U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: January 6, 2017

Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images


1. U.S. spies caught Russian officials celebrating election result
U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted communications in which senior Russian officials celebrated Donald Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton as a geopolitical victory for them, according to U.S. officials familiar with the classified intelligence report presented to President Obama Thursday on Russia’s alleged effort to influence the vote. Trump will be briefed on the report Friday. The Russians’ reaction contributed to the conclusion that Russia’s alleged pre-election hacking was at least partly aimed at helping Trump’s campaign. The Russians “felt pretty good about what they did,” a senior U.S. official said. The report also identifies the “actors” Moscow allegedly used as go-betweens to send stolen Democratic emails to the WikiLeaks website.

Source: The Washington Post, CNN

2. Trump says Mexico will repay U.S. for border wall
President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has let congressional Republican leaders know that Trump plans to ask Congress to provide money to start building the border wall he promised to separate the U.S. and Mexico, according to The Associated Press and CNN. Trump reportedly prefers to fund the project that way, instead of making Mexico pay for it, as he repeatedly vowed during the campaign, because it would let him go through the appropriations process under a 2006 law on building border fencing. That way, he would avoid having to push through a new border-wall bill that could face strong opposition from Democrats and some Republicans. On Friday, Trump tweeted that “any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!”

Source: The Associated Press, CNN

3. Spy chiefs rebuff Trump criticism in Senate hearing on Russian hacking
U.S. intelligence chiefs told senators on Thursday that they were more certain than ever that Russia directed the hacking and leaking of Democratic emails to influence the U.S. presidential election, rebuffing President-elect Donald Trump’s public criticism of their work. Senators from both parties affirmed the findings. The hearing came a day before spy chiefs were due to present their report to Trump. The intelligence community will release its report to the public by the beginning of next week, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Source: Bloomberg, The New York Times

4. Four suspects in Chicago torture video charged with hate crimes
Four African-American suspects were charged with a hate crime, kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon on Thursday in connection with an attack on a mentally disabled white teenager. The attack was streamed on Facebook Live on the account of one of the suspects. One high-ranking police official described the video as “sickening.” It shows the victim cowering in the corner of a room, bound with tape covering his mouth as his attackers slash his shirt with a knife, beat and kick him, and cut off a piece of his scalp. At one point, one of them shouts, “F– Donald Trump! F— white people!”

Source: CNN, The Washington Post

5. Russia says it has started withdrawing forces from Syria
Russia has started withdrawing some of its military forces from Syria, Russian news agencies reported Friday, quoting Russian military chief Gen. Valery Gerasimov. The draw down is starting with warships led by Russia’s sole aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov. Russia has been backing Syrian government forces with airstrikes against rebels. The announcement about the initial withdrawal came as the United Nations said a nationwide cease-fire, negotiated between Russia, Turkey, and the Syrian government, along with Iran and Syrian rebel groups, has been mostly holding.

Source: CNN, BBC News

6. Trump threatens Toyota with border tax on cars built in Mexico
President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday targeted Toyota with threats similar to those he has made against U.S. companies, threatening the Japanese automaker with heavy fees if it builds small cars in Mexico to be sold in the U.S. “Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax,” Trump said via Twitter. The attacks have stirred fears for the future of cross-border production networks crucial to more than $583 billion in annual trade between the two countries. The tensions have dragged down the value of the Mexican peso. Toyota shares dropped by about 3 percent early Friday.

Source: Reuters, CNBC

7. Paul Ryan says ObamaCare vote will defund Planned Parenthood
House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Thursday that Congress will vote to defund Planned Parenthood in the same bill being used to repeal ObamaCare. Republicans will need just a simple majority to pass the measure, rather than a 60-vote supermajority of senators. “I think the anti-choice movement sees smooth sailing,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said last week in anticipation of the move. Planned Parenthood expects about 40 percent of its funding could be cut if the defunding measure passes; the organization received $553 million from the government in 2014. Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider, but also offers many other women’s health services.

Source: The Washington Post

8. Ex-CIA director Woolsey quits as Trump transition adviser
Former CIA director James Woolsey resigned as an adviser to President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team on Thursday, “effective immediately,” a spokesman for Woolsey said. People close to Woolsey said that he had been excluded in recent weeks from intelligence discussions with Trump and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the incoming White House national security adviser. They said that he was not comfortable lending his credibility to the transition team without having input. Woolsey recently told CNN he did not want to “fly under false colors,” being portrayed as a Trump adviser when he’s “really not anymore.”

