Former Trump Organization executive says she expects President Trump will resign

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Former Trump Organization executive says she expects President Trump will resign

New York (CNN Business)A former Trump Organization executive says she thinks President Donald Trump may resign rather than face possible removal from office by impeachment.

“He does a lot of things to save face,” Barbara Res, a former Trump Organization vice president, told CNN’s Brian Stelter on Reliable Sources Sunday.
“It would be very, very, very bad for him to be impeached,” Res said. “I don’t know that he’ll be found guilty but I don’t know that he wants to be impeached. I think that’s what this panic is about. And my gut [instinct] is that he’ll leave office, he’ll resign. Or make some kind of a deal, even, depending on what comes out.”
Res said she was hesitant to share her opinion, because “I could very well be wrong.”
But Res has first-hand experience working with Trump. She was the construction engineer on some of his key projects, including Trump Tower, and she is the author of “All Alone on the 68th Floor: How One Woman Changed the Face of Construction,” which partly chronicles her time working for the President while he ran his company.
She has been critical of Trump in recent years, including during the 2016 campaign, when she said he wasn’t fit for office.
Her comments come as the impeachment inquiry over Trump’s interactions with Ukraine’s president intensify. House Democrats on Friday subpoenaed the White House as part of the investigation into Trump. And on Sunday, the lawyer for the first intelligence whistleblower to come forward with accusations concerning Trump and Ukraine said he is now representing a second whistleblower regarding the President’s actions.
The inquiry has sent Trump into a tweet storm in recent days, defending himself and denouncing both Democratic lawmakers and critics within his own party.
Res said she is not surprised by Trump’s reaction.
“He was always very quick to react, he never responded to anything, always reacted to it and got very, very angry,” Res said. “He had this notion that everything that happened that was bad was directed at him, like they were after him, people were after him.”
She said there have, however, been some elements of the Trump campaign and presidency that she wouldn’t have expected, saying his behavior has gotten worse than when she worked for him. Res was surprised to see reports that Trump told Russian officials he was unconcerned about the country’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election because, she said, “that was a stupid thing to say and I never thought of him as stupid.”
But most of the time, Res said the President is still the Donald Trump she knew while working for him for over a decade.
“This is Trump — I say Trump Squared because he’s had, since I knew him, many, many years of fame and fortune and getting richer and now he actually does believe he’s a stable genius and he does believe he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue, and so far it looks like he can,” she said. The president famously said during the 2016 campaign that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and his supporters would not abandon him.
As for Trump’s fitness for office, Res said she agrees with George Conway, the husband of Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, who published a piece in The Atlantic earlier this week saying Trump is unfit for office.
“I thought that when he was running for office,” Res said. “And not necessarily for the mental reasons that you talk about but because he didn’t have the experience, you know, lots of different things.”

Senator Chuck Grassley’s defense of whistle blower is better late than never

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Chuck Grassley’s defense of whistleblower is better late than never

Chuck Grassley deserves credit for stepping up to the plate.

Grassley, the veteran Republican from Iowa, has for decades been the Senate’s foremost advocate for and defender of government whistleblowers. For nearly a week, though, some of us have wondered why Grassley remained silent as President Trump and his supporters repeatedly and harshly castigated the whistleblower who catalyzed the current Ukraine-related controversy. The silence continued even as the president urged that the whistleblower lose the identity-protection ordinarily due someone in his position.

Grassley made up for his silence today. He criticized Trump for the attacks, and said the whistleblower “appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected.”

At somewhat greater length, Grassley continued:

“No one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts. Uninformed speculation wielded by politicians or media commentators as a partisan weapon is counterproductive and doesn’t serve the country. When it comes to whether someone qualifies as a whistleblower, the distinctions being drawn between first- and second-hand knowledge aren’t legal ones. It’s just not part of whistleblower protection law or any agency policy. Complaints based on second-hand information should not be rejected out of hand, but they do require additional leg work to get at the facts and evaluate the claim’s credibility.”

Grassley is entirely right, on all counts. The protocols call for the inspector general of the agency in question to determine the validity of the whistleblower’s status and the credibility of the information offered. In this case, the inspector general for the intelligence community, a Trump appointee, determined that the whistleblower status was indeed merited. We since have seen that most of the key information he offered was indeed accurate.

We also have seen Trump suggest that the whistleblower is a “spy” who should suffer “big consequences.” This is chilling. For anyone in a senior position in government to threaten retaliation against a whistleblower is almost always a significant violation of the law. For the president to do so, with the vast powers of his office, is more than a little sinister.

That’s why it is so important for someone with Grassley’s Senate seniority, credibility, and reputation for probity to speak up. The whistleblower’s information will stand or fall on its own merits, without any need to know who the whistleblower himself is, much less threaten him. The entire point of whistleblower statutes is to protect those who want to report malfeasance without reprisal, especially reprisal from the most powerful man on the planet.

Trump Is Dangerously Unfit To Be President

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

Trump’s Twitter tirades about treason and civil war reveal a dangerously unfit president

Lies, nonsense, and a threat to arrest his opponents in Congress.

