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Posts tagged ‘Israel / Middle East’

Exclusive – Pompeo on Trump’s Peace Push: Deals ‘Are All Connected’ to Trump’s ‘Strategy’ Recognizing Iran as ‘Primary Operator for Instability’


Reported by MATTHEW BOYLE | Nicosia, Cyprus

URL of the originating web site: https://www.breitbart.com/middle-east/2020/09/15/exclusive-pompeo-on-trumps-peace-push-deals-are-all-connected-to-trumps-strategy-recognizing-iran-as-primary-operator-for-inst/

Mike Pompeo, Matt Boyle / Courtesy State Department

Pompeo’s interview came late Saturday night aboard the U.S. Air Force jet transporting him and the U.S. delegation after he met with the president of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, whom he visited here after earlier in the day attending the opening of intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha, Qatar. As the jet touched down in Doha late Friday night the previous evening, the deal being rolled out this week between Bahrain and Israel to normalize relations was announced. Previously, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel announced they were normalizing relations. On Tuesday at the White House, representatives of both Bahrain and UAE are meeting with Trump in addition to Israeli officials including Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.

“It’s a great question. They are all connected,” Pompeo told Breitbart News when asked to connect the dots between the Afghan peace talks and these other peace deals being rolled out now. “The president laid down a strategy for how to secure America from instability and threats from the Middle East.”

Pompeo, who is at the White House with Trump and other American officials as part of the historic meetings for the peace deals on Tuesday, said that Trump’s Middle East policy strategy vision began by treating Iran as the main threat in the region.

“It began by recognizing the primary operator for instability, the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pompeo said. “That central decision has begun to drive all of the elements of our foreign policy in the Middle East. Reduce our footprint in Afghanistan, get our young men and women home. Reduce our footprints in Iraq and Syria, be strong in terms of sanctions and place pressure on the regime, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and then lay out a strategy for Middle East peace which had multiple pieces right?”

Several of the steps that laid the groundwork for these major steps toward Middle East peace, Pompeo told Breitbart News, include recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and several other steps taken in Israel. That, he said, has lit a path forward for Arab countries in the region for a vision for peace.

“Some of this is reality: Recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, acknowledge that the Golan Heights indeed is Israeli territory. We’ve also made clear that the settlements in the West Bank weren’t necessarily unlawful,” Pompeo said. “All of those things come together to place the conditions where frankly countries in the Middle East can see a path forward for how you can take down risk and grow their economies. We think about these deals between Bahrain and the Emirates as security arrangements. That’s true, but the benefits to the economies of those three countries of opening up trade will be enormous.”

Pompeo, who on Saturday in Doha met with leaders of the Afghan government and Taliban delegations at the beginning of intra-Afghan peace talks as the U.S. is as he told Breitbart News on pace for a full withdrawal of all armed forces by next spring, said the U.S. sees Afghanistan and other countries eventually reaching a place where through “economic benefits” to the region they join other Arab nations in push for peace inside their countries and with the West. He said the hope is even Iran will one day come to the table for a real deal, rather than the flawed Iran deal from former President Barack Obama’s and former Vice President Joe Biden’s administration from which Trump withdrew the United States.

“Those economic benefits are the kind of thing that we hope one day is something we can do in Afghanistan,” Pompeo said. “We’ve made progress in Iraq as well by defeating the caliphate. All of those things come together to reduce risk from the Middle East. We hope that the Iranians will come to see that there is a pathway for them as well, but until they do, the pressure campaign will continue.”

Pompeo also said that while Afghan peace is still a ways away, and that Afghanistan becoming a country like UAE or Bahrain is still even further off, there definitely are other countries in the Middle East that are likely to soon join UAE and Bahrain soon.

“Yes there are,” Pompeo said.

Asked if it is a “peace through strength” doctrine, like what former President Ronald Reagan championed, Pompeo said it is—but the focus from Trump is on “economic strength.” He added that the president is unafraid, as he has demonstrated, to use military force however to demonstrate America’s might if needed.

“It’s absolutely the model, with an emphasis on economic strength,” Pompeo said. “The thing that America does best—our creativity, our innovation, our capacity to create opportunities for good all across the world—it’s absolutely peace through strength. We’re very much focused on making sure if there’s a bad actor, if Qassem Soleimani is threatening America, President Trump will never shy away from using military force. But we’re not going to be engaged in countries doing extended policing when they don’t generate safety and security for the American people.”

This is the second piece from Pompeo’s exclusive interview with Breitbart News. More is forthcoming.

Radical Left-Wing Group to Aid Biden Election and Fulfill Progressive Agenda, ‘We’re Damn Serious’


Reported by JOSHUA KLEIN | 

URL of the originating web site: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/08/21/radical-left-wing-group-plans-aid-biden-election-fulfill-progressive-agenda-were-damn-serious/

 

Jill Biden and husband former vice-president and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wear facemasks as they watch fireworks outside the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, at the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention, held virtually amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, on August 20, 2020. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) …

The initiative, called Vote Trump Out, is being led by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon, co-founders of the far-left progressive RootsAction, which claims over 1.3 million active members. RootsAction includes known radical activists such as Noam Chomsky, John Cusack, Linda Sarsour, Medea Benjamin, James Zogby and others who intend to assist the campaign by lending their voices (and organizations) to provide the necessary credibility to persuade voters in battlegrounds states to go out and vote.

