John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, said Sunday he has filed multiple “crimes reports” regarding alleged leaks of classified information to the media.
“When I become aware of intelligence community information that is disclosed unlawfully, I do what’s called a crimes report. I’ve done that now on a number of occasions, and so those investigations are moving forward,” Ratcliffe said on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”
Ratcliffe said that the timing of any prosecutions from the investigations “would be something that the FBI would have to address.”
Ratcliffe said he wants to avoid “a repeat of what happened a month ago,” a reference to a briefing he gave to all members of Congress regarding foreign governments’ efforts to interfere in American politics.
Ratcliffe said that he asked lawmakers not to disclose any of the classified information from the briefing, but he asserted that “within minutes of that one of those briefings ending, a number of members of Congress went to a number of different publications and leaked classified information.”
He said that the leaks were “for political purposes” to create what he said is a false narrative “that somehow Russia is a greater national security threat than China.”
Ratcliffe’s decision to limit election-related intelligence briefings prompted outrage from Democrats who say that he is withholding information about Russian meddling to provide political cover for President Donald Trump.
Ratcliffe did not provide details about which leaks have spurred him to file crimes reports. Republicans have long called on the Justice Department to more aggressively investigate leaks that sprung during the FBI and special counsel’s Trump-Russia investigations.
Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday released an FBI memo from 2018 that he says shows investigators lied to the Senate about statements that the primary source for the Steele dossier told the FBI regarding the salacious document.
“This document clearly shows that the FBI was continuing to mislead regarding the reliability of the Steele dossier,” Graham said in a statement announcing the release of an eight-page briefing document that the FBI provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee in February 2018.
The memo summarizes what Igor Danchenko, the primary source for dossier author Christopher Steele, told the FBI during interviews in early 2017. Steele relied primarily on Danchenko, a Russia analyst, to collect information for an investigation into Donald Trump’s possible ties to Russia.
Steele, a former MI6 officer, provided parts of the dossier to the FBI, which used the information in applications to conduct surveillance against Trump campaign aide Carter Page. A Justice Department inspector general’s report found that the FBI withheld information that undercut the reliability of Steele and the dossier.
The IG report said Danchenko’s statements to the FBI “raised significant questions about the reliability” of Steele’s reports.
According to Graham, the newly declassified FBI memo shows that the bureau did not disclose any of the dossier’s red flags in the Senate Intelligence briefing document.
“Somebody needs to go to jail for this,” Graham said Sunday.
“They lied to the FISA court. They got rebuked, the FBI did in 2019, by the FISA court putting in doubt all FISA applications, the FISA court just ripped a new one for the FBI, a year before they’re lying to the Senate Intel committee. It’s just amazing, the compounding of the lies.”
Graham took issue with two lines from the FBI memo, which he said was written in February or March 2018.
“At minimum, our discussions with [redacted] confirm that the dossier was not fabricated by Steele,” the memo says.
It also said that Danchenko “did not cite any significant concerns with the way his reporting was characterized in the dossier to the extent he could identify it.”
Graham says both statements are inaccurate. He pointed to Danchenko’s remarks to the FBI that he did not recognize some of the information that Steele attributed to him and his sub-sources in the dossier.
Several of the dossier’s most explosive allegations have been debunked.
One of those was Steele’s claim that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague in August 2018 to meet with Kremlin insiders to arrange payments to Russian hackers. The IG report said the FBI determined by February 2017 that the allegation was inaccurate and that Cohen did not visit Prague.
The time period for the FBI briefing to the Senate Intelligence Committee was a chaotic one in the investigation of the dossier. In February 2018, both Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released dueling memos regarding the dossier.
Republicans asserted that the FBI relied heavily on Steele’s information to surveil Page, but that investigators had failed to verify any of the dossier’s allegations.
Documents declassified on Tuesday detail an intense debate between the CIA and FBI in late 2016 over the handling of information from Christopher Steele, with one CIA official telling the Senate Intelligence Committee that the former British spy’s allegations about Trump-Russia collusion were “very unvetted.”
Despite the CIA’s concerns about Steele’s allegations, the FBI successfully lobbied to include his information in an Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election. The bureau also continued using information from Steele to conduct surveillance against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Investigators have since debunked several of Steele’s allegations.
According to the Senate report, FBI investigators informed CIA analysts on Dec. 20, 2016 that the bureau wanted to include information from Steele in the ICA.
