WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 16: Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan delivers a speech and talks about U.S. President Donald Trump, at the Watergate Hotel, on November 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. This is the first time that Minister Farrakhan will speak directly to the 45th President of the United States and will address “issues of importance regarding Americas domestic challenges, her place on the world stage and her future.”
“Keith Ellison’s long pattern of lies about his ongoing relationship with Louis Farrakhan, who the Anti-Defamation League calls ‘America’s leading anti-Semite,’ has put a stain on the Democrat Party,” McDaniel said in a press release. “Anti-Semitism has no place in American politics, Tom Perez must address this issue.”
As head of the Nation of Islam, Farrakhan has a long history of making deeply anti-Semitic comments.
His ties to current elected Democrats rapidly came to light after a previously unreleased photo of Farrakhan visiting with then-Senator Barack Obama at a 2005 Congressional Black Caucus meeting surfaced in January 2018. (
Seven House Democrats Have Deep Ties To Louis Farrakhan)
While several of the officials linked to Farrakhan have disavowed their past relationships with him, Ellison in particular has maintained that Democrats should not be “bothered” being associated with him.
Ellison has repeatedly declined to comment on the several meetings he has reportedly had with Farrakhan since disavowing him in 2006
Dems’ rebuttal to GOP FISA memo is released; Trump deems it a ‘bust’
President Trump on Saturday dismissed a Democratic rebuttal to the GOP memo outlining government surveillance abuses in the 2016 campaign as a “total political and legal bust,” claiming that it only confirms the ”terrible things” that were done by the nation’s intelligence agencies.
The rebuttal, written by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, concluded that officials at the FBI and Justice Department “did not abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.”
Democrats sought to counter claims made in a Republican memo released this month that the FBI and DOJ relied on a Democrat-funded anti-Trump dossier to ask the FISA court for a warrant to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page.
Democrats have vehemently claimed that the Republican memo left out important information.
But Trump was unimpressed by the 10-page memo that resulted.
Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff, D-Calif., countered by saying it confirmed that intelligence officials acted appropriately.
Republicans had found that the DOJ and FBI left out Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign funding of the dossier, as well as the anti-Trump motivations of author and former British spy Christopher Steele, in its request for a warrant. Indeed, Republicans have pointed to this as proof that intelligence agencies abused surveillance powers.
The Democratic rebuttal, though it did not directly challenge some of the key findings of the earlier one from Republicans, backed the FBI and DOJ in their pursuit of that FISA warrant to surveil Page.
“In fact, DOJ and the FBI would have been remiss in their duty to protect the country had they not sought a FISA warrant and repeated renewals to conduct temporary surveillance of Carter Page, someone the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government,” the rebuttal said, adding that the DOJ met the “rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis” needed to meet FISA’s probable-cause requirement.
The memo said the Page surveillance warrant produced intelligence deemed reliable, and sufficient to justify renewals every 90 days.
The rebuttal said the FBI had an “independent basis” for investigating Page’s motivations, and that he had been targeted for recruitment by the Russians. It also claimed that the DOJ “repeatedly informed the Court about Steele’s background, credibility, and potential bias.” And it maintained that the Justice Department infomed the FISA court that Steele had been hired by “politically motivated U.S. persons and entities and that his research appeared intended for use “to discredit” Trump’s campaign.
The rebuttal added that the DOJ only made “narrow use” of information from Steele’s sources and that in later FISA renewals the DOJ provided “additional information obtained through multiple independent sources” that backed up Steele’s reporting. It challenged the Republican assertion that the FBI authorized payment to Steele, saying that it neglected that the payment was canceled.
The memo, however, did not directly challenge the Republican assertion that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testified to the House Committee that they would not have sought the Page surveillance warrant had it not been for that infamous dossier.
The new memo also asserted that the dossier had been corroborated by multiple sources. However, in June 2017 testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI Director James Comey said the opposite — that three months after the warrant on Page had been granted he still considered the dossier “unverified” and “salacious” when he briefed incoming President Trump in January 2017 at Trump Tower.
The rebuttal was voted out of committee earlier this month but a redraft was ordered after the White House demanded that sensitive information be stripped out before the document be made public. The Justice Department and FBI claimed the initial draft would reveal information about sources and methods, ongoing investigations and other sensitive information.
Schiff said the minority’s memo should “put to rest” any concerns about conduct by the intelligence agencies.
His confidence notwithstanding, it seemed unlikely to mark an end to the ongoing fight over the FISA application and the role of that infamous dossier. Indeed, while the two parties clash over whether that dossier was a primary or secondary driver of the surveillance application, the newly declassified criminal referral for Christopher Steele from Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the FBI and DOJ relied “heavily” on the controversial and salacious document for the FISA application.
