Reader’s links for May 17 – 2017

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In order to preserve the flow of conversation about various posted items, and also in order to make it easier for visitors to find the list of related links being shared by other readers, regulars and interested parties in one place, each day a post is automatically created at a minute past midnight ET.

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Thank you all for those that take the effort to assist this site in keeping the public informed. Below, typically people can find the latest enemy propaganda, news items of related materials from multiple countries and languages, op-eds from many excellent sites who write on our topics, geopolitics and immigration issues and so on.

About Eeyore

Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

69 Replies to “Reader’s links for May 17 – 2017”

  1. Indonesia’s Aceh: Two gay men sentenced to 85 lashes (BBC, May 17, 2017)

    “A Sharia court in Indonesia’s Aceh province has sentenced two men to be caned in public for having gay sex.

    The men were found guilty of violating strict Islamic laws in conservative Aceh and will receive 85 lashes each.

    The pair, aged 20 and 23, were found in bed together by vigilantes in March. They have not been identified.

    This is Indonesia’s first conviction for homosexuality, which is not illegal in the rest of the country. Aceh is the only province where Sharia is in force.

    Public caning sentences have been handed down previously for gambling and drinking alcohol…”

  2. 300 migrants in Sweden evacuated after 3 arson fires (abcnews, May 17, 2017)

    “Swedish authorities say three fires at refugee centers in southern Sweden are being investigated as arson.

    No injuries have been reported and no arrests have been made. But police said in separate statement that more than 300 asylum-seekers have been evacuated after Wednesday’s pre-dawn fires in Vaxjo, Borrby and Malilla. About 200 of them were relocated to a nursing home in Vaxjo.

    The affected buildings were used as a temporary home for refugees while their cases are being processed.

    Sweden, which had a record 163,000 asylum applications in 2015, saw an increase in anti-migrant attitudes last year with a number of arson fires targeting refugee centers.”

    • I’d hate to think that anti-immigrant arsonists were finally narrowing things down as to which sort of dormitory structures were most flammable.

      Perish the thought!!!

  3. Gunmen storm media compound in eastern Afghanistan (abcnews, May 17, 2017)

    “Gunmen stormed the local headquarters of Afghanistan’s state media in the eastern Nangarhar province on Wednesday, setting off clashes that wounded at least 14 people and are still underway, with at least one attacker killed, officials said.

    Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said the attack began with an explosion, followed by a gun battle with Afghan security forces. Inhamullah Miakhial, a spokesman for the provincial hospital in Nangarhar, said it has received 14 wounded people.

    Pashtun Khan, an officer in the Nangarhar police chief’s office, confirmed the battle was underway near the state-run radio and television building in the provincial capital, Jalalabad, saying at least one attacker had been shot and killed.

    The state media building is close to the governor’s compound and a police station.

    It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack. Both the Taliban and an Islamic State affiliate are active in Nangarhar, a mountainous province that borders Pakistan.

    Elsewhere in Afghanistan, three civilians were killed in separate bomb blasts, according to officials…”

  4. Austria approves burka ban and mandatory language lessons for migrants (express, May 17, 2017)

    “AUSTRIA has approved a series of measures aimed at integrating migrants, including a ban on the burka and the introduction of mandatory language lessons.

    The country’s parliament last night rubber-stamped the measures, which will be introduced from October.

    The controversial ‘burka ban’ was one of those approved, with residents now blocked from wearing full-face coverings in public.

    If they break this new rule they face a fine of some €150 (£128).

    Migrants will also be forced to undertake a one-year integration course including focus on the German language.

    They will also be encouraged, but not forced, to carry out unpaid charity work while preparing to enter the country. This was suggested in order to prepare arrivals for a working life.

    The hard-right Freedom Party opposed the measures, stating they did not go far enough, while the Greens said they were over the top…”

  5. Is this the most harrowing drama ever shown on the BBC? Horrified viewers are forced to switch off Rochdale child abuse series Three Girls – while others say it should be screened in SCHOOLS (dailymail, May 17, 2017)

    “A dramatisation of the Rochdale abuse scandal divided viewers on Tuesday night, as some switched off while others said it should be shown in schools.

    Three Girls is a three-part BBC drama telling the true story of the widespread grooming and sexual assault of girls in Rochdale by a gang of Asian men, which was revealed in 2012.