Source: The Washington Post

9. Victims’ families tell of losses in Charleston church massacre
Victim-impact witnesses talked about the nine victims in the July 2015 Charleston church massacre in court on Thursday. The emotional testimony brought tears to the eyes of some of the jurors who will decide whether Dylann Roof, who was convicted of hate crimes for the murders, gets the death penalty or life in prison. Roof said it was “not fair” for prosecutors to present so much evidence about the nine black churchgoers he admitted to killing. “If I don’t present any mitigation evidence, the victim-impact evidence will take over the whole sentencing trial and guarantee that I get the death penalty,” Roof wrote in a court filing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson, the lead prosecutor, said it was only fair that Roof face the consequences of what he did.

Source: New York Post, The Post and Courier

10. Tucker Carlson to fill departing Megyn Kelly’s Fox News primetime spot
Tucker Carlson will fill the 9 p.m. Fox News primetime spot left open by Megyn Kelly’s departure from the network. Martha MacCallum, who currently co-anchors the 9 a.m. program America’s Newsroom, will fill Carlson’s 7 p.m. spot for the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency. Kelly was the second-most watched host on Fox News behind Bill O’Reilly, but announced this week that she will leave the network to join NBC News later this year. Carlson will start in Kelly’s time slot Monday.

Source: Drudge Report, CNN

U.S. Politics

Keith Olbermann Has A Message To Share With Your Trump-Supporting Friends


Keith Olbermann is trying a new approach.

In the latest clip for his “The Resistance” series on GQ, Olbermann isn’t trying to change anyone’s mind about the election, policy, beliefs or politics.

There’s just one thing he wants Trump supporters to know about the man they elected ― something he thinks they’re already “smart enough to recognize,” even if they’re not quite ready to say it out loud.

Check it out above.

Ed Mazza

U.S. Politics

Don’t Forget That Megyn Kelly Is a Racial Demagogue

Megyn Kelly

Brendan McDermid/Reuters


The recent flattering coverage of her move to NBC leaves out the ugliest episodes of her work at Fox.

Megyn Kelly had a good 2016. Between her news-making stint as a Fox News debate moderator, a flattering profile in Vanity Fair, and a lucrative book deal, she cemented her reputation as a talented and no-nonsense journalist—one of the most highly paid in the industry. And now she’s making the jump to NBC News, where she will anchor a Sunday evening news show, host a daytime show, and cover major political events. “Megyn is an exceptional journalist and news anchor, who has had an extraordinary career,” said NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack in a statement. “She’s demonstrated tremendous skill and poise, and we’re lucky to have her.”

Another thing Kelly has demonstrated is racist demagoguery, which defined much of her tenure at Fox News.

In 2010, for example, Kelly devoted hours of coverage to the New Black Panther Party, a small group on the fringe of American politics, because two members of the NBPP were charged with voter intimidation after standing outside of a heavily black polling place in Philadelphia in the 2008 election. Those charges were later dropped, but the incident became the basis for a wide-ranging conspiracy disseminated by conservative writers, websites, and—most prominently—Megyn Kelly. Along with Republican activist J. Christian Adams, then a frequent guest of Kelly’s, the Fox News host spun a disturbing tale of voter intimidation and anti-white racism sanctioned by an Eric Holder–helmed Justice Department that she claimed wouldn’t investigate black Americans accused of criminal activity. “Well, think about that. Think about that. … Now you’re going to have instances like this where Black Panthers and others can go to the polling stations and do this if they so choose. And they just basically are gonna get a pass because while it’s not an official thing, it’s been made very clear to all the rank-and-file voting rights attorneys in the DOJ those cases are not to be pursued,” Kelly said during one broadcast before suggesting that Holder was, in fact, involved in a plan to protect the NBPP.

Over the course of two weeks and 45 separate segments, Kelly and her colleagues at Fox News aired video from the Philadelphia incident—where the NBPP members in question shouted insults at white Americans—connecting it to the Obama administration in an effort to paint the president as hostile toward white Americans, part of a broad conspiracy to intimidate white voters. Writing for the Atlantic at the time, Dave Weigel called it a “minstrel show” meant to inflame and exploit racial tensions.

U.S. Politics

WATCH: Joe Biden Just Took Trump To The Woodshed For Acting Like A Petulant Child

Image credit: Wikipedia public domain



Joe Biden is an adult, so he treated Donald Trump the way adults treat petulant children.

