INTL

FBI Agent Peter Strzok Fired For Anti-Trump Texts
Counterterrorism official had been in the hot seat since anti-Trump texts with alleged mistress were discovered

FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok was fired for his text messages criticizing President Donald Trump. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Peter Strzok, the senior FBI counterintelligence official who has been in the hot seat since the Justice Department’s inspector general discovered his anti-Trump text messages with DOJ lawyer Lisa Page, has been fired from the bureau, his lawyer told multiple news outlets.

Strzok, 48, was one of the main targets of a faction of House Republicans who have sought information on anti-Trump bias in the upper reaches of the DOJ.

Bill Nelson Says Florida Election Systems Compromised by Russians
Senate Intelligence Committee avoids confirming or denying Democratic senator’s statement

Sen. Bill Nelson, right said he and fellow Florida Sen. Marco Rubio were made aware of Russian penetration of Florida election systems. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee told Sen. Bill Nelson to alert Florida election officials about Russian interference in their systems, they aren’t saying.

Nelson, a Florida Democrat on the ballot in 2018, was quoted by the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday saying that, “We were requested by the chairman and vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee to let the supervisors of election in Florida know that the Russians are in their records.”

Russian Election Meddling Remains ‘Pervasive,’ Intel Chief Says
Coats: Kremlin wants to ‘weaken and divide the United States’

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a joint press conference after their summit last month in Helsinki, Finland. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

U.S. intel officials continue to see a “pervasive” effort by the Russian government to upend America’s political process, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Thursday.

“Pervasive” is how the former GOP Indiana senator described what U.S. intelligence officials have concluded is a “messaging campaign by Russia to weaken and divide the United States,” Coats said during the daily White House briefing. But what Russia is doing this election cycle is not as “robust” as two years ago — “so far,” he noted.

Graham, Menendez Introduce ‘Sanctions Bill From Hell’ Targeting Russia and Putin
Bipartisan bill also would make it harder to leave NATO

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is the lead sponsor of the “sanctions bill from hell” against Russia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A bipartisan Senate contingent has introduced what Republican Lindsey Graham has called the “sanctions bill from hell,” targeting Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

The legislation, which was introduced just as senators were departing for a shortened August recess on Wednesday, targets Russian oligarchs and Putin family members for additional sanctions, and it would seek to require a two-thirds vote of the Senate for any attempt by the U.S. to abandon NATO.

Facebook Removes Pages, Russian Intelligence Suspected
Lawmakers say Facebook’s announcement is another warning sign

Facebook said this event in Washington, D.C., was sent up by a bad actor. (Facebook screenshot)

Updated 3:28 p.m. | Facebook’s announcement about the removal of bogus pages that might be tied to Russian intelligence efforts has the top Democrats on the congressional Intelligence Committees renewing warnings about what’s ahead in 2018.

“Today’s disclosure is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation, and I am glad that Facebook is taking some steps to pinpoint and address this activity,” Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said in a statement. “I also expect Facebook, along with other platform companies, will continue to identify Russian troll activity and to work with Congress on updating our laws to better protect our democracy in the future.”

Gowdy Balks at Democrats’ Motion for Dan Coats to Testify in Public
Oversight chairman doesn’t want another political spectacle like Comey, Strzok hearings

Committee wanted to subpoena Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee spiked a motion Tuesday from Democrats to subpoena Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to testify publicly about Russia’s ongoing efforts to interfere in U.S. elections.

Their reason?

TBT: 10 Things Dan Coats Will Miss Now That He’s Banned From Russia
Current Intelligence director made a top ten list after being sanctioned by Moscow in 2014

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was sanctioned by Russia while serving as a senator in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats served as a Republican senator from Indiana, he was one of several officials sanctioned by Russia.

At the time, Coats borrowed a tradition from fellow Hoosier, comedian David Letterman, in offering up a top ten list of things he would miss after President Vladimir Putin banned him from Russia, as Heard on the Hill featured when it happened in May 2014.

Trump Again Skips Intel Briefing After Siding With Putin
President broke with DNI Coats standing alonside Russian strongman

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive Monday for a press conference in Helsinki, Finland. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

For the second consecutive day since he broke with America’s spy agencies over Russia’s election meddling, President Donald Trump on Wednesday will not get an intelligence briefing.

The daily presidential guidance email sent out each evening by the White House initially featured only one item, an 11:30 a.m. Cabinet meeting. It was was updated Wednesday morning to include a 2 p.m. press briefing with Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Meadows, Jordan Ask DOJ to Investigate Rosenstein
Letter alleges Rosenstein threatened to subpoena Republican staffers’ communications

Reps. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., left, and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, are asking the Department of Justice to investigate Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two Freedom Caucus Republicans asked the Justice Department’s inspector general Monday to investigate allegations that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to subpoena the email and phone records of House Intelligence Committee staff.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina and caucus co-founder Jim Jordan of Ohio made the request in a letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz, which alleges Rosenstein threatened the subpoenas in a tense January meeting about oversight requests from committee Republicans.

‘Pathetic Rout,’ ‘Tragic Mistake’ and ‘Painful’ — John McCain Holds Little Back in Describing Helsinki
Senate Armed Services chairman lets loose blistering critique of Trump and Putin meeting

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the damage done by the Trump-Putin summit may be hard to understand. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Of all the critical statements issued about Monday’s Helsinki happenings, the one by Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain perhaps stood out the most, as the Arizona Republican accused President Donald Trump of making a “tragic mistake” in his meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the joint press conference that followed. 

The Republican pulled no punches in his latest verbal fisticuffs with the president, issuing a lengthy statement from Arizona about what may he thinks may be incalculable damage to U.S. foreign policy.