    Maxine Peake stars as Sara Rowbotham, a sexual health worker who blew the whistle on the scandal.

    But the first episode divided the five million viewers who tuned in and saw brutal scenes of teenage girls being beaten and raped.

    The drama’s three young girls are a combination of stories from the girls who gave evidence that led to the conviction of the men, but false names have been used.

    The show was created with consent and stories from three girls who are survivors of the abuse…”

  6. But of course there was no indication that the rapists were Pakistani mooslims or other followers of the Prophet Moe.

    I imagine the groomers were all blue eyed, fair haired Englishman with nary an Asian among them.

    • The James Comey memo is a smokescreen, it was released shortly after the info about Seth Rich started coming out, this is an effort to draw peoples attention from the Democrat ordered murder.

      • Some interesting points were made on the Rush Limbaugh show today regarding Comey and his ‘memo’. Good lawyers typically make notes/memos about meetings, so the fact that Comey made a memo of his January meeting with Trump does not surprise. Since Comey practiced his trade by keeping records of his meetings, perhaps an examination of his memos/notes taken during his tenure under the Obama administrations could prove fruitful as well.
        However, Comey was fired recently. Does he possess his notes/memos after being fired? Isn’t that a bit unusual given the circumstances of his firing? If Comey didn’t provide the contents of the memo to the press – then who had authority and access to his notes/memo to leak to the press?

        • You are right, but what I was talking about is the timing, Everyone is talking about Trump and the Comey memo and no longer talking about Seth Rich. When this turns out to be another Fake News story the Seth Rich info will be passed off as old news.

  7. BREITBART – Neal Katyal at 9th Circuit: If Trump Says ‘Islam Is Peace’ He Can Have a Travel Ban

    Neal Katyal made oral arguments for maintaining the injunction against President Donald Trump’s executive order banning migrants from certain Muslim-majority countries Monday before the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
    “He could say, like President Bush did right after September 11th, ‘The face of Terror is not the true face of Islam, that’s not what Islam is about, Islam is Peace.’ Instead, we get ‘Islam hates us’,” Katyal told the bench, answering Clinton-appointed Judge Richard Paez’s question on what, if anything, Trump could do to make the executive order acceptable.

    Katyal, former President Barack Obama’s one-time acting Solicitor General, has taken on the representation of the plaintiffs who stopped the executive order’s implementation in March when a federal court in Hawaii ruled in their favor. The Justice Department has appealed the case to the Ninth Circuit, seeking to vacate that injunction.

    The most controversial element of Obama-appointed district court Judge Derrick Watson’s ruling was its justification of the injunction based not on the text or effect of the executive order, but on statements President Trump made during the 2016 campaign.

    According to that ruling, speaking about a “Muslim ban” and speaking negatively about the religion’s relationship with the West mean that the plaintiffs had a high enough likelihood of proving a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause to block the order. This is true even though the actual order does not take any action based on people being Muslim because, “[A] reasonable, objective observer—enlightened by the specific historical context, contemporaneous public statements, and specific sequence of events leading to its issuance—would conclude that the Executive Order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion[.]”

    Katyal doubled down on this line of argument Monday, contending, as the district court had, that no reasonable objective observer could not see that the purpose of the order was to disfavor Muslims. As evidence, he rattled off an extensive list of amicus briefs submitted in favor of striking down Trump’s order. Mentioned were the usual bevy of open-borders non-profits and liberal religious groups. “Even the Cato Institute,” Katyal finished, referring to the libertarian think tank with a long history of supporting weak immigration laws.

    The argumentation led naturally to the question of what, if anything, could be done to save such a facially neutral order. “Does that mean that the President is forever barred from issuing an executive order along these lines?” Judge Paez asked Katyal. “What does he have to do to issue an executive order that, in your view, might pass constitutional muster?”

    Trump might gain more power to issue executive order if he “disavows,” Katyal argued. “One example would be what Judge Hawkins said about disavowing formally the stuff before.”

    “But that’s not it, he could do a lot of things,” Katyal continued. “I’m just going to throw out some examples, I’m not trying to micromanage the president.”

    In addition to suggesting Trump could save his order by telling the country “Islam is peace,” Katyal also recommended removing references, in the text of the order, to the unsavory elements of Islamic society. “It could eliminate the text which refers to honor killings,” he told the court.

