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Risen writes: "Donald Trump’s real war on the press has finally begun. Ever since he began his campaign for president, Trump has engaged in a largely rhetorical battle against the press, casting the reporters who cover him as the enemy of the average American and as disseminators of what he calls 'fake news.'"

The New York Times Building. (photo: ERCO)
The New York Times Building. (photo: ERCO)

Donald Trump Declares War on the Press

By James Risen, The Intercept

09 June 18


onald Trump’s real war on the press has finally begun.

Ever since he began his campaign for president, Trump has engaged in a largely rhetorical battle against the press, casting the reporters who cover him as the enemy of the average American and as disseminators of what he calls “fake news.” But for the most part, Trump’s bark has been worse than his bite. Unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama, Trump was not known to have spied on journalists or tried to jail them – as Obama did with me – for refusing to reveal their sources.

Until now.

Now we know that the Justice Department secretly seized the phone and email records of Ali Watkins, a New York Times reporter, in a leak investigation involving a former Senate staffer. It is the first time the Trump administration is known to have engaged in such an aggressive tactic against a reporter, and it is exactly the kind of press surveillance at which the Obama administration excelled. For years, conservatives attacked Obama for using such tactics to spy on reporters. Of course, there was no outcry from the right on Friday over Trump’s willingness to do the same thing.

To be sure, Trump has previously gone after the alleged sources of stories in the press, including former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner and FBI agent Terry Albury, both of whom have been accused of providing classified information to The Intercept. The Intercept does not comment on its sources. But the targeting of Watkins shows that the Trump administration is willing to attack the press directly.

One story that apparently caught the interest of the Trump administration as part of this draconian leak investigation concerned the Trump-Russia probe. Documents made public in the new leak case show that the government wanted to know how Watkins, then a reporter for BuzzFeed, found out last year that Russian intelligence tried to recruit Carter Page, a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who is a key figure in the Trump-Russia investigation.

The fact that a scoop about the Trump-Russia case apparently helped prompt a leak investigation by the Trump administration shouldn’t come as a surprise. Trump and those around him have been obsessed with trying to stop the investigation ever since it began.

Jeff Sessions, Trump’s attorney general and crony, has been forced to recuse himself from overseeing the probe, but there is no evidence that he has recused himself from overseeing leak investigations involving stories about the Trump-Russia case. That gives Sessions a way to try to control press coverage of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Americans should stop and think about how Trump and Sessions can use such leak investigations as a backdoor way to block the Mueller inquiry. The press (notably the New York Times and the Washington Post) has played a central role in uncovering key aspects of the Trump-Russia case, and has kept the story alive when public and governmental interest has waned. This leak case seems designed to dissuade aggressive reporters like Watkins and others from continuing to dig into the Russia story. It represents an ominous message to reporters from the Trump White House and the Sessions Justice Department: If you keep reporting on Russia, we will punish you.

American journalists must fight back by continuing to investigate the Trump-Russia story and publishing what we find

Trump has tried to demonize the press and now has begun to use the Justice Department and the FBI to do his bidding by going after reporters. But Americans should realize that journalists are not the enemy of the people, as Trump claims. The press is one of the most important checks on Trump’s authoritarian impulses. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

-23 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-06-09 18:09
What press? Do you mean the lapdog lackeys of the military-indust rial-banking-is raeli complex? If there were somehting close to independent journalism in the US, I would be worried. Even the Intercept is owned by an oligarch and has apparently kept pretty tight reins of what it can publish.


" a reporter for BuzzFeed, found out last year that Russian intelligence tried to recruit Carter Page, "

This is not a scoop about Trump-Russia. It is a story about the CIA covert operation to surveil and destabilize the Trump campaign. It was the CIA that let loose the story about Page and Russia. At the time, he was working as an undercover informant for the FBI. They knew who he was talking to because they were paying him and they were receiving information, which the FBI later used in a prosecution.
0 # JCM 2018-06-10 07:48
"Carter Page was a FBI undercover informant", you have any sources for that or is this more alt-right fantasy.
-3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-06-10 15:30
jcm -- Your snotty comments about an alt-right fantasy only show your ignorance. You need to do some of your own research and stop believing everything NYT.