President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, rarely a scene of what you’d call appropriate content, has kicked things up a notch ever since the beginning of a formal impeachment inquiry into his apparent effort to hold up military aid to Ukraine in search of dirt on political rival Joe Biden.

Over the past several days, the self-proclaimed “stable genius” has been on a nonstop Twitter binge, lying about what’s going on in Congress, lying about what happened in Ukraine, and escalating his inappropriate conduct by threatening the country with a civil war and threatening his enemies in Congress with criminal charges.

He also posted a rapid-fire set of Fox News clips, complaining furiously about a brief moment of Fox content that displeased him.

The Ukraine scandal is about one specific area of policy, but it’s a window into the inherent problem with having a president in office who so routinely expresses inappropriate ideas. And the scandal breaking through is merely causing him to express more and more of them.

Trump retweeted a bot that inserts “shark” into Trump tweets

The Ukraine story is damaging to Trump not necessarily because it’s the worst thing he’s done as president. But the assistance to Ukraine that Trump imperiled is something many Republicans favor, and the facts of the case are so plain that it has slightly punctured the bubble of right-wing alternative facts that normally shields the president from criticism.

That makes Trump particularly vulnerable to mildly critical commentary like what Fox News host Ed Henry offered on Sunday morning’s edition of Fox & Friends. Fortunately for Trump, radio host Mark Levin was also on the air ready to go to bat with arguments like, “What crime was violated? It’s not illegal. The question is whether Biden did something illegal. The president didn’t do anything illegal.”

Trump was so incensed by Henry that he or a staffer went to search Twitter for any random person criticizing Henry or praising Levin, including a number of “egg” accounts with no avatars, real names, or reputation, and few followers.

One of these accounts, @BulldawgDerek, has been “temporarily restricted” by Twitter due to “unusual activity” — normally a euphemism for violating the site’s rules.

Trump retweeted, all told, 20 posts on the subject, including one calling Henry a “lying shit head” and one by a bot account Trump But About Sharks whose gimmick is that it rewrites Trump tweets to make them about sharks.

This is mostly funny rather than revelatory.

It is, however, a reminder that the president of the United States spends his time watching television and getting mad online rather than working on any of the innumerable policy issues that fall into his portfolio. That’s not news, but it is significant since one of the White House’s key talking points on impeachment is that somehow impeachment — rather than the president’s laziness — is stopping Congress from getting things done.

Trump keeps lying about Congress

A Saturday tweet calling an arbitrary subset of Trump’s political enemies “savages” attracted attention because there’s something fishy about his decision to single out Jewish and nonwhite members of Congress for criticism.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Can you imagine if these Do Nothing Democrat Savages, people like Nadler, Schiff, AOC Plus 3, and many more, had a Republican Party who would have done to Obama what the Do Nothings are doing to me. Oh well, maybe next time!

73.7K people are talking about this

A more banal but significant aspect of this tweet is Trump’s effort to label the congressional opposition as “Do Nothings.”

Both parties’ congressional campaign committees have polling that indicates the public is frustrated with Congress’ lack of progress on policy issues and therefore have adopted strategies centered on blaming the other party for inaction.

This theme recurs in recent Trump tweets on subjects ranging from China to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to nothing in particular, all of which repeat the phrase “Do Nothing Democrats.”

Under the circumstances, it’s worth emphasizing that this is simply false. House Democrats have passed a lot of bills, including conceptually ambitious legislation to curb corruption in politics and begin to address climate change along with a host of smaller measures. They’ve passed legislation on background checks for gun buyers, tried to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, tried to extend nondiscrimination rules to LGBTQ people, and tried to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour. The reason these bills — and measures addressing prescription drug pricesinsurance for people with preexisting conditions, and consumer protection in financial services — aren’t going anywhere is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t bring them up for votes.

It isn’t even that these bills are being defeated in the Senate. McConnell is aware that these are popular measures, and he doesn’t want to make his members cast unpopular votes against them. Consequently, Republicans have simply refused to let them come to the floor, even while pretending to be mad that Democrats are too busy with impeachment to legislate.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

WHO CHANGED THE LONG STANDING WHISTLEBLOWER RULES JUST BEFORE SUBMITTAL OF THE FAKE WHISTLEBLOWER REPORT? DRAIN THE SWAMP!

51.1K people are talking about this

By contrast, Senate Republicans are not passing popular bills featuring conservative ideas to address problems. Not because they’re too busy with impeachment, but because they don’t seem to have any.

And Trump himself can’t stop tweeting about Ukraine, even though he also can’t offer any real defense of what he did.

Trump has a lot of dishonest thoughts on Ukraine

Monday morning, Trump alleged that some mysterious individual “changed the long standing whistleblower rules” as part of what is presumably a conspiracy to bring Trump down.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

WHO CHANGED THE LONG STANDING WHISTLEBLOWER RULES JUST BEFORE SUBMITTAL OF THE FAKE WHISTLEBLOWER REPORT? DRAIN THE SWAMP!

51.1K people are talking about this

This is a reference to a badly misinformed article which ran over the weekend on the perennially dishonest conservative site the Federalist, which alleged that “Intel Community Secretly Gutted Requirement Of First-Hand Whistleblower Knowledge.”

