TRUMP ORDERS PREPARATION FOR ELECTRIC GRID CYBER ATTACKS

President prepares for prolonged power outage

Washington Free BeaconMAY 13, 2017

President Trump ordered the federal government to prepare for a devastating cyber attack against America’s electric grid amid growing fears foreign states are set to carry out attacks aimed at plunging the nation into darkness.

A presidential order signed Thursday directed key federal agencies to assess preparations for a prolonged power outage resulting from cyber attacks designed to disrupt the power grid.

An assessment of the danger must be carried out by the Energy Department, Homeland Security, DNI and state and local governments to examine the readiness of the United State to manage a shutdown of the power grid. The assessment will also identify gaps and shortcomings in efforts that would be used restore power.

New cyber security measures outlined in the executive order come as the commander of Cyber Command warned two days earlier that America’s critical infrastructure is vulnerable to disruption by foreign cyber attacks.

Cyber command chief Adm. Mike Rogers said several nations, including Iran, have been tied to disruptions and remote intrusions into U.S. critical infrastructures, such as the electric grid, financial networks, and others.

Rogers said destructive cyber attacks on critical infrastructure are one of his two worst case scenarios. The second involves the threat of cyber intrusions aimed at manipulating data within networks.

Iran tried to disrupt the function of a dam in upstate New York in 2013, and Russia has used industrial control malware called BlackEnergy to attack Ukraine’s electric grid, Rogers said.

“Infiltrations in U.S. critical infrastructure—when viewed in the light of incidents like these—can look like preparations for future attacks that could be intended to harm Americans, or at least to deter the United States and other countries from protecting and defending our vital interests,” Rogers said.

The report on electric grid cyber attacks must be provided to the White House by Aug. 9.

The new order is the result of a Trump administration policy review aimed at improving cyber security for both the government and private sector.

The order states that federal agency heads will be held accountable for protecting networks from cyber attack, an apparent reference to China’s cyber attack on the Office of Personnel Management that led to the theft of some 22 million records on federal workers, including very sensitive personal data.

Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert told reporters at the White House in announcing the new order that the OPM hack highlighted the need for improved federal government software and hardware that will focus on sharing services and securing data.

“We saw that with the OPM hack and other things,” he said. “We’ve got to move to the cloud and try to protect ourselves, instead of fracturing our security posture.”

The order does not seek to define an act of war in cyberspace.

However, the directive requires the Pentagon and other security agencies to report within 90 days on cyber warfighting capabilities and defending the industrial base from cyber attacks.

Foreign hackers pose threats to the technology and equipment supply chain including U.S. military systems.

Military cyber warfare efforts are mentioned vaguely in the order. It states that security agencies must “assess the scope and sufficiency of United States efforts to ensure that the United States maintains or increases its advantage in national-security-related cyber capabilities.”

Federal agencies also will draw up “options for deterring adversaries and better protecting the American people from cyber threats,” the directive says.

Declining to telegraph U.S. responses to foreign cyber attacks, Bossert nonetheless said: “If somebody does something in the United States of America that we can’t tolerate, we will act.”

Bossert said the trend line of cyber attacks is moving in the wrong direction. “We see additional attacks, additional numbers, additional volume and occasionally additional successes that trouble us,” he said.

The administration will increase spending for cyber security by $1.5 billion in the coming year, Bossert said.

On infrastructure cyber security, Bossert said additional measures to bolster critical functions are a key element of the order.

Most critical infrastructures are not owned by the federal government, complicating efforts to protect them from foreign attacks.

“The executive order not only requires his departments and agencies to help those critical infrastructure owners and operators, and the most important ones, but to do it in a proactive sense,” Bossert said. “The message is a tilt toward action.”

Bossert said Russian cyber attacks during the 2016 election were not the motivation for the new policy. Several adversaries threaten American cyber security and the new policy is a “United States of America-motivated issue.”

“The Russians are not our only adversary on the Internet, the Russians are not the only people that operate in a negative way on the Internet,” he said.

“The Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, other nation-states are motivated to use cyber capacity and cyber tools to attack our people and our government and their data,” Bossert added. “And that’s something we can no longer abide.”

Former DNI James Clapper told a Senate hearing this week that he too worries about foreign cyber attacks on U.S. infrastructure.

