Schiff: Nunes Trying to ‘Choke Off’ Public Access to Information


Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) on Friday accused House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) of running a “dead-of-night excursion” for documents on alleged NSA surveillance of Trump associates, keeping the rest of his committee members “in the dark.” Schiff, the ranking member of the intelligence committee, held a press conference an hour after Nunes, and additionally lamented that the chairman has planned to either cancel the second portion of an open committee hearing on alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election or move it to a closed session, effectively “choking off the public” from information the ranking member believes is in their “interest” to know. “We strongly object to the cancellation of this hearing,” Schiff said. “We would still urge the majority to reconsider. The witnesses have made it clear to us they are still available and we would urge that that hearing be allowed to go forward.”


Report: Peter King Leaked Classified Info During Hearing

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

If you weren’t privy to secret intelligence information, you definitely missed it, but according to The New Yorker, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) leaked classified information during Monday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing on alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election. Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza noted how during the hearing Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) asked FBI Director James Comey: “Wouldn’t it be a little preposterous to say that, historically, going back to Ronald Reagan and all that we know about maybe who the Russians would prefer, that somehow the Russians prefer Republicans over Democrats?” And then King followed up with a peculiarly phrased question: “I would just say on that because, again, we’re not going into the classified sections, that indicating that historically Russians have supported Republicans, and I know that language is there, to me puts somewhat of a cloud over the entire report.” According to two Democrats on the committee, Lizza reported, the conclusion that “historically Russians have supported Republicans” was in a classified portion of an intelligence report, and not in the portion made public. Asked about his leaking of that information, King told Lizza, “I have to watch myself. I think it was in the public report that came out, the unclassified report, that there was a finding in there that historically—so don’t quote me on this, O.K.? Because I’m not sure if this was the classified or the unclassified, but there was a conclusion that historically the Russians have favored Republicans.” In the past, Congressman King has repeatedly called for journalists who leak classified information to be prosecuted.


Pizzagate Gunman Pleads Guilty

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The North Carolina man who allegedly commandeered a pizza restaurant in December with an assault-style rifle to investigate the “Pizzagate” viral conspiracy theory has plead guilty to charges in the incident. Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, admitted to interstate transport of firearms and assault with a dangerous weapon. The conspiracy theory linked Hillary Clinton, falsely, to a child sex trafficking ring in the basement of Comet Ping Pong. The two charges each carry maximum sentences of 10 years in jail, but Welch's plea agreement set sentencing guidelines at 18-to-24 months for the first charge and a maximum of 60 months for the second.

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Nunes: Manafort Will Testify to Intel Committee

Carlo Allegri/Reuters

A lawyer for Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, reached out to the House Intelligence Committee to volunteer his testimony before the panel, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) said during a Friday press conference. Manafort has offered to be “voluntarily interviewed” by the committee, but whether it will happen in either an open or a closed session has not yet been determined, Nunes noted. “We thank Mr. Manafort for volunteering and encourage others with knowledge of these issues” to do the same. Manafort is a key part of the federal probe into Trump’s campaign team allegedly coordinating with Russian officials to interefere in the 2016 U.S. election. He made headlines this week for his former Russian clients and financial history in Ukraine. Federal investigators are in the middle of a separate investigation into Manafort’s banking history.


Trump Issues Permit for Keystone XL Pipeline

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The Trump administration on Friday issued a permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to be built, effectively reversing the previous White House’s decision to reject the plans two years ago. According to the Associated Press, the U.S. State Department, in reviewing the project plans, decided the pipeline would be in “the national interest,” despite numerous environmental and legal concerns surrounding the project. The White House said that President Trump will address the Keystone approval in a Friday announcement. “We greatly appreciate President Trump's administration for reviewing and approving this important initiative,” said the CEO of TransCanada, the company that received the permit. “We look forward to working with them as we continue to invest in and strengthen North America's energy infrastructure.” Even with an approved permit, the 1,700-mile pipeline still faces significant hurdles as portions of its planned route are being litigated at the state level.


Cops: London Terrorist Was Born Adrian Russell Ajao

© Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

Scotland Yard announced Friday that the terrorist they identified as Khalid Masood was born Adrian Russell Ajao. His mother was a white British Christian living in southeast England. Officials said Ajao changed his name and moved to the Birmingham area after becoming involved in crime in his teens. The death toll of his murderous rampage in Westminster rose to four overnight when a man named as Leslie Rhodes, 75, from South London succumbed to his injuries. Counterterror raids continued early Friday with two more arrests—bringing the total to nine—in association with Wednesday’s attack.


U.S.: Russia May Be Supplying Afghan Taliban

© Nasir Wakif / Reuters

The top U.S. general in Europe said he believes Moscow is aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan, NBC News reports.  During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday, Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said the Russian role in the country is growing in influence, if not directly in military supplies. Scaparrotti is also NATO’s supreme Allied commander in Europe. He said, “I’ve seen the influence of Russia of late—increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban.” The Kremlin on Friday dismissed the allegation as a “lie,” according to Russian state-run media outlet, citing Foreign Ministry officials who said  the allegation was nothing more than an attempt by Washington to cover up its own policy mistakes in the region. But Scaparrotti was not alone in his allegations: Gen. John Nicholson, who serves as the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, last month told the Senate committee that he believed Russia was trying to outright legitimize the Taliban through a false narrative that it was merely fighting ISIS. Nicholson said he had also received reports that the Kremlin was supporting the Taliban.


Hosni Mubarak Freed From Detention in Egypt

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was freed from a Cairo military hospital Friday, six years after he was ousted and detained on charges of human-rights abuses during his 30-year rule. The now-88-year-old was transferred to his mansion in a Cairo suburb. “He went home at 8:30 this morning,” said his lawyer. “I don’t have further details, but he is home and all is well now.” Mubarak was ousted in 2011 after an 18-day demonstration during the Arab Spring, and his release, for many, meant the final blow in the hope for his prosecution. For others, the time may have helped heal those dashed wishes. “At this point, I really don’t care,” said Ahmed Harara, an activist who lost his sight after he was shot during the demonstrations in 2011. “I realized years ago that this is not just about Mubarak and his regime—it’s an entire system that has now resurrected itself.”


Twitter Mulls Subscription-Based Version

Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Twitter Inc. on Thursday announced it is considering a premium version of its Tweetdeck interface, a move that could see the company charge subscription fees for the first time. Amid dwindling ad revenue in 2016, a company spokeswoman said Thursday that the social-media site had started a survey to assess “the interest in a new, more enhanced version of Tweetdeck.” “We regularly conduct user research to gather feedback about people’s Twitter experience and to better inform our product investment decisions, and we’re exploring several ways to make Tweetdeck even more valuable for professionals,” spokeswoman Brielle Villablanca said. Twitter users began posting what they described as screenshots of the survey, as well as a mock-up of the new interface. According to the images, a premium version of Tweetdeck would include breaking news alerts, new analytics, and information about the tweeting activity of an account’s followers. No mention was made of subscription fees for regular users, but a premium version of Tweetdeck would mark the first time the company collects subscription fees in its 11-year existence.


Census: Chicago Tops in Losing Residents

© Kamil Krzaczynski / Reuters

According to new Census data released Thursday, Chicago is losing more residents than any other metropolitan area in America. The South and Southwest regions  saw gains in the data, which tracked changes from July 2015 to July 2016. Dallas and Houston reported the biggest increases in metropolitan areas, adding more than 100,000 residents each. The Chicago area lost more than 19,500 residents in a year’s time. Families leaving the city cited the crime rate and city schools as motivations for leaving.