James Comey and Andrew McCabe, the FBI director and deputy director, respectively, negotiated with their counterparts at the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to include Steele’s information, saying that it was relevant to the question of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
But CIA officials and analysts told the Senate panel that they had deep reservations about the dossier, according to the newly declassified materials.
“We would have never included that report in a CIA-only assessment because the source was so indirect. And we made sure we indicated we didn’t use it in our analysis, and if it had been a CIA-only product we wouldn’t have included it at all,” the CIA’s deputy director of analysis told the Senate panel.
According to the Senate report, an assistant director for an intelligence agency said that while she concurred with parts of the annex that dealt with Russia’s election-related efforts, allegations regarding collusion involving members of the Trump campaign was uncorroborated.
“I can tell you that there is no information coming from [redacted] sources that would corroborate any of that,” the official told the Senate panel, adding that Steele’s Trump-related information was “very unvetted.”
A CIA analyst told the committee on July 18, 2017, that the agency had “a bitter argument” with the FBI over whether to put the information in the annex.
John Brennan, the CIA director at the time, said that the CIA “pushed back” against Comey’s requests to include Steele’s information in the body of the ICA. The CIA eventually agreed with Comey to include the information in the annex.
Brennan said that a deputy director of analysis “was very concerned about polluting the ICA with this material.”
According to the Senate report, Brennan told the committee that he received an unsolicited phone call from someone in the British government saying they were not involved in creating the dossier.
“He wanted to make sure that I understood and that others in the senior officialdom of the U.S. government understood that that officer, Steele, had been a former [redacted] but had no current relationship with [redacted] and that dossier was not put together in any way with [redacted] support,” Brennan said. “So he wanted to make sure there was a separation there.”
Aaron Zelinsky, a top prosecutor on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, will testify before the House Judiciary Committee on June 24.
Zelinsky will testify as a whistleblower against Attorney General William Barr, Democrats announced.
He resigned in protest earlier this year as a prosecutor on the case against Roger Stone after Barr intervened to revise a recommendation for a steep prison sentence against the Trump confidante.
One of the top prosecutors on the special counsel’s team is set to testify as a whistleblower against Attorney General William Barr, the House Judiciary Committee announced on Tuesday.
Aaron Zelinsky will testify on June 24 regarding the Justice Department’s handling of the prosecution of Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidante convicted on charges that he made false statements to Congress during its investigation of possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Another Justice Department attorney, John Elias, the acting chief of staff for the assistant attorney general for the antitrust division, will also testify as a whistleblower about what Democrats say is “improperly motivated activity” by the antitrust division.
“Mr. Zelinsky can speak to the Department’s handling of the sentencing of Roger Stone and Mr. Elias can speak to improperly motivated activity by the Antitrust Division,” the Judiciary Committee announced.
Democrats on the committee subpoenaed Zelinsky and Elias to compel their testimony. Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York said that both of the prosecutors are designated as whistleblowers, meaning that they will have protections against retribution for testifying to Congress.
Zelinsky resigned from his position as a prosecutor on the case against Stone on Feb. 11 after the Justice Department’s main office intervened to recommend a lighter sentence against the Trump associate.
Prosecutors initially recommended the maximum of nine years in prison for Stone.
After Barr intervened, Timothy Shea, who then served as U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., revised the recommendation in a subsequent court filing, saying that Stone deserved a “substantial” prison sentence, but one that was “far less” than the maximum nine year sentence.
Prosecutors argued in the revised filing that the initial recommendation did not take into full account that a key government witness at Stone’s trial asked that Stone receive no jail time.
Zelinsky and three other attorneys stepped down from their positions on the Stone matter after the revised filing.
The special counsel’s team initially investigated whether any Trump associates conspired with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election. When that probe turned up no evidence of collusion, prosecutors set their sights on whether Stone had any contacts with WikiLeaks, the group that published emails that Russians stole from the DNC and Clinton campaign.
Prosecutors said in a report of their investigation that there was no evidence that any Trump associate — including Stone — took part in the hacks or the release of the emails. The special counsel’s team sought to find out whether Stone had prior knowledge of WikiLeaks’ activities or discussed the group’s document dumps with anyone on the Trump campaign.
A jury in Washington, D.C. convicted Stone on Nov. 15 on charges that he made false statements to Congress regarding his conversations about WikiLeaks. He was also convicted on an obstruction charge and a witness tampering charge.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Stone to 40 months in prison on Feb. 20. He is scheduled to begin his sentence at the end of the month, though President Trump has signaled he may pardon his longtime associate.
