FEINSTEIN has TRUMP’s ear on assault weapons — STEYER’s town hall strategy — JERRY to NYC — Report: RUSSIA compromised CALIFORNIA elections — ICE slams Oakland’s SCHAAF

By Carla Marinucci ([email protected]) and David Siders ([email protected]) and with Candice Norwood ([email protected]) THE BUZZ: After a very rough weekend and an embarrassing snub from her own party in San Diego last weekend, Sen. Dianne Feinstein Wednesday seized a moment in the national spotlight that perfectly illustrated why she may just coast to a sixth term in November.Story Continued Below -- Sitting next to President Donald Trump at the White House, California’s senior senator dramatized exactly the point she’d argued to Democrats while unsuccessfully seeking their endorsement at the state party convention: She’s the nation’s foremost advocate on the issue of gun safety and an assault weapons ban. -- That White House photo op underscored DiFi’s unique strength on that issue: a history rooted in tragedy of San Francisco City Hall murders of Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, and the 101 California massacre in San Francisco, one of the earliest mass shootings to evoke widespread public outrage. -- EXPERIENCE FACTOR: Feinstein didn’t attack Trump, but instead used the opportunity to carefully walk him through the the effects of assault weapons ban she authored in the 1990s. He said: “It’s something you have to think about.” He asked Republicans to help incorporate her ideas into legislation. Will anything happen? These days, a battle-scarred Democratic senator on Capitol Hill knows: A sliver of hope is better than none. -- So yes, California Democrats’ voted in favor of State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León over the more moderate senior senator in the party’s endorsement battle. But de León’s challenge after moments like these is to seize back the spotlight. No easy task. POTUS TWEET THIS A.M.: @RealDonaldTrump: "Many ideas, some good & some not so good, emerged from our bipartisan meeting on school safety yesterday at the White House. Background Continue Reading

Twitter to disclose info on political ads as Russia scrutiny intensifies

 NEW YORK (AP) — Twitter says it will provide more information about political ads on its service, including who is funding them and how they are targeted.The move follows similar steps by Facebook and the introduction of a bill that seeks to bring more transparency to online political ads in an attempt to lessen the influence of Russia and other foreign entities on U.S. elections.The bill would require social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to keep public records on election ads and meet the same disclaimer requirements as political broadcast and print advertising. Companies would have to make "reasonable efforts" to ensure that election ads are not purchased directly or indirectly by a foreign entity, something already prohibited by law. More: House Intel leaders to release Facebook ads purchased by Kremlin-linked groups More: Facebook: 10 million people saw Russia-backed election ads More: Facebook political ads are coming out of the shadows — why you should care Twitter said Tuesday it will require ads that refer to a candidate or party to be clearly identified as election ads. The company will also require the organization funding the ads to disclose its identity, along with how much money it is spending on each ad campaign.For non-political ads, Twitter will provide limited information such as how long they've been running. Users will also be able to see what ads are targeted at them.Twitter didn't outline new policies on "issue-based" ads. These are the sorts of advertisements that Russia-linked accounts reportedly used to stoke racial and other tensions in the U.S. In a statement, Twitter said it is "committed to stricter policies and transparency around issues-based ads" and that it will work with other companies and policy makers to define them. More: Twitter vows new crackdown on abuse after Harvey Weinstein boycott More: Twitter removed 200 Russian accounts that targeted Continue Reading

Intel chiefs briefed Trump, Obama on unverified, salacious allegations concerning Russia and president-elect

During a special briefing last Friday, leaders of the intelligence community gave President-elect Donald Trump a synopsis of unsubstantiated and salacious allegations that Russian operatives had obtained potentially compromising personal and financial information about the president-elect, a U.S. official confirmed Tuesday.The official who is not authorized to comment publicly, said that the document was provided along with the intelligence community's assessment that Russia had meddled in the U.S. election.The separate document presented to the president-elect represented a summary of a much larger 35-page compilation of documents prepared by a former foreign intelligence officer. The officer, the official said, is known to U.S. intelligence, but the contents of the specific contents of the document have not been verified.Trump responded Tuesday evening by Twitter, calling the report "FAKE NEWS - A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!" Read more:The decision to present the information to Trump, first reported by CNN, was made after it was determined that the document — in many forms — had been circulated widely to political opposition researchers, U.S. lawmakers, journalists and others. CNN said it reviewed the compilation of the memos, described as originating as opposition research first commissioned by anti-Trump Republicans, and later by Democrats. Buzzfeed has posted the intelligence documents.In the end, U.S. authorities determined that Trump needed to know the information, if he didn’t know its existence already, the official said, adding that the contents remained the subject of investigation. The official declined to comment on Trump's reaction to the presentation. And the president-elect, who has scheduled his first news conference Wednesday, did not immediately comment on the revelations.The summary document also includes allegations that information was exchanged over a long period of time between the Russian Continue Reading

Trump blasts intel officials: ‘Are we living in Nazi Germany?’

