Monday, November 6, 2017

Last Call For That Poll-Asked Look

Ahead of tomorrow's gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey, Democrats are looking they best they have since, well, the last time we got stuck with an incompetently criminal/criminally incompetent GOP government.

Voters say they prefer Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives over Republicans by the widest margin in over a decade, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll — a fresh sign of trouble for the GOP majority one year before the midterm elections.

But Democrats’ effort to convert widespread disapproval of President Trump into victories in 2018 could be undercut by lower turnout, with Republicans expressing just as much motivation to vote in next year’s elections.

A slim 51 percent majority of registered voters say that if the election were held today, they would vote for or lean toward the Democratic candidate in their congressional district, while 40 percent say they would choose the Republican.

That’s the biggest spread in a Post-ABC survey since October 2006, just weeks before a midterm in which Democrats won back control of the House and Senate amid deep dissatisfaction with then-President George W. Bush and the Iraq War. 
In recent history, regardless of the political climate, Democrats have tended to hold an advantage on this “generic ballot” question, which does not name specific candidates. On the eve of the 2014 and 2010 midterms, both banner elections for the GOP, Post-ABC surveys found Republicans trailed Democrats by three and five percentage points among registered voters, respectively. Those margins flipped in Republicans’ favor among the smaller population of likely voters who were more motivated to turn out. The latest Post-ABC survey does not measure likely voters given that the election is still a year away.
Still, an edge of 11 points, even among registered voters, is an encouraging sign for Democrats a year before Trump’s first midterm — an election cycle that historically has been unkind to the sitting president’s party. 
The findings come as congressional Republicans are trying to rehabilitate their brand after months of infighting and a failure to produce any major legislative achievements despite controlling the House, Senate and White House.

Sadly, an eleven-point lead is pretty much what we need to start to be competitive in House races given the GOP's massive advantage in midterm turnout, gerrymandering, and voter suppression..and that's just to get us to the point where we can talk about maybe taking the House back.  The reality is that it would take something like a 14- or 15-point generic ballot lead to get us up to a 50-50 proposition or so.

It's not impossible, but it would take far more turnout than we've seen in 2010 or the abysmally low 2014 to get it done, and the Trumpista cult will definitely be out to vote.

We've got to turn people out to vote.  Another 2014-level performance and the GOP will end up with the 34 state legislatures they need to call a Constitutional Convention, something they've long wanted to do.

Tomorrow is just as important, by the way.  An Ed Gillespie win in Virginia would give the GOP complete control of 27 states and gerrymandering rights in Richmond, and should they get currently split Colorado or Maine in 2018 on top of that, it's over.

And then everything goes straight to hell.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

I've talked about Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross before, and his ties to Russian money laundering when he was Vice Chairman of Cyprus's largest bank, Bank of Cyprus (always a fun Russian money laundering destination!)  Now that the floodgates have opened on the Mueller probe, we're getting all sorts of new information on Trump regime malfeasance, and Ross is definitely on the list.

A new trove of more than 13 million leaked documents implicates top officials and associates of President Donald Trump—as well as foreign politicians—in shady business relationships tied to offshore financial accounts.

In at least two cases, the documents highlight top administration officials’ previously undisclosed connections to Russia and Kremlin-linked interests.

The so-called Paradise Papers were leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the same publication that obtained the “Panama Papers.” Süddeutsche Zeitung shared the new documents with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which led a global effort of 96 media organizations from 67 countries to pore through the records. The findings were published on Sunday.

The documents show that many of the wealthy individuals Trump brought into his administration have worked to legally store their money in offshore havens where they would be free from taxation in the United States. Trump has promised repeatedly to “drain the swamp,” in condemning the idea that well-connected individuals in Washington, D.C., preserve their own interests at the expense of the rest of the country.

