Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Last Call For How To Steal An Election

Mark Harris, the Republican election fraudster who essentially stole his 2018 House election in NC before being caught, exposed, and tossed under the bus by his own family in testimony last week resulting in the state Board of Elections calling for a new election to be held, now says he will not run for the seat after all, citing health reasons.

In a statement, Republican Mark Harris cited ongoing issues with his health, including surgery scheduled for late March, as a main factor in his decision not to run again.

“While few things in my life have brought me more joy than getting to meet and know the people of this incredible part of North Carolina, and while I have been overwhelmed by the honor of their support for me as the Congressman-elect of NC-9, I owe it to Beth, my children and my six grandchildren to make the wisest decision for my health,” Harris said in the statement. “I also owe it to the citizens of the Ninth District to have someone at full strength during the new campaign. It is my hope that in the upcoming primary, a solid conservative leader will emerge to articulate the critical issues that face our nation.”

Harris led Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes after November’s election, but the NC Board of Elections decided not to certify the race due to challenges and questions about absentee ballots in Bladen County.

Harris is endorsing Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing for the seat, Rushing has been a major supporter of Harris and got the County Board to pass a resolution demanding Harris be seated.
Who is Stony Rushing?  Well...

Rushing will have a number of competitors though.

Former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour confirmed to Channel 9 he is seriously considering a run for the seat. Ridenhour, who, like McCready, is a former U.S. Marine, said he hopes to make a decision soon.

Former Gov. Pat McCrory said he is not making any announcements about future elections. Former U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger declined to comment. McCrory and Pittenger previously ruled out runs.

Former Charlotte mayoral candidate and City Councilman Kenny Smith could not be reached for comment. Union County GOP Chair Dan Barry declined to comment on if he will run.

Former state Rep. Andy Dulin said he would not rule out a run, but he is not seriously considering one. Former state Rep. Scott Stone said he will not run for the 9th District and will instead likely announce his candidacy for another seat in the coming weeks.

The Democrats though want McCready in that seat and argue if Harris is now out, another primary only means that it could be October before anyone represents the district, and means another immediate campaign for 2020.

No matter who runs, McCready has an immediate cash advantage. McCready has been fundraising for months and recently raised more than $500,000 for a new election.

"We are going to knock on every door and talk to people about putting country over party," McCready said. "We are going to talk to people about sending a new generation of leaders to Washington and fixing the mess up there."

In his news conference Friday, McCready said his team has not decided whether they will try to mount a legal challenge to prevent another primary. McCready said his team hopes to make a decision next week.

We'll see where this goes, but just because Harris is not running again doesn't mean McCready will win.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Michael Cohen faces the music this week with three days of planned testimony before various House and Senate committees, starting with closed-door testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee today, but the real fun comes at the House Oversight Committee hearing tomorrow, which will be public.  Cohen plans to unload on his former boss and Republicans and their various mouthpieces are already moving to discredit him.

Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, is planning on portraying his onetime client in starkly negative terms when he testifies Wednesday before a House committee, and on describing what he says was Mr. Trump’s use of racist language, lies about his wealth and possible criminal conduct.

Mr. Cohen’s plans were laid out in broad strokes by a person familiar with what he intends to say in his testimony. And they indicate that Mr. Cohen will use documents and his personal experiences to support his statements.

In a statement on Tuesday morning, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, denounced Mr. Cohen.

“Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements,” she said. “Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same. It’s laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies.”

Mr. Trump and his allies have been preparing for days for Mr. Cohen’s testimony, which will take place over several hours while the president is in Vietnam for a summit meeting with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. The president’s aides have been anxious about the effect that the testimony might have on him.

They anticipate, though, that Republican allies on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform will aggressively question Mr. Cohen’s credibility, trying to paint him as a liar and accusing him of fabricating stories to help his cause.

Lanny J. Davis, a lawyer and adviser to Mr. Cohen, declined to discuss details of Mr. Cohen’s testimony, saying only that Mr. Cohen “worked very hard on this moment to not only tell the truth, but to back it up with documents.” Mr. Davis said Mr. Cohen’s response to questions about his truthfulness will be “I take full responsibility, I lied in the past; now you have to decide if I’m telling the truth.”

The testimony provides Mr. Cohen with the opportunity to tell his story under penalty of perjury before an audience of millions of people, about two months before he is scheduled to report to prison.

