January 31, 2017

Private Equity-backed Retailers That Source Their Products Offshore Oppose Border-adjustment Tax

January 31, 2017

Bloomberg - In Donald Trump's world, the long list of "losers" includes Cher, Rosie O'Donnell and Mark Cuban.

Now, as he proposes an overhaul of U.S. tax and trade policies, President Trump is poised to create a new list of losers -- for private equity.  

The introduction of a potential border-adjustment tax could erode profits at some of the businesses owned by buyout firms, enough to make them not worth hanging onto any longer. That may speed up the timetable for putting them on the auction block or on laying the groundwork for an IPO.

As firms review their portfolios, key considerations for determining which fall into this "loser" category include the percentage of a company's inputs that are originated outside of the U.S. and how truly flexible supply chains are if the concept of border adjustability becomes law.

So which companies could be culled? One possible "loser" is American Tire Distributors Holdings Inc., which imports and manufactures some of its tires in Asia and is backed by Ares Management LP and TPG. Another is NBG Home, which leans on Asian manufacturers for many of its products and is owned by Kohlberg & Co. Then there's also Isola Group, which has offshore manufacturing operations that make laminates for use in the production of printed circuit boards, which is backed by TPG and Oaktree Capital. These are just a few -- there are many more that fall into this bucket.

Private equity firms will likely have to reset their expectations around valuations and accept lower prices than they otherwise might. But in an industry where one's ability to raise new funds depends on past performance and decent returns, minimizing losses is crucial.

On the subject of losses, the border-adjustment tax could exacerbate problems for private equity-backed retailers that source their products offshore, including but not limited to J. Crew Group Inc., Claire's Stores Inc., Toys "R" Us Inc., Nine West Holdings Inc., Rue21 and True Religion Apparel Inc.

These companies are already operating at various levels of distress, mostly due to heavy debt burdens -- a feature that could crush them even more if interest deductibility is scrapped under the new tax code. Worse still, most of these companies carry deferred tax assets which will become less valuable if the corporate tax rate drops as planned. And unlike the potential "losers" mentioned above, these situations are even more difficult for private equity firms to extract themselves from.

Blackstone Group LP has already forecast that the collective impact of tax code changes, in their draft form, will be neutral to slightly positive on its private equity portfolio -- even if some rejiggering is in order. Publicly-traded peers Apollo Global Management LLC, Carlyle Group LP and KKR & Co. -- each set to report their own fourth-quarter results in coming weeks -- will likely echo the same message. It's about self-preservation, after all.

Another such company that was exploring sale options even before the election was Springs Window Fashions, a Golden Gate Capital-backed maker of blind, shade and other window coverings. The Middleton, Wisconsin-based company has sizable manufacturing operations in Mexico which could mean its profits are dented by the border-adjustment tax.

Private Equity Assets Under Management Approach $2.5 Trillion as the Industry Doubles in Size Over the Past Decade

The total assets under management for the private equity industry have grown to a record $2.49 trillion as of June 2016 (the latest figures available). Preqin’s 2017 Global Private Equity & Venture Capital Report finds that industry assets rose from $2.39 trillion as of the end of 2015, continuing eight consecutive years of expansion in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis. Strong fundraising has driven this latest growth in assets: the dry powder component of industry AUM increased by $117 billion in the first six months of 2016, while the total value of assets held by fund managers (the unrealized value component of AUM) fell slightly.

Christopher Elvin, Head of Private Equity Products said:
“2016 was another stellar year for the private equity industry, and total AUM now stands at a record $2.49 trillion as of June. The question on many people’s minds is ‘how much longer will it continue?’ While the reality is that only time will tell, the industry is well positioned for another strong year in 2017. In a low-interest-rate environment, the asset class continues to appeal to investors looking for high absolute returns and portfolio diversification.

“This is borne out in the state of the market going into 2017: investor sentiment is extremely high, and there are currently record numbers of funds seeking investment. Many investors are looking to redeploy the capital returned to them back into the asset class, which in turn is stoking an active fundraising market. While asset pricing remains a very real concern for both fund managers and investors, 2017 has the potential to match the successes seen in 2016.”
Key Facts from the 2017 Global Private Equity Report:

January 30, 2017

Trump Signs Executive Order: Repeal Two Existing Federal Regulations to Offset the Costs of Any New Rule

January 30, 2017

Reuters - President Donald Trump signed an order on Monday that will seek to dramatically pare back federal regulations by requiring agencies to cut two existing regulations for every new rule introduced.

"This will be the biggest such act that our country has ever seen. There will be regulation, there will be control, but it will be normalized control," Trump said as he signed the order in the Oval Office, surrounded by a group of small business owners.

Trump's latest executive action will prepare a process for the White House to set an annual cap on the cost of new regulations, a senior official told reporters ahead of the signing.

For the rest of fiscal 2017, the cap will require that the cost of any additional regulations be completely offset by undoing existing rules, the official said on customary condition of anonymity.

Trump, a businessman turned politician, campaigned on a promise to reduce federal regulations that he said burdened American businesses.

Major regulations are typically reviewed by the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) before they are issued. That review will continue under this new measure, but agencies will also have to identify what two regulations will be repealed to offset the costs of any new rule.

The new order does not require that the repeal of the two regulations be done simultaneously with the release of additional rules, the official said.

"This vests tremendous power and responsibility in the OMB director to ensure the president's direction in how we manage this across the government," the official said.

Certain categories of regulations will be exempt from this new policy, including those dealing with the military and national security. The OMB director will also have the ability to waive this policy in certain instances.

Trump has tapped U.S. Representative Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina to lead the OMB.

January 28, 2017

Summary of Donald Trump's Actions in the Later Half of His First Week as U.S. President

Iran says to ban U.S. visitors in retaliation to Trump move January 28, 2017

Reuters - Iran said on Saturday it would stop U.S. citizens entering the country in retaliation to Washington's visa ban against Tehran and six other majority-Muslim countries announced by new U.S. President Donald Trump.

"While respecting the American people and distinguishing between them and the hostile policies of the U.S. government, Iran will implement the principle of reciprocity until the offensive U.S. limitations against Iranian nationals are lifted," a Foreign Ministry statement said.