“I worry about the worst case which is an attack on our infrastructure,” he said. “And I think the Russians have, particularly, have reconnoitered it, and probably at a time of their choosing, which I don’t think right now is likely, but I think, if they want it to, could do great harm.”

The order also highlights the growing threat from automated cyber threats, such as botnets—thousands of hijacked computers operating in concert to conduct cyber attacks.

Under the order, the government will seek to improve security for private sector computers that could be used in botnet attacks.

Paul Rozenzweig, a former Homeland Security cyber security expert, said the order is a good start.
“This order is just a starting point, with a number of reports required over the next few months and significant obligations on the federal agencies to make recommendations for improvement,” he said.

“The rubber will meet the road when we get to the point of deciding which recommendations to implement.”

EMMANUEL MACRON HACKED EMAILS: FRENCH MEDIA ORDERED BY ELECTORAL COMMISSION NOT TO PUBLISH CONTENT OF MESSAGES

Journalists could face criminal charges for violating laws preventing influence on vote

London IndependentMAY 6, 2017

France’s electoral commission has ordered media not to publish contents of Emmanuel Macron’s leaked campaign emails to avoid influencing the election.

It warned news outlets in France that journalists could face criminal charges for publishing or republishing the material, under laws that came into effect at midnight forbidding any commentary liable to affect the presidential race.

There were fears the hack could swing Sunday’s final vote, where Mr Macron was expected to comfortably beat far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

As much as 9GB gigabytes of data were posted on a profile called EMLEAKS to an anonymous document sharing site under two days before the final vote.

While French election rules forbid the media from publishing the emails, they also ban Mr Macron or his team from commenting on or denying any allegations.

His En Marche! party said it had “been the victim of a massive and coordinated hack” on Friday evening, adding that it had “given rise to the diffusion on social media of various internal information”.

A spokesperson said the communications only showed the normal functioning of a presidential campaign, but that authentic documents had been mixed on social media with fake ones to sow “doubt and misinformation”.

“This operation is obviously an attempt at destabilising democracy, as has already been seen in the US during the last presidential campaign,” he added.

“The ambition of the authors of this leak is obviously to harm the En Marche! movement within hours of the second round of the French presidential election.”

En Marche! previously complained about attempts to hack its emails, blaming Russian interests in part for the cyber attacks despite denials from the Kremlin.

Officials said it had been the target of failed attempts to steal email credentials dating back to January, identifying a hacking group operating in Ukraine.

Vitali Kremez, director of research with US-based cyber intelligence firm Flashpoint, told Reuters APT 28, a group tied to Russia’s military intelligence directorate, was behind the leak.

The collective, also known as “Fancy Bear” and “Sofacy”, has been linked to cyber attacks on the Democratic National Committee during the US election, the White House, German Parliament, Nato and French media.

Last month, APT 28 hackers registered decoy internet addresses to mimic the name of En Marche!, which were used to send corrupted emails to hack into the campaign’s computers, Mr Kremez said.

“If indeed driven by Moscow, this leak appears to be a significant escalation over the previous Russian operations aimed at the US presidential election, expanding the approach and scope of effort from simple espionage efforts towards more direct attempts to sway the outcome,” he added.

Far-right American activists are believed to be behind early efforts to spread the documents on social media, before they were picked up by Ms Le Pen’s supporters in France.

The leaks emerged on 4chan, where an anonymous poster provided links to documents on Pastebin with the message: “This was passed on to me today so now I am giving it to you, the people.”

The hashtag #MacronLeaks was spread by prominent Twitter accounts including that of Jack Posobiec, a pro-Donald Trump activist and employee of the far-right site Rebel TV.

The cyber attack came after repeated allegations of Russian interference in elections across Europe and the US, with Mr Macron previously targeting state media including Russia Today and Sputnik for spreading “fake news” to damage his campaign.

The two government-owned news outlets has announced legal action against Mr Macron over his allegations, which came after the politician denied unsubstantiated reports of an alleged offshore bank account.

Margarita Simonyan, the editor of both RT and Sputnik, said: “We are tired of their lies. We will sue them.”

Mr Macron has filed a legal complaint over the reports, which were raised by Ms Le Pen during a heated television debate.

