Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Last Call For McCain Saves Trumpcare

With 48 Senate Republicans voting yes to proceed on debate on a Trumpcare bill that literally none of them have even seen, GOP Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and John McCain of Arizona stood holding the fate of the country in the balance.  Johnson of course voted yes, making it 49.

Guess what path "Maverick" McCain chose.

Senate Republicans voted Tuesday voted to open debate on repealing Obamacare, dramatically reviving an effort that many GOP lawmakers left for dead just a few days ago. 
The vote is a huge political win and turnaround for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans who've promised for seven years to repeal Obamacare if voters gave them control of Congress and the White House.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), recently diagnosed with brain cancer, entered the chamber to a standing ovation and cast the 50th Republican vote. GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska broke ranks to oppose the measure, forcing Vice President Mike Pence to break a 50-50 tie. 
All Democrats opposed the measure. Underscoring the significance of the vote, many senators sat at their desks for the vote. 
The vote is no guarantee that the fractured Republican caucuses can coalesce around a single health care plan. Now that debate has officially started, Republicans in the Senate lack 50 votes on a policy. Moderates oppose repealing Obamacare without a replacement, and conservatives don’t like the idea of significantly replacing it. 
The leading idea now is to repeal only a small portion of the health law just to get a bill to a conference with the Senate.

Of course that "small portion" will be restored in conference to be 95%-100% of the awful House bill, and then these same GOP "heroes" will vote for Trump again, and that will be it for millions of Americans and they lose their insurance and millions more will find care unaffordable in any way, with millions more going bankrupt.

But it doesn't matter to the GOP, as long as they get to erase the nation's only black president from existence.

Never forget that McCain was the deciding vote to proceed in the Senate with whatever the GOP passes and puts on Trump's desk.

The Bong Show Is About To Be Canceled

So all the folks out there who voted for Trump because he promised to leave matters of marijuana legalization to the states and you didn't trust Clinton to follow Obama's hands-off approach?  Jeff Sessions is about to seriously harsh your buzz, man.

The Trump administration is readying for a crackdown on marijuana users under Attorney General Jeff Sessions
President Trump’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, led by Sessions, is expected to release a report next week that criminal justice reform advocates fear will link marijuana to violent crime and recommend tougher sentences for those caught growing, selling and smoking the plant.

Sessions sent a memo in April updating the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Department of Justice Department (DOJ) component heads on the work of the task force, which he said would be accomplished through various subcommittees. In the memo, Sessions said he has asked for initial recommendations no later than July 27.

“Task Force subcommittees will also undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the Department's overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with Administration goals and priorities,” he wrote.

Criminal justice reform advocates fear Sessions’s memo signals stricter enforcement is ahead. 
The task force revolves around reducing violent crime and Sessions and other DOJ officials have been out there over the last month and explicitly the last couple of weeks talking about how immigration and marijuana increases violent crime,” said Inimai Chettiar, director of the Brennan Center's Justice Program.

“We’re worried there’s going to be something in the recommendations that is either saying that that’s true or recommending action be taken based on that being true.”

Sessions sent a letter in May asking congressional leaders to do away with an amendment to the DOJ budget prohibiting the agency from using federal funds to prevent states "from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana."

I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime,” said the letter from Sessions, first obtained by Massroots.com and verified by The Washington Post.

The real drug issue in America is opioids and big pharma's role in spreading them across the country with painkiller abuse, but the Trump regime wants to crack down on weed as an excuse to put more black and brown people in profitable private prisons.  That was always the plan, but hey, people voted for Trump because they bought his campaign nonsense like the suckers they were.

Also notice that Sessions isn't making any distinction between recreational and medical use of marijuana, that both are responsible "for the increase in violent crime" and that he wants the GOP Congress to unchain the DoJ to start a massive wave of federal prosecutions for pot.

In other words, we're headed back for the bad old days of the Reagan/Bush War on Drugs.

But hey dude, you were warned.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

More new developments this week on the Trump/Russia front as White House "adviser" and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner lawyers up to talk to Congress...behind closed doors and not under oath, of course.

Jared Kushner, President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, spent two hours Monday answering questions from Senate investigators about his contacts with Russian officials, as the various probes into Russian interference during the 2016 campaign entered a new phase involving some of those closest to Trump.

After his closed-door questioning, Kushner spoke briefly to reporters outside the White House.

Let me be very clear: I did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so,” he said. “I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds for my businesses, and I have been fully transparent in providing all requested information.