In a statement to Common Dreams earlier this month, Cohen described the new grassroots initiative as a “two-step campaign: First, vote Trump out. Then, challenge Biden from day one.”

The plan to challenge Biden is crucial to encourage more voters. “It’s easier to persuade swing voters on the left who live in swing states to vote for Biden, despite their hesitancy, if they know we’re serious about step two,” Cohen said. “And people who trust RootsAction or our campaign’s national endorsers, know we’re damn serious.”

The campaign’s mission statement declares, “We are not going to minimize our disagreements with Joe Biden. But we’re also clear-eyed about where things stand: supporting the Democratic nominee in swing states is the only way to defeat Trump. … If Biden wins, we’ll be at his door on day one, demanding the kinds of structural reforms that advance racial, economic and environmental justice.”

The fresh campaign entails launching a highly-targeted social-media program which will utilize messages from national and state progressive “luminaries” (widely respected individuals on the left who are not establishment Democrats) aimed at persuading progressive voters in a dozen battleground states, especially Bernie Sanders supporters, to vote for Joe Biden rather than sit out the election or cast a third-party “protest” vote.

“Our organization fought fiercely in the primaries for Bernie and against Biden,” say RootsAction co-founders Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon. “But the general election is far less about Biden than it is about Trump – the most dangerous president in modern U.S. history, who opposes virtually every policy and principle that progressives are fighting for.”

Both Cohen and Solomon have a long history of radical left-wing activism.

Cohen is the founder of the “media watchdog” organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He became a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where he also worked as a lawyer, would write “investigative articles” for the socialist magazine Mother Jones, and claimed to be “ideologically aligned” with Ralph Nader “on virtually every issue.” Cohen recently referred to capitalism as “the system that U.S. racism is entrenched in.”

Solomon is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) which collaborated with Saddam Hussein‘s regime to organize “fact-finding” trips to Iraq for American political figures and entertainers, as well as the former executive of FAIR.

He visited Moscow on eight separate occasions during the 1980s, staging a sit-in at the American Embassy there and serving as an anti-American propagandist. He also traveled to Iraq with actor and anti-war activist Sean Penn in order to protest and impede the “momentum toward war.” 

Solomon told Politico, which was early to report on the effort, that RootsAction has also hired full-time organizers in three battleground states (Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin) to assist the campaign with the upcoming Election Day.

“In messaging to persuade voters who dislike Biden’s record, to vote Biden in swing states, we’ve learned that it works well to characterize Biden as a far better opponent to be fighting against in the White House than the immovable Trump,” Solomon stated, in reference to his group’s testing of Facebook audiences.

In a press release, RootAction stated:

The Vote Trump Out campaign asserts that while President Trump is unfailingly immune to progressive persuasion or protest, the fight for a full progressive agenda (ranging from major climate initiatives and combating racism to universal healthcare, free public college and taxing the wealthy) would have the potential to claim some significant victories with Biden in the White House.

Vote Trump Out maintains an online site under the same name (VoteTrumpOut.org) which serves as the online hub of its e-activism. The campaign was launched earlier this month with a video — which is prominently displayed on the site’s homepage — featuring retired MIT professor and far-left-wing political activist Noam Chomsky.

“Another four years of Trump may literally lead us to the stage where the survival of organized human society is deeply imperiled,” Chomsky states in the 2-minute clip. “It doesn’t matter how I feel. It doesn’t matter whether you like Biden or not. That’s your personal feelings, irrelevant, nobody cares about that. What they care about is what happens to the world. We have to get rid of Trump, keep pressure on Biden, just as Sanders and associates have been doing.”

Watch the full video:

 

The Vote Trump Out site includes an FAQ section to counter potential left-leaning arguments against voting for Biden.

“Crucially, Biden is moveable. We’ve already shown that with mass pressure, we can push him to support more progressive policies. Trump, on the other hand, is immune to public persuasion or protest. With a Biden presidency, a disciplined and mobilized left could extract significant victories,” reads one response.

In a joint statement from RootsAction and Progressive Democrats of America, Biden’s running mate Sen. Kamala Harris is also regarded as politically malleable. Referring to Harris as a “political weather vane,” the statement claims that Harris’ “habit of aligning her stance with the prevailing political winds” offers progressive groups hope.

“We will fight every day to make sure those winds blow decisively in the direction of a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and a level playing field for working families everywhere,” the statement adds.

In response to how the initiative can endorse Biden, given his record of “centrist neoliberalism,” the Vote Trump Out campaign states it “does not endorse Joe Biden,” but that its effort is merely to defeat Trump, who is described as a “white supremacist and quasi-fascist who will be even more dangerous if given a second term.”

Referring to voting as “fundamentally a strategic act,” the initiative claims that it is fighting to protect the vulnerable from “four more years of bigotry, exploitation, and repression,” and claims that it “will be ready and organized on day one to hold a Biden administration accountable.”

