Category Archives: Ethics

FBI investigating the NRA for Russian collusion

The lobbyist organization for the merchants of death, the National Rifle Association, is under investigation by the FBI to determine whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the NRA to help Donald Trump win the presidency. McClatchy News reports, FBI investigating whether Russian money went to NRA to help Trump:

The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.

FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.

It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.

It’s unclear how long the Torshin inquiry has been ongoing, but the news comes as Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including whether the Kremlin colluded with Trump’s campaign, has been heating up.

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Disclosure of the Torshin investigation signals a new dimension in the 18-month-old FBI probe of Russia’s interference. McClatchy reported a year ago that a multi-agency U.S. law enforcement and counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s intervention, begun even before the start of the 2016 general election campaign, initially included a focus on whether the Kremlin secretly helped fund efforts to boost Trump, but little has been said about that possibility in recent months.

The extent to which the FBI has evidence of money flowing from Torshin to the NRA, or of the NRA’s participation in the transfer of funds, could not be learned.

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The ‘shit-show’ shutdown is because of Donald Trump’s racist white nationalism

House GOP leaders found enough votes to pass a short-term CR over Democratic opposition after a deal was reached with conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus, who had threatened to oppose the bill throughout Thursday. House approves spending bill, shifting shutdown drama to Senate:

The group’s chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), secured an agreement with GOP leaders to consider military spending within 10 legislative days.

Most GOP defense hawks said they would vote to avert a shutdown, despite their frustration with repeated short-term bills to fund the military.

Nearly all Democrats refused to support the legislation, which would extend funding through Feb. 16, in the absence of a solution to protect young immigrants known as “Dreamers.”

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The final vote was 230-197, with six Democrats voting for the measure and 11 Republicans voting against it.

The 11 Republicans who voted against the stopgap were mostly members of the Freedom Caucus, but included two Florida centrists — Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — who, like Democrats, are demanding a solution for immigrants brought to country as children.

Six Democrats defected to support the bill: Reps. Salud Carbajal (Calif.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Vicente González (Texas), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.) and Collin Peterson (Minn.).

The Senate is expected to vote on a procedural motion Thursday to take up the House bill. The procedural vote is expected to be approved, but a follow-up procedural motion to move the bill to a final up-or-down vote is expected to fail and may not even clinch a simple majority as several Republicans have already voiced opposition.

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House Intelligence Committee releases transcript of Glenn Simpson testimony

Last week Senator Dianne Feinstein unilaterally released the transcript of the Senate Judiciary Committee interview with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson.

Today, the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday voted to release the transcript of its interview with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson. House intelligence panel votes to release transcript from Fusion GPS co-founder interview:

The committee voted in a closed-door meeting to release the transcript, which Simpson himself and the panel’s top Democrat had pushed for over the past month. The vote was unanimous, committee member Rep. Denny Heck told CNN.

Read the House Intel Committee’s interview with Glenn Simpson (Scribd).

With the vote, the House panel will be second committee to make the details of Simpson’s interview public. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, last week released the transcript of Simpson’s August Senate Judiciary Committee interview without the consent of Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

One congressional source said that the House Intelligence Committee interview with Simpson has material that was not in the Senate Judiciary Committee transcript.

In addition to the Senate Judiciary and House Intelligence Committees, Simpson has testified before the Senate Intelligence panel. But that committee’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, has been wary in the past of releasing any committee documents.

I will update if there is anything of interest in the transcript.

The ‘shit-show’ shutdown appears likely

Evil GOP bastard House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to avert a government shutdown at midnight on Friday is to hold poor children covered under the CHIP program as hostages, and to attach the long-delayed CHIP program renewal to a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to entice enough votes to pass the short-term spending bill. Poor children are pawns to be used by Paul Ryan in shutdown politics.

This morning our Twitter-troll-in-chief appeared to blow up Ryan’s evil plan. Trump Upsets Republican Strategy to Avoid Shutdown:

President Trump blew up Republican strategies to keep the government open past Friday when on Thursday morning he said a long-term extension of the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program should not be part of a stopgap spending bill pending before the House.

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With his tweet, Mr. Trump even inadvertently backed late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel in his fight with House Republicans over their use of CHIP as a lure to win Democratic votes despite the impasse on immigration. Mr. Kimmel responded by saying that Mr. Trump was “absolutely correct.”

