Cokehead, Womanizing, Fag’: Michael Bloomberg’s Book of ‘Wisdom’ Resurfaces

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE DAILY BEAST)

 

Cokehead, Womanizing, Fag’: Michael Bloomberg’s Book of ‘Wisdom’ Resurfaces

OPEN MOUTH, INSERT FOOT

The release of an unauthorized book of quotes by Michael Bloomberg paints a damning picture of the Democratic presidential candidate.

David McNew/Getty

“Cokehead, womanizing, fag.” That’s the way Michael Bloomberg once characterized a competitor in New York’s financial industry, according to a book of quotes presented to the billionaire businessman for his 48th birthday in 1990.

The quote is one of a number of vulgar and degrading remarks, contained in a gag gift presented to Bloomberg by an employee, that may spell trouble for the former New York mayor as he attempts to convince Democrats he can topple Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

The tome, titled Wit & Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg, was published in full by the Washington Post on Saturday morning. It has been quoted at length over the years but has never been printed in full by a mainstream outlet.

The booklet was produced by Elisabeth DeMarse, who worked as Bloomberg’s chief marketing officer. “Yes, these are all actual quotes,” she wrote in her introduction. “No, nothing has been embellished or exaggerated.”

Some of the quotes are pure bathroom humor, like his comments on salesmanship that simply states, “Make the customer think he’s getting laid when he’s getting fucked.” Another says, “As Chuch Colsen put it: if you have them by their balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”

Others are highly sexist, like one that has a name redacted in the Post’s document. “What do I want? I want an exclusive, 10-year contract, an automatic extension, and I want you to pay me. And I want a blow job from [name redacted]. Have you seen [name redacted] lately? Not bad for fifty.”

The misogynistic, homophobic remarks predate the #MeToo era and show a sophomoric obsession with referencing oral sex. On the subject of computers, he said: “You know why computers will never take the place of people? Because a computer would say that the sex of the person giving you a blow job doesn’t matter.”

His company’s financial information computers “will do everything, including give you [oral sex]. I guess that puts a lot of you girls out of business,” he said in another remark.

Some of the quoted remarks are relatively mild, like, “The three biggest lies are: the check’s in the mail, I’ll respect you in the morning, and I’m glad I’m Jewish.”

Others are positively eyebrow raising, like, “The Royal Family—what a bunch of misfits—a gay, an architect, that horsey faced lesbian, and a kid who gave up Koo Stark for some fat broad.” He characterizes one competitor as, “Cokehead, womanizing, fag.”

The booklet is peppered with cartoons that depict Bloomberg in various poses, of which many are less than flattering, like him dressed as a Roman Centurion fighting off dogs with name tags like Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sacks and Citibank.

The booklet’s publication caps a bad week for Bloomberg, who has been dogged by unearthed comments on income inequality and racial profiling.

Bloomberg has not made a public comment on the publication of the booklet. A campaign spokeswoman said on Saturday, “Virtually all of this has been reported over the past two decades. In any large organization, there are going to be complaints—but Mike simply does not tolerate any kind of discrimination or harassment, and he’s created cultures that are all about equality and inclusion.”

The Post says it informed the Bloomberg campaign that it would be publishing the full booklet online, to which they were told by spokesman Stu Loeser, “Mike simply did not say the things somebody wrote in this gag gift, which has been circulating for 30 years and has been quoted in every previous election Mike has been in.” Loeser also told them, “Mike openly admits his words have not always lined up with his values and that way he has led his life and some of what he has said is disrespectful and wrong.”

The Post’s reporting also detailed newly unearthed lawsuits against Bloomberg that were either settled or dismissed and paint a disturbing picture of misogynistic behavior.

Warren’s epic flop in New Hampshire

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Warren’s epic flop in New Hampshire leaves her no path to the Democratic nomination

Elizabeth Warren admitted defeat in New Hampshire Tuesday night. She claimed to be still plotting a path forward for her presidential campaign, but, at this point, it has nowhere left to go.