And upon the new memo’s release, Republicans on the intel committee responded with rebuttals to the rebuttal, providing more evidence that this battle has legs. For instance, while the Democrats say that the court was given information about the political motivations of Steele, Republicans say that such a statement is “buried in a footnote” that obscures rather than clarifies his motives.
“The American people now clearly understand that the FBI used political dirt paid for by the Democratic Party to spy on an American citizen from the Republican Party,” Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif. said in a statement.
“Furthermore, the FISA court was misled about Mr. Page’s past interactions with the FBI in which he helped build a case against Russian operatives in America who were brought to justice. It defies belief that the Department of Justice and FBI failed to provide information to a secret court that they had provided to an open federal court regarding their past interactions with Mr. Page,” he said.
The White House called the rebuttal a “politically driven document” that fails to answer the concerns raised by the Republican memo.
“As the Majority’s memorandum stated, the FISA judge was never informed that Hillary Clinton and the DNC funded the dossier that was a basis for the Department of Justice’s FISA application,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
“In addition, the Minority’s memo fails to even address the fact that the Deputy FBI Director told the Committee that had it not been for the dossier, no surveillance order would have been sought,” she added.
Democrats have claimed that the original Republican memo was an effort to attack FBI Director Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in 2016. Trump had previously said that the memo “totally vindicates” him in the investigation.
Seattle attempts to impose morality with ridiculously high taxes on sugary drinks
Seattle has decided to impose a 1.75 cent per ounce tax on all sugary beverages within the city with the hopes of raising a $15 million revenue stream that it will use for programs to help people “have better access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” as Seattle station KIRO 7 explains. The price of Gatorade Frost Variety Pack at Costco, usually $15.99, with the $10.34 tax, shot up to $26.33, leaving customers with sticker-shock.
There’s more than a few problems with the new tax scheme, which a sign right next to the Gatorade in Costco helpfully demonstrates.
As with all excise taxes, this one is easily avoided: customers can visit Costco stores in nearby Tukwila or Shoreline and skip paying the City of Seattle’s Sweetened Beverage Tax. Customers are less likely to make extra inconvenient trips if the price changes are barely noticeable–but with such a steep price change, many residents will likely take the extra trip.
Some are saying they will switch to diet soda instead, which city officials say is “the point,” according to KIRO7. “Not necessarily to switch to diet soda, but getting consumers to go for healthier options.”
The position the tax advocates take is oddly contradictory, as Scott Drenkard of the Tax Foundation summarized on Twitter:
“First they interview people at the Costco who are rightfully shocked at how high prices on soda and sports drinks are now (they are almost doubled). Then they interview a public health advocate who says ‘that’s right! We want these prices to change people’s behavior and slow sales!’ Then they talk to the consumer, ‘think you’ll change your behavior, maybe even shop somewhere else?’ And she’s like, ‘ya the Tukwila store is close enough.’ Then they ask a city council member if this will hurt local [business], who says ‘there is no data’ suggesting that. Then the SAME public health advocate says that people won’t respond to price increases, shopping elsewhere because it isn’t ‘worth their while.”
If advocates are truly concerned about public health and want people to change their behavior by consuming sugarless beverages then the tax will indeed slow sales and hurt local businesses. It has to because that’s the only way it will actually induce people to lower their calories; assuming you believe that this model works.
But the government doesn’t actually want everyone to switch away from sugary drinks or it won’t be able to collect that $15 million it’s hoping for. That’s why using the tax code to punish or reward behavior is tragically short-sighted.
Government attempts to disincentive certain behavior often have subversive effects (beyond forcing people to take longer trips or purchase sugar-free brands.) The point of these policies is to drastically reduce usage; but while the pricing cuts demand, it also fuels smuggling and black markets.
A steep soda tax opens up the way for an illegal underground trade in soda. Before you laugh, realize that’s exactly the problem that arose in Philadelphia when similar taxes were introduced. In New York, these types of sin taxes led to stratospheric taxes on cigarettes, which buoyed an underground black market in “loosie” cigarettes. Tragically, police enforcement of the tax also led to the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island, who died in police custody after allegedly resisting arrest.
His action, selling loose cigarettes, was only a crime because of these types of policies. Governments, including the City of Seattle, should avoid creating similar situations.
Bill Clinton in 1998. Credit Paul Hosefros/The New York Times
In the longstanding liberal narrative about Bill Clinton and his scandals, the one pushed by Clinton courtiers and ratified in media coverage of his post-presidency, our 42nd president was only guilty of being a horndog, his affairs were nobody’s business but his family’s, and oral sex with Monica Lewinsky was a small thing that should never have put his presidency in peril.