The site’s “take action” section includes prewritten tweets which visitors are encouraged to retweet, such as:

Imagine the strength that @AOC and @IlhanMN will have under a @JoeBiden presidency. He’s going to be pushed! #VoteTrumpOut 

Imagine a Trump that’s not hindered by having to win another election. He’ll be unstoppable. I’m voting for @JoeBiden because he won’t be immune to public persuasion + protest, and we can force him to enact real progressive policies vs Trump’s fascist decrees. #VoteTrumpOut 

The campaign also provides memes for its followers to tweet out, featuring lines such as “Fuck Capitalism” as well as references to Biden as the “bridge” to be tread upon:

 

 

In one tweet, the group asks, “What would you rather be protesting in 2021? Net zero carbon emissions standards by 2030 or authoritarian fascism from which we may never recover.”

 

In another tweet, the campaign turns to Antifa supporters in displaying a link to the antifa.com website, which redirects alternately between the Biden campaign site and a “digital community center for anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements” known as It’s Going Down.

The campaign also offers a toolkit intended to amplify its message through sharing tweets, posts, and graphics “customized to specific swing states.”

The final section of the site lists endorsers who have joined the campaign to actively promote the dual goals of the campaign.

Far left-wing radical activists assisting the initiative

Vote Trump Out has joined forces with a roster of the most radical veteran left-wing activists in order to achieve its goals and lend credibility to its efforts. A partial list follows, in no particular order.

Noam Chomsky:

A world-famous and influential linguist, philosopher, and anarchist, Chomsky is known for his attacks on capitalism, “American imperialism,” and the Vietnam War. In recent months, Chomsky referred to President Trump as “the worst criminal in human history,” whose “dedication” to destroying human life is more intense than Hitler’s, and also claimed that Trump’s rally supporters resemble the crowds at Hitler’s Nuremberg rallies. Chomsky told the BBC that, unlike ISIS or North Korea, the Republican Party is “dedicated to destroying the prospects for organized human existence.”

Linda Sarsour: 

With a long history of antisemitic comments which resulted in her discharge from the Women’s March in January, Sarsour has worked with the notorious racist Louis Farrakhan, speaking at a Nation of Islam event and defending his organization. Sarsour, a leader of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, has called for “jihad” (Islamic holy war) against Trump, while urging Muslims to declare that opposing Trump is a religious duty under Islam.

Sarsour addressed the DNC convention on Tuesday in a caucus meeting for Muslim Delegates and Allies Assembly, stating “The Democratic Party is not perfect, but it is absolutely our party in this moment.” The party’s willingness to grant Sarsour a platform is a clear sign of the power the Vote Trump Out movement has within the Democratic Party — power it requires to implement its extreme agenda.

Medea Benjamin: 

Benjamin is a co-founder of CODEPINK, a leader within the BDS movement, and a member of the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). In May 2009, Benjamin led a CODEPINK delegation to Gaza which was welcomed by Hamas officials. (Only a month earlier, Human Rights Watch condemned Hamas for executing and torturing Palestinians.) While CODEPINK has organized a slew of delegations to Gaza, Benjamin personally met with senior Hamas officials and even relayed a letter from one to then-President Obama.

In September 2008, several CODEPINK leaders met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York City. Critics have accused CODEPINK of working closely with terrorist organizations and states sponsors of terrorism in Gaza and Iran.

Recently, Benjamin’s CODEPINK denounced the Israel-United Arab Emirates (UAE) peace deal, claiming that “it strengthens the Israel-US-Gulf alliance against Iran,” as Breitbart News reported.

James Zogby:

The president of the anti-Israel Arab American Institute, Zogby — Sanders’ stated go-to source for foreign policy advice — is notoriously anti-Israel, describing Hezbollah terrorists as “the Lebanese armed resistance” and comparing Israel to the Nazi regime. Zogby has attempted to justify Palestinian terrorism by claiming that he sought to understand “why the perpetrators [of terrorist acts] acted as they did or why there are people whose anger and despair bring them to support this or that crime.”

Zogby, who served as a delegate on the 2016 Democratic platform committee, told Foreign Policy that he is “baffled” by the refusal to insert the word “occupation” into this year’s policy platform, but noted “this is the first time we [the party platform] have mentioned the word ‘settlement’ and the first time we have called for an independent, viable Palestinian state. It’s a better platform.”

Ady Barkan: 

A prominent voice for Medicare for All, Barkan addressed the DNC on Tuesday in a prime slot explaining his support for Biden and his vision for single-payer healthcare. Barkan is an organizer with the Soros-backed Center for Popular Democracy Action (CPD), which is highly involved in anti-Trump activism.

In May 2017, CNN reported that the CPD Action fund unveiled an “$80 million effort to coordinate the work of dozens of smaller progressive groups from around the country” as part of what the network characterized as the anti-Trump “resistance” movement. Barkan described the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks as functions of “America’s commitment to white supremacy.”

John Cusack:

The celebrity actor-turned-radical activist has frequently railed against the Trump administration and recently joined rioters in embattled Portland in a show of support, while referring to federal agents sent to restore order as “stormtroopers.”