Among the Trump administration officials implicated in the leaks is Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who according to the documents concealed his ties to a Russian energy company that is partly owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s judo partner Gennady Timchenko and Putin’s son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov. Through offshore investments, Ross held a stake in Navigator Holdings, which had a close business relationship with the Russian firm. Ross did not disclose that connection during his confirmation process on Capitol Hill.

“In concealing his interest in these shipping companies—and his ongoing financial relationship with Russian oligarchs—Secretary Ross misled me, the Senate Commerce Committee, and the American people,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said in a statement on Sunday. He characterized Ross’ financial disclosures as a “Russian nesting doll, with blatant conflicts of interest carefully hidden within seemingly innocuous companies.”

Ross has been linked to Russian interests before; in 2014, he poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the Bank of Cyprus, an institution regarded by financial watchdogs as a haven for Russian money laundering. Ross became a vice chair of the bank, along with a reported former KGB official. Ross was joined in his investment by the Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Former Deutsche Bank executive Josef Ackermann was installed as chairman. Deutsche Bank—one of Trump’s biggest creditors—subsequently paid hundreds of millions to settle disputes that it shipped $10 billion or more to Russia in suspect loans.

Ahh, but Ross isn't alone.

Top White House adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, is also implicated. The documents reveal that Russian tech leader Yuri Milner invested $850,000 in a startup called Cadre that Kushner co-founded in 2014.

Milner has long had a reputation in Silicon Valley as a big-league investor; his firm at one point owned major chunks of both Facebook and Twitter. But Milner was never considered particularly Kremlin-connected. These new documents call that reputation into question. The investing arm of Gazprom, the state-backed energy company, financed a share of Facebook worth up to $1 billion; A Kremlin-owned bank invested $191 million into a Milner firm, and some of that money was then injected into Twitter.

Despite Milner’s investment in his startup, Kushner said in July that he told the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed-door meeting that he never “relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector.”

Representatives for Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA), the chairman and vice chairman of the committee, did not immediately return requests for comment. Kushner, who still has a stake in Cadre, did not previously disclose the firm’s other business ties.

So to recap, both Trump's Commerce Secretary and, you know, his son-in-law, are neck deep in Russian money laundering.  No big deal.

But I guarantee you Mueller's been on this trail for months.  Kushner, Ross, the Flynns, Sessions...lots of perjurt, lots of lies to Senate committees, lots of straight up criminal activity.

I still think the Flynns are either cooperating or will soon be.  As to who's next, things get really interesting when we eventually get to Kushner.  That's when Trump will make his move.

Of course, that move could come a lot sooner if it's Trump's own son in the dock.

A Russian lawyer who met with President Donald Trump’s oldest son last year says he indicated that a law targeting Russia could be re-examined if his father won the election and asked her for written evidence that illegal proceeds went to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, said in a two-and-a-half-hour interview in Moscow that she would tell these and other things to the Senate Judiciary Committee on condition that her answers be made public, something it hasn’t agreed to. She has received scores of questions from the committee, which is investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Veselnitskaya said she’s also ready -- if asked -- to testify to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Her June 9, 2016 encounter with Donald Trump Jr., President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and then campaign manager Paul Manafort in New York plays a key role in allegations that the campaign worked with Russia to defeat Clinton.

Veselnitskaya said she went to New York to show Trump campaign officials that major Democratic donors had evaded U.S. taxes and to lobby against the so-called Magnitsky law that punishes Russian officials for the murder of a Russian tax accountant who accused the Kremlin of corruption.

Vladimir isn't getting what he wants right now.  He wants sanctions from the Magintsky Act gone and doesn't understand why Trump can't deliver on his maybe it's time to put some serious pressure on him ahead of the expected Putin-Trump meeting in Vietnam later this week at the Asia-Pacific Economic Council summit.

Having one of his agents saying she will fully cooperate with Mueller on Donny Jr's collusion is about as "pressure" as it gets.

Keep in mind that there's plenty of other Moscow connections to Trump's businesses being investigated too.