Trump supporters have asserted that the case against Stone was a far cry from the alleged conspiracy that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was initially tasked to investigate.
Zelinsky, who is currently a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in Baltimore, played a key role in several prosecutions of Trump associates during the special counsel’s investigation, which he joined in June 2017.
He was involved in the investigation against George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign aide who served as a catalyst for the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign in July 2016. Though the FBI and Mueller team initially suspected that Papadopoulos was the key to Trump-Russia collusion, the former campaign aide ended up pleading guilty to a single charge of making false statements to the FBI regarding his contacts with a mysterious Maltese professor named Joseph Mifsud.
Prosecutors secured Papadopoulos’s plea deal relatively early in their investigation, on Oct. 5, 2017. By entering the plea agreement, Papadopoulos was prohibited from disclosing details of contacts he had with multiple confidential FBI sources in 2016.
A Justice Department inspector general’s report on the FBI’s investigation of the Trump team said that FBI agents failed to disclose exculpatory information from Papadopoulos’s conversations with one of the FBI informants, Stefan Halper, in applications to conduct surveillance on another Trump aide, Carter Page.
Like a vast majority of the prosecutors on the special counsel’s team, Zelinsky was an avowed Democrat. He wrote more than 50 articles between 2009 and 2014 for Huffington Post, the liberal news outlet. In one article in 2012 he declared his political affiliation, writing: “I’m a Democrat.”
Christopher Steele testified in March that a former State Department official and longtime Clinton ally contacted him in summer 2016 regarding the Trump dossier.
Strobe Talbott told him he had learned of the dossier project from one or more Obama administration officials, Steele said.
Multiple former State Department officials were involved in handling and disseminating Steele’s dossier, which came under intense scrutiny in a Justice Department inspector general’s report.
Former British spy Christopher Steele testified in March that a longtime ally of the Clintons contacted him in summer 2016 about his investigation into Donald Trump after learning about it from one or more Obama administration officials.
Strobe Talbott, the former president of the Brookings Institution, contacted him in the months leading up to the 2016 election inquiring about an investigation he was conducting at the time into Trump’s possible ties to Russia, Steele said in a sworn deposition on March 18.
“I remember taking a phone call from him, your Lordship, earlier in the summer, in which he said that he was aware that I had — he spoke in fairly cryptic terms, but he was aware that we had material of relevance to the US election,” Steele testified of Talbott, who served as deputy secretary of state in the Clinton administration.
Steele, who was testifying in the United Kingdom as part of a defamation lawsuit against him, said that Talbott indicated he had learned about Steele’s Trump-related work from either State Department official Victoria Nuland or National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
“Although he didn’t state it explicitly, one or either or both of them had briefed him on the work we had been doing,” Steele said, referring to Nuland and Rice.
A spokeswoman for Rice, Erin Pelton, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that it is “utterly and completely false” that Rice spoke to Talbott about Steele’s work. Nuland and Talbott did not respond to requests for comment.
Nuland, who is a non-resident fellow at Brookings, had previous links to Steele. She received dozens of reports from the ex-spy in 2014 and 2015 related to Russia and Ukraine. She also authorized an FBI agent to meet with Steele on July 5, 2016, shortly after he began investigating Trump on behalf of the DNC and Clinton campaign.
Carter Page, a major target of the dossier, blasted Talbott over his contacts with Steele.
“Strobe Talbott is someone who I had long known and respected,” Page told the DCNF.
“The new evidence revealing that he and his colleagues from the Brookings Institution got involved in this severe election interference campaign with the DNC-funded Dodgy Dossier truly shocks the conscience.”
Steele had revealed in an Aug. 1, 2018, court filing in the case that he talked with Talbott about the dossier, and provided him a copy of the salacious report in November 2016. Other details about Talbott’s involvement in the dossier saga have trickled out in recent months.
Fiona Hill, a former Brookings official who worked in the Trump administration, testified to Congress in 2019 that Talbott provided her a copy of the dossier on Jan. 9, 2017, a day before BuzzFeed News published the salacious document.
Hill testified in another setting in 2019 that she believed that Steele’s dossier includes disinformation from Russia.
