WASHINGTON — Two weeks after President Donald Trump blocked the full release of a classified Democratic memo, the House intelligence committee published a redacted version of the document that aims to counter a narrative that Republicans on the committee have promoted for months — that the FBI and Justice Department conspired against Trump as they investigated his ties to Russia.
The Democratic memo’s release on Saturday was the latest development in an extraordinary back and forth between Republicans and Democrats about the credibility of not only the multiple inquiries into links between the Trump campaign and Russia, but also about the credibility of the nation’s top law enforcement agencies.
The Democratic document attempts to undercut and add context to some of the main points from a declassified Republican memo that was released earlier this month. In that memo, Republicans took aim at the FBI and the Justice Department over the use of information compiled by British spy Christopher Steele in obtaining a secret warrant to monitor the communications of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.
The GOP memo included the assertion that the FBI obtained a surveillance warrant without disclosing that Steele’s anti-Trump research was funded by Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
The Democratic memo counters that the Justice Department disclosed “the assessed political motivation of those who hired him” and that Steele was likely hired by someone “looking for information that could be used to discredit” then-candidate Trump’s campaign.
Republicans say that is not enough, since Clinton and the DNC were not named. President Donald Trump himself seized on this point in a tweet Saturday evening: “Dem Memo: FBI did not disclose who the clients were—the Clinton Campaign and the DNC. Wow!”
The White House had objected to the Democratic memo’s release, citing national security concerns on Feb. 9. That sent the Democrats back to negotiations with the FBI, which approved a redacted version on Saturday. It was then declassified and released.
Trump had no such concerns about the GOP memo, which he declassified in full on Feb. 2 over strong objections from the FBI.
The Democratic memo asserts that the FBI’s concerns about Page long predate the Steele dossier, and that its application to monitor his communications details suspicious activities he undertook during the 2016 presidential campaign. That includes a July 2016 trip to Moscow in which he gave a university commencement address.
The memo also contends that the Justice Department provided “additional information from multiple independent sources that corroborated Steele’s reporting” in the dossier. Most of the details of the corroborated information are redacted but they do appear to reference Page’s meeting with Russian officials.
The memo also details Russian attempts to cultivate Page as a spy. It cites a federal indictment of two Russian spies who allegedly targeted Page for recruitment and notes that the FBI interviewed him based on those suspicions in March 2016.
The Democrats say the FBI made “made only narrow use of Steele’s sources” in the warrant in the secret court that operates under Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.
Republicans say that is still too much.
“Again, the fact the minority cannot outright deny that a DNC/Clinton funded document was used to wiretap an American is extremely concerning,” the Republican National Committee said in a statement.
Trump has said the GOP memo “vindicates” him in the ongoing Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. But congressional Democrats and Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who helped draft the GOP memo, have said it shouldn’t be used to undermine the special counsel.
Partisan disagreements on the intelligence committee have escalated over the last year as Democrats have charged that Republicans aren’t taking the panel’s investigation into Russian election meddling seriously enough. They say the GOP memo is designed as a distraction from the probe, which is looking into whether Trump’s campaign was in any way connected to the Russian interference.
Republicans say they are just alerting the public to abuses they say they’ve uncovered at the Justice Department and FBI.
The top Democrat on the intelligence panel, California Rep. Adam Schiff, said Saturday that the memo should “put to rest any concerns that the American people might have” as to the conduct of the FBI, the Justice Department and the court that issued the secret warrant.
The review “failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement,” he said.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders disagreed. She said that Trump supported the redacted release of the memo in the interest of transparency, but “nevertheless, this politically driven document fails to answer serious concerns raised by the majority’s memorandum about the use of partisan opposition research from one candidate, loaded with uncorroborated allegations, as a basis to ask a court to approve surveillance of a former associate of another candidate, at the height of a presidential campaign.”
ELDORA — Throughout Kasey Hilpipre’s emotional victim impact statement in a nearly full courtroom Friday, she repeated how Dean Hilpipre had better hope God forgives him for what he did to her then-6-year-old daughter.
Judge James McGlynn sentenced Dean Hilpipre to five years of probation and ordered him to be on the sex offender registry for life. A sentence of 10 years in prison was suspended, meaning he could be sent to prison if he violates probation.
Kasey Hilpipre hugged family members and friends as sentencing was read, trying to make sense of what has happened since November 2016.
