Opinion: COVID Relief Fiasco Reveals McConnellism Rivals Trumpism In Disregard for Americans’ Welfare

Trump - McConnell

Americans have been living under a political system arguably best characterized as a tyranny of the minority for some time.  Certainly, for the past four years the nation has suffered the insidious rule of a president who lost the popular vote by 3 million tallies in the 2016 election, just as the nation was hornswoggled into a devastatingly costly war—in human, financial, and geopolitical terms—and financial disaster from 2000 to 2008 by the Bush-Cheney regime, which also sneaked into office having lost the popular vote.  And even when the majority vote was able to elect Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, it had to do so in the context of still-existent gerrymandered districting that meant in many cases, in down-ballot races, Republican candidates could win local elections in states that still featured an overwhelming Democratic electorate. read more

Analysis: Democrats Smack Down Trump and Now Control Washington

Yesterday’s staggering events struck like a dagger to the heart of Donald Trump, and have made clear that Democrats are now in control of Washington, D.C..

Roger Stone’s pre-dawn arrest caused panic in the White House as the president’s oldest friend was hauled away in handcuffs. Washington Democrats seized on Stone’s arrest, saying it is a further sign of criminal and treasonous behavior by the Trump campaign. In doing this, they took away Trump’s claims to a legitimate presidency.

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) issued a statement saying:

“It is clear from this indictment that those contacts [between Stone and WikiLeaks] happened at least with the full knowledge of, and appear to have been encouraged by, the highest levels of the Trump campaign.”

Other Democrats pointed to Trump publicly calling on Russia to find Clinton’s deleted emails during the 2016 campaign. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) also issued a statement, saying:

“At the very time that then-candidate Trump was publicly encouraging Russia’s help in acquiring Clinton-related emails, his campaign was privately receiving information about the planned release of stolen Clinton emails.”

Schiff also tweeted the language in Stone’s indictment which could implicate the president in crimes:

“Most significant in the Stone indictment is new info that a senior campaign official was “directed” in July 2016 to contact Mr. Stone about additional Wikileaks releases.”

Most significant in the Stone indictment is new info that a senior campaign official was “directed” in July 2016 to contact Mr. Stone about additional Wikileaks releases.

This was at same time candidate Trump was publicly calling for Russia’s help in obtaining Clinton’s emails. pic.twitter.com/wtDDmHwyWt read more

Senate Committee Refers Perjury Cases to Mueller For Prosecution

The Senate Intelligence Committee has referred perjury cases to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said Friday. Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and Burr’s committee has done its own investigation into the same matter. Burr disclosed that after witnesses were questioned in the Intelligence Committee’s  Russia probe several were suspected of lying.

“We have made referrals from our committee to the special counsel for prosecution,” Burr said at a national security conference in Austin, Texas. “In a lot of those cases, those might be tied to lying to us.”

The confirmation by Burr came one day after Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress as part of Mueller’s investigation.

“I don’t want you to get us mixed up with Bob Mueller’s special prosecutor investigation. We have no criminal responsibilities. If we identify a crime in our investigation that has been committed, we refer it to the special prosecutor,” Burr said. “I won’t tell you the number of times, but we have made referrals to the special prosecutor.”

According to public documents, the Senate Intelligence Committee interviewed over 200 witnesses as part of its investigation into Russian election interference and possible connections to the Trump campaign. Michael Cohen was one of the committee’s witnesses, and Burr mentioned Cohen as one of the people referred by the committee to the special counsel.

“One of them, one instance just highlighted of late was the special prosecutor made the indictment yesterday using the transcripts of interviews we have done in our committee to indict somebody for lying to Congress,” Burr said.

Burr said that Cohen’s guilty plea should be viewed by others as a clear warning not to lie to Congress, saying:

“It’s a loud message to everybody that is interviewed by our committee, regardless of where that prosecution comes from: If you lie to us, we’re going to go after you. Our mandate is at the end of this to get as close to the clear truth as we possibly can, and we can’t do it on conjecture. We’ve got to do it on facts.”

In his plea deal, Cohen admitted that he lied about negotiations he had about building a Trump Tower in Moscow. Those discussions with the Kremlin about the Moscow real estate project continued through June of 2016. At the time Cohen was representing Trump in his business dealings.

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee,

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia read more

Schumer Says That Disclosing Source’s Identity Would Be ‘Crossing a Legal Line’

On Saturday we reported that President Trump may be trying to get a U.S. intelligence source killed by publicly releasing his secret identity. We said:

“Donald Trump and Devin Nunes are working together to discover the name of a secret U.S. intelligence source so they can disclose his identity.  Their goal is to undercut the credibility of the Mueller investigation. The practical effect of disclosing the name of a secret intelligence source, however, is that it may get him killed.  It also may completely destroy the viability of other ongoing U.S. intelligence operations.”

And we weren’t the only ones to comment negatively about what was going on. The most powerful Democratic Senator, Chuck Schumer of New York, also made his opinion known.  He said that publicly identifying a U.S. intelligence source was “close to crossing a legal line.” 

