Authored by Vitality Katsenelson via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,
I’ve been asked about Bitcoin a lot lately. I haven’t written anything about it because I find myself in an uncomfortable place in agreeing with the mainstream media: It’s…
Authored by Vitality Katsenelson via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,
In what looks to be another embarrassing blow to the FBI’s (already dubious) credibility, Fox News reported Monday night that the senior DOJ official who was demoted last week after allegedly trying to conceal his contacts with the firm that compiled the infamous “Trump dossier” has deep ties to the firm through his wife.
As it turns out, Nellie Ohr, the wife of disgraced DOJ official Bruce Ohr, was employed at Fusion GPS last year. Her term of employment overlapped with the period when the Trump dossier was being compiled. Though Fox was unable to discern the exact nature of her role at the firm, its reporters discovered that she has done extensive research on Russia-related topics for think tanks based in the Washington, DC area.
Ohr is the second senior DOJ official involved in the DOJ’s probe into Trump’s Russia ties to be demoted this year for suspected bias pertaining to the investigation. The other official, Peter Strzok, allegedly exchanged text messages expressing anti-Trump sentiments with another DOJ official with whom he was having an affair. And as if that weren’t enough to signal a conflict of interest, Strzok, it was revealed, possibly saved then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton from prosecution by making a crucial change to the language in the now-infamous letter excusing Clinton for her suspected crimes. Specifically, Strzok changed language in Comey’s letter to “extremely careless” from the original language of “grossly negligent.”
House Republicans – led by Intel Committee Chair Devin Nunes – have spent the better part of this year investigating how the dossier – which is loaded with salacious and unverified claims about Trump – played into the DOJ’s decision to launch the probe that eventually morphed into the Mueller investigation.
A senior Justice Department official demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump “dossier” had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed, Fox News has confirmed: The official’s wife worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.
Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr’s duties – including whether she worked on the dossier – remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.
In a statement, Nunes said his committee “is looking into all facets of the connections between the Department of Justice and Fusion GPS, including Mr. Ohr,” which suggests that more details fleshing out the exact nature of his wife’s involvement with the dossier could be forthcoming in the near future.
While the DOJ has refused to release any information about Ohr’s role in the investigation, it’s notable that he was demoted shortly after Fox began asking questions about his dual responsibilities: Not only was Ohr responsible for supervising the DOJ’s organized-crime prosecutions, but he also held the position of deputy attorney general. That position came with an office on “Main Justice” – a floor in the DOJ building where many senior officials have their offices.
Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com
According to Fox, Ohr’s office was situated just a few doors down from Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, the official who is nominally in charge of supervising the Mueller probe. Rosenstein’s reluctance to provide information about the dossier to Nunes and his committee nearly led to him being subjected to a contempt of Congress order, along with FBI Director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee who has nevertheless insisted that the bureau’s agents have acted fairly and professionally in carrying out their investigation into Trump and his associates’ ties to Russian entities.
Until Dec. 6, when Fox News began making inquiries about him, Bruce Ohr held two titles at DOJ. He was, and remains, director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force; but his other job was far more senior. Mr. Ohr held the rank of associate deputy attorney general, a post that gave him an office four doors down from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The day before Fox News reported that Mr. Ohr held his secret meetings last year with the founder of Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson, and with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier, the Justice Department stripped Ohr of his deputy title and ousted him from his fourth floor office at the building that DOJ insiders call “Main Justice.”
The Department of Justice has provided no public explanation for Ohr’s demotion. Officials inside the Department have told Fox News his wearing of two hats was “unusual,” but also confirm Ohr had withheld his contacts with the Fusion GPS men from colleagues at the DOJ.
Nellie Ohr was described as a “Russia expert” at the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank where she was employed before joining Fusion.
