MUELLER REMOVED TOP AGENT IN RUSSIA INQUIRY OVER POSSIBLE ANTI-TRUMP TEXTS
The special counsel, Robert Mueller III, removed a top FBI agent this summer from his investigation into Russian election meddling after the Justice Department’s inspector general began examining whether the agent had sent text messages that expressed anti-Trump political views.
The agent, Peter Strzok, is considered one of the most experienced and trusted FBI counterintelligence investigators. He helped lead the investigation into whether Hillary Clinton had mishandled classified information on her private email account, and then played a major role in the investigation into links between President Trump’s campaign and Russia. He was reassigned this summer from Mueller’s investigation to the FBI’s human resources department, where he has been stationed since, after the discovery of text messages in which Strzok and a colleague reacted to news events, like presidential debates, in ways that could appear critical of Trump. New York Times
, Wall Street Journal
TRUMP: FBI’S REPUTATION IS IN ‘TATTERS’
President Trump on Sunday unleashed an extraordinary assault on the nation’s top law enforcement agency, calling it a biased institution whose reputation for fairness was “in tatters.”
In a series of early-morning tweets, Mr. Trump said the FBI’s standing was now the “worst in history
.” The outburst came two days after his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition.
On Twitter and other platforms, former FBI Director James Comey, former Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., former acting Attorney Gen. Sally Yates, and others jumped to the FBI’s defense. New York Times
, Washington Post
Trump and obstruction of justice:
Another Trump tweet about why he fired Flynn is garnering attention -- with some calling it a possible admission of obstruction of justice. Trump tweeted Saturday: “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!” The White House later said that Trump’s attorney John Dowd had written the tweet. CNN
Dowd later told Axios that the tweet has no bearing on obstruction of justice because the “president cannot obstruct justice.” Dowd added that Trump “is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution's Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.” Axios
George Papadopoulos’ Late Night with the FBI
The Flynn Plea: A Quick and Dirty Analysis
NSA EMPLOYEE PLEADS GUILTY TO TAKING CLASSIFIED INFORMATION
A National Security Agency employee who worked at home without authorization on sensitive hacking tools pleaded guilty Friday to violating the Espionage Act — a security breach that the agency was tipped off to by Israeli cyberspies.
Federal prosecutors said they will seek an eight-year sentence for Nghia Hoang Pho, 67, of Ellicott City, Md., for willful detention of national defense information.
Pho’s case is noteworthy not only because it is one of several significant breaches at the NSA but also because he was using anti-virus software from a Russian firm on his computer — software the agency never deployed on its computers for fear it could enable Russian government spying. Washington Post
, New York Times
Guantanamo war court convenes:
A set of pre-trial hearings in the Sept.11 war crimes trial begins this week at Guantanamo. The agenda
includes several attorney-client privilege motions. NPR
, Miami Herald
Lawyers Ask Federal Judge to Clear Marine General of Contempt Charges
DEATH TOLL IN SOMALIA ATTACK SPIKES TO MORE THAN 500
The death toll in October’s massive truck bombing in Somalia’s capital has reached 512 people, according to the committee tasked with looking into the country’s worst-ever attack. Government officials had reported the death toll at 358 near the end of October. Nearly 70 people remain missing, and 295 still have injuries suffered in the attack, Abdullahi Mohamed Shirwac, the chairman of the 11-member government investigation committee, said in a press conference.
It was not immediately clear what caused the death toll to increase so significantly more than a month and a half after the deadly attack. There still has been no claim of responsibility. CNN
, Wall Street Journal
Kushner upbeat in first remarks on Middle East peace process:
Jared Kushner made his debut in front of the world of veteran diplomatic hagglers on Sunday with a polite, deferential and purposefully bland appearance at a Middle East conference that was designed to pay respect but little more. “We do think it’s achievable,” Kushner said of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Kushner made a point of praising past negotiators, saying he was building on their efforts, without offering any specifics for why the outcome now would be any different. Politico
, New York Times
Trump expected to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:
President Trump is expected Wednesday to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital -- something no president has done in the nearly 70 years since Israel’s founding. The announcement would amount to the not-quite fulfillment of a campaign promise to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a step for which many of Trump’s Jewish and evangelical supporters, and their allies in the Israeli right wing, have been clamoring. New York Times
Is Trump About to Blow Up Kushner’s Middle East Peacemaking?
How to Move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem
Forces loyal to former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh battled Iranian-backed Houthis for a fifth day on Sunday as their rebel alliance fighting in Yemen’s civil war unravelled. The fighting in Sana’a, the capital, has killed dozens of people and could reshape the Arab state’s nearly three-year conflict that has become a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Financial Times
CRITICS SAY DOMESTIC DEPLOYMENTS IN EUROPE TO GUARD AGAINST TERRORISM WEAKEN MILITARY FORCES
Domestic deployments to guard against terrorism are among the largest in Western Europe since World War II. Until recently, for instance, 40 percent of Belgium’s combat-ready soldiers were devoted to domestic guard duty. But critics say the years-long deployments at home are sapping the ability of these militaries to fight wars at a time when European militaries are being tapped to address an unusually wide range of challenges at once: a resurgent Russia, grinding conflicts in the Middle East, migration across the Mediterranean and smaller wartime deployments far from their borders. Washington Post
German Christmas market bomb was extortion plot:
A bomb found in the city of Potsdam on Friday was accompanied by a note demanding payment of a sum equivalent to millions of euros from postal company Deutsche Post AG’s DHL courier service, police said. Wall Street Journal