Analysis: Dossier of Trump research raises many questions

first_imgWho paid for it?During the Republican primaries, a donor opposed to Trump becoming the party’s presidential candidate retained a research firm called Fusion GPS to unearth potentially damaging information about Trump.The donor has never been identified, but several possible suspects have denied responsibility, including officials from the super PACs that supported the rival campaigns of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida.After Trump secured the nomination, Fusion GPS was hired on behalf of Clinton’s campaign and the DNC by their law firm, Perkins Coie, to compile research about Trump, his businesses and associates — including possible connections with Russia.It was at that point that Fusion GPS hired Steele, who has deep sourcing in Russia, to gather information.Does it matter who paid for it?That depends on your politics.Republicans have criticized the dossier since its existence became publicly known when BuzzFeed published it in January.Trump has blasted it as “fake news” and “phony stuff,” and alleged that it is part of a broader witch hunt intended to cast doubt on his victory. Categories: Editorial, OpinionWASHINGTON — The so-called Steele dossier of research into President Donald Trump’s connections to Russia is back in the news, with the revelation that it was at least partly funded by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.What is the dossier?It is a 35-page collection of research memos written by Christopher Steele, a respected former British intelligence agent, primarily during the 2016 presidential campaign.The memos allege a multifaceted conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to help Trump defeat Clinton.The memos also detail unsubstantiated accounts of encounters between Trump and Russian prostitutes, and real estate deals that were intended as bribes, among other claims about Trump’s businesses. His allies now contend that the allegations in the dossier are discredited by the fact that it was funded at least partially by the Clinton campaign and the DNC.Trump asserted Wednesday in an interview with Fox Business Network’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” that the Democrats’ payments for the research were “the real collusion.”Democrats argue that who paid for the research is irrelevant to the veracity of its claims, which they say should be thoroughly investigated.Yet some of the Democrats who funded the dossier have been leery about being associated with it.The lead Perkins Coie lawyer representing both the campaign and the DNC, Marc Elias, pushed back earlier this year when asked whether he possessed the dossier before the election and was involved in efforts to encourage media outlets to write about its contents.On Tuesday, the veteran Democratic consultant Anita Dunn, who is working with Perkins Coie, explained Elias’ earlier response.“Obviously, he was not at liberty to confirm Perkins Coie as the client at that point, and should perhaps have ‘no commented’ more artfully,” Dunn wrote in an email. Where does the dossier fit in with the government’s Russia investigations?James Comey, the former FBI director whose firing by Trump prompted the appointment of a special counsel, Robert Mueller, to oversee the Justice Department’s Russia investigation, received a copy of the memos after Election Day from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. McCain had dispatched David J. Kramer, a former top State Department official, to obtain the dossier directly from Steele.And before Election Day, the FBI reached an agreement to pay Steele to continue his research, though that plan was scrapped after the dossier was published.During the presidential transition, senior U.S. intelligence officials briefed Trump and President Barack Obama on the dossier.Investigators from the House and Senate intelligence committees and Mueller’s team have been exploring claims made in the dossier.Mueller’s team reportedly interviewed Steele over the summer.Kenneth Vogel is a reporter The New York Times Washington bureau.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristscenter_img Even Clinton only found about Steele’s research after BuzzFeed published the dossier, according to two associates who discussed the matter with her.They said that she was disappointed that the research — as well as the fact that the FBI was looking into connections between Trump’s associates and Russia — was not made public before Election Day.But word of the memos and their contents had circulated in Washington political and media circles before the election.In British court filings, Steele’s lawyers said that he and Fusion GPS briefed journalists from a range of media outlets, including The New York Times, on his research starting in September 2016.Yet the research and even the existence of the dossier were not reported by the media, with the exception of Mother Jones magazine, which published a story in the days before the election that described the dossier, its origin and significance, while omitting the salacious claims.How much of the dossier has been substantiated?There has been no public corroboration of the salacious allegations against Trump, nor of the specific claims about coordination between his associates and the Russians.In fact, some of those claims have been challenged with supporting evidence. For instance, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, produced his passport to rebut the dossier’s claim that he had secret meetings in Prague with a Russian official last year. Is this sort of research common or legal?Campaigns and party committees frequently pay companies to assemble what’s known in politics as opposition research — essentially damaging information about their opponents — and nothing is illegal about the practice.However, Republicans and campaign watchdogs have accused the Clinton campaign and the DNC of violating campaign finance laws by disguising the payments to Fusion GPS on mandatory disclosures to the Federal Election Commission.Their disclosure reports do not list any payments from the Clinton campaign or the DNC to Fusion GPS.They do list a total of $12.4 million in payments to Perkins Coie, but that’s almost entirely for legal consulting, with only one payment — of $66,500 — for “research consulting” from the DNC.In a complaint filed with the FEC on Wednesday, the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit group that urges stricter enforcement of election laws, alleged that “at least some of those payments were earmarked for Fusion GPS, with the purpose of conducting opposition research on Donald Trump.”The complaint asserts that the failure to list the ultimate purpose of that money “undermined the vital public information role that reporting is intended to serve.”Graham M. Wilson, a partner at Perkins Coie, called the complaint “patently baseless,” in part because, he said, the research was done “to support the provision of legal services, and payments made by vendors to sub-vendors are not required to be disclosed in circumstances like this.”Who else knew about Steele’s research during the campaign?Officials from the Clinton campaign and the DNC have said they were unaware that Perkins Coie facilitated the research on their behalf, even though the law firm was using their money to pay for it.last_img read more

