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Trump admits sharing information with Russian Envoys about terror threat

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Political Editor – LeNora Millen

President Donald Trump defended revealing information to Russian officials, in a pair of tweets on Tuesday, stating that he shared “facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety” and had “the absolute right” to do so.

Trump tweets were in response to reports Monday that he revealed ‘highly classified’ information to senior Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting last week, putting a source of intelligence on the Islamic State at risk.

“As President, I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety,” he said in a series of tweets on Tuesday. “Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

Trump’s early morning tweets contradict his top foreign policy advisers race to mitigate and contain the political damage from a Washington Post report on Monday,  alleging that Trump revealed highly classified information to Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak.  The information cited in the Washington Post report was from a U.S. intelligence partner about an Islamic State plot. During the firestorm of reports stemming from the sharing of information with Russia, Trump faced a fury of questions about the handling of FBI Director James Comey’s firing amid an investigation of possible collusion by Trump associates in Russian interference with the U.S. election.

President Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak at the White House on Wednesday. Russian Foreign Ministry photo via Associated Press

White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in a seemingly rushed appearance on the White House lawn on Monday, in addressing the allegations in the Washington Post, stated:  “At no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed, and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.”  “I was in the room, it didn’t happen,” According to McMaster’s statement to the press, which was less than a minute. He ended the brief appearance without taking questions.

The Washington Post reports, the intelligence shared by Trump involved information about an Islamic State plot to use laptop computers as possible weapons aboard commercial aircraft.  The information was provided by a U.S. ally with access to the inner workings of the terrorist group. Trump’s admission in his Tuesday morning tweets, stating that he shared information with the Russians raised questions about the right of the president to release sensitive intelligence, even classified information.

Washington Post cited unnamed current and former U.S. officials with knowledge of the exchange, stating they recognized the sharing of the sensitive information jeopardized intelligence capabilities. Washington Post also reported that homeland security and counterterrorism adviser Thomas Bossert called the directors of the CIA and the National Security Agency afterward. One of his subordinates called for that portion of the discussion stricken from internal memos and circulation of a transcript limited to prevent sensitive details from being further distributed, reported in the article.

The U.S. held the intelligence at one of the highest classification levels that would typically prevent it from being shared even with allies, according to the Washington Post report. While Trump didn’t reveal the specific methods that developed the information or sources, he described elements of a particular plot and the city in Islamic State’s territory where the threat was detected, also reported by Washington Post.

A primary concern was that specific information could be enough to let the Russians identify the source and method, according to one intelligence official cited by the Post.

Top lawmakers of both parties, while saying they weren’t able to comment on the substance of the report, said it raised new questions about the administration.

“We have no way to know what was said, but protecting our nation’s secrets is paramount,” said Doug Andres, a spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan. “The speaker hopes for a full explanation of the facts from the administration.”

“The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order,” Republican Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters at the Capitol. “Obviously they’re in a downward spiral right now, and they’ve got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that’s happening.”

Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services panel, said sharing information without the permission of a foreign intelligence partner “violates a cardinal rule” of dealing with friendly agencies.

“If it’s accurate, it’s disturbing because it’s divulging information about operations in Syria which could be exploited not only by the Russians to interrupt intelligence operations that they feel are threatening to them,” Reed said.

The intelligence involved may be linked to the U.S. announcement on March 21 that electronic devices larger than smartphones would be banned from cabins on flights originating from 10 airports in the Middle East and Africa. The Department of Homeland Security has been considering expanding the restriction to flights from Europe.

The president has broad authority to declassify, information so it’s not likely he broke the law, according to the Post, even though he shared it with a U.S. adversary.

Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak one day after firing Comey, who was leading an investigation into possible collusion between Trump associates and Russian agents trying to interfere with the U.S. presidential election.

Trump has denied any connection to Russia while also questioning the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that the government in Moscow directed a campaign of hacking and disinformation to disrupt the election.

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Business

Former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Fired by Morgan Stanley for Alleged Misconduct

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Harold Ford Jr., a former congressman, was fired by the financial services firm Morgan Stanley following allegations of misconduct, NBC confirmed on Thursday.

Morgan Stanley declined to say specifically what prompted the firing. The allegations were presented after a woman who was not employed at the firm accused Mr. Ford of acting inappropriately in a professional setting.

