GOP Lawmaker Devin Nunes Sparks New Battle Over Trump Spy Claim

.. Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), who is leading a congressional investigation into alleged Russian interference in U.S. elections, shared his information with the media and Mr. Trump before he gave it to other members of his committee. The move drew criticism from members of the committee in the House and Senate, and prompted the ranking Democrat on the panel to redouble his push for an independent investigator to take over the Russia probe.

.. Mr. Nunes, who offered little public evidence for his disclosures other than reports provided by sources he declined to name, said the surveillance of the incoming president’s team appeared to be due to what is called “incidental” collection, meaning that Trump transition officials whose information was intercepted weren’t the intended targets. He added it was “possible” the president himself had some of his communication intercepted, though he declined to elaborate on what sort of information the intelligence agencies collected and how it was collected.

 .. The disclosure by Mr. Nunes, a onetime senior adviser to Mr. Trump’s transition team, represented a possible political lifeline to Mr. Trump as he battled for credibility after Republican and Democratic lawmakers and law-enforcement officials debunked his Twitter claims that former President Barack Obama ordered he be wiretapped. Mr. Trump said Wednesday he felt “somewhat” vindicated, though Mr. Nunes’s comments offered no evidence to support Mr. Trump’s original claim.

.. With his extraordinary breach of protocol—sharing such information publicly—Mr. Nunes instead may have fractured a bipartisan effort by the House and Senate to investigate

.. “The chairman will need to decide whether he is the chairman of an independent investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House because he cannot do both,” said Mr. Schiff.
.. Mr. Nunes described himself as “alarmed” by the new revelations, specifically the fact that members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle were “unmasked” and named in classified U.S. intelligence reports.
..Still, Mr. Nunes’s disclosures didn’t prove that there was any surveillance authorized by Mr. Obama or his administration.

H.R. McMaster Isn’t a Bigot, Making Him An Outlier on Trump’s National Security Team

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, has no history of openly associating with bigotry. In fact, McMaster has throughout his career emphasized the need to work constructively with foreign Muslim populations.

.. the dramatic divide among Trump’s top foreign policy advisers. On one side are career military personnel who understand that antagonizing Muslims is both offensive to American values and damaging to the country’s security. On the other side are inexperienced, radical ethno-nationalists who shrug off international norms and believe that peaceful coexistence with the world’s Muslims is unlikely and undesirable.

.. McMaster has been a vocal proponent of protecting civilians in war zones and avoiding the “clash of civilizations” approach favored by Trump and his top advisers.

.. McMaster said that the United States must partner with people in Muslim-majority countries to defeat groups like the Islamic State, describing them as “the people who are suffering the most” from terrorism. McMaster added that to win such conflicts,U.S. forces must understand the history and social dynamics of the countries it is fighting in, as well as have “empathy for the people among whom these wars are fought.”

.. McMaster has also criticized agenda-driven D.C. think tanks and foreign policy seemingly driven by the weapons industry. In a 2015 speech at the University of South Florida, McMaster said that “the military-industrial complex may represent a greater threat to us than at any time in history.”

.. Mattis assured reporters during his recent meeting with Iraqi political and military leaders that, Trump’s frequent comments to the contrary, the United States would not try to seize Iraq’s oil. “I think all of us here in this room, all of us in America, have generally paid for our gas and oil all along, and I’m sure that we will continue to do that in the future,” he said. “We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil.”

.. Mattis believed that treating Iraqis with respect was essential to American security. He investigated abuses of prisoners in Iraq and helped stop the use of torture at one prison where an Iraqi in U.S. detention had died after being beaten.

.. Mattis believes that Israel’s continued military occupation of the Palestinians threatens American security and could lead to an apartheid-style situation. Asked about conflict with Iran during a 2016 interview, he replied, “It would be bloody awful, it would be a catastrophe if we have to have another war in the Middle East like that.”

White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon

.. He’s also a true believer in the idea that the United States cannot coexist with Islam.