That narrative could not survive the current wave of outrage over male sexual misconduct.
So now a new one may be forming for the age of Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump. In this story, Kenneth Starr and the Republicans are still dismissed as partisan witch hunters. But liberals might be willing to concede that the Lewinsky affair was a pretty big deal morally, a clear abuse of sexual power, for which Clinton probably should have been pressured to resign.
This new narrative lines up with what’s often been my own assessment of the Clinton scandals. I have never been a Clinton hater; indeed, I’ve always been a little mystified by the scale of Republican dislike for the most centrist of recent Democratic leaders. So I’ve generally held what I’ve considered a sensible middle-ground position on his sins — that he should have stepped down when the Lewinsky affair came to light, but that the Republican effort to impeach him was a hopeless attempt to legislate against dishonor.
But a moment of reassessment is a good time to reassess things for yourself, so I spent this week reading about the lost world of the 1990s. I skimmed the Starr Report. I leafed through books by George Stephanopoulos and Joe Klein and Michael Isikoff. I dug into Troopergate and Whitewater and other first-term scandals. I reacquainted myself with Gennifer Flowers and Webb Hubbell, James Riady and Marc Rich.
After doing all this reading, I’m not sure my reasonable middle ground is actually reasonable. It may be that the conservatives of the 1990s were simply right about Clinton, that once he failed to resign he really deserved to be impeached.
Yes, the Republicans were too partisan, the Starr Report was too prurient and Clinton’s haters generated various absurd conspiracy theories.
But the Clinton operation was also extraordinarily sordid, in ways that should be thrown into particular relief by the absence of similar scandals in the Obama administration, which had perfervid enemies and circling investigators as well.
The sexual misconduct was the heart of things, but everything connected to Clinton’s priapism was bad: the use of the perks of office to procure women, willing and unwilling; the frequent use of that same power to buy silence and bully victims; and yes, the brazen public lies and perjury.
Something like Troopergate, for instance, in which Arkansas state troopers claimed to have served as Clinton’s panderers and been offered jobs to buy their silence, is often recalled as just a right-wing hit job. But if you read The Los Angeles Times’s reporting on the allegations (which included phone records confirming the troopers’ account of a mistress Clinton was seeing during his presidential transition) and Stephanopoulos’s portrayal of Clinton’s behavior in the White House when the story broke, the story seems like it was probably mostly true.
I have less confidence about what was real in the miasma of Whitewater. But with Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky, we know what happened: A president being sued for sexual harassment tried to buy off a mistress-turned-potential-witness with White House favors, and then committed perjury serious enough to merit disbarment. Which also brought forward a compelling allegation from Juanita Broaddrick that the president had raped her.
The longer I spent with these old stories, the more I came back to a question: If exploiting a willing intern is a serious enough abuse of power to warrant resignation, why is obstructing justice in a sexual harassment case not serious enough to warrant impeachment? Especially when the behavior is part of a longstanding pattern that also may extend to rape? Would any feminist today hesitate to take a similar opportunity to remove a predatory studio head or C.E.O.?
There is a common liberal argument that our present polarization is the result of constant partisan escalations on the right — the rise of Newt Gingrich, the steady Hannitization of right-wing media.
Some of this is true. But returning to the impeachment imbroglio made me think that in that case the most important escalators were the Democrats. They had an opportunity, with Al Gore waiting in the wings, to show a predator the door and establish some moral common ground for a polarizing country.
And what they did instead — turning their party into an accessory to Clinton’s appetites, shamelessly abandoning feminist principle, smearing victims and blithely ignoring his most credible accuser, all because Republicans funded the investigations and they’re prudes and it’s all just Sexual McCarthyism — feels in the cold clarity of hindsight like a great act of partisan deformation.
For which, it’s safe to say, we have all been amply punished since.
Senator Al Franken Kissed and Groped Me Without My Consent, And There’s Nothing Funny About It
By Leeann Tweeden
In December of 2006, I embarked on my ninth USO Tour to entertain our troops, my eighth to the Middle East since the 9/11 attacks. My father served in Vietnam and my then-boyfriend (and now husband, Chris) is a pilot in the Air Force, so bringing a ‘little piece of home’ to servicemembers stationed far away from their families was both my passion and my privilege.
Also on the trip were country music artists Darryl Worley, Mark Wills, Keni Thomas, and some cheerleaders from the Dallas Cowboys. The headliner was comedian and now-senator, Al Franken.
