Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Last Call For Russian To Judgment, Con't

The long-rumored fourth volume of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Russian collusion was released today, and while heavily redacted as it directly involves intelligence methods and means, the conclusion that Vladimir Putin and Russia helped elect Donald Trump in 2016 is inescapable.

Tuesday's bipartisan report, from a panel chaired by North Carolina Republican Richard Burr, undercuts Trump's years of efforts to portray allegations of Kremlin assistance to his campaign as a "hoax," driven by Democrats and a “deep state” embedded within the government bureaucracy.

The intelligence community’s initial January 2017 assessment of Moscow’s influence campaign included “specific intelligence reporting to support the assessment that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the Russian government demonstrated a preference for candidate Trump,” the committee’s report says. The panel also found “specific intelligence” to support the conclusion that Putin “approved and directed aspects” of the Kremlin’s interference efforts.

Senators and committee aides examined everything from the sources and methods used for the intelligence-gathering, to the Kremlin’s actions itself. The 158-page report is heavily redacted, with dozens of pages blacked out entirely. But its final conclusions were unambiguous.

“The committee found no reason to dispute the intelligence community’s conclusions,” Burr said in a statement, adding that the intelligence community’s conclusions reflect “strong tradecraft” and “sound analytical reasoning.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the committee’s vice chairman, praised the intelligence agencies’ “unbiased and professional work,” and warned that there was “no reason to doubt that the Russians’ success in 2016 is leading them to try again in 2020.”

The panel's findings are in line with a previously issued bipartisan statement in which Senate Intelligence leaders endorsed the January 2017 assessment by the clandestine community. The newest conclusions come in the fourth of five reports the committee is releasing on Moscow’s interference in the 2016 campaign. The committee last month approved the report unanimously.

The report devotes “additional attention” to the disagreements among some intelligence agencies about the Russian government’s intentions in meddling in the 2016 campaign. The report states that “the analytic disagreement was reasonable, transparent, and openly debated among the agencies and analysts.”

It also notes that the committee interviewed officials involved in drafting the January 2017 assessment, which came out days before Trump's inauguration, and states that they were not subject to political pressure.

The January 2017 assessment found that “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”

Notably, according to the Senate’s report, the initial assessment did not include information from or citations based on former British spy Christopher Steele’s unverified dossier of claims about Trump’s relationship with Russia. It noted that the FBI’s senior leadership insisted, though, that the dossier be mentioned in an annex. The Steele dossier is expected to be addressed in the committee’s fifth and final report.

Again, this is a Senate report, on a committee headed by Republican Richard Burr, that states that yes, the Russians helped Trump, and that this particular conclusion was reached without the Steele Dossier.

And let's remember that DC Federal Judge Reggie Walton still has his unredacted copy of the Mueller Report to examine.  Even with COVID-19 delaying federal court proceedings by weeks, Walton is expected to start his review of the report this week, as Chuck Pierce notes.

I choose to believe that, maybe, it’s because federal Judge Reggie Walton has cloistered himself at the moment to do some serious reading. From the National Law Journal:
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton of the District of Columbia had ordered the Justice Department to turn over the report, in a ruling that sharply criticized U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s handling of the more than 400-page document. Walton said Barr displayed a “lack of candor” in his public rollout of the Mueller report, and the judge assailed the Justice Department leader for appearing to spin the Russia investigation’s findings “in favor of President Trump.” 
“The court has grave concerns about the objectivity of the process that preceded the public release of the redacted version of the Mueller Report and its impacts on the department’s subsequent justifications that its redactions of the Mueller Report are authorized by the [Freedom of Information Act],” Walton said in his 23-page ruling March 5.

Justice Department lawyers submitted the report Monday, only to have Walton note that he will not be able to review the unredacted version until at least April 20, in light of an order issued by Chief Judge Beryl Howell that drastically limited the court’s operations amid the coronavirus crisis.
This would account for the wild detour that the president* took over the weekend when he hijacked some time in the Follies to go after Mueller again. At the time, I just thought that one of the tiny hamsters in his brain had fallen off the wheel. Now, I’m not so sure. When last we heard from Judge Walton, he was fitting William Barr’s reputation for a shroud. Now, he’s self-quarantined with the entire Mueller report. That’s got to get knees watery all throughout the administration*.

Count on it.  Trump knew both the Senate Intel report and Judge Walton's review were coming this week.  It's far from over, guys.

The Ghosts Of Bevinstan

Two bizarre and awful stories today about Republicans Behaving Badly here in Kentucky, the first is Robert Goforth, the state House Republican who tried to primary then Gov. Matt Bevin last year and got 40% of the vote, has been arrested on domestic violence charges.  Warning, this is relatively graphic.

