I reported in Feb. 2020 that Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), then-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, privately warned Johnson that his Biden investigations were aiding Russian disinformation efforts
Graham sticks up for Kerry: “I don’t know if we should trust that tape or not. If it’s true, it’s very damaging. I like John Kerry, but that would not be helpful & it would be very problematic if it were true. But let’s wait and see how authentic this is.” politico.com/news/2021/04/2…
If Zarif’s accounting is accurate, it would not be the first time that a top American official revealed classified information to a foreign adversary. In 2017, Trump reportedly discussed Israeli intelligence information during an Oval Office meeting with top Russian officials.
New: McConnell talks with @politico about the unfinished business of his 36-year Senate career — a longtime fascination with Myanmar so vital to his identity that after the recent military coup, Biden coordinated the U.S. response with him.
“On the domestic front, I have not yet witnessed something that I’ve been happy about,” McConnell told me. “But in this area, I think their instincts are good. I think they’re trying to do the right thing.”
He hasn’t spoken w/ his longtime friend Aung San Suu Kyi since the coup.
New: House moving to repeal 2002 Iraq war authorization today w/ bipartisan support. It’s the lowest-hanging fruit for proponents of reform, who now have an amenable White House & pure momentum on her side.
Even if Congress can repeal the Iraq AUMFs, crafting a replacement for the 2001 authorization will be a gargantuan task, w/ its unique complexities & the wide array of factions competing for influence.
Senators are skeptical of Biden’s openness to a new AUMF vote.
Cardin: “We have found a consistency among administrations not to be terribly cooperative in limiting their powers. Without the help of the Biden administration, it’s going to be challenging.” politico.com/news/2021/03/2…
“I would be thrilled to lift the holds on the State Department nominees today if they would only follow the law and issue an interim report identifying all of the companies subject to mandatory sanctions.” politico.com/news/2021/03/1…
“What I would like to see is the administration act expeditiously to stop the remaining section of the pipeline,” Sen. Shaheen (D-N.H.) told me.
But with 90% of it done, the worst outcome would be imposing tough sanctions only to see it finalized anyway.
New: The White House is openly currying favor with Bob Menendez, the new Foreign Relations chairman who’s often to the right of his caucus on foreign policy & has a history of causing trouble for a Democratic president who crosses him.
Just left the Senate chamber, where I witnessed senators’ real-time reactions to that presentation. A few notes.
—Sen. Booker put his hands over his eyes when video played of shooting thru House door
—Several senators rubbed their eyes during footage of officer being crushed
—Sen. Manchin shook his head when Trump said “we love you” to the rioters.
Lots of facial expressions were difficult to decipher with masks covering them, but senators were intently watching the screens inside the chamber and reacting as if they were watching it for the first time.
JUST IN: Group of Democratic senators files ethics complaint against Sens. Hawley and Cruz over the Jan. 6 insurrection, asking the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate any potential violations & punishments.
Group includes Sens. Whitehouse, Wyden, Smith, Blumenthal, Hirono, Kaine, Brown.
The senators write: “When Sens. Ted Cruz & Josh Hawley announced they would object to the counting of state-certified electors on January 6, 2021, they amplified claims of election fraud that had resulted in threats of violence against state & local officials around the country.”
🤔Ratcliffe just declassified to Graham a claim that Russian intel alleged that Clinton “approved a campaign plan to stir up a scandal against [Trump] by tying him to Putin and the Russians' hacking of the DNC.”
...but says “the IC does not know the accuracy of this allegation.”
It’s reasonable to ask why Graham and Ratcliffe would even put this out there if, as Ratcliffe acknowledges, “the IC does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the extent to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication.”
Senate Republicans have released their “interim report” on their Hunter Biden investigation. We’ve read it—it’s largely a compilation of previously public assessments & news articles, some rehashed from the impeachment inquiry. Lots of media-bashing too.
However, Rubio told me earlier today that this election security briefing is TOMORROW, not today. Source says Rubio could have changed it from a hearing to a meeting. No functional difference because all of the Intel hearings are closed anyway.
And here is Rubio’s statement. Evanina was supposed to brief the committee today about *all* intel matters, so election security could have of course come up. Tomorrow’s briefing on election security is with DNI Ratcliffe.
In convo w/ a right-wing blogger, Sen. Johnson hints his forthcoming report will cast doubt on the IC conclusion that Russia prefers Trump, accusing the FBI of “playing hide the ball and delay.”
I’ve not heard a single senator doubt the IC’s conclusion about Russia’s intentions.
This is baffling. We knew Sen. Johnson was investigating the Biden/Burisma issue in addition to the Obama WH’s actions during the presidential transition period, but he seems to be introducing a brand new unsubstantiated claim — that Russia isn’t actually trying to boost Trump.
After Rubio became Senate Intel chair, I asked him about Johnson’s investigations.
“If we hear or see something, I’ll encourage them to go read up on the intelligence they have access to. Ultimately, we can’t control what people decide to believe or say.” politico.com/news/2020/05/2…
This is a seismic development. The president and his top officials have said China is the bigger threat to the election, but that’s not what lawmakers have been told; and now, Treasury has sanctioned a key Russian involved in that influence campaign.
Schiff says Derkach was “peddling this false information to Congress,” as we reported in July.
Grassley & Johnson released a letter from Ratcliffe that they say undercuts our reporting on the July 13 classified annex about foreign disinformation/election interference.
We never reported that the IC created the annex; only that it “draws from” the IC’s analysis. 1/
Their press release falsely says our story about Derkach was based “solely” on unclassified open-source info. A few sentences later they say this info “does not indicate that he sent any material to Grassley”
We reported the annex states Derkach *did* send info to Grassley. 2/
“We are concerned about unauthorized disclosures of sensitive information following recent briefings. The DNI is committed to ensuring Congress is fully and currently informed and that classified information is protected.”
NEW: Remarkably, Dems ignored any mention of impeachment as they sought to make the national-security case against Trump at their convention. This week, Republicans sought to weaponize impeachment ever so slightly.
“We’re talking life and death now, as opposed to trying to cheat and steal an election,” @danielsgoldman told us. “It would be a strong, winning message, but it pales in comparison to his complete ineptitude in dealing with Covid, which has resulted in 180,000 Americans dying.”