Category Archives: Election Integrity

AP: Paul Manafort secretly worked for a Russian billionaire with a plan to ‘greatly benefit the Putin Government’

An AP exclusive report today reveals Before Trump job, Manafort worked to aid Putin:

Before signing up with Donald Trump, former campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly worked for a Russian billionaire with a plan to “greatly benefit the Putin Government,” The Associated Press has learned. The White House attempted to brush the report aside Wednesday, but it quickly raised fresh alarms in Congress about Russian links to Trump associates.

Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and former Soviet republics to benefit President Vladimir Putin’s government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse.

Manafort pitched the plans to aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006, according to interviews with several people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP. Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, according to one person familiar with the work.

“We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort wrote in the 2005 memo to Deripaska. The effort, Manafort wrote, “will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.”

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House Intelligence Committee chair demonstrates the need for a bipartisan commission and/or special prosecutor to investigate Russian interference in the U.S. election

I have said before that House Intelligence Committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), is the reason why we need to have a bipartisan commission and/or special prosecutor to investigate Russian interference in the U.S. election as part of its information war against the U.S.  This Trump transition team member just made my point today.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes revealed Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s personal communications may have been picked up by investigators through “incidental collection” pursuant to a legal FISA warrant investigation of foreign nationals.

Remember how Nunes was pushing the GOP conspiracy du jour during the House Intelligence Committee on Monday that Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn may have been improperly “unmasked” by intelligence agencies through “incidental collection” pursuant to a legal FISA warrant investigation of foreign individuals and his identity leaked to the press?

Nunes just abused the power of his position — and may have violated the law if he disclosed classified information, which includes the existence of a FISA Court warrant — for a partisan political motive by suggesting, as the White House immediately latched onto after his disclosure, that the “incidental collection” information is the equivalent of “surveillance” of the Donald Trump campaign (it is not) to give the White House cover for Trump’s false tweets that President Obama “wire tapped” Trump Tower.

Nunes’ clear implication is that FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Michael Rogers were not fully forthcoming when they testified that there is no evidence to substantiate Trump’s false tweets that President Obama “wire tapped” Trump Tower.

Nunes’ intentionally vague statements today were intended to provide grist to the propagandists of the conservative media entertainment complex. He has called into question the credibility of his chairmanship and the House Intelligence Committee investigation.

Nunes should be removed as chair of the House Intelligence Committee and referred to the FBI for investigation if he leaked classified information, including the existence of a FISA Court warrant, for a partisan political motive. If so, he should be forced to resign from Congress.

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McClatchy News: Russia uses ‘bots’ and trolls for information war against U.S.

For those of you who live on social media sites and believe just about anything you see posted there (don’t deny it, I can tell from the comments and links I see posted), this latest report from McClatchy News should cause you to question your faith in social media and embarrass you for having been an “unwitting agent” or “useful idiot” of the Russians. Some of our blog trolls may not be who they claim to be. Just sayin’.

But first, make no mistake: we are engaged in a cyber war with Russia, in a new strategy for information warfare:

Andrey Krutskikh, a senior Kremlin adviser, made the startling comments at the Russian national information security forum, or “Infoforum 2016,” held Feb. 4 and 5.

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Krutskikh as a “senior-level adviser” to President Vladimir Putin and “a long-standing player in cyber issues” at the foreign ministry. The official said he couldn’t confirm the details of Krutskikh’s remarks, but that “they sound like something Andrey would say.”

According to notes of Krutskikh’s speech, he told his Russian audience: “You think we are living in 2016. No, we are living in 1948. And do you know why? Because in 1949, the Soviet Union had its first atomic bomb test. And if until that moment, the Soviet Union was trying to reach agreement with [President Harry] Truman to ban nuclear weapons, and the Americans were not taking us seriously, in 1949 everything changed and they started talking to us on an equal footing.”

Krutskikh continued, “I’m warning you: We are at the verge of having ‘something’ in the information arena, which will allow us to talk to the Americans as equals.”

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SCOTUS upholds Tucson city council election system

Can we finally stop hearing from Tucson’s Whiny Ass Titty-Baby Tea-Publicans how the City of Tucson’s city council election system is unconstitutional?

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a petition for review from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the City of Tucson’s city council election system. End of the road, whiners.

Howard Fisher reports, US Supreme Court affirms Tucson’s method of electing council members:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rebuffed a bid by a group representing some Republicans to void the system of nominating council members by ward but having them elected at-large. The justices gave no reason for their ruling.

Monday’s action is the last word in the multi-year bid by the Public Integrity Alliance to have state and federal courts declare that the practice was an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Attorney Kory Langhofer, who represented the challengers, argued that the system gave some voters more power than others and, in some cases, effectively nullified their votes.

But that contention was most recently rejected by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Tucson’s hybrid system for electing members of its city council imposes no constitutionally significant burden on voters rights to vote,” the appellate court concluded. “And Tucson has advanced a valid, sufficiently important interest to justify its choice of electoral system.”

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Takeaways from the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference in U.S. election (updated)

The House Intelligence Committee held its first committee hearing into Russian interference in the U.S. election with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers testifying over five hours. They confirmed what we already know from press reports:

1. There is no evidence to support Donald Trump’s false tweets via right-wing radio host Mark Levin, Breitbart News and Brent Baier of FOX News that President Obama “wire tapped” Trump Tower. Period. Full stop.

2. There is no evidence to support White House pres secretary “Baghdad Sean” Spicer’s and Trump’s false claim via 9/11 Truther Andrew Napolitano of FOX News that British intelligence GCHQ “wire tapped” Trump and his campaign. Period. Full stop. Shepherd Smith of FOX News already distanced FOX News from Napolitano’s “utterly ridiculous” claim. Shep Smith: “Fox News Cannot Confirm Judge Napolitano’s Commentary”.

3. The FBI and intelligence agencies are conducting an investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election. well, duh!

4. The FBI is conducting an investigation into possible “coordination” between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. Until today, the FBI had refused to privately acknowledge the existence of an investigation, let alone what it is looking into. This is the “big news” of the day from the hearing.

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Latest on Trump-Putin campaign investigation

The U.S. Justice Department on Friday delivered documents to congressional committees responding to their request for information that could shed light on President Donald Trump’s claims that former President Barack Obama ordered U.S. agencies to spy on him. Reuters reports, Justice Dept. delivers documents on wiretap claim to Congress:

The information was sent to the House and Senate intelligence and judiciary committees, said Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Devin Nunes, said in a statement late on Friday that the Justice Department had “fully complied” with the panel’s request.

A government source, who requested anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said an initial examination of the material turned over by the Justice Department indicates that it contains no evidence to confirm Trump’s claims that the Obama administration had wiretapped him or the Trump Tower in New York.

The House Intelligence Committee will hold a hearing on Monday on allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. election. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers will testify and are expected to field questions on Trump’s wiretap claim.

Leaders of both the House and Senate intelligence committees, including from Trump’s Republican Party, have said they have found no evidence to substantiate Trump’s claims that Obama ordered U.S. agencies to spy on Trump or his entourage. The White House has publicly offered no proof of the allegation.

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