FOX HOST SHEPARD SMITH SLAMS PRESIDENT, TRUMP SUPPORTERS CALL FOR HIS HEAD

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith is under fire for criticizing President’s Trump’s treatment of CNN reporter Jim Acosta during a freewheeling news conference Thursday and for Trump’s refusal to answer questions about his campaign’s ties to Russia.

“It’s crazy what we’re watching every day,” Smith said after Trump’s news conference. “It’s absolutely crazy. He keeps repeating ridiculous, throwaway lines that are not true at all and sort of avoiding this issue of Russia as if we’re some kind of fools for asking the question. Really? Your opposition was hacked and the Russians were responsible for it and your people were on the phone with Russia on the same day it was happening and we’re fools for asking the questions? No sir.”

“We have a right to know,” Smith added. “You call us fake news and put us down like children for asking questions on behalf of the American people.”

Source: http://www.usatoday.com

NEW: TRUMP AIDES WERE IN COSTANT COMMUNICATION WITH SENIOR RUSSIAN OFFICIALS DURING THE CAMPAIGN

 

High-level advisers close to then-presidential nominee Donald Trump were in constant communication during the campaign with Russians known to US intelligence, multiple current and former intelligence, law enforcement and administration officials tell CNN.

President-elect Trump and then-President Barack Obama were both briefed on details of the extensive communications between suspected Russian operatives and people associated with the Trump campaign and the Trump business, according to US officials familiar with the matter.

Both the frequency of the communications during early summer and the proximity to Trump of those involved “raised a red flag” with US intelligence and law enforcement, according to these officials. The communications were intercepted during routine intelligence collection targeting Russian officials and other Russian nationals known to US intelligence.

Among several senior Trump advisers regularly communicating with Russian nationals were then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and then-adviser Michael Flynn.

Officials emphasized that communications between campaign staff and representatives of foreign governments are not unusual. However, these communications stood out to investigators due to the frequency and the level of the Trump advisers involved. Investigators have not reached a judgment on the intent of those conversations.

Adding to US investigators’ concerns were intercepted communications between Russian officials before and after the election discussing their belief that they had special access to Trump, two law enforcement officials tell CNN. These officials cautioned the Russians could have been exaggerating their access.

Trump dismissed the claims that his advisers had close ties to Russia in a tweet Wednesday.

“This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign,” Trump tweeted.

CNN has reached out to Flynn for comment. In an interview, Manafort emphatically denied that he was in contact with Russians known to US intelligence.

“That is 100% not true, at least as far as me. I cannot believe that they are including me in anything like that. I have not been involved in any of these activities” – he said.

Manafort said he did not know where US officials got the idea that he was in contact with suspected Russian operatives during the campaign but said he never spoke with any Russian officials during that time.

“I don’t remember talking to any Russian officials, ever. Certainly during the time we’re talking about,” he said, calling the allegations “boggling.”

“I have knowingly never talked to any intelligence official or anyone in Russia regarding anything of what’s under investigation. I have never had any connection to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin or the Russian government before, during or after the campaign” – he said.

Manafort said the FBI has not contacted him about the allegations and said he was not aware of any other Trump campaign officials or people close to Trump being in touch with Russians known to US intelligence.

Manafort, who has held business ties with Russian and Ukrainian individuals, also emphasized that his work for the Yanukovich government in Ukraine should not be interpreted as closeness to the Russians. He said that he worked for Yanukovich during a time when Ukraine was “moving into the European orbit.”

The extensive contacts drew concerns of US intelligence and law enforcement officials in part because it came at a time of Russian cyberactivities targeting mostly Democratic Party political organizations.

Post-election intelligence briefings on Russian meddling in the US elections included details of those communications, which included people involved in Trump’s businesses.

The communications were gathered as part of routine US intelligence collection and not because people close to Trump were being targeted.

The FBI and US intelligence agencies continue to try to determine what the motive for the communications were.

One concern was whether Trump associates were coordinating with Russian intelligence operatives over the release of damaging information about the Hillary Clinton campaign.

“If that were the case, then that would escalate things,” one official briefed on the investigation said.

DONALD TRUMP’S NATIONAL EMBATTLED SECURITY ADVISER MICHAEL FLYNN RESIGNS OVER HIS CONTROVERSY WITH RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT

Michael Flynn, who is Donald Trump’s embattled national security adviser, has resigned from his post after less than one month in office following reports that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russia.

Mr Flynn had been embroiled in controversy since it was revealed that he had a conversation with a Russian diplomat about sanctions prior to the US President’s administration taking office.

The resignation came late at night, at around 11 PM, Washington DC, after further news reports revealed that the White House had been warned last month by then acting attorney general Sally Yates – before she was fired for advising justice department lawyers that the travel ban was “not lawful” – that Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail.

“Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice Presdent, and they have accepted my apology”, wrote Mr Flynn in his resignation latter.

Kellyanne Conway, senior counselor to the president, had earlier said Mr Trump had “full confidence” in Mr Flynn, before it emerged the President was “evaluating” the adviser’s position.

The contact of Mr Flynn with Russia has been described as “potentially illegal” due to 1799 Logan Act, which bans private US citizens from negotiating with countries with which the US is in dispute.

If he talks were found to be illegal it raises serious questions over whether Mr Trump, who has called for closer ties with Russia, was aware that they took place.

It comes as the White House struggles to quell dissent and mistrust within the National Security Council, where many civil servants feel their advice is being ignored – and have even taken to calling the new administration “the regime”.

In the resignation letter, Mr Flynn said that he held numerous calls with the Russian ambassador to the US during the transition and gave “incomplete information” about those discussions to Vice President Mike Pence.

The vice president, apparently relying on information from Mr Flynn, initially said the national security adviser had not discussed sanctions with the Russian envoy, though Mr Flynn later conceded the issue may have come up.

Mr Trump named retired Army Lieutenant General Joseph Keith Kellog as the acting national security adviser. Mr Kellogg had previously been appointed the National Security Council chief of staff and advised Trump on national security issues during the campaign.