In June, Cusack shared an anti-Semitic cartoon and quote after attempting to defend the image. The tweet featured a Star of David atop a hand pushing down on people with a false quote from philosopher Voltaire which read, “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” Cusack added, “Follow the money.”

Earlier this year, Cusack joined the growing list of climate alarmists who have declared that the planet has only a decade left to stem global warming and the “predatory capitalism” which purportedly facilitates it.

“We know this form of capitalism takes and takes; it takes whatever, whenever, however it wants,” Cusack said in a speech introducing presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at a campaign event in New Hampshire.

Bill Fletcher Jr.: 

Fletcher is a member of the steering committee of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (USACBI), which focuses on boycotting Israeli academic and cultural institutions. He is also a listed member of the Democratic Socialists of America International Committee. In a talk with Marx200.org, an online platform that seeks to reinvigorate Marxist ideology, he elaborated on the “Black contribution to Marxism,” and how “capitalism is based on slave trade and colonialism, the relationship between labor and race, and the need to organize.”

Fletcher was a co-founder of the Black Radical Congress and is a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies — a Soros financed group that heavily pushed the Iran nuclear deal during the Obama administration.

In early 2008, Fletcher, along with Barbara Ehrenreich (another endorser for Vote Trump Out), Danny Glover, and Tom Hayden, initiated Progressives for Obama, which echoed similar themes to the current Vote Trump Out initiative when announcing its formation.

Barbara Ehrenreich: 

Honorary Chairwoman of the Democratic Socialists of America and member of the Board of Trustees of the radical Institute for Policy Studies (along with Chomsky and Fletcher), Ehrenreich once proudly celebrated the re-release of the Communist Manifesto on its 150th anniversary in 1998.

On September 20, 2001, Ehrenreich was a guest speaker at a New York City gathering to honor the work of Richard Cloward (co-creator of the Cloward-Piven Strategy that seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism), who died a month earlier. Other speakers included such notables as Howard ZinnJoel Rogers, June Jordan, Gus Newport, Tim Sampson, Cornel West, Miles Rappaport, and Frances Fox Piven.

Leslie Cagan: 

Cagan has been a member of the Communist Left since the 1960s and was former co-chair of United for Peace and Justice, a radical anti-war coalition. She co-founded numerous radical groups, including the Committees of Correspondence (a splinter group of the Communist Party USA) and Iraq Occupation Watch (along with Medea Benjamin) — whose mission was to encourage widespread desertion by “conscientious objectors” in the U.S. military.

In 2011, Cagan was the coordinator of The Audacity of Hope, an American boat (named after Barack Obama’s 2006 memoir) that was scheduled to participate in a Free Gaza Movement flotilla in late June of that year.

To see a full list of radical endorsers for Vote Trump Out, visit endorsers

With radicals on the left anticipating a revolution this November, a Biden presidency is being hailed as the long-awaited realization of some of the most extreme ideas on the left.

“If elected, Biden will likely be the most progressive president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” Bernie Sanders believes. “The day after Biden is elected, we’ll be mobilizing people all over this country to move his administration in as progressive a direction as is possible.”

In the words of Vote Trump Out head, Norman Solomon, “We’re trying to save the Biden campaign from itself.” 

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.

Iran Bulldozed Plane Crash Site Before Outside Investigators Arrived


Written by John Hayward | 

URL of the original posting site: https://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2020/01/10/iran-bulldozed-plane-crash-site-before-outside-investigators-arrived/

Rescue teams are seen on January 8, 2020 at the scene of a Ukrainian airliner that crashed shortly after take-off near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran. – Search-and-rescue teams were combing through the smoking wreckage of the Boeing 737 flight from Tehran to Kiev but officials said … AKBAR TAVAKOLI/IRNA/AFP via Getty Images

CBS News reported on Friday that Iranian “scavengers” have “scrubbed” the site where a Ukrainian passenger jet came down outside Tehran before outside investigators could examine the evidence. “Virtually all debris” was removed before outsiders were allowed on the scene.

While CBS primarily complained about “scavengers” randomly plucking debris from the site and highlighted the inexplicable lack of security, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell called the Iranian regime out for deliberately destroying evidence, linking to German-language reports about bulldozers on the scene:

CBS reports indicated large portions of the downed aircraft’s fuselage have been removed from the site, which would be difficult to explain as the work of random scavengers rushing to grab a few souvenirs.

Iranian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Hamid Baeidinejad on Friday denied bulldozers were clearing the crash site, even though they have been captured in photographs and video recordings.

Furthermore, Iranian media outlets have posted photos of objects removed from the crash site and neatly arranged for convenient display.

At a news conference on Friday, Iranian officials displayed what they claimed was one of the “black box” flight recorders recovered from the aircraft and said it could take “one or two months” to recover its data, while a full investigation of the incident could take “one or two years” to complete.

The regime originally said it would not share the black boxes with U.S. officials or the American manufacturer of the plane, Boeing, but later it appeared to back away from that position and indicated it might be willing to share the boxes, or at least the data it claims to extract from them, with foreign investigators.

“Generally speaking, Iran has the potential and know-how to decode the black box. Everybody knows that,” Iranian Civil Aviation Authority chief Ali Abedzadeh boasted to CNN on Thursday, perhaps sensitive to how Iran’s intransigence might give the contrary impression.