 On Thursday morning, Trump personally and publicly insulted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer by calling him a “clown,” and threw a fit because Democrats are not helping Republicans repeal Obamacare, a move that would strip millions of Americans of their healthcare.

Schumer, unlike Trump, later responded like an adult.

“Instead of calling names, [the] president-elect should roll up his sleeves and show us a replacement plan that will cover the 20 million Americans who gained coverage, that will cover students or post-college students, 21 to 26, who want to stay on their parents plan, that will show how we cover people with pre-existing conditions. So I’d say to the president-elect and the Republicans that this is not a time for calling names. It’s time for them to step up if they want to repeal, and show us what they replace it with.”

And now, Joe Biden just scolded Trump for not acting like an adult and slammed him for not offering a real plan to replace the program he wants to repeal.

“Grow up, Donald,” Biden told PBS News Hour’s Judy Woodruff when she asked him to respond. “Grow up. Time to be an adult, you’re president.”

“You gotta do something, show us what you have,” Biden said. “You’re gonna propose the legislation, we’re going to get to debate it, let the public decide. Let ’em vote in Congress. Let’s see what happens. It’s going to be much clearer what he’s for and against and what we’re for and against now that it’s going to get down to actually discussing, in detail, these issues that affect people’s lives.”

Here’s the video via Twitter:

Stephen D Foster Jr

U.S. Politics

Why Obama’s Legacy Is His Foreign Policy

Why Obama’s Legacy Is His Foreign Policy

From L-R, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, European Council President Donald Tusk, and British Prime Minister David Cameron visit Ise Grand Shrine in Ise, Mie prefecture, Japan, May 26, 2016, ahead of the first session of the G7 summit meetings. REUTERS/Nicolas Datiche/Pool


Secretary of State John Kerry outlined the Obama administration’s detailed vision for the future of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process on December 28. His speech provoked a negative response from Israel for the criticisms of Netanyahu’s government, but the central point of Kerry’s speech was his concern over the peace process. Kerry declared that the two-state solution is in serious jeopardy almost a quarter of a century after the Oslo Process began, and forcefully argued that it offers the only path to peace.

The potentially landmark speech comes as the relationship between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations is—not for the first time—under great stress, especially following Washington’s decision to abstain last month from a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Kerry defended that decision asserting that the Obama team has done more for Israel than any other administration, yet acted as it did to try to preserve the viability of the two-state solution.

The roadmap of principles outlined by Kerry, which President-elect Donald Trump condemned, comes shortly before he leaves office on January 20. Despite this coming at the end of his tenure, he hopes to put a marker in the ground that helps shape the debate, internationally, about the peace process, and consolidates the Obama administration ’s foreign policy legacy.

Like Obama, previous presidents have often seen foreign policy as a fundamental part of the legacy they wish to build. For instance, after the trauma of the 2001 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush sought to spread his democracy and freedom agenda across the Middle East, which included the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime.

President Bill Clinton was the last president to devote significant time to securing a comprehensive peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians. And he came relatively close to securing a breakthrough deal in 2000 at the Camp David Summit, but compromise ultimately proved elusive.

That Obama is looking to foreign policy to establish a legacy reflects, in part, the fact that since his re-election in 2012, he has achieved relatively little high profile domestic policy success. For instance, his gun control bill and immigration reform were defeated by the Senate and Supreme Court, and a long-term federal budgetary “grand bargain” with Congress collapsed.

Many re-elected presidents in the post-war era, just like Obama, have found it difficult to acquire momentum behind a significant new domestic agenda. In part, this is because the party of re-elected presidents, as with the Democrats now, often holds a weaker position in Congress in second terms of office.

Thus Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, Richard Nixon in 1972 and Bill Clinton in 1996 were all re-elected alongside Congresses where both the House of Representatives and Senate were controlled by their partisan opponents. This dynamic means domestic policy initiative in Washington—if it exists at all—can edge back to Congress.

This overall political context means Obama has placed ever increasing emphasis on foreign policy (which Congress has less latitude over), as Tuesday’s Arab-Israeli speech by Kerry exemplified. This international orientation has been especially marked as the U.S. economic recovery has built up steam.

Laying down the potential foundations for a future Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is only one key area in which Obama is looking to define his legacy. Also in the Middle East, among his key—if intensely controversial—foreign policy accomplishments is the final, historic nuclear deal with Iran. The agreement between Tehran and the so-called P5+1 (United States, China, Russia, United Kingdom, France plus Germany) was a major victory for Kerry and Obama, albeit one that the incoming Trump administration may now seek to unwind in 2017.

