FBI hands House GOP thousands of documents on Russia probe

GettyImages-545129710.jpg

The move appears poised to thaw a pitched confrontation between Republican lawmakers and the Justice Department. | Getty

The FBI turned over thousands of documents to Congress this week, including details about its use of informants to glean information on Russian contacts with President Donald Trump’s campaign, according to letters the bureau sent to three GOP committee chairmen on Friday.

The documents provided this week include details about some of the FBI’s most sensitive programs, including a file on the FBI’s justification to obtain a court-authorized warrant to spy on a former Trump campaign aide in October 2016.

Story Continued Below

The move appears poised to thaw a pitched confrontation between Republican lawmakers and the Justice Department, though Speaker Paul Ryan’s office said there are a few “outstanding items” that require more time. One FBI letter responded to document requests by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) made in August 2017, as well as in March and April. The other was to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and House Overisght Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who issued an extensive subpoena for records in March.

Files continued to arrive on Capitol Hill as late as Friday, according to the bureau, when the FBI submitted a classified letter to the House Intelligence Committee detailing whether the FBI relied on informants on Russian meddling prior to the official opening of its investigation.

Also on Friday, the FBI turned over more than 1,400 pages of documents to the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees relating to senior FBI or Justice Department officials’ requests to review or manage surveillance records that either involve or mention the Trump campaign or Trump administration.

The documents, for now, appear to have cooled tensions between the FBI and Republican House leaders, who had threatened to hold senior officials in contempt of Congress if they failed to quickly turn over more information. Ryan got involved in the growing conflict last week, and his office indicated that the negotiations had been productive — if not complete. Nunes, Goodlatte and Gowdy have decried stonewalling by the agency, though FBI officials had insisted they were working expeditiously to meet unprecedented demands for information.

“Our efforts have resulted in the committees finally getting access to information that was sought months ago, but some important requests remain to be completed,” said AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Speaker Paul Ryan, who got involved . “Additional time has been requested for the outstanding items, and based on our understanding of the process we believe that request is reasonable.”

Among the outstanding items is a request from Nunes for documents related to the so-called Steele Dossier — a collection of memos compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele describing an illicit conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign to help Trump get elected. Trump has called the dossier a fiction, and Republicans seized on evidence that Steele’s work was financed indirectly by the campaign of his political rival Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.

In its letters — signed by acting Assistant Director Jill Tyson — the FBI said it is still combing through as many as 65,000 “Top Secret” internal emails to find information about how the Steele Dossier was used to obtain surveillance warrants.

Tyson noted that the FBI’s Science and Technology Branch had developed a specific search tool to sift through these Top Secret communications to meet the congressional demands.

“To accomplish this production, the FBI has shifted resources from other Congressional production projects and is adding staff to further expedite review and processing,” she write. “FBI staff will be working through the weekend to keep the production moving forward.”

One request, though, the FBI has passed on to the office of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats: a demand for transcripts of summaries of FBI informants’ conversations with officials on the Trump campaign.

One informant’s identity was recently made public in reports: Stefan Halper, a University of Cambridge scholar and veteran of three presidential administrations. Halper made contact with Trump campaign officials in the summer of 2016 and into 2017. Trump has slammed the existence of confidential informants, claiming without evidence that his political opponents had implanted a “spy” in his campaign.

The FBI, according to its letter to the Oversight and Judiciary Committees, is also working on a classified letter to detail any communications about its use of surveillance “on the Clinton Foundation or personas associated or in communication with the Clinton Foundation. Tyson said the request has proved “difficult to address” and wants to confer with the committees for more details about the information they are seeking.

Democrats have raised increasingly pitched concerns about the intrusiveness of GOP requests. Republicans have argued that their demands for information are part of a constitutional responsibility to oversee the FBI and Justice Department, but Democrats and some FBI defenders say their efforts appear aimed at providing fodder for Trump to defend against the ongoing investigation of his campaign’s contacts with Kremlin-linked individuals. That probe is now being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

//www.politico.com

Sanders says she was kicked out of restaurant because she works for Trump

 Sarah Huckabee Sanders is pictured. | Getty Images

“Her actions say far more about her than about me,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrote of the owner of the restaurant. | Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Saturday that she was kicked out of a Virginia restaurant on Friday evening simply because she works for President Donald Trump.

“Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left,” Sanders wrote on her official press secretary Twitter account. “Her actions say far more about her than about me.”

Story Continued Below

Though the particulars of the incident could not be immediately confirmed, the tweet qualified as an uncommonly specific attack from an official White House account on a private business.

Owners of the Red Hen, which is located about 180 miles southwest of D.C., did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, on Friday night, Jaike Foley-Schultz, who described himself as a waiter at the Red Hen in Lexington, wrote on Facebook that he had just just served Sanders before she was asked to leave. Sanders did not mention family members in the her account of the episode, but the post would seem to match what the press secretary tweeted Saturday.

“I just served Sarah huckabee sanders [sic] for a total of 2 minutes before my owner asked her to leave and she complied,” Foley-Schultz wrote. “Her family left on their own accord, we didn’t actually refuse service or ‘kick her out.'”

Sanders would not have been the first member of the Trump administration to experience grief in public for their work.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s dinner at MXDC, a Mexican restaurant in Washington, was interrupted by protesters from the Democratic Socialists of America on Tuesday, who shouted at her “shame” and “If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace.” Other demonstrators chanted outside her Virginia townhouse on Friday morning. In both instances, Nielsen was singled out for her defense of the administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy that resulted in the separations of some migrant families.

Sanders’ predecessor, Sean Spicer, was confronted at an Apple store in the D.C. area in March 2017 by a woman who asked him: “How does it feel to work for a fascist?” Other Trump staffers told POLITICO Magazine that they are sometimes the object of obscene gestures when leaving the White House grounds.

In her statement about being asked to leave from Red Hen in Lexington — which is not affiliated with the D.C. establishment of the same name — Sanders stressed that she always does her best to treat people she disagrees with respectfully.

“I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so,” she wrote on Twitter.

However, Sanders has trashed reporters to their faces during the White House press briefings that are often aired on national television. For instance, during a back and forth with Jim Acosta on June 14, Sanders chided the veteran CNN reporter for pressing her on comments Attorney General Jeff Sessions made about the Bible and family separations.

“I know it’s hard for you to understand even short sentences, I guess, but please don’t take my words out of context,” Sanders said.

//www.politico.com

Sarah Sanders response to being kicked out of restaurant: Owner’s actions ‘say far more about her than about me’

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Saturday responded to being kicked out of a Virginia restaurant after a server’s post about the incident went viral.

Sanders confirmed the incident in a tweet, and said that she always treats those she disagrees with “respectfully.”

“Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for [President TrumpDonald John TrumpTom Arnold claims to have unreleased ‘tapes’ of Trump Cohen distances himself from Tom Arnold, says they did not discuss Trump US military indefinitely suspends two training exercises with South Korea MORE] and I politely left,” Sanders tweeted. “Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”

Jaike Foley-Schultz, a waiter at the restaurant, posted on Facebook that he served Sanders and her family “for a total of 2 minutes” before the owner asked the press secretary’s party to leave.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump critics and supporters alike took to the restaurant’s Facebook and Yelp pages to leave one- or five-star reviews responding to the incident.

“If you are a whining liberal feel free to eat here, if you are a TRUE AMERICAN stay away,” one Facebook user wrote.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a five-star Yelp review read: “The best. I’ve heard that they serve crow to those deserving of it.”

Sanders is the third Trump administration official to be recently targeted at a restaurant, in addition to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTrump rips media for not covering ‘permanent separations’ by undocumented immigrants Rubio heckled by protestors outside immigration detention facility MSNBC’s Ruhle fires back at ‘Fox & Friends’ over ‘propaganda’ about migrant children MORE and White House senior adviser Stephen Miller. 

//thehill.com

Katie Arrington hospitalized after serious car accident

Katie Arrington is pictured. | AP Photo

South Carolina Rep. Katie Arrington is pictured getting ready to vote on June 12 at Bethany United Methodist Church in Summerville, S.C. | Kathryn Ziesig/The Post And Courier via AP

South Carolina state Sen. Katie Arrington was described as alert and talking after sustaining serious injuries in a car accident Friday night that left one person dead, according to the Post and Courier. The GOP congressional nominee was listed in serious condition at Medical University Hospital in Charleston.

