Monday, August 8, 2022

Last Call For Orange Meltdown, Con't

Oh look, Merrick Garland did the thing.

Former President Donald J. Trump said on Monday that the F.B.I. had searched his Palm Beach, Fla., home and had broken open a safe — an account that, if accurate, would be a dramatic escalation in the various investigations into the former president.

The search, according to two people familiar with the investigation, appeared to be focused on material that Mr. Trump had brought with him to Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence, after he left the White House. Those boxes contained many pages of classified documents, according to a person familiar with their contents.

Mr. Trump delayed returning 15 boxes of material requested by officials with the National Archives for many months, only doing so when there became a threat of action being taken to retrieve them.

Mr. Trump was known throughout his term to rip up official material that was intended to be held for government archives.

“After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate,” Mr. Trump said, maintaining it was an effort to stop him from running for president in 2024. “Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries.”

“They even broke into my safe!” he wrote. “What is the difference between this and Watergate, where operatives broke into the Democrat National Committee? Here, in reverse, Democrats broke into the home of the 45th President of the United States.”

Mr. Trump did not share any details about what the F.B.I. agents said they were searching for. But he depicted himself as a victim of shadowy forces seeking to damage him.

The search took place on Monday morning, a person familiar with it said, although Mr. Trump claimed agents were still there many hours later.

The search was at least in part for whether any records remained at the club, the person familiar with the search said.

The reported search came at a time when the Justice Department has also been stepping up questioning of former Trump aides who had been witnesses to discussion and planning in the White House of Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in office after his loss in the 2020 election.

Mr. Trump has been the focus of questions asked by federal prosecutors in connection with a scheme to send “fake” electors to Congress for the certification of the Electoral College.

“These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” Mr. Trump said in the statement. “Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before,” Mr. Trump said.
Do. Not. Mess. With the National Archives.
Here endeth the lesson.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

For like the thirtieth time, yes the Russian collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia was real, yes it affected the outcome of the election, and yes Trump's margin of victory in five states that gave him the electoral college win was less than the thrid party vtes stripped from Hillary Clinton, in 2016, Jesus hell.

In an interview with Insider, Paul Manafort, who served as Donald Trump's campaign chairman, made his first public admission that in 2016 he shared polling data from the Trump campaign with Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime business associate with suspected ties to Russian intelligence.

Kilimnik then passed the data on to Russian spies, according to the US Treasury Department, which has characterized the data as "sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy."

Manafort's acknowledgment contradicts his earlier denials, during the investigation into election interference conducted by the special counsel Robert Mueller, that he had anything to do with the transfer of sensitive campaign data. It also differs from the account he gives in his forthcoming memoir, "Political Prisoner," in which he concedes only that he presented Kilimnik with "talking points" on polling data that was already public.

In his interview with Insider, Manafort reiterated that at least some of the data was public. "The data that I shared with him," he said, "was a combination of public information and stuff for the spring that was — it was old." It's one of Manafort's primary lines of defense — that the data he funneled to Kilimnik was essentially worthless.

In fact, in an email seized by Mueller, Manafort ordered his deputy Rick Gates, just a few hours before the two men met with Kilimnik in person, to print out four pages of internal campaign polling data showing Trump's city-by-city strength in 18 swing states. Contrary to Manafort's claim, that data was not from the spring. It was collected by the campaign in mid-July — two weeks before the meeting with Kilimnik.

Manafort denied to Insider that the printouts were given to Kilimnik. But he said he directed Gates to feed Kilimnik polling data via email, to "keep Konstantin informed." He also worked hard to keep his dealings with Kilimnik a secret. In its report on Russian interference in the election, the Senate Intelligence Committee wrote that it "had limited insight into Kilimnik's communications with Manafort" because the men relied on "sophisticated communications security practices." These included encryption, burner phones, and "foldering" — writing emails as drafts in a shared account.

Gates told the FBI that, at Manafort's direction, he began sending Kilimnik internal polling data in the spring of 2016 over WhatsApp and continued updating it periodically. He deleted his messages to Kilimnik daily. All told, according to court filings, he sent 75 pages of polling data to Kilimnik. Other than the four pages from August 2, the data itself has never been made public.

Manafort told Insider the purpose of sending the polling data to Kilimnik was not to help elect Trump by aiding the Russians in their attempts to undermine the election but rather to lay the groundwork for future business deals. "It was meant to show how Clinton was vulnerable," he said. By his account, he was trying to use his influence with the future US president to extract money from pro-Russia oligarchs.
Yes, Manafort and Gates broke the law, yes they were convicted, yes Donald Trump pardoned them for it, yes Manafort is openly bragging about breaking the law, no, nobody can do anything about that because it would be double jeopardy.
That's where we are. 

Manafort and Gates got away with it.

Ridin' With Biden, Con't

Despite my serious misgivings and a last-minute Kyrsten Sinema tantrum that almost sank the entire bill, Senate Democrats got it done on Sunday, passing the Inflation Reduction Act.

The Senate on Sunday passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) along party lines, 51-50, handing Democrats a crucial legislative win as the midterm cycle ramps up -- despite GOP objections at the billions in spending and drug pricing reforms.

The sprawling climate, tax and health care legislation is now set up for quick passage in the Democratic-controlled House, with timing still to be announced, before President Joe Biden signs it into law.

Included in the bill, supporters are quick to highlight, are measures to foster job creation, raise taxes on large corporations and the wealthy, allow Medicare to negotiate down some prescription drug costs, expand the Affordable Care Act health care program and invest in combating climate change by implementing tax credits for clean energy initiatives, among other things.

Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate with all Democrats in support of the legislation and all Republicans opposed. The proposal was passed via the budget reconciliation process, which requires a simple majority rather than the 60 votes typically needed to overcome a filibuster.

The rules of reconciliation, however, limit what can and cannot be passed with 51 votes -- strictures that narrowed the legislation's scope even in the final days before the vote.

The legislation's tax provisions, prescription drug-pricing reform, as well as boosted IRS tax enforcement measures, are anticipated to raise an estimated revenue of $739 billion -- $300 billion of which Democrats say would go toward reducing the deficit.

The plan would reduce federal budget deficits by $102 billion over 10 years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Despite the bill's name, however, the CBO found that it would have a minimal affect on high inflation in the short-term -- something Democrats have conceded when pressed.

The bill passed the Senate after a punishing, approximately 16-hour "vote-a-rama," in which any senator could introduce an amendment to the bill as part of the reconciliation process.

The amendment process fueled painful votes for each party.

Vulnerable Democratic incumbents up for reelection this year had to dance around a vote on the Biden administration's decision to scrap Title 42, a Trump-era order using coronavirus concerns to prevent migrants from entering the country while seeking asylum. Republicans, meanwhile, mostly voted against a Democratic amendment that would have capped out-of-pocket insulin costs at $35 a month for people with private health insurance
These two things are not the same, but Both Sides Forever.
Seriously though, the bill passed the Senate.  Things still can go wrong in the House, but I'm feeling confident about Nancy Pelosi being able to line up the votes. 

Not a law until Biden signs it, but we're over the rough part.  For now.
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