“The black box of this very Ukrainian Boeing 737 is damaged. Ukrainian Aviation experts arrived here in Tehran today. We had a session with them. From tomorrow they will start decoding the data,” Abedzadeh said. He did not elaborate on what “very Ukrainian” means or explain how Ukrainian technicians might have altered the flight recorder in a way that makes it difficult to read.

Intelligence agencies around the world announced on Thursday that the plane was very likely destroyed by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, specifically a Russian-built SA-15. U.S. officials implied satellite intelligence helped them reach this determination quickly. Some video footage leaked out of Iran appears to show an object rising rapidly from the ground and impacting the plane, causing it to burst into flames. The regime in Tehran continues to insist the plane crashed due to a mysterious mechanical failure.

Klein: James Comey Peddling Falsehoods with ‘Questions’ for Mueller


Written by Aaron Klein | 

URL of the original posting site: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/07/23/klein-james-comey-peddling-falsehoods-with-questions-for-mueller/

This combination photo shows President Donald Trump speaking during a roundtable discussion on tax policy in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., on April 5, 2018, left, and former FBI director James Comey speaking during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 8, 2017. Trump fired off …
AP Photo/Evan Vucci, left, and Andrew Harnik
 

NEW YORK — Disgraced former FBI Director James Comey has been making the media rounds peddling a list of “questions” that he compiled and published on the Lawfare blog in a posting titled, “What I Would Ask Robert Mueller.”

Comey’s “questions” are deceptively framed in a manner clearly aimed at attempting to perpetuate the Russia collusion conspiracy even though Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s extensive report found no evidence of any collusion or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Below are the obvious answers to Comey’s “questions” on Russia, with the answers coming from Mueller’s report itself in addition to other documentation.

1 – Did you find that there were a series of contacts between the Trump campaign and individuals with ties to the Russian government?

Perhaps Comey failed to read Mueller’s actual report, which concluded (emphasis added):

The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the IRA’s interference operation.

In particular, the investigation examined whether these contacts involved or resulted in coordination or a conspiracy with the Trump Campaign and Russia, including with respect to Russia providing assistance to the Campaign in exchange for any sort of favorable treatment in the future. Based on the available information, the investigation did not establish such coordination.

Comey should also refer to the following section of the Mueller report, which related that Russia didn’t even know how to contact the incoming Trump administration after the billionaire mogul won the 2016 election:

As soon as news broke that Trump had been elected President, Russian government officials and prominent Russian businessmen began trying to make inroads into the new Administration. They appeared not to have preexisting contacts and struggled to connect with senior officials around the President-Elect. As explained below, those efforts entailed both official contact through the Russian Embassy in the United States and outreaches — sanctioned at high levels of the Russian government — through business rather than political contacts.

The Mueller report details the hilarity of Russian President Vladimir Putin having trouble reaching Trump’s team to offer simple congratulations:

At approximately 3 a.m. on election night, Trump Campaign press secretary Hope Hicks received a telephone call on her personal cell phone from a person who sounded foreign but was calling from a number with a DC area code. Although Hicks had a hard time understanding the person, she could make out the words “Putin call.” Hicks told the caller to send her an email.

The following morning, on November 9, 2016, Sergey Kuznetsov, an official at the Russian Embassy to the United States, emailed Hicks from his Gmail address with the subject line, “Message from Putin.” Attached to the email was a message from Putin, in both English and Russian, which Kuznetsov asked Hicks to convey to the President-Elect. In the message, Putin offered his congratulations to Trump for his electoral victory, stating he “look[ ed] forward to working with [Trump] on leading Russian-American relations out of crisis.”

Hicks forwarded the email to [Jared] Kushner, asking, “Can you look into this? Don’t want to get duped but don’t want to blow off Putin!” Kushner stated in Congressional testimony that he believed that it would be possible to verify the authenticity of the forwarded email through the Russian Ambassador, whom Kushner had previously met in April 2016. Unable to recall the Russian Ambassador’s name, Kushner emailed Dimitri Simes of CNI, whom he had consulted previously about Russia, see Volume I, Section IV.A.4, supra, and asked, “What is the name of Russian ambassador?” Kushner forwarded Simes’s response — which identified Kislyak by name — to Hicks. After checking with Kushner to see what he had learned, Hicks conveyed Putin’s letter to transition officials. Five days later, on November 14, 2016, Trump and Putin spoke by phone in the presence of Transition Team members, including incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Comey’s team further cited Petr Aven, a Russian national in charge of Alfa-Bank, Russia’s largest commercial bank. Mueller’s report states: “Aven also testified that Putin spoke of the difficulty faced by the Russian government in getting in touch with the incoming Trump Administration. According to Aven, Putin indicated that he did not know with whom formally to speak and generally did not know the people around the President-Elect.”

If Comey really wants to get into the weeds, he may do well to review the particulars of each instance of contact between members or surrogates of the campaign and individuals affiliated with Russia as thoroughly documented in Mueller’s report. In each case and with no exception, Mueller found no evidence of wrongdoing.

2 – In particular, did you find that a Trump foreign policy adviser learned that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails?