When Schumer posted his statement on Twitter he was expressing support for earlier statements from Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Sen. Warner had warned Republican lawmakers against exposing the identity of the informant who gave investigators information about possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Warner said in a separate Twitter thread on Friday,

“It would be at best irresponsible, and at worst potentially illegal, for members of Congress to use their positions to learn the identity of an FBI source for the purpose of undermining the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in our election.”

He then sent a second tweet, adding:

“Anyone who is entrusted with our nation’s highest secrets should act with the gravity and seriousness of purpose that knowledge deserves.”

Schumer decided that letting Warner be the only Senator publicly decrying the threats and actions of the president was not right.  So he posted the following tweet in support of Warner:

@MarkWarner’s statement here is on the money and a severe warning to right wing Republican Congressmen who are trying to obstruct Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation and could be coming close to crossing a legal line.”

.@MarkWarner’s statement here is on the money and a severe warning to right wing Republican Congressmen who are trying to obstruct Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation and could be coming close to crossing a legal line. https://t.co/uEK0GoXtKJ read more

Dem Senators Demand Rare Russia Sanctions Probe By 3 Agencies

Bob Menendez, Mark Warner and Sherrod Brown are fed up and they’re not going to take it any more. Yesterday they signed and sent a letter to the inspectors-general of three different federal agencies demanding that they investigate why the Congressionally-mandated Russian sanctions have never been implemented by the Trump Administration.

These three powerful Democratic senators said the administration has not complied with the requirements of a law passed by Congress called CAATSA, which stands for Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.  To express their disgust with Trump’s lack of action they sent their letter demanding action to the State Department, the Treasury Department and the Intelligence Community.

The letter is available on Warner’s website, which includes a press statement saying “the senators listed a series of instances where the Trump administration’s mixed signals or inaction have resulted in flouting seven mandatory CAATSA provisions, despite clear evidence of sanctionable activity.”

The letter reads in part:

“In light of these apparent violations and the lack of corresponding sanctions, we are concerned about whether the sanctions implementation process within the administration is fulfilling CAATSA’s mandate and intent.”=&0=&

“Likewise, it seems clear that several weeks ago the administration had identified specific Russian entities that had played a role in supplying or otherwise supporting the government of Syria’s chemical weapons program, had prepared a list of such entities for sanctions designation, and Ambassador Nikki Haley publicly announced their imminent designation — but then did not designate them, reportedly at the direction of the President.” 

There are plenty of sanctionable activities by Russia:  meddling in the U.S. elections, ongoing cyber attacks on voting systems, and undermining Eastern Europe democracies.

Three top Dem Senators, @MarkWarner @SenSherrodBrown @SenatorMenendez , call for probe into why President Trump hasn't issued Russia sanctions under CAATSA, citing a recent example of US/UK accusing Kremlin-linked hackers of carrying out cyber attacks.https://t.co/pCH10UBCbk read more

M.I.T. Study Says Fake News Is 70 percent More Likely to Spread on Twitter Than Real News

An alarming new study from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology seems to prove that false stories on Twitter are 70 percent more likely to be spread by human users of the social media platform than are true stories. The study looked at 126,000 stories shared by 3 million people on Twitter over an eleven year period from 2006 to 2017.

“Falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information, and the effects were more pronounced for false political news than for false news about terrorism, natural disasters, science, urban legends, or financial information,” the M.I.T. researchers wrote for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “There is worldwide concern over false news and the possibility that it can influence political, economic, and social well-being.”

Although Twitter said it is taking steps to significantly reduce the spread of fake stories by users, it has to this point made few if any changes in how it operates or deals with false information. Last week Twitter executives said they were going to start very soon to solicit suggestions for how they can improve Twitter to make it less susceptible to the spread of fake news.

In addition, Twitter failed to meet a deadline in January to give Congress more information on how their social media platform was used to further Russia’s election meddling.  Some powerful U.S. Senators such as Mark Warner of Virginia strongly criticized Twitter for their lack of response.

On top of that, there have been recent reports that new video technology is being used to further the spread of false information and fake news.

“Technology experts have begun to sound the alarm on the new software, which lets users take existing videos and make high-quality altered video and audio that appears real. The emergence of the technology opens up a new world of hoaxes driven by doctored audio or video, and threatens to shake faith in the media even further,” said Ali Breland, writing in The Hill.

The end result of this is that people will trust the media less, which creates many problems in a free society such as ours.  The public will increasingly look to government to regulate media companies and internet companies to prevent the spread of false information.  As to whether or not they will be able to do that, only time will tell.

 

 

Hillary Announcement: A Sour Sunday For The Right

The surfeit of Republican hand-wringing has begun. Hillary is officially running for president with her online announcement. Yes, THAT Hillary. You know, the Hillary Clinton who has more qualifications for the office than just about all of the modestly accomplished opposition candidates put together.