You can read here the press release from the Southern District of NY Federal Prosecutor Preet Bharra:

"Evgeny Buryakov Pleads Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court In Connection With Conspiracy To Work For Russian Intelligence"

This is not alt-right or alt-left. It is the formal announcement from a federal prosecutor. Page is an oil business consultant and has consulted with both Russian and US companies for pretty long, maybe 15 years. He speaks Russian. He was hired by the FBI to infiltrate a group of Russian investors headed by Buryakov. He worked on this case for about 5 years. The case ended in March 2016, the exact time that the FBI is now saying Page was recruited by Russian Intelligence. Yes, he did have contact with Russian intelligence, but he was a US intelligence asset. Page also worked for Navy Intelligence so he knows that game.

Bharra does not name Page because the FBI counterintellig ence is classified. Page himself has a non-disclosure agreement and can't talk about what he did. But Bharra does say this in the release --

"U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI’s Counterintellig ence Division."

This was Page.
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-06-10 15:37
continued --

Here is an overview of Page's work for the FBI.

"Carter Page Setup By FBI – He Was FBI Employee – FBI Told FISA COURT HE WAS A RUSSIAN SPY."

This is really crucial because it appears that the FBI told the FISA court that Page was a Russian Spy working for Trump, but the FBI knew fucking well that Page was their spy inside of Russian investors.

Ray McGovern, former CIA, has also written good stuff on Page's work as undercover informant. McGovern tells about how Page gave CIA prepared notebooks to the Russians with listening devices built into them.

It is just astonishing to me that the mainstream media has written NOTHING about this. They are deliberatly misleading Americans like JCM. Why hasn't James Risen written on this. He's a very good investigator. He could do it. It would be a bombshell breaking new story.
0 # JCM 2018-06-12 21:42
First link goes nowhere and the second link has no mention on Page. Proves nothing. Carter Page talked with an informant, no evidence he was one. Alt-right fantasy. Maybe you need to wipe your own nose.
+26 # ChrisCurrie 2018-06-09 18:42
Various news agencies have been counting the lies uttered (or twittered) by Donald Trump since he became President. It turns out that he lies to the American public an average of at least 6 TIMES PER DAY!
+21 # Farafalla 2018-06-09 18:50
Before Radioactive Raskolnikov gets his pro Trump comment in, I think it’s worth noting that Risen was persecuted by the Obama administation before Trump got in. So indeed Trump is now willing to sic the Justice Dept. on news he doesn’t like. His performance at the G7 with CNN was really disastrous. The free press is withering before Trump and conservatives are thrilled.
-1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-06-10 06:33
FF -- I'm not supporting Trump. I'm supporting the Truth. Carter Page was NEVER recruited by Russian intelligence. The opposite is true. He was working as an undercover and paid informant for the FBI recruiting Russian businessmen. So he was "American Intelligence" recruiting Russian businessmen. I'm just not going to stand for lazy and dishonest journalism. Trump can be damned.

If Risen just spent two minutes looking a Wikipedia for Carter Page he'd find that he graduated at the top of his class from the Naval Academy and went to work for Navy Intelligence. Then he went into international oil business. He's always been US intelligence.
+32 # Kootenay Coyote 2018-06-09 19:54
Add to this Trump’s disastrously undiplomatic slurs at Canadian PM Trudeau today, only to extend our experience of his appalling intellectual & ethical incompetence. That’s two, Republican, out of three recent presidents who are a gross embarrassment to their nation & the world.
+7 # tm7devils 2018-06-10 11:02
In reality, we haven't had a decent POTUS since Eisenhower - with the possible exception of JFK(that's why he had to go). The Oligarchs get who they want and who is the easiest to control(that's why Sanders wasn't allowed to get the nomination) - and right now they are laughing all the way to the bank. American voters are not asleep...they are in a coma.
And talking about a 'free press'(an oxymoron if I ever saw one), when is the last time we saw, or heard, in depth reporting on any of the following - other than sporadic pieces on the Internet:
Gerrymandering - talk about voter
Voting machines - that can't be hacked
(and with a paper trail).
The Electoral College - its
uselessness and the ease at which it
can be manipulated.
The DOJ - Its refusal to convict and
put in prison war criminals and
traitors(a long list)(NOT
whistleblowers who outed our
governments misdeeds).
Lobbyists - Their ability to buy-off
our elected officials for the
SCOTUS - 'Money is free speech'-'nuf
...and the list goes on.
So...does it look like the 'free press' is doing its job?
The MSM has been high-jacked from right under our noses...and American society(and the World) is the victim.
-26 # PABLO DIABLO 2018-06-09 20:24
Still waiting for a shred of evidence that Russia hacked )or whatever you want to call it) the 2016 election
+2 # ericlipps 2018-06-10 06:56
Still waiting for a shred of evidence that Russia hacked )or whatever you want to call it) the 2016 election