Mr. Ford’s termination reported by HuffPost as an exclusive has been challenged by the former Congressman as “false claims.”

Harold Ford Jr., a former congressman, was fired from his position as a managing director at the financial services firm Morgan Stanley for what the company described as behavior “inconsistent with our values.”CreditMike Groll/Associated Press

In a statement provided by his lawyer, Mr. Ford denied the sexual harassment allegations, stating in a tweet on Thursday that he will be bringing legal action against the reporter, for making false claims against him, as well as Morgan Stanley for wrongful termination.

“This simply did not happen,” Mr. Ford wrote. “I have never forcibly grabbed any woman or man in my life.” He added that socializing with members of the press was part of his job, and said that “false claims like this undermine the real silence breakers.”

Mr. Ford served five terms in Congress as a Democrat representing a Tennessee district after first being elected in 1996—serving as Congressman from 1997 to 207.

He joined Morgan Stanley as a managing director and senior client-relationship manager in 2011 as a vice chairman and senior policy adviser at Bank of America.

Amid the heightened scrutiny of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior toppling key figures in the entertainment and political arena, Mr. Ford is the latest high profiled man to lose his job in recent days for similar allegations.

Time magazine on Wednesday named the “Silence Breakers” its Person of the Year. They shared personal stories about harassment and assault and sparked the #MeToo movement.

According to Time, the #MeToo became a hashtag, a movement, a reckoning. But it began, as great social change nearly always does, with individual acts of courage.

In a tweet acknowledging his thoughts on the “Silence Breaker” quite pointed in his statement, Mr. Ford said the following in regards to news of his firing on Thursday, “This simply did not happen.  I have never forcibly grabbed any woman or man in my life.”

In another tweet, Mr. Ford spoke about his professional demeanor and his tremendous respect for the brave women speaking out “in this important national dialogue.”  Mr. Ford was pointed in stating that false claims alleged against him “undermine the real “Silence Breakers.”

Mr. Ford appeared as a frequent guest on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” MSNBC – which is owned by NBC 4 New York’s parent company.

“We are looking into the report about Harold Ford Jr.,” a spokeswoman for MSNBC said. “During that time he won’t be a guest on MSNBC.”

LeNora Millen            12-7-17

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Business

TV One Cancels Roland Martin’s Morning Show ‘News One Now’

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TV One is canceling Roland Martin’s morning show “News One Now,” Roland made the announcement in a tweet Wednesday.

“Fam, the sad news is true. The staff of @tvonetv #NewsnewOneNow was informed this afternoon that after four years of doing groundbreaking and award-winning work, the show will cease production at the end of the year,” Martin tweeted.

Martin, who thanked audiences for their support, said the last episode will air on Dec. 21.

Roland Martin’s morning show “NewsOne Now” was cancelled due to budget cuts according to various reports from reliable sources.

“They called a meeting on Wednesday and told the staff they were canceling the show. They’re having significant financial problems and they have to scale back,” a source said. “After four years of award-winning programming and distinguished service to our viewers as the only black daily newscast on television, the network has made the difficult decision to suspend the production of NewsOne Now as a daily morning news show. The last live show is scheduled [Dec. 21],” TV One’s interim GM, Michelle Rice wrote in a memo.

Host of “News One Now” Roland Martin speaks on stage during ColorofChange.org 10 Year Anniversary Gala. (Rob Kim/Getty Images for ColorOfChange)

The news of “NewsOne Now” cancellation shocked Martin and staffers according to sources. The network had recently expanded the morning show to two hours in September.

The memo added: “While we will continue our long-standing partnership with Roland Martin to ensure his important voice can be heard across all Urban One platforms examining issues of importance to the black community, we regret this decision adversely affects several of our valued colleagues whose positions will be eliminated with the suspension of the show.”

The network issued a statement on Twitter that read, “We are committed to providing quality news to our viewers and to our long-standing relationship with @rolandsmartin #NewsOneNow who will continue to have a voice on #TVOne.”

LeNora Millen         12-07-17

 

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Editor Picks

President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

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Why declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is so controversial?

The final status of Jerusalem has always been one of the most difficult and sensitive questions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If the United States declares Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it would be seen as prejudging that question, deciding an issue that was supposed to be left to negotiations and breaking with the international consensus on the holy city.
Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital also moves the United States one major step closer to relocating the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would be seen as cementing Israeli sovereignty over the city.

More from CNN…

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