With results still coming in, MSNBC has projected that Warren will come out of the primary with zero delegates. At best, she’ll be in a distant fourth, well behind Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar. This was a disastrous night for Warren on top of an already lackluster showing in Iowa last week.

In New Hampshire, Warren was supposed to have a bit of a home-base advantage: She represents the neighboring state, and Boston’s media tend to dominate New Hampshire’s coverage. It also has a large population of well-off, educated liberals who tend to be her core base. Yet, she failed to seal the deal with many voters.

The problem for Warren is that her campaign relied on Iowa and New Hampshire to give her the political momentum necessary to win the Democratic nomination. Joe Biden also flopped in the first two primary states, but he has South Carolina to look to. Even if his chances of a comeback are fading, at least he can argue that his strategy hasn’t had a chance to play out again. Warren, on the other hand, is looking at a bleak campaign trail from here on out. She might have been able to win Nevada had she won New Hampshire. But, now, that’s remote, and there’s no reason to believe she can compete in South Carolina heading into Super Tuesday.

Warren suggested on Tuesday night that Iowa and New Hampshire’s results are only one small part of a much bigger picture. “We’re two states in, with 55 states and territories to go. We still have 98% of the delegates for our nomination up for grabs, and Americans in every part of our country are going to make their voices heard,” she said after congratulating Sanders, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar.

This might be true, but Warren is not in a position to seriously compete for the other 98%. She no longer has an advantage, and it’s only a matter of time before her base begins to drift toward Sanders, the leading liberal candidate. Now is the time to bow out gracefully. If she doesn’t, the rest of Warren’s presidential campaigns will have results similar to those in Iowa and New Hampshire. Surely, that can’t be the legacy Warren wants.

Trump Is Trying To End All Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

As student debt continues to climb, President Donald Trump on Monday released a budget for 2021 that would slash many of the programs aimed at helping borrowers.

Student loan spending would be cut by $170 billion in Trump’s plan, titled “A Budget for America’s Future.” The reductions include “sensible annual and lifetime loan limits” for graduate students and parents and the end to subsidized loans, in which the government covers the interest for borrowers who are still in school or experiencing economic hardship.

It would also reduce the number of repayment options for borrowers and nix the popular, if challenged, public service loan forgiveness program.

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That program, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007, allows not-for-profit and government employees to have their federal student loans canceled after 10 years of on-time payments. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that up to one-quarter of American workers are eligible.

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“The Trump Administration already has a reputation of being anti-borrower,” said Mark Kantrowitz, a higher education policy expert. “This just takes it further.”

In all, Trump’s proposal would request $66.6 billion for the U.S. Department of Education, trimming the budget by $5.6 billion, or nearly 8%. The proposed cut is less steep than last year, when he called for a nearly 10% reduction in spending for the department.

Still, any cuts to student loan relief programs are unlikely to sit well with many voters.

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Eighty percent of Americans agree that the government should make it easier for people with student debt to repay their loans, a study by The Pew Charitable Trusts found. Another poll found that nearly 60% of registered voters said they would support a plan to cancel all existing student loan debt.

Meanwhile, leading Democratic presidential candidates on the campaign trail are vowing to cancel the majority or all of the country’s outstanding student loan debt.

Bernie Sanders has proposed wiping out the country’s $1.6 trillion outstanding student loan tab.

Elizabeth Warren’s plan would cancel $50,000 in student debt for borrowers with household incomes of less than $100,000. People who earn between $100,000 and $250,000 would be eligible for forgiveness on a sliding scale.