The president-elect is blasting the intelligence community for letting unsubstantiated allegations leak into the press about his campaign’s purported ties to Russia.In a morning tweetstorm, Trump began by highlighting Russian denials of the allegations and then turned his ire elsewhere.Intelligence officials included a synopsis in a special briefing of Trump last Friday that included unsubstantiated and salacious allegations that Russian operatives had obtained potentially compromising personal and financial information about the president-elect, a U.S. official confirmed to USA TODAY.Trump's tweet about Germany immediately sent social media into a frenzy. "Are we living in Nazi Germany” swiftly became a trending phrase on Twitter, and the sentiment was, well, just what you'd expect. Read more: Continue Reading

Intel Chairman Devin Nunes: Trump ‘needed’ to know about surveillance

WASHINGTON — Facing mounting criticism Thursday, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee defended his decision to inform President Trump about the U.S. intelligence community's incidental collection of communications involving members of the president's transition group, saying Trump "needed to understand what I saw.''Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said he made "a judgment call'' to inform the White House and reporters about the existence of dozens of intelligence reports in which the communications of an undisclosed number of transition members — and possibly Trump himself — were swept up by intelligence officials following the November election."The president did not invite me over,'' Nunes said, dismissing assertions that he was offering the president cover in the face of ongoing inquiries into Russia's possible ties to Trump associates. "I felt he needed to understand what I saw,'' the chairman said.White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday that Nunes' meeting with the president Wednesday was unplanned and did not conflict with the existing Russia investigations because the chairman's information had "nothing to do with Russia.''"The substance of what he shared should be troubling to everybody,'' Spicer said.Nunes' disclosure, however, was made without conferring with other members of the committee or ranking member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who raised questions that the chairman's unilateral action undermined the ongoing committee investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. Read more:Schiff has since indicated that Nunes' disclosures now argue for the appointment of an independent commission to investigate Russia's possible ties to Trump associates and whether there was any collusion between the two sides in advance of the election. That inquiry, Schiff suggested late Wednesday, appears to indicate that there is more than circumstantial evidence to indicate there was coordination between Russian officials Continue Reading

Intel chair Nunes met source of new surveillance documents at White House

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee met secretly at the White House complex with the source of documents detailing the intelligence community's incidental collection of communications involving associates of President Trump, a top aide confirmed Monday.The source of the intelligence reports cited by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., has been a matter of increasing speculation, as the chairman declined to inform Democratic members of the existence of intelligence reports before briefing reporters and the president the day following his mysterious White House meeting.Democrats, including the panel's ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., have asserted that Nunes sought to provide political cover to the president, who falsely claimed that the Obama administration wiretapped his New York offices in advance of the 2016 election."Chairman Nunes met with his source at the White House grounds in order to have proximity to a secure location where he could view the information provided by the source,'' Nunes spokesman Jack Langer said. "The chairman is extremely concerned by the possible improper unmasking of names of U.S. citizens, and he began looking into this issue even before President Trump tweeted his assertion that Trump Tower had been wiretapped.''Langer Monday declined to identify the source of the documents."To protect his source, the chairman has repeatedly said he will not reveal any information at all about the source,'' Langer said.Nunes, in a late Monday appearance on CNN, defended the meeting, saying that neither Trump nor other top White House officials were likely aware that he was on the grounds to view the intelligence information.Last week, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump did not give Nunes the information. And Monday, Spicer sought to distance the White House from any collaboration with Nunes, claiming that he was unaware of of the specific contents of the information Nunes saw or who had provided the Continue Reading

Top Democrat on House intel panel: Congress will take time to do Russia probe right

WASHINGTON — The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday the panel will take the time it needs to do a thorough investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in last year's election despite efforts by the White House to convince Americans that there is no evidence to warrant congressional probes."There's method behind the White House madness when to comes to their messaging on Russia," Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told reporters at a newsmaker breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.Schiff said the White House is trying to bring congressional investigations to a quick end by insisting that there is no evidence of collusion.Former CIA director John Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that he doesn't know whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials in the 2016 election, but he left office in January with "unresolved questions" about whether Russia had been successful in getting Trump campaign officials to act on its behalf "either wittingly or unwittingly."The White House jumped on that testimony Tuesday to release a statement asserting that "despite a year of investigation, there is still no evidence of any Russia-Trump campaign collusion."But Schiff said the investigations by four separate congressional committees into possible collusion are "still at the very early stages." In addition to the congressional probes, former FBI director Robert Mueller is leading an FBI investigation as a special counsel appointed last week by the Department of Justice."I'm confident we will resist that (White House pressure)and Mr. Muller will take the time to complete his investigation," Schiff said. "There's little reason to do this if we don't do it right." Read more:Schiff also said the House Intelligence Committee will subpoena retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn in its Russia probe after the former national security adviser refused to Continue Reading