The main factual problem with this article is that nothing of the sort happened. It is true that the whistleblower form was changed in August shortly before the submission of the Ukraine report, but the earlier version of the form contained no prohibition on the use of second-hand information. That the Federalist article is incorrect has not prevented the claim from being widely rebroadcast by everyone from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to the president’s attorneys Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani. It is, however, completely false.

What’s more, despite Trump’s multiple tweets referring to the whistleblower as “fake” or alleging he had only “SECOND & THIRD HAND INFORMATION,” we now know unambiguously that the substance of the report was true. The White House’s own summary of the call shows Trump complaining that although “the United States has been very good to Ukraine,” he “wouldn’t say it’s been reciprocal necessarily.”

When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asks for Javelin missiles, Trump replies, “I would like you to do us a favor, though.” There is, of course, nothing wrong with the leader of one country asking the leader of another country for something in exchange for military assistance — that’s diplomacy. But what Trump asked for were political favors (and perhaps exculpate the Russian government from responsibility for hacking the Democratic National Committee), not actions designed to advance American interests.

That’s the essence of the complaint, and Trump clearly did it. The only question is whether one sees that as right or wrong. But in responding to the misconduct, Trump is engaging in new forms of misconduct.

Trump is threatening his enemies with prison

Last Friday, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff opened a hearing with a satirical parody of Trump’s gangster-like conduct.

The analogy between the way Trump discusses illegal activities and the way movie gangsters talk has been widely made, everywhere from CNN to the Canadian magazine Macleans, largely because the president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen specifically described it as his normal means of doing business.

But Trump, because he’s a deeply dishonest person, has taken to characterizing Schiff’s parody as a deliberate fabrication that should prompt a criminal investigation.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Rep. Adam Schiff totally made up my conversation with Ukraine President and read it to Congress and Millions. He must resign and be investigated. He has been doing this for two years. He is a sick man!

62K people are talking about this

It’s not a crime to say things the president doesn’t like — even things that aren’t necessarily proven — and there’s a specific clause of the Constitution guaranteeing members of Congress absolute immunity from prosecution from anything they do on the floor of either house in the Capitol. That constitutional provision does, however, include an exception for treason, which someone must have told Trump. By Sunday night, Schiff characterizing his actions in a way Trump didn’t like was elevated to an act of treason, and Trump called for his arrest.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called “Whistleblower,” represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way. Then Schiff made up what I actually said by lying to Congress……

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

His lies were made in perhaps the most blatant and sinister manner ever seen in the great Chamber. He wrote down and read terrible things, then said it was from the mouth of the President of the United States. I want Schiff questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason…..

39K people are talking about this

Trump then reiterated Monday morning that he’s not kidding around. He wants police officers to arrest a member of Congress for criticizing him.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people. It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?

56K people are talking about this

The typical response to this kind of blatantly inappropriate order from Trump has been to simply not carry out his directives. Then conservatives quietly assure liberal and centrist journalists that people shouldn’t blow Trump’s bluster out of perspective because these things don’t actually wind up happening.

The Ukraine call, however, reveals not just inappropriate conduct but the fundamental inadequacy of this line of thought as a response to Trump. Members of Trump’s administration have been trying, since Inauguration Day, to steer him toward something approaching a normal conservative Republican approach to Russia.

But as Trump’s former top Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert explained over the weekend, it’s been impossible to dissuade Trump from propagating a baroque conspiracy theory involving Ukraine and an IT security company called Crowdstrike, whose CEO Trump wrongly believes is Ukrainian.

Trump really did delay the delivery of congressionally authorized military aid to Ukraine, and during his one-on-one talks with the Ukrainian president he linked that aid to both the Crowdstrike theory and the effort to dig up dirt on a political rival. With the regular institutions of the American government ill-disposed to try to carry out Trump’s corrupt approach to Ukraine, he got Rudy Giuliani to run a “shadow foreign policy” on his behalf.

In other words: There are limits to what can be accomplished by slow-walking an unfit president’s requests. Schiff probably won’t be brought up on treason charges. And Trump probably won’t follow through on his threats to unleash a civil war. But over time, a determined president does tend to make things happen.

Responsible officials made a good-faith effort to stonewall Trump’s Ukraine agenda. But those officials either left office (Bossert, Secretary of Defense James Mattis) or were removed (former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch), and Trump’s plan was put into place. In response, Trump displays no contrition but instead accelerates his lying and inappropriate demands. And the only viable solution is for him to stop being president.


Listen to Today, Explained

The House Intelligence Committee released the whistleblower complaint minutes before Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire began his testimony before Congress.

Looking for a quick way to keep up with the never-ending news cycle? Host Sean Rameswaram will guide you through the most important stories at the end of each day.

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Hundreds of ex-national security officials support impeachment inquiry into Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Hundreds of ex-national security officials support impeachment inquiry into Trump

This is what the whistle blower complaint says 02:40

Washington (CNN)More than 300 former national security officials have come out in support of an impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, arguing the President’s actions in regard to Ukraine are a “profound national security concern.”