Franken had written some skits for the show and brought props and costumes to go along with them. Like many USO shows before and since, the skits were full of sexual innuendo geared toward a young, male audience.
As a TV host and sports broadcaster, as well as a model familiar to the audience from the covers of FHM, Maxim and Playboy, I was only expecting to emcee and introduce the acts, but Franken said he had written a part for me that he thought would be funny, and I agreed to play along.
When I saw the script, Franken had written a moment when his character comes at me for a ‘kiss’. I suspected what he was after, but I figured I could turn my head at the last minute, or put my hand over his mouth, to get more laughs from the crowd.
On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. He said to me, “We need to rehearse the kiss.” I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL…we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’
He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable.
He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.
I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.
I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth.
I felt disgusted and violated.
Not long after, I performed the skit as written, carefully turning my head so he couldn’t kiss me on the lips.
No one saw what happened backstage. I didn’t tell the Sergeant Major of the Army, who was the sponsor of the tour. I didn’t tell our USO rep what happened.
At the time I didn’t want to cause trouble. We were in the middle of a war zone, it was the first show of our Holiday tour, I was a professional, and I could take care of myself. I told a few of the others on the tour what Franken had done and they knew how I felt about it.
I tried to let it go, but I was angry.
Other than our dialogue on stage, I never had a voluntary conversation with Al Franken again. I avoided him as much as possible and made sure I was never alone with him again for the rest of the tour.
Franken repaid me with petty insults, including drawing devil horns on at least one of the headshots I was autographing for the troops.
But he didn’t stop there.
The tour wrapped and on Christmas Eve we began the 36-hour trip home to L.A. After 2 weeks of grueling travel and performing I was exhausted. When our C-17 cargo plane took off from Afghanistan I immediately fell asleep, even though I was still wearing my flak vest and Kevlar helmet.
It wasn’t until I was back in the US and looking through the CD of photos we were given by the photographer that I saw this one:
I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep.
I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.
How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?
I told my husband everything that happened and showed him the picture.
I wanted to shout my story to the world with a megaphone to anyone who would listen, but even as angry as I was, I was worried about the potential backlash and damage going public might have on my career as a broadcaster.
But that was then, this is now. I’m no longer afraid.
Today, I am the news anchor on McIntyre in the Morning on KABC Radio in Los Angeles. My colleagues are some of the most supportive people I’ve ever worked with in my career. Like everyone in the media, we’ve been reporting on the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct allegations since they broke, and the flood of similar stories that have come out about others.
A few weeks ago, we had California Congresswoman Jackie Speier on the show and she told us her story of being sexually assaulted when she was a young Congressional aide. She described how a powerful man in the office where she worked ‘held her face, kissed her and stuck his tongue in her mouth.’
At that moment, I thought to myself, Al Franken did that exact same thing to me.
I had locked up those memories of helplessness and violation for a long time, but they all came rushing back to me and my hands clinched into fists like it was yesterday.
I’m still angry at what Al Franken did to me.
Every time I hear his voice or see his face, I am angry. I am angry that I did his stupid skit for the rest of that tour. I am angry that I didn’t call him out in front of everyone when I had the microphone in my hand every night after that. I wanted to. But I didn’t want to rock the boat. I was there to entertain the troops and make sure they forgot about where they were for a few hours. Someday, I thought to myself, I would tell my story.
That day is now.
Senator Franken, you wrote the script. But there’s nothing funny about sexual assault.
You wrote the scene that would include you kissing me and then relentlessly badgered me into ‘rehearsing’ the kiss with you backstage when we were alone.
You knew exactly what you were doing. You forcibly kissed me without my consent, grabbed my breasts while I was sleeping and had someone take a photo of you doing it, knowing I would see it later, and be ashamed.
While debating whether or not to go public, I even thought to myself, so much worse has happened to so many others, maybe my story isn’t worth telling? But my story is worth telling.
Not just because 2017 is not 2006, or because I am much more secure in my career now than I was then, and not because I’m still angry.
I’m telling my story because there may be others.
I want to have the same effect on them that Congresswoman Jackie Speier had on me. I want them, and all the other victims of sexual assault, to be able to speak out immediately, and not keep their stories –and their anger– locked up inside for years, or decades.
I want the days of silence to be over forever.
Leeann Tweeden is morning news anchor on TalkRadio 790 KABC in Los Angeles
“For the ungodly hungry beast, too much is never enough” – M Souza
Feds Collected Record Taxes in October; Still Ran $63 Billion Deficit!