"The restrictions against travel by Muslims to America... are an open affront against the Muslim world and the Iranian nation in particular and will be known as a great gift to extremists," said the statement, carried by state media.

The U.S. ban will make it virtually impossible for relatives and friends of an estimated one million Iranian-Americans to visit the United States

Earlier on Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said it was no time to build walls between nations and criticised steps towards cancelling world trade agreements, without naming Trump.

Trump on Wednesday ordered the construction of a U.S.-Mexican border wall, a major promise during his election campaign, as part of a package of measures to curb illegal immigration.

"Today is not the time to erect walls between nations. They have forgotten that the Berlin wall fell years ago," Rouhani said in a speech carried live on Iranian state television.

"To annul world trade accords does not help their economy and does not serve the development and blooming of the world economy," Rouhani told a tourism conference in Tehran. "This is the day for the world to get closer through trade."

The protectionist-minded Trump formally withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal on Monday, fulfilling a campaign pledge to end American involvement in the 2015 pact.

Rouhani, a pragmatist elected in 2013, thawed Iran's relations with world powers after years of confrontation and engineered its 2015 deal with them under which it curbed its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from sanctions.

The Latest: Trump to skip dinner with Washington elite

January 27, 2017

Associated Press — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times EST):

8:25 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump is skipping the annual Alfalfa Club dinner Saturday.

His decision is a break with presidential tradition. Every White House occupant since Ronald Reagan has shown up at the black-tie affair to rub elbows and share laughs with Washington's elite.

The Alfalfa Club has a few hundred members. Its sole purpose is to hold the annual dinner.

___

8 p.m.

President Donald Trump has scheduled telephone conversations with two more of his world counterparts.

The White House says Trump will speak separately Saturday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (shin-zoh ah-bay) and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

That brings to five the number of foreign leaders Trump plans to speak with.

The White House had already said telephone conversations have been scheduled with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday became the first foreign leader to meet with Trump at the White House since he took office a week ago.

___

7:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is indefinitely suspending the United States' Syrian refugees program.

Trump signed a presidential executive order Friday that declares the entry of "nationals of Syria as refugees" is "detrimental to the interests of the United States."

Trump is suspending the program until he says their admission to the country is "consistent with the national interest."

Trump's order also appears to be capping the number of refugees from other countries at 50,000 people in in fiscal year 2017.

Trump had promised to scale back refugee admissions during his campaign, arguing that they posed a potential risk to national security.

___

5:40 p.m.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is worried that President Donald Trump will go too far in his crackdown on immigration.

In a Friday post on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg is urging Trump to keep the U.S. borders open to refugees who need a safe haven.

Trump signed an executive order Friday imposing new guidelines aimed at keeping "radical Islamic terrorists" out of the U.S.

Zuckerberg is also urging Trump not to deport millions of "undocumented folks" who don't pose any security threats.

Immigration is an important issue for Zuckerberg for several reasons.

Like most technology companies, Facebook employs highly skilled immigrants as engineers who help create the company's products. The parents of Zuckerberg's wife, Priscilla Chan, are ethnic Chinese who fled to the U.S. on a boat from Vietnam.

January 26, 2017

January 25, 2017

AP — The Trump administration is scrutinizing studies and data published by scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, while new work is under a "temporary hold" before it can be released.

The communications director for President Donald Trump's transition team at EPA, Doug Ericksen, said Wednesday the review extends to all existing content on the federal agency's website, including details of scientific evidence showing that the Earth's climate is warming and man-made carbon emissions are to blame.

Ericksen clarified his earlier statements he made to The Associated Press, which reported that the Trump administration was mandating that any studies or data from EPA scientists undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public. He said he was speaking about existing scientific information on the EPA website that is under review by members of the Trump administration's transition team.

He said new work by the agency's scientists is subject to the same "temporary hold" as other kinds of public releases, which he said would likely be lifted by Friday. He said there was no mandate to subject studies or data to political review.

Former EPA staffers under both Republican and Democratic presidents said the restrictions imposed under Trump far exceed the practices of past administrations.

Ericksen said no decisions have yet been made about whether to strip mentions of climate change from epa.gov

"We're taking a look at everything on a case-by-case basis, including the web page and whether climate stuff will be taken down," Erickson said in an earlier interview with the AP. "Obviously with a new administration coming in, the transition time, we'll be taking a look at the web pages and the Facebook pages and everything else involved here at EPA."

Asked specifically about scientific data being collected by agency scientists, such as routine monitoring of air and water pollution, Ericksen responded, "Everything is subject to review."

Trump press secretary Sean Spicer appeared to distance the president from the issue, telling reporters the communications clampdown at EPA wasn't directed by the White House.

Trump's nominee for EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, said during his Senate confirmation hearing last week that he disagreed with past statements by the president alleging that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to harm U.S. economic competitiveness. But like Trump, Pruitt has a long history of publicly questioning the validity of climate science.

William K. Reilly, who was EPA administrator under Republican President George H.W. Bush, said what seems to be happening with science at the agency is "going down a very dark road."

January 25, 2017

2016 U.S. Presidential Election Results by County


January 25, 2017

Yahoo News - President Trump signed a pair of executive orders on Wednesday stepping up immigration enforcement efforts and calling for “the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border.” Trump touted the actions in a speech at the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday afternoon.

“As I’ve said repeatedly to the country, we are going to get the bad ones out, the criminals, and the drug deals, and gangs, and gang members, and cartel leaders. The day is over when they can stay in our country and wreak havoc. We are going to get them out. We are going to get them out fast,” Trump said.

In his speech, Trump argued that the U.S. is “in the middle of a crisis on our southern border” owing to “the unprecedented surge of illegal migrants from Central America” and drug cartel activity. He also stressed that his immigration reform measures would improve the U.S.’s relationship with Mexico and help both nations by “deterring illegal immigration from Central America and by disrupting violent cartel networks.”

“I believe the steps we will take starting right now will improve the safety in both our countries, going to be very, very good for Mexico,” Trump said. “A nation without borders is not a nation. Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders, gets back its borders.”