A review of open source materials shows Mrs. Ohr was described as a Russia expert at the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank, when she worked there, briefly, a decade ago. The Center’s website said her project focused on the experiences of Russian farmers during Stalin’s collectivization program and following the invasion of Russia by Nazi forces in 1941. She has also reviewed a number of books about twentieth century Russia, including Reconstructing the State: Personal Networks and Elite Identity in Soviet Russia (2000), by Gerald Easter, a political scientist at Boston College, and Bertrand M. Patenaude’s The Big Show in Bololand: The American Relief Expedition to Soviet Russia in the Famine of 1921 (2002).
Unsurprisingly, Adam Schiff, the top-ranking Democrat on the committee refused to comment about Ohr specifically. Instead, he insinuated that Nunes was trying to deliberately discredit the DOJ, which, according to Schiff, did nothing wrong.
“I think there’s a hope that if they can impeach Christopher Steele, and they can impeach the FBI and DOJ, maybe they can impeach the whole Russia investigation,” Schiff told MSNBC in September.
Of course, nearly every shred of information pertaining to the dossier that’s been publicly revealed in recent months would appear to counter this claim. Back in September, it was revealed that the dossier was jointly financed by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Then it was revealed that Mueller had managed to interview Christopher Steele, the agent in charge of assembling the document. But apparently that interview did little to help the investigation verify its claims (if it had, we probably would’ve heard about it by now).
These revelations followed months of stonewalling by both the bureau and Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Steele, a former MI6 agent who worked in Russia for years.
All of this would seem to support the notion that the Mueller probe is hopelessly compromised, because many of the staffers who’ve worked on the investigation have anti-Trump leanings.
The only question now is: Will this be the final straw that prompts Trump to fire Mueller and put an end to his witch hunt. Though, as we pointed out, Mueller’s decision to secure a guilty plea from Michael Flynn might ultimately help salvage his investigation by providing much needed cover.
Regardless, one thing is clear: These repeated lapses in judgment have seriously damaged the bureau’s credibility, as Nunes and several of his Republican peers have suggested.
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White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders spit-roasted the MSM during Monday’s briefing – calling them out for recent #FakeNews, and suggesting that they were purposefully misleading th…
Authored by Ron Paul via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,
Last week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case stems from the refusal of Masterpiece Cakesho…
North Korea may have successfully bluffed its way into getting the US to stop holding massive army drills with South Korea’s army.
According to the FT, South Korea has politely asked the US to “delay” joint military exercises until after the Winter Ol…
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Brent crude oil prices were near 2015 highs on Tuesday after the closure of a major North Sea pipeline for repairs.
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“The pipeline…is a significant component underpinning the Brent benchmark.” Britain’s Forties oil pipeline, the country’s largest at a capacity of 450,000 barrels per day (bpd), shut down on Monday after cracks were revealed. “The market reaction shows that in a tight market, any supply issue will quickly …
The post Brent <b>crude</b> jumps above $65 for first time since 2015 after North Sea pipeline outage appeared first on crude-oil.news.
This week Doug Noland joins the podcast to discuss what he refers to as the “granddaddy of all bubbles”.
Noland, a 30-year market analyst and specialist in credit cycles, currently works at McAlvany Wealth Management and is well known for his prior 16-year stint helping manage the Prudent Bear Fund.
He certainly shares our views that prices in nearly every financial asset class have become remarkably distorted due to central bank intervention, first with Greenspan’s actions to backstop the markets in the late-1980’s, and more recently (and more egregiously) with the combined central banking cartel’s massive and sustained liquidity injections in the years following the Great Financial Crisis.
All of which has blown the biggest inter-connected set of asset price bubbles the world has ever seen.
Noland foresees tremendous losses as inevitable, as the central banks lose control of the monstrosity they have created:
This is the granddaddy of all bubbles. We are at the end a long cycle where the bubble has reached the heart of money and credit.
There will be no way out. We’re not going to get enough private credit growth to reflate things when this bubble bursts. It’s going to have to come from central bank credit; it’s going to have to come from sovereign debt.
