Andrew Napolitano (White Freemason) reportedly pulled from Fox News over debunked wiretapping claims

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/03/21/andrew-napolitano-reportedly-pulled-from-fox-news-over-debunked-wiretapping-claims/?utm_term=.e0b224c9438b

 

Fox News has reportedly pulled legal analyst Andrew Napolitano from the air over his baseless claim, repeated by President Trump, that British intelligence officials spied on Trump at the request of President Barack Obama.

Napolitano, a regular face on Fox News, has not appeared on the network since Thursday and will not be a guest in the near future, the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press reported Monday, citing anonymous individuals.

A Fox News spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Monday night. The Dow Jones Newswire also reported the story, along with speculation that Napolitano wouldn’t be gone too long from Fox. The longtime commentator and purveyor of conspiracy theories has a significant following.

The move would distance Fox News from allegations that British officials, as well as National Security Agency Director Michael S. Rogers, have denounced as false. In tweets earlier this month, Trump accused Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower in what he called a “Nixon/Watergate” plot.

Here’s how the White House has been defending Trump’s wiretapping claims

White House press secretary Sean Spicer has been repeatedly defending President Trump’s unproven claims that former president Barack Obama ordered a wiretap on him in 2016. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Pressed for details, the Trump administration has produced no evidence to support the allegations, citing only news reports from conservative media. On Monday, FBI Director James B. Comey testified before Congress that there was “no information” indicating that Obama ordered surveillance of Trump Tower during the election. Rogers, asked in the same hearing whether he agreed that the allegation about British intelligence was “nonsense,” responded “yes.”

In a March 14 appearance on “Fox and Friends,” Napolitano, who calls himself “Judge Napolitano” because he was once a New Jersey Superior Court judge, claimed he had spoken to three “intelligence sources” who said Obama “went outside the chain of command” to spy on Trump. Instead of using U.S. intelligence services, Napolitano said, Obama used Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, to ensure there were “no American fingerprints on this.”

Napolitano doubled down on his claims in a column for Fox News, writing that “by bypassing all American intelligence services, Obama would have had access to what he wanted.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer cited Napolitano’s comments in a press briefing Thursday. Asked whether Trump would stand by his unproven wiretapping allegations, Spicer quoted directly from the Fox News transcript.

“All we’re doing is literally reading off what other stations and people have reported,” Spicer said. “We’re not casting judgment on that.”

In response, GCHQ, usually silent on intelligence matters, sharply denied that it had engaged in any of the activities described by Napolitano.

“Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wire tapping’ against the then President Elect are nonsense,” the agency said in a statement Thursday. “They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”

Comey: No information to support Trump’s wiretapping tweets

FBI Director James B. Comey said at a House Intelligence Committee hearing that he has no information that Trump Tower was wiretapped by former president Barack Obama. (Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post/Reuters)

But that did not stop Trump from bringing them up again. In a news conference Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump pointed to Napolitano’s appearance on Fox News when asked to defend his wiretapping claims, as The Washington Post reported.

“All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for that on television,” he said. “I didn’t make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox.”

“So you shouldn’t be talking to me,” Trump added, “you should be talking to Fox.”

At that point, Fox News tried to distance itself from Napolitano’s commentary, with anchor Shepard Smith saying the network could not confirm what Napolitano had said on “Fox and Friends.”

“Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now president of the United States was surveilled at any time, in any way. Full stop,” Shepard said on air.

The British government, meanwhile, said Friday that the White House had promised to stop suggesting that British intelligence services had spied on Trump, as The Post reported. A spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a news conference: “We have received assurances from the White House that these allegations would not be repeated.”

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Syrian truck driver on road to Damascus reportedly killed by Israeli drone

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Syrian man was killed when the truck he was driving in the Quneitra region of the Golan Heights on the road to Damascus allegedly was fired on by an Israeli drone, Syrian media is reporting.

The Israel Defense Forces is not commenting on the alleged air strike, neither confirming nor denying the Syrian reports.

The alleged victim has been named as Yasser al-Sayed, with some reports calling him a terrorist member of Hezbollah and others identifying him as a civilian.

Hours before the strike, Syrian media reported that Syrian army forces had repelled an Israeli drone in the same area.

The actions come after the IDF confirmed carrying out aerial strikes in Syria and intercepting missiles launched at its aircraft from the ground on Thursday night.

No Israelis were hurt during the strikes Thursday night or from the anti-aircraft fire, the first time that Israel has used the Arrow anti-missile system.