One of Trump’s executive orders called for the immediate construction of a “contiguous, physical wall or other similarly secure, contiguous, and impassable physical barrier” on the border with Mexico. The border wall — and having Mexico pay for it — was one of Trump’s signature campaign promises.

Trump’s executive orders also call for the defunding of so-called sanctuary cities, in which officials refuse to hand over undocumented immigrants for deportation. One of the orders granted the homeland security secretary and attorney general the power to ensure that those cities “are not eligible to receive federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes.”

“The American people are no longer going to have to be forced to subsidize this disregard for our laws,” Spicer said.

January 25, 2017

People - President Donald Trump consistently griped about voter fraud during and after the election. And now that he’s taken office he is taking his assertions one step further as he calls for a “major investigation.”

“I will be asking for a major investigation into voter fraud,” he wrote in part Thursday morning on Twitter, and indicated that that illegal immigrants, those registered in two states and “those registered to vote who are dead” are to blame — without offering any evidence to back up his claims.

Although he won the Electoral College following the general election on Nov. 8, Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes — which he claimed was due to “millions of people” voting “illegally” last November.
Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2,864,974, which is 2.1 percent of the total vote. How dominant is California when it comes to driving Hillary Clinton’s popular vote lead over President-Elect Donald Trump? The overall numbers obscure the fact that one state gave Clinton her edge: Populous California. Clinton popular vote lead overall: At least 1.23 million. Clinton popular vote lead in California alone: At least 3.1 million. (The “at least” comes into play because California was still counting unprocessed ballots as of November 16 – more than 3.4 million of them – but since the state went so large for Clinton, it’s expected that California will just add to her margin even more.) California contributed more than 10% of Clinton’s overall popular vote tally. Without California in the popular vote totals, Trump leads the rest of the states combined by more than 1.87 million popular votes. [Source]
He reiterated that claim in a meeting on Monday, telling a group of Congressional leaders that he lost the popular vote because undocumented immigrants voted in the election.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that Trump “does believe that” millions of undocumented immigrants voted in this election, though he didn’t name concrete evidence — just “studies” — to back up his point.

Related:

762 Murders in Chicago in 2016, the City's Deadliest Year in Nearly Two Decades

January 25, 2017

AFP - President Donald Trump threatened to send in the "feds" if America's third-largest city of Chicago failed to bring its rampant crime rate under control.
January 23, 2017

Yahoo News - White House press secretary Sean Spicer expressed exasperation with the media on Monday, repeating several times that President Trump and his team find critical coverage to be “frustrating,” “demoralizing” and “disappointing.”

At his first official press briefing, Spicer faced questions about statements that both he and the president made over the weekend about the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration ceremony.

When asked why so much time had been given to the attendance issue on the president’s first day in office, Spicer insisted, “It’s not just about crowd size,” but rather “overall frustration” that he said Trump and members of his team feel with the media for what the press secretary described as a perceived “constant theme to undercut the enormous support that [Trump] has.”

Spicer touted Trump’s history of having “gone out there and defied the odds over and over and over again.” Accordingly, he said, it was “unbelievably frustrating” and “demoralizing” for his boss to face constant media criticism and doubt.

“Over and over again, there’s this constant attempt to undermine his credibility and the movement that he represents, and it’s frustrating,” he said. “It’s a little demoralizing to turn on the TV day after day and hear, ‘Can’t do this.’”

Though he acknowledged that not every story about Trump will be positive, Spicer argued that the coverage of Trump’s campaign and now his presidency is not “part of what comes with being president of the U.S. and working at the White House,” as CNN’s Jim Acosta suggested during the briefing,

Spicer seemed to suggest that the press should “sit here and realize the sacrifices this guy has made … because he really, really loves his country.”

“It would be nice once in a while for someone to say, report it straight up: ‘He appointed this person, here’s their background,’” Spicer said. “Not, ‘Here’s why they’re not going to get nominated.’”

Although he repeatedly stressed that the debate about the inauguration’s crowd size was part of a larger issue, Spicer appeared to indirectly offer an answer to Acosta’s question about how bothered Trump had been by widely shared images that compared the attendance at his inauguration to that of former President Barack Obama in 2009.

“Looking out, you’re in awe of just how awesome that view is and how many people are there,” he said, referring to Trump’s view of the crowd from the podium where he delivered his inaugural address at the U.S. Capitol on Friday. “And you go back and you turn on the TV and you see shots comparing this and that,” and hear “it wasn’t that big.”

“It’s a little demoralizing,” he said.

Hard numbers on the attendance at Trump’s inauguration are not available, but a comparison of photographs taken from the same vantage point on Friday and at Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 — which was attended by an estimated 1.8 million people — showed a significantly smaller turnout for Trump.

Editor's Note: Obama's turnout for his first inauguration was expected to be large because he was the country's first black president.

January 24, 2017

Glenn Greenwald: Mainstream US Media Is Culpable for Disseminating Deceitful News on Russia

January 5, 2017 

Democracy Now! - We are joined by Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept. His latest article is headlined "WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived." In it, he writes, "Any story that bolsters the prevailing DC orthodoxy on the Russia Threat, no matter how dubious, is spread far and wide. And then, as has happened so often, when the story turns out to be false or misleading, little or nothing is done to correct the deceitful effects."

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We're talking about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and allegations of Russian cyber-attacks. During his interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity this week, Assange was asked whether mainstream media in the US is dishonest.
JULIAN ASSANGE: It's very dishonest. "Corrupt" is interesting; it depends on your definition. If you look at what we published in the Podesta emails --
SEAN HANNITY: Wait a minute. If they're colluding with Hillary, that's not corrupt?
JULIAN ASSANGE: It's an ethical corruption.
SEAN HANNITY: They're not identifying it to their audiences. They claim that they're objective journalists.
JULIAN ASSANGE: It's ethically corrupt, corrupt by its -- "corruption" also means something in law, which is that you're taking money in exchange.
SEAN HANNITY: OK.
JULIAN ASSANGE: So I don't that --
SEAN HANNITY: Collusion.
JULIAN ASSANGE: They're colluding, yeah.
SEAN HANNITY: Because they share her political agenda. Well, why else would they collude? Or they hate Donald Trump.
JULIAN ASSANGE: I think that's an optimistic interpretation, that they share the political agenda.
SEAN HANNITY: Well, explain that.
JULIAN ASSANGE: It's more like, "You rub my back, I'll rub yours." I'll give you -- you know, I'll give you information. You'll be -- you'll come to my -- I'll invite you to my child's christening or our next big party or -- do you know what I mean?
AMY GOODMAN: That's WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Fox News. Glenn Greenwald, your latest article for The Intercept is headlined "WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived." So, could you comment on what Assange said and your own findings regarding mainstream media coverage of alleged Russian cyber-attacks?

