Senate Grants A $1 Billion Handout To Save The Failing Dairy Industry



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As the modern-day consumer continues to opt for plant-based alternatives to milk, the dairy industry is failing and is now relying on government handouts to survive. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, these times are changing!

Last week, the United States senate signed a budget agreement to grant a whopping $1 Billion to the dairy and livestock industries. These funds allocated will be used for programs that are designed to help the dairy industry recover from a long-time slump in dairy prices. The industry has been affected by a number of different factors which include consumer habits and lifestyle.

Over the past several years, we have seen Americans opting towards plant-based alternatives. While we don’t know exactly why, we can speculate that it has to do with the growing awareness of the horrors that take place on factory farms, the environmental implications, and more evidence that pasteurized milk from cows is making us sick. Whatever the reason – the dairy industry is failing.

In 2016, dairy farmers across the nation dumped 43 million gallons of unsold milk into manure lagoons, fields and into animal feed. Last year, the surplus of milk hit 78 million gallons as dairy sales have been consistently on the decline. We have seen some larger dairy companies try to adapt to the changing consumer demands, such as Elmhurst Dairy, which has shifted it’s gears to nut milks, completely dropping dairy after 90 years.

Danone – a popular brand of yogurt, has now acquired WhiteWave Foods, which is a parent company of popular plant-based brands such as Silk, Vega, Alpro and So Delicious. There is no doubt about it, people are truly waking up. Seeing large corporations like the ones listed above making these types of transitions is very telling.

Change IS Possible

To everyone who remains hopeless and believes that no good will ever happen, nothing will change and that we can’t really make a difference, I hope this serves as a big old pile of hope for you. It is one out of many examples that prove that there are things in our society that are changing for the better and that change is absolutely possible. Having awareness is one of the first steps towards creating real change on the planet, and in a large way we can thank the internet for spreading the truth about the dairy industry and what has inevitably led consumers to make more educated, ethical, and health conscious decisions for themselves and their families.

Now the real question is, why is the government handing this money over? Can’t that $1 Billion be used in a better way? Sure, dairy farmers are going to have to figure out an alternative, but this is a good sign. Clearly this industry isn’t coming back, maybe that money could be used to help the existing dairy farms transition over to more sustainable options.

Still Drinking Milk From Cows?

That’s okay, I’m not here to judge, but perhaps this information will open your mind to consider other options? Sooner or later cow milk may not even be an option for you. There is some evidence that shows how raw milk may be beneficial for us to consume, but the cons do outweigh the pros. Not to mention raw milk remains illegal in the United States and Canada, and when there are so many viable alternatives, is it really worth it? Why not save the cow milk for the growing baby calves who need it the most?

Beware Of Synthetic Preservatives & Chemicals

It is important to know that just because something is vegan, or labeled as “plant-based” doesn’t necessarily mean that it is healthy. It is important to do your research and choose the brands from ethical companies that use good, wholesome ingredients. As many companies have jumped on the nut milk train, they don’t all have the best intentions, and some have done so for the sheer purpose of profit – like so many other companies in the world today. As the consumer, we have a vote in the types of products that are being produced.

Better yet, make your own nut milks. Not only is this a super simple process, but it is much healthier as you get to choose exactly what ingredients are being used. An added bonus is that by making your own, you will be producing much less waste, especially if you buy your nuts in bulk. Essentially, this is a win-win – more healthy, less wasteful and did I mention that homemade nut milks are way more delicious? Try it and see for yourself.

Much Love

Related Articles

How The Government & Dairy Industry Tricked Us Into Believing We Need Milk 

7 Ways Milk & Dairy Products Are Making You Sick

Dairy Is F**king Scary: The Truth About Milk Explained In 5 Minutes (Video)


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Crypto Revolution: AZ Senate Passes Bill Officially Recognizing Bitcoin as Money

moneymoney

Arizona — Last year, the state of Arizona went after the federal government’s attack on gold and silver by eliminating the capital gains taxes on precious metals. This paved the way to deal a massive blow to the Federal Reserve and end their monopoly on money. While the precious metals move was certainly noteworthy, the legislation passed this month by the Arizona Senate is nothing short of revolutionary as it officially recognizes cryptocurrencies as money by allowing residents to pay their taxes in it.

