Category Archives: Crime

The GOP has become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump (updated)

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake was overheard saying to Mesa Mayor John Gileson on a hot mic on Saturday that “[If we] become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast.” Flake, on hot mic, says GOP will be “toast” if it’s the party of Trump and Moore.

Sunday evening, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to call the senator “Flake(y)” and lambasted him for “saying bad things about your favorite President.”

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After multiple women came forward accusing Moore of inappropriately pursuing or sexually touching them when they were teens, Flake said he would “run to the polling place to vote for the Democrat” if he was an Alabama voter.

The accusations against Moore have put the White House in a difficult situation politically, as at least 16 women have accused Mr. Trump of behaving inappropriately toward them. [UPDATE: Meg Kelly at the Washington Post breaks down President Trump and accusations of sexual misconduct: The complete list.]

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Mr. Trump has yet to personally address the accusations against Moore, although White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has said he believes Moore will do the “right thing” and step aside “if” the allegations are true. Sanders has refused to answer further questions about the president’s own accusers.

That was until Monday, when White House counselor Kellyanne Conway went on FOX & Friends (aka Trump TV) to signal that the Trump White House was now going all-in in its support of this serial child sexual predator because Moore is a member of the GOP tribe. Kellyanne Conway on Roy Moore’s candidacy: “We want the votes in the Senate” for tax bill:

During an interview in which White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was attacking Alabama Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones, she was asked by Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” whether she was saying Alabamans should vote for Moore.

“Folks, don’t be fooled. He’ll be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime. Weak on borders. He’s strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners,” Conway told Fox & Friends. “And Doug Jones is a doctrinaire liberal, which is why he’s not saying anything and why the media are trying to boost him.”

Co-host Brian Kilmeade [appearing bewildered] asked her, “So, vote Roy Moore?”

“I’m telling you, we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.”

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‘Dark money’ lawsuit, ‘dirty money’ initiative

A lawsuit has been filed to void a new Arizona law expanding the ability of some organizations to make anonymous “dark money” contributions to political campaigns. Howard Fischer reports, Lawsuit challenges dark money growth:

A voter advocacy group, a union and Democrat lawmakers are asking a judge to void a new Arizona law expanding the ability of some groups to make anonymous “dark money” contributions to political campaigns.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Maricopa County Superior Court charges the Republican-controlled Legislature acted illegally earlier this year in exempting some organizations from laws that require them to register before they can spend money to influence who is elected. More to the point, it also allows them to avoid disclosing to voters who provided that cash in the first place.

But attorney Jim Barton said there are other legal flaws in the measure.

One, he said, is that the exemption lawmakers provided to certain nonprofit organizations applies only to those that also are registered with the Arizona Corporation Commission. But Barton said the legislation denies the same privilege to unions which, while organized as nonprofits, do not register with the commission.

Potentially the most sweeping, Barton said lawmakers violated a constitutional provision that requires the legislature to have laws that tell the public about all of the contributions to and expenditures by campaign committees and candidates for public office.

He said SB 1516 allows nonprofits and similar entities to make unlimited contributions to political parties. Then the parties can spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of their nominees.

“Since the reporting of these particular contributions are not required, then built-in disclosure safeguards (required by the Arizona Constitution) are broken,” Barton wrote.

A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, which enforces the campaign finance laws, said the lawsuit is being studied.

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#MeToo movement ensnares Judge Roy Moore in Alabama (and other men behaving badly)

In the month since The New Yorker and The New York Times published allegations of serial sexual predatory behavior by producer Harvey Weinstein — some 100 women have now accused him of misconduct ranging from harassment to rape — people who said they had been sexually victimized have felt emboldened to voice allegations against men who had been seen as untouchable. Hollywood wracked by chaos in aftermath of sex scandals.

Actress Alyssa Milano used her Twitter account to encourage women who’d been sexually harassed or assaulted to tweet the hashtag #MeToo. This has now become a movement. The Movement of #MeToo:

The power of #MeToo, though, is that it takes something that women had long kept quiet about and transforms it into a movement. Unlike many kinds of social-media activism, it isn’t a call to action or the beginning of a campaign, culminating in a series of protests and speeches and events. It’s simply an attempt to get people to understand the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in society. To get women, and men, to raise their hands.

California Rep. Jackie Speier has brought the #MeToo movement to Congress. #MeTooCongress campaign shines a light on sexual harassment on Capitol HillWomen of Congress share #MeToo stories.

State Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, has brought the #MeToo movement to the Arizona Legislature. At least five women have now publicly accused Rep. Don Shooter, R-Yuma, of making sexually charged comments, touching them inappropriately or making unwanted sexual advances. Several women accuse Arizona state Rep. Don Shooter of sexual harassment.

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Latest developments in the Trump-Putin campaign investigation

With each new revelation, Donald Trump and his campaign move the goalposts in the Russia investigation. At first there was the flat denial that anyone in the campaign had contacts with the Russians. Then the campaign had to concede, OK there were contacts with the Russians, but we did not discuss collusion. Then it was revealed that the Trump campaign did attempt to collude with the Russians to “get dirt” on Hillary Clinton, but the campaign was unsuccessful in obtaining that information, so “we’re good.”

Trump and his apologists appear to be unaware of “inchoate” crimes—attempts, conspiracy, and solicitation—actions that fall short of the final act of commission, but may still be a prosecutable crime.

George Papadapolous has already plead guilty for lying to the FBI about his multiple contacts with the Russians to “get dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Papadapolous reported on his activities to several senior Trump campaign officials: his supervisor Sam Clovis, then campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, subsequent campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates, and foreign policy adviser Walid Phares. Who’s who in the George Papadopoulos court documents (there are additional persons not identified).

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Obstruction of justice in plain sight

The Washington Post recently editorialized, Trump pulls another stunt of cynical distraction:

The party in power is demanding the investigation and possible prosecution of its defeated political rival on trumped-up claims of wrongdoing. This is what happens in banana republics, not the world’s greatest democracy. Even if this is just a strategy to divert attention, it is unbecoming of the leaders of a rule-of-law state and a disservice to their oaths.

The authoritarian wannabe autocrat Donald Trump has gone full banana republic in the past few days, pressuring his Attorney General and the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute his “defeated political rival on trumped-up claims of wrongdoing” or, once again, he is threatening to fire Jeff Sessions for not using his office to pursue his political rivals. Trump breaches boundaries by saying DOJ should be ‘going after’ Democrats:

President Trump on Friday repeatedly called on the Department of Justice and FBI to investigate his Democratic political opponents, a breach of the traditional executive branch boundaries designed to prevent the criminal justice system from becoming politicized.

Trump urged federal law enforcement to “do what is right and proper” by launching criminal probes of former presidential rival Hillary Clinton and her party — a surprising use of his bully pulpit considering he acknowledged a day earlier that presidents are not supposed to intervene in such decisions.

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Trump and Tea-Publicans are leaving the U.S. vulnerable to Russian cyber attacks

The social media companies Google, Facebook, and Twitter spent the past two days testifying before Congress on how Russian intelligence agencies used their media platforms to engage in a disinformation campaign to disrupt the 2016 election and undermine confidence in the American political system, and are continuing to actively do so.

We previously learned that Facebook sold $100,000 in ads to the Russian propaganda troll farm Internet Research Agency, paid for in Rubles no less. Some Facebook ads bought by Russian company may have violated US election law. Nevertheless, Facebook and Google declined under repeated congressional questioning Tuesday to commit to stop taking Russian rubles and other foreign currencies as payment for American political advertisements, despite federal election law prohibiting payments from foreign nationals. Facebook, Google won’t commit to stop taking foreign cash for U.S. political ads.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had initially dismissed the notion that fake news stories proliferated on Facebook to manipulate voters. A preliminary internal investigation by Facebook  reported that Facebook found over 3,000 ads that came from inauthentic accounts linked to a Russian group called the Internet Research Agency that operated between 2015 and 2017. Some 10 million people in the U.S. viewed at least one of those ads, with around 44 percent of those views happening before the Nov. 8, 2016 election. 10 million saw Facebook political ads posted from Russia-linked fake accounts. Prior to this week’s congressional testimony, that number was dramatically revised upward. Russian fake accounts showed posts to 126 million Facebook users:

As many as 126 million people — or one-third the U.S. population — may have seen material posted by a Russian troll farm under fake Facebook identities between 2015 and 2017, according to testimony presented by Facebook’s general counsel at a hearing before the Senate on Tuesday.

The figure is the largest yet of the possible reach Russian operatives had on the giant social platformin the run-up to last year’s presidential election and afterwards and reflects Facebook’s new disclosures that a Kremlin-linked misinformation agency used original content in users’ feeds, as well as paid ads. Previously Facebook said 10 million people saw Russia-linked advertising that sought to sway U.S. voters.

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