Comment On A Really Unflattering Picture Of Mr. Trump On Face-Book

Comment On A Really Unflattering Picture Of Mr. Trump On Face-Book

 

A long time friend of mine re-posted a very unflattering picture of our President, Mr. Trump on Face-Book. As most of the folks who read my letters to you, you know that I am not a fan of Mr. Trump, his adult family nor of most of his Cabinet. Yet neither am I a fan of either Bill or Hillary Clinton. I have several issues with all of these folks, I wish none of them harm, I do though wish them all to be guests at Guantanamo for the rest of their lives. The biggest issue I have with these folks, besides that fact I have no personal respect for them is they are all Habitual Liars. I thought that Hillary was horrible, and she is, but Mr. Trump is worse. Back in Nov of 2016 when we had the reality that either Don or Hillary was going to be our next President the following was my thoughts on this issue, then and still today. “Do we want a President who is a very intelligent habitual liar or do we want a President who a total idiot and a habitual liar.” Well, half of my question has now been answered!

(This is my response to my friend on Face-Book)

It is not his looks that bother me near as much as What owns that which is between his ears. He is a very hate filled and dangerous human being. The Father of ALL Liars is the Devil. How much more so than that for the marriage made in Hell, think about it, the 2 biggest habitual liars that I have ever come across (Mr. Trump and Hillary), who is their Daddy?

Texas poll a warning sign for Biden

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Texas poll a warning sign for Biden

Joe Biden’s Southern-focused primary strategy may be in danger, with a new poll of Texas Democrats showing his lead narrowing to rival Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

According to a survey released by Texas Lyceum, the former vice president leads the rest of the Democratic pack with 28% support. Sanders, however, is right behind him at 26%.

The rest of the field had half of Sanders’s support or lower, with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in third place at 13%. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came in fourth at 9%.

Those numbers will certainly set off alarm bells for Biden, whose path to victory relies on running up large delegate counts in the South. Poised for early losses in Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden has been telling supporters and donors that the South remains his firewall.

The last reputable poll of Texas conducted in December by CNN found Sanders with 15% of the vote — behind Biden at 35%.

On March 3, Super Tuesday, when Texas holds its primary, the map is nearly evenly split between Northern and Southern states. The demographics of states like Minnesota and Colorado, with heavy pockets of urban liberals, favor a candidate like Sanders. But states with large black populations, such as Alabama and Virginia, are slated to go for Biden.

A principle reason former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was able to fend off Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary was her ability to win by double digits in the South. That cycle, Clinton earned 65.19% of the vote to Sanders’s 33.19% of the vote.

Should Sanders and Biden split Texas’s 228 pledged delegates, Biden would be forced to try and compete more competitively in states such as Maine, which Sanders won handily in 2016.

On Tuesday, Sanders announced a $2.5 million TV campaign in California and Texas, his first major expenditure in Super Tuesday states. The day before, Sanders announced a Spanish ad campaign in Nevada in an effort to shore up Hispanic support.

Sanders, a Brooklyn native, has also started a campaign to win the New York primary, with an email to supporters sent Wednesday titled “The race to win New York.”

“There are 274 delegates up for grabs there on April 28,” the email reads. “And as a supporter of Bernie’s campaign, you’ve done more than most to help us win.”

In 2016, Clinton, a former New York senator, won the state’s primary by nearly 16 points, with 57.54% of the vote.

Although Texas Lyceum found that both Biden and Sanders lost to President Trump in a hypothetical match up, Sanders was 1 percentage point stronger than Biden, at 47% support. Those numbers will undoubtedly be used to strengthen Sanders’s argument that he is actually the more electable candidate in the field.

The firm asked 1,200 adults from Jan. 10-19 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.83 points.

‘Politics of love’: the end of Marianne Williamson’s bizarre and mesmerizing campaign

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS)

 

‘Politics of love’: the end of Marianne Williamson’s bizarre and mesmerizing campaign

The author enthralled listeners with attacks on ‘the psychic force of hatred’. And sometimes she was surprisingly practical

Marianne Williamson blows a kiss before the first night of the second 2020 Democratic presidential debate, in July.
 Marianne Williamson blows a kiss before the first night of the second 2020 Democratic presidential debate, in July. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Marianne Williamson announced the end of her 2020 presidential campaign on the day of the wolf moon eclipse, as the year’s first full moon moved into the Earth’s outer shadow. The self-help author and spiritual adviser to Oprah, who as a presidential candidate charmed and confused Americans with her “politics of love”, told supporters that though her path had diverged from the campaign trail, “a politics of conscience is still yet possible”.