Since the growing mountain of evidence already available apparently doesn't register with you, I suppose even a confession wouldn't do it/; you'd just call it "fake news" manufactured by the intelligence community. to hurt our Glorious Leader.
-3 # JCM 2018-06-10 07:57
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-06-10 15:41
The wired story is a joke. We now know that the indictment was plagiarized from a Radio Free Europe Article published in Ukraine in 2015. All the names, locations, and details come from this article. The Mueller Probe updated it a little and got some things wrong. One company charged did not exist in 2016. About half of the 13 people named (all the names came from the Radio Free Europe article) did not work for the Internet agency in 2016.

Read the court filings by the defense attorneys and the Mueller Probe. They are quite good. The Mueller case is terribly weak. They are now asking the judge to be allowed to prove "conspiracy to defraud the US" without presenting any evidence. They don't want to let the defense team see the evidence they have, so if they don't use it in court they think they won't have to show it. My guess is that the case will be tossed out by the judge.
+2 # Working Class 2018-06-10 12:58
New Flash Pablo - the Special Prosecutor will not share his findings unit he is done investigating all the leads and evidence. Only then will he issue a report. It's how competent criminal investigation are conducted. But why is it I have a feeling that once Mueller does tell us what he and his teem have uncovered you won't believe it anyway? I will bet money PHOX (as in false) News will tell those they lead around by the nose that Mueller and his teams findings are not to be believed.
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-06-12 06:06
Working -- well, this is not a "competent" investigation. It is political. Mueller cannot indict Trump. He can only make a referral to congress for an impeachment.

Mueller is leaking up a storm. There must be a dozen stories in the major media per day citing "sources close to the Muller Probe." Sometimes they say "inside the Muller Probe." These are strategic leaks by Mueller and his staff. They want to control the narrative going on in the press and hold a trial by media in the hope of forcing Trump to resign. That's not a competent investigation.

Meanwhile, all the indictments Mueller has filed so far are falling apart. It has been discovered that McCabe altered the 302 report from of Strzok following his interview with Flynn. Flynn was charged based on a fraudulent FBI report. The judge in this case has demended to see all the paper work. My bet is the case will be tossed. Same for the Petersburg Trolls. Mueller is refusing to allow the defense to see evidence presented to the grand jury. Without that, there would have been no charges. My best is the judge will toss this case.

