Saturday, February 25, 2017

Meet The New Chairman

As expected, the final vote for chair of the DNC came down to former Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez, and Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison with Rep. Pete Buttgieg dropping out over the weekend. It was a close vote, but in the end, Perez won the battle.

Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez has defeated Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) to become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee in a blow to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and the progressive wing of the party.

Perez won with 235 votes on the second ballot, with 218 votes needed to reach a majority. He fell just shy in the first ballot, totaling 213.5 votes.

The win came after Perez failed to clear the threshold required to win the first vote by only one ballot.

Vice President Biden and other key figures from the Obama administration supported Perez, who backed Hillary Clinton in the primary.

Sanders and many of his allies backed Ellison, the first-ever Muslim elected to Congress and a star on the left. Several Ellison supporters told The Hill this week that they are unsure if they can back Perez.

The race to become the next Democratic Party leader split along establishment-grassroots lines and in many ways mirrored the divisive 2016 presidential primary between Sanders and Clinton.

The mainstream Democrats won out again.

Perez, the 55-year-old son of Dominican immigrants, becomes the party’s public face and chief spokesperson in charge of staking out Democratic opposition to President Trump.

I had some problems with Ellison, but he answered a lot of questions over the last month that I had about him and to his credit he stayed in the fight cleanly, without making it personal (and realizing that, you know, Bernie Sanders isn't a Democrat, and the people in the party are.)  To me, he proved that he really did care more about the party than his own ambitions, and like Perez, I would have been happy with either as chair.

Perez's first act was to immediately (and very, very wisely) appoint Ellison as deputy chair, but needless to say, the pressure is already on Perez to deliver immediately on the way to 2018.  If the Dems keep losing ground, Perez isn't going to have a honeymoon at all, and there will be calls for him to resign and turn operations over to Ellison sooner rather than later.

Anyhow, ball's in your court, Tom.  Be ready to play.  The country needs the Dems back in action, immediately if not sooner.

New tag: Tom Perez.

The Panic Is Setting In

Town halls full of pissed off constituents were dropped on Democrats like atom bombs in 2010 as the backlash to President Obama's election took a six-year toll on the party and gave the country to the Republicans.  Now in 2017, five weeks into the Trump regime, the GOP is learning the hard way that when you're the dog that actually catches the car you've been chasing, you're the first one to get run over.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, said on Friday that a special prosecutor needs to lead an investigation into the alleged ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Issa made the comments to talk show host Bill Maher on HBO. Maher asked about allegations of Russian hacking and interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Issa initially said House and Senate committees would investigate, and then Maher asked about the idea of an independent counsel handling the matter instead of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“You cannot have somebody — a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions, who was on the campaign and who is an appointee,” Issa said. “You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute and office — not just to recuse, you can’t just give it to your deputy, that’s another political appointee — you do have to do that.” 
Issa then went on to explain why he believes such an investigation is needed, criticizing Putin.

“There may or may not be fault,” Issa said. “But the American people are beginning to understand that Putin murders his enemies, sometimes right in front of the Kremlin, and then suddenly the cameras don’t work there. He’s murdered people and taken down using cyber warfare in Georgia and Ukraine. This is a bad guy who murders people who runs a gas station with an economy the size of Italy but is screwing up things all over the world that we’ve been doing ‘working with.’ Now we have to work with them. We don’t have to trust them, and we need to investigate their activities, and we need to do it because they are bad people.”

For Issa to crack this early in the proceedings is a sure sign that much worse information about the Trump regime is coming out, and soon. He's not only throwing Trump under the bus, but Jeff Sessions and the whole pro-Putin machine as well.

Issa's wealth and political power are considerable, having led the House Oversight Committee before Jason Chaffetz (who he's also throwing under the bus here.)  If he's calling for a special prosecutor, he's not just scared -- he's terrified.

Issa won't be the last Republican to call for a special prosecutor on Russia, either.  Count on that.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

And the other shoe drops on the Priebus/FBI interference story: it wasn't just Priebus who was trying to kill the Russia story by trying to get the FBI to disavow their investigation, but a full-court press by multiple Trump regime staffers and Republicans in Congress to talk news outlets into burying the Russia talk completely.

The Trump administration has enlisted senior members of the intelligence community and Congress in efforts to counter news stories about Trump associates’ ties to Russia, a politically charged issue that has been under investigation by the FBI as well as lawmakers now defending the White House.

Acting at the behest of the White House, the officials made calls to news organizations last week in attempts to challenge stories about alleged contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, U.S. officials said.

The calls were orchestrated by the White House after unsuccessful attempts by the administration to get senior FBI officials to speak with news organizations and dispute the accuracy of stories on the alleged contacts with Russia.

The White House on Friday acknowledged those interactions with the FBI but did not disclose that it then turned to other officials who agreed to do what the FBI would not — participate in White House-arranged calls with news organizations, including The Washington Post.

Two of those officials spoke on the condition of anonymity — a practice President Trump has condemned.

The officials broadly dismissed Trump associates’ contacts with Russia as infrequent and inconsequential. But the officials would not answer substantive questions about the issue, and their comments were not published by The Post and do not appear to have been reported elsewhere.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer confirmed that the White House communicated with officials with the aim of contesting reporting on Russia, but maintained that the administration did nothing improper. “When informed by the FBI that [the ­Russia-related reporting] was false, we told reporters who else they should contact to corroborate the FBI’s version of the story,” he said.

The decision to involve those officials could be perceived as threatening the independence of U.S. spy agencies that are supposed to remain insulated from partisan issues, as well as undercutting the credibility of ongoing congressional probes. Those officials saw their involvement as an attempt to correct coverage they believed to be erroneous.

The effort also involved senior lawmakers with access to classified intelligence about Russia, including Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees. A spokesman for Nunes said that he had already begun speaking to reporters to challenge the story and that, “at the request of a White House communications aide, Chairman Nunes then spoke to an additional reporter and delivered the same message.”

Unlike the others, Nunes spoke on the record and was subsequently quoted in the Wall Street Journal.

In other words, this isn't Bannon trying to get rid of Priebus or any court intrigue here, this is full-blown panic mode in the Trump regime, drafting both House and Senate Republicans to put heavy pressure on the FBI and journalists to make the Trump regime's ties to Russia disappear.

Needless to say, the Washington Post is not playing ball.

Time for that special prosecutor, folks.
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