Even before she announced in January 2018 that she was jumping in the race to unseat Donald Trump, she floated a mysterious job listing for a social media director to join a presidential bid that was “part campaign” but also “part startup, part spiritual movement”. If the 2020 Democratic presidential field was broad, Williamson’s campaign was so out there she may as well have been on another astral plane.

On the one hand, Williamson, 67, was the only candidate to strongly advocate for reparations for African Americans. She advocated for stronger environmental protections, in discussing the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. In part due to Donald Trump’s rollback of environmental protections, “we have communities, particularly communities of color and disadvantaged communities all over this country, who are suffering from environmental injustice”, she said during the first Democratic primary debate in July.

Her contributions were unexpectedly lucid at times, though she often distracted from the otherwise strictly structured debate.

Williamson discussed Trump’s legacy as a “dark psychic force of collectivized hatred”. She referred to “toxicity” and “emotional turbulence” that required “healing”. She flouted norms by referring to the New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, as “girlfriend”.

While Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden presented policy proposals, Williamson dismissed such discourse as “wonkiness”. In this way, she was not unlike candidate Trump, who favored provocative but vague missives and catchphrases over carefully laid plans.

Williamson’s own views were scrutinized as not just wonky, but sometimes dangerous. Critics worried that her vacillating over vaccines – she fashioned herself as a supporter of “safe pharmaceuticals” rather than an anti-vaxxer – could mislead families. And when Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas, Williamson was criticized for implying that prayer was a substitute for policy in suggesting that people could harness “the power of the mind” to pray away the storm.

“Millions of us seeing Dorian turn away from land is not a wacky idea,” she wrote in a tweet that she later deleted. “Two minutes of prayer, visualization, meditation for those in the way of the storm.”

Still, throughout her complicated candidacy, Williamson remained eminently watchable, her throaty voice enthralling audiences of presidential debates and Goop conventions alike.

Till the end, she remained both befuddlingly practical and mesmerizingly odd. In a sign-off statement on her campaign website, Williamson listed among her proudest moments “proactively waging an agenda for peace and making humanity itself America’s greatest ally”.

She said she was dropping out because she didn’t want to “get in the way of a progressive candidate winning” the Democratic nomination. She also said that though she had put her year-long campaign to rest, “I have faith that something is awakening among us … And yes … love will prevail.”

Column: Iraqis storm our embassy, another sign of U.S. failure

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE)

 

Iraqi protesters use a plumbing pipe to break the bulletproof glass of the U.S. Embassy's windows in Baghdad on Dec. 31, 2019.
Iraqi protesters use a plumbing pipe to break the bulletproof glass of the U.S. Embassy’s windows in Baghdad on Dec. 31, 2019. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP)
It’s a matter of official record that Afghanistan has been the longest war in American history, still going on after more than 18 years. But you could make a case that the longest war is really Iraq. We initiated hostilities there in January 1991, and they’ve never really stopped.

You know something has gone wrong when a mob of the people you thought you were helping storms your embassy chanting “Death to America.” It brings back memories from 2003, when Dick Cheney informed Americans that our invading troops would be “greeted as liberators.” Yet the objects those Iraqis were hurling at the diplomatic compound were not flowers.

The protest came in response to U.S. airstrikes against sites in Iraq and Syria, which were directed at an Iranian-supported militia that killed an American contractor in a rocket barrage. Iran’s proxy forces have made several attacks on U.S. military facilities in recent weeks, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. “will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy.”

Why Americans are still in Iraq to be put in jeopardy is a long story. Why Iranian-backed insurgents want to kill them is another complicated tale. But the latest events are a reminder that when it comes to Iraq, we still don’t have a clue.

Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg have raised the issue because Joe Biden makes much of his foreign policy expertise. But as a senator, he voted for the invasion. Sanders voted against it, and Buttigieg thinks it relevant that Biden “supported the worst foreign policy decision made by the United States in my lifetime.”