This will be answered together with Comey’s next “question.”

3 – Did you find that the Trump foreign policy adviser said the Trump campaign had received indications from the Russian government that it could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to candidate Clinton?

Once again, Comey is trying to stir things up based on questions that were already answered inside Mueller’s report.

A reminder: as referenced above, Mueller concluded, “The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the IRA’s interference operation.”

Anyway, Comey here is referring to one episode involving George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy panel adviser tangentially involved with Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The Justice Department’s filing against Papadopoulos documents that he was allegedly told by Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic plagued by allegations of suspicious associations, that on a trip to Moscow “he (the Professor) learned that the Russians had obtained ‘dirt’ on then-candidate Clinton.”

Former Australian diplomat Alexander Downer later transmitted to the U.S. that he was told about the alleged Russian “dirt” on Clinton by Papadopoulos, reportedly leading to the start of the FBI’s controversial probe of Trump’s campaign under Comey’s leadership at the agency.

No evidence has been presented that Papadopoulos spoke about emails at his meeting with Downer or that Misfurd mentioned emails. But Papadopoulos later described to the FBI that “They [the Russians] have dirt on her”; “the Russians had emails of Clinton”; “they have thousands of emails.”

The Justice Department concluded, “No documentary evidence, and nothing in the email accounts or other communications facilities reviewed by the Office, shows that Papadopoulos shared this information with the Campaign.”

Misfurd himself denies mentioning emails during his meeting with Papadopoulos, as per his testimony to the Justice Department: “But Mifsud denied that he had advance knowledge that Russia was in possession of emails damaging to candidate Clinton, stating that he and Papadopoulos had discussed cybersecurity and hacking as a larger issue and that Papadopoulos must have misunderstood their conversation.”

In his report, Mueller does not at any point claim that Misfurd’s denial was false.

As National Review summarized, Papadopoulos later explained that any reference to emails was to Hillary Clinton’s private email server, a subject of international news reportage at the time of his meeting with Downer.

The magazine reports:

Papadopoulos says the emails he claims Mifsud referred to were not the DNC emails; they were Clinton’s own emails. That is, when Papadopoulos claims that Mifsud told him that Russia had “dirt” in the form of “thousandsof “emails of Clinton,” he understood Mifsud to be alluding to the thousands of State Department and Clinton Foundation emails that Clinton had stored on a private server. These, of course, were the emails that were being intensively covered in the media (including speculation that they might have been hacked by hostile foreign intelligence services) at the time Mifsud and Papadopoulos spoke — i.e., April 2016, when neither Mifsud nor Papadopoulos had any basis to know anything about hacked DNC emails.

The Justice Department, meanwhile, documented:

When interviewed, Papadopoulos and the Campaign officials who interacted with him told the Office that they could not recall Papadopoulos sharing the information that Russia had obtained “dirt” on candidate Clinton in the form of emails or that Russia could assist the Campaign through the anonymous release of information about Clinton.

Papadopoulos stated that he could not clearly recall having told anyone on the Campaign and wavered about whether he accurately remembered an incident in which Clovis had been upset after hearing Papadopoulos tell Clovis that Papadopoulos thought “they have her emails.”

The Campaign officials who interacted or corresponded with Papadopoulos have similarly stated, with varying degrees of certainty, that he did not tell them. Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, for example, did not remember hearing anything from Papadopoulos or Clovis about Russia having emails of or dirt on candidate Clinton. Clovis stated that he did not recall anyone, including Papadopoulos, having given him non-public information that a foreign Government might be in possession of material damaging to Hillary Clinton.

4 – Did you find that senior members of the Trump campaign met with Russian representatives at Trump Tower after being told in an email that the meeting was part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump?

Here, Comey seems to ignore Mueller’s finding of no evidence of any coordination between Russia and Trump’s campaign. His question seems to suggest wrongdoing on the part of Trump’s team.

Comey should refer to multiple Breitbart News investigations by this reporter into the infamous brief meeting at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016 between individuals tied to Russia, Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign officials. Those probes point to the increasing likelihood of the confab being set up as a dirty trick against Trump’s presidential campaign.

Three Russian participants at the meeting have ties to the controversial Fusion GPS outfit, and two have confirmed ties to Clinton.

Also, email logs brought to light show numerous emails were exchanged between a Clinton associate, Fusion GPS and Trump Tower participants, with the subjects of some of those emails listing the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russian officials and was by all accounts the very topic of the Trump Tower meeting.

One Russian participant in the Trump Tower presentation admits to personally knowing Hillary Clinton since the late 1990s and says he “knew” some of the people who worked on Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

Another Russian attendee, a translator, testified that he was previously an interpreter for Hillary herself as well as for John Kerry and Barack Obama.

Questions are also raised by a timeline showing numerous personal meetings between Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson and Trump Tower participants. A Clinton associate, Ed Lieberman, was listed as being present at one and possibly two of those meetings.

Separately, Lieberman met with one Russian participant the same day as the Trump Tower meeting, according to separate testimony.