“I believe it was an injustice to all children and all sex abuse victims,” Clear Lake native Kasey Hilpipre said. “I’m talking about when he (Dean) reaches his final moment in life, I hope he asks for forgiveness.”
Dean Hilpipre was charged with two counts of felony second-degree sexual abuse for sexually assaulting his granddaughter, court documents said. In a plea deal, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of lascivious acts with a child.
During the nearly two-hour sentencing hearing, three victim impact statements were read, bookended by discussions of the plea deal. McGlynn also explained why he couldn’t let letters or emails submitted to the court influence his decision.
The Hardin County Attorney’s Office received a number of letters and emails criticizing the plea deal and saying Hilpipre should go to prison.
“No one is allowed to put their thumb on the scale,” McGlynn said.
But Kasey Hilpipre, her mother, Deborah Yanna and the victim’s older sister offered graphic details about the months Dean Hilpipre abused Kasey Hilpipre’s now 7-year-old daughte and how it had torn the family apart.
Yanna called Hilpipre sick and insane, and detailed how her granddaughter was forced to touch him on multiple occasions. The incidents ranged from in the woods near her house, Dean Hilpipre’s bedroom and elsewhere in his home.
Then, looking at Dean Hilpipre’s wife, Marla, she ridiculed her for giving the girl “a handful of candy for a job well-done.”
“So much of it makes my heart want to vomit with sadness,” Yanna said.
The victim’s older sister detailed the abuse, struggling through tears. Many friends and family members also cried throughout.
She described how difficult it is to comfort her younger sister. She also detailed how difficult it is for her sister to enjoy playing now.
She ended by saying: “You don’t deserve to walk this planet as a monster that is gonna hurt little children.”
Kasey Hilpipre, who also fought back tears throughout a statement that lasted more than 10 minutes, stated Dean had torn the family apart, and recommended he ask for God’s forgiveness several times.
She asked McGlynn to reconsider the plea deal to preserve her daughter’s safety. She also criticized the psychosexual report that determined Dean Hilpipre was a low risk to reoffend.
“You will always be known as a pedophile,” Kasey Hilpipre said in court. “Your health does not excuse your actions.”
Hilpipre looked down at the table while victim impact statements were read. When asked by McGlynn if he wanted to speak, he replied “no, sir.”
Following the statements, McGlynn said it was not within his power to throw away the plea deal. As he was speaking, one woman stood up, criticized him, and was was quickly escorted out of the courtroom, all while still venting her anger at the sentence.
“You’re a (expletive deleted), sick a— judge,” she told McGlynn, who replied she would be held in contempt of court. As she was led out by the Hardin County’s Sheriff Office, she added: “Go ahead, throw me in jail.”
Following the sentencing, Dean Hilpipre’s attorney, George Appleby, said he appreciated McGlynn accepting the plea deal.
“I believe this was, while a difficult case, the right result,” Appleby said.
When asked about the public outcry to the plea, Appleby answered: “I thought the judge outlined what this judicial procedure was about, and what his duties and authorities are.”
The Hardin County Attorney’s office declined to comment.
In January, Hilpipre claimed a $100,000 lottery prize. Lottery officials said a criminal conviction does not disqualify someone from winning a prize.
CEDAR FALLS – A cadre of African-American women from Waterloo are promoting diversity and inclusion at the University of Northern Iowa.
There’s no better way to do that, they reason, than by deepening the university’s ties to Waterloo, and vice versa.
They include Gwenne Berry, UNI’s chief diversity officer; Juana Hollingsworth, a 2012 Waterloo East High School graduate and assistant director of admissions for diversity recruitment; Keyah Levy, a Waterloo West High graduate and assistant director of the UNI Center for Multicultural Education; Denita Gadson, student diversity programs coordinator of the UNI School of Business; and Rev. Belinda Creighton-Smith, pastor of Faith Temple Baptist Church in Waterloo and an adjunct instructor in the social work department working on her doctorate.
Berry said the women constitute a substantial Waterloo presence she hopes benefits the campus and the community.
The women talk to each other “constantly,” Berry said. “Partially because we know each other. And we have that Waterloo connection.”
It’s been a goal of Berry’s to deepen UNI’s ties to Waterloo — with its diverse population — as a means toward campus inclusion — to draw Waterloo students not just to UNI Center for Urban Education programs in downtown Waterloo but to attend UNI.