“President Trump appears to have leveraged the authority and resources of the highest office in the land to invite additional foreign interference into our democratic processes,” a statement signed by the officials and dated Friday reads. “That would constitute an unconscionable abuse of power.”
The statement was released by the National Security Action, an advocacy group formed in 2018 by two former national security advisers in the Obama administration to oppose Trump’s foreign policy.
The bulk of the statement’s signees are former Obama officials, but the list also includes officials who have served in both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Former officials of the intelligence community, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Security Council staff are among the signers.
“As national security professionals, many of us have long been concerned with President Trump’s actions and their implications for our safety and security,” the statement read. “Some of us have spoken out, but many of us have eschewed politics throughout our careers and, as a result, have not weighed in publicly.”
“The revelations of recent days, however, demand a response,” they added.
One of the signers, former US Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns, said Friday on CNN’s “Newsroom” that he feels this letter is unique because of its timing. “What we’re trying to say in this letter is that it is now time to begin the impeachment proceedings. Personally, I think the President should be removed from office because he’s shamed the country and he’s tried to hold himself above the law,” said Burns, a longtime Foreign Service officer.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump over the allegations that he attempted to pressure a foreign leader for personal political gain.
A White House transcript of a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky showed that Trump asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 candidate, and Biden’s son. The rough transcript also raised questions of whether Trump offered a quid pro quo over military foreign aid to Ukraine for dirt on a political rival. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
The July phone call was included in a whistle blower complaint publicly released Thursday. In the complaint, the whistle blower alleged Trump abused his powers to “solicit interference” from Ukraine in the upcoming 2020 election, and the White House took steps to cover it up. Trump has denied that there was any wrongdoing.
“If we fail to speak up — and act — now our foreign policy and national security will officially be on offer to those who can most effectively fulfill the President’s personal prerogatives,” the former officials said in their statement.
“We do not wish to prejudge the totality of the facts or Congress’ deliberative process,” they said, adding, “At the same time, there is no escaping that what we already know is serious enough to merit impeachment proceedings.”

Best Choice For Republicans To Keep White House In 2020: Impeach Trump Quickly

Best Choice For Republicans To Keep White House In 2020: Impeach Trump Quickly

 

President Trump is nothing but a liability to the Republican Leadership if he is still in Office come November of 2020. If Mitch (The Worthless Bitch) McConnell and his cronies want to keep control of the Presidency in January of 2021 their best chance to do so is if Trump is very quickly impeached, not just by the Democratic led Congress but with the help of the Republicans in the Senate. If Trump is on that Presidential ticket, the Republicans will lose the White House without a doubt. The only chance the Republicans have to keep one of their own in the Oval Office is if Mike (Mr. Bought And Paid For) Pence is the President at the time of the November 2020 elections. Right now the most powerful person in Washington is Senator McConnell. If he gives the green light Donald Trump will no longer be the President, it is all up to him. McConnell is like Nancy Pelosi in the aspect that the main thing they are concerned about is their political party, not the people, not Our Country. It is just my opinion on the matter but I believe that these folks are all bought and paid for trash. McConnell doesn’t give a damn about Trump as a person just as Trump doesn’t give a damn about anyone but himself. So, what I am saying is if Trump is impeached by the U.S. Senate quickly and they install Mike Pence as the President the Republicans just might hold the White House next November. You see, it doesn’t matter if the U.S. Congress impeaches Trump just as it didn’t matter when the Republican led Congress Impeached Bill Clinton back in the 1990’s, it is the Senate who controls the actual hammer. So, where are we as a Country right now? Personally I believe the Ball is in the proverbial Court of Senator McConnell. So, as a dear friend of mine used to say, now, we shall see what we shall see.

Are White Christians In The U.S. Racists Devil Worshipers (Followers)???

Are White Christians In The U.S. Racists Devil Worshipers (Followers)???

 

Well, that is quite a headline, one I never ever thought that I would write. Is it the truth though? All I can say to that is that I hope not. But, there are millions of people in this Country who say they are Christians but whom have never ever read a Bible. This does not shock me as I know for a fact that there are even Preachers who do not believe that the Bible is the ‘Holy Spirit Inspired Word Of God.’ So, even for many folks who do go to church regularly they have little faith if any about what the Bible is telling us all. So, if the Preachers aren’t teaching the Word of God to the people who are sitting in the Pews and the people aren’t studying the Scriptures regularly to find out if what their Preacher is saying matches up with what the Scriptures are saying there is no wonder that knowledge is lacking among the ‘Christian Base.’

 

Now the reason that I am writing this letter to you today. A Christian lady who has a Christian Blog recently decided to not read any material that I put forth on this blog is because I said that I hate Donald Trump. Technically I didn’t use the word hate, I said that “I loathe Him.” Really what I loathe is the person that he is, not his very Soul. I hate a lot of what he says and I do hate a lot of his actions as well. The young lady of which I speak of said the following about Mr. Trump and I quote “I believe that he is a very good man.” I have heard that from quite a few people since the Electoral College put him into Office and everyone of those folks have been white folks who consider themselves to be Christians.