(CNSNews.com) – The federal government hauled in record total tax revenues in the month of October, taking in a total of $235,341,000,000 during the first month of fiscal 2018, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement released today.
The federal government also brought in record individual income tax revenues for the month of October, taking in $127,832,000,000 in individual income taxes.
Despite its record total tax intake of $235,341,000,000 for the month of October, the federal government still ran a deficit of $63,214,000,000 for the month because it spent $298,555,000,000.
Prior to this year, the largest federal tax haul in October came in fiscal 2017 (October 2016), when the Treasury took in $226,360,090,000 in total tax revenues in constant 2017 dollars. (Dollar amounts were adjusted to constant September 2017 dollars using the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.)
Prior to that, fiscal 2015 (October 2014) saw the largest tax haul in October, with the Treasury taking in $221,128,030,000 in total revenues in constant 2017 dollars.
This year’s record $127,832,000,000 in individual income taxes collected in October bettered the previous record which was set in October 2016 (the first month of fiscal 2017), when the Treasury collected $124,135,980,000 in individual income taxes in constant 2017 dollars.
The Treasury also collected $3,729,000,000 in corporate income taxes in October, as well as $84,018,000,000 in Social Security and other payroll taxes, $7,463,000,000 in excise taxes, $1,615,000,000 in estate and gift taxes, $3,239,000,000 in customs duties and $7,445,000,000 in other taxes and fees.
Sessions considering second special counsel to investigate Republican concerns, letter shows
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is entertaining the idea of appointing a second special counsel to investigate a host of Republican concerns — including alleged wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation and the controversial sale of a uranium company to Russia — and has directed senior federal prosecutors to explore at least some of the matters and report back to him and his top deputy, according to a letter obtained by The Washington Post.
The revelation came in a response by the Justice Department to an inquiry from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who in July and again in September called for Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to investigate concerns he had related to the 2016 election and its aftermath.
The list of matters he wanted probed was wide ranging but included the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, various dealings of the Clinton Foundation and several matters connected to the purchase of the Canadian mining company Uranium One by Russia’s nuclear energy agency. Goodlatte took particular aim at former FBI director James B. Comey, asking for the second special counsel to evaluate the leaks he directed about his conversations with President Trump, among other things.
In response, Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd wrote that Sessions had “directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters,” and that those prosecutors would “report directly to the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.”
Trump has repeatedly criticized his Justice Department for not aggressively probing a variety of conservative concerns. He said recently that officials there “should be looking at the Democrats” and that it was “very discouraging” they were not “going after Hillary Clinton.” On the campaign trail, Trump’s supporters frequently chanted “Lock her up!” at the mention of Clinton’s name.
What you need to know about the Uranium One deal
House Republicans have announced a probe into a deal involving U.S. uranium reached under the Obama administration in 2010. Here’s what you need to know. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)
“Hopefully they are doing something, and at some point, maybe we are going to all have it out,” Trump said recently.
Sessions’s relationship with the president has been significantly strained since he recused himself from the investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election. The president has publicly lambasted his attorney general and noted that had he known in advance of Sessions’s recusal, he would not have appointed him to the post. It was after Sessions’s recusal that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein appointed Robert S. Mueller III to lead the investigation into the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
While the Justice Department is part of the executive branch — and the attorney general is appointed by and answers to the president — the White House generally provides input on broad policy goals and does not weigh in on criminal probes.
In that context, the letter is likely to be seen by some, especially on the left, as Sessions inappropriately bending to political pressure, perhaps to save his job. The possible reigniting of a probe of Clinton is likely to draw especially fierce criticism, even as it is welcomed by Trump’s supporters.
When Trump said during the campaign that he would “instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor” to look into Clinton, former attorney general Michael Mukasey — a Trump supporter and vocal Clinton critic — said Trump having her investigated and jailed “would be like a banana republic.”
“Putting political opponents in jail for offenses committed in a political setting, even if they are criminal offenses — and they very well may be — is something that we don’t do here,” he said.
Trump would later back down from his threats, before breathing life into them again with his more recent comments.
How the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Jeff Sessions
The Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a Department of Justice oversight hearing on Oct. 18, asking him about issues from Russian meddling to immigration enforcement. (Joyce Koh/The Washington Post)
Sessions, who was a Republican senator from Alabama before being appointed attorney general, is set to testify before Goodlatte’s committee Tuesday and is likely to face questions on the topics raised in the letter.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment for this article, as did a lawyer for Comey.
Brian Fallon, who served as the press secretary for the Clinton campaign, noted that the Justice Department letter became public not long after revelations that Donald Trump Jr. had communicated with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.