Mayor Pete is too kind. The Iraq War was the worst foreign policy decision made by the United States in anyone’s lifetime. Over time, our leaders have made it even worse. And its effects have billowed like a toxic cloud over the national landscape, where they will foul our politics for years to come.

The 2003 war followed 12 years in which we enforced no-fly areas in Iraq, sometimes bombing targets and killing Iraqi civilians. That approach failed at one of its objectives: toppling dictator Saddam Hussein. Our leaders’ frustration at his survival served as motivation for the invasion, which was sold on deception and misinformation.

The invasion was a case of “catastrophic success.” We accomplished one mission only to be surprised and overwhelmed by the forces it uncorked. George W. Bush’s administration claimed the victory would be easy, cheap and quick. It turned out to be insurmountable, astronomically expensive, long-lasting and not exactly a victory.

By smashing Saddam’s regime, we eliminated one enemy but helped another. It’s been said that the U.S. and Iraq fought a war, and Iran won. The mullahs became a dominant factor in the aftermath, thanks to their close relations with numerous groups that had opposed Saddam.

As The New York Times reported in 2017, “Iran never lost sight of its mission: to dominate its neighbor so thoroughly that Iraq could never again endanger it militarily, and to use the country to effectively control a corridor from Tehran to the Mediterranean.”

The U.S. occupation pushed the two regimes into a close alliance. In the country we set out to liberate, our forces now face attacks from militias that Iran supports.

We left in 2011, because the Iranian-allied Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to sign an agreement protecting American troops from prosecution in Iraqi courts. The space we vacated was filled by militants known as Islamic State. In 2014, we returned to fight this new enemy in tacit cooperation with … Iran.

The bewilderment and regret the war fostered back home served to discredit leaders in both parties, as well as the premises of U.S. foreign policy. They fostered a widespread cynicism that sunk Hillary Clinton — who had supported the invasion — and boosted someone whose chief foreign policy credential was having nothing to do with such failures.

When respected experts were so wrong about something so important, the public might well wonder if maybe Donald Trump’s stupendous ignorance could really be worse. But it’s not clear he learned the lesson that military might does not solve all problems. It would surprise no one if he lurched into a war with Iran or North Korea — or expanded the one in Iraq.

This much is true: The Iraq War was the worst U.S. foreign policy decision of Mayor Pete’s lifetime. At least so far.

Steve Chapman, a member of the Tribune Editorial Board, blogs at www.chicagotribune.com/chapman.

Twitter @SteveChapman13

Submit a letter, of no more than 400 words, to the editor here or email [email protected].

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Law professor writes Kentucky newspaper op-ed accusing McConnell of breaking two oaths

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HILL NEWS PAPER)

 

 

Law professor writes Kentucky newspaper op-ed accusing McConnell of breaking two oaths

A Kentucky-born law professor went after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in an op-ed Friday, saying that the senator broke two of the three oaths in the U.S. Constitution.

The Boston College law professor, Kent Greenfield, criticized McConnell’s comments about an impeachment trial for President Trump.

“We Kentuckians know that our word is our bond. Oaths are the most solemn of promises, and their breach results in serious reputational — and sometimes legal — consequences,” Greenfield wrote in his op-ed published by the Courier Journal.

“President Donald Trump will soon be on trial in the Senate on grounds that he breached one oath,” Greenfield wrote. “Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is about to breach two.”

The first oath McConnell is breaking, Greenfield states, is the oath that he took when took office. It’s an oath that all state and federal officers take, an “Oath … to support this Constitution.”

The second oath pertains to the impeachment trial that will take place sometime after the new year.

“In Article I, the Constitution gives the Senate the ‘sole’ power to ‘try all impeachments,’ and the Constitution requires that ‘when sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation,’ ” Greenfield wrote.

Continuing, he wrote: “The framers wanted to make sure the Senate would never take such a trial lightly — this oath requirement is over and above the oath each senator has already taken to support the Constitution.”