    Katyal, in his work at the Justice Department during the Obama administration, frequentally defended presidential power to govern by executive order. He appeared to recognize the unusual nature of this suit challenging a president’s authority on religious grounds. “Our fundamental point to you is that Presidents generally don’t run into establishment clause problems. This is a very unusual case in which you have these public statements by the President,” he said.

  8. Hacker group that leaked NSA spy tools likely includes a U.S. insider, experts say

    Read more here:


    Cybersecurity experts believe the hacker who leaked the potent software tool that powered last week’s global ransomware attacks is an American – perhaps a disgruntled insider in the U.S. intelligence community.

    Such a finding would raise the stakes for halting The Shadow Brokers group, which has bedeviled the National Security Agency with releases of its hacked weaponized cyber exploits for months.

    One of those leaked NSA tools allowed extortionists to spark havoc last Friday by encrypting the hard drives of more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries, the largest such cyberattack ever to hit the globe. The attackers demanded $300 or more to unlock each computer.

    The NSA did not respond to a request for comment.

    The Shadow Brokers group first surfaced last August, claiming to have breached the NSA and stolen sophisticated cyber tools. It sought to auction off the NSA exploits but failed to find many buyers, releasing some for free. It periodically has resurfaced with statements.

    Read more here:

  9. The Real Roots of the Worldwide Ransomware Outbreak: Militarism and Greed

    A runaway strain of malware hit Windows computers Friday and spread through the weekend, rendering hundreds of thousands of computers around the world more or less useless. The big twist: The virus was made possible by U.S. government hackers at the National Security Agency. But the finger-pointing won’t stop there, and it probably shouldn’t.

    As the worm, known as WannaCry, has been contained, more free time has opened up in which to argue and assign blame beyond the anonymous hackers who used leaked NSA code to assemble the virus, and whatever party decided to turn it into ransomware. Microsoft isn’t holding back.

    In an unusually bold and forthright post by president Brad Smith, the company called out the NSA by name for not just creating, but “stockpiling” — and then, like Cyber Frankenstein, losing all control over — the attacks that made WannaCry possible:

  10. Trash-Strewn Rome Besieged by Wild Boars; Man Dies in Tragedy

    Wild boar are taking over Rome, attracted to the Italian capital by mounds of rotting rubbish.

    That’s the claim of increasingly angry residents frustrated by mayor Virginia Raggi’s apparent inability to organize efficient refuse collections.

    In March, a 49-year-old man was killed when his scooter crashed into a hungry boar prowling the city’s streets. Last month a family of boar invaded an elementary school’s garden hunting for food. And a massive boar was recently caught on video running in traffic near the Vatican.

    Italy’s boar population has rocketed to an estimated 1 million after a bigger, fast-breeding type was imported from Eastern Europe in recent years for hunting. A boar can now fetch 500 euros (about $550) on the open market.

    But the downside of the population explosion of these omnivores is becoming obvious, as they spend more time in the metropolis in search of ways to sate their rapacious appetite.

    Other European cities including Berlin have experienced similar problems with boar, as the picture above shows.

  11. South Korea’s Moon says ‘high possibility’ of conflict with North as missile crisis builds

    South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday there was a “high possibility” of conflict with North Korea, which is pressing ahead with nuclear and missile programs it says it needs to counter U.S. aggression.

    The comments came hours after the South, which hosts 28,500 U.S. troops, said it wanted to reopen a channel of dialogue with North Korea as Moon seeks a two-track policy, involving sanctions and dialogue, to try to rein in its neighbor.

    North Korea has made no secret of the fact that it is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland and has ignored calls to halt its nuclear and missile programs, even from China, its lone major ally.

  12. Trump would have just 10 minutes to decide what to do if North Korea fired a nuclear missile at the US mainland

    Read more:
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

    Donald Trump would have just 10 minutes to decide what to do North Korea fired a missile at the US mainland, according to experts.

    Although Kim Jong-Un’s arsenal is some way off being able to travel the 5,500 miles needed to reach the US, yesterday it was revealed the nation’s nuclear programme is developing much faster than previously anticipated.

    A test launch on Sunday would have reached 2,500 miles if fired at a standard trajectory, prompting leading scientists David Wright and Markus Schiller to analyse what would happen should North Korea strike.

