Category Archives: Abuse of Office

Portland mayor tells Trump: Get your troops out of my city

Portland mayor tells Trump: Get your troops out of my city
By Andrew Selsky and Gillian Flaccus
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/portland-mayor-tells-trump-get-your-troops-out-of-my-city/ar-BB16Stz3?li=BBnb7Kz

Dicktater Wanna Be Donald J Trump finally pulling off his mask and revealing who he truly is.

The mayor of Portland, Ore., demanded Friday that President Donald Trump remove militarized federal agents he deployed to the city after some detained people on streets far from federal property they were sent to protect.

“Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said at a news conference.

Democratic Gov. Kate Brown said Trump is looking for a confrontation in the hopes of winning political points elsewhere. It also serves as a distraction from the coronavirus pandemic, which is causing spiking numbers of infections in Oregon and the nation.

Brown’s spokesman, Charles Boyle, said Friday that arresting people without probable cause is “extraordinarily concerning and a violation of their civil liberties and constitutional rights.”

The ACLU of Oregon said the federal agents appear to be violating citizens’ rights, which “should concern everyone in the United States.”

“Usually when we see people in unmarked cars forcibly grab someone off the street we call it kidnapping,” said Jann Carson, interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. “The actions of the militarized federal officers are flat-out unconstitutional and will not go unanswered.”

Police stand as protesters gather during a demonstration, Thursday, July 16, 2020 in Portland, Ore. Federal officers deployed tear gas and fired less-lethal rounds into a crowd of protesters late Thursday. The actions came just hours after the head of the Department of Homeland Security called the protesters “violent anarchists.” (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian via AP)

Federal officers have charged at least 13 people with crimes related to the protests so far, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Thursday. Some have been detained by the federal courthouse, which has been the scene of protests. But others were grabbed blocks away.

“This is part of the core media strategy out of Trump’s White House: to use federal troops to bolster his sagging polling data,” Wheeler said. “And it is an absolute abuse of federal law enforcement officials.”

One video showed two people in helmets and green camouflage with “police” patches grabbing a person on the sidewalk, handcuffing them and taking them into an unmarked vehicle.

“Who are you?” someone asks the pair, who do not respond. At least some of the federal officers belong to the Department of Homeland Security.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that its agents had information indicating the person in the video was suspected of assaulting federal agents or destroying federal property.

“Once CBP agents approached the suspect, a large and violent mob moved towards their location. For everyone’s safety, CBP agents quickly moved the suspect to a safer location,” the agency said. However, the video shows no mob.

In another case, Mark Pettibone, 29, said a minivan rolled up to him around 2 a.m. Wednesday and four or five people got out “looking like they were deployed to a Middle Eastern war.”

Pettibone told The Associated Press he got to his knees as the group approached. They dragged him into the van without identifying themselves or responding to his questions and pulled his beanie over his eyes so he couldn’t see, he said.

“I figured I was just going to disappear for an indefinite amount of time,” Pettibone said.

Pettibone said he was put into a cell and officers dumped the contents of his backpack, with one remarking: “Oh, this is a bunch of nothing.”

After he asked for a lawyer, Pettibone was allowed to leave.

“Authoritarian governments, not democratic republics, send unmarked authorities after protesters,” Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley said in a tweet.

U.S. Attorney Billy Williams in Portland said Friday he has requested the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General investigate the actions of DHS personnel.

In a letter Friday, Oregon’s two senators and two of its House members demanded that U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf immediately withdraw “these federal paramilitary forces from our state.”

The members of Congress also said they’ll be asking the DHS inspector general as well as the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate “the unrequested presence and violent actions of federal forces in Portland.”

“It’s painfully clear this administration is focused purely on escalating violence without answering my repeated requests for why this expeditionary force is in Portland and under what constitutional authority,” Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden said.

On Thursday night, federal officers deployed tear gas and fired non-lethal rounds into a crowd of protesters.

Wolf visited Portland on Thursday and called the demonstrators, who are protesting racism and police brutality, “violent anarchists.”

But this is not a group of violent anarchists huh Wolf?

Wolf blamed state and city authorities for not putting an end to the protests. But Portland police said Friday they wound up arresting 20 people overnight.

At least two protests occurred Thursday night, one near the federal courthouse and the other by a police station in another part of the city. Police told protesters to leave that site after announcing they heard some chanting about burning down the building. Protester Paul Frazier said Friday the chant was “much more rhetorical than an actual statement.”

Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell told reporters Friday that his officers are in contact with the federal agents, but that neither controls the others’ actions.