You are hoping Mueller has an "October surprise." Maybe. I doubt it. We will find out in another year or two.
0 # JCM 2018-06-12 21:55
"Meanwhile, all the indictments Mueller has filed so far are falling apart." Just incase you forgot. George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Richard Pinedo, Alex van der Zwaan have all plead guilty.
+4 # Working Class 2018-06-10 13:23
I keep going back to something said many years ago. Henry A. Wallace, the 33rd Vice President of the United States commented on a budding fascist movement in the US at the time. He said "The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information." Wallace knew that we could not be taken in by fascism unless the people's faith in the information they gathered through the Press was discredited and then controlled. Can you think of anyone who constantly calls any facts they don't like "Fake News"? The first thing a dictator does in order to take total control is to control the Press and the information available to the public. Trump and team are working on this daily by discrediting any reporting that does not support them, while telling us FOX is the only true news. FOX, the brainchild of Roger Ailes, was designed specifically to promote not news or facts, but the neoconservative agenda. Ailes was promoting the idea of a rightwing network decades ago when he worked for a short time for Nixon. FOX is a deliberate effort to mold public opinion into an environment of hate and distrust of government institutions, minority communities and the dreaded "other". All to keep its followers from seeing that the 1% who are taking a bigger and bigger share of the national wealth and using it to buy our government are the real enemy of democracy and a fair and just society.
+36 # Lolanne 2018-06-09 20:25
It is getting very, very scary in this country. Not only is t attacking and working to discredit the press, but he is doing the same for all the institutions of government that maintain order and stability in gov't (leaving agencies unstaffed or so far understaffed they can't function properly, leaving key positions unfilled, cutting budgets, putting people in those agencies he knows will work with him to destroy them, etc.). And while he's doing all this at home, he's also busy alienating our allies across the world and re-creating us as an isolationist nation that doesn't give flying f*** what anybody thinks. All while cozying up to putin for all he's worth. I want this POS OUT of the WH -- right NOW. I hope I live long enough to see him behind bars.
+2 # Jaax88 2018-06-09 22:19
So do I. trump is a disaster on many fronts
and a disgrace to the office of the presidency. What explains it? To me without being too technical I think trump has a pathology that is destructive for people and the institutions he is supposed to lead. My fear is he will be a Stalin, Hitler or Mao. Take your pick.
+4 # Realist1948 2018-06-10 07:18
After Trump won the GOP nomination, Leslie Stahl had a private meeting with him. During the meeting, Stahl asked Trump why he continued to hammer the press. According to Stahl, Trump replied "I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you."
+1 # JCM 2018-06-10 07:59
If you want evidence of trumps conspiracy with Russia, just look at his behavior at the G7.
+1 # Rcomm 2018-06-10 10:22
Pablo, it is interesting that you need evidence of Russia's hacking but are apparently willing to accept anything trump says without a bit of proof. Is this the new (trump) logic?
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-06-10 10:54
I wonder why Risen does not mention Julian Assange, without doubt the journalist most vulnerable right now to Trump administration prosecution. Assange has been held is solitary confinement for about 3 months. He has no access to the outside world. Glenn Greenwald has written on the Intercept that Assange's confinement was as a result of US pressure on Ecuador.

Sessions has said that he is close to getting Assange in custody. If he does, you can be sure there won't be a civil trial. This is one journalist who may face the death penalty under the Espionage Act.

\Too bad journalist like Risen or the NYTimes -- who have made great use of the material gathered by Assange -- don't come to his defense now before it is too late. When Sessions has Assange, it will be too late. There won't be a fair trial. It will be vengeance.
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-06-11 14:04
Just a follow up. A statement by John Pilger:

Pilger’s Statement

“There is a silence among many who call themselves left. The silence is Julian Assange. As every false accusation has fallen away, every bogus smear shown to be the work of political enemies, Julian stands vindicated as one who has exposed a system that threatens humanity. The Collateral Damage video, the war logs of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Cablegate revelations, the Venezuela revelations, the Podesta email revelations … these are just a few of the storms of raw truth that have blown through the capitals of rapacious power. The fakery of Russia-gate, the collusion of a corrupt media and the shame of a legal system that pursues truth-tellers have not been able to hold back the raw truth of WikiLeaks revelations. They have not won, not yet, and they have not destroyed the man. Only the silence of good people will allow them to win. Julian Assange has never been more isolated. He needs your support and your voice. Now more than ever is the time to demand justice and free speech for Julian. Thank you.”
+4 # Barbell 2018-06-10 15:24
Trump and his cohorts have grossly embarrassed this country in last 48 hours by picking fights with our allies. It is abundantly clear that is Trump a very weak person, morally, intellectually as well as being completely dishonest. Look at the people who agree to work fr him. Kudlow, Bolton, Navarro, Giuliani, Sanders et al. Weak, lying fools all. Decent people refuse to work for this f---ing moron.

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