Slough matches Brixton NAV rise

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Niche market

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The ethics inspectors

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Adieu Weatheralls?

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LandSecs and Ritblat in retail fund tie-up

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What we can do to help those financially hit by COVID-19: Economist’s take

first_img“Make sure there’s no one who is hungry around you. Give away rice, give away soap to wash hands,” wrote Vivi, a former World Bank economist. “Help supply the needs of healthcare and medical workers who fight on the front line.”Only one out of five Indonesians is economically secure, according to the World Bank report Aspiring Indonesia. Around 24.8 million Indonesians live on under US$1 a day – 9.22 percent of the population – and over 60 million are vulnerable to falling into poverty.Private sector: What companies can doVivi, the writer of Indonesia Jobs Report, also shared six tips on how companies can help contain the spread of COVID-19. First, make sure sanitation needs and personal protective equipment are sold at fair prices.“This is not the time to maximize on profits. Sell with a fair price, to deter those who price gouge,” she wrote.Second, give workers the opportunity to engage in social distancing. This can be done by avoiding close contact at the workplace or by conducting work from home.“Transfer […] salaries now. Don’t wait for Idul Fitri, don’t wait for Christmas,” Vivi said.Fifth, companies can identify their workers’ skills gaps. “It’s time to push employees to learn and improve their skills through online learning.”Lastly, it is time for a massive corporate social responsibility initiative on helping the poor and vulnerable, while also helping the government to ensure it is prepared on the supply side, Vivi said.Robi Anto, a junior high school student in Bengkulu, mans a humble stall selling live shrimp for bait, on November 15. (JP/Dedek Hendry)Public sector: What the government can doThe government can help by giving out aid in the form of cash and food and encouraging those who are not registered to sign up for health care by offering lower premiums.“Indonesia has had the experience of providing [direct cash aid], so this can be done rapidly,” Vivi said. “By incentivizing [the public to sign up for health care], this could boost the number of those registered and the fees that could be collected from the health care system once this storm has calmed.”Electricity mostly consumed by the middle to lower class could be free; non-taxable income could be increased and micro, small and medium enterprises could be given tax exemptions, she added.Topics : Communities: What we can doDonate to the poor. “Don’t wait for Ramadhan, don’t wait for Christmas,” Vivi wrote on her Twitter account @vvalatas.“Use or create WhatsApp groups among neighbors to lift each other’s spirits [and] to help out others. Gather the contact numbers for vegetable, fruit, bread and food sellers around our community. Empower staple food shops around us to conduct delivery services and pay more.”She also advised giving generous tips to ojek (online motorcycle taxi) drivers that serve us, and to be more charitable in general. Businesses across Indonesia have complained of weak demand, with supply disruptions hurting the production process, resulting in the potential for layoffs.Yang paling kasihan orang miskin, penjual keliling yang kehilangan pembeli, warung samping sekolah yang sepi, toko kelontong . Pada saat yang sama mereka yang paling rentan terkena dampak karena tidak punya pilihan social distancing dan berkurangnya penghasilan dengan drastis .— vivi alatas (@vvalatas) March 20, 2020center_img Food sellers operating around empty schools and offices have fewer customers than ever. Workers are not getting their daily income as factories and workplaces run understaffed. The low-income segment of the population has suffered the most from the economic slowdown driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.Vivi Alatas, a renowned development economist in Indonesia and advisor for education platform IYKRA, has advice on how everyone in society can help soften the economic shocks suffered by the poor and those at risk of slipping into poverty.The government has prepared for a worst-case scenario of zero percent economic growth, as the global supply chain has been disrupted. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the baseline scenario was for the Indonesian economy to grow at above 4 percent this year, which would be its lowest growth rate in 15 years.last_img read more