    Read more:
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  13. Germany warns Turkey ‘we will not be BLACKMAILED’ as war of words rages on (express, May 17, 2017)

    “GERMANY has sent a warning shot to Turkey telling them they will not be blackmailed after Ankara refused to allow politicians from Berlin to visit soldiers at a Turkish airbase…

    Echoing this strong rhetoric, which is likely to kick start a major diplomatic row, Mr Gabriel said if “the German parliament will be blackmailed, the limit of the tolerable will be reached”.

    He added: ”I can only hope that the Turkish government will change their mind in the coming days.

    “Otherwise the German Bundestag will certainly not leave the soldiers in Turkey.”…”

  14. Blast kills 3 bomb disposal experts in Somalia’s capital (abcnews, May 17, 2017)

    “Three bomb disposal experts were killed in a car bomb blast west of Somalia’s capital on Wednesday, police said.

    The bomb detonated as the experts were trying to dismantle a car laden with explosives that security forces seized in Wadajir district, Capt. Mohamed Hussein said.

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. The Somalia-based al-Shabab extremist group often claims responsibility for such attacks…”

  15. Saudi missionaries active in Kosovo, says German government (abcnews, May 17, 2017)

    “The German government says missionary groups from Saudi Arabia are spreading the ultraconservative Wahabi version of Islam in Kosovo.

    In a response to questions from opposition lawmakers, the government says Saudi-backed preachers are active in the small Muslim-majority country in southeastern Europe.

    The German government says donors from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are also funding Islamic communities in Kosovo. The country is a significant source of foreign fighters for groups such as the Islamic State.

    But the government notes that there doesn’t appear to be a “broad movement away from traditional liberal interpretation of Islam toward a Wahabi interpretation” in Kosovo.

    Left Party lawmaker Sevim Dagdelen said Wednesday it was “scandalous” that hard-line Saudi preachers were active in Kosovo under the eyes of western peacekeepers.”

  16. China installs rocket launchers on disputed South China Sea island: report

    BEIJING (Reuters) – China has installed rocket launchers on a disputed reef in the South China Sea to ward off Vietnamese military combat divers, according to a state-run newspaper, offering new details on China’s ongoing military build-up.

    China has said military construction on the islands it controls in the South China Sea will be limited to necessary defensive requirements, and that it can do what it likes on its own territory.

    The United States has criticized what it has called China’s militarization of its maritime outposts and stressed the need for freedom of navigation by conducting periodic air and naval patrols near them that have angered Beijing.

    The state-run Defense Times newspaper, in a Tuesday report on its WeChat account, said Norinco CS/AR-1 55mm anti-frogman rocket launcher defense systems with the capability to discover, identify and attack enemy combat divers had been installed on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands.

    Fiery Cross Reef is administered by China but also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

  17. Comedian’s ‘Nazi slut’ jab at German politician ruled legal (abcnews, May 17, 2017)

    “A German court has ruled that a comedian’s comments calling a leading figure in the nationalist Alternative for Germany party a “Nazi slut” on a television show were satirical and thus protected speech.

    The Hamburg state court on Wednesday rejected a complaint from Alice Weidel, who is co-leading the anti-immigration party’s campaign for September elections. She had contended that the comments by comedian Christian Ehring on April 27 were defamatory.

    Ehring, commenting on a recent Weidel statement that political correctness belonged on the scrapheap of history, said on the satirical show Extra 3: “OK, out with political correctness, let’s all be incorrect — there the Nazi slut is right.”

    Party spokesman Christian Lueth says the decision against “such an aggressive defamation” will be appealed.”

  18. In clear attempt to sabotage U.S. relations, intel leakers tell media what Trump did NOT tell the Russians
    By J.E. Dyer May 16, 2017

    t’s time to call a halt to the leak problem from the U.S. intelligence community. This is beyond a “leak problem.” It is spilling over into outright sabotage of America’s national interests, all in the quest to bring President Trump down.

    After yesterday’s story by the Washington Post was repudiated by H.R. McMaster, Rex Tillerson, and Dina Powell, McMaster made additional comments Tuesday morning to clarify exactly how false the story was.

    The gist of the original story was that President Trump, in speaking to the visiting Russians last week about an ISIS “laptop plot,” revealed highly classified details that would have allowed the Russians to determine what the source of some of the intelligence was. The WaPo article made reference to the sensitive intelligence of a foreign ally, and to Trump disclosing the city in which the intel was gained. (N.B. — WaPo could only have gained this impression from people who weren’t there, but who are bound by oath to not reveal exactly the sort of intelligence they allege Trump revealed.)