Arizona Senate Bill 1091, titled Income tax payments; bitcoin, was introduced to the Senate on January 10 and after going through several committees, on Feb. 8, 2018, it passed. It will now make its way to the House.

According to the bill’s text, it specifically names bitcoin and litecoin, as well as “any other cryptocurrency” recognized by the department as official forms of payment.

A TAXPAYER MAY PAY THEIR INCOME TAX LIABILITY USING A PAYMENT GATEWAY, SUCH AS BITCOIN, LITECOIN OR ANY OTHER CRYPTOCURRENCY RECOGNIZED BY THE DEPARTMENT, USING ELECTRONIC PEER-TO-PEER SYSTEMS.

After the state accepts the cryptocurrency, it will then convert them to US dollars, according to the legislation.

 THE DEPARTMENT SHALL CONVERT CRYPTOCURRENCY PAYMENTS TO UNITED STATES DOLLARS AT THE PREVAILING RATE AFTER RECEIPT AND SHALL CREDIT THE TAXPAYER’S ACCOUNT WITH THE CONVERTED DOLLAR AMOUNT ACTUALLY RECEIVED LESS ANY FEES OR COSTS INCURRED BY THE DEPARTMENT FOR CONVERSION.

The bill now moves on to Arizona’s House of Representatives.

If the bill passes in the house, it will become adopted and Arizona would become the first state in the U.S. to accept cryptocurrency tax payments beginning from and after December 31, 2019, as stated in the bill’s text.

Referring to the tax bill, Arizona State Republican Rep. Jeff Weninger, told Fox News:

“It’s one of a litany of bills that we’re running that is sending a signal to everyone in the United States, and possibly throughout the world, that Arizona is going to be the place to be for blockchain and digital currency technology in the future.”

“The ease of use, being able to do it in the middle of the night, being able to do it at home while you’re watching TV,” Rep. Weninger said. “I think in a few years this isn’t even going to be a question.”

Jack Bitlis, who owns Tag Employer Services also spoke to FOX News, noting that the blockchain and cryptocurrencies are the future. Bitlis stands by his word too as his payroll company allows employees to receive their paychecks through bitcoin and to invest part of their 401(k) into bitcoin.

“We’re living in just a hugely interesting time and, really, we just want to be a part of it,” Biltis said. “We just know that we could be, as Arizona’s chosen to be, at the forefront of this time and encourage these new technologies. That’s just an exciting place to be.”

Naturally, there are some less than optimistic lawmakers in Arizona who are applying Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) on the legislation, saying bitcoin could crash.

“If we had a bill that allowed people to pay their taxes in bitcoin directly, that puts the volatility burden on all other taxpayers because it would mean that that money goes to the state and then the state has to take the responsibility of how to exchange it,” Arizona State Senate Minority Leader Steve Farley said.

Speaking like a true shill of the Federal Reserve, and ignoring the fuvolatilityility of the US dollar, Farley followed up his FUD by saying, “these are American dollars. They’re good enough for me. They should be good enough for anybody else who pays taxes in this country.”

Countering Farley’s negativity and unfounded fear, however, Biltis noted, “It’s always a little scary and thrilling at the beginning, it was with anything (including) the Internet…The world is going to look so different in 20 years and the people that are going to be truly successful are the people that embrace it now and are on the leading edge of that curve.”

As for now, we are crossing our fingers that this bill passes the house and paves the way for a crypto-revolution.

After that, we just need to figure out how to stop the state from taking our tax dollars in the first place.

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/crypto-revolution-state-passes-bill-officially-allow-govt-accept-bitcoin/

Alabama Senate Unanimously Passes Bill To Exempt Gold And Silver From Taxation: Constitutional Money

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Feb. 8, 2018) –  Earlier today, the Alabama Senate unanimously passed a bill that would exempt the sale of gold and silver bullion from state sales and use tax, encouraging its use and taking the first step toward breaking the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on money.

Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence) introduced Senate Bill 156 (SB156) on Jan. 11. The legislation would exempt the gross proceeds from the sale of gold, silver, platinum, and palladium bullion in the form of bars, ingots or coins from sales and use tax in the state for five years after the date of enactment.

The Senate passed SB156 by a 26-0 vote.

similar bill is moving through the Alabama House.

Imagine if you asked a grocery clerk to break a $5 bill and he charged you a 35 cent tax. Silly, right? After all, you were only exchanging one form of money for another. But that’s essentially what Alabama’s sales tax on gold and silver bullion does. By removing the sales tax on the exchange of gold and silver, Alabama would treat specie as money instead of a commodity. This represents a small step toward reestablishing gold and silver as legal tender and breaking down the Fed’s monopoly on money.

We ought not to tax money – and that’s a good idea. It makes no sense to tax money,” former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul said during testimony in support an Arizona bill that repealed capital gains taxes on gold and silver in that state. “Paper is not money, it’s fraud,” he continued.

The proposed law’s impact would go beyond mere tax policy. During an event after his Senate committee testimony, Paul pointed out that it’s really about the size and scope of government.

“If you’re for less government, you want sound money. The people who want big government, they don’t want sound money. They want to deceive you and commit fraud. They want to print the money. They want a monopoly. They want to get you conditioned, as our schools have conditioned us, to the point where deficits don’t matter.”

Practically speaking, eliminating taxes on the sale of gold and silver would crack open the door for people to begin using specie in regular business transactions.This would mark an important small step toward currency competition. If sound money gains a foothold in the marketplace against Federal Reserve notes, the people would be able to choose the time-tested stability of gold and silver over the central bank’s rapidly-depreciating paper currency.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The United States Constitution states in Article I, Section 10, “No State shall…make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.” States have simply ignored this constitutional provision for years. It’s impossible for a state to return to a constitutional sound money system when it taxes gold and silver as a commodity.

This Alabama bill takes a step towards that constitutional requirement, ignored for decades in every state. Such a tactic would set the stage to undermine the monopoly of the Federal Reserve by introducing competition into the monetary system.

Constitutional tender expert Professor William Greene said when people in multiple states actually start using gold and silver instead of Federal Reserve Notes, it would effectively nullify the Federal Reserve and end the federal government’s monopoly on money.

“Over time, as residents of the state use both Federal Reserve notes and silver and gold coins, the fact that the coins hold their value more than Federal Reserve notes do will lead to a “reverse Gresham’s Law” effect, where good money (gold and silver coins) will drive out bad money (Federal Reserve notes). As this happens, a cascade of events can begin to occur, including the flow of real wealth toward the state’s treasury, an influx of banking business from outside of the state – as people in other states carry out their desire to bank with sound money – and an eventual outcry against the use of Federal Reserve notes for any transactions.”

Once things get to that point, Federal Reserve notes would become largely unwanted and irrelevant for ordinary people. Nullifying the Fed on a state by state level is what will get us there.

WHAT’S NEXT

SB156 will move to the House for further consideration.

Tenth Amendment Center

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Source Article from https://politicalvelcraft.org/2018/02/11/alabama-senate-unanimously-passes-bill-to-exempt-gold-and-silver-from-taxation-constitutional-money/

Despite Senate Demands, Twitter, Google, Facebook Can’t Show Evidence of ‘Russian Meddling’

On Friday, the US Senate Intelligence Committee released answers provided by Twitter, Facebook and Google in response to questions concerning Russia’s alleged meddlesome use of social media in the devious pursuit of uprooting American democracy.

The Senate’s questions included breathless demands that the tech giants explain why Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are “allowed” to use their services, as well as more mundane requests, such as asking Google if it can confirm crackpot rumors spread by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. However, it turns out the questions were considerably more sensational and accusatory than the tech giants’ responses, which in some cases even raised doubts about the narratives being promoted by the US government and media outlets.

Why does Twitter allow people like Snowden & Assange to have accounts? – curious senator

Tom Cotton, the Republican senator from Arkansas, had by far the most colorful questions for the three tech giants. During his thorough interrogation of Twitter, he asked whether the company’s terms of service prohibit “collaboration with Russian intelligence services to influence an election.” (Twitter reassured the good senator that exerting “artificial influence on an election [is] likely to violate any number of Twitter’s rules and policies.”)