There are also questions about the initial setup of the Trump Tower meeting, with the publicist who sent the infamous email to Donald Trump Jr. promising “information that would incriminate” Clinton later admitting that he used deliberately hyperbolic language to ensure that the meeting took place. No such incriminating information on Hillary was provided, according to all meeting participants. In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Robert Goldstone, the publicist, further said that he believes the meeting was a “bait and switch” by a Russian lobbyist seeking a meeting on another matter by misleadingly claiming to be bringing the Trump campaign dirt on Clinton.

5 – Did you find that, despite the fact that candidate Trump said he had “nothing to do with Russia,” his organization had been pursuing a major Moscow project into the middle of the election year and that candidate Trump was regularly updated on developments?

Comey is peddling conspiracies, suggesting that a proposed draft project discussed generally and briefly by a real estate company that routinely builds overseas — a potential project with no secured financing, land or developer — could amount to wrongdoing. Trump did not secure any real estate project in Russia, but even doing so would not have been illegal.

Michael Cohen, a convicted liar and fraudster, claimed during a guilty plea that he lied to Congress when he first said that discussions on a Moscow real estate project ended in January 2016. Cohen later claimed messages were exchanged through June and that he personally updated Trump on the project.

Mueller’s report documents that Cohen “emailed the office of Dmitry Peskov, the Russian government’s press secretary,” but actually sent an email to the wrong address.

Mueller’s office could not find any follow up beyond one phone call with Peskov’s assistant:

On January 20, 2016, Cohen received an email from Elena Poliakova, Peskov’s personal assistant. Writing from her personal email account, Poliakova stated that she had been trying to reach Cohen and asked that he call her on the personal number that she provided. Shortly after receiving Poliakova’s email, Cohen called and spoke to her for 20 minutes. Cohen described to Poliakova his position at the Trump Organization and outlined the proposed Trump Moscow project, including information about the Russian counterparty with which the Trump Organization had partnered. Cohen requested assistance in moving the project forward, both in securing land to build the project and with financing. According to Cohen, Poliakova asked detailed questions and took notes, stating that she would need to follow up with others in Russia.

Cohen could not recall any direct follow-up from Poliakova or from any other representative of the Russian government, nor did the Office identify any evidence of direct follow-up.

Also, Cohen told Mueller’s office that “he elected not to travel at the time because of concerns about the lack of concrete proposals about land plots that could be considered as options for the project.”

6 – Did the Trump campaign report any of its Russian contacts to the FBI? Not even the indications from the Russian government that it could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to candidate Clinton?

What is Comey even talking about here? Which Russian “contacts” should Trump’s campaign have reported to the FBI? Mueller concluded not only that there was no evidence of wrongdoing, but that “the investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons knowingly or intentionally coordinated” with Russia’s interference campaign. If Trump’s team did not “knowingly or intentionally” collude with Russia, how could they have known to report anything?

For Comey’s misleading insinuation of “indications from the Russian government that it could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to candidate Clinton,” please see my responses to #3 above, since the credibility-challenged Comey is asking a deceptively phrased question about a disputed episode involving Papadopoulos.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

Joshua Klein contributed research to this article. 

‘Nobody Will Go Back’: Christians Flee Middle East After Fall of Islamic State


Reported by EDWIN MORA |

Iranian Christian worshippers attend the Christmas mass at the Saint Joseph Chaldean-Assyrian Catholic church, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Dec. 25, 2017. Iranian Christians are a minority and recognized by the constitution in the Muslim country and are represented in the parliament. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
AP Photo/Vahid Salemi
 

The number of Christians in the birthplace of their faith, the greater Middle East, continues to plummet months after the Islamic State, which waged a genocidal campaign against Christians, lost its “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, Breitbart News learned from various experts, including an archbishop.

“Unfortunately, it can be stated that the Islamic State group’s anti-Christian campaign was very successful in Iraq, and to a certain extent, successful in Syria,” John Hajjar, the co-chair of the American Mideast Coalition for Democracy (AMCD) and co-director of the Middle East Christian Committee (MECHRIC), told Breitbart News.

“I think we have no more hope,”Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the diocesan legate in America’s capital and ecumenical director for the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Orthodox Church of America, also told Breitbart News, referring to the future of Christianity in its Middle East cradle. “Middle East Christians have no nation that protects them openly.”

The number of Christians in Middle East-North Africa (MENA), as a component of the overall Muslim-majority population, has dropped substantially — from about ten percent in 1900 to between two and four percent now.

There are different estimates for the overall number of Christians that vary from about 12 million in the Middle East alone to about 20 million in MENA, Breitbart News learned from the experts and data from U.S. government and independent sources.

“The future for Christians right now is terrible — a Middle East without Christians. We are going to have churches without Christians as museums for tourists. There will be no Christians left,” the archbishop warned, echoing other analysts who have constantly cautioned that Christianity is on the verge of extinction in the Middle East.

“The number of Christians in the Middle East has already dropped extensively,” he further declared, accusing church leaders of inflating the actual numbers of Christ followers in the region to minimize the fact that Christianity is on the brink of extinction.

The bishop urged U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to do even more to help Middle East Christians.

Contradicting assertions by the Trump administration, the Church leader said, “People are not coming back. I can assure you that nobody will go back.”