Local authorities scramble to curb COVID-19 in crowded Pademangan red zone

first_imgPademangan district in North Jakarta has become the latest densely populated area in the capital to be declared a COVID-19 red zone after local authorities recorded a high number of confirmed cases.As of Tuesday, health authorities have reported 150 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the neighborhood, with 72 more people waiting for their swab test results. The Pademangan district administration responded to the situation by imposing stringent measures to flatten the infection curve.Pademangan district head Mumu Mujtahid said the COVID-19 transmission in the area started when a resident, a member of the worldwide Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jamaat, returned from India after attending a tabligh (Islamic mass gathering) there. “They were afraid they would be alienated [if they tested positive for COVID-19]. I told them to write a statement agreeing that the government would not take care of them if they turn out to be sick and rejected to participate in rapid testing,” Mumu said on Tuesday as quoted by residents, he added, were eventually willing to get tested and it was discovered that 593 out of 1,445 people were “reactive” to the novel coronavirus. Of the 593, 150 people tested for COVID-19.Most showed no symptoms, allowing them to self-quarantine in their own homes. They received a 14-day food supply from the city administration, which raised concerns that it may not be enough and the residents would leave self-isolation to purchase their daily needs in crowded areas, thereby increasing the risk of contagion.Responding to the situation, Mumu and civil servants across the district raised funds to help the quarantined residents by providing 100 staple food packages.Officials also established a public kitchen for those in quarantine with the help of other residents in the area.However, there were still residents who were against large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) and broke the policy, as they felt that their movements were being limited.Mumu attributed their attitude to the lack of clear information being distributed among neighborhoods, resulting in false perceptions of the outbreak.Read also: COVID-19 creeps into Jakarta’s kampungsHe said his administrations would continue to be strict in implementing PSBB measures.“Pademangan will remain safe if [residents] obey the health protocols.”Residents of kampungs across Jakarta face a higher risk of catching COVID-19 as they live in densely populated areas and rarely adhere to self-quarantining rules.To date, Jakarta remains the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia, with 6,059 confirmed cases and 463 deaths. Indonesia has so far recorded 18,010 cases with 1,191 deaths. (asp)Topics : The person tested positive for COVID-19 days after ignoring health protocols and carrying out his usual activities in Pademangan.Read also: Residents of crowded Kebon Kacang in Central Jakarta test positive for COVID-19Authorities started contact tracing the case to identify the people he had been in contact with and may have contracted the disease as a result. They also decided to hold mass rapid testing.However, the event was largely ignored by local residents, as only 14 showed up to be tested on the first day.last_img read more