The landmark deal has long-term potential not only in forging a lasting rapprochement with Iran. It also holds possibility, ultimately, to help transform the wider geopolitics of the Middle East, and help consolidate Obama’s broader desire to enhance global nuclear security. In this policy area, as well as pushing inter-state nuclear diplomacy with countries such as Iran and Russia, Obama has created the Nuclear Security Summit process to counter nuclear terrorism, which he has described as the “most immediate and extreme threat to global security.”

Turning to the Americas, the Obama team has sought to reset relations with Cuba whose revolutionary leader Fidel Castro died in November 2016. In December 2014, the two countries announced they would restore diplomatic relations, and Obama became the first U.S. president to visit the country in almost 90 years in March, announcing a new suite of measures that further eroded the bilateral sanctions regime introduced during the Cold War era.

Perhaps Obama’s biggest regret on the foreign front will be the lack of progress in his plans to pivot U.S. policy toward the Asia-Pacific. Particularly notable is the failure of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement between the United States and 11 countries in the Americas and Asia-Pacific (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam) that collectively account for about 40 percent of global gross domestic product. With this agreement, Obama had wanted to “lock-in” his re-orientation of U.S. international policy toward the region and other markets in the Americas, allowing the country to help write what U.S. officials have called “the rules of the road” for the 21st century world economy.

Yet, with Donald Trump’s election, the deal now looks dead in the water, and the Obama team has not even tried to secure congressional approval for the deal this year. Most likely, the initiative is now over and Chinese-led trade deals such as the proposed Free Trade Area of Asia Pacific may now emerge into the vacuum, as well as the planned Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Taken overall, Obama’s legacy will rest heavily on foreign affairs given that he has struggled to secure major domestic policy momentum in his second term. He scored important international successes with the Iran deal and his Cuba initiative, but this is tempered by failure to advance the Asia-Pacific pivot more fully. Moreover, much of his legacy now risks being rolled back, at least partially, by the incoming Trump team with its potentially very different agenda to Obama’s.

Andrew Hammond
Posted with permission from Newsweek

U.S. Politics

FBI, Dems bicker over investigation of hacked servers

FBI, Dems bicker over investigation of hacked servers

© Victoria Sarno Jordan


The Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the FBI are fighting over reports that claim the bureau did not conduct an independent analysis of the party’s hacked servers.

The DNC told Buzzfeed in a statement published Wednesday that the FBI never requested access to its servers after they were breached.

But a senior law enforcement official disputed that characterization on Thursday.

“The FBI repeatedly stressed to DNC officials the necessity of obtaining direct access to servers and data, only to be rebuffed until well after the initial compromise had been mitigated,” the official said.

“This left the FBI no choice but to rely upon a third party for information. These actions caused significant delays and inhibited the FBI from addressing the intrusion earlier.”

But a former FBI official told The Hill it’s not unusual for the bureau to bypass a direct examination of a hacked server.

“In nine out of 10 cases, we don’t need access, we don’t ask for access, we don’t get access. That’s the normal [procedure],” Leo Taddeo, a former special agent in charge of the cyber division of the FBI’s New York office, told The Hill.

“It’s extraordinarily rare for the FBI to get access to the victim’s infrastructure because we could mess it up,” he added. “We usually ask for the logs and images, and 99 out of a hundred times, that’s sufficient.”

Asking for direct access to a server wouldn’t be necessary, Taddeo said, “unless there was a reason to think the victim was going to alter the evidence in some way.”

The Hill has reached out to the DNC for comment but did not receive a response before this story was published.

DNC deputy communications director Eric Walker told BuzzFeed that, “The DNC had several meetings with representatives of the FBI’s Cyber Division and its Washington (D.C.) Field Office, the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and U.S. Attorney’s Offices,” but added, “the FBI never requested access to the DNC’s computer servers.”

And according to Buzzfeed, no U.S. intelligence agency has done an independent forensics analysis on the servers.

Instead, the bureau relied on analysis done by the third-party security firm CrowdStrike, which investigated the breach for the DNC.

“Crowdstrike is pretty good. There’s no reason to believe that anything that they have concluded is not accurate,” an intelligence official told BuzzFeed.

The dispute comes against the backdrop of fierce Democratic outrage over the FBI’s role in the 2016 election.

Many — include outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) — have explicitly blamed FBI Director James B. Comey for Hillary Clinton‘s surprise loss in November.

