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Former FBI agent explains why Trump just opened himself to more legal problems

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Former FBI agent Asha Rangappa explained that the recent revelations that President Donald Trump made a promise to a foreign leader that made an intelligence official uncomfortable enough to declare themselves a whistleblower.

Rangappa explained that the President has a fairly wide latitude to conduct foreign affairs as he sees fit. But “when it comes to the ‘outside world,’ the President represents the sovereign: He is basically the voice of the United States and can negotiate with world leaders on its behalf.”

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She explained the separation of powers argument that the President should be able to discuss things confidentially when it has to do with diplomatic communications. World leaders should feel secure that their conversations with Trump are private, other than his Twitter feed.

“HAVING SAID THAT,” Rangappa tweeted in all capital letters. “There are limitations. First, as @jedshug has written (also in context of obstruction of justice), the President has a fiduciary obligation to act in the *best interests of the United States*. In other words, he cannot abuse his powers for personal gain — further, the ‘slice’ of his ‘exclusive’ Art. II powers is fairly narrow. Congress does have a say, for instance, whether we go to war in the absence of an emergency defensive action. It can also say that certain types of foreign policy actions are illegal.”

She then quoted former Barack Obama appointee Eric Columbus.

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“So, for instance, while President Reagan might have argued that his actions in Iran Contra were in the best interest of the U.S. (preventing [the] spread of Communism), they were nevertheless in violation of the Boland Amendment and still illegal,” she continued. “In fact, much of the extensive congressional oversight over intelligence functions stems from things like Iran Contra — you want to balance POTUS’ foreign affairs/nat sec powers with transparency, individual rights (e.g., warrantless wiretapping after 9/11), and accountability.”

The way that the law works is the whistleblower would approach the independent council or another separate entity to “vet” the complaint and if it is urgent escalate it.

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“The IG has to look at the complaint, determine that it is credible and that it is urgent: That it is ‘[a] serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law or Executive order, or deficiency relating to to…an intelligence activity involving classified information,'” Rangappa quoted.

Under the definition of “urgent,” the complaint can’t be a policy disagreement. The IG, in this case, came to Congress with the claim.

“So, we’re basically left with the fact that a Trump appointee, found this complaint to be ‘urgent,’ meaning that it is not merely a policy dispute, beyond the broad Art. II foreign affairs authority POTUS enjoys, and likely illegal — and which Congress must look at,” she continued.

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She closed by quoting Columbus’ key point: “the Inspector General who is fighting the Acting DNI to transmit this info to Congress WAS APPOINTED BY TRUMP. If this alarms him, it’s bound to alarm us.”

Read the full thread here.

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‘Not true’: Fox News calls out Trump for lying about keeping US soldiers out of harm’s way

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As the U.S. military grapples with the logistics of a quick withdrawal from the northern part of Syria, President Donald Trump drew criticism for abandoning the Kurds and endangering U.S. troops. There are also reports that the army's departure has resulted in members of ISIS escaping from prison.

On Wednesday, Trump defended his decision, insisting that U.S. soldiers were not in danger. "Our soldiers are not in harm's way," he said. “That has nothing to do with us,” he added, about the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds at the Turkish-Syrian border.

But top military officials told Fox News that this was not true. "Not true, according to top US military commanders who tell Fox this is a complicated, deliberate phased withdrawal with a lot of inherent risk," Jennifer Griffin, National Security correspondent for Fox News, wrote on Twitter. "Already US warplanes had to warn approaching foreign troops with a show of force."

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‘Worse than Obama’: Lindsey Graham has full-blown freak out over Trump’s latest Syria statements

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Wednesday had a full-blown freak out after President Donald Trump publicly said that the Turkish slaughter of the Kurds in northern Syria was not America's problem.

Writing on Twitter, the senator had his harshest condemnation yet of the president's decision to abruptly pull American troops out of Syria while giving Turkey a green light to invade the area.

"I hope President Trump is right in his belief that Turkeys invasion of Syria is of no concern to us, abandoning the Kurds won’t come back to haunt us, ISIS won’t reemerge, and Iran will not fill the vacuum created by this decision," Graham wrote. "However, I firmly believe that if President Trump continues to make such statements this will be a disaster worse than President Obama’s decision to leave Iraq."

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Ex-GOP lawmaker will run for Senate in Kansas — as a Democrat

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A Kansas state lawmaker who left the Republican Party last year will run next year for the U.S. Senate -- as a Democrat.

State Sen. Barbara Bollier (D-Mission Hills) will run for the seat held since 1997 by the retiring Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), reported the Associated Press.

Republicans have not lost a U.S. Senate race in Kansas since 1932, but Democrats are feeling more confident with the victories last year of Gov. Laura Kelly and Rep. Sharice Davids.

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