The claim that Britain's GCHQ spied on Trump for Obama apparently started with an ex-CIA analyst on RT
Last Thursday, the White House provoked a diplomatic spat with America's closest ally, Britain, when Press Secretary Sean Spicer reiterated a claim from Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano that Britain's GCHQ spy agency had wiretapped President Trump during the presidential campaign at the behest of former President Barack Obama. By Friday, Britain and the White House were sparring over whether the Trump administration had apologized for repeating the claim, and if so, how much, and Napolitano had pointed The New York Times to one of his "intelligence sources," Larry C. Johnson.
Johnson, who was a CIA analyst before leaving the government about 30 years ago, is perhaps most famous, The Times notes, for spreading "false rumors in 2008 that Michelle Obama had been videotaped using a slur against Caucasians." On CNN Sunday, he told Brian Stelter where his information had come from and said he was actually not "knowingly" a source for Napolitano, adding that the retired judge "didn't get it right, accurate either." "I'm not saying the British GCHQ was wiretapping Trump's tower," Johnson said. Napolitano "shouldn't have used the word 'wiretap.' I call it an 'information operation' that's been directed against President Trump."
Johnson explained that the day after Trump's tweets about Obama wiretapping him, he went on RT, the Kremlin-funded news channel, and talked about how "the British through GCHQ were passing information back-channel," then shared that on a discussion board for former intelligence operatives. "Apparently one of the individuals there shared that with Judge Napolitano," he said. "I don't know what his other sources are." Johnson said two people "who were in a position to know" told him about the back-channel communications, but "this was not done at the direction of Barack Obama — let's be clear about that."
— CNN (@CNN) March 19, 2017
Napolitano is reportedly standing by his claim, but Fox News anchor Shepard Smith noted tartly on Friday that "Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano's commentary" and "Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-president of the United States was surveilled at any time, any way. Full stop." Peter Weber
Shep Smith: "Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that POTUS was surveilled at any time in any way, full stop." pic.twitter.com/GxKSJJGD7D
— Axios (@axios) March 17, 2017
The approach of Subtropical Storm Alberto has prompted the governors of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi to declare states of emergency, warning residents and Memorial Day tourists of forthcoming heavy rain, high winds, storm surges, and flash flooding. "Remember, the track of these storms can change without notice," said Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R). "Do not think that only areas in the cone will be impacted."
Here are the key messages for #Alberto as of 5 am EDT. Tropical storm warnings are now in effect for the entire coast from Bonita Beach, Florida, to the Alabama-Mississippi border. More info at https://t.co/tW4KeGdBFb pic.twitter.com/oQitN8WQKF
— NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic) May 27, 2018
Alberto is expected to make landfall sometime Monday, gathering strength as it moves northward through the Caribbean and up the Gulf Coast. Hurricane season officially begins June 1, and experts are predicting a fairly normal year despite this head start. Bonnie Kristian
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is still very much committed to his maybe on-again summit with President Trump in Singapore on June 12, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Sunday. The two Korean leaders met Saturday for an unannounced discussion of how to keep the summit and inter-Korean relations on track after Trump's surprise Thursday cancellation of the scheduled negotiations.
Moon also reported Kim reaffirmed his promise to pursue "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." Kim's uncertainty, he said, "is not the will for denuclearization, but the concern that if [North Korea] denuclearizes, whether the U.S. can end hostile relations and guarantee the security of the [Kim] regime." Pyongyang has long cast its nuclear development as insurance against U.S.-orchestrated regime change, and in late April, Moon's government said Kim promised to denuclearize if the U.S. pledges not to invade.
The Trump administration on Friday announced it has made a deal to help a Chinese telecom, ZTE, shuttered by a U.S. Commerce Department export ban. ZTE obtains about one quarter of its manufacturing components from American businesses, and it suspended operations earlier this month after the administration imposed sanctions as a penalty for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea.