“We do communicate with federal officers for the purpose of situational awareness and deconfliction,” Lovell said. “We’re operating in a very, very close proximity to one another … so it’s important for us to know if they’re going to take some type of action and it’s important for them to know if we’re going to take some type of action.”

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon on Friday added the federal government to a lawsuit it filed earlier to halt the use of crowd control measures, including tear gas and rubber bullets, against journalists and legal observers at protests in Portland.

“The lawsuit is one of many the ACLU will be filing against federal authorities in Portland for their unconstitutional attacks on people protesting the police killing of George Floyd,” the group said.

Tensions have escalated in the past two weeks, particularly after an officer with the U.S. Marshals Service fired a less-lethal round at a protester’s head on July 11, critically injuring him.

The protests following the police killing of Floyd in Minneapolis have often devolved into violent clashes between smaller groups and the police. The unrest has caused deep divisions in a city that prides itself on its activism and progressive reputation.

If the Deep State is out to get Trump, why aren’t more officials speaking up like Bolton?

If the Deep State is out to get Trump, why aren’t more officials speaking up like Bolton?
Ken Dilanian and Carol E. Lee and Courtney Kube and Abigail Williams

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/if-the-deep-state-is-out-to-get-trump-why-arent-more-officials-speaking-up-like-bolton/ar-BB163G5u?li=BBnb7Kz

Donald Trump and his allies have continually railed about how the “Deep State” of unelected national security bureaucrats has quietly worked to undermine the Trump presidency.

But the new allegations in a book by former national security adviser John Bolton turn that formulation on its head. If Bolton is to be believed — Trump calls him a liar — plenty of career diplomats, soldiers and spies kept quiet as they watched Trump abuse his office.

In Bolton’s telling, members of the so-called Deep State, including senior intelligence and defense officials, knew about actions by Trump that were unethical if not illegal — and said nothing. That would mean the press, the public, and House impeachment investigators were kept in the dark.

The reason more insiders didn’t speak out are complex, according to a former senior national security official who served for years in the Trump administration and faced the choice on a near daily basis. But broadly, the official said, unelected national security bureaucrats tend to give great deference to the president’s policy choices, and the line between bad decisions and abuse of office is not a clear one.

“Sometimes you ask yourself: Is that malfeasance, or is that just something so dumb that you know it’s not going to happen?” said the former official.

The American system of government “has developed to give the president tremendous leeway to set policy,” said John Gans, author of a book about the White House National Security Council. “Those in the executive branch are expected to kind of nod their heads and say, ‘Okay.’ There really isn’t a whistleblower system at the White House.”

Officials senior enough to be in meetings with the president don’t tend to use formal whistleblower channels anyway. Such people have long deployed anonymous leaks to the news media to flag decisions or behavior they deemed problematic. During the Trump administration, many current and former government officials have anonymously recounted startling episodes to journalists and authors, such as Trump providing classified information to Russian officials in the Oval Office, or his calling military leaders “losers” in reference to the war in Afghanistan. Once-senior officials, including former chief of staff John Kelly and former Defense Secretary James Mattis, have recently publicly questioned the president’s fitness for office, though their decisions to do so came long after they departed.

But Bolton makes a very specific case, alleging a pattern of behavior by Trump to use his presidential power in foreign affairs to further his private interests — exactly the charges in an impeachment proceeding narrowly focused on Ukraine. Bolton says the pattern went well beyond one country.

During face-to-face meetings, Trump asked the Chinese president to help get him re-elected, Bolton writes, and promised the Turkish president that he would “take care of” a Justice Department investigation deemed harmful to Turkey when he could replace Obama-appointed prosecutors with “his people.” If those exchanges happened, Bolton could not have been the only official aware of them. (Trump and one of the officials present at the summit with Chinese President Xi JinPing, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, dispute Bolton’s account.)

Bolton says Trump was willing to waive penalties on a Chinese firm, ZTE, to help with trade talks that he believed would help him politically. He writes of briefing Attorney General William Barr on Trump’s “penchant to, in effect, give personal favors to dictators he liked.”

Trump hasn’t spoken to the specifics, but he has denied exploiting his office for personal gain.

Bolton also asserts that people across the government knew that the central premise of the impeachment case against Trump was true — that the president indeed had conditioned aid to Ukraine on that government’s willingness to do him a political favor by announcing an investigation into his opponent, an allegation of quid pro quo that Trump denies.

“I think Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo understood,” Bolton said this week to ABC News. “I think the Pentagon understood. I think the intelligence community understood. I think people in the White House understood.”