GLENN GREENWALD: So let's focus on the extraordinary behavior of The Washington Post for the moment. They have produced two of the most humiliating debacles in American journalism over the last several years. And these two humiliations have taken place just within the last six weeks, both of which were about completely fictitious and fabricated claims about the threat posed by Vladimir Putin and Russia.

The first was on November 24th, when they claimed, based on a newly formed anonymous group, that there has been a very widespread, successful effort to implant Kremlin propaganda in the American discourse. And they accomplish this by giving credence to this secret list that this anonymous group of cowards had created in which they claim that a whole range of American media outlets and websites, such as the Drudge Report and other libertarian critics of Hillary Clinton on the right and long-standing left-wing critics of the Democratic Party, like Naked Capitalism and Truthout and Truthdig on the left -- they decree them to be tools of Kremlin propaganda. And The Washington Post created this huge story, that went all over the place, based upon giving credence to this list and saying that Russian propaganda had been viewed more than 200 million times in the United States. Journalists all over Twitter, throughout the American media, mindlessly spread it, aggressively endorsed it. It became a huge story. And over the course of the next two weeks, the story completely collapsed, and there's now a major editor's note at the top of the article disclaiming the key source, saying that they did not intend to in any way vouch for the validity of the findings of the source on which the entire story was based.

But even more embarrassing was this weekend, when the Post trumpeted this story on Friday night that Vladimir Putin and Russia had hacked into the electric grid of the United States through a Vermont utility, which caused Vermont officials like the governor and Senator Pat Leahy to issue statements saying Vladimir Putin is trying to endanger the safety and the welfare of Vermonters by stealing their heat in the winter. The whole story, from start to finish, turned out to be a complete fabrication. There was no invasion of the American electric grid. The malware that was found on one laptop had nothing to do with Russia. The story was completely false. And again, the American media, in this hysteria, kept spreading and endorsing it.

And in both cases, the retractions were barely noted. So you have millions of people being misled into this hysteria, into this view that Russia is this grave threat, and when the story journalistically collapses, they barely hear about it. And it happened over and over through the election, with Slate saying that a secret server had been found between Donald Trump and a Russian bank, which turned out to be completely false. The Post aired allegations that Putin had poisoned Hillary Clinton on the day that she collapsed on 9/11. And so, it's not really just dishonesty. It's the kind of behavior we saw in 2002, where American media outlets are willing to publish anything that the US government tells them to publish, to inflate and expand the threat posed by Russia, to raise fear levels to the highest possible degree. And it's an incredibly irresponsible and dangerous form of behavior that media outlets, led by The Washington Post, are engaging in.

AMY GOODMAN: And you talk about how retractions obviously don't get anything like the play of the story, that also has to do with what's tweeted by the publication, even when they retract, and what isn't, Glenn.

GLENN GREENWALD: Right. So let me just give you two examples of just the corruption that's at play here. So, when the Post unveiled their huge story about Russia fake news based on this McCarthyite list that has been proven to be a fraud, they had Marty Baron, the executive editor, the widely respected executive editor of the paper, go onto Twitter and announce this huge exposé. And predictably, it got tweeted and retweeted and shared thousands and thousands of times by all of the biggest journalists with the biggest social media followings. When the story collapsed over the next two weeks and they appended this huge editor's note, The Washington Post did nothing to bring anyone's attention to the fact that the key claims of the story have been gutted. Marty Baron refused to answer any questions over that two weeks about what the paper did, and he uttered not one syllable on Twitter or anywhere else to tell all the followers that he alerted to this story that the story had collapsed.

With the story that I just talked about over the weekend of the -- of how Putin had wanted to steal the heat from Vermonters to make them suffer in the winter, Brent Staples, who works for The New York Times editorial page, went on Twitter and said, "Our friend Putin has invaded the US electric grid." And when that story collapsed and The Washington Post retracted it, he did something even worse: He just went and quietly deleted his tweet a day later, as though it never happened, and also failed to tell his 30,000 followers that what he had just told them the day before, that caused them to run around and share with all their friends on Facebook and Twitter that this has happened, was in fact a complete fiction.

And you see this over and over and over again. And remember, these are the people who keep saying that fake news is a huge problem, that Facebook has to suppress it. And yet it's America's leading journalistic outlets that are doing more to disseminate false and deceitful stories than Macedonian teenagers by a huge amount. And when they do it and it turns out that the stories are discredited, they take very little to no steps to alert the people that they've misled about the fact that the stories were false. And it's incredibly reckless journalistically. And these are the same people pretending to be crusaders against fake news, who are themselves disseminating it more aggressively than anyone else.

Pedophiles Run the Government

Pedophiles Run the Government and No One Gives a Damn - BFP Roundtable


Published by corbettreport on October 22, 2015

SHOW NOTES AND MP3: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=16682

Today on the BFP Roundtable James Corbett talks to Sibel Edmonds, Peter B. Collins and Wayne Madsen about the Hastert scandal and cover up, the history and context of this story, and the remarkable lack of public interest in the case.

Read more at:

Pedophiles, Perverts and Psychopaths in High Places Are Manipulating the Masses Through Mind Control

An estimated 800,000 children are reported missing every year.

January 23, 2017

Trumps Signs Order Withdrawing U.S. from TPP, a Deal That Would Have Greatly Benefitted Donors to the Obama Foundation, But Will He Renegotiate a NAFTA That Expands Protection for Corporate Interests?


