead In England, Incident Being Treated As “Possible Terrorist Incident” (Updates Added)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:15 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Multiple news outlets are reporting:

At least 20 people were killed and possibly “hundreds” of others were injures after one or more loud bangs were heard Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in England, multiple law enforcement told NBC News.

Law enforcement sources in both Britain and the United States told NBC News there were possibly two explosions. There was no immediate information on what kind of explosions occurred, and the sources stressed that the information was preliminary and subject to change.

Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials who are monitoring British authorities told NBC News that preliminary reports indicate that a single explosion took place outside the arena on the southwest side opposite the train station. The explosion occurred as the concert ended, catching people as they exited.

According to Mark White, Sky News’ Home Affairs Correspondent, the incident at the Manchester Arena is being treated by law enforcement as a “possible terrorist incident”.

From an eyewitness:

Majid Khan, 22, said: ‘I and my sister, along with a lot of others were seeing Ariana Grande perform at Manchester Arena, and we were all exiting the venue when around 10.40-10,45pm-ish a huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena.

‘It was one bang and essentially everyone from the other side of the arena where the bang was heard from suddenly came running towards us.

‘Everyone was in a huge state of panic, calling each other as some had gone to the toilet whilst this had gone off, so it was just extremely disturbing for everyone there.’

Also, according to a concert attendee who was spoke to The Daily Mail, there were lots of children and families at the show.

Updates here.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

UPDATE 1: CBS News is reporting that the injuries were consistent with shrapnel and that there are indications that nail bombs were used:

The bombs seemed to have contained nails, and that “forms of shrapnel from this explosion have been injuring people.

UPDATE 2: NBC News is reporting that:

Multiple U.S. officials say UK authorities’ forensic evidence indicates incident at Manchester Arena was a suicide attack.

UPDATE 3: ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bombing. and A statement was released, saying that “a “caliphate soldier managed to place a number of devices among a gathering of crusaders in Manchester, and detonated them.”

UPDATE 4: Salmon Ramadan Abedi has been identified as the bomber. He was reportedly laready known to British authorities.

UPDATE 5: According to CBS News this morning, the death toll has raised to 29, with 59 people injured.

Note: There is a piece in The Independent this morning with the headline, “There’s only one way Britain should respond to attacks such as Manchester. That is by carrying on exactly as before.” For the parents of 8 year old Saffie Rose Roussos, who was one of the victims in the terrorist attack, it will be impossible to carry on as before.

And there is this from the linked piece:

But if the intention of those who commit acts of terror is to disrupt ordinary life, then the only possible response is not to let that happen. That is not to say police should not track down who was responsible for such vile murder. That is not to say the security services should not step up their efforts and do all they can to stop a repeat of such slaughter.

Nor is it about what lots of Britons like to call the Dunkirk spirit, or about showing a stiff upper lip.

Rather, it is a merely an assessment of the options that are available to us, the ordinary people, those without superhuman powers.

We’re not actually equipped to do that much at all, other than to try to carry on, to not allow ourselves to be terrorised, to not stop living our lives. And that means means continuing with the general election May felt obliged to call, or keep on buying tickets to see the likes of Ariana Grande.

If the horror that played out in the aftermath of the 23-year-old singer’s concert inspires us all to do that, then she would indeed deserve the name dangerous woman.

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Source: Flynn to Take the Fifth

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:34 am

It’s based on an anonymous source, so take it for what it’s worth, which may be nothing:

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination on Monday as he notifies the Senate Intelligence committee that he will not comply with a subpoena seeking documents.

That’s according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private interactions between Flynn and the committee.

Everyone who said it was no big deal when Lois Lerner took the Fifth will make a big thing out of this.

And everyone who made a big thing out of Lois Lerner doing it will say this is no big deal.

Taking the Fifth does not make a person guilty. In the criminal context it means nothing. In a civil context, or the context of testifying before Congress, one can draw an adverse inference. But in a situation like this one (or with Lerner) where any competent lawyer would advise you to take it, it makes little sense to read too much into it.

Maybe Flynn can make a big speech about how he didn’t do anything wrong and then take the Fifth. After Lerner’s stunt along those lines, there is precedent for it.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

5/19/2017

Trump, Comey, Russia And A “Significant Person Of Interest” Is Identified

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:53 pm

[guest post by Dana]

According to The New York Times:

President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”

The conversation, during a May 10 meeting — the day after he fired Mr. Comey — reinforces the notion that Mr. Trump dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives. Mr. Trump said as much in one televised interview, but the White House has offered changing justifications for the firing.

