Friday, January 5, 2018

Last Call For Mandel Drops Out

Current Ohio GOP Treasurer Josh Mandel, running to unseat Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, is now out of the 2018 Ohio Senate race.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel quit the race Friday, citing his wife's health. 
He had been hoping to unseat U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat. Mandel came up short in 2012, when he lost by six percentage points to Brown.

The shocking move leaves Republicans with barely a month to find a formidable candidate in a key state. The filing deadline is Feb. 7. 
There is another Republican running, a Cleveland banker and political novice Mike Gibbons.

Gibbons is a Republican, but Mandel was widely expected to give Brown a brutal race.  Now?  Who knows?  Ohio Republicans have a month  to come up with someone to run against Brown in a year where Trump will be crushing the GOP under the weight of his failures.

Good luck with that.   As for Mandel?

Over a year ago, I launched a campaign for US Senate to make our state and country a better place for my children and yours. Since then, we’ve built a campaign that has us on a path to defeating Sherrod Brown this November. We’ve led him in every public poll and we’ve been the top fundraising Republican challenger in the country. 
That being said, I was raised to believe that family always comes first. I still remember the first two words of advice my father gave me when Ilana and I had our first child: “Be there.” These were the same two words his father told him when I was born. 
We recently learned that my wife has a health issue that will require my time, attention and presence. In other words, I need to be there. 
Understanding and dealing with this health issue is more important to me than any political campaign. For as long as that takes, whether it is months or years, it is important that I heed my dad’s advice and be there for my wife and our kids. 
After recent discussions with our family and healthcare professionals, it has become clear to us that it’s no longer possible for me to be away from home and on the campaign trail for the time needed to run a US Senate race.

It sounds like whatever health issue his wife has, he's made the decision to drop out as a result.  How true that is, we'll see.

But things just got a lot better for Brown's re-election chances.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

How many Jeff Sessions stories are there going to be this week?  In the midst of all the revelations about Trump from the Michael Wolff book and the DoJ opening investigations into Clinton on Trump's orders, now we find out Trump had WH lawyers pressure Sessions to not recuse himself from the Russia case.

President Donald Trump directed his White House counsel to tell Attorney General Jeff Sessions to not recuse himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, according to a person familiar with the matter. 
The conversation between Don McGahn, the president’s White House counsel, and Sessions took place on the president’s orders and occurred just before the attorney general announced that he would step aside from the ongoing inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to a person with knowledge of the interaction. Two other people confirmed details of the conversation between McGahn and Sessions. 
All three people spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press to avoid publicly discussing an ongoing investigation.

The episode is known to special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors and is likely of interest to them as they look into whether Trump’s actions as president, including the May firing of FBI Director James Comey, amount to improper efforts to obstruct the Russia investigation. Investigators recently concluded a round of interviews with current and former White House officials, including McGahn and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. 
The New York Times first reported that Trump had McGahn lobby Sessions against a recusal. 
Reached Thursday evening, Trump personal attorney John Dowd said, “I know nothing about that,” and hung up. Jay Sekulow, another of the president’s personal lawyers, did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment. 
The White House also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This is a pretty big one.  The NY Times corroborates the AP story.

President Trump gave firm instructions in March to the White House’s top lawyer: stop the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, from recusing himself in the Justice Department’s investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s associates had helped a Russian campaign to disrupt the 2016 election
Public pressure was building for Mr. Sessions, who had been a senior member of the Trump campaign, to step aside. But the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, carried out the president’s orders and lobbied Mr. Sessions to remain in charge of the inquiry, according to two people with knowledge of the episode. 
Mr. McGahn was unsuccessful, and the president erupted in anger in front of numerous White House officials, saying he needed his attorney general to protect him. Mr. Trump said he had expected his top law enforcement official to safeguard him the way he believed Robert F. Kennedy, as attorney general, had done for his brother John F. Kennedy and Eric H. Holder Jr. had for Barack Obama
Mr. Trump then asked, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” He was referring to his former personal lawyer and fixer, who had been Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s top aide during the investigations into communist activity in the 1950s and died in 1986. 
The lobbying of Mr. Sessions is one of several previously unreported episodes that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has learned about as he investigates whether Mr. Trump obstructed the F.B.I.’s Russia inquiry. The events occurred during a two-month period — from when Mr. Sessions recused himself in March until the appointment of Mr. Mueller in May — when Mr. Trump believed he was losing control over the investigation.

Trump expected Sessions to protect him from the investigation.  Sessions stepped back and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, appointed Mueller as special counsel.  That's obstruction of justice, whether or not it was successful, guys.  This is gigantic.

And speaking of recusal and Russia, we now know what Wednesday's meeting between Rosenstein and House Speaker Paul Ryan was about.