Anti-TPP signs seen at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

Trump signs order withdrawing U.S. from Trans-Pacific trade deal

On November 21, 2016, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump released a video laying out actions he would take on his first day in office, including withdrawing the United States from a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Trump also said he would issue a rule cutting government regulations, direct the Labor Department to investigate abuses of visa programs, and cancel some restrictions on energy production, including shale oil and gas and coal. [Reuters]



Reuters - President Donald Trump signed an executive order formally withdrawing the United States from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal on Monday, following through on a promise from his campaign last year.

In an Oval Office ceremony, Trump also signed an order imposing a federal hiring freeze and a directive banning U.S. non-governmental organizations receive federal funding from providing abortions abroad.

Trump called the TPP order a "great thing for the American worker."

Barack Obama Readies for Final TPP Push, Which Could Benefit Donors to His Foundation

April 28, 2016

International Business Times - President Barack Obama last week renewed his push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, suggesting that it will be easier to pass the deal after the elections are over. The idea is that lawmakers will then be more insulated from political influence.

Yet Obama has his own potential incentives to push for the TPP: His presidential foundation has been relying on support from industries that could profit from the agreement.

For instance, the TPP offers potential benefits to the finance sector, including expanded access to capital and investment opportunities in emerging markets, as well as what critics say are provisions that could dilute financial regulation in the United States. The progressive advocacy group Public Citizen says the deal “would undermine bans on particularly risky financial products” and “restrict capital controls, an essential policy tool to counter destabilizing flows of speculative money.”

The same financial industry that could benefit from the TPP has forged deep ties to Obama’s foundation. The organization’s current president is J. Kevin Poorman, the CEO of investment firm PSP Capital Partners. PSP was founded by billionaire Penny Pritzker, daughter to a co-founder of Hyatt hotels, a longtime Obama ally and the current head of the U.S. Commerce Department.

Other members of the foundation’s leadership team include John Doerr of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers; Martin Nesbitt, co-founder of the private equity firm Vistria Group; John Rogers of the financial firm Ariel Investments; and Michael Sacks, chairman and CEO of the investment management firm GCM Grosvener.  

Doerr also serves on the board of directors for Google.

In addition to helping steer the Obama Foundation, Sacks has given it somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million.

The foundation also reports that it has received somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million from Mark Gallogly, founder of the investment firm Centerbridge Partners and a former senior managing director at the Blackstone Group. The same goes for James Simons, founder of the investment management firm Renaissance Technologies LLC. Hedge fund founder David Shaw, former UBS President Robert Wolf and Tim Collins, CEO of the private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings, have each given between $250,000 and $500,000. Nicholas Aleskos of the private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners has given up to $100,000.

Similarly, the TPP has been backed by the entertainment industry because of its stronger copyright protections. It has also been supported by producers of equipment for outdoor recreation, whose trade association said the deal’s lower tariffs represent “substantial commercial benefits for outdoor product manufacturers and retailers.”

Key figures in both of those industries are also major Obama Foundation donors: the foundation of director George Lucas recently donated between $500,000 and $1 million to the president’s foundation, and Tom Campion, the co-founder of outdoor retailer Zumiez, gave between $250,000 and $500,000.

Good government activists have been sounding the alarm about presidential library fundraising for years. In a 2013 NBC News article about the George W. Bush library, Sunlight Foundation policy counsel Daniel Schuman described library contributions as “the wild, wild West of influence.”

“Presidents often start raising money for these libraries while they’re still in office, usually two or three years before they leave office, and money can come from anywhere — from foreign governments, from foreign officials, from lobbyists, from anywhere,” he said.

Though few public officials will ever be in a position to launch a presidential library foundation, other politicians have nonprofits with similar disclosure rules and no limits on contributions. For example, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has the McCain Institute Foundation, which in 2014 received $1 million from the government of Saudi Arabia.

By law, the Obama Foundation is not required to disclose all of its donors.

The TPP Is Officially Dead. Thank the People's Movement, Not Trump.

January 23, 2017

CommonDreams.org - President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order withdrawing the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), marking a new phase for the broad movement that sought to kill the corporate-friendly trade deal.

Progressive groups campaigned hard against the 12-nation trade agreement which they said threatened public health, environmental protections, and human rights while handing a big win to corporate interests.
Indeed, digital rights group Fight for the Future was quick to credit that movement with Monday's victory.

"The victory against the TPP belongs to the people, not to Donald Trump or any other politician," said Fight for the Future campaign director Evan Greer.

"An unprecedented international movement of people and organizations from across the political spectrum came together, and lead nothing short of an uprising that stopped an outright corporate takeover of our democratic process," Greer continued. "Together we sounded the alarm and made the TPP so politically toxic that no presidential candidate who wanted to be elected could support it."

Both Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) made their opposition to the deal and others like it a cornerstone of their election platforms. And Sanders on Monday said he was "glad the [TPP] is dead and gone."

"Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multi-national corporations," Sanders said. "If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers then I would be delighted to work with him."

But Trump's record since he won the election—and since he was sworn into office on Friday—don't inspire a lot of confidence on that last count.

"Donald Trump's administration is profoundly anti-worker, and his decision to pull out of the Trans Pacific Partnership doesn't change that," said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC). "His administration is crammed with bankers and billionaires, and his first actions were to halt overtime pay rules and make it more expensive for middle-class families to buy homes. He may talk a big game, but his actions speak for themselves."

As such, the public must stay vigilant that any "new policy," as Sanders put it, will adhere to the goals of the movement that took down the TPP in the first place. Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, outlined some of those goals in a statement on Monday.

Trump's executive order "will bury the moldering corpse of a deal that couldn't gain majority support in Congress," Wallach said, "but the question is going forward: Will President Trump's new trade policies create American jobs and reduce our damaging trade deficit while raising wages and protecting the environment and public health not just here but also in trade partner nations?"

Noting that Trump has also vowed to renegotiate the Clinton-era North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Wallach warned: "NAFTA renegotiation could be an opportunity to create a new trade model that benefits more people, but if done wrong, it could increase job offshoring, push down wages, and expand the protections NAFTA provides to the corporate interests that shaped the original deal."