Former Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Robert Goforth was arrested Tuesday morning on domestic violence charges, according to authorities.

Goforth, 44, was booked into the Laurel County Detention Center just after 4 a.m. on charges of first-degree strangulation, fourth-degree assault (domestic violence) and third-degree terroristic threatening.

The Laurel County Sheriff's Office arrested Goforth just after 3 a.m. at a residence off Blevins and Brown Road after a woman filed a complaint at the 911 Dispatch Center in London, according to an arrest citation.

The woman alleged the assault happened about 1:30 a.m. with three small children in the home, and she had visible marks on her forehead, neck and arms, according to authorities.

The arrest citation noted that the woman completed paperwork for an emergency protective order and told deputies that Goforth tried to "hog tie her."

Police say that Goforth, a Republican legislator from East Bernstadt, strangled the woman with an "Ethernet cord from a kitchen drawer, and threatened to kill her".

Goforth also struck the woman, leaving her with a bruise and knot on the forehead, according to the arrest report.

The woman told deputies that when her face was toward the ground, Goforth grabbed an Ethernet cable and began strangling her "to the point that she had difficulty breathing and believed she was going to pass out," according to the citation.

The woman said she was able to leave the residence after promising Goforth she would unlock her phone, which is what "initiated the altercation," according to the citation.

When deputies traveled to the residence, they had to make two attempts to make contact with Goforth, and they also found all three children safe, the arrest report said.

Goforth did not appear to be "under the influence of alcohol or drugs," the citation noted.

And speaking of Matt Bevin, after months of speculation about rumors that he had an affair with a staffer last year, Bevin exploded on Twitter at an account late last night, loudly denying what he called "vulgar and slanderous lies".

Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin chastised an anonymous Twitter user who accused Bevin of cheating on his wife and impregnating a former staffer, calling the allegations "vulgar and slanderous lies."

"Let me be perfectly clear," Bevin said in an April 20 tweet. "The vulgar and slanderous lies being spread about me and my family and others by the partisan hacks on this Twitter feed are reprehensible and utterly baseless."

The former governor was responding to a Twitter account dubbed "kypoljunkie" that alleged Bevin "had an affair with his press secretary. She's pregnant."

The account does not identify the staffer by name.

"The fact is, Matt, I could care less about your personal life," the anonymous account said in response to Bevin. "I think most Kentuckians would agree we’re all way better off with you, especially considering the situation we’re currently facing. My source has no reason to lie. I found it worth sharing as such, you lying fraud."

imilar anonymous online accounts making those allegations and other claims against Bevin have been popped up for weeks but have not been reported or substantiated by any Kentucky media outlet.

The anonymous account claims it has "pretty solid news from a solid source" about Bevin, who lashed out at the allegations online.

"Your 'deep' and 'solid' Frankfort sources, if they actually exist, are full of crap and are nasty, lying rumor mongers just like you," Bevin tweeted.

"My wife and I have been faithfully married to one another for 24 years and counting, and for all of you nitwits to slander her and my family in this way is disgusting... Shame on you!"

Now, Bevin has a temper and used it a number of times in press conferences and in speeches, but I can't recall him exploding on Twitter and getting in an argument with randos online like this, which definitely makes me think  there's something to this story.  Bevin's previously been radio silent since his now infamous "Chicken Little" tweet last month on COVID-19. Methinks the former governor doth protest too much.

Either way, a not-so-gentle reminder that Kentucky Republicans, like Republicans across the country, are awful, terrible human beings, and we need to stop voting for them as a country.

That Poll-Asked Look, Con't

MSNBC's Steve Kornacki breaks down the latest NBC/WSJ poll on Trump's performance issues.

Trump still gets two-thirds of white men without college degrees and nothing is going to change that.  Nothing.

Not even the mass deaths of a pandemic.

Democrats need to let "working-class" white guys go.  They're all about the racism at this point.  Take the 30% or so and be grateful.

Having said that, If Joe Biden really is even with white men with college degrees and actually does have a thirty-five point lead among white women with college degrees, then Trump is toast.

In 2016, Clinton won white women with college degrees by only 7 points, and lost white men with college degrees by 14 points.  That means the Rust Belt states that won the country from Trump, PA, WI, MI are definitely slipping from Trump's grasp, but Trump-leaning battleground states like NC, Florida, and Arizona are very winnable for Joe.  Hell, it means the second tier of GOP states like Ohio and Iowa are even in play for Biden at this point, maybe, maaaaybe even Georgia.

Standard caveat though: COVID-19 and Trump holding the leash on unprecedented federal emergency powers means any semblance of a normal election is out the window.


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