According to the nrg news site, the strikes Thursday were against targets affiliated with Hezbollah, possibly on a weapons shipment to the Shiite terrorist group, which is based in Lebanon but is fighting in Syria alongside Assad’s forces against rebels and Sunni militants.

The incidents on Thursday are reported to be the most serious between Syria and Israel since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war six years ago. At that time, Israel Air Force planes struck targets in Syria and Syria’s air defense system fired an anti-aircraft missile at the Israeli planes.

Israel is believed to have carried out several attacks on Syrian soil in recent years, but usually refrains from confirming or denying reports on its alleged actions there.

Also on Sunday, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in an interview with Israel Radio threatened to take out Syrian air defense systems.

“The next time the Syrians use their air defense systems against our planes we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation,” Liberman said. “Each time we discover arms transfers from Syria to Lebanon we will act to stop them. On this there will be no compromise.”

TOPPLED HEADSTONES IN BROOKLYN JEWISH CEMETERY REPORTEDLY ‘NOT HATE CRIME’

http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Headstones-toppled-in-Brooklyn-Jewish-cemetery-483246

 

Headstones were found toppled in Brooklyn’s Washington Cemetery on Sunday morning. Early reports characterized the incident as a ‘possible hate crime’ however the cemetery director and ADL official Evan Bernstein confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that the tombstones in question had long been deteriorating and some had toppled over years ago.

Police now say the issue is still under investigation as a “possible bias incident” and not as a hate crime.

According to the cemetery director and a local woman the tombstones fell from age deterioration years ago.

ADL NY regional director Evan Bernstein said that “based on the number of antisemitic incidents amid threats to the Jewish community over the last 6 months or more, it’s natural for people to be on edge. However, I think it is critical that we as a community get all the information first before we jump to any conclusions.”

Adding that “we thank the NYPD for all their help and resources.”

The cemetery is located in the Mapleton neighborhood, located between Borough Park and Bensonhurst.

The New York Police Department’s hate crimes division has been notified of the incident, the spokesman said, adding that police would investigate on Sunday to see if the incident may have been weather-related.

Local news reports said about five headstones were toppled.

New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind tweeted photos of some of the downed headstones on Saturday night. He said he was alerted to the incident by the Boro Park Shomrim organization, a Jewish security patrol.

In 2010, some 200 headstones were toppled in the same cemetery, also over a Friday night and Saturday, when it is closed.

Washington Cemetery was founded in 1850, and it became a Jewish burial-ground as early as 1857.

The incident brings to four the number of Jewish cemeteries vandalized in the past two weeks, including the Waad Hakolel Cemetery in Rochester, in upstate New York. Dozens of gravestones were toppled and damaged at cemeteries near St. Louis and in Philadelphia as well.

Trump reportedly said JCC threats may be trying to ‘make others look bad’

US President Donald Trump reportedly said that a wave of threats against Jewish communal institutions may be a false flag.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who is Jewish and a Democrat, described a meeting of state attorneys general and Trump on Tuesday to a BuzzFeed reporter.

Trump called the wave of bomb threats in recent weeks, which forced the evacuation of nearly 100 Jewish community centers and other institutions countrywide, “reprehensible,” Shapiro said. But the US president also added: “Sometimes it’s the reverse, to make people – or to make others – look bad,” according to Shapiro’s account.

Shapiro said Trump said it was “the reverse” two or three times but did not clarify what he meant.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (CC BY-SA 3.0, Mark Koenig, Wikipedia)

Earlier Tuesday, Anthony Scaramucci, a top adviser to the Trump transition team who is under consideration for a White House job, advanced a similar argument on Twitter, saying the threats may be aimed at harming Trump.

“It’s not yet clear who the #JCC offenders are,” Scaramucci said. “Don’t forget @TheDemocrats effort to incite violence at Trump rallies.”

There were several incidents of violence at Trump campaign rallies during last year’s election, but no evidence linking the offenders to an organized Democratic Party effort.

On Monday, at least 29 Jewish institutions across the US were targeted with bomb threats, marking the fifth wave of threats against JCCs, Jewish day schools and other Jewish organizations since the beginning of the year.

In addition to the bomb threats, Jewish cemeteries have also been targeted during a recent swell of anti-Semitic incidents, with over 100 headstones found toppled at a Jewish graveyard in Philadelphia, mirroring an incident at a cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, the week before.