January 22, 2017

Clinton Foundation's Heavily Connected Donors Get Favors on a ‘Global Scale’; the Same Will Be True for Donors to the Obama Foundation



- When President Barack Obama asked Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to be his secretary of state in 2009, “everybody was concerned by the obvious fact that America’s chief diplomat, who charts our foreign policy with foreign governments … is taking all this foreign money” for her family’s foundation, says Peter Schweizer, author of “Clinton Cash.”

In this second exclusive video interview for The Daily Caller News Foundation, the best-selling author discusses the bipartisan scrutiny the Clintons got in January 2009 for taking foreign money for private gain.
So, when Hillary pledged extra disclosure and transparency to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — then chaired by John Kerry — the Obama White House, and government ethics officials, it now appears she just lied to them all, says Schweizer.

Schweizer finds it “mind-boggling” that Hillary lied to Obama. He set out the specific conditions for her being secretary of state so as not to impugn his administration’s integrity and campaign promises on transparency. Instead, she created “the impression in a way that Barack Obama was working for the Clintons, not the Clintons or Hillary was working for him.”

Today, Schweizer connects the dots in this captivating interview between his 2015 research, the revelation of Hillary’s controversial private server, the WikiLeaks and Judicial Watch emails, and her effort to destroy thousands of emails.

He believes Hillary’s private and hidden emails connect directly to the favors for Clinton cash.

“They needed to have a means of communication on a global scale that allowed them to talk about favors that donors wanted, to talk about favors that could be done for donors, to talk about the flow of money in a way that could not be detected by anyone else,” he says in this video interview.

Unless held to the same rules as others, he says, this pattern by public officials using their offices for private gain will repeat itself. He notes that Obama appears already poised to repeat the pattern with his own foundation, with the help of Marty Nesbitt, a Chicago businessman.

Schweizer says for-profit education is an example of an industry targeted by government policymakers. He discusses the value of “protection money” given to connected family and friends when the government starts picking winners and losers. Schweizer uses the examples of the University of Phoenix, Laureate International and ITT Tech, which was shuttered in September. Just recently, Judicial Watch exposed a favor done for Laureate International and other Clinton Foundation sponsors.

The Clinton machine has responded to Schweizer’s book and research by “attacking the messenger,” claiming they are doing what everybody else in government does, and saying there is no evidence of any “quid pro quo,” he explains.

http://dailycaller.com/2016/10/15/hillarys-emails-allowed-clinton-foundation-donors-to-get-favors-on-a-global-scale-video/

Rothschild Family Wealth is Five Times That of World’s Top 8 Billionaires Combined

January 20, 2017

Waking Times - A recent report by Oxfam International highlights the dramatic rise in income equality by noting that the combined wealth of the world’s top 8 individual billionaires is more than the lower half of the world’s population, some 3.6 billion people. The intention of the report was to bring awareness to the unfairness and injustice inherent in our global economic system.
“It calls for a fundamental change in the way we manage our economies so that they work for all people, and not just a fortunate few.” [Oxfam]
Listed below are the 8 billionaires along with their estimated wealth, which combined equals $426.2 billion.

Bill Gates – $75 b
Amancio Ortega – $67 b
Warren Buffett – $60.8 b
Carlos Slim Helu – $50 b
Jeff Bezos – $45.2 b
Mark Zuckerberg – $44.6 b
Larry Ellison – $43.6 b
Michael Bllomberg – $40 b

Oxfam’s assertion is that world economies are mismanaged in favor of the wealthy, which is largely true, however, the report failed to hit the mark on this serious issue by not acknowledging the greatest problem with the world’s economy, which is the global central banking model of privately owned debt-based fiat currencies.

The current banking model is the product of hundreds of years of planned development, structuring, manipulation, force and trickery which began in earnest with Mayer Amschel Rothschild, who first established banking and finance houses in Germany in the 18th century.

The careful cultivation of his wealth with the assistance of his five sons allowed Rothschild to profit immensely during the French Revolution by providing financing and war materials to Austria, which in turn allowed the budding family empire to evolve into a multi-national organization, henceforth becoming a major financier of industry and war.
“Around that time, Rothschild sent his five sons to live in the capital cities of various European countries. His goal was to have each of his children establish a banking business in Frankfurt, Naples, Vienna, Paris, and London, and throughout the 1800s, they did. With Mayer Rothschild’s children spread across Europe, the Rothschilds became the first bank to transcend borders. Lending to governments to finance war operations for the past several centuries provided ample opportunity to accumulate bonds and shore up additional wealth in a range of different industries.” [Source]
Fast forward to 2016, the Rothschild family is a dynasty of unimaginable wealth which manages to somehow conceal it for the most part, never quite being publicly credited as the richest and most influential family in the world. By dividing their capital and holdings up amongst the many members of the family, including numerous descendants and heirs, occasionally a single member of the family will appear on a list of the world’s top individuals, however, the family as a whole represents the largest fortune ever known.
“Traditionally, the Rothschild fortune is invested in closely held corporations. Most family members are employed by these corporations directly or invested in operations that generate family wealth. The remarkable success of the family has largely been due to a strong interest in cooperation, being entrepreneurs and the practice of shrewd business principles.” [Source]
Investopedia estimates the family’s total wealth at over $2 trillion in assets and holdings, including some of the world’s oldest living corporations:
“…their holdings span a number of diverse industries, including financial services, real estate, mining, energy and even charitable work.There are a few Rothschild-owned financial institutions still operating in Europe, including N M Rothschild & Sons Ltd in the United Kingdom, and Edmond de Rothschild Group in Switzerland. The family also owns more than a dozen wineries in North America, Europe, South America, South Africa and Australia.” [Source]
At $2 trillion plus, the family’s reported wealth is closing in on five times as much as the combined wealth of the world’s top 8 individual billionaires, meaning that the Rothschild family alone controls more wealth than perhaps three-fourths or more of the world’s total population.

Taxes, Chicago-Style

City Of Chicago Bag Tax - Goes In Effect February 1, 2017

Edtior's Note: This is not a price charged by the store for a bag but a tax applied by the city to each bag that a store uses to bag your purchases, which is payable to the city of Chicago.

To encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags, the City of Chicago is implementing a $.07 tax on each paper and plastic bag provided by stores to customers to carry out purchased items.  Businesses will start collecting the tax on February 1, 2017.

Some exemptions, include:

Paper and Plastic bags used to package loose bulk items, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy, cookies, or small hardware items or to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat or fish, whether prepackaged or not.

Bags Provided by a pharmacist to contain prescription drugs, dry cleaning, or garment bags and newspaper bags.

Bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage bags, pet waste bags or yard waste bags.

Bags provided by a dine-in or take-out restaurant to contain food or drink purchased by the restaurant's customers.

It is a good time to start the new habit now.  Take your bags to the store with you!

Paper and Plastic bags used to package loose bulk items, such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains, candy, cookies, or small hardware items or to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat or fish, whether prepackaged or not.

For more information, visit: https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fin/provdrs/tax_division/news/2016/december/NewCheckoutBagTax.html

Chicago property tax bill double whammy: Increases plus an assessment hike

August 1, 2016

January 20, 2017

Michelle Obama's Face During Trump's Inauguration



Establishment media like New York Magazine photoshopped photos of Michelle Obama at the inauguration. The photo on the right in the image above is from New York Magazine's article, "Michelle Obama’s Face Perfectly Sums Up How You’re Feeling Today"; the photo on the left is from indy100.com's article below.

michelle-obama-displeased-1.jpg

January 20, 2017

indy100.com - Today the exceedingly unlikely happened. Donald Trump was sworn into the highest office in America. He officially became the 45th president of the United States.

The ceremony went off without a hitch. There were no mistakes, no slip ups, everyone knew their place and what to do.

From the guests of honour, the Trump's and the Pence's - to the previous presidents, vice presidents and their families.

That, of course, included President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama.

It was their responsibility to greet the Trump's, join them at the capitol building for the ceremony and then depart for a well-earned rest.

Both were of course incredibly professional, however, it was clearly a difficult day for the pair of them.

This was most evident in Michelle's facial expressions - and they certainly didn't go unnoticed by viewers of the inauguration.

The two photos below are from an article at the Daily Mirror.





The following was posted by 

The Obama family seems to be having a great holiday in Hawaii. Recently, President Obama was spotted taking Sasha and Malia to Sea Life Park. See the pics inside...


Yesterday, President Obama took daughters Malia (13) and Sasha (10) and a few friends to Sea Life Park in Waimanalo, Hawaii.


The Obamas were joined by Mr. Obama's best friend Marty Nesbitt (in the yellow), his wife Anita Blanchard (in black) and their kids, including Alex and Roxanne



The following are photos of Obama with Martin Nesbitt and Obama with Anita Blanchard Nesbitt.




Malia Obama strongly resembles her father Marty Nesbitt and Sasha strongly resembles her mother Anita Blanchard Nesbitt.



















January 18, 2017

CBS News Ben Swann Does a "Reality Check" on Pizzagate



Is CBS is trying to rebuild viewer trust by creating controlled opposition?

Jamie Santos2 wrote at youtube:

There is an agenda here. Too many people are making phone calls to the authorities. Too many people are sharing these emails and videos. Alefantis is under investigation for threatening the life of Ryan O'Neil. This has gone viral on multiple platforms and is being censored on major social media platforms causing even more suspicion. YouTube and Reddit are actively participating in the spread of Child Pornography while censoring #Pizzagate Investigators. How in the hell does this make sense? It makes sense if these platform owners ARE involved or participating in child sex trafficking themselves.This is too big and too many are going to fall so they are publicly lynching Alefantis and the Podesta's. Just think of them as the "fall boys". Those in power think that we, the public, are so stupid that we will be satiated with the investigation of Alefantis and the Podesta's. They think that if these miscreants are found guilty and brought to justice that we, the stupid, will just resume our daily lives as nothing ever happened.They are wrong, though, in this matter. We want them ALL brought to justice. No matter if it collapses the entire rotten, filthy political and corporate system. Ben has no aurhority to report on anything his owners do not want aired. They are trying to bring the sheep back into the 'fold'.

More at the following links:

January 17, 2017

Obama Commutes Manning’s Sentence

Pfc. Manning was sentenced in August 2013 to 35 years in prison for leaking 750,000 pages of classified documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. A military judge convicted Manning in July 2013, sparing the former intelligence analyst from the most serious charge of aiding the enemy. The issue of Manning's gender identity repeatedly surfaced during the court-martial. An Army psychologist called by the defense said Manning appeared to be isolated and under intense pressure as a male soldier struggling with gender identity issues. Speaking during the sentencing phase of the court-martial, Manning said the decision to leak the documents came while "dealing with a lot of issues" -- a reference to the gender identity crisis. "I am Chelsea Manning." With those words, read from a statement on NBC's "Today" show, Bradley Manning immediately shifted public conversation away from the Army private's conviction on espionage charges to gender identity." As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me," Manning said in the statement. "I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition." [CNN]

January 17, 2017

Associated Press - President Obama has commuted the 35-year prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, paving the way for the Army intelligence analyst turned high-profile leaker to be freed on May 17, the White House announced Tuesday.

Manning was on a list of 209 commutations and 64 pardons released Tuesday, though they may not be Obama’s final acts of clemency before he leaves office at midday on Jan. 20. Edward Snowden’s name was not on the list.

Manning was convicted after leaking U.S. military incident logs and diplomatic cables, among other secret government documents, to WikiLeaks, in 2010.

In his final scheduled briefing for reporters, White House press secretary Josh Earnest described Manning and Snowden in starkly different terms.

“Chelsea Manning, as a member of the United States armed forces, went through a legal proceeding administered by the United States military under the laws that govern the conduct of members of the United States military, and there was a hearing and a conviction and a sentence,” Earnest said. “It all went through that regular process. And that’s the way we determine guilt or innocence in this country, particularly with regard to the conduct of men and women in our armed forces. And that’s the way that our system works.”