The FBI received evidence in 2017 that Russian intelligence operatives might have fed disinformation to Steele. A Justice Department inspector general’s report said that the U.S. intelligence community told the FBI in June 2017 that two Russian intelligence officers were aware of Steele’s investigation of Trump as early as July 2016.
Talbott’s interest in the dossier raises questions about what he knew of another Trump-related investigation that focused on allegations similar to Steele’s.
Talbott’s brother-in-law, Cody Shearer, compiled two memos alleging that the Kremlin has video of Trump in Moscow engaged in lewd sexual behavior. Steele’s initial dossier memo, dated June 20, 2016, includes a similar allegation.
Steele’s State Department contact, Jonathan Winer, handled both of the dossiers. Winer provided Steele with a copy of Shearer’s memos. Steele in turn provided those to the FBI. Winer also shared Steele’s documents with his State Department colleagues. He also arranged a meeting for Steele with Kathleen Kavalec, a deputy to Nuland, on Oct. 11, 2016.
Talbott left the Brookings Institution in October 2017 after 15 years leading the think tank. A former college classmate of Bill Clinton, he was appointed in 2011 by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to serve as chairman of State Department’s Foreign Affairs Advisory Board, which served as a mechanism to provide foreign policy advice to officials at Foggy Bottom.
Christopher Steele shed new light on his work for the Clinton campaign and DNC, revealing in testimony last month that he met with two lawyers for the Democrats as part of his investigation into Donald Trump.
Steele met with Perkins Coie partners Michael Sussmann and Marc Elias, he testified.
Steele said that Sussmann provided him with the now-debunked tip that a Russian bank had a secret communications channel with the Trump Organization.
A lawyer representing the DNC and Clinton campaign provided Christopher Steele with information in 2016 regarding an alleged secret communications channel between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank, the former spy told a British court last month.
That now-debunked tip, from Perkins Coie lawyer Michael Sussmann, set off a chain of events that led to Steele publishing a Sept. 14, 2016 memo accusing the founders of the bank, Alfa Bank, of having “illicit” ties to Vladimir Putin, according to a court transcript obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
A week after Steele wrote that memo, he had another meeting with Sussmann’s colleague, Marc Elias, according to the transcript.
Steele disclosed the previously unreported meetings with Sussmann and Elias during testimony in a defamation lawsuit filed against him by the Alfa Bank founders, the transcript shows.
Steele’s testimony about Sussmann and Elias provides insight into how deeply involved the two lawyers were in the Trump investigation, and suggests they helped shape Steele’s investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Perkins Coie, Sussmann and Elias did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
Elias, who served as general counsel for the Clinton campaign, hired Fusion GPS in April 2016 to investigate Donald Trump. Fusion GPS in turn picked Steele, a former MI6 officer, in June 2016 to investigate Trump’s possible ties to Russia.
Steele would go on to produce 17 memos alleging that the Russian government had blackmail material on Trump, and that members of his campaign were conspiring with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election.
Many of Steele’s most explosive allegations have been debunked in the 40 months since BuzzFeed News published the dossier.
A Justice Department inspector general’s report said that Steele’s primary source of information disputed many of the allegations in the dossier. The IG report also said that the FBI and U.S. intelligence community received evidence in 2017 that Russian intelligence operatives may have fed disinformation to Steele.
The IG report also dealt a fatal blow to the Alfa Bank theory peddled by Sussmann.
It said the FBI investigated whether there were “cyber links” between Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization, the company owned by Donald Trump, “but had concluded by early February 2017 that there were no such links.”
The three owners of Alfa Bank have sued Steele in the U.S. and U.K. over the Sept. 14, 2016 memo, which is referred to as “Company Intelligence Report 112” in the dossier.
Steele testified under oath in London on March 17 and 18.
He revealed that Sussmann, a former Justice Department official, told him during a meeting on July 29, 2016 about suspicious network traffic between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, according to the transcript.
He also said that the theory about the computer server traffic was the catalyst for the dossier memo he would write six weeks later about Alfa Bank, the transcript shows.
“I’m very clear is that the first person that ever mentioned the Trump server issue, Alfa server issue, was Mr. Sussman [sic],” Steele told Hugh Tomlinson, a lawyer for the Alfa Bank owners, on March 17, the transcript shows.
Steele went on to say that Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson instructed him at some point after the Sussmann meeting to write a report about Alfa Bank, according to the transcript.