President Donald Trump's allies in the House for months have demanded documents they insist will point toward political bias against the president. But DOJ and FBI officials have resisted. 
On Wednesday, just as it seemed the clash was careening toward a constitutional crisis, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Chris Wray walked into Ryan's office. 
Two sources familiar with the meeting say Wray and Rosenstein, who requested the sitdown, pressed Ryan to narrow the scope of a document request by the House Intelligence Committee. Ryan countered, insisting they turn over the full slate. 
Eventually, they struck a deal. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes announced the agreement later that night and said it would include access to all documents and witnesses he had sought. DOJ aides have declined to comment on the deal or Nunes' characterization of it.

The counter-attack on Mueller and Clinton is now confirmed.  The FBI is going after the Clinton Foundation and the GOP is going after the FBI.  We're entering a full-blown constitutional crisis in 2018, and all bets are off.  We now know Trump attempted to have Jeff Sessions stay on to kill the Russia probe.  We now know that the DoJ is opening new investigations into political enemies on the order of the man in the Oval Office.

And we know that the GOP in Congress won't only refuse to stop Trump, but that they will openly help him attack his political enemies.

More than a year after Republican leaders promised to investigate Russian interference in the presidential election, two influential Republicans on Friday made the first known congressional criminal referral in connection with the meddling — against one of the people who sought to expose it. 
Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a senior committee member, told the Justice Department they had reason to believe that a former British spy, Christopher Steele, lied to federal authorities about his contacts with reporters regarding information in the dossier, and they urged the department to investigate. The committee is running one of three congressional investigations into Russian election meddling, and its inquiry has come to focus, in part, on Mr. Steele’s explosive dossier that purported to detail Russia’s interference and the Trump campaign’s complicity. 
The decision by Mr. Grassley and Mr. Graham to single out the former intelligence officer behind the dossier — and not anyone who may have taken part in the Russian interference — was certain to infuriate Democrats and raise the stakes in the growing partisan battle over the investigations into Mr. Trump, his campaign team and Russia.

That's right, Grassley and Graham are now recommending criminal investigation into Christopher Steele because of his dossier exposing Trump.

We're quickly getting to the point where rule of law becomes whatever Trump says it is, and the GOP will not save us.

2018 is already shaping up to be one of the most consequential years in American history, and not in a good way.  Since the year started five days ago, we now have the DoJ opening new investigations into Clinton and the Clinton Foundation and now the GOP wants to go after the Steele Dossier.

The sitting government is persecuting and prosecuting its political enemies.  This is what autocrats, fascists, and dictators do.  We are getting close to being under all three at once.

Cashing In To Drop Out

Ohio GOP Rep. Pat Tiberi is leaving the House on January 15th to "pursue other opportunities", triggering a special election later this year for his 12th district seat in the suburbs north of Columbus.  No surprise then that it turns out those "other opportunities" that Tiberi mentioned involve him directly cashing in on the GOP tax bill he helped to write and get passed.

Congressional ethics laws appear to require lawmakers to recuse themselves from shaping or voting on laws that would financially benefit themselves, their family or their future employers. But Ohio Rep. Pat Tiberi accepted an offer to run a state trade organization, the Ohio Business Roundtable (BRT), while helping write the Republican tax bill. 
The trade group’s member companies have donated to Tiberi’s political campaigns, and many of them stand to gain from the bill, which slashed business income taxes and introduced several provisions that will benefit wealthy investors and corporate executives in various industries. He will begin the job by January 31st. 
International Business Times has identified 17 companies that are both members of BRT and donors to Tiberi’s 2018 campaign committee. Some of these businesses, including Marathon Petroleum, have lobbied Congress as recently as the fourth quarter of this year on tax issues that will directly benefit them. Executives from three of these companies — Marathon, Huntington Bancshares and L Brands — are members of the BRT Executive Committee. The BRT chairman, who is the CEO of Marathon Petroleum, discussed the specifics of the job with Tiberi during this time. 
Tiberi’s office denies that the congressman’s role in writing the tax bill was influenced by his future employment. But ethics experts told International Business Times that the circumstances of Tiberi’s role in Congress and his upcoming job give the appearance of a conflict of interest. 
“I think [Tiberi’s] constituents had a right to ask whether he was representing their interests or those of the businesses he’ll be working for,” Stephen Spaulding, chief of strategy and external affairs at government watchdog Common Cause, told IBT. “Tiberi shouldn’t have had a pen near the legislation, much less vote on it.” 
Tiberi, whose estimated worth in 2016 was around $925,000, will see a major pay bump when he starts his new job. According to tax documents, current BRT president and CEO Richard Stoff made over $500,000 in 2016 including bonuses, deferred compensation and benefits. Senators make $174,000 per year.

So Tiberi helped write a law to make Ohio business owners wealthier, and he gets to cash out and pick up a nice industry group job to boot.  He doesn't care, his work is done, the GOP tax scam got passed, and Tiberi's gonna get his fat stacks.

The rest of Ohio's 12th district?



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