But Cotton’s best moment came when he demanded “justification for allowing entities and individuals such as WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden to maintain Twitter accounts.”

Twitter very delicately informed Cotton that “we do not bar controversial figures from our platform or prohibit accounts from posting controversial content … So long as those accounts remain in compliance with our policies, we do not take action against their Tweets or suspend them from the platform.” Undeterred, Cotton asked these same questions to Facebook – and received very similar answers.

RT America bought ads that… ‘focused on’ Americans

In one of the more underwhelming revelations disclosed by the tech giants in the newly-released documents, Twitter reported that “of all of RT’s ad campaigns, 11 were targeted exclusively at English-language speakers, and several others—including all of @RT_America’s seven campaigns—used geographic targeting to focus on US users.”

Twitter also revealed that it had identified nine accounts as being “potentially linked to Russia that promoted election-related, English-language content.” Of these nine nefarious accounts “potentially linked” to Russia, “the most significant use of advertising was by @RT_com and @RT_America. Those two accounts collectively ran 44 different ad campaigns, accounting for nearly all of the relevant advertising we reviewed,” according to Twitter. Once again, Twitter forgot to mention that it pitched a proposal for RT to spend huge sums on advertising for the US presidential election – an offer which RT declined.

However, there is little doubt that before RT was banned from buying Twitter ads, RT America “targeted” Americans.

Facebook can’t trace ‘Russian disinformation campaign’

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia asked Facebook if it could confirm that it was “alerted” by Ukrainian activists and politicians about Russian trolls peddling disinformation on its platform. Unfortunately, Facebook’s response rained on Warner’s anti-Russia parade.

The social media giant explained that most of the “disinformation” reported by Ukrainians was nothing more than Russians calling Ukrainians “khokhol” (a common derogatory term). Facebook also said it received reports of Ukrainians calling Russians “moskal” (another mundane ethnic slur). In some cases, the slurs were deemed hate speech and removed, in accordance with the site’s Community Standards. Facebook was apparently unable to recall any other “Russian misinformation” reported by Ukrainian authorities.

Google questions ‘Ukrainian artillery hack’

In one of many Russia-gate Hail Marys lobbed by Tom Cotton, the Intelligence Committee pressed Google to comment on reports that Russia used malware implanted on Android devices to track Ukrainian artillery units, suggesting that “Russia is not only using your platforms to influence elections, but to gain an advantage on the front lines of a battlefield.”

The question backfired spectacularly, with Google responding: “We are aware of this report and we, although [sic] with others in the industry, have questioned its accuracy.”

The company cited, as one example, that the alleged malware at issue was never distributed through Google’s Play Store.

Scroll on, Russia’s not targeting your FB

Senator Kamala Harris was interested to learn about the types of targeting criteria – “such as demographic, behavioral, lookalike, or email matching” – allegedly used by Russia for its “information operations.” Again, Google’s response did not exactly launch a thousand ships.

“$4,700 of ads attributable to suspected state-sponsored Russian actors were not narrowly targeted to specific groups of users: for example, we found no evidence of targeting by geography (e.g. certain states) or by users’ inferred political preferences (e.g. right or left-leaning),” Google responded. The company added that it was “unaware of any inauthentic accounts linked to Russian information operations flagged by our users.”

Editor’s note: A subheading has been changed to more accurately reflect Tom Cotton’s question for Twitter.

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/twitter-google-facebook-cant-show-evidence-russian-meddling/

Libertarian Dream Come True: Govt Shutdown Imminent as Senate Fails to Pass Funding

With just 1 hour and 45 minutes of federal funding remaining late Friday night, the Senate fell short of the necessary 60 votes to limit debate on the continuing resolution (CR) that would temporarily provide the government spending power until February 16.