When this bubble bursts, it will shock people how far the central banks will have to expand their balance sheet just to accommodate the deleveraging in the system. And they won’t really be able to add new liquidity to the market; they’re just going to allow the transfer of leveraged positions from the leveraged players onto the central bank balance sheets.
When you get to that point, when the market sees that transfer occurring, I predict there’s going to be fear of long-term financial instruments. We’ll see rising yields. That’s when things will become problematic.
There will be losses. Of this global bubble, I think European debt is about the most conspicuous. Sure, European junk debt is nuts, too. It currently trades at 2%. Why? Because the ECB is buying large amounts of corporate debt. The ECB has kept rates either at 0% or negative. The perception is that the ECB will keep those markets liquid.
But look at Italy. It’s rapidly approaching 135% in terms of government debt to GDP. That debt will not get paid back. But yet, the market is willing hold that debt at 1.7%. This is debt that has traded at over a 7% yield back in 2012. But here it is today at 1.7%. I mean, Europe is just grossly mispricing its huge debt market. The excesses that have unfolded in European debt across the board are just staggering.
So when we get to that point when the central banks begin aggressively expanding their balance sheets (again) but the bond markets are not happy about it, then the central banks will finally have to decide if they want to continue to inflate or if they’re going to focus on trying to keep market yields down. This will be a very, very difficult situation for central bankers when it unfolds.
Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Doug Noland (54m:31s).
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Britain’s Forties oil pipeline, the country’s largest at a capacity of 450,000 barrels per day (bpd), shut down on Monday after cracks were revealed. The pipeline carries significant amounts of the physical crude that underlies Brent futures. “The market reaction shows that in a tight market, any supply issue …
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House Republicans successfully managed to kick the can down the road (if only for two weeks) when they managed to pass a two-week extension last week of the continuing resolution that had been funding the government since September.
But after overcoming obstacles created by Democrats and conservative Republicans – with each camp pushing for priorities that were ultimately excluded from the extension bill – the White House and its allies in Congress will still need to figure out how to balance these demands if they want to successfully secure approval for the next funding bill by Dec. 22, the day the current extender bill requires.
Adding to the pressure on Congressional leaders, Republicans also need to work through what’s looking to be a difficult reconciliation process for the tax bill that President Donald Trump has vowed to pass before the end of the year.
With only four legislative sessions left on the official calendar (Congressional leaders reserve the right to delay the beginning of recess, something they will almost certainly need to do) the Hill has provided a quick rundown of five key issues that could possibly derail the spending bill – and finally usher in the shutdown that Trump believes could benefit the White House politically at the expense of Democrats, who are vying to take back the House and/or the Senate during next year’s midterm elections.
* * *
And the issues are…
Trump announced earlier this year that he was ending the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which grants work permits to undocumented young immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children.
Congress has just a few months left to save the program or come up with a new solution, with DACA recipients set to lose their status beginning in early March.
Many Democrats and even some Republicans like Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) have demanded that any spending legislation that stretches into 2018 shield so-called Dreamers from deportation.
They view the must-pass spending bills as their best shot at getting a DACA solution over the finish line.
“We will not leave here without a DACA fix,” Pelosi vowed Thursday.
But conservatives have put their foot down on the issue, saying that attaching any DACA deal to a continuing resolution would be a non-starter with the Republican conference.
GOP leaders in both chambers have made clear that they oppose linking DACA to government spending bills, setting up a potential showdown at the end of the month.
Republicans have in the past had to rely on Pelosi and the Democrats to pass stopgap funding bills, though the House passed the two-week spending bill this week without Democrats. However, Democratic support will still be needed in the Senate.
“A DACA solution will be a standalone solution,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, told reporters on Thursday. “If DACA gets attached to the spending bill, there will be major, major pushback.”
It’s all but certain that Congress will need to pass another continuing resolution (CR) on Dec. 22 in order to buy more time to write a massive, omnibus spending package.
But defense hawks and conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus worry that yet another short-term spending bill would be harmful for the military.
