Monday, June 11, 2018

Last Call For Russian To Judgment

The DoJ investigation into the NRA's ties to Russian crooks, illegal campaign contributions, and money laundering ahead of the 2016 elections just got a whole lot nastier as Peter Stone and Greg Gordon at McClatchy find a whole lot of witches to hunt.

Several prominent Russians, some in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle or high in the Russian Orthodox Church, now have been identified as having contact with National Rifle Association officials during the 2016 U.S. election campaign, according to photographs and an NRA source
The contacts have emerged amid a deepening Justice Department investigation into whether Russian banker and lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the gun rights group to add financial firepower to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid. 
Other influential Russians who met with NRA representatives during the campaign include Dmitry Rogozin, who until last month served as a deputy prime minister overseeing Russia’s defense industry, and Sergei Rudov, head of one of Russia’s largest philanthropies, the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation. The foundation was launched by an ultra-nationalist ally of Russian President Putin
The Russians talked and dined with NRA representatives, mainly in Moscow, as U.S. presidential candidates vied for the White House. Now U.S. investigators want to know if relationships between the Russian leaders and the nation’s largest gun rights group went beyond vodka toasts and gun factory tours, evolving into another facet of the Kremlin’s broad election-interference operation. 
Even as the contacts took place, Kremlin cyber operatives were secretly hacking top Democrats’ emails and barraging Americans’ social media accounts with fake news stories aimed at damaging the image of Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton and boosting the prospects of Republican Donald Trump. 
It is a crime, potentially punishable with prison time, to donate or use foreign money in U.S. election campaigns. 
McClatchy in January disclosed that Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating whether Torshin or others engineered the flow of Russian monies to the NRA; the Senate Intelligence Committee is also looking into the matter, sources familiar with the probe have said. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the inquiries, which are part of sweeping, parallel investigations into Russia’s interference with the 2016 U.S. elections, have not been publicly announced. 
NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said, however, that the FBI has not contacted the group. 
A photograph taken during a 2015 trip to Russia by leaders of the powerful group showed them meeting with Torshin, Rogozin and Rudov, and a source knowledgeable about the visit confirmed the gathering. The source spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid damaging relationships
The NRA, Trump’s biggest financial backer, spent more than $30 million to boost his upstart candidacy; that's more than double what it laid out for 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, and the NRA money started flowing much earlier in the cycle for Trump.

Surprise, it wasn't just Alexander Torshin, who I've talked about several times before, but a whole network of Russian Putin buddies who ended up giving possibly tens of millions to Trump.  Remember, Torshin approached Jared Kushner about a Trump-Putin meeting before the election and planned to meet with Trump officials at the 2016 NRA convention in Louisville.

Since then, the evidence of Russian contributions to Trump laundered through the NRA has only gotten more solid.  Now we find out multiple Russian oligarchs were in on it, not just Torshin.

My question is how much Wayne LaPierre knew at the time.  It's gonna be fun when the indictments start dropping on this one, folks.

Stay tuned.

Having Supreme Difficulty With Voting

If it's a Monday in June, it's a major Supreme Court decision, and this week we got Husted vs. Raldolph Institute, the Ohio voter registration purge case, just in time for the 2018 midterms.  In a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Alito, SCOTUS decided that Ohio's mass voter purges by GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted did not violate the Voter Rights Act.

In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court gave Ohio a victory Monday in a fight over the state's method for removing people from the voter rolls, a practice that civil rights groups said discourages minority turnout.

At least a dozen other politically conservative states said they would adopt a similar practice if Ohio prevailed, as a way of keeping their voter registration lists accurate and up to date.

Prof. Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, predicted that a win for Ohio would escalate voting wars between the political parties
"You'll see more red states making it easier to drop people from the voter registration rolls," he said. 
All states have procedures for removing from their registration lists the names of people who have moved and are therefore no longer eligible to vote in a given precinct. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether a voter's decision to sit out a certain number of elections could be the trigger for that effort. 
Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, said the court’s job was not "to decide whether Ohio’s supplemental process is the ideal method for keeping its voting rolls up to date. The only question before us is whether it violates federal law. It does not."

Ohio election officials send notices to anyone who fails to cast a ballot during a two-year period. People who do not respond and don't vote over the next four years, including in two more federal elections, are dropped from the list of registered voters.

And of course the groups least likely to vote in consecutive elections and therefore trigger having their voter registration dropped are young voters and minority voters, and Ohio purged hundreds of thousands of those voters in 2016.  Expect basically every other red state to take up this practice, as well as to take up Ohio's aggressive timeline to purge voters before 2020.