 

Don’t get me wrong I loathe the person that Hillary Clinton chooses to be also and I am neither a Democrat or a Republican. I only thought that Hillary was an habitual liar until Donald Trump started talking and Tweeting BECAUSE THIS MAN is in a category all by himself when it comes to lying. Before the Vote back in 2016 I felt that the only two real choices that we the people really were given was to vote for one of the two habitual liars, Hillary or Donald. But, I also said that the main difference in them was that one was a very smart habitual liar (Hillary) and the other was a habitual liar that was a total idiot (Donald) and wondered which one would be the worst for our Country. I guess that would still be up for debate unless somehow Hillary ever becomes a President. (Hopefully that will never happen).

 

Now lets talk about Mr. Trump for a moment as he is the subject matter behind the title of this letter. Often the media uses the term ‘Trumps Base’. What they are referring to are the lower educated white Christians, especially here in the south-eastern states. This view point is from an ‘independent’s’ view, neither Republican nor Democratic. To say or believe that Mr. Trump is not a racists person is beyond unbelievable and reaches into the realm idiotic. But on this subject I will say that this is just my opinion and is not a ‘Scriptural’ indictment of the man. But now lets talk about Mr. Trump being a habitual liar, the worse that I have ever seen, even worse than my biological dad which I hadn’t thought was possible.  My question to the ‘Christian’ people who seem to adore Mr. Trump is, since Jesus says that Satan is the Father of all Liars then how can a Christian fall in behind Mr. Trump’s wagon of lies and Spiritual crimes? I know that some folks have come back with answers like “well I’m not voting for Hillary, or for any other Democrat.” Okay, but now that you have to be fully aware of what a total liar Mr. Trump is how come you haven’t decided to impeach him and find another Republican to root for? Have you decided that Mr. Trump is the Republican Party? To follow after an habitual liar is in fact to fall inline behind the Devil Himself. What I am saying is that ‘we the people’ must hold these politicians accountable for their words and their actions, not matter what political party they hang their hat onto.  If we are to weak to do so then we deserve to lose all of our freedoms and then later our Soul’s also and that reality folks, is indeed what will happen.

Why won’t the Senate protect American elections?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS BRIEF)
(Moscow Mitch The Trumpian Bitch?) oped: oldpoet56)

Why won’t the Senate protect American elections?

Darrell M. West and Raj Karan Gambhir

Editor’s Note:This post is part of “Cybersecurity and Election Interference,” a Brookings series that explores digital threats to American democracy, cybersecurity risks in elections, and ways to mitigate possible problems.

Cybersecurity & Election InterferenceThe United States is at risk of serious foreign intervention and disinformation in the 2020 elections. When asked during his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee whether Russia could interfere in the 2020 elections, Robert Mueller responded that they are “doing it as we sit here.” The very next day, the Senate Intelligence Committee reported that “the Russians had attempted to intrude in all 50 states” during the 2016 election. A blog post by Brookings Institution Fellow Margaret Taylor furthermore shows that our European allies have experienced similar Russian activities over the last few years in their national elections, the Brexit campaign, and European Union parliamentary races. Even as the scope of Russian intent and ability becomes increasingly clear, Senate Republicans have done nothing to address this problem.

It is not as if there aren’t good ideas to protect American elections. Four major pieces of election security legislation have been introduced over the last two years: the Secure Elections Act (introduced by Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)); Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)); Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act (Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)); and Securing America’s Federal Elections Act (introduced by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA19)).

As noted below, the bills demonstrate relative bipartisan agreement over several key remedies. A number of members have proposed providing additional funding for the Election Assistance Commission, sharing election security expertise with the states, providing paper ballot backups of electronic voting systems, sanctioning financial institutions that support foreign interference, authorizing retaliatory actions against any nation interfering in American elections, and requiring intelligence agencies to determine whether any foreign agents interfered in American elections. A version of these ideas already has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on a 225 to 184 vote, but has been repeatedly blocked from a Senate vote by Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY). Calling the bill “highly partisan,” McConnell blocked a unanimous consent vote on the bill just hours after Mueller’s testimony.

This Senate inaction brings to mind Albert Einstein’s infamous definition of insanity as repeating the same behavior but expecting a different outcome. With no beefing up of election defenses and high odds of continuing foreign interference, 2020 will likely see the same problems of 2016: campaigns that sow discontent and play on societal divisions, active efforts to undermine electoral legitimacy, and widespread public doubts following the campaign about the integrity of the election process itself. Americans will wake up on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 wondering how the U.S. electoral process again fell prey to foreign interference and why political leaders failed to defend our vital democratic processes.

Providing additional funding for the Election Assistance Commission

In looking across the proposed bills, there are a number of promising ideas designed to secure U.S. elections. One of them advanced in the Secure Elections Act is the creation of an Election Assistance Commission grant program that provides funding for states and localities to secure electoral processes and upgrade equipment. The idea is that since elections largely are administered at the state and local level, additional funding for those entities would enable them to update their equipment, install the latest cyber-security protections, and make sure that vital infrastructure is protected during the election.

