Friday, April 21, 2017

Last Call For The Runoff Rundown

Now that the battle for Trump HHS Secretary Tom Price's seat is going to a runoff election between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel, it's time for Georgia's GOP state officials to do everything they can in order to make sure the seat doesn't fall to Team Blue.

That means refusing to extend voting registration for the runoff, of course.  Because the answer every time for Republicans to deal with demographic changes is always "stop those people from voting."

Five civil rights and civic engagement groups have filed suit against Georgia and its secretary of state for attempting to block registered voters from participating in a closely watched runoff election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

On Thursday, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a complaint in the federal district court in Atlanta, arguing that the state is violating the National Voter Registration Act. That law sets 30 days before a federal election as the earliest permissible deadline for voter registration.

Georgia complied with the provision for the special congressional election held this past Tuesday. But because no candidate won 50 percent of the vote, there will be a second election on June 20 ― a runoff between the top two finishers, Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel.

Georgia election officials contend that the June runoff is simply a continuation of the special election this week, so they don’t have to allow newly registered voters to participate. The registration deadline for Tuesday’s election was March 20, and officials say anybody who registers after that day is not eligible to vote in the June runoff.

Ezra Rosenberg, co-director of the voting rights project at the Lawyers’ Committee, argues that under the federal law, Georgia can’t set the registration deadline for the June 20 runoff any earlier than 30 days before that election ― that is, May 22.

“The case is actually a very, very simple case,” Rosenberg told reporters on a conference call Thursday. “Federal law specifically defines elections as including runoff elections.”

The National Voter Registration Act, passed in 1993, defines the word “election” based on the Federal Election Campaign Act. That 1971 statute defines an election as “a general, special, primary, or runoff election.”

Even though this is a "very, very simple case", by dragging their feet on this issue, Georgia Republicans can simply wait out the clock and continue to stop new voters in the district from registering.  Don't expect any help from the Department of Justice run by Jeff Sessions, or from a Supreme Court that just added Justice Gorsuch, either.  If the executive refuses to enforce the law, and the judiciary doesn't step in, does the law even matter?

Georgia Republicans seems to think not, and right now I'm not seeing anything that makes me think that they won't get away with this.

I would very much like to be pleasantly surprised, but as of right now, Georgia is getting away with this.

Running Government Like A Business, Con't

Meanwhile, while people are complaining about who Barack Obama takes a post-presidential vacation with these days as proof that the Dems are all about Wall Street, corporate America and the one percent are making it very clear who they want to remain in power.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) on Friday announced it raised $41.5 million in the first three months of 2017, its strongest-ever total for the first quarter following a presidential race. 
“Our record-setting fundraising pace has been fueled by grassroots enthusiasm for President Trump and the Republican Party,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said in a statement. 
“The RNC is in a strong position to make an impact in key races in 2017 and 2018 as we plan to take a leading role in preserving our congressional majorities and prepare to reelect President Trump in 2020.”

The RNC said it brought in $12.2 million in March, breaking its record for biggest haul in the March after a presidential race. The committee has $41.4 million total cash on hand. 
RNC Finance Chairman Steve Wynn said the robust totals are proof voters approve of Trump leading GOP majorities in both chambers of Congress. 
“Americans across the country are expressing their belief that their best chance for a better life in our country is with continued Republican control of the House, Senate and the White House under President Trump,” he said.

Spending millions to make billions is always a good investment as the Trump regime continues to leave hundreds of key executive branch positions vacant ranging from dozens of US attorneys to hundreds of State Department employees to scores of regulatory agency positions.

And with nobody minding the store, corporate America can happily keep on breaking all the laws it wants to knowing they'll never be enforced.  They're willing to pay millions to keep it that way, too.

So far it's working great.  Just ask the RNC.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Federal prosecutors are weighing whether to bring criminal charges against members of the WikiLeaks organization, taking a second look at a 2010 leak of diplomatic cables and military documents and investigating whether the group bears criminal responsibility for the more recent revelation of sensitive CIA cyber-tools, according to people familiar with the case.

The Justice Department under President Barack Obama had decided not to charge WikiLeaks for revealing some of the government’s most sensitive secrets — concluding that doing so would be akin to prosecuting a news organization for publishing classified information. Justice Department leadership under President Trump, though, has indicated to prosecutors that it is open to taking another look at the case, which the Obama administration did not formally close.

It is not clear whether prosecutors are also looking at WikiLeaks’ role last year in publishing emails from the Democratic National Committee and the account of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, which U.S. officials have said were hacked by the Russian government. Officials have said individuals “one step” removed from the Kremlin passed the stolen messages to WikiLeaks as part of a broader Russian plot to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Prosecutors in recent weeks have been drafting a memo that contemplates charges against members of the WikiLeaks organization, possibly including conspiracy, theft of government property or violating the Espionage Act, officials said. The memo, though, is not complete, and any charges against members of WikiLeaks, including founder Julian Assange, would need approval from the highest levels of the Justice Department.

The plan was always clear that in case of a Trump win, WikiLeaks would be formally outed as a Russian intel laundering operation, its usefulness over.  That happened a week after the election.

Despite all the news being generated by the change of power under way in Washington, there is one story this week that deserves top priority: Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. On Tuesday, the director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Michael Rogers, was asked about the WikiLeaks release of hacked information during the campaign, and he said, "This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect." He added, "This was not something that was done casually. This was not something that was done by chance. This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily." 

Everything since then has been theater.  The news that this turn of events was coming soon was foreshadowed last week when Trump's CIA Director openly called WikiLeaks a "hostile intelligence service."

Central Intelligence Agency chief Mike Pompeo on Thursday denounced WikiLeaks as a "non-state hostile intelligence service," and he singled out Russia as one of the anti-secrecy organization's top collaborators. Pompeo is the latest top official in the Trump administration to note that Russia hacked into the emails of Democratic staffers with the intention of influencing the 2016 presidential election. Thousands of those emails were subsequently released by WikiLeaks. The intelligence community has concluded this operation was mounted with Vladimir Putin's approval and was done to benefit Donald Trump.

Pompeo's remarks were particularly striking because Trump praised WikiLeaks during the campaign and repeatedly referenced the emails it made public. In other words, Pompeo was saying that his boss encouraged an entity he now considers "hostile" to the United States. Trump has repeatedly referred to the Russia scandal as a hoax, yet Pompeo's comments are predicated on the assumption there is nothing hoax-y about the Russian attack on the 2016 campaign.

The very public plan now for Trump to go after Assange and company is all part of the game as well.  After all, he can't be helping Trump if Trump wants him arrested, right?

The obvious play by WikiLeaks and Assange is to now drop everything they have on Trump and Russia and burn Trump to the ground.  Maybe that actually happens, maybe Assange has a final card to play.  But my guess is that when that magically doesn't happen, and Assange ends up in Moscow sharing a flat with Ed Snowden, don't be surprised.


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