Documents released last week as part of Papadopoulos’s guilty plea show that Mueller’s team is deeply interested in the Trump campaign’s operations, including possible links to Moscow, at even the lowest levels. And Mueller’s interest in Russian contacts may extend to Trump’s business, as well, with the special counsel’s office recently asking for records related to a failed 2015 proposal for a Moscow Trump Tower, according to a person familiar with the request.

A key question in the investigation — and one that hangs over Trump’s presidency — is whether these instances add up to a concerted Russian government effort to probe and infiltrate the Trump campaign, or whether they were isolated coincidences and, therefore, inconsequential. Ultimately, Mueller must decide whether anyone in Trump’s orbit coordinated with the Russians, and, if so, if such actions were illegal or just unseemly. Collusion itself is not a crime.

The new court filings, along with recent interviews and other documents reviewed by The Washington Post, reveal more details than were previously known about the extent to which Trump’s campaign became a magnet for people who believed U.S. policy toward Russia should be retooled — and for Russians who agreed.
In all, documents and interviews show there are at least nine Trump associates who had contacts with Russians during the campaign or presidential transition. Some are well-known, and others, such as Papadopoulos, have been more on the periphery. 

We'll see what Mueller, Congress, and America does with this information.  Again, anything directly implicating Trump's family (Kushner or Trump Jr.) forces him to try to make his move to fire Mueller, that's when the real fight begins.  That's coming soon, trust me.

And it's when we decide whether or not we're still in what's left of a representative democracy or a proto-fascist authoritarian regime.

Meanwhile In Bevinstan...

Kentucky GOP House Speaker Jeff Hoover stepped down after Democrats and Republicans alike called for his resignation over news of a sexual harassment settlement with a staffer that broke Friday.

Jeff Hoover resigned his post as speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives Sunday, a day after defiantly rejecting calls to step down by Gov. Matt Bevin and others who said they were disgusted by allegations of sexual harassment against Hoover and three other GOP lawmakers.

A tearful Hoover, with family members looking on, acknowledged that he had “engaged in inappropriate text messages” with a legislative staffer in his office and asked the people of Kentucky “to forgive me for my actions.”

A Jamestown attorney who has been in the House since 1997, Hoover said he never engaged in “unwelcome or unwanted conduct” and “at no time were there ever any sexual relations of any kind.”

Hoover, who was elected in January as the first Republican House speaker since 1921, said that he and the three other lawmakers “absolutely and expressly denied that any sexual harassment had taken place.”

He said he would stay on as representative of the 83rd House District, which includes Clinton, Cumberland, Russell and part of Pulaski counties.

A joint statement from the other House GOP leaders said House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne of Prospect will assume “operational control” of the House.

The House Republican leadership team said it will meet with legal counsel Monday to assess staff members mentioned in the sexual harassment scandal.

“This is an unfolding situation and no one in the Capitol has all the facts” said the leadership team.

The team also thanked Hoover for his service as speaker and for agreeing to resign.

“A protracted fight among the leaders of the Republican Party, entrusted by the voters to govern this state, is not in the best interest of our commonwealth,” it said.

There was no immediate comment from Bevin.

Louisville attorney Thomas Clay, who represented the legislative staffer who complained against Hoover, confirmed Sunday that she had entered into mediation with Hoover’s attorney and was satisfied with the outcome. He did not elaborate.

I would have liked to see Hoover lose his job altogether, but that will be up to Kentuckians in his district next November.

Also, the three other GOP state lawmakers mentioned were all three committee chairs, they will be relieved of their chairmanships pending a formal House investigation.

It also means any chance of a special legislative session for Bevin's pension grab plan is now super, super dead.  Kentucky Democrats responded strongly:

It's good to see Kentucky Dems stand up for the actual victims here, the women Hoover and his gang harassed. I don't feel sorry for Hoover for one bit.

It's too much to hope for jail time, but I'd settle for these men never holding office again.


Related Posts with Thumbnails