The Paris’ prosecutor’s office said no one was named in the complaint, which has triggered an inquiry into the suspected spread of false stories aimed at influencing the election.

Vladimir Putin has dismissed allegations of interfering in foreign elections including the US and Germany, hitting out at unproven “rumours”.

“We never interfere in other countries’ politics and we want no one to meddle in ours,” the Russian President said during a tense press conference with Angela Merkel.

“Unfortunately, we have seen the opposite happening for years. We have seen attempts to influence political processes in Russia through the so-called NGOs and directly.

“Realising the futility of such efforts, it has never occurred to us to interfere.”

State Dept issues Travel Alert amid terrorism threats ‘throughout Europe’

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The US State Department is warning Americans that traveling to Europe risks being caught in a terrorist attack. The ‘Travel Alert’ is set to remain in place for the next four months.

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An official statement referred to recent attacks by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al Qaeda, as well as their affiliates, against France, Russia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Further terrorist attacks may be carried out, even as “local governments continue counter-terrorism operations,” the State Department said.

“US citizens should always be alert to the possibility that terrorist sympathizers or self-radicalized extremists may conduct attacks with little or no warning, the statement added.

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Terrorists are anticipated to use familiar tactics, including employing firearms, high explosives, knives or sharp objects that evade security, or weaponizing trucks or automobiles by ramming or running over people. US citizens traveling to and throughout Europe are encouraged to check the website of their embassy or consulate as well as the local security information from officials.

Americans are instructed to follow orders of local authorities and monitor media and other information sources. They should expect delays in security screenings, the State Department advised. Americans are also told to have an emergency plan and to register with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP.

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In March, the State Department issued a Worldwide Caution, with a general advisory for Europe and specific Travel Warnings for Turkey and Ukraine.

The alert comes six days before a general election in France.

There was no specific threat or new development mentioned in Monday’s Travel Alert.

Fact Check: Four Major Holes In Rep. Adam Schiff’s Trump-Russia Conspiracy Theory

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By Aaron Klein

On Monday, Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on a House intelligence committee, delivered his opening statements at a hearing where he laid out the case for alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Schiff repeatedly raised questions about alleged collusion between Moscow and members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Here are four serious problems with Schiff’s charges, which include wild conspiracy theories and heavy reliance on a questionable source:

1 – Throughout his opening statement, Schiff repeatedly relied on information provided by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who was reportedly paid by Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans to investigate Trump and was the author of a controversial, largely discredited 35-page dossier on Trump.

Schiff ignores the fact that Mike Morell, who served as deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency and twice as acting director, has questioned Steele’s credibility. Morell currently works at the Hillary Clinton-tied Beacon Global Strategies LLC. Beacon was founded by Phillippe Reines, who served as Communications Adviser to Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state. From 2009-2013, Reines also served in Clinton’s State Department as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategic Communications. Reines is the managing director of Beacon.

Here are a few of the times Schiff openly cited Steele in his committee speech to support various anti-Trump charges involving Russia. Indeed, many of the charges seem to center on Steele:

*According to Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who is reportedly held in high regard by U.S. Intelligence, Russian sources tell him that Page has also had a secret meeting with Igor Sechin (SEH-CHIN), CEO of Russian gas giant Rosneft. Sechin is reported to be a former KGB agent and close friend of Putin’s.

*According to Steele’s Russian sources, Page is offered brokerage fees by Sechin on a deal involving a 19 percent share of the company. According to Reuters, the sale of a 19.5 percent share in Rosneft later takes place, with unknown purchasers and unknown brokerage fees.

*Also, according to Steele’s Russian sources, the Trump campaign is offered documents damaging to Hillary Clinton, which the Russians would publish through an outlet that gives them deniability, like Wikileaks.

*In the middle of July, Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign manager and someone who was long on the payroll of Pro-Russian Ukrainian interests, attends the Republican Party convention. Carter Page, back from Moscow, also attends the convention. According to Steele, it was Manafort who chose Page to serve as a go-between for the Trump campaign and Russian interests. Ambassador Kislyak, who presides over a Russian embassy in which diplomatic personnel would later be expelled as likely spies, also attends the Republican Party convention and meets with Carter Page and additional Trump advisers JD Gordon and Walid Phares. It was JD Gordon who approved Page’s trip to Moscow. Ambassador Kislyak also meets with Trump campaign national security chair and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions would later deny meeting with Russian officials during his Senate confirmation hearing.