But Snowden “should return to the United States and face the serious crimes with which he’s been charged,” Earnest said. “He will, of course, be afforded the kind of due process that’s available to every American citizen who’s going through the criminal justice process. But the crimes that he’s accused of committing are serious. And we believe that he should return to the United States and face them rather than seeking refuge in the arms of an adversary of the United States that has their own strategic interests in disseminating information in a harmful way.”

Earlier this week, WikiLeaks said on Twitter that its founder, Julian Assange, would agree to be extradited to the United States if Obama granted clemency to Manning. He has been living in Ecuador’s embassy in London since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he has been accused of sexual assault.

The Obama administration has accused the Russian government of using WikiLeaks to influence the 2016 election. The organization published emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

January 12, 2017

Establishment Media in Collusion with the U.S. Government is Trying to Delegitimize the Trump Administration

“They’re trying to delegitimize the Trump administration as it goes into the White House,” Julian Assange said during an interview with Fox News's Sean Hannity.

January 11, 2017

ABC News - Explosive but unsubstantiated allegations suggesting Donald Trump was compromised by Russian agents and in league with Russian hackers appeared in a dossier given to the FBI in August by Democratic political operatives who later gave it to news organizations, including ABC News.

The document has circulated in the intelligence community and was reportedly raised last week during classified intelligence briefings to President Obama and President-elect Trump.

Trump and his aides expressed outrage yesterday that anyone would take the uncorroborated reports seriously.

“FAKE NEWS - A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!” Trump wrote on Twitter, in an apparent reference to the news reports.

On ABC News’ “Good Morning America,” Trump aide Kellyanne Conway slammed the allegations, saying, “Just to smear the president-elect of the United States, we now have intelligence officials divulging information that they are sworn not to divulge.”

“I don’t even think this is fake news, I think this is just fake. I would take the ‘news’ word right out of it,” she added.

Meanwhile, in Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has also been critical of the allegations, saying, “It’s an absolute spoof story. It’s absolute fabrication. It’s complete nonsense.”

January 9, 2017

Assange: Russian Government Not the Source of WikiLeaks Emails. "Our Source is Not a State Party"



January 2, 2017

THE HILL - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says there's an "obvious" reason the Obama administration has focused on Russia's alleged role in Democratic hacks leading up to Donald Trump's election.

“They’re trying to delegitimize the Trump administration as it goes into the White House,” Assange said during an interview with Fox News's Sean Hannity airing Tuesday night, according to a transcript of excerpts from the network.

“They are trying to say that President-elect Trump is not a legitimate president," Assange said during the interview, which was conducted at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been staying.

"Our publications had wide uptake by the American people. They’re all true,” Assange continued. “But that’s not the allegation that’s being presented by the Obama White House.”

Assange reiterated the group's denial that Russia was the source of the Democratic documents released over the summer.

“Our source is not a state party, so the answer for our interactions is no,” he said.

In December, Assange told Hannity that the documents the anti-secrecy group received looked “very much like they’re from the Russians” but said his source was not them.

When asked if he thought WikiLeaks influenced the 2016 election, Assange pointed to private comments from members of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign in documents published by the group.

“Did [WikiLeaks] change the outcome of the election? Who knows, it’s impossible to tell," Assange said.

"But if it did, the accusation is that the true statements of Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, John Podesta, and the DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz, their true statements is what changed the election.”



THE HILL - Toward the end of the campaign for president, WikiLeaks leaked many thousands of emails from the accounts of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, the chairman of the Clinton campaign.

Those emails presented a very unflattering picture of the inner workings of the Clinton campaign and the DNC.  
 
The Obama administration believes that the emails were originally hacked by agents of the Russian government to damage the Clinton campaign and enhance the chances of a Trump victory. President-elect Trump has been very skeptical of those claims, insisting that the administration and the intelligence community could be mistaken.

WikiLeaks is a self-described “multi-national media organization” that “specializes in the analysis and publication of large datasets of censored or otherwise restricted official materials[.]” 

Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, has been in self-imposed exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than four years, because the UK wants to extradite him to Sweden, where he is the subject of an investigation into alleged sexual assault.

Mr. Assange fears that Sweden might hand him over to the US, where he might be subject to prosecution relating to classified documents illegally taken from the U.S. Army and published in 2010 by WikiLeaks.

Recently, Mr. Assange gave an interview to Sean Hannity of Fox News; the interview has been airing this week. Mr. Hannity asked whether Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks could assure the American people “one thousand percent” that they “did not get [the leaked emails] from Russia or anybody associated with Russia?”

Mr. Assange gave what, on close examination, seems to be a very careful, well-rehearsed, and lawyerly answer to the question: “We can say, we have said repeatedly over the last two months, that our source is not the Russian government and it is not [a] state party.”

The Hill reported that, very soon after Assange gave this answer, President-elect Trump tweeted: “[Assange] said Russians did not give him the info.”

Other Republicans were unconvinced. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called Assange a “sycophant for Russia [who]…steals data and compromises national security.” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said that he has “a lot more faith in our intelligence officers” who blame Russia for the hacks “than I do in people like Julian Assange.”

There are two related, but nevertheless distinct, questions that should be considered here. Were the emails hacked by agents of the Russian government? Were the emails hacked and then leaked for the purpose of helping Trump defeat Clinton in the election?

In the course of his interview with Hannity, Assange asserts: “[T]here is one person in the world — and I think it’s actually only one — who knows exactly what is going on with our publications … And that’s me.”
It is impossible to believe that a man who has been confined to one small building in London for the last four years could know who hacked into servers in the US and stole thousands of emails that were then given to WikiLeaks.

We can safely assume that Assange did not obtain the leaked emails from someone who walked into the Ecuadorian embassy and handed him a memory device. And, even if that incredible event did occur, how could Assange know with “1000%” certainty where that person had obtained the documents?

The Ecuadorian embassy in London does not span the globe.

The CIA, on the other hand, does have agents all around the world. Certainly some of them are operating in Russia. It is much more likely, I submit, that the CIA would have accurate information regarding Russian involvement than would Mr. Assange.

But Mr. Trump insists that the Democratic Obama administration has a partisan interest in convincing Americans that Russia aided his campaign, so that his victory will be seen as illegitimate. One hopes the CIA is sufficiently independent of political influence to be free of that kind of bias.