Trump defends sharing ‘facts’ with Russians; reports say Israel gave intel

WASHINGTON – As President Trump defended his right to share "facts" about terrorism and airline safety with top Russian diplomats, new reports surfaced Tuesday that Israel supplied the once-secret information at the heart of the latest furor to engulf the White House."We had a very, very successful meeting with the foreign minister of Russia; our fight is against ISIS," Trump told reporters one day after revelations that he revealed highly classified intelligence to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in an Oval Office session last week.Already under fire over last week's abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey, Trump now faces criticism over claims he discussed counter-terrorism in way that allowed his Russian guests to trace secret intelligence sources and methods, and potentially compromise critical sources of intelligence on the Islamic State terror group – including, apparently, Israel.Officials did not deny a New York Times report that Israel was the source of the intelligence in question, which had to do with plans by the Islamic State to use laptop computers as weapons, and was so sensitive it had been withheld from allies and under close hold even within the U.S. government.Trump, who is headed to Israel as part of his first foreign trip that begins later this week, explained his rationale early Tuesday. "As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety," Trump said in a pair of tweets. "Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism."National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Tuesday that Trump's discussion with Russian officials did not compromise any sources or methods. The exchange of information, he said, was "wholly appropriate to Continue Reading

Intel chiefs: We’re certain that Russia tried to influence U.S. election

WASHINGTON — Top U.S. intelligence officials told senators Thursday that they are confident in their assessment that Russia attempted to use cyberattacks to influence the U.S. presidential election, despite skepticism of their findings by President-elect Donald Trump."Our assessment now is even more resolute," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee in testimony echoed by Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency.Clapper said the intelligence community will release a public report next week detailing Russia's attempt to influence the U.S. presidential election by hacking Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign and other political groups. The CIA and FBI have agreed that the interference was aimed at helping Trump beat Clinton.Responding to questions from Democratic senators about Trump's criticism of the intelligence community, Clapper said he has no problem with elected officials having a healthy skepticism about information from the intelligence community, which he said is "not perfect" since it is made up of human beings.However, Clapper added that "I think there is a difference between skepticism and disparagement.""I do think that public trust and confidence in the intelligence community is crucial," he said. Clapper added that he has received many "expressions of concern" by U.S. allies "about what has been interpreted as disparagement of the Intelligence Community."Trump has resolutely dismissed the intelligence community's claims about the Russians' involvement in the election. He is scheduled to be briefed Friday on the soon-to-be-released report on Russian hacking."The 'intelligence' briefing on so-called 'Russian hacking' was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!" the president-elect tweeted Tuesday. Read more:Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., reflecting the concern among some Republican lawmakers about Trump's rift Continue Reading

Intel chairman: ‘I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower’

WASHINGTON — The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee cast President Trump's widely disputed wiretap claims into further question Wednesday, saying that he had seen no evidence that the Obama administration had ordered surveillance of Trump's New York offices in advance of the November election.In a striking show of unity, Chairman Devin Nunes of California and Rep. Adam Schiff, the panel's ranking Democrat, also of California, appeared to leave the White House increasingly alone in its claim that the president's campaign had been the target of government surveillance.“We don't have any evidence that that took place,” Nunes said during a news conference at the Capitol. “I don't think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.”Nunes said it was obvious that President Obama did not personally install listening devices in the building where Trump has offices and an apartment. He said the committee has had to try to determine what Trump meant if his tweet earlier this month could not be taken literally.“If the White House or the president want to come out and clarify his statements more, it would probably, probably be helpful,” Nunes said.Meanwhile, Congress was ramping up pressure Wednesday on the FBI and the Justice Department to respond to Trump's wiretap allegations and outline the status of the bureau's ongoing investigation into communications between Trump associates and Russian government officials.Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, indicated Wednesday that he has bipartisan support to seek subpoenas if FBI Director James Comey did not resolve lawmakers' questions about the president's claims soon."The bottom line is that a lot of Americans want to know what's going on here,'' Graham said at Senate hearing examining Russia's efforts at undermining the U.S. political system and other democracies.Graham said the FBI informed him Wednesday that the Continue Reading