The White House document that contained Mr. Trump’s comments was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office and has been circulated as the official account of the meeting. One official read quotations to The Times, and a second official confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion.

(On a side note, has the current trend of unnamed officials reading extremely sensitive, and possibly damaging documents over the phone to major media news outlets become the new norm in political reporting by those who claim to adhere to the highest of journalistic standards?)

Also breaking, from the Washington Post:

The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.

The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official.

The revelation comes as the investigation also appears to be entering a more overtly active phase, with investigators shifting from work that has remained largely hidden from the public to conducting interviews and using a grand jury to issue subpoenas. The intensity of the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, the people said.

The sources emphasized that investigators remain keenly interested in people who previously wielded influence in the Trump campaign and administration but are no longer part of it, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Flynn resigned in February after disclosures that he had lied to administration officials about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Current administration officials who have acknowledged contacts with Russian officials include Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as Cabinet members Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Further down in the report, the focus turns to Jared Kushner:

The White House also has acknowledged that Kushner met with Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., in late November. Kushner also has acknowledged that he met with the head of a Russian development bank, Vnesheconombank, which has been under U.S. sanctions since July 2014. The president’s son in law initially omitted contacts with foreign leaders from a national security questionnaire, though his lawyer has said publicly he submitted the form prematurely and informed the FBI soon after he would provide an update.

Vnesheconombank handles development for the state, and in early 2015, a man purporting to be one of its New York-based employees was arrested and accused of being an unregistered spy.

That man – Evgeny Buryakov – ultimately pleaded guilty and was eventually deported.

For an insightful look at the term, “person of interest” that is used in this Washington Post report, follow this great thread here at Popehat, who right off the bat, observes:

“Person of interest” is a deliberately ambiguous term, evasive. WaPo reporters are smart and know that. Yet they don’t comment on it.

–Dana

Anthony Weiner To Plead Guilty

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:52 am

[guest post by Dana]

This morning’s New York Times reports:

Mr. Weiner will plead guilty to a single charge of transferring obscene material to a minor, pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, one of the people said. Mr. Weiner surrendered to the F.B.I. early Friday morning.

The plea covers conduct by Mr. Weiner from January through March of last year, the person said. A likely result of the plea is that Mr. Weiner would end up as a registered sex offender, although a final determination has yet to be made, the person added.

The charge carries a potential sentence of between zero and 10 years in prison, meaning Mr. Weiner could avoid prison. The ultimate sentence would be determined by a judge.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Always trust content from Patterico.

5/18/2017

President Trump Today: Potential Charges Or Impeachment “Totally Ridiculous”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:08 pm

[guest post by Dana]

After tweeting early this morning that “this is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!,” President Trump said at a press conference this afternoon that he had not asked James Comey to “end his investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign”:

“Well, I respect the move but the entire thing has been a witch hunt,” Trump said when asked about the investigation. “There is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign. But I can always speak for myself and the Russians, zero. I think it divides the country, I think we have a very divided country because of that and many other things. So I can tell you that we want to bring this great country of ours together.”

Trump called talk of potential criminal charges or impeachment “totally ridiculous.”

He also said he thought that Comey’s firing would be bipartisan.

“I think it is totally ridiculous. Everyone thinks so,” he said when asked whether he ever thought he did something recently that merited criminal charges or impeachment.

“Director Comey was very unpopular with most people,” he said. “I actually thought when I made that decision, and I also got a very, very strong recommendation, as you know, from the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. When I made that decision I actually thought it would be a bipartisan decision because you look at all of the people on the Democratic side, not only the Republican side, that were saying such terrible thing about Director Comey.”

Meanwhile, there is a video clip making the rounds today of James Comey testifying that he had never been “told to stop” an FBI investigation for political reasons:

–Dana

Roger Ailes Passes Away

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:21 am

[guest post by Dana]

Roger Ailes has died at the age of 77:

His wife Elizabeth, with whom he has one son, said: ‘I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning. Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many.

‘He was also a patriot, profoundly grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise — and to give back.
‘During a career that stretched over more than five decades, his work in entertainment, in politics, and in news affected the lives of many millions.

‘And so even as we mourn his death, we celebrate his life,’ the statement reads.

No information was released as to the cause of his death.

Ailes, who in recent years faced accusations of sexual harassment from on-air talent, as well as being fully aware of any number of sexual harassment accusations toward Bill O’Reilly, resigned in 2016 as a result. Fox News with Ailes at its helm “… developed a virtual public square for the American right and filled a void on television. It has dominated all other cable news channels for 14 years.”