China stands pat on benchmark rate, signals brief pause in easing efforts

first_imgGross domestic product (GDP) shrank 6.8 percent in the first quarter year-on-year, the worst quarterly contraction on record, as the pandemic and tough containment measures paralyzed activity across the country.China has lowered the LPR twice this year, while also delivering other easing measures to restore growth.Some analysts expect more aggressive monetary and fiscal stimulus could be rolled out soon to help companies and consumers, possibly at China’s annual National People’s Congress (NPC) session starting on May 22.The LPR is a lending reference rate set monthly by 18 banks.Topics : China held its benchmark lending rate steady on Wednesday, though analysts believe the widely expected decision signals just a brief pause in the central bank’s efforts to support an economy ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.The one-year loan prime rate (LPR) remained at 3.85 percent from last month’s fixing, while the five-year LPR was also kept at 4.65 percent.A Reuters survey of traders and analysts showed more than 70 percent of them expected China would stand pat on the benchmark lending rate in May. Markets usually take the People’s Bank of China’s (PBOC) stance on its medium-term lending facility (MLF) rate – which serves as a guide for the LPR – as an indicator for any adjustment to the lending benchmark.The PBOC surprised markets last Friday by keeping the interest rate on MLF loans steady, even as authorities have stepped up the pace of monetary easing recently to combat the worst economic slowdown in decades.Jacqueline Rong, senior China economist at BNP Paribas in Beijing, said the steady LPR does not mean the PBOC won’t deliver additional rate cuts or reduce banks’ reserve requirement ratio (RRR) in June.“Objectively speaking, economic recovery in April and May was much better than market forecasts, and was probably beyond policy expectations,” she said.last_img read more

House approves health protocol proposed by KPU for regional polls

first_imgHe was referring to the pandemic, which began to hit the country in March.The KPU found itself under pressure to come up with special measures after the House and government decided in late May that this year’s regional elections should be held on Dec. 9 to elect 270 regional leaders, comprising nine governors, 224 regents and 37 mayors, even though the epidemic showed no sign of easing. The elections were pushed back by around three months from their initial schedule of Sept. 23, as mandated by a regulation in lieu of law issued by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in May.Despite their approval on Monday, lawmakers urged the KPU and Bawaslu to carry out their respective duties in accordance with the health protocols and to always communicate with the local task forces so as to protect election officials, voters and candidates from infection.“It is my hope that KPU and Bawaslu can be very careful in applying their health protocols during the elections,” Commission II member and National Mandate Party (PAN) politician Guspardi Gaus said during the hearing. The House of Representatives has approved a set of health measures devised by the General Elections Commission (KPU) for holding the Dec. 9 regional elections to protect election organizers and voters from the spread of COVID-19.House Commission II, which oversees home affairs, green-lighted the proposed health protocol in a hearing with the KPU, the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) and Home Ministry on Monday.“Commission II and the Home Ministry approved the KPU’s election regulation proposal for holding elections of governors and deputy governors, regents and deputy regents, mayors and deputy mayors amid the non-natural disaster,” Commission II deputy chairman Saan Mustopa of the NasDem Party said. Critics have urged policymakers to push back the elections to 2021 over fears the outbreak could continue until late into the year. They also warned against low voter turnout.Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Johan Budi said election organizers had to ensure both public health and the quality of the electoral process.The KPU regulation, along with a similar regulation introduced by Bawaslu as an election monitoring body, state that health rules, for instance, the use of face masks and physical distancing, are mandatory for KPU officers, candidates and voters during all stages of an election, from the ongoing preparation to the final vote count a week after voting day.It also limits the number of participants of indoor election campaign events to 40 percent of the venue’s capacity. Campaign activities that involve massive crowds, such as music concerts, are banned.COVID-19 patients will be allowed to cast their vote after 12 p.m., an hour before voting booths close, at designated polling stations at nearby hospitals.KPU chairman Arief Budiman said they had drafted the regulation after consulting with the COVID-19 national task force, adding that the KPU was committed to applying strict health protocol without hampering the elections.“I think all are in agreement that it is important to implement health protocols during the Dec. 9 elections without reducing the democratic quality [of the elections]. That is our spirit,” he said.Topics :last_img read more