UNI-CUE is restricted in is ability to directly recruit students to UNI because of the conditions on some of the federal funding attached to its programs. Nor is UNI-CUE directly identified as part of the UNI campus in the minds of many students. Using UNI minority staff and students to directly recruit inside the schools will draw more Waterloo minority students to UNI and make them want to stay there.
“It is going to happen. And it is happening. And a lot of it is because of these women,” Berry said.
Hollingsworth “has these fabulous out-of-the-box ideas,” Berry said. “We have to be doing that kind of thinking.”
Levy has the creativity to come up with programs at the Center for Multicultural Education to make students feel at home — like, for example a “Hot Wings and Hot Topics” mixer.
“We have to be prepared to work with students to guide them and help them through an atmosphere and a culture ... that isn’t necessarily set up for them,” Berry said. “To be the very distinct minority — to maybe never see another person who looks like you in your classes or in your residence hall — is an experience. And that can be lonely. We have to provide a home for them.”’
Regarding Gadson, whose late husband Willie was East’s wrestling coach, “I just love her manner, tenor she has with students,” Berry said.
“We’re all new in our roles here at UNI, but we’re not new to the work, not new in our connections that we have in the community,” Levy said. “That is really an essential part of what we do here at UNI in regard to diversity and inclusion and multiculturalism.”
Berry wouldn’t say she recruited Levy, Hollngsworth and Gadson to come to campus.
“I definitely advocated for all three,” she said. “One of the things I talk about with the president (Mark Nook), with administration, is that we can’t talk about inclusion if we don’t have any diversity. You have to recruit students. You also have to hire people. And we have very capable people in Waterloo, people of color,” where there is a high minority unemployment rate — as high as 24 percent according to some sources.
It came up at “job force development” town halls UNI staff attended, Gadson said. “It’s anecdotal, but there were a number of women there, African-American women, who had advanced degrees and were unemployed or under-employed.”
Some might be able to work for the university, Berry said. “What I tried to do, what I have advocated when I have seen well-qualified individuals apply for a position, I do say, ‘Let’s look really closely at the candidate.’ Not because they’re a person of color, but because they’re qualified.”
“In addition to that,” Levy said, “We can create some student leaders, and leaders who are students that are qualified to fit some of these positions later on in life.”
Berry said, the UNI-CUE in downtown Waterloo is one of the university’s most diverse operations. “If you look at those employees, I am going to say all but two have degrees from the University of Northern Iowa. And what better way to create a town-gown relationship and to have your employees in the town?
But there needs to be a UNI presence in the Waterloo schools. And as a fairly recent East High and UNI graduate, Hollingsworth is “new blood” with deep roots. She’s fourth generation Waterloo whose mother is also a UNI alum.
“One of the questions I asked when I came to campus was, why was there such a select few of multicultural students on campus and from Waterloo?” When her mother attended UNI in the 1980s and early ‘90s, “it was full of people from Waterloo.”
In contrast, when Juana was a UNI student, “I saw maybe three or four students and they weren’t well integrated into campus life.”
Hollingsworth lived on campus, got involved in activities, worked on campus and was hired full time after graduation.
“I wanted to stay employed here because that’s how much I love the university,” she said.
“It’s now been my goal to put my foot deep down into Waterloo,” she said. “I west to East High. It’s going to help me recruit students from that area.”
UNI put together a program, Ethnic Student Promoters, in which current minority students talk to high schoolers about UNI. They began visiting East recently and hope to add other high schools.
“Having people like Juana who can talk about that to students makes a big difference, we think,” Berry said. She said cooperation with the Waterloo Community School District has been “excellent.”
Additional challenges are opportunities are offered in recruiting Waterloo’s Congolese and Burmese students. She said with new immigrants, “It’s going to take a lot ... to really start educating families about the importance of education.”
Berry also noted diversity also includes the disabled, veterans, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity. “Diversity is when you get an invitation to the dance,” Berry said. “Inclusion is when someone invites you to dance, at the dance.”
New UNI President Mark Nook “is very serious about diversity and inclusion,” Berry said.
Because of the energy and enthusiasm of Hollingsworth, Levy, Gadson and the “Waterloo connection” Berry said, “It is going to surprise me if we don’t immediately start to see more students of color from Waterloo enrolling at the university.”
Creighton-Smith works at diversity and inclusion from a different angle — introducing her students, of mainly white northern European ethnicity, to the social justice movement in the Waterloo community, through organizations such as he Waterloo Human Rights Commission and the Bakari Project of David Goodson’s Social Action Inc. organization.