.. “Islam is not a religion of peace. Islam is a religion of submission. Islam means submission,”

.. in a documentary he once pitched titled “Islamic States of America.” In that film, he imagined a future United States where all the major institutions of society were ominously controlled by Muslims.

Sebastian Gorka reports to Bannon and has emerged as one of the chief White House ideologues pushing for the United States to take a more forceful stance on Islam.

.. He is also an associate of notorious anti-Muslim conspiracist Frank Gaffney

Senior Adviser Stephen Miller belongs to a new generation of far-right activists who argue that Western civilization is under attack by uncontrolled immigration and the spread of radical Islam.

.. he put together events to promote a “Terrorism Awareness Project” aimed at exposing the threat of “Islamofascism” — a term created by far-right activist David Horowitz

.. “Gripped by complacency and the omnipresent force of political correctness, our nation has failed to educate our youth about the holy war being waged against us and what needs to be done to defeat the Jihadists that are waging this war,” Miller wrote

CIA Director Mike Pompeo was until recently a Republican congressman from Kansas partial to defending CIA officials who engaged in torture, calling them “patriots.”

.. He has also claimed that “Islamic leaders across America [are] potentially complicit” in terrorism because they supposedly don’t speak out against it, which is not true.

.. Pompeo tapped as his deputy director at the agency CIA staffer Gina Haspel, who ran a secret prison in Thailand as part of a network of “black sites” that enabled the agency to torture detainees.

Senior Adviser Jared Kushner

.. Trump recently put an end to the longstanding U.S. insistence on a two-state solution, reportedly keeping his own State Department in the dark on the decision until it was made. It was Kushner’s counsel — not that of senior U.S. diplomats or military staff — that was guiding him.

.. While U.S. policy has held for decades that settlements built deep into Palestinian territories are illegal, Kushner’s family has helped finance them. And he fired a staffer at the New York Observer, which he owned at the time, after the staffer began to write critically about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

The Republican Fausts

But if the last 10 days have made anything clear, it’s this: The Republican Fausts are in an untenable position. The deal they’ve struck with the devil comes at too high a price. It really will cost them their soul.

In the first place, the Trump administration is not a Republican administration; it is an ethnic nationalist administration. Trump insulted both parties equally in his Inaugural Address. The Bannonites are utterly crushing the Republican regulars when it comes to actual policy making.

.. Third, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the aroma of bigotry infuses the whole operation, and anybody who aligns too closely will end up sharing in the stench.

The administration could have simply tightened up the refugee review process and capped the refugee intake at 50,000, but instead went out of its way to insult Islam. The administration could have simply tightened up immigration procedures, but Trump went out of his way to pick a fight with all of Mexico.

Other Republicans have gone far out of their way to make sure the war on terrorism is not a war on Islam or on Arabs, but Trump has gone out of his way to ensure the opposite. The racial club is always there.

.. “Precisely because the problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better. It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him.

.. It will probably end in calamity — substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment.”

.. Already one sees John McCain and Lindsey Graham forming a bit of a Republican opposition. The other honorable senators will have to choose: Collins, Alexander, Portman, Corker, Cotton, Sasse and so on and so on.

.. With most administrations you can agree sometimes and disagree other times. But this one is a danger to the party and the nation in its existential nature.

Paul Ryan Defends Trump’s Travel Ban; ‘We Need to Pause’

House Speaker Paul Ryan said confusion over President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations was “regrettable” but defended it as in line with past congressional votes and consistent with a mandate to ensure the U.S. was kept safe from terrorists.

.. Mr. Ryan also defended Mr. Trump’s action as consistent with a previous House vote to put on hold a Syrian refugee program and a separate provision that Congress put into law in 2015 to impose new restrictions that ban certain groups from visa-free travel to the U.S.

.. In a statement, the White House said Ms. Yates “has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”

.. Mr. Ryan said he didn’t know what Mr. Trump’s order contained until it was released to the public. “We were briefed on it—the contents of it—as it was being rolled out,” he said.