Damaged headstone at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia on February 26, 2017. (screen capture: 6ABC)

Following sharp criticism of Trump from a number of leading American Jewish organizations over his failure to denounce the rise in anti-Semitic incidents, the US president issued his first explicit condemnation of anti-Semitism last week, calling it “horrible” and “painful,” as well as a “sad reminder” of evil.

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that Trump “continues to be deeply disappointed and concerned over reports of further vandalism at Jewish cemeteries,” while also calling in the incidents in Philadelphia and Missouri “cowardly.”

Trump will address the recent wave of anti-Semitism during a speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday evening, CNN reported.

Trump reportedly nixes Elliott Abrams (Kike) for State Department job

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Donald Trump reportedly decided against nominating Elliott Abrams as deputy secretary of state because of Abrams’ opposition last year to Trump’s nomination.

CNN cited three anonymous Republican sources on Friday as saying Abrams, known for his closeness to the Israeli establishment and the pro-Israel community, was out of the running.

Abrams, a veteran of several Republican administrations in senior State Department and National Security Council positions, reportedly was a favorite for the job because Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, formerly the CEO of Exxon, wanted someone with extensive diplomatic experience advising him.

Trump interviewed Abrams on Tuesday and was favorably impressed. According to CNN, also lobbying for Abrams was Jared Kushner, Trump’s Jewish son-in-law. Trump wants Kushner, who is serving as a top non-paid aide to the president, to spearhead Israeli-Arab peacemaking.

Abrams is close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is meeting with Trump at the White House next week.

However, it came to Trump’s attention after the interview, CNN reported, that Abrams had criticized Trump during the campaign – although he had never joined the “Never Trump” movement among disaffected Republicans and had not forsworn serving in a Trump administration.

In May Abrams wrote a column in The Weekly Standard that likened Trump to the failed Democratic nominee in 1972, George McGovern. It was titled “When You Can’t Stand Your Candidate.”

As a prominent member of the neoconservative movement, whose followers favor an interventionist foreign policy, Abrams would have been a counter to many in Trump’s circle who favor pulling back from American involvement overseas.

Trump would have made the third Republican administration for which Abrams worked. He was assistant secretary of state in the Reagan administration, as a result of which he agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges of withholding evidence related to the Iran-Contra arms sale scandal, and was deputy assistant to George W. Bush and his deputy national security adviser.

US reportedly weighs blacklisting Islamic Revolutionary Guards

The White House is considering a proposal which could lead to naming Iran’s most powerful military and political institution, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, as a terrorist organization, the Reuters news agency reported Wednesday.

Quoting US officials, the agency said several government agencies had been consulted about such a move.

The IRGC, a branch of the Iranian military, combines military roles with operations to combat internal dissent against the regime. It is heavily involved in the Iranian economy and wields huge influence on politics.

It also oversees the IRGC Quds Force, which in turn funds, trains and equips foreign terror groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, right, with Brigadier General Ali Fadavi and other commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, following the arrest of US soldiers in the Persian Gulf. (Wikimedia Commons)

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, right, with Brigadier General Ali Fadavi and other commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, following the arrest of US soldiers in the Persian Gulf. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Quds Force is among many IRGC-associated organizations and individuals already blacklisted by previous US administrations.

Last week, Reuters reported that the proposal concerning the IRGC is one of many being discussed as part of an overall Iran policy review.

It coincides with an administration decision last week to tighten sanctions on Tehran in response to a ballistic missile test.

Declaring the IRGC itself a terror organization could complicate US efforts to fight the Sunni Arab Islamic State terror organization in Iraq, Reuters said. There, the Shia Iranians are backing anti-IS militias and advising Iraqi security forces on how to counter the jihadist group.

Participants in the talks on the Iran nuclear deal pose for a group photo at the UN building in Vienna, Austria, on July 14, 2015. (Carlos Barria, Pool Photo via AP)

Participants in the talks on the Iran nuclear deal pose for a group photo at the UN building in Vienna, Austria, on July 14, 2015. (Carlos Barria, Pool Photo via AP)

Such a move could also have potential implications for the 2015 nuclear deal signed by Iran, the US and other world powers — a deal that US President Donald Trump has harshly criticized, but over which he has not yet taken any action.

But similar proposals that have been circulating — for example to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization — appear to have been put off indefinitely, Reuters said.