*Is it a coincidence that the Russian gas company Rosneft sold a 19 percent share after former British Intelligence Officer Steele was told by Russian sources that Carter Page was offered fees on a deal of just that size? Is it a coincidence that Steele’s Russian sources also affirmed that Russia had stolen documents hurtful to Secretary Clinton that it would utilize in exchange for pro-Russian policies that would later come to pass?

NBC News reported on Morell’s questions about Steele’s credibility:

Morell, who was in line to become CIA director if Clinton won, said he had seen no evidence that Trump associates cooperated with Russians. He also raised questions about the dossier written by a former British intelligence officer, which alleged a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. …

Morell pointed out that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Meet the Press on March 5 that he had seen no evidence of a conspiracy when he left office January 20.

“That’s a pretty strong statement by General Clapper,” Morell said.

Regarding Steele’s dossier, Morell stated, “Unless you know the sources, and unless you know how a particular source acquired a particular piece of information, you can’t judge the information — you just can’t.”

Morell charged the dossier “doesn’t take you anywhere, I don’t think.”

“I had two questions when I first read it. One was, How did Chris talk to these sources? I have subsequently learned that he used intermediaries.”

Morell continued:

And then I asked myself, why did these guys provide this information, what was their motivation? And I subsequently learned that he paid them. That the intermediaries paid the sources and the intermediaries got the money from Chris. And that kind of worries me a little bit because if you’re paying somebody, particularly former FSB officers, they are going to tell you truth and innuendo and rumor, and they’re going to call you up and say, “Hey, let’s have another meeting, I have more information for you,” because they want to get paid some more.

I think you’ve got to take all that into consideration when you consider the dossier.

2 – There is no evidence that so-called fake news actually influenced the election, and Schiff fails to make the case that Russia was behind the release of emails from Democratic officials and operatives.

Schiff charged:

While at first, the hacking may have been intended solely for the collection of foreign intelligence, in mid-2016, the Russians “weaponized” the stolen data and used platforms established by their intel services, such as DC Leaks and existing third party channels like Wikileaks, to dump the documents.

The stolen documents were almost uniformly damaging to the candidate Putin despised, Hillary Clinton, and by forcing her campaign to constantly respond to the daily drip of disclosures, the releases greatly benefited Donald Trump’s campaign.

None of these facts is seriously in question and they are reflected in the consensus conclusions of all our intelligence agencies.

Firstly, there has been no concrete evidence linking Russia to Wikileaks or DC Leaks.  Wikileaks has denied any ties to Russia and has claimed that Moscow was not the source for hacked Democratic emails.

Second, data shows so-called fake news stories did not significantly impact the 2016 presidential election. Even the Poynter Institute, the group helping Facebook determine whether certain news stories are “disputed,” has stated that it is worth considering the possibility that “fake news” stories did not sway the election.

Poynter’s Chief Media Writer James Warren reported on a study concluding that while “fake news” stories favoring Trump far surpassed those in favor of Clinton, such stories didn’t significantly affect the outcome of the election. “Did fake news help elect Trump? Not likely, according to new research,” was the title of the Poynter article.

The study, titled, “Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election,” was co-authored by economists Matthew Gentzkow of Stanford University and Hunt Allcott of New York University. The paper utilized web browsing data, a database of so-called fake news stories, and a 1,200-person online survey about news trends.

Warren reported on the survey results:

In sum, they conclude that the role of social media was overstated, with television remaining by far the primary vehicle for consuming political news. Just 14 percent of Americans deemed social media the primary source of their campaign news, according to their research.

In addition, while fake news that favored Trump far exceeded that favoring Clinton, few Americans actually recalled the specifics of the stories and fewer believed them.

“For fake news to have changed the outcome of the election, a single fake article would need to have had the same persuasive effect as 36 television campaign ads,” they conclude.

Poynter further quoted from the survey itself:

In summary, our data suggest that social media were not the most important source of election news, and even the most widely circulated fake news stories were seen by only a small fraction of Americans. For fake news to have changed the outcome of the election, a single fake news story would need to have convinced about 0.7 percent of Clinton voters and non-voters who saw it to shift their votes to Trump, a persuasion rate equivalent to seeing 36 television campaign ads.