Eleven days before Election Day, Comey sent a letter to lawmakers telling them investigators had uncovered new emails that could be “potentially pertinent” to the bureau’s previously completed probe of Clinton’s private email server.

The announcement exploded in the final days of the election — and a subsequent missive from Comey saying the new emails had turned up no new evidence did little to quell the storm.

The spat has also highlighted a simmering dispute about whether the FBI dropped the ball in investigating the breach.

When the bureau first contacted the DNC about a nation-state breach of its systems, the tech-support contractor who fielded the call was unsure if the special agent was actually from the FBI, or was a prankster. For weeks, the agent continued to call the committee, but did not receive a response.

CrowdStrike President Shawn Henry, who is also a former head of the FBI’s cyber division, told The New York Times he was shocked the FBI didn’t send an agent to the DNC’s offices directly.

“We are not talking about an office that is in the middle of the woods of Montana,” Henry said. “We are talking about an office that is half a mile from the FBI office that is getting the notification.”

But the statement of the law enforcement official who spoke to the The Hill casts the DNC as recalcitrant and difficult to work with throughout the investigation.

At the time of the first FBI contact, the DNC was dealing with fallout from evidence that Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ (I-Vt.) campaign had improperly accessed Clinton’s campaign data, which may have colored its response.

Security experts say it’s common for lawyers for private organizations to turn down requests from law enforcement for access to servers. Comey has publicly bemoaned that fact, wishing aloud that companies would trust the FBI more.

Companies or private organizations might turn down the FBI over concerns about leaks to the media, or information that might come out in court. IT staff also worry about the FBI possibly damage a company’s systems.

A source with experience in both FBI cyber investigations and private sector forensics said over the past five years or so, it’s become common to let well-established companies handle forensics — even after the FBI comes in.

Forensic procedure involves documentation, allowing the FBI to focus on other aspects of the work. In issues with sensitive information, such as those involving email breaches of high-profile victims, the FBI occasionally prefers not to ever have data that could be mishandled.

Controversy continues to surround the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia was behind the cyberattack on the DNC and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s personal email account.

The Obama administration has characterized the hacks as an attempt to interfere in the U.S. election, and officials have said they are “100 percent certain” that Russia is the culprit.

But President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly rejected that assessment, characterizing it as an attempt by the Obama administration to undermine his presidency.

In a series of tweets this week, Trump accused intelligence officials of delaying a briefing until Friday in order to build a case against Russia — an allegation denied by other officials.

He also appeared to side with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who released emails believed to have been hacked by Russia, over U.S. intelligence agencies. Trump noted in a tweet that Assange has said the emails did not come from Russia, while repeating that anyone could have hacked the DNC.

“Somebody hacked the DNC but why did they not have ‘hacking defense’ like the RNC has and why have they not responded to the terrible things they did and said (like giving the questions to the debate to H). A total double standard! Media, as usual, gave them a pass.” Trump tweeted Wednesday.

The White House has been under fierce pressure to provide a public account of the intelligence community’s assessment.

It delivered its final, classified assessment to President Obama on Thursday, which intelligence officials say will be released in an unclassified form to the public early next week.

Security experts widely derided a joint Homeland Security-FBI report released last week that purported to give technical indicators linking Russia to the breaches, calling it overly broad and “a mess.”

CrowdStrike has gone much further in its published forensics analysis and its evidence is strong, outside experts say, because Russia is widely known to conduct the kind of “active measures” the administration has accused it of using in this case.

Joe Uchill contributed.

U.S. Politics

Trump ‘Wall’ To Become Border Fence Upgrade; USA Will Pay

Image result for mexico southern border wall

Russell Contreras


WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans and Donald Trump’s transition team are exploring whether they can make good on Trump’s promise of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border without passing a new bill on the topic, officials said Thursday.

Under the evolving plan, the Trump administration would rely on existing legislation authorizing fencing and other technology along the southern border. Congress would be asked to ensure that enough money is appropriated to take additional new steps — but would not pass a stand-alone bill authorizing a big new wall. CNN separately reported that Trump would ask Congress to appropriate US tax payer money to pay for the “wall”.

The potential approach was confirmed by two congressional officials and a senior transition official with knowledge of the discussions; all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The officials emphasized that no final decisions had been made.

The approach could come as a surprise to some but could avoid a legislative fight Trump might lose if he tried to get Congress to pass a stand-alone bill authorizing the kind of border wall he promised during the campaign.