McConnell has openly said that he plans to coordinate with Trump’s defense team and that he doesn’t view himself as an “impartial juror.”

Greenfield, a sixth-generation Kentuckian, targeted those comments in his op-ed.

“McConnell’s loyalty to Trump should not overwhelm his loyalty to the Constitution,” he asserts. “If he fails in this, he is not only violating his Article I oath but his Article VI oath.”

Greenfield concludes his piece by stating that history will be a “harsh judge,” and urges the longtime Kentucky senator to take his “obligation of faithful impartiality seriously.”

Which One Would It Be?

Which One Would It Be?

 

This title is something that I just had cross across my mind a few moments ago. Turns out it is a short thought but with a very real possibility of coming true, maybe. And, is the thought here, what if is the answer to the question, what if, one of these Democratic candidates for President was going to be our Nations next President whether we like the person at all, or not, which one would you choose? I know that it is still months away, this Presidential voting season, yet eventually we are all going to have to choose someone, even if we choose to not vote at all, that is still a vote you gave away to someone else to do for you.

 

I am not saying that Donald Trump won’t be our next President, or some yet unannounced candidate Or even Mr. Putin. What I am saying is what if, what if one of those top dozen of so candidates running for the office of President, which one would you honestly say is your first choice? Maybe even who would then be your choice for VP? I guess I am just not fully satisfied with the choices, I am not fully sold on anyone of them, are you? I guess my leanings are as an independent that leans toward the conservative/moderates in the Democrats direction. I have turned my face from the Republican side of the Isle mainly because of folks like Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and Fox News. Hate, hate and more hate, very sad. This is not the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan.

 

Mr. Biden they say is probably the most ‘conservative’ yet for me I just don’t trust him and as far as I believe, to old, and I am a 63 year old saying that. I don’t know who is going to win, I certainly have not been shown such a thing. What if, just what if now, what if (already to old) Bernie Sanders was our next President and lets say, Senator Warren as the VP? What if? I am being serious, what if one of the folks was going to be our next President, who would you choose? This short article was designed to be a little snack for your inner thoughts, I hope you enjoyed this food for your thoughts on this matter. May God have mercy on us all, no matter what flesh and bones sits in That Chair.

Trump top adviser: ‘Traditionally, it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Trump top adviser: ‘Traditionally, it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes’

The campaign aide, who was recorded at a private event, said later he was referring to false allegations against the GOP.
Image: President Donald Trump listens to questions in the Oval Office on Dec. 17, 2019.

President Donald Trump listens to questions in the Oval Office on Dec. 17, 2019.Evan Vucci / AP

By Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. — One of President Donald Trump’s top re-election advisers told influential Republicans in swing state Wisconsin that the party has “traditionally” relied on voter suppression to compete in battleground states but will be able to “start playing offense” in 2020 due to relaxed Election Day rules, according to an audio recording of a private event obtained by The Associated Press.

“Traditionally it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes in places,” Justin Clark, a senior political adviser and senior counsel to Trump’s re-election campaign, said at the event. “Let’s start protecting our voters. We know where they are. … Let’s start playing offense a little bit. That’s what you’re going to see in 2020. It’s going to be a much bigger program, a much more aggressive program, a much better-funded program.”

Asked about the remarks by AP, Clark said he was referring to false accusations that the GOP engages in voter suppression.

“As should be clear from the context of my remarks, my point was that Republicans historically have been falsely accused of voter suppression and that it is time we stood up to defend our own voters,” Clark said. “Neither I nor anyone I know or work with would condone anyone’s vote being threatened or diluted and our efforts will be focused on preventing just that.”

Clark made the comments Nov. 21 in a meeting of the Republican National Lawyers Association’s Wisconsin chapter. Attendees included the state Senate’s top Republican, Scott Fitzgerald, along with the executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party.

Audio of the event at a country club in Madison obtained by the liberal group American Bridge was provided to AP by One Wisconsin Now, a Madison-based liberal advocacy group.