“Like clockwork, just as we learn of damning details of Donald Trump Jr.’s contacts with WikiLeaks, the Trump administration is firing up the fog machine to distract from the Mueller probe,” Fallon said.
In asking for a second special counsel in July, Goodlatte wrote that he wanted to “request assistance in restoring public confidence in our nation’s justice system and its investigators.” His letter, signed by 19 other Republicans, said Judiciary Committee members were concerned that Mueller might not have a broad enough mandate to investigate other election-related matters, which he said included actions taken by Comey, Clinton and then-Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.
Many of the items Goodlatte wanted investigated had long been conservative talking points, some having to do with matters many considered resolved: various decisions made in the Clinton email case, the Uranium One purchase, the “unmasking” of people by the intelligence community and allegations by Trump that he was wiretapped by his predecessors. Unmasking is a routine part of intelligence officials’ jobs; officials have said there is no evidence to support Trump’s claims that he was wiretapped; and while conservatives have sought to cast the Uranium One deal as an example of Clinton taking Russian money to influence U.S. policy, there is no evidence that Clinton participated in any discussions regarding the sale, which was approved during the Obama administration while she was secretary of state.
In the Justice Department’s response, Boyd did not indicate whether any of the topics might draw greater interest than others, though he said the review by senior federal prosecutors would “better enable the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General to more effectively evaluate and manage the caseload.” He noted that the Justice Department inspector general already was investigating several aspects of the Clinton email case and said that once that probe was complete, the department would assess “what, if any, additional steps are necessary to address any issues identified by that review.”
“We will conduct this evaluation according to the highest standards of justice,” he wrote.
A special counsel can be appointed when the Justice Department or a U.S. attorney’s office has a conflict of interest, when there are other “extraordinary circumstances,” or when it would otherwise be “in the public interest” to do so, according to the federal regulation governing such appointments.
How Brazile’s book exposes liberal media’s Hillary health coverup
Silly, silly Donna Brazile. She’s publioshing a book detailing turmoil in the Democratic Party during the 2016 campaign, highlighted by her concern that Hillary Clinton was seriously ill and might need to be replaced by Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders.
What’s the big deal? There’s no news here because all this was well-known and covered at the time by the big national newspapers and networks, right?
Wrong. If Brazile were rehashing things we knew, there would be no book and no bombshell headlines now.
Instead, she has thrown open a new and very big window on 2016 — and exposed yet again the consequences of the political biases of the Democratic media.
The missed stories are not merely the result of mistakes or sloppy reporting. Brazile’s book is a revelation in that it shows that many left-leaning journalists didn’t so much cover Clinton as cover up for her.
Put it this way: How is it possible that the leader of the Democratic Party was talking to colleagues about trying to replace its nominee during the general election because of health concerns, and none of the thousands of journalists covering the campaign got wind of it?
It’s not possible — if the media had been playing it down the middle and holding both candidates to the same standard of scrutiny. But big media missed a big story because so much campaign “news” coverage was tilted toward defeating Donald Trump and electing Clinton.
Anything that could possibly suggest Trump was unfit for the Oval Office — bingo, front page, top of the broadcast.
On the other hand, anything that could hurt Clinton was downplayed or ignored. Nothing to see here, move along.
The coverage of Clinton’s health was a prime example of the tilt. Her coughing fits, especially a long one on Labor Day, and a history of falling were pointed out by the popular Drudge Report, some Republicans and smaller, conservative-leaning sites to suggest she was not being honest about her health.
But her campaign always denied anything was wrong — allergies, the candidate and her flacks insisted, caused the persistent coughs, and major news organizations mostly nodded their heads and stayed mum, accepting the official denials without skepticism.
The dam cracked a bit on Labor Day, when an NBC reporter filed a 91-word, four-paragraph story that said Clinton had been unable to finish her speech in Ohio because of a coughing fit.
The truth was dangerous, so the Praetorian Guard sprang to Clinton’s defense. The NBC reporter, Andrew Rafferty, was mocked and insulted, first by the campaign, and then by journalists, including some MSNBC commentators who turned on their colleague as if he had violated a secret oath.
CNN joined the Clinton amen chorus, and at the Washington Post, political writer Chris Cillizza denounced the topic of Clinton’s health as “a totally ridiculous issue” and declared it a “sure-fire loser” for Trump.
“It’s hard to plausibly insist, based on the available data, that Clinton is ill,” insisted Cillizza, who is now at CNN.
Five days later, Clinton was unable to walk on her own and collapsed at the 9/11 ceremony in Manhattan as she tried to get into a van. The campaign insisted she was just “dehydrated” until a short video of the incident aired, then admitted the candidate had been diagnosed with pneumonia days earlier.