Here is a round-up of reactions to Ailes’ death from blue-checked journalists and other important people who help “shape” the news and culture. And more reactions from both the left and the right here.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

5/17/2017

Special Counsel Takes Over Russia Investigation

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:12 pm

There you have it.

Former Trump aides Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort have emerged as key figures in the FBI’s investigation into Russian campaign interference, which has just been taken over by a special counsel, four law enforcement officials told NBC News.

Officials say multiple grand jury subpoenas and records requests have been issued in connection with the two men during the past six months in the ongoing probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian attempts to influence the election, an inquiry that will now be overseen by former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

The FBI, with the help of the Treasury Department, the CIA and other agencies, is examining evidence of possible contacts, money transfers and business relationships between a variety of Trump associates and Russian officials, the sources say. The investigation goes well beyond Flynn, Manafort and a possible American connection, to include how Russian intelligence services carried out the campaign of fake news and leaking hacked emails that intelligence officials say was meant to hurt Hillary Clinton and benefit Donald Trump.

Have at it.

5/16/2017

Introducing The Male, Um, Romper

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:33 pm

[guest post by Dana]

In case you are weary from the politics of the day, I thought I’d throw up a post and look at a recent effort being made to “revolutionize men’s fashion”:

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It’s the one-piece romper for men: the RompHim. From the project’s Kickstarter page:

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Yeah, you know who else won’t want to take that thing off? Any woman. Because they’re not going to go anywhere near you wearing that ridiculous thing.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

NYT Reports On F.B.I. Memo: “I Hope You Can Let This Go”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:00 pm

[guest post by Dana]

From the New York Times:

President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.

Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of the memo to a Times reporter.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Mr. Comey did not say anything to Mr. Trump about curtailing the investigation, only replying: “I agree he is a good guy.”

(Questions: If the memo is unclassified, why wouldn’t the Times be allowed to see it? Was it offered, did they decline? More importantly, why wouldn’t the Times demand to see it to confirm its existence? And why wouldn’t the F.B.I. officials want the paper of record to view it to corroborate the F.B.I.’s version? Wouldn’t that only lend credence to their story, given that there were only two people in the room at the time – Comey and Trump? Moreover, if we are uncomfortable with media relying on anonymous sources, shouldn’t we be even more so when the issue involves an unseen memo of significant importance? Someone enlighten me.)

The White House released a statement pushing back on the report:

“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the statement said. “The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”

But hey, maybe President Trump will release the tapes to which he has alluded, and if they do exist, perhaps they would bring some clarity to the matter, and either back up Comey’s memo or the President’s denial.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: So, if this is true, is it an impeachable offense? My gut reaction is yes. Why is that wrong?

5/15/2017

Washington Post: President Trump Revealed Highly Classified Info To Russian Officials (Update Added)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:01 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Here we go:

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.

“This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”

It was during that meeting, officials said, that Trump went off script and began describing details of an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft…

Further:

In his meeting with Lavrov, Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat. “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” the president said, according to an official with knowledge of the exchange.

Trump went on to discuss aspects of the threat that the United States learned only through the espionage capabilities of a key partner. He did not reveal the specific intelligence-gathering method, but he described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances. Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.

The report clarifies that President Trump “has broad authority to declassify government secrets, making it unlikely that his disclosures broke the law.”

This statement from H.R. McMaster is being volleyed back and forth by various factions as to whether it is a denial of the story, or a tacit confirmation of it:

“The president and the foreign minister reviewed common threats from terrorist organizations to include threats to aviation,” said H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, who participated in the meeting. “At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed, and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly.”

The White House has begun to push back against the story, with Deputy NSA Dina Powell claiming that it’s false:

“This story is false. The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.”

Allahpundit raises a couple of interesting points:

Two U.S. officials told BuzzFeed after WaPo’s story dropped that it’s true and “it’s far worse than what has already been reported.” Reportedly the Senate Intelligence Committee has been briefed about it. Exit question one: Hey, remember this story from January? Exit question two via David Frum: If you’re a U.S. natsec professional, how do you prevent this from happening again? Start withholding information from the president? There’s no way to stop him from blurting out classified info in the course of conversation once the conversation’s begun. The only way is to keep it from him in the first place. Although the fact that this incredibly embarrassing mishap has been leaked may be their way of trying to shame Trump into preparing more diligently for meetings going forward and being far more careful about what he says. (Especially since he’s leaving on his first foreign trip as president soon.) In the end, maybe the only way to get through to him is with bad press.

Apparently National Security Adviser HR McMaster will be addressing the Washington Post report any moment.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

UPDATE:
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UPDATE 2: McMaster at this morning’s presser. Relevant portion begins at the 30:23 mark:

–Dana

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