“I was given the instruction sometime after that meeting by Mr. Simpson,” said Steele, adding that the instruction from Simpson “was absolutely, definitely linked to the server issue,” the transcript shows.
It was not previously known whether Steele keyed in on Alfa Bank on his own initiative, or if someone else tasked him with investigating the bank.
Steele said that he directed his dossier source to collect information from Russia about the bank, the transcript shows.
The transcript also shows that Steele claimed that the source, who has not been identified, met with a “top level Russian government official,” who reported back on the Alfa Bank founders.
In Report 112, Steele wrote that the Russian official said that the three Alfa Bank founders had had “ups and down” with Vladimir Putin in the past, but were on “very good terms” with the Russian leader at the time. The source also alleged that the Alfa Bank founders had delivered “large amounts of cash” to Putin in the 1990s, when he served as deputy mayor of St. Petersburg.
The report also alleges that both sides held compromising information on the other, keeping everyone involved in check.
The Alfa Bank founders have vehemently denied Steele’s allegations.
Sussmann shopped the allegations about the Alfa Bank computer servers around to others besides Steele, including to journalists and the FBI’s top lawyer.
He shared the information with reporters from the New York Times and Slate, which ran a story on Oct. 31, 2016.
According to that story, Alfa Bank’s servers were communicating in a peculiar fashion with those of the Trump Organization. A team of computer experts who studied the traffic determined that the Alfa-Trump channel was being used for some sort of communication between the two sides, the story said.
That assessment, if true, would have fit into Steele’s theory that the Trump campaign was conspiring with the Kremlin.
The Slate story appeared as rumors gained steam that the Trump campaign was somehow involved in the hack and release of emails from the DNC and Clinton campaign. On Sept. 23, 2016, Yahoo! News published a story alleging that Trump campaign aide Carter Page met secretly with Kremlin insiders to discuss exchanging material on Hillary Clinton.
On the day the Slate story appeared, Mother Jones reporter David Corn published a report citing a “former Western intelligence officer” who claimed that the Russian government had compromising material on Trump.
It is now known that Steele was involved in one way or the other in all three of the stories. He has acknowledged in court proceedings to meeting with both reporters from Mother Jones and Yahoo, and had investigated the allegations central to the Slate story.
To further spread the Alfa Bank story, Sussmann contacted James Baker, his former DOJ colleague who then served as general counsel for the FBI. Baker told House investigators on Oct. 18, 2018 that Sussmann contacted him to share the information and that they met on Sept. 19, 2016.
That day was a busy one for the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team. The Justice Department IG report said that Steele provided six memos from his dossier to the FBI that same day.
The FBI began almost immediately drafting an application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against Carter Page. The applications relied heavily on Steele’s dossier, which alleged that Page was a key link between the Trump team and Kremlin.
Notably, Steele did not provide the FBI with Report 112 from his dossier, according to the IG report. The FBI eventually obtained the memo on Nov. 6, 2016, when provided it to Baker.
It is unclear whether Sussmann and Steele’s outreach to the FBI on Sept. 19, 2016 was coordinated, or merely coincidental.
Three days later, Steele met with Elias at Perkins Coie’s offices in Washington, D.C., the ex-spy testified. Steele did not provide details of his discussions with Elias.
He also met with several journalists to discuss the dossier during that same visit to the U.S. capital. One of the journalists Steele met was Michael Isikoff, the author of the Yahoo! story about Carter Page.
Perkins Coie has been reluctant to discuss its affiliation with Fusion GPS and Steele. Elias, the Perkins Coie partner, did not disclose his involvement in the matter when he attended a congressional deposition regarding the dossier along with his client, former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
One mystery is where Sussmann obtained the information regarding an Alfa Bank connection to the Trump Organization. Steele testified that a group of cyber experts passed Sussmann the information in late July 2016.
The cyber experts, who go by the pseudonyms “Max” and “Tea Leaves,” have spoken to numerous reporters about their investigation, including at Slate, The New Yorker and The New York Times.
A cyber firm that Alfa Bank hired to investigate the server allegations determined that the computer records were likely fabricated by “threat actors” who wanted “to make it appear as though a connection existed” between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank.
“If true, this would constitute a potential violation of various US federal laws,” Ankura, the cyber firm, wrote in a report released Friday.
Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, called on House Democrats to invite Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz to testify about his investigations of the FBI’s abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the committee, has resisted requests to invited Horowitz to testify about his office’s report of the FBI’s mishandling of surveillance against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Jordan renewed his request of Nadler after Horowitz released the preliminary results of an audit his office conducted of a sample of 29 applications that the FBI submitted to a federal court in order to spy on American citizens.
“Because of the pervasiveness and seriousness of the FISA application deficiencies — and the pending reauthorization of FISA — we renew our request that you invite Inspector General Michael Horowitz to testify at a public hearing promptly when the House returns to session,” Jordan wrote in a letter to Nadler obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Horowitz’s investigators found problems in all 29 applications selected for audit. A memo that Horowitz sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray said FBI agents failed to complete a series of procedures — called Woods Procedures — that are in place to ensure that investigators verify every piece of evidence that is cited in FISA applications.
Horowitz began the audit as a follow-up to his investigation into the FBI’s surveillance of Carter Page.
That report found that FBI agents withheld information that undercut the bureau’s theory that Page was a Russian agent. Investigators also failed to disclose derogatory information regarding former British spy Christopher Steele. The FBI cited information from Steele throughout its surveillance warrant applications.
Horowitz’s latest report could potentially derail Congress’ reauthorization of several surveillance tools that the government uses to spy on foreigners and U.S. citizens.
The House struck a bipartisan deal on March 11 to reauthorize the surveillance tools after lawmakers agreed to enhance penalties and punishments for government officials who abuse the spy process. The Senate passed a 75-day extension of the surveillance laws on March 16.
An imam who spoke at a Bernie Sanders rally in Michigan over the weekend has previously said that ISIS was ‘somehow connected’ to Israel.
Imam Sayed Hassan Qazwini has also previously decried the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage and called homosexuality ‘a form of disorder.’
Qazwini, who operates the Islamic Institute of America, also once praised Sanders as an ‘honorable man, even though he is a Jew.’
A Michigan-based Islamic cleric who spoke at a Bernie Sanders rally on Saturday has claimed in sermons that the terrorist group ISIS is “somehow connected to Israel,” and that homosexuality is “a form of disorder.”
Imam Sayed Hassan Qazwini, the head of the Islamic Institute of America in Dearborn Heights, appeared at Sanders’s 2020 presidential rally over the weekend, ahead of Michigan’s primary on Tuesday.
“I believe we need to send someone who cares about all Americans, and he treats them equally,” Qazwini said in a speech shortly before Sanders took the rally stage.
“We need someone who does not promote anti-Semitism in this country, someone who does not promote Islamophobia in this country, someone who does not promote white supremacy in this country, someone like Bernie Sanders who loves all and supports all,” Qazwini continued.
While Qazwini decried anti-Semitism at the rally, he has in the past alleged that ISIS worked with Israel to harm the image of Islam. In previous sermons supporting Sanders, he called the Vermont senator an “honorable man, even though he is a Jew.”
“I have no doubt that ISIS is motivated by an agenda run by the enemies of Islam,” Qazwini said during a sermon on Nov. 20, 2015, at Detroit’s Az-Zahraa Islamic Center.
He said that while ISIS has waged attacks in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and other Middle Eastern and Arab nations, Israel “has been completely safe” from the terrorist group.
“What does this tell you?” he asked his congregation.
“This speaks out. This speaks volumes: that ISIS somehow is connected to Israel, and ISIS is playing the role of the arm of the Zionist in the Muslim world to kill more Muslims and non-Muslims so it can define the name of Islam, so people can blame Islam for its atrocities.”
He went on to say that the “number one beneficiary of all these atrocities” was “the Zionist regime.”
Qazwini praised Sanders during a speech at the same mosque on Sept. 16, 2016, over his stance against what he called “the pro-Israeli lobby.”
“An honorable man, I truly consider him an honorable man, even though he is a Jew, but you know we have no problem with the Jewish people,” Qazwini said of Sanders.
“We have a problem with the Zionists, not with the Jewish people, like Bernie Sanders. He was the only one who was honest, and who did not even bow to the pro-Israeli lobby.”
Additionally, during a sermon on July 3, 2015, he lamented the Supreme Court’s decision days earlier to legalize same sex marriage, saying that the decision was the product of “the lobbying of homosexual groups” and that homosexuality is a “disorder.”
“Last week, my dear brothers and sisters, was a turning point in the history of the United States, where I believe it was a very disappointing moment in our history as Americans,” Qazwini said.