    This morning, McMaster stated in no uncertain terms that not only did Trump not make these disclosures — Trump didn’t even know the source of the intelligence, or the city it was obtained in. Thus, the president could not possibly have exposed the information as alleged in the WaPo piece.

  19. James Clapper’s intel ‘reforms’ helped Susan Rice ‘unmask’ Americans
    By LU Staff May 16, 2017

    This piece is a DCNF exclusive. LU editor J.E. Dyer contributed to the piece by Richard Pollock. (Richard: This is the full article on Liberty Unyielding published with the permission of Daily Caller.)

    Former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper’s creation of a cloud-computing platform in 2013 made it far easier for officials like former White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice to ‘unmask’ individual Americans without creating a digital paper trail leading back to her, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned.

    Clapper’s system enabled tens of thousands of government officials to share previously off-limits intelligence information, according to knowledgeable officials who tracked the cloud-computing initiative of the former DNI under President Barack Obama.

    Commander Jennifer E. Dyer, a 21-year naval intelligence officer, told TheDCNF that Clapper’s effort dramatically altered the rules that previously barred access to phone records of U.S. citizens unless there was prior approval following rigorous National Security Agency (NSA) review.

    NSA can compile phone records of American citizens talking to foreign officials under Section 702 of the USA Patriot Act. It allows the spy agency to legally eavesdrop on innocent American citizens who are inadvertently swept up in telephone conversations with foreign officials. NSA can keep the records for as long as five years.

    The 702 provision expires at the end of the year unless Congress reauthorizes it. Citizens normally are referred to as “American A” or “American B” in the 702 reports. The names are “masked” from intelligence officials.

  20. 2016 saw 61% increase in law enforcement officers feloniously killed in line of duty
    Craig Bannister, CNSNews

    Preliminary statistics released Monday by the FBI show that 66 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2016 – an increase of 61% from the 41 officers killed in 2015.

    “This must end,” President Donald Trump declared at a memorial service for the nation’s fallen officers on Monday:

  21. Gregg Jarrett: Comey’s revenge is a gun without powder

    James Comey was lying in wait.

    His gun was cocked, he took aim and fired. But his weapon was empty.

    Three months ago, the then-FBI Director met with President Trump. Following their private conversation, Comey did what he always does –he wrote a memorandum to himself memorializing the conversation. Good lawyers do that routinely.

    Richard: Two things, 1) We haven’t seen the entire memo, in fact we haven’t seen even part of the memo so how do we know what it says? 2) Look at the timing, this was published a day after the info about Seth Rich and his murder surfaced, this story and the related kerfuffle smell like a somkescreen.

  22. Sweden: A Qatari Protectorate

    by Judith Bergman
    May 17, 2017 at 5:00 am

    On April 28, the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs of the State of Qatar opened the Umm Al-Mu’minin Khadijah Mosque in Malmö, Sweden. Qatar — the epicenter of Muslim Brotherhood and the base of its proselytizing megaphone, Al Jazeera — paid more than 3 million euros to build the mosque, which is almost 2,000 square meters and accommodates up to 2,000 people, making it the largest mosque in Scandinavia.

    One astonishing fact about this new mega-mosque is that, according to Swedish mainstream media, the opening never happened. Not a single Swedish news outlet mentioned the opening. Swedish authorities were also completely silent on the topic. On her Facebook and Twitter accounts, Malmö’s Mayor, Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, wrote about the opening of a new office for army recruits in Malmö and the Swedish coast guard moving its activities to Malmö harbor, but failed to mention the opening of the largest mosque in Scandinavia. The website of Malmö municipality was also silent on the topic.

    For information on what goes on in Sweden, therefore, one has to turn to Qatar News Agency, which reported:

  23. German Companies Boycott Breitbart, Not Ayatollahs

    by Stefan Frank
    May 17, 2017 at 4:00 am

    Reports in January noted how Gerald Hensel, a high-ranking employee of Scholz & Friends, one of the two largest advertising agencies in Germany, used his professional position to launch a private war against the freedom of expression, under the slogan “No Money for the Right Wing!”