The Trump administration has disbursed billions in funding to help victims of ISIS genocide, namely Christians and Yazidis, but the bishop told Breitbart News it is “not enough.”

“Trump is going to be a hero for the Christians in the Middle East if he takes more action,” he said.

Addressing President Trump, Archbishop Aykazian added, “Please help the Christians. They need your help and once you move one of your fingers the entire Arabic world will thank you. If he does such a thing, it is going to change everything. If he doesn’t, they will suffer.”

“The ball is in Trump’s court,” he further said.

In Iraq, which experts say has experienced the most dramatic drop in Christians due to jihadis and Iran-allied groups, Aykazian told Breitbart News that number has decreased from 1.6 million to less than 100,000, marking a drop of more than 90 percent.

“A similar situation is taking place in Syria’s Aleppo where there has also been a drop of more than 90 percent in Christians, from 360,000 to about 25,000 now,” he said, noting, “The church leaders don’t want to say those statements because they fear their followers will be disillusioned.”

ISIS’s genocide campaign targeted religious minorities in Iraq and Syria, primarily Christians and Yazidis, killing tens of thousands of them and taking some hostages as sex slaves.

“They [Christians] realized just how insecure they are,” Nina Shea, a religious freedom expert at the Hudson Institute, told Breitbart News. “Their own governments fail to protect them, and ISIS gained popular support within some neighboring major Sunni areas, like Mosul.”

Archbishop Aykazian said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi “so far has been the best leader in the Middle East for defending Christians.” he said, adding, “The biggest Christian majorities are in Egypt.”

Shea pointed out, “Egypt retains ten million Coptic Christians. That is the only place where I see a certain future for them [Christians].”

“In a generation, Egypt may be the only remaining country with a robust Christian community that traces its roots to the earliest Christian church,” Shea added. “Elsewhere in the Middle East, only remnants of these ancient communities may survive.”

Nevertheless, Shea and the bishop acknowledged that, even in Egypt, Christians are confronting the spread of Sunni extremism and anti-Christian bigotry. The ongoing war against Islamic terrorism continues to kill, wound, and push Christians out of their historical homelands in the greater Middle East, even in Egypt.

“More recently, after the Arab Spring and with the rise of ISIS, tens of thousands of Christians were killed in Iraq and Syria,” Hajjar said. “Close to 1 million Christians in the region have gone into exile.”

“Following multiple terrorist attacks in Egypt against the Copts, many Christian Egyptians also emigrated from their country,” Hajjar continued. “We can estimate that more than 25-30 percent of Christians in the Middle East have been affected by the recent wars and conflicts.”

The experts also attributed the ongoing demise of Christianity in the Middle East to certain governments’ disdain towards followers of Christianity and their refusal to protect them.

In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly designated Christians as “enemies of the state.” In Iraq, the country that experienced the sharpest drop in the number of Christ followers in recent years, Baghdad-sanctioned Iran-allied Shiite militias have reportedly taken Christian lands and are harassing them.

Referring to the countries that have experienced the largest decline in Christians, Hajjar named Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Lebanon. Similar to Hajjar’s list, the bishop said, “Iraq is number one, Lebanon is number two, and Syria is number three.”

The experts conceded that the Trump administration had done more to help Middle East Christians than his predecessor, but they argued that Christians are far from protected and more can be done.

 

GREAT NEWS: President Trump Announces Release of Hostage Danny Burch from Yemen


Reported by John Hayward | Monday February 25, 2019

URL of the original posting site: https://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2019/02/25/president-trump-announces-release-hostage-danny-burch-yemen/

American held hostage in Yemen freed: Trump
AFP SAUL LOEB

President Donald Trump on Monday announced the release of Danny Burch, an American citizen who has been held hostage in Yemen since 2017. Trump thanked the United Arab Emirates for assisting with Burch’s liberation and said his administration has now secured the freedom of 20 Americans held captive in various countries.

Trump delivered the good news on Monday through his preferred social media platform, Twitter:

Danny Burch was taken from his car by a squad of gunmen in broad daylight on the streets of Yemen’s capital Sanaa in September 2017. A native of East Texas, Burch was 63 years old at the time of his abduction and had been living in Yemen for several years while working as an engineer for the Yemeni Safer oil company. Burch converted to Islam during his time in Yemen and married a Yemen woman. The couple has three children, the oldest of whom was 12 when he was taken.

The abduction occurred in an area controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi insurgents who drove Yemen’s internationally-recognized government out of Sanaa. The Houthis initially denounced the kidnapping as a “criminal and cowardly act” and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice, but were eventually revealed to be holding him prisoner.

Burch was transferred from Yemen to Oman in January 2018, traveling in the company of a senior Houthi official. This event was widely described as the Houthis “releasing” Burch, but he was evidently unable to return to his family until today. A March 2018 briefing from CriticalThreats.org stated the Houthi official who traveled to Oman with Burch was a negotiator named Mohammed Ali al-Houthi and noted the timing of Burch’s purported “release” coincided with “renewed al-Houthi overtures for negotiations.” Salam subsequently left Oman for Iran and met with Iranian officials including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

At the time of this writing, the White House has not clarified Burch’s status since January 2018 or detailed the negotiations that ultimately reunited him with his family.

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