It’s not clear how much could be done along the 2,000-mile border without additional actions by Congress. Lawmakers passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006, but most of those 700 miles have already been built. Some areas are in much better shape than others, though, and long stretches are made up of fencing that stops vehicles but not pedestrians.

But whatever steps might be taken without Congress’ approval would be likely to fall short of the extravagant new wall on the border that Trump repeatedly said Mexico would pay for. And despite Congress’ involvement in approving any spending, such an approach might also open Trump to charges of going around the House and the Senate to take unilateral actions, something he repeatedly criticized President Barack Obama for doing. A spending bill including money for border construction could also provoke a legislative showdown given potential opposition from Senate Democrats.

Still, several lawmakers and congressional officials said the administration could have significant flexibility in taking additional steps without Congress’ approval.

“There’s a lot of things that can be done within current law,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., a longtime proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, though he emphasized that a lasting solution on immigration would take Congress. “You cannot minimize the potential impact of the administration doing what they can do under the law.”

However, some immigration hard-liners have already expressed the desire to see Congress take a vote given how prominent the wall was during Trump’s presidential campaign, and their desire to act on the issue.

Trump’s vow to build an impenetrable, concrete wall along the southern border was his signature campaign proposal. “Build the wall!” supporters would chant at his rallies. “Who’s going to pay for it?” Trump would ask them. “Mexico!” Trump often promised the wall would be built of hardened concrete, rebar and steel as tall as his venues’ ceilings, and would feature a “big, beautiful door” to allow legal immigrants to enter.

Most experts viewed such promises as unrealistic and impractical, and Trump himself sometimes allowed that the wall would not need to span the entire length of the border, thanks to natural barriers like rivers. After winning the election, he said he’d be open to stretches of fencing.


U.S. Politics

Top Russians Celebrated When Trump Won, Intel Report Says: Source



A senior U.S. intelligence official with direct knowledge confirmed to NBC News that the report on Russian hacking delivered to President Obama Thursday says that U.S. intelligence picked up senior Russian officials celebrating Donald Trump’s win.

The source described the intelligence about the celebration, first reported by the Washington Post, as a minor part of the overall intelligence report, which makes the case that Russia intervened in the election.

“Highly classified intercepts illustrate Russian government planning and direction of a multifaceted campaign by Moscow to undermine the integrity of the American political system,” said the official.

The source also noted, however, that communication intercepts are viewed with caution because they are subject to interpretation.

The U.S. has also identified Russian actors who turned over stolen Democratic material to WikiLeaks, the source said.

The official agreed to talk to NBC News after the Post published leaked details of the review because the official felt that the details the paper chose focused too much on the Russian celebration and not enough on the thrust of the report.

Two top intelligence officials with direct knowledge told NBC News that the report on Russian hacking also details Russian cyberattacks not just against the Democratic National Committee, but the White House, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the State Department and American corporations.

The U.S. has also identified Russian actors who turned over stolen Democratic material to WikiLeaks, the source said.

Related: DNI Chief Clapper Takes Swipe at Trump, Assange as He Defends Russia Hack Intel

The official agreed to talk to NBC News after the Post published leaked details of the review because the official felt that the details the paper chose focused too much on the Russian celebration and not enough on the thrust of the report.

Two top intelligence officials with direct knowledge told NBC News that the report on Russian hacking also details Russian cyberattacks not just against the Democratic National Committee, but the White House, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the State Department and American corporations.


Some of the hacks were successful, say the officials, while others were thwarted.

The report, on which Obama was also orally briefed, explains what intelligence agencies believe are Moscow’s motives, including, in part, a desire to disrupt the American democratic process.

But the intelligence analysts who prepared the report also concluded that the hacks were payback for the Obama administration’s questioning of Vladimir Putin’s legitimacy as president.

Related: FBI Director James Comey: 2016 ‘a Challenging Year’

The report tracks Russian cyber activity during the 2016 presidential campaign, but also goes back as far as 2008.

It does not speculate on whether Russian interference, including the alleged hacks of Democratic Party emails and the subsequent leaking on those emails on the internet, affected the outcome of the 2016 contest.


President Obama said today he has full faith in the report, but President-elect Trump, who’ll get the same briefing tomorrow, has been voicing skepticism about the intelligence community’s findings.

President Obama said he thought when his successor gets the details, he might change his mind.

“When the President-Elect receives his own briefings and is able to examine the intelligence, as his team is put together and they see how professional and effective these agencies are, some of those current tensions will be reduced.”

 , and