Category Archives: Election Integrity

Jared Kushner a ‘person of interest’ in the Russian digital operation

McClatchy News continues its investigative reporting into the Russian cyber war against the U.S. during the 2016 election. Previous post McClatchy News: Russia uses ‘bots’ and trolls for information war against U.S.

Today McClatchy News reports Trump-Russia investigators probe Jared Kushner-run digital operation:

Investigators at the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation – overseen by Jared Kushner – helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Congressional and Justice Department investigators are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states – areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton, according to several people familiar with the parallel inquiries.

Also under scrutiny is the question of whether Trump associates or campaign aides had any role in assisting the Russians in publicly releasing thousands of emails, hacked from the accounts of top Democrats, at turning points in the presidential race, mainly through the London-based transparency web site WikiLeaks.

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Latest GOPropaganda talking point (defense) for Trump-Russia collusion falls apart under scrutiny

The Trump administration’s Minister of Propaganda at FAUX News, Sean Hannity, tried to distract his intellectually challenged audience from Donald Trump Jr.’s public admission that he sought to collude with the Russians through the Russian mafia’s lawyer for dirt on Hillary Clinton — look, squirrel! — with their favorite opiate, another unfounded Clinton conspiracy theory.

This latest GOPropaganda talking point falls apart under scrutiny. Philip Bump of the Washington Post reports, Exploring Sean Hannity’s defense of Donald Trump Jr.: Clinton and Ukraine did it, too:

Sean Hannity’s defense of Donald Trump Jr. during his Fox News interview on Tuesday evening began with a lengthy and muddled pastiche of ways in which the Democrats — and Hillary Clinton in particular — had behaved just as badly. Or, maybe, worse.

Trump Jr. was there, you’ll recall, to respond to questions about his having accepted a meeting with an individual who explicitly promised negative information about Clinton offered by the Russian government. That Hannity was his first interlocutor on the subject is hardly surprising; the Fox News host has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to gloss over negative news about the administration. And as the show began, he made that clear.

Hannity revisited one of the points from his introduction later in the show — a point that Trump Jr. himself had made on Twitter on Tuesday morning. What about a Politico report from January, Hannity asked, suggesting that Ukraine was colluding with the Clinton campaign to help her candidacy?

After loosely describing that Politico report, Hannity suggested that the media was ignoring it at their peril. (Was this accompanied by creepy organ music?)

“I pose this question to everybody in the media that’s forced to tune in tonight,” he asked. “Which is worse?”

The Russia-Trump Jr. issue is worse. Allow us to explain.

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Referendum to block ‘vouchers on steroids’ bill is on track to qualify for the ballot

Good news is so rare these days, but here is some good news . . . let’s hope. Arizona group says school voucher bill repeal is on track:

A group that opposes a major private school voucher expansion bill signed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey says it is on track to collect enough signatures to place the law on hold.

Save Our Schools spokeswoman Dawn Penich-Thacker says the group isn’t releasing an exact count of the number of signatures it has collected. But she said the all-volunteer effort should have well above the minimum of 75,000 signatures by the Aug. 8 deadline.

“We know we have enough petitions out in the field, we know exactly who has them and we have enough out that if there was such a thing as 100 percent we could be getting more than 150,000 back,” Penich-Thacker said in an interview late last week.

Opponents say vouchers siphon money from the state’s underfunded public schools and the expansion will allow wealthy families to use state cash to send their children to private and religious schools. They also say vouchers won’t cover total costs at many private schools, meaning people of average means won’t be able to use them.

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If the effort succeeds, the voucher expansion will be put on hold until voters can weigh in during the November 2018 election.

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Trump’s fraudulent ‘voter fraud’ commission is on hold pending a court ruling on privacy

The New York Times reports that three lawsuits have already been filed against Trump’s fraudulent “voter fraud” commission. 3 Lawsuits Filed Against White House Panel on Voter Fraud:

[T]he White House panel investigating claims of voter fraud and other irregularities was hit with a salvo of lawsuits on Monday that accused it of violating federal privacy laws and illegally operating in secret.

Three lawsuits, filed separately by civil rights groups, underscored the depth of opposition by the Trump administration’s critics to the panel, the Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, even before it formally meets. The commission’s official mandate is to look at flaws in federal voting systems and practices that could encourage fraud and undermine public confidence in elections.

But advocacy groups and many Democratic leaders have called it a Potemkin exercise intended to validate President Trump’s groundless claim that millions of illegal ballots cost him a popular-vote victory in November. The true goal, they say, is to lay the groundwork for Congress to place strict qualifications on registering and voting that would primarily suppress opposition to Republican candidates for office.

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Attempted collusion confirmed: ‘We are past the point of innocent explanations on Trump and Russia’

(Permanent musical accompaniment to this post, Whoomp! There It Is)

With the New York Times report Trump’s Son Met With Russian Lawyer After Being Promised Damaging Information on Clinton, we have the first direct public admission against interest that the Trump campaign attempted to collude with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer in an effort to obtain damaging information against Hillary Clinton.

The most interesting point of the Times story is that it is sourced to five advisors inside the White House, after Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner updated his national security clearance forms to reveal yet another meeting that he “forgot” to disclose on his initial form. The Sunday Afternoon of the Long Knives.

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Donald Trump Jr. has recanted his earlier denials about any such meetings, saying that he did agree to the meeting to see what dirt the Russians had on Clinton, but that they didn’t deliver anything useful–instead using it as a pretext to lobby for changes to the Magnitsky Act (sanctions against Russia). When the Kremlin Says ‘Adoptions,’ It Means ‘Sanctions’.

This was not just any Russian lawyer. As Martin Longman explains in detail at the Political Animal blog, Trump’s Inner Circle Met With No Ordinary Russian Lawyer. Natalia Veselnitskaya is the lawyer for the Russian mafia:

More than that, though, she should have been seen as an attorney for murderous Russian mobsters with high-level connections to the Russian Ministry of the Interior. Simple prudence should have prevented them [Trump campaign] from getting entangled with such a person, and not just for political reasons. The potential for blackmail or violence were too high to be acceptable to a rational person.

The New York Times followed up with a third installment in its Donny Jr. series on Monday evening. Trump Jr. Was Told in Email of Russian Effort to Aid Campaign:

Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

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You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Russian in the Trump campaign

There were no note takers allowed at Donny and Vlad’s first date, with only the principals (Trump, Putin), their foreign ministers (Tillerson, Lavrov), and translators for each side present. The Trump-Putin Bromance Is Back On. So there is no official record or transcript of what was actually said in this meeting (well, maybe the Russians have a recording). Both men, known to be world-class liars, are free to claim whatever they want in an effort to spin their first date.

Our always insecure egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief was so enamored with the man who engaged in a cyber war against the United States to hack our U.S. election for the purpose of making him president — “Oh Vlad, you bad boy! You really shouldn’t have! But thank you! It’s lovely” — that he says he wants to continue dating.  ‘Time to Move Forward’ on Russia, Trump Says, as Criticism Intensifies:

President Trump’s account of his lengthy and closely scrutinized closed-door meeting with Mr. Putin on the sidelines of theGroup of 20 summit meeting came in a series of Twitter posts the morning after he had returned from the gathering in Hamburg, Germany. They appeared to be an attempt to move beyond the controversy after Moscow characterized the election discussion as a meeting of minds rather than a showdown between the American president and his Russian counterpart.

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On Sunday, it appeared that Mr. Putin had to some degree succeeded in doing just that, after Mr. Trump’s refusal to answer questions about the encounter essentially ceded the narrative to Mr. Putin.

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