They are insisting that leadership boost money for the Pentagon before the end of the year – and have threatened to vote against another CR this year if that doesn’t happen.
One option being considered would be to move a legislative package that funds defense at higher levels through September alongside a short-term patch to fund the rest of the government at current levels through January.
It’s unclear whether Democrats would be willing to go along with the idea. Their support would be crucial in the Senate, where at least eight Democratic votes are needed to overcome a filibuster.
Democrats have traditionally insisted that any increase in defense spending above budget caps be paired with an increase in spending on domestic programs.
But House Republicans could just jam the Senate with the defense-first package and dare vulnerable Democrats like Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) to vote against a bill fully funding the military, especially with the escalating nuclear threat from North Korea hanging over their heads.
“Then they can go home and explain why they can’t fund the American military when the House did,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), an Appropriations cardinal.
Further complicating spending talks is the commitment that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) gave to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to help win her vote for the GOP tax reform bill.
McConnell pledged to support passage of two bipartisan ObamaCare fixes before the end of the year, which could be attached to a government funding bill.
But House conservatives say they oppose the measures seen as simply propping up ObamaCare.
To lock up the necessary Republican votes for the two-week CR this week, House GOP leadership promised that the next spending bill would not contain funding for ObamaCare cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, according to Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.).
“The three things that we’ve been told are not going to happen as part of our agreement: no CSRs, no DACA, no debt limit,” said Walker, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle want to provide more supplemental funding for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida, as well as for western areas devastated by wildfires.
The thinking is that disaster aid could be attached to the next CR, but members are still debating the price tag, according to Walker.
The White House last month requested another $44 billion in disaster aid, which would be the third infusion of cash to help with relief and recovery efforts.
But the funding request has been under fire from lawmakers who say it doesn’t go far enough to address the damage from the string of natural disasters.
And the White House has insisted that the latest disaster package be offset with cuts to non-defense federal programs, which could be problematic for Democrats.
Children’s health-care and the opioid crisis:
Democrats are also fighting for two health care priorities that could have bipartisan support: the renewal of a popular children’s health program and more money to combat the opioid crisis.
Many members are pushing to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which expired in September.
Republicans have said the issue could be attached to the next CR in an effort to sweeten the pot and attract more Democratic votes for the stopgap bill.
Democrats have also indicated that they want additional funding to fight the deadly opioid crisis in a larger spending deal.
Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency this year, but he stopped short of declaring it a national emergency — a designation that would have allocated new federal money toward the crisis.
It’s unclear, however, if additional dollars will come in a spending package.
“We’ve done a lot, put a lot of resources into combating opioids already,” the Senate’s No. 3 Republican, Sen. John Thune (S.D.), said earlier this month. “If they’ve got a proposal, I’m sure we would take a look at it, but I don’t know that that’s at least on the agenda at the moment.”
* * *
As the Trump administration continues to get its legislative bearings after Trump’s hectic first year in office (a year in which he accomplished many of the priorities that he set out during the campaign, including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, rolling back financial regulation and defanging some of the EPA’s most stifling regulations), the president has wasted no time setting out his next major priority: The $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan to help rebuild America’s crumbling roads and bridges.
The Wall Street Journal revealed still more details of the plan, which helped flatten the yield curve last week after Trump revealed that he intends to push ahead on one of his most crucial, yet long-delayed, promises.
While some in Congress might balk at still more deficit-expanding spending, polls show that a majority of Americans – even those who loathe the president – support this aspect of his agenda.
Recent polling showed that 52% of voters who supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 back an infrastructure program, according to the survey. Some 53% of white male respondents in states won by Clinton support an infrastructure initiative, as well as 51% of voters who say they disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president.
All of which begs the question: Will this be the issue that finally forces red-state Democrats to break with the “Chuck and Nancy” enforced plan for mass obstruction and throw their support behind the president’s agenda?
After all, their political futures may depend on it.
The post These Are The Top 5 Legislative Issues That Could Force The Next Government Shutdown appeared first on crude-oil.news.