Sharing election security expertise

Several of the proposed bills give the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a major role in advising the states, offering them technical expertise, and being proactive in dealing with possible cyber-threats. Since this department works to counter terrorism and maintain vital infrastructure, the department has expertise to evaluate hardware and software for cyber-security risks. Armed with that information, it could provide help to state and local agencies charged with administering the upcoming elections.

Providing paper ballot backups of electronic voting systems with an audit trail

A number of local jurisdictions have moved to electronic voting machines in recent years, although in most cases, this equipment is not connected to the internet in order to minimize opportunities for hacking. However, there still could be software bugs that distort the vote or systematically under-count certain areas. Given that possibility, it is important to have paper ballot backups of electronic voting systems and the possibility of conducting an audit if any irregularities are spotted. That way, voters can feel confident their votes will be counted and there are mechanisms to evaluate the vote in case anything is contested.

Sanctioning financial institutions that support foreign interference

The Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act establishes financial sanctions that could be applied against countries, financial institutions, or individuals that “facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of Putin.” The idea is that Russians could be discouraged from malicious behavior if they think there will be serious consequences.

Authors

In addition, the bill “would give prosecutors additional authorities to pursue federal charges for the hacking of voting systems and create a National Fusion Center to respond to hybrid threats of disinformation and other emerging threats from Russia”. There are provisions that specifically would impose sanctions for “Russian interference in democratic processes.”

Authorize retaliatory actions against any nation interfering in American elections

The Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act would allow the President to impose sanctions against any country identified as a threat. Among the actions that could invite retaliation “include a foreign government or agent purchasing political advertisements to influence an election” or “using social media to spread false information, hacking and releasing or modifying election- or campaign-related information or hindering access to elections infrastructure, such as websites for polling places.”

Requiring intelligence agency leaders to determine whether any foreign agents interfered in American elections

The DETER Act would mandate that the director of national intelligence determine within 30 days of the national election whether “the government of a foreign country, or any person acting as an agent of or on behalf of that government, knowingly engaged in interference in the election.” Under threat of sanction, foreign agents specifically would not be allowed to “spread significant amounts of false information to Americans. They also cannot hack, leak or modify election and campaign infrastructure, including voter registration databases and campaign emails.”

Why the Senate inaction in the face of a clear foreign danger?

A number of arguments have been made to justify the votes of those who opposed the House bill or are supporting Senate inaction. One is a state’s rights argument suggesting that the federal government should not have a major role in electoral security given the country’s history of state and local control of balloting. While it certainly is important to maintain state and local control of elections, providing federal assistance to upgrade voting machines does not violate existing legal or constitution provisions. There is a long history of the federal government paying for voting equipment and offering technical assistance. Many states lack funding for voting machines and the federal government often has funded upgrades and improvements. There is ample precedent for national authorities to protect vital infrastructure in the face of foreign threats.

Another rationale concerns the financial cost of electoral security. The idea is at a time when America is running a trillion-dollar budget deficit, it should avoid unnecessary expenditures. Rather, lawmakers should focus on vital priorities and critical infrastructure. Yet electoral security should fall within each of those principles. Having secure elections is essential to democracy. There is no excuse for not spending several hundred million dollars (a very small portion of the overall federal budget) on meaningful steps to protect American elections. Democracy is too important to be risked for a relatively small amount of money.

Short of these criticisms, it is hard to see any justified reason not to enact some type of electoral security measures. As is clear to all who study American elections and have heeded the warnings of our European allies, the intelligence community, and the Special Counsel—the Russian threat is real. Given these dire circumstances, it is difficult to fathom why Senate leadership is refusing to allow a vote on such important legislation, and therefore risking the integrity of the democratic process. Americans should demand Senate action to protect U.S. elections from foreign interference.

The second Democratic debate: Opening up the centrist lane

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS BRIEF)

 

The second Democratic debate: Opening up the centrist lane

Elaine Kamarck

Ever since the 2018 election, the storyline around the Democratic Party has been at odds with the facts. The Democratic Party is, as it has been for many decades now, a center-left party and not a left-wing party in the style of European political parties. In the first Democratic debates in June, many of the candidates fell blindly into far-left ideological traps, causing panic among Democrats concerned about beating Trump.

But by round two of the Democratic debates, it was clear that some of the candidates had done a little homework and learned a little history.

With some exceptions, the American electorate changes slowly. For nearly four decades, the ideological composition of the electorate in presidential elections has remained more or less the same. As the following table (updated from a paper I published with my colleague William A. Galston in 2011) shows, there is no possibility of a purely liberal or purely conservative governing coalition: “To win, each party needs to form a coalition with moderate voters. But the structure of those coalitions is very different.”

Although the number of self-identified liberals has increased in recent presidential elections, they are still out-numbered by self-identified conservatives.