“Unfortunately, due to the lobbying of homosexual groups, the United States had to succumb to the pressure, and come to a point at which, instead of telling Americans that homosexuality is a form of disorder, they are telling Americans that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality,” Qazwini preached.
“This is not a moment that we as Americans should be proud of our history,” he continued. “This is a moment that Americans would look back at with so much regret and sorrow, that we are legalizing something that is normal, something that is against human nature.”
“We need to spread the awareness, my dear brothers and sisters, that this is a red line that this society is crossing, unfortunately,” Qazwini said.
Qazwini’s position on gay marriage is in stark contrast with his preferred presidential candidate.
“People have the right to love who they want to love and get married regardless of their sexual orientation,” reads Sanders’s campaign website.
Qazwini did not respond to a request for comment. The Sanders campaign also did not reply to a request for comment.
Hunter Biden cited political connections in 2019 while pitching the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law on letting him teach a drug policy course, emails reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation show.
The talks broke down after Hunter failed to “submit further materials for the proposed course,” a UCLA Law spokesman told the DCNF.
Former Vice President Joe Biden said in October 2019 that Hunter was “gonna be teaching at law school next year.”
Hunter Biden touted his political connections in 2019 while unsuccessfully pitching the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law on letting him teach a course on drug policy, emails obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation show.
In his pitch, Biden listed off a number of possible guest speakers, most of whom had ties to his father, Democratic frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden.
“In 2019, Hunter Biden inquired about the possibility of teaching a course at UCLA School of Law, and he and school leaders held preliminary conversations about the possibility,” the law school’s executive director of communications, Bill Kisliuk, told the DCNF in an email.
“Mr. Biden subsequently did not submit further materials for the proposed course, which is a required step when the school is considering adding a course. There are no plans for Mr. Biden to teach at the law school,” Kisliuk added.
Joe Biden, who now leads the Democratic primary after a strong Super Tuesday performance, told reporters in October 2019 that Hunter was “gonna be teaching at law school next year.”
Hunter moved to Los Angeles in early 2018, though little is known about his activities there. During his father’s presidential bid, Republicans have set their sights on Hunter’s ties to foreign companies, including in China and Ukraine.
Hunter served on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings through April 2019, leaving the position weeks before his father announced his presidential bid. He was also on the board of a Chinese private equity firm through October 2019.
Emails reviewed by the DCNF show that school officials were slow to embrace Hunter’s proposal.
Hunter emailed the law school’s dean, Jennifer Mnookin, in July 2019 to share his vision for the course he wanted to teach.
Hunter, whose struggles with drug abuse have been widely publicized, said he “would like to focus on domestic and international drug policy” in the proposed course. He also attached a syllabus of a course he taught for Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.
“I will have some combination of key decision makers, leading thinkers, policy implementers and grass roots advocates as guests for each topic,” he wrote.
He ticked off high-profile figures as possible guests or co-teachers of the course, including former Obama administration officials and friends of his father.
“For instance I’d like to have former Attorney’s [sic] General Dustin McDaniel of Arkansas and Patrick Lynch of Rhode Island to discuss their roles in the state class action suits brought against Purdue Pharma and possibly a prosecutor involved in the criminal cases against the Sackler family,” he wrote.
“For plan Colombia the El Chapo extradition [sic] I’m certain I could get former President Pastrana of Colombia to discuss how he implemented ‘Plan Colombia’ with the US government along with Christopher Putala and Manus Cooney who were both chief’s of staff (Democrat and Republican) to the judiciary committee at the time,” Hunter continued.
“I would also invite former FBI Director Louis Freeh and possibly the US Attorney responsible for that extradition and indictment. For a the class [sic] on decriminalization I would invite [California] Governor [Gavin] Newsom (may be a long shot but I know he would consider it if his schedule allows),” he added. “The list goes on.”
McDaniel represented Hunter in a paternity lawsuit until withdrawing as counsel in December 2019. Others on Hunter’s list have direct ties to his father.
Pastrana, the former Columbian president, worked with Joe Biden during the latter’s time in the Senate and has also described Biden as his friend. Putala is a lobbyist who once worked for Joe Biden in the Senate.
Freeh once described Joe Biden as a “dear friend” of his. Hunter reportedly recruited the former FBI chief in 2016 to serve on the legal team of Gabriel Popoviciu, a Romanian real estate magnate convicted of bribery charges in Bucharest.