    “Right wing” websites — those which have criticized the German government for its policies on, for example, Muslim mass-migration, the euro rescue or climate policy — should, according to Hensel, be cut off from advertising revenues. If they have no more money, so the thinking goes, it will be more difficult for them to stay in business; perhaps they would give up, and opinions differing from the mainstream would not be put into circulation.

    Hensel explained his strategy on his private blog, which featured a red Soviet star: Large conglomerates that want to advertise on the Internet usually do not directly contact specific websites. Instead, computer programs recognize who is interested in a particular product or service, based on the user’s search behavior. The advertisement is personalized: a car maker will only approach users who are looking for cars. The advertisement, however, will not only appear on car websites, but on all sites the user visits in the following hours or days.

    Hensel urged all of those who are disturbed by diverse views on the internet to exert pressure on companies, by branding particular websites as “right wing.” This pressure alone, according to his calculation, would ensure that the company would block the website in question.

    His strategy succeeded: Within a few days, the website “Achse des Guten” (Axis of the Good) — one of the most popular German political blogs, which daily exposes the insanity of German politicians and journalists from a common-sense point of view — lost its entire advertising business. Advertising agencies simply cut off the website from their ads.

  24. Current Acting Director of FBI Has a VERY Cozy Relationship With Hillary…at Least His WIFE Does

    Hillary has found herself in some pretty cozy relationships with some pretty high ranking people. It’s starting to turn heads just a bit.

    Former FBI official James Kallstrom said it’s “disgraceful” that one of Hillary’s close connections, Andrew McCabe, is the acting director for the agency.

    “It’s actually disgraceful. Here’s a guy who’s still in the chain of command.”

    McCabe took over as acting FBI director after Comey was fired. What’s the connection to Hillary, you ask?
    Well, McCabe’s wife is Jill McCabe. She took $467,500 from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s political action committee during her Virginia state Senate campaign.

    And she did this, and that’s where Hillary comes in:

  25. USA: ‘With US or the Russians’ – protesters picket Trump’s speech in New London

    Anti-Trump protesters gathered outside the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut on Wednesday while the President gave a commencement address at the college.

    Around 200 protesters turned up to the demonstration organised in McKinley Park by the Unify and Resist coalition. They held placards such as “Impeach ASAP – Resist his kakistocracy” and “You’re either with US or you’re with the Russians,” while chanting slogans denouncing the US leader.

    Trump supporters held a counter demonstration nearby prompting police officers to establish a buffer zone between both groups.

    Trump has recently faced a public backslash following the emergence of reports that he shared sensitive intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during his visit to the White House.

  26. France: MEPs vote to trigger probe into Hungary’s democracy

    The European Parliament voted in favour of triggering a probe into Hungary’s democracy which could lead to the suspension of the country’s EU voting rights, in Strasbourg, Wednesday.

    The Article 7 procedure aims to determine whether there is a risk of Hungary breaching EU values and laws and warns against an “emerging systemic threat to the rule of law” in Hungary.

    The Hungarian government led by Viktor Orban, has recently launched a campaign dubbed “Let’s Stop Brussels” and challenged EU rules on the independence of the judiciary, free media, NGOs and academic freedom amongst other issues.

    The resolution was passed with a majority of 393 votes against 221.


      Under the Obama Precedent, No Trump Obstruction of Justice

      Up until now, veiled orders have not been thought the equivalent of obstruction.

      On April 10, 2016, President Obama publicly stated that Hillary Clinton had shown “carelessness” in using a private e-mail server to handle classified information, but he insisted that she had not intended to endanger national security (which is not an element of the relevant criminal statute). The president acknowledged that classified information had been transmitted via Secretary Clinton’s server, but he suggested that, in the greater scheme of things, its importance had been vastly overstated.

      On July 5, 2016, FBI director James Comey publicly stated that Clinton had been “extremely careless” in using a private email server to handle classified information, but he insisted that she had not intended to endanger national security (which is not an element of the relevant criminal statute). The director acknowledged that classified information had been transmitted via Secretary Clinton’s server, but he suggested that, in the greater scheme of things, it was just a small percentage of the emails involved.

      Case dismissed.

      Could there be more striking parallels? A cynic might say that Obama had clearly signaled to the FBI and the Justice Department that he did not want Mrs. Clinton to be charged with a crime, and that, with this not-so-subtle pressure in the air, the president’s subordinates dropped the case — exactly what Obama wanted, relying precisely on Obama’s stated rationale.