Arrington, who nearly two weeks ago defeated Rep. Mark Sanford in the state’s 1st Congressional District Republican primary, was a passenger in a car that was struck by another vehicle that was heading the wrong direction toward Hilton Head Island on U.S. Highway 17, according to the Charleston newspaper. The driver of the other car, who has not yet been identified, was killed.

Story Continued Below

A spokesman for Arrington told the newspaper that she broke several ribs and fractured her back in the accident and sustained additional injuries that will require major surgery, including the removal of her small intestine and a portion of her colon. The main artery in Arrington’s legs has a partial collapse and will require a stint. She is expected to remain hospitalized for the next two weeks.

In a series of messages posted from her Twitter account, her campaign asked for prayers for the deceased driver and for Arrington’s speedy recovery.

“As we all know, Katie Arrington is an extremely strong woman and has tremendous faith and an incredibly supportive family,” one of the tweets reads.

“And it is from her strong faith, the support of her family, the prayers and support of our community, and the incredible doctors and staff at the hospital that she is certain she will be back to work for our state soon.”

The other person in Arrington’s car was identified as Jacqueline Goff from Louisiana. Her condition was not specified in the newspaper report.

//www.politico.com

GOP candidate who beat Sanford seriously injured in car accident

GOP candidate Katie Arrington, who defeated incumbent Rep. Mark SanfordMarshall (Mark) Clement SanfordTrump tweet may doom House GOP effort on immigration Sanford: GOP does ‘not need to be subservient’ to Trump GOP rep refutes Trump’s account of Sanford attacks: ‘People were disgusted’ MORE (R-S.C.) in her district’s primary last week, was seriously injured in a two-car accident on Friday night.

Arrington’s campaign consultant Michael Mule told The Post and Courier this morning that the candidate is out of surgery and recovering. She will undergo another surgery today and her hospital stay is expected to last two weeks, according to the paper.  

Arrington was reportedly on her way to Hilton Head, S.C., where she was scheduled to receive an award from a state medical organization, when her vehicle was struck by another car driving in the wrong lane. The driver in the other car was killed, according to the report.

ADVERTISEMENT

Arrington reportedly sustained injuries to her back, broke several ribs and will have to undergo major surgery that includes the removal of a portion of her small intestine.

Arrington’s Democratic opponent in the general election, Joe Cunningham, said his campaign is suspending all activities until further notice in light of the accident.

“Just hearing about the terrible accident that occurred overnight involving Katie Arrington,” he tweeted early Saturday morning. “Amanda and I are lifting her and her family up in prayer right now. Please join us.”

“As we all know, Katie Arrington is an extremely strong woman and has tremendous faith and an incredibly supportive family,” her campaign tweeted. “And it is from her strong faith, the support of her family, the prayers and support of our community, and the incredible doctors and staff at the hospital that she is certain she will be back to work for our state soon.”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTom Arnold claims to have unreleased ‘tapes’ of Trump Cohen distances himself from Tom Arnold, says they did not discuss Trump US military indefinitely suspends two training exercises with South Korea MORE tweeted Saturday that his “thoughts and prayers” are with Arrington during her recovery.

Trump tweeted his support for Arrington two weeks ago, a move he said boosted her over her primary opponent and vocal Trump critic Sanford. Arrington, who is a pro-Trump South Carolina state representative, took just over half the GOP primary vote in a surprising upset. Sanford was the second House member to lose a primary in 2018, following Rep. Robert PittengerRobert Miller PittengerElection Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | ‘Dumpster fire’ ad goes viral Hillicon Valley: Deal reached on ZTE, but lawmakers look to block it | New encryption bill | Dems push Ryan for net neutrality vote | Google vows it won’t use AI for weapons Lawmakers scrutinize Google, Twitter’s relationship with Chinese phone makers MORE (R-N.C.)

The Hill reached out to Arrington’s campaign for comment.

-Updated 10:56 a.m.

//thehill.com