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Secret Trump Russia investigation confirmed by ex-FBI agents as based on ‘serious and substantial evidence’

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Former FBI agents and Justice Department officials have rushed to the FBI’s defense over a report that President Donald Trump was being investigated for working for the Kremlin after he fired ex-director James Comey, saying it would not have been opened if officials were not seriously alarmed.

According to a report at the Daily Beast, agents and DOJ insiders who spoke with them said the White House’s protestations that the investigation was “absurd” are far from the truth, with one admitting it was based on “serious and substantial evidence.”

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Stating that decision was made way up the FBI’s hierarchy, one ex-agent said it was “unprecedented,” which indicated it was not entered into lightly.

“This is uncharted territory,” explained Ali Soufan, a former FBI counterterrorism agent. “I don’t believe that it had happened before… Ever.”

Explaining why the agency took the extraordinary step of opening the investigation, a Justice Department attorney explained the process.

“There are a variety of ways to gather information about foreign efforts to influence a U.S. official that don’t require the sensitive step of targeting that official’s communications, and those who are criticizing the FBI for pursuing a counterintelligence investigation are doing so without any knowledge of what investigative steps were actually undertaken,” the attorney said.

Another former agent agreed that the decision to investigate a sitting president had to have the approval from senior Justice Department officials.

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“It would be most likely that the highest levels of the FBI and DOJ signed off on the investigation,” former agent Mike German confirmed before adding, “Of course, with the U.S. president as a subject, the threshold would be much higher than normal.”

Another source in the Justice Department speculated that the investigation may still be ongoing.

“They take a long time. They’re not over quickly. And based on the president’s public statements and actions, I think you have to open a cointel investigation,” explained the former senior DOJ official who oversaw counterintelligence investigations. “You might never know that it’s resolved. These cases often never see the inside of a courtroom. The findings are often kept within the intelligence community, indexed and filed away.”

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Sondland is in ‘tremendous trouble’ no matter how he tries to change his testimony tomorrow: NYT columnist

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On Tuesday, in the wake of testimony from several witnesses in the impeachment hearing that broadly implicated EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland in improper backchannel foreign policy, New York Times columnist Wajahat Ali suggested that Sondland is in "tremendous trouble" — and that no testimony he could give tomorrow will get him out of this mess:

No. He will be trying to save himself. The perjury plus multiple stellar witnesses paint a damning portrait. He's in tremendous trouble. https://t.co/CxN5w0EErb

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Even the Republican witnesses make Donald Trump look like a depraved criminal

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The second half of Tuesday's hearing offered something new in the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry: Witnesses called by the Republican minority on the House Intelligence Committee. It's understandable why Republicans would want these two men.

One of them was Tim Morrison, a former National Security Council aide who is among the few people directly exposed to Trump's famous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who claims to believe there was nothing wrong with it. The other was Kurt Volker, a former special envoy to Ukraine, who appears to have been a major actor in Trump's extortion scheme in that country. Indeed, Volker was deemed one of the "three amigos" — along with Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Trump donor/EU ambassador Gordon Sondland — who Trump entrusted with Ukrainian relations as he exerted increasing pressure on the country's leaders to give into his extortion scheme.

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Impeachment: Trump’s ‘hearsay’ defense just crashed and burned

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In the panoply of contradictory and incoherent defenses of Donald Trump, a favorite of Republicans has been to harp on the claim that witnesses to Trump's extortion scheme against Ukraine were all "second-hand" or "third-hand." This has always been confounding, as the official summary readout of the famous phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shows Trump clearly conditioning military aid and U.S. support on Zelensky giving a public boost to Trump's conspiracy theories about former Vice President Joe Biden and other Democratic leaders. The witnesses so far have simply affirmed what the written record demonstrates amply.

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