“Since the first questions were raised in March, I have been consistent in saying I was eager to share whatever information I have with investigating bodies, and I have done so today,’’ he said. “All of my actions were proper.’’

Legal experts expect that all of Kushner’s answers to the Senate Intelligence Committee will be shared with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is conducting a separate investigation of potential criminal activity surrounding Russian meddling and key figures in the Trump campaign.

Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president “was very proud of Jared for voluntarily going to the Hill and being very transparent with every interaction that he’s had. He thought Jared did a great job and was very glad that he was able to go through that process and lay everything out and I think show the members of that committee as well as everybody else what a witch hunt and hoax this whole thing is.’’ 

There are holes in that statement Donald Trump could drive a fire truck through, frankly.  Kushner knows it, Congress knows it, and Robert Mueller knows it.  I'm betting Mueller knows otherwise.  What Kushner did say was that Donald Trump Jr. was basically the bad guy in all this, cavalierly tossing Trump's son under the Mueller bus and dusting off his hands.  As far as the White House is concerned, this is all over now, right?

The only other Russian contact during the campaign is one I did not recall at all until I was reviewing documents and emails in response to congressional requests for information. In June 2016, my brother-in-law, Donald Trump Jr. asked if I was free to stop by a meeting on June 9 at 3:00 p.m. The campaign was headquartered in the same building as his office in Trump Tower, and it was common for each of us to swing by the other's meetings when requested. He eventually sent me his own email changing the time of the meeting to 4:00 p.m. That email was on top of a long back and forth that I did not read at the time. As I did with most emails when I was working remotely, I quickly reviewed on my iPhone the relevant message that the meeting would occur at 4:00 PM at his office. Documents confirm my memory that this was calendared as "Meeting: Don Jr.| Jared Kushner." No one else was mentioned. 
I arrived at the meeting a little late. When I got there, the person who has since been identified as a Russian attorney was talking about the issue of a ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian children. I had no idea why that topic was being raised and quickly determined that my time was not well-spent at this meeting. Reviewing emails recently confirmed my memory that the meeting was a waste of our time and that, in looking for a polite way to leave and get back to my work, I actually emailed an assistant from the meeting after I had been there for ten or so minutes and wrote "Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting." I had not met the attorney before the meeting nor spoken with her since. I thought nothing more of this short meeting until it came to my attention recently. I did not read or recall this email exchange before it was shown to me by my lawyers when reviewing documents for submission to the committees. No part of the meeting I attended included anything about the campaign, there was no follow up to the meeting that I am aware of, I do not recall how many people were there (or their names), and I have no knowledge of any documents being offered or accepted. Finally, after seeing the email, I disclosed this meeting prior to it being reported in the press on a supplement to my security clearance form, even if that was not required as meeting the definitions of the form.

Kushner hung Trump's own son out to dry, and it looks like he might even get away with it.  For now.

Oh, and it seems our pro-Russian House GOP friend Dana Rohrabacher has Russian problems of his own now.

A new complaint filed with the Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control alleges that California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and his staff director, Paul Behrends, violated the Magnitsky Act when they tried to get Russia's deputy general prosecutor, Victor Grin, removed from the US sanctions list last year.

The complaint was filed by US financier Bill Browder, the founder of Hermitage Capital Management, who spearheaded the Magnitsky Act in 2012 to punish Russian officials suspected of being involved in the death of his accountant, Sergey Magnitsky.

Magnitsky uncovered a $230 million tax fraud scheme in 2008 when he was working for Hermitage that implicated high-level Kremlin officials and allies of President Vladimir Putin. He was later thrown in jail by the same Interior Ministry officers he testified against during criminal proceedings to punish those involved in the tax scheme, Browder said in 2015, and died in custody after being held for 358 days.

Browder's complaint rests largely on a Daily Beast report published last week alleging that Rohrabacher, a staunch defender of Russia and Putin, met with officials from the prosecutor general’s office in Moscow in April 2016. The report said he accepted a "confidential" document that Rohrabacher then used to try to undermine the Magnitsky Act on Capitol Hill.

"Changing attitudes to the Magnitsky story in the Congress ... could have a very favorable response from the Russian side," the document said, according to the Daily Beast.

Considering the House is expected to overwhelmingly approve even more sanctions on Russia today, Rohrabacher is not in a good place right now.  He's not Trump, he's not in the White House, and he's not going to be able to dodge things for much longer.

Eventually the truth comes out.

Gonna be a fun time ahead.


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