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Republican leaders had spent Wednesday pressuring Democrats to vote for the spending bill, arguing that opposing it would effectively block a six-year extension of the children’s health program, attached to the spending bill as a sweetener for lawmakers in both parties.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin said on Wednesday that it would be “unconscionable” for Democrats to oppose funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program with a “no” vote on the short-term spending bill.

No, what is unconscionable is to hold poor children hostage in order to pass the fourth CR spending bill since September, because this loser Paul Ryan can’t whip enough votes in his own GOP caucus to pass necessary spending bills.

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GOP Disarray on DACA Deal

Just ten days ago, President Trump staged a televised bipartisan congressional discussion on immigration and DACA at the White House, the purpose of which was to dispel the claims of his incompetence in Michael Wolff’s new book “Fire And Fury.” It did not go well.

Trump literally agreed to everything each member of Congress proposed, including a “clean” DACA bill proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein. GOP Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy had to jump in, “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” and remind Trump of the Republican position on DACA: that any agreement needs to come with substantial border security.

The takeaway from this meeting was this: Trump says he’ll sign DACA deal, pursue comprehensive immigration reform:

You guys are going to have to come up with a solution [for DACA], and I’m going to sign that solution,” Trump said during a bipartisan meeting of House and Senate leaders at the White House on Tuesday morning.

“When you talk about comprehensive immigration reform, which is where I would like to get to eventually,” Trump said, turning to Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., “If we do the right bill here, we are not very far away, we’ve done most of it. You want to know the truth, Dick, if we do this properly, DACA, you’re not so far away from comprehensive immigration reform. And if you want to take it that further step, I’ll take the heat. I don’t care,” said Trump.

“My positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with,” the president later told the press pool. “If they come to me with things I’m not in love with, I’m going to do it, because I respect them,” Trump said, flanked by Durbin and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

The Senate’s “Gang of Six” has put together a bipartisan compromise on DACA which has bipartisan support. Senate DACA deal picks up GOP supporters:

A bipartisan immigration agreement is picking up the support of several additional GOP senators despite opposition from President Trump and the White House.

Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) office announced that GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Mike Rounds (S.D.) are signing onto the forthcoming legislation.

That brings the total number of Republican lawmakers officially backing the bill up to seven, including Graham and GOP Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Cory Gardner (Colo.) — who were part of the original “Gang of Six.”

Despite Trump’s televised assurances that “”My positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with … If they come to me with things I’m not in love with, I’m going to do it, because I respect them,” Trump called the Senate proposal “horrible” on border security and “very, very weak” on reforms to the legal immigration system on Wednesday. Trump calls immigration proposal ‘horrible’.

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Poor children are pawns to be used by Paul Ryan in shutdown politics

Evil GOP bastard House Speaker Paul Ryan has a plan to avert a government shutdown at midnight on Friday. He intends to use poor children covered under the CHIP program as pawns and to attach the long-delayed CHIP program renewal — something which should have already been approved as a stand alone bill — to a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to entice enough votes to pass the short-term spending bill and kick the can down the road again into February.

POLITICO reports, House Republicans coalesce behind plan to avert shutdown:

House Republicans on Tuesday night appeared to coalesce around a short-term funding bill to avert a government shutdown Friday — even as conservatives threatened to oppose it and a bitter fight continued over the fate of more than 700,000 Dreamers.

Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled a plan at a House GOP Conference meeting to fund the government through Feb. 16, and numerous rank-and-file members quickly endorsed it despite their frustration with another short-term patch. To further sweeten the pot, the Wisconsin Republican’s bill also includes a delay of several Obamacare taxes and a six-year extension of a popular health care program for children.

“It’s a good strategic position because not only does it offer CHIP [funding] for six years … but you also have a medical device tax delay as well as the Cadillac tax delay,” said Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.), referring to some of the taxes that would be delayed. “I think it puts Democrats in a very difficult position of having to vote against that in the House or in the Senate.”

House GOP leaders will whip the bill Wednesday before a possible Thursday vote. If the funding measure passes the House, senior Republican sources in both chambers expect the measure to clear the Senate.

House GOP leaders, however, still have some work to do: House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said many of his conservative members oppose the plan, dismissing the tax delays as a “gimmick” that won’t necessarily help leaders find 218 votes for passage.

After the GOP Conference meeting, the House Freedom Caucus met and did not take a position on the stopgap bill. But Meadows expressed skepticism leadership’s plan would pass in its current form with just Republican votes.

Based on the number of ‘no’ and undecided votes, there is not enough votes for a Republican-only bill,” he said.

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