The roughly 20-minute audio offers an insider’s glimpse of Trump’s re-election strategy, showing the campaign is focusing on voting locations in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, which form the the so-called “blue wall” of traditional Democratic strength that Trump broke through to win in 2016. Both parties are pouring millions of dollars into the states, anticipating they’ll be just as critical in the 2020 presidential contest.

Image: Justin Clark
Justin Clark discusses the tentative ruling by a federal judge to halt a California law that’s aimed at forcing the president to release his tax returns, in Sacramento, Calif., on Sept. 19, 2019.Rich Pedroncelli / AP file

Republican officials publicly signaled plans to step up their Election Day monitoring after a judge in 2018 lifted a consent degree in place since 1982 that barred the Republican National Committee from voter verification and other “ballot security” efforts. Critics have argued the tactics amount to voter intimidation.

The consent decree was put in place after the Democratic National Committee sued its Republican counterpart, alleging the RNC helped intimidate black voters in New Jersey’s election for governor. The federal lawsuit claimed the RNC and the state GOP had off-duty police stand at polling places in urban areas wearing armbands that read “National Ballot Security Task Force,” with guns visible on some.

Without acknowledging any wrongdoing, the RNC agreed to the consent decree, which restricted its ability to engage in activities related to ballot security. Lifting of the consent decree allows the RNC to “play by the same rules” as Democrats, said RNC communications director Michael Ahrens.

“Now the RNC can work more closely with state parties and campaigns to do what we do best, ensure that more people vote through our unmatched field program,” Ahrens said.

Although the consent decree forced the Trump campaign to conduct its own poll monitoring in 2016, the new rules will allow the RNC to use its multi-million dollar budget to handle those tasks and coordinate with other Republican groups on Election Day, Clark said. State directors of election day operations will be in place in Wisconsin and every battleground state by early 2020, he said.

In 2016, Wisconsin had 62 paid Trump staff working to get out the vote; in 2020, it will increase to around 100, Clark said.

Trump supports the effort, he said in the audio recording.

“We’ve all seen the tweets about voter fraud, blah, blah, blah,” Clark said. “Every time we’re in with him, he asks what are we doing about voter fraud? What are we doing about voter fraud?’ The point is he’s committed to this, he believes in it and he will do whatever it takes to make sure it’s successful.”

Clark said Trump’s campaign plans to focus on rural areas around mid-size cities like Eau Claire and Green Bay, areas he says where Democrats “cheat.” He did not explain what he meant by cheating and did not provide any examples.

“Cheating doesn’t just happen when you lose a county,” Clark said. “Cheating happens at the margin overall. What we’re going to be able to do, if we can recruit the bodies to do it, is focus on these places. That’s where our voters are.”

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin.

“If there’s bad behavior on the part of one side or the other to prevent people from voting, this is bad for our democracy,” Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said in reaction to Clark’s comments. “And frankly, I think will whoever does that, it will work to their disadvantage. It will make them look, frankly, stupid.”

Wisconsin’s attorney general, Democrat Josh Kaul, represented the Democratic National Committee in a 2016 New Jersey lawsuit that argued the GOP was coordinating with Trump to intimidate voters. Kaul argued then that Trump’s campaign “repeatedly encouraged his supporters to engage in vigilante efforts” in the guise of ferreting out potential voter fraud. The Republican Party disputed any coordination.

“It is vital that Wisconsinites have free and fair access to the polls, and that we protect the security and integrity of our elections,” Kaul said in a statement in reaction to Clark’s comments. “The Wisconsin Department of Justice has been and will continue working with other agencies to protect our democratic process.”

Mike Browne, deputy director of One Wisconsin Now, said Clark’s comments suggest the Trump campaign plans to engage in “underhanded tactics” to win the election.

“The strategy to rig the rules in elections and give themselves an unfair partisan advantage goes to Donald Trump, the highest levels of his campaign and the top Republican leadership,” Browne said. “It’s clear there’s no law Donald Trump and his right-wing machine won’t bend, break or ignore to try to win the presidency.”

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