Table 1: The composition of the electorate in presidential election years

1980 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012 2016
Liberal 18 17 18 21 19 22 21 22 25 26
Moderate 51 44 45 48 48 49 45 44 41 39
Conservative 31 35 33 31 34 30 34 34 35 35

Source: CNN National Exit Poll

Playing only base politics is a dangerous game. For instance, President Trump may be making a big political mistake in spending so much attention on fueling his racist, immigrant-hating, xenophobic base. It cost him the votes of moderate suburban women (and other groups) in 2018, and Democrats and some Republicans think it will cost him in 2020. But if base politics is bad for Republicans, playing only to your base is even more dangerous for Democrats because of the simple fact that the Democratic base is smaller. While neither party can write off moderate voters, Democrats need them more than Republicans do. Table 2 shows that in the years when Democrats have won the presidency, they’ve done so by winning more than 55% of the moderate vote.

Table 2: Democratic share of the major party moderate vote

1980 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012 2016
46 47 51 61 62 53 54 60 56 52

Source: Author’s calculation based on CNN National Exit Poll. In the bolded years, Democrats won the presidency.

This week, the Democratic race moved into a new and more realistic phase. Clearly some of the contenders got the message about the dangers of moving too far left. Early on in the first night’s debate, former Congressman John Delaney (Md.) called for “real solutions, not impossible promises.” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) said her bold ideas were “grounded in reality.” For 45 minutes, they attacked Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) on Medicare-for-All—especially the provision that would take away private insurance. Congressman Tim Ryan (Ohio) contended that union members who have fought so hard for good health care coverage would be unhappy to learn that Sanders’ plan would take it away from them. He also pointed out that the problem with giving illegal immigrants free health insurance is that “everyone else in America is paying for health insurance.” Warren held her ground as did Sanders, but the attack of the centrists never let up.

Night two of the Democratic debate was not very different, but this time former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading centrist, was the punching bag. Nonetheless, the fault lines were similar. The fight over Medicare-for-All centered, once again, on whether Americans would be allowed to keep private insurance. Biden defended the centrist option—Obamacare plus a public option—and contrasted with another dimension: the $32 trillion in taxes he said Sanders’ bill would cost. The debate moved on to immigration, where several candidates attacked Biden and Obama for the deportations that happened in the Obama administration. They also attacked Biden on crime, but Booker, Harris, and de Blasio turned out to have clay feet on that issue, since each one of them had been in positions where their pursuit of justice was less than perfect and open to criticism.

Unlike the first debate, Biden was more energetic and ready for the attacks against him. He reminded everyone of his work with President Obama, something that will probably help him hold onto his support among African Americans and other mainstream liberals who happily voted for the 44thpresident. Biden’s performance was just good enough to stop the bleeding, and he probably disappointed the other centrists hoping to step into that lane. But in contrast to the first debate, it is now clear that at least there is a centrist lane in the Democratic primary which, as history tells us, is not a bad place to be. It may well be the path to the nomination.

Author

Pro-Trump Republican aiming to unseat Ilhan Omar charged with felony theft

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS)

 

Pro-Trump Republican aiming to unseat Ilhan Omar charged with felony theft

Exclusive: Danielle Stella, reported to support baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, held twice this year over alleged shoplifting

Danielle Stella, the Republican running for Congress against Ilhan Omar in Minnesota. Stella earlier this week described Minneapolis as ‘the crime capital of our country’.
 Danielle Stella, the Republican running for Congress against Ilhan Omar in Minnesota. Stella earlier this week described Minneapolis as ‘the crime capital of our country’. Photograph: Stella campaign

A pro-Trump Republican candidate for Congress who is aiming to unseat Ilhan Omar in Minnesota has been charged with a felony after allegedly stealing from stores.

Danielle Stella was arrested twice this year in Minneapolis suburbs over allegations that she shoplifted items worth more than $2,300 from a Target and goods valued at $40 from a grocery store. She said she denied the allegations.

Stella, a 31-year-old special education teacher, was reported this week to be a supporter of the baseless “QAnon” conspiracy theory about Donald Trump battling a global cabal of elite liberal paedophiles.

This week Stella also described Minneapolis as “the crime capital of our country”. She has in the past complained that local police were “overworked and overburdened” and said that, if elected, she would work to reduce crime.

In a series of text messages, Stella said: “I am not guilty of these crimes. In this country I am innocent until proven guilty and that is the law.”

She added: “If I was guilty of crimes, I would never run for public office, putting myself in the public eye under a microscope to be attacked by all political sides.”

An attorney for Stella, Joshua London, declined to comment.

Stella is accused of stealing 279 items valued at $2,327.97 from a Target store in Edina, to the south-west of Minneapolis, on 8 January this year. She was arrested for the alleged theft after security staff called the police.

A criminal complaint filed to Hennepin county district court alleged Stella was seen leaving the store without paying for most of her haul, after “scanning only a few other items” that were valued at about $50.

Danielle Stella. In a series of text messages, Stella said: ‘I am not guilty of these crimes.’
Pinterest
 Danielle Stella. In a series of text messages, Stella said: ‘I am not guilty of these crimes.’ Photograph: Bloomington police department

The complaint said Stella told police in a statement she “remembers arriving at Target to purchase items but nothing else” due to post-traumatic stress disorder, and that she “normally she goes to Target with someone because of anxiety around people”.

Stella has said publicly that she was the victim of a severe violent assault in 2008. She is charged with the thefts under her former surname, which the Guardian agreed not to report because she said it could endanger her safety.