On Twitter Friday evening, Trump used the deal as an avenue to criticize Democrats:
Funny to watch the Democrats criticize Trade Deals being negotiated by me when they don’t even know what the deals are and when for 8 years the Obama Administration did NOTHING on trade except let other countries rip off the United States. Lost almost $800 Billion/year under “O”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 25, 2018
Senator Schumer and Obama Administration let phone company ZTE flourish with no security checks. I closed it down then let it reopen with high level security guarantees, change of management and board, must purchase U.S. parts and pay a $1.3 Billion fine. Dems do nothing....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 25, 2018
...but complain and obstruct. They made only bad deals (Iran) and their so-called Trade Deals are the laughing stock of the world!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 25, 2018
Trump's plan to get ZTE "back into business, fast," as he put it in an initial tweet on the subject earlier this month, has produced widespread confusion given his adversarial stance toward foreign manufacturers on the campaign trail. Some members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have suggested they may attempt to block the new arrangement on national security grounds. Bonnie Kristian
Exit polling and early vote counts indicate a majority of Irish voters have backed the repeal of their country's constitutional ban on abortion. Save the 8th, the campaign supporting retention of the amendment prohibiting abortion, conceded defeat Saturday after Friday's vote, calling the decision "a tragedy of historic proportions."
If the ban is lifted, the Irish Parliament is expected to pass a law legalizing abortion through the 12th week of pregnancy, with exceptions for later abortions if the mother's health is at risk or there is a diagnosis of fatal fetal abnormalities.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in gathered for a surprise meeting Saturday to discuss the fate of inter-Korean relations given the new uncertainty over Kim's proposed summit with President Trump.
The two-hour talks happened in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) bordering the two Koreas and focused on how to keep the Trump-Kim conversation on track. "We see it as fortunate that the embers of dialogue between North Korea and the United States weren't fully extinguished and are coming alive again," said Moon's office. "We are carefully watching the developments."
Trump said Thursday the June 12 summit in Singapore was canceled, only to indicate Friday it may be back on. "We are having very productive talks with North Korea about reinstating the Summit which, if it does happen, will likely remain in Singapore on the same date, June 12th., and, if necessary, will be extended beyond that date," he tweeted Friday evening. Saturday morning, Trump posted another tweet attacking The New York Times and claiming there is "ZERO disagreement within the Trump Administration as to how to deal with North Korea...and if there was, it wouldn't matter." Bonnie Kristian
A science teacher named Jason Seaman stopped a school shooting in his classroom at Noblesville West Middle School in Noblesville, Indiana, on Friday. A boy in the class asked to be excused, returning shortly with two handguns he begin firing in the room. Seaman threw a basketball he was holding at the shooter and then tackled and disarmed him, restraining the student despite being shot three times.
Seaman is "very brave. He's a hero today, and he did something that most people would never dare to do," said student and eyewitness Ethan Stonebraker, age 13. "If it wasn't for him ... a lot of us could have been hurt. He pretty much protected all of us and it's something that you couldn't ask more of."
Seaman and one injured student were hospitalized as the investigation into the attack continues. "I want to let everyone know that I was injured but am doing great," Seaman said in a statement through his wife. "To all the students, you are all wonderful and I thank you for your support. You are the reason I teach."
Police have yet to determine what motivated the shooter or where he obtained the weapons he used. The names of the shooter and the student he injured, a girl, have not been released. President Trump praised Seaman in a tweet Saturday morning, saying his "quick and automatic action is being talked about all over the world!" Bonnie Kristian
Trump tweets blame on Democrats for his administration's 'horrible' policy of separating migrant children from their parents
President Trump on Twitter Saturday morning suggested congressional Democrats are to blame for his administration's policy of separating children from their parents when the family has crossed the border illegally:
Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there parents once they cross the Border into the U.S. Catch and Release, Lottery and Chain must also go with it and we MUST continue building the WALL! DEMOCRATS ARE PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2018
The president's critique of the practice of breaking up migrant families is a complete reversal of his own administration's stance. "If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this month. "If you don't like that, then don't smuggle children over our border."
Trump's about-face may have been prompted by the outrage the practice has generated in recent days. Public anger was further fueled Friday and Saturday by new attention to a late April report that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is unable to say what happened to 1,475 of 7,635 migrant children it detained, placed with sponsors, and then checked on last fall. The sponsors are typically parents or other family members and are vetted by HHS before the placement is made, but the system is far from perfect: In one case in 2016, migrant minors were handed over to human traffickers running an egg farm.
The Obama administration, which deported more people than any previous presidency, separated some families after illegal border crossings, but more often it placed them, intact, in detention camps to await their court dates. Since the family separation plan was proposed last year, at least 700 children have been taken from their parents. Bonnie Kristian