Mnookin, the law school dean, indicated in her email that she met with Biden and his wife, Melissa Cohen Biden.
“It was great to meet you and Melissa last month, and I very much appreciate your following up and sending along the attached syllabus,” she wrote in an Aug. 9, 2019, email. “I think this offers some very exciting possibilities, and I look forward to seeing what we may be able to do.”
Mnookin passed along Hunter’s email to another law school official, Steven Bank.
“As Vice Dean for Curricular and Academic Affairs, I typically help craft the schedule and identify and develop proposed new courses, although the Curriculum Committee and the Faculty have the final say on approving any proposed additions,” Bank wrote in an email to Hunter.
“In determining whether this would be a good fit for the Law School, it might helpful for us to talk further,” he added, and asked when “it might be a good time for us to have a phone call to discuss further.”
Hunter replied in ten words: “Please let me know when you are available to speak.”
“Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, although I hope I didn’t give you the impression in my e-mail that this was a rush,” Bank replied. “If we decided to move forward, this wouldn’t even be considered by the Curriculum Committee and the Faculty until Spring 2020 for a Spring 2021 slot most likely.”
Talks between the two parties apparently broke down sometime after that.
The emails between Hunter and the UCLA officials were obtained through the California Public Records Act and provided to the DCNF.
The emails fill in some of the gaps of what Hunter has been doing in the months since his father began running for president.
Biden moved to Los Angeles following a divorce from his ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle. He and Melissa Cohen Biden, his current wife, live in a $12,000-per-month house in the Hollywood Hills, according to a glowing profile of Hunter that The New York Times published Friday.
Biden acknowledged his struggles with drug addiction in that profile, telling the Times that he was addicted to crack for four years. He has since taken up painting as therapy to deal with his struggles with addiction.
Though Hunter is now based in L.A., he was conspicuously absent at his father’s rally there Tuesday night after his strong Super Tuesday showing. The former vice president was accompanied on stage by his wife and sister.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who vowed when she announced her White House bid in 2019 not to take “a dime of PAC money in this campaign,” refused Thursday to disavow a super PAC raising money to support her candidacy.
“Do you want the super PAC supporting you to stand down?” a reporter asked Warren outside of a campaign stop in Nevada. The super PAC in question, Persist PAC, formed this week to support the Massachusetts Democrat.
“So look, the first day I got in this race over a year ago, I said I hope every presidential candidate that comes in will agree, no super PACs for any of us,” Warren replied.
“I’ve renewed that call dozens of times, and I couldn’t get a single Democrat to go along with it,” she said.
Warren defended her about-face on super PAC money in terms of gender and told reporters that she and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota were the only Democratic presidential candidates who did not have super political action committees supporting their campaigns.
“We reached a point a few weeks ago where all of the men who were still in this race and on the debate stage all had either super PACs or they were multi-billionaires and they could just rummage in their sock drawers and find enough money to be able to fund a campaign,” Warren said.
“And the only people that didn’t have them were the two women,” she continued.
NEW: Here is video of Warren declining to disavow the new super PAC supporting her:
“If all the candidates want to get rid of super PACs, count me in. I'll lead the charge. But that's how it has to be. It can't be the case that a bunch of people keep them and only 1 or 2 don’t.” pic.twitter.com/byxQRjGMfs
Warren has run largely on opposing support from lobbyists, billionaires and super PACs, which can receive unlimited donations from individual donors as long as they do not coordinate directly with a candidate’s campaign.
“I’ve already said that I will run my campaign differently — no Washington lobbyist money, no PAC money, no auditioning billionaires to run a super PAC for me, and no dark-money groups devoted to supporting this campaign,” Warren wrote in a post on Medium on Feb. 25, 2019.
“I’m not taking a dime of PAC money in this campaign,” Warren vowed during her campaign announcement on Feb. 9, 2019.
“I’m not taking a single check from a federal lobbyist. I’m not taking applications from billionaires who want to run a super PAC on my behalf, and I challenge every other candidate who asks for your vote in this primary to say exactly the same thing,” she said.
Elizabeth Warren: "I'm not taking a dime of PAC money in this campaign. I'm not taking a single check from a federal lobbyist. I'm not taking applications from billionaires who want to run a Super PAC on my behalf." Via CBS pic.twitter.com/QBchCOyAbz
But Warren’s idealism has seemingly been tested by lackluster campaign fundraising and disappointing showings at the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, where she finished third and fourth, respectively.