In his speech, Schiff later conceded alleged Russian intervention may not have been a determinative factor in Trump’s victory. He states: “We will never know whether the Russian intervention was determinative in such a close election. Indeed, it is unknowable in a campaign in which so many small changes could have dictated a different result. More importantly, and for the purposes of our investigation, it simply does not matter.”

3 – Schiff pushed the conspiracy theory that the Trump campaign had the Republican Party platform changed on the issue of Ukraine to aid Russian interests.

He stated:

Just prior to the convention, the Republican Party platform is changed, removing a section that supports the provision of “lethal defensive weapons” to Ukraine, an action that would be contrary to Russian interests. Manafort categorically denies involvement by the Trump campaign in altering the platform. But the Republican Party delegate who offered the language in support of providing defensive weapons to Ukraine states that it was removed at the insistence of the Trump campaign. Later, JD Gordon admits opposing the inclusion of the provision at the time it was being debated and prior to its being removed.

The charge, which comes mostly from a Washington Post opinion piece, remains so unproven that even the left-leaning PolitiFact so-called fact checker failed to reach a judgement on the issue. “So did Trump and his campaign influence the change?” asked PolitiFact. “It’s hard to know for sure, and that’s why we’re avoiding putting this question on the Truth-O-Meter. But the evidence does suggest that Trump’s campaign was involved.”

The entire issue revolved around one platform committee member, a Ted Cruz supporter, who wanted to use language calling for the U.S. to provide “lethal defensive weapons” to the Ukrainian military. Instead the platform eventually called for “appropriate assistance” to Ukraine – which leaves open the possibility of providing “lethal defensive weapons” – and called for “greater coordination with NATO defense planning.”

That was enough for the Washington Post’s Josh Rogin to pen an opinion piece titled “Trump campaign guts GOP’s anti-Russia stance on Ukraine.”

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow used the tidbit to claim on television that “something weird” happened regarding “that Ukraine and Russia thing” on the platform. She claimed the Trump campaign “jumped right up on that and they insisted that that plank only, that one, had to be taken out, that language could not stand.”

Writing at the Washington Examiner, media critic Byron York noted:

Missing from all the talk is what the Republican platform actually said before it was allegedly “gutted” by Trump. What did the original draft of the platform say about Russia and Ukraine? Was it, in fact, changed? If so, how?

As it turns out, a look at the original draft of the platform — which has never been released publicly — shows that it always had tough language on Russian aggression in Ukraine. And not only did that language stay in the final platform — nothing was taken out — it was actually strengthened, not weakened, as a result of events at the convention. …

Not only that, the later, final platform contained a few additional words on Russia and Ukraine that weren’t in the original draft. To the first passage cited above, after “from the Baltic to the Caucasus,” the GOP platform committee added this:

We support maintaining and, if warranted, increasing sanctions, together with our allies, against Russia unless and until Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are fully restored. We also support providing appropriate assistance to the armed forces of Ukraine and greater coordination with NATO defense planning.

4 – To support Russian interference charges, Schiff relies on CrowdStrike, the third-party company utilized by the FBI to make its assessment about alleged Russian hacking into the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

On Monday, FBI Director James Comey confirmed that his agency never had direct access to the DNC’s servers to confirm the hacking. “Well, we never got direct access to the machines themselves,” he stated. “The DNC in the spring of 2016 hired a firm that ultimately shared with us their forensics from their review of the system.”

National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers also stated the NSA never asked for access to the DNC hardware. “The NSA didn’t ask for access. That’s not in our job.”

As Breitbart News reported, CrowdStrike, led by a Russian expat, was financed to the tune of $100 million from a funding drive in 2015 led by Google Capital.

Google Capital, which now goes by the name of CapitalG, is an arm of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company. Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Alphabet, has been a staunch and active supporter of Hillary Clinton and is a longtime donor to the Democratic Party.

CrowdStrike is a California-based cybersecurity technology company co-founded by experts George Kurtz and Dmitri Alperovitch.

Alperovitch is a nonresident senior fellow of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council.  The Council takes a hawkish approach toward Russia and has released numerous reports and briefs about Russian aggression.