As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) waited to vote, the 50-48 tally went predictably along partisan lines mostly, with at least one Democrat and four Republicans breaking from their parties. The Republicans were Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah, and Rand Paul of Kentucky. The breakaway Democrats were Senators Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Doug Jones of Alabama, Joe Manchin of Virginia, and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

In a technical parliamentary move, McConnell is also expected to vote against the resolution, which would permit him to re-introduce the measure in the future if needed, because he voted on the prevailing side.

The GOP accused the Democrats of wanting the vote to fail, so a government shutdown would hurt Trump politically. The Democrats blamed Republicans for stalling the entire legislative process and not including permanent protections for the “Dreamers,” those nearly 800,000 illegal immigrants who arrived in the US as children and who have been covered under the Obama-era DACA program, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

While Republicans point to DACA’s March deadline as being non-urgent, as opposed to the midnight deadline to fund the government, Democrats argue the Republicans have agreed with codifying DACA during negotiations.

Republicans had included a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP, to entice more Democrats to join them. However, the move was interpreted as cheap tokenism, as the GOP allowed the program to expire in years prior. Democrats said they wanted a more complete package, including opioid crisis funding.

Republicans had included a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP, to entice more Democrats to join them. However, the move was interpreted as cheap tokenism, as the GOP has allowed the program to expire in years prior. Democrats said they wanted a more complete package, including opioid crisis funding.

Earlier Friday evening, Senator Graham released a statement voicing support for an alternative funding bill, limited to three weeks instead of four. Such a ‘plan B’ was not expected to garner support, as shorter term efforts were deemed a “non-starter” by the White House and were rejected by Democrats as well.

“Given the Congressional calendar and logistics of passing legislation, I believe that we will need a CR that runs past the week of the State of the Union,” he said. “In consultation with the Leaders and the White House, I believe that a CR through February 8 is necessary in order to work toward our shared goals, while providing sufficient urgency in these discussions.”

Schumer and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) appeared to be trying to work out a last-minute deal, as they left the Senate floor to head into the Senate cloakroom after speaking with senators from both parties, according to PBS NewsHour correspondent Lisa Desjardins.

Schumer then walked off the Senate floor with McConnell raising speculation that they, too, could be discussing a last-minute deal. Either that, or negotiations may have already begun on what comes next after the government has shut down.

Shortly after the White House alerted the press that Trump would not be speaking the rest of the night, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted that Democrats were to blame for the shutdown.

In preparation for a shutdown, the Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney sent a memo to the heads of federal agencies and departments Friday afternoon. Mulvaney advised them to be ready to furlough non-essential employees, and suggested they review their specific contingency plans in the event the federal government shuts down.

Mulvaney told reporters Friday that a closure would not affect national parks, the military or other services most desired by citizens, except for the fact, that those employees and armed service members would not be paid

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/government-shutdown-senate-fails/

Chelsea Manning’s Senate Bid a Russian Plot?

Chelsea Manning’s Senate Bid a Russian Plot?



by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)



Accusations followed her announcement, confirming her Senate bid, saying: “Yup, we’re running.”



Her first campaign ad on Twitter began with her saying: “We live in trying times, and I approved this message.”



Voiceover comments said “(w)e live in trying times. Times of fear, of suppression, hate.”



“We don’t need more or better leaders. We need someone willing to fight.”



“We need to stop expecting that our systems will somehow fix themselves. We need to actually take the reins of power from them.”



“We need to challenge this at every level. We need to fix this. We don’t need them anymore. We can do better.”



“You’re damn right we got this,” ending her ad with the hashtag #WeGotThis.”



She tweeted a link for campaign contributions. Along with other aspirants, she’s running in Maryland against neocon undemocratic Dem Ben Cardin.



He’s a deplorable incumbent – pro-war, anti-populist, Russophobic, Islamophobic, a profile fitting most House and Senate members, why America wages endless wars of aggression and persecutes its most vulnerable people.



Establishment figures and their acolytes jumped on Manning’s candidacy, notably undemocratic Dems, rallying in support of one of their own, suggesting her candidacy is part of a Russian plot.



Maybe calling her a Manchurian candidate comes next, up to no good, serving Russian interests.



Manning’s Act II comes after exposing US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq – responsible whistleblowing we need much more of, challenging a ruthless rogue state.