In other words, the claim of allergies was a big fat lie. That prompted Brazile to contemplate starting the process of replacing Clinton, writing in her book that the campaign also was “anemic” and had “the odor of failure.” She says she considered numerous tickets to replace Clinton and Sen. Tim Kane, and decided that Biden and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) would be the best.
It’s not clear how long she deliberated or how many people she talked to, but Brazile writes that Biden called her on Sept. 12. In the end, she says, she made no move because she couldn’t disappoint Clinton’s supporters.
Her book is called “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House,” and it’s got lots of other juicy bits, including evidence that the party rigged the primaries to help Clinton beat Sanders and that Clinton possibly broke federal campaign finance laws by scooping money donated by big donors to state parties, far in excess of individual federal limits.
Brazile also writes that the Clinton team treated her like “a slave,” and she accuses its male hierarchy of sexism.
As is their wont, the Clinton campaign is attacking Brazile, saying she fabricated incidents just to sell books. But curiously, the candidate herself has been silent.
Presidential campaigns, of course, are grueling, dynamic events and infighting is common. But what is extraordinary here is the fact that none of the huge moments Brazile recounts has been reported before.
That would matter less if the media humbly acknowledged it missed major stories that could have rocked the race, but that’s apparently expecting too much from news organizations that have forfeited their public trust. Nothing has changed, with the anti-Trump bias firmly intact.
Still, Brazile’s book is timely, with today the anniversary of Trump’s smashing upset. It is a reminder that, thankfully, voters weren’t fooled by the media conspiracy to hide the truth.
Gray Lady hasn’t a ‘preyer’
An op-ed in the New York Times headlined “The Deep Confusion of the Post-Weinstein Moment” celebrated the way women are becoming emboldened to name their powerful abusers instead of staying silent. I was agreeing with the author that it is a welcome cultural change we are witnessing — until she spoiled her piece by twisting it with politics.
The writer, novelist Naomi Alderman, made three mentions of the sexual accusations against President Trump last year, but skipped the most famous sex case in the history of politics — the one involving a sitting president by the name of Bill Clinton and a young intern. Nor, having blasted Trump and his supporters, did she mention Harvey Weinstein’s prodigious fundraising for Democrats, or the way Hollywood liberals protect predators.
Left not right again on guns
The military screw-up that allowed the Texas killer to buy his weapons is a perfect example of how the failure to enforce laws often leads to horrible tragedy — and yet still provokes calls for ever more laws.
If the Air Force had done what it is supposed to and told the FBI that Devin Patrick Kelley had been dishonorably discharged after beating his wife and cracking the skull of his infant stepson, he would not have been allowed to purchase any firearms legally. But the Air Force never made the crucial notification, and Kelley passed all background checks as he assembled his small arsenal.
Still, the demand for more gun control, any gun control, dominates the left’s reaction.
Democrats Determined to Wage Civil War Forever
Gideon ResnickSam Stein11.03.17 3:57 PM ET
During the final week of the most important election of the calendar year, the Democratic Party finds itself in a familiar place: subsumed by internal divisions and sniping.
The latest fracas is owed, in part, to Donna Brazile, the former interim chairwoman of the party, who released an excerpt of an upcoming book this week detailing an agreement between the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign that gave the campaign early control over the party’s finances and some staffing decisions.
This agreement, which was later revealed by NBC News, pertained to preparations for the general election and was in addition to a joint fundraising pledge, which was previously widely known during the first months of the presidential campaign. But Brazile’s piece provided an incisive reminder of what critics see as a fundamental rot within the party: a disposition to the establishment, a dependency on mega donors, and a top-down operational structure. That the piece landed as the DNC is still attempting to right the ship under new leadership made it downright pyrotechnic.
Some DNC members argued that it behooved the party to come to grips with its past—even in full public view—before moving forward; that it took particular courage for Brazile, who infamously passed Clinton a debate question, to help validate Democrats’ complaints with the DNC.
“Democrats all across the country are angry that our party was being controlled by a few at the top,” Jane Kleeb, the chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party and a member of the DNC’s Unity Commission, told The Daily Beast. “This goes against everything we stand for as Democrats. Some in our party will want us to continue the status quo. But most of us are rolling up our sleeves pushing for reforms inside the party and electing Democrats so we are not facing a tax plan that leaves middle class families holding the bag.”
Others outside the DNC were furious with Brazile, calling the essay a selfish attempt to sell books at a time when the party’s fundraising is flagging and its attention should be on the upcoming, critical races. “She’s playing into Trump’s hands,” one Clinton campaign vet said. Brazile declined to comment until her book was formally released.