The Council is funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Inc., the U.S. State Department, and NATO ACT.

Another Council funder is the Ploughshares Fund, which in turn has received financing from billionaire George SorosOpen Society Foundations.

Regarding CrowdStrike, Schiff stated in his speech: “But leading private cyber security firms including CrowdStrike, Mandiant, and ThreatConnect review the evidence of the hack and conclude with high certainty that it was the work of APT28 and APT29, who were known to be Russian intelligence services.”

‘Immigration is a privilege, not a right,’ Trump tells Merkel in first meeting

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US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have met for the first time in Trump’s time in office, discussing many issues on which the two have disagreed in the past, including immigration, defense spending and free trade.

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“Our two nations share much in common, including a desire for security, prosperity and peace,” Trump said. He praised Germany’s training of an industrial workforce, including “harnessing the full potential of women,” as an example the US can look to as it seeks to rebuild its industrial base.

On NATO, which Trump has heavily criticized because he feels that other members “don’t pay their fair share,” the president extended an olive branch, but repeated his demands for other countries to step up.

“I reiterated to Chancellor Merkel my strong support for NATO as well as need for our NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defense,” Trump said. “Many nations owe vast sums of money from the past years, and it’s very unfair to the US.”

He also thanked Merkel for her commitment to increasing defense spending, as well as for her leadership in supporting NATO in Afghanistan, at the cost of the lives of more than 50 German soldiers, and as member of anti-ISIS coalition.

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“I thanked her for leadership, along with the French president, in resolving the conflict in Ukraine, where we ideally seek a peaceful solution,” Trump said.

Pivoting to immigration, a topic on which the two leaders have vastly different views, Trump said the focus must be on national security.

“Immigration is a privilege, not a right, and the safety of our citizens must always come first,” he said, adding that the US will respect historic institutions and the “right of free people to manage their own destiny.”

Our alliance is a “foundation of a very hopeful future,” he said.

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Merkel reiterated the points of agreement with Trump, including saying that Germany also needs to increase military spending as the country continues to work in Afghanistan, Syria and Libya.

“We had a very good first exchange of views,” she said.

She praised Trump for the US commitment to the Minsk process on Ukraine. “There has to be a safe and secure solution for Ukraine, but relationship with Russia has to improve as well,” she added.

Merkel agreed with Trump that “trade has to be fairer, has to be a win-win situation,” adding that  “globalization ought to be shaped in an open-minded way, but also in a fair way.” For his part, the US president stressed that he doesn’t “believe in isolationist policy,” but rather wants free trade as long as it is also fair to the US.

At the same time, Merkel called on the US to “come back to the table and continue [TTIP] talks,” referring to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which is among the free-trade deals that Trump wants to get away from in favor of bilateral agreements.

Merkel argued that the TTIP is, in fact, a bilateral deal because it is only between the US and the European Union. “A free trade agreement with the US has not always been popular in Germany either,” she added.

During the question-and-answer period, Trump discussed the GOP’s American Health Care Act to replace Obamacare. He promised that any Republican lawmakers who had previously opposed the bill for not being conservative enough had come around and would vote for the bill.

He also answered questions about his proposed budget, which calls for a $54 billion increase in defense spending, saying that the military “will be stronger than ever before, and hopefully we won’t have to use it.”

When asked if he regrets any of his tweets, Trump replied: “Very seldom,” adding that social media allows him to get around the news media when they don’t tell the truth about him. He also joked with Merkel, the target of NSA spying under the Obama administration, saying: “As far as wiretapping by the past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps.”

Trump has repeatedly stood by his accusations that his predecessor wiretapped and otherwise surveilled Trump Tower in New York ahead of the 2016 presidential election. A bipartisan group of lawmakers investigating any wrongdoing by the Obama administration when it comes to spying on Trump have disputed these claims, saying there is no evidence.

 

Senators ask Tillerson to probe US ‘fomenting unrest’ in other countries

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Six Republican senators are demanding a State Department review of US taxpayer money being spent on meddling in foreign countries’ politics via NGOs run by billionaire George Soros, citing Macedonia and Albania as the most recent examples.