She is charged with felony theft over the incident at Target and faces a punishment of up to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000 if convicted, according to court filings.

Police and court records said a warrant was put out for Stella’s re-arrest for alleged contempt of court on 4 April, after she failed to show up for a court hearing.

Officers in nearby Bloomington then arrested Stella on 28 April after she was allegedly seen by security staff at a Cub Foods grocery store stealing a bottle of tick spray for cats, and placing other items “under her purse so that they could not be seen”.

When they checked her identification, police officers discovered the open warrant for Stella’s arrest over her failure to appear in court for the earlier alleged shoplifting, their incident report said.

The report said Stella was arrested for alleged misdemeanour theft for taking “cat merchandise” and cat food valued at $40.46. She was issued with a citation and given a date to appear in court. It was not clear whether authorities would pursue the contempt of court allegation.

Stella’s candidacy has attracted interest from the far-right conspiracy website InfoWars, which broadcast an interview with her this week. Stella laughed and nodded as the host, J Owen Shroyer, called Omar “a witch” and said: “Everything about her is a fraud.”

Describing Minneapolis during the interview as America’s “crime capital”, Stella falsely claimed that crime in the city had risen by 80% over the past year. According to Minneapolis police data, there has been a 10.7% uptick in serious crime year-on-year, following a 16.5% decline in 2018.

The rightwing commentator Todd Starnes promoted Stella in an interviewearlier this month on Fox News’s streaming service Fox Nation. “We certainly wish Miss Stella the very best,” Starnes said, adding that he hoped for a “significant change in representation” in Omar’s district.

Last month Stella officially registered with the Federal Election Commission as a candidate for the Republican nomination in Minnesota’s fifth congressional district. She later spoke at the “Demand Free Speech” rally in Washington.

She has accused Omar of being a criminal for advising immigrants how to avoid agents from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She said in a tweet that any representatives who fail to “uphold the rule of law” should be ejected from office.

Court records say that in 2009, Stella pleaded guilty to driving while impaired from alcohol and fleeing a police officer. The latter charge was prosecuted as a felony but later classified as a gross misdemeanour as part of Stella’s plea.

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Illinois GOP shares meme depicting minority Dem congresswomen as ‘the jihad squad’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Illinois GOP group shares meme depicting minority Dem congresswomen as ‘the jihad squad’

Washington (CNN)Two top Illinois GOP officials are condemning a meme recently posted to the Facebook page of the Illinois Republican County Chairmen’s Association that depicted four minority congresswomen as being “THE JIHAD SQUAD.”

The image, which has since been taken down from the group’s page, is modeled after an action movie poster and edited to include the four lawmakers’ faces on the bodies of various characters. The women in the photo are Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. The image includes the words “THE JIHAD SQUAD” below the names along with the words “POLITICAL JIHAD IS THEIR GAME” and “IF YOU DON’T AGREE WITH THEIR SOCIALIST IDEOLOGY, YOU’RE RACIST.”
The meme also includes the association’s logo. It’s unclear who in the party posted the image, or if those responsible have been admonished.
President Donald Trump has recently criticized the four women, known as “the Squad,” in racist terms as part of an effort to define the Democratic Party as far-left. Omar and Tlaib are the first two Muslim women in Congress, and Ocasio-Cortez identifies as a Democratic socialist.
CNN has reached out to the offices of the four lawmakers for comment.
screenshot of the post shared by Craig Wall, a reporter for CNN affiliate WLS in Chicago, shows the image was live as of late Friday night. On Sunday, Tim Schneider, the chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, condemned the post.
“I strongly condemn evoking race or religion as the basis for political disagreement. The recent social media post coming from the IRCCA does not reflect my values or the Illinois Republican Party’s values,” Schneider said in a statement.
Schneider added, “Bigoted rhetoric greatly distracts from legitimate and important policy debates and further divides our nation” and said that although he disagrees with the policy positions held by the group of lawmakers, his “intense disagreement … has absolutely nothing to do with their race or religion.”
Mark Shaw, the president of the RCCA, said Sunday in a statement that he “condemn(s)” the posting, which he said was “unauthorized.”
“I am sorry if anyone who saw the image was offended by the contents,” Shaw said in a Facebook post, adding that the posting “is an unfortunate distraction from the serious debate surrounding the policies advocated by” the lawmakers.
Shaw also said the approval process for social media posts will be reviewed in the wake of the posting “to insure that any content posted in the future represents the ‘big-tent’ nature of the Republican Party.”
The Cook County Democratic Party called the image “a racist and inflammatory attack.”
“The post perpetuates the recent attacks by President Trump, promoting lies and racism to alienate immigrants, women, and people of color,” the county Democratic Party said in a statement posted to Facebook. “This language of hatred and bigotry has no room in our society and has dangerous consequences.”
The four progressive lawmakers have been outspoken critics of Trump, particularly his immigration policies. Last week, the House voted to condemn the racist language used in the tweets by the President, who on Sunday continued his attacks, questioning in a tweet their commitment to America and saying that they are “destroying the Democratic Party.”