“This is my passion,” she said, and she can see a shift in her students’ thinking. She’s carrying on the work of now-deceased UNI faculty from Waterloo like John Baskerville and Ruth B. Anderson, and feels their presence.
“That’s a good thing,” she said.
DENVER — When President Donald Trump raised the idea of banning “bump stocks” and curbing young people’s access to guns, gun owners and advocates who helped his political rise talked about disloyalty and desertion.
Trump’s flirtation with modest gun control measures drew swift condemnation from gun groups, hunters and sportsmen who banked on the president to be a stalwart opponent to any new restrictions.
He’s pledging to make schools safer and reduce gun violence after the Florida school shooting. But gun advocates see a weakening resolve from the man they voted for in droves and spent millions to elect.
“Out in the firearms community there is a great feeling of betrayal and abandonment because of the support he was given in his campaign for president,” Tony Fabian, president of the Colorado Sports Shooting Association, said Friday.
The comments highlight how little room the president and his party have to maneuver without angering and activating a politically powerful constituency.
Trump has not made a proposal and spent much of the past week endorsing the notion of arming teachers and school officials, an approach the gun lobby supports.
Meanwhile, Trump appeared Saturday to begin refining his proposals for combatting school violence, tweeting that arming teachers as a deterrent against such often deadly violence — an idea he championed in recent days — is “Up to States.”
Trump heavily promoted the idea of putting “gun-adept” teachers and staff carrying concealed firearms in classrooms and schools to protect students following this month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, most of them students.
He called for bonuses for educators who volunteer to carry a firearm, and said he also wanted action to strengthen background checks and boost the minimum age for the purchase of assault-style weapons.
Expectations were raised that Trump would propose federal legislation on arming teachers, but that no longer appeared to be the case Saturday.
“Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them. Very smart people. Must be firearms adept & have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again—a big & very inexpensive deterrent. Up to States,” Trump tweeted.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the president’s tweet.
Just floating proposals that defy the National Rifle Association and other groups drew threats of political retribution and legal action.
The confrontation is set to test whether Trump is willing to risk his political capital to take on a core group few Republicans have challenged.
“The president has a unique ability right now to maybe really do something about these school shootings,” said Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla. “Nobody is more popular in my district — and I know in a lot of other people’s districts — than Donald Trump. He’s more popular than the NRA. ... So it’s up to him whether or not anything happens with guns.”
After 17 people were killed by a teenager at the Florida school, Trump said that assault rifles should be kept out of the hands of anyone under 21. He endorsed more stringent background checks for gun buyers, and ordered his Justice Department to work toward banning rapid-fire “bump stock” devices.
Gun Owners of America issued an alert earlier this past week urging its 1.5 million members to call the White House and “Tell Trump to OPPOSE All Gun Control!” The organization said anti-gun activists aided by congressional Democrats are trying to convince the president he should “support their disastrous gun control efforts,” the message said. “And sadly, it may be working.”
Michael Hammond, legislative counsel for the Virginia-based group, said the organization doesn’t hesitate to oppose Republican incumbents and candidates whom it deems not sufficiently “pro-gun.” Motivating gun owners to go to the polls — not campaign funding — is the source of the gun lobby’s strength, according to Hammond.
“When they feel gun ownership is threatened, then they’re going to respond as if that’s the pre-eminent issue,” he said.
Paul Paradis, who owns a gun store in Colorado Springs, was enthusiastic about letting teachers carry firearms on campus. But he was incredulous about the notion of outlawing bump stocks and increasing the age requirement for buying a long gun.
“Trump can propose anything he wants but it’s got to get through two houses of Congress and the Supreme Court,” Paradis said.
Colorado has been a test case for the politics of gun control and the ability of gun groups to retaliate against those who vote for it. In 2013, after the Aurora theater shooting was followed by the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Colorado’s Democrat-controlled Legislature passed a package of gun restrictions, including universal background checks and a ban on magazines that hold more than 15 bullets.
Gun control advocates hoped to roll the program out to other states after showing a libertarian, Western state could pass the bills. But then the NRA backed successful recalls of two Democratic state lawmakers who backed the legislation. The momentum ended.
Democrats won back those seats in the 2016 election. Still, the message has lingered: Democrats have not proposed any major gun legislation since the recalls.