Whether it was necessary medicine or opportunistic marketing, Brazile’s piece reverberated throughout the party, up through DNC’s leadership. “We knew that there was stuff going on that we didn’t know about,” James Zogby, a current member of the Unity Reform Commission told The Daily Beast.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who serves as deputy chair of the DNC, meanwhile, issued a lengthy statement on Friday saying that the “account cannot simply be dismissed.”
“I’m committed to working with Chairman [Tom] Perez to make the DNC more transparent and accountable to the American people, whether that’s by ensuring that debates are scheduled far ahead of time or by guaranteeing that the terms of joint fundraising agreements give no candidate undue control or influence over the party,” Ellison said. “Additionally, when the DNC Unity Commission presents its recommendations on reforming our party, we must listen and act. If we do, Democrats can move forward and retake power at every level of government across the nation.”
Moving forward constructively has proven a tall task for Ellison, Perez and others at the DNC, which has been beset by poor fundraising and internal strife. Hours after the Brazile story was published, the organization dismissed its top money-raiser. Emily Mellencamp Smith, a veteran of Sen. Maggie Hassan’s (D-NH) Senate campaign, had been brought in over the summer to help the committee close its cash gap with the RNC. She lasted five months on the job.
Michael Tyler, the DNC’s press secretary, said in a statement to The Daily Beast that the DNC was “grateful” for her work and that Smith was “staying on in a consulting role for the DNC.” But others in the party were uncharacteristically livid.
“I’ve seen a lot of bosses scapegoat staff to cover their own failures but Tom Pérez takes the cake for this one,” Paul Tencher, chief of staff for Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) tweeted. “Really really despicable.”
Neither Tyler nor Tencher responded to requests to expand on their statements.
Both the reaction to Brazile’s piece and the nasty backlash towards Smith’s firing reflect a party still searching for an identity and functionality in the Trump era. Democrats seem clear that they want to turn the page from the 2016 Clinton campaign. But they’re unclear how best to do so.
In this climate, even an employee shakeup becomes a point of contention. A congressional Democratic source described Smith as “an extremely talented and qualified person,” and said that the a big chunk of the DNC’s fundraising woes this year occurred prior to her arrival.
Indeed, while Brazile’s piece centered its criticism on the Clinton campaign, it did not spare Barack Obama either. It was the former president, Brazile wrote, who left the committee in financial disrepair and who felt comfortable putting in a chair—Debbie Wasserman Schultz— who was plainly not up for the task.
When asked about her reaction to the piece, Wasserman Schultz said in a statement: “It was a tremendous honor to be asked by President Obama to serve as chair of the DNC. I am proud of the work our team did to support Democrats up and down the ballot in the 2016 election and to re-elect the President in 2012.” A spokesperson for the Congresswoman did not respond to a follow up question asking her to address specific claims made in Brazile’s book excerpt.
Clinton allies, meanwhile, insist that they did more to help the DNC than to harm it. The joint fundraising agreements were made available to her and Sanders (which DNC Chairman Tom Perez noted in a letter to DNC members on Friday.). And though Clinton was afforded a large degree of operational control over the committee (which former Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told The Washington Post they did not have), she also helped it get out of debt, even as she reportedly pillaged a huge amount of the money that had been ostensibly donated to help state parties.
On Friday, Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign director, tried to take temperature down a bit. “Eye on the ball, Democrats!” he tweeted, saying the focus should be on the upcoming Virginia gubernatorial election. Others joined in.
“There is a race, a very important one, for governor in Virginia that if we are not careful could slip through our fingers,” said Clinton’s former spokesman, Brian Fallon, in an interview. “If [Ed] Gillespie were to pull of an upset there, it would basically ensure that Republicans would spend the next year running Trump-style campaigns that give in to race baiting because they will be convinced it is a successful strategy in the Trump era.”
“So, while it’s important for Democrats to take stock of our failings in 2016, there comes a point where it is just time to rally together and take a stand against the authoritarian regime that has taken over the U.S. Government. I hope people won’t lose sight of the bigger picture,” he concluded.
And yet, befitting the times, Democrats are encountering intraparty hiccups on that front too. On Friday, Democracy for America, a political action committee formed by former Governor Howard Dean, announced that it would not provide aid directly to Virginia Democratic candidate Ralph Northam due to a slight change in his position on sanctuary cities—which Virginia doesn’t have.
Dean, who is no longer affiliated with the organization, blasted the decision as “incredibly stupid.”