Politics in America isn’t for the faint-hearted. Manning’s been through hell and back, enduring cruel and unusual punishment during imprisonment, including torture and years of solitary confinement.



She’s one of America’s best, heroic in the face of adversity and ill-treatment. She took great personal risks to reveal vital truths everyone has a right to know.



The late Michael Rattner called her court martial a “show trial of state secrecy,” guilt automatic before proceedings began, sentenced to 35 years in prison for doing the right thing, commuted by Obama.



Trump disgracefully called her a traitor, saying she should remain in prison. She withstood every harshness imposed on her during military and civil confinement, coming out standing tall.



She’s a national hero, her candidacy testimony to what politics should be all about – sadly absent in Washington with rare exceptions.



VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.



My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”



http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html



Source Article from https://www.freedomsphoenix.com/Article/233064-2018-01-16-chelsea-mannings-senate-bid-a-russian-plot.htm?EdNo=001&From=RSS

Putin aligned with anti-Semites in attacking democracy, Senate Democrats say: Zio-Watch, Jan 15, 2018

The United Nations refugee agency has called on Israeli authorities to scrap a new program that forces thousands of African refugees out of the occupied territories.

William Spindler, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said in a press briefing on Tuesday in the Swiss city of Geneva that the program was not “coherent” and “has been implemented not in a very transparent manner.”

“We are again appealing to Israel to halt its policy of relocating Eritreans and Sudanese to sub-Saharan Africa,” Spindler said.

“Official statements that the plans may eventually target families and those with pending asylum claims, or that asylum seekers might be taken to the airport in handcuffs, are particularly alarming.”

Spindler said some 27,000 Eritreans and 7,700 Sudanese lived in Israel, but authorities there had only granted refugee status to 11 since 2009.

In Europe, Eritreans have a very high rate of recognition as refugees fleeing war or persecution, the UNHCR spokesman said. “So we would expect that among them, many would qualify for refugee status.”
Click here for the full story

Source Article from https://davidduke.com/putin-aligned-with-anti-semites-in-attacking-democracy-senate-democrats-say-zio-watch-jan-15-2018/

Chelsea Manning eyes U.S. Senate seat for Maryland

(Adds background on Cardin, Manning, paragraphs 3-6)

WASHINGTON, Jan 13 (Reuters) – Chelsea Manning, the transgender U.S. Army soldier who served seven years in military prison for leaking classified data, is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate seat from Maryland, according to Federal election filings seen on Saturday.

Manning, who was granted clemency by former U.S. President Barack Obama, was released in May from a U.S. military prison in Kansas where she had been serving time for passing secrets to the WikiLeaks website in the biggest breach of classified data in the history of the United States.

Democratic Senator Ben Cardin was elected in 2006 to that seat and is expected to run for re-election this year. He is the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Cardin was easily re-elected in 2012, beating his Republican challenger by 30 points in the heavily-Democratic state.

Manning had been working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq. She was convicted by court-martial in 2013 of espionage and other offenses for furnishing more than 700,000 documents, videos and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, an international organization that publishes information from anonymous sources.

She came out as transgendered shortly after her sentencing, but the military denied her request for hormone therapy treatment while behind bars. She was placed in solitary confinement after attempting suicide twice. (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Rick Cowan; Editing by David Gregorio)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Source Article from http://news.trust.org/item/20180113195534-6m9gn

Top Takeaways From Senate Interview Of Man Whose Firm Probed Trump’s Russia Ties

WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee unilaterally released the transcript of that committee’s interview with a co-founder of Fusion GPS, the research firm that hired former British spy Christopher Steele to investigate ties between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign.

The Judiciary Committee talked to Fusion’s Glenn Simpson in August as part of its investigation into Russian election interference and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. The interview focused on Fusion’s work with Steele, who compiled allegations of salacious and corrupt ties between Donald Trump and Russian government officials going back several years. BuzzFeed published the unsubstantiated allegations last January.

Once a bipartisan effort, the Judiciary Committee’s inquiry has splintered along partisan lines, with Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) working to discredit Fusion by portraying it as a Russian operative.