      Yet the media yawned.

      Of course, they’re not yawning now. Now it is Donald Trump, not Barack Obama, sending Comey signals. So now, such signals are a major issue — not merely of obstruction of justice, but of high crimes and misdemeanors.

      Trump hysteria seems to be a permanent condition, a combustive compound of media-Democrat derangement surrounding a president who keeps providing derangement material. Let’s try to keep our feet on the ground, but with a commitment to get the evidence and go wherever it takes us.

      For now, we don’t have much evidence. Essentially, we’ve got single statement, mined by the New York Times from a memo that no one outside a tight circle inside the FBI has seen — indeed, that the Times has not seen. According to anonymous sources, the memo was written by then–FBI director Comey shortly after a private meeting with President Trump — only two of them in the room after Trump asked other officials to leave. This was on February 14, the day after National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned over inaccurate statements he made to senior administration officials in recounting conversations he’d had with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

      Trump is said to have told Comey, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

      Other than telling us that Comey replied, “I agree he is a good guy,” the Times provides no context of the conversation. Its report gives no indication of whether the memo provides such context.

      On its face, the statement does not amount to obstruction of justice. Trump could be said to be putting pressure on his subordinate, just as Obama was putting pressure on his subordinates (Comey included) last April. But assuming the Times is right about the memo, Trump did not order Comey to drop the case. In fact, Trump’s statement is consistent with encouraging Comey to use his own judgment, with the understanding that Trump hoped Comey would come out favorably to Flynn.

      But of course, also with the understanding that if Comey pushed to prosecute Flynn, the president — who had the power to fire Comey — was going to be very unhappy. Just as President Obama would have been very unhappy, and in a position to fire Comey, if Mrs. Clinton had been indicted.

      It is not frivolous to infer that Trump’s statement to Comey was a veiled order. If that is your interpretation, though, you cannot avoid the conclusion that Obama’s public statements were also veiled orders not to indict Clinton. Up until now, veiled orders have not been thought the equivalent of obstruction of justice.

      In light of what I’ve previously contended (viz., that obstruction of justice is a concept irrelevant to a counterintelligence investigation), I must note here that concerns about obstruction of justice in the context of the reported Trump-Comey conversation are legitimate. That is because the conversation does not directly relate to the so-called Russia investigation, which Comey has explained is a counterintelligence inquiry regarding Kremlin interference in the 2016 election. Rather, Trump and Comey were speaking about a criminal investigation of Flynn, ancillary to but separate from the Russia investigation. We are informed that a grand jury in Virginia is considering evidence of transactions involving Flynn, although it is not clear that this was the case on February 14, when Trump and Comey spoke.

      There is good reason to believe veiled orders, while inappropriate, are not criminal — i.e., they do not rise to the level of prosecutable obstruction of justice. Obstruction can be a tough crime to prove. It is necessary to establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the suspect acted corruptly in impeding or influencing a criminal investigation. That means acting with knowledge that one’s conduct was unlawful, and with a specific intent to undermine the truth-seeking function.

      Context is critical, and we don’t have it. All we know is that Trump hoped the criminal investigation would be dropped — but again, did not order it to be dropped — and vouched for Flynn’s character. That may have been inappropriate under the circumstances, but it was not corrupt. Comey surely found it awkward, but he clearly did not perceive it as obstruction. The former director is a highly experienced and meritoriously decorated former prosecutor and investigator. He knows what obstruction of justice is. And the Jim Comey I’ve known for 30 years would not stand for political interference in law enforcement. If he had understood Trump’s remarks as a directive or, worse, a threat, he would have resigned.

      It is not enough to say that he did not resign. Unlike the investigation of Mrs. Clinton, the investigation of Flynn has continued. Plus, Comey does not appear to have indicated to his subordinates, to his Justice Department superiors, or to Congress that he felt threatened. Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and Comey’s former deputy (now acting director) Andrew McCabe have not intimated, even vaguely, that their investigative activities have been hampered. Again, the investigation is proceeding apace.

      There is no question that obstruction of justice is an impeachable offense. But media hyperventilating notwithstanding, the basis for claiming at this point that President Trump obstructed justice is not there . . . unless you also think President Obama obstructed justice last April.

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