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In a letter sent to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday, the lawmakers express concern over reports that US foreign aid has been channeled to support “left-leaning parties” and the “progressive agenda” in places like Albania and Macedonia. The two Balkans countries are just “timely examples,” with reports of similar US meddling coming from Africa and Latin America as well, the senators wrote.

The letter was signed by Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), David Perdue (R-Georgia) and Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana).

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“This includes reports of diplomats playing political favorites, USAID funds supporting extreme and sometimes violent political activists, and the US government working to marginalize the moderates and conservatives in leadership roles,”said Lee, adding that “this behavior is unacceptable and must be halted immediately.”

As examples of US interference, the senators cite the situation in Macedonia, a landlocked Balkans country once a part of Yugoslavia and currently in the throes of a political crisis featuring a restless ethnic Albanian minority.

“We have received credible reports that, over the past few years, the US Mission there has actively intervened in the party politics of Macedonia, as well as in the shaping of its media environment and civil society, often favoring left-leaning political groups over others,” the letter says. “We find these reports discouraging and, if true, highly problematic.”

Macedonia currently has a caretaker government, as no party has being able to form a majority coalition following the December 2016 election. Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (VMRO-DPMNE) is accusing the US of pushing an alliance between Zoran Zaev’s Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) and the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (BDI).

Earlier this month, President Gjorge Ivanov vetoed the proposed coalition between Zaev and ethnic Albanian parties, on grounds that it could potentially “destroy” the country. As a condition of their participation in the government, Albanians are insisting on a seven-point platform – co-written by governments in Albania and Kosovo – that includes a demand to make Albanian an official language in Macedonia.

US meddling in Albania “appears to follow a pattern of alarming activity in this volatile region,” the senators wrote, pointing to Soros organizations in that country promoting specific reforms ahead of the June 18 general election, which the opposition is threatening to boycott as unfair. Such activity is even more concerning “in light of international reports of increasing government corruption in Albania and the renewed power of drug trafficking and organized criminal groups in the country,” the letter said.

Back in 2011, Soros himself wrote about unrest in Albania to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying, “My foundation in Tirana is monitoring the situation closely and can provide independent analysis of the crisis.”

The new Trump administration should seize the moment “to review how our tax dollars are being utilized in order to halt activities that are fomenting political unrest, disrespecting national sovereignty and civil society, and ultimately undermining our attempts to build beneficial international relationships,” says the letter.

The six senators are asking for an investigation that would review “all funds associated with promoting democracy and governance and review the programs, accounts, and multiplicity of US entities involved in such activities.”

Soros’s Open Society Foundation, along with USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy, have been accused of fomenting “color revolutions” from Serbia in 2000 to Ukraine in 2014, in order to install in power governments friendly to Washington.

Russian hackers play phone prank on fool Democrat Maxine Waters

Russian hackers called US Democratic representative Maxine Waters and informed her that she is speaking to Ukraine’s prime minister Vladimir Groysman and that Russian army is now occupying all of Ukraine. Also, from this conversation Maxine learned that Russian hackers interfered in elections of a country called Limpopo and installed their puppet president there by the name of Aibolit.

Dianne Foster

Pinned by HX Video
Maxine waters is may be committing an impeachable act by talking to a foreign countries representatives when she is not part of the executive branch or the state department. This phone call may actually be grounds for treason. It is hilarious that she is so ignorant and that she does not even know that there is no Limpopo or Gabon, or that she is being trolled.
Michael G

How does this woman continue to get elected? Seriously!
SomethinJustAintRight

This negro is not even mediocre. She could not get a job without her skin color, like most ‘groids.
Ivan Petrov

Hello from Crimea! Freedom to Limpopo)))
Brood Clip

This is great, she is so utterly clueless. I hope this goes global. Great work exposing this leech for what she is.
Davetex D

Waters is by far the dumbest person in government. Sooo sad for America. She also thinks Russia invaded Korea. Numbskull.
John Sullivan

+Don Blankenship …. It is TRUE Maxine did state about Korea invading … Maxine has the brain power of a squirrel.
Chris

She totally sunk McCain lol….. she just told the world that McCain is working against the President basically. Christ what an absolutely idiot she is….. TOTAL idiot
rongermanjr

fucking idiot, she needs to be put out of our misery
Будаев Вадим

Today we all are Limpopos MacCain(C)