And the White House is currently focused on handling the fallout from another controversial move — Trump’s order to ban citizens from seven majority Muslim countries from entering the US.

“The new administration regards Iran as the clearest danger to US interests, and they’ve been looking for ways to turn up the heat,” a senior US official told Reuters.

But he warned that declaring the IRGC a terrorist organization could backfire, strengthening hardliners in Tehran and even pushing Iranian-backed forces in Iraq to turn their sights away from Islamic State and focus on attacking US-backed or even American forces.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

IVANKA TRUMP AND JARED KUSHNER REPORTEDLY WORKED TO STOP ANTI-LGBT ORDER

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner reportedly helped push President Donald Trump to uphold a 2014 executive order protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination.

The president’s daughter and her husband, who serves as a White House senior adviser, worked to nix a draft executive order outlining how to roll back some of the protections granted by former president Barack Obama’s 2014 executive order, Politico reported Friday, citing “multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.”

The White House said Tuesday that President Trump was “determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community.”

“The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump,” the White House said in a statement.

Progressive groups have expressed concern that Trump could overturn protections and rights gained by the LGBT community under the Obama administration. Vice President Mike Pence has a long history of opposing gay rights, and as governor of Indiana he opposed legalizing gay marriage.

Israel reportedly went to Trump on UN draft after failing to sway Obama

Israeli officials approached US President-elect Donald Trump to assist them in thwarting an anti-settlement UN Security Council resolution, after Jerusalem failed to convince the White House to veto the bid, a senior Israeli official said Thursday.

Trump’s public injection into a US foreign policy decision before taking office — credited as a factor behind Egypt suddenly pulling the draft resolution — was seen as a highly unusual move, and reports of Israel attempting to end-around US President Barack Obama would represent a likely unprecedented gambit, highlighting a sense of desperation telegraphed by Jerusalem in its frantic effort to stop the vote.

The senior Israeli official, quoted by CNN, said Jerusalem went to Trump after failing to make headway with taking its case to the White House.

Officials in Jerusalem “implored the White House not to go ahead and told them that if they did, we would have no choice but to reach out to President-elect Trump,” the source said.

“We did reach out to the President-elect and are deeply appreciative that he weighed in, which was not a simple thing to do,” the official said.

The report comes on the heels of indications from sources quoted by NBC News and Reuters that the US intended to abstain from the vote instead of casting its usual veto on Israel-related resolutions, a sign of the Obama’s desire to shake up moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts in the waning days of his administration.

An official quoted by Reuters confirmed that Israel had approached the Trump team at a “high level” over the issue, claiming that Washington had long coordinated its planned abstention with the Palestinians.

“It was a violation of a core commitment to protect Israel at the UN,” the official said.

On Thursday morning, Trump urged Obama to block the measure, issuing a statement nearly identical to one issued hours earlier by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations,” Trump said in a statement on Facebook. “This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis.”

Trump also spoke to Egyptian president Abdel Fatah el-Sissi about the UN draft resolution, an official in Cairo said.

In this June 1, 2016 file photo, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi speaks during a press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)

“During the call they discussed regional affairs and developments in the Middle East and in that context the draft resolution in front of the Security Council on Israeli settlement,” said presidency spokesman Alaa Yousef, according to Reuters.

“The presidents agreed on the importance of affording the new US administration the full chance to deal with all dimensions of the Palestinian case with a view of achieving a full and final settlement,” Yousef added.

Netanyahu spoke to US Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday, State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said Thursday, though it was not clear if they spoke before or after Egypt said it was pulling the vote.

“Clearly they talked about this resolution – this draft resolution. Obviously they did, but I’m not going to detail the conversation that they had,” Kirby said.

Netanyahu has spoken positively of Trump and his incoming pro-settlement envoy David Friedman, seeing them as a welcome change after years of an acrimonious relationship with the Obama administration. However, Washington has refused to endorse anti-Israel resolutions in the council, saying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be resolved through negotiations.

A potential US abstention coupled with Israel’s asking Trump to intervene on its behalf would likely be seen as a fresh nadir in ties between Jerusalem and Washington, the final chapter of a tome of bitter public fights over Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the Iran nuclear deal.

A report on Israel’s Channel 2 Thursday indicated that Jerusalem viewed the decision to abstain as a “[diplomatic] hit by Obama against Netanyahu and the settlements,” quoting a senior Israeli official.

The source said Trump’s team had been approached by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for assistance in thwarting the resolution.

Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour said Trump’s call for a veto was in response to pressure from the Israeli prime minister. “He is acting on behalf of Netanyahu,” he said.

Riyad Mansour, right, addresses the UN Security Council on October 19, 2016. (Kim Haughton/UN)

The specter of the US allowing the resolution to pass set off frantic lobbying by Israel to pressure Egypt to drop the bid.

Egypt also came under heavy diplomatic pressure from Israel directly, according to Reuters.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said his government was deploying “diplomatic efforts on all fronts to ensure that this disgraceful resolution will not pass in the Security Council.”

A UN diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, dubbed the Israeli lobbying a “diplomatic World War III” and a senior Security Council diplomat suggested that the motion could be buried indefinitely.

The UN draft resolution submitted by Cairo called on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”

A man waves a Palestinian flag waves near the West Bank settlement of Ofra, near Ramallah (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

It further expressed “grave concern that continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution,” and called on all states “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967,” which some analysts say invites boycotts of Israeli settlements goods.

The draft also condemned “all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction,” which some in the international community understand as turning the resolution into a “balanced” text.

The US vetoed a similar resolution at the United Nations in 2011.

A Security Council resolution would be more than symbolic since it carries the weight of international law.

UK, US intel reportedly spied on Israeli diplomats, army (GOOD!!!)

British and American intelligence spied on Israel’s diplomats and defense firms in addition to its military, the French daily Le Monde reported Wednesday based on leaked documents.

The report was based on material from Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who worked for US intelligence before publishing in 2013 classified material and fleeing to Russia.

According to the newspaper, Britain’s GCHQ intelligence-gathering apparatus collected information on a person described by Le Monde as the second-highest ranking official in the Israeli foreign ministry. That person was not named. The British also spied on the Palestinian Authority, the report said.

The paper reported that the GCHQ and NSA spied on Israeli diplomats at home and abroad, as well as private security companies, government bodies, and university research centers.

Email correspondence belonging to the Israeli ambassadors to Nigeria and Kenya were also the subject of British intelligence-gathering efforts, as was Ophir Optronics, a firm that specializes in fiber optics and is deemed to be tied to the Israeli defense establishment.

Former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei and Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi were also among those spied upon.

The Le Monde report followed a previous publication based on documents stolen by Snowden dealing with spying by US and British intelligence on Israeli military aircraft.

GCHQ and its American counterpart, the NSA, had for 18 years intercepted drone transmissions after cracking the Israeli army’s encryption for communication among fighter jets, drones and army bases.

The information was reported in January by The Intercept and the German newspaper Der Spiegel.

Britain and the United States have reportedly used this access to monitor Israel Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip, watch for a potential strike on Iran and keep tabs on the drone technology that Israel exports.

At Northwestern, man reportedly does Nazi salute after confirming passer-by is Jewish (GOOD!!!!)

(JTA) — A Jewish studies lecturer at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, said a stranger asked him if he was Jewish and then performed a Nazi salute and said “Heil Hitler.”

The unnamed lecturer said the man approached him in a vehicle last month near the campus Hillel building, The Daily Northwestern reported Monday.

The director of Northwestern Hillel, Michael Simon, called the event an act of “blatant anti-Semitism,” and said he had asked campus police to increase patrolling of the Hillel building as well as the campus Chabad house and the Jewish Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house.

Northwestern Police Deputy Chief Gloria Graham told the Daily Northwestern that there would be additional patrolling around the Hillel building at least until the beginning of January, when the university’s winter break ends.

Earlier last month, books related to Islam and the Quran in the Evanston Public Library were discovered defaced with Islamophobic, homophobic, anti-Semitic and racist language, according to The Daily Northwestern.

Both incidents in Evanston occurred after the presidential election amid a nationwide increase in anti-Semitic and other hate crimes.

JTA has reported on anti-Semitic incidents following the election, including acts of vandalism featuring swastikas and Trump-related themes left in public areas as well as on the homes of Jewish individuals.

On Monday, the New York Police Department said it has seen a dramatic rise in hate crimes following the election of Donald Trump, with the majority of incidents directed at Jews.

Last week, the watchdog Southern Poverty Law Center said it had received reports of 100 anti-Semitic incidents occurring in the 10 days following the presidential election, representing about 12 percent of hate incidents reported to the group in the United States.

The head of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, said recently that anti-Jewish public and political discourse in America is worse than at any point since the 1930s.