Republicans want as few people eligible to vote as possible for a reason, and this is just one more weapon to use against voter registration drives.  Don't be surprised if red states in fact take up even more aggressive voter purges too, apparently it's open season now on "use it or lose it" as a "right" to vote.

What this means is voting is no longer a protected right, but something that can be taken from you by the states for the reason of choosing not using it.  Alito and the conservative majority on the court aren't concerned with voting rights, they are concerned with Republicans winning, period.

SCOTUS got this wrong, and once again you can thank Republicans who stole a Supreme Court pick from Democrats...and the morons who said both parties are the same and voted third party or stayed home.

And now if you stay home in states like Ohio?  You lose your right to vote.  Might want to consider exercising that right in November, yes?

The Party Of Trump, Con't

There are still a number of 2018 GOP primary contests left to go through the summer, and in South Carolina, Rep. Mark "Appalachian Trail" Sanford suddenly has a real primary challenge on his hands from state lawmaker Katie Arrington for the crime of not being Trumpist enough.

Sanford, long known for wearing his emotions openly and speaking his mind, has been one of the most high-profile Republican Trump critics in Congress. He’s called the president’s tariffs on steel and aluminum “an experiment with stupidity.” He’s called Trump’s disparaging remarks about Haiti and African nations “something stupid.” He’s said that Trump has done some “weird stuff” in office. 
During the 2016 campaign, Sanford said Trump should “just shut up” and stop focusing so much on his critics. He’s said that the president was “partially” to blame for the toxic rhetoric that led to the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). He’s said that “trading slights seems essential” to Trump’s personality, and he gave an extensive interview to POLITICO Magazine in which he said the president had “fanned the flames of intolerance.” 
Sanford insists that his discord with the president isn’t anything personal, but rather rooted in deeply held beliefs. As an example, he points to his dispute with the administration over its proposal to open the South Carolina coastline to drilling. After hearing complaints from constituents, he said he had little choice but to raise concerns with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, to whom he’d grown close while they served together in Congress — and who was almost his roommate. 
“I’m not looking for disagreement with the administration,” Sanford said. “But it comes to, you cannot walk away from it if you’re really listening to the people I spend so much time with here at home.” 
Yet he’s given an opening to Arrington, who’s betting that voters in the conservative district, which stretches from the Georgia border to north of Charleston, want a congressperson who’s in lockstep with the president. The 47-year-old state representative has aired a spree of TV commercials portraying Sanford as an avowed Trump opponent, including one that shows the congressman savaging the president in a series of spliced-up cable news interviews. 
Much of her bid has been oriented around the president. She has tapped Mike Biundo, who served as national senior adviser on Trump’s 2016 campaign, as a top strategist. 
In a Sunday afternoon interview following an event at the welcome center for the U.S.S. Yorktown battleship, Arrington said voters in the district had grown tired of Sanford’s opposition to the president. 
We need a seat at the table. Our president is going to be the president until 2020 at a minimum, or 2024, and Mark has ostracized him to the point where there will never be a seat at the table for him,” she said.

Sanford's own internal polling is clearly setting off alarm bells, because he's spent nearly $400,000 in advertising on the primary in just the last couple of weeks.  Once you're in the party of Trump, your political career only leaves in a sandwich bag.  I'm honestly surprised that Sanford thought he could just skate by, but we'll see if he pays the price tomorrow.  North Dakota, Nevada, Maine, and Virginia also have GOP primaries on Tuesday.

Also, could you imagine the reaction by the press, the GOP, and the horseshoe theory end of the far left if a Democratic candidate had made this kind of pronouncement about President Obama in the 2010 or 2014 midterms, where a Democratic primary candidate declared a that a sitting House Democrat who was a vocal critic of Obama would "never have a seat at the table?"

It would have been a national scandal for months, proof of Obama's fascist tendencies or something.  Alas, such a pronouncement these days of course about a the Trump party having no seat at the table for a Trump "critic" like Sanford (who still votes with Trump 73% of the time, by the way) doesn't even raise an eyebrow.

By the way, SC-1 is an R+10 district, definitely a GOP advantage but not an overwhelming or unbeatable one in a blue wave scenario.  Democrats running in the primary include Charleston attorney Joe Cunningham, who announced his bid last June, and former Charleston mayoral candidate and non-profit director Toby Smith, who says she's running as a protest candidate.  Cunningham will most likely win, and he's been gunning for Sanford for over a year now.

Sanford may have much larger troubles in November at this rate...that is if he survives tomorrow, not a sure thing.


Related Posts with Thumbnails