Yet in the end, only a handful of national security officials were willing to testify to that during impeachment proceedings. Only one — the whistleblower — came forward voluntarily, before the process began. Spokespersons for the CIA, Director of National Intelligence and State Department declined to comment.

In his book, Bolton faults House impeachment managers for failing to investigate Trump’s “ham-handed involvement in other matters — criminal and civil, international and domestic — that should not properly be subject to manipulation by a president for personal reasons (political, economic, or any other).” He calls that “impeachment malpractice.”

That criticism sidesteps the fact that the impeachment inquiry was kicked off when a lone junior CIA officer decided to file a written complaint to an inspector general about Trump’s alleged extortion of Ukraine. No similar whistleblowing efforts have come to light about Trump’s conduct with China or Turkey.

Bolton himself kept quiet for nearly two years, declining to testify in the impeachment hearing. He seeks to justify that by arguing that Democrats mishandled impeachment proceedings and that his testimony in the Senate wouldn’t have changed anything.

Critics are unconvinced.

“I think what Bolton did was shameful,” said Brian Katullis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. “He sat on this information for two years so he could write a book.”

If others besides Bolton are uncomfortable with what they have witnessed inside the Trump White House, why haven’t they come forward with specifics?

Look no further than what has happened to the few who have done so, experts say. Lawyers for the CIA whistleblower said publicly that he had to be protected by a security detail after the president and his Republican allies called him a traitor and a spy. Trump allies in Congress sought to put his name into the public record.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified against Trump during the impeachment hearings, was dismissed from his job at the White House, has found his promotion to full colonel in limbo as the Pentagon worries the White House will oppose it, two defense officials told NBC News.

“You see what happens to the people who speak up,” said the former senior national security official.

“This whistleblower followed the law every step of the way and look at what they got for it,” said Liz Hempowicz, director of public policy at the Project on Government Oversight, a good government advocacy group. Hempowicz says the already weak federal whistleblower system has disintegrated under Trump, noting that the board that rules on employee disputes with management has never had enough members to make such rulings during the Trump administration.

But even for those with courage enough to brave the personal repercussions, there often is another dilemma: Whether they can do more good by truth-telling or remaining in their jobs.

“Clearly people made calculations: Do you want to keep serving a president and keep our institutions intact? Or does behavior that’s so outlandish cause you to resign and report it?” said Marc Polymeropoulos, a retired CIA officer who served in senior agency roles during the first part of the Trump administration.

“There was a lot of angst about POTUS interactions with any head of state — foreign visits or phone calls,” he said.

CIA Director Gina Haspel, for one, is seen by former colleagues and Congressional observers as someone who is trying at all costs to remain at the helm of a powerful spy agency that she believes could suffer severe damage in the wrong hands.

“Thankfully, CIA has remained stable in this and that will be Gina’s legacy,” Polymeropoulos said.

Haspel was criticized for failing to speak out when Trump was bashing the CIA’s Ukraine whistleblower. But she appears to have helped defuse what has been an extremely contentious relationship between Trump and the intelligence community.

“Haspel has figured out how to not to p*** off the president and keep the agency from running off the rails,” added a Congressional aide who works on intelligence matters. “Everyone recognizes it’s a very difficult position she is in.”

Haspel’s general counsel made what she believed was a criminal referral after the CIA whistleblower brought his complaints to her, but the agency avoided becoming entangled in the impeachment proceedings. That’s in part because Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the intelligence committee chair who presided over impeachment in the House, believed it was important to keep the intelligence agencies away, as much as possible, from what turned into a vicious partisan battle, according to a person familiar with his thinking. He wanted to keep the focus on the president’s alleged abuse of office, the person said.

But if Bolton is correct that Trump broadly sought to leverage foreign policy for political gain, it’s hard to imagine the intelligence agency leaders did not become aware of it. They not only sit in high-level White House meetings — they spy on foreign officials who discuss what the American government is saying and doing.

“If the CIA learns of something that is an illegal act by a government official, it has an obligation to forward that information to the Department of Justice,” said former CIA Director John Brennan, an NBC News contributor. “If it’s an issue of ethics and appropriateness and one’s moral compass, then it’s more of a personal choice. Fortunately, as director, I never had to make this choice.”

It’s difficult from the outside to judge how senior officials are dealing with the turmoil inside the Trump administration, said John McLaughlin, a former deputy CIA director who served under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

“What you’re going to get when this administration is over is a tidal wave of memoirs, the theme of which will be, ‘You don’t know how much worse it would have been if I hadn’t been there,'” he said.

“The question is, at what point are you enabling it more so than preventing bad things from happening?”