Among the most explosive and potentially damning aspects of Mr. Cohen’s testimony will be providing evidence of potential criminal conduct since Mr. Trump became president, according to the person familiar with the plans.

That potential conduct stems from reimbursements that were made to Mr. Cohen in 2017 for hush money payments that he made to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress. In October 2016, during the height of the presidential campaign, Mr. Cohen paid Ms. Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about her claims of a previous affair with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cohen will describe in what was called “granular detail” the plan to pay Ms. Daniels, which he will say was initiated by Mr. Trump, the person familiar with the testimony plans said. Mr. Cohen has pleaded guilty to a federal campaign finance-related charge in connection with that payment. Prosecutors have implicated Mr. Trump, identifying him as “Individual 1,” in connection with that charge in documents filed in the case.

He will also discuss how long Mr. Trump continued to ask about plans for a Trump Tower project in Moscow after the Iowa caucuses had taken place in February 2016. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty last November to lying to Congress in testimony in 2017 about the duration of time over which the Moscow project discussions took place.

Indeed, the attacks against Cohen today have gone full-court press, the White House attacking him, House Republicans attacking him, and various right-wing outlets all laying into Cohen as a liar before he even opened his mouth.  That should tell you how scared they are of tomorrow's testimony.

When It Rains, It Floods in Bevinstan

Here in Kentucky, Gov. Matt Bevin has authorized a state of emergency declaration for an actual emergency.  Days of heavy rains have led to flooding, particularly in the western and central parts of the Bluegrass State.

The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management has received state of emergency declarations from 36 county and 11 cities. KYEM activated the State of Emergency Operations Center on Friday.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is helping combat record-level water releases at Wolf Creek Dam and flooding in Smithland.

The prolonged rain has reportedly led to increased water levels at major dams in central and western Kentucky, which have required record levels of discharge and led to flooding conditions.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the following statement on Kentucky's flooding:

"I’d like to turn attention to the severe weather that is afflicting communities throughout Kentucky. Many counties—from one end of my state to the other—have declared states of emergency in response to historically high water levels. And just moments ago, Governor Matt Bevin put the entire Commonwealth under a state of emergency to mobilize resources where they’re needed most.

“Many families are evacuating toward safety. Approximately 2,400 people in Eastern and Southern Kentucky are still without power. Mudslides have closed roads, bridges are flooded, and emergency personnel have been deployed to rescue stranded drivers and others in danger.

“I’m grateful to the first responders working around the clock to keep their communities safe. It may be a difficult road to recovery, but Kentuckians are already pitching in to help their neighbors in need. My staff and I are ready to work with emergency management officials and will continue to monitor this situation closely.”

Much of that is south of here, but it still means the state is in bad shape.  Bevin declaring the entire state a disaster area means everyone can at least start getting help.  The rains have been pretty bad over the last couple of weeks.  Now contrast with the fact that at the same time, Kentucky Republicans are moving ahead with a massive austerity bill that will cut billions in benefits from people who need them the most.

Top House Republicans have filed a bill that would enact sweeping changes in Kentucky's system of public benefits — including Medicaid, food stamps and temporary cash aid for the poor — adding work requirements, drug tests and benefit cuts that opponents say would be disastrous.

"This is the most severe attack on Kentucky's safety net in our state's history," said Dustin Pugel, a policy analyst with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. "I've never seen anything like this.

"This is the war on the poor," he said.

House Speaker David Osborne, a Prospect Republican and primary sponsor of House Bill 3, filed Feb. 20 — the deadline for House bills this legislative session — described it as a bill meant to encourage more Kentuckians to work.

"I do believe it helps transition people off public assistance and back into the workforce," said Osborne, who is joined as sponsor of HB 3 by Rep. David Meade, a Stanford Republican and House speaker pro tem.

But advocates familiar with the bill disagree, saying it's a compilation of conservative talking points meant to cut public aid to the poor.

"It's designed to cut people off from assistance," said Jason Dunn, with the advocacy group Kentucky Voices for Health. "This pulls all the bad ideas from past years and adds a couple of news ones and rolls them into one bill."

The bill would cut direct aid to the poorest families by more than 80%, from $171 million to $40 million, and add work requirements, photo ID requirements, and drug testing (already ruled unconstitutional in other states) to SNAP, Medicaid, and TANF.

It's horrific.

And there's basically no way Kentucky Democrats can stop it.  I'm not sure why this bill would come up in an election year for Matt Bevin, but if this passes and he signs this, he's toast.

He'll sign it anyway.


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