Simpson answered questions from committee staffers for nearly 10 hours, producing more than 300 pages of transcript. Last week, he accused the committee’s Republican members of selectively leaking details from the interview to far-right media outlets while refusing to release the transcript in full.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) appeared similarly frustrated with her Republican counterparts. “The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice. The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public,” she wrote in a statement explaining her unusual decision to bypass the committee’s chairman in releasing the document.

Here are the top takeaways from the transcript:

Simpson was cooperative.

Grassley told The New York Times that Simpson was “uncooperative” during the interview. But the transcript shows the former Wall Street Journal reporter providing forthcoming responses to questions about Fusion GPS’s work with Steele and Steele’s communication with the FBI. Simpson did decline to comment on Steele’s sources and the identity of Fusion’s clients.

Simpson also answered extensive questions about Fusion’s work for an American law firm that represented Prevezon, a shell company owned by a Russian business that was accused of money laundering.

Simpson saw Natalia Veselnitskaya the same day she met secretly with the Trump campaign.

Natalia Veselnitskaya was Prevezon’s lawyer in Russia so Simpson interacted with her when Fusion was working on the Prevezon case. She was also the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort in June 2016 at Trump Tower. The Trump team took the meeting with her under the impression that she would provide damning information the Russian government had acquired about Hillary Clinton.

Simpson saw Veselnitskaya in court for the Prevezon case in New York on June 9 — the same day she met with the Trump team. He saw her again on June 10 at a dinner in Washington, D.C., but said they were seated at opposite ends of the table. He first became aware of her role in the Trump Tower meeting when The New York Times broke the story the following year. “I was stunned,” Simpson told the committee.

Steele sought out the FBI because he was worried candidate Trump was being blackmailed by Russia.

Fusion hired Steele in May or June of 2016, after exhausting open-source methods of investigating Trump, Simpson said. The former spy produced the first of several memos for Fusion in June 2016 and then suggested going to the FBI.  

“His concern,” Simpson said, was “whether or not there was blackmail going on, whether a political candidate was being blackmailed or had been compromised.”

Simpson signed off on the decision and Steele took his information to someone he knew at the FBI in late June or early July, according to Simpson. Steele traveled to Rome in September to give the FBI a full debriefing.

The FBI thought Steele was credible because they had received a similar tip from a Trump insider.

After briefing the FBI, Steele told Simpson that the bureau “had other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source,” according to Simpson.

“My understanding was that they believed Chris [Steele] at this point — that they believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization,” Simpson said during his Senate interview. Asked to clarify whether the source was part of Trump’s campaign or Trump’s business, Simpson declined to comment.

It’s possible that Simpson was referring to George Papadopoulos, a onetime foreign policy adviser on the Trump campaign team. Although Papadopoulos didn’t go to the FBI, he told an Australian diplomat in 2016 that Russia had dirt on Clinton. The Australian government later passed that information to the FBI.  

Steele “severed his relationship” with the FBI after the Times reported the bureau found no Trump ties to Russia.

On Oct. 31, 2016, The New York Times reported that the FBI had not “found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government.” Steele, who had been meticulously documenting allegations of ties between Trump and Russia, was taken aback. He stopped dealing with the FBI “out of concern that he didn’t know what was happening inside the FBI,” Simpson told the committee. “There was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people and that we didn’t really understand what was going on.”

Liz Spayd, then the New York Times public editor, addressed this story last January and implied that the paper’s reporters were aware of Steele’s unsubstantiated findings but weren’t able to verify them. “I have spoken privately with several journalists involved in the reporting last fall, and I believe a strong case can be made that The Times was too timid in its decisions not to publish the material it had,” Spayd wrote.

“Somebody’s already been killed” as a result of the publication of the Steele dossier.

Near the end of the interview, Jason Foster, Grassley’s chief investigative counsel for the committee, pressed Simpson on what steps he took to verify the credibility of Steele’s sources. Simpson declined to answer. When Foster pushed back, Simpson’s lawyer Joshua Levy interjected.

“It’s a voluntary interview, and in addition to that